Biblioteca:Waltharius, Part II
Look! The sun had finished forty circuits, since he had left the Pannonian city. On that very day, which completed this count, he came now in mid-evening to a river, to the Rhine, where it bent its course toward the city named Wörms, glorious for its royal seat. There for his passage he gave the ferryman fish he had caught before; and soon, after crossing, he stepped out in breathless haste.
After day had risen and banished the dark shades, the ferryman got up and went to the aforementioned city and brought the chief royal cook the fish which the traveling man had given him. When the cook had prepared them with herbs and served them to King Gunther, the king was amazed and spoke from his high seat: "Frankland has never shown me this sort of fish. I think they are from a foreign land. Tell me swiftly. What man brought them?" The cook responded and told him that the boatman had given them to him. The prince ordered the man summoned; and, when he arrived and was questioned concerning the matter, he said the following, explaining the matter in sequence: "Last evening, I was sitting by the bank of the Rhine, when I saw a traveler quickly approaching, and he seemed ready for battle, with all his limbs prepared. Indeed, my famous king, he was entirely clothed in bronze; and, as he walked, he carried a shield and a flashing spear—he was quite the brave man, and, though he carried a large load, still his step had a fierce vigor. Attractive and even unbelievably beautiful a girl followed him and her step kept close to his. By the reins she guided a stout horse, which bore two good-sized coffers on its back; and, whenever the steed tossed his high neck and was eager to paw the air with his hooves, the coffers made a sound like someone striking gold with gems. This man gave me the fish here as his fare."
When he heard this, Hagen—who happened to be seated at the table—happily spoke a word from his heart: "Rejoice with me, I beg you, since I have recognized what this means! My comrade Walter has returned from the Huns." Prince Gunther, then, haughtily exclaimed—and soon all the hall shouted back to him: "Rejoice with me, I bid you, since I have lived to see this! The treasure which Gibicho sent to the eastern king has now been returned to me here in my kingdom by the Almighty." This he said; and, striking the table with his foot and leaping up, he bid them to bring his horse and to ready his carved saddle. He chose twelve men out of the crowd with him, men remarkable for their strength and generally proven in their courage. Among these he bid Hagen come too. But he, remembering his old pledge and his former ally, strove to change his lord from the quest he had begun. The king, however, insisted in opposition and began: "Be not slow, men! Gird your brave bodies in iron. Let the scaly hauberk cover your backs. Should this man take away so much treasure from Frankish lands?" All equipped with their weapons, they issued out the gate—for the king's order was urgent. Each of them was wishing to see you, Walter, and was thinking they would cheat an unwarlike man for their gain. Still Hagen was busy trying to hinder them however he could, but the unlucky king did not wish to wisely reconsider what he had begun.
Meanwhile, the great-spirited man continued on from the river and came then into the forested valley called Vosges—it is a huge, broad wood which holds countless haunts of wild beasts and is frequently home to the noise of the hounds and horns of the hunt. There were two mountains close by in a secluded recess, and between these there stood a cave quite pleasant in spite of its cramped chamber. It was not dug out of hollowed earth, but formed by an outcropping of rocky crags. Indeed, it was a place fit for bloody bandits. This little retreat produced edible green vegetation.
As soon as the young man saw it, he said: "Here, let us go here. I want to rest my tired body at this camp." For, since he had fled the land of the Avars, he had never yet tasted rest other than what he got propped up against his shield. He had scarcely closed his eyes. Then finally, putting aside his burdens of war, he spoke, collapsing into the maiden's lap: "Keep a careful watch, Hildegund, and, if you see a dark cloud rising, wake me up with your charming touch. And, though you should see a huge host coming, please, my dear girl, take care not to disturb me from my sleep right away; for from here you can see clearly far away. Look sharply all around the area!" This he said and closed his shining eyes, now at last enjoying the rest he had so long desired.
