The birds are a substitute equal and fair,
For on us you depend and to us you repair
For counsel and aid, when a marriage is made,
A purchase, a bargain, a venture in trade.
Unlucky or lucky, whatever has struck ye,
A race in the street or a slave that you meet,
A name or a word by chance overheard,

If you deem it an omen, you call it a bird.

And if birds are your omens, it clearly will follow,
That birds are a proper prophetic Apollo.

Then take us as gods, and you will soon find the odds,
We'll serve for all uses of prophets and muses;
We'll give you fine weather; we'll live here together
And keep scornful and proud atop of the cloud .
(In Jupiter's way), but attend every day


prosper and bless all you possess,

And all your affairs for yourself and your heirs,
And as long as you live we gladly shall give
You wealth, and health, and pleasure,

And treasure in ample measure;

In laughter and mirth on the face of the earth,
With portable gold, you shall live to grow old,
And your only distress shall be the excess

Of ease and abundance of happiness.




HE leaders of the Greeks, worn with war and baffled by fate, built, with the aid of the divine skill of Pallas, a horse as huge as a mountain, and formed the sides of interlacing flanks of fir. In it they secretly enclose the picked warriors they have chosen, and fill full the vast caverns with armed soldiers.

In sight lies Tenedos, an island well known to fame, rich and powerful; hither they proceed and conceal themselves on the desolate shore. We supposed they had all gone away; therefore all the land of Troy freed itself from its long sorrow. The gates were opened. With joy we issue forth and view the Doric camp, and the deserted stations, and the forsaken coast. Some view with amazement the unusual offering to the maiden Minerva, and wonder at the stupendous bulk of the horse. Thymates is the first to urge that it be dragged within the walls and placed in the citadel. But Capys and others, whose minds had wiser sentiments, advise either to throw the thing into the sea, to put fire under it and burn it, or to pierce it and explore the inner recesses of the body.

The fickle multitude is split into opposite factions. Then it is that foremost, before all the rest, followed by a great crowd, Laocoon eagerly runs down from the heights of the citadel, and cries from afar :

"My hapless citizens, how has such wild frenzy seized you? Do you believe that the enemy have sailed away? Or do you think that any Grecian gifts are free from fraud? Is such your knowledge of Ulysses? Either the Achæans are concealed in this frame; or it is an engine wrought against our walls, intended to spy into our houses and come down upon our city from above; or there is some hidden deceit. Trust not the horse, ye Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."

Lo, some Dardan shepherds meanwhile came, dragging to the king with loud shouts, a youth whose hands were bound behind his back; who, though they knew him not, had put himself in their way as they approached him, in order to work out his craft, and open Troy to the Greeks, or submit to certain death. At length he made this speech :

"I certainly will declare to you, O King, the whole truth, whatever be the consequence. I will not deny I am by birth a Greek, and if fortune, the wicked goddess, has fashioned Sinon to misery, she shall not fashion him to falsehood and deceit. After the death of my father through the malice of Ulysses, I dragged on my days


in obscurity and sadness, and vowed that if ever I returned a conqueror to Argos, I would be his avenger. From this time began my downfall. The Greeks often wished to leave Troy, but the inclement fury of the sea kept them on land, and the wild winds. alarmed them in the act of starting. In our bewilderment, we sent to inquire of the oracle, Phoebus, and this terrible response was brought back: By blood, you must seek the power to return, and the sacrifice demands an Argive life.' At last, forced by the loud outcries of Ithacus, he broke silence and doomed me to the altar. The dreadful day had come. I snatched myself from death and broke my bonds, and now I have no hope of seeing again my fatherland, nor the children I love, and the parent I long to see, at whose hands, perhaps, they will even require satisfaction for my escape. Wherefore, by the gods above, pity a soul that suffers what it does not deserve."

"Whoever you

We granted him his life and pitied his tears. are, from this time forward forget the Greeks; you shall be ours. Since this is so, explain to what end have they set up this horse of enormous bulk?"

By means of the deceptions of the perjured Sinon, with one voice, the people cry: "The image must be drawn to its temple and the goddess entreated." And threatening it glides into the heart of the city.

Meanwhile, the sphere of heaven moves round, and night rushes up from the ocean, wrapping in her universal shade both earth and sky, and the craft of the myrmidons. The Trojans are stretched in silent rest throughout the town; sleep clasps their weary limbs. And now, the Argive host was advancing in naval array from Tenedos, making for the well-known shores amid the friendly silence of the moon, when the royal ship suddenly shot forth the signalflame, and Sinon, protected by the partial gloom unbolts the bars of pine, and sets free the Greeks imprisoned in the body of the horse. They assault the city buried in sleep and wine; the guards are slain, and, throwing open the gates, they admit all their comrades.

The town is filled with tumultuous woe; and, although the mansion of my father, Anchises, is retired from view by its secluded

situation and its shadowing trees, still louder and louder grow the sounds, and the terror of battle comes close upon us. Startled from sleep, I mount to the highest point of the sloping roof, and take my stand, with keenly listening ears. Then, indeed, the truth is evident, and the stratagem of the Greeks revealed. Already the mansion of Deiphobus has fallen into ruins, as the god of fire prevails; the house of my neighbor, Ucalegon, is burning; far and wide the Sigean channel gleams with the blaze. There arises the cry of men and the clang of trumpets. Distractedly I take my arms, and yearn to muster a troop for battle, and to hasten to the citadel; frenzy and rage give me reckless resolution, and I think it were glorious to fall fighting.

But lo, Pantheus, escaped from the weapons of the Greeks, with his own hands drags along the sacred vessels, his vanquished gods, and his little grandson, and comes running to my door. "How stands the fortune of the State, Pantheus? What strong

hold are we to seize ?"


Scarce had I spoken the words, when, with a groan, he answers: Troy has reached her final day and her inevitable hour. The Trojans are no more. Ilium is no more. Relentless Jove has transferred all power to Argos; the Greeks lord it in the city they have fired. The horse, erect in the heart of the town, pours forth from its height armed men, and Sinon, now a conqueror, insolently flings the flames abroad. Some are crowding in at the double gates, all the thousands that ever came from proud Mycena; others with their weapons have barred the narrower streets; the sharp sword with glittering blade is drawn and fixed, prepared to kill. The guards at the gates hardly attempt a

[merged small][ocr errors]

By such words and by the will of heaven, I am carried into the flames and the fight, whither the fell fury of battle calls me. Comrades join me. When I saw that they formed a band, and were bold for battle, to incite them further: "Warriors," I began, "hearts most valiant, you see what is the state of our fortunes; the gods by whom this realm stood fast, have all departed, and left the sanctuaries and shrines. Haste ye, to

succor a city that is set on fire! Let us rush into the thickest of the fight and, if need be, die!"

Thereupon, like ravening wolves, we make our way through weapons, through foes, and press on to the centre of the city. Who in words could describe the carnage of that night? An ancient city is falling! Helpless forms in vast numbers are stretched on all sides, throughout the streets, the houses, and the hallowed thresholds of the gods. Nor from the Trojans only is exacted the penalty of blood. Sometimes to the hearts of the vanquished also valor returns, and the victorious Greeks fall. Everywhere is cruel woe; everywhere is panic and death in many a shape.

When the night is spent, I find with astonishment that a vast number have flocked to join me, both matrons and husbands ; a band of men assembled for exile, a piteous throng. They have resolved to settle in whatever lands I please to lead them to, over the sea. And now the morning-star was beginning to rise over the topmost ridges of Ida, bringing in the day; and, taking up my father we journeyed toward the mountains.


[From the Korân.]

WHEN the day that must come shall have come suddenly,

None shall treat its sudden coming as a lie;

Day that shall abase! Day that shall exalt!

When the earth shall be shaken with a shock,

And the mountains shall be crumbled with a crumbling,

And become scattered dust,

And into three bands shall ye be divided;

Then the people of the right hand-how happy

The people of the right hand!

« 上一页继续 »