The Iliad – Book 1 – 5


Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought
countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send
hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs
and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the
day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first
fell out with one another.
And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was the
son of Jove and Leto; for he was angry with the king and sent a
pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because the son of
Atreus had dishonoured Chryses his priest. Now Chryses had come to the
ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and had brought with him a
great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the sceptre of Apollo
wreathed with a suppliant’s wreath and he besought the Achaeans, but
most of all the two sons of Atreus, who were their chiefs.
“Sons of Atreus,” he cried, “and all other Achaeans, may the gods
who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to reach
your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a ransom for
her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove.”
On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for
respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not
so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly away.
“Old man,” said he, “let me not find you tarrying about our ships, nor
yet coming hereafter. Your sceptre of the god and your wreath shall
profit you nothing. I will not free her. She shall grow old in my
house at Argos far from her own home, busying herself with her loom
and visiting my couch; so go, and do not provoke me or it shall be the
worse for you.”
The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went
by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo
whom lovely Leto had borne. “Hear me,” he cried, “O god of the
silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos
with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your
temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or
goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon
the Danaans.”
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He came down
furious from the summits of Olympus, with his bow and his quiver
upon his shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the rage
that trembled within him. He sat himself down away from the ships with
a face as dark as night, and his silver bow rang death as he shot
his arrow in the midst of them. First he smote their mules and their
hounds, but presently he aimed his shafts at the people themselves,
and all day long the pyres of the dead were burning.
For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon
the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly- moved thereto by Juno,
who saw the Achaeans in their death-throes and had compassion upon
them. Then, when they were got together, he rose and spoke among them.
“Son of Atreus,” said he, “I deem that we should now turn roving
home if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by
war and pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some
reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell us why
Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some vow that we
have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered, and whether he will
accept the savour of lambs and goats without blemish, so as to take
away the plague from us.”
With these words he sat down, and Calchas son of Thestor, wisest
of augurs, who knew things past present and to come, rose to speak. He
it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to Ilius,
through the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had inspired him.
With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them thus:-
“Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger of
King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and swear that
you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I know that I
shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to whom all the
Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand against the anger
of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure now, will yet nurse
revenge till he has wreaked it. Consider, therefore, whether or no you
will protect me.”
And Achilles answered, “Fear not, but speak as it is borne in upon
you from heaven, for by Apollo, Calchas, to whom you pray, and whose
oracles you reveal to us, not a Danaan at our ships shall lay his hand
upon you, while I yet live to look upon the face of the earth- no, not
though you name Agamemnon himself, who is by far the foremost of the
Thereon the seer spoke boldly. “The god,” he said, “is angry neither
about vow nor hecatomb, but for his priest’s sake, whom Agamemnon
has dishonoured, in that he would not free his daughter nor take a
ransom for her; therefore has he sent these evils upon us, and will
yet send others. He will not deliver the Danaans from this
pestilence till Agamemnon has restored the girl without fee or
ransom to her father, and has sent a holy hecatomb to Chryse. Thus
we may perhaps appease him.”
With these words he sat down, and Agamemnon rose in anger. His heart
was black with rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he scowled on
Calchas and said, “Seer of evil, you never yet prophesied smooth
things concerning me, but have ever loved to foretell that which was
evil. You have brought me neither comfort nor performance; and now you
come seeing among Danaans, and saying that Apollo has plagued us
because I would not take a ransom for this girl, the daughter of
Chryses. I have set my heart on keeping her in my own house, for I
love her better even than my own wife Clytemnestra, whose peer she
is alike in form and feature, in understanding and accomplishments.
Still I will give her up if I must, for I would have the people
live, not die; but you must find me a prize instead, or I alone
among the Argives shall be without one. This is not well; for you
behold, all of you, that my prize is to go elsewhither.”
And Achilles answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond
all mankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We have no
common store from which to take one. Those we took from the cities
have been awarded; we cannot disallow the awards that have been made
already. Give this girl, therefore, to the god, and if ever Jove
grants us to sack the city of Troy we will requite you three and
Then Agamemnon said, “Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall not
thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not persuade me.
Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely under my loss and
give up the girl at your bidding? Let the Achaeans find me a prize
in fair exchange to my liking, or I will come and take your own, or
that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to whomsoever I may come shall
rue my coming. But of this we will take thought hereafter; for the
present, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her
expressly; let us put a hecatomb on board, and let us send Chryseis
also; further, let some chief man among us be in command, either Ajax,
or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are,
that we may offer sacrifice and appease the the anger of the god.”
Achilles scowled at him and answered, “You are steeped in
insolence and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the Achaeans do
your bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I came not
warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have no quarrel
with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my horses, nor cut
down my harvests on the rich plains of Phthia; for between me and them
there is a great space, both mountain and sounding sea. We have
followed you, Sir Insolence! for your pleasure, not ours- to gain
satisfaction from the Trojans for your shameless self and for
Menelaus. You forget this, and threaten to rob me of the prize for
which I have toiled, and which the sons of the Achaeans have given me.
Never when the Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive
so good a prize as you do, though it is my hands that do the better
part of the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the
largest, and I, forsooth, must go back to my ships, take what I can
get and be thankful, when my labour of fighting is done. Now,
therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better for me to
return home with my ships, for I will not stay here dishonoured to
gather gold and substance for you.”
And Agamemnon answered, “Fly if you will, I shall make you no
prayers to stay you. I have others here who will do me honour, and
above all Jove, the lord of counsel. There is no king here so
hateful to me as you are, for you are ever quarrelsome and ill
affected. What though you be brave? Was it not heaven that made you
so? Go home, then, with your ships and comrades to lord it over the
Myrmidons. I care neither for you nor for your anger; and thus will
I do: since Phoebus Apollo is taking Chryseis from me, I shall send
her with my ship and my followers, but I shall come to your tent and
take your own prize Briseis, that you may learn how much stronger I am
than you are, and that another may fear to set himself up as equal
or comparable with me.”
The son of Peleus was furious, and his heart within his shaggy
breast was divided whether to draw his sword, push the others aside,
and kill the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and check his
anger. While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing his mighty
sword from its scabbard, Minerva came down from heaven (for Juno had
sent her in the love she bore to them both), and seized the son of
Peleus by his yellow hair, visible to him alone, for of the others
no man could see her. Achilles turned in amaze, and by the fire that
flashed from her eyes at once knew that she was Minerva. “Why are
you here,” said he, “daughter of aegis-bearing Jove? To see the
pride of Agamemnon, son of Atreus? Let me tell you- and it shall
surely be- he shall pay for this insolence with his life.”
And Minerva said, “I come from heaven, if you will hear me, to bid
you stay your anger. Juno has sent me, who cares for both of you
alike. Cease, then, this brawling, and do not draw your sword; rail at
him if you will, and your railing will not be vain, for I tell you-
and it shall surely be- that you shall hereafter receive gifts three
times as splendid by reason of this present insult. Hold, therefore,
and obey.”
“Goddess,” answered Achilles, “however angry a man may be, he must
do as you two command him. This will be best, for the gods ever hear
the prayers of him who has obeyed them.”
He stayed his hand on the silver hilt of his sword, and thrust it
back into the scabbard as Minerva bade him. Then she went back to
Olympus among the other gods, and to the house of aegis-bearing Jove.
But the son of Peleus again began railing at the son of Atreus,
for he was still in a rage. “Wine-bibber,” he cried, “with the face of
a dog and the heart of a hind, you never dare to go out with the
host in fight, nor yet with our chosen men in ambuscade. You shun this
as you do death itself. You had rather go round and rob his prizes
from any man who contradicts you. You devour your people, for you
are king over a feeble folk; otherwise, son of Atreus, henceforward
you would insult no man. Therefore I say, and swear it with a great
oath- nay, by this my sceptre which shalt sprout neither leaf nor
shoot, nor bud anew from the day on which it left its parent stem upon
the mountains- for the axe stripped it of leaf and bark, and now the
sons of the Achaeans bear it as judges and guardians of the decrees of
heaven- so surely and solemnly do I swear that hereafter they shall
look fondly for Achilles and shall not find him. In the day of your
distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand of Hector,
you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your heart with
rage for the hour when you offered insult to the bravest of the
With this the son of Peleus dashed his gold-bestudded sceptre on the
ground and took his seat, while the son of Atreus was beginning
fiercely from his place upon the other side. Then uprose
smooth-tongued Nestor, the facile speaker of the Pylians, and the
words fell from his lips sweeter than honey. Two generations of men
born and bred in Pylos had passed away under his rule, and he was
now reigning over the third. With all sincerity and goodwill,
therefore, he addressed them thus:-
“Of a truth,” he said, “a great sorrow has befallen the Achaean
land. Surely Priam with his sons would rejoice, and the Trojans be
glad at heart if they could hear this quarrel between you two, who are
so excellent in fight and counsel. I am older than either of you;
therefore be guided by me. Moreover I have been the familiar friend of
men even greater than you are, and they did not disregard my counsels.
Never again can I behold such men as Pirithous and Dryas shepherd of
his people, or as Caeneus, Exadius, godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus
son of Aegeus, peer of the immortals. These were the mightiest men
ever born upon this earth: mightiest were they, and when they fought
the fiercest tribes of mountain savages they utterly overthrew them. I
came from distant Pylos, and went about among them, for they would
have me come, and I fought as it was in me to do. Not a man now living
could withstand them, but they heard my words, and were persuaded by
them. So be it also with yourselves, for this is the more excellent
way. Therefore, Agamemnon, though you be strong, take not this girl
away, for the sons of the Achaeans have already given her to Achilles;
and you, Achilles, strive not further with the king, for no man who by
the grace of Jove wields a sceptre has like honour with Agamemnon. You
are strong, and have a goddess for your mother; but Agamemnon is
stronger than you, for he has more people under him. Son of Atreus,
check your anger, I implore you; end this quarrel with Achilles, who
in the day of battle is a tower of strength to the Achaeans.”
And Agamemnon answered, “Sir, all that you have said is true, but
this fellow must needs become our lord and master: he must be lord
of all, king of all, and captain of all, and this shall hardly be.
Granted that the gods have made him a great warrior, have they also
given him the right to speak with railing?”
Achilles interrupted him. “I should be a mean coward,” he cried,
“were I to give in to you in all things. Order other people about, not
me, for I shall obey no longer. Furthermore I say- and lay my saying
to your heart- I shall fight neither you nor any man about this
girl, for those that take were those also that gave. But of all else
that is at my ship you shall carry away nothing by force. Try, that
others may see; if you do, my spear shall be reddened with your
When they had quarrelled thus angrily, they rose, and broke up the
assembly at the ships of the Achaeans. The son of Peleus went back
to his tents and ships with the son of Menoetius and his company,
while Agamemnon drew a vessel into the water and chose a crew of
twenty oarsmen. He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a
hecatomb for the god. And Ulysses went as captain.
These, then, went on board and sailed their ways over the sea. But
the son of Atreus bade the people purify themselves; so they
purified themselves and cast their filth into the sea. Then they
offered hecatombs of bulls and goats without blemish on the sea-shore,
and the smoke with the savour of their sacrifice rose curling up
towards heaven.
Thus did they busy themselves throughout the host. But Agamemnon did
not forget the threat that he had made Achilles, and called his trusty
messengers and squires Talthybius and Eurybates. “Go,” said he, “to
the tent of Achilles, son of Peleus; take Briseis by the hand and
bring her hither; if he will not give her I shall come with others and
take her- which will press him harder.”
He charged them straightly further and dismissed them, whereon
they went their way sorrowfully by the seaside, till they came to
the tents and ships of the Myrmidons. They found Achilles sitting by
his tent and his ships, and ill-pleased he was when he beheld them.
They stood fearfully and reverently before him, and never a word did
they speak, but he knew them and said, “Welcome, heralds, messengers
of gods and men; draw near; my quarrel is not with you but with
Agamemnon who has sent you for the girl Briseis. Therefore, Patroclus,
bring her and give her to them, but let them be witnesses by the
blessed gods, by mortal men, and by the fierceness of Agamemnon’s
anger, that if ever again there be need of me to save the people
from ruin, they shall seek and they shall not find. Agamemnon is mad
with rage and knows not how to look before and after that the Achaeans
may fight by their ships in safety.”
Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him. He brought Briseis
from the tent and gave her over to the heralds, who took her with them
to the ships of the Achaeans- and the woman was loth to go. Then
Achilles went all alone by the side of the hoar sea, weeping and
looking out upon the boundless waste of waters. He raised his hands in
prayer to his immortal mother, “Mother,” he cried, “you bore me doomed
to live but for a little season; surely Jove, who thunders from
Olympus, might have made that little glorious. It is not so.
Agamemnon, son of Atreus, has done me dishonour, and has robbed me
of my prize by force.”
As he spoke he wept aloud, and his mother heard him where she was
sitting in the depths of the sea hard by the old man her father.
Forthwith she rose as it were a grey mist out of the waves, sat down
before him as he stood weeping, caressed him with her hand, and
said, “My son, why are you weeping? What is it that grieves you?
Keep it not from me, but tell me, that we may know it together.”
Achilles drew a deep sigh and said, “You know it; why tell you
what you know well already? We went to Thebe the strong city of
Eetion, sacked it, and brought hither the spoil. The sons of the
Achaeans shared it duly among themselves, and chose lovely Chryseis as
the meed of Agamemnon; but Chryses, priest of Apollo, came to the
ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and brought with him a
great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the sceptre of Apollo,
wreathed with a suppliant’s wreath, and he besought the Achaeans,
but most of all the two sons of Atreus who were their chiefs.
“On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for respecting
the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not so
Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly away. So
he went back in anger, and Apollo, who loved him dearly, heard his
prayer. Then the god sent a deadly dart upon the Argives, and the
people died thick on one another, for the arrows went everywhither
among the wide host of the Achaeans. At last a seer in the fulness
of his knowledge declared to us the oracles of Apollo, and I was
myself first to say that we should appease him. Whereon the son of
Atreus rose in anger, and threatened that which he has since done. The
Achaeans are now taking the girl in a ship to Chryse, and sending
gifts of sacrifice to the god; but the heralds have just taken from my
tent the daughter of Briseus, whom the Achaeans had awarded to myself.
“Help your brave son, therefore, if you are able. Go to Olympus, and
if you have ever done him service in word or deed, implore the aid
of Jove. Ofttimes in my father’s house have I heard you glory in
that you alone of the immortals saved the son of Saturn from ruin,
when the others, with Juno, Neptune, and Pallas Minerva would have put
him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to
Olympus the hundred-handed monster whom gods call Briareus, but men
Aegaeon, for he is stronger even than his father; when therefore he
took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Saturn, the other gods
were afraid, and did not bind him. Go, then, to him, remind him of all
this, clasp his knees, and bid him give succour to the Trojans. Let
the Achaeans be hemmed in at the sterns of their ships, and perish
on the sea-shore, that they may reap what joy they may of their
king, and that Agamemnon may rue his blindness in offering insult to
the foremost of the Achaeans.”
Thetis wept and answered, “My son, woe is me that I should have
borne or suckled you. Would indeed that you had lived your span free
from all sorrow at your ships, for it is all too brief; alas, that you
should be at once short of life and long of sorrow above your peers:
woe, therefore, was the hour in which I bore you; nevertheless I
will go to the snowy heights of Olympus, and tell this tale to Jove,
if he will hear our prayer: meanwhile stay where you are with your
ships, nurse your anger against the Achaeans, and hold aloof from
fight. For Jove went yesterday to Oceanus, to a feast among the
Ethiopians, and the other gods went with him. He will return to
Olympus twelve days hence; I will then go to his mansion paved with
bronze and will beseech him; nor do I doubt that I shall be able to
persuade him.”
On this she left him, still furious at the loss of her that had been
taken from him. Meanwhile Ulysses reached Chryse with the hecatomb.
When they had come inside the harbour they furled the sails and laid
them in the ship’s hold; they slackened the forestays, lowered the
mast into its place, and rowed the ship to the place where they
would have her lie; there they cast out their mooring-stones and
made fast the hawsers. They then got out upon the sea-shore and landed
the hecatomb for Apollo; Chryseis also left the ship, and Ulysses
led her to the altar to deliver her into the hands of her father.
“Chryses,” said he, “King Agamemnon has sent me to bring you back your
child, and to offer sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of the Danaans, that
we may propitiate the god, who has now brought sorrow upon the
So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her
gladly, and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the
altar of the god. They washed their hands and took up the
barley-meal to sprinkle over the victims, while Chryses lifted up
his hands and prayed aloud on their behalf. “Hear me,” he cried, “O
god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla, and
rulest Tenedos with thy might. Even as thou didst hear me aforetime
when I prayed, and didst press hardly upon the Achaeans, so hear me
yet again, and stay this fearful pestilence from the Danaans.”
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. When they had done
praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads of
the victims and killed and flayed them. They cut out the
thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, set some
pieces of raw meat on the top of them, and then Chryses laid them on
the wood fire and poured wine over them, while the young men stood
near him with five-pronged spits in their hands. When the
thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut
the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits, roasted them till
they were done, and drew them off: then, when they had finished
their work and the feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his
full share, so that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough
to eat and drink, pages filled the mixing-bowl with wine and water and
handed it round, after giving every man his drink-offering.
Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song,
hymning him and chaunting the joyous paean, and the god took
pleasure in their voices; but when the sun went down, and it came on
dark, they laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables of the
ship, and when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared they
again set sail for the host of the Achaeans. Apollo sent them a fair
wind, so they raised their mast and hoisted their white sails aloft.
