Classical Texts Library >> Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy >> Book 8




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] When from the far sea-line, where is the cave of Dawn, rose up the sun, and scattered light over the earth, then did the eager sons of Troy and of Achaea arm themselves athirst for battle: these Achilles' son cheered on to face the Trojans awelessly; and those the giant strength of Telephus' seed kindled. He trusted to dash down the wall to earth, and utterly destroy the ships with ravening fire, and slay the Argive host. Ah, but his hope was as the morning breeze delusive: hard beside him stood the Fates laughing to scorn his vain imaginings.

[14] Then to the Myrmidons spake Achilles' son, the aweless, to the fight enkindling them: "Hear me, mine henchmen: take ye to your hearts the spirit of war, that we may heal the wounds of Argos, and be ruin to her foes. Let no man fear, for mighty prowess is
20 The child of courage; but fear slayeth strength and spirit. Gird yourselves with strength for war; give foes no breathing-space, that they may say that mid our ranks Achilles liveth yet."

[24] Then clad he with his father's flashing arms his shoulders. Then exulted Thetis' heart when from the sea she saw the mighty strength of her son's son. Then forth with eagle-speed afront of that high wall he rushed, his ear drawn by the immortal horses of his sire. As from the ocean-verge upsprings the sun in glory, flashing fire far over earth -- fire, when beside his radiant chariot-team races the red star Sirius, scatterer of woefullest diseases over men; so flashed upon the eyes of Ilium's host that battle-eager hero, Achilles' son. onward they whirled him, those immortal steeds, the which, when now he longed to chase the foe back from the ships, Automedon, who wont to rein them for his father, brought to him. With joy that pair bore battleward their lord, so like to Aeacus' son, their deathless hearts held him no worser than Achilles' self. Laughing for glee the Argives gathered round the might resistless of Neoptolemus, eager for fight as wasps [whose woodland bower the axe] hath shaken, who dart swarming forth furious to sting the woodman: round their nest long eddying, they torment all passers by; so streamed they forth from galley and from wall burning for fight, and that wide space was thronged, and all the plain far blazed with armour-sheen, as shone from heaven's vault the sun thereon. As flees the cloud-rack through the welkin wide scourged onward by the North-wind's Titan blasts, when winter-tide and snow are hard at hand, and darkness overpalls the firmament; so with their thronging squadrons was the earth covered before the ships. To heaven uprolled, dust hung on hovering wings' men's armour clashed; rattled a thousand chariots; horses neighed on-rushing to the fray. Each warrior's prowess kindled him with its trumpet-call to war.

[64] As leap the long sea-rollers, onward hurled by two winds terribly o'er th' broad sea-flood roaring from viewless bournes, with whirlwind blasts crashing together, when a ruining storm maddens along the wide gulfs of the deep, and moans the Sea-queen with her anguished waves which sweep from every hand, uptowering like precipiced mountains, while the bitter squall, ceaselessly veering, shrieks across the sea; so clashed in strife those hosts from either hand with mad rage. Strife incarnate spurred them on, and their own prowess. Crashed together these like thunderclouds outlightening, thrilling the air. With shattering trumpet-challenge, when the blasts are locked in frenzied wrestle, with mad breath rending the clouds, when Zeus is wroth with men who travail with iniquity, and flout his law. So grappled they, as spear with spear clashed, shield with shield, and man on man was hurled.

[83] And first Achilles' war-impetuous son struck down stout Melaneus and Alcidamas, sons of the war-lord Alexinomus, who dwelt in Caunus mountain-cradled, nigh the clear lake shining at Tarbelus' feet 'neath snow-capt Imbrus. Menes, fleetfoot son of King Cassandrus, slew he, born to him by fair Creusa, where the lovely streams of Lindus meet the sea, beside the marches of battle-biding Carians, and the heights of Lycia the renowned. He slew withal Morys the spearman, who from Phrygia came; Polybus and Hippomedon by his side he laid, this stabbed to the heart, that pierced between shoulder and neck: man after man he slew. Earth groaned 'neath Trojan corpses; rank on rank crumbled before him, even as parched brakes sink down before the blast of ravening fire when the north wind of latter summer blows; so ruining squadrons fell before his charge.

