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The Online 
Medieval and Classical Library

The Fall of Troy

How the Wooden Horse was fashioned,
and brought into Troy by her people.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b

     When round the walls of Troy the Danaan host
     Had borne much travail, and yet the end was not,
     By Calchas then assembled were the chiefs;
     For his heart was instructed by the hests
     Of Phoebus, by the flights of birds, the stars,
     And all the signs that speak to men the will
     Of Heaven; so he to that assembly cried:
     "No longer toil in leaguer of yon walls;
     Some other counsel let your hearts devise,
10   Some stratagem to help the host and us.
     For here but yesterday I saw a sign:
     A falcon chased a dove, and she, hard pressed,
     Entered a cleft of the rock; and chafing he
     Tarried long time hard by that rift, but she
     Abode in covert.  Nursing still his wrath,
     He hid him in a bush.  Forth darted she,
     In folly deeming him afar: he swooped,
     And to the hapless dove dealt wretched death.
     Therefore by force essay we not to smite Troy,
20   but let cunning stratagem avail."

     He spake; but no man's wit might find a way
     To escape their grievous travail, as they sought
     To find a remedy, till Laertes' son
     Discerned it of his wisdom, and he spake:
     "Friend, in high honour held of the Heavenly Ones,
     If doomed it be indeed that Priam's burg
     By guile must fall before the war-worn Greeks,
     A great Horse let us fashion, in the which
     Our mightiest shall take ambush.  Let the host
30   Burn all their tents, and sail from hence away
     To Tenedos; so the Trojans, from their towers
     Gazing, shall stream forth fearless to the plain.
     Let some brave man, unknown of any in Troy,
     With a stout heart abide without the Horse,
     Crouching beneath its shadow, who shall say:
     "`Achaea's lords of might, exceeding fain
     Safe to win home, made this their offering
     For safe return, an image to appease
     The wrath of Pallas for her image stolen
40   From Troy.'  And to this story shall he stand,
     How long soe'er they question him, until,
     Though never so relentless, they believe,
     And drag it, their own doom, within the town.
     Then shall war's signal unto us be given --
     To them at sea, by sudden flash of torch,
     To the ambush, by the cry, `Come forth the Horse!'
     When unsuspecting sleep the sons of Troy."

     He spake, and all men praised him: most of all
     Extolled him Calchas, that such marvellous guile
50   He put into the Achaeans' hearts, to be
     For them assurance of triumph, but for Troy
     Ruin; and to those battle-lords he cried:
     "Let your hearts seek none other stratagem,
     Friends; to war-strong Odysseus' rede give ear.
     His wise thought shall not miss accomplishment.
     Yea, our desire even now the Gods fulfil.
     Hark!  for new tokens come from the Unseen!
     Lo, there on high crash through the firmament
     Zeus' thunder and lightning!  See, where birds to right
60   Dart past, and scream with long-resounding cry!
     Go to, no more in endless leaguer of Troy
     Linger we.  Hard necessity fills the foe
     With desperate courage that makes cowards brave;
     For then are men most dangerous, when they stake
     Their lives in utter recklessness of death,
     As battle now the aweless sons of Troy
     All round their burg, mad with the lust of fight."

     But cried Achilles' battle-eager son:
     "Calchas, brave men meet face to face their foes!
70   Who skulk behind their walls, and fight from towers,
     Are nidderings, hearts palsied with base fear.
     Hence with all thought of wile and stratagem!
     The great war-travail of the spear beseems
     True heroes.  Best in battle are the brave."

     But answer made to him Laertes' seed:
     "Bold-hearted child of aweless Aeacus' son,
     This as beseems a hero princely and brave,
     Dauntlessly trusting in thy strength, thou say'st.
     Yet thine invincible sire's unquailing might
80   Availed not to smite Priam's wealthy burg,
     Nor we, for all our travail.  Nay, with speed,
     As counselleth Calchas, go we to the ships,
     And fashion we the Horse by Epeius' hands,
     Who in the woodwright's craft is chiefest far
     Of Argives, for Athena taught his lore."

