Appendix B: The Penthesileiad of Quintus

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The Fall of Troy
a.k.a. the Posthomerica
(c. 4th Century AD)
Book I:
"How Died for Troy the Queen of the Amazons, Penthesileia"
a.k.a. the Penthesileiad
by Quintus of Smyrna (c. 4th Century AD)
Translation (1913) by Arthur S. Way (1847-1930)
When godlike Hector by Peleides slain 
Passed, and the pyre had ravined up his flesh, 
And earth had veiled his bones, the Trojans then 
Tarried in Priam's city, sore afraid 
Before the might of stout-heart Aeacus' son: 
As kine they were, that midst the copses shrink 
From faring forth to meet a lion grim, 
But in dense thickets terror-huddled cower; 
So in their fortress shivered these to see 
That mighty man. Of those already dead 
They thought of all whose lives he reft away 
As by Scamander's outfall on he rushed, 
And all that in mid-flight to that high wall 
He slew, how he quelled Hector, how he haled 
His corse round Troy; -- yea, and of all beside 
Laid low by him since that first day whereon 
O'er restless seas he brought the Trojans doom. 
Ay, all these they remembered, while they stayed 
Thus in their town, and o'er them anguished grief 
Hovered dark-winged, as though that very day 
All Troy with shrieks were crumbling down in fire. 
Then from Thermodon, from broad-sweeping streams, 
Came, clothed upon with beauty of Goddesses, 
Penthesileia -- came athirst indeed 
For groan-resounding battle, but yet more 
Fleeing abhorred reproach and evil fame, 
Lest they of her own folk should rail on her 
Because of her own sister's death, for whom 
Ever her sorrows waxed, Hippolyte, 
Whom she had struck dead with her mighty spear, 
Not of her will -- 'twas at a stag she hurled. 
So came she to the far-famed land of Troy. 
Yea, and her warrior spirit pricked her on, 
Of murder's dread pollution thus to cleanse 
Her soul, and with such sacrifice to appease 
The Awful Ones, the Erinnyes, who in wrath 
For her slain sister straightway haunted her 
Unseen: for ever round the sinner's steps 
They hover; none may 'scape those Goddesses. 
And with her followed twelve beside, each one 
A princess, hot for war and battle grim, 
Far-famous each, yet handmaids unto her: 
Penthesileia far outshone them all. 
As when in the broad sky amidst the stars 
The moon rides over all pre-eminent, 
When through the thunderclouds the cleaving heavens 
Open, when sleep the fury-breathing winds; 
So peerless was she mid that charging host. 
Clonie was there, Polemusa, Derinoë, 
Evandre, and Antandre, and Bremusa, 
Hippothoë, dark-eyed Harmothoë, 
Alcibie, Derimacheia, Antibrote, 
And Thermodosa glorying with the spear. 
All these to battle fared with warrior-souled 
Penthesileia: even as when descends 
Dawn from Olympus' crest of adamant, 
Dawn, heart-exultant in her radiant steeds 
Amidst the bright-haired Hours; and o'er them all, 
How flawless-fair soever these may be, 
Her splendour of beauty glows pre-eminent; 
So peerless amid all the Amazons Unto 
Troy-town Penthesileia came. 
To right, to left, from all sides hurrying thronged 
The Trojans, greatly marvelling, when they saw 
The tireless War-god's child, the mailed maid, 
Like to the Blessed Gods; for in her face 
Glowed beauty glorious and terrible. 
Her smile was ravishing: beneath her brows 
Her love-enkindling eyes shone like to stars, 
And with the crimson rose of shamefastness 
Bright were her cheeks, and mantled over them 
Unearthly grace with battle-prowess clad. 
Then joyed Troy's folk, despite past agonies, 
As when, far-gazing from a height, the hinds 
Behold a rainbow spanning the wide sea, 
When they be yearning for the heaven-sent shower, 
When the parched fields be craving for the rain; 
Then the great sky at last is overgloomed, 
And men see that fair sign of coming wind 
And imminent rain, and seeing, they are glad, 
Who for their corn-fields' plight sore sighed before; 
Even so the sons of Troy when they beheld 
There in their land Penthesileia dread 
Afire for battle, were exceeding glad; 
For when the heart is thrilled with hope of good, 
All smart of evils past is wiped away: 
So, after all his sighing and his pain, 
Gladdened a little while was Priam's soul. 
As when a man who hath suffered many a pang 
From blinded eyes, sore longing to behold 
The light, and, if he may not, fain would die, 
Then at the last, by a cunning leech's skill, 
Or by a God's grace, sees the dawn-rose flush, 
Sees the mist rolled back from before his eyes, -- 
Yea, though clear vision come not as of old, 
Yet, after all his anguish, joys to have 
Some small relief, albeit the stings of pain 
Prick sharply yet beneath his eyelids; -- so 
Joyed the old king to see that terrible queen -- 
The shadowy joy of one in anguish whelmed 
For slain sons. Into his halls he led the Maid, 
And with glad welcome honoured her, as one 
Who greets a daughter to her home returned 
From a far country in the twentieth year; 
And set a feast before her, sumptuous 
As battle-glorious kings, who have brought low 
Nations of foes, array in splendour of pomp, 
With hearts in pride of victory triumphing. 
And gifts he gave her costly and fair to see, 
And pledged him to give many more, so she 
Would save the Trojans from the imminent doom. 
And she such deeds she promised as no man 
Had hoped for, even to lay Achilles low, 
To smite the wide host of the Argive men, 
And cast the brands red-flaming on the ships. 
Ah fool! -- but little knew she him, the lord 
Of ashen spears, how far Achilles' might 
In warrior-wasting strife o'erpassed her own! 
But when Andromache, the stately child 
Of king Eetion, heard the wild queen's vaunt, 
Low to her own soul bitterly murmured she: 
"Ah hapless! why with arrogant heart dost thou 
Speak such great swelling words? No strength is thine 
To grapple in fight with Peleus' aweless son. 
Nay, doom and swift death shall he deal to thee. 
Alas for thee! What madness thrills thy soul? 
Fate and the end of death stand hard by thee! 
Hector was mightier far to wield the spear 
Than thou, yet was for all his prowess slain, 
Slain for the bitter grief of Troy, whose folk 
The city through looked on him as a God. 
