First round the tender limbs of his two sons each dragon coiled, and on the shrinking flesh fixed fast and fed. Then seized they on the sire, who flew to aid, a javelin in his hand, embracing close in bondage serpentine twice round the waist; and twice in scaly grasp around his neck, and o'er him grimly peered with lifted head and crest; he, all the while, his holy fillet fouled with venomous blood, tore at his fetters with a desperate hand, and lifted up such agonizing voice, as when a bull, death-wounded, seeks to flee the sacrificial altar, and thrusts back from his doomed head the ill-aimed, glancing blade.
Such trembling horror as we ne'er had known seized now on every heart. Yon statue to the temple! Ask the grace of glorious Pallas! Ourselves did make a breach within our walls and opened wide the ramparts of our city. One and all were girded for the task. Smooth-gliding wheels were 'neath its feet; great ropes stretched round its neck, till o'er our walls the fatal engine climbed, pregnant with men-at-arms.
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On every side fair youths and maidens made a festal song, and hauled the ropes with merry heart and gay. So on and up it rolled, a tower of doom, and in proud menace through our Forum moved.
O Ilium , my country, where abode the gods of all my sires! O glorious walls of Dardan's sons! Yet frantic pressed we on, our hearts all blind, and in the consecrated citadel set up the hateful thing. Cassandra then from heaven-instructed heart our doom foretold; but doomed to unbelief were Ilium 's sons. Our hapless nation on its dying day flung free o'er streets and shrines the votive flowers. The skies rolled on; and o'er the ocean fell the veil of night, till utmost earth and heaven and all their Myrmidonian stratagems were mantled darkly o'er.
In silent sleep the Trojan city lay; dull slumber chained its weary life. But now the Greek array of ordered ships moved on from Tenedos , their only light the silent, favoring moon, on to the well-known strand. The King displayed torch from his own ship, and Sinon then, whom wrathful Heaven defended in that hour, let the imprisoned band of Greeks go free from that huge womb of wood; the open horse restored them to the light; and joyfully emerging from the darkness, one by one, princely Thessander, Sthenelus, and dire Ulysses glided down the swinging cord.
Upon the town they fell, for deep in sleep and drowsed with wine it lay; the sentinels they slaughtered, and through gates now opened wide let in their fellows, and arrayed for war th' auxiliar legions of the dark design. That hour it was when heaven's first gift of sleep on weary hearts of men most sweetly steals. O, then my slumbering senses seemed to see Hector, with woeful face and streaming eyes; I seemed to see him from the chariot trailing, foul with dark dust and gore, his swollen feet pierced with a cruel thong. Ah me! Unkempt his beard, his tresses thick with blood, and all those wounds in sight which he did take defending Troy.
O surest hope and stay of all her sons! Why tarriest thou so Iong? What region sends the long-expected Hector home once more? These weary eyes that look on thee have seen hosts of thy kindred die, and fateful change upon thy people and thy city fall. O, say what dire occasion has defiled thy tranquil brows? What mean those bleeding wounds? Our foes have scaled the wall; exalted Troy is falling.
Fatherland and Priam ask no more. If human arm could profit Troy , my own had kept her free. Her Lares and her people to thy hands Troy here commends. Companions let them be of all thy fortunes.
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Let them share thy quest of that wide realm, which, after wandering far, thou shalt achieve, at last, beyond the sea. Now shrieks and loud confusion swept the town; and though my father's dwelling stood apart embowered deep in trees, th' increasing din drew nearer, and the battle-thunder swelled. I woke on sudden, and up-starting scaled the roof, the tower, then stood with listening ear: 't was like an harvest burning, when wild winds uprouse the flames; 't was like a mountain stream that bursts in flood and ruinously whelms sweet fields and farms and all the ploughman's toil, whirling whole groves along; while dumb with fear, from some far cliff the shepherd hears the sound.
Now their Greek plot was plain, the stratagem at last laid bare. Deiphobus' great house sank vanquished in the fire. Ucalegon's hard by was blazing, while the waters wide around Sigeum gave an answering glow.
