I slip inside each afternoon to observe the progress
of construction. This immense creature,
its woven timbers planed, adorned and lacquered,
will be thirty cubits tall, or so they tell me.
I marvel at such hubris, secretly. Can they believe
that the gates will be flung wide to welcome it,
that it will not be reckoned for the treachery it is,
that the cavernous bowels will not panic or choke
the forty wretched heroes destined to ride it?
I can foresee the Phrygians, straight alert to the ruse,
admitting the beast, towing it onto the marketplace—
then setting their torches to it! Can glimpse already
the horrified occupants, aflame and mutilated,
tumbling from its hold, all their spears and machines
useless against a conflagration whose acrid fumes
will challenge even mighty Olympus.
I fear that we labour in vain to vanquish you,
that your city will yet abide a thousand years,
that a thousand wars will not witness your fall,
that the gods will ensure your fame is celebrated
long after punier towns on the Great Sea’s edge
or warring among themselves in Italy have vanished.
The Achaeans understand nothing of History,
they laugh, carouse, their Horse grows daily more arrogant;
some nights I weep for the fate that I know attends them.