OVID, METAMORPHOSES 12
 

METAMORPHOSES INDEX

BOOK 1

BOOK 2

BOOK 3

BOOK 4

BOOK 5

BOOK 6

BOOK 7

BOOK 8

BOOK 9

BOOK 10

BOOK 11

BOOK 12

1. Agamemnon at Aulis
2. Cygnus & Achilles
3. Caeneus, the Centauromachy
4. Periclymenus & Hercules
5. Death of Achilles

BOOK 13

BOOK 14

BOOK 15

METMORHOSES BOOK 12, TRANS. BY BROOKES MORE

EVENTS IN AULIS

[1] Sadly his father, Priam, mourned for him, not knowing that young Aesacus had assumed wings on his shoulders, and was yet alive. Then also Hector with his brothers made complete but unavailing sacrifice, upon a tomb which bore his carved name. Paris was absent. But soon afterwards, he brought into that land a ravished wife, Helen, the cause of a disastrous war, together with a thousand ships, and all the great Pelasgian nation. Vengeance would not long have been delayed, but the fierce winds raged over seas impassable, and held the ships at fishy Aulis. They could not be moved from the Boeotian land. Here, when a sacrifice had been prepared to Jove, according to the custom of their land, and when the ancient altar glowed with fire, the Greeks observed an azure colored snake crawling up in a plane tree near the place where they had just begun their sacrifice. Among the highest branches was a nest, with twice four birds—and those the serpent seized together with the mother-bird as she was fluttering round her loss. And every bird the serpent buried in his greedy maw. All stood amazed: but Calchas, who perceived the truth, exclaimed, “Rejoice Pelasgian men, for we shall conquer; Troy will fall; although the toil of war must long continue—so the nine birds equal nine long years of war.” And while he prophesied, the serpent, coiled about the tree, was transformed to a stone, curled crooked as a snake.

[24] But Nereus stormed in those Aonian waves, and not a ship moved forward. Some declared that Neptune thus was aiding Troy, because he built the walls of that great city. Not so Calchas, son of Thestor! He knew all the truth, and told them plainly that a virgin's blood alone might end a virgin goddess' wrath. The public good at last prevailed above affection, and the duty of a king at last proved stronger than a father's love: when Iphigenia as a sacrifice, stood by the altar with her weeping maids and was about to offer her chaste blood, the goddess, moved by pity, spread a mist before their eyes, amid the sacred rites and mournful supplications. It is said she left a hind there in the maiden's place and carried Iphigenia away. The hind, as it was fitting, calmed Diana's rage and also calmed the anger of the sea. The thousand ships received the winds astern and gained the Phrygian shore.

THE HOUSE OF FAME AND THE TROJAN CYGNUS

[39] There is a spot convenient in the center of the world, between the land and sea and the wide heavens, the meeting of the threefold universe. From there is seen all things that anywhere exist, although in distant regions far; and there all sounds of earth and space are heard. Fame is possessor of this chosen place, and has her habitation in a tower, which aids her view from that exalted highs. And she has fixed there numerous avenues, and openings, a thousand, to her tower and no gates with closed entrance, for the house is open, night and day, of sounding brass, reechoing the tones of every voice. It must repeat whatever it may hear; and there's no rest, and silence in no part. There is no clamor; but the murmuring sound of subdued voices, such as may arise from waves of a far sea, which one may hear who listens at a distance; or the sound which ends a thunderclap, when Jupiter has clashed black clouds together. Fickle crowds are always in that hall, that come and go, and myriad rumors—false tales mixed with true—are circulated in confusing words. Some fill their empty ears with all this talk, and some spread elsewhere all that's told to them. The volume of wild fiction grows apace, and each narrator adds to what he hears. Credulity is there and rash Mistake, and empty Joy, and coward Fear alarmed by quick Sedition, and soft Whisper—all of doubtful life. Fame sees what things are done in heaven and on the sea, and on the earth. She spies all things in the wide universe.

