Classical Texts Library >> Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy >> Book 10




Amazon Penthesilea


Ethiopian Memnon


Death of Achilles


Funeral Games of Achilles


Contest for the Arms


Teuthranian Eurypylus




Death of Eurypylus


Final Battles


Death of Paris


Final Battles


The Trojan Horse


The Sack of Troy


The Returns


[1] Now were the Trojans all without the town of Priam, armour-clad, with battle-cars and chariot-steeds; for still they burnt their dead, and still they feared lest the Achaean men should fall on them. They looked, and saw them come with furious speed against the walls. In haste they cast a hurried earth-mound o'er the slain, for greatly trembled they to see their foes. Then in their sore disquiet spake to them Polydamas, a wise and prudent chief: "Friends, unendurably against us now maddens the war. Go to, let us devise how we may find deliverance from our strait. Still bide the Danaans here, still gather strength: now therefore let us man our stately towers, and thence withstand them, fighting night and day, until yon Danaans weary, and return to Sparta, or, renownless lingering here beside the wall, lose heart. No strength of theirs shall breach the long walls, howsoe'er they strive, for in the imperishable work of Gods weakness is none. Food, drink, we shall not lack, for in King Priam's gold-abounding halls is stored abundant food, that shall suffice for many more than we, through many years, though thrice so great a host at our desire should gather, eager to maintain our cause."

[28] Then chode with him Anchises' valiant son: "Polydamas, wherefore do they call thee wise, who biddest suffer endless tribulations cooped within walls? Never, how long soe'er the Achaeans tarry here, will they lose heart; but when they see us skulking from the field, more fiercely will press on. So ours shall be the sufferance, perishing in our native home, if for long season they beleaguer us. No food, if we be pent within our walls, shall Thebe send us, nor Maeonia wine, but wretchedly by famine shall we die, though the great wall stand firm. Nay, though our lot should be to escape that evil death and doom, and not by famine miserably to die; yet rather let us fight in armour clad for children and grey fathers! Haply Zeus will help us yet; of his high blood are we. Nay, even though we be abhorred of him, better straightway to perish gloriously fighting unto the last for fatherland, than die a death of lingering agony!"

[50] Shouted they all who heard that gallant rede. Swiftly with helms and shields and spears they stood in close array. The eyes of mighty Zeus from heaven beheld the Trojans armed for fight against the Danaans: then did he awake courage in these and those, that there might be strain of unflinching fight 'twixt host and host. That day was Paris doomed, for Helen's sake fighting, by Philoctetes' hands to die.

[59] To one place Strife incarnate drew them all, the fearful Battle-queen, beheld of none, but cloaked in clouds blood-raining: on she stalked swelling the mighty roar of battle, now rushed through Troy's squadrons, through Achaea's now; Panic and Fear still waited on her steps to make their father's sister glorious. From small to huge that Fury's stature grew; her arms of adamant were blood-besprent, the deadly lance she brandished reached the sky. Earth quaked beneath her feet: dread blasts of fire flamed from her mouth: her voice pealed thunder-like kindling strong men. Swift closed the fronts of fight drawn by a dread Power to the mighty work. Loud as the shriek of winds that madly blow in early spring, when the tall woodland trees put forth their leaves -- loud as the roar of fire blazing through sun-scorched brakes -- loud as the voice of many waters, when the wide sea raves beneath the howling blast, with thunderous crash of waves, when shake the fearful shipman's knees; so thundered earth beneath their charging feet. Strife swooped on them: foe hurled himself on foe.

[82] First did Aeneas of the Danaans slay Harpalion, Arizelus' scion, born in far Boeotia of Amphinome, who came to Troy to help the Argive men with godlike Prothoenor. 'Neath his waist Aeneas stabbed, and reft sweet life from him. Dead upon him he cast Thersander's son, for the barbed javelin pierced through Hyllus' throat whom Arethusa by Lethaeus bare in Crete: sore grieved Idomeneus for his fall.

[92] By this Peleides' son had swiftly slain twelve Trojan warriors with his father's spear. First Cebrus fell, Harmon, Pasitheus then, Hysminus, Schedius, and Imbrasius, Phleges, Mnesaeus, Ennomus, Amphinous, Phasis, Galenus last, who had his home by Gargarus' steep -- a mighty warrior he among Troy's mighties: with a countless host to Troy he came: for Priam Dardanus' son promised him many gifts and passing fair. Ah fool! his own doom never he foresaw, whose weird was suddenly to fall in fight ere he bore home King Priam's glorious gifts.

[105] Doom the Destroyer against the Argives sped valiant Aeneas' friend, Eurymenes. Wild courage spurred him on, that he might slay many -- and then fill death's cup for himself. man after man he slew like some fierce beast, and foes shrank from the terrible rage that burned on his life's verge, nor reeked of imminent doom. Yea, peerless deeds in that fight had he done, had not his hands grown weary, his spear-head bent utterly: his sword availed him not, snapped at the hilt by Fate. Then Meges' dart smote 'neath his ribs; blood spurted from his mouth, and in death's agony Doom stood at his side.

[118] Even as he fell, Epeius' henchmen twain, Deileon and Amphion, rushed to strip his armour; but Aeneas brave and strong chilled their hot hearts in death beside the dead. As one in latter summer 'mid his vines kills wasps that dart about his ripening grapes, and so, ere they may taste the fruit, they die; so smote he them, ere they could seize the arms.

[126] Menon and Amphinous Tydeides slew, both goodly men. Paris slew Hippasus' son
Demoleon, who in Laconia's land beside the outfall of Eurotas dwelt, the stream deep-flowing, and to Troy he came with Menelaus. Under his right breast the shaft of Paris smote him unto death, driving his soul forth like a scattering breath.

[134] Teucer slew Zechis, Medon's war-famed son, who dwelt in Phrygia, land of myriad flocks, below that haunted cave of fair-haired Nymphs where, as Endymion slept beside his kine, divine Selene watched him from on high, and slid from heaven to earth; for passionate love drew down the immortal stainless Queen of Night. And a memorial of her couch abides still 'neath the oaks; for mid the copses round was poured out milk of kine; and still do men marvelling behold its whiteness. Thou wouldst say far off that this was milk indeed, which is a well-spring of white water: if thou draw a little nigher, lo, the stream is fringed as though with ice, for white stone rims it round.

[149] Rushed on Alcaeus Meges, Phyleus' son, and drave his spear beneath his fluttering heart. Loosed were the cords of sweet life suddenly, and his sad parents longed in vain to greet that son returning from the woeful war to Margasus and Phyllis lovely-girt, dwellers by lucent streams of Harpasus, who pours the full blood of his clamorous flow into Maeander madly rushing aye.

[158] With Glaucus' warrior-comrade Scylaceus Odeus' son closed in the fight, and stabbed over the shield-rim, and the cruel spear passed through his shoulder, and drenched his shield with blood. Howbeit he slew him not, whose day of doom awaited him afar beside the wall of his own city; for when Illium's towers were brought low by that swift avenging host fleeing the war to Lycia then he came alone; and when he drew nigh to the town, the thronging women met and questioned him touching their sons and husbands; and he told how all were dead. They compassed him about, and stoned the man with great stones, that he died. so had he no joy of his winning home, but the stones muffled up his dying groans, and of the same his ghastly tomb was reared beside Bellerophon's grave and holy place in Tlos, nigh that far-famed Chimaera's Crag. Yet, though he thus fulfilled his day of doom, as a God afterward men worshipped him by Phoebus' hest, and never his honour fades.

[180] Now Poeas' son the while slew Deioneus and Acamas, Antenor's warrior son: Yea, a great host of strong men laid he low. On, like the War-god, through his foes he rushed, or as a river roaring in full flood breaks down long dykes, when, maddening round its rocks, down from the mountains swelled by rain it pours an ever-flowing mightily-rushing stream whose foaming crests over its forelands sweep; so none who saw him even from afar dared meet renowned Poeas' valiant son, whose breast with battle-fury was fulfilled, whose limbs were clad in mighty Hercules' arms of cunning workmanship; for on the belt gleamed bears most grim and savage, jackals fell, and panthers, in whose eyes there seems to lurk a deadly smile. There were fierce-hearted wolves, and boars with flashing tusks, and mighty lions all seeming strangely alive; and, there portrayed through all its breadth, were battles murder-rife. With all these marvels covered was the belt; and with yet more the quiver was adorned. There Hermes was, storm-footed Son of Zeus, slaying huge Argus nigh to Inachus' streams, Argus, whose sentinel eyes in turn took sleep. And there was Phaethon from the Sun-car hurled into Eridanus. Earth verily seemed ablaze, and black smoke hovered on the air. There Perseus slew Medusa gorgon-eyed by the stars' baths and utmost bounds of earth and fountains of deep-flowing Ocean, where Night in the far west meets the setting sun. There was the Titan Iapetus' great son hung from the beetling crag of Caucasus in bonds of adamant, and the eagle tare his liver unconsumed -- he seemed to groan! All these Hephaestus' cunning hands had wrought for Hercules; and these to Poeas' son, most near of friends and dear, he gave to bear.

[219] So glorying in those arms he smote the foe. But Paris at the last to meet him sprang fearlessly, bearing in his hands his bow and deadly arrows -- but his latest day now met himself. A flying shaft he sped forth from the string, which sang as leapt the dart, which flew not vainly: yet the very mark it missed, for Philoctetes swerved aside a hair-breadth, and it smote above the breast Cleodorus war-renowned, and cleft a path clear through his shoulder; for he had not now the buckler broad which wont to fence from death its bearer, but was falling back from fight, being shieldless; for Polydamas' massy lance had cleft the shoulder-belt whereby his targe hung, and he gave back therefore, fighting still with stubborn spear. But now the arrow of death fell on him, as from ambush leaping forth. For so Fate willed, I trow, to bring dread doom on noble-hearted Lernus' scion, born of Amphiale, in Rhodes the fertile land.

[240] But soon as Poeas' battle-eager son marked him by Paris' deadly arrow slain, swiftly he strained his bow, shouting aloud: "Dog! I will give thee death, will speed thee down to the Unseen Land, who darest to brave me! And so shall they have rest, who travail now for thy vile sake. Destruction shall have end when thou art dead, the author of our bane."

[248] Then to his breast he drew the plaited cord. The great bow arched, the merciless shaft was aimed straight, and the terrible point a little peered above the bow, in that constraining grip. Loud sang the string, as the death-hissing shaft leapt, and missed not: yet was not Paris' heart stilled, but his spirit yet was strong in him; for that first arrow was not winged with death: it did but graze the fair flesh by his wrist. Then once again the avenger drew the bow, and the barbed shaft of Poeas' son had plunged, ere he could swerve, 'twixt flank and groin. No more he abode the fight, but swiftly hasted back as hastes a dog which on a lion rushed at first, then fleeth terror-stricken back. So he, his very heart with agony thrilled, fled from the war. Still clashed the grappling hosts, man slaying man: aye bloodier waxed the fray as rained the blows: corpse upon corpse was flung confusedly, like thunder-drops, or flakes of snow, or hailstones, by the wintry blast at Zeus' behest strewn over the long hills and forest-boughs; so by a pitiless doom slain, friends with foes in heaps on heaps were strown.

[272] Sorely groaned Paris; with the torturing wound fainted his spirit. Leeches sought to allay his frenzy of pain. But now drew back to Troy the Trojans, and the Danaans to their ships swiftly returned, for dark night put an end to strife, and stole from men's limbs weariness, pouring upon their eyes pain-healing sleep.

[279] But through the livelong night no sleep laid hold on Paris: for his help no leech availed, though ne'er so willing, with his salves. His weird was only by Oenone's hands to escape death's doom, if so she willed. Now he obeyed the prophecy, and he went -- exceeding loth, but grim necessity forced him thence, to face the wife forsaken. Evil-boding fowl shrieked o'er his head, or darted past to left, still as he went. Now, as he looked at them, his heart sank; now hope whispered, "Haply vain their bodings are!" but on their wings were borne visions of doom that blended with his pain. Into Oenone's presence thus he came. Amazed her thronging handmaids looked on him as at the Nymph's feet that pale suppliant fell faint with the anguish of his wound, whose pangs stabbed him through brain and heart, yea, quivered through his very bones, for that fierce venom crawled through all his inwards with corrupting fangs; and his life fainted in him agony-thrilled. As one with sickness and tormenting thirst consumed, lies parched, with heart quick-shuddering, with liver seething as in flame, the soul, scarce conscious, fluttering at his burning lips, longing for life, for water longing sore; so was his breast one fire of torturing pain. Then in exceeding feebleness he spake: "O reverenced wife, turn not from me in hate for that I left thee widowed long ago! Not of my will I did it: the strong Fates dragged me to Helen -- oh that I had died ere I embraced her -- in thine arms had died! All, by the Gods I pray, the Lords of Heaven, by all the memories of our wedded love, be merciful! Banish my bitter pain: lay on my deadly wound those healing salves which only can, by Fate's decree, remove this torment, if thou wilt. Thine heart must speak my sentence, to be saved from death or no. Pity me -- oh, make haste to pity me! This venom's might is swiftly bringing death! Heal me, while life yet lingers in my limbs! Remember not those pangs of jealousy, nor leave me by a cruel doom to die low fallen at thy feet! This should offend the Prayers, the Daughters of the Thunderer Zeus, whose anger followeth unrelenting pride with vengeance, and the Erinnys executes their wrath. My queen, I sinned, in folly sinned; yet from death save me -- oh, make haste to save!"