     Then all their mightiest men gave ear to him
     Save twain, fierce-hearted Neoptolemus
     And Philoctetes mighty-souled; for these
     Still were insatiate for the bitter fray,
90   Still longed for turmoil of the fight.  They bade
     Their own folk bear against that giant wall
     What things soe'er for war's assaults avail,
     In hope to lay that stately fortress low,
     Seeing Heaven's decrees had brought them both to war.
     Yea, they had haply accomplished all their will,
     But from the sky Zeus showed his wrath; he shook
     The earth beneath their feet, and all the air
     Shuddered, as down before those heroes twain
     He hurled his thunderbolt: wide echoes crashed
100  Through all Dardania.  Unto fear straightway
     Turned were their bold hearts: they forgat their might,
     And Calchas' counsels grudgingly obeyed.
     So with the Argives came they to the ships
     In reverence for the seer who spake from Zeus
     Or Phoebus, and they obeyed him utterly.

     What time round splendour-kindled heavens the stars
     From east to west far-flashing wheel, and when
     Man doth forget his toil, in that still hour
     Athena left the high mansions of the Blest,
110  Clothed her in shape of a maiden tender-fleshed,
     And came to ships and host.  Over the head
     Of brave Epeius stood she in his dream,
     And bade him build a Horse of tree: herself
     Would labour in his labour, and herself
     Stand by his side, to the work enkindling him.
     Hearing the Goddess' word, with a glad laugh
     Leapt he from careless sleep: right well he knew
     The Immortal One celestial.  Now his heart
     Could hold no thought beside; his mind was fixed
120  Upon the wondrous work, and through his soul
     Marched marshalled each device of craftsmanship.

     When rose the dawn, and thrust back kindly night
     To Erebus, and through the firmament streamed
     Glad glory, then Epeius told his dream
     To eager Argives -- all he saw and heard;
     And hearkening joyed they with exceeding joy.
     Straightway to tall-tressed Ida's leafy glades
     The sons of Atreus sent swift messengers.
     These laid the axe unto the forest-pines,
130  And hewed the great trees: to their smiting rang
     The echoing glens.  On those far-stretching hills
     All bare of undergrowth the high peaks rose:
     Open their glades were, not, as in time past,
     Haunted of beasts: there dry the tree-trunks rose
     Wooing the winds.  Even these the Achaeans hewed
     With axes, and in haste they bare them down
     From those shagged mountain heights to Hellespont's shores.
     Strained with a strenuous spirit at the work
     Young men and mules; and all the people toiled
140  Each at his task obeying Epeius's hest.
     For with the keen steel some were hewing beams,
     Some measuring planks, and some with axes lopped
     Branches away from trunks as yet unsawn:
     Each wrought his several work.  Epeius first
     Fashioned the feet of that great Horse of Wood:
     The belly next he shaped, and over this
     Moulded the back and the great loins behind,
     The throat in front, and ridged the towering neck
     With waving mane: the crested head he wrought,
150  The streaming tail, the ears, the lucent eyes --
     All that of lifelike horses have.  So grew
     Like a live thing that more than human work,
     For a God gave to a man that wondrous craft.
     And in three days, by Pallas's decree,
     Finished was all.  Rejoiced thereat the host
     Of Argos, marvelling how the wood expressed
     Mettle, and speed of foot -- yea, seemed to neigh.
     Godlike Epeius then uplifted hands
     To Pallas, and for that huge Horse he prayed:
160  "Hear, great-souled Goddess: bless thine Horse and me!"
     He spake: Athena rich in counsel heard,
     And made his work a marvel to all men
     Which saw, or heard its fame in days to be.