[64] Fame now had spread the tidings, a great fleet of Greek ships was at that time on its way, an army of brave men. The Trojans stood, all ready to prevent the hostile Greeks from landing on their shores. By the decree of Fate, the first man killed of the invaders' force was strong Protesilaus, by the spear of valiant Hector, whose unthought-of power at that time was discovered by the Greeks to their great cost. The Phyrgians also learned, at no small cost of blood, what warlike strength came from the Grecian land. The Sigean shores grew red with death-blood: Cygnus, Neptune's son there slew a thousand men: for which, in wrath, Achilles pressed his rapid chariot straight through the Trojan army; making a lane with his great spear, shaped from a Pelion tree. And as he sought through the fierce battle's press, either for Cygnus or for Hector, he met Cygnus and engaged at once with him (Fate had preserved great Hector from such foe till ten years from that day). Cheering his steeds, their white necks pressed upon the straining yoke, he steered the chariot towards his foe, and, brandishing the spear with his strong arm, he cried, “Whoever you may be, you have the consolation of a glorious death you die by me, Haemonian Achilles!” His heavy spear flew after the fierce words. Although the spear was whirled direct and true, yet nothing it availed with sharpened point. It only bruised, as with a blunted stroke, the breast of Cygnus! “By report we knew of you before this battle, goddess born.” The other answered him, “But why are you surprised that I escape the threatened wound?” (Achilles was surprised). “This helmet crowned, great with its tawny horse-hair, and this shield, broad-hollowed, on my left arm, are not held for help in war: they are but ornament, as Mars wears armor. All of them shall be put off, and I will fight with you unhurt. It is a privilege that I was born not as you, of a Nereid but of him whose powerful rule is over Nereus, his daughters and their ocean.” So, he spoke.

[95] Immediately he threw his spear against Achilles, destined to pierce the curving shield through brass
and through nine folds of tough bull's hide. It stopped there, for it could not pierce the tenth. The hero wrenched it out, and hurled again a quivering spear at Cygnus, with great strength. The Trojan stood unwounded and unharmed. Nor did a third spear injure Cygnus, though he stood there with his body all exposed. Achilles raged at this, as a wild bull in open circus, when with dreadful horns he butts against the hanging purple robes which stir his wrath and there observes how they evade him, quite unharmed by his attack. Achilles then examined his good spear, to see if by some chance the iron point was broken from it, but the point was firm, fixed on the wooden shaft. “My hand is weak,” he said, “but is it possible its strength forsook me though it never has before? For surely I had my accustomed strength, when first I overthrew Lyrnessus' walls, or when I won the isle of Tenedos or Thebes (then under King Eetion) and I drenched both with their own peoples' blood, or when the river Caycus ran red with slaughter of its people, or, when twice Telephus felt the virtue of my spear. On this field also, where such heaps lie slain, my right hand surely has proved its true might; and it is mighty.” So he spoke of strength, remembered.

[115] But as if in proof against his own distrust, he hurled a spear against Menoetes, a soldier in the Lycian ranks. The sharp spear tore the victim's coat of mail and pierced his breast beneath. Achilles, when he saw his dying head strike on the earth wrenched the same spear from out the reeking wound, and said, “This is the hand, and this the spear I conquered with; and I will use the same against him who in luck escaped their power; and the result should favor as I pray the helpful gods.” And, as he said such words, in haste he hurled his ashen spear, again at Cygnus. It went straight and struck unshunned Resounding on the shoulder of that foe, it bounced back as if it hit a wall or solid cliff. Yet when Achilles saw just where the spear struck, Cygnus there was stained with blood. He instantly rejoiced; but vainly, for it was Menoetes' blood!

[128] Then in a sudden rage, Achilles leaped down headlong from his lofty chariot; and, seeking his god-favored foe, he struck in conflict fiercely, with his gleaming sword. Although he saw that he had pierced both shield and helmet through, he did not harm the foe—his sword was even blunted on the flesh. Achilles could not hold himself for rage, but furious, with his sword-hilt and his shield he battered wildly the uncovered face and hollow-temples of his Trojan foe. Cygnus gave way; Achilles rushed on him, buffeting fiercely, so that he could not recover from the shock. Fear seized upon Cygnus, and darkness swam before his eyes. Then, as he moved back with retreating steps, a large stone hindered him and blocked his way. His back pushed against this, Achilles seized and dashed him violently to the ground. Then pressing with buckler and hard knees the breast of Cygnus, he unlaced the helmet thongs, wound them about the foeman's neck and drew them tightly under his chin, till Cygnus' throat could take no breath of life. Achilles rose eager to strip his conquered foe but found his empty armor, for the god of ocean had changed the victim into that white bird whose name he lately bore.

