How from his long lone exile returned to the war Philoctetes.
When ended was night's darkness, and the Dawn
Rose from the world's verge, and the wide air glowed
With splendour, then did Argos' warrior-sons
Gaze o'er the plain; and lo, all cloudless-clear
Stood Ilium's towers. The marvel of yesterday
Seemed a strange dream. No thought the Trojans had
Of standing forth to fight without the wall.
A great fear held them thralls, the awful thought
That yet alive was Peleus' glorious son.
But to the King of Heaven Antenor cried:
"Zeus, Lord of Ida and the starry sky,
Hearken my prayer! Oh turn back from our town
That battle-eager murderous-hearted man,
Be he Achilles who hath not passed down
To Hades, or some other like to him.
For now in heaven-descended Priam's burg
By thousands are her people perishing:
No respite cometh from calamity:
Murder and havoc evermore increase.
O Father Zeus, thou carest not though we
Be slaughtered of our foes: thou helpest them,
Forgetting thy son, godlike Dardanus!
But, if this be the purpose of thine heart
That Argives shall destroy us wretchedly,
Now do it: draw not out our agony!"
In passionate prayer he cried; and Zeus from heaven
Hearkened, and hasted on the end of all,
Which else he had delayed. He granted him
This awful boon, that myriads of Troy's sons
Should with their children perish: but that prayer
He granted not, to turn Achilles' son
Back from the wide-wayed town; nay, all the more
He enkindled him to war, for he would now
Give grace and glory to the Nereid Queen.
So purposed he, of all Gods mightiest.
But now between the city and Hellespont
Were Greeks and Trojans burning men and steeds
In battle slain, while paused the murderous strife.
For Priam sent his herald Menoetes forth
To Agamemnon and the Achaean chiefs,
Asking a truce wherein to burn the dead;
And they, of reverence for the slain, gave ear;
For wrath pursueth not the dead. And when
They had lain their slain on those close-thronging pyres,
Then did the Argives to their tents return,
And unto Priam's gold-abounding halls
The Trojans, for Eurypylus sorrowing sore:
For even as Priam's sons they honoured him.
Therefore apart from all the other slain,
Before the Gate Dardanian -- where the streams
Of eddying Xanthus down from Ida flow
Fed by the rains of heavens -- they buried him.
Aweless Achilles' son the while went forth
To his sire's huge tomb. Outpouring tears, he kissed
The tall memorial pillar of the dead,
And groaning clasped it round, and thus he cried:
"Hail, father! Though beneath the earth thou lie
In Hades' halls, I shall forget thee not.
Oh to have met thee living mid the host!
Then of each other had our souls had joy,
Then of her wealth had we spoiled Ilium.
But now, thou hast not seen thy child, nor I
Seen thee, who yearned to look on thee in life.
Yet, though thou be afar amidst the dead,
Thy spear, thy son, have made thy foes to quail;
And Danaans with exceeding joy behold
One like to thee in stature, fame and deeds."
He spake, and wiped the hot tears from his face;
And to his father's ships passed swiftly thence:
With him went Myrmidon warriors two and ten,
And white-haired Phoenix followed on with these
Woefully sighing for the glorious dead.
Night rose o'er earth, the stars flashed out in heaven;
So these brake bread, and slept till woke the Dawn.
Then the Greeks donned their armour: flashed afar
Its splendour up to the very firmament.
Forth of their gates in one great throng they poured,
Like snowflakes thick and fast, which drift adown
Heavily from the clouds in winter's cold;
So streamed they forth before the wall, and rose
Their dread shout: groaned the deep earth 'neath their tramp.
The Trojans heard that shout, and saw that host,
And marvelled. Crushed with fear were all their hearts
Foreboding doom; for like a huge cloud seemed
That throng of foes: with clashing arms they came:
Volumed and vast the dust rose 'neath their feet.
Then either did some God with hardihood thrill
Deiphobus' heart, and made it void of fear,
Or his own spirit spurred him on to fight,
To drive by thrust of spear that terrible host
Of foemen from the city of his birth.
So there in Troy he cried with heartening speech:
"O friends, be stout of heart to play the men!
Remember all the agonies that war
Brings in the end to them that yield to foes.
