Vergil. Aeneid. John Dryden. trans.

  1. A general silence fell; and all gave ear,
  2. while, from his lofty station at the feast,
  3. Father Aeneas with these words began :—
  4. A grief unspeakable thy gracious word,
  5. o sovereign lady, bids my heart live o'er:
  6. how Asia's glory and afflicted throne
  7. the Greek flung down; which woeful scene I saw,
  8. and bore great part in each event I tell.
  9. But O! in telling, what Dolopian churl,
  10. or Myrmidon, or gory follower
  11. of grim Ulysses could the tears restrain?
  12. 'T is evening; lo! the dews of night begin
  13. to fall from heaven, and yonder sinking stars
  14. invite to slumber. But if thy heart yearn
  15. to hear in brief of all our evil days
  16. and Troy's last throes, although the memory
  17. makes my soul shudder and recoil in pain,
  18. I will essay it. Wearied of the war,
  19. and by ill-fortune crushed, year after year,
  20. the kings of Greece, by Pallas' skill divine,
  21. build a huge horse, a thing of mountain size,
  22. with timbered ribs of fir. They falsely say
  23. it has been vowed to Heaven for safe return,
  24. and spread this lie abroad. Then they conceal
  25. choice bands of warriors in the deep, dark side,
  26. and fill the caverns of that monstrous womb
  27. with arms and soldiery. In sight of Troy
  28. lies Tenedos, an island widely famed
  29. and opulent, ere Priam's kingdom fell,
  30. but a poor haven now, with anchorage
  31. not half secure; 't was thitherward they sailed,
  32. and lurked unseen by that abandoned shore.
  33. We deemed them launched away and sailing far,
  34. bound homeward for Mycenae. Teucria then
  35. threw off her grief inveterate; all her gates
  36. swung wide; exultant went we forth, and saw
  37. the Dorian camp untenanted, the siege
  38. abandoned, and the shore without a keel.
  39. “Here!” cried we, “the Dolopian pitched; the host
  40. of fierce Achilles here; here lay the fleet;
  41. and here the battling lines to conflict ran.”
  42. Others, all wonder, scan the gift of doom
  43. by virgin Pallas given, and view with awe
  44. that horse which loomed so large. Thymoetes then
  45. bade lead it through the gates, and set on high
  46. within our citadel,—or traitor he,
  47. or tool of fate in Troy's predestined fall.
  48. But Capys, as did all of wiser heart,
  49. bade hurl into the sea the false Greek gift,
  50. or underneath it thrust a kindling flame
  51. or pierce the hollow ambush of its womb
  52. with probing spear. Yet did the multitude
  53. veer round from voice to voice and doubt of all.
  1. Then from the citadel, conspicuous,
  2. Laocoon, with all his following choir,
  3. hurried indignant down; and from afar
  4. thus hailed the people: “O unhappy men!
  5. What madness this? Who deems our foemen fled?
  6. Think ye the gifts of Greece can lack for guile?
  7. Have ye not known Ulysses? The Achaean
  8. hides, caged in yonder beams; or this is reared
  9. for engin'ry on our proud battlements,
  10. to spy upon our roof-tops, or descend
  11. in ruin on the city. 'T is a snare.
  12. Trust not this horse, O Troy, whate'er it bode!
  13. I fear the Greeks, though gift on gift they bear.”
  14. So saying, he whirled with ponderous javelin
  15. a sturdy stroke straight at the rounded side
  16. of the great, jointed beast. A tremor struck
  17. its towering form, and through the cavernous womb
  18. rolled loud, reverberate rumbling, deep and long.
  19. If heaven's decree, if our own wills, that hour,
  20. had not been fixed on woe, his spear had brought
  21. a bloody slaughter on our ambushed foe,
  22. and Troy were standing on the earth this day!
  23. O Priam's towers, ye were unfallen still!
  1. But, lo! with hands fast bound behind, a youth
  2. by clamorous Dardan shepherds haled along,
  3. was brought before our king,—to this sole end
  4. a self-surrendered captive, that he might,
  5. although a nameless stranger, cunningly
  6. deliver to the Greek the gates of Troy.
  7. His firm-set mind flinched not from either goal,—
  8. success in crime, or on swift death to fall.
  9. The thronging Trojan youth made haste his way
  10. from every side, all eager to see close
  11. their captive's face, and clout with emulous scorn.
  12. Hear now what Greek deception is, and learn
  13. from one dark wickedness the whole. For he,
  14. a mark for every eye, defenceless, dazed,
  15. stood staring at our Phrygian hosts, and cried:
  16. “Woe worth the day! What ocean or what shore
  17. will have me now? What desperate path remains
  18. for miserable me? Now have I lost
  19. all foothold with the Greeks, and o'er my head
  20. Troy's furious sons call bloody vengeance down.”
  21. Such groans and anguish turned all rage away
  22. and stayed our lifted hands. We bade him tell
  23. his birth, his errand, and from whence might be
  24. such hope of mercy for a foe in chains.
  25. Then fearing us no more, this speech he dared:
  1. “O King! I will confess, whate'er befall,
  2. the whole unvarnished truth. I will not hide
  3. my Grecian birth. Yea, thus will I begin.