CAENEUS TRANSFORMED INTO A BIRD

[146] There was a truce for many days after this opening fight while both sides resting, laid aside their arms. A watchful guard patroled the Phrygian walls; the Grecian trenches had their watchful guard. Then, on a festal day, Achilles gave the blood of a slain heifer to obtain the favor of Athena for their cause. The entrails burned upon the altar, while the odor, grateful to the deities, was mounting to the skies. When sacred rites were done, a banquet for the heroes was served on their tables. There the Grecian chiefs reclined on couches; while they satisfied themselves with roasted flesh, and banished cares: and thirst with wine. Nor harp nor singing voice nor long pipe made of boxwood pierced with holes, delighted them. They talked of their own deeds and valor, all that thrilling night: and even the strength of enemies whom they had met and overcome. What else could they admit or think of, while the great Achilles spoke or listened to them? But especially the recent victory over Cygnus held them ardent. Wonderful it seemed to them that such a youth could be composed of flesh not penetrable by the sharpest spear; of flesh which blunted even hardened steel, and never could be wounded. All the Greeks, and even Achilles wondered at the thought. Then Nestor said to them: “During your time, Cygnus has been the only man you knew who could despise all weapons and whose flesh could not be pierced by thrust of sword or spear. But long ago I saw another man able to bear unharmed a thousand strokes, Caeneus of Thessaly, Caeneus who lived upon Mt. Othrys. He was famed in war yet, strange to say, by birth he was a woman!”

[175] Then all expressed the greatest wonderment, and begged to hear the story of his life. Achilles cried, “O eloquent old man! The wisdom of our age! All of us wish to hear, who was this Caeneus? Why was he changed to the other sex? in what campaigns, and in what wars was he so known to you? Who conquered him, if any ever did?” The aged man replied to them with care:—“Although my great age is a harm to me, and many actions of my early days escape my memory; yet, most of them are well remembered. Nothing of old days, amid so many deeds of war and peace, can be more firmly fixed upon my mind than the strange story I shall tell of him. If long extent of years made anyone a witness of most wonderful events and many, truly I may say to you that I have lived two hundred years; and now have entered my third century.

[189] "The daughter of Elatus, Caenis, was remarkable for charm—most beautiful of all Thessalian maidens—many sighed for her in vain through all the neighboring towns and yours, Achilles, for that was her home. But Peleus did not try to win her love, for he was either married at that time to your dear mother, or was pledged to her. Caenis never became the willing bride of any suitor; but report declares, while she was walking on a lonely shore, the god of ocean saw and ravished her. And in the joy of that love Neptune said, `Request of me whatever you desire, and nothing shall deny your dearest wish!’—the story tells us that he made this pledge. And Caenis said to Neptune, `The great wrong, which I have suffered from you justifies the wonderful request that I must make; I ask that I may never suffer such an injury again. Grant I may be no longer woman, and I'll ask no more.’ While she was speaking to him, the last words of her strange prayer were uttered in so deep, in such a manly tone, it seemed indeed they must be from a man.—That was a fact: Neptune not only had allowed her prayer but made the new man proof against all wounds of spear or sword. Rejoicing in the gift he went his way as Caeneus Atracides, spent years in every manful exercise, and roamed the plains of northern Thessaly.

[210] “The son of bold Ixion, Pirithous wedding Hippodame, had asked as guests the cloud-born centaurs to recline around the ordered tables, in a cool cave, set under some shading trees. Thessalian chiefs were there and I myself was with them there. The festal place resounded with the rout in noisy clamor, singing nuptial verse; and in the great room, filled with smoking fire, the maiden came escorted by a crowd of matrons and young married women; she most beautiful of all that lovely throng. And so Pirithous, the fortunate son, of bold Ixion, was so praised by all, for his pure joy and lovely wife, it seemed his very blessings must have led to fatal harm: for savage Eurytus, wildest of the wild centaurs, now inflamed with sudden envy, drunkenness, and lust, upset the tables and made havoc there so dreadful, that the banquet suddenly was changed from love to uproar. Seized by the hair, the bride was violently dragged away. When Eurytus caught up Hippodame each one of all the centaurs took at will the maid or matron that he longed for most. The palace, seeming like a captured town, resounded with affrighted shrieks of women.