But, when Gunther had sighted his tracks in the dust, he urged on his swift steed with sharp spurs and, exulting in his spirit, vainly spoke thus into the air: "Quick now, men! Soon you will catch him in his course. Never will he escape us today! He will leave behind the stolen treasure." But famous Hagen soon responded this in turn: "One thing only I tell you, bravest of kings: If you had seen Walter fighting and raging in fresh slaughter as often as I, you would never think he would be so easy to despoil. I have seen the Pannonian ranks, when they stirred war against the northern and southern regions. There Walter, flashing in his own courage, went out to battle—hated by his enemies and admired by his allies. Whoever met him, soon saw Tartarus. O king and companions, trust me since I know how well he wields a shield and with what force he can whirl a spear." But, while Gunther, burdened by a crazed mind, refused to be dissuaded, they were approaching the camp.
Hildegund, looking far away from the top of the mountain, knew they were coming by the cloud of dust and with a soothing touch warned Walter to wake up. He lifted his head and asked if anyone was coming. She replied that a force was flying toward them from afar. He wiped his eyes clearing them of the blur of sleep, and bit by bit he clothed his stiff limbs in iron and picked back up his heavy shield and spear. He leapt up and whipped through the empty air with his blade—playing swiftly with his weapons in preparation for bitter battle.
Look! The woman saw the flashing spears close at hand; and, quite awestricken, she said: "These are the Huns," and, sadly falling to the ground, she continued: "I beg, my lord, that my neck be cut by your sword so that I, who did not get to join myself to you in the arranged marriage bed, shall not suffer the intercourse of the flesh with any other." Then the youth said: "Shall your innocent blood stain me? How can my sword strike down my enemies, if it does not now spare so faithful a friend? Away with this request of yours! Toss fear out of your mind! The one, who has often led me out of various dangers, He can confound our enemies." These things he said and, lifting his eyes, told her: "These are not the Avars, but the Frankish fops who dwell here!" Behold! He saw the helm of Hagen; and, recognizing it, he smiled and spoke: "And this is my ally Hagen, my old comrade."
After saying this, the hero went toward the entrance to the place and spoke thus to the woman standing down inside: "Now before this entryway I speak a haughty boast —not one of the Franks who returns from here will presume to tell his wife that he has taken any of our great treasure without paying for it!" He had not yet finished speaking, when suddenly he collapsed to the earth and begged forgiveness, since he had said such things. Afterwards he got up, looking at them all more warily. "Of these men, whom I see, I fear none except Hagen, for he has long known my methods of battle; and he too is clever and talented at the art of war. If only, God willing, I can deal with his skillful tactics, then I shall escape the battle alive for you, Hildegund, my bride."
When Hagen saw Walter situated in such a place, he then advised the haughty king: "My lord, do not provoke this man to fight! First let someone go and ask him everything: his family, his homeland, his name, and whence he's come; and let him ask him too if perhaps he would choose to turn over the treasure and receive peace with no bloodshed. By his answer we can discover the mann and, if Walter is staying there—he is wise—perhaps, he will concede to your honor."
The king ordered a man named Camalo to go—a man whom famous Frankland had sent to the city Metz as prefect. This man had arrived at court bringing gifts on the day before the prince had received this report. Camalo slackened his reins and flew off, racing like the East Wind across the length of the field, and, approaching the youth, addressed him thus where he stood blocking the way: "Tell me, fellow. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you heading?"
The great-spirited hero answered speaking thus: "Do you come on your own, or did someone send you here? I would like to know." Camalo then answered with a haughty voice: "Know then that king Gunther who rules this land sent me to ask your circumstances."
When he had heard this, the young man answered thus: "I have no idea why you need to examine the circumstances of a passer-by, but I am not afraid of telling. I am called Walter, born of Aquitanian parents. As a hostage I was given by my father to the Huns, when I was a little boy. I lived with them and now have returned, eager to see my country again and my dear people." The king's agent replied to this: "The hero whom I just named bids you through me to hand over the horse, the treasure coffers, and the girl too. If you do this promptly, he will grant you your life and limbs."
Walter in return boldly declared this: "I think that I have never heard a clever man speak more stupidly. Look, do you recall what your prince—or whoever he is—promises? It is something that is not in his hands and perhaps never will be. Or is he God that he can rightfully grant me my life? Surely he has not got this in his hands? He has not thrust me into a prison cell or twisted my hands behind my back and bound them in chains, has he? Well then, listen! If he lets me go without a fight—for I see he has come in armor ready for battle—I shall send him a hundred bracelets of red gold to honor the king's name." Receiving this response, Camalo left and told the princes what he had spoken, and the answers he had heard.