As the sail bellied with the wind the ship flew through the deep
blue water, and the foam hissed against her bows as she sped onward.
When they reached the wide-stretching host of the Achaeans, they
drew the vessel ashore, high and dry upon the sands, set her strong
props beneath her, and went their ways to their own tents and ships.
But Achilles abode at his ships and nursed his anger. He went not to
the honourable assembly, and sallied not forth to fight, but gnawed at
his own heart, pining for battle and the war-cry.
Now after twelve days the immortal gods came back in a body to
Olympus, and Jove led the way. Thetis was not unmindful of the
charge her son had laid upon her, so she rose from under the sea and
went through great heaven with early morning to Olympus, where she
found the mighty son of Saturn sitting all alone upon its topmost
ridges. She sat herself down before him, and with her left hand seized
his knees, while with her right she caught him under the chin, and
besought him, saying-
“Father Jove, if I ever did you service in word or deed among the
immortals, hear my prayer, and do honour to my son, whose life is to
be cut short so early. King Agamemnon has dishonoured him by taking
his prize and keeping her. Honour him then yourself, Olympian lord
of counsel, and grant victory to the Trojans, till the Achaeans give
my son his due and load him with riches in requital.”
Jove sat for a while silent, and without a word, but Thetis still
kept firm hold of his knees, and besought him a second time.
“Incline your head,” said she, “and promise me surely, or else deny
me- for you have nothing to fear- that I may learn how greatly you
disdain me.”
At this Jove was much troubled and answered, “I shall have trouble
if you set me quarrelling with Juno, for she will provoke me with
her taunting speeches; even now she is always railing at me before the
other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the Trojans. Go back
now, lest she should find out. I will consider the matter, and will
bring it about as wish. See, I incline my head that you believe me.
This is the most solemn that I can give to any god. I never recall
my word, or deceive, or fail to do what I say, when I have nodded my
As he spoke the son of Saturn bowed his dark brows, and the
ambrosial locks swayed on his immortal head, till vast Olympus reeled.
When the pair had thus laid their plans, they parted- Jove to his
house, while the goddess quitted the splendour of Olympus, and plunged
into the depths of the sea. The gods rose from their seats, before the
coming of their sire. Not one of them dared to remain sitting, but all
stood up as he came among them. There, then, he took his seat. But
Juno, when she saw him, knew that he and the old merman’s daughter,
silver-footed Thetis, had been hatching mischief, so she at once began
to upbraid him. “Trickster,” she cried, “which of the gods have you
been taking into your counsels now? You are always settling matters in
secret behind my back, and have never yet told me, if you could help
it, one word of your intentions.”
“Juno,” replied the sire of gods and men, “you must not expect to be
informed of all my counsels. You are my wife, but you would find it
hard to understand them. When it is proper for you to hear, there is
no one, god or man, who will be told sooner, but when I mean to keep a
matter to myself, you must not pry nor ask questions.”
“Dread son of Saturn,” answered Juno, “what are you talking about?
I? Pry and ask questions? Never. I let you have your own way in
everything. Still, I have a strong misgiving that the old merman’s
daughter Thetis has been talking you over, for she was with you and
had hold of your knees this self-same morning. I believe, therefore,
that you have been promising her to give glory to Achilles, and to
kill much people at the ships of the Achaeans.”
“Wife,” said Jove, “I can do nothing but you suspect me and find
it out. You will take nothing by it, for I shall only dislike you
the more, and it will go harder with you. Granted that it is as you
say; I mean to have it so; sit down and hold your tongue as I bid
you for if I once begin to lay my hands about you, though all heaven
were on your side it would profit you nothing.”
On this Juno was frightened, so she curbed her stubborn will and sat
down in silence. But the heavenly beings were disquieted throughout
the house of Jove, till the cunning workman Vulcan began to try and
pacify his mother Juno. “It will be intolerable,” said he, “if you two
fall to wrangling and setting heaven in an uproar about a pack of
mortals. If such ill counsels are to prevail, we shall have no
pleasure at our banquet. Let me then advise my mother- and she must
herself know that it will be better- to make friends with my dear
father Jove, lest he again scold her and disturb our feast. If the
Olympian Thunderer wants to hurl us all from our seats, he can do
so, for he is far the strongest, so give him fair words, and he will
then soon be in a good humour with us.”
As he spoke, he took a double cup of nectar, and placed it in his
mother’s hand. “Cheer up, my dear mother,” said he, “and make the best
of it. I love you dearly, and should be very sorry to see you get a
thrashing; however grieved I might be, I could not help for there is
no standing against Jove. Once before when I was trying to help you,
he caught me by the foot and flung me from the heavenly threshold. All
day long from morn till eve, was I falling, till at sunset I came to
ground in the island of Lemnos, and there I lay, with very little life
left in me, till the Sintians came and tended me.”
Juno smiled at this, and as she smiled she took the cup from her
son’s hands. Then Vulcan drew sweet nectar from the mixing-bowl, and
served it round among the gods, going from left to right; and the
blessed gods laughed out a loud applause as they saw him ing
bustling about the heavenly mansion.
Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun they
feasted, and every one had his full share, so that all were satisfied.
Apollo struck his lyre, and the Muses lifted up their sweet voices,
calling and answering one another. But when the sun’s glorious light
had faded, they went home to bed, each in his own abode, which lame
Vulcan with his consummate skill had fashioned for them. So Jove,
the Olympian Lord of Thunder, hied him to the bed in which he always
slept; and when he had got on to it he went to sleep, with Juno of the
golden throne by his side.


Now the other gods and the armed warriors on the plain slept
soundly, but Jove was wakeful, for he was thinking how to do honour to
Achilles, and destroyed much people at the ships of the Achaeans. In
the end he deemed it would be best to send a lying dream to King
Agamemnon; so he called one to him and said to it, “Lying Dream, go to
the ships of the Achaeans, into the tent of Agamemnon, and say to
him word to word as I now bid you. Tell him to get the Achaeans
instantly under arms, for he shall take Troy. There are no longer
divided counsels among the gods; Juno has brought them to her own
mind, and woe betides the Trojans.”
The dream went when it had heard its message, and soon reached the
ships of the Achaeans. It sought Agamemnon son of Atreus and found him
in his tent, wrapped in a profound slumber. It hovered over his head
in the likeness of Nestor, son of Neleus, whom Agamemnon honoured
above all his councillors, and said:-
“You are sleeping, son of Atreus; one who has the welfare of his
host and so much other care upon his shoulders should dock his
sleep. Hear me at once, for I come as a messenger from Jove, who,
though he be not near, yet takes thought for you and pities you. He
bids you get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for you shall take
Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods; Juno has
brought them over to her own mind, and woe betides the Trojans at
the hands of Jove. Remember this, and when you wake see that it does
not escape you.”
The dream then left him, and he thought of things that were,
surely not to be accomplished. He thought that on that same day he was
to take the city of Priam, but he little knew what was in the mind
of Jove, who had many another hard-fought fight in store alike for
Danaans and Trojans. Then presently he woke, with the divine message
still ringing in his ears; so he sat upright, and put on his soft
shirt so fair and new, and over this his heavy cloak. He bound his
sandals on to his comely feet, and slung his silver-studded sword
about his shoulders; then he took the imperishable staff of his
father, and sallied forth to the ships of the Achaeans.
The goddess Dawn now wended her way to vast Olympus that she might
herald day to Jove and to the other immortals, and Agamemnon sent
the criers round to call the people in assembly; so they called them
and the people gathered thereon. But first he summoned a meeting of
the elders at the ship of Nestor king of Pylos, and when they were
assembled he laid a cunning counsel before them.
“My friends,” said he, “I have had a dream from heaven in the dead
of night, and its face and figure resembled none but Nestor’s. It
hovered over my head and said, ‘You are sleeping, son of Atreus; one
who has the welfare of his host and so much other care upon his
shoulders should dock his sleep. Hear me at once, for I am a messenger
from Jove, who, though he be not near, yet takes thought for you and
pities you. He bids you get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for you
shall take Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the
gods; Juno has brought them over to her own mind, and woe betides
the Trojans at the hands of Jove. Remember this.’ The dream then
vanished and I awoke. Let us now, therefore, arm the sons of the
Achaeans. But it will be well that I should first sound them, and to
this end I will tell them to fly with their ships; but do you others
go about among the host and prevent their doing so.”
He then sat down, and Nestor the prince of Pylos with all
sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: “My friends,” said he,
“princes and councillors of the Argives, if any other man of the
Achaeans had told us of this dream we should have declared it false,
and would have had nothing to do with it. But he who has seen it is
the foremost man among us; we must therefore set about getting the
people under arms.”
With this he led the way from the assembly, and the other sceptred
kings rose with him in obedience to the word of Agamemnon; but the
people pressed forward to hear. They swarmed like bees that sally from
some hollow cave and flit in countless throng among the spring
flowers, bunched in knots and clusters; even so did the mighty
multitude pour from ships and tents to the assembly, and range
themselves upon the wide-watered shore, while among them ran
Wildfire Rumour, messenger of Jove, urging them ever to the fore. Thus
they gathered in a pell-mell of mad confusion, and the earth groaned
under the tramp of men as the people sought their places. Nine heralds
went crying about among them to stay their tumult and bid them
listen to the kings, till at last they were got into their several
places and ceased their clamour. Then King Agamemnon rose, holding his
sceptre. This was the work of Vulcan, who gave it to Jove the son of
Saturn. Jove gave it to Mercury, slayer of Argus, guide and
guardian. King Mercury gave it to Pelops, the mighty charioteer, and
Pelops to Atreus, shepherd of his people. Atreus, when he died, left
it to Thyestes, rich in flocks, and Thyestes in his turn left it to be
borne by Agamemnon, that he might be lord of all Argos and of the
isles. Leaning, then, on his sceptre, he addressed the Argives.
“My friends,” he said, “heroes, servants of Mars, the hand of heaven
has been laid heavily upon me. Cruel Jove gave me his solemn promise
that I should sack the city of Priam before returning, but he has
played me false, and is now bidding me go ingloriously back to Argos
with the loss of much people. Such is the will of Jove, who has laid
many a proud city in the dust, as he will yet lay others, for his
power is above all. It will be a sorry tale hereafter that an
Achaean host, at once so great and valiant, battled in vain against
men fewer in number than themselves; but as yet the end is not in
sight. Think that the Achaeans and Trojans have sworn to a solemn
covenant, and that they have each been numbered- the Trojans by the
roll of their householders, and we by companies of ten; think
further that each of our companies desired to have a Trojan
householder to pour out their wine; we are so greatly more in number
that full many a company would have to go without its cup-bearer.
But they have in the town allies from other places, and it is these
that hinder me from being able to sack the rich city of Ilius. Nine of
Jove years are gone; the timbers of our ships have rotted; their
tackling is sound no longer. Our wives and little ones at home look
anxiously for our coming, but the work that we came hither to do has
not been done. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say: let us sail
back to our own land, for we shall not take Troy.”
With these words he moved the hearts of the multitude, so many of
them as knew not the cunning counsel of Agamemnon. They surged to
and fro like the waves of the Icarian Sea, when the east and south
winds break from heaven’s clouds to lash them; or as when the west
wind sweeps over a field of corn and the ears bow beneath the blast,
even so were they swayed as they flew with loud cries towards the
ships, and the dust from under their feet rose heavenward. They
cheered each other on to draw the ships into the sea; they cleared the
channels in front of them; they began taking away the stays from
underneath them, and the welkin rang with their glad cries, so eager
were they to return.
Then surely the Argives would have returned after a fashion that was
not fated. But Juno said to Minerva, “Alas, daughter of
aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, shall the Argives fly home to their
own land over the broad sea, and leave Priam and the Trojans the glory
of still keeping Helen, for whose sake so many of the Achaeans have
died at Troy, far from their homes? Go about at once among the host,
and speak fairly to them, man by man, that they draw not their ships
into the sea.”
Minerva was not slack to do her bidding. Down she darted from the
topmost summits of Olympus, and in a moment she was at the ships of
the Achaeans. There she found Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel,
standing alone. He had not as yet laid a hand upon his ship, for he
was grieved and sorry; so she went close up to him and said, “Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, are you going to fling yourselves into your
ships and be off home to your own land in this way? Will you leave
Priam and the Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, for whose sake
so many of the Achaeans have died at Troy, far from their homes? Go
about at once among the host, and speak fairly to them, man by man,
that they draw not their ships into the sea.”
Ulysses knew the voice as that of the goddess: he flung his cloak
from him and set off to run. His servant Eurybates, a man of Ithaca,
who waited on him, took charge of the cloak, whereon Ulysses went
straight up to Agamemnon and received from him his ancestral,
imperishable staff. With this he went about among the ships of the
Whenever he met a king or chieftain, he stood by him and spoke him
fairly. “Sir,” said he, “this flight is cowardly and unworthy. Stand
to your post, and bid your people also keep their places. You do not
yet know the full mind of Agamemnon; he was sounding us, and ere
long will visit the Achaeans with his displeasure. We were not all
of us at the council to hear what he then said; see to it lest he be
angry and do us a mischief; for the pride of kings is great, and the
hand of Jove is with them.”
But when he came across any common man who was making a noise, he
struck him with his staff and rebuked him, saying, “Sirrah, hold
your peace, and listen to better men than yourself. You are a coward
and no soldier; you are nobody either in fight or council; we cannot
all be kings; it is not well that there should be many masters; one
man must be supreme- one king to whom the son of scheming Saturn has
given the sceptre of sovereignty over you all.”
Thus masterfully did he go about among the host, and the people
hurried back to the council from their tents and ships with a sound as
the thunder of surf when it comes crashing down upon the shore, and
all the sea is in an uproar.
The rest now took their seats and kept to their own several
places, but Thersites still went on wagging his unbridled tongue- a
man of many words, and those unseemly; a monger of sedition, a
railer against all who were in authority, who cared not what he
said, so that he might set the Achaeans in a laugh. He was the ugliest
man of all those that came before Troy- bandy-legged, lame of one
foot, with his two shoulders rounded and hunched over his chest. His
head ran up to a point, but there was little hair on the top of it.
Achilles and Ulysses hated him worst of all, for it was with them that
he was most wont to wrangle; now, however, with a shrill squeaky voice
he began heaping his abuse on Agamemnon. The Achaeans were angry and
disgusted, yet none the less he kept on brawling and bawling at the
son of Atreus.
“Agamemnon,” he cried, “what ails you now, and what more do you
want? Your tents are filled with bronze and with fair women, for
whenever we take a town we give you the pick of them. Would you have
yet more gold, which some Trojan is to give you as a ransom for his
son, when I or another Achaean has taken him prisoner? or is it some
young girl to hide and lie with? It is not well that you, the ruler of
the Achaeans, should bring them into such misery. Weakling cowards,
women rather than men, let us sail home, and leave this fellow here at
Troy to stew in his own meeds of honour, and discover whether we
were of any service to him or no. Achilles is a much better man than
he is, and see how he has treated him- robbing him of his prize and
keeping it himself. Achilles takes it meekly and shows no fight; if he
did, son of Atreus, you would never again insult him.”
Thus railed Thersites, but Ulysses at once went up to him and
rebuked him sternly. “Check your glib tongue, Thersites,” said be,
“and babble not a word further. Chide not with princes when you have
none to back you. There is no viler creature come before Troy with the
sons of Atreus. Drop this chatter about kings, and neither revile them
nor keep harping about going home. We do not yet know how things are
going to be, nor whether the Achaeans are to return with good
success or evil. How dare you gibe at Agamemnon because the Danaans
have awarded him so many prizes? I tell you, therefore- and it shall
surely be- that if I again catch you talking such nonsense, I will
either forfeit my own head and be no more called father of Telemachus,
or I will take you, strip you stark naked, and whip you out of the
assembly till you go blubbering back to the ships.”
On this he beat him with his staff about the back and shoulders till
he dropped and fell a-weeping. The golden sceptre raised a bloody weal
on his back, so he sat down frightened and in pain, looking foolish as
he wiped the tears from his eyes. The people were sorry for him, yet
they laughed heartily, and one would turn to his neighbour saying,
“Ulysses has done many a good thing ere now in fight and council,
but he never did the Argives a better turn than when he stopped this
fellow’s mouth from prating further. He will give the kings no more of
his insolence.”
Thus said the people. Then Ulysses rose, sceptre in hand, and
Minerva in the likeness of a herald bade the people be still, that
those who were far off might hear him and consider his council. He
therefore with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus:-
“King Agamemnon, the Achaeans are for making you a by-word among all
mankind. They forget the promise they made you when they set out
from Argos, that you should not return till you had sacked the town of
Troy, and, like children or widowed women, they murmur and would set
off homeward. True it is that they have had toil enough to be
disheartened. A man chafes at having to stay away from his wife even
for a single month, when he is on shipboard, at the mercy of wind
and sea, but it is now nine long years that we have been kept here;
I cannot, therefore, blame the Achaeans if they turn restive; still we
shall be shamed if we go home empty after so long a stay- therefore,
my friends, be patient yet a little longer that we may learn whether
the prophesyings of Calchas were false or true.