Ye wrestle not for Alexander alone,
Nor Helen, but for home, for your own lives,
For wives, for little ones, for parents grey,
For all the grace of life, for all ye have,
For this dear land -- oh may she shroud me o'er
Slain in the battle, ere I see her lie
'Neath foemen's spears -- my country! I know not
A bitterer pang than this for hapless men!
O be ye strong for battle! Forth to the fight
With me, and thrust this horror far away!
Think not Achilles liveth still to war
Against us: him the ravening fire consumed.
Some other Achaean was it who so late
Enkindled them to war. Oh, shame it were
If men who fight for fatherland should fear
Achilles' self, or any Greek beside!
Let us not flinch from war-toil! have we not
Endured much battle-travail heretofore?
What, know ye not that to men sorely tried
Prosperity and joyance follow toil?
So after scourging winds and ruining storms
Zeus brings to men a morn of balmy air;
After disease new strength comes, after war
Peace: all things know Time's changeless law of change."
Then eager all for war they armed themselves
In haste. All through the town rang clangour of arms
As for grim fight strong men arrayed their limbs.
Here stood a wife, shuddering with dread of war,
Yet piling, as she wept, her husband's arms
Before his feet. There little children brought
To a father his war-gear with eager haste;
And now his heart was wrung to hear their sobs,
And now he smiled on those small ministers,
And stronger waxed his heart's resolve to fight
To the last gasp for these, the near and dear.
Yonder again, with hands that had not lost
Old cunning, a grey father for the fray
Girded a son, and murmured once and again:
"Dear boy, yield thou to no man in the war!"
And showed his son the old scars on his breast,
Proud memories of fights fought long ago.
So when they all stood mailed in battle-gear,
Forth of the gates they poured all eager-souled
For war. Against the chariots of the Greeks
Their chariots charged; their ranks of footmen pressed
To meet the footmen of the foe. The earth
Rang to the tramp of onset; pealed the cheer
From man to man; swift closed the fronts of war.
Loud clashed their arms all round; from either side
War-cries were mingled in one awful roar
Swift-winged full many a dart and arrow flew
From host to host; loud clanged the smitten shields
'Neath thrusting spears. neath javelin-point and sword:
Men hewed with battle-axes lightening down;
Crimson the armour ran with blood of men.
And all this while Troy's wives and daughters watched
From high walls that grim battle of the strong.
All trembled as they prayed for husbands, sons,
And brothers: white-haired sires amidst them sat,
And gazed, while anguished fear for sons devoured
Their hearts. But Helen in her bower abode
Amidst her maids, there held by utter shame.
So without pause before the wall they fought,
While Death exulted o'er them; deadly Strife
Shrieked out a long wild cry from host to host.
With blood of slain men dust became red mire:
Here, there, fast fell the warriors mid the fray.
Then slew Deiphobus the charioteer
Of Nestor, Hippasus' son: from that high car
Down fell he 'midst the dead; fear seized his lord
Lest, while his hands were cumbered with the reins,
He too by Priam's strong son might be slain.
Melanthius marked his plight: swiftly he sprang
Upon the car; he urged the horses on,
Shaking the reins, goading them with his spear,
Seeing the scourge was lost. But Priam's son
Left these, and plunged amid a throng of foes.
There upon many he brought the day of doom;
For like a ruining tempest on he stormed
Through reeling ranks. His mighty hand struck down
Foes numberless: the plain was heaped with dead.
As when a woodman on the long-ridged hills
Plunges amid the forest-depths, and hews
With might and main, and fells sap-laden trees
To make him store of charcoal from the heaps
Of billets overturfed and set afire:
The trunks on all sides fallen strew the slopes,
While o'er his work the man exulteth; so
Before Deiphobus' swift death-dealing hands
In heaps the Achaeans each on other fell.
The charging lines of Troy swept over some;
Some fled to Xanthus' stream: Deiphobus chased
Into the flood yet more, and slew and slew.
As when on fish-abounding Hellespont's strand
The fishermen hard-straining drag a net
Forth of the depths to land; but, while it trails
Yet through the sea, one leaps amid the waves
Grasping in hand a sinuous-headed spear
To deal the sword-fish death, and here and there,
Fast as he meets them, slays them, and with blood
The waves are reddened; so were Xanthus' streams
Impurpled by his hands, and choked with dead.
Yet not without sore loss the Trojans fought;
For all this while Peleides' fierce-heart son
Of other ranks made havoc. Thetis gazed
Rejoicing in her son's son, with a joy
As great as was her grief for Achilles slain.