[103] Meanwhile Aeneas slew Aristolochus, crashing a great stone down on his head: it brake helmet and skull together, and fled his life. Fleetfoot Eumaeus Diomede slew; he dwelt in craggy Dardanus, where the bride-bed is whereon Anchises clasped the Queen of Love. Agamemnon smote down Stratus: unto Thrace returned he not from war, but died far off from his dear fatherland. And Meriones struck Chlemus down, Peisenor's son, the friend of god-like Glaucus, and his comrade leal, who by Limurus' outfall dwelt: the folk honoured him as their king, when reigned no more Glaucus, in battle slain, -- all who abode around Phoenice's towers, and by the crest of Massicytus, and Chimaera's glen.

[119] So man slew man in fight; but more than all Eurypylus hurled doom on many a foe. First slew he battle-bider Eurytus, Menoetius of the glancing taslet next, Elephenor's godlike comrades. Fell with these Harpalus, wise Odysseus' warrior-friend; but in the fight afar that hero toiled, and might not aid his fallen henchman: yet fierce Antiphus for that slain man was wroth, and hurled his spear against Eurypylus, yet touched him not; the strong shaft glanced aside, and pierced Meilanion battle-staunch, the son of Cleite lovely-faced, Erylaus' bride, who bare him where Caicus meets the sea. Wroth for his comrade slain, Eurypylus rushed upon Antiphus, but terror-winged he plunged amid his comrades; so the spear of the avenger slew him not, whose doom was one day wretchedly to be devoured by the manslaying Cyclops: so it pleased stern Fate, I know not why. Elsewhither sped Eurypylus; and aye as he rushed on fell 'neath his spear a multitude untold. As tall trees, smitten by the strength of steel in mountain-forest, fill the dark ravines, heaped on the earth confusedly, so fell the Achaeans 'neath Eurypylus' flying spears -- till heart-uplifted met him face to face Achilles' son. The long spears in their hands they twain swung up, each hot to smite his foe. But first Eurypylus cried the challenge-cry; "Who art thou? Whence hast come to brave me here? To Hades merciless Fate is bearing thee; for in grim fight hath none escaped mine hands; but whoso, eager for the fray, have come hither, on all have I hurled anguished death. By Xanthus' streams have dogs devoured their flesh and gnawed their bones. Answer me, who art thou? Whose be the steeds that bear thee exultant on?"

[158] Answered Achilles' battle-eager son: "Wherefore, when I am hurrying to the fray, dost thou, a foe, put question thus to me, as might a friend, touching my lineage, which many know? Achilles' son am I, son of the man whose long spear smote thy sire, and made him flee -- yea, and the ruthless fates of death had seized him, but my father's self healed him upon the brink of woeful death the steeds which bear me were my godlike sire's; these the West-wind begat, the Harpy bare: over the barren sea their feet can race skimming its crests: in speed they match the winds. Since then thou know'st the lineage of my steeds and mine, now put thou to the test the might of my strong spear, born on steep Pelion's crest, who hath left his father-stock and forest there."

[175] He spake; and from the chariot sprang to earth that glorious man: he swung the long spear up. But in his brawny hand his foe hath seized a monstrous stone: full at the golden shield of Neoptolemus he sped its flight; but, no whir staggered by its whirlwind rush, he like a giant mountain-foreland stood which all the banded fury of river-floods can stir not, rooted in the eternal hills; so stood unshaken still Achilles' son. Yet not for this Eurypylus' dauntless might shrank from Achilles' son invincible, on-spurred by his own hardihood and by Fate. Their hearts like caldrons seethed o'er fires of wrath, their glancing armour flashed about their limbs. Like terrible lions each on other rushed, which fight amid the mountains famine-stung, writhing and leaping in the strain of strife for a slain ox or stag, while all the glens ring with their conflict; so they grappled, so clashed they in pitiless strife. On either hand long lines of warriors Greek and Trojan toiled in combat: round them roared up flames of war. like mighty rushing winds they hurled together with eager spears for blood of life athirst. Hard by them stood Enyo, spurred them on ceaselessly: never paused they from the strife. Now hewed they each the other's shield, and now thrust at the greaves, now at the crested helms. Reckless of wounds, in that grim toil pressed on those aweless heroes: Strife incarnate watched and gloated o'er them. Ran the sweat in streams from either: straining hard they stood their ground, for both were of the seed of Blessed Ones. From Heaven, with hearts at variance, Gods looked down; for some gave glory to Achilles' son, some to Eurypylus the godlike. Still they fought on, giving ground no more than rock of granite mountains. Rang from side to side spear-smitten shields. At last the Pelian lance, sped onward by a mighty thrust, hath passed clear through Eurypylus' throat. Forth poured the blood torrent-like; through the portal of the wound the soul from the body flew: darkness of death dropped o'er his eyes. To earth in clanging arms he fell, like stately pine or silver fir uprooted by the fury of Boreas; such space of earth Eurypylus' giant frame covered in falling: rang again the floor and plain of Troyland. Grey death-pallor swept over the corpse, and all the flush of life faded away. With a triumphant laugh shouted the mighty hero over him: "Eurypylus, thou saidst thou wouldst destroy the Danaan ships and men, wouldst slay us all wretchedly -- but the Gods would not fulfil thy wish. For all thy might invincible, my father's massy spear hath now subdued thee under me, that spear no man shall 'scape, though he be brass all through, who faceth me."

