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Medieval and Classical Library

The Fall of Troy

How Memnon, Son of the Dawn, for Troy's sake fell in the Battle.

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b

     When o'er the crests of the far-echoing hills
     The splendour of the tireless-racing sun
     Poured o'er the land, still in their tents rejoiced
     Achaea's stalwart sons, and still acclaimed
     Achilles the resistless.  But in Troy
     Still mourned her people, still from all her towers
     Seaward they strained their gaze; for one great fear
     Gripped all their hearts -- to see that terrible man
     At one bound overleap their high-built wall,
10   Then smite with the sword all people therewithin,
     And burn with fire fanes, palaces, and homes.
     And old Thymoetes spake to the anguished ones:
     "Friends, I have lost hope: mine heart seeth not
     Or help, or bulwark from the storm of war,
     Now that the aweless Hector, who was once
     Troy's mighty champion, is in dust laid low.
     Not all his might availed to escape the Fates,
     But overborne he was by Achilles' hands,
     The hands that would, I verily deem, bear down
20   A God, if he defied him to the fight,
     Even as he overthrew this warrior-queen
     Penthesileia battle-revelling,
     From whom all other Argives shrank in fear.
     Ah, she was marvellous!  When at the first
     I looked on her, meseemed a Blessed One
     From heaven had come down hitherward to bring
     Light to our darkness -- ah, vain hope, vain dream!
     Go to, let us take counsel, what to do
     Were best for us.  Or shall we still maintain
30   A hopeless fight against these ruthless foes,
     Or shall we straightway flee a city doomed?
     Ay, doomed! -- for never more may we withstand
     Argives in fighting field, when in the front
     Of battle pitiless Achilles storms."

     Then spake Laomedon's son, the ancient king:
     "Nay, friend, and all ye other sons of Troy,
     And ye our strong war-helpers, flinch we not
     Faint-hearted from defence of fatherland!
     Yet let us go not forth the city-gates
40   To battle with yon foe.  Nay, from our towers
     And from our ramparts let us make defence,
     Till our new champion come, the stormy heart
     Of Memnon.  Lo, he cometh, leading on
     Hosts numberless, Aethiopia's swarthy sons.
     By this, I trow, he is nigh unto our gates;
     For long ago, in sore distress of soul,
     I sent him urgent summons.  Yea, and he
     Promised me, gladly promised me, to come
     To Troy, and make all end of all our woes.
50   And now, I trust, he is nigh.  Let us endure
     A little longer then; for better far
     It is like brave men in the fight to die
     Than flee, and live in shame mid alien fo1k."

     So spake the old king; but Polydamas,
     The prudent-hearted, thought not good to war
     Thus endlessly, and spake his patriot rede:
     "If Memnon have beyond all shadow of doubt
     Pledged him to thrust dire ruin far from us,
     Then do I gainsay not that we await
60   The coming of that godlike man within
     Our walls -- yet, ah, mine heart misgives me, lest,
     Though he with all his warriors come, he come
     But to his death, and unto thousands more,
     Our people, nought but misery come thereof;
     For terribly against us leaps the storm
     Of the Achaeans' might.  But now, go to,
     Let us not flee afar from this our Troy
     To wander to some alien land, and there,
     In the exile's pitiful helplessness, endure
70   All flouts and outrage; nor in our own land
     Abide we till the storm of Argive war
     O'erwhelm us.  Nay, even now, late though it be,
     Better it were for us to render back
     Unto the Danaans Helen and her wealth,
     Even all that glory of women brought with her
     From Sparta, and add other treasure -- yea,
     Repay it twofold, so to save our Troy
     And our own souls, while yet the spoiler's hand
     Is laid not on our substance, and while yet
80   Troy hath not sunk in gulfs of ravening flame.
     I pray you, take to heart my counsel!  None
     Shall, well I wot, be given to Trojan men
     Better than this.  Ah, would that long ago
     Hector had hearkened to my pleading, when
     I fain had kept him in the ancient home!"

     So spake Polydamas the noble and strong,
     And all the listening Trojans in their hearts
     Approved; yet none dared utter openly
     The word, for all with trembling held in awe
90   Their prince and Helen, though for her sole sake
     Daily they died.  But on that noble man
     Turned Paris, and reviled him to his face:
     "Thou dastard battle-blencher Polydamas!
     Not in thy craven bosom beats a heart
     That bides the fight, but only fear and panic.
     Yet dost thou vaunt thee -- quotha! -- still our best
     In counsel! -- no man's soul is base as thine!
     Go to, thyself shrink shivering from the strife!
     Cower, coward, in thine halls!  But all the rest,
100  We men, will still go armour-girt, until
     We wrest from this our truceless war a peace
     That shall not shame us!  'Tis with travail and toil
     Of strenuous war that brave men win renown;
     But flight? -- weak women choose it, and young babes!
     Thy spirit is like to theirs.  No whit I trust
     Thee in the day of battle -- thee, the man
     Who maketh faint the hearts of all the host!"