[226] "At once we all sprang up. And Theseus cried, `What madness, Eurytus, has driven you to this vile wickedness! While I have life, you dare attack Pirithous. You know not what you do, for one wrong injures both!’ The valiant hero did not merely talk: he pushed them off as they were pressing on, and rescued her whom Eurytus had seized. Since Eurytus could not defend such deeds with words, he turned and beat with violent hands the face of him who saved the bride and struck his generous breast. By chance, an ancient bowl was near at hand. This rough with figures carved, the son of Aegeus caught and hurled it full in that vile centaur's face. He, spouting out thick gouts of blood, and bleeding from his wounds—his brains and wine mixed,—kicked the blood-soaked sand. His double membered centaur brothers, wild with passion at his death, all shouted out, `To arms! to arms!’ Their courage raised by wine! In their first onset, hurled cups flew about, and shattered wine casks, hollow basins— things before adapted to a banquet, now for death and carnage in the furious fight.

[245] "Amycus first (Opinion's son) began to spoil the inner sanctuary of its gifts. He snatched up from that shrine a chandelier, adorned with glittering lamps, and lifted high, with all the force of one who strives to break the bull s white neck with sacrificial axe, he dashed it at the head of Celadon, one of the Lapithae, and crushed his skull into the features of his face. His eyes leaped from his sockets, and the shattered bones of his smashed face gave way so that his nose was driven back and fastened in his throat. But Belates of Pella tore away a table-leg of maple wood and felled Amycus to the ground; his sunken chin cast down upon his breast; and, as he spat his teeth out mixed with blood, a second blow despatched him to the shades of Tartarus.

[258] "Gryneus, seeing a smoking altar, cried, `Good use for this,’ with which words he raised up that heavy, blazing altar. Hurling it into the middle of the Lapithae, he struck down Broteas and Orius: Mycale, mother of that Orius, was famous for her incantations, which she had often used to conjure down the shining twin-horns of the unwilling moon. Exadius threatened, `You shall not escape! Let me but have a weapon!’ And with that, he whirled the antlers of a votive stag, which he found there, hung on a tall pine-tree; and with that double-branching horn he pierced the eyes of Gryneus, and he gouged them out. One eye stuck to the horn; the other rolled down on his beard, to which it strictly clung in dreadful clotted gore.

[271] "Then Rhoetus snatched a blazing brand of plum-wood from an altar and whirling it upon the right, smashed through the temples of Charaxus, wonderful with golden hair. Seized by the violent flames, his yellow locks burned fiercely, as a field of autumn grain; and even the scorching blood gave from the sore wound a terrific noise as a red-hot iron in pincers which the smith lifts out and plunges in the tepid pool, hissing and sizzling. Charaxus shook the fire from his burnt locks; and heaved up on his shoulders a large threshold stone torn from the ground—a weight sufficient for a team of oxen. The vast weight impeded him, so that it could not even touch his foe—and yet, the massive stone did hit his friend, Cometes, who was standing near to him, and crushed him down. Then Rhoetus, crazed with joy, exulting yelled, `I pray that all of you may be so strong!’ Wielding his half-burnt stake with heavy blows again and again, he broke the sutures of his enemy's skull, until the bones were mingled with his oozing brains.

[290] "Victorious, then rushed he upon Evagrus, and Corythus and Dryas. First of these was youthful Corythus, whose cheeks were then just covered with soft down. When he fell dead, Evagrus cried, `What glory do you get, killing a boy?’ But Rhoetus did not give him time for uttering one word more. He pushed the red hot stake into the foeman's mouth, while he still spoke, and down into his lungs. He then pursued the savage Dryas, while whirling the red fire fast about his head; but not with like success, for, while he still rejoiced in killings, Dryas turned and pierced him with a stake where neck and shoulder meet. Rhoetus groaned and with a great effort pulled the stake out from the bone, then fled away, drenched in his blood. And Orneus followed him. Lycabas fled, and Medon with a wound in his right shoulder. Thaumas and Pisenor and Mermerus fled with them. Mermerus, who used to excell all others in a race, ran slowly, crippled by a recent wound. Pholus and Melaneus ran for their lives and with them Abas, hunter of wild boars and Asbolus, the augur, who in vain had urged his friends to shun that hapless fight. As Nessus joined the rout, he said to him, `You need not flee, for you shall be reserved a victim for the bow of Hercules!’ But neither Lycidas, Eurynomus nor Areos, nor Imbreus had escaped from death: for all of these the strong right hand of Dryas pierced, as they confronted him. Crenaeus there received a wound in front. Although he turned in flight, as he looked back, a heavy javelin between his eyes pierced through him, where his nose and forehead joined.

