The Iliad – Book 11 – 15


AND now as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus, harbinger of
light alike to mortals and immortals, Jove sent fierce Discord with
the ensign of war in her hands to the ships of the Achaeans. She
took her stand by the huge black hull of Ulysses’ ship which was
middlemost of all, so that her voice might carry farthest on either
side, on the one hand towards the tents of Ajax son of Telamon, and on
the other towards those of Achilles- for these two heroes,
well-assured of their own strength, had valorously drawn up their
ships at the two ends of the line. There she took her stand, and
raised a cry both loud and shrill that filled the Achaeans with
courage, giving them heart to fight resolutely and with all their
might, so that they had rather stay there and do battle than go home
in their ships.
The son of Atreus shouted aloud and bade the Argives gird themselves
for battle while he put on his armour. First he girded his goodly
greaves about his legs, making them fast with ankle clasps of
silver; and about his chest he set the breastplate which Cinyras had
once given him as a guest-gift. It had been noised abroad as far as
Cyprus that the Achaeans were about to sail for Troy, and therefore he
gave it to the king. It had ten courses of dark cyanus, twelve of
gold, and ten of tin. There were serpents of cyanus that reared
themselves up towards the neck, three upon either side, like the
rainbows which the son of Saturn has set in heaven as a sign to mortal
men. About his shoulders he threw his sword, studded with bosses of
gold; and the scabbard was of silver with a chain of gold wherewith to
hang it. He took moreover the richly-dight shield that covered his
body when he was in battle- fair to see, with ten circles of bronze
running all round see, wit it. On the body of the shield there were
twenty bosses of white tin, with another of dark cyanus in the middle:
this last was made to show a Gorgon’s head, fierce and grim, with Rout
and Panic on either side. The band for the arm to go through was of
silver, on which there was a writhing snake of cyanus with three heads
that sprang from a single neck, and went in and out among one another.
On his head Agamemnon set a helmet, with a peak before and behind, and
four plumes of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it; then he
grasped two redoubtable bronze-shod spears, and the gleam of his
armour shot from him as a flame into the firmament, while Juno and
Minerva thundered in honour of the king of rich Mycene.
Every man now left his horses in charge of his charioteer to hold
them in readiness by the trench, while he went into battle on foot
clad in full armour, and a mighty uproar rose on high into the
dawning. The chiefs were armed and at the trench before the horses got
there, but these came up presently. The son of Saturn sent a portent
of evil sound about their host, and the dew fell red with blood, for
he was about to send many a brave man hurrying down to Hades.
The Trojans, on the other side upon the rising slope of the plain,
were gathered round great Hector, noble Polydamas, Aeneas who was
honoured by the Trojans like an immortal, and the three sons of
Antenor, Polybus, Agenor, and young Acamas beauteous as a god.
Hector’s round shield showed in the front rank, and as some baneful
star that shines for a moment through a rent in the clouds and is
again hidden beneath them; even so was Hector now seen in the front
ranks and now again in the hindermost, and his bronze armour gleamed
like the lightning of aegis-bearing Jove.
And now as a band of reapers mow swathes of wheat or barley upon a
rich man’s land, and the sheaves fall thick before them, even so did
the Trojans and Achaeans fall upon one another; they were in no mood
for yielding but fought like wolves, and neither side got the better
of the other. Discord was glad as she beheld them, for she was the
only god that went among them; the others were not there, but stayed
quietly each in his own home among the dells and valleys of Olympus.
All of them blamed the son of Saturn for wanting to Live victory to
the Trojans, but father Jove heeded them not: he held aloof from
all, and sat apart in his all-glorious majesty, looking down upon
the city of the Trojans, the ships of the Achaeans, the gleam of
bronze, and alike upon the slayers and on the slain.
Now so long as the day waxed and it was still morning, their darts
rained thick on one another and the people perished, but as the hour
drew nigh when a woodman working in some mountain forest will get
his midday meal- for he has felled till his hands are weary; he is
tired out, and must now have food- then the Danaans with a cry that
rang through all their ranks, broke the battalions of the enemy.
Agamemnon led them on, and slew first Bienor, a leader of his
people, and afterwards his comrade and charioteer Oileus, who sprang
from his chariot and was coming full towards him; but Agamemnon struck
him on the forehead with his spear; his bronze visor was of no avail
against the weapon, which pierced both bronze and bone, so that his
brains were battered in and he was killed in full fight.
Agamemnon stripped their shirts from off them and left them with
their breasts all bare to lie where they had fallen. He then went on
to kill Isus and Antiphus two sons of Priam, the one a bastard, the
other born in wedlock; they were in the same chariot- the bastard
driving, while noble Antiphus fought beside him. Achilles had once
taken both of them prisoners in the glades of Ida, and had bound
them with fresh withes as they were shepherding, but he had taken a
ransom for them; now, however, Agamemnon son of Atreus smote Isus in
the chest above the nipple with his spear, while he struck Antiphus
hard by the ear and threw him from his chariot. Forthwith he
stripped their goodly armour from off them and recognized them, for he
had already seen them at ships when Achilles brought them in from Ida.
As a lion fastens on the fawns of a hind and crushes them in his great
jaws, robbing them of their tender life while he on his way back to
his lair- the hind can do nothing for them even though she be close
by, for she is in an agony of fear, and flies through the thick
forest, sweating, and at her utmost speed before the mighty monster-
so, no man of the Trojans could help Isus and Antiphus, for they
were themselves flying panic before the Argives.
Then King Agamemnon took the two sons of Antimachus, Pisander and
brave Hippolochus. It was Antimachus who had been foremost in
preventing Helen’s being restored to Menelaus, for he was largely
bribed by Alexandrus; and now Agamemnon took his two sons, both in the
same chariot, trying to bring their horses to a stand- for they had
lost hold of the reins and the horses were mad with fear. The son of
Atreus sprang upon them like a lion, and the pair besought him from
their chariot. “Take us alive,” they cried, “son of Atreus, and you
shall receive a great ransom for us. Our father Antimachus has great
store of gold, bronze, and wrought iron, and from this he will satisfy
you with a very large ransom should he hear of our being alive at
the ships of the Achaeans.”
With such piteous words and tears did they beseech the king, but
they heard no pitiful answer in return. “If,” said Agamemnon, “you are
sons of Antimachus, who once at a council of Trojans proposed that
Menelaus and Ulysses, who had come to you as envoys, should be
killed and not suffered to return, you shall now pay for the foul
iniquity of your father.”
As he spoke he felled Pisander from his chariot to the earth,
smiting him on the chest with his spear, so that he lay face uppermost
upon the ground. Hippolochus fled, but him too did Agamemnon smite; he
cut off his hands and his head- which he sent rolling in among the
crowd as though it were a ball. There he let them both lie, and
wherever the ranks were thickest thither he flew, while the other
Achaeans followed. Foot soldiers drove the foot soldiers of the foe in
rout before them, and slew them; horsemen did the like by horsemen,
and the thundering tramp of the horses raised a cloud of dust frim off
the plain. King Agamemnon followed after, ever slaying them and
cheering on the Achaeans. As when some mighty forest is all ablaze-
the eddying gusts whirl fire in all directions till the thickets
shrivel and are consumed before the blast of the flame- even so fell
the heads of the flying Trojans before Agamemnon son of Atreus, and
many a noble pair of steeds drew an empty chariot along the highways
of war, for lack of drivers who were lying on the plain, more useful
now to vultures than to their wives.
Jove drew Hector away from the darts and dust, with the carnage
and din of battle; but the son of Atreus sped onwards, calling out
lustily to the Danaans. They flew on by the tomb of old Ilus, son of
Dardanus, in the middle of the plain, and past the place of the wild
fig-tree making always for the city- the son of Atreus still shouting,
and with hands all bedrabbled in gore; but when they had reached the
Scaean gates and the oak tree, there they halted and waited for the
others to come up. Meanwhile the Trojans kept on flying over the
middle of the plain like a herd cows maddened with fright when a
lion has attacked them in the dead of night- he springs on one of
them, seizes her neck in the grip of his strong teeth and then laps up
her blood and gorges himself upon her entrails- even so did King
Agamemnon son of Atreus pursue the foe, ever slaughtering the hindmost
as they fled pell-mell before him. Many a man was flung headlong
from his chariot by the hand of the son of Atreus, for he wielded
his spear with fury.
But when he was just about to reach the high wall and the city,
the father of gods and men came down from heaven and took his seat,
thunderbolt in hand, upon the crest of many-fountained Ida. He then
told Iris of the golden wings to carry a message for him. “Go,” said
he, “fleet Iris, and speak thus to Hector- say that so long as he
sees Agamemnon heading his men and making havoc of the Trojan ranks,
he is to keep aloof and bid the others bear the brunt of the battle,
but when Agamemnon is wounded either by spear or arrow, and takes to
his chariot, then will I vouchsafe him strength to slay till he
reach the ships and night falls at the going down of the sun.”
Iris hearkened and obeyed. Down she went to strong Ilius from the
crests of Ida, and found Hector son of Priam standing by his chariot
and horses. Then she said, “Hector son of Priam, peer of gods in
counsel, father Jove has sent me to bear you this message- so long
as you see Agamemnon heading his men and making havoc of the Trojan
ranks, you are to keep aloof and bid the others bear the brunt of
the battle, but when Agamemnon is wounded either by spear or arrow,
and takes to his chariot, then will Jove vouchsafe you strength to
slay till you reach the ships, and till night falls at the going
down of the sun.”
When she had thus spoken Iris left him, and Hector sprang full armed
from his chariot to the ground, brandishing his spear as he went about
everywhere among the host, cheering his men on to fight, and
stirring the dread strife of battle. The Trojans then wheeled round,
and again met the Achaeans, while the Argives on their part
strengthened their battalions. The battle was now in array and they
stood face to face with one another, Agamemnon ever pressing forward
in his eagerness to be ahead of all others.