     So fiercely he reviled: Polydamas
     Wrathfully answered; for he shrank not, he,
110  From answering to his face.  A caitiff hound,
     A reptile fool, is he who fawns on men
     Before their faces, while his heart is black
     With malice, and, when they be gone, his tongue
     Backbites them.  Openly Polydamas
     Flung back upon the prince his taunt and scoff:
     "O thou of living men most mischievous!
     Thy valour -- quotha! -- brings us misery!
     Thine heart endures, and will endure, that strife
     Should have no limit, save in utter ruin
120  Of fatherland and people for thy sake!
     Ne'er may such wantwit valour craze my soul!
     Be mine to cherish wise discretion aye,
     A warder that shall keep mine house in peace."

     Indignantly he spake, and Paris found
     No word to answer him, for conscience woke
     Remembrance of all woes he had brought on Troy,
     And should bring; for his passion-fevered heart
     Would rather hail quick death than severance
     From Helen the divinely fair, although
130  For her sake was it that the sons of Troy
     Even then were gazing from their towers to see
     The Argives and Achilles drawing nigh.

     But no long time thereafter came to them
     Memnon the warrior-king, and brought with him
     A countless host of swarthy Aethiops.
     From all the streets of Troy the Trojans flocked
     Glad-eyed to gaze on him, as seafarers,
     With ruining tempest utterly forspent,
     See through wide-parting clouds the radiance
140  Of the eternal-wheeling Northern Wain;
     So joyed the Troyfolk as they thronged around,
     And more than all Laomedon's son, for now
     Leapt in his heart a hope, that yet the ships
     Might by those Aethiop men be burned with fire;
     So giantlike their king was, and themselves
     So huge a host, and so athirst for fight.
     Therefore with all observance welcomed he
     The strong son of the Lady of the Dawn
     With goodly gifts and with abundant cheer.
150  So at the banquet King and Hero sat
     And talked, this telling of the Danaan chiefs,
     And all the woes himself had suffered, that
     Telling of that strange immortality
     By the Dawn-goddess given to his sire,
     Telling of the unending flow and ebb
     Of the Sea-mother, of the sacred flood
     Of Ocean fathomless-rolling, of the bounds
     Of Earth that wearieth never of her travail,
     Of where the Sun-steeds leap from orient waves,
160  Telling withal of all his wayfaring
     From Ocean's verge to Priam's wall, and spurs
     Of Ida.  Yea, he told how his strong hands
     Smote the great army of the Solymi
     Who barred his way, whose deed presumptuous brought
     Upon their own heads crushing ruin and woe.
     So told he all that marvellous tale, and told
     Of countless tribes and nations seen of him.
     And Priam heard, and ever glowed his heart
     Within him; and the old lips answering spake:
170  "Memnon, the Gods are good, who have vouchsafed
     To me to look upon thine host, and thee
     Here in mine halls.  O that their grace would so
     Crown this their boon, that I might see my foes
     All thrust to one destruction by thy spears.
     That well may be, for marvellous-like art thou
     To some invincible Deathless One, yea, more
     Than any earthly hero.  Wherefore thou,
     I trust, shalt hurl wild havoc through their host.
     But now, I pray thee, for this day do thou
180  Cheer at my feast thine heart, and with the morn
     Shalt thou go forth to battle worthy of thee."

     Then in his hands a chalice deep and wide
     He raised, and Memnon in all love he pledged
     In that huge golden cup, a gift of Gods;
     For this the cunning God-smith brought to Zeus,
     His masterpiece, what time the Mighty in Power
     To Hephaestus gave for bride the Cyprian Queen;
     And Zeus on Dardanus his godlike son
     Bestowed it, he on Erichthonius;
190  Erichthonius to Tros the great of heart
     Gave it, and he with all his treasure-store
     Bequeathed it unto Ilus, and he gave
     That wonder to Laomedon, and he
     To Priam, who had thought to leave the same
     To his own son.  Fate ordered otherwise.
     And Memnon clasped his hands about that cup
     So peerless-beautiful, and all his heart
     Marvelled; and thus he spake unto the King:
     "Beseems not with great swelling words to vaunt
200  Amidst the feast, and lavish promises,
     But rather quietly to eat in hall,
     And to devise deeds worthy.  Whether I
     Be brave and strong, or whether I be not,
     Battle, wherein a man's true might is seen,
     Shall prove to thee.  Now would I rest, nor drink
     The long night through.  The battle-eager spirit
     By measureless wine and lack of sleep is dulled."

