QUINTUS SMYRNAEUS 1
 

QUINTUS SMYRNAEUS was a Greek epic poet who flourished in Smyrna in the late C4th AD. His only surviving work is a fourteen book epic entitled the Fall of Troy (or Posthomerica). The poem covers the period of the Trojan War from the end of Homer's Iliad to the final sack of Troy. Quintus is believed to have drawn heavily from works of the poets of the Epic Cycle, including such now lost works as the Aethiopis, the Iliupersis, and the Little Iliad.

Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Fall of Troy. Translated by Way. A. S. Loeb Classical Library Volume 19. London: William Heinemann, 1913.

This volume is still in print and available new from Amazon.com (click on image right for details). In addition to the translation the book contains the source Greek text and Way's introduction, index and footnotes.

Some more recent translations of Quintus and commentaries on his work appear in the booklist (right).


POSTHOMERICA INDEX

BOOK 1 Amazon Penthesilea

BOOK 2 Ethiopian Memnon

BOOK 3 Death of Achilles

BOOK 4 Funeral Games

BOOK 5 Contest for the Arms

BOOK 6 Teuthranian Eurypylus

BOOK 7 Neoptolemos

BOOK 8 Death of Eurypylus

BOOK 9 Final Battles

BOOK 10 Death of Paris

BOOK 11 Final Battles

BOOK 12 The Trojan Horse

BOOK 13 The Sack of Troy

BOOK 14 The Returns

BOOK 1 OF THE FALL OF TROY, TRANS. BY A. S. WAY

[1] When godlike Hector by Peleides slain passed, and the pyre had ravined up his flesh, and earth had veiled his bones, the Trojans then tarried in Priam's city, sore afraid before the might of stout-heart Aeacus' son: as kine they were, that midst the copses shrink from faring forth to meet a lion grim, but in dense thickets terror-huddled cower; so in their fortress shivered these to see that mighty man. Of those already dead they thought of all whose lives he reft away as by Scamander's outfall on he rushed, and all that in mid-flight to that high wall he slew, how he quelled Hector, how he haled his corse round Troy; -- yea, and of all beside laid low by him since that first day whereon o'er restless seas he brought the Trojans doom. Ay, all these they remembered, while they stayed thus in their town, and o'er them anguished grief hovered dark-winged, as though that very day all Troy with shrieks were crumbling down in fire.

[22] Then from Thermodon, from broad-sweeping streams, came, clothed upon with beauty of Goddesses, Penthesileia -- came athirst indeed for groan-resounding battle, but yet more fleeing abhorred reproach and evil fame, lest they of her own folk should rail on her because of her own sister's death, for whom ever her sorrows waxed, Hippolyte, whom she had struck dead with her mighty spear, not of her will -- 'twas at a stag she hurled. So came she to the far-famed land of Troy. Yea, and her warrior spirit pricked her on, of murder's dread pollution thus to cleanse her soul, and with such sacrifice to appease the Awful Ones, the Erinnyes, who in wrath for her slain sister straightway haunted her unseen: for ever round the sinner's steps they hover; none may 'scape those Goddesses.

[40] And with her followed twelve beside, each one a princess, hot for war and battle grim, far-famous each, yet handmaids unto her: Penthesileia far outshone them all. As when in the broad sky amidst the stars the moon rides over all pre-eminent, when through the thunderclouds the cleaving heavens open, when sleep the fury-breathing winds; so peerless was she mid that charging host. Clonie was there, Polemusa, Derinoe, Evandre, and Antandre, and Bremusa, Hippothoe, dark-eyed Harmothoe, Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, and Thermodosa glorying with the spear. All these to battle fared with warrior-souled Penthesileia: even as when descends Dawn from Olympus' crest of adamant, Dawn, heart-exultant in her radiant steeds amidst the bright-haired Hours; and o'er them all, how flawless-fair soever these may be, her splendour of beauty glows pre-eminent; so peerless amid all the Amazons unto Troy-town Penthesileia came. To right, to left, from all sides hurrying thronged the Trojans, greatly marvelling, when they saw the tireless War-god's child, the mailed maid, like to the Blessed Gods; for in her face glowed beauty glorious and terrible. Her smile was ravishing: beneath her brows, her love-enkindling eyes shone like to stars, and with the crimson rose of shamefastness bright were her cheeks, and mantled over them unearthly grace with battle-prowess clad.

[73] Then joyed Troy's folk, despite past agonies, as when, far-gazing from a height, the hinds behold a rainbow spanning the wide sea, when they be yearning for the heaven-sent shower, when the parched fields be craving for the rain; then the great sky at last is overgloomed, and men see that fair sign of coming wind and imminent rain, and seeing, they are glad, who for their corn-fields' plight sore sighed before; even so the sons of Troy when they beheld there in their land Penthesileia dread afire for battle, were exceeding glad; for when the heart is thrilled with hope of good, all smart of evils past is wiped away. So, after all his sighing and his pain, gladdened a little while was Priam's soul. As when a man who hath suffered many a pang from blinded eyes, sore longing to behold the light, and, if he may not, fain would die, then at the last, by a cunning leech's skill, or by a God's grace, sees the dawn-rose flush, sees the mist rolled back from before his eyes, -- yea, though clear vision come not as of old, yet, after all his anguish, joys to have some small relief, albeit the stings of pain prick sharply yet beneath his eyelids; -- so joyed the old king to see that terrible queen -- the shadowy joy of one in anguish whelmed for slain sons. Into his halls he led the Maid, and with glad welcome honoured her, as one who greets a daughter to her home returned from a far country in the twentieth year; and set a feast before her, sumptuous as battle-glorious kings, who have brought low nations of foes, array in splendour of pomp, with hearts in pride of victory triumphing. And gifts he gave her costly and fair to see, and pledged him to give many more, so she would save the Trojans from the imminent doom. And she such deeds she promised as no man had hoped for, even to lay Achilles low, to smite the wide host of the Argive men, and cast the brands red-flaming on the ships. Ah fool! -- but little knew she him, the lord of ashen spears, how far Achilles' might in warrior-wasting strife o'erpassed her own!

