The Thunder of Struggle
they slammed their shields together, pike scraped pike
with the grappling strength of fighters armed in bronze
and their round shields' bosses pounded hide-to-hide
and the thunder of struggle roared and rocked the earth.
Screams of men and cries of triumph breaking in one breath,
fighters killing, fighters killed, and the ground streamed blood."
Zeus who loves the lightning summoned all the gods
to assembly on the topmost peak of ridged Olympus.
He harangued the immortals hanging on his words:
"Hear me, all you gods and all goddesses too,
as I proclaim what the heart inside me urges.
Let no lovely goddess—and no god either—
try to fight against my strict decree.
All submit to it now, so all the more quickly
I can bring this violent business to an end.
And any god I catch, breaking ranks with us,
eager to go and help the Trojans or Achaeans—
back he comes to Olympus, whipped by the lightning,
eternally disgraced. Or I will snatch and hurl him
down to the murk of Tartarus half the world away,
the deepest gulf that yawns beneath the ground,
there where the iron gates and brazen threshold loom,
as far below the House of Death as the sky rides over earth—
then he will know how far my power tops all other gods'
Come, try me, immortals, so all of you can learn.
Hang a great golden cable down from the heavens,
lay hold of it, all you gods, all goddesses too:
you can never drag me down from sky to earth,
not Zeus, the highest, mightiest king of kings,
not even if you worked yourselves to death.
But whenever I'd set my mind to drag you up,
in deadly earnest, I'd hoist you all with ease,
you and the earth, you and the sea, all together,
then loop that golden cable round a horn of Olympus,
bind it fast and leave the whole world dangling in mid-air—
that is how far I tower over the gods, I tower over men."
A stunned silence seized them all, struck dumb—
Zeus's ringing pronouncements overwhelmed them so.
But finally clear-eyed Athena rose and spoke:
"Our Father, son of Cronus, high and mighty,
we already know your power, far too well . . .
who can stand against you?
Even so, we pity these Argive spearmen
living out their grim fates, dying in blood.
Yes, we'll keep clear of the war as you command.
We'll simply offer the Argives tactics that may save them—
so they won't all fall beneath your blazing wrath."
Watercolour on card
14.8 x 10.5 cm
6 x 4 in (approx)
The background card is white.
(NFT Edition of 12)
This painting was done outdoors, painting in situ with a fellow painter friend.
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© Stephanie Fuller