  4. For Fortune has brought wretched Sinon low;
  5. but never shall her cruelty impair
  6. his honor and his truth. Perchance the name
  7. of Palamedes, Belus' glorious son,
  8. has come by rumor to your listening ears;
  9. whom by false witness and conspiracy,
  10. because his counsel was not for this war,
  11. the Greeks condemned, though guiltless, to his death,
  12. and now make much lament for him they slew.
  13. I, his companion, of his kith and kin,
  14. sent hither by my humble sire's command,
  15. followed his arms and fortunes from my youth.
  16. Long as his throne endured, and while he throve
  17. in conclave with his kingly peers, we twain
  18. some name and lustre bore; but afterward,
  19. because that cheat Ulysses envied him
  20. (Ye know the deed), he from this world withdrew,
  21. and I in gloom and tribulation sore
  22. lived miserably on, lamenting loud
  23. my lost friend's blameless fall. A fool was I
  24. that kept not these lips closed; but I had vowed
  25. that if a conqueror home to Greece I came,
  26. I would avenge. Such words moved wrath, and were
  27. the first shock of my ruin; from that hour,
  28. Ulysses whispered slander and alarm;
  29. breathed doubt and malice into all men's ears,
  30. and darkly plotted how to strike his blow.
  31. Nor rest had he, till Calchas, as his tool,-
  32. but why unfold this useless, cruel story?
  33. Why make delay? Ye count all sons of Greece
  34. arrayed as one; and to have heard thus far
  35. suffices you. Take now your ripe revenge!
  36. Ulysses smiles and Atreus' royal sons
  37. with liberal price your deed of blood repay.”
  1. We ply him then with passionate appeal
  2. and question all his cause: of guilt so dire
  3. or such Greek guile we harbored not the thought.
  4. So on he prates, with well-feigned grief and fear,
  5. and from his Iying heart thus told his tale:
  6. “Full oft the Greeks had fain achieved their flight,
  7. and raised the Trojan siege, and sailed away
  8. war-wearied quite. O, would it had been so!
  9. Full oft the wintry tumult of the seas
  10. did wall them round, and many a swollen storm
  11. their embarcation stayed. But chiefly when,
  12. all fitly built of beams of maple fair,
  13. this horse stood forth,— what thunders filled the skies!
  14. With anxious fears we sent Eurypylus
  15. to ask Apollo's word; and from the shrine
  16. he brings the sorrowful commandment home:
  17. ‘By flowing blood and by a virgin slain
  18. the wild winds were appeased, when first ye came,
  19. ye sons of Greece, to Ilium's distant shore.
  20. Through blood ye must return. Let some Greek life
  21. your expiation be.’ The popular ear
  22. the saying caught, all spirits were dimmed o'er;
  23. cold doubt and horror through each bosom ran,
  24. asking what fate would do, and on what wretch
  25. Apollo's choice would fall. Ulysses, then,
  26. amid the people's tumult and acclaim,
  27. thrust Calchas forth, some prophecy to tell
  28. to all the throng: he asked him o'er and o'er
  29. what Heaven desired. Already not a few
  30. foretold the murderous plot, and silently
  31. watched the dark doom upon my life impend.
  32. Twice five long days the seer his lips did seal,
  33. and hid himself, refusing to bring forth
  34. His word of guile, and name what wretch should die.
  35. At last, reluctant, and all loudly urged
  36. By false Ulysses, he fulfils their plot,
  37. and, lifting up his voice oracular,
  38. points out myself the victim to be slain.
  39. Nor did one voice oppose. The mortal stroke
  40. horribly hanging o'er each coward head
  41. was changed to one man's ruin, and their hearts
  42. endured it well. Soon rose th' accursed morn;
  43. the bloody ritual was ready; salt
  44. was sprinkled on the sacred loaf; my brows
  45. were bound with fillets for the offering.
  46. But I escaped that death—yes! I deny not!
  47. I cast my fetters off, and darkling lay
  48. concealed all night in lake-side sedge and mire,
  49. awaiting their departure, if perchance
  50. they should in truth set sail. But nevermore
  51. shall my dear, native country greet these eyes.
  52. No more my father or my tender babes
  53. shall I behold. Nay, haply their own lives
  54. are forfeit, when my foemen take revenge
  55. for my escape, and slay those helpless ones,
  56. in expiation of my guilty deed.
  57. O, by yon powers in heaven which witness truth,
  58. by aught in this dark world remaining now
  59. of spotless human faith and innocence,
  60. I do implore thee look with pitying eye
  61. on these long sufferings my heart hath borne.
  62. O, pity! I deserve not what I bear.”
  1. Pity and pardon to his tears we gave,
  2. and spared his life. King Priam bade unbind
  3. the fettered hands and loose those heavy chains
  4. that pressed him sore; then with benignant mien
  5. addressed him thus: “ Whate'er thy place or name,
  6. forget the people thou hast Iost, and be
  7. henceforth our countryman. But tell me true!
  8. What means the monstrous fabric of this horse?
  9. Who made it? Why? What offering to Heaven,
  10. or engin'ry of conquest may it be?”
  11. He spake; and in reply, with skilful guile,
  12. Greek that he was! the other lifted up
  13. his hands, now freed and chainless, to the skies:
  14. “O ever-burning and inviolate fires,
  15. witness my word! O altars and sharp steel,
  16. whose curse I fled, O fillets of the gods,
  17. which bound a victim's helpless forehead, hear!
  18. 'T is lawful now to break the oath that gave
  19. my troth to Greece. To execrate her kings
  20. is now my solemn duty. Their whole plot
  21. I publish to the world. No fatherland
  22. and no allegiance binds me any more.
  23. O Troy, whom I have saved, I bid thee keep
  24. the pledge of safety by good Priam given,
  25. for my true tale shall my rich ransom be.
  26. The Greeks' one hope, since first they opened war,
  27. was Pallas, grace and power. But from the day
  28. when Diomed, bold scorner of the gods,
  29. and false Ulysses, author of all guile,
  30. rose up and violently bore away
  31. Palladium, her holy shrine, hewed down
  32. the sentinels of her acropolis,
  33. and with polluted, gory hands dared touch
  34. the goddess, virgin fillets, white and pure,—
  35. thenceforth, I say, the courage of the Greeks
  36. ebbed utterly away; their strength was Iost,
  37. and favoring Pallas all her grace withdrew.
  38. No dubious sign she gave. Scarce had they set
  39. her statue in our camp, when glittering flame
  40. flashed from the staring eyes; from all its limbs
  41. salt sweat ran forth; three times (O wondrous tale!)
  42. it gave a sudden skyward leap, and made
  43. prodigious trembling of her lance and shield.
  44. The prophet Calchas bade us straightway take
  45. swift flight across the sea; for fate had willed
  46. the Trojan citadel should never fall
  47. by Grecian arm, till once more they obtain
  48. new oracles at Argos, and restore
  49. that god the round ships hurried o'er the sea.
  50. Now in Mycenae, whither they are fled,
  51. new help of heaven they find, and forge anew
  52. the means of war. Back hither o'er the waves
  53. they suddenly will come. So Calchas gave
  54. the meaning of the god. Warned thus, they reared
  55. in place of Pallas, desecrated shrine
  56. yon image of the horse, to expiate
  57. the woeful sacrilege. Calchas ordained
  58. that they should build a thing of monstrous size
  59. of jointed beams, and rear it heavenward,
  60. so might it never pass your gates, nor come
  61. inside your walls, nor anywise restore
  62. unto the Trojans their lost help divine.
  63. For had your hands Minerva's gift profaned,
  64. a ruin horrible—O, may the gods
  65. bring it on Calchas rather!—would have come
  66. on Priam's throne and all the Phrygian power.
  67. But if your hands should lift the holy thing
  68. to your own citadel, then Asia's host
  69. would hurl aggression upon Pelops' land,
  70. and all that curse on our own nation fall.”
  1. Thus Sinon's guile and practiced perjury
  2. our doubt dispelled. His stratagems and tears
  3. wrought victory where neither Tydeus' son,
  4. nor mountain-bred Achilles could prevail,
  5. nor ten years' war, nor fleets a thousand strong.
  6. But now a vaster spectacle of fear
  7. burst over us, to vex our startled souls.
  8. Laocoon, that day by cast of lot
  9. priest unto Neptune, was in act to slay
  10. a huge bull at the god's appointed fane.
  11. Lo! o'er the tranquil deep from Tenedos
  12. appeared a pair (I shudder as I tell)
  13. of vastly coiling serpents, side by side,
  14. stretching along the waves, and to the shore
  15. taking swift course; their necks were lifted high,
  16. their gory dragon-crests o'ertopped the waves;
  17. all else, half seen, trailed low along the sea;
  18. while with loud cleavage of the foaming brine
  19. their monstrous backs wound forward fold on fold.
  20. Soon they made land; the furious bright eyes
  21. glowed with ensanguined fire; their quivering tongues
  22. lapped hungrily the hissing, gruesome jaws.
  23. All terror-pale we fled. Unswerving then
  24. the monsters to Laocoon made way.
  25. First round the tender limbs of his two sons
  26. each dragon coiled, and on the shrinking flesh
  27. fixed fast and fed. Then seized they on the sire,
  28. who flew to aid, a javelin in his hand,
  29. embracing close in bondage serpentine
  30. twice round the waist; and twice in scaly grasp
  31. around his neck, and o'er him grimly peered
  32. with lifted head and crest; he, all the while,
  33. his holy fillet fouled with venomous blood,
  34. tore at his fetters with a desperate hand,
  35. and lifted up such agonizing voice,
  36. as when a bull, death-wounded, seeks to flee
  37. the sacrificial altar, and thrusts back
  38. from his doomed head the ill-aimed, glancing blade.
  39. then swiftly writhed the dragon-pair away
  40. unto the templed height, and in the shrine
  41. of cruel Pallas sure asylum found
  42. beneath the goddess' feet and orbed shield.
  43. Such trembling horror as we ne'er had known
  44. seized now on every heart. “ Of his vast guilt
  45. Laocoon,” they say, “receives reward;
  46. for he with most abominable spear
  47. did strike and violate that blessed wood.
  48. Yon statue to the temple! Ask the grace
  49. of glorious Pallas!” So the people cried
  50. in general acclaim.Ourselves did make
  51. a breach within our walls and opened wide
  52. the ramparts of our city. One and all
  53. were girded for the task. Smooth-gliding wheels
  54. were 'neath its feet; great ropes stretched round its neck,
  55. till o'er our walls the fatal engine climbed,
  56. pregnant with men-at-arms. On every side
  57. fair youths and maidens made a festal song,
  58. and hauled the ropes with merry heart and gay.
  59. So on and up it rolled, a tower of doom,
  60. and in proud menace through our Forum moved.
  61. O Ilium, my country, where abode
  62. the gods of all my sires! O glorious walls
  63. of Dardan's sons! before your gates it passed,
  64. four times it stopped and dreadful clash of arms
  65. four times from its vast concave loudly rang.
  66. Yet frantic pressed we on, our hearts all blind,
  67. and in the consecrated citadel
  68. set up the hateful thing. Cassandra then
  69. from heaven-instructed heart our doom foretold;
  70. but doomed to unbelief were Ilium's sons.
  71. Our hapless nation on its dying day
  72. flung free o'er streets and shrines the votive flowers.
  1. The skies rolled on; and o'er the ocean fell
  2. the veil of night, till utmost earth and heaven
  3. and all their Myrmidonian stratagems
  4. were mantled darkly o'er. In silent sleep
  5. the Trojan city lay; dull slumber chained
  6. its weary life. But now the Greek array
  7. of ordered ships moved on from Tenedos,
  8. their only light the silent, favoring moon,
  9. on to the well-known strand. The King displayed
  10. torch from his own ship, and Sinon then,
  11. whom wrathful Heaven defended in that hour,
  12. let the imprisoned band of Greeks go free
  13. from that huge womb of wood; the open horse
  14. restored them to the light; and joyfully
  15. emerging from the darkness, one by one,
  16. princely Thessander, Sthenelus, and dire
  17. Ulysses glided down the swinging cord.
  18. Closely upon them Neoptolemus,
  19. the son of Peleus, came, and Acamas,
  20. King Menelaus, Thoas and Machaon,
  21. and last, Epeus, who the fabric wrought.
  22. Upon the town they fell, for deep in sleep
  23. and drowsed with wine it lay; the sentinels
  24. they slaughtered, and through gates now opened wide
  25. let in their fellows, and arrayed for war
  26. th' auxiliar legions of the dark design.
  1. That hour it was when heaven's first gift of sleep
  2. on weary hearts of men most sweetly steals.
  3. O, then my slumbering senses seemed to see
  4. Hector, with woeful face and streaming eyes;
  5. I seemed to see him from the chariot trailing,
  6. foul with dark dust and gore, his swollen feet
  7. pierced with a cruel thong. Ah me! what change
  8. from glorious Hector when he homeward bore
  9. the spoils of fierce Achilles; or hurled far
  10. that shower of torches on the ships of Greece!
  11. Unkempt his beard, his tresses thick with blood,
  12. and all those wounds in sight which he did take
  13. defending Troy. Then, weeping as I spoke,
  14. I seemed on that heroic shape to call
  15. with mournful utterance: “O star of Troy!
  16. O surest hope and stay of all her sons!
  17. Why tarriest thou so Iong? What region sends
  18. the long-expected Hector home once more?
  19. These weary eyes that look on thee have seen
  20. hosts of thy kindred die, and fateful change
  21. upon thy people and thy city fall.
  22. O, say what dire occasion has defiled
  23. thy tranquil brows? What mean those bleeding wounds?”
  24. Silent he stood, nor anywise would stay
  25. my vain lament; but groaned, and answered thus:
  26. “Haste, goddess-born, and out of yonder flames
  27. achieve thy flight. Our foes have scaled the wall;
  28. exalted Troy is falling. Fatherland
  29. and Priam ask no more. If human arm
  30. could profit Troy, my own had kept her free.
  31. Her Lares and her people to thy hands
  32. Troy here commends. Companions let them be
  33. of all thy fortunes. Let them share thy quest
  34. of that wide realm, which, after wandering far,
  35. thou shalt achieve, at last, beyond the sea.”
  36. He spoke: and from our holy hearth brought forth
  37. the solemn fillet, the ancestral shrines,
  38. and Vesta's ever-bright, inviolate fire.
  1. Now shrieks and loud confusion swept the town;
  2. and though my father's dwelling stood apart
  3. embowered deep in trees, th' increasing din
  4. drew nearer, and the battle-thunder swelled.
  5. I woke on sudden, and up-starting scaled
  6. the roof, the tower, then stood with listening ear:
  7. 't was like an harvest burning, when wild winds
  8. uprouse the flames; 't was like a mountain stream
  9. that bursts in flood and ruinously whelms
  10. sweet fields and farms and all the ploughman's toil,
  11. whirling whole groves along; while dumb with fear,
  12. from some far cliff the shepherd hears the sound.