[316] “In all this uproar, Aphidas lay flat, in endless slumber from the wine he drank, incessant, and his nerveless hand still held the cup of mixed wine, as he lay full stretched, upon a shaggy bear-skin from Mount Ossa. When Phorbas saw him, harmless in that sleep, he laid his fingers in his javelin's thong, and shouted loudly, `Mix your wine, down there, with waters of the Styx!’ And stopping talk, let fly his javelin at the sleeping youth—the ashen shaft, iron-tipped, was driven through his neck, exposed, as he by chance lay there—his head thrown back. He did not even feel a touch of death—and from his deep-pierced throat his crimson blood flowed out upon the couch, and in the wine-bowl still grasped in his hand.

[327] "I saw Petraeus when he strove to tear up from the earth, an acorn-bearing oak. And, while he struggled with it, back and forth, and was just ready to wrench up the trunk, Pirithous hurled a well aimed spear at him, transfixed his ribs, and pinned his body tight, writhing, to that hard oak: and Lycus fell and Chromis fell, before Pirithous. They gave less glory to the conqueror than Helops or than Dictys. Helops was killed by a javelin, which pierced his temples from the right side, clear through to his left ear. And Dictys, running in a desperate haste, hoping in vain, to escape Ixion's son, slipped on the steep edge of a precipice; and, as he fell down headlong crashed into the top of a huge ash-tree, which impaled his dying body on its broken spikes.

[341] "Aphareus, eager to avenge him tried to lift a rock from that steep mountain side; but as he heaved, the son of Aegeus struck him squarely with an oaken club; and smashed, and broke the huge bones of that centaur's arm. He has no time, and does not want to give that useless foe to death. He leaps upon the back of tall Bienor, never trained to carry riders, and he fixed his knees firm in the centaur's ribs, and holding tight to the long hair, seized by his left hand, struck and shattered the hard features and fierce face and bony temples with his club of gnarled strong oak. And with it, he struck to the ground Nedymnus and Lycopes, dart expert, and Hippasus, whose beard hid all his breast. And Rhipheus taller than the highest trees and Thereus, who would carry home alive the raging bears, caught in Thessalian hills. Demoleon could no longer stand and look on Theseus and his unrestrained success. He struggled with vast effort to tear up an old pine, trunk and all, with its long roots, and, failing shortly in that first attempt, he broke it off and hurled it at his foe. But Theseus saw the pine tree in its flight and, warned by Pallas, got beyond its range—his boast was, Pallas had directed him! And yet, the missle was not launched in vain. It sheared the left shoulder and the breast from tall Crantor. He, Achilles, was your father's armor bearer and was given by King Amyntor, when he sued for peace.

[366] "When Peleus at a distance saw him torn and mangled, he exclaimed, `At least receive this sacrifice, O Crantor! most beloved! Dearest of young men!’ And with sturdy arm and all his strength of soul as well, he hurled his ashen lance against Demoleon, which piercing through his shivered ribs, hung there and quivered in the bones. The centaur wrenched the wooden shaft out, with his frenzied hands, but could not move the pointed head, which stuck within his lungs. His very anguish gave him such a desperation, that he rose against his foe and trampled and beat down the hero with his hoofs, Peleus allowed the blows to fall on helm and ringing shield. Protected so, he watched his time and thrust up through the centaur's shoulder. By one stroke he pierced two breasts, where horse and man-form met. Before this, Peleus with the spear had killed both Myles and Phlegraeus and with the sword Iphinous and Clanis. Now he killed Dorylas, who was clad in a wolfskin cap and fought with curving bull's horns dripping blood.