Tell me now ye Muses that dwell in the mansions of Olympus, who,
whether of the Trojans or of their allies, was first to face
Agamemnon? It was Iphidamas son of Antenor, a man both brave and of
great stature, who was brought up in fertile Thrace the mother of
sheep. Cisses, his mother’s father, brought him up in his own house
when he was a child- Cisses, father to fair Theano. When he reached
manhood, Cisses would have kept him there, and was for giving him
his daughter in marriage, but as soon as he had married he set out
to fight the Achaeans with twelve ships that followed him: these he
had left at Percote and had come on by land to Ilius. He it was that
naw met Agamemnon son of Atreus. When they were close up with one
another, the son of Atreus missed his aim, and Iphidamas hit him on
the girdle below the cuirass and then flung himself upon him, trusting
to his strength of arm; the girdle, however, was not pierced, nor
nearly so, for the point of the spear struck against the silver and
was turned aside as though it had been lead: King Agamemnon caught
it from his hand, and drew it towards him with the fury of a lion;
he then drew his sword, and killed Iphidamas by striking him on the
neck. So there the poor fellow lay, sleeping a sleep as it were of
bronze, killed in the defence of his fellow-citizens, far from his
wedded wife, of whom he had had no joy though he had given much for
her: he had given a hundred-head of cattle down, and had promised
later on to give a thousand sheep and goats mixed, from the
countless flocks of which he was possessed. Agamemnon son of Atreus
then despoiled him, and carried off his armour into the host of the
When noble Coon, Antenor’s eldest son, saw this, sore indeed were
his eyes at the sight of his fallen brother. Unseen by Agamemnon he
got beside him, spear in hand, and wounded him in the middle of his
arm below the elbow, the point of the spear going right through the
arm. Agamemnon was convulsed with pain, but still not even for this
did he leave off struggling and fighting, but grasped his spear that
flew as fleet as the wind, and sprang upon Coon who was trying to drag
off the body of his brother- his father’s son- by the foot, and was
crying for help to all the bravest of his comrades; but Agamemnon
struck him with a bronze-shod spear and killed him as he was
dragging the dead body through the press of men under cover of his
shield: he then cut off his head, standing over the body of Iphidamas.
Thus did the sons of Antenor meet their fate at the hands of the son
of Atreus, and go down into the house of Hades.
As long as the blood still welled warm from his wound Agamemnon went
about attacking the ranks of the enemy with spear and sword and with
great handfuls of stone, but when the blood had ceased to flow and the
wound grew dry, the pain became great. As the sharp pangs which the
Eilithuiae, goddesses of childbirth, daughters of Juno and
dispensers of cruel pain, send upon a woman when she is in labour-
even so sharp were the pangs of the son of Atreus. He sprang on to his
chariot, and bade his charioteer drive to the ships, for he was in
great agony. With a loud clear voice he shouted to the Danaans, “My
friends, princes and counsellors of the Argives, defend the ships
yourselves, for Jove has not suffered me to fight the whole day
through against the Trojans.”
With this the charioteer turned his horses towards the ships, and
they flew forward nothing loth. Their chests were white with foam
and their bellies with dust, as they drew the wounded king out of
the battle.
When Hector saw Agamemnon quit the field, he shouted to the
Trojans and Lycians saying, “Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanian warriors,
be men, my friends, and acquit yourselves in battle bravely; their
best man has left them, and Jove has vouchsafed me a great triumph;
charge the foe with your chariots that. you may win still greater
With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and as a
huntsman hounds his dogs on against a lion or wild boar, even so did
Hector, peer of Mars, hound the proud Trojans on against the Achaeans.
Full of hope he plunged in among the foremost, and fell on the fight
like some fierce tempest that swoops down upon the sea, and lashes its
deep blue waters into fury.
What, then is the full tale of those whom Hector son of Priam killed
in the hour of triumph which Jove then vouchsafed him? First Asaeus,
Autonous, and Opites; Dolops son of Clytius, Opheltius and Agelaus;
Aesymnus, Orus and Hipponous steadfast in battle; these chieftains
of the Achaeans did Hector slay, and then he fell upon the rank and
file. As when the west wind hustles the clouds of the white south
and beats them down with the fierceness of its fury- the waves of
the sea roll high, and the spray is flung aloft in the rage of the
wandering wind- even so thick were the heads of them that fell by
the hand of Hector.
All had then been lost and no help for it, and the Achaeans would
have fled pell-mell to their ships, had not Ulysses cried out to
Diomed, “Son of Tydeus, what has happened to us that we thus forget
our prowess? Come, my good fellow, stand by my side and help me, we
shall be shamed for ever if Hector takes the ships.”
And Diomed answered, “Come what may, I will stand firm; but we shall
have scant joy of it, for Jove is minded to give victory to the
Trojans rather than to us.”
With these words he struck Thymbraeus from his chariot to the
ground, smiting him in the left breast with his spear, while Ulysses
killed Molion who was his squire. These they let lie, now that they
had stopped their fighting; the two heroes then went on playing
havoc with the foe, like two wild boars that turn in fury and rend the
hounds that hunt them. Thus did they turn upon the Trojans and slay
them, and the Achaeans were thankful to have breathing time in their
flight from Hector.
They then took two princes with their chariot, the two sons of
Merops of Percote, who excelled all others in the arts of
divination. He had forbidden his sons to go to the war, but they would
not obey him, for fate lured them to their fall. Diomed son of
Tydeus slew them both and stripped them of their armour, while Ulysses
killed Hippodamus and Hypeirochus.
And now the son of Saturn as he looked down from Ida ordained that
neither side should have the advantage, and they kept on killing one
another. The son of Tydeus speared Agastrophus son of Paeon in the
hip-joint with his spear. His chariot was not at hand for him to fly
with, so blindly confident had he been. His squire was in charge of it
at some distance and he was fighting on foot among the foremost
until he lost his life. Hector soon marked the havoc Diomed and
Ulysses were making, and bore down upon them with a loud cry, followed
by the Trojan ranks; brave Diomed was dismayed when he saw them, and
said to Ulysses who was beside him, “Great Hector is bearing down upon
us and we shall be undone; let us stand firm and wait his onset.”
He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it, nor did he miss his
mark. He had aimed at Hector’s head near the top of his helmet, but
bronze was turned by bronze, and Hector was untouched, for the spear
was stayed by the visored helm made with three plates of metal,
which Phoebus Apollo had given him. Hector sprang back with a great
bound under cover of the ranks; he fell on his knees and propped
himself with his brawny hand leaning on the ground, for darkness had
fallen on his eyes. The son of Tydeus having thrown his spear dashed
in among the foremost fighters, to the place where he had seen it
strike the ground; meanwhile Hector recovered himself and springing
back into his chariot mingled with the crowd, by which means he
saved his life. But Diomed made at him with his spear and said,
“Dog, you have again got away though death was close on your heels.
Phoebus Apollo, to whom I ween you pray ere you go into battle, has
again saved you, nevertheless I will meet you and make and end of
you hereafter, if there is any god who will stand by me too and be
my helper. For the present I must pursue those I can lay hands on.”
As he spoke he began stripping the spoils from the son of Paeon, but
Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen aimed an arrow at him, leaning
against a pillar of the monument which men had raised to Ilus son of
Dardanus, a ruler in days of old. Diomed had taken the cuirass from
off the breast of Agastrophus, his heavy helmet also, and the shield
from off his shoulders, when Paris drew his bow and let fly an arrow
that sped not from his hand in vain, but pierced the flat of
Diomed’s right foot, going right through it and fixing itself in the
ground. Thereon Paris with a hearty laugh sprang forward from his
hiding-place, and taunted him saying, “You are wounded- my arrow has
not been shot in vain; would that it had hit you in the belly and
killed you, for thus the Trojans, who fear you as goats fear a lion,
would have had a truce from evil.”
Diomed all undaunted answered, “Archer, you who without your bow are
nothing, slanderer and seducer, if you were to be tried in single
combat fighting in full armour, your bow and your arrows would serve
you in little stead. Vain is your boast in that you have scratched the
sole of my foot. I care no more than if a girl or some silly boy had
hit me. A worthless coward can inflict but a light wound; when I wound
a man though I but graze his skin it is another matter, for my
weapon will lay him low. His wife will tear her cheeks for grief and
his children will be fatherless: there will he rot, reddening the
earth with his blood, and vultures, not women, will gather round him.”
Thus he spoke, but Ulysses came up and stood over him. Under this
cover he sat down to draw the arrow from his foot, and sharp was the
pain he suffered as he did so. Then he sprang on to his chariot and
bade the charioteer drive him to the ships, for he was sick at heart.
Ulysses was now alone; not one of the Argives stood by him, for they
were all panic-stricken. “Alas,” said he to himself in his dismay,
“what will become of me? It is ill if I turn and fly before these
odds, but it will be worse if I am left alone and taken prisoner,
for the son of Saturn has struck the rest of the Danaans with panic.
But why talk to myself in this way? Well do I know that though cowards
quit the field, a hero, whether he wound or be wounded, must stand
firm and hold his own.”
While he was thus in two minds, the ranks of the Trojans advanced
and hemmed him in, and bitterly did they come to me it. As hounds
and lusty youths set upon a wild boar that sallies from his lair
whetting his white tusks- they attack him from every side and can hear
the gnashing of his jaws, but for all his fierceness they still hold
their ground- even so furiously did the Trojans attack Ulysses.
First he sprang spear in hand upon Deiopites and wounded him on the
shoulder with a downward blow; then he killed Thoon and Ennomus. After
these he struck Chersidamas in the loins under his shield as he had
just sprung down from his chariot; so he fell in the dust and clutched
the earth in the hollow of his hand. These he let lie, and went on
to wound Charops son of Hippasus own brother to noble Socus. Socus,
hero that he was, made all speed to help him, and when he was close to
Ulysses he said, “Far-famed Ulysses, insatiable of craft and toil,
this day you shall either boast of having killed both the sons of
Hippasus and stripped them of their armour, or you shall fall before
my spear.”
With these words he struck the shield of Ulysses. The spear went
through the shield and passed on through his richly wrought cuirass,
tearing the flesh from his side, but Pallas Minerva did not suffer
it to pierce the entrails of the hero. Ulysses knew that his hour
was not yet come, but he gave ground and said to Socus, “Wretch, you
shall now surely die. You have stayed me from fighting further with
the Trojans, but you shall now fall by my spear, yielding glory to
myself, and your soul to Hades of the noble steeds.”
Socus had turned in flight, but as he did so, the spear struck him
in the back midway between the shoulders, and went right through his
chest. He fell heavily to the ground and Ulysses vaunted over him
saying, “O Socus, son of Hippasus tamer of horses, death has been
too quick for you and you have not escaped him: poor wretch, not
even in death shall your father and mother close your eyes, but the
ravening vultures shall enshroud you with the flapping of their dark
wings and devour you. Whereas even though I fall the Achaeans will
give me my due rites of burial.”