[330] So prayed he; but her darkly-brooding heart was steeled, and her words mocked his agony: "Thou comest unto me! -- thou, who didst leave erewhile a wailing wife in a desolate home! -- Didst leave her for thy Tyndarid darling! Go, lie laughing in her arms for bliss! She is better than thy true wife -- is, rumour saith, immortal! Make haste to kneel to her but not to me! Weep not to me, nor whimper pitiful prayers! Oh that mine heart beat with a tigress' strength, that I might tear thy flesh and lap thy blood for all the pain thy folly brought on me! Vile wretch! where now is Love's Queen glory-crowned? Hath Zeus forgotten his daughter's paramour? Have them for thy deliverers! Get thee hence far from my dwelling, curse of Gods and men! Yea, for through thee, thou miscreant, sorrow came on deathless Gods, for sons and sons' sons slain. hence from my threshold! -- to thine Helen go! Agonize day and night beside her bed: there whimper, pierced to the heart with cruel pangs, until she heal thee of thy grievous pain."

[352] So from her doors she drave that groaning man -- ah fool! not knowing her own doom, whose weird was straightway after him to tread the path of death! So Fate had spun her destiny-thread.

[356] Then, as he stumbled down through Ida's brakes, where Doom on his death-path was leading him painfully halting, racked with heart-sick pain, Hera beheld him, with rejoicing soul throned in the Olympian palace-court of Zeus. And seated at her side were handmaids four whom radiant-faced Selene bare to the Sun to be unwearying ministers in Heaven, in form and office diverse each from each; for of these Seasons one was summer's queen, and one of winter and his stormy star, of spring the third, of autumn-tide the fourth. So in four portions parted is man's year ruled by these Queens in turn -- but of all this be Zeus himself the Overseer in heaven. And of those issues now these spake with her which baleful Fate in her all-ruining heart was shaping to the birth the new espousals of Helen, fatal to Deiphobus -- the wrath of Helenus, who hoped in vain for that fair bride, and how, when he had fled, wroth with the Trojans, to the mountain-height, Achaea's sons would seize him and would hale unto their ships -- how, by his counselling strong Tydeus' son should with Odysseus scale the great wall, and should slay Alcathous the temple-warder, and should bear away Pallas the Gracious, with her free consent, whose image was the sure defence of Troy; -- yea, for not even a God, how wroth soe'er, had power to lay the City of Priam waste while that immortal shape stood warder there. No man had carven that celestial form, but Cronos' Son himself had cast it down from heaven to Priam's gold-abounding burg.

[391] Of these things with her handmaids did the Queen of Heaven hold converse, and of many such, but Paris, while they talked, gave up the ghost on Ida: never Helen saw him more. Loud wailed the Nymphs around him; for they still remembered how their nursling wont to lisp his childish prattle, compassed with their smiles. And with them mourned the neatherds light of foot, sorrowful-hearted; moaned the mountain-glens.

[400] Then unto travail-burdened Priam's queen a herdman told the dread doom of her son. Wildly her trembling heart leapt when she heard; with failing limbs she sank to earth and wailed: "Dead! thou dead, O dear child! Grief heaped on grief hast thou bequeathed me, grief eternal! Best of all my sons, save Hector alone, wast thou! While beats my heart, my grief shall weep for thee. The hand of Heaven is in our sufferings: some Fate devised our ruin -- oh that I had lived not to endure it, but had died in days of wealthy peace! But now I see woes upon woes, and ever look to see worse things -- my children slain, my city sacked and burned with fire by stony-hearted foes, daughters, sons' wives, all Trojan women, haled into captivity with our little ones!"