     Marvelled at him the old King, and he said:
     "As seems thee good touching the banquet, do
210  After thy pleasure.  I, when thou art loth,
     Will not constrain thee.  Yea, unmeet it is
     To hold back him who fain would leave the board,
     Or hurry from one's halls who fain would stay.
     So is the good old law with all true men."

     Then rose that champion from the board, and passed
     Thence to his sleep -- his last!  And with him went
     All others from the banquet to their rest:
     And gentle sleep slid down upon them soon.

     But in the halls of Zeus, the Lightning-lord,
220  Feasted the gods the while, and Cronos' son,
     All-father, of his deep foreknowledge spake
     Amidst them of the issue of the strife:
     "Be it known unto you all, to-morn shall bring
     By yonder war affliction swift and sore;
     For many mighty horses shall ye see
     In either host beside their chariots slain,
     And many heroes perishing.  Therefore ye
     Remember these my words, howe'er ye grieve
     For dear ones.  Let none clasp my knees in prayer,
230  Since even to us relentless are the fates."

     So warned he them, which knew before, that all
     Should from the battle stand aside, howe'er
     Heart-wrung; that none, petitioning for a son
     Or dear one, should to Olympus vainly come.
     So, at that warning of the Thunderer,
     The Son of Cronos, all they steeled their hearts
     To bear, and spake no word against their king;
     For in exceeding awe they stood of him.
     Yet to their several mansions and their rest
240  With sore hearts went they.  O'er their deathless eyes
     The blessing-bringer Sleep his light veils spread.

     When o'er precipitous crests of mountain-walls
     Leapt up broad heaven the bright morning-star
     Who rouseth to their toils from slumber sweet
     The binders of the sheaf, then his last sleep
     Unclasped the warrior-son of her who brings
     Light to the world, the Child of Mists of Night.
     Now swelled his mighty heart with eagerness
     To battle with the foe forthright.  And Dawn
250  With most reluctant feet began to climb
     Heaven's broad highway.  Then did the Trojans gird
     Their battle-harness on; then armed themselves
     The Aethiop men, and all the mingled tribes
     Of those war-helpers that from many lands
     To Priam's aid were gathered.  Forth the gates
     Swiftly they rushed, like darkly lowering clouds
     Which Cronos' Son, when storm is rolling up,
     Herdeth together through the welkin wide.
     Swiftly the whole plain filled.  Onward they streamed
260  Like harvest-ravaging locusts drifting on
     In fashion of heavy-brooding rain-clouds o'er
     Wide plains of earth, an irresistible host
     Bringing wan famine on the sons of men;
     So in their might and multitude they went.
     The city streets were all too strait for them
     Marching: upsoared the dust from underfoot.

     From far the Argives gazed, and marvelling saw
     Their onrush, but with speed arrayed their limbs
     In brass, and in the might of Peleus' son
270  Put their glad trust.  Amidst them rode he on
     Like to a giant Titan, glorying
     In steeds and chariot, while his armour flashed
     Splendour around in sudden lightning-gleams.
     It was as when the sun from utmost bounds
     Of earth-encompassing ocean comes, and brings
     Light to the world, and flings his splendour wide
     Through heaven, and earth and air laugh all around.
     So glorious, mid the Argives Peleus' son
     Rode onward.  Mid the Trojans rode the while
280  Memnon the hero, even such to see
     As Ares furious-hearted.  Onward swept
     The eager host arrayed about their lord.

     Then in the grapple of war on either side
     Closed the long lines, Trojan and Danaan;
     But chief in prowess still the Aethiops were.
     Crashed they together as when surges meet
     On the wild sea, when, in a day of storm,
     From every quarter winds to battle rush.
     Foe hurled at foe the ashen spear, and slew:
290  Screams and death-groans went up like roaring fire.
     As when down-thundering torrents shout and rave
     On-pouring seaward, when the madding rains
     Stream from God's cisterns, when the huddling clouds
     Are hurled against each other ceaselessly,
     And leaps their fiery breath in flashes forth;
     So 'neath the fighters' trampling feet the earth
     Thundered, and leapt the terrible battle-yell
     Through frenzied air, for mad the war-cries were.

     For firstfruits of death's harvest Peleus' son
300  Slew Thalius and Mentes nobly born,
     Men of renown, and many a head beside
     Dashed he to dust.  As in its furious swoop
     A whirlwind shakes dark chasms underground,
     And earth's foundations crumble and melt away
     Around the deep roots of the shuddering world,
     So the ranks crumbled in swift doom to the dust
     Before the spear and fury of Peleus's son.

     But on the other side the hero child
     Of the Dawn-goddess slew the Argive men,
310  Like to a baleful Doom which bringeth down
     On men a grim and ghastly pestilence.
     First slew he Pheron; for the bitter spear
     Plunged through his breast, and down on him he hurled
     Goodly Ereuthus, battle-revellers both,
     Dwellers in Thryus by Alpheus' streams,
     Which followed Nestor to the god-built burg
     Of Ilium.  But when he had laid these low,
     Against the son of Neleus pressed he on
     Eager to slay.  Godlike Antilochus
320  Strode forth to meet him, sped the long spear's flight,
     Yet missed him, for a little he swerved, but slew
     His Aethiop comrade, son of Pyrrhasus.
     Wroth for his fall, against Antilochus
     He leapt, as leaps a lion mad of mood
     Upon a boar, the beast that flincheth not
     From fight with man or brute, whose charge is a flash
     Of lightning; so was his swift leap.  His foe
     Antilochus caught a huge stone from the ground,
     Hurled, smote him; but unshaken abode his strength,
330  For the strong helm-crest fenced his head from death;
     But rang the morion round his brows.  His heart
     Kindled with terrible fury at the blow
     More than before against Antilochus.
     Like seething cauldron boiled his maddened might.
     He stabbed, for all his cunning of fence, the son
     Of Nestor above the breast; the crashing spear
     Plunged to the heart, the spot of speediest death.

     Then upon all the Danaans at his fall
     Came grief; but anguish-stricken was the heart
340  Of Nestor most of all, to see his child
     Slain in his sight; for no more bitter pang
     Smiteth the heart of man than when a son
     Perishes, and his father sees him die.
     Therefore, albeit unused to melting mood,
     His soul was torn with agony for the son
     By black death slain.  A wild cry hastily
     To Thrasymedes did he send afar:
     "Hither to me, Thrasymedes war-renowned!
     Help me to thrust back from thy brother's corse,
350  Yea, from mine hapless son, his murderer,
     That so ourselves may render to our dead
     All dues of mourning.  If thou flinch for fear,
     No son of mine art thou, nor of the line
     Of Periclymenus, who dared withstand
     Hercules' self.  Come, to the battle-toil!
     For grim necessity oftentimes inspires
     The very coward with courage of despair."

     Then at his cry that brother's heart was stung
     With bitter grief.  Swift for his help drew nigh
360  Phereus, on whom for his great prince's fall
     Came anguish.  Charged these warriors twain to face
     Strong Memnon in the gory strife.  As when
     Two hunters 'mid a forest's mountain-folds,
     Eager to take the prey, rush on to meet
     A wild boar or a bear, with hearts afire
     To slay him, but in furious mood he leaps
     On them, and holds at bay the might of men;
     So swelled the heart of Memnon.  Nigh drew they,
     Yet vainly essayed to slay him, as they hurled
370  The long spears, but the lances glanced aside
     Far from his flesh: the Dawn-queen turned them thence.
     Yet fell their spears not vainly to the ground:
     The lance of fiery-hearted Phereus, winged
     With eager speed, dealt death to Meges' son,
     Polymnius: Laomedon was slain
     By the wrath of Nestor's son for a brother dead,
     The dear one Memnon slew in battle-rout,
     And whom the slayer's war-unwearied hands
     Now stripped of his all-brazen battle-gear,
380  Nought recking, he, of Thrasymedes' might,
     Nor of stout Phereus, who were unto him
     But weaklings.  A great lion seemed he there
     Standing above a hart, as jackals they,
     That, howso hungry, dare not come too nigh.

     But hard thereby the father gazed thereon
     In agony, and cried the rescue-cry
     To other his war-comrades for their aid
     Against the foe.  Himself too burned to fight
     From his war-car; for yearning for the dead
390  Goaded him to the fray beyond his strength.
     Ay, and himself had been on his dear son
     Laid, numbered with the dead, had not the voice
     Of Memnon stayed him even in act to rush
     Upon him, for he reverenced in his heart
     The white hairs of an age-mate of his sire:
     "Ancient," he cried, "it were my shame to fight.
     With one so much mine elder: I am not
     Blind unto honour.  Verily I weened
     That this was some young warrior, when I saw
400  Thee facing thus the foe.  My bold heart hoped
     For contest worthy of mine hand and spear.
     Nay, draw thou back afar from battle-toil
     And bitter death.  Go, lest, how loth soe'er,
     I smite thee of sore need.  Nay, fall not thou
     Beside thy son, against a mightier man
     Fighting, lest men with folly thee should charge,
     For folly it is that braves o'ermastering might."

     He spake, and answered him that warrior old:
     "Nay, Memnon, vain was that last word of thine.
410  None would name fool the father who essayed,
     Battling with foes for his son's sake, to thrust
     The ruthless slayer back from that dear corpse,
     But ah that yet my strength were whole in me,
     That thou might'st know my spear!  Now canst thou vaunt
     Proudly enow: a young man's heart is bold
     And light his wit.  Uplifted is thy soul
     And vain thy speech.  If in my strength of youth
     Thou hadst met me -- ha, thy friends had not rejoiced,
     For all thy might!  But me the grievous weight
420  Of age bows down, like an old lion whom
     A cur may boldly drive back from the fold,
     For that he cannot, in his wrath's despite,
     Maintain his own cause, being toothless now,
     And strengthless, and his strong heart tamed by time.
     So well the springs of olden strength no more
     Now in my breast.  Yet am I stronger still
     Than many men; my grey hairs yield to few
     That have within them all the strength of youth."

     So drew he back a little space, and left
430  Lying in dust his son, since now no more
     Lived in the once lithe limbs the olden strength,
     For the years' weight lay heavy on his head.
     Back leapt Thrasymedes likewise, spearman good,
     And battle-eager Phereus, and the rest
     Their comrades; for that slaughter-dealing man
     Pressed hard on them.  As when from mountains high
     A shouting river with wide-echoing din
     Sweeps down its fathomless whirlpools through the gloom,
     When God with tumult of a mighty storm
440  Hath palled the sky in cloud from verge to verge,
     When thunders crash all round, when thick and fast
     Gleam lightnings from the huddling clouds, when fields
     Are flooded as the hissing rain descends,
     And all the air is filled with awful roar
     Of torrents pouring down the hill-ravines;
     So Memnon toward the shores of Hellespont
     Before him hurled the Argives, following hard
     Behind them, slaughtering ever.  Many a man
     Fell in the dust, and left his life in blood
450  'Neath Aethiop hands.  Stained was the earth with gore
     As Danaans died.  Exulted Memnon's soul
     As on the ranks of foemen ever he rushed,
     And heaped with dead was all the plain of Troy.
     And still from fight refrained he not; he hoped
     To be a light of safety unto Troy
     And bane to Danaans.  But all the while
     Stood baleful Doom beside him, and spurred on
     To strife, with flattering smile.  To right, to left
     His stalwart helpers wrought in battle-toil,
460  Alcyoneus and Nychius, and the son
     Of Asius furious-souled; Meneclus' spear,
     Clydon and Alexippus, yea, a host
     Eager to chase the foe, men who in fight
     Quit them like men, exulting in their king.
     Then, as Meneclus on the Danaans charged,
     The son of Neleus slew him.  Wroth for his friend,
     Whole throngs of foes fierce-hearted Memnon slew.
     As when a hunter midst the mountains drives
     Swift deer within the dark lines of his toils --
470  The eager ring of beaters closing in
     Presses the huddled throng into the snares
     Of death: the dogs are wild with joy of the chase
     Ceaselessly giving tongue, the while his darts
     Leap winged with death on brocket and on hind;
     So Memnon slew and ever slew: his men
     Rejoiced, the while in panic stricken rout
     Before that glorious man the Argives fled.
     As when from a steep mountain's precipice-brow
     Leaps a huge crag, which all-resistless Zeus
480  By stroke of thunderbolt hath hurled from the crest;
     Crash oakwood copses, echo long ravines,
     Shudders the forest to its rattle and roar,
     And flocks therein and herds and wild things flee
     Scattering, as bounding, whirling, it descends
     With deadly pitiless onrush; so his foes
     Fled from the lightning-flash of Memnon's spear.

     Then to the side of Aeacus' mighty son
     Came Nestor.  Anguished for his son he cried:
     "Achilles, thou great bulwark of the Greeks,
490  Slain is my child!  The armour of my dead
     Hath Memnon, and I fear me lest his corse
     Be cast a prey to dogs.  Haste to his help!
     True friend is he who still remembereth
     A friend though slain, and grieves for one no more."

     Achilles heard; his heart was thrilled with grief:
     He glanced across the rolling battle, saw
     Memnon, saw where in throngs the Argives fell
     Beneath his spear.  Forthright he turned away
     From where the rifted ranks of Troy fell fast
500  Before his hands, and, thirsting for the fight,
     Wroth for Antilochus and the others slain,
     Came face to face with Memnon.  In his hands
     That godlike hero caught up from the ground
     A stone, a boundary-mark 'twixt fields of wheat,
     And hurled.  Down on the shield of Peleus' son
     It crashed.  But he, the invincible, shrank not
     Before the huge rock-shard, but, thrusting out
     His long lance, rushed to close with him, afoot,
     For his steeds stayed behind the battle-rout.
510  On the right shoulder above the shield he smote
     And staggered him; but he, despite the wound,
     Fought on with heart unquailing.  Swiftly he thrust
     And pricked with his strong spear Achilles' arm.
     Forth gushed the blood: rejoicing with vain joy
     To Aeacus' son with arrogant words he cried:
     "Now shalt thou in thy death fill up, I trow,
     Thy dark doom, overmastered by mine hands.
     Thou shalt not from this fray escape alive!
     Fool, wherefore hast thou ruthlessly destroyed
520  Trojans, and vaunted thee the mightiest man
     Of men, a deathless Nereid's son?  Ha, now
     Thy doom hath found thee!  Of birth divine am I,
     The Dawn-queen's mighty son, nurtured afar
     By lily-slender Hesperid Maids, beside
     The Ocean-river.  Therefore not from thee
     Nor from grim battle shrink I, knowing well
     How far my goddess-mother doth transcend
     A Nereid, whose child thou vauntest thee.
     To Gods and men my mother bringeth light;
530  On her depends the issue of all things,
     Works great and glorious in Olympus wrought
     Whereof comes blessing unto men.  But thine --
     She sits in barren crypts of brine: she dwells
     Glorying mid dumb sea-monsters and mid fish,
     Deedless, unseen!  Nothing I reck of her,
     Nor rank her with the immortal Heavenly Ones."

     In stern rebuke spake Aeacus' aweless son:
     "Memnon, how wast thou so distraught of wit
     That thou shouldst face me, and to fight defy
540  Me, who in might, in blood, in stature far
     Surpass thee?  From supremest Zeus I trace
     My glorious birth; and from the strong Sea-god
     Nereus, begetter of the Maids of the Sea,
     The Nereids, honoured of the Olympian Gods.
     And chiefest of them all is Thetis, wise
     With wisdom world-renowned; for in her bowers
     She sheltered Dionysus, chased by might
     Of murderous Lycurgus from the earth.
     Yea, and the cunning God-smith welcomed she
550  Within her mansion, when from heaven he fell.
     Ay, and the Lightning-lord she once released
     From bonds.  The all-seeing Dwellers in the Sky
     Remember all these things, and reverence
     My mother Thetis in divine Olympus.
     Ay, that she is a Goddess shalt thou know
     When to thine heart the brazen spear shall pierce
     Sped by my might.  Patroclus' death I avenged
     On Hector, and Antilochus on thee
     Will I avenge.  No weakling's friend thou hast slain!
560  But why like witless children stand we here
     Babbling our parents' fame and our own deeds?
     Now is the hour when prowess shall decide."

     Then from the sheath he flashed his long keen sword,
     And Memnon his; and swiftly in fiery fight
     Closed they, and rained the never-ceasing blows
     Upon the bucklers which with craft divine
     Hephaestus' self had fashioned.  Once and again
     Clashed they together, and their cloudy crests
     Touched, mingling all their tossing storm of hair.
570  And Zeus, for that he loved them both, inspired
     With prowess each, and mightier than their wont
     He made them, made them tireless, nothing like
     To men, but Gods: and gloated o'er the twain
     The Queen of Strife.  In eager fury these
     Thrust swiftly out the spear, with fell intent
     To reach the throat 'twixt buckler-rim and helm,
     Thrust many a time and oft, and now would aim
     The point beneath the shield, above the greave,
     Now close beneath the corslet curious-wrought
580  That lapped the stalwart frame: hard, fast they lunged,
     And on their shoulders clashed the arms divine.
     Roared to the very heavens the battle-shout
     Of warring men, of Trojans, Aethiops,
     And Argives mighty-hearted, while the dust
     Rolled up from 'neath their feet, tossed to the sky
     In stress of battle-travail great and strong.

     As when a mist enshrouds the hills, what time
     Roll up the rain-clouds, and the torrent-beds
     Roar as they fill with rushing floods, and howls
590  Each gorge with fearful voices; shepherds quake
     To see the waters' downrush and the mist,
     Screen dear to wolves and all the wild fierce things
     Nursed in the wide arms of the forest; so
     Around the fighters' feet the choking dust
     Hung, hiding the fair splendour of the sun
     And darkening all the heaven.  Sore distressed
     With dust and deadly conflict were the folk.
     Then with a sudden hand some Blessed One
     Swept the dust-pall aside; and the Gods saw
600  The deadly Fates hurling the charging lines
     Together, in the unending wrestle locked
     Of that grim conflict, saw where never ceased
     Ares from hideous slaughter, saw the earth
     Crimsoned all round with rushing streams of blood,
     Saw where dark Havoc gloated o'er the scene,
     Saw the wide plain with corpses heaped, even all
     Bounded 'twixt Simois and Xanthus, where
     They sweep from Ida down to Hellespont.