So saying he drew Socus’s heavy spear out of his flesh and from
his shield, and the blood welled forth when the spear was withdrawn so
that he was much dismayed. When the Trojans saw that Ulysses was
bleeding they raised a great shout and came on in a body towards
him; he therefore gave ground, and called his comrades to come and
help him. Thrice did he cry as loudly as man can cry, and thrice did
brave Menelaus hear him; he turned, therefore, to Ajax who was close
beside him and said, “Ajax, noble son of Telamon, captain of your
people, the cry of Ulysses rings in my ears, as though the Trojans had
cut him off and were worsting him while he is single-handed. Let us
make our way through the throng; it will be well that we defend him; I
fear he may come to harm for all his valour if he be left without
support, and the Danaans would miss him sorely.”
He led the way and mighty Ajax went with him. The Trojans had
gathered round Ulysses like ravenous mountain jackals round the
carcase of some homed stag that has been hit with an arrow- the stag
has fled at full speed so long as his blood was warm and his
strength has lasted, but when the arrow has overcome him, the savage
jackals devour him in the shady glades of the forest. Then heaven
sends a fierce lion thither, whereon the jackals fly in terror and the
lion robs them of their prey- even so did Trojans many and brave
gather round crafty Ulysses, but the hero stood at bay and kept them
off with his spear. Ajax then came up with his shield before him
like a wall, and stood hard by, whereon the Trojans fled in all
directions. Menelaus took Ulysses by the hand, and led him out of
the press while his squire brought up his chariot, but Ajax rushed
furiously on the Trojans and killed Doryclus, a bastard son of
Priam; then he wounded Pandocus, Lysandrus, Pyrasus, and Pylartes;
as some swollen torrent comes rushing in full flood from the mountains
on to the plain, big with the rain of heaven- many a dry oak and
many a pine does it engulf, and much mud does it bring down and cast
into the sea- even so did brave Ajax chase the foe furiously over
the plain, slaying both men and horses.
Hector did not yet know what Ajax was doing, for he was fighting
on the extreme left of the battle by the banks of the river Scamander,
where the carnage was thickest and the war-cry loudest round Nestor
and brave Idomeneus. Among these Hector was making great slaughter
with his spear and furious driving, and was destroying the ranks
that were opposed to him; still the Achaeans would have given no
ground, had not Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen stayed the
prowess of Machaon shepherd of his people, by wounding him in the
right shoulder with a triple-barbed arrow. The Achaeans were in
great fear that as the fight had turned against them the Trojans might
take him prisoner, and Idomeneus said to Nestor, “Nestor son of
Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, mount your chariot at once; take
Machaon with you and drive your horses to the ships as fast as you
can. A physician is worth more than several other men put together,
for he can cut out arrows and spread healing herbs.”
Nestor knight of Gerene did as Idomeneus had counselled; he at
once mounted his chariot, and Machaon son of the famed physician
Aesculapius went with him. He lashed his horses and they flew onward
nothing loth towards the ships, as though of their own free will.
Then Cebriones seeing the Trojans in confusion said to Hector from
his place beside him, “Hector, here are we two fighting on the extreme
wing of the battle, while the other Trojans are in pell-mell rout,
they and their horses. Ajax son of Telamon is driving them before him;
I know him by the breadth of his shield: let us turn our chariot and
horses thither, where horse and foot are fighting most desperately,
and where the cry of battle is loudest.”
With this he lashed his goodly steeds, and when they felt the whip
they drew the chariot full speed among the Achaeans and Trojans,
over the bodies and shields of those that had fallen: the axle was
bespattered with blood, and the rail round the car was covered with
splashes both from the horses’ hoofs and from the tyres of the wheels.
Hector tore his way through and flung himself into the thick of the
fight, and his presence threw the Danaans into confusion, for his
spear was not long idle; nevertheless though he went among the ranks
with sword and spear, and throwing great stones, he avoided Ajax son
of Telamon, for Jove would have been angry with him if he had fought a
better man than himself.
Then father Jove from his high throne struck fear into the heart
of Ajax, so that he stood there dazed and threw his shield behind him-
looking fearfully at the throng of his foes as though he were some
wild beast, and turning hither and thither but crouching slowly
backwards. As peasants with their hounds chase a lion from their
stockyard, and watch by night to prevent his carrying off the pick
of their herd- he makes his greedy spring, but in vain, for the
darts from many a strong hand fall thick around him, with burning
brands that scare him for all his fury, and when morning comes he
slinks foiled and angry away- even so did Ajax, sorely against his
will, retreat angrily before the Trojans, fearing for the ships of the
Achaeans. Or as some lazy ass that has had many a cudgel broken
about his back, when he into a field begins eating the corn- boys beat
him but he is too many for them, and though they lay about with
their sticks they cannot hurt him; still when he has had his fill they
at last drive him from the field- even so did the Trojans and their
allies pursue great Ajax, ever smiting the middle of his shield with
their darts. Now and again he would turn and show fight, keeping
back the battalions of the Trojans, and then he would again retreat;
but he prevented any of them from making his way to the ships.
Single-handed he stood midway between the Trojans and Achaeans: the
spears that sped from their hands stuck some of them in his mighty
shield, while many, though thirsting for his blood, fell to the ground
ere they could reach him to the wounding of his fair flesh.
Now when Eurypylus the brave son of Euaemon saw that Ajax was
being overpowered by the rain of arrows, he went up to him and
hurled his spear. He struck Apisaon son of Phausius in the liver below
the midriff, and laid him low. Eurypylus sprang upon him, and stripped
the armour from his shoulders; but when Alexandrus saw him, he aimed
an arrow at him which struck him in the right thigh; the arrow
broke, but the point that was left in the wound dragged on the
thigh; he drew back, therefore, under cover of his comrades to save
his life, shouting as he did so to the Danaans, “My friends, princes
and counsellors of the Argives, rally to the defence of Ajax who is
being overpowered, and I doubt whether he will come out of the fight
alive. Hither, then, to the rescue of great Ajax son of Telamon.”
Even so did he cry when he was wounded; thereon the others came
near, and gathered round him, holding their shields upwards from their
shoulders so as to give him cover. Ajax then made towards them, and
turned round to stand at bay as soon as he had reached his men.
Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
mares of Neleus, all in a lather with sweat, were bearing Nestor out
of the fight, and with him Machaon shepherd of his people. Achilles
saw and took note, for he was standing on the stern of his ship
watching the hard stress and struggle of the fight. He called from the
ship to his comrade Patroclus, who heard him in the tent and came
out looking like Mars himself- here indeed was the beginning of the
ill that presently befell him. “Why,” said he, “Achilles do you call
me? what do you what do you want with me?” And Achilles answered,
“Noble son of Menoetius, man after my own heart, I take it that I
shall now have the Achaeans praying at my knees, for they are in great
straits; go, Patroclus, and ask Nestor who is that he is bearing
away wounded from the field; from his back I should say it was Machaon
son of Aesculapius, but I could not see his face for the horses went
by me at full speed.”
Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him, and set off
running by the ships and tents of the Achaeans.
When Nestor and Machaon had reached the tents of the son of
Neleus, they dismounted, and an esquire, Eurymedon, took the horses
from the chariot. The pair then stood in the breeze by the seaside
to dry the sweat from their shirts, and when they had so done they
came inside and took their seats. Fair Hecamede, whom Nestor had had
awarded to him from Tenedos when Achilles took it, mixed them a
mess; she was daughter of wise Arsinous, and the Achaeans had given
her to Nestor because he excelled all of them in counsel. First she
set for them a fair and well-made table that had feet of cyanus; on it
there was a vessel of bronze and an onion to give relish to the drink,
with honey and cakes of barley-meal. There was also a cup of rare
workmanship which the old man had brought with him from home,
studded with bosses of gold; it had four handles, on each of which
there were two golden doves feeding, and it had two feet to stand
on. Any one else would hardly have been able to lift it from the table
when it was full, but Nestor could do so quite easily. In this the
woman, as fair as a goddess, mixed them a mess with Pramnian wine; she
grated goat’s milk cheese into it with a bronze grater, threw in a
handful of white barley-meal, and having thus prepared the mess she
bade them drink it. When they had done so and had thus quenched
their thirst, they fell talking with one another, and at this moment
Patroclus appeared at the door.
When the old man saw him he sprang from his seat, seized his hand,
led him into the tent, and bade him take his place among them; but
Patroclus stood where he was and said, “Noble sir, I may not stay, you
cannot persuade me to come in; he that sent me is not one to be
trifled with, and he bade me ask who the wounded man was whom you were
bearing away from the field. I can now see for myself that he is
Machaon shepherd of his people. I must go back and tell Achilles. You,
sir, know what a terrible man he is, and how ready to blame even where
no blame should lie.”
And Nestor answered, “Why should Achilles care to know how many of
the Achaeans may be wounded? He recks not of the dismay that reigns in
our host; our most valiant chieftains lie disabled, brave Diomed son
of Tydeus is wounded; so are Ulysses and Agamemnon; Eurypylus has been
hit with an arrow in the thigh, and I have just been bringing this man
from the field- he too wounded- with an arrow; nevertheless
Achilles, so valiant though he be, cares not and knows no ruth. Will
he wait till the ships, do what we may, are in a blaze, and we
perish one upon the other? As for me, I have no strength nor stay in
me any longer; would that I Were still young and strong as in the days
when there was a fight between us and the men of Elis about some
cattle-raiding. I then killed Itymoneus the valiant son of Hypeirochus
a dweller in Elis, as I was driving in the spoil; he was hit by a dart
thrown my hand while fighting in the front rank in defence of his
cows, so he fell and the country people around him were in great fear.