“All who have not since perished must remember as though it were
yesterday or the day before, how the ships of the Achaeans were
detained in Aulis when we were on our way hither to make war on
Priam and the Trojans. We were ranged round about a fountain
offering hecatombs to the gods upon their holy altars, and there was a
fine plane-tree from beneath which there welled a stream of pure
water. Then we saw a prodigy; for Jove sent a fearful serpent out of
the ground, with blood-red stains upon its back, and it darted from
under the altar on to the plane-tree. Now there was a brood of young
sparrows, quite small, upon the topmost bough, peeping out from
under the leaves, eight in all, and their mother that hatched them
made nine. The serpent ate the poor cheeping things, while the old
bird flew about lamenting her little ones; but the serpent threw his
coils about her and caught her by the wing as she was screaming. Then,
when he had eaten both the sparrow and her young, the god who had sent
him made him become a sign; for the son of scheming Saturn turned
him into stone, and we stood there wondering at that which had come to
pass. Seeing, then, that such a fearful portent had broken in upon our
hecatombs, Calchas forthwith declared to us the oracles of heaven.
‘Why, Achaeans,’ said he, ‘are you thus speechless? Jove has sent us
this sign, long in coming, and long ere it be fulfilled, though its
fame shall last for ever. As the serpent ate the eight fledglings
and the sparrow that hatched them, which makes nine, so shall we fight
nine years at Troy, but in the tenth shall take the town.’ This was
what he said, and now it is all coming true. Stay here, therefore, all
of you, till we take the city of Priam.”
On this the Argives raised a shout, till the ships rang again with
the uproar. Nestor, knight of Gerene, then addressed them. “Shame on
you,” he cried, “to stay talking here like children, when you should
fight like men. Where are our covenants now, and where the oaths
that we have taken? Shall our counsels be flung into the fire, with
our drink-offerings and the right hands of fellowship wherein we
have put our trust? We waste our time in words, and for all our
talking here shall be no further forward. Stand, therefore, son of
Atreus, by your own steadfast purpose; lead the Argives on to
battle, and leave this handful of men to rot, who scheme, and scheme
in vain, to get back to Argos ere they have learned whether Jove be
true or a liar. For the mighty son of Saturn surely promised that we
should succeed, when we Argives set sail to bring death and
destruction upon the Trojans. He showed us favourable signs by
flashing his lightning on our right hands; therefore let none make
haste to go till he has first lain with the wife of some Trojan, and
avenged the toil and sorrow that he has suffered for the sake of
Helen. Nevertheless, if any man is in such haste to be at home
again, let him lay his hand to his ship that he may meet his doom in
the sight of all. But, O king, consider and give ear to my counsel,
for the word that I say may not be neglected lightly. Divide your men,
Agamemnon, into their several tribes and clans, that clans and
tribes may stand by and help one another. If you do this, and if the
Achaeans obey you, you will find out who, both chiefs and peoples, are
brave, and who are cowards; for they will vie against the other.
Thus you shall also learn whether it is through the counsel of
heaven or the cowardice of man that you shall fail to take the town.”
And Agamemnon answered, “Nestor, you have again outdone the sons
of the Achaeans in counsel. Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and
Apollo, that I had among them ten more such councillors, for the
city of King Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we
should sack it. But the son of Saturn afflicts me with bootless
wranglings and strife. Achilles and I are quarrelling about this girl,
in which matter I was the first to offend; if we can be of one mind
again, the Trojans will not stave off destruction for a day. Now,
therefore, get your morning meal, that our hosts join in fight. Whet
well your spears; see well to the ordering of your shields; give
good feeds to your horses, and look your chariots carefully over, that
we may do battle the livelong day; for we shall have no rest, not
for a moment, till night falls to part us. The bands that bear your
shields shall be wet with the sweat upon your shoulders, your hands
shall weary upon your spears, your horses shall steam in front of your
chariots, and if I see any man shirking the fight, or trying to keep
out of it at the ships, there shall be no help for him, but he shall
be a prey to dogs and vultures.”
Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans roared applause. As when the waves
run high before the blast of the south wind and break on some lofty
headland, dashing against it and buffeting it without ceasing, as
the storms from every quarter drive them, even so did the Achaeans
rise and hurry in all directions to their ships. There they lighted
their fires at their tents and got dinner, offering sacrifice every
man to one or other of the gods, and praying each one of them that
he might live to come out of the fight. Agamemnon, king of men,
sacrificed a fat five-year-old bull to the mighty son of Saturn, and
invited the princes and elders of his host. First he asked Nestor
and King Idomeneus, then the two Ajaxes and the son of Tydeus, and
sixthly Ulysses, peer of gods in counsel; but Menelaus came of his own
accord, for he knew how busy his brother then was. They stood round
the bull with the barley-meal in their hands, and Agamemnon prayed,
saying, “Jove, most glorious, supreme, that dwellest in heaven, and
ridest upon the storm-cloud, grant that the sun may not go down, nor
the night fall, till the palace of Priam is laid low, and its gates
are consumed with fire. Grant that my sword may pierce the shirt of
Hector about his heart, and that full many of his comrades may bite
the dust as they fall dying round him.”
Thus he prayed, but the son of Saturn would not fulfil his prayer.
He accepted the sacrifice, yet none the less increased their toil
continually. When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley-meal
upon the victim, they drew back its head, killed it, and then flayed
it. They cut out the thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers
of fat, and set pieces of raw meat on the top of them. These they
burned upon the split logs of firewood, but they spitted the inward
meats, and held them in the flames to cook. When the thigh-bones
were burned, and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest
up small, put the pieces upon spits, roasted them till they were done,
and drew them off; then, when they had finished their work and the
feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his full share, so
that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough to eat and
drink, Nestor, knight of Gerene, began to speak. “King Agamemnon,”
said he, “let us not stay talking here, nor be slack in the work
that heaven has put into our hands. Let the heralds summon the
people to gather at their several ships; we will then go about among
the host, that we may begin fighting at once.”
Thus did he speak, and Agamemnon heeded his words. He at once sent
the criers round to call the people in assembly. So they called
them, and the people gathered thereon. The chiefs about the son of
Atreus chose their men and marshalled them, while Minerva went among
them holding her priceless aegis that knows neither age nor death.
From it there waved a hundred tassels of pure gold, all deftly
woven, and each one of them worth a hundred oxen. With this she darted
furiously everywhere among the hosts of the Achaeans, urging them
forward, and putting courage into the heart of each, so that he
might fight and do battle without ceasing. Thus war became sweeter
in their eyes even than returning home in their ships. As when some
great forest fire is raging upon a mountain top and its light is
seen afar, even so as they marched the gleam of their armour flashed
up into the firmament of heaven.
They were like great flocks of geese, or cranes, or swans on the
plain about the waters of Cayster, that wing their way hither and
thither, glorying in the pride of flight, and crying as they settle
till the fen is alive with their screaming. Even thus did their tribes
pour from ships and tents on to the plain of the Scamander, and the
ground rang as brass under the feet of men and horses. They stood as
thick upon the flower-bespangled field as leaves that bloom in summer.
As countless swarms of flies buzz around a herdsman’s homestead in
the time of spring when the pails are drenched with milk, even so
did the Achaeans swarm on to the plain to charge the Trojans and
destroy them.
The chiefs disposed their men this way and that before the fight
began, drafting them out as easily as goatherds draft their flocks
when they have got mixed while feeding; and among them went King
Agamemnon, with a head and face like Jove the lord of thunder, a waist
like Mars, and a chest like that of Neptune. As some great bull that
lords it over the herds upon the plain, even so did Jove make the
son of Atreus stand peerless among the multitude of heroes.
And now, O Muses, dwellers in the mansions of Olympus, tell me-
for you are goddesses and are in all places so that you see all
things, while we know nothing but by report- who were the chiefs and
princes of the Danaans? As for the common soldiers, they were so
that I could not name every single one of them though I had ten
tongues, and though my voice failed not and my heart were of bronze
within me, unless you, O Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing
Jove, were to recount them to me. Nevertheless, I will tell the
captains of the ships and all the fleet together.
Peneleos, Leitus, Arcesilaus, Prothoenor, and Clonius were
captains of the Boeotians. These were they that dwelt in Hyria and
rocky Aulis, and who held Schoenus, Scolus, and the highlands of
Eteonus, with Thespeia, Graia, and the fair city of Mycalessus. They
also held Harma, Eilesium, and Erythrae; and they had Eleon, Hyle, and
Peteon; Ocalea and the strong fortress of Medeon; Copae, Eutresis, and
Thisbe the haunt of doves; Coronea, and the pastures of Haliartus;
Plataea and Glisas; the fortress of Thebes the less; holy Onchestus
with its famous grove of Neptune; Arne rich in vineyards; Midea,
sacred Nisa, and Anthedon upon the sea. From these there came fifty
ships, and in each there were a hundred and twenty young men of the
Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Mars, led the people that dwelt
in Aspledon and Orchomenus the realm of Minyas. Astyoche a noble
maiden bore them in the house of Actor son of Azeus; for she had
gone with Mars secretly into an upper chamber, and he had lain with
her. With these there came thirty ships.
The Phoceans were led by Schedius and Epistrophus, sons of mighty
Iphitus the son of Naubolus. These were they that held Cyparissus,
rocky Pytho, holy Crisa, Daulis, and Panopeus; they also that dwelt in
Anemorea and Hyampolis, and about the waters of the river Cephissus,
and Lilaea by the springs of the Cephissus; with their chieftains came
forty ships, and they marshalled the forces of the Phoceans, which
were stationed next to the Boeotians, on their left.
Ajax, the fleet son of Oileus, commanded the Locrians. He was not so
great, nor nearly so great, as Ajax the son of Telamon. He was a
little man, and his breastplate was made of linen, but in use of the
spear he excelled all the Hellenes and the Achaeans. These dwelt in
Cynus, Opous, Calliarus, Bessa, Scarphe, fair Augeae, Tarphe, and
Thronium about the river Boagrius. With him there came forty ships
of the Locrians who dwell beyond Euboea.
The fierce Abantes held Euboea with its cities, Chalcis, Eretria,
Histiaea rich in vines, Cerinthus upon the sea, and the rock-perched
town of Dium; with them were also the men of Carystus and Styra;
Elephenor of the race of Mars was in command of these; he was son of
Chalcodon, and chief over all the Abantes. With him they came, fleet
of foot and wearing their hair long behind, brave warriors, who
would ever strive to tear open the corslets of their foes with their
long ashen spears. Of these there came fifty ships.
And they that held the strong city of Athens, the people of great
Erechtheus, who was born of the soil itself, but Jove’s daughter,
Minerva, fostered him, and established him at Athens in her own rich
sanctuary. There, year by year, the Athenian youths worship him with
sacrifices of bulls and rams. These were commanded by Menestheus,
son of Peteos. No man living could equal him in the marshalling of
chariots and foot soldiers. Nestor could alone rival him, for he was
older. With him there came fifty ships.
Ajax brought twelve ships from Salamis, and stationed them alongside
those of the Athenians.
The men of Argos, again, and those who held the walls of Tiryns,
with Hermione, and Asine upon the gulf; Troezene, Eionae, and the
vineyard lands of Epidaurus; the Achaean youths, moreover, who came
from Aegina and Mases; these were led by Diomed of the loud
battle-cry, and Sthenelus son of famed Capaneus. With them in
command was Euryalus, son of king Mecisteus, son of Talaus; but Diomed
was chief over them all. With these there came eighty ships.
Those who held the strong city of Mycenae, rich Corinth and Cleonae;
Orneae, Araethyrea, and Licyon, where Adrastus reigned of old;
Hyperesia, high Gonoessa, and Pellene; Aegium and all the coast-land
round about Helice; these sent a hundred ships under the command of
King Agamemnon, son of Atreus. His force was far both finest and
most numerous, and in their midst was the king himself, all glorious
in his armour of gleaming bronze- foremost among the heroes, for he
was the greatest king, and had most men under him.
And those that dwelt in Lacedaemon, lying low among the hills,
Pharis, Sparta, with Messe the haunt of doves; Bryseae, Augeae,
Amyclae, and Helos upon the sea; Laas, moreover, and Oetylus; these
were led by Menelaus of the loud battle-cry, brother to Agamemnon, and
of them there were sixty ships, drawn up apart from the others.
Among them went Menelaus himself, strong in zeal, urging his men to
fight; for he longed to avenge the toil and sorrow that he had
suffered for the sake of Helen.
The men of Pylos and Arene, and Thryum where is the ford of the
river Alpheus; strong Aipy, Cyparisseis, and Amphigenea; Pteleum,
Helos, and Dorium, where the Muses met Thamyris, and stilled his
minstrelsy for ever. He was returning from Oechalia, where Eurytus
lived and reigned, and boasted that he would surpass even the Muses,
daughters of aegis-bearing Jove, if they should sing against him;
whereon they were angry, and maimed him. They robbed him of his divine
power of song, and thenceforth he could strike the lyre no more. These
were commanded by Nestor, knight of Gerene, and with him there came
ninety ships.
And those that held Arcadia, under the high mountain of Cyllene,
near the tomb of Aepytus, where the people fight hand to hand; the men
of Pheneus also, and Orchomenus rich in flocks; of Rhipae, Stratie,
and bleak Enispe; of Tegea and fair Mantinea; of Stymphelus and
Parrhasia; of these King Agapenor son of Ancaeus was commander, and
they had sixty ships. Many Arcadians, good soldiers, came in each
one of them, but Agamemnon found them the ships in which to cross
the sea, for they were not a people that occupied their business
upon the waters.
The men, moreover, of Buprasium and of Elis, so much of it as is
enclosed between Hyrmine, Myrsinus upon the sea-shore, the rock
Olene and Alesium. These had four leaders, and each of them had ten
ships, with many Epeans on board. Their captains were Amphimachus
and Thalpius- the one, son of Cteatus, and the other, of Eurytus- both
of the race of Actor. The two others were Diores, son of Amarynces,
and Polyxenus, son of King Agasthenes, son of Augeas.
And those of Dulichium with the sacred Echinean islands, who dwelt
beyond the sea off Elis; these were led by Meges, peer of Mars, and
the son of valiant Phyleus, dear to Jove, who quarrelled with his
father, and went to settle in Dulichium. With him there came forty
Ulysses led the brave Cephallenians, who held Ithaca, Neritum with
its forests, Crocylea, rugged Aegilips, Samos and Zacynthus, with
the mainland also that was over against the islands. These were led by
Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel, and with him there came twelve
Thoas, son of Andraemon, commanded the Aetolians, who dwelt in
Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis by the sea, and rocky Calydon, for
the great king Oeneus had now no sons living, and was himself dead, as
was also golden-haired Meleager, who had been set over the Aetolians
to be their king. And with Thoas there came forty ships.
The famous spearsman Idomeneus led the Cretans, who held Cnossus,
and the well-walled city of Gortys; Lyctus also, Miletus and
Lycastus that lies upon the chalk; the populous towns of Phaestus
and Rhytium, with the other peoples that dwelt in the hundred cities
of Crete. All these were led by Idomeneus, and by Meriones, peer of
murderous Mars. And with these there came eighty ships.
Tlepolemus, son of Hercules, a man both brave and large of
stature, brought nine ships of lordly warriors from Rhodes. These
dwelt in Rhodes which is divided among the three cities of Lindus,
Ielysus, and Cameirus, that lies upon the chalk. These were
commanded by Tlepolemus, son of Hercules by Astyochea, whom he had
carried off from Ephyra, on the river Selleis, after sacking many
cities of valiant warriors. When Tlepolemus grew up, he killed his
father’s uncle Licymnius, who had been a famous warrior in his time,
but was then grown old. On this he built himself a fleet, gathered a
great following, and fled beyond the sea, for he was menaced by the
other sons and grandsons of Hercules. After a voyage. during which
he suffered great hardship, he came to Rhodes, where the people
divided into three communities, according to their tribes, and were
dearly loved by Jove, the lord, of gods and men; wherefore the son
of Saturn showered down great riches upon them.
And Nireus brought three ships from Syme- Nireus, who was the
handsomest man that came up under Ilius of all the Danaans after the
son of Peleus- but he was a man of no substance, and had but a small
And those that held Nisyrus, Crapathus, and Casus, with Cos, the
city of Eurypylus, and the Calydnian islands, these were commanded
by Pheidippus and Antiphus, two sons of King Thessalus the son of
Hercules. And with them there came thirty ships.
Those again who held Pelasgic Argos, Alos, Alope, and Trachis; and
those of Phthia and Hellas the land of fair women, who were called
Myrmidons, Hellenes, and Achaeans; these had fifty ships, over which
Achilles was in command. But they now took no part in the war,
inasmuch as there was no one to marshal them; for Achilles stayed by
his ships, furious about the loss of the girl Briseis, whom he had
taken from Lyrnessus at his own great peril, when he had sacked
Lyrnessus and Thebe, and had overthrown Mynes and Epistrophus, sons of
king Evenor, son of Selepus. For her sake Achilles was still grieving,
but ere long he was again to join them.
And those that held Phylace and the flowery meadows of Pyrasus,
sanctuary of Ceres; Iton, the mother of sheep; Antrum upon the sea,
and Pteleum that lies upon the grass lands. Of these brave Protesilaus
had been captain while he was yet alive, but he was now lying under
the earth. He had left a wife behind him in Phylace to tear her cheeks
in sorrow, and his house was only half finished, for he was slain by a
Dardanian warrior while leaping foremost of the Achaeans upon the soil
of Troy. Still, though his people mourned their chieftain, they were
not without a leader, for Podarces, of the race of Mars, marshalled
them; he was son of Iphiclus, rich in sheep, who was the son of
Phylacus, and he was own brother to Protesilaus, only younger,
Protesilaus being at once the elder and the more valiant. So the
people were not without a leader, though they mourned him whom they
had lost. With him there came forty ships.
