The Death of Dolon

Dumb Dolon, he who was of doubtful mind
To Hector’s charge in foolishness resigned;
For Hector promised him Achilles’ steeds
For but one night of brave and daring deeds.
He snuck (he thought) across the Trojan plain
To breach the Argive camp upon the main,
And spy out all their counsels to report
What plans they laid, to what they would resort:
But the keen ears of Odysseus caught
The sound of footsteps as his way he sought;
Diomed was with him when he heard the sound
Of Dolon sneaking quick over the ground;
“Let him go ahead,” Odysseus advised,
That then from behind the spy could be surprised:
“If we cannot catch him, pin him by the shore;
Our spears shall see that he sees Troy no more.”
Dolon passed and they followed in his wake:
Toward the Achaean camp did Dolon make;
When he perceived the sound of their approach,
He thought them Trojans and ceased not to encroach.
But when at last his folly he perceived,
He was seized with fear and his soul was grieved:
He flew across the plain, seeking to evade
The men whose camp he’d laboured to invade.
To check him Diomed lifted his hand
And hurled his javelin and struck the sand;
He purposed thus to miss to halt the spy,
And lifted his voice to the foe to cry:
He urged the man to halt, lest he be slain
And Dolon did and fear gripped him as pain;
He shook with terror and could hardly stand,
And all at once by tears he was unmanned.
Forsaking all his honour, he proffered gold
From his father’s house if his life be sold.
And Odysseus, always being wise,
Proffered in return one of his cunning lies;
To give him hope, he urged him not to fear,
And asked him why he had at night come near
Their camp, and though the coward trembled still,
He found the will to speak, and his words did spill
Out all at once; he told the men his charge,
Which when they heard they marveled at folly large.
Odysseus could hardly keep straight face
That such a one as this, a coward base,
Had thought to be the master of the steeds
Of Achilles: how luxury folly breeds!
Odysseus then questioned Dolon to
Discover what of Troy’s defense he knew.
Dolon replied and told him all he could,
Where every camp was set, and where guards stood;
That Hector held a counsel made he known,
That the Thracians were encamped alone.
This told Dolon submitted to be a slave,
But Diomed observed him with visage grave.
“From captivity, we shall not set you free,
Nor risk that as slave you’d a traitor be.”
The spy began to speak a word in turn,
But Diomed his plea ‘fore he spoke did spurn;
Like a thunderbolt fell his fearsome sword,
His head fell from his neck and his blood poured
Forth in purple spurts and stained all the ground;
In the dirt his head, severed, rolled around.
This done they stripped his body for reward;
A bow and spear and a wolf’s hide they scored:
And Odysseus dedicated these
To Athena who he always sought to please.

For Boreas

When Boreas blows a blustery storm,
Then every man sits at his hearth to warm
Himself and hide from Winter’s icy blast;
Every woodland beast by its den holds fast;
The bird of prey soars over snow-capped trees;
If something dare to move, his prey he’ll seize;
At last he roosts upon a limb on high;
O’er all below he casts his watchful eye.
He blows and icy gusts his breath sends down;
He empties every street in every town,
And stops the rivers so they cease to flow
And blankets Earth under a mount of snow.

For Mars

Who of all the gods protects the sacred state,
By barbarian blood made satiate?
Who rises in a rage to overthrow
The foes and hurl them to the shades below?
Whose spear brings peace by bloody battles won?
Tis Mars, you’ll never find another one:
By Mars the foreign hordes that storm the gate
Receive bloody Death for their final fate;
By Mars domestic foes and merchant thieves,
Liars all, from atop the walls he heaves.
Should Bacchus meet him, he’ll soon find the vine
That Mars prefers sheds blood instead of wine.
But once the violent rage of war has passed,
He settles down and lives in peace at last:
The farm is then his every joy and care,
No labor there will great Mars deign to spare;
Then takes he Valor, and makes her his wife
And revels much in the pastoral life.

Zeus Slays Typhon

When Zeus the Titans had vanquished in war,
Then Earth upon the underworld did pour
Her love, and from this union bore a beast,
And a blasting curse did on all release.
This fell fiend was fashioned with the force of fire,
Where’er he dwelled was made a smoking pyre.
It had a hundred heads, each one a snake,
And eyes of fire and mouths from which each spake;
Their tongues were black; their voices did astound,
When from out their mouths their noises did resound
Through all the Earth. Sometimes they bellowed loud
Like bulls; other times they roared like lions proud:
Sometimes like gods immortal did they speak:
But just as oft they whined like puppies meek.
The mountains underneath this monster did
Ghastly echo all it said like servants bid.
And had the voices of the serpent sped,
With all his snaky parts through Earth and spread
His pestilential presence through every field,
Then would gods and men have been forced to yield:
In pits of sulfur serpents might have lain,
And all that’s good and beautiful been slain.
But Zeus spied quick the danger and arose
At once the monster Typhon to oppose:
Through all the Earth his thunder echoed fierce,
And through the fiend his lightning bolts did pierce.
When he arose did Earth and Ocean shake:
In dim Tartatus did old Kronos quake.
Each eye on Typhon’s heads sent out a flame,
Such as Hephaistos wields, that god who’s lame;
The flame of Typhon and the bolts of Zeus,
Upon the Earth and Sea great heat did loose.
The ocean waves did rage and shake their shores,
And Earth did burn, the forests, plains, and moors.
Tartarus shook and Hades quaked with fear,
When in the chthonic depths did appear
The might of Zeus. It terrified those who
With Kronos Zeus in battle did subdue.
Zeus hurled his bolts and burned each snaky head,
And earthquakes heaved wherever he did tread.
He seized a whip and lashed him like a slave,
Then threw him down deformed into his grave.
A fire leapt out from Typhon when the blow
Of Zeus his soul sent to the shades below;
The fire of Typhon struck a mountainside,
And down its side did melted iron slide;
Like Vulcan’s forge a smoke blackened the air,
But Zeus was untouched, unharmed by this affair.
Zeus hurled him to Tartarus in a rage,
And only then his great wrath did assuage.
From Typhon also come winds of fearsome rains,
And dreadful gusts that bring to sailors pains:
The gentle winds the gods send as a gift,
But the evil winds blow great ships adrift;
In violent bursts they scatter and they kill,
And glut the sea until it’s had its fill.
Helpless are the men who meet these winds at sea:
As one they fall to dread calamity.
And if by chance the sea these winds forsake,
And instead a path o’er the Earth do take,
They kick up dust and leave men’s fields a waste,
Ruining the crops that with care they placed.
If likewise from the mouths of men a blast
Of evil words should issue, let them be cast
From out the land, like Typhon was by Zeus,
Lest to better men they bring foul abuse;
For Typhon being thrown down was destroyed,
And gods, and men, and Earth were overjoyed;
In heaven too was joy and gladness spread
When at the hands of Zeus Typhon was dead.