We drove off a vast quantity of booty from the plain, fifty herds of
cattle and as many flocks of sheep; fifty droves also of pigs, and
as many wide-spreading flocks of goats. Of horses moreover we seized a
hundred and fifty, all of them mares, and many had foals running
with them. All these did we drive by night to Pylus the city of
Neleus, taking them within the city; and the heart of Neleus was
glad in that I had taken so much, though it was the first time I had
ever been in the field. At daybreak the heralds went round crying that
all in Elis to whom there was a debt owing should come; and the
leading Pylians assembled to divide the spoils. There were many to
whom the Epeans owed chattels, for we men of Pylus were few and had
been oppressed with wrong; in former years Hercules had come, and
had laid his hand heavy upon us, so that all our best men had
perished. Neleus had had twelve sons, but I alone was left; the others
had all been killed. The Epeans presuming upon all this had looked
down upon us and had done us much evil. My father chose a herd of
cattle and a great flock of sheep- three hundred in all- and he took
their shepherds with him, for there was a great debt due to him in
Elis, to wit four horses, winners of prizes. They and their chariots
with them had gone to the games and were to run for a tripod, but King
Augeas took them, and sent back their driver grieving for the loss
of his horses. Neleus was angered by what he had both said and done,
and took great value in return, but he divided the rest, that no man
might have less than his full share.
“Thus did we order all things, and offer sacrifices to the gods
throughout the city; but three days afterwards the Epeans came in a
body, many in number, they and their chariots, in full array, and with
them the two Moliones in their armour, though they were still lads and
unused to fighting. Now there is a certain town, Thryoessa, perched
upon a rock on the river Alpheus, the border city Pylus; this they
would destroy, and pitched their camp about it, but when they had
crossed their whole plain, Minerva darted down by night from Olympus
and bade us set ourselves in array; and she found willing soldiers
in Pylos, for the men meant fighting. Neleus would not let me arm, and
hid my horses, for he said that as yet I could know nothing about war;
nevertheless Minerva so ordered the fight that, all on foot as I
was, I fought among our mounted forces and vied with the foremost of
them. There is a river Minyeius that falls into the sea near Arene,
and there they that were mounted (and I with them) waited till
morning, when the companies of foot soldiers came up with us in force.
Thence in full panoply and equipment we came towards noon to the
sacred waters of the Alpheus, and there we offered victims to almighty
Jove, with a bull to Alpheus, another to Neptune, and a herd-heifer to
Minerva. After this we took supper in our companies, and laid us
down to rest each in his armour by the river.
“The Epeans were beleaguering the city and were determined to take
it, but ere this might be there was a desperate fight in store for
them. When the sun’s rays began to fall upon the earth we joined
battle, praying to Jove and to Minerva, and when the fight had
begun, I was the first to kill my man and take his horses- to wit
the warrior Mulius. He was son-in-law to Augeas, having married his
eldest daughter, golden-haired Agamede, who knew the virtues of
every herb which grows upon the face of the earth. I speared him as he
was coming towards me, and when he fell headlong in the dust, I sprang
upon his chariot and took my place in the front ranks. The Epeans fled
in all directions when they saw the captain of their horsemen (the
best man they had) laid low, and I swept down on them like a
whirlwind, taking fifty chariots- and in each of them two men bit
the dust, slain by my spear. I should have even killed the two
Moliones sons of Actor, unless their real father, Neptune lord of
the earthquake, had hidden them in a thick mist and borne them out
of the fight. Thereon Jove vouchsafed the Pylians a great victory, for
we chased them far over the plain, killing the men and bringing in
their armour, till we had brought our horses to Buprasium rich in
wheat and to the Olenian rock, with the hill that is called Alision,
at which point Minerva turned the people back. There I slew the last
man and left him; then the Achaeans drove their horses back from
Buprasium to Pylos and gave thanks to Jove among the gods, and among
mortal men to Nestor.
“Such was I among my peers, as surely as ever was, but Achilles is
for keeping all his valour for himself; bitterly will he rue it
hereafter when the host is being cut to pieces. My good friend, did
not Menoetius charge you thus, on the day when he sent you from Phthia
to Agamemnon? Ulysses and I were in the house, inside, and heard all
that he said to you; for we came to the fair house of Peleus while
beating up recruits throughout all Achaea, and when we got there we
found Menoetius and yourself, and Achilles with you. The old knight
Peleus was in the outer court, roasting the fat thigh-bones of a
heifer to Jove the lord of thunder; and he held a gold chalice in
his hand from which he poured drink-offerings of wine over the burning
sacrifice. You two were busy cutting up the heifer, and at that moment
we stood at the gates, whereon Achilles sprang to his feet, led us
by the hand into the house, placed us at table, and set before us such
hospitable entertainment as guests expect. When we had satisfied
ourselves with meat and drink, I said my say and urged both of you
to join us. You were ready enough to do so, and the two old men
charged you much and straitly. Old Peleus bade his son Achilles
fight ever among the foremost and outvie his peers, while Menoetius
the son of Actor spoke thus to you: ‘My son,’ said he, ‘Achilles is of
nobler birth than you are, but you are older than he, though he is far
the better man of the two. Counsel him wisely, guide him in the
right way, and he will follow you to his own profit.’ Thus did your
father charge you, but you have forgotten; nevertheless, even now, say
all this to Achilles if he will listen to you. Who knows but with
heaven’s help you may talk him over, for it is good to take a friend’s
advice. If, however, he is fearful about some oracle, or if his mother
has told him something from Jove, then let him send you, and let the
rest of the Myrmidons follow with you, if perchance you may bring
light and saving to the Danaans. And let him send you into battle clad
in his own armour, that the Trojans may mistake you for him and
leave off fighting; the sons of the Achaeans may thus have time to get
their breath, for they are hard pressed and there is little
breathing time in battle. You, who are fresh, might easily drive a
tired enemy back to his walls and away from the tents and ships.”
With these words he moved the heart of Patroclus, who set off
running by the line of the ships to Achilles, descendant of Aeacus.
When he had got as far as the ships of Ulysses, where was their
place of assembly and court of justice, with their altars dedicated to
the gods, Eurypylus son of Euaemon met him, wounded in the thigh
with an arrow, and limping out of the fight. Sweat rained from his
head and shoulders, and black blood welled from his cruel wound, but
his mind did not wander. The son of Menoetius when he saw him had
compassion upon him and spoke piteously saying, “O unhappy princes and
counsellors of the Danaans, are you then doomed to feed the hounds
of Troy with your fat, far from your friends and your native land?
say, noble Eurypylus, will the Achaeans be able to hold great Hector
in check, or will they fall now before his spear?”
Wounded Eurypylus made answer, “Noble Patroclus, there is no hope
left for the Achaeans but they will perish at their ships. All they
that were princes among us are lying struck down and wounded at the
hands of the Trojans, who are waxing stronger and stronger. But save
me and take me to your ship; cut out the arrow from my thigh; wash the
black blood from off it with warm water, and lay upon it those
gracious herbs which, so they say, have been shown you by Achilles,
who was himself shown them by Chiron, most righteous of all the
centaurs. For of the physicians Podalirius and Machaon, I hear that
the one is lying wounded in his tent and is himself in need of
healing, while the other is fighting the Trojans upon the plain.”
“Hero Eurypylus,” replied the brave son of Menoetius, “how may these
things be? What can I do? I am on my way to bear a message to noble
Achilles from Nestor of Gerene, bulwark of the Achaeans, but even so I
will not be unmindful your distress.”
With this he clasped him round the middle and led him into the tent,
and a servant, when he saw him, spread bullock-skins on the ground for
him to lie on. He laid him at full length and cut out the sharp
arrow from his thigh; he washed the black blood from the wound with
warm water; he then crushed a bitter herb, rubbing it between his
hands, and spread it upon the wound; this was a virtuous herb which
killed all pain; so the wound presently dried and the blood left off


SO THE son of Menoetius was attending to the hurt of Eurypylus
within the tent, but the Argives and Trojans still fought desperately,
nor were the trench and the high wall above it, to keep the Trojans in
check longer. They had built it to protect their ships, and had dug
the trench all round it that it might safeguard both the ships and the
rich spoils which they had taken, but they had not offered hecatombs
to the gods. It had been built without the consent of the immortals,
and therefore it did not last. So long as Hector lived and Achilles
nursed his anger, and so long as the city of Priam remained untaken,
the great wall of the Achaeans stood firm; but when the bravest of the
Trojans were no more, and many also of the Argives, though some were
yet left alive when, moreover, the city was sacked in the tenth
year, and the Argives had gone back with their ships to their own
country- then Neptune and Apollo took counsel to destroy the wall, and
they turned on to it the streams of all the rivers from Mount Ida into
the sea, Rhesus, Heptaporus, Caresus, Rhodius, Grenicus, Aesopus,
and goodly Scamander, with Simois, where many a shield and helm had
fallen, and many a hero of the race of demigods had bitten the dust.
Phoebus Apollo turned the mouths of all these rivers together and made
them flow for nine days against the wall, while Jove rained the
whole time that he might wash it sooner into the sea. Neptune himself,
trident in hand, surveyed the work and threw into the sea all the
foundations of beams and stones which the Achaeans had laid with so
much toil; he made all level by the mighty stream of the Hellespont,
and then when he had swept the wall away he spread a great beach of
sand over the place where it had been. This done he turned the
rivers back into their old courses.
This was what Neptune and Apollo were to do in after time; but as
yet battle and turmoil were still raging round the wall till its
timbers rang under the blows that rained upon them. The Argives, cowed
by the scourge of Jove, were hemmed in at their ships in fear of
Hector the mighty minister of Rout, who as heretofore fought with
the force and fury of a whirlwind. As a lion or wild boar turns
fiercely on the dogs and men that attack him, while these form solid
wall and shower their javelins as they face him- his courage is all
undaunted, but his high spirit will be the death of him; many a time
does he charge at his pursuers to scatter them, and they fall back
as often as he does so- even so did Hector go about among the host
exhorting his men, and cheering them on to cross the trench.
But the horses dared not do so, and stood neighing upon its brink,
for the width frightened them. They could neither jump it nor cross
it, for it had overhanging banks all round upon either side, above
which there were the sharp stakes that the sons of the Achaeans had
planted so close and strong as a defence against all who would
assail it; a horse, therefore, could not get into it and draw his
chariot after him, but those who were on foot kept trying their very
utmost. Then Polydamas went up to Hector and said, “Hector, and you
other captains of the Trojans and allies, it is madness for us to
try and drive our horses across the trench; it will be very hard to
cross, for it is full of sharp stakes, and beyond these there is the
wall. Our horses therefore cannot get down into it, and would be of no
use if they did; moreover it is a narrow place and we should come to
harm. If, indeed, great Jove is minded to help the Trojans, and in his
anger will utterly destroy the Achaeans, I would myself gladly see
them perish now and here far from Argos; but if they should rally
and we are driven back from the ships pell-mell into the trench
there will be not so much as a man get back to the city to tell the
tale. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; let our squires hold our
horses by the trench, but let us follow Hector in a body on foot, clad
in full armour, and if the day of their doom is at hand the Achaeans
will not be able to withstand us.”
Thus spoke Polydamas and his saying pleased Hector, who sprang in
full armour to the ground, and all the other Trojans, when they saw
him do so, also left their chariots. Each man then gave his horses
over to his charioteer in charge to hold them ready for him at the
trench. Then they formed themselves into companies, made themselves
ready, and in five bodies followed their leaders. Those that went with
Hector and Polydamas were the bravest and most in number, and the most
determined to break through the wall and fight at the ships. Cebriones
was also joined with them as third in command, for Hector had left his
chariot in charge of a less valiant soldier. The next company was
led by Paris, Alcathous, and Agenor; the third by Helenus and
Deiphobus, two sons of Priam, and with them was the hero Asius-
Asius the son of Hyrtacus, whose great black horses of the breed
that comes from the river Selleis had brought him from Arisbe.
Aeneas the valiant son of Anchises led the fourth; he and the two sons
of Antenor, Archelochus and Acamas, men well versed in all the arts of
war. Sarpedon was captain over the allies, and took with him Glaucus
and Asteropaeus whom he deemed most valiant after himself- for he
was far the best man of them all. These helped to array one another in
their ox-hide shields, and then charged straight at the Danaans, for
they felt sure that they would not hold out longer and that they
should themselves now fall upon the ships.
The rest of the Trojans and their allies now followed the counsel of
Polydamas but Asius son of Hyrtacus would not leave his horses and his
esquire behind him; in his foolhardiness he took them on with him
towards the ships, nor did he fail to come by his end in
consequence. Nevermore was he to return to wind-beaten Ilius, exulting
in his chariot and his horses; ere he could do so, death of ill-omened
name had overshadowed him and he had fallen by the spear of
Idomeneus the noble son of Deucalion. He had driven towards the left
wing of the ships, by which way the Achaeans used to return with their
chariots and horses from the plain. Hither he drove and found the
gates with their doors opened wide, and the great bar down- for the
gatemen kept them open so as to let those of their comrades enter
who might be flying towards the ships. Hither of set purpose did he
direct his horses, and his men followed him with a loud cry, for
they felt sure that the Achaeans would not hold out longer, and that
they should now fall upon the ships. Little did they know that at
the gates they should find two of the bravest chieftains, proud sons
of the fighting Lapithae- the one, Polypoetes, mighty son of
Pirithous, and the other Leonteus, peer of murderous Mars. These stood
before the gates like two high oak trees upon the mountains, that
tower from their wide-spreading roots, and year after year battle with
wind and rain- even so did these two men await the onset of great
Asius confidently and without flinching. The Trojans led by him and by
Iamenus, Orestes, Adamas the son of Asius, Thoon and Oenomaus,
raised a loud cry of battle and made straight for the wall, holding
their shields of dry ox-hide above their heads; for a while the two
defenders remained inside and cheered the Achaeans on to stand firm in
the defence of their ships; when, however, they saw that the Trojans
were attacking the wall, while the Danaans were crying out for help
and being routed, they rushed outside and fought in front of the gates
like two wild boars upon the mountains that abide the attack of men
and dogs, and charging on either side break down the wood all round
them tearing it up by the roots, and one can hear the clattering of
their tusks, till some one hits them and makes an end of them- even so
did the gleaming bronze rattle about their breasts, as the weapons
fell upon them; for they fought with great fury, trusting to their own
prowess and to those who were on the wall above them. These threw
great stones at their assailants in defence of themselves their
tents and their ships. The stones fell thick as the flakes of snow
which some fierce blast drives from the dark clouds and showers down
in sheets upon the earth- even so fell the weapons from the hands
alike of Trojans and Achaeans. Helmet and shield rang out as the great
stones rained upon them, and Asius the son of Hyrtacus in his dismay
cried aloud and smote his two thighs. “Father Jove,” he cried, “of a
truth you too are altogether given to lying. I made sure the Argive
heroes could not withstand us, whereas like slim-waisted wasps, or
bees that have their nests in the rocks by the wayside- they leave not
the holes wherein they have built undefended, but fight for their
little ones against all who would take them- even so these men, though
they be but two, will not be driven from the gates, but stand firm
either to slay or be slain.”
He spoke, but moved not the mind of Jove, whose counsel it then
was to give glory to Hector. Meanwhile the rest of the Trojans were
fighting about the other gates; I, however, am no god to be able to
tell about all these things, for the battle raged everywhere about the
stone wall as it were a fiery furnace. The Argives, discomfited though
they were, were forced to defend their ships, and all the gods who
were defending the Achaeans were vexed in spirit; but the Lapithae
kept on fighting with might and main.
Thereon Polypoetes, mighty son of Pirithous, hit Damasus with a
spear upon his cheek-pierced helmet. The helmet did not protect him,
for the point of the spear went through it, and broke the bone, so
that the brain inside was scattered about, and he died fighting. He
then slew Pylon and Ormenus. Leonteus, of the race of Mars, killed
Hippomachus the son of Antimachus by striking him with his spear
upon the girdle. He then drew his sword and sprang first upon
Antiphates whom he killed in combat, and who fell face upwards on
the earth. After him he killed Menon, Iamenus, and Orestes, and laid
them low one after the other.
While they were busy stripping the armour from these heroes, the
youths who were led on by Polydamas and Hector (and these were the
greater part and the most valiant of those that were trying to break
through the wall and fire the ships) were still standing by the
trench, uncertain what they should do; for they had seen a sign from
heaven when they had essayed to cross it- a soaring eagle that flew
skirting the left wing of their host, with a monstrous blood-red snake
in its talons still alive and struggling to escape. The snake was
still bent on revenge, wriggling and twisting itself backwards till it
struck the bird that held it, on the neck and breast; whereon the bird
being in pain, let it fall, dropping it into the middle of the host,
and then flew down the wind with a sharp cry. The Trojans were
struck with terror when they saw the snake, portent of aegis-bearing
Jove, writhing in the midst of them, and Polydamas went up to Hector
and said, “Hector, at our councils of war you are ever given to rebuke
me, even when I speak wisely, as though it were not well, forsooth,
that one of the people should cross your will either in the field or
at the council board; you would have them support you always:
nevertheless I will say what I think will be best; let us not now go
on to fight the Danaans at their ships, for I know what will happen if
this soaring eagle which skirted the left wing of our with a monstrous
blood-red snake in its talons (the snake being still alive) was really
sent as an omen to the Trojans on their essaying to cross the
trench. The eagle let go her hold; she did not succeed in taking it
home to her little ones, and so will it be- with ourselves; even
though by a mighty effort we break through the gates and wall of the
Achaeans, and they give way before us, still we shall not return in
good order by the way we came, but shall leave many a man behind us
whom the Achaeans will do to death in defence of their ships. Thus
would any seer who was expert in these matters, and was trusted by the
people, read the portent.”
Hector looked fiercely at him and said, “Polydamas, I like not of
your reading. You can find a better saying than this if you will.
If, however, you have spoken in good earnest, then indeed has heaven
robbed you of your reason. You would have me pay no heed to the
counsels of Jove, nor to the promises he made me- and he bowed his
head in confirmation; you bid me be ruled rather by the flight of
wild-fowl. What care I whether they fly towards dawn or dark, and
whether they be on my right hand or on my left? Let us put our trust
rather in the counsel of great Jove, king of mortals and immortals.
There is one omen, and one only- that a man should fight for his
country. Why are you so fearful? Though we be all of us slain at the
ships of the Argives you are not likely to be killed yourself, for you
are not steadfast nor courageous. If you will. not fight, or would
talk others over from doing so, you shall fall forthwith before my
With these words he led the way, and the others followed after
with a cry that rent the air. Then Jove the lord of thunder sent the
blast of a mighty wind from the mountains of Ida, that bore the dust
down towards the ships; he thus lulled the Achaeans into security, and
gave victory to Hector and to the Trojans, who, trusting to their
own might and to the signs he had shown them, essayed to break through
the great wall of the Achaeans. They tore down the breastworks from
the walls, and overthrew the battlements; they upheaved the
buttresses, which the Achaeans had set in front of the wall in order
to support it; when they had pulled these down they made sure of
breaking through the wall, but the Danaans still showed no sign of
giving ground; they still fenced the battlements with their shields of
ox-hide, and hurled their missiles down upon the foe as soon as any
came below the wall.
The two Ajaxes went about everywhere on the walls cheering on the
Achaeans, giving fair words to some while they spoke sharply to any
one whom they saw to be remiss. “My friends,” they cried, “Argives one
and all- good bad and indifferent, for there was never fight yet, in
which all were of equal prowess- there is now work enough, as you very
well know, for all of you. See that you none of you turn in flight
towards the ships, daunted by the shouting of the foe, but press
forward and keep one another in heart, if it may so be that Olympian
Jove the lord of lightning will vouchsafe us to repel our foes, and
drive them back towards the city.”
Thus did the two go about shouting and cheering the Achaeans on.
As the flakes that fall thick upon a winter’s day, when Jove is minded
to snow and to display these his arrows to mankind- he lulls the
wind to rest, and snows hour after hour till he has buried the tops of
the high mountains, the headlands that jut into the sea, the grassy
plains, and the tilled fields of men; the snow lies deep upon the
forelands, and havens of the grey sea, but the waves as they come
rolling in stay it that it can come no further, though all else is
wrapped as with a mantle so heavy are the heavens with snow- even thus
thickly did the stones fall on one side and on the other, some
thrown at the Trojans, and some by the Trojans at the Achaeans; and
the whole wall was in an uproar.
Still the Trojans and brave Hector would not yet have broken down
the gates and the great bar, had not Jove turned his son Sarpedon
against the Argives as a lion against a herd of horned cattle.
Before him he held his shield of hammered bronze, that the smith had
beaten so fair and round, and had lined with ox hides which he had
made fast with rivets of gold all round the shield; this he held in
front of him, and brandishing his two spears came on like some lion of
the wilderness, who has been long famished for want of meat and will
dare break even into a well-fenced homestead to try and get at the
sheep. He may find the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks
with dogs and spears, but he is in no mind to be driven from the
fold till he has had a try for it; he will either spring on a sheep
and carry it off, or be hit by a spear from strong hand- even so was
Sarpedon fain to attack the wall and break down its battlements.