And those that held Pherae by the Boebean lake, with Boebe,
Glaphyrae, and the populous city of Iolcus, these with their eleven
ships were led by Eumelus, son of Admetus, whom Alcestis bore to
him, loveliest of the daughters of Pelias.
And those that held Methone and Thaumacia, with Meliboea and
rugged Olizon, these were led by the skilful archer Philoctetes, and
they had seven ships, each with fifty oarsmen all of them good
archers; but Philoctetes was lying in great pain in the Island of
Lemnos, where the sons of the Achaeans left him, for he had been
bitten by a poisonous water snake. There he lay sick and sorry, and
full soon did the Argives come to miss him. But his people, though
they felt his loss were not leaderless, for Medon, the bastard son
of Oileus by Rhene, set them in array.
Those, again, of Tricca and the stony region of Ithome, and they
that held Oechalia, the city of Oechalian Eurytus, these were
commanded by the two sons of Aesculapius, skilled in the art of
healing, Podalirius and Machaon. And with them there came thirty
The men, moreover, of Ormenius, and by the fountain of Hypereia,
with those that held Asterius, and the white crests of Titanus,
these were led by Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, and with them there
came forty ships.
Those that held Argissa and Gyrtone, Orthe, Elone, and the white
city of Oloosson, of these brave Polypoetes was leader. He was son
of Pirithous, who was son of Jove himself, for Hippodameia bore him to
Pirithous on the day when he took his revenge on the shaggy mountain
savages and drove them from Mt. Pelion to the Aithices. But Polypoetes
was not sole in command, for with him was Leonteus, of the race of
Mars, who was son of Coronus, the son of Caeneus. And with these there
came forty ships.
Guneus brought two and twenty ships from Cyphus, and he was followed
by the Enienes and the valiant Peraebi, who dwelt about wintry Dodona,
and held the lands round the lovely river Titaresius, which sends
its waters into the Peneus. They do not mingle with the silver
eddies of the Peneus, but flow on the top of them like oil; for the
Titaresius is a branch of dread Orcus and of the river Styx.
Of the Magnetes, Prothous son of Tenthredon was commander. They were
they that dwelt about the river Peneus and Mt. Pelion. Prothous, fleet
of foot, was their leader, and with him there came forty ships.
Such were the chiefs and princes of the Danaans. Who, then, O
Muse, was the foremost, whether man or horse, among those that
followed after the sons of Atreus?
Of the horses, those of the son of Pheres were by far the finest.
They were driven by Eumelus, and were as fleet as birds. They were
of the same age and colour, and perfectly matched in height. Apollo,
of the silver bow, had bred them in Perea- both of them mares, and
terrible as Mars in battle. Of the men, Ajax, son of Telamon, was much
the foremost so long as Achilles’ anger lasted, for Achilles
excelled him greatly and he had also better horses; but Achilles was
now holding aloof at his ships by reason of his quarrel with
Agamemnon, and his people passed their time upon the sea shore,
throwing discs or aiming with spears at a mark, and in archery.
Their horses stood each by his own chariot, champing lotus and wild
celery. The chariots were housed under cover, but their owners, for
lack of leadership, wandered hither and thither about the host and
went not forth to fight.
Thus marched the host like a consuming fire, and the earth groaned
beneath them when the lord of thunder is angry and lashes the land
about Typhoeus among the Arimi, where they say Typhoeus lies. Even
so did the earth groan beneath them as they sped over the plain.
And now Iris, fleet as the wind, was sent by Jove to tell the bad
news among the Trojans. They were gathered in assembly, old and young,
at Priam’s gates, and Iris came close up to Priam, speaking with the
voice of Priam’s son Polites, who, being fleet of foot, was
stationed as watchman for the Trojans on the tomb of old Aesyetes,
to look out for any sally of the Achaeans. In his likeness Iris spoke,
saying, “Old man, you talk idly, as in time of peace, while war is
at hand. I have been in many a battle, but never yet saw such a host
as is now advancing. They are crossing the plain to attack the city as
thick as leaves or as the sands of the sea. Hector, I charge you above
all others, do as I say. There are many allies dispersed about the
city of Priam from distant places and speaking divers tongues.
Therefore, let each chief give orders to his own people, setting
them severally in array and leading them forth to battle.”
Thus she spoke, but Hector knew that it was the goddess, and at once
broke up the assembly. The men flew to arms; all the gates were
opened, and the people thronged through them, horse and foot, with the
tramp as of a great multitude.
Now there is a high mound before the city, rising by itself upon the
plain. Men call it Batieia, but the gods know that it is the tomb of
lithe Myrine. Here the Trojans and their allies divided their forces.
Priam’s son, great Hector of the gleaming helmet, commanded the
Trojans, and with him were arrayed by far the greater number and
most valiant of those who were longing for the fray.
The Dardanians were led by brave Aeneas, whom Venus bore to
Anchises, when she, goddess though she was, had lain with him upon the
mountain slopes of Ida. He was not alone, for with him were the two
sons of Antenor, Archilochus and Acamas, both skilled in all the
arts of war.
They that dwelt in Telea under the lowest spurs of Mt. Ida, men of
substance, who drink the limpid waters of the Aesepus, and are of
Trojan blood- these were led by Pandarus son of Lycaon, whom Apollo
had taught to use the bow.
They that held Adresteia and the land of Apaesus, with Pityeia,
and the high mountain of Tereia- these were led by Adrestus and
Amphius, whose breastplate was of linen. These were the sons of Merops
of Percote, who excelled in all kinds of divination. He told them
not to take part in the war, but they gave him no heed, for fate lured
them to destruction.
They that dwelt about Percote and Practius, with Sestos, Abydos, and
Arisbe- these were led by Asius, son of Hyrtacus, a brave commander-
Asius, the son of Hyrtacus, whom his powerful dark bay steeds, of
the breed that comes from the river Selleis, had brought from Arisbe.
Hippothous led the tribes of Pelasgian spearsmen, who dwelt in
fertile Larissa- Hippothous, and Pylaeus of the race of Mars, two sons
of the Pelasgian Lethus, son of Teutamus.
Acamas and the warrior Peirous commanded the Thracians and those
that came from beyond the mighty stream of the Hellespont.
Euphemus, son of Troezenus, the son of Ceos, was captain of the
Ciconian spearsmen.
Pyraechmes led the Paeonian archers from distant Amydon, by the
broad waters of the river Axius, the fairest that flow upon the earth.
The Paphlagonians were commanded by stout-hearted Pylaemanes from
Enetae, where the mules run wild in herds. These were they that held
Cytorus and the country round Sesamus, with the cities by the river
Parthenius, Cromna, Aegialus, and lofty Erithini.
Odius and Epistrophus were captains over the Halizoni from distant
Alybe, where there are mines of silver.
Chromis, and Ennomus the augur, led the Mysians, but his skill in
augury availed not to save him from destruction, for he fell by the
hand of the fleet descendant of Aeacus in the river, where he slew
others also of the Trojans.
Phorcys, again, and noble Ascanius led the Phrygians from the far
country of Ascania, and both were eager for the fray.
Mesthles and Antiphus commanded the Meonians, sons of Talaemenes,
born to him of the Gygaean lake. These led the Meonians, who dwelt
under Mt. Tmolus.
Nastes led the Carians, men of a strange speech. These held
Miletus and the wooded mountain of Phthires, with the water of the
river Maeander and the lofty crests of Mt. Mycale. These were
commanded by Nastes and Amphimachus, the brave sons of Nomion. He came
into the fight with gold about him, like a girl; fool that he was, his
gold was of no avail to save him, for he fell in the river by the hand
of the fleet descendant of Aeacus, and Achilles bore away his gold.
Sarpedon and Glaucus led the Lycians from their distant land, by the
eddying waters of the Xanthus.


When the companies were thus arrayed, each under its own captain,
the Trojans advanced as a flight of wild fowl or cranes that scream
overhead when rain and winter drive them over the flowing waters of
Oceanus to bring death and destruction on the Pygmies, and they
wrangle in the air as they fly; but the Achaeans marched silently,
in high heart, and minded to stand by one another.
As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain
tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man
can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust
from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain.
When they were close up with one another, Alexandrus came forward as
champion on the Trojan side. On his shoulders he bore the skin of a
panther, his bow, and his sword, and he brandished two spears shod
with bronze as a challenge to the bravest of the Achaeans to meet
him in single fight. Menelaus saw him thus stride out before the
ranks, and was glad as a hungry lion that lights on the carcase of
some goat or horned stag, and devours it there and then, though dogs
and youths set upon him. Even thus was Menelaus glad when his eyes
caught sight of Alexandrus, for he deemed that now he should be
revenged. He sprang, therefore, from his chariot, clad in his suit
of armour.
Alexandrus quailed as he saw Menelaus come forward, and shrank in
fear of his life under cover of his men. As one who starts back
affrighted, trembling and pale, when he comes suddenly upon a
serpent in some mountain glade, even so did Alexandrus plunge into the
throng of Trojan warriors, terror-stricken at the sight of the son
Then Hector upbraided him. “Paris,” said he, “evil-hearted Paris,
fair to see, but woman-mad, and false of tongue, would that you had
never been born, or that you had died unwed. Better so, than live to
be disgraced and looked askance at. Will not the Achaeans mock at us
and say that we have sent one to champion us who is fair to see but
who has neither wit nor courage? Did you not, such as you are, get
your following together and sail beyond the seas? Did you not from
your a far country carry off a lovely woman wedded among a people of
warriors- to bring sorrow upon your father, your city, and your
whole country, but joy to your enemies, and hang-dog shamefacedness to
yourself? And now can you not dare face Menelaus and learn what manner
of man he is whose wife you have stolen? Where indeed would be your
lyre and your love-tricks, your comely locks and your fair favour,
when you were lying in the dust before him? The Trojans are a
weak-kneed people, or ere this you would have had a shirt of stones
for the wrongs you have done them.”
And Alexandrus answered, “Hector, your rebuke is just. You are
hard as the axe which a shipwright wields at his work, and cleaves the
timber to his liking. As the axe in his hand, so keen is the edge of
your scorn. Still, taunt me not with the gifts that golden Venus has
given me; they are precious; let not a man disdain them, for the
gods give them where they are minded, and none can have them for the
asking. If you would have me do battle with Menelaus, bid the
Trojans and Achaeans take their seats, while he and I fight in their
midst for Helen and all her wealth. Let him who shall be victorious
and prove to be the better man take the woman and all she has, to bear
them to his home, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace
whereby you Trojans shall stay here in Troy, while the others go
home to Argos and the land of the Achaeans.”
When Hector heard this he was glad, and went about among the
Trojan ranks holding his spear by the middle to keep them back, and
they all sat down at his bidding: but the Achaeans still aimed at
him with stones and arrows, till Agamemnon shouted to them saying,
“Hold, Argives, shoot not, sons of the Achaeans; Hector desires to
They ceased taking aim and were still, whereon Hector spoke. “Hear
from my mouth,” said he, “Trojans and Achaeans, the saying of
Alexandrus, through whom this quarrel has come about. He bids the
Trojans and Achaeans lay their armour upon the ground, while he and
Menelaus fight in the midst of you for Helen and all her wealth. Let
him who shall be victorious and prove to be the better man take the
woman and all she has, to bear them to his own home, but let the
rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace.”
Thus he spoke, and they all held their peace, till Menelaus of the
loud battle-cry addressed them. “And now,” he said, “hear me too,
for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I deem that the parting of
Achaeans and Trojans is at hand, as well it may be, seeing how much
have suffered for my quarrel with Alexandrus and the wrong he did
me. Let him who shall die, die, and let the others fight no more.
Bring, then, two lambs, a white ram and a black ewe, for Earth and
Sun, and we will bring a third for Jove. Moreover, you shall bid Priam
come, that he may swear to the covenant himself; for his sons are
high-handed and ill to trust, and the oaths of Jove must not be
transgressed or taken in vain. Young men’s minds are light as air, but
when an old man comes he looks before and after, deeming that which
shall be fairest upon both sides.”
The Trojans and Achaeans were glad when they heard this, for they
thought that they should now have rest. They backed their chariots
toward the ranks, got out of them, and put off their armour, laying it
down upon the ground; and the hosts were near to one another with a
little space between them. Hector sent two messengers to the city to
bring the lambs and to bid Priam come, while Agamemnon told Talthybius
to fetch the other lamb from the ships, and he did as Agamemnon had
Meanwhile Iris went to Helen in the form of her sister-in-law,
wife of the son of Antenor, for Helicaon, son of Antenor, had
married Laodice, the fairest of Priam’s daughters. She found her in
her own room, working at a great web of purple linen, on which she was
embroidering the battles between Trojans and Achaeans, that Mars had
made them fight for her sake. Iris then came close up to her and said,
“Come hither, child, and see the strange doings of the Trojans and
Achaeans till now they have been warring upon the plain, mad with lust
of battle, but now they have left off fighting, and are leaning upon
their shields, sitting still with their spears planted beside them.
Alexandrus and Menelaus are going to fight about yourself, and you are
to the the wife of him who is the victor.”
Thus spoke the goddess, and Helen’s heart yearned after her former
husband, her city, and her parents. She threw a white mantle over
her head, and hurried from her room, weeping as she went, not alone,
but attended by two of her handmaids, Aethrae, daughter of Pittheus,
and Clymene. And straightway they were at the Scaean gates.
The two sages, Ucalegon and Antenor, elders of the people, were
seated by the Scaean gates, with Priam, Panthous, Thymoetes, Lampus,
Clytius, and Hiketaon of the race of Mars. These were too old to
fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower like cicales
that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high tree in a wood.
When they saw Helen coming towards the tower, they said softly to
one another, “Small wonder that Trojans and Achaeans should endure
so much and so long, for the sake of a woman so marvellously and
divinely lovely. Still, fair though she be, let them take her and
go, or she will breed sorrow for us and for our children after us.”
But Priam bade her draw nigh. “My child,” said he, “take your seat
in front of me that you may see your former husband, your kinsmen
and your friends. I lay no blame upon you, it is the gods, not you who
are to blame. It is they that have brought about this terrible war
with the Achaeans. Tell me, then, who is yonder huge hero so great and
goodly? I have seen men taller by a head, but none so comely and so
royal. Surely he must be a king.”
“Sir,” answered Helen, “father of my husband, dear and reverend in
my eyes, would that I had chosen death rather than to have come here
with your son, far from my bridal chamber, my friends, my darling
daughter, and all the companions of my girlhood. But it was not to be,
and my lot is one of tears and sorrow. As for your question, the
hero of whom you ask is Agamemnon, son of Atreus, a good king and a
brave soldier, brother-in-law as surely as that he lives, to my
abhorred and miserable self.”
The old man marvelled at him and said, “Happy son of Atreus, child
of good fortune. I see that the Achaeans are subject to you in great
multitudes. When I was in Phrygia I saw much horsemen, the people of
Otreus and of Mygdon, who were camping upon the banks of the river
Sangarius; I was their ally, and with them when the Amazons, peers
of men, came up against them, but even they were not so many as the
The old man next looked upon Ulysses; “Tell me,” he said, “who is
that other, shorter by a head than Agamemnon, but broader across the
chest and shoulders? His armour is laid upon the ground, and he stalks
in front of the ranks as it were some great woolly ram ordering his
And Helen answered, “He is Ulysses, a man of great craft, son of
Laertes. He was born in rugged Ithaca, and excels in all manner of
stratagems and subtle cunning.”
On this Antenor said, “Madam, you have spoken truly. Ulysses once
came here as envoy about yourself, and Menelaus with him. I received
them in my own house, and therefore know both of them by sight and
conversation. When they stood up in presence of the assembled Trojans,
Menelaus was the broader shouldered, but when both were seated Ulysses
had the more royal presence. After a time they delivered their
message, and the speech of Menelaus ran trippingly on the tongue; he
did not say much, for he was a man of few words, but he spoke very
clearly and to the point, though he was the younger man of the two;
Ulysses, on the other hand, when he rose to speak, was at first silent
and kept his eyes fixed upon the ground. There was no play nor
graceful movement of his sceptre; he kept it straight and stiff like a
man unpractised in oratory- one might have taken him for a mere
churl or simpleton; but when he raised his voice, and the words came
driving from his deep chest like winter snow before the wind, then
there was none to touch him, and no man thought further of what he
looked like.”
Priam then caught sight of Ajax and asked, “Who is that great and
goodly warrior whose head and broad shoulders tower above the rest
of the Argives?”
“That,” answered Helen, “is huge Ajax, bulwark of the Achaeans,
and on the other side of him, among the Cretans, stands Idomeneus
looking like a god, and with the captains of the Cretans round him.
Often did Menelaus receive him as a guest in our house when he came
visiting us from Crete. I see, moreover, many other Achaeans whose
names I could tell you, but there are two whom I can nowhere find,
Castor, breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer; they are
children of my mother, and own brothers to myself. Either they have
not left Lacedaemon, or else, though they have brought their ships,
they will not show themselves in battle for the shame and disgrace
that I have brought upon them.”
She knew not that both these heroes were already lying under the
earth in their own land of Lacedaemon.
Meanwhile the heralds were bringing the holy oath-offerings
through the city- two lambs and a goatskin of wine, the gift of earth;
and Idaeus brought the mixing bowl and the cups of gold. He went up to
Priam and said, “Son of Laomedon, the princes of the Trojans and
Achaeans bid you come down on to the plain and swear to a solemn
covenant. Alexandrus and Menelaus are to fight for Helen in single
combat, that she and all her wealth may go with him who is the victor.