My glory and his noble parents' glory 
Was he while yet he lived -- O that the earth 
Over my dead face had been mounded high, 
Or ever through his throat the breath of life 
Followed the cleaving spear! But now have I 
Looked -- woe is me! -- on grief unutterable, 
When round the city those fleet-footed steeds 
Haled him, steeds of Achilles, who had made 
Me widowed of mine hero-husband, made 
My portion bitterness through all my days." 
So spake Eetion's lovely-ankled child 
Low to her own soul, thinking on her lord. 
So evermore the faithful-hearted wife 
Nurseth for her lost love undying grief. 
Then in swift revolution sweeping round 
Into the Ocean's deep stream sank the sun, 
And daylight died. So when the banqueters 
Ceased from the wine-cup and the goodly feast, 
Then did the handmaids spread in Priam's halls 
For Penthesileia dauntless-souled the couch 
Heart-cheering, and she laid her down to rest; 
And slumber mist-like overveiled her eyes [depths 
Like sweet dew dropping round. From heavens' blue 
Slid down the might of a deceitful dream 
At Pallas' hest, that so the warrior-maid 
Might see it, and become a curse to Troy 
And to herself, when strained her soul to meet; 
The whirlwind of the battle. In this wise 
The Trito-born, the subtle-souled, contrived: 
Stood o'er the maiden's head that baleful dream 
In likeness of her father, kindling her 
Fearlessly front to front to meet in fight 
Fleetfoot Achilles. And she heard the voice, 
And all her heart exulted, for she weened 
That she should on that dawning day achieve 
A mighty deed in battle's deadly toil 
Ah, fool, who trusted for her sorrow a dream 
Out of the sunless land, such as beguiles 
Full oft the travail-burdened tribes of men, 
Whispering mocking lies in sleeping ears, 
And to the battle's travail lured her then! 
But when the Dawn, the rosy-ankled, leapt 
Up from her bed, then, clad in mighty strength 
Of spirit, suddenly from her couch uprose 
Penthesileia. Then did she array 
Her shoulders in those wondrous-fashioned arms 
Given her of the War-god. First she laid 
Beneath her silver-gleaming knees the greaves 
Fashioned of gold, close-clipping the strong limbs. 
Her rainbow-radiant corslet clasped she then 
About her, and around her shoulders slung, 
With glory in her heart, the massy brand 
Whose shining length was in a scabbard sheathed 
Of ivory and silver. Next, her shield 
Unearthly splendid, caught she up, whose rim 
Swelled like the young moon's arching chariot-rail 
When high o'er Ocean's fathomless-flowing stream 
She rises, with the space half filled with light 
Betwixt her bowing horns. So did it shine 
Unutterably fair. Then on her head 
She settled the bright helmet overstreamed 
With a wild mane of golden-glistering hairs. 
So stood she, lapped about with flaming mail, 
In semblance like the lightning, which the might, 
The never-wearied might of Zeus, to earth 
Hurleth, what time he showeth forth to men 
Fury of thunderous-roaring rain, or swoop 
Resistless of his shouting host of winds. 
Then in hot haste forth of her bower to pass 
Caught she two javelins in the hand that grasped 
Her shield-band; but her strong right hand laid hold 
On a huge halberd, sharp of either blade, 
Which terrible Eris gave to Ares' child 
To be her Titan weapon in the strife 
That raveneth souls of men. Laughing for glee 
Thereover, swiftly flashed she forth the ring 
Of towers. Her coming kindled all the sons 
Of Troy to rush into the battle forth 
Which crowneth men with glory. Swiftly all 
Hearkened her gathering-ery, and thronging came, 
Champions, yea, even such as theretofore 
Shrank back from standing in the ranks of war 
Against Achilles the all-ravager. 
But she in pride of triumph on she rode 
Throned on a goodly steed and fleet, the gift 
Of Oreithyia, the wild North-wind's bride, 
Given to her guest the warrior-maid, what time 
She came to Thrace, a steed whose flying feet 
Could match the Harpies' wings. Riding thereon 
Penthesileia in her goodlihead 
Left the tall palaces of Troy behind. 
And ever were the ghastly-visaged Fates 
Thrusting her on into the battle, doomed 
To be her first against the Greeks -- and last! 
To right, to left, with unreturning feet 
The Trojan thousands followed to the fray, 
The pitiless fray, that death-doomed warrior-maid, 
Followed in throngs, as follow sheep the ram 
That by the shepherd's art strides before all. 
So followed they, with battle-fury filled, 
Strong Trojans and wild-hearted Amazons. 
And like Tritonis seemed she, as she went 
To meet the Giants, or as flasheth far 
Through war-hosts Eris, waker of onset-shouts. 
So mighty in the Trojans' midst she seemed, 
Penthesileia of the flying feet. 
Then unto Cronos' Son Laomedon's child 
Upraised his hands, his sorrow-burdened hands, 
Turning him toward the sky-encountering fane 
Of Zeus of Ida, who with sleepless eyes 
Looks ever down on Ilium; and he prayed: 
"Father, give ear! Vouchsafe that on this day 
Achaea's host may fall before the hands 
Of this our warrior-queen, the War-god's child; 
And do thou bring her back unscathed again 
Unto mine halls: we pray thee by the love 
Thou bear'st to Ares of the fiery heart 
Thy son, yea, to her also! is she not 
Most wondrous like the heavenly Goddesses? 
And is she not the child of thine own seed? 
Pity my stricken heart withal! Thou know'st 
All agonies I have suffered in the deaths 
Of dear sons whom the Fates have torn from me 
By Argive hands in the devouring fight. 
Compassionate us, while a remnant yet 
Remains of noble Dardanus' blood, while yet 
This city stands unwasted! Let us know 
From ghastly slaughter and strife one breathing-space!" 
In passionate prayer he spake: -- lo, with shrill scream
Swiftly to left an eagle darted by 
And in his talons bare a gasping dove. 
Then round the heart of Priam all the blood 
Was chilled with fear. Low to his soul he said: 
"Ne'er shall I see return alive from war 
Penthesileia!" On that selfsame day 
The Fates prepared his boding to fulfil; 
And his heart brake with anguish of despair. 
Marvelled the Argives, far across the plain 
Seeing the hosts of Troy charge down on them, 
And midst them Penthesileia, Ares' child. 