     But while the Danaans o'er Epeius' work
     Joyed, and their routed foes within the walls
     Tarried, and shrank from death and pitiless doom,
     Then, when imperious Zeus far from the Gods
     Had gone to Ocean's streams and Tethys' caves,
     Strife rose between the Immortals: heart with heart
170  Was set at variance.  Riding on the blasts
     Of winds, from heaven to earth they swooped: the air
     Crashed round them.  Lighting down by Xanthus' stream
     Arrayed they stood against each other, these
     For the Achaeans, for the Trojans those;
     And all their souls were thrilled with lust of war:
     There gathered too the Lords of the wide Sea.
     These in their wrath were eager to destroy
     The Horse of Guile and all the ships, and those
     Fair Ilium.  But all-contriving Fate
180  Held them therefrom, and turned their hearts to strife
     Against each other.  Ares to the fray
     Rose first, and on Athena rushed.  Thereat
     Fell each on other: clashed around their limbs
     The golden arms celestial as they charged.
     Round them the wide sea thundered, the dark earth
     Quaked 'neath immortal feet.  Rang from them all
     Far-pealing battle-shouts; that awful cry
     Rolled up to the broad-arching heaven, and down
     Even to Hades' fathomless abyss:
190  Trembled the Titans there in depths of gloom.
     Ida's long ridges sighed, sobbed clamorous streams
     Of ever-flowing rivers, groaned ravines
     Far-furrowed, Argive ships, and Priam's towers.
     Yet men feared not, for naught they knew of all
     That strife, by Heaven's decree.  Then her high peaks
     The Gods' hands wrenched from Ida's crest, and hurled
     Against each other: but like crumbling sands
     Shivered they fell round those invincible limbs,
     Shattered to small dust.  But the mind of Zeus,
200  At the utmost verge of earth, was ware of all:
     Straight left he Ocean's stream, and to wide heaven
     Ascended, charioted upon the winds,
     The East, the North, the West-wind, and the South:
     For Iris rainbow-plumed led 'neath the yoke
     Of his eternal ear that stormy team,
     The ear which Time the immortal framed for him
     Of adamant with never-wearying hands.
     So came he to Olympus' giant ridge.
     His wrath shook all the firmament, as crashed
210  From east to west his thunders; lightnings gleamed,
     As thick and fast his thunderbolts poured to earth,
     And flamed the limitless welkin.  Terror fell
     Upon the hearts of those Immortals: quaked
     The limbs of all -- ay, deathless though they were!
     Then Themis, trembling for them, swift as thought
     Leapt down through clouds, and came with speed to them --
     For in the strife she only had no part
     And stood between the fighters, and she cried:
     "Forbear the conflict!  O, when Zeus is wroth,
220  It ill beseems that everlasting Gods
     Should fight for men's sake, creatures of a day:
     Else shall ye be all suddenly destroyed;
     For Zeus will tear up all the hills, and hurl
     Upon you: sons nor daughters will he spare,
     But bury 'neath one ruin of shattered earth
     All.  No escape shall ye find thence to light,
     In horror of darkness prisoned evermore."

     Dreading Zeus' menace gave they heed to her,
     From strife refrained, and cast away their wrath,
230  And were made one in peace and amity.
     Some heavenward soared, some plunged into the sea,
     On earth stayed some.  Amid the Achaean host
     Spake in his subtlety Laertes' son:
     "O valorous-hearted lords of the Argive host,
     Now prove in time of need what men ye be,
     How passing-strong, how flawless-brave!  The hour
     Is this for desperate emprise: now, with hearts
     Heroic, enter ye yon carven horse,
     So to attain the goal of this stern war.
240  For better it is by stratagem and craft
     Now to destroy this city, for whose sake
     Hither we came, and still are suffering
     Many afflictions far from our own land.
     Come then, and let your hearts be stout and strong
     For he who in stress of fight hath turned to bay
     And snatched a desperate courage from despair,
     Oft, though the weaker, slays a mightier foe.
     For courage, which is all men's glory, makes
     The heart great.  Come then, set the ambush, ye
250  Which be our mightiest, and the rest shall go
     To Tenedos' hallowed burg, and there abide
     Until our foes have haled within their walls
     Us with the Horse, as deeming that they bring
     A gift unto Tritonis.  Some brave man,
     One whom the Trojans know not, yet we lack,
     To harden his heart as steel, and to abide
     Near by the Horse.  Let that man bear in mind
     Heedfully whatsoe'er I said erewhile.
     And let none other thought be in his heart,
260  Lest to the foe our counsel be revealed."

     Then, when all others feared, a man far-famed
     Made answer, Sinon, marked of destiny
     To bring the great work to accomplishment.
     Therefore with worship all men looked on him,
     The loyal of heart, as in the midst he spake:
     "Odysseus, and all ye Achaean chiefs,
     This work for which ye crave will I perform --
     Yea, though they torture me, though into fire
     Living they thrust me; for mine heart is fixed
270  Not to escape, but die by hands of foes,
     Except I crown with glory your desire."

