About this Edition
- Alexander Pope
The Breach of the Truce, and the First Battle
The gods deliberate in council concerning the Trojan war: they agree upon the continuation of it, and Jupiter sends down Minerva to break the truce. She persuades Pandarus to aim an arrow at Menelaus, who is wounded, but cured by Machaon. In the meantime some of the Trojan troops attack the Greeks. Agamemnon is distinguished in all the parts of a good general; he reviews the troops, and exhorts the leaders, some by praises and others by reproof. Nestor is particularly celebrated for his military discipline. The battle joins, and great numbers are slain on both sides.
The same day continues through this as through the last book (as it does also through the two following, and almost to the end of the seventh book). The scene is wholly in the field before Troy.
And now Olympus’ shining gates unfold; The gods, with Jove, assume their thrones of gold: Immortal Hebe, fresh with bloom divine, The golden goblet crowns with purple wine: While the full bowls flow round, the powers employ Their careful eyes on long-contended Troy.
When Jove, disposed to tempt Saturnia’s spleen, Thus waked the fury of his partial queen, “Two powers divine the son of Atreus aid, Imperial Juno, and the martial maid; But high in heaven they sit, and gaze from far, The tame spectators of his deeds of war. Not thus fair Venus helps her favour’d knight, The queen of pleasures shares the toils of fight, Each danger wards, and constant in her care, Saves in the moment of the last despair. Her act has rescued Paris’ forfeit life, Though great Atrides gain’d the glorious strife. Then say, ye powers! what signal issue waits To crown this deed, and finish all the fates! Shall Heaven by peace the bleeding kingdoms spare, Or rouse the furies, and awake the war? Yet, would the gods for human good provide, Atrides soon might gain his beauteous bride, Still Priam’s walls in peaceful honours grow, And through his gates the crowding nations flow.”
Thus while he spoke, the queen of heaven, enraged, And queen of war, in close consult engaged: Apart they sit, their deep designs employ, And meditate the future woes of Troy. Though secret anger swell’d Minerva’s breast, The prudent goddess yet her wrath suppress’d; But Juno, impotent of passion, broke Her sullen silence, and with fury spoke:
“Shall then, O tyrant of the ethereal reign! My schemes, my labours, and my hopes be vain? Have I, for this, shook Ilion with alarms, Assembled nations, set two worlds in arms? To spread the war, I flew from shore to shore; The immortal coursers scarce the labour bore. At length ripe vengeance o’er their heads impends, But Jove himself the faithless race defends. Loth as thou art to punish lawless lust, Not all the gods are partial and unjust.”
The sire whose thunder shakes the cloudy skies, Sighs from his inmost soul, and thus replies: “Oh lasting rancour! oh insatiate hate To Phrygia’s monarch, and the Phrygian state! What high offence has fired the wife of Jove? Can wretched mortals harm the powers above, That Troy, and Troy’s whole race thou wouldst confound, And yon fair structures level with the ground! Haste, leave the skies, fulfil thy stern desire, Burst all her gates, and wrap her walls in fire! Let Priam bleed! if yet you thirst for more, Bleed all his sons, and Ilion float with gore: To boundless vengeance the wide realm be given, Till vast destruction glut the queen of heaven! So let it be, and Jove his peace enjoy,126 When heaven no longer hears the name of Troy. But should this arm prepare to wreak our hate On thy loved realms, whose guilt demands their fate; Presume not thou the lifted bolt to stay, Remember Troy, and give the vengeance way. For know, of all the numerous towns that rise Beneath the rolling sun and starry skies, Which gods have raised, or earth-born men enjoy, None stands so dear to Jove as sacred Troy. No mortals merit more distinguish’d grace Than godlike Priam, or than Priam’s race. Still to our name their hecatombs expire, And altars blaze with unextinguish’d fire.”