  13. Now their Greek plot was plain, the stratagem
  14. at last laid bare. Deiphobus' great house
  15. sank vanquished in the fire. Ucalegon's
  16. hard by was blazing, while the waters wide
  17. around Sigeum gave an answering glow.
  18. Shrill trumpets rang; Ioud shouting voices roared;
  19. wildly I armed me (when the battle calls,
  20. how dimly reason shines!); I burned to join
  21. the rally of my peers, and to the heights
  22. defensive gather. Frenzy and vast rage
  23. seized on my soul. I only sought what way
  24. with sword in hand some noble death to die.
  1. When Panthus met me, who had scarce escaped
  2. the Grecian spears,—Panthus of Othrys' line,
  3. Apollo's priest within our citadel;
  4. his holy emblems, his defeated gods,
  5. and his small grandson in his arms he bore,
  6. while toward the gates with wild, swift steps he flew.
  7. “How fares the kingdom, Panthus? What strong place
  8. is still our own?” But scarcely could I ask
  9. when thus, with many a groan, he made reply:—
  10. “Dardania's death and doom are come to-day,
  11. implacable. There is no Ilium now;
  12. our Trojan name is gone, the Teucrian throne
  13. Quite fallen. For the wrathful power of Jove
  14. has given to Argos all our boast and pride.
  15. The Greek is Iord of all yon blazing towers.
  16. yon horse uplifted on our city's heart
  17. disgorges men-at-arms. False Sinon now,
  18. with scorn exultant, heaps up flame on flame.
  19. Others throw wide the gates. The whole vast horde
  20. that out of proud Mycenae hither sailed
  21. is at us. With confronting spears they throng
  22. each narrow passage. Every steel-bright blade
  23. is flashing naked, making haste for blood.
  24. Our sentries helpless meet the invading shock
  25. and give back blind and unavailing war.”
  26. By Panthus' word and by some god impelled,
  27. I flew to battle, where the flames leaped high,
  28. where grim Bellona called, and all the air
  29. resounded high as heaven with shouts of war.
  30. Rhipeus and Epytus of doughty arm
  31. were at my side, Dymas and Hypanis,
  32. seen by a pale moon, join our little band;
  33. and young Coroebus, Mygdon's princely son,
  34. who was in Troy that hour because he loved
  35. Cassandra madly, and had made a league
  36. as Priam's kinsman with our Phrygian arms:
  37. ill-starred, to heed not what the virgin raved!
  1. When these I saw close-gathered for the fight,
  2. I thus addressed them: “Warriors, vainly brave,
  3. if ye indeed desire to follow one
  4. who dares the uttermost brave men may do,
  5. our evil plight ye see: the gods are fled
  6. from every altar and protecting fire,
  7. which were the kingdom's stay. Ye offer aid
  8. unto your country's ashes. Let us fight
  9. unto the death! To arms, my men, to arms!
  10. The single hope and stay of desperate men
  11. is their despair.” Thus did I rouse their souls.
  12. Then like the ravening wolves, some night of cloud,
  13. when cruel hunger in an empty maw
  14. drives them forth furious, and their whelps behind
  15. wait famine-throated; so through foemen's steel
  16. we flew to surest death, and kept our way
  17. straight through the midmost town . The wings of night
  18. brooded above us in vast vault of shade.
  19. But who the bloodshed of that night can tell?
  20. What tongue its deaths shall number, or what eyes
  21. find meed of tears to equal all its woe?
  22. The ancient City fell, whose throne had stood
  23. age after age. Along her streets were strewn
  24. the unresisting dead; at household shrines
  25. and by the temples of the gods they lay.
  26. Yet not alone was Teucrian blood required:
  27. oft out of vanquished hearts fresh valor flamed,
  28. and the Greek victor fell. Anguish and woe
  29. were everywhere; pale terrors ranged abroad,
  30. and multitudinous death met every eye.
  1. Androgeos, followed by a thronging band
  2. of Greeks, first met us on our desperate way;
  3. but heedless, and confounding friend with foe,
  4. thus, all unchallenged, hailed us as his own :
  5. “Haste, heroes! Are ye laggards at this hour?
  6. Others bear off the captives and the spoil
  7. of burning Troy. Just from the galleys ye?”
  8. He spoke; but straightway, when no safe reply
  9. returned, he knew himself entrapped, and fallen
  10. into a foeman's snare; struck dumb was he
  11. and stopped both word and motion; as one steps,
  12. when blindly treading a thick path of thorns,
  13. upon a snake, and sick with fear would flee
  14. that lifted wrath and swollen gorge of green:
  15. so trembling did Androgeos backward fall.
  16. At them we flew and closed them round with war;
  17. and since they could not know the ground, and fear
  18. had whelmed them quite, we swiftly laid them low.
  19. Thus Fortune on our first achievement smiled;
  20. and, flushed with victory, Cormbus cried:
  21. “Come, friends, and follow Fortune's finger, where
  22. she beckons us what path deliverance lies.