[383] "To him I said, for courage gave me strength, `Your horns! how much inferior to my steel!’ -- and threw my spear. Since he could not avoid the gleaming point, he held up his right hand to shield his forehead from the threatened wound. His hand was pierced and pinned against his forehead. He shouted madly. Peleus, near him while he stood there pinned and helpless with his wound, struck him with sharp sword in the belly deep. He leaped forth fiercely, as he trailed his bowels upon the ground, with his entangled legs treading upon them, bursting them, he fell with empty belly, lifeless to the earth.

[393] "Cyllarus, beauty did not save your life—if beauty is in any of your tribe—your golden beard was in its early growth, your golden hair came flowing to your shoulders. in your bright face there was a pleasing glance. The neck and shoulders and the hands and breast: and every aspect of his human form resembled those admired statues which our gifted artists carve. Even the shape of the fine horse beneath the human form was perfect too. Give him the head and neck of a full-blooded horse, and he would seem a steed for Castor, for his back was shaped so comfortable to be sat upon and muscle swelled upon his arching chest. His lustrous body was as black as pitch, and yet his legs and flowing tail were white as snow. Many a female of his kind loved him, but only Hylonome gained his love. There was no other centaur maid so beautiful as she within the woods. By coaxing ways she had won Cyllarus, by loving and confessing love. By daintiness, so far as that was possible in one of such a form, she held his love; for now she smoothed her long locks with a comb; and now she decked herself with rosemary and now with violets or with roses in her hair; and sometimes she wore lilies, white as snow; and twice each day she bathed her lovely face, in the sweet stream that falls down from the height of wooded Pagasa; and daily, twice she dipped her body in the stream. She wore upon her shoulders and left side a skin, greatly becoming, of selected worth. Their love was equal, and together they would wander over mountain-sides, and rest together in cool caves; and so it was, they went together to that palace-cave, known to the Lapithae. Together they fought fiercely in this battle, side by side. Thrown by an unknown hand, a javelin pierced Cyllarus, just below the fatal spot where the chest rises to the neck—his heart, though only slightly wounded, grew quite cold, and his whole body felt cold, afterwards, as quickly as the weapon was drawn out. Then Hylonome held in her embrace the dying body; fondled the dread wound and, fixing her lips closely to his lips endeavored to hold back his dying breath. But soon she saw that he indeed was dead. With mourning words, which clamor of the fight prevented me from hearing, she threw herself on the spear that pierced her Cyllarus and fell upon his breast, embracing him in death.

[429] “Another sight still comes before my eyes, the centaur Phaeocomes with his log. He wore six lion skins well wrapped around his body, and with fixed connecting knots they covered him, both horse and man. He hurled a trunk two yokes of oxen scarce could move and struck the hapless son of Olenus a crushing blow upon the head. The broad round dome was shattered, and his dying brains oozed out through hollow nostrils, mouth, and ears, as curdled milk seeps down through oaken twigs; or other liquors, crushed out under weights, flow through a well-pierced sieve and, thick, squeeze out through numerous holes. As he began to spoil his victim—and your father can affirm the truth of this—I thrust my sword deep in the wretch's groin. Chthonius, too, and Teleboas fell there by my sword. The former had a two-pronged stick as his sole weapon, and the other had a spear, with which the wounded me. You see the scar. The old scar still is surely visible! Those were my days of youth and strength, and then I ought to have warred against the citadel of Pergama. I could have checked, or even vanquished, the arms of Hector: but, alas, Hector had not been born, or was perhaps a boy. Old age has dulled my youthful strength. What use is it, to speak of Periphas, who overcame Pyretus, double-formed? Why tell of Ampyx, who with pointless shaft, victorious thrust Echeclus through the face? Macareus, hurling a heavy crowbar pierced Erigdupus and laid him low. A hunting spear that Nessus strongly hurled, was buried in the groin of Cymelus. Do not believe that Mopsus, son of Ampycus, was merely a prophet of events to come, he slew a daring two-formed monster there. Hodites tried in vain to speak, before his death, but could not, for his tongue was nailed against his chin, his chin against his throat.