At this the goddess rolled her radiant eyes, Then on the Thunderer fix’d them, and replies: “Three towns are Juno’s on the Grecian plains, More dear than all the extended earth contains, Mycenae, Argos, and the Spartan wall;
These thou mayst raze, nor I forbid their fall: ’Tis not in me the vengeance to remove; The crime’s sufficient that they share my love. Of power superior why should I complain? Resent I may, but must resent in vain. Yet some distinction Juno might require, Sprung with thyself from one celestial sire, A goddess born, to share the realms above, And styled the consort of the thundering Jove; Nor thou a wife and sister’s right deny; Let both consent, and both by terms comply; So shall the gods our joint decrees obey, And heaven shall act as we direct the way. See ready Pallas waits thy high commands To raise in arms the Greek and Phrygian bands; Their sudden friendship by her arts may cease, And the proud Trojans first infringe the peace.”
The sire of men and monarch of the sky The advice approved, and bade Minerva fly, Dissolve the league, and all her arts employ To make the breach the faithless act of Troy. Fired with the charge, she headlong urged her flight, And shot like lightning from Olympus’ height. As the red comet, from Saturnius sent To fright the nations with a dire portent, (A fatal sign to armies on the plain, Or trembling sailors on the wintry main,) With sweeping glories glides along in air, And shakes the sparkles from its blazing hair: Between both armies thus, in open sight Shot the bright goddess in a trail of light, With eyes erect the gazing hosts admire The power descending, and the heavens on fire! “The gods (they cried), the gods this signal sent, And fate now labours with some vast event: Jove seals the league, or bloodier scenes prepares; Jove, the great arbiter of peace and wars.”
They said, while Pallas through the Trojan throng, (In shape a mortal,) pass’d disguised along. Like bold Laodocus, her course she bent, Who from Antenor traced his high descent. Amidst the ranks Lycaon’s son she found, The warlike Pandarus, for strength renown’d; Whose squadrons, led from black AEsepus’ flood, With flaming shields in martial circle stood. To him the goddess: “Phrygian! canst thou hear A well-timed counsel with a willing ear? What praise were thine, couldst thou direct thy dart, Amidst his triumph, to the Spartan’s heart? What gifts from Troy, from Paris wouldst thou gain, Thy country’s foe, the Grecian glory slain? Then seize the occasion, dare the mighty deed, Aim at his breast, and may that aim succeed! But first, to speed the shaft, address thy vow To Lycian Phoebus with the silver bow, And swear the firstlings of thy flock to pay, On Zelia’s altars, to the god of day.”
He heard, and madly at the motion pleased, His polish’d bow with hasty rashness seized. ’Twas form’d of horn, and smooth’d with artful toil: A mountain goat resign’d the shining spoil. Who pierced long since beneath his arrows bled; The stately quarry on the cliffs lay dead, And sixteen palms his brow’s large honours spread: The workmen join’d, and shaped the bended horns, And beaten gold each taper point adorns. This, by the Greeks unseen, the warrior bends, Screen’d by the shields of his surrounding friends: There meditates the mark; and couching low, Fits the sharp arrow to the well-strung bow. One from a hundred feather’d deaths he chose, Fated to wound, and cause of future woes; Then offers vows with hecatombs to crown Apollo’s altars in his native town.
Now with full force the yielding horn he bends, Drawn to an arch, and joins the doubling ends; Close to his breast he strains the nerve below, Till the barb’d points approach the circling bow; The impatient weapon whizzes on the wing; Sounds the tough horn, and twangs the quivering string.
But thee, Atrides! in that dangerous hour The gods forget not, nor thy guardian power, Pallas assists, and (weakened in its force) Diverts the weapon from its destined course: So from her babe, when slumber seals his eye, The watchful mother wafts the envenom’d fly. Just where his belt with golden buckles join’d, Where linen folds the double corslet lined, She turn’d the shaft, which, hissing from above, Pass’d the broad belt, and through the corslet drove; The folds it pierced, the plaited linen tore, And razed the skin, and drew the purple gore. As when some stately trappings are decreed To grace a monarch on his bounding steed, A nymph in Caria or Maeonia bred, Stains the pure ivory with a lively red; With equal lustre various colours vie, The shining whiteness, and the Tyrian dye: So great Atrides! show’d thy sacred blood, As down thy snowy thigh distill’d the streaming flood. With horror seized, the king of men descried The shaft infix’d, and saw the gushing tide: Nor less the Spartan fear’d, before he found The shining barb appear above the wound, Then, with a sigh, that heaved his manly breast, The royal brother thus his grief express’d, And grasp’d his hand; while all the Greeks around With answering sighs return’d the plaintive sound.
“Oh, dear as life! did I for this agree The solemn truce, a fatal truce to thee! Wert thou exposed to all the hostile train, To fight for Greece, and conquer, to be slain! The race of Trojans in thy ruin join, And faith is scorn’d by all the perjured line. Not thus our vows, confirm’d with wine and gore, Those hands we plighted, and those oaths we swore, Shall all be vain: when Heaven’s revenge is slow, Jove but prepares to strike the fiercer blow. The day shall come, that great avenging day, When Troy’s proud glories in the dust shall lay, When Priam’s powers and Priam’s self shall fall, And one prodigious ruin swallow all. I see the god, already, from the pole Bare his red arm, and bid the thunder roll; I see the Eternal all his fury shed, And shake his aegis o’er their guilty head. Such mighty woes on perjured princes wait; But thou, alas! deserv’st a happier fate. Still must I mourn the period of thy days, And only mourn, without my share of praise? Deprived of thee, the heartless Greeks no more Shall dream of conquests on the hostile shore; Troy seized of Helen, and our glory lost, Thy bones shall moulder on a foreign coast; While some proud Trojan thus insulting cries, (And spurns the dust where Menelaus lies,) ‘Such are the trophies Greece from Ilion brings, And such the conquest of her king of kings! Lo his proud vessels scatter’d o’er the main, And unrevenged, his mighty brother slain.’ Oh! ere that dire disgrace shall blast my fame, O’erwhelm me, earth! and hide a monarch’s shame.”
He said: a leader’s and a brother’s fears Possess his soul, which thus the Spartan cheers: “Let not thy words the warmth of Greece abate; The feeble dart is guiltless of my fate: Stiff with the rich embroider’d work around, My varied belt repell’d the flying wound.”
To whom the king: “My brother and my friend, Thus, always thus, may Heaven thy life defend! Now seek some skilful hand, whose powerful art May stanch the effusion, and extract the dart. Herald, be swift, and bid Machaon bring His speedy succour to the Spartan king; Pierced with a winged shaft (the deed of Troy), The Grecian’s sorrow, and the Dardan’s joy.”
With hasty zeal the swift Talthybius flies; Through the thick files he darts his searching eyes, And finds Machaon, where sublime he stands In arms incircled with his native bands. Then thus: “Machaon, to the king repair, His wounded brother claims thy timely care; Pierced by some Lycian or Dardanian bow, A grief to us, a triumph to the foe.”
The heavy tidings grieved the godlike man Swift to his succour through the ranks he ran. The dauntless king yet standing firm he found, And all the chiefs in deep concern around. Where to the steely point the reed was join’d, The shaft he drew, but left the head behind. Straight the broad belt with gay embroidery graced, He loosed; the corslet from his breast unbraced; Then suck’d the blood, and sovereign balm infused, Which Chiron gave, and AEsculapius used.
