The Fall of Troy (book 1 - 6)
I trow, I should not win to the ships alive."
Loud laughed they all: but glowed with triumph-joy
The heart of Aias. Gleaming talents twain
Of silver he from Thetis' hands received,
His uncontested prize. His stately height
Called to her mind her dear son, and she sighed.
They which had skill in chariot-driving then
Rose at the contest's summons eagerly:
Menelaus first, Eurypylus bold in fight,
Eumelus, Thoas, godlike Polypoetes
Harnessed their steeds, and led them to the cars
All panting for the joy of victory.
Then rode they in a glittering chariot rank
Out to one place, to a stretch of sand, and stood
Ranged at the starting-line. The reins they grasped
In strong hands quickly, while the chariot-steeds
Shoulder to shoulder fretted, all afire
To take the lead at starting, pawed the sand,
Pricked ears, and o'er their frontlets flung the foam.
With sudden-stiffened sinews those ear-lords
Lashed with their whips the tempest-looted steeds;
Then swift as Harpies sprang they forth; they strained
Furiously at the harness, onward whirling
The chariots bounding ever from the earth.
Thou couldst not see a wheel-track, no, nor print
Of hoof upon the sand -- they verily flew.
Up from the plain the dust-clouds to the sky
Soared, like the smoke of burning, or a mist
Rolled round the mountain-forelands by the might
Of the dark South-wind or the West, when wakes
A tempest, when the hill-sides stream with rain.
Burst to the front Eumelus' steeds: behind
Close pressed the team of godlike Thoas: shouts
Still answered shouts that cheered each chariot, while
Onward they swept across the wide-wayed plain.
"From hallowed Elis, when he had achieved
A mighty triumph, in that he outstripped
The swift ear of Oenomaus evil-souled,
The ruthless slayer of youths who sought to wed
His daughter Hippodameia passing-wise.
Yet even he, for all his chariot-lore,
Had no such fleetfoot steeds as Atreus' son --
Far slower! -- the wind is in the feet of these."
So spake he, giving glory to the might
Of those good steeds, and to Atreides' self;
And filled with joy was Menelaus' soul.
Straightway his henchmen from the yoke-band loosed
The panting team, and all those chariot-lords,
Who in the race had striven, now unyoked
Their tempest-footed steeds. Podaleirius then
Hasted to spread salves over all the wounds
Of Thoas and Eurypylus, gashes scored
Upon their frames when from the cars they fell
But Menelaus with exceeding joy
Of victory glowed, when Thetis 1ovely-tressed
Gave him a golden cup, the chief possession
Once of Eetion the godlike; ere
Achilles spoiled the far-famed burg of Thebes.