     Stoutly he spake: right glad the Argives were;
     And one said: "How the Gods have given to-day
     High courage to this man!  He hath not been
     Heretofore valiant.  Heaven is kindling him
     To be the Trojans' ruin, but to us
     Salvation.  Now full soon, I trow, we reach
     The goal of grievous war, so long unseen."

     So a voice murmured mid the Achaean host.
280  Then, to stir up the heroes, Nestor cried:
     "Now is the time, dear sons, for courage and strength:
     Now do the Gods bring nigh the end of toil:
     Now give they victory to our longing hands.
     Come, bravely enter ye this cavernous Horse.
     For high renown attendeth courage high.
     Oh that my limbs were mighty as of old,
     When Aeson's son for heroes called, to man
     Swift Argo, when of the heroes foremost I
     Would gladly have entered her, but Pelias
290  The king withheld me in my own despite.
     Ah me, but now the burden of years -- O nay,
     As I were young, into the Horse will I
     Fearlessly!  Glory and strength shall courage give."

     Answered him golden-haired Achilles' son:
     "Nestor, in wisdom art thou chief of men;
     But cruel age hath caught thee in his grip:
     No more thy strength may match thy gallant will;
     Therefore thou needs must unto Tenedos' strand.
     We will take ambush, we the youths, of strife
300  Insatiate still, as thou, old sire, dost bid."

     Then strode the son of Neleus to his side,
     And kissed his hands, and kissed the head of him
     Who offered thus himself the first of all
     To enter that huge horse, being peril-fain,
     And bade the elder of days abide without.
     Then to the battle-eager spake the old:
     "Thy father's son art thou!  Achilles' might
     And chivalrous speech be here!  O, sure am I
     That by thine hands the Argives shall destroy
310  The stately city of Priam.  At the last,
     After long travail, glory shall be ours,
     Ours, after toil and tribulation of war;
     The Gods have laid tribulation at men's feet
     But happiness far off, and toil between:
     Therefore for men full easy is the path
     To ruin, and the path to fame is hard,
     Where feet must press right on through painful toil."

     He spake: replied Achilles' glorious son:
     "Old sire, as thine heart trusteth, be it vouchsafed
320  In answer to our prayers; for best were this:
     But if the Gods will otherwise, be it so.
     Ay, gladlier would I fall with glory in fight
     Than flee from Troy, bowed 'neath a load of shame."

     Then in his sire's celestial arms he arrayed
     His shoulders; and with speed in harness sheathed
     Stood the most mighty heroes, in whose healers
     Was dauntless spirit.  Tell, ye Queens of Song,
     Now man by man the names of all that passed
     Into the cavernous Horse; for ye inspired
330  My soul with all my song, long ere my cheek
     Grew dark with manhood's beard, what time I fed
     My goodly sheep on Smyrna's pasture-lea,
     From Hermus thrice so far as one may hear
     A man's shout, by the fane of Artemis,
     In the Deliverer's Grove, upon a hill
     Neither exceeding low nor passing high.

     Into that cavernous Horse Achilles' son
     First entered, strong Menelaus followed then,
     Odysseus, Sthenelus, godlike Diomede,
340  Philoctetes and Menestheus, Anticlus,
     Thoas and Polypoetes golden-haired,
     Aias, Eurypylus, godlike Thrasymede,
     Idomeneus, Meriones, far-famous twain,
     Podaleirius of spears, Eurymachus,
     Teucer the godlike, fierce Ialmenus,
     Thalpius, Antimachus, Leonteus staunch,
     Eumelus, and Euryalus fair as a God,
     Amphimachus, Demophoon, Agapenor,
     Akamas, Meges stalwart Phyleus' son --
350  Yea, more, even all their chiefest, entered in,
     So many as that carven Horse could hold.
     Godlike Epeius last of all passed in,
     The fashioner of the Horse; in his breast lay
     The secret of the opening of its doors
     And of their closing: therefore last of all
     He entered, and he drew the ladders up
     Whereby they clomb: then made he all secure,
     And set himself beside the bolt.  So all
     In silence sat 'twixt victory and death.

360  But the rest fired the tents, wherein erewhile
     They slept, and sailed the wide sea in their ships.
     Two mighty-hearted captains ordered these,
     Nestor and Agamemnon lord of spears.
     Fain had they also entered that great Horse,
     But all the host withheld them, bidding stay
     With them a-shipboard, ordering their array:
     For men far better work the works of war
     When their kings oversee them; therefore these
370  Abode without, albeit mighty men.
     So came they swiftly unto Tenedos' shore,
     And dropped the anchor-stones, then leapt in haste
     Forth of the ships, and silent waited there
     Keen-watching till the signal-torch should flash.

     But nigh the foe were they in the Horse, and now
     Looked they for death, and now to smite the town;
     And on their hopes and fears uprose the dawn.

     Then marked the Trojans upon Hellespont's strand
     The smoke upleaping yet through air: no more
380  Saw they the ships which brought to them from Greece
     Destruction dire.  With joy to the shore they ran,
     But armed them first, for fear still haunted them
     Then marked they that fair-carven Horse, and stood
     Marvelling round, for a mighty work was there.
     A hapless-seeming man thereby they spied,
     Sinon; and this one, that one questioned him
     Touching the Danaans, as in a great ring
     They compassed him, and with unangry words
     First questioned, then with terrible threatenings.
390  Then tortured they that man of guileful soul
     Long time unceasing.  Firm as a rock abode
     The unquivering limbs, the unconquerable will.
     His ears, his nose, at last they shore away
     In every wise tormenting him, until
     He should declare the truth, whither were gone
     The Danaans in their ships, what thing the Horse
     Concealed within it.  He had armed his mind
     With resolution, and of outrage foul
     Recked not; his soul endured their cruel stripes,
400  Yea, and the bitter torment of the fire;
     For strong endurance into him Hera breathed;
     And still he told them the same guileful tale:
     "The Argives in their ships flee oversea
     Weary of tribulation of endless war.
     This horse by Calchas' counsel fashioned they
     For wise Athena, to propitiate
     Her stern wrath for that guardian image stol'n
     From Troy.  And by Odysseus' prompting I
     Was marked for slaughter, to be sacrificed
410  To the sea-powers, beside the moaning waves,
     To win them safe return.  But their intent
     I marked; and ere they spilt the drops of wine,
     And sprinkled hallowed meal upon mine head,
     Swiftly I fled, and, by the help of Heaven,
     I flung me down, clasping the Horse's feet;
     And they, sore loth, perforce must leave me there
     Dreading great Zeus's daughter mighty-souled."

     In subtlety so he spake, his soul untamed
     By pain; for a brave man's part is to endure
420  To the uttermost.  And of the Trojans some
     Believed him, others for a wily knave
     Held him, of whose mind was Laocoon.
     Wisely he spake: "A deadly fraud is this,"
     He said, "devised by the Achaean chiefs!"
     And cried to all straightway to burn the Horse,
     And know if aught within its timbers lurked.

     Yea, and they had obeyed him, and had 'scaped
     Destruction; but Athena, fiercely wroth
     With him, the Trojans, and their city, shook
430  Earth's deep foundations 'neath Laocoon's feet.
     Straight terror fell on him, and trembling bowed
     The knees of the presumptuous: round his head
     Horror of darkness poured; a sharp pang thrilled
     His eyelids; swam his eyes beneath his brows;
     His eyeballs, stabbed with bitter anguish, throbbed
     Even from the roots, and rolled in frenzy of pain.
     Clear through his brain the bitter torment pierced
     Even to the filmy inner veil thereof;
     Now bloodshot were his eyes, now ghastly green;
440  Anon with rheum they ran, as pours a stream
     Down from a rugged crag, with thawing snow
     Made turbid.  As a man distraught he seemed:
     All things he saw showed double, and he groaned
     Fearfully; yet he ceased not to exhort
     The men of Troy, and recked not of his pain.
     Then did the Goddess strike him utterly blind.
     Stared his fixed eyeballs white from pits of blood;
     And all folk groaned for pity of their friend,
     And dread of the Prey-giver, lest he had sinned
450  In folly against her, and his mind was thus
     Warped to destruction yea, lest on themselves
     Like judgment should be visited, to avenge
     The outrage done to hapless Sinon's flesh,
     Whereby they hoped to wring the truth from him.
     So led they him in friendly wise to Troy,
     Pitying him at the last.  Then gathered all,
     And o'er that huge Horse hastily cast a rope,
     And made it fast above; for under its feet
     Smooth wooden rollers had Epeius laid,
460  That, dragged by Trojan hands, it might glide on
     Into their fortress.  One and all they haled
     With multitudinous tug and strain, as when
     Down to the sea young men sore-labouring drag
     A ship; hard-crushed the stubborn rollers groan,
     As, sliding with weird shrieks, the keel descends
     Into the sea-surge; so that host with toil
     Dragged up unto their city their own doom,
     Epeius' work.  With great festoons of flowers
     They hung it, and their own heads did they wreathe,
470  While answering each other pealed the flutes.
     Grimly Enyo laughed, seeing the end
     Of that dire war; Hera rejoiced on high;
     Glad was Athena.  When the Trojans came
     Unto their city, brake they down the walls,
     Their city's coronal, that the Horse of Death
     Might be led in.  Troy's daughters greeted it
     With shouts of salutation; marvelling all
     Gazed at the mighty work where lurked their doom.