We are to swear to a solemn covenant of peace whereby we others
shall dwell here in Troy, while the Achaeans return to Argos and the
land of the Achaeans.”
The old man trembled as he heard, but bade his followers yoke the
horses, and they made all haste to do so. He mounted the chariot,
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor took his seat beside
him; they then drove through the Scaean gates on to the plain. When
they reached the ranks of the Trojans and Achaeans they left the
chariot, and with measured pace advanced into the space between the
Agamemnon and Ulysses both rose to meet them. The attendants brought
on the oath-offerings and mixed the wine in the mixing-bowls; they
poured water over the hands of the chieftains, and the son of Atreus
drew the dagger that hung by his sword, and cut wool from the lambs’
heads; this the men-servants gave about among the Trojan and Achaean
princes, and the son of Atreus lifted up his hands in prayer.
“Father Jove,” he cried, “that rulest in Ida, most glorious in
power, and thou oh Sun, that seest and givest ear to all things, Earth
and Rivers, and ye who in the realms below chastise the soul of him
that has broken his oath, witness these rites and guard them, that
they be not vain. If Alexandrus kills Menelaus, let him keep Helen and
all her wealth, while we sail home with our ships; but if Menelaus
kills Alexandrus, let the Trojans give back Helen and all that she
has; let them moreover pay such fine to the Achaeans as shall be
agreed upon, in testimony among those that shall be born hereafter.
Aid if Priam and his sons refuse such fine when Alexandrus has fallen,
then will I stay here and fight on till I have got satisfaction.”
As he spoke he drew his knife across the throats of the victims, and
laid them down gasping and dying upon the ground, for the knife had
reft them of their strength. Then they poured wine from the
mixing-bowl into the cups, and prayed to the everlasting gods, saying,
Trojans and Achaeans among one another, “Jove, most great and
glorious, and ye other everlasting gods, grant that the brains of them
who shall first sin against their oaths- of them and their children-
may be shed upon the ground even as this wine, and let their wives
become the slaves of strangers.”
Thus they prayed, but not as yet would Jove grant them their prayer.
Then Priam, descendant of Dardanus, spoke, saying, “Hear me, Trojans
and Achaeans, I will now go back to the wind-beaten city of Ilius: I
dare not with my own eyes witness this fight between my son and
Menelaus, for Jove and the other immortals alone know which shall
On this he laid the two lambs on his chariot and took his seat. He
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor sat beside him; the two
then went back to Ilius. Hector and Ulysses measured the ground, and
cast lots from a helmet of bronze to see which should take aim
first. Meanwhile the two hosts lifted up their hands and prayed
saying, “Father Jove, that rulest from Ida, most glorious in power,
grant that he who first brought about this war between us may die, and
enter the house of Hades, while we others remain at peace and abide by
our oaths.”
Great Hector now turned his head aside while he shook the helmet,
and the lot of Paris flew out first. The others took their several
stations, each by his horses and the place where his arms were
lying, while Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen, put on his goodly
armour. First he greaved his legs with greaves of good make and fitted
with ancle-clasps of silver; after this he donned the cuirass of his
brother Lycaon, and fitted it to his own body; he hung his
silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then his
mighty shield. On his comely head he set his helmet, well-wrought,
with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it, and he
grasped a redoubtable spear that suited his hands. In like fashion
Menelaus also put on his armour.
When they had thus armed, each amid his own people, they strode
fierce of aspect into the open space, and both Trojans and Achaeans
were struck with awe as they beheld them. They stood near one
another on the measured ground, brandishing their spears, and each
furious against the other. Alexandrus aimed first, and struck the
round shield of the son of Atreus, but the spear did not pierce it,
for the shield turned its point. Menelaus next took aim, praying to
Father Jove as he did so. “King Jove,” he said, “grant me revenge on
Alexandrus who has wronged me; subdue him under my hand that in ages
yet to come a man may shrink from doing ill deeds in the house of
his host.”
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it at the shield of
Alexandrus. Through shield and cuirass it went, and tore the shirt
by his flank, but Alexandrus swerved aside, and thus saved his life.
Then the son of Atreus drew his sword, and drove at the projecting
part of his helmet, but the sword fell shivered in three or four
pieces from his hand, and he cried, looking towards Heaven, “Father
Jove, of all gods thou art the most despiteful; I made sure of my
revenge, but the sword has broken in my hand, my spear has been hurled
in vain, and I have not killed him.”
With this he flew at Alexandrus, caught him by the horsehair plume
of his helmet, and began dragging him towards the Achaeans. The
strap of the helmet that went under his chin was choking him, and
Menelaus would have dragged him off to his own great glory had not
Jove’s daughter Venus been quick to mark and to break the strap of
oxhide, so that the empty helmet came away in his hand. This he
flung to his comrades among the Achaeans, and was again springing upon
Alexandrus to run him through with a spear, but Venus snatched him
up in a moment (as a god can do), hid him under a cloud of darkness,
and conveyed him to his own bedchamber.
Then she went to call Helen, and found her on a high tower with
the Trojan women crowding round her. She took the form of an old woman
who used to dress wool for her when she was still in Lacedaemon, and
of whom she was very fond. Thus disguised she plucked her by
perfumed robe and said, “Come hither; Alexandrus says you are to go to
the house; he is on his bed in his own room, radiant with beauty and
dressed in gorgeous apparel. No one would think he had just come
from fighting, but rather that he was going to a dance, or had done
dancing and was sitting down.”
With these words she moved the heart of Helen to anger. When she
marked the beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and
sparkling eyes, she marvelled at her and said, “Goddess, why do you
thus beguile me? Are you going to send me afield still further to some
man whom you have taken up in Phrygia or fair Meonia? Menelaus has
just vanquished Alexandrus, and is to take my hateful self back with
him. You are come here to betray me. Go sit with Alexandrus
yourself; henceforth be goddess no longer; never let your feet carry
you back to Olympus; worry about him and look after him till he make
you his wife, or, for the matter of that, his slave- but me? I shall
not go; I can garnish his bed no longer; I should be a by-word among
all the women of Troy. Besides, I have trouble on my mind.”
Venus was very angry, and said, “Bold hussy, do not provoke me; if
you do, I shall leave you to your fate and hate you as much as I
have loved you. I will stir up fierce hatred between Trojans and
Achaeans, and you shall come to a bad end.”
At this Helen was frightened. She wrapped her mantle about her and
went in silence, following the goddess and unnoticed by the Trojan
When they came to the house of Alexandrus the maid-servants set
about their work, but Helen went into her own room, and the
laughter-loving goddess took a seat and set it for her facing
Alexandrus. On this Helen, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, sat down,
and with eyes askance began to upbraid her husband.
“So you are come from the fight,” said she; “would that you had
fallen rather by the hand of that brave man who was my husband. You
used to brag that you were a better man with hands and spear than
Menelaus. go, but I then, an challenge him again- but I should
advise you not to do so, for if you are foolish enough to meet him
in single combat, you will soon all by his spear.”
And Paris answered, “Wife, do not vex me with your reproaches.
This time, with the help of Minerva, Menelaus has vanquished me;
another time I may myself be victor, for I too have gods that will
stand by me. Come, let us lie down together and make friends. Never
yet was I so passionately enamoured of you as at this moment- not even
when I first carried you off from Lacedaemon and sailed away with you-
not even when I had converse with you upon the couch of love in the
island of Cranae was I so enthralled by desire of you as now.” On this
he led her towards the bed, and his wife went with him.
Thus they laid themselves on the bed together; but the son of Atreus
strode among the throng, looking everywhere for Alexandrus, and no
man, neither of the Trojans nor of the allies, could find him. If they
had seen him they were in no mind to hide him, for they all of them
hated him as they did death itself. Then Agamemnon, king of men,
spoke, saying, “Hear me, Trojans, Dardanians, and allies. The
victory has been with Menelaus; therefore give back Helen with all her
wealth, and pay such fine as shall be agreed upon, in testimony
among them that shall be born hereafter.”
Thus spoke the son of Atreus, and the Achaeans shouted in applause.


Now the gods were sitting with Jove in council upon the golden floor
while Hebe went round pouring out nectar for them to drink, and as
they pledged one another in their cups of gold they looked down upon
the town of Troy. The son of Saturn then began to tease Juno,
talking at her so as to provoke her. “Menelaus,” said he, “has two
good friends among the goddesses, Juno of Argos, and Minerva of
Alalcomene, but they only sit still and look on, while Venus keeps
ever by Alexandrus’ side to defend him in any danger; indeed she has
just rescued him when he made sure that it was all over with him-
for the victory really did lie with Menelaus. We must consider what we
shall do about all this; shall we set them fighting anew or make peace
between them? If you will agree to this last Menelaus can take back
Helen and the city of Priam may remain still inhabited.”
Minerva and Juno muttered their discontent as they sat side by
side hatching mischief for the Trojans. Minerva scowled at her father,
for she was in a furious passion with him, and said nothing, but
Juno could not contain herself. “Dread son of Saturn,” said she,
“what, pray, is the meaning of all this? Is my trouble, then, to go
for nothing, and the sweat that I have sweated, to say nothing of my
horses, while getting the people together against Priam and his
children? Do as you will, but we other gods shall not all of us
approve your counsel.”
Jove was angry and answered, “My dear, what harm have Priam and
his sons done you that you are so hotly bent on sacking the city of
Ilius? Will nothing do for you but you must within their walls and eat
Priam raw, with his sons and all the other Trojans to boot? Have it
your own way then; for I would not have this matter become a bone of
contention between us. I say further, and lay my saying to your heart,
if ever I want to sack a city belonging to friends of yours, you
must not try to stop me; you will have to let me do it, for I am
giving in to you sorely against my will. Of all inhabited cities under
the sun and stars of heaven, there was none that I so much respected
as Ilius with Priam and his whole people. Equitable feasts were
never wanting about my altar, nor the savour of burning fat, which
is honour due to ourselves.”
“My own three favourite cities,” answered Juno, “are Argos,
Sparta, and Mycenae. Sack them whenever you may be displeased with
them. I shall not defend them and I shall not care. Even if I did, and
tried to stay you, I should take nothing by it, for you are much
stronger than I am, but I will not have my own work wasted. I too am a
god and of the same race with yourself. I am Saturn’s eldest daughter,
and am honourable not on this ground only, but also because I am
your wife, and you are king over the gods. Let it be a case, then,
of give-and-take between us, and the rest of the gods will follow
our lead. Tell Minerva to go and take part in the fight at once, and
let her contrive that the Trojans shall be the first to break their
oaths and set upon the Achaeans.”
The sire of gods and men heeded her words, and said to Minerva,
“Go at once into the Trojan and Achaean hosts, and contrive that the
Trojans shall be the first to break their oaths and set upon the
This was what Minerva was already eager to do, so down she darted
from the topmost summits of Olympus. She shot through the sky as
some brilliant meteor which the son of scheming Saturn has sent as a
sign to mariners or to some great army, and a fiery train of light
follows in its wake. The Trojans and Achaeans were struck with awe
as they beheld, and one would turn to his neighbour, saying, “Either
we shall again have war and din of combat, or Jove the lord of
battle will now make peace between us.”
Thus did they converse. Then Minerva took the form of Laodocus,
son of Antenor, and went through the ranks of the Trojans to find
Pandarus, the redoubtable son of Lycaon. She found him standing
among the stalwart heroes who had followed him from the banks of the
Aesopus, so she went close up to him and said, “Brave son of Lycaon,
will you do as I tell you? If you dare send an arrow at Menelaus you
will win honour and thanks from all the Trojans, and especially from
prince Alexandrus- he would be the first to requite you very
handsomely if he could see Menelaus mount his funeral pyre, slain by
an arrow from your hand. Take your home aim then, and pray to Lycian
Apollo, the famous archer; vow that when you get home to your strong
city of Zelea you will offer a hecatomb of firstling lambs in his
His fool’s heart was persuaded, and he took his bow from its case.
This bow was made from the horns of a wild ibex which he had killed as
it was bounding from a rock; he had stalked it, and it had fallen as
the arrow struck it to the heart. Its horns were sixteen palms long,
and a worker in horn had made them into a bow, smoothing them well
down, and giving them tips of gold. When Pandarus had strung his bow
he laid it carefully on the ground, and his brave followers held their
shields before him lest the Achaeans should set upon him before he had
shot Menelaus. Then he opened the lid of his quiver and took out a
winged arrow that had yet been shot, fraught with the pangs of
death. He laid the arrow on the string and prayed to Lycian Apollo,
the famous archer, vowing that when he got home to his strong city
of Zelea he would offer a hecatomb of firstling lambs in his honour.
He laid the notch of the arrow on the oxhide bowstring, and drew
both notch and string to his breast till the arrow-head was near the
bow; then when the bow was arched into a half-circle he let fly, and
the bow twanged, and the string sang as the arrow flew gladly on
over the heads of the throng.
But the blessed gods did not forget thee, O Menelaus, and Jove’s
daughter, driver of the spoil, was the first to stand before thee
and ward off the piercing arrow. She turned it from his skin as a
mother whisks a fly from off her child when it is sleeping sweetly;
she guided it to the part where the golden buckles of the belt that
passed over his double cuirass were fastened, so the arrow struck
the belt that went tightly round him. It went right through this and
through the cuirass of cunning workmanship; it also pierced the belt
beneath it, which he wore next his skin to keep out darts or arrows;
it was this that served him in the best stead, nevertheless the
arrow went through it and grazed the top of the skin, so that blood
began flowing from the wound.
As when some woman of Meonia or Caria strains purple dye on to a
piece of ivory that is to be the cheek-piece of a horse, and is to
be laid up in a treasure house- many a knight is fain to bear it,
but the king keeps it as an ornament of which both horse and driver
may be proud- even so, O Menelaus, were your shapely thighs and your
legs down to your fair ancles stained with blood.
When King Agamemnon saw the blood flowing from the wound he was
afraid, and so was brave Menelaus himself till he saw that the barbs
of the arrow and the thread that bound the arrow-head to the shaft
were still outside the wound. Then he took heart, but Agamemnon heaved
a deep sigh as he held Menelaus’s hand in his own, and his comrades
made moan in concert. “Dear brother, “he cried, “I have been the death
of you in pledging this covenant and letting you come forward as our
champion. The Trojans have trampled on their oaths and have wounded
you; nevertheless the oath, the blood of lambs, the drink-offerings
and the right hands of fellowship in which have put our trust shall
not be vain. If he that rules Olympus fulfil it not here and now,
he. will yet fulfil it hereafter, and they shall pay dearly with their
lives and with their wives and children. The day will surely come when
mighty Ilius shall be laid low, with Priam and Priam’s people, when
the son of Saturn from his high throne shall overshadow them with
his awful aegis in punishment of their present treachery. This shall
surely be; but how, Menelaus, shall I mourn you, if it be your lot now
to die? I should return to Argos as a by-word, for the Achaeans will
at once go home. We shall leave Priam and the Trojans the glory of
still keeping Helen, and the earth will rot your bones as you lie here
at Troy with your purpose not fulfilled. Then shall some braggart
Trojan leap upon your tomb and say, ‘Ever thus may Agamemnon wreak his
vengeance; he brought his army in vain; he is gone home to his own
land with empty ships, and has left Menelaus behind him.’ Thus will
one of them say, and may the earth then swallow me.”
But Menelaus reassured him and said, “Take heart, and do not alarm
the people; the arrow has not struck me in a mortal part, for my outer
belt of burnished metal first stayed it, and under this my cuirass and
the belt of mail which the bronze-smiths made me.”
And Agamemnon answered, “I trust, dear Menelaus, that it may be even
so, but the surgeon shall examine your wound and lay herbs upon it
to relieve your pain.”
He then said to Talthybius, “Talthybius, tell Machaon, son to the
great physician, Aesculapius, to come and see Menelaus immediately.
Some Trojan or Lycian archer has wounded him with an arrow to our
dismay, and to his own great glory.”
Talthybius did as he was told, and went about the host trying to
find Machaon. Presently he found standing amid the brave warriors
who had followed him from Tricca; thereon he went up to him and
said, “Son of Aesculapius, King Agamemnon says you are to come and see
Menelaus immediately. Some Trojan or Lycian archer has wounded him
with an arrow to our dismay and to his own great glory.”
Thus did he speak, and Machaon was moved to go. They passed
through the spreading host of the Achaeans and went on till they
came to the place where Menelaus had been wounded and was lying with
the chieftains gathered in a circle round him. Machaon passed into the
middle of the ring and at once drew the arrow from the belt, bending
its barbs back through the force with which he pulled it out. He undid
the burnished belt, and beneath this the cuirass and the belt of
mail which the bronze-smiths had made; then, when he had seen the
wound, he wiped away the blood and applied some soothing drugs which
Chiron had given to Aesculapius out of the good will he bore him.
While they were thus busy about Menelaus, the Trojans came forward
against them, for they had put on their armour, and now renewed the
You would not have then found Agamemnon asleep nor cowardly and
unwilling to fight, but eager rather for the fray. He left his chariot
rich with bronze and his panting steeds in charge of Eurymedon, son of
Ptolemaeus the son of Peiraeus, and bade him hold them in readiness
against the time his limbs should weary of going about and giving
orders to so many, for he went among the ranks on foot. When he saw
men hasting to the front he stood by them and cheered them on.
“Argives,” said he, “slacken not one whit in your onset; father Jove
will be no helper of liars; the Trojans have been the first to break
their oaths and to attack us; therefore they shall be devoured of
vultures; we shall take their city and carry off their wives and
children in our ships.”
But he angrily rebuked those whom he saw shirking and disinclined to
fight. “Argives,” he cried, “cowardly miserable creatures, have you no
shame to stand here like frightened fawns who, when they can no longer
scud over the plain, huddle together, but show no fight? You are as
dazed and spiritless as deer. Would you wait till the Trojans reach
the sterns of our ships as they lie on the shore, to see, whether
the son of Saturn will hold his hand over you to protect you?”
Thus did he go about giving his orders among the ranks. Passing
through the crowd, he came presently on the Cretans, arming round
Idomeneus, who was at their head, fierce as a wild boar, while
Meriones was bringing up the battalions that were in the rear.
Agamemnon was glad when he saw him, and spoke him fairly. “Idomeneus,”
said he, “I treat you with greater distinction than I do any others of
the Achaeans, whether in war or in other things, or at table. When the
princes are mixing my choicest wines in the mixing-bowls, they have
each of them a fixed allowance, but your cup is kept always full
like my own, that you may drink whenever you are minded. Go,
therefore, into battle, and show yourself the man you have been always
proud to be.”
Idomeneus answered, “I will be a trusty comrade, as I promised you
from the first I would be. Urge on the other Achaeans, that we may
join battle at once, for the Trojans have trampled upon their
covenants. Death and destruction shall be theirs, seeing they have
been the first to break their oaths and to attack us.”
The son of Atreus went on, glad at heart, till he came upon the
two Ajaxes arming themselves amid a host of foot-soldiers. As when a
goat-herd from some high post watches a storm drive over the deep
before the west wind- black as pitch is the offing and a mighty
whirlwind draws towards him, so that he is afraid and drives his flock
into a cave- even thus did the ranks of stalwart youths move in a dark
mass to battle under the Ajaxes, horrid with shield and spear. Glad
was King Agamemnon when he saw them. “No need,” he cried, “to give
orders to such leaders of the Argives as you are, for of your own
selves you spur your men on to fight with might and main. Would, by
father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo that all were so minded as you are,
for the city of Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we
should sack it.”
With this he left them and went onward to Nestor, the facile speaker
of the Pylians, who was marshalling his men and urging them on, in
company with Pelagon, Alastor, Chromius, Haemon, and Bias shepherd
of his people. He placed his knights with their chariots and horses in
the front rank, while the foot-soldiers, brave men and many, whom he
could trust, were in the rear. The cowards he drove into the middle,
that they might fight whether they would or no. He gave his orders
to the knights first, bidding them hold their horses well in hand,
so as to avoid confusion. “Let no man,” he said, “relying on his
strength or horsemanship, get before the others and engage singly with
the Trojans, nor yet let him lag behind or you will weaken your
attack; but let each when he meets an enemy’s chariot throw his
spear from his own; this be much the best; this is how the men of
old took towns and strongholds; in this wise were they minded.”
Thus did the old man charge them, for he had been in many a fight,
and King Agamemnon was glad. “I wish,” he said to him, that your limbs
were as supple and your strength as sure as your judgment is; but age,
the common enemy of mankind, has laid his hand upon you; would that it
had fallen upon some other, and that you were still young.”
And Nestor, knight of Gerene, answered, “Son of Atreus, I too
would gladly be the man I was when I slew mighty Ereuthalion; but
the gods will not give us everything at one and the same time. I was
then young, and now I am old; still I can go with my knights and
give them that counsel which old men have a right to give. The
wielding of the spear I leave to those who are younger and stronger
than myself.”
Agamemnon went his way rejoicing, and presently found Menestheus,
son of Peteos, tarrying in his place, and with him were the
Athenians loud of tongue in battle. Near him also tarried cunning
Ulysses, with his sturdy Cephallenians round him; they had not yet
heard the battle-cry, for the ranks of Trojans and Achaeans had only
just begun to move, so they were standing still, waiting for some
other columns of the Achaeans to attack the Trojans and begin the
fighting. When he saw this Agamemnon rebuked them and said, “Son of
Peteos, and you other, steeped in cunning, heart of guile, why stand
you here cowering and waiting on others? You two should be of all
men foremost when there is hard fighting to be done, for you are
ever foremost to accept my invitation when we councillors of the
Achaeans are holding feast. You are glad enough then to take your fill
of roast meats and to drink wine as long as you please, whereas now
you would not care though you saw ten columns of Achaeans engage the
enemy in front of you.”
Ulysses glared at him and answered, “Son of Atreus, what are you
talking about? How can you say that we are slack? When the Achaeans
are in full fight with the Trojans, you shall see, if you care to do
so, that the father of Telemachus will join battle with the foremost
of them. You are talking idly.”
When Agamemnon saw that Ulysses was angry, he smiled pleasantly at
him and withdrew his words. “Ulysses,” said he, “noble son of Laertes,
excellent in all good counsel, I have neither fault to find nor orders
to give you, for I know your heart is right, and that you and I are of
a mind. Enough; I will make you amends for what I have said, and if
any ill has now been spoken may the gods bring it to nothing.”
He then left them and went on to others. Presently he saw the son of
Tydeus, noble Diomed, standing by his chariot and horses, with
Sthenelus the son of Capaneus beside him; whereon he began to
upbraid him. “Son of Tydeus,” he said, “why stand you cowering here
upon the brink of battle? Tydeus did not shrink thus, but was ever
ahead of his men when leading them on against the foe- so, at least,
say they that saw him in battle, for I never set eyes upon him myself.
They say that there was no man like him. He came once to Mycenae,
not as an enemy but as a guest, in company with Polynices to recruit
his forces, for they were levying war against the strong city of
Thebes, and prayed our people for a body of picked men to help them.
The men of Mycenae were willing to let them have one, but Jove
dissuaded them by showing them unfavourable omens. Tydeus,
therefore, and Polynices went their way. When they had got as far
the deep-meadowed and rush-grown banks of the Aesopus, the Achaeans
sent Tydeus as their envoy, and he found the Cadmeans gathered in
great numbers to a banquet in the house of Eteocles. Stranger though
he was, he knew no fear on finding himself single-handed among so
many, but challenged them to contests of all kinds, and in each one of
them was at once victorious, so mightily did Minerva help him. The
Cadmeans were incensed at his success, and set a force of fifty youths
with two captains- the godlike hero Maeon, son of Haemon, and
Polyphontes, son of Autophonus- at their head, to lie in wait for
him on his return journey; but Tydeus slew every man of them, save
only Maeon, whom he let go in obedience to heaven’s omens. Such was
Tydeus of Aetolia. His son can talk more glibly, but he cannot fight
as his father did.”
Diomed made no answer, for he was shamed by the rebuke of Agamemnon;
but the son of Capaneus took up his words and said, “Son of Atreus,
tell no lies, for you can speak truth if you will. We boast
ourselves as even better men than our fathers; we took seven-gated
Thebes, though the wall was stronger and our men were fewer in number,
for we trusted in the omens of the gods and in the help of Jove,
whereas they perished through their own sheer folly; hold not, then,
our fathers in like honour with us.”
Diomed looked sternly at him and said, “Hold your peace, my
friend, as I bid you. It is not amiss that Agamemnon should urge the
Achaeans forward, for the glory will be his if we take the city, and
his the shame if we are vanquished. Therefore let us acquit
ourselves with valour.”
As he spoke he sprang from his chariot, and his armour rang so
fiercely about his body that even a brave man might well have been
scared to hear it.
As when some mighty wave that thunders on the beach when the west
wind has lashed it into fury- it has reared its head afar and now
comes crashing down on the shore; it bows its arching crest high
over the jagged rocks and spews its salt foam in all directions-
even so did the serried phalanxes of the Danaans march steadfastly
to battle. The chiefs gave orders each to his own people, but the
men said never a word; no man would think it, for huge as the host
was, it seemed as though there was not a tongue among them, so
silent were they in their obedience; and as they marched the armour
about their bodies glistened in the sun. But the clamour of the Trojan
ranks was as that of many thousand ewes that stand waiting to be
milked in the yards of some rich flockmaster, and bleat incessantly in
answer to the bleating of their lambs; for they had not one speech nor
language, but their tongues were diverse, and they came from many
different places. These were inspired of Mars, but the others by
Minerva- and with them came Panic, Rout, and Strife whose fury never
tires, sister and friend of murderous Mars, who, from being at first
but low in stature, grows till she uprears her head to heaven,
though her feet are still on earth. She it was that went about among
them and flung down discord to the waxing of sorrow with even hand
between them.
When they were got together in one place shield clashed with
shield and spear with spear in the rage of battle. The bossed
shields beat one upon another, and there was a tramp as of a great
multitude- death-cry and shout of triumph of slain and slayers, and
the earth ran red with blood. As torrents swollen with rain course
madly down their deep channels till the angry floods meet in some
gorge, and the shepherd the hillside hears their roaring from afar-
even such was the toil and uproar of the hosts as they joined in
First Antilochus slew an armed warrior of the Trojans, Echepolus,
son of Thalysius, fighting in the foremost ranks. He struck at the
projecting part of his helmet and drove the spear into his brow; the
point of bronze pierced the bone, and darkness veiled his eyes;
headlong as a tower he fell amid the press of the fight, and as he
dropped King Elephenor, son of Chalcodon and captain of the proud
Abantes began dragging him out of reach of the darts that were falling
around him, in haste to strip him of his armour. But his purpose was
not for long; Agenor saw him haling the body away, and smote him in
the side with his bronze-shod spear- for as he stooped his side was
left unprotected by his shield- and thus he perished. Then the fight
between Trojans and Achaeans grew furious over his body, and they flew
upon each other like wolves, man and man crushing one upon the other.
Forthwith Ajax, son of Telamon, slew the fair youth Simoeisius,
son of Anthemion, whom his mother bore by the banks of the Simois,
as she was coming down from Mt. Ida, where she had been with her
parents to see their flocks. Therefore he was named Simoeisius, but he
did not live to pay his parents for his rearing, for he was cut off
untimely by the spear of mighty Ajax, who struck him in the breast
by the right nipple as he was coming on among the foremost fighters;
the spear went right through his shoulder, and he fell as a poplar
that has grown straight and tall in a meadow by some mere, and its top
is thick with branches. Then the wheelwright lays his axe to its roots
that he may fashion a felloe for the wheel of some goodly chariot, and
it lies seasoning by the waterside. In such wise did Ajax fell to
earth Simoeisius, son of Anthemion. Thereon Antiphus of the gleaming
corslet, son of Priam, hurled a spear at Ajax from amid the crowd
and missed him, but he hit Leucus, the brave comrade of Ulysses, in
the groin, as he was dragging the body of Simoeisius over to the other
side; so he fell upon the body and loosed his hold upon it. Ulysses
was furious when he saw Leucus slain, and strode in full armour
through the front ranks till he was quite close; then he glared
round about him and took aim, and the Trojans fell back as he did
so. His dart was not sped in vain, for it struck Democoon, the bastard
son of Priam, who had come to him from Abydos, where he had charge
of his father’s mares. Ulysses, infuriated by the death of his
comrade, hit him with his spear on one temple, and the bronze point
came through on the other side of his forehead. Thereon darkness
veiled his eyes, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell
heavily to the ground. Hector, and they that were in front, then
gave round while the Argives raised a shout and drew off the dead,
pressing further forward as they did so. But Apollo looked down from
Pergamus and called aloud to the Trojans, for he was displeased.
“Trojans,” he cried, “rush on the foe, and do not let yourselves be
thus beaten by the Argives. Their skins are not stone nor iron that
when hit them you do them no harm. Moreover, Achilles, the son of
lovely Thetis, is not fighting, but is nursing his anger at the
Thus spoke the mighty god, crying to them from the city, while
Jove’s redoubtable daughter, the Trito-born, went about among the host
of the Achaeans, and urged them forward whenever she beheld them
Then fate fell upon Diores, son of Amarynceus, for he was struck
by a jagged stone near the ancle of his right leg. He that hurled it
was Peirous, son of Imbrasus, captain of the Thracians, who had come
from Aenus; the bones and both the tendons were crushed by the
pitiless stone. He fell to the ground on his back, and in his death
throes stretched out his hands towards his comrades. But Peirous,
who had wounded him, sprang on him and thrust a spear into his
belly, so that his bowels came gushing out upon the ground, and
darkness veiled his eyes. As he was leaving the body, Thoas of Aetolia
struck him in the chest near the nipple, and the point fixed itself in
his lungs. Thoas came close up to him, pulled the spear out of his
chest, and then drawing his sword, smote him in the middle of the
belly so that he died; but he did not strip him of his armour, for his
Thracian comrades, men who wear their hair in a tuft at the top of
their heads, stood round the body and kept him off with their long
spears for all his great stature and valour; so he was driven back.
Thus the two corpses lay stretched on earth near to one another, the
one captain of the Thracians and the other of the Epeans; and many
another fell round them.
And now no man would have made light of the fighting if he could
have gone about among it scatheless and unwounded, with Minerva
leading him by the hand, and protecting him from the storm of spears
and arrows. For many Trojans and Achaeans on that day lay stretched
side by side face downwards upon the earth.


Then Pallas Minerva put valour into the heart of Diomed, son of
Tydeus, that he might excel all the other Argives, and cover himself
with glory. She made a stream of fire flare from his shield and helmet
like the star that shines most brilliantly in summer after its bath in
the waters of Oceanus- even such a fire did she kindle upon his head
and shoulders as she bade him speed into the thickest hurly-burly of
the fight.
Now there was a certain rich and honourable man among the Trojans,
priest of Vulcan, and his name was Dares. He had two sons, Phegeus and
Idaeus, both of them skilled in all the arts of war. These two came
forward from the main body of Trojans, and set upon Diomed, he being
on foot, while they fought from their chariot. When they were close up
to one another, Phegeus took aim first, but his spear went over
Diomed’s left shoulder without hitting him. Diomed then threw, and his
spear sped not in vain, for it hit Phegeus on the breast near the
nipple, and he fell from his chariot. Idaeus did not dare to
bestride his brother’s body, but sprang from the chariot and took to
flight, or he would have shared his brother’s fate; whereon Vulcan
saved him by wrapping him in a cloud of darkness, that his old
father might not be utterly overwhelmed with grief; but the son of
Tydeus drove off with the horses, and bade his followers take them
to the ships. The Trojans were scared when they saw the two sons of
Dares, one of them in fright and the other lying dead by his
chariot. Minerva, therefore, took Mars by the hand and said, “Mars,
Mars, bane of men, bloodstained stormer of cities, may we not now
leave the Trojans and Achaeans to fight it out, and see to which of
the two Jove will vouchsafe the victory? Let us go away, and thus
avoid his anger.”
So saying, she drew Mars out of the battle, and set him down upon
the steep banks of the Scamander. Upon this the Danaans drove the
Trojans back, and each one of their chieftains killed his man. First
King Agamemnon flung mighty Odius, captain of the Halizoni, from his
chariot. The spear of Agamemnon caught him on the broad of his back,
just as he was turning in flight; it struck him between the
shoulders and went right through his chest, and his armour rang
rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.
Then Idomeneus killed Phaesus, son of Borus the Meonian, who had
come from Varne. Mighty Idomeneus speared him on the right shoulder as
he was mounting his chariot, and the darkness of death enshrouded
him as he fell heavily from the car.
The squires of Idomeneus spoiled him of his armour, while
Menelaus, son of Atreus, killed Scamandrius the son of Strophius, a
mighty huntsman and keen lover of the chase. Diana herself had
taught him how to kill every kind of wild creature that is bred in
mountain forests, but neither she nor his famed skill in archery could
now save him, for the spear of Menelaus struck him in the back as he
was flying; it struck him between the shoulders and went right through
his chest, so that he fell headlong and his armour rang rattling round
Meriones then killed Phereclus the son of Tecton, who was the son of
Hermon, a man whose hand was skilled in all manner of cunning
workmanship, for Pallas Minerva had dearly loved him. He it was that
made the ships for Alexandrus, which were the beginning of all
mischief, and brought evil alike both on the Trojans and on Alexandrus
himself; for he heeded not the decrees of heaven. Meriones overtook
him as he was flying, and struck him on the right buttock. The point
of the spear went through the bone into the bladder, and death came
upon him as he cried aloud and fell forward on his knees.
Meges, moreover, slew Pedaeus, son of Antenor, who, though he was
a bastard, had been brought up by Theano as one of her own children,
for the love she bore her husband. The son of Phyleus got close up
to him and drove a spear into the nape of his neck: it went under
his tongue all among his teeth, so he bit the cold bronze, and fell
dead in the dust.
And Eurypylus, son of Euaemon, killed Hypsenor, the son of noble
Dolopion, who had been made priest of the river Scamander, and was
honoured among the people as though he were a god. Eurypylus gave
him chase as he was flying before him, smote him with his sword upon
the arm, and lopped his strong hand from off it. The bloody hand
fell to the ground, and the shades of death, with fate that no man can
withstand, came over his eyes.
Thus furiously did the battle rage between them. As for the son of
Tydeus, you could not say whether he was more among the Achaeans or
the Trojans. He rushed across the plain like a winter torrent that has
burst its barrier in full flood; no dykes, no walls of fruitful
vineyards can embank it when it is swollen with rain from heaven,
but in a moment it comes tearing onward, and lays many a field waste
that many a strong man hand has reclaimed- even so were the dense
phalanxes of the Trojans driven in rout by the son of Tydeus, and many
though they were, they dared not abide his onslaught.
Now when the son of Lycaon saw him scouring the plain and driving
the Trojans pell-mell before him, he aimed an arrow and hit the
front part of his cuirass near the shoulder: the arrow went right
through the metal and pierced the flesh, so that the cuirass was
covered with blood. On this the son of Lycaon shouted in triumph,
“Knights Trojans, come on; the bravest of the Achaeans is wounded, and
he will not hold out much longer if King Apollo was indeed with me
when I sped from Lycia hither.”
Thus did he vaunt; but his arrow had not killed Diomed, who withdrew
and made for the chariot and horses of Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus.
“Dear son of Capaneus,” said he, “come down from your chariot, and
draw the arrow out of my shoulder.”
Sthenelus sprang from his chariot, and drew the arrow from the
wound, whereon the blood came spouting out through the hole that had
been made in his shirt. Then Diomed prayed, saying, “Hear me, daughter
of aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, if ever you loved my father well
and stood by him in the thick of a fight, do the like now by me; grant
me to come within a spear’s throw of that man and kill him. He has
been too quick for me and has wounded me; and now he is boasting
that I shall not see the light of the sun much longer.”
Thus he prayed, and Pallas Minerva heard him; she made his limbs
supple and quickened his hands and his feet. Then she went up close to
him and said, “Fear not, Diomed, to do battle with the Trojans, for
I have set in your heart the spirit of your knightly father Tydeus.
Moreover, I have withdrawn the veil from your eyes, that you know gods
and men apart. If, then, any other god comes here and offers you
battle, do not fight him; but should Jove’s daughter Venus come,
strike her with your spear and wound her.”
When she had said this Minerva went away, and the son of Tydeus
again took his place among the foremost fighters, three times more
fierce even than he had been before. He was like a lion that some
mountain shepherd has wounded, but not killed, as he is springing over
the wall of a sheep-yard to attack the sheep. The shepherd has
roused the brute to fury but cannot defend his flock, so he takes
shelter under cover of the buildings, while the sheep,
panic-stricken on being deserted, are smothered in heaps one on top of
the other, and the angry lion leaps out over the sheep-yard wall. Even
thus did Diomed go furiously about among the Trojans.
He killed Astynous, and shepherd of his people, the one with a
thrust of his spear, which struck him above the nipple, the other with
a sword- cut on the collar-bone, that severed his shoulder from his
neck and back. He let both of them lie, and went in pursuit of Abas
and Polyidus, sons of the old reader of dreams Eurydamas: they never
came back for him to read them any more dreams, for mighty Diomed made
an end of them. He then gave chase to Xanthus and Thoon, the two
sons of Phaenops, both of them very dear to him, for he was now worn
out with age, and begat no more sons to inherit his possessions. But
Diomed took both their lives and left their father sorrowing bitterly,
for he nevermore saw them come home from battle alive, and his kinsmen
divided his wealth among themselves.
Then he came upon two sons of Priam, Echemmon and Chromius, as
they were both in one chariot. He sprang upon them as a lion fastens
on the neck of some cow or heifer when the herd is feeding in a
coppice. For all their vain struggles he flung them both from their
chariot and stripped the armour from their bodies. Then he gave
their horses to his comrades to take them back to the ships.
When Aeneas saw him thus making havoc among the ranks, he went
through the fight amid the rain of spears to see if he could find
Pandarus. When he had found the brave son of Lycaon he said,
“Pandarus, where is now your bow, your winged arrows, and your
renown as an archer, in respect of which no man here can rival you nor
is there any in Lycia that can beat you? Lift then your hands to
Jove and send an arrow at this fellow who is going so masterfully
about, and has done such deadly work among the Trojans. He has
killed many a brave man- unless indeed he is some god who is angry
with the Trojans about their sacrifices, and and has set his hand
against them in his displeasure.”
And the son of Lycaon answered, “Aeneas, I take him for none other
than the son of Tydeus. I know him by his shield, the visor of his
helmet, and by his horses. It is possible that he may be a god, but if
he is the man I say he is, he is not making all this havoc without
heaven’s help, but has some god by his side who is shrouded in a cloud
of darkness, and who turned my arrow aside when it had hit him. I have
taken aim at him already and hit him on the right shoulder; my arrow
went through the breastpiece of his cuirass; and I made sure I
should send him hurrying to the world below, but it seems that I
have not killed him. There must be a god who is angry with me.
Moreover I have neither horse nor chariot. In my father’s stables
there are eleven excellent chariots, fresh from the builder, quite
new, with cloths spread over them; and by each of them there stand a
pair of horses, champing barley and rye; my old father Lycaon urged me
again and again when I was at home and on the point of starting, to
take chariots and horses with me that I might lead the Trojans in
battle, but I would not listen to him; it would have been much
better if I had done so, but I was thinking about the horses, which
had been used to eat their fill, and I was afraid that in such a great
gathering of men they might be ill-fed, so I left them at home and
came on foot to Ilius armed only with my bow and arrows. These it
seems, are of no use, for I have already hit two chieftains, the
sons of Atreus and of Tydeus, and though I drew blood surely enough, I
have only made them still more furious. I did ill to take my bow
down from its peg on the day I led my band of Trojans to Ilius in
Hector’s service, and if ever I get home again to set eyes on my
native place, my wife, and the greatness of my house, may some one cut
my head off then and there if I do not break the bow and set it on a
hot fire- such pranks as it plays me.”
Aeneas answered, “Say no more. Things will not mend till we two go
against this man with chariot and horses and bring him to a trial of
arms. Mount my chariot, and note how cleverly the horses of Tros can
speed hither and thither over the plain in pursuit or flight. If
Jove again vouchsafes glory to the son of Tydeus they will carry us
safely back to the city. Take hold, then, of the whip and reins
while I stand upon the car to fight, or else do you wait this man’s
onset while I look after the horses.”
“Aeneas.” replied the son of Lycaon, “take the reins and drive; if
we have to fly before the son of Tydeus the horses will go better
for their own driver. If they miss the sound of your voice when they
expect it they may be frightened, and refuse to take us out of the
fight. The son of Tydeus will then kill both of us and take the
horses. Therefore drive them yourself and I will be ready for him with
my spear.”
They then mounted the chariot and drove full-speed towards the son
of Tydeus. Sthenelus, son of Capaneus, saw them coming and said to
Diomed, “Diomed, son of Tydeus, man after my own heart, I see two
heroes speeding towards you, both of them men of might the one a
skilful archer, Pandarus son of Lycaon, the other, Aeneas, whose
sire is Anchises, while his mother is Venus. Mount the chariot and let
us retreat. Do not, I pray you, press so furiously forward, or you may
get killed.”
Diomed looked angrily at him and answered: “Talk not of flight,
for I shall not listen to you: I am of a race that knows neither
flight nor fear, and my limbs are as yet unwearied. I am in no mind to
mount, but will go against them even as I am; Pallas Minerva bids me
be afraid of no man, and even though one of them escape, their
steeds shall not take both back again. I say further, and lay my
saying to your heart- if Minerva sees fit to vouchsafe me the glory of
killing both, stay your horses here and make the reins fast to the rim
of the chariot; then be sure you spring Aeneas’ horses and drive
them from the Trojan to the Achaean ranks. They are of the stock
that great Jove gave to Tros in payment for his son Ganymede, and
are the finest that live and move under the sun. King Anchises stole
the blood by putting his mares to them without Laomedon’s knowledge,
and they bore him six foals. Four are still in his stables, but he
gave the other two to Aeneas. We shall win great glory if we can
take them.”
Thus did they converse, but the other two had now driven close up to
them, and the son of Lycaon spoke first. “Great and mighty son,”
said he, “of noble Tydeus, my arrow failed to lay you low, so I will
now try with my spear.”
He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it from him. It struck
the shield of the son of Tydeus; the bronze point pierced it and
passed on till it reached the breastplate. Thereon the son of Lycaon
shouted out and said, “You are hit clean through the belly; you will
not stand out for long, and the glory of the fight is mine.”
But Diomed all undismayed made answer, “You have missed, not hit,
and before you two see the end of this matter one or other of you
shall glut tough-shielded Mars with his blood.”
With this he hurled his spear, and Minerva guided it on to
Pandarus’s nose near the eye. It went crashing in among his white
teeth; the bronze point cut through the root of his to tongue,
coming out under his chin, and his glistening armour rang rattling
round him as he fell heavily to the ground. The horses started aside
for fear, and he was reft of life and strength.
Aeneas sprang from his chariot armed with shield and spear,
fearing lest the Achaeans should carry off the body. He bestrode it as
a lion in the pride of strength, with shield and on spear before him
and a cry of battle on his lips resolute to kill the first that should
dare face him. But the son of Tydeus caught up a mighty stone, so huge
and great that as men now are it would take two to lift it;
nevertheless he bore it aloft with ease unaided, and with this he
struck Aeneas on the groin where the hip turns in the joint that is
called the “cup-bone.” The stone crushed this joint, and broke both
the sinews, while its jagged edges tore away all the flesh. The hero
fell on his knees, and propped himself with his hand resting on the
ground till the darkness of night fell upon his eyes. And now
Aeneas, king of men, would have perished then and there, had not his
mother, Jove’s daughter Venus, who had conceived him by Anchises
when he was herding cattle, been quick to mark, and thrown her two
white arms about the body of her dear son. She protected him by
covering him with a fold of her own fair garment, lest some Danaan
should drive a spear into his breast and kill him.
Thus, then, did she bear her dear son out of the fight. But the
son of Capaneus was not unmindful of the orders that Diomed had
given him. He made his own horses fast, away from the hurly-burly,
by binding the reins to the rim of the chariot. Then he sprang upon
Aeneas’s horses and drove them from the Trojan to the Achaean ranks.
When he had so done he gave them over to his chosen comrade
Deipylus, whom he valued above all others as the one who was most
like-minded with himself, to take them on to the ships. He then
remounted his own chariot, seized the reins, and drove with all
speed in search of the son of Tydeus.
Now the son of Tydeus was in pursuit of the Cyprian goddess, spear
in hand, for he knew her to be feeble and not one of those goddesses
that can lord it among men in battle like Minerva or Enyo the waster
of cities, and when at last after a long chase he caught her up, he
flew at her and thrust his spear into the flesh of her delicate
hand. The point tore through the ambrosial robe which the Graces had
woven for her, and pierced the skin between her wrist and the palm
of her hand, so that the immortal blood, or ichor, that flows in the
veins of the blessed gods, came pouring from the wound; for the gods
do not eat bread nor drink wine, hence they have no blood such as
ours, and are immortal. Venus screamed aloud, and let her son fall,
but Phoebus Apollo caught him in his arms, and hid him in a cloud of
darkness, lest some Danaan should drive a spear into his breast and
kill him; and Diomed shouted out as he left her, “Daughter of Jove,
leave war and battle alone, can you not be contented with beguiling
silly women? If you meddle with fighting you will get what will make
you shudder at the very name of war.”
The goddess went dazed and discomfited away, and Iris, fleet as
the wind, drew her from the throng, in pain and with her fair skin all
besmirched. She found fierce Mars waiting on the left of the battle,
with his spear and his two fleet steeds resting on a cloud; whereon
she fell on her knees before her brother and implored him to let her
have his horses. “Dear brother,” she cried, “save me, and give me your
horses to take me to Olympus where the gods dwell. I am badly
wounded by a mortal, the son of Tydeus, who would now fight even
with father Jove.”
Thus she spoke, and Mars gave her his gold-bedizened steeds. She
mounted the chariot sick and sorry at heart, while Iris sat beside her
and took the reins in her hand. She lashed her horses on and they flew
forward nothing loth, till in a trice they were at high Olympus, where
the gods have their dwelling. There she stayed them, unloosed them
from the chariot, and gave them their ambrosial forage; but Venus
flung herself on to the lap of her mother Dione, who threw her arms
about her and caressed her, saying, “Which of the heavenly beings
has been treating you in this way, as though you had been doing
something wrong in the face of day?”
And laughter-loving Venus answered, “Proud Diomed, the son of
Tydeus, wounded me because I was bearing my dear son Aeneas, whom I
love best of all mankind, out of the fight. The war is no longer one
between Trojans and Achaeans, for the Danaans have now taken to
fighting with the immortals.”
“Bear it, my child,” replied Dione, “and make the best of it. We
dwellers in Olympus have to put up with much at the hands of men,
and we lay much suffering on one another. Mars had to suffer when Otus
and Ephialtes, children of Aloeus, bound him in cruel bonds, so that
he lay thirteen months imprisoned in a vessel of bronze. Mars would
have then perished had not fair Eeriboea, stepmother to the sons of
Aloeus, told Mercury, who stole him away when he was already well-nigh
worn out by the severity of his bondage. Juno, again, suffered when
the mighty son of Amphitryon wounded her on the right breast with a
three-barbed arrow, and nothing could assuage her pain. So, also,
did huge Hades, when this same man, the son of aegis-bearing Jove, hit
him with an arrow even at the gates of hell, and hurt him badly.
Thereon Hades went to the house of Jove on great Olympus, angry and
full of pain; and the arrow in his brawny shoulder caused him great
anguish till Paeeon healed him by spreading soothing herbs on the
wound, for Hades was not of mortal mould. Daring, head-strong,
evildoer who recked not of his sin in shooting the gods that dwell
in Olympus. And now Minerva has egged this son of Tydeus on against
yourself, fool that he is for not reflecting that no man who fights
with gods will live long or hear his children prattling about his
knees when he returns from battle. Let, then, the son of Tydeus see
that he does not have to fight with one who is stronger than you
are. Then shall his brave wife Aegialeia, daughter of Adrestus,
rouse her whole house from sleep, wailing for the loss of her wedded
lord, Diomed the bravest of the Achaeans.”
So saying, she wiped the ichor from the wrist of her daughter with
both hands, whereon the pain left her, and her hand was healed. But
Minerva and Juno, who were looking on, began to taunt Jove with
their mocking talk, and Minerva was first to speak. “Father Jove,”
said she, “do not be angry with me, but I think the Cyprian must
have been persuading some one of the Achaean women to go with the
Trojans of whom she is so very fond, and while caressing one or
other of them she must have torn her delicate hand with the gold pin
of the woman’s brooch.”
The sire of gods and men smiled, and called golden Venus to his
side. “My child,” said he, “it has not been given you to be a warrior.
Attend, henceforth, to your own delightful matrimonial duties, and
leave all this fighting to Mars and to Minerva.”
Thus did they converse. But Diomed sprang upon Aeneas, though he
knew him to be in the very arms of Apollo. Not one whit did he fear
the mighty god, so set was he on killing Aeneas and stripping him of
his armour. Thrice did he spring forward with might and main to slay
him, and thrice did Apollo beat back his gleaming shield. When he
was coming on for the fourth time, as though he were a god, Apollo
shouted to him with an awful voice and said, “Take heed, son of
Tydeus, and draw off; think not to match yourself against gods, for
men that walk the earth cannot hold their own with the immortals.”
The son of Tydeus then gave way for a little space, to avoid the
anger of the god, while Apollo took Aeneas out of the crowd and set
him in sacred Pergamus, where his temple stood. There, within the
mighty sanctuary, Latona and Diana healed him and made him glorious to
behold, while Apollo of the silver bow fashioned a wraith in the
likeness of Aeneas, and armed as he was. Round this the Trojans and
Achaeans hacked at the bucklers about one another’s breasts, hewing
each other’s round shields and light hide-covered targets. Then
Phoebus Apollo said to Mars, “Mars, Mars, bane of men, blood-stained
stormer of cities, can you not go to this man, the son of Tydeus,
who would now fight even with father Jove, and draw him out of the
battle? He first went up to the Cyprian and wounded her in the hand
near her wrist, and afterwards sprang upon me too, as though he were a
He then took his seat on the top of Pergamus, while murderous Mars
went about among the ranks of the Trojans, cheering them on, in the
likeness of fleet Acamas chief of the Thracians. “Sons of Priam,” said
he, “how long will you let your people be thus slaughtered by the
Achaeans? Would you wait till they are at the walls of Troy? Aeneas
the son of Anchises has fallen, he whom we held in as high honour as
Hector himself. Help me, then, to rescue our brave comrade from the
stress of the fight.”
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Then
Sarpedon rebuked Hector very sternly. “Hector,” said he, “where is
your prowess now? You used to say that though you had neither people
nor allies you could hold the town alone with your brothers and
brothers-in-law. I see not one of them here; they cower as hounds
before a lion; it is we, your allies, who bear the brunt of the
battle. I have come from afar, even from Lycia and the banks of the
river Xanthus, where I have left my wife, my infant son, and much
wealth to tempt whoever is needy; nevertheless, I head my Lycian
soldiers and stand my ground against any who would fight me though I
have nothing here for the Achaeans to plunder, while you look on,
without even bidding your men stand firm in defence of their wives.
See that you fall not into the hands of your foes as men caught in the
meshes of a net, and they sack your fair city forthwith. Keep this
before your mind night and day, and beseech the captains of your
allies to hold on without flinching, and thus put away their
reproaches from you.”
So spoke Sarpedon, and Hector smarted under his words. He sprang
from his chariot clad in his suit of armour, and went about among
the host brandishing his two spears, exhorting the men to fight and
raising the terrible cry of battle. Then they rallied and again
faced the Achaeans, but the Argives stood compact and firm, and were
not driven back. As the breezes sport with the chaff upon some
goodly threshing-floor, when men are winnowing- while yellow Ceres
blows with the wind to sift the chaff from the grain, and the chaff-
heaps grow whiter and whiter- even so did the Achaeans whiten in the
dust which the horses’ hoofs raised to the firmament of heaven, as
their drivers turned them back to battle, and they bore down with
might upon the foe. Fierce Mars, to help the Trojans, covered them
in a veil of darkness, and went about everywhere among them,
inasmuch as Phoebus Apollo had told him that when he saw Pallas,
Minerva leave the fray he was to put courage into the hearts of the
Trojans- for it was she who was helping the Danaans. Then Apollo
sent Aeneas forth from his rich sanctuary, and filled his heart with
valour, whereon he took his place among his comrades, who were
overjoyed at seeing him alive, sound, and of a good courage; but
they could not ask him how it had all happened, for they were too busy
with the turmoil raised by Mars and by Strife, who raged insatiably in
their midst.
The two Ajaxes, Ulysses and Diomed, cheered the Danaans on, fearless
of the fury and onset of the Trojans. They stood as still as clouds
which the son of Saturn has spread upon the mountain tops when there
is no air and fierce Boreas sleeps with the other boisterous winds
whose shrill blasts scatter the clouds in all directions- even so
did the Danaans stand firm and unflinching against the Trojans. The
son of Atreus went about among them and exhorted them. “My friends,”
said he, “quit yourselves like brave men, and shun dishonour in one
another’s eyes amid the stress of battle. They that shun dishonour
more often live than get killed, but they that fly save neither life
nor name.”
As he spoke he hurled his spear and hit one of those who were in the
front rank, the comrade of Aeneas, Deicoon son of Pergasus, whom the
Trojans held in no less honour than the sons of Priam, for he was ever
quick to place himself among the foremost. The spear of King Agamemnon
struck his shield and went right through it, for the shield stayed
it not. It drove through his belt into the lower part of his belly,
and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the
Then Aeneas killed two champions of the Danaans, Crethon and
Orsilochus. Their father was a rich man who lived in the strong city
of Phere and was descended from the river Alpheus, whose broad
stream flows through the land of the Pylians. The river begat
Orsilochus, who ruled over much people and was father to Diocles,
who in his turn begat twin sons, Crethon and Orsilochus, well
skilled in all the arts of war. These, when they grew up, went to
Ilius with the Argive fleet in the cause of Menelaus and Agamemnon
sons of Atreus, and there they both of them fell. As two lions whom
their dam has reared in the depths of some mountain forest to
plunder homesteads and carry off sheep and cattle till they get killed
by the hand of man, so were these two vanquished by Aeneas, and fell
like high pine-trees to the ground.
Brave Menelaus pitied them in their fall, and made his way to the
front, clad in gleaming bronze and brandishing his spear, for Mars
egged him on to do so with intent that he should be killed by
Aeneas; but Antilochus the son of Nestor saw him and sprang forward,
fearing that the king might come to harm and thus bring all their
labour to nothing; when, therefore Aeneas and Menelaus were setting
their hands and spears against one another eager to do battle,
Antilochus placed himself by the side of Menelaus. Aeneas, bold though
he was, drew back on seeing the two heroes side by side in front of
him, so they drew the bodies of Crethon and Orsilochus to the ranks of
the Achaeans and committed the two poor fellows into the hands of
their comrades. They then turned back and fought in the front ranks.
They killed Pylaemenes peer of Mars, leader of the Paphlagonian
warriors. Menelaus struck him on the collar-bone as he was standing on
his chariot, while Antilochus hit his charioteer and squire Mydon, the
son of Atymnius, who was turning his horses in flight. He hit him with
a stone upon the elbow, and the reins, enriched with white ivory, fell
from his hands into the dust. Antilochus rushed towards him and struck
him on the temples with his sword, whereon he fell head first from the
chariot to the ground. There he stood for a while with his head and
shoulders buried deep in the dust- for he had fallen on sandy soil
till his horses kicked him and laid him flat on the ground, as
Antilochus lashed them and drove them off to the host of the Achaeans.

But Hector marked them from across the ranks, and with a loud cry
rushed towards them, followed by the strong battalions of the Trojans.
Mars and dread Enyo led them on, she fraught with ruthless turmoil
of battle, while Mars wielded a monstrous spear, and went about, now
in front of Hector and now behind him.
Diomed shook with passion as he saw them. As a man crossing a wide
plain is dismayed to find himself on the brink of some great river
rolling swiftly to the sea- he sees its boiling waters and starts back
in fear- even so did the son of Tydeus give ground. Then he said to
his men, “My friends, how can we wonder that Hector wields the spear
so well? Some god is ever by his side to protect him, and now Mars
is with him in the likeness of mortal man. Keep your faces therefore
towards the Trojans, but give ground backwards, for we dare not
fight with gods.”
As he spoke the Trojans drew close up, and Hector killed two men,
both in one chariot, Menesthes and Anchialus, heroes well versed in
war. Ajax son of Telamon pitied them in their fall; he came close up
and hurled his spear, hitting Amphius the son of Selagus, a man of
great wealth who lived in Paesus and owned much corn-growing land, but
his lot had led him to come to the aid of Priam and his sons. Ajax
struck him in the belt; the spear pierced the lower part of his belly,
and he fell heavily to the ground. Then Ajax ran towards him to
strip him of his armour, but the Trojans rained spears upon him,
many of which fell upon his shield. He planted his heel upon the
body and drew out his spear, but the darts pressed so heavily upon him
that he could not strip the goodly armour from his shoulders. The
Trojan chieftains, moreover, many and valiant, came about him with
their spears, so that he dared not stay; great, brave and valiant
though he was, they drove him from them and he was beaten back.
Thus, then, did the battle rage between them. Presently the strong
hand of fate impelled Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules, a man both
brave and of great stature, to fight Sarpedon; so the two, son and
grandson of great Jove, drew near to one another, and Tlepolemus spoke
first. “Sarpedon,” said he, “councillor of the Lycians, why should you
come skulking here you who are a man of peace? They lie who call you
son of aegis-bearing Jove, for you are little like those who were of
old his children. Far other was Hercules, my own brave and
lion-hearted father, who came here for the horses of Laomedon, and
though he had six ships only, and few men to follow him, sacked the
city of Ilius and made a wilderness of her highways. You are a coward,
and your people are falling from you. For all your strength, and all
your coming from Lycia, you will be no help to the Trojans but will
pass the gates of Hades vanquished by my hand.”
And Sarpedon, captain of the Lycians, answered, “Tlepolemus, your
father overthrew Ilius by reason of Laomedon’s folly in refusing
payment to one who had served him well. He would not give your
father the horses which he had come so far to fetch. As for
yourself, you shall meet death by my spear. You shall yield glory to
myself, and your soul to Hades of the noble steeds.”
Thus spoke Sarpedon, and Tlepolemus upraised his spear. They threw
at the same moment, and Sarpedon struck his foe in the middle of his
throat; the spear went right through, and the darkness of death fell
upon his eyes. Tlepolemus’s spear struck Sarpedon on the left thigh
with such force that it tore through the flesh and grazed the bone,
but his father as yet warded off destruction from him.
His comrades bore Sarpedon out of the fight, in great pain by the
weight of the spear that was dragging from his wound. They were in
such haste and stress as they bore him that no one thought of
drawing the spear from his thigh so as to let him walk uprightly.
Meanwhile the Achaeans carried off the body of Tlepolemus, whereon
Ulysses was moved to pity, and panted for the fray as he beheld
them. He doubted whether to pursue the son of Jove, or to make
slaughter of the Lycian rank and file; it was not decreed, however,
that he should slay the son of Jove; Minerva, therefore, turned him
against the main body of the Lycians. He killed Coeranus, Alastor,
Chromius, Alcandrus, Halius, Noemon, and Prytanis, and would have
slain yet more, had not great Hector marked him, and sped to the front
of the fight clad in his suit of mail, filling the Danaans with
terror. Sarpedon was glad when he saw him coming, and besought him,
saying, “Son of Priam, let me not he here to fall into the hands of
the Danaans. Help me, and since I may not return home to gladden the
hearts of my wife and of my infant son, let me die within the walls of
your city.”
Hector made him no answer, but rushed onward to fall at once upon
the Achaeans and. kill many among them. His comrades then bore
Sarpedon away and laid him beneath Jove’s spreading oak tree. Pelagon,
his friend and comrade drew the spear out of his thigh, but Sarpedon
fainted and a mist came over his eyes. Presently he came to himself
again, for the breath of the north wind as it played upon him gave him
new life, and brought him out of the deep swoon into which he had
Meanwhile the Argives were neither driven towards their ships by
Mars and Hector, nor yet did they attack them; when they knew that
Mars was with the Trojans they retreated, but kept their faces still
turned towards the foe. Who, then, was first and who last to be
slain by Mars and Hector? They were valiant Teuthras, and Orestes
the renowned charioteer, Trechus the Aetolian warrior, Oenomaus,
Helenus the son of Oenops, and Oresbius of the gleaming girdle, who
was possessed of great wealth, and dwelt by the Cephisian lake with
the other Boeotians who lived near him, owners of a fertile country.
Now when the goddess Juno saw the Argives thus falling, she said
to Minerva, “Alas, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, the
promise we made Menelaus that he should not return till he had
sacked the city of Ilius will be of none effect if we let Mars rage
thus furiously. Let us go into the fray at once.”
Minerva did not gainsay her. Thereon the august goddess, daughter of
great Saturn, began to harness her gold-bedizened steeds. Hebe with
all speed fitted on the eight-spoked wheels of bronze that were on
either side of the iron axle-tree. The felloes of the wheels were of
gold, imperishable, and over these there was a tire of bronze,
wondrous to behold. The naves of the wheels were silver, turning round
the axle upon either side. The car itself was made with plaited
bands of gold and silver, and it had a double top-rail running all
round it. From the body of the car there went a pole of silver, on
to the end of which she bound the golden yoke, with the bands of
gold that were to go under the necks of the horses Then Juno put her
steeds under the yoke, eager for battle and the war-cry.
Meanwhile Minerva flung her richly embroidered vesture, made with
her own hands, on to her father’s threshold, and donned the shirt of
Jove, arming herself for battle. She threw her tasselled aegis
about. her shoulders, wreathed round with Rout as with a fringe, and
on it were Strife, and Strength, and Panic whose blood runs cold;
moreover there was the head of the dread monster Gorgon,, grim and
awful to behold, portent of aegis-bearing Jove. On her head she set
her helmet of gold, with four plumes, and coming to a peak both in
front and behind- decked with the emblems of a hundred cities; then
she stepped into her flaming chariot and grasped the spear, so stout
and sturdy and strong, with which she quells the ranks of heroes who
have displeased her. Juno lashed the horses on, and the gates of
heaven bellowed as they flew open of their own accord -gates over
which the flours preside, in whose hands are Heaven and Olympus,
either to open the dense cloud that hides them, or to close it.
Through these the goddesses drove their obedient steeds, and found the
son of Saturn sitting all alone on the topmost ridges of Olympus.
There Juno stayed her horses, and spoke to Jove the son of Saturn,
lord of all. “Father Jove,” said she, “are you not angry with Mars for
these high doings? how great and goodly a host of the Achaeans he
has destroyed to my great grief, and without either right or reason,
while the Cyprian and Apollo are enjoying it all at their ease and
setting this unrighteous madman on to do further mischief. I hope,
Father Jove, that you will not be angry if I hit Mars hard, and
chase him out of the battle.”
And Jove answered, “Set Minerva on to him, for she punishes him more
often than any one else does.”
Juno did as he had said. She lashed her horses, and they flew
forward nothing loth midway betwixt earth and sky. As far as a man can
see when he looks out upon the sea from some high beacon, so far can
the loud-neighing horses of the gods spring at a single bound. When
they reached Troy and the place where its two flowing streams Simois
and Scamander meet, there Juno stayed them and took them from the
chariot. She hid them in a thick cloud, and Simois made ambrosia
spring up for them to eat; the two goddesses then went on, flying like
turtledoves in their eagerness to help the Argives. When they came
to the part where the bravest and most in number were gathered about
mighty Diomed, fighting like lions or wild boars of great strength and
endurance, there Juno stood still and raised a shout like that of
brazen-voiced Stentor, whose cry was as loud as that of fifty men
together. “Argives,” she cried; “shame on cowardly creatures, brave in
semblance only; as long as Achilles was fighting, fi his spear was
so deadly that the Trojans dared not show themselves outside the
Dardanian gates, but now they sally far from the city and fight even
at your ships.”
With these words she put heart and soul into them all, while Minerva
sprang to the side of the son of Tydeus, whom she found near his
chariot and horses, cooling the wound that Pandarus had given him. For
the sweat caused by the hand that bore the weight of his shield
irritated the hurt: his arm was weary with pain, and he was lifting up
the strap to wipe away the blood. The goddess laid her hand on the
yoke of his horses and said, “The son of Tydeus is not such another as
his father. Tydeus was a little man, but he could fight, and rushed
madly into the fray even when I told him not to do so. When he went
all unattended as envoy to the city of Thebes among the Cadmeans, I
bade him feast in their houses and be at peace; but with that high
spirit which was ever present with him, he challenged the youth of the
Cadmeans, and at once beat them in all that he attempted, so
mightily did I help him. I stand by you too to protect you, and I
bid you be instant in fighting the Trojans; but either you are tired
out, or you are afraid and out of heart, and in that case I say that
you are no true son of Tydeus the son of Oeneus.”
Diomed answered, “I know you, goddess, daughter of aegis-bearing
Jove, and will hide nothing from you. I am not afraid nor out of
heart, nor is there any slackness in me. I am only following your
own instructions; you told me not to fight any of the blessed gods;
but if Jove’s daughter Venus came into battle I was to wound her
with my spear. Therefore I am retreating, and bidding the other
Argives gather in this place, for I know that Mars is now lording it
in the field.”
“Diomed, son of Tydeus,” replied Minerva, “man after my own heart,
fear neither Mars nor any other of the immortals, for I will
befriend you. Nay, drive straight at Mars, and smite him in close
combat; fear not this raging madman, villain incarnate, first on one
side and then on the other. But now he was holding talk with Juno
and myself, saying he would help the Argives and attack the Trojans;
nevertheless he is with the Trojans, and has forgotten the Argives.”
With this she caught hold of Sthenelus and lifted him off the
chariot on to the ground. In a second he was on the ground,
whereupon the goddess mounted the car and placed herself by the side
of Diomed. The oaken axle groaned aloud under the burden of the
awful goddess and the hero; Pallas Minerva took the whip and reins,
and drove straight at Mars. He was in the act of stripping huge
Periphas, son of Ochesius and bravest of the Aetolians. Bloody Mars
was stripping him of his armour, and Minerva donned the helmet of
Hades, that he might not see her; when, therefore, he saw Diomed, he
made straight for him and let Periphas lie where he had fallen. As
soon as they were at close quarters he let fly with his bronze spear
over the reins and yoke, thinking to take Diomed’s life, but Minerva
caught the spear in her hand and made it fly harmlessly over the
chariot. Diomed then threw, and Pallas Minerva drove the spear into
the pit of Mars’s stomach where his under-girdle went round him. There
Diomed wounded him, tearing his fair flesh and then drawing his
spear out again. Mars roared as loudly as nine or ten thousand men
in the thick of a fight, and the Achaeans and Trojans were struck with
panic, so terrible was the cry he raised.
As a dark cloud in the sky when it comes on to blow after heat, even
so did Diomed son of Tydeus see Mars ascend into the broad heavens.
With all speed he reached high Olympus, home of the gods, and in great
pain sat down beside Jove the son of Saturn. He showed Jove the
immortal blood that was flowing from his wound, and spoke piteously,
saying, “Father Jove, are you not angered by such doings? We gods
are continually suffering in the most cruel manner at one another’s
hands while helping mortals; and we all owe you a grudge for having
begotten that mad termagant of a daughter, who is always committing
outrage of some kind. We other gods must all do as you bid us, but her
you neither scold nor punish; you encourage her because the
pestilent creature is your daughter. See how she has been inciting
proud Diomed to vent his rage on the immortal gods. First he went up
to the Cyprian and wounded her in the hand near her wrist, and then he
sprang upon me too as though he were a god. Had I not run for it I
must either have lain there for long enough in torments among the
ghastly corpes, or have been eaten alive with spears till I had no
more strength left in me.”
Jove looked angrily at him and said, “Do not come whining here,
Sir Facing-bothways. I hate you worst of all the gods in Olympus,
for you are ever fighting and making mischief. You have the
intolerable and stubborn spirit of your mother Juno: it is all I can
do to manage her, and it is her doing that you are now in this plight:
still, I cannot let you remain longer in such great pain; you are my
own off-spring, and it was by me that your mother conceived you; if,
however, you had been the son of any other god, you are so destructive
that by this time you should have been lying lower than the Titans.”
He then bade Paeeon heal him, whereon Paeeon spread pain-killing
herbs upon his wound and cured him, for he was not of mortal mould. As
the juice of the fig-tree curdles milk, and thickens it in a moment
though it is liquid, even so instantly did Paeeon cure fierce Mars.
Then Hebe washed him, and clothed him in goodly raiment, and he took
his seat by his father Jove all glorious to behold.
But Juno of Argos and Minerva of Alalcomene, now that they had put a
stop to the murderous doings of Mars, went back again to the house
of Jove.