The Fall of Troy (book 1 - 6)
Beguiled us; for the one great war-defence
Left us, since Aeacus' son in battle fell,
Was Aias' mighty strength. And now the Gods
Will to our loss destroy him, bringing bane
On thee and me, that all we may fill up
The cup of doom, and pass to nothingness."
He spake; replied Agamemnon, lord of spears:
"Now nay, Menelaus, though thine heart he wrung,
Be thou not wroth with the resourceful king
Of Cephallenian folk, but with the Gods
Who plot our ruin. Blame not him, who oft
Hath been our blessing and our enemies' curse."
So heavy-hearted spake the Danaan kings.
But by the streams of Xanthus far away
'Neath tamarisks shepherds cowered to hide from death,
As when from a swift eagle cower hares
'Neath tangled copses, when with sharp fierce scream
This way and that with wings wide-shadowing
He wheeleth very nigh; so they here, there,
Quailed from the presence of that furious man.
At last above a slaughtered ram he stood,
And with a deadly laugh he cried to it:
"Lie there in dust; be meat for dogs and kites!
Achilles' glorious arms have saved not thee,
For which thy folly strove with a better man!
Lie there, thou cur! No wife shall fall on thee,
And clasp, and wail thee and her fatherless childs,
Nor shalt thou greet thy parents' longing eyes,
The staff of their old age! Far from thy land
Thy carrion dogs and vultures shall devour!"
So cried he, thinking that amidst the slain
Odysseus lay blood-boltered at his feet.
But in that moment from his mind and eyes
Athena tore away the nightmare-fiend
Of Madness havoc-breathing, and it passed
Thence swiftly to the rock-walled river Styx
Where dwell the winged Erinnyes, they which still
Visit with torments overweening men.
Then Aias saw those sheep upon the earth
Gasping in death; and sore amazed he stood,
For he divined that by the Blessed Ones
His senses had been cheated. All his limbs
Failed under him; his soul was anguished-thrilled:
He could not in his horror take one step
Forward nor backward. Like some towering rock
Fast-rooted mid the mountains, there he stood.
But when the wild rout of his thoughts had rallied,
He groaned in misery, and in anguish wailed:
"Ah me! why do the Gods abhor me so?
They have wrecked my mind, have with fell madness filled,
Making me slaughter all these innocent sheep!
Would God that on Odysseus' pestilent heart
Mine hands had so avenged me! Miscreant, he
Brought on me a fell curse! O may his soul
Suffer all torments that the Avenging Fiends
Devise for villains! On all other Greeks
May they bring murderous battle, woeful griefs,
And chiefly on Agamemnon, Atreus' son!
Not scatheless to the home may he return
So long desired! But why should I consort,