Then Hagen said to the king: "Take the treasure he's offered. You can decorate your companions with it, Father. Just be sure to keep your hand from combat. Walter and his mighty courage are yet unknown to you. As a vision last night showed me, if we join battle, it will not all turn out favorable for us, for it seemed to me that you were wrestling a bear, who after a long struggle bit off one of your legs up to the knee, all of it below your thigh. Then, as I came to your aid with weapons in hand, he attacked me and cut out one of my eyes as well as some of my teeth."
Hearing this, that haughty king shouted: "You seem to me to be imitating your father Hagathie. He too held an over-fearful mind in his frigid breast16 and avoided battles through much talk."
Then the great-spirited hero grew justly angry, if it is ever permitted to be angry with a lord, and said: "Look! Let everything rest upon your skill at arms. The man you want is within sight. Let every man fight! You stand close now, nor does fear still hinder any of you. Let me simply watch the outcome and not take part in the spoils." He finished speaking, then rode to a nearby hill, dismounted from his horse, took a seat and watched from there.
Then, Gunther spoke and ordered Camalo: "Go and order him to give me back all the treasure. But if he should hesitate, since I know you're a brave and daring man, engage with him and, when you've conquered him in combat, take the spoils."
Camalo, metropolitan of Metz, made his way, his helmet glittering over his blond hair and his hauberk about his chest. And from far off he said: "Hello, listen, friend, hand over all the treasure to the king of the Franks, if you want to keep your life and health any longer!"
The bravest of heroes kept quiet awhile, waiting for the savage enemy to come nearer. The king's agent rushed onward and called out the same message again.20 Then the young man, undisturbed, produced this reply: "What are you seeking? What do you compel me to return? Surely you do not think I was stealing21 these things from King Gunther? Or do you think he ever gave me anything on loan so that he might now rightfully force me to pay so much interest? Surely I did no damage to your country in my journey such that you would, therefore, think that you would rightly despoil me? If this nation shows so much jealousy toward everyone that it does not even grant a wayfarer the right to trod the ground, then, look, I shall pay for my passage, give the king two-hundred bracelets. Only let him give up battle and grant peace."
After Camalo had received this response in his beastly heart, he said: "You will open the coffers and increase your gift. And now I want to put an end to all this talk. Either you will give up what is requested or you will pour out your life-blood." So he spoke and drew his triple-layered shield up on his arm; and, brandishing his flashing spear, he strove to throw it with all his strength, but the youth carefully dodged the blow. The spear flew through air and bit the earth—a pointless wound.
Then Walter said: "If this is your wish, let us do it!" With these words he cast his spear at once. It traveled through the left side of Camalo's shield. And look! His hand, just as he had begun to draw his blade, was pinned to his leg by the spear which drove on through the horse. There was no delay. As the horse sensed the blow, he began to rage and shake his back trying to dislodge his rider and perhaps would have if the piercing shaft did not hold him on.
Meanwhile Camalo cast aside his shield and taking the spear in his left hand tried to draw it out of his right. As soon as the most celebrated hero noticed this, he ran up, grabbed Camalo's foot, and drove his sword in up to the hilt. As he drew this out, he also removed the spear from the wound.
Then at the same time fell both the horse and his lord. When Camalo's nephew—his brother's son named Kimo, whom some say was also called Scaramund—saw this, he groaned and sadly addressed all the party in tears: "Alas, this event means more to me than to the rest of you. Now I shall either die or avenge my dear friend!" Indeed, the cramped space forced them to meet one on one, nor could anyone run to the aid of another. Unlucky Scaramund, soon to die, flew off, brandishing two spears with wide blades in his hand. When he saw Walter entirely undisturbed by fear and standing fixed in the same place, he gnashed his teeth and spoke thus as the horse-haired crest on his helm shook: "In what do you trust? What is your source of hope? I am not seeking treasure now nor any of your things, but I am asking for the stolen life of my relative." Walter then said: "If you convince me that I made first trial of combat, or if for some reason I rightfully deserve to suffer these things, then without delay let your spear bore through me!"