[417] So wailed she; but the King heard naught thereof, but weeping ever sat by Hector's grave, for most of all his sons he honoured him, his mightiest, the defender of his land. Nothing of Paris knew that pierced heart; but long and loud lamented Helen; yet those wails were but for Trojan ears; her soul with other thoughts was busy, as she cried: "Husband, to me, to Troy, and to thyself a bitter blow is this thy woeful death! In misery hast thou left me, and I look to see calamities more deadly yet. Oh that the Spirits of the Storm had snatched me from the earth when first I fared with thee drawn by a baleful Fate! It might not be; the Gods have meted ruin to thee and me. With shuddering horror all men look on me, all hate me! Place of refuge is there none for me; for if to the Danaan host I fly, with torments will they greet me. If I stay, Troy's sons and daughters here will compass me and rend me. Earth shall cover not my corpse, but dogs and fowl of ravin shall devour. Oh had Fate slain me ere I saw these woes!"

[441] So cried she: but for him far less she mourned than for herself, remembering her own sin. Yea, and Troy's daughters but in semblance wailed for him: of other woes their hearts were full. Some thought on parents, some on husbands slain, these on their sons, on honoured kinsmen those.

[447] One only heart was pierced with grief unfeigned, Oenone. Not with them of Troy she wailed, but far away within that desolate home moaning she lay on her lost husband's bed. As when the copses on high mountains stand white-veiled with frozen snow, which o'er the glens the west-wind blasts have strown, but now the sun and east-wind melt it fast, and the long heights with water-courses stream, and down the glades slide, as they thaw, the heavy sheets, to swell the rushing waters of an ice-cold spring, so melted she in tears of anguished pain, and for her own, her husband, agonised, and cried to her heart with miserable moans: "Woe for my wickedness! O hateful life! I loved mine hapless husband -- dreamed with him to pace to eld's bright threshold hand in hand, and heart in heart! The gods ordained not so. Oh had the black Fates snatched me from the earth ere I from Paris turned away in hate! My living love hath left me! -- yet will I dare to die with him, for I loathe the light."

[469] So cried she, weeping, weeping piteously, remembering him whom death had swallowed up, wasting, as melteth wax before the flame yet secretly, being fearful lest her sire should mark it, or her handmaids till the night rose from broad Ocean, flooding all the earth with darkness bringing men release from toil. Then, while her father and her maidens slept, she slid the bolts back of the outer doors, and rushed forth like a storm-blast. Fast she ran, as when a heifer 'mid the mountains speeds, her heart with passion stung, to meet her mate, and madly races on with flying feet, and fears not, in her frenzy of desire, the herdman, as her wild rush bears her on, so she but find her mate amid the woods; so down the long tracks flew Oenone's feet; seeking the awful pyre, to leap thereon. No weariness she knew: as upon wings her feet flew faster ever, onward spurred by fell Fate, and the Cyprian Queen. She feared no shaggy beast that met her in the dark who erst had feared them sorely -- rugged rock and precipice of tangled mountain-slope, she trod them all unstumbling; torrent-beds she leapt. The white Moon-goddess from on high looked on her, and remembered her own love, princely Endymion, and she pitied her in that wild race, and, shining overhead in her full brightness, made the long tracks plain.

[499] Through mountain-gorges so she won to where wailed other Nymphs round Alexander's corpse. Roared up about him a great wall of fire; for from the mountains far and near had come shepherds, and heaped the death-bale broad and high for 1ove's and sorrow's latest service done to one of old their comrade and their king. Sore weeping stood they round. She raised no wail, the broken-hearted, when she saw him there, but, in her mantle muffling up her face, leapt on the pyre: loud wailed that multitude. There burned she, clasping Paris. All the Nymphs marvelled, beholding her beside her lord flung down, and heart to heart spake whispering: "Verily evil-hearted Paris was, who left a real true wife, and took for bride a wanton, to himself and Troy a curse. Ah fool, who recked not of the broken heart of a most virtuous wife, who more than life loved him who turned from her and loved her not!"

[519] So in their hearts the Nymphs spake: but they twain burned on the pyre, never to hail again the dayspring. Wondering herdsmen stood around, as once the thronging Argives marvelling saw Evadne clasping mid the fire her lord Capaneus, slain by Zeus' dread thunderbolt. But when the blast of the devouring fire had made twain one, Oenone and Paris, now one little heap of ashes, then with wine quenched they the embers, and they laid their bones in a wide golden vase, and round them piled the earth-mound; and they set two pillars there that each from other ever turn away; for the old jealousy in the marble lives.