Then he said to Glaucus son of Hippolochus, “Glaucus, why in Lycia
do we receive especial honour as regards our place at table? Why are
the choicest portions served us and our cups kept brimming, and why do
men look up to us as though we were gods? Moreover we hold a large
estate by the banks of the river Xanthus, fair with orchard lawns
and wheat-growing land; it becomes us, therefore, to take our stand at
the head of all the Lycians and bear the brunt of the fight, that
one may say to another, Our princes in Lycia eat the fat of the land
and drink best of wine, but they are fine fellows; they fight well and
are ever at the front in battle.’ My good friend, if, when we were
once out of this fight, we could escape old age and death
thenceforward and for ever, I should neither press forward myself
nor bid you do so, but death in ten thousand shapes hangs ever over
our heads, and no man can elude him; therefore let us go forward and
either win glory for ourselves, or yield it to another.”
Glaucus heeded his saying, and the pair forthwith led on the host of
Lycians. Menestheus son of Peteos was dismayed when he saw them, for
it was against his part of the wall that they came- bringing
destruction with them; he looked along the wall for some chieftain
to support his comrades and saw the two Ajaxes, men ever eager for the
fray, and Teucer, who had just come from his tent, standing near them;
but he could not make his voice heard by shouting to them, so great an
uproar was there from crashing shields and helmets and the battering
of gates with a din which reached the skies. For all the gates had
been closed, and the Trojans were hammering at them to try and break
their way through them. Menestheus, therefore, sent Thootes with a
message to Ajax. “Run, good Thootes,” said and call Ajax, or better
still bid both come, for it will be all over with us here directly;
the leaders of the Lycians are upon us, men who have ever fought
desperately heretofore. But if the have too much on their hands to let
them come, at any rate let Ajax son of Telamon do so, and let Teucer
the famous bowman come with him.”
The messenger did as he was told, and set off running along the wall
of the Achaeans. When he reached the Ajaxes he said to them, “Sirs,
princes of the Argives, the son of noble Peteos bids you come to him
for a while and help him. You had better both come if you can, or it
will be all over with him directly; the leaders of the Lycians are
upon him, men who have ever fought desperately heretofore; if you have
too much on your hands to let both come, at any rate let Ajax son of
Telamon do so, and let Teucer the famous bowman come with him.”
Great Ajax, son of Telamon, heeded the message, and at once spoke to
the son of Oileus. “Ajax,” said he, “do you two, yourself and brave
Lycomedes, stay here and keep the Danaans in heart to fight their
hardest. I will go over yonder, and bear my part in the fray, but I
will come back here at once as soon as I have given them the help they
With this, Ajax son of Telamon set off, and Teucer his brother by
the same father went also, with Pandion to carry Teucer’s bow. They
went along inside the wall, and when they came to the tower where
Menestheus was (and hard pressed indeed did they find him) the brave
captains and leaders of the Lycians were storming the battlements as
it were a thick dark cloud, fighting in close quarters, and raising
the battle-cry aloud.
First, Ajax son of Telamon killed brave Epicles, a comrade of
Sarpedon, hitting him with a jagged stone that lay by the
battlements at the very top of the wall. As men now are, even one
who is in the bloom of youth could hardly lift it with his two
hands, but Ajax raised it high aloft and flung it down, smashing
Epicles’ four-crested helmet so that the bones of his head were
crushed to pieces, and he fell from the high wall as though he were
diving, with no more life left in him. Then Teucer wounded Glaucus the
brave son of Hippolochus as he was coming on to attack the wall. He
saw his shoulder bare and aimed an arrow at it, which made Glaucus
leave off fighting. Thereon he sprang covertly down for fear some of
the Achaeans might see that he was wounded and taunt him. Sarpedon was
stung with grief when he saw Glaucus leave him, still he did not leave
off fighting, but aimed his spear at Alcmaon the son of Thestor and
hit him. He drew his spear back again Alcmaon came down headlong after
it with his bronzed armour rattling round him. Then Sarpedon seized
the battlement in his strong hands, and tugged at it till it an gave
way together, and a breach was made through which many might pass.
Ajax and Teucer then both of them attacked him. Teucer hit him
with an arrow on the band that bore the shield which covered his body,
but Jove saved his son from destruction that he might not fall by
the ships’ sterns. Meanwhile Ajax sprang on him and pierced his
shield, but the spear did not go clean through, though it hustled
him back that he could come on no further. He therefore retired a
little space from the battlement, yet without losing all his ground,
for he still thought to cover himself with glory. Then he turned round
and shouted to the brave Lycians saying, “Lycians, why do you thus
fail me? For all my prowess I cannot break through the wall and open a
way to the ships single-handed. Come close on behind me, for the
more there are of us the better.”
The Lycians, shamed by his rebuke, pressed closer round him who
was their counsellor their king. The Argives on their part got their
men in fighting order within the wall, and there was a deadly struggle
between them. The Lycians could not break through the wall and force
their way to the ships, nor could the Danaans drive the Lycians from
the wall now that they had once reached it. As two men, measuring-rods
in hand, quarrel about their boundaries in a field that they own in
common, and stickle for their rights though they be but in a mere
strip, even so did the battlements now serve as a bone of
contention, and they beat one another’s round shields for their
possession. Many a man’s body was wounded with the pitiless bronze, as
he turned round and bared his back to the foe, and many were struck
clean through their shields; the wall and battlements were
everywhere deluged with the blood alike of Trojans and of Achaeans.
But even so the Trojans could not rout the Achaeans, who still held
on; and as some honest hard-working woman weighs wool in her balance
and sees that the scales be true, for she would gain some pitiful
earnings for her little ones, even so was the fight balanced evenly
between them till the time came when Jove gave the greater glory to
Hector son of Priam, who was first to spring towards the wall of the
Achaeans. As he did so, he cried aloud to the Trojans, “Up, Trojans,
break the wall of the Argives, and fling fire upon their ships.”
Thus did he hound them on, and in one body they rushed straight at
the wall as he had bidden them, and scaled the battlements with
sharp spears in their hands. Hector laid hold of a stone that lay just
outside the gates and was thick at one end but pointed at the other;
two of the best men in a town, as men now are, could hardly raise it
from the ground and put it on to a waggon, but Hector lifted it
quite easily by himself, for the son of scheming Saturn made it
light for him. As a shepherd picks up a ram’s fleece with one hand and
finds it no burden, so easily did Hector lift the great stone and
drive it right at the doors that closed the gates so strong and so
firmly set. These doors were double and high, and were kept closed
by two cross-bars to which there was but one key. When he had got
close up to them, Hector strode towards them that his blow might
gain in force and struck them in the middle, leaning his whole
weight against them. He broke both hinges, and the stone fell inside
by reason of its great weight. The portals re-echoed with the sound,
the bars held no longer, and the doors flew open, one one way, and the
other the other, through the force of the blow. Then brave Hector
leaped inside with a face as dark as that of flying night. The
gleaming bronze flashed fiercely about his body and he had tow
spears in his hand. None but a god could have withstood him as he
flung himself into the gateway, and his eyes glared like fire. Then he
turned round towards the Trojans and called on them to scale the wall,
and they did as he bade them- some of them at once climbing over the
wall, while others passed through the gates. The Danaans then fled
panic-stricken towards their ships, and all was uproar and confusion.


NOW when Jove had thus brought Hector and the Trojans to the
ships, he left them to their never-ending toil, and turned his keen
eyes away, looking elsewhither towards the horse-breeders of Thrace,
the Mysians, fighters at close quarters, the noble Hippemolgi, who
live on milk, and the Abians, justest of mankind. He no longer
turned so much as a glance towards Troy, for he did not think that any
of the immortals would go and help either Trojans or Danaans.
But King Neptune had kept no blind look-out; he had been looking
admiringly on the battle from his seat on the topmost crests of wooded
Samothrace, whence he could see all Ida, with the city of Priam and
the ships of the Achaeans. He had come from under the sea and taken
his place here, for he pitied the Achaeans who were being overcome
by the Trojans; and he was furiously angry with Jove.
Presently he came down from his post on the mountain top, and as
he strode swiftly onwards the high hills and the forest quaked beneath
the tread of his immortal feet. Three strides he took, and with the
fourth he reached his goal- Aegae, where is his glittering golden
palace, imperishable, in the depths of the sea. When he got there,
he yoked his fleet brazen-footed steeds with their manes of gold all
flying in the wind; he clothed himself in raiment of gold, grasped his
gold whip, and took his stand upon his chariot. As he went his way
over the waves the sea-monsters left their lairs, for they knew
their lord, and came gambolling round him from every quarter of the
deep, while the sea in her gladness opened a path before his
chariot. So lightly did the horses fly that the bronze axle of the car
was not even wet beneath it; and thus his bounding steeds took him
to the ships of the Achaeans.
Now there is a certain huge cavern in the depths of the sea midway
between Tenedos and rocky Imbrus; here Neptune lord of the
earthquake stayed his horses, unyoked them, and set before them
their ambrosial forage. He hobbled their feet with hobbles of gold
which none could either unloose or break, so that they might stay
there in that place until their lord should return. This done he
went his way to the host of the Achaeans.
Now the Trojans followed Hector son of Priam in close array like a
storm-cloud or flame of fire, fighting with might and main and raising
the cry battle; for they deemed that they should take the ships of the
Achaeans and kill all their chiefest heroes then and there.
Meanwhile earth-encircling Neptune lord of the earthquake cheered on
the Argives, for he had come up out of the sea and had assumed the
form and voice of Calchas.
First he spoke to the two Ajaxes, who were doing their best already,
and said, “Ajaxes, you two can be the saving of the Achaeans if you
will put out all your strength and not let yourselves be daunted. I am
not afraid that the Trojans, who have got over the wall in force, will
be victorious in any other part, for the Achaeans can hold all of them
in check, but I much fear that some evil will befall us here where
furious Hector, who boasts himself the son of great Jove himself, is
leading them on like a pillar of flame. May some god, then, put it
into your hearts to make a firm stand here, and to incite others to do
the like. In this case you will drive him from the ships even though
he be inspired by Jove himself.”