  23. Change we our shields, and these Greek emblems wear.
  24. 'Twixt guile and valor who will nicely weigh
  25. When foes are met? These dead shall find us arms.”
  26. With this, he dons Androgeos' crested helm
  27. and beauteous, blazoned shield; and to his side
  28. girds on a Grecian blade. Young Rhipeus next,
  29. with Dymas and the other soldiery,
  30. repeat the deed, exulting, and array
  31. their valor in fresh trophies from the slain.
  32. Now intermingled with our foes we moved,
  33. and alien emblems wore; the long, black night
  34. brought many a grapple, and a host of Greeks
  35. down to the dark we hurled. Some fled away,
  36. seeking their safe ships and the friendly shore.
  37. Some cowards foul went clambering back again
  38. to that vast horse and hid them in its maw.
  1. But woe is me! If gods their help withhold,
  2. 't is impious to be brave. That very hour
  3. the fair Cassandra passed us, bound in chains,
  4. King Priam's virgin daughter, from the shrine
  5. and altars of Minerva; her loose hair
  6. had lost its fillet; her impassioned eyes
  7. were lifted in vain prayer,—her eyes alone!
  8. For chains of steel her frail, soft hands confined.
  9. Coroebus' eyes this horror not endured,
  10. and, sorrow-crazed, he plunged him headlong in
  11. the midmost fray, self-offered to be slain,
  12. while in close mass our troop behind him poured.
  13. But, at this point, the overwhelming spears
  14. of our own kinsmen rained resistless down
  15. from a high temple-tower; and carnage wild
  16. ensued, because of the Greek arms we bore
  17. and our false crests. The howling Grecian band,
  18. crazed by Cassandra's rescue, charged at us
  19. from every side; Ajax of savage soul,
  20. the sons of Atreus, and that whole wild horde
  21. Achilles from Dolopian deserts drew.
  22. 'T was like the bursting storm, when gales contend,
  23. west wind and South, and jocund wind of morn
  24. upon his orient steeds—while forests roar,
  25. and foam-flecked Nereus with fierce trident stirs
  26. the dark deep of the sea. All who did hide
  27. in shadows of the night, by our assault
  28. surprised, and driven in tumultuous flight,
  29. now start to view. Full well they now can see
  30. our shields and borrowed arms, and clearly note
  31. our speech of alien sound; their multitude
  32. o'erwhelms us utterly. Coroebus first
  33. at mailed Minerva's altar prostrate lay,
  34. pierced by Peneleus, blade; then Rhipeus fell;
  35. we deemed him of all Trojans the most just,
  36. most scrupulously righteous; but the gods
  37. gave judgment otherwise. There Dymas died,
  38. and Hypanis, by their compatriots slain;
  39. nor thee, O Panthus, in that mortal hour,
  40. could thy clean hands or Phoebus, priesthood save.
  41. O ashes of my country! funeral pyre
  42. of all my kin! bear witness that my breast
  43. shrank not from any sword the Grecian drew,
  44. and that my deeds the night my country died
  45. deserved a warrior's death, had Fate ordained.
  46. But soon our ranks were broken; at my side
  47. stayed Iphitus and Pelias; one with age
  48. was Iong since wearied, and the other bore
  49. the burden of Ulysses' crippling wound.
  50. Straightway the roar and tumult summoned us
  51. to Priam's palace,where a battle raged
  52. as if save this no conflict else were known,
  53. and all Troy's dying brave were mustered there.
  54. There we beheld the war-god unconfined;
  55. The Greek besiegers to the roof-tops fled;
  56. or, with shields tortoise-back, the gates assailed.
  57. Ladders were on the walls; and round by round,
  58. up the huge bulwark as they fight their way,
  59. the shielded left-hand thwarts the falling spears,
  60. the right to every vantage closely clings.
  61. The Trojans hurl whole towers and roof-tops down
  62. upon the mounting foe; for well they see
  63. that the last hour is come, and with what arms
  64. the dying must resist. Rich gilded beams,
  65. with many a beauteous blazon of old time,
  66. go crashing down. Men armed with naked swords
  67. defend the inner doors in close array.
  1. Thus were our hearts inflamed to stand and strike
  2. for the king's house, and to his body-guard
  3. bring succor, and renew their vanquished powers.
  4. A certain gate I knew, a secret way,
  5. which gave free passage between Priam's halls,
  6. and exit rearward; hither, in the days
  7. before our fall, the lone Andromache
  8. was wont with young Astyanax to pass
  9. in quest of Priam and her husband's kin.
  10. This way to climb the palace roof I flew,
  11. where, desperate, the Trojans with vain skill
  12. hurled forth repellent arms. A tower was there,
  13. reared skyward from the roof-top, giving view
  14. of Troy's wide walls and full reconnaissance
  15. of all Achaea's fleets and tented field;
  16. this, with strong steel, our gathered strength assailed,
  17. and as the loosened courses offered us
  18. great threatening fissures, we uprooted it
  19. from its aerial throne and thrust it down.
  20. It fell with instantaneous crash of thunder
  21. along the Danaan host in ruin wide.
  22. But fresh ranks soon arrive; thick showers of stone
  23. rain down, with every missile rage can find.