[119] But when Andromache, the stately child of king Eetion, heard the wild queen's vaunt, low to her own soul bitterly murmured she: "Ah hapless! why with arrogant heart dost thou speak such great swelling words? No strength is thine to grapple in fight with Peleus' aweless son. Nay, doom and swift death shall he deal to thee. Alas for thee! What madness thrills thy soul? Fate and the end of death stand hard by thee! Hector was mightier far to wield the spear than thou, yet was for all his prowess slain, slain for the bitter grief of Troy, whose folk the city through looked on him as a God. My glory and his noble parents' glory was he while yet he lived -- O that the earth over my dead face had been mounded high, or ever through his throat the breath of life followed the cleaving spear! But now have I looked -- woe is me! -- on grief unutterable, when round the city those fleet-footed steeds haled him, steeds of Achilles, who had made me widowed of mine hero-husband, made my portion bitterness through all my days." So spake Eetion's lovely-ankled child low to her own soul, thinking on her lord. So evermore the faithful-hearted wife nurseth for her lost love undying grief.

[146] Then in swift revolution sweeping round into the Ocean's deep stream sank the sun, and daylight died. So when the banqueters ceased from the wine-cup and the goodly feast, then did the handmaids spread in Priam's halls for Penthesileia dauntless-souled the couch heart-cheering, and she laid her down to rest; and slumber mist-like overveiled her eyes depths like sweet dew dropping round. From heavens' blue slid down the might of a deceitful dream at Pallas' hest, that so the warrior-maid might see it, and become a curse to Troy and to herself, when strained her soul to meet; the whirlwind of the battle. In this wise the Trito-born, the subtle-souled, contrived: Stood o'er the maiden's head that baleful dream in likeness of her father, kindling her fearlessly front to front to meet in fight fleetfoot Achilles. And she heard the voice, and all her heart exulted, for she weened that she should on that dawning day achieve a mighty deed in battle's deadly toil. Ah, fool, who trusted for her sorrow a dream out of the sunless land, such as beguiles full oft the travail-burdened tribes of men, whispering mocking lies in sleeping ears, and to the battle's travail lured her then!

[173] But when the Dawn, the rosy-ankled, leapt up from her bed, then, clad in mighty strength of spirit, suddenly from her couch uprose Penthesileia. Then did she array her shoulders in those wondrous-fashioned arms given her of the War-god. First she laid beneath her silver-gleaming knees the greaves fashioned of gold, close-clipping the strong limbs. Her rainbow-radiant corslet clasped she then about her, and around her shoulders slung, with glory in her heart, the massy brand whose shining length was in a scabbard sheathed of ivory and silver. Next, her shield unearthly splendid, caught she up, whose rim swelled like the young moon's arching chariot-rail when high o'er Ocean's fathomless-flowing stream she rises, with the space half filled with light betwixt her bowing horns. So did it shine unutterably fair. Then on her head she settled the bright helmet overstreamed with a wild mane of golden-glistering hairs. So stood she, lapped about with flaming mail, in semblance like the lightning, which the might, the never-wearied might of Zeus, to earth hurleth, what time he showeth forth to men fury of thunderous-roaring rain, or swoop resistless of his shouting host of winds. Then in hot haste forth of her bower to pass caught she two javelins in the hand that grasped her shield-band; but her strong right hand laid hold on a huge halberd, sharp of either blade, which terrible Eris gave to Ares' child to be her Titan weapon in the strife that raveneth souls of men. Laughing for glee thereover, swiftly flashed she forth the ring of towers. Her coming kindled all the sons of Troy to rush into the battle forth which crowneth men with glory. Swiftly all hearkened her gathering-ery, and thronging came, champions, yea, even such as theretofore shrank back from standing in the ranks of war against Achilles the all-ravager. But she in pride of triumph on she rode throned on a goodly steed and fleet, the gift of Oreithyia, the wild North-wind's bride, given to her guest the warrior-maid, what time she came to Thrace, a steed whose flying feet could match the Harpies' wings. Riding thereon Penthesileia in her goodlihead left the tall palaces of Troy behind. And ever were the ghastly-visaged Fates thrusting her on into the battle, doomed to be her first against the Greeks -- and last! To right, to left, with unreturning feet the Trojan thousands followed to the fray, the pitiless fray, that death-doomed warrior-maid, followed in throngs, as follow sheep the ram that by the shepherd's art strides before all. So followed they, with battle-fury filled, strong Trojans and wild-hearted Amazons. And like Tritonis seemed she, as she went to meet the Giants, or as flasheth far through war-hosts Eris, waker of onset-shouts. So mighty in the Trojans' midst she seemed, Penthesileia of the flying feet.

[238] Then unto Cronos' Son Laomedon's child upraised his hands, his sorrow-burdened hands, turning him toward the sky-encountering fane of Zeus of Ida, who with sleepless eyes looks ever down on Ilium; and he prayed: "Father, give ear! Vouchsafe that on this day Achaea's host may fall before the hands of this our warrior-queen, the War-god's child; and do thou bring her back unscathed again unto mine halls: we pray thee by the love thou bear'st to Ares of the fiery heart thy son, yea, to her also! is she not most wondrous like the heavenly Goddesses? And is she not the child of thine own seed? Pity my stricken heart withal! Thou know'st all agonies I have suffered in the deaths of dear sons whom the Fates have torn from me by Argive hands in the devouring fight. Compassionate us, while a remnant yet remains of noble Dardanus' blood, while yet this city stands unwasted! Let us know from ghastly slaughter and strife one breathing-space!"