[459] "Five of the centaurs Caeneus put to death: Styphelus, Bromus, and Antimachus, Elymus, and Pyracmos with his axe. I have forgot their wounds but noted well their names and number. Latreus, huge of limb, had killed and stripped Emathian Halesus. Now in his armor he came rushing out, in years he was between old age and youth; but he retained the vigor of his youth; his temples showed his hair was mixed with grey. Conspicuous for his Macedonian lance and sword and shield, facing both sides -- each way, he insolently clashed his arms; and while he rode poured out these words in empty air. `Shall I put up with one like you, O Caeneus? For you are still a woman in my sight. Have you forgot your birth or that disgrace by which you won reward—at what a price you got the false resemblance to a man?! Consider both your birth, and what you have submitted to! Take up a distaff, and wool basket! Twist your threads with practiced thumb! Leave warfare to your men!’ While puffed-up pride was vaunting out such nonsense, Caeneus hurled a spear and pierced the stretched out running side, just where the man was joined upon the horse. The Centaur, Latreus, raved with pain and struck with his great pike, the face of Caeneus. His pike rebounded as the hail that slants up from the roof; or as a pebble might rebound from hollow drum. Then coming near, he tried to drive a sword into the hard side of Caeneus, but it could not make a wound. ‘Aha!’ he cried, ‘this will not get you off. The good edge of my sword will take your life, although the point is blunt!’ He turned the edge against the flank of Caeneus and swung round the hero's loins with his long, curving arm. The flesh resounded like a marble block, the keen blade shattered on the unyielding skin. And, after Caeneus had exposed his limbs unhurt to Latreus, who stood there amazed, `Come now,’ he said, `and let us try my steel against your body!’ And, clear to the hilt, down through the monster's shoulder-blade he plunged his deadly sword and, turning it again, deep in the Centaur's entrails, made new wounds within his wound.

[494] "Then, quite beside themselves, the double-natured monsters rushed against that single-handed youth with huge uproar, and thrust and hurled their weapons all at him. Their blunted weapons fell and he remained unharmed and without even a mark. That strange sight left them speechless. `Oh what shame!’ at length cried Monychus, `Our mighty host,—a nation of us, are defeated and defied by one who hardly is a man. Although indeed, he is a man, and we have proved, by our weak actions, we are certainly what he was! Shame on us! Oh, what if we have twofold strength, of what avail our huge and mighty limbs, doubly united in the strongest, hugest bodies in this world? And how can I believe that we were born of any goddess? It is surely vain to claim descent of great Ixion, who high-souled, sought Juno for his mighty mate; imagine it, while we are conquered by an enemy, who is but half a man! Wake up! and let us heap tree-trunks and stones and mountains on him! Crush his stubborn life! Let forests smother him to death! Their weight will be as deadly as a hundred wounds!’ While he was raving, by some chance he found a tree thrown down there by the boisterous wind: example to the rest, he threw that tree against the powerful foe; and in short time Othrys was bare of trees, and Pelion had no shade Buried under that mountainous forest heap, Caeneus heaved up against the weight of oaks upon his brawny shoulders piled. But, as the load increased above his face and head, he could not draw a breath. Gasping for life, he strove to lift his head into the air, and sometimes he convulsed the towering mass, as if great Ida, now before our eyes, should tremble with some heaving of the earth.

[522] "What happened to him could not well be known. Some thought his body was borne down by weight into the vast expanse of Tartarus. The son of Ampycus did not agree, for from the middle of the pile we saw a bird with golden wings mount high in air. Before or since, I never saw the like. When Mopsus was aware of that bird's flight—it circled round the camp on rustling wings—with eyes and mind he followed it and shouted aloud: `Hail, glory of the Lapithaean race, their greatest hero, now a bird unique!’ and we believed the verdict of the seer. Our grief increased resentment, and we bore it with disgust that one was overwhelmed by such a multitude. Then in revenge we plied our swords, till half our foes were dead, and only flight and darkness saved the rest.”