  1. Now at the threshold of the outer court
  2. Pyrrhus triumphant stood, with glittering arms
  3. and helm of burnished brass. He glittered like
  4. some swollen viper, fed on poison-leaves,
  5. whom chilling winter shelters underground,
  6. till, fresh and strong, he sheds his annual scales
  7. and, crawling forth rejuvenate, uncoils
  8. his slimy length; his lifted gorge insults
  9. the sunbeam with three-forked and quivering tongue.
  10. Huge Periphas was there; Automedon,
  11. who drove Achilles' steeds, and bore his arms.
  12. Then Scyros' island-warriors assault
  13. the palaces, and hurl reiterate fire
  14. at wall and tower. Pyrrhus led the van;
  15. seizing an axe he clove the ponderous doors
  16. and rent the hinges from their posts of bronze;
  17. he cut the beams, and through the solid mass
  18. burrowed his way, till like a window huge
  19. the breach yawned wide, and opened to his gaze
  20. a vista of long courts and corridors,
  21. the hearth and home of many an ancient king,
  22. and Priam's own; upon its sacred bourne
  23. the sentry, all in arms, kept watch and ward.
  24. Confusion, groans, and piteous turmoil
  25. were in that dwelling; women shrieked and wailed
  26. from many a dark retreat, and their loud cry
  27. rang to the golden stars. Through those vast halls
  28. the panic-stricken mothers wildly roved,
  29. and clung with frantic kisses and embrace
  30. unto the columns cold. Fierce as his sire,
  31. Pyrrhus moves on; nor bar nor sentinel
  32. may stop his way; down tumbles the great door
  33. beneath the battering beam, and with it fall
  34. hinges and framework violently torn.
  35. Force bursts all bars; th' assailing Greeks break in,
  36. do butchery, and with men-at-arms possess
  37. what place they will. Scarce with an equal rage
  38. a foaming river, when its dykes are down,
  39. o'erwhelms its mounded shores, and through the plain
  40. rolls mountain-high, while from the ravaged farms
  41. its fierce flood sweeps along both flock and fold.
  42. My own eyes looked on Neoptolemus
  43. frenzied with slaughter, and both Atreus' sons
  44. upon the threshold frowning; I beheld
  45. her hundred daughters with old Hecuba;
  46. and Priam, whose own bleeding wounds defiled
  47. the altars where himself had blessed the fires;
  48. there fifty nuptial beds gave promise proud
  49. of princely heirs; but all their brightness now,
  50. of broidered cunning and barbaric gold,
  51. lay strewn and trampled on. The Danaan foe
  52. stood victor, where the raging flame had failed.
  1. But would ye haply know what stroke of doom
  2. on Priam fell? Now when his anguish saw
  3. his kingdom lost and fallen, his abode
  4. shattered, and in his very hearth and home
  5. th' exulting foe, the aged King did bind
  6. his rusted armor to his trembling thews,—
  7. all vainly,— and a useless blade of steel
  8. he girded on; then charged, resolved to die
  9. encircled by the foe. Within his walls
  10. there stood, beneath the wide and open sky,
  11. a lofty altar; an old laurel-tree
  12. leaned o'er it, and enclasped in holy shade
  13. the statues of the tutelary powers.
  14. Here Hecuba and all the princesses
  15. took refuge vain within the place of prayer.
  16. Like panic-stricken doves in some dark storm,
  17. close-gathering they sate, and in despair
  18. embraced their graven gods. But when the Queen
  19. saw Priam with his youthful harness on,
  20. “What frenzy, O my wretched lord,” she cried,
  21. “Arrayed thee in such arms? O, whither now?
  22. Not such defences, nor such arm as thine,
  23. the time requires, though thy companion were
  24. our Hector's self. O, yield thee, I implore!
  25. This altar now shall save us one and all,
  26. or we must die together.” With these words
  27. she drew him to her side, and near the shrine
  28. made for her aged spouse a place to cling.
  1. But, lo! just 'scaped of Pyrrhus' murderous hand,
  2. Polites, one of Priam's sons, fled fast
  3. along the corridors, through thronging foes
  4. and a thick rain of spears. Wildly he gazed
  5. across the desolate halls, wounded to death.
  6. Fierce Pyrrhus followed after, pressing hard
  7. with mortal stroke, and now his hand and spear
  8. were close upon:— when the lost youth leaped forth
  9. into his father's sight, and prostrate there
  10. lay dying, while his life-blood ebbed away.
  11. Then Priam, though on all sides death was nigh,
  12. quit not the strife, nor from loud wrath refrained:
  13. “Thy crime and impious outrage, may the gods
  14. (if Heaven to mortals render debt and due)
  15. justly reward and worthy honors pay!
  16. My own son's murder thou hast made me see,
  17. blood and pollution impiously throwing
  18. upon a father's head. Not such was he,
  19. not such, Achilles, thy pretended sire,
  20. when Priam was his foe. With flush of shame
  21. he nobly listened to a suppliant's plea
  22. in honor made. He rendered to the tomb
  23. my Hector's body pale, and me did send
  24. back to my throne a king.” With this proud word
  25. the aged warrior hurled with nerveless arm
  26. his ineffectual spear, which hoarsely rang
  27. rebounding on the brazen shield, and hung
  28. piercing the midmost boss,- but all in vain.