These seemed like ravening beasts that mid the hills 
Bring grimly slaughter to the fleecy flocks; 
And she, as a rushing blast of flame she seemed 
That maddeneth through the copses summer-scorched, 
When the wind drives it on; and in this wise 
Spake one to other in their mustering host: 
"Who shall this be who thus can rouse to war 
The Trojans, now that Hector hath been slain -- 
These who, we said, would never more find heart 
To stand against us? Lo now, suddenly 
Forth are they rushing, madly afire for fight! 
Sure, in their midst some great one kindleth them 
To battle's toil! Thou verily wouldst say 
This were a God, of such great deeds he dreams! 
Go to, with aweless courage let us arm 
Our own breasts: let us summon up our might 
In battle-fury. We shall lack not help 
Of Gods this day to close in fight with Troy." 
So cried they; and their flashing battle-gear 
Cast they about them: forth the ships they poured 
Clad in the rage of fight as with a cloak. 
Then front to front their battles closed, like beasts 
Of ravin, locked in tangle of gory strife. 
Clanged their bright mail together, clashed the spears, 
The corslets, and the stubborn-welded shields 
And adamant helms. Each stabbed at other's flesh 
With the fierce brass: was neither ruth nor rest, 
And all the Trojan soil was crimson-red. 
Then first Penthesileia smote and slew 
Molion; now Persinous falls, and now 
Eilissus; reeled Antitheus 'neath her spear 
The pride of Lernus quelled she: down she bore 
Hippalmus 'neath her horse-hoofs; Haemon's son 
Died; withered stalwart Elasippus' strength. 
And Derinoë laid low Laogonus, 
And Clonie Menippus, him who sailed 
Long since from Phylace, led by his lord 
Protesilaus to the war with Troy. 
Then was Podarces, son of Iphiclus, 
Heart-wrung with ruth and wrath to see him lie 
Dead, of all battle-comrades best-beloved. 
Swiftly at Clonie he hurled, the maid 
Fair as a Goddess: plunged the unswerving lance 
'Twixt hip and hip, and rushed the dark blood forth 
After the spear, and all her bowels gushed out. 
Then wroth was Penthesileia; through the brawn 
Of his right arm she drave the long spear's point, 
She shore atwain the great blood-brimming veins, 
And through the wide gash of the wound the gore 
Spirted, a crimson fountain. With a groan 
Backward he sprang, his courage wholly quelled 
By bitter pain; and sorrow and dismay 
Thrilled, as he fled, his men of Phylace. 
A short way from the fight he reeled aside, 
And in his friends' arms died in little space. 
Then with his lance Idomeneus thrust out, 
And by the right breast stabbed Bremusa. Stilled 
For ever was the beating of her heart. 
She fell, as falls a graceful-shafted pine 
Hewn mid the hills by woodmen: heavily, 
Sighing through all its boughs, it crashes down. 
So with a wailing shriek she fell, and death 
Unstrung her every limb: her breathing soul 
Mingled with multitudinous-sighing winds. 
Then, as Evandre through the murderous fray 
With Thermodosa rushed, stood Meriones, 
A lion in the path, and slew: his spear 
Right to the heart of one he drave, and one 
Stabbed with a lightning sword-thrust 'twixt the hips: 
Leapt through the wounds the life, and fled away. 
Oileus' fiery son smote Derinoë 
'Twixt throat and shoulder with his ruthless spear; 
And on Alcibie Tydeus' terrible son 
Swooped, and on Derimacheia: head with neck 
Clean from the shoulders of these twain he shore 
With ruin-wreaking brand. Together down 
Fell they, as young calves by the massy axe 
Of brawny flesher felled, that, shearing through 
The sinews of the neck, lops life away. 
So, by the hands of Tydeus' son laid low 
Upon the Trojan plain, far, far away 
From their own highland-home, they fell. Nor these 
Alone died; for the might of Sthenelus 
Down on them hurled Cabeirus' corse, who came 
From Sestos, keen to fight the Argive foe, 
But never saw his fatherland again. 
Then was the heart of Paris filled with wrath 
For a friend slain. Full upon Sthenelus 
Aimed he a shaft death-winged, yet touched him not, 
Despite his thirst for vengeance: otherwhere 
The arrow glanced aside, and carried death 
Whither the stern Fates guided its fierce wing, 
And slew Evenor brazen-tasleted, 
Who from Dulichium came to war with Troy. 
For his death fury-kindled was the son 
Of haughty Phyleus: as a lion leaps 
Upon the flock, so swiftly rushed he: all 
Shrank huddling back before that terrible man. 
Itymoneus he slew, and Hippasus' son 
Agelaus: from Miletus brought they war 
Against the Danaan men by Nastes led, 
The god-like, and Amphimachus mighty-souled. 
On Mycale they dwelt; beside their home 
Rose Latmus' snowy crests, stretched the long glens 
Of Branchus, and Panormus' water-meads. 
Maeander's flood deep-rolling swept thereby, 
Which from the Phrygian uplands, pastured o'er 
By myriad flocks, around a thousand forelands 
Curls, swirls, and drives his hurrying ripples on 
Down to the vine-clad land of Carian men 
These mid the storm of battle Meges slew, 
Nor these alone, but whomsoe'er his lance 
Black-shafted touched, were dead men; for his breast 
The glorious Trito-born with courage thrilled 
To bring to all his foes the day of doom. 
And Polypoetes, dear to Ares, slew 
Dresaeus, whom the Nymph Neaera bare 
To passing-wise Theiodamas for these 
Spread was the bed of love beside the foot 
Of Sipylus the Mountain, where the Gods 
Made Niobe a stony rock, wherefrom 
Tears ever stream: high up, the rugged crag 
Bows as one weeping, weeping, waterfalls 
Cry from far-echoing Hermus, wailing moan 
Of sympathy: the sky-encountering crests 
Of Sipylus, where alway floats a mist 
Hated of shepherds, echo back the cry. 
Weird marvel seems that Rock of Niobe 
To men that pass with feet fear-goaded: there 
They see the likeness of a woman bowed, 
In depths of anguish sobbing, and her tears 
Drop, as she mourns grief-stricken, endlessly. 
Yea, thou wouldst say that verily so it was, 
Viewing it from afar; but when hard by 
Thou standest, all the illusion vanishes; 
And lo, a steep-browed rock, a fragment rent 
From Sipylus -- yet Niobe is there, 
Dreeing her weird, the debt of wrath divine, 
A broken heart in guise of shattered stone. 
All through the tangle of that desperate fray 
Stalked slaughter and doom. The incarnate Onset-shout 
Raved through the rolling battle; at her side 
Paced Death the ruthless, and the Fearful Faces, 
The Fates, beside them strode, and in red hands 
Bare murder and the groans of dying men. 
That day the beating of full many a heart, 
Trojan and Argive, was for ever stilled, 
While roared the battle round them, while the fury 
Of Penthesileia fainted not nor failed; 
But as amid long ridges of lone hills 
A lioness, stealing down a deep ravine, 
Springs on the kine with lightning leap, athirst 
For blood wherein her fierce heart revelleth; 
So on the Danaans leapt that warrior-maid. 
And they, their souls were cowed: backward they shrank, 
And fast she followed, as a towering surge 
Chases across the thunder-booming sea 
A flying bark, whose white sails strain beneath 
The wind's wild buffering, and all the air 
Maddens with roaring, as the rollers crash 
On a black foreland looming on the lee 
Where long reefs fringe the surf-tormented shores. 
So chased she, and so dashed the ranks asunder 
Triumphant-souled, and hurled fierce threats before: 
"Ye dogs, this day for evil outrage done 
To Priam shall ye pay! No man of you 
Shall from mine hands deliver his own life, 
And win back home, to gladden parents eyes, 
Or comfort wife or children. Ye shall lie 
Dead, ravined on by vultures and by wolves, 
And none shall heap the earth-mound o'er your clay. 
Where skulketh now the strength of Tydeus' son, 
And where the might of Aeacus' scion? 
Where is Aias' bulk? Ye vaunt them mightiest men 
Of all your rabble. Ha! they will not dare 
With me to close in battle, lest I drag 
Forth from their fainting frames their craven souls!" 
Then heart-uplifted leapt she on the foe, 
Resistless as a tigress, crashing through 
Ranks upon ranks of Argives, smiting now 
With that huge halberd massy-headed, now 
Hurling the keen dart, while her battle-horse 
Flashed through the fight, and on his shoulder bare 
Quiver and bow death-speeding, close to her hand, 
If mid that revel of blood she willed to speed 
The bitter-biting shaft. Behind her swept 
The charging lines of men fleet-footed, friends 
And brethren of the man who never flinched 
From close death-grapple, Hector, panting all 
The hot breath of the War-god from their breasts, 
All slaying Danaans with the ashen spear, 
Who fell as frost-touched leaves in autumn fall 
One after other, or as drops of rain. 
And aye went up a moaning from earth's breast 
All blood-bedrenched, and heaped with corse on corse. 
Horses pierced through with arrows, or impaled 
On spears, were snorting forth their last of strength 
With screaming neighings. Men, with gnashing teeth 
Biting the dust, lay gasping, while the steeds 
Of Trojan charioteers stormed in pursuit, 
Trampling the dying mingled with the dead 
As oxen trample corn in threshing-floors. 
Then one exulting boasted mid the host 
Of Troy, beholding Penthesileia rush 
On through the foes' array, like the black storm 
That maddens o'er the sea, what time the sun 
Allies his might with winter's Goat-horned Star; 
And thus, puffed up with vain hope, shouted he: 
"O friends, in manifest presence down from heaven 
One of the deathless Gods this day hath come 
To fight the Argives, all of love for us, 
Yea, and with sanction of almighty Zeus, 
He whose compassion now remembereth 
Haply strong-hearted Priam, who may boast 
For his a lineage of immortal blood. 
For this, I trow, no mortal woman seems, 
Who is so aweless-daring, who is clad 
In splendour-flashing arms: nay, surely she 
Shall be Athene, or the mighty-souled 
Enyo -- haply Eris, or the Child 
Of Leto world-renowned. O yea, I look 
To see her hurl amid yon Argive men 
Mad-shrieking slaughter, see her set aflame 
Yon ships wherein they came long years agone 
Bringing us many sorrows, yea, they came 
Bringing us woes of war intolerable. 
Ha! to the home-land Hellas ne'er shall these 
With joy return, since Gods on our side fight." 
In overweening exultation so 
Vaunted a Trojan. Fool! -- he had no vision 
Of ruin onward rushing upon himself 
And Troy, and Penthesileia's self withal. 
For not as yet had any tidings come 
Of that wild fray to Aias stormy-souled, 
Nor to Achilles, waster of tower and town. 
But on the grave-mound of Menoetius' son 
They twain were lying, with sad memories 
Of a dear comrade crushed, and echoing 
Each one the other's groaning. One it was 
Of the Blest Gods who still was holding back 
These from the battle-tumult far away, 
Till many Greeks should fill the measure up 
Of woeful havoc, slain by Trojan foes 
And glorious Penthesileia, who pursued 
With murderous intent their rifled ranks, 
While ever waxed her valour more and more, 
And waxed her might within her: never in vain 
She aimed the unswerving spear-thrust: aye she pierced 
The backs of them that fled, the breasts of such 
As charged to meet her. All the long shaft dripped 
With steaming blood. Swift were her feet as wind 
As down she swooped. Her aweless spirit failed 
For weariness nor fainted, but her might 
Was adamantine. The impending Doom, 
Which roused unto the terrible strife not yet 
Achilles, clothed her still with glory; still 
Aloof the dread Power stood, and still would shed 
Splendour of triumph o'er the death-ordained 
But for a little space, ere it should quell 
That Maiden 'neath the hands of Aeaeus' son. 
In darkness ambushed, with invisible hand 
Ever it thrust her on, and drew her feet 
Destruction-ward, and lit her path to death 
With glory, while she slew foe after foe. 
As when within a dewy garden-close, 
Longing for its green springtide freshness, leaps 
A heifer, and there rangeth to and fro, 
When none is by to stay her, treading down 
All its green herbs, and all its wealth of bloom, 
Devouring greedily this, and marring that 
With trampling feet; so ranged she, Ares' child, 
Through reeling squadrons of Achaea's sons, 
Slew these, and hunted those in panic rout. 
From Troy afar the women marvelling gazed 
At the Maid's battle-prowess. Suddenly 
A fiery passion for the fray hath seized 
Antimachus' daughter, Meneptolemus' wife, 
Tisiphone. Her heart waxed strong, and filled 
With lust of fight she cried to her fellows all, 
With desperate-daring words, to spur them on 
To woeful war, by recklessness made strong. 
"Friends, let a heart of valour in our breasts 
Awake! Let us be like our lords, who fight 
With foes for fatherland, for babes, for us, 
And never pause for breath in that stern strife! 
Let us too throne war's spirit in our hearts! 
Let us too face the fight which favoureth none! 
For we, we women, be not creatures cast 
In diverse mould from men: to us is given 
Such energy of life as stirs in them. 
Eyes have we like to theirs, and limbs: throughout 
Fashioned we are alike: one common light 
We look on, and one common air we breathe: 
With like food are we nourished -- nay, wherein 
Have we been dowered of God more niggardly 
Than men? Then let us shrink not from the fray 
See ye not yonder a woman far excelling 
Men in the grapple of fight? Yet is her blood 
Nowise akin to ours, nor fighteth she 
For her own city. For an alien king 
She warreth of her own heart's prompting, fears 
The face of no man; for her soul is thrilled 
With valour and with spirit invincible. 
But we -- to right, to left, lie woes on woes 
About our feet: this mourns beloved sons, 
And that a husband who for hearth and home 
Hath died; some wail for fathers now no more; 
Some grieve for brethren and for kinsmen lost. 
Not one but hath some share in sorrow's cup. 
Behind all this a fearful shadow looms, 
The day of bondage! Therefore flinch not ye 
From war, O sorrow-laden! Better far 
To die in battle now, than afterwards 
Hence to be haled into captivity 
To alien folk, we and our little ones, 
In the stern grip of fate leaving behind 
A burning city, and our husbands' graves." 
So cried she, and with passion for stern war 
Thrilled all those women; and with eager speed 
They hasted to go forth without the wall 
Mail-clad, afire to battle for their town 
And people: all their spirit was aflame. 
As when within a hive, when winter-tide 
Is over and gone, loud hum the swarming bees 
What time they make them ready forth to fare 
To bright flower-pastures, and no more endure 
To linger therewithin, but each to other 
Crieth the challenge-cry to sally forth; 
Even so bestirred themselves the women of Troy, 
And kindled each her sister to the fray. 
The weaving-wool, the distaff far they flung, 
And to grim weapons stretched their eager hands. 
And now without the city these had died 
In that wild battle, as their husbands died 
And the strong Amazons died, had not one voice 
Of wisdom cried to stay their maddened feet, 
When with dissuading words Theano spake: 
"Wherefore, ah wherefore for the toil and strain 
Of battle's fearful tumult do ye yearn, 
Infatuate ones? Never your limbs have toiled 
In conflict yet. In utter ignoranee 
Panting for labour unendurable, 
Ye rush on all-unthinking; for your strength 
Can never be as that of Danaan men, 
Men trained in daily battle. Amazons 
Have joyed in ruthless fight, in charging steeds, 
From the beginning: all the toil of men 
Do they endure; and therefore evermore 
The spirit of the War-god thrills them through. 
'They fall not short of men in anything: 
Their labour-hardened frames make great their hearts 
For all achievement: never faint their knees 
Nor tremble. Rumour speaks their queen to be 
A daughter of the mighty Lord of War. 
Therefore no woman may compare with her 
In prowess -- if she be a woman, not 
A God come down in answer to our prayers. 
Yea, of one blood be all the race of men, 
Yet unto diverse labours still they turn; 
And that for each is evermore the best 
Whereto he bringeth skill of use and wont. 
Therefore do ye from tumult of the fray 
Hold you aloof, and in your women's bowers 
Before the loom still pace ye to and fro; 
And war shall be the business of our lords. 
Lo, of fair issue is there hope: we see 
The Achaeans falling fast: we see the might 
Of our men waxing ever: fear is none 
Of evil issue now: the pitiless foe 
Beleaguer not the town: no desperate need 
There is that women should go forth to war." 
So cried she, and they hearkened to the words 
Of her who had garnered wisdom from the years; 
So from afar they watched the fight. But still 
Penthesileia brake the ranks, and still 
Before her quailed the Achaeans: still they found 
Nor screen nor hiding-place from imminent death. 
As bleating goats are by the blood-stained jaws 
Of a grim panther torn, so slain were they. 
In each man's heart all lust of battle died, 
And fear alone lived. This way, that way fled 
The panic-stricken: some to earth had flung 
The armour from their shoulders; some in dust 
Grovelled in terror 'neath their shields: the steeds 
Fled through the rout unreined of charioteers. 
In rapture of triumph charged the Amazons, 
With groan and scream of agony died the Greeks. 
Withered their manhood was in that sore strait; 
Brief was the span of all whom that fierce maid 
Mid the grim jaws of battle overtook. 
As when with mighty roaring bursteth down 
A storm upon the forest-trees, and some 
Uprendeth by the roots, and on the earth 
Dashes them down, the tail stems blossom-crowned, 
And snappeth some athwart the trunk, and high 
Whirls them through air, till all confused they lie 
A ruin of splintered stems and shattered sprays; 
So the great Danaan host lay, dashed to dust 
By doom of Fate, by Penthesileia's spear. 
But when the very ships were now at point 
To be by hands of Trojans set aflame, 
Then battle-bider Aias heard afar 
The panic-cries, and spake to Aeacus' son: 
"Achilles, all the air about mine ears 
Is full of multitudinous eries, is full 
Of thunder of battle rolling nearer aye. 
Let us go forth then, ere the Trojans win 
Unto the ships, and make great slaughter there 
Of Argive men, and set the ships aflame. 
Foulest reproach such thing on thee and me 
Should bring; for it beseems not that the seed 
Of mighty Zeus should shame the sacred blood 
Of hero-fathers, who themselves of old 
With Hercules the battle-eager sailed 
To Troy, and smote her even at her height 
Of glory, when Laomedon was king. 
Ay, and I ween that our hands even now 
Shall do the like: we too are mighty men." 
He spake: the aweless strength of Aeacus' son 
Hearkened thereto, for also to his ears 
By this the roar of bitter battle came. 
Then hasted both, and donned their warrior-gear 
All splendour-gleaming: now, in these arrayed 
Facing that stormy-tossing rout they stand. 
Loud clashed their glorious armour: in their souls 
A battle-fury like the War-god's wrath 
Maddened; such might was breathed into these twain 
By Atrytone, Shaker of the Shield, 
As on they pressed. With joy the Argives saw 
The coming of that mighty twain: they seemed 
In semblance like A1oeus' giant sons 
Who in the old time made that haughty vaunt 
Of piling on Olympus' brow the height 
Of Ossa steeply-towering, and the crest 
Of sky-encountering Pelion, so to rear 
A mountain-stair for their rebellious rage 
To scale the highest heaven. Huge as these 
The sons of Aeacus seemed, as forth they strode 
To stem the tide of war. A gladsome sight 
To friends who have fainted for their coming, now 
Onward they press to crush triumphant foes. 
Many they slew with their resistless spears; 
As when two herd-destroying lions come 
On sheep amid the copses feeding, far 
From help of shepherds, and in heaps on heaps 
Slay them, till they have drunken to the full 
Of blood, and filled their maws insatiate 
With flesh, so those destroyers twain slew on, 
Spreading wide havoc through the hosts of Troy. 
There Deiochus and gallant Hyllus fell 
By Alas slain, and fell Eurynomus 
Lover of war, and goodly Enyeus died. 
But Peleus' son burst on the Amazons 
Smiting Antandre, Polemusa then, 
Antibrote, fierce-souled Hippothoë, 
Hurling Harmothoë down on sisters slain. 
Then hard on all their-reeling ranks he pressed 
With Telamon's mighty-hearted son; and now 
Before their hands battalions dense and strong 
Crumbled as weakly and as suddenly 
As when in mountain-folds the forest-brakes 
Shrivel before a tempest-driven fire. 
When battle-eager Penthesileia saw 
These twain, as through the scourging storm of war 
Like ravening beasts they rushed, to meet them there 
She sped, as when a leopard grim, whose mood 
Is deadly, leaps from forest-coverts forth, 
Lashing her tail, on hunters closing round, 
While these, in armour clad, and putting trust 
In their long spears, await her lightning leap; 
So did those warriors twain with spears upswung 
Wait Penthesileia. Clanged the brazen plates 
About their shoulders as they moved. And first 
Leapt the long-shafted lance sped from the hand 
Of goodly Penthesileia. Straight it flew 
To the shield of Aeacus' son, but glancing thence 
This way and that the shivered fragments sprang 
As from a rock-face: of such temper were 
The cunning-hearted Fire-god's gifts divine. 
Then in her hand the warrior-maid swung up 
A second javelin fury-winged, against 
Aias, and with fierce words defied the twain: 
"Ha, from mine hand in vain one lance hath leapt! 
But with this second look I suddenly 
To quell the strength and courage of two foes, -- 
Ay, though ye vaunt you mighty men of war 
Amid your Danaans! Die ye shall, and so 
Lighter shall be the load of war's affliction 
That lies upon the Trojan chariot-lords. 
Draw nigh, come through the press to grips with me, 
So shall ye learn what might wells up in breasts 
Of Amazons. With my blood is mingled war! 
No mortal man begat me, but the Lord 
Of War, insatiate of the battle-cry. 
Therefore my might is more than any man's." 
With scornful laughter spake she: then she hurled 
Her second lance; but they in utter scorn 
Laughed now, as swiftly flew the shaft, and smote 
The silver greave of Aias, and was foiled 
Thereby, and all its fury could not scar 
The flesh within; for fate had ordered not 
That any blade of foes should taste the blood 
Of Aias in the bitter war. But he 
Recked of the Amazon naught, but turned him thence 
To rush upon the Trojan host, and left 
Penthesileia unto Peleus' son 
Alone, for well he knew his heart within 
That she, for all her prowess, none the less 
Would cost Achilles battle-toil as light, 
As effortless, as doth the dove the hawk. 
Then groaned she an angry groan that she had sped 
Her shafts in vain; and now with scoffing speech 
To her in turn the son of Peleus spake: 
"Woman, with what vain vauntings triumphing 
Hast thou come forth against us, all athirst 
To battle with us, who be mightier far 
Than earthborn heroes? We from Cronos' Son, 
The Thunder-roller, boast our high descent. 
Ay, even Hector quailed, the battle-swift, 
Before us, e'en though far away he saw 
Our onrush to grim battle. Yea, my spear 
Slew him, for all his might. But thou -- thine heart 
Is utterly mad, that thou hast greatly dared 
To threaten us with death this day! On thee 
Thy latest hour shall swiftly come -- is come! 
Thee not thy sire the War-god now shall pluck 
Out of mine hand, but thou the debt shalt pay 
Of a dark doom, as when mid mountain-folds 
A pricket meets a lion, waster of herds. 
What, woman, hast thou heard not of the heaps 
Of slain, that into Xanthus' rushing stream 
Were thrust by these mine hands? -- or hast thou heard 
In vain, because the Blessed Ones have stol'n 
Wit and discretion from thee, to the end 
That Doom's relentless gulf might gape for thee?" 
He spake; he swung up in his mighty hand 
And sped the long spear warrior-slaying, wrought 
By Chiron, and above the right breast pierced 
The battle-eager maid. The red blood leapt 
Forth, as a fountain wells, and all at once 
Fainted the strength of Penthesileia's limbs; 
Dropped the great battle-axe from her nerveless hand; 
A mist of darkness overveiled her eyes, 
And anguish thrilled her soul. Yet even so 
Still drew she difficult breath, still dimly saw 
The hero, even now in act to drag 
Her from the swift steed's back. Confusedly 
She thought: "Or shall I draw my mighty sword, 
And bide Achilles' fiery onrush, or 
Hastily cast me from my fleet horse down 
To earth, and kneel unto this godlike man, 
And with wild breath promise for ransoming 
Great heaps of brass and gold, which pacify 
The hearts of victors never so athirst 
For blood, if haply so the murderous might 
Of Aeacus' son may hearken and may spare, 
Or peradventure may compassionate 
My youth, and so vouchsafe me to behold 
Mine home again? -- for O, I long to live!" 
So surged the wild thoughts in her; but the Gods 
Ordained it otherwise. Even now rushed on 
In terrible anger Peleus' son: he thrust 
With sudden spear, and on its shaft impaled 
The body of her tempest-footed steed, 
Even as a man in haste to sup might pierce 
Flesh with the spit, above the glowing hearth 
To roast it, or as in a mountain-glade 
A hunter sends the shaft of death clear through 
The body of a stag with such winged speed 
That the fierce dart leaps forth beyond, to plunge 
Into the tall stem of an oak or pine. 
So that death-ravening spear of Peleus' son 
Clear through the goodly steed rushed on, and pierced 
Penthesileia. Straightway fell she down 
Into the dust of earth, the arms of death, 
In grace and comeliness fell, for naught of shame 
Dishonoured her fair form. Face down she lay 
On the long spear outgasping her last breath, 
Stretched upon that fleet horse as on a couch; 
Like some tall pine snapped by the icy mace 
Of Boreas, earth's forest-fosterling 
Reared by a spring to stately height, amidst 
Long mountain-glens, a glory of mother earth; 
So from the once fleet steed low fallen lay 
Penthesileia, all her shattered strength 
Brought down to this, and all her loveliness. 
Now when the Trojans saw the Warrior-queen 
Struck down in battle, ran through all their lines 
A shiver of panic. Straightway to their walls 
Turned they in flight, heart-agonized with grief. 
As when on the wide sea, 'neath buffetings 
Of storm-blasts, castaways whose ship is wrecked 
Escape, a remnant of a crew, forspent 
With desperate conflict with the cruel sea: 
Late and at last appears the land hard by, 
Appears a city: faint and weary-limbed 
With that grim struggle, through the surf they strain 
To land, sore grieving for the good ship 1ost, 
And shipmates whom the terrible surge dragged down 
To nether gloom; so, Troyward as they fled 
From battle, all those Trojans wept for her, 
The Child of the resistless War-god, wept 
For friends who died in groan-resounding fight. 
Then over her with scornful laugh the son 
Of Peleus vaunted: "In the dust lie there 
A prey to teeth of dogs, to ravens' beaks, 
Thou wretched thing! Who cozened thee to come 
Forth against me? And thoughtest thou to fare 
Home from the war alive, to bear with thee 
Right royal gifts from Priam the old king, 
Thy guerdon for slain Argives? Ha, 'twas not 
The Immortals who inspired thee with this thought, 
Who know that I of heroes mightiest am, 
The Danaans' light of safety, but a woe 
To Trojans and to thee, O evil-starred! 
Nay, but it was the darkness-shrouded Fates 
And thine own folly of soul that pricked thee on 
To leave the works of women, and to fare 
To war, from which strong men shrink shuddering back." 
So spake he, and his ashen spear the son 
Of Peleus drew from that swift horse, and from 
Penthesileia in death's agony. 
Then steed and rider gasped their lives away 
Slain by one spear. Now from her head he plucked 
The helmet splendour-flashing like the beams 
Of the great sun, or Zeus' own glory-light. 
Then, there as fallen in dust and blood she lay, 
Rose, like the breaking of the dawn, to view 
'Neath dainty-pencilled brows a lovely face, 
Lovely in death. The Argives thronged around, 
And all they saw and marvelled, for she seemed 
Like an Immortal. In her armour there 
Upon the earth she lay, and seemed the Child 
Of Zeus, the tireless Huntress Artemis 
Sleeping, what time her feet forwearied are 
With following lions with her flying shafts 
Over the hills far-stretching. She was made 
A wonder of beauty even in her death 
By Aphrodite glorious-crowned, the Bride 
Of the strong War-god, to the end that he, 
The son of noble Peleus, might be pierced 
With the sharp arrow of repentant love. 
The warriors gazed, and in their hearts they prayed 
That fair and sweet like her their wives might seem, 
Laid on the bed of love, when home they won. 
Yea, and Achilles' very heart was wrung 
With love's remorse to have slain a thing so sweet, 
Who might have borne her home, his queenly bride, 
To chariot-glorious Phthia; for she was 
Flawless, a very daughter of the Gods, 
Divinely tall, and most divinely fair. 
Then Ares' heart was thrilled with grief and rage 
For his child slain. Straight from Olympus down 
He darted, swift and bright as thunderbolt 
Terribly flashing from the mighty hand Of 
Zeus, far leaping o'er the trackless sea, 
Or flaming o'er the land, while shuddereth 
All wide Olympus as it passeth by. 
So through the quivering air with heart aflame 
Swooped Ares armour-clad, soon as he heard 
The dread doom of his daughter. For the Gales, 
The North-wind's fleet-winged daughters, bare to him, 
As through the wide halls of the sky he strode, 
The tidings of the maiden's woeful end. 
Soon as he heard it, like a tempest-blast 
Down to the ridges of Ida leapt he: quaked 
Under his feet the long glens and ravines 
Deep-scored, all Ida's torrent-beds, and all 
Far-stretching foot-hills. Now had Ares brought 
A day of mourning on the Myrmidons, 
But Zeus himself from far Olympus sent 
Mid shattering thunders terror of levin-bolts 
Which thick and fast leapt through the welkin down 
Before his feet, blazing with fearful flames. 
And Ares saw, and knew the stormy threat 
Of the mighty-thundering Father, and he stayed 
His eager feet, now on the very brink 
Of battle's turmoil. As when some huge crag 
Thrust from a beetling cliff-brow by the winds 
And torrent rains, or lightning-lance of Zeus, 
Leaps like a wild beast, and the mountain-glens 
Fling back their crashing echoes as it rolls 
In mad speed on, as with resistless swoop 
Of bound on bound it rushes down, until 
It cometh to the levels of the plain, 
And there perforce its stormy flight is stayed; 
So Ares, battle-eager Son of Zeus, 
Was stayed, how loth soe'er; for all the Gods 
To the Ruler of the Blessed needs must yield, 
Seeing he sits high-throned above them all, 
Clothed in his might unspeakable. Yet still 
Many a wild thought surged through Ares' soul, 
Urging him now to dread the terrible threat 
Of Cronos' wrathful Son, and to return 
Heavenward, and now to reck not of his Sire, 
But with Achilles' blood to stain those hands, 
The battle-tireless. At the last his heart 
Remembered how that many and many a son 
Of Zeus himself in many a war had died, 
Nor in their fall had Zeus availed them aught. 
Therefore he turned him from the Argives -- else, 
Down smitten by the blasting thunderbolt, 
With Titans in the nether gloom he had lain, 
Who dared defy the eternal will of Zeus. 
Then did the warrior sons of Argos strip 
With eager haste from corpses strown all round 
The blood-stained spoils. But ever Peleus' son 
Gazed, wild with all regret, still gazed on her, 
The strong, the beautiful, laid in the dust; 
And all his heart was wrung, was broken down 
With sorrowing love, deep, strong as he had known 
When that beloved friend Patroclus died. 
Loud jeered Thersites, mocking to his face: 
"Thou sorry-souled Achilles! art not shamed 
To let some evil Power beguile thine heart 
To pity of a pitiful Amazon 
Whose furious spirit purposed naught but ill 
To us and ours? Ha, woman-mad art thou, 
And thy soul lusts for this thing, as she were 
Some lady wise in household ways, with gifts 
And pure intent for honoured wedlock wooed! 
Good had it been had her spear reached thine heart, 
The heart that sighs for woman-creatures still! 
Thou carest not, unmanly-souled, not thou, 
For valour's glorious path, when once thine eye 
Lights on a woman! Sorry wretch, where now 
Is all thy goodly prowess? where thy wit? 
And where the might that should beseem a king 
All-stainless? Dost not know what misery 
This self-same woman-madness wrought for Troy? 
Nothing there is to men more ruinous 
Than lust for woman's beauty; it maketh fools 
Of wise men. But the toil of war attains 
Renown. To him that is a hero indeed 
Glory of victory and the War-god's works 
Are sweet. 'Tis but the battle-blencher craves 
The beauty and the bed of such as she!" 
So railed he long and loud: the mighty heart 
Of Peleus' son leapt into flame of wrath. 
A sudden buffet of his resistless hand 
Smote 'neath the railer's ear, and all his teeth 
Were dashed to the earth: he fell upon his face: 
Forth of his lips the blood in torrent gushed: 
Swift from his body fled the dastard soul 
Of that vile niddering. Achaea's sons 
Rejoiced thereat, for aye he wont to rail 
On each and all with venomous gibes, himself 
A scandal and the shame of all the host. 
Then mid the warrior Argives cried a voice: 
"Not good it is for baser men to rail 
On kings, or secretly or openly; 
For wrathful retribution swiftly comes. 
The Lady of Justice sits on high; and she 
Who heapeth woe on woe on humankind, 
Even Ate, punisheth the shameless tongue." 
So mid the Danaans cried a voice: nor yet 
Within the mighty soul of Peleus' son 
Lulled was the storm of wrath, but fiercely he spake: 
"Lie there in dust, thy follies all forgot! 
'Tis not for knaves to beard their betters: once 
Thou didst provoke Odysseus' steadfast soul, 
Babbling with venomous tongue a thousand gibes, 
And didst escape with life; but thou hast found 
The son of Peleus not so patient-souled, 
Who with one only buffet from his hand 
Unkennels thy dog's soul! A bitter doom 
Hath swallowed thee: by thine own rascalry 
Thy life is sped. Hence from Achaean men, 
And mouth out thy revilings midst the dead!" 
So spake the valiant-hearted aweless son 
Of Aeacus. But Tydeus' son alone 
Of all the Argives was with anger stirred 
Against Achilles for Thersites slain, 
Seeing these twain were of the self-same blood, 
The one, proud Tydeus' battle-eager son, 
The other, seed of godlike Agrius: 
Brother of noble Oeneus Agrius was; 
And Oeneus in the Danaan land begat 
Tydeus the battle-eager, son to whom 
Was stalwart Diomedes. Therefore wroth 
Was he for slain Thersites, yea, had raised 
Against the son of Peleus vengeful hands, 
Exeept the noblest of Aehaea's sons 
Had thronged around him, and besought him sore, 
And held him back therefrom. With Peleus' son 
Also they pleaded; else those mighty twain, 
The mightiest of all Argives, were at point 
To close with clash of swords, so stung were they 
With bitter wrath; yet hearkened they at last 
To prayers of comrades, and were reconciled. 
Then of their pity did the Atreid kings -- 
For these too at the imperial loveliness 
Of Penthesileia marvelled -- render up 
Her body to the men of Troy, to bear 
Unto the burg of Ilus far-renowned 
With all her armour. For a herald came 
Asking this boon for Priam; for the king 
Longed with deep yearning of the heart to lay 
That battle-eager maiden, with her arms, 
And with her war-horse, in the great earth-mound 
Of old Laomedon. And so he heaped 
A high broad pyre without the city wall: 
Upon the height thereof that warrior-queen 
They laid, and costly treasures did they heap 
Around her, all that well beseems to burn 
Around a mighty queen in battle slain. 
And so the Fire-god's swift-upleaping might, 
The ravening flame, consumed her. All around 
The people stood on every hand, and quenched 
The pyre with odorous wine. Then gathered they 
The bones, and poured sweet ointment over them, 
And laid them in a casket: over all 
Shed they the rich fat of a heifer, chief 
Among the herds that grazed on Ida's slope. 
And, as for a beloved daughter, rang 
All round the Trojan men's heart-stricken wail, 
As by the stately wall they buried her 
On an outstanding tower, beside the bones 
Of old Laomedon, a queen beside 
A king. This honour for the War-god's sake 
They rendered, and for Penthesileia's own. 
And in the plain beside her buried they 
The Amazons, even all that followed her 
To battle, and by Argive spears were slain. 
For Atreus' sons begrudged not these the boon 
Of tear-besprinkled graves, but let their friends, 
The warrior Trojans, draw their corpses forth, 
Yea, and their own slain also, from amidst 
The swath of darts o'er that grim harvest-field. 
Wrath strikes not at the dead: pitied are foes 
When life has fled, and left them foes no more. 
Far off across the plain the while uprose 
Smoke from the pyres whereon the Argives laid 
The many heroes overthrown and slain 
By Trojan hands what time the sword devoured; 
And multitudinous lamentation wailed 
Over the perished. But above the rest 
Mourned they o'er brave Podarces, who in fight 
Was no less mighty than his hero-brother 
Protesilaus, he who long ago 
Fell, slain of Hector: so Podarces now, 
Struck down by Penthesileia's spear, hath cast 
Over all Argive hearts the pall of grief. 
Wherefore apart from him they laid in clay 
The common throng of slain; but over him 
Toiling they heaped an earth-mound far-descried 
In memory of a warrior aweless-souled. 
And in a several pit withal they thrust 
The niddering Thersites' wretched corse. 
Then to the ships, acclaiming Aeacus' son, 
Returned they all. But when the radiant day 
Had plunged beneath the Ocean-stream, and night, 
The holy, overspread the face of earth, 
Then in the rich king Agamemnon's tent 
Feasted the might of Peleus' son, and there 
Sat at the feast those other mighty ones 
All through the dark, till rose the dawn divine. 


* The Kypria
* The Iliad
* The Posthomerica
* Tales of Nostos
* The Odyssey
* The Telegony
* The Aeneid
  Rage is the first book of the Iliad. Amazons is the first book of the Posthomerica.

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