While round the prince the Greeks employ their care, The Trojans rush tumultuous to the war; Once more they glitter in refulgent arms, Once more the fields are fill’d with dire alarms. Nor had you seen the king of men appear Confused, unactive, or surprised with fear; But fond of glory, with severe delight, His beating bosom claim’d the rising fight. No longer with his warlike steeds he stay’d, Or press’d the car with polish’d brass inlaid But left Eurymedon the reins to guide; The fiery coursers snorted at his side. On foot through all the martial ranks he moves And these encourages, and those reproves. “Brave men!” he cries, (to such who boldly dare Urge their swift steeds to face the coming war), “Your ancient valour on the foes approve; Jove is with Greece, and let us trust in Jove. ’Tis not for us, but guilty Troy, to dread, Whose crimes sit heavy on her perjured head; Her sons and matrons Greece shall lead in chains, And her dead warriors strew the mournful plains.”
Thus with new ardour he the brave inspires; Or thus the fearful with reproaches fires: “Shame to your country, scandal of your kind; Born to the fate ye well deserve to find! Why stand ye gazing round the dreadful plain, Prepared for flight, but doom’d to fly in vain? Confused and panting thus, the hunted deer Falls as he flies, a victim to his fear. Still must ye wait the foes, and still retire, Till yon tall vessels blaze with Trojan fire? Or trust ye, Jove a valiant foe shall chase, To save a trembling, heartless, dastard race?”
This said, he stalk’d with ample strides along, To Crete’s brave monarch and his martial throng; High at their head he saw the chief appear, And bold Meriones excite the rear. At this the king his generous joy express’d, And clasp’d the warrior to his armed breast. “Divine Idomeneus! what thanks we owe To worth like thine! what praise shall we bestow? To thee the foremost honours are decreed, First in the fight and every graceful deed. For this, in banquets, when the generous bowls Restore our blood, and raise the warriors’ souls, Though all the rest with stated rules we bound, Unmix’d, unmeasured, are thy goblets crown’d. Be still thyself, in arms a mighty name; Maintain thy honours, and enlarge thy fame.” To whom the Cretan thus his speech address’d: “Secure of me, O king! exhort the rest. Fix’d to thy side, in every toil I share, Thy firm associate in the day of war. But let the signal be this moment given; To mix in fight is all I ask of Heaven. The field shall prove how perjuries succeed, And chains or death avenge the impious deed.”
Charm’d with this heat, the king his course pursues, And next the troops of either Ajax views: In one firm orb the bands were ranged around, A cloud of heroes blacken’d all the ground. Thus from the lofty promontory’s brow A swain surveys the gathering storm below; Slow from the main the heavy vapours rise, Spread in dim streams, and sail along the skies, Till black as night the swelling tempest shows, The cloud condensing as the west-wind blows: He dreads the impending storm, and drives his flock To the close covert of an arching rock.
Such, and so thick, the embattled squadrons stood, With spears erect, a moving iron wood: A shady light was shot from glimmering shields, And their brown arms obscured the dusky fields.
“O heroes! worthy such a dauntless train, Whose godlike virtue we but urge in vain, (Exclaim’d the king), who raise your eager bands With great examples, more than loud commands. Ah! would the gods but breathe in all the rest Such souls as burn in your exalted breast, Soon should our arms with just success be crown’d, And Troy’s proud walls lie smoking on the ground.”
Then to the next the general bends his course; (His heart exults, and glories in his force); There reverend Nestor ranks his Pylian bands, And with inspiring eloquence commands; With strictest order sets his train in arms, The chiefs advises, and the soldiers warms. Alastor, Chromius, Haemon, round him wait, Bias the good, and Pelagon the great. The horse and chariots to the front assign’d, The foot (the strength of war) he ranged behind; The middle space suspected troops supply, Inclosed by both, nor left the power to fly; He gives command to “curb the fiery steed, Nor cause confusion, nor the ranks exceed: Before the rest let none too rashly ride; No strength nor skill, but just in time, be tried: The charge once made, no warrior turn the rein, But fight, or fall; a firm embodied train. He whom the fortune of the field shall cast From forth his chariot, mount the next in haste; Nor seek unpractised to direct the car, Content with javelins to provoke the war. Our great forefathers held this prudent course, Thus ruled their ardour, thus preserved their force; By laws like these immortal conquests made, And earth’s proud tyrants low in ashes laid.”
So spoke the master of the martial art, And touch’d with transport great Atrides’ heart. “Oh! hadst thou strength to match thy brave desires, And nerves to second what thy soul inspires! But wasting years, that wither human race, Exhaust thy spirits, and thy arms unbrace. What once thou wert, oh ever mightst thou be! And age the lot of any chief but thee.”
Thus to the experienced prince Atrides cried; He shook his hoary locks, and thus replied: “Well might I wish, could mortal wish renew That strength which once in boiling youth I knew; Such as I was, when Ereuthalion, slain Beneath this arm, fell prostrate on the plain. But heaven its gifts not all at once bestows, These years with wisdom crowns, with action those: The field of combat fits the young and bold, The solemn council best becomes the old: To you the glorious conflict I resign, Let sage advice, the palm of age, be mine.”
He said. With joy the monarch march’d before, And found Menestheus on the dusty shore, With whom the firm Athenian phalanx stands; And next Ulysses, with his subject bands. Remote their forces lay, nor knew so far The peace infringed, nor heard the sounds of war; The tumult late begun, they stood intent To watch the motion, dubious of the event. The king, who saw their squadrons yet unmoved, With hasty ardour thus the chiefs reproved:
“Can Peleus’ son forget a warrior’s part. And fears Ulysses, skill’d in every art? Why stand you distant, and the rest expect To mix in combat which yourselves neglect? From you ’twas hoped among the first to dare The shock of armies, and commence the war; For this your names are call’d before the rest, To share the pleasures of the genial feast: And can you, chiefs! without a blush survey Whole troops before you labouring in the fray? Say, is it thus those honours you requite? The first in banquets, but the last in fight.”
Ulysses heard: the hero’s warmth o’erspread His cheek with blushes: and severe, he said: “Take back the unjust reproach! Behold we stand Sheathed in bright arms, and but expect command. If glorious deeds afford thy soul delight, Behold me plunging in the thickest fight. Then give thy warrior-chief a warrior’s due, Who dares to act whate’er thou dar’st to view.” Struck with his generous wrath, the king replies:
“O great in action, and in council wise! With ours, thy care and ardour are the same, Nor need I to commend, nor aught to blame. Sage as thou art, and learn’d in human kind, Forgive the transport of a martial mind. Haste to the fight, secure of just amends; The gods that make, shall keep the worthy, friends.”
He said, and pass’d where great Tydides lay, His steeds and chariots wedged in firm array; (The warlike Sthenelus attends his side;)135 To whom with stern reproach the monarch cried: “O son of Tydeus! (he, whose strength could tame The bounding steed, in arms a mighty name) Canst thou, remote, the mingling hosts descry, With hands unactive, and a careless eye? Not thus thy sire the fierce encounter fear’d; Still first in front the matchless prince appear’d: What glorious toils, what wonders they recite, Who view’d him labouring through the ranks of fight? I saw him once, when gathering martial powers, A peaceful guest, he sought Mycenae’s towers; Armies he ask’d, and armies had been given, Not we denied, but Jove forbade from heaven; While dreadful comets glaring from afar, Forewarn’d the horrors of the Theban war. Next, sent by Greece from where Asopus flows, A fearless envoy, he approach’d the foes; Thebes’ hostile walls unguarded and alone, Dauntless he enters, and demands the throne. The tyrant feasting with his chiefs he found, And dared to combat all those chiefs around: Dared, and subdued before their haughty lord; For Pallas strung his arm and edged his sword. Stung with the shame, within the winding way, To bar his passage fifty warriors lay; Two heroes led the secret squadron on, Mason the fierce, and hardy Lycophon; Those fifty slaughter’d in the gloomy vale. He spared but one to bear the dreadful tale, Such Tydeus was, and such his martial fire; Gods! how the son degenerates from the sire!”
No words the godlike Diomed return’d, But heard respectful, and in secret burn’d: Not so fierce Capaneus’ undaunted son; Stern as his sire, the boaster thus begun:
“What needs, O monarch! this invidious praise, Ourselves to lessen, while our sire you raise? Dare to be just, Atrides! and confess Our value equal, though our fury less. With fewer troops we storm’d the Theban wall, And happier saw the sevenfold city fall, In impious acts the guilty father died; The sons subdued, for Heaven was on their side. Far more than heirs of all our parents’ fame, Our glories darken their diminish’d name.”
To him Tydides thus: “My friend, forbear; Suppress thy passion, and the king revere: His high concern may well excuse this rage, Whose cause we follow, and whose war we wage: His the first praise, were Ilion’s towers o’erthrown, And, if we fail, the chief disgrace his own. Let him the Greeks to hardy toils excite, ’Tis ours to labour in the glorious fight.”
He spoke, and ardent, on the trembling ground Sprung from his car: his ringing arms resound. Dire was the clang, and dreadful from afar, Of arm’d Tydides rushing to the war. As when the winds, ascending by degrees, First move the whitening surface of the seas, The billows float in order to the shore, The wave behind rolls on the wave before; Till, with the growing storm, the deeps arise, Foam o’er the rocks, and thunder to the skies. So to the fight the thick battalions throng, Shields urged on shields, and men drove men along Sedate and silent move the numerous bands; No sound, no whisper, but the chief’s commands, Those only heard; with awe the rest obey, As if some god had snatch’d their voice away. Not so the Trojans; from their host ascends A general shout that all the region rends. As when the fleecy flocks unnumber’d stand In wealthy folds, and wait the milker’s hand, The hollow vales incessant bleating fills, The lambs reply from all the neighbouring hills: Such clamours rose from various nations round, Mix’d was the murmur, and confused the sound. Each host now joins, and each a god inspires, These Mars incites, and those Minerva fires, Pale flight around, and dreadful terror reign; And discord raging bathes the purple plain; Discord! dire sister of the slaughtering power, Small at her birth, but rising every hour, While scarce the skies her horrid head can bound, She stalks on earth, and shakes the world around; The nations bleed, where’er her steps she turns, The groan still deepens, and the combat burns.
Now shield with shield, with helmet helmet closed, To armour armour, lance to lance opposed, Host against host with shadowy squadrons drew, The sounding darts in iron tempests flew, Victors and vanquish’d join’d promiscuous cries, And shrilling shouts and dying groans arise; With streaming blood the slippery fields are dyed, And slaughter’d heroes swell the dreadful tide.
As torrents roll, increased by numerous rills, With rage impetuous, down their echoing hills Rush to the vales, and pour’d along the plain. Roar through a thousand channels to the main: The distant shepherd trembling hears the sound; So mix both hosts, and so their cries rebound.
The bold Antilochus the slaughter led, The first who struck a valiant Trojan dead: At great Echepolus the lance arrives, Razed his high crest, and through his helmet drives; Warm’d in the brain the brazen weapon lies, And shades eternal settle o’er his eyes. So sinks a tower, that long assaults had stood Of force and fire, its walls besmear’d with blood. Him, the bold leader of the Abantian throng, Seized to despoil, and dragg’d the corpse along: But while he strove to tug the inserted dart, Agenor’s javelin reach’d the hero’s heart. His flank, unguarded by his ample shield, Admits the lance: he falls, and spurns the field; The nerves, unbraced, support his limbs no more; The soul comes floating in a tide of gore. Trojans and Greeks now gather round the slain; The war renews, the warriors bleed again: As o’er their prey rapacious wolves engage, Man dies on man, and all is blood and rage.
In blooming youth fair Simoisius fell, Sent by great Ajax to the shades of hell; Fair Simoisius, whom his mother bore Amid the flocks on silver Simois’ shore: The nymph descending from the hills of Ide, To seek her parents on his flowery side, Brought forth the babe, their common care and joy, And thence from Simois named the lovely boy. Short was his date! by dreadful Ajax slain, He falls, and renders all their cares in vain! So falls a poplar, that in watery ground Raised high the head, with stately branches crown’d, (Fell’d by some artist with his shining steel, To shape the circle of the bending wheel,) Cut down it lies, tall, smooth, and largely spread, With all its beauteous honours on its head There, left a subject to the wind and rain, And scorch’d by suns, it withers on the plain Thus pierced by Ajax, Simoisius lies Stretch’d on the shore, and thus neglected dies.
At Ajax, Antiphus his javelin threw; The pointed lance with erring fury flew, And Leucus, loved by wise Ulysses, slew. He drops the corpse of Simoisius slain, And sinks a breathless carcase on the plain. This saw Ulysses, and with grief enraged, Strode where the foremost of the foes engaged; Arm’d with his spear, he meditates the wound, In act to throw; but cautious look’d around, Struck at his sight the Trojans backward drew, And trembling heard the javelin as it flew. A chief stood nigh, who from Abydos came, Old Priam’s son, Democoon was his name. The weapon entered close above his ear, Cold through his temples glides the whizzing spear; With piercing shrieks the youth resigns his breath, His eye-balls darken with the shades of death; Ponderous he falls; his clanging arms resound, And his broad buckler rings against the ground.
Seized with affright the boldest foes appear; E’en godlike Hector seems himself to fear; Slow he gave way, the rest tumultuous fled; The Greeks with shouts press on, and spoil the dead: But Phoebus now from Ilion’s towering height Shines forth reveal’d, and animates the fight. “Trojans, be bold, and force with force oppose; Your foaming steeds urge headlong on the foes! Nor are their bodies rocks, nor ribb’d with steel; Your weapons enter, and your strokes they feel. Have ye forgot what seem’d your dread before? The great, the fierce Achilles fights no more.”
Apollo thus from Ilion’s lofty towers, Array’d in terrors, roused the Trojan powers: While war’s fierce goddess fires the Grecian foe, And shouts and thunders in the fields below. Then great Diores fell, by doom divine, In vain his valour and illustrious line. A broken rock the force of Pyrus threw, (Who from cold AEnus led the Thracian crew,) Full on his ankle dropp’d the ponderous stone, Burst the strong nerves, and crash’d the solid bone. Supine he tumbles on the crimson sands, Before his helpless friends, and native bands, And spreads for aid his unavailing hands. The foe rush’d furious as he pants for breath, And through his navel drove the pointed death: His gushing entrails smoked upon the ground, And the warm life came issuing from the wound.
His lance bold Thoas at the conqueror sent, Deep in his breast above the pap it went, Amid the lungs was fix’d the winged wood, And quivering in his heaving bosom stood: Till from the dying chief, approaching near, The AEtolian warrior tugg’d his weighty spear: Then sudden waved his flaming falchion round, And gash’d his belly with a ghastly wound; The corpse now breathless on the bloody plain, To spoil his arms the victor strove in vain; The Thracian bands against the victor press’d, A grove of lances glitter’d at his breast. Stern Thoas, glaring with revengeful eyes, In sullen fury slowly quits the prize.
Thus fell two heroes; one the pride of Thrace, And one the leader of the Epeian race; Death’s sable shade at once o’ercast their eyes, In dust the vanquish’d and the victor lies. With copious slaughter all the fields are red, And heap’d with growing mountains of the dead.
Had some brave chief this martial scene beheld, By Pallas guarded through the dreadful field; Might darts be bid to turn their points away, And swords around him innocently play; The war’s whole art with wonder had he seen, And counted heroes where he counted men.
So fought each host, with thirst of glory fired, And crowds on crowds triumphantly expired.