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Wearied of the war, and by ill-fortune crushed, year after year, the kings of Greece, by Pallas' skill divine, build a huge horse, a thing of mountain size, with timbered ribs of fir. They falsely say it has been vowed to Heaven for safe return, and spread this lie abroad. Then they conceal choice bands of warriors in the deep, dark side, and fill the caverns of that monstrous womb with arms and soldiery.
Then from the citadel, conspicuous, Laocoon, with all his following choir, hurried indignant down; and from afar thus hailed the people: “O unhappy men! What madness this? Who deems our foemen fled? Think ye the gifts of Greece can lack for guile? Have ye not known Ulysses? The Achaean hides, caged in yonder beams; or this is reared for engin'ry on our proud battlements, to spy upon our roof-tops, or descend in ruin on the city. 'T is a snare. Trust not this horse, O Troy, whate'er it bode! I fear the Greeks, though gift on gift they bear.” So saying, he whirled with ponderous javelin a sturdy stroke straight at the rounded side of the great, jointed beast. A tremor struck its towering form, and through the cavernous womb rolled loud, reverberate rumbling, deep and long. If heaven's decree, if our own wills, that hour, had not been fixed on woe, his spear had brought a bloody slaughter on our ambushed foe, and Troy were standing on the earth this day! O Priam's towers, ye were unfallen
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! what change from glorious Hector when he homeward bore the spoils of fierce Achilles; or hurled far that shower of torches on the ships of Greece! Unkempt his beard, his tresses thick with blood, and all those wounds in sight which he did take defending Troy. Then, weeping as I spoke, I seemed on that heroic shape to call with mournful utterance: “O star of 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 tho
I stood there sole surviving; when, behold, to Vesta's altar clinging in dumb fear, hiding and crouching in the hallowed shade, Tyndarus' daughter!— 't was the burning town lighted full well my roving steps and eyes. In fear was she both of some Trojan's rage for Troy o'erthrown, and of some Greek revenge, or her wronged husband's Iong indignant ire. So hid she at that shrine her hateful brow, being of Greece and Troy, full well she knew, the common curse. Then in my bosom rose a blaze of wrath; methought I should avenge my dying country, and with horrid deed pay crime for crime. “Shall she return unscathed to Sparta, to Mycenae's golden pride, and have a royal triumph? Shall her eyes her sire and sons, her hearth and husband see, while Phrygian captives follow in her train? is Priam murdered? Have the flames swept o'er my native Troy? and cloth our Dardan strand sweat o'er and o'er with sanguinary dew? O, not thus unavenged! For though there be no glory if I smite a woman's crime, nor
So, safe at land, our hopeless peril past, we offered thanks to Jove, and kindled high his altars with our feast and sacrifice; then, gathering on Actium's holy shore, made fair solemnities of pomp and game. My youth, anointing their smooth, naked limbs, wrestled our wonted way. For glad were we, who past so many isles of Greece had sped and 'scaped our circling foes. Now had the sun rolled through the year's full circle, and the waves were rough with icy winter's northern gales. I hung for trophy on that temple door a swelling shield of brass (which once was worn by mighty Abas) graven with this line: SPOIL OF AENEAS FROM TRIUMPHANT FOES. Then from that haven I command them forth; my good crews take the thwarts, smiting the sea with rival strokes, and skim the level main. Soon sank Phaeacia's wind-swept citadels out of our view; we skirted the bold shores of proud Epirus, in Chaonian land, and made Buthrotum's port and towering town.