For a great host beneath his spear were hurled
Down to the dust, steeds, warriors slaughter-blent.
And still he chased, and still he slew: he smote
Amides war-renowned, who on his steed
Bore down on him, but of his horsemanship
Small profit won. The bright spear pierced him through
From navel unto spine, and all his bowels
Gushed out, and deadly Doom laid hold on him
Even as he fell beside his horse's feet.
Ascanius and Oenops next he slew;
Under the fifth rib of the one he drave
His spear, the other stabbed he 'neath the throat
Where a wound bringeth surest doom to man.
Whomso he met besides he slew -- the names
What man could tell of all that by the hands
Of Neoptolemus died? Never his limbs
Waxed weary. As some brawny labourer,
With strong hands toiling in a fruitful field
The livelong day, rains down to earth the fruit
Of olives, swiftly beating with his pole,
And with the downfall covers all the ground,
So fast fell 'neath his hands the thronging foe.
Elsewhere did Agamemnon, Tydeus' son,
And other chieftains of the Danaans toil
With fury in the fight. Yet never quailed
The mighty men of Troy: with heart and soul
They also fought, and ever stayed from flight
Such as gave back. Yet many heeded not
Their chiefs, but fled, cowed by the Achaeans' might.
Now at the last Achilles' strong son marked
How fast beside Scamander's outfall Greeks
Were perishing. Those Troyward-fleeing foes
Whom he had followed slaying, left he now,
And bade Automedon thither drive, where hosts
Were falling of the Achaeans. Straightway he
Hearkened, and scourged the steeds immortal on
To that wild fray: bearing their lord they flew
Swiftly o'er battle-highways paved with death.
As Ares chariot-borne to murderous war
Fares forth, and round his onrush quakes the ground,
While on the God's breast clash celestial arms
Outflashing fire, so charged Achilles' son
Against Deiphobus. Clouds of dust upsoared
About his horses' feet. Automedon marked
The Trojan chief, and knew him. To his lord
Straightway he named that hero war-renowned:
"My king, this is Deiphobus' array --
The man who from thy father fled in fear.
Some God or fiend with courage fills him now."
Naught answered Neoptolemus, save to bid
Drive on the steeds yet faster, that with speed
He might avert grim death from perishing friends.
But when to each other now full nigh they drew,
Deiphobus, despite his battle-lust,
Stayed, as a ravening fire stays when it meets
Water. He marvelled, seeing Achilles' steeds
And that gigantic son, huge as his sire;
And his heart wavered, choosing now to flee,
And now to face that hero, man to man
As when a mountain boar from his young brood
Chases the jackals -- then a lion leaps
From hidden ambush into view: the boar
Halts in his furious onset, loth to advance,
Loth to retreat, while foam his jaws about
His whetted tusks; so halted Priam's son
Car-steeds and car, perplexed, while quivered his hands
About the lance. Shouted Achilles' son:
"Ho, Priam's son, why thus so mad to smite
Those weaker Argives, who have feared thy wrath
And fled thine onset? So thou deem'st thyself
Far mightiest! If thine heart be brave indeed,
Of my spear now make trial in the strife."
On rushed he, as a lion against a stag,
Borne by the steeds and chariot of his sire.
And now full soon his lance had slain his foe,
Him and his charioteer -- but Phoebus poured
A dense cloud round him from the viewless heights
Of heaven, and snatched him from the deadly fray,
And set him down in Troy, amid the rout
Of fleeing Trojans: so did Peleus' son
Stab but the empty air; and loud he cried:
"Dog, thou hast 'scaped my wrath! No might of thine
Saved thee, though ne'er so fain! Some God hath cast
Night's veil o'er thee, and snatched thee from thy death."
Then Cronos' Son dispersed that dense dark cloud:
Mist-like it thinned and vanished into air:
Straightway the plain and all the land were seen.
Then far away about the Scaean Gate
He saw the Trojans: seeming like his sire,
He sped against them; they at his coming quailed.
As shipmen tremble when a wild wave bears
Down on their bark, wind-heaved until it swings
Broad, mountain-high above them, when the sea
Is mad with tempest; so, as on he came,
Terror clad all those Trojans as a cloak,
The while he shouted, cheering on his men:
"Hear, friends! -- fill full your hearts with dauntless strength,
The strength that well beseemeth mighty men
Who thirst to win them glorious victory,
To win renown from battle's tumult! Come,
Brave hearts, now strive we even beyond our strength
Till we smite Troy's proud city, till we win
Our hearts' desire! Foul shame it were to abide
Long deedless here and strengthless, womanlike!
Ere I be called war-blencher, let me die!"
Then unto Ares' work their spirits flamed.
Down on the Trojans charged they: yea, and these
Fought with high courage, round their city now,
And now from wall and gate-towers. Never lulled
The rage of war, while Trojan hearts were hot
To hurl the foemen back, and the strong Greeks
To smite the town: grim havoc compassed all.
Then, eager for the Trojans' help, swooped down
Out of Olympus, cloaked about with clouds,
The son of Leto. Mighty rushing winds
Bare him in golden armour clad; and gleamed
With lightning-splendour of his descent the long
Highways of air. His quiver clashed; loud rang
The welkin; earth re-echoed, as he set
His tireless feet by Xanthus. Pealed his shout
Dreadly, with courage filling them of Troy,
Scaring their foes from biding the red fray.
But of all this the mighty Shaker of Earth
Was ware: he breathed into the fainting
Greeks Fierce valour, and the fight waxed murderous
Through those Immortals' clashing wills. Then died
Hosts numberless on either side. In wrath
Apollo thought to smite Achilles' son
In the same place where erst he smote his sire;
But birds of boding screamed to left, to stay
His mood, and other signs from heaven were sent;
Yet was his wrath not minded to obey
Those portents. Swiftly drew Earth-shaker nigh
In mist celestial cloaked: about his feet
Quaked the dark earth as came the Sea-king on.
Then, to stay Phoebus' hand, he cried to him:
"Refrain thy wrath: Achilles' giant son
Slay not! Olympus' Lord himself shall be
Wroth for his death, and bitter grief shall light
On me and all the Sea-gods, as erstwhile
For Achilles' sake. Nay, get thee back to heights
Celestial, lest thou kindle me to wrath,
And so I cleave a sudden chasm in earth,
And Ilium and all her walls go down
To darkness. Thine own soul were vexed thereat."
Then, overawed by the brother of his sire,
And fearing for Troy's fate and for her folk,
To heaven went back Apollo, to the sea
Poseidon. But the sons of men fought on,
And slew; and Strife incarnate gloating watched.
At last by Calchas' counsel Achaea's sons
Drew back to the ships, and put from them the thought
Of battle, seeing it was not foreordained
That Ilium should fall until the might
Of war-wise Philoctetes came to aid
The Achaean host. This had the prophet learnt.
From birds of prosperous omen, or had read
In hearts of victims. Wise in prophecy-lore
Was he, and like a God knew things to be.
Trusting in him, the sons of Atreus stayed
Awhile the war, and unto Lemnos, land
Of stately mansions, sent they Tydeus' son
And battle-staunch Odysseus oversea.
Fast by the Fire-god's city sped they on
Over the broad flood of the Aegean Sea
To vine-clad Lemnos, where in far-off days
The wives wreaked murderous vengeance on their lords,
In fierce wrath that they gave them not their due,
But couched beside the handmaid-thralls of Thrace,
The captives of their spears when they laid waste
The land of warrior Thracians. Then these wives,
Their hearts with fiery jealousy's fever filled,
Murdered in every home with merciless hands
Their husbands: no compassion would they show
To their own wedded lords -- such madness shakes
The heart of man or woman, when it burns
With jealousy's fever, stung by torturing pangs.
So with souls filled with desperate hardihood
In one night did they slaughter all their lords;
And on a widowed nation rose the sun.
To hallowed Lemnos came those heroes twain;
They marked the rocky cave where lay the son
Of princely Poeas. Horror came on them
When they beheld the hero of their quest
Groaning with bitter pangs, on the hard earth
Lying, with many feathers round him strewn,
And others round his body, rudely sewn
Into a cloak, a screen from winter's cold.
For, oft as famine stung him, would he shoot
The shaft that missed no fowl his aim had doomed.
Their flesh he ate, their feathers vestured him.
And there lay herbs and healing leaves, the which,
Spread on his deadly wound, assuaged its pangs.
Wild tangled elf-locks hung about his head.
He seemed a wild beast, that hath set its foot,
Prowling by night, upon a hidden trap,
And so hath been constrained in agony
To bite with fierce teeth through the prisoned limb
Ere it could win back to its cave, and there
In hunger and torturing pains it languisheth.
So in that wide cave suffering crushed the man;
And all his frame was wasted: naught but skin
Covered his bones. Unwashen there he crouched
With famine-haggard cheeks, with sunken eyes
Glaring his misery 'neath cavernous brows.
Never his groaning ceased, for evermore
The ulcerous black wound, eating to the bone,
Festered with thrills of agonizing pain.
As when a beetling cliff, by seething seas
Aye buffeted, is carved and underscooped,
For all its stubborn strength, by tireless waves,
Till, scourged by winds and lashed by tempest-flails,
The sea into deep caves hath gnawed its base;
So greater 'neath his foot grew evermore
The festering wound, dealt when the envenomed fangs
Tare him of that fell water-snake, which men
Say dealeth ghastly wounds incurable,
When the hot sun hath parched it as it crawls
Over the sands; and so that mightiest man
Lay faint and wasted with his cureless pain;
And from the ulcerous wound aye streamed to earth
Fetid corruption fouling all the floor
Of that wide cave, a marvel to be heard
Of men unborn. Beside his stony bed
Lay a long quiver full of arrows, some
For hunting, some to smite his foes withal;
With deadly venom of that fell water-snake
Were these besmeared. Before it, nigh to his hand,
Lay the great bow, with curving tips of horn,
Wrought by the mighty hands of Hercules.
Now when that solitary spied these twain
Draw nigh his cave, he sprang to his bow, he laid
The deadly arrow on the string; for now
Fierce memory of his wrongs awoke against
These, who had left him years agone, in pain
Groaning upon the desolate sea-shore.
Yea, and his heart's stem will he had swiftly wrought,
But, even as upon that godlike twain
He gazed, Athena caused his bitter wrath
To melt away. Then drew they nigh to him
With looks of sad compassion, and sat down
On either hand beside him in the cave,
And of his deadly wound and grievous pangs
Asked; and he told them all his sufferings.
And they spake hope and comfort; and they said:
"Thy woeful wound, thine anguish, shall be healed,
If thou but come with us to Achaea's host --
The host that now is sorrowing after thee
With all its kings. And no man of them all
Was cause of thine affliction, but the Fates,
The cruel ones, whom none that walk the earth
Escape, but aye they visit hapless men
Unseen; and day by day with pitiless hearts
Now they afflict men, now again exalt
To honour -- none knows why; for all the woes
And all the joys of men do these devise
After their pleasure." Hearkening he sat
To Odysseus and to godlike Diomede;
And all the hoarded wrath for olden wrongs
And all the torturing rage, melted away.
Straight to the strand dull-thundering and the ship,
Laughing for joy, they bare him with his bow.
There washed they all his body and that foul wound
With sponges, and with plenteous water bathed:
So was his soul refreshed. Then hasted they
And made meat ready for the famished man,
And in the galley supped with him. Then came
The balmy night, and sleep slid down on them.
Till rose the dawn they tarried by the strand
Of sea-girt Lemnos, but with dayspring cast
The hawsers loose, and heaved the anchor-stones
Out of the deep. Athena sent a breeze
Blowing behind the galley taper-prowed.
They strained the sail with either stern-sheet taut;
Seaward they pointed the stout-girdered ship;
O'er the broad flood she leapt before the wind;
Broken to right and left the dark wave sighed,
And seething all around was hoary foam,
While thronging dolphins raced on either hand
Flashing along the paths of silver sea.
Full soon to fish-fraught Hellespont they came
And the far-stretching ships. Glad were the Greeks
To see the longed-for faces. Forth the ship
With joy they stepped; and Poeas' valiant son
On those two heroes leaned thin wasted hands,
Who bare him painfully halting to the shore
Staying his weight upon their brawny arms.
As seems mid mountain-brakes an oak or pine
By strength of the woodcutter half hewn through,
Which for a little stands on what was left
Of the smooth trunk by him who hewed thereat
Hard by the roots, that its slow-smouldering wood
Might yield him pitch -- now like to one in pain
It groans, in weakness borne down by the wind,
Yet is upstayed upon its leafy boughs
Which from the earth bear up its helpless weight;
So by pain unendurable bowed down
Leaned he on those brave heroes, and was borne
Unto the war-host. Men beheld, and all
Compassionated that great archer, crushed
By anguish of his hurt. But one drew near,
Podaleirius, godlike in his power to heal.
Swifter than thought he made him whole and sound;
For deftly on the wound he spread his salves,
Calling on his physician-father's name;
And soon the Achaeans shouted all for joy,
All praising with one voice Asclepius' son.
Lovingly then they bathed him, and with oil
Anointed. All his heaviness of cheer
And misery vanished by the Immortals' will;
And glad at heart were all that looked on him;
And from affliction he awoke to joy.
Over the bloodless face the flush of health
Glowed, and for wretched weakness mighty strength
Thrilled through him: goodly and great waxed all his limbs.
As when a field of corn revives again
Which erst had drooped, by rains of ruining storm
Down beaten flat, but by warm summer winds
Requickened, o'er the laboured land it smiles,
So Philoctetes' erstwhile wasted frame
Was all requickened: -- in the galley's hold
He seemed to have left all cares that crushed his soul.
And Atreus' sons beheld him marvelling
As one re-risen from the dead: it seemed
The work of hands immortal. And indeed
So was it verily, as their hearts divined;
For 'twas the glorious Trito-born that shed
Stature and grace upon him. Suddenly
He seemed as when of old mid Argive men
He stood, before calamity struck him down.
Then unto wealthy Agamemnon's tent
Did all their mightiest men bring Poeas' son,
And set him chief in honour at the feast,
Extolling him. When all with meat and drink
Were filled, spake Agamemnon lord of spears:
"Dear friend, since by the will of Heaven our souls
Were once perverted, that in sea-girt Lemnos
We left thee, harbour not thine heart within
Fierce wrath for this: by the blest Gods constrained
We did it; and, I trow, the Immortals willed
To bring much evil on us, bereft of thee,
Who art of all men skilfullest to quell
With shafts of death all foes that face thee in fight.
For all the tangled paths of human life,
By land and sea, are by the will of Fate
Hid from our eyes, in many and devious tracks
Are cleft apart, in wandering mazes lost.
Along them men by Fortune's dooming drift
Like unto leaves that drive before the wind.
Oft on an evil path the good man's feet
Stumble, the brave finds not a prosperous path;
And none of earth-born men can shun the Fates,
And of his own will none can choose his way.
So then doth it behove the wise of heart
Though on a troublous track the winds of fate
Sweep him away to suffer and be strong.
Since we were blinded then, and erred herein,
With rich gifts will we make amends to thee
Hereafter, when we take the stately towers
Of Troy: but now receive thou handmaids seven,
Fleet steeds two-score, victors in chariot-race,
And tripods twelve, wherein thine heart may joy
Through all thy days; and always in my tent
Shall royal honour at the feast be thine."
He spake, and gave the hero those fair gifts.
Then answered Poeas' mighty-hearted son;
"Friend, I forgive thee freely, and all beside
Whoso against me haply hath trangressed.
I know how good men's minds sometimes be warped:
Nor meet it is that one be obdurate
Ever, and nurse mean rancours: sternest wrath
Must yield anon unto the melting mood.
Now pass we to our rest; for better is sleep
Than feasting late, for him who longs to fight."
He spake, and rose, and came to his comrades' tent;
Then swiftly for their war-fain king they dight
The couch, while laughed their hearts for very joy.
Gladly he laid him down to sleep till dawn.
So passed the night divine, till flushed the hills
In the sun's light, and men awoke to toil.
Then all athirst for war the Argive men
'Gan whet the spear smooth-shafted, or the dart,
Or javelin, and they brake the bread of dawn,
And foddered all their horses. Then to these
Spake Poeas' son with battle-kindling speech:
"Up! let us make us ready for the war!
Let no man linger mid the galleys, ere
The glorious walls of Ilium stately-towered
Be shattered, and her palaces be burned!"
Then at his words each heart and spirit glowed:
They donned their armour, and they grasped their shields.
Forth of the ships in one huge mass they poured
Arrayed with bull-hide bucklers, ashen spears,
And gallant-crested helms. Through all their ranks
Shoulder to shoulder marched they: thou hadst seen
No gap 'twixt man and man as on they charged;
So close they thronged, so dense was their array.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire