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A tower was there, well-placed and looming large,
with many a lofty bridge, which desperately
th' Italians strove to storm, and strangely plied
besieging enginery to cast it down:
the Trojans hurled back stones, or, standing close,
flung through the loopholes a swift shower of spears.
But Turnus launched a firebrand, and pierced
the wooden wall with flame, which in the wind
leaped larger, and devoured from floor to floor,
burning each beam away. The trembling guards
sought flight in vain; and while they crowded close
into the side unkindled yet, the tower
bowed its whole weight and fell, with sudden crash
that thundered through the sky. Along the ground
half dead the warriors fell (the crushing mass
piled over them) by their own pointed spears
pierced to the heart, or wounded mortally
by cruel splinters of the wreck. Two men,
Helenor one, and Lyeus at his side,
alone get free. Helenor of the twain
was a mere youth; the slave Lycymnia
bore him in secret to the Lydian King,
and, arming him by stealth, had sent away
to serve the Trojan cause. One naked sword
for arms had he, and on his virgin shield
no blazon of renown; but when he saw
the hosts of Turnus front him, and the lines
this way and that of Latins closing round, —
as a fierce, forest-creature, brought to bay
in circling pack of huntsmen, shows its teeth
against the naked spears, and scorning death
leaps upward on the javelins,—even so,
not loth to die, the youthful soldier flew
straight at the centre of his foes, and where
the shining swords looked thickest, there he sprung.
But Lyeus, swifter-footed, forced his way
past the opposing spears and made escape
far as the ciity-wall, where he would fain
clutch at the coping and climb up to clasp
some friend above: but Turnus, spear in hand,
had hotly followed, and exulting loud
thus taunted him, “Hadst thou the hope, rash fool,
beyond this grasp to fly?” So, as he clung,
he tore him down; and with him broke and fell
a huge piece of the wall: not otherwise
a frail hare, or a swan of snow-white wing,
is clutched in eagle-talons, when the bird
of Jove soars skyward with his prey; or tender lamb
from bleating mother and the broken fold
is stolen by the wolf of Mars. Wild shouts
on every side resound. In closer siege
the foe press on, and heap the trenches full,
or hurl hot-flaming torches at the towers.
Ilioneus with mountain-mass of stone
struck down Lucetius, as he crept with fire
too near the city-gate. Emathion fell
by Liger's hand, and Corynteus' death
Asilas dealt: one threw the javelin well;
th' insidious arrow was Asilas' skill.
Ortygius was slain by Caeneus, then
victorious Geneus fell by Turnus' ire.
Then smote he Dioxippus, and laid low
Itys and Promolus and Sagaris
and Clonius, and from the lofty tower
shot Idas down. The shaft of Capys pierced
Privernus, whom Themilla's javelin
but now had lightly grazed, and he, too bold,
casting his shield far from him, had outspread
his left hand on the wound: then sudden flew
the feathered arrow, and the hand lay pinned
against his left side, while the fatal barb
was buried in his breathing life. The son
of Arcens now stood forth in glittering arms.
His broidered cloak was red Iberian stain,
and beautiful was he. Arcens his sire
had sent him to the war; but he was bred
in a Sicilian forest by a stream
to his nymph-mother dear, where rose the shrine
of merciful Palicus, blest and fair.
But, lo! Mezentius his spear laid by,
and whirled three times about his head the thong
of his loud sling: the leaden bullet clove
the youth's mid-forehead, and his towering form
fell prostrate its full length along the ground.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 6.24
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