As he spoke the earth-encircling lord of the earthquake struck
both of them with his sceptre and filled their hearts with daring.
He made their legs light and active, as also their hands and their
feet. Then, as the soaring falcon poises on the wing high above some
sheer rock, and presently swoops down to chase some bird over the
plain, even so did Neptune lord of the earthquake wing his flight into
the air and leave them. Of the two, swift Ajax son of Oileus was the
first to know who it was that had been speaking with them, and said to
Ajax son of Telamon, “Ajax, this is one of the gods that dwell on
Olympus, who in the likeness of the prophet is bidding us fight hard
by our ships. It was not Calchas the seer and diviner of omens; I knew
him at once by his feet and knees as he turned away, for the gods
are soon recognised. Moreover I feel the lust of battle burn more
fiercely within me, while my hands and my feet under me are more eager
for the fray.”
And Ajax son of Telamon answered, “I too feel my hands grasp my
spear more firmly; my strength is greater, and my feet more nimble;
I long, moreover, to meet furious Hector son of Priam, even in
single combat.”
Thus did they converse, exulting in the hunger after battle with
which the god had filled them. Meanwhile the earth-encircler roused
the Achaeans, who were resting in the rear by the ships overcome at
once by hard fighting and by grief at seeing that the Trojans had
got over the wall in force. Tears began falling from their eyes as
they beheld them, for they made sure that they should not escape
destruction; but the lord of the earthquake passed lightly about among
them and urged their battalions to the front.
First he went up to Teucer and Leitus, the hero Peneleos, and
Thoas and Deipyrus; Meriones also and Antilochus, valiant warriors;
all did he exhort. “Shame on you young Argives,” he cried, “it was
on your prowess I relied for the saving of our ships; if you fight not
with might and main, this very day will see us overcome by the
Trojans. Of a truth my eyes behold a great and terrible portent
which I had never thought to see- the Trojans at our ships- they,
who were heretofore like panic-stricken hinds, the prey of jackals and
wolves in a forest, with no strength but in flight for they cannot
defend themselves. Hitherto the Trojans dared not for one moment
face the attack of the Achaeans, but now they have sallied far from
their city and are fighting at our very ships through the cowardice of
our leader and the disaffection of the people themselves, who in their
discontent care not to fight in defence of the ships but are being
slaughtered near them. True, King Agamemnon son of Atreus is the cause
of our disaster by having insulted the son of Peleus, still this is no
reason why we should leave off fighting. Let us be quick to heal,
for the hearts of the brave heal quickly. You do ill to be thus
remiss, you, who are the finest soldiers in our whole army. I blame no
man for keeping out of battle if he is a weakling, but I am
indignant with such men as you are. My good friends, matters will soon
become even worse through this slackness; think, each one of you, of
his own honour and credit, for the hazard of the fight is extreme.
Great Hector is now fighting at our ships; he has broken through the
gates and the strong bolt that held them.”
Thus did the earth-encircler address the Achaeans and urge them
on. Thereon round the two Ajaxes there gathered strong bands of men,
of whom not even Mars nor Minerva, marshaller of hosts could make
light if they went among them, for they were the picked men of all
those who were now awaiting the onset of Hector and the Trojans.
They made a living fence, spear to spear, shield to shield, buckler to
buckler, helmet to helmet, and man to man. The horse-hair crests on
their gleaming helmets touched one another as they nodded forward,
so closely seffied were they; the spears they brandished in their
strong hands were interlaced, and their hearts were set on battle.
The Trojans advanced in a dense body, with Hector at their head
pressing right on as a rock that comes thundering down the side of
some mountain from whose brow the winter torrents have torn it; the
foundations of the dull thing have been loosened by floods of rain,
and as it bounds headlong on its way it sets the whole forest in an
uproar; it swerves neither to right nor left till it reaches level
ground, but then for all its fury it can go no further- even so easily
did Hector for a while seem as though he would career through the
tents and ships of the Achaeans till he had reached the sea in his
murderous course; but the closely serried battalions stayed him when
he reached them, for the sons of the Achaeans thrust at him with
swords and spears pointed at both ends, and drove him from them so
that he staggered and gave ground; thereon he shouted to the
Trojans, “Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians, fighters in close
combat, stand firm: the Achaeans have set themselves as a wall against
me, but they will not check me for long; they will give ground
before me if the mightiest of the gods, the thundering spouse of Juno,
has indeed inspired my onset.”
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Deiphobus
son of Priam went about among them intent on deeds of daring with
his round shield before him, under cover of which he strode quickly
forward. Meriones took aim at him with a spear, nor did he fail to hit
the broad orb of ox-hide; but he was far from piercing it for the
spear broke in two pieces long ere he could do so; moreover
Deiphobus had seen it coming and had held his shield well away from
him. Meriones drew back under cover of his comrades, angry alike at
having failed to vanquish Deiphobus, and having broken his spear. He
turned therefore towards the ships and tents to fetch a spear which he
had left behind in his tent.
The others continued fighting, and the cry of battle rose up into
the heavens. Teucer son of Telamon was the first to kill his man, to
wit, the warrior Imbrius son of Mentor rich in horses. Until the
Achaeans came he had lived in Pedaeum, and had married Medesicaste a
bastard daughter of Priam; but on the arrival of the Danaan fleet he
had gone back to Ilius, and was a great man among the Trojans,
dwelling near Priam himself, who gave him like honour with his own
sons. The son of Telamon now struck him under the ear with a spear
which he then drew back again, and Imbrius fell headlong as an
ash-tree when it is felled on the crest of some high mountain
beacon, and its delicate green foliage comes toppling down to the
ground. Thus did he fall with his bronze-dight armour ringing
harshly round him, and Teucer sprang forward with intent to strip
him of his armour; but as he was doing so, Hector took aim at him with
a spear. Teucer saw the spear coming and swerved aside, whereon it hit
Amphimachus, son of Cteatus son of Actor, in the chest as he was
coming into battle, and his armour rang rattling round him as he
fell heavily to the ground. Hector sprang forward to take
Amphimachus’s helmet from off his temples, and in a moment Ajax
threw a spear at him, but did not wound him, for he was encased all
over in his terrible armour; nevertheless the spear struck the boss of
his shield with such force as to drive him back from the two
corpses, which the Achaeans then drew off. Stichius and Menestheus,
captains of the Athenians, bore away Amphimachus to the host of the
Achaeans, while the two brave and impetuous Ajaxes did the like by
Imbrius. As two lions snatch a goat from the hounds that have it in
their fangs, and bear it through thick brushwood high above the ground
in their jaws, thus did the Ajaxes bear aloft the body of Imbrius, and
strip it of its armour. Then the son of Oileus severed the head from
the neck in revenge for the death of Amphimachus, and sent it whirling
over the crowd as though it had been a ball, till fell in the dust
at Hector’s feet.
Neptune was exceedingly angry that his grandson Amphimachus should
have fallen; he therefore went to the tents and ships of the
Achaeans to urge the Danaans still further, and to devise evil for the
Trojans. Idomeneus met him, as he was taking leave of a comrade, who
had just come to him from the fight, wounded in the knee. His
fellow-soldiers bore him off the field, and Idomeneus having given
orders to the physicians went on to his tent, for he was still
thirsting for battle. Neptune spoke in the likeness and with the voice
of Thoas son of Andraemon who ruled the Aetolians of all Pleuron and
high Calydon, and was honoured among his people as though he were a
god. “Idomeneus,” said he, “lawgiver to the Cretans, what has now
become of the threats with which the sons of the Achaeans used to
threaten the Trojans?”
And Idomeneus chief among the Cretans answered, “Thoas, no one, so
far as I know, is in fault, for we can all fight. None are held back
neither by fear nor slackness, but it seems to be the of almighty Jove
that the Achaeans should perish ingloriously here far from Argos: you,
Thoas, have been always staunch, and you keep others in heart if you
see any fail in duty; be not then remiss now, but exhort all to do
their utmost.”
To this Neptune lord of the earthquake made answer, “Idomeneus,
may he never return from Troy, but remain here for dogs to batten
upon, who is this day wilfully slack in fighting. Get your armour
and go, we must make all haste together if we may be of any use,
though we are only two. Even cowards gain courage from
companionship, and we two can hold our own with the bravest.”
Therewith the god went back into the thick of the fight, and
Idomeneus when he had reached his tent donned his armour, grasped
his two spears, and sallied forth. As the lightning which the son of
Saturn brandishes from bright Olympus when he would show a sign to
mortals, and its gleam flashes far and wide- even so did his armour
gleam about him as he ran. Meriones his sturdy squire met him while he
was still near his tent (for he was going to fetch his spear) and
Idomeneus said
“Meriones, fleet son of Molus, best of comrades, why have you left
the field? Are you wounded, and is the point of the weapon hurting
you? or have you been sent to fetch me? I want no fetching; I had
far rather fight than stay in my tent.”
“Idomeneus,” answered Meriones, “I come for a spear, if I can find
one in my tent; I have broken the one I had, in throwing it at the
shield of Deiphobus.”
And Idomeneus captain of the Cretans answered, “You will find one
spear, or twenty if you so please, standing up against the end wall of
my tent. I have taken them from Trojans whom I have killed, for I am
not one to keep my enemy at arm’s length; therefore I have spears,
bossed shields, helmets, and burnished corslets.”
Then Meriones said, “I too in my tent and at my ship have spoils
taken from the Trojans, but they are not at hand. I have been at all
times valorous, and wherever there has been hard fighting have held my
own among the foremost. There may be those among the Achaeans who do
not know how I fight, but you know it well enough yourself.”
Idomeneus answered, “I know you for a brave man: you need not tell
me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush-
and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it
comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the coward will change
colour at every touch and turn; he is full of fears, and keeps
shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart
beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of
his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change colour nor be on
finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into
action- if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one
could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck
by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind,
in your neck nor back, but the weapon would hit you in the chest or
belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks.
But let us no longer stay here talking like children, lest we be ill
spoken of; go, fetch your spear from the tent at once.”
