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translated by Theodore C. Williams
Book II Chapter 21: Priam arms himself
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But would ye haply know what stroke of doom |
on Priam fell? Now when his anguish saw
his kingdom lost and fallen, his abode
shattered, and in his very hearth and home
th' exulting foe, the aged king did bind
his rusted armor to his trembling thews, --
all vainly, -- and a useless blade of steel
he girded on; then charged, resolved to die
encircled by the foe. Within his walls
there stood, beneath the wide and open sky,
a lofty altar; an old laurel-tree
leaned o'er it, and enclasped in holy shade
the statues of the tutelary powers.
Here Hecuba and all the princesses
took refuge vain within the place of prayer.
Like panic-stricken doves in some dark storm,
close-gathering they sate, and in despair
embraced their graven gods. But when the queen
saw Priam with his youthful harness on,
What frenzy, O my wretched lord, she cried,
Arrayed thee in such arms? O, whither now?
Not such defences, nor such arm as thine,
the time requires, though thy companion were
our Hector's self. O, yield thee, I implore!
This altar now shall save us one and all,
or we must die together. With these words
she drew him to her side, and near the shrine
made for her aged spouse a place to cling.
Event: The fall of Troy
Forsitan et Priami fuerint quae fata requiras.
urbis uti captae casum conuulsaque uidit
limina tectorum et medium in penetralibus hostem,
arma diu senior desueta trementibus aeuo
circumdat nequiquam umeris et inutile ferrum
cingitur, ac densos fertur moriturus in hostis.
aedibus in mediis nudoque sub aetheris axe
ingens ara fuit iuxtaque ueterrima laurus
incumbens arae atque umbra complexa penatis.
hic Hecuba et natae nequiquam altaria circum,
praecipites atra ceu tempestate columbae,
condensae et diuum amplexae simulacra sedebant.
ipsum autem sumptis Priamum iuuenalibus armis
ut uidit, 'quae mens tam dira, miserrime coniunx,
impulit his cingi telis? aut quo ruis?' inquit.
'non tali auxilio nec defensoribus istis
tempus eget; non, si ipse meus nunc adforet Hector.
huc tandem concede; haec ara tuebitur omnis,
aut moriere simul.' sic ore effata recepit
ad sese et sacra longaeuum in sede locauit.