[235] He spake, and tore the long lance from the corse, while shrank the Trojans back in dread, at sight of that strong-hearted man. Straightway he stripped the armour from the dead, for friends to bear fast to the ships Achaean. But himself to the swift chariot and the tireless steeds sprang, and sped onward like a thunderbolt that lightning-girdled leaps through the wide air from Zeus's hands unconquerable -- the bolt before whose downrush all the Immortals quail save only Zeus. It rusheth down to earth, it rendeth trees and rugged mountain-crags; so rushed he on the Trojans, flashing doom before their eyes; dashed to the earth they fell before the charge of those immortal steeds: the earth was heaped with slain, was dyed with gore. As when in mountain-glens the unnumbered leaves down-streaming thick and fast hide all the ground, so hosts of Troy untold on earth were strewn by Neoptolemus and fierce-hearted Greeks, shed by whose hands the blood in torrents ran 'neath feet of men and horses. Chariot-rails were dashed with blood-spray whirled up from the tyres.

[258] Now had the Trojans fled within their gates as calves that flee a lion, or as swine flee from a storm -- but murderous Ares came, unmarked of other Gods, down from the heavens, eager to help the warrior sons of Troy. Red-fire and Flame, Tumult and Panic-fear, his car-steeds, bare him down into the fight, the coursers which to roaring Boreas grim-eyed Erinnys bare, coursers that breathed life-blasting flame: groaned all the shivering air, as battleward they sped. Swiftly he came to Troy: loud rang the earth beneath the feet of that wild team. Into the battle's heart tossing his massy spear, he came; with a shout he cheered the Trojans on to face the foe. they heard, and marvelled at that wondrous cry, not seeing the God's immortal form, nor steeds, veiled in dense mist. But the wise prophet-soul of Helenus knew the voice divine that leapt unto the Trojans' ears, they knew not whence, and with glad heart to the fleeing host he cried: "O cravens, wherefore fear Achilles' son, though ne'er so brave? He is mortal even as we; his strength is not as Ares' strength, who is come a very present help in our sore need. That was his shout far-pealing, bidding us fight on against the Argives. Let your hearts be strong, O friends: let courage fill your breasts. No mightier battle-helper can draw nigh to Troy than he. Who is of more avail for war than Ares, when he aideth men hard-fighting? Lo, to our help he cometh now! On to the fight! Cast to the winds your fears!"

[291] They fled no more, they faced the Argive men, as hounds, that mid the copses fled at first, turn them about to face and fight the wolf, spurred by the chiding of their shepherd-lord; so turned the sons of Troy again to war, casting away their fear. Man leapt on man valiantly fighting; loud their armour clashed smitten with swords, with lances, and with darts. spears plunged into men's flesh: dread Ares drank his fill of blood: struck down fell man on man, as Greek and Trojan fought. In level poise the battle-balance hung. As when young men in hot haste prune a vineyard with the steel, and each keeps pace with each in rivalry, since all in strength and age be equal-matched; so did the awful scales of battle hang level: all Trojan hearts beat high, and firm stood they in trust on aweless Ares' might, while the Greeks trusted in Achilles' son. Ever they slew and slew: stalked through the midst deadly Enyo, her shoulders and her hands blood-splashed, while fearful sweat streamed from her limbs. Revelling in equal fight, she aided none, lest Thetis' or the War-god's wrath be stirred.

[315] Then Neoptolemus slew one far-renowned, Perimedes, who had dwelt by Smintheus' grove; next Cestrus died, Phalerus battle-staunch, Perilaus the strong, Menalcas lord of spears, whom Iphianassa bare by the haunted foot of Cilla to the cunning craftsman Medon. In the home-land afar the sire abode, and never kissed his son's returning head: for that fair home and all his cunning works did far-off kinsmen wrangle o'er his grave. Deiphobus slew Lycon battle-staunch: the lance-head pierced him close above the groin, and round the long spear all his bowels gushed out. Aeneas smote down Dymas, who erewhile in Aulis dwelt, and followed unto Troy Arcesilaus, and saw never more the dear home-land. Euryalus hurled a dart, and through Astraeus' breast the death-winged point flew, shearing through the breathways of man's life; and all that lay within was drenched with blood. And hard thereby great-souled Agenor slew Hippomenes, hero Teucer's comrade staunch, with one swift thrust 'twixt shoulder and neck: his soul rushed forth in blood; death's night swept over him. Grief for his comrade slain on Teucer fell; he strained his bow, a swift-winged shaft he sped, but smote him not, for slightly Agenor swerved. Yet nigh him Deiophontes stood; the shaft into his left eye plunged, passed through the ball, and out through his right ear, because the Fates whither they willed thrust on the bitter barbs. Even as in agony he leapt full height, yet once again the archer's arrow hissed: it pierced his throat, through the neck-sinews cleft unswerving, and his hard doom came on him.

[350] So man to man dealt death; and joyed the Fates and Doom, and fell Strife in her maddened glee shouted aloud, and Ares terribly shouted in answer, and with courage thrilled the Trojans, and with panic fear the Greeks, and shook their reeling squadrons. But one man he scared not, even Achilles' son; he abode, and fought undaunted, slaying foes on foes. As when a young lad sweeps his hand around flies swarming over milk, and nigh the bowl here, there they lie, struck dead by that light touch, and gleefully the child still plies the work; so stern Achilles' glorious scion joyed over the slain, and recked not of the God who spurred the Trojans on: man after man tasted his vengeance of their charging host. Even as a giant mountain-peak withstands on-rushing hurricane-blasts, so he abode unquailing. Ares at his eager mood grew wroth, and would have cast his veil of cloud away, and met him face to face in fight, but now Athena from Olympus swooped to forest-mantled Ida. Quaked the earth and Xanthus' murmuring streams; so mightily she shook them: terror-stricken were the souls of all the Nymphs, adread for Priam's town. From her immortal armour flashed around the hovering lightnings; fearful serpents breathed fire from her shield invincible; the crest of her great helmet swept the clouds. And now she was at point to close in sudden fight with Ares; but the mighty will of Zeus daunted them both, from high heaven thundering his terrors. Ares drew back from the war, for manifest to him was Zeus's wrath. to wintry Thrace he passed; his haughty heart reeked no more of the Trojans. In the plain of Troy no more stayed Pallas; she was gone to hallowed Athens. But the armies still strove in the deadly fray; and fainted now the Trojans' prowess; but all battle-fain the Argives pressed on these as they gave ground. As winds chase ships that fly with straining sails on to the outsea -- as on forest-brakes leapeth the fury of flame -- as swift hounds drive deer through the mountains, eager for the prey, so did the Argives chase them: Achilles' son still cheered them on, still slew with that great spear whomso he overtook. On, on they fled till into stately-gated Troy they poured.

[400] Then had the Argives a short breathing-space from war, when they had penned the hosts of Troy in Priam's burg, as shepherds pen up lambs upon a lonely steading. And, as when after hard strain, a breathing-space is given to oxen that, quick-panting 'neath the yoke, up a steep hill have dragged a load, so breathed awhile the Achaeans after toil in arms. Then once more hot for the fray did they beset the city-towers. But now with gates fast barred the Trojans from the walls withstood the assault. As when within their steading shepherd-folk abide the lowering tempest, when a day of storm hath dawned, with fury of lightnings, rain and heavy-drifting snow, and dare not haste forth to the pasture, howsoever fain, till the great storm abate, and rivers, wide with rushing floods, again be passable; so trembling on their walls they abode the rage of foes against their ramparts surging fast. And as when daws or starlings drop in clouds down on an orchard-close, full fain to feast upon its pleasant fruits, and take no heed of men that shout to scare them thence away, until the reckless hunger be appeased that makes them bold; so poured round Priam's burg the furious Danaans. Against the gates they hurled themselves, they strove to batter down the mighty-souled Earth-shaker's work divine.

[429] Yet did tim Troyfolk not, despite their fear, flinch from the fight: they manned their towers, they toiled unresting: ever from the fair-built walls leapt arrows, stones, and fleet-winged javelins down amidst the thronging foes; for Phoebus thrilled their souls with steadfast hardihood. Fain was he to save them still, though Hector was no more.

[436] Then Meriones shot forth a deadly shaft, and smote Phylodamas, Polites' friend, beneath the jaw; the arrow pierced his throat. Down fell he like a vulture, from a rock by fowler's barbed arrow shot and slain; so from the high tower swiftly down he fell: his life fled; clanged his armour o'er the corpse. With laughter of triumph stalwart Molus' son a second arrow sped, with strong desire to smite Polites, ill-starred Priam's son: but with a swift side-swerve did he escape the death, nor did the arrow touch his flesh. As when a shipman, as his bark flies on o'er sea-gulfs, spies amid the rushing tide a rock, and to escape it swiftly puts the helm about, and turns aside the ship even as he listeth, that a little strength averts a great disaster; so did he foresee and shun the deadly shaft of doom.

[455] Ever they fought on; walls, towers, battlements were blood-besprent, wherever Trojans fell slain by the arrows of the stalwart Greeks. Yet these escaped not scatheless; many of them dyed the earth red: aye waxed the havoc of death as friends and foes were stricken. O'er the strife shouted for glee Enyo, sister of War.

[461] Now had the Argives burst the gates, had breached the walls of Troy, for boundless was their might; but Ganymedes saw from heaven, and cried, anguished with fear for his own fatherland: "O Father Zeus, if of thy seed I am, if at thine best I left far-famous Troy for immortality with deathless Gods, O hear me now, whose soul is anguish-thrilled! I cannot bear to see my fathers' town in flames, my kindred in disastrous strife perishing: bitterer sorrow is there none! Oh, if thine heart is fixed to do this thing, let me be far hence! Less shall be my grief if I behold it not with these mine eyes. That is the depth of horror and of shame to see one's country wrecked by hands of foes."

[478] With groans and tears so pleaded Ganymede. Then Zeus himself with one vast pall of cloud veiled all the city of Priam world-renowned; and all the murderous fight was drowned in mist, and like a vanished phantom was the wall in vapours heavy-hung no eye could pierce; and all around crashed thunders, lightnings flamed from heaven. The Danaans heard Zeus' clarion peal awe-struck; and Neleus' son cried unto them: "Far-famous lords of Argives, all our strength palsied shall be, while Zeus protecteth thus our foes. A great tide of calamity on us is rolling; haste we then to the ships; cease we awhile from bitter toil of strife, lest the fire of his wrath consume us all. Submit we to his portents; needs must all obey him ever, who is mightier far than all strong Gods, all weakling sons of men. On the presumptuous Titans once in wrath he poured down fire from heaven: then burned all earth beneath, and Ocean's world-engirdling flood boiled from its depths, yea, to its utmost bounds: far-flowing mighty rivers were dried up: perished all broods of life-sustaining earth, all fosterlings of the boundless sea, and all dwellers in rivers: smoke and ashes veiled the air: earth fainted in the fervent heat. Therefore this day I dread the might of Zeus. Now, pass we to the ships, since for to-day he helpeth Troy. To us too shall he grant glory hereafter; for the dawn on men, though whiles it frown, anon shall smile. Not yet, but soon, shall Fate lead us to smite yon town, if true indeed was Calchas' prophecy spoken aforetime to the assembled Greeks, that in the tenth year Priam's burg should fall."

[514] Then left they that far-famous town, and turned from war, in awe of Zeus's threatenings, hearkening to one with ancient wisdom wise. Yet they forgat not friends in battle slain, but bare them from the field and buried them. These the mist hid not, but the town alone and its unscaleable wall, around which fell Trojans and Argives many in battle slain. So came they to the ships, and put from them their battle-gear, and strode into the waves of Hellespont fair-flowing, and washed away all stain of dust and sweat and clotted gore.

[526] The sun drave down his never-wearying steeds into the dark west: night streamed o'er the earth, bidding men cease from toil. The Argives then acclaimed Achilles' valiant son with praise high as his father's. Mid triumphant mirth he feasted in kings' tents: no battle-toil had wearied him; for Thetis from his limbs had charmed all ache of travail, making him as one whom labour had no power to tire. When his strong heart was satisfied with meat, he passed to his father's tent, and over him sleep's dews were poured. The Greeks slept in the plain before the ships, by ever-changing guards watched; for they dreaded lest the host of Troy, or of her staunch allies, should kindle flame upon the ships, and from them all cut off their home-return. In Priam's burg the while by gate and wall men watched and slept in turn, adread to hear the Argives' onset-shout.