He had not yet finished speaking when suddenly Scaramund hurled one of his two spears at him and then immediately the other. The most celebrated hero dodged one of these and shook the second from his shield. Then Scaramund unsheathing his sharp-edged sword rushed at the youth, intending to split his forehead open. Galloping on the back of his horse and nearing Walter, he could not plant a balanced wound upon his head but slammed his hilt against Walter's helm—it sprang away with a ringing sound as it shot fire into the air. But he could not turn his haughty steed, before Walter had fixed a spear-blow under his chin and lifted him off his high seat and cut off his head with his own sword even as he tried to talk—making kindred blood flow together.
When haughty Gunther saw this man die, he began to encourage his raging comrades to renew the fight: "Let's attack him and give him no chance to rest, until he grows tired and fails. Then, beaten, he will return the treasure and will pay the penalty for bloodshed."
Behold! Third, Werinhard goes and provokes battle—a man born from as long a line of descendants as any. O famous man, lover of skill, and your kinsman, Pandarus, you who once when ordered to disrupt the treaty sent your arrow spinning into the midst of the Achaeans! This man spurned the spear and carried a bow and quiver, troubling Walter from afar with arrows shot in unfair warfare. Still that manly youth stood facing him, holding the circle of his seven-layered shield before him and continually evading the oncoming shots through his foresight, for now he would jump aside, now turn his shield into the wind and strike away the arrows—none of them touched him.
After Pandarides saw he had spent his arrows in vain, soon in anger he brought out his sword and finally, flying forward, cast these words from his mouth: "Well, clever fellow, if you mocked my air-borne shots, perhaps you will now receive a blow from my whirling sword hand." To him as he smiled Walter began: "Now for a long time I have been waiting to engage in combat on fair footing. Hurry up! For my part there will be no delay!"
He had spoken and with all his body he strove and hurled the iron. The spear flying through the air unlocked the horse's breast—the steed rose up and whipped the air with its hooves; and, unseating the rider, collapsed over top of him. The youth ran up and snatched his sword from him by force. Knocking off his helm, the hero seized his blonde hair and addressed him as he was making one prayer after another: "A little while ago you were not casting such words into the air." This he said and left him, a body severed from its head.
Still the three corpses seen there did not frighten Gunther in his insanity. He bade another to hurry to death in turn. Behold! Fourth, Ekivrid born of the Saxon lands, made trial of battle—he who on account of killing some nobleman had fled from home as an exile. A painted chestnut horse carried this man. When he saw Walter ready for war, he said: "Tell me whether a material body gives you vigor, or if you are a deception made by airy shapes, you cursed fellow! To me at least you seem to be a faun, an inhabitant of the woods."
Walter laughed and gave this response: "The Celtic tongue proves you were born of that race to whom nature granted to surpass all others at sport. But if you come nearer and my hand touches you, you will be able to tell the Saxons later that today you saw the phantasm of a faun in Vosges."
"Well, I will try to discover what you are," said Ekivrid, and then he forcefully cast his iron-tipped cornel-wood. It flashed out of his throwing strap, but the stout shield shattered it. Walter in turn replied as he threw his spear: "A sylvan faun sends you this gift. See whether my spear is more penetrating."
The shaft split the wood covered with bull hide and ripping his shirt lodged in his lung. Unlucky Ekivrid rolled over and coughed up a stream of blood. Behold how, while fleeing death, he met it just the same The youth drove off his horse behind him onto the grass.
Then, fifth, Hadawart, deceived by his own inflated breast, demanded that Gunther promise him Walter's shield. Soon advancing he threw his spear aside for his comrades to hold and boldly trusted vainly in his sword alone. When he saw that the corpses lying there had blocked the whole path and that the horse could not go that way, he leapt off and prepared to proceed by foot. Walter stood there fierce in arms and praised the man since he offered a chance to fight fairly. Then Hadawart told him: "You wily trickster and snake guilty of deception! You always hide your limbs in scaly covering and, like an adder coiled up into a circle, escape so many weapons without even a scratch for a wound! And you strangely evade poisoned arrows! Do you think you will cleverly avoid this blow that my right hand now sends with sure aim as I stand nearby? No such man is the author of this weapon or wound. Hear my advice; put down your painted shield! My lot seeks this, and the king's pledge promises it too. But I don't want you to hurt it since it pleases my eyes. Otherwise, though you take the nourishing light from me, more of my comrades and my blood-kin are here who, even if you play the bird and take to wing, will never let you get away unharmed."
