incomplete list

hammerbutt

of the descriptions of the moment of death in the Iliad

Odysseus speared him straight through one temple

and out the other punched the sharp bronze point

and the dark came swirling thick across his eyes–

down he crashed, armor clanging against his chest

 

slamming the dust, both arms flung out to his comrades,

gasping out his life

 

and the dark came swirling down across his eyes

 

And so the two lay stretched in the dust, side-by-side

 

facedown in the dust

 

he dropped from his war-car, gripped by the hateful dark.

 

he crashed facedown, his armor clanged against him

 

he dropped to his knees, screaming, death swirling around him

 

he sank in the dust, teeth clenching the cold bronze.

 

(…) and red death

came plunging down his eyes, and the strong force of fate.

 

 

“(…) But if you’re a man who eats the crops of the earth,

a mortal born for death–here, come closer,

the sooner you will meet your day to die!”

“(…)Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men.

Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth,

now the living timber bursts with the new buds

and spring comes around once again. And so with men:

as one generation comes to life, another dies away.”

 

and the brains splattered all inside the casque [repeated a bunch]

 

and he sent him rolling through the carnage like a log.

 

craved far more by the vultures than by wives

 

and down they plunged to the strong House of Death

 

and the world went black as night across his eyes.

 

so, Death in its rampage outraced you

 

crowding corpse on corpse on the earth that rears us all

 

down he went like a tall ash

on a landmark mountain ridge that glistens far and wide–

chopped down by an ax, its leaves running with sap,

strewn across the earth … So Imbrius fell

 

courage shattering death engulfed his corpse

 

and the man went sprawling, back flat in the dust

 

but a grim fate was rushing him to the stroke of death–

to be crushed in this hell of war by you, Menelaus.

 

he curled and crashed

 

and the hateful darkness had him in its grip

 

as he trudges down now to the House of Death

 

 

…blowing convulsive sprays of blood

and death’s dark cloud closed down around his corpse

 

and courage-shattering Death engulfed his corpse

 

he crowded corpse on corpse on the earth that rears us all

 

As the bull a marauding lion cuts from the herd,

tawny and greathearted among the shambling cattle,

dies bellowing under the lion’s killing jaws–

so now Sarpedon, captain of Lycia’s shieldsmen,

died at Patroclus’ hans and died raging still,

crying out his beloved comrade’s name

(…)

Death cut him short.

 

and courage-shattering Death engulfed his corpse

 

(…) his spirit

flew from his limbs and the hateful darkness gripped him

 

Cebriones’ life breath left his bones behind

and you taunted his corpse, Patroclus O my rider

 

Death cut him short. The end closed in around him.

Flying free of his limbs

his soul went winging down to the House of Death,

wailing his fate, leaving his manhood far behind,

his young and supple strength. But glorious Hector

taunted Patroclus’ body, dead as he was (…)

 

his strength dissolved on the spot, his grop loosed

and he dropped the foot of brave Patroclus’ corpse.

There on the ground it lay–he rushed to join it,

pitching over the dead man’s body face-to-face,

a world away from Larissa’s dark rich soil…

Never would he repay his loving parents now

for the gift of rearing–his life cut short so soon,

brought down by the spear of lionhearted Ajax.

 

As a burly farmhand wielding a whetted ax,

chopping a field-ranging bull behind the horns,

hacks through its whole hump and the beast heaves up

then topples forward–so Aretus reared, heaving up

then toppled down on his back. The slashing spear

shuddered tense in his guts and the man was gone.

 

and the man’s proud spirit left his bones behind

 

hunched and sank

 

the liver spurted loose, gushing with dark blood,

drenched his lap and the night swirled down his eyes

 

(…) red death

came plunging down his eyes, and the strong force of fate.

 

and marrow bubbling up from the clean-cut neckbone.

Down he went, his corpse full length on the ground–

(irreducible passage where Achilles brutally kills dude and throws him into the river then utters recriminations so vile that the river itself decides to fight Achilles [they fight to a tie])

 

(…) the Trojan’s life slashed out,

sprawled in the sand, drenched by the black tide–

eels and fish the corpse’s frenzied attendants

ripping into him, nibbling kidney-fat away.

 

Death cut him short. The end closed in around him.

Flying free of his limbs

his soul went winging down to the House of Death,

wailing his fate, leaving his manhood far behind,

his young and supple strength. But brilliant Achilles

taunted Hector’s body, dead as he was (…)

 

gnawed the dust of the world

trubs

the foregoing is (c) Homer/Robert Fagles

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