On this Meriones, peer of Mars, went to the tent and got himself a
spear of bronze. He then followed after Idomeneus, big with great
deeds of valour. As when baneful Mars sallies forth to battle, and his
son Panic so strong and dauntless goes with him, to strike terror even
into the heart of a hero- the pair have gone from Thrace to arm
themselves among the Ephyri or the brave Phlegyans, but they will
not listen to both the contending hosts, and will give victory to
one side or to the other- even so did Meriones and Idomeneus, captains
of men, go out to battle clad in their bronze armour. Meriones was
first to speak. “Son of Deucalion,” said he, “where would you have
us begin fighting? On the right wing of the host, in the centre, or on
the left wing, where I take it the Achaeans will be weakest?”
Idomeneus answered, “There are others to defend the centre- the
two Ajaxes and Teucer, who is the finest archer of all the Achaeans,
and is good also in a hand-to-hand fight. These will give Hector son
of Priam enough to do; fight as he may, he will find it hard to
vanquish their indomitable fury, and fire the ships, unless the son of
Saturn fling a firebrand upon them with his own hand. Great Ajax son
of Telamon will yield to no man who is in mortal mould and eats the
grain of Ceres, if bronze and great stones can overthrow him. He would
not yield even to Achilles in hand-to-hand fight, and in fleetness
of foot there is none to beat him; let us turn therefore towards the
left wing, that we may know forthwith whether we are to give glory
to some other, or he to us.”
Meriones, peer of fleet Mars, then led the way till they came to the
part of the host which Idomeneus had named.
Now when the Trojans saw Idomeneus coming on like a flame of fire,
him and his squire clad in their richly wrought armour, they shouted
and made towards him all in a body, and a furious hand-to-hand fight
raged under the ships’ sterns. Fierce as the shrill winds that whistle
upon a day when dust lies deep on the roads, and the gusts raise it
into a thick cloud- even such was the fury of the combat, and might
and main did they hack at each other with spear and sword throughout
the host. The field bristled with the long and deadly spears which
they bore. Dazzling was the sheen of their gleaming helmets, their
fresh-burnished breastplates, and glittering shields as they joined
battle with one another. Iron indeed must be his courage who could
take pleasure in the sight of such a turmoil, and look on it without
being dismayed.
Thus did the two mighty sons of Saturn devise evil for mortal
heroes. Jove was minded to give victory to the Trojans and to
Hector, so as to do honour to fleet Achilles, nevertheless he did
not mean to utterly overthrow the Achaean host before Ilius, and
only wanted to glorify Thetis and her valiant son. Neptune on the
other hand went about among the Argives to incite them, having come up
from the grey sea in secret, for he was grieved at seeing them
vanquished by the Trojans, and was furiously angry with Jove. Both
were of the same race and country, but Jove was elder born and knew
more, therefore Neptune feared to defend the Argives openly, but in
the likeness of man, he kept on encouraging them throughout their
host. Thus, then, did these two devise a knot of war and battle,
that none could unloose or break, and set both sides tugging at it, to
the failing of men’s knees beneath them.
And now Idomeneus, though his hair was already flecked with grey,
called loud on the Danaans and spread panic among the Trojans as he
leaped in among them. He slew Othryoneus from Cabesus, a sojourner,
who had but lately come to take part in the war. He sought Cassandra
the fairest of Priam’s daughters in marriage, but offered no gifts
of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to wit, that he would
drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly from Troy; old King Priam
had given his consent and promised her to him, whereon he fought on
the strength of the promises thus made to him. Idomeneus aimed a
spear, and hit him as he came striding on. His cuirass of bronze did
not protect him, and the spear stuck in his belly, so that he fell
heavily to the ground. Then Idomeneus vaunted over him saying,
“Othryoneus, there is no one in the world whom I shall admire more
than I do you, if you indeed perform what you have promised Priam
son of Dardanus in return for his daughter. We too will make you an
offer; we will give you the loveliest daughter of the son of Atreus,
and will bring her from Argos for you to marry, if you will sack the
goodly city of Ilius in company with ourselves; so come along with me,
that we may make a covenant at the ships about the marriage, and we
will not be hard upon you about gifts of wooing.”
With this Idomeneus began dragging him by the foot through the thick
of the fight, but Asius came up to protect the body, on foot, in front
of his horses which his esquire drove so close behind him that he
could feel their ‘breath upon his shoulder. He was longing to strike
down Idomeneus, but ere he could do so Idomeneus smote him with his
spear in the throat under the chin, and the bronze point went clean
through it. He fell as an oak, or poplar, or pine which shipwrights
have felled for ship’s timber upon the mountains with whetted axes-
even thus did he lie full length in front of his chariot and horses,
grinding his teeth and clutching at the bloodstained just. His
charioteer was struck with panic and did not dare turn his horses
round and escape: thereupon Antilochus hit him in the middle of his
body with a spear; his cuirass of bronze did not protect him, and
the spear stuck in his belly. He fell gasping from his chariot and
Antilochus great Nestor’s son, drove his horses from the Trojans to
the Achaeans.
Deiphobus then came close up to Idomeneus to avenge Asius, and
took aim at him with a spear, but Idomeneus was on the look-out and
avoided it, for he was covered by the round shield he always bore- a
shield of oxhide and bronze with two arm-rods on the inside. He
crouched under cover of this, and the spear flew over him, but the
shield rang out as the spear grazed it, and the weapon sped not in
vain from the strong hand of Deiphobus, for it struck Hypsenor son
of Hippasus, shepherd of his people, in the liver under the midriff,
and his limbs failed beneath him. Deiphobus vaunted over him and cried
with a loud voice saying, “Of a truth Asius has not fallen
unavenied; he will be glad even while passing into the house of Hades,
strong warden of the gate, that I have sent some one to escort him.”
Thus did he vaunt, and the Argives were stung by his saying. Noble
Antilochus was more angry than any one, but grief did not make him
forget his friend and comrade. He ran up to him, bestrode him, and
covered him with his shield; then two of his staunch comrades,
Mecisteus son of Echius, and Alastor stooped down, and bore him away
groaning heavily to the ships. But Idomeneus ceased not his fury. He
kept on striving continually either to enshroud some Trojan in the
darkness of death, or himself to fall while warding off the evil day
from the Achaeans. Then fell Alcathous son of noble Aesyetes: he was
son-in-law to Anchises, having married his eldest daughter Hippodameia
who was the darling of her father and mother, and excelled all her
generation in beauty, accomplishments, and understanding, wherefore
the bravest man in all Troy had taken her to wife- him did Neptune lay
low by the hand of Idomeneus, blinding his bright eyes and binding his
strong limbs in fetters so that he could neither go back nor to one
side, but stood stock still like pillar or lofty tree when Idomeneus
struck him with a spear in the middle of his chest. The coat of mail
that had hitherto protected his body was now broken, and rang
harshly as the spear tore through it. He fell heavily to the ground,
and the spear stuck in his heart, which still beat, and made the
butt-end of the spear quiver till dread Mars put an end to his life.
Idomeneus vaunted over him and cried with a loud voice saying,
“Deiphobus, since you are in a mood to vaunt, shall we cry quits now
that we have killed three men to your one? Nay, sir, stand in fight
with me yourself, that you may learn what manner of Jove-begotten
man am I that have come hither. Jove first begot Minos chief ruler
in Crete, and Minos in his turn begot a son, noble Deucalion;
Deucalion begot me to be a ruler over many men in Crete, and my
ships have now brought me hither, to be the bane of yourself, your
father, and the Trojans.”
Thus did he speak, and Deiphobus was in two minds, whether to go
back and fetch some other Trojan to help him, or to take up the
challenge single-handed. In the end, he deemed it best to go and fetch
Aeneas, whom he found standing in the rear, for he had long been
aggrieved with Priam because in spite his brave deeds he did not
give him his due share of honour. Deiphobus went up to him and said,
“Aeneas, prince among the Trojans, if you know any ties of kinship,
help me now to defend the body of your sister’s husband; come with
me to the rescue of Alcathous, who being husband to your sister
brought you up when you were a child in his house, and now Idomeneus
has slain him.”
With these words he moved the heart of Aeneas, and he went in
pursuit of Idomeneus, big with great deeds of valour; but Idomeneus
was not to be thus daunted as though he were a mere child; he held his
ground as a wild boar at bay upon the mountains, who abides the coming
of a great crowd of men in some lonely place- the bristles stand
upright on his back, his eyes flash fire, and he whets his tusks in
his eagerness to defend himself against hounds and men- even so did
famed Idomeneus hold his ground and budge not at the coming of Aeneas.
He cried aloud to his comrades looking towards Ascalaphus, Aphareus,
Deipyrus, Meriones, and Antilochus, all of them brave soldiers-
“Hither my friends,” he cried, “and leave me not single-handed- I go
in great fear by fleet Aeneas, who is coming against me, and is a
redoubtable dispenser of death battle. Moreover he is in the flower of
youth when a man’s strength is greatest; if I was of the same age as
he is and in my present mind, either he or I should soon bear away the
prize of victory
On this, all of them as one man stood near him, shield on
shoulder. Aeneas on the other side called to his comrades, looking
towards Deiphobus, Paris, and Agenor, who were leaders of the
Trojans along with himself, and the people followed them as sheep
follow the ram when they go down to drink after they have been
feeding, and the heart of the shepherd is glad- even so was the
heart of Aeneas gladdened when he saw his people follow him.
Then they fought furiously in close combat about the body of
Alcathous, wielding their long spears; and the bronze armour about
their bodies rang fearfully as they took aim at one another in the
press of the fight, while the two heroes Aeneas and Idomeneus, peers
of Mars, outxied every one in their desire to hack at each other
with sword and spear. Aeneas took aim first, but Idomeneus was on
the lookout and avoided the spear, so that it sped from Aeneas’ strong
hand in vain, and fell quivering in the ground. Idomeneus meanwhile
smote Oenomaus in the middle of his belly, and broke the plate of
his corslet, whereon his bowels came gushing out and he clutched the
earth in the palms of his hands as he fell sprawling in the dust.
Idomeneus drew his spear out of the body, but could not strip him of
the rest of his armour for the rain of darts that were showered upon
him: moreover his strength was now beginning to fail him so that he
could no longer charge, and could neither spring forward to recover
his own weapon nor swerve aside to avoid one that was aimed at him;
therefore, though he still defended himself in hand-to-hand fight, his
heavy feet could not bear him swiftly out of the battle. Deiphobus
aimed a spear at him as he was retreating slowly from the field, for
his bitterness against him was as fierce as ever, but again he
missed him, and hit Ