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Centaurorum et Lapitharum pugna.

“The son of bold Ixion, Pirithous
wedding Hippodame, had asked as guests
the cloud-born centaurs to recline around
the ordered tables, in a cool cave, set
under some shading trees. Thessalian chiefs
were there and I myself was with them there.
The festal place resounded with the rout
in noisy clamor, singing nuptial verse;
and in the great room, filled with smoking fire,
the maiden came escorted by a crowd
of matrons and young married women; she
most beautiful of all that lovely throng.

“And so Pirithous, the fortunate son,
of bold Ixion, was so praised by all,
for his pure joy and lovely wife,
it seemed his very blessings must have led
to fatal harm: for savage Eurytus,
wildest of the wild centaurs, now inflamed
with sudden envy, drunkenness, and lust,
upset the tables and made havoc there
so dreadful, that the banquet suddenly
was changed from love to uproar. Seized by the hair,
the bride was violently dragged away.
When Eurytus caught up Hippodame
each one of all the centaurs took at will
the maid or matron that he longed for most.
The palace, seeming like a captured town,
resounded with affrighted shrieks of women.
At once we all sprang up. And Theseus cried,

“What madness, Eurytus, has driven you
to this vile wickedness! While I have life,
you dare attack Pirithous. You know
not what you do, for one wrong injures both!’
The valiant hero did not merely talk:
he pushed them off as they were pressing on,
and rescued her whom Eurytus had seized.
Since Eurytus could not defend such deeds
with words, he turned and beat with violent hands
the face of him who saved the bride and struck
his generous breast. By chance, an ancient bowl
was near at hand. This rough with figures carved,
the son of Aegeus caught and hurled it full
in that vile centaur's face. He, spouting out
thick gouts of blood, and bleeding from his wounds—
his brains and wine mixed,—kicked the blood-soaked sand.

His double membered centaur brothers, wild
with passion at his death, all shouted out,
‘To arms! to arms!’ Their courage raised by wine!
In their first onset, hurled cups flew about,
and shattered wine casks, hollow basins—things
before adapted to a banquet, now
for death and carnage in the furious fight.

Amycus first (Opinion's son) began to spoil
the inner sanctuary of its gifts.
He snatched up from that shrine a chandelier,
adorned with glittering lamps, and lifted high,
with all the force of one who strives to break
the bull s white neck with sacrificial axe,
he dashed it at the head of Celadon,
one of the Lapithae, and crushed his skull
into the features of his face. His eyes
leaped from his sockets, and the shattered bones
of his smashed face gave way so that his nose
was driven back and fastened in his throat.
But Belates of Pella tore away
a table-leg of maple wood and felled
Amycus to the ground; his sunken chin
cast down upon his breast; and, as he spat
his teeth out mixed with blood, a second blow
despatched him to the shades of Tartarus.

“Gryneus, seeing a smoking altar, cried,
‘Good use for this,’ with which words he raised up
that heavy, blazing altar. Hurling it
into the middle of the Lapithae,
he struck down Broteas and Orius:
Mycale, mother of that Orius,
was famous for her incantations,
which she had often used to conjure down
the shining twin-horns of the unwilling moon.
Exadius threatened, ‘You shall not escape!
Let me but have a weapon!’ And with that,
he whirled the antlers of a votive stag,
which he found there, hung on a tall pine-tree;
and with that double-branching horn he pierced
the eyes of Gryneus, and he gouged them out.
One eye stuck to the horn; the other rolled
down on his beard, to which it strictly clung
in dreadful clotted gore.

Then Rhoetus snatched
a blazing brand of plum-wood from an altar
and whirling it upon the right, smashed through
the temples of Charaxus, wonderful
with golden hair. Seized by the violent flames,
his yellow locks burned fiercely, as a field
of autumn grain; and even the scorching blood
gave from the sore wound a terrific noise
as a red-hot iron in pincers which the smith
lifts out and plunges in the tepid pool,
hissing and sizzling. Charaxus shook
the fire from his burnt locks; and heaved up on
his shoulders a large threshold stone torn from
the ground—a weight sufficient for a team
of oxen. The vast weight impeded him,
so that it could not even touch his foe—
and yet, the massive stone did hit his friend,
Cometes, who was standing near to him,
and crushed him down. Then Rhoetus, crazed with joy,
exulting yelled, ‘I pray that all of you
may be so strong!’ Wielding his half-burnt stake
with heavy blows again and again, he broke
the sutures of his enemy's skull, until
the bones were mingled with his oozing brains.

“Victorious, then rushed he upon Evagrus,
and Corythus and Dryas. First of these
was youthful Corythus, whose cheeks were then
just covered with soft down. When he fell dead,
Evagrus cried, ‘What glory do you get,
killing a boy?’ But Rhoetus did not give
him time for uttering one word more. He pushed
the red hot stake into the foeman's mouth,
while he still spoke, and down into his lungs.
He then pursued the savage Dryas, while
whirling the red fire fast about his head;
but not with like success, for, while he still
rejoiced in killings, Dryas turned and pierced
him with a stake where neck and shoulder meet.

“Rhoetus groaned and with a great effort pulled
the stake out from the bone, then fled away,
drenched in his blood. And Orneus followed him.
Lycabas fled, and Medon with a wound
in his right shoulder. Thaumas and Pisenor
and Mermerus fled with them. Mermerus,
who used to excell all others in a race,
ran slowly, crippled by a recent wound.
Pholus and Melaneus ran for their lives
and with them Abas, hunter of wild boars
and Asbolus, the augur, who in vain
had urged his friends to shun that hapless fight.
As Nessus joined the rout, he said to him,
‘You need not flee, for you shall be reserved
a victim for the bow of Hercules!’

but neither Lycidas, Eurynomus
nor Areos, nor Imbreus had escaped
from death: for all of these the strong right hand
of Dryas pierced, as they confronted him.
Crenaeus there received a wound in front.
Although he turned in flight, as he looked back,
a heavy javelin between his eyes
pierced through him, where his nose and forehead joined.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 1.42
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