     But still Laocoon ceased not to exhort
480  His countrymen to burn the Horse with fire:
     They would not hear, for dread of the Gods' wrath.
     But then a yet more hideous punishment
     Athena visited on his hapless sons.
     A cave there was, beneath a rugged cliff
     Exceeding high, unscalable, wherein
     Dwelt fearful monsters of the deadly brood
     Of Typhon, in the rock-clefts of the isle
     Calydna that looks Troyward from the sea.
     Thence stirred she up the strength of serpents twain,
490  And summoned them to Troy.  By her uproused
     They shook the island as with earthquake: roared
     The sea; the waves disparted as they came.
     Onward they swept with fearful-flickering tongues:
     Shuddered the very monsters of the deep:
     Xanthus' and Simois' daughters moaned aloud,
     The River-nymphs: the Cyprian Queen looked down
     In anguish from Olympus.  Swiftly they came
     Whither the Goddess sped them: with grim jaws
     Whetting their deadly fangs, on his hapless sons
500  Sprang they.  All Trojans panic-stricken fled,
     Seeing those fearsome dragons in their town.
     No man, though ne'er so dauntless theretofore,
     Dared tarry; ghastly dread laid hold on all
     Shrinking in horror from the monsters. Screamed
     The women; yea, the mother forgat her child,
     Fear-frenzied as she fled: all Troy became
     One shriek of fleers, one huddle of jostling limbs:
     The streets were choked with cowering fugitives.
     Alone was left Laocoon with his sons,
510  For death's doom and the Goddess chained their feet.
     Then, even as from destruction shrank the lads,
     Those deadly fangs had seized and ravined up
     The twain, outstretching to their sightless sire
     Agonized hands: no power to help had he.
     Trojans far off looked on from every side
     Weeping, all dazed.  And, having now fulfilled
     Upon the Trojans Pallas' awful hest,
     Those monsters vanished 'neath the earth; and still
     Stands their memorial, where into the fane
520  They entered of Apollo in Pergamus
     The hallowed.  Therebefore the sons of Troy
     Gathered, and reared a cenotaph for those
     Who miserably had perished.  Over it
     Their father from his blind eyes rained the tears:
     Over the empty tomb their mother shrieked,
     Boding the while yet worse things, wailing o'er
     The ruin wrought by folly of her lord,
     Dreading the anger of the Blessed Ones.
     As when around her void nest in a brake
530  In sorest anguish moans the nightingale
     Whose fledglings, ere they learned her plaintive song,
     A hideous serpent's fangs have done to death,
     And left the mother anguish, endless woe,
     And bootless crying round her desolate home;
     So groaned she for her children's wretched death,
     So moaned she o'er the void tomb; and her pangs
     Were sharpened by her lord's plight stricken blind.