But the warrior, not at all frightened, spoke this in return: "As for the rest I say nothing, but as for the shield I am anxious to protect it. For its good service I am its debtor—believe me. It has often put itself in the way of my enemies and received wounds itself in place of me. And you yourself see how useful it has been to me today, since you would, perhaps, not be speaking with Walter, if it were not here. O, right hand, take care to strike down my enemy with the utmost strength so that he may not snatch away the towers of my wall! O, left hand, earnestly grip the handle of my shield and keep your fingers fixed like glue around the ivory. Do not lose the burden which you have carried over so many long paths from the lofty seats of the Avars!"
The other then said: "You act against your will, if you willingly refuse. Not only will you give up the shield but also your horse along with the girl and the gold. Then finally will you pay the penalty of torture for your crimes." This he said and stripped his well-known sword from its sheath. Springing from different directions they ran together. The Vosges was dumbstruck at the lightining strikes of their blows. They were lofty in spirit and grand arms—this one trusting a sword, this one fierce and tall with his spear. They mixed much in battle with forceful strength. Not so does the black holm-oak resound when stricken by the ax as their did their helms clatter and their shields rebound. The Franks looked on in wonder because the hero Walter was not yet worn out, though no rest or space of time was given him.
This fellow from Wörms, now thinking he could get away with it, leapt up in a boiling rage and raised his sword, calling out that he would end the war with this blow. But the foresightful youth intercepted him in mid-swing with a whack of his spear and made him drop the blade in surprise. From a distance the sword could be seen gleaming in the bushes. When he saw he had been despoiled of his friendly sword, he wanted to quickly flee and go to the thicket. Alpharides, relying on his feet and fresh youth, followed saying: "Where are you fleeing to? Come get my shield! So he spoke and swiftly lifted his spear in both hands and struck. The man fell, his great shield clanging about him. Nor was the youth slow. He stepped on his neck and, prying away the shield, stabbed through him into the earth. The man rolled back his eyes and breathed his spirit out into the air.
The sixth was Patavrid. Hagen's sister had brought him into the light, and, when he saw him going forth, his uncle called to him shouting, begging, and trying to turn him away from this pursuit: "Where are you rushing off to? Look at Death! How he grins! Stop! Behold! The Fates are gathering your last threads. Oh, my dear nephew, your mind deceives you. Quit this! In short, you are no match for Walter's strength." Still the unlucky fellow went on his way spurning all this advice, for he burned in his veins, lusting to seize glory.
Sadly Hagen drew a long sigh from his breast and poured these words into the air: "O Maelstrom of the World, Insatiate Hunger to Have, Whirpool of Greed, Heart of All Evils! Oh, how I wish, you dreadful creature, that you would swallow only precious metals and all other riches but return men without harm! But now you inflame men blowing through them with your perverse spirit. To no man do their own goods suffice! Look! They do not fear to rush to meet a foul death in their hope for profit. The more they have, the more the thirst to have burns them. They take possession of other men's goods sometimes by force and sometimes by deceit; and, what causes more fresh groans and stirs new tears, they thrust their heaven-born souls into the furnace of Erebus. Look! I cannot call my beloved nephew back, for he is urged on by you, Savage Desire! Behold how blindly he hastens to taste an unspeakable death and wants to descend to the shades for but cheap glory. Alas, my dear nephew, what, Lost One, are you giving your mother? Who, my dear, shall take care of your newly wedded wife to whom you, stolen from hope, did not give a child to cheer? What madness is this of yours? Where does this insanity come from?" So he spoke and spattered his lap with welling tears. And at last between sobs he proclaimed: "Farewell, my handsome boy!"
Walter, though far off, noticed his comrade's grim sadness, and his voice too reached his ears. Therefore, he addressed the approaching horseman thus: "Take my advice, most illustrious youth; and save yourself to await a better fate! Stop! Your rash confidence deceives you! Look at all these slaughtered heroes, and abandon battle so that you do not see your last hour and make me more enemies." "Why do you care if I die, you tyrant?" said the other, "Now you must fight, not talk!" He had spoken and aimed his knotty spear as he talked. But the hero knocked it aside with his own and turned it elsewhere. As it was carried down in an arcing dance and driven by Walter's raging strength, it entered the camp and fixed itself before the girl's feet. She, stricken with fear, exclaimed a womanly cry. But, after a weak pulse returned to her heart, briefly peeking up from below, she looked to see whether the hero was alive.
At the same time the brave man ordered the Frank to depart from battle, but he bared his sword in rage and ran to attack Walter and brandished his wound by his head. But Alpharides swung his shield just at the right time and wordlessly gnashed his teeth like a boar foaming at the mouth.
In his desire to strike, Patavrid exposed himself all the more openly to a blow, while Walter ducked and hid under his shield, contracting his body. And look! Cheated of the wound, the youth fell clumsily. It would have been the end, had not the warrior been lying there with his knees bent to the ground, fending off the fine-steel under the circle of his shield. While he was getting up, the other too lifted himself and quickly in alarm brought the shield before him and vainly began to renew the contest. But Alpharides too swiftly planted his spear in the ground and attacked him with his sword, taking off half of his shield with a massive swing, cutting through his linked hauberk, and laying bare his loins. Unlucky Patavrid, seeing his own guts, collapsed giving his body to the silvan beast and his soul to Orcus.
Gerwit came then promising to avenge this companion. Gerwit, borne on a strong horse flew over all the strewn corpses, which had closed off the narrow pathway. He came and flourished his double-headed axe in Walter's face—for at that time the Franks used this sort of weapon —just as the powerful warrior had cut off the dead man's head. Walter threw his shield in the way, frustrated the blow, jumped back, snatched up his trusty spear, and tossed his bloody sword in the green rushes. And then you would have seen fearful wars of men! Indeed, there was no talk to interrupt their Martial warfare, so intent were their minds on adverse warre. The other raged to honor his slain comrades with revenge, but Walter tried zealously to protect his life with all his effort and, if chance so granted, to retain his victory palm. This one strikes, the other guards; this one attacks, the other leans away. Luck and courage are eagerly mixed together. Still the long spear knocked aside the enemy's shorter weapon, but he circled on his horse, wanting to trick the wearied mann .
Now more and more burdened by a mass of wrath, Walter lifted the bottom of Gerwit's shield and passed his iron through his groin and penetrated his thigh. He fell backward making a gloomy shout, and in the pain of his death he kicked the field with his heels. And now Walter hacked through the man's neck and left a headless corspe where there had earlier been a count of the lands of Wörms.
Then it happened that the Franks began first to delay and to beseech their lord with great prayers that he depart from battle. He, miserable fellow, grew enraged and blindly spoke: "I ask, brave men and hearts so often tested, that this fortune not bring each man fear but anger instead. What shall I do, if I leave the Vosges as ingloriously as this? Let each adopt my sentiment for himself. Behold! I am ready to die before I enter Wörms under such circumstances. Should this fellow seek his homeland victoriously with no blood fine? Till now you burned to despoil the man of his treasures. Burn again, men, burn to honor the blood that has been spilt so that death may wipe away the stain of death, and blood that of blood. Let your murderous blow console your murdered comrades!"
Saying this, he fired spirits up and made them all forgetful of both their life and safety. And, like in some game, each was eager to outrun the other in the race for death. But the path, as I said before, forced only two men to contend in war. Yet the illustrious man, as he saw them delaying, removed his helm and hung it in the tree and, catching his breath, wiped away the sweat as he panted.
Look! The athlete Randolf on his quick horse passed the rest and menacingly raced toward Walter and then aimed under his chest with his iron-tipped pike. And if the Work of Weland with its hardened rings were not in the way, he would have pierced his loins with the thick wood. Still Walter, though stunned in his heart with sudden fear, threw his protecting shield in the way and recovered his wits. Not yet had there been a chance to grab his helm.
But the Frank tossed his spear, stripped his sword, and struck, shaving two locks of hair off the Aquitanian's head. Still he could not—it chanced—scrape the surface of the skin, so he drew back again and struck another blow, but in haste he planted his fine-steel directly in the obstructing shield, nor could he withdraw it, no matter how hard he tried. Alpharides in turn, shaking himself free as quick as lightning, threw the Frank to the ground with his powerful strength. Standing over him, he stepped on his chest and said: "Behold! For shaving my head, I shall cheat you of yours, lest this be your boast over me to your bride." Scarcely had he said this, when he chopped the man's neck, even as he prayed.
Well, the ninth, Helmnod, succeeded to the fight, and he wielded a trident tied to a three-strand rope, which his comrades standing behind him held. The plan was, when he threw the weapon, and it stuck in the shield, they would all eagerly pull together so that they might cast down even so raging a man. Because of this hope they considered their triumph certain. There was no delay; the duke, pouring all his strength into his arms, threw the trident at his adversary, calling out loudly: "Under this iron, bald man, you will find your end!" It pierced the wind, flashing like Javelins, those kind of snakes that shoot down from high trees with such force that they pierce all obstacles.
Why do I linger? It split the shield-boss and settled in the shield; the Franks sent up a shout and leapt backwards. Striving altogether and in turn they pulled the rope, nor did the prince hesitate to apply himself to such work. Rivers of sweat seeped down all their limbs, but still the hero stood in this contest, like an ash tree, which seeks the stars with its leafage no more, than it seeks Tartarus with its roots—unmoved and holding all the roaring winds in contempt. The enemies contended with him and encouraged each other, saying that, if they could not drag him out into the open field, they should at least be eager to wrench away his protecting shield so that, with this removed, they might easily take him alive. I shall tell the names of those pulling, those who remained.
Ninth was Eleuthir, called also by the name Helmnod; the Argentine town provided the tenth, Trogus; the powerful city Speyer produced the eleventh, Tanastus; the king filled the twelfth place, leaving out Hagen. Together these four contended with the utmost effort against one in a great and indecisive struggle. Meanwhile the vain toil goaded Alpharides to anger; and, just as he had long now had his head bare of helm, so, relying on his lance and bronze shirt, he cast aside his shield and first attacked Eleuthir. Rending his helm, he split the man's brain in two and, cutting through the neck itself, opened up his chest. The heart beating sickly soon gave up its warm breath.
Then he attacked Trogus, while he was still hanging onto the damnable rope. Trogus, astonished by the sudden death of his falling comrade, at the horrific sight of his enemy began in vain to attempt bitter flight and wanted to recover the weapons he had laid aside so that he might renew the contest —for they had all put aside their spears and shields to pull the rope. But, just as the mighty hero excelled in bravery, so did he also in speed. As he caught up with Trogus in a run, he sliced the man's calves with his sword point, thus slowing him down, and passed him to steal his shield. But Trogus, though weakened by the wound, nevertheless, seething in his mind, saw a huge stone, which he snatched up and suddenly hurled at his enemy as he strove onward, and it split his own shield from top to bottom.
But the hide stretched over the frame held the broken wood together. And soon, though on bended knee, Trogus emptied the green house and burning with emotion terrified the air with his swings. Though he could not display his manliness through deeds, still he showed his manly manner in heart and voice. And, failing to see the ghosts smiling, he boldly began: "O, if only I had my trusty shield! Luck has given you victory over me, not famed manliness. Here take my sword to match my shield!"
Then the hero, grinning too, said: "I am coming!" And, flying at Trogus in a run, detached his right hand in mid-swing. But, when the athlete was balancing a second blow by his ear and was eager to open the doors for his spirit to leave, suddenly Tanastus along with the king—they had recovered their weapons—appeared, threw his shield in the way, and warded off the wound from his comrade.
Then indignantly Walter turned his anger toward this man and tore his shoulder from its joint and sliced through his side with iron, spilling his guts. "Farewell!" Tanastus whispered faintly as he fell forward. As he fell, Trogus disdained to produce prayers but incensed his friend's conqueror with bitter abuse—perhaps through manly spirit, perhaps he was simply desperate. Then Alpharides said: "Die and take this message down to Tartarus. Tell your comrades that you avenged them." This he spoke and put a golden torque about his neck. Look! The friends lie slain together in the dust, striking the gory earth with twitching heels.