  29. Then Pyrrhus: “Take these tidings, and convey
  30. message to my father, Peleus' son!
  31. tell him my naughty deeds! Be sure and say
  32. how Neoptolemus hath shamed his sires.
  33. Now die!” With this, he trailed before the shrines
  34. the trembling King, whose feet slipped in the stream
  35. of his son's blood. Then Pyrrhus' left hand clutched
  36. the tresses old and gray; a glittering sword
  37. his right hand lifted high, and buried it
  38. far as the hilt in that defenceless heart.
  39. So Priam's story ceased. Such final doom
  40. fell on him, while his dying eyes surveyed
  41. Troy burning, and her altars overthrown,
  42. though once of many an orient land and tribe
  43. the boasted lord. In huge dismemberment
  44. his severed trunk lies tombless on the shore,
  45. the head from shoulder torn, the corpse unknown.
  1. Then first wild horror on my spirit fell
  2. and dazed me utterly. A vision rose
  3. of my own cherished father, as I saw
  4. the King, his aged peer, sore wounded Iying
  5. in mortal agony; a vision too
  6. of lost Creusa at my ravaged hearth,
  7. and young Iulus' peril. Then my eyes
  8. looked round me seeking aid. But all were fled,
  9. war-wearied and undone; some earthward leaped
  10. from battlement or tower; some in despair
  11. yielded their suffering bodies to the flame.
  1. I stood there sole surviving; when, behold,
  2. to Vesta's altar clinging in dumb fear,
  3. hiding and crouching in the hallowed shade,
  4. Tyndarus' daughter!— 't was the burning town
  5. lighted full well my roving steps and eyes.
  6. In fear was she both of some Trojan's rage
  7. for Troy o'erthrown, and of some Greek revenge,
  8. or her wronged husband's Iong indignant ire.
  9. So hid she at that shrine her hateful brow,
  10. being of Greece and Troy, full well she knew,
  11. the common curse. Then in my bosom rose
  12. a blaze of wrath; methought I should avenge
  13. my dying country, and with horrid deed
  14. pay crime for crime. “Shall she return unscathed
  15. to Sparta, to Mycenae's golden pride,
  16. and have a royal triumph? Shall her eyes
  17. her sire and sons, her hearth and husband see,
  18. while Phrygian captives follow in her train?
  19. is Priam murdered? Have the flames swept o'er
  20. my native Troy? and cloth our Dardan strand
  21. sweat o'er and o'er with sanguinary dew?
  22. O, not thus unavenged! For though there be
  23. no glory if I smite a woman's crime,
  24. nor conqueror's fame for such a victory won,
  25. yet if I blot this monster out, and wring
  26. full punishment from guilt, the time to come
  27. will praise me, and sweet pleasure it will be
  28. to glut my soul with vengeance and appease
  29. the ashes of my kindred.”So I raved,
  30. and to such frenzied purpose gave my soul.
  31. Then with clear vision (never had I seen
  32. her presence so unclouded) I beheld,
  33. in golden beams that pierced the midnight gloom,
  34. my gracious mother, visibly divine,
  35. and with that mien of majesty she wears
  36. when seen in heaven; she stayed me with her hand,
  37. and from her lips of rose this counsel gave:
  38. “O son, what sorrow stirs thy boundless rage?
  39. what madness this? Or whither vanisheth
  40. thy love of me? Wilt thou not seek to know
  41. where bides Anchises, thy abandoned sire,
  42. now weak with age? or if Creusa lives
  43. and young Ascanius, who are ringed about
  44. with ranks of Grecian foes, and long ere this—
  45. save that my love can shield them and defend—
  46. had fallen on flame or fed some hungry sword?
  47. Not Helen's hated beauty works thee woe;
  48. nor Paris, oft-accused. The cruelty
  49. of gods, of gods unaided, overwhelms
  50. thy country's power, and from its Iofty height
  51. casts Ilium down. Behold, I take away
  52. the barrier-cloud that dims thy mortal eye,
  53. with murk and mist o'er-veiling. Fear not thou
  54. to heed thy mother's word, nor let thy heart
  55. refuse obedience to her counsel given.
  56. 'Mid yonder trembling ruins, where thou see'st
  57. stone torn from stone, with dust and smoke uprolling,
  58. 't is Neptune strikes the wall; his trident vast
  59. makes her foundation tremble, and unseats
  60. the city from her throne. Fierce Juno leads
  61. resistless onset at the Scaean gate,
  62. and summons from the ships the league of powers,
  63. wearing her wrathful sword. On yonder height
  64. behold Tritonia in the citadel
  65. clothed with the lightning and her Gorgon-shield!
  66. Unto the Greeks great Jove himself renews
  67. their courage and their power; 't is he thrusts on
  68. the gods themselves against the Trojan arms.
  69. Fly, O my son! The war's wild work give o'er!
  70. I will be always nigh and set thee safe
  71. upon thy father's threshold.” Having said,
  72. she fled upon the viewless night away.