     But when long lengthened out the conflict was
610  Of those two champions, and the might of both
     In that strong tug and strain was equal-matched,
     Then, gazing from Olympus' far-off heights,
     The Gods joyed, some in the invincible son
     Of Peleus, others in the goodly child
     Of old Tithonus and the Queen of Dawn.
     Thundered the heavens on high from east to west,
     And roared the sea from verge to verge, and rocked
     The dark earth 'neath the heroes' feet, and quaked
     Proud Nereus' daughters all round Thetis thronged
620  In grievous fear for mighty Achilles' sake;
     And trembled for her son the Child of the Mist
     As in her chariot through the sky she rode.
     Marvelled the Daughters of the Sun, who stood
     Near her, around that wondrous splendour-ring
     Traced for the race-course of the tireless sun
     By Zeus, the limit of all Nature's life
     And death, the dally round that maketh up
     The eternal circuit of the rolling years.
     And now amongst the Blessed bitter feud
630  Had broken out; but by behest of Zeus
     The twin Fates suddenly stood beside these twain,
     One dark -- her shadow fell on Memnon's heart;
     One bright -- her radiance haloed Peleus' son.
     And with a great cry the Immortals saw,
     And filled with sorrow they of the one part were,
     They of the other with triumphant joy.

     Still in the midst of blood-stained battle-rout
     Those heroes fought, unknowing of the Fates
     Now drawn so nigh, but each at other hurled
640  His whole heart's courage, all his bodily might.
     Thou hadst said that in the strife of that dread day
     Huge tireless Giants or strong Titans warred,
     So fiercely blazed the wildfire of their strife,
     Now, when they clashed with swords, now when they leapt
     Hurling huge stones.  Nor either would give back
     Before the hail of blows, nor quailed.  They stood
     Like storm-tormented headlands steadfast, clothed
     With might past words, unearthly; for the twain
     Alike could boast their lineage of high Zeus.
650  Therefore 'twixt these Enyo lengthened out
     The even-balanced strife, while ever they
     In that grim wrestle strained their uttermost,
     They and their dauntless comrades, round their kings
     With ceaseless fury toiling, till their spears
     Stood shivered all in shields of warriors slain,
     And of the fighters woundless none remained;
     But from all limbs streamed down into the dust
     The blood and sweat of that unresting strain
     Of fight, and earth was hidden with the dead,
660  As heaven is hidden with clouds when meets the sun
     The Goat-star, and the shipman dreads the deep.
     As charged the lines, the snorting chariot-steeds
     Trampled the dead, as on the myriad leaves
     Ye trample in the woods at entering-in
     Of winter, when the autumn-tide is past.

     Still mid the corpses and the blood fought on
     Those glorious sons of Gods, nor ever ceased
     From wrath of fight.  But Eris now inclined
     The fatal scales of battle, which no more
670  Were equal-poised.  Beneath the breast-bone then
     Of godlike Memnon plunged Achilles' sword;
     Clear through his body all the dark-blue blade
     Leapt: suddenly snapped the silver cord of life.
     Down in a pool of blood he fell, and clashed
     His massy armour, and earth rang again.
     Then turned to flight his comrades panic-struck,
     And of his arms the Myrmidons stripped the dead,
     While fled the Trojans, and Achilles chased,
     As whirlwind swift and mighty to destroy.

680  Then groaned the Dawn, and palled herself in clouds,
     And earth was darkened.  At their mother's hest
     All the light Breathings of the Dawn took hands,
     And slid down one 1ong stream of sighing wind
     To Priam's plain, and floated round the dead,
     And softly, swiftly caught they up, and bare
     Through silver mists the Dawn-queen's son, with hearts
     Sore aching for their brother's fall, while moaned
     Around them all the air.  As on they passed,
     Fell many blood-gouts from those pierced limbs
690  Down to the earth, and these were made a sign
     To generations yet to be.  The Gods
     Gathered them up from many lands, and made
     Thereof a far-resounding river, named
     Of all that dwell beneath long Ida's flanks
     Paphlagoneion.  As its waters flow
     'Twixt fertile acres, once a year they turn
     To blood, when comes the woeful day whereon
     Died Memnon.  Thence a sick and choking reek
     Steams: thou wouldst say that from a wound unhealed
700  Corrupting humours breathed an evil stench.
     Ay, so the Gods ordained: but now flew on
     Bearing Dawn's mighty son the rushing winds
     Skimming earth's face and palled about with night.

     Nor were his Aethiopian comrades left
     To wander of their King forlorn: a God
     Suddenly winged those eager souls with speed
     Such as should soon be theirs for ever, changed
     To flying fowl, the children of the air.
     Wailing their King in the winds' track they sped.
710  As when a hunter mid the forest-brakes
     Is by a boar or grim-jawed lion slain,
     And now his sorrowing friends take up the corse,
     And bear it heavy-hearted; and the hounds
     Follow low-whimpering, pining for their lord
     In that disastrous hunting lost; so they
     Left far behind that stricken field of blood,
     And fast they followed after those swift winds

     With multitudinous moaning, veiled in mist
     Unearthly.  Trojans over all the plain
720  And Danaans marvelled, seeing that great host
     Vanishing with their King.  All hearts stood still
     In dumb amazement. But the tireless winds
     Sighing set hero Memnon's giant corpse
     Down by the deep flow of Aesopus' stream,
     Where is a fair grove of the bright-haired Nymphs,
     The which round his long barrow afterward
     Aesopus' daughters planted, screening it
     With many and manifold trees: and long and loud
     Wailed those Immortals, chanting his renown,
730  The son of the Dawn-goddess splendour-throned.

     Now sank the sun: the Lady of the Morn
     Wailing her dear child from the heavens came down.
     Twelve maidens shining-tressed attended her,
     The warders of the high paths of the sun
     For ever circling, warders of the night
     And dawn, and each world-ordinance framed of Zeus,
     Around whose mansion's everlasting doors
     From east to west they dance, from west to east,
     Whirling the wheels of harvest-laden years,
740  While rolls the endless round of winter's cold,
     And flowery spring, and lovely summer-tide,
     And heavy-clustered autumn.  These came down
     From heaven, for Memnon wailing wild and high;
     And mourned with these the Pleiads.  Echoed round
     Far-stretching mountains, and Aesopus' stream.
     Ceaseless uprose the keen, and in their midst,
     Fallen on her son and clasping, wailed the Dawn;
     "Dead art thou, dear, dear child, and thou hast clad
     Thy mother with a pall of grief.  Oh, I,
750  Now thou art slain, will not endure to light
     The Immortal Heavenly Ones!  No, I will plunge
     Down to the dread depths of the underworld,
     Where thy lone spirit flitteth to and fro,
     And will to blind night leave earth, sky, and sea,
     Till Chaos and formless darkness brood o'er all,
     That Cronos' Son may also learn what means
     Anguish of heart.  For not less worship-worthy
     Than Nereus' Child, by Zeus's ordinance,
     Am I, who look on all things, I, who bring
760  All to their consummation.  Recklessly
     My light Zeus now despiseth!  Therefore I
     Will pass into the darkness.  Let him bring
     Up to Olympus Thetis from the sea
     To hold for him light forth to Gods and men!
     My sad soul loveth darkness more than day,
     Lest I pour light upon thy slayer's head"

     Thus as she cried, the tears ran down her face
     Immortal, like a river brimming aye:
     Drenched was the dark earth round the corse.  The Night
770  Grieved in her daughter's anguish, and the heaven
     Drew over all his stars a veil of mist
     And cloud, of love unto the Lady of Light.

     Meanwhile within their walls the Trojan folk
     For Memnon sorrowed sore, with vain regret
     Yearning for that lost king and all his host.
     Nor greatly joyed the Argives, where they lay
     Camped in the open plain amidst the dead.
     There, mingled with Achilles' praise, uprose
     Wails for Antilochus: joy clasped hands with grief.

780  All night in groans and sighs most pitiful
     The Dawn-queen lay: a sea of darkness moaned
     Around her.  Of the dayspring nought she recked:
     She loathed Olympus' spaces.  At her side
     Fretted and whinnied still her fleetfoot steeds,
     Trampling the strange earth, gazing at their Queen
     Grief-stricken, yearning for the fiery course.
     Suddenly crashed the thunder of the wrath
     Of Zeus; rocked round her all the shuddering earth,
     And on immortal Eos trembling came.

790  Swiftly the dark-skinned Aethiops from her sight
     Buried their lord lamenting.  As they wailed
     Unceasingly, the Dawn-queen lovely-eyed
     Changed them to birds sweeping through air around
     The barrow of the mighty dead.  And these
     Still do the tribes of men "The Memnons" call;
     And still with wailing cries they dart and wheel
     Above their king's tomb, and they scatter dust
     Down on his grave, still shrill the battle-cry,
     In memory of Memnon, each to each.
800  But he in Hades' mansions, or perchance
     Amid the Blessed on the Elysian Plain,
     Laugheth.  Divine Dawn comforteth her heart
     Beholding them: but theirs is toil of strife
     Unending, till the weary victors strike
     The vanquished dead, or one and all fill up
     The measure of their doom around his grave.

     So by command of Eos, Lady of Light,
     The swift birds dree their weird.  But Dawn divine
     Now heavenward soared with the all-fostering Hours,
810  Who drew her to Zeus' threshold, sorely loth,
     Yet conquered by their gentle pleadings, such
     As salve the bitterest grief of broken hearts.
     Nor the Dawn-queen forgat her daily course,
     But quailed before the unbending threat of Zeus,
     Of whom are all things, even all comprised
     Within the encircling sweep of Ocean's stream,
     Earth and the palace-dome of burning stars.
     Before her went her Pleiad-harbingers,
     Then she herself flung wide the ethereal gates,
820  And, scattering spray of splendour, flashed there-through.

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