[260] In passionate prayer he spake: -- lo, with shrill scream swiftly to left an eagle darted by and in his talons bare a gasping dove. Then round the heart of Priam all the blood was chilled with fear. Low to his soul he said: "Ne'er shall I see return alive from war Penthesileia!" On that selfsame day the Fates prepared his boding to fulfil; and his heart brake with anguish of despair.

[269] Marvelled the Argives, far across the plain seeing the hosts of Troy charge down on them, and midst them Penthesileia, Ares' child. These seemed like ravening beasts that mid the hills bring grimly slaughter to the fleecy flocks; and she, as a rushing blast of flame she seemed that maddeneth through the copses summer-scorched, when the wind drives it on; and in this wise spake one to other in their mustering host: "Who shall this be who thus can rouse to war the Trojans, now that Hector hath been slain -- these who, we said, would never more find heart to stand against us? Lo now, suddenly forth are they rushing, madly afire for fight! Sure, in their midst some great one kindleth them to battle's toil! Thou verily wouldst say this were a God, of such great deeds he dreams! Go to, with aweless courage let us arm our own breasts: let us summon up our might in battle-fury. We shall lack not help of Gods this day to close in fight with Troy."

[290] So cried they; and their flashing battle-gear cast they about them: forth the ships they poured clad in the rage of fight as with a cloak. Then front to front their battles closed, like beasts of ravin, locked in tangle of gory strife. Clanged their bright mail together, clashed the spears, the corslets, and the stubborn-welded shields and adamant helms. Each stabbed at other's flesh with the fierce brass: was neither ruth nor rest, and all the Trojan soil was crimson-red.

[300] Then first Penthesileia smote and slew Molion; now Persinous falls, and now Eilissus; reeled Antitheus 'neath her spear the pride of Lernus quelled she: down she bore Hippalmus 'neath her horse-hoofs; Haemon's son died; withered stalwart Elasippus' strength. And Derinoe laid low Laogonus, and Clonie Menippus, him who sailed long since from Phylace, led by his lord Protesilaus to the war with Troy. Then was Podarces, son of Iphiclus, heart-wrung with ruth and wrath to see him lie dead, of all battle-comrades best-beloved. Swiftly at Clonie he hurled, the maid fair as a Goddess: plunged the unswerving lance 'twixt hip and hip, and rushed the dark blood forth after the spear, and all her bowels gushed out. Then wroth was Penthesileia; through the brawn of his right arm she drave the long spear's point, she shore atwain the great blood-brimming veins, and through the wide gash of the wound the gore spirted, a crimson fountain. With a groan backward he sprang, his courage wholly quelled by bitter pain; and sorrow and dismay thrilled, as he fled, his men of Phylace. A short way from the fight he reeled aside, and in his friends' arms died in little space. Then with his lance Idomeneus thrust out, and by the right breast stabbed Bremusa. Stilled for ever was the beating of her heart. She fell, as falls a graceful-shafted pine hewn mid the hills by woodmen: heavily, sighing through all its boughs, it crashes down. So with a wailing shriek she fell, and death unstrung her every limb: her breathing soul mingled with multitudinous-sighing winds. Then, as Evandre through the murderous fray with Thermodosa rushed, stood Meriones, a lion in the path, and slew: his spear right to the heart of one he drave, and one stabbed with a lightning sword-thrust 'twixt the hips: leapt through the wounds the life, and fled away. Oileus' fiery son smote Derinoe 'twixt throat and shoulder with his ruthless spear; and on Alcibie Tydeus' terrible son swooped, and on Derimacheia: head with neck clean from the shoulders of these twain he shore w ith ruin-wreaking brand. Together down fell they, as young calves by the massy axe of brawny flesher felled, that, shearing through the sinews of the neck, lops life away. So, by the hands of Tydeus' son laid low upon the Trojan plain, far, far away from their own highland-home, they fell. Nor these alone died; for the might of Sthenelus down on them hurled Cabeirus' corse, who came from Sestos, keen to fight the Argive foe, but never saw his fatherland again. Then was the heart of Paris filled with wrath for a friend slain. Full upon Sthenelus aimed he a shaft death-winged, yet touched him not, despite his thirst for vengeance: otherwhere the arrow glanced aside, and carried death whither the stern Fates guided its fierce wing, and slew Evenor brazen-tasleted, who from Dulichium came to war with Troy. For his death fury-kindled was the son of haughty Phyleus: as a lion leaps upon the flock, so swiftly rushed he: all shrank huddling back before that terrible man. Itymoneus he slew, and Hippasus' son Agelaus: from Miletus brought they war against the Danaan men by Nastes led, the god-like, and Amphimachus mighty-souled. On Mycale they dwelt; beside their home rose Latmus' snowy crests, stretched the long glens of Branchus, and Panormus' water-meads. Maeander's flood deep-rolling swept thereby, which from the Phrygian uplands, pastured o'er by myriad flocks, around a thousand forelands curls, swirls, and drives his hurrying ripples on down to the vine-clad land of Carian men these mid the storm of battle Meges slew, nor these alone, but whomsoe'er his lance black-shafted touched, were dead men; for his breast the glorious Trito-born with courage thrilled to bring to all his foes the day of doom. And Polypoetes, dear to Ares, slew Dresaeus, whom the Nymph Neaera bare to passing-wise Theiodamas for these spread was the bed of love beside the foot of Sipylus the Mountain, where the Gods made Niobe a stony rock, wherefrom tears ever stream: high up, the rugged crag bows as one weeping, weeping, waterfalls cry from far-echoing Hermus, wailing moan o f sympathy: the sky-encountering crests of Sipylus, where alway floats a mist hated of shepherds, echo back the cry. Weird marvel seems that Rock of Niobe to men that pass with feet fear-goaded: there they see the likeness of a woman bowed, in depths of anguish sobbing, and her tears drop, as she mourns grief-stricken, endlessly. Yea, thou wouldst say that verily so it was, viewing it from afar; but when hard by thou standest, all the illusion vanishes; and lo, a steep-browed rock, a fragment rent from Sipylus -- yet Niobe is there, dreeing her weird, the debt of wrath divine, a broken heart in guise of shattered stone.

[411] All through the tangle of that desperate fray stalked slaughter and doom. The incarnate Onset-shout raved through the rolling battle; at her side paced Death the ruthless, and the fearful Fates, beside them strode, and in red hands bare murder and the groans of dying men. That day the beating of full many a heart, Trojan and Argive, was for ever stilled, while roared the battle round them, while the fury of Penthesileia fainted not nor failed; but as amid long ridges of lone hills a lioness, stealing down a deep ravine, springs on the kine with lightning leap, athirst for blood wherein her fierce heart revelleth; so on the Danaans leapt that warrior-maid. And they, their souls were cowed: backward they shrank, and fast she followed, as a towering surge chases across the thunder-booming sea a flying bark, whose white sails strain beneath the wind's wild buffering, and all the air maddens with roaring, as the rollers crash on a black foreland looming on the lee where long reefs fringe the surf-tormented shores. So chased she, and so dashed the ranks asunder triumphant-souled, and hurled fierce threats before: "Ye dogs, this day for evil outrage done to Priam shall ye pay! No man of you shall from mine hands deliver his own life, and win back home, to gladden parents eyes, or comfort wife or children. Ye shall lie dead, ravined on by vultures and by wolves, and none shall heap the earth-mound o'er your clay. Where skulketh now the strength of Tydeus' son, and where the might of Aeacus' scion? Where is Aias' bulk? Ye vaunt them mightiest men of all your rabble. Ha! they will not dare with me to close in battle, lest I drag forth from their fainting frames their craven souls!"

[449] Then heart-uplifted leapt she on the foe, resistless as a tigress, crashing through ranks upon ranks of Argives, smiting now with that huge halberd massy-headed, now hurling the keen dart, while her battle-horse flashed through the fight, and on his shoulder bare quiver and bow death-speeding, close to her hand, if mid that revel of blood she willed to speed the bitter-biting shaft. Behind her swept the charging lines of men fleet-footed, friends and brethren of the man who never flinched from close death-grapple, Hector, panting all the hot breath of the War-god from their breasts, all slaying Danaans with the ashen spear, who fell as frost-touched leaves in autumn fall one after other, or as drops of rain. And aye went up a moaning from earth's breast all blood-bedrenched, and heaped with corse on corse. Horses pierced through with arrows, or impaled on spears, were snorting forth their last of strength with screaming neighings. Men, with gnashing teeth biting the dust, lay gasping, while the steeds of Trojan charioteers stormed in pursuit, trampling the dying mingled with the dead as oxen trample corn in threshing-floors.

[474] Then one exulting boasted mid the host of Troy, beholding Penthesileia rush on through the foes' array, like the black storm that maddens o'er the sea, what time the sun allies his might with winter's Goat-horned Star; and thus, puffed up with vain hope, shouted he: "O friends, in manifest presence down from heaven one of the deathless Gods this day hath come to fight the Argives, all of love for us, yea, and with sanction of almighty Zeus, he whose compassion now remembereth haply strong-hearted Priam, who may boast for his a lineage of immortal blood. For this, I trow, no mortal woman seems, who is so aweless-daring, who is clad in splendour-flashing arms: nay, surely she shall be Athene, or the mighty-souled Enyo -- haply Eris, or the Child of Leto world-renowned. O yea, I look to see her hurl amid yon Argive men mad-shrieking slaughter, see her set aflame yon ships wherein they came long years agone bringing us many sorrows, yea, they came bringing us woes of war intolerable. Ha! to the home-land Hellas ne'er shall these with joy return, since Gods on our side fight."

[500] In overweening exultation so vaunted a Trojan. Fool! -- he had no vision of ruin onward rushing upon himself and Troy, and Penthesileia's self withal. For not as yet had any tidings come of that wild fray to Aias stormy-souled, nor to Achilles, waster of tower and town. But on the grave-mound of Menoetius' son they twain were lying, with sad memories of a dear comrade crushed, and echoing each one the other's groaning. One it was of the Blest Gods who still was holding back these from the battle-tumult far away, till many Greeks should fill the measure up of woeful havoc, slain by Trojan foes and glorious Penthesileia, who pursued with murderous intent their rifled ranks, while ever waxed her valour more and more, and waxed her might within her: never in vain she aimed the unswerving spear-thrust: aye she pierced the backs of them that fled, the breasts of such as charged to meet her. All the long shaft dripped with steaming blood. Swift were her feet as wind as down she swooped. Her aweless spirit failed for weariness nor fainted, but her might was adamantine. The impending Doom, which roused unto the terrible strife not yet Achilles, clothed her still with glory; still aloof the dread Power stood, and still would shed splendour of triumph o'er the death-ordained but for a little space, ere it should quell that Maiden 'neath the hands of Aeaeus' son. In darkness ambushed, with invisible hand ever it thrust her on, and drew her feet destruction-ward, and lit her path to death with glory, while she slew foe after foe. As when within a dewy garden-close, longing for its green springtide freshness, leaps a heifer, and there rangeth to and fro, when none is by to stay her, treading down all its green herbs, and all its wealth of bloom, devouring greedily this, and marring that with trampling feet; so ranged she, Ares' child, through reeling squadrons of Achaea's sons, slew these, and hunted those in panic rout.

[545] From Troy afar the women marvelling gazed at the Maid's battle-prowess. Suddenly a fiery passion for the fray hath seized Antimachus' daughter, Meneptolemus' wife, Tisiphone. Her heart waxed strong, and filled with lust of fight she cried to her fellows all, with desperate-daring words, to spur them on to woeful war, by recklessness made strong. "Friends, let a heart of valour in our breasts awake! Let us be like our lords, who fight with foes for fatherland, for babes, for us, and never pause for breath in that stern strife! Let us too throne war's spirit in our hearts! Let us too face the fight which favoureth none! For we, we women, be not creatures cast in diverse mould from men: to us is given such energy of life as stirs in them. Eyes have we like to theirs, and limbs: throughout fashioned we are alike: one common light we look on, and one common air we breathe: with like food are we nourished -- nay, wherein have we been dowered of God more niggardly than men? Then let us shrink not from the fray see ye not yonder a woman far excelling men in the grapple of fight? Yet is her blood nowise akin to ours, nor fighteth she for her own city. For an alien king she warreth of her own heart's prompting, fears the face of no man; for her soul is thrilled with valour and with spirit invincible. But we -- to right, to left, lie woes on woes about our feet: this mourns beloved sons, and that a husband who for hearth and home hath died; some wail for fathers now no more; some grieve for brethren and for kinsmen lost. Not one but hath some share in sorrow's cup. Behind all this a fearful shadow looms, the day of bondage! Therefore flinch not ye from war, O sorrow-laden! Better far to die in battle now, than afterwards hence to be haled into captivity to alien folk, we and our little ones, in the stern grip of fate leaving behind a burning city, and our husbands' graves."

[589] So cried she, and with passion for stern war thrilled all those women; and with eager speed they hasted to go forth without the wall mail-clad, afire to battle for their town and people: all their spirit was aflame. As when within a hive, when winter-tide is over and gone, loud hum the swarming bees what time they make them ready forth to fare to bright flower-pastures, and no more endure to linger there within, but each to other crieth the challenge-cry to sally forth; even so bestirred themselves the women of Troy, and kindled each her sister to the fray. The weaving-wool, the distaff far they flung, and to grim weapons stretched their eager hands.

[604] And now without the city these had died in that wild battle, as their husbands died and the strong Amazons died, had not one voice of wisdom cried to stay their maddened feet, when with dissuading words Theano spake: "Wherefore, ah wherefore for the toil and strain of battle's fearful tumult do ye yearn, infatuate ones? Never your limbs have toiled in conflict yet. In utter ignorance panting for labour unendurable, ye rush on all-unthinking; for your strength can never be as that of Danaan men, men trained in daily battle. Amazons have joyed in ruthless fight, in charging steeds, from the beginning: all the toil of men do they endure; and therefore evermore the spirit of the War-god thrills them through. They fall not short of men in anything: their labour-hardened frames make great their hearts for all achievement: never faint their knees nor tremble. Rumour speaks their queen to be a daughter of the mighty Lord of War. Therefore no woman may compare with her in prowess -- if she be a woman, not a God come down in answer to our prayers. Yea, of one blood be all the race of men, yet unto diverse labours still they turn; and that for each is evermore the best whereto he bringeth skill of use and wont. Therefore do ye from tumult of the fray hold you aloof, and in your women's bowers before the loom still pace ye to and fro; and war shall be the business of our lords. Lo, of fair issue is there hope: we see the Achaeans falling fast: we see the might of our men waxing ever: fear is none of evil issue now: the pitiless foe beleaguer not the town: no desperate need there is that women should go forth to war."

[643] So cried she, and they hearkened to the words of her who had garnered wisdom from the years; so from afar they watched the fight. But still Penthesileia brake the ranks, and still before her quailed the Achaeans: still they found nor screen nor hiding-place from imminent death. As bleating goats are by the blood-stained jaws of a grim panther torn, so slain were they. In each man's heart all lust of battle died, and fear alone lived. This way, that way fled the panic-stricken: some to earth had flung the armour from their shoulders; some in dust grovelled in terror 'neath their shields: the steeds fled through the rout unreined of charioteers. In rapture of triumph charged the Amazons, with groan and scream of agony died the Greeks. Withered their manhood was in that sore strait; brief was the span of all whom that fierce maid mid the grim jaws of battle overtook. As when with mighty roaring bursteth down a storm upon the forest-trees, and some uprendeth by the roots, and on the earth dashes them down, the tail stems blossom-crowned, and snappeth some athwart the trunk, and high whirls them through air, till all confused they lie a ruin of splintered stems and shattered sprays; so the great Danaan host lay, dashed to dust by doom of Fate, by Penthesileia's spear.

[671] But when the very ships were now at point to be by hands of Trojans set aflame, then battle-bider Aias heard afar the panic-cries, and spake to Aeacus' son: "Achilles, all the air about mine ears is full of multitudinous cries, is full of thunder of battle rolling nearer aye. Let us go forth then, ere the Trojans win unto the ships, and make great slaughter there of Argive men, and set the ships aflame. Foulest reproach such thing on thee and me should bring; for it beseems not that the seed of mighty Zeus should shame the sacred blood of hero-fathers, who themselves of old with Hercules the battle-eager sailed to Troy, and smote her even at her height of glory, when Laomedon was king. Ay, and I ween that our hands even now shall do the like: we too are mighty men."

[690] He spake: the aweless strength of Aeacus' son hearkened thereto, for also to his ears
By this the roar of bitter battle came. Then hasted both, and donned their warrior-gear all splendour-gleaming: now, in these arrayed facing that stormy-tossing rout they stand. Loud clashed their glorious armour: in their souls a battle-fury like the War-god's wrath maddened; such might was breathed into these twain by Atrytone, Shaker of the Shield, as on they pressed. With joy the Argives saw the coming of that mighty twain: they seemed in semblance like A1oeus' giant sons who in the old time made that haughty vaunt of piling on Olympus' brow the height of Ossa steeply-towering, and the crest of sky-encountering Pelion, so to rear a mountain-stair for their rebellious rage to scale the highest heaven. Huge as these the sons of Aeacus seemed, as forth they strode to stem the tide of war. A gladsome sight to friends who have fainted for their coming, now onward they press to crush triumphant foes. Many they slew with their resistless spears; as when two herd-destroying lions come on sheep amid the copses feeding, far from help of shepherds, and in heaps on heaps slay them, till they have drunken to the full of blood, and filled their maws insatiate with flesh, so those destroyers twain slew on, spreading wide havoc through the hosts of Troy.

[721] There Deiochus and gallant Hyllus fell by Alas slain, and fell Eurynomus lover of war, and goodly Enyeus died. But Peleus' son burst on the Amazons smiting Antandre, Polemusa then, Antibrote, fierce-souled Hippothoe, hurling Harmothoe down on sisters slain. Then hard on all their-reeling ranks he pressed with Telamon's mighty-hearted son; and now before their hands battalions dense and strong crumbled as weakly and as suddenly as when in mountain-folds the forest-brakes shrivel before a tempest-driven fire.

[734] When battle-eager Penthesileia saw these twain, as through the scourging storm of war like ravening beasts they rushed, to meet them there she sped, as when a leopard grim, whose mood is deadly, leaps from forest-coverts forth, lashing her tail, on hunters closing round, while these, in armour clad, and putting trust in their long spears, await her lightning leap; so did those warriors twain with spears upswung wait Penthesileia. Clanged the brazen plates about their shoulders as they moved. And first leapt the long-shafted lance sped from the hand of goodly Penthesileia. Straight it flew to the shield of Aeacus' son, but glancing thence this way and that the shivered fragments sprang as from a rock-face: of such temper were the cunning-hearted Fire-god's gifts divine. Then in her hand the warrior-maid swung up a second javelin fury-winged, against Aias, and with fierce words defied the twain: "Ha, from mine hand in vain one lance hath leapt! But with this second look I suddenly to quell the strength and courage of two foes, -- ay, though ye vaunt you mighty men of war amid your Danaans! Die ye shall, and so lighter shall be the load of war's affliction that lies upon the Trojan chariot-lords. Draw nigh, come through the press to grips with me, so shall ye learn what might wells up in breasts of Amazons. With my blood is mingled war! No mortal man begat me, but the Lord of War, insatiate of the battle-cry. Therefore my might is more than any man's."

[767] With scornful laughter spake she: then she hurled her second lance; but they in utter scorn laughed now, as swiftly flew the shaft, and smote the silver greave of Aias, and was foiled thereby, and all its fury could not scar the flesh within; for fate had ordered not that any blade of foes should taste the blood of Aias in the bitter war. But he recked of the Amazon naught, but turned him thence to rush upon the Trojan host, and left Penthesileia unto Peleus' son alone, for well he knew his heart within hat she, for all her prowess, none the less would cost Achilles battle-toil as light, as effortless, as doth the dove the hawk.

[782] Then groaned she an angry groan that she had sped her shafts in vain; and now with scoffing speech to her in turn the son of Peleus spake: "Woman, with what vain vauntings triumphing hast thou come forth against us, all athirst to battle with us, who be mightier far than earthborn heroes? We from Cronos' Son, the Thunder-roller, boast our high descent. Ay, even Hector quailed, the battle-swift, before us, e'en though far away he saw our onrush to grim battle. Yea, my spear slew him, for all his might. But thou -- thine heart is utterly mad, that thou hast greatly dared to threaten us with death this day! On thee thy latest hour shall swiftly come -- is come! Thee not thy sire the War-god now shall pluck out of mine hand, but thou the debt shalt pay of a dark doom, as when mid mountain-folds a pricket meets a lion, waster of herds. What, woman, hast thou heard not of the heaps of slain, that into Xanthus' rushing stream were thrust by these mine hands? -- or hast thou heard in vain, because the Blessed Ones have stol'n wit and discretion from thee, to the end that Doom's relentless gulf might gape for thee?"

[807] He spake; he swung up in his mighty hand and sped the long spear warrior-slaying, wrought by Chiron, and above the right breast pierced the battle-eager maid. The red blood leapt forth, as a fountain wells, and all at once fainted the strength of Penthesileia's limbs; dropped the great battle-axe from her nerveless hand; a mist of darkness overveiled her eyes, and anguish thrilled her soul. Yet even so still drew she difficult breath, still dimly saw the hero, even now in act to drag her from the swift steed's back. Confusedly she thought: "Or shall I draw my mighty sword, and bide Achilles' fiery onrush, or hastily cast me from my fleet horse down to earth, and kneel unto this godlike man, and with wild breath promise for ransoming great heaps of brass and gold, which pacify the hearts of victors never so athirst for blood, if haply so the murderous might of Aeacus' son may hearken and may spare, or peradventure may compassionate my youth, and so vouchsafe me to behold mine home again? -- for O, I long to live!"

[831] So surged the wild thoughts in her; but the Gods ordained it otherwise. Even now rushed on in terrible anger Peleus' son: he thrust with sudden spear, and on its shaft impaled the body of her tempest-footed steed, even as a man in haste to sup might pierce flesh with the spit, above the glowing hearth to roast it, or as in a mountain-glade a hunter sends the shaft of death clear through the body of a stag with such winged speed that the fierce dart leaps forth beyond, to plunge into the tall stem of an oak or pine. So that death-ravening spear of Peleus' son clear through the goodly steed rushed on, and pierced Penthesileia. Straightway fell she down into the dust of earth, the arms of death, in grace and comeliness fell, for naught of shame dishonoured her fair form. Face down she lay on the long spear outgasping her last breath, stretched upon that fleet horse as on a couch; like some tall pine snapped by the icy mace of Boreas, earth's forest-fosterling reared by a spring to stately height, amidst long mountain-glens, a glory of mother earth; so from the once fleet steed low fallen lay Penthesileia, all her shattered strength brought down to this, and all her loveliness.

[858] Now when the Trojans saw the Warrior-queen struck down in battle, ran through all their lines a shiver of panic. Straightway to their walls turned they in flight, heart-agonized with grief. As when on the wide sea, 'neath buffetings of storm-blasts, castaways whose ship is wrecked escape, a remnant of a crew, forspent with desperate conflict with the cruel sea: late and at last appears the land hard by, appears a city: faint and weary-limbed with that grim struggle, through the surf they strain to land, sore grieving for the good ship 1ost, and shipmates whom the terrible surge dragged down to nether gloom; so, Troyward as they fled from battle, all those Trojans wept for her, the Child of the resistless War-god, wept for friends who died in groan-resounding fight.

[874] Then over her with scornful laugh the son of Peleus vaunted: "In the dust lie there a prey to teeth of dogs, to ravens' beaks, thou wretched thing! Who cozened thee to come forth against me? And thoughtest thou to fare home from the war alive, to bear with thee right royal gifts from Priam the old king, thy guerdon for slain Argives? Ha, 'twas not the Immortals who inspired thee with this thought, who know that I of heroes mightiest am, the Danaans' light of safety, but a woe to Trojans and to thee, O evil-starred! Nay, but it was the darkness-shrouded Fates and thine own folly of soul that pricked thee on to leave the works of women, and to fare to war, from which strong men shrink shuddering back."

[891] So spake he, and his ashen spear the son of Peleus drew from that swift horse, and from
Penthesileia in death's agony. Then steed and rider gasped their lives away slain by one spear. Now from her head he plucked the helmet splendour-flashing like the beams of the great sun, or Zeus' own glory-light. Then, there as fallen in dust and blood she lay, rose, like the breaking of the dawn, to view 'neath dainty-pencilled brows a lovely face, lovely in death. The Argives thronged around, and all they saw and marvelled, for she seemed like an Immortal. In her armour there upon the earth she lay, and seemed the Child of Zeus, the tireless Huntress Artemis sleeping, what time her feet forwearied are with following lions with her flying shafts over the hills far-stretching. She was made a wonder of beauty even in her death by Aphrodite glorious-crowned, the Bride of the strong War-god, to the end that he, the son of noble Peleus, might be pierced with the sharp arrow of repentant love. The warriors gazed, and in their hearts they prayed that fair and sweet like her their wives might seem, laid on the bed of love, when home they won. Yea, and Achilles' very heart was wrung with love's remorse to have slain a thing so sweet, who might have borne her home, his queenly bride, to chariot-glorious Phthia; for she was flawless, a very daughter of the Gods, divinely tall, and most divinely fair.

[923] Then Ares' heart was thrilled with grief and rage for his child slain. Straight from Olympus down he darted, swift and bright as thunderbolt terribly flashing from the mighty hand of Zeus, far leaping o'er the trackless sea, or flaming o'er the land, while shuddereth all wide Olympus as it passeth by. So through the quivering air with heart aflame swooped Ares armour-clad, soon as he heard the dread doom of his daughter. For the Gales, the North-wind's fleet-winged daughters, bare to him, as through the wide halls of the sky he strode, the tidings of the maiden's woeful end. Soon as he heard it, like a tempest-blast down to the ridges of Ida leapt he: quaked under his feet the long glens and ravines deep-scored, all Ida's torrent-beds, and all far-stretching foot-hills. Now had Ares brought a day of mourning on the Myrmidons, but Zeus himself from far Olympus sent mid shattering thunders terror of levin-bolts which thick and fast leapt through the welkin down before his feet, blazing with fearful flames. And Ares saw, and knew the stormy threat of the mighty-thundering Father, and he stayed his eager feet, now on the very brink of battle's turmoil. As when some huge crag thrust from a beetling cliff-brow by the winds and torrent rains, or lightning-lance of Zeus, leaps like a wild beast, and the mountain-glens fling back their crashing echoes as it rolls in mad speed on, as with resistless swoop of bound on bound it rushes down, until it cometh to the levels of the plain, and there perforce its stormy flight is stayed;

[958] So Ares, battle-eager Son of Zeus, was stayed, how loth soe'er; for all the Gods to the Ruler of the Blessed needs must yield, seeing he sits high-throned above them all, clothed in his might unspeakable. Yet still many a wild thought surged through Ares' soul, urging him now to dread the terrible threat of Cronos' wrathful Son, and to return heavenward, and now to reck not of his Sire, but with Achilles' blood to stain those hands, the battle-tireless. At the last his heart remembered how that many and many a son of Zeus himself in many a war had died, nor in their fall had Zeus availed them aught. Therefore he turned him from the Argives -- else, down smitten by the blasting thunderbolt, with Titans in the nether gloom he had lain, who dared defy the eternal will of Zeus.

[975] Then did the warrior sons of Argos strip with eager haste from corpses strown all round the blood-stained spoils. But ever Peleus' son gazed, wild with all regret, still gazed on her, the strong, the beautiful, laid in the dust; and all his heart was wrung, was broken down with sorrowing love, deep, strong as he had known when that beloved friend Patroclus died.

[984] Loud jeered Thersites, mocking to his face:"Thou sorry-souled Achilles! art not shamed to let some evil Power beguile thine heart to pity of a pitiful Amazon whose furious spirit purposed naught but ill to us and ours? Ha, woman-mad art thou, and thy soul lusts for this thing, as she were some lady wise in household ways, with gifts and pure intent for honoured wedlock wooed! Good had it been had her spear reached thine heart, the heart that sighs for woman-creatures still! Thou carest not, unmanly-souled, not thou, for valour's glorious path, when once thine eye lights on a woman! Sorry wretch, where now is all thy goodly prowess? where thy wit? And where the might that should beseem a king all-stainless? Dost not know what misery this self-same woman-madness wrought for Troy? Nothing there is to men more ruinous than lust for woman's beauty; it maketh fools of wise men. But the toil of war attains renown. To him that is a hero indeed glory of victory and the War-god's works are sweet. 'Tis but the battle-blencher craves the beauty and the bed of such as she!"

[1009] So railed he long and loud: the mighty heart of Peleus' son leapt into flame of wrath. A sudden buffet of his resistless hand smote 'neath the railer's ear, and all his teeth were dashed to the earth: he fell upon his face: forth of his lips the blood in torrent gushed: swift from his body fled the dastard soul of that vile niddering. Achaea's sons rejoiced thereat, for aye he wont to rail on each and all with venomous gibes, himself a scandal and the shame of all the host. Then mid the warrior Argives cried a voice: "Not good it is for baser men to rail on kings, or secretly or openly; for wrathful retribution swiftly comes. The Lady of Justice sits on high; and she who heapeth woe on woe on humankind, even Ate, punisheth the shameless tongue."

[1027] So mid the Danaans cried a voice: nor yet within the mighty soul of Peleus' son lulled was the storm of wrath, but fiercely he spake: "Lie there in dust, thy follies all forgot! 'Tis not for knaves to beard their betters: once thou didst provoke Odysseus' steadfast soul, babbling with venomous tongue a thousand gibes, and didst escape with life; but thou hast found the son of Peleus not so patient-souled, who with one only buffet from his hand unkennels thy dog's soul! A bitter doom hath swallowed thee: by thine own rascalry thy life is sped. Hence from Achaean men, and mouth out thy revilings midst the dead!"

[1041] So spake the valiant-hearted aweless son of Aeacus. But Tydeus' son alone of all the Argives was with anger stirred against Achilles for Thersites slain, seeing these twain were of the self-same blood, the one, proud Tydeus' battle-eager son, the other, seed of godlike Agrius: brother of noble Oeneus Agrius was; and Oeneus in the Danaan land begat Tydeus the battle-eager, son to whom was stalwart Diomedes. Therefore wroth was he for slain Thersites, yea, had raised against the son of Peleus vengeful hands, except the noblest of Aehaea's sons had thronged around him, and besought him sore, and held him back therefrom. With Peleus' son also they pleaded; else those mighty twain, the mightiest of all Argives, were at point to close with clash of swords, so stung were they with bitter wrath; yet hearkened they at last to prayers of comrades, and were reconciled.

[1062] Then of their pity did the Atreid kings -- for these too at the imperial loveliness of Penthesileia marvelled -- render up her body to the men of Troy, to bear unto the burg of Ilus far-renowned with all her armour. For a herald came asking this boon for Priam; for the king longed with deep yearning of the heart to lay that battle-eager maiden, with her arms, and with her war-horse, in the great earth-mound of old Laomedon. And so he heaped a high broad pyre without the city wall: upon the height thereof that warrior-queen they laid, and costly treasures did they heap around her, all that well beseems to burn around a mighty queen in battle slain. And so the Fire-god's swift-upleaping might, the ravening flame, consumed her. All around the people stood on every hand, and quenched the pyre with odorous wine. Then gathered they the bones, and poured sweet ointment over them, and laid them in a casket: over all shed they the rich fat of a heifer, chief among the herds that grazed on Ida's slope. And, as for a beloved daughter, rang all round the Trojan men's heart-stricken wail, as by the stately wall they buried her on an outstanding tower, beside the bones of old Laomedon, a queen beside a king. This honour for the War-god's sake they rendered, and for Penthesileia's own. And in the plain beside her buried they the Amazons, even all that followed her to battle, and by Argive spears were slain. For Atreus' sons begrudged not these the boon of tear-besprinkled graves, but let their friends, the warrior Trojans, draw their corpses forth, yea, and their own slain also, from amidst the swath of darts o'er that grim harvest-field. Wrath strikes not at the dead: pitied are foes when life has fled, and left them foes no more.

[1103] Far off across the plain the while uprose smoke from the pyres whereon the Argives laid the many heroes overthrown and slain by Trojan hands what time the sword devoured; and multitudinous lamentation wailed over the perished. But above the rest mourned they o'er brave Podarces, who in fight was no less mighty than his hero-brother Protesilaus, he who long ago fell, slain of Hector: so Podarces now, struck down by Penthesileia's spear, hath cast over all Argive hearts the pall of grief. Wherefore apart from him they laid in clay the common throng of slain; but over him toiling they heaped an earth-mound far-descried in memory of a warrior aweless-souled. And in a several pit withal they thrust the niddering Thersites' wretched corse. Then to the ships, acclaiming Aeacus' son, returned they all. But when the radiant day had plunged beneath the Ocean-stream, and night, the holy, overspread the face of earth, then in the rich king Agamemnon's tent feasted the might of Peleus' son, and there sat at the feast those other mighty ones all through the dark, till rose the dawn divine.

  BOOK 2 >>
 
RELATED BOOKS