PERICLYMENUS IN COMBAT WITH HERCULES

[536] Nestor had hardly told this marvellous tale of bitter strife betwixt the Lapithae and those half-human, vanquished Centaurs, when Tlepolemus, incensed because no word of praise was given to Hercules, replied in this way; “Old sir, it is very strange, you have neglected to say one good word in praise of Hercules. My father told me often, that he overcame in battle those cloud born centaurs.” Nestor, very loth, replied, “Why force me to recall old wrongs, to uncover sorrow buried by the years, that made me hate your father? It is true his deeds were wonderful beyond belief, heaven knows, and filled the earth with well earned praise which I should rather wish might be denied. Deiphobus, the wise Polydamas, and even great Hector get no praise from me. Your father, I recall once overthrew Messene's walls and with no cause destroyed Elis and Pylos and with fire and sword ruined my own loved home. I cannot name all whom he killed. But there were twelve of us, the sons of Neleus and all warrior youths, and all those twelve but me alone he killed. Ten of them met the common fate of war, but sadder was the death of Periclymenus.

[558] “Neptune, the founder of my family, had granted him a power to assume whatever shape he chose, and when he wished to lay that shape aside. When he, in vain, had been transformed to many other shapes he turned into the form of that bird, which is wont to carry in his crooked talons the forked lightnings, favorite bird of Jove. With wings and crooked bill and sharp-hooked talons, he assailed and tore the face of Hercules. But, when he soared away on eagle wings up to the clouds and hovered, poised in air, that hero aimed his too unerring bow and hit him where the new wing joined his side. The wound was not large, but his sinews cut failed to uphold him, and denied his wings their strength and motion. He fell down to earth; his weakened pinions could not catch the air. And the sharp arrow, which had lightly pierced the wing, was driven upward through the side into the left part of my brother's neck. O noble leader of the Rhodian fleet, why should I sing the praise of Hercules? But for my brothers I take no revenge except withholding praise of his great deeds. With you, my friendship will remain secure.” When Nestor with his honied tongue had told these tales of old, they all took wine again and they arose and gave the night to sleep.

THE DEATH OF ACHILLES

[580] But Neptune, who commands the ocean waves, lamented with a father's grief his son, whose person he had changed into a bird—the swan of Phaethon, and towards Achilles, grim victor in the fight, his lasting hate made him pursue resentment far beyond the ordinary manner of the gods. After nine years of war he spoke these words, addressing long haired Sminthean Apollo: “O nephew the most dear to me of all my brother's sons, with me you built in vain the walls of Troy: you must be lost in grief, when you look on those towers so soon to fall? Or do you not lament the multitudes slain in defence of them—To name but one: Does not the ghost of Hector, dragged around his Pergama, appear to you? And yet the fierce Achilles, who is bloodstained more than slaughtering war, lives on this earth, for the destruction of our toil. Let him once get into my power, and I will make him feel the action of my triple spear. But, since I may not meet him face to face, do you with sudden arrow give him death.” The Delian god, Apollo, gave assent, both for his own hate and his uncle's rage. Veiled in a cloud, he found the Trojan host and, there, while bloody strife went on, he saw the hero Paris shoot at intervals his arrows at the nameless host of Greeks. Revealing his divinity, he said: “Why spend your arrows on the common men if you would serve your people, take good aim at great Achilles and at last avenge your hapless brothers whom he gave to death.” He pointed out Achilles—laying low the Trojan warriors with his mighty spear. On him he turned the Trojan's willing bow and guided with his hand the fatal shaft. It was the first joy that old Priam knew since Hector's death. So then Achilles you, who overcame the mighty, were subdued by a coward who seduced a Grecian wife! Ah, if you could not die by manly hands, your choice had been the axe.

[612] Now that great terror of the Trojan race, the glory and defence of the Pelasgians, Achilles, first in war, lay on the pyre. The god of Fire first armed, then burned, his limbs. And now he is but ashes; and of him, so great, renowned and mighty, but a pitiful handful of small dust insufficient for a little urn! But all his glory lives enough to fill the world—a great reward. And in that glory is his real life: in a true sense he will never know the void of Tartarus. But soon his very shield—that men might know to whom it had belonged—brings war, and arms are taken for his arms. Neither Diomed nor Ajax called the less ventured to claim the hero's mighty shield. Menelaus and other warlike chiefs, even Agamemnon, all withdrew their claims. Only the greater Ajax and Ulysses had such assurance that they dared contest for that great prize. Then Agamemnon chose to avoid the odium of preferring one. He bade the Argolic chieftains take their seats within the camp and left to all of them the hearing and decision of the cause.

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