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Shrill trumpets rang; Ioud shouting voices roared; wildly I armed me when the battle calls, how dimly reason shines! Frenzy and vast rage seized on my soul. I only sought what way with sword in hand some noble death to die. When Panthus met me, who had scarce escaped the Grecian spears,—Panthus of Othrys' line, Apollo's priest within our citadel; his holy emblems, his defeated gods, and his small grandson in his arms he bore, while toward the gates with wild, swift steps he flew.
What strong place is still our own? There is no Ilium now; our Trojan name is gone, the Teucrian throne Quite fallen. For the wrathful power of Jove has given to Argos all our boast and pride. The Greek is Iord of all yon blazing towers. False Sinon now, with scorn exultant, heaps up flame on flame. Others throw wide the gates.
The whole vast horde that out of proud Mycenae hither sailed is at us. With confronting spears they throng each narrow passage. Every steel-bright blade is flashing naked, making haste for blood. Our sentries helpless meet the invading shock and give back blind and unavailing war. Rhipeus and Epytus of doughty arm were at my side, Dymas and Hypanis, seen by a pale moon, join our little band; and young Coroebus, Mygdon's princely son, who was in Troy that hour because he loved Cassandra madly, and had made a league as Priam's kinsman with our Phrygian arms: ill-starred, to heed not what the virgin raved!
Ye offer aid unto your country's ashes. Let us fight unto the death! To arms, my men, to arms! The single hope and stay of desperate men is their despair. Then like the ravening wolves, some night of cloud, when cruel hunger in an empty maw drives them forth furious, and their whelps behind wait famine-throated; so through foemen's steel we flew to surest death, and kept our way straight through the midmost town.
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The wings of night brooded above us in vast vault of shade. But who the bloodshed of that night can tell? What tongue its deaths shall number, or what eyes find meed of tears to equal all its woe?
The ancient City fell, whose throne had stood age after age. Along her streets were strewn the unresisting dead; at household shrines and by the temples of the gods they lay. Yet not alone was Teucrian blood required: oft out of vanquished hearts fresh valor flamed, and the Greek victor fell. Anguish and woe were everywhere; pale terrors ranged abroad, and multitudinous death met every eye.
Are ye laggards at this hour? Others bear off the captives and the spoil of burning Troy. Just from the galleys ye? At them we flew and closed them round with war; and since they could not know the ground, and fear had whelmed them quite, we swiftly laid them low.
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Change we our shields, and these Greek emblems wear. These dead shall find us arms. Young Rhipeus next, with Dymas and the other soldiery, repeat the deed, exulting, and array their valor in fresh trophies from the slain. Now intermingled with our foes we moved, and alien emblems wore; the long, black night brought many a grapple, and a host of Greeks down to the dark we hurled.
Some fled away, seeking their safe ships and the friendly shore. Some cowards foul went clambering back again to that vast horse and hid them in its maw. But woe is me! If gods their help withhold, 't is impious to be brave. That very hour the fair Cassandra passed us, bound in chains, King Priam's virgin daughter, from the shrine and altars of Minerva; her loose hair had lost its fillet; her impassioned eyes were lifted in vain prayer,—her eyes alone! For chains of steel her frail, soft hands confined.
Coroebus' eyes this horror not endured, and, sorrow-crazed, he plunged him headlong in the midmost fray, self-offered to be slain, while in close mass our troop behind him poured. But, at this point, the overwhelming spears of our own kinsmen rained resistless down from a high temple-tower; and carnage wild ensued, because of the Greek arms we bore and our false crests.
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The howling Grecian band, crazed by Cassandra's rescue, charged at us from every side; Ajax of savage soul, the sons of Atreus, and that whole wild horde Achilles from Dolopian deserts drew. All who did hide in shadows of the night, by our assault surprised, and driven in tumultuous flight, now start to view.
Full well they now can see our shields and borrowed arms, and clearly note our speech of alien sound; their multitude o'erwhelms us utterly. Coroebus first at mailed Minerva's altar prostrate lay, pierced by Peneleus, blade; then Rhipeus fell; we deemed him of all Trojans the most just, most scrupulously righteous; but the gods gave judgment otherwise. There Dymas died, and Hypanis, by their compatriots slain; nor thee, O Panthus, in that mortal hour, could thy clean hands or Phoebus, priesthood save.
O ashes of my country! But soon our ranks were broken; at my side stayed Iphitus and Pelias; one with age was Iong since wearied, and the other bore the burden of Ulysses' crippling wound.