     While she for children and for husband moaned --
     These slain, he of the sun's light portionless --
540  The Trojans to the Immortals sacrificed,
     Pouring the wine.  Their hearts beat high with hope
     To escape the weary stress of woeful war.
     Howbeit the victims burned not, and the flames
     Died out, as though 'neath heavy-hissing rain;
     And writhed the smoke-wreaths blood-red, and the thighs
     Quivering from crumbling altars fell to earth.
     Drink-offerings turned to blood, Gods' statues wept,
     And temple-walls dripped gore: along them rolled
     Echoes of groaning out of depths unseen;
550  And all the long walls shuddered: from the towers
     Came quick sharp sounds like cries of men in pain;
     And, weirdly shrieking, of themselves slid back
     The gate-bolts.  Screaming "Desolation!" wailed
     The birds of night.  Above that God-built burg
     A mist palled every star; and yet no cloud
     Was in the flashing heavens.  By Phoebus' fane
     Withered the bays that erst were lush and green.
     Wolves and foul-feeding jackals came and howled
     Within the gates.  Ay, other signs untold
560  Appeared, portending woe to Dardanus' sons
     And Troy: yet no fear touched the Trojans' hearts
     Who saw all through the town those portents dire:
     Fate crazed them all, that midst their revelling
     Slain by their foes they might fill up their doom.

     One heart was steadfast, and one soul clear-eyed,
     Cassandra.  Never her words were unfulfilled;
     Yet was their utter truth, by Fate's decree,
     Ever as idle wind in the hearers' ears,
     That no bar to Troy's ruin might be set.
570  She saw those evil portents all through Troy
     Conspiring to one end; loud rang her cry,
     As roars a lioness that mid the brakes
     A hunter has stabbed or shot, whereat her heart
     Maddens, and down the long hills rolls her roar,
     And her might waxes tenfold; so with heart
     Aflame with prophecy came she forth her bower.
     Over her snowy shoulders tossed her hair
     Streaming far down, and wildly blazed her eyes.
     Her neck writhed, like a sapling in the wind
580  Shaken, as moaned and shrieked that noble maid:
     "O wretches!  into the Land of Darkness now
     We are passing; for all round us full of fire
     And blood and dismal moan the city is.
     Everywhere portents of calamity
     Gods show: destruction yawns before your feet.
     Fools!  ye know not your doom: still ye rejoice
     With one consent in madness, who to Troy
     Have brought the Argive Horse where ruin lurks!
     Oh, ye believe not me, though ne'er so loud
590  I cry!  The Erinyes and the ruthless Fates,
     For Helen's spousals madly wroth, through Troy
     Dart on wild wings.  And ye, ye are banqueting there
     In your last feast, on meats befouled with gore,
     When now your feet are on the Path of Ghosts!"

     Then cried a scoffing voice an ominous word:
     "Why doth a raving tongue of evil speech,
     Daughter of Priam, make thy lips to cry
     Words empty as wind?  No maiden modesty
     With purity veils thee: thou art compassed round
600  With ruinous madness; therefore all men scorn
     Thee, babbler!  Hence, thine evil bodings speak
     To the Argives and thyself!  For thee doth wait
     Anguish and shame yet bitterer than befell
     Presumptuous Laocoon.  Shame it were
     In folly to destroy the Immortals' gift."

     So scoffed a Trojan: others in like sort
     Cried shame on her, and said she spake but lies,
     Saying that ruin and Fate's heavy stroke
     Were hard at hand.  They knew not their own doom,
610  And mocked, and thrust her back from that huge Horse ú
     For fain she was to smite its beams apart,
     Or burn with ravening fire.  She snatched a brand
     Of blazing pine-wood from the hearth and ran
     In fury: in the other hand she bare
     A two-edged halberd: on that Horse of Doom
     She rushed, to cause the Trojans to behold
     With their own eyes the ambush hidden there.
     But straightway from her hands they plucked and flung
     Afar the fire and steel, and careless turned
620  To the feast; for darkened o'er them their last night.
     Within the horse the Argives joyed to hear
     The uproar of Troy's feasters setting at naught
     Cassandra, but they marvelled that she knew
     So well the Achaeans' purpose and device.

     As mid the hills a furious pantheress,
     Which from the steading hounds and shepherd-folk
     Drive with fierce rush, with savage heart turns back
     Even in departing, galled albeit by darts:
     So from the great Horse fled she, anguish-racked
630  For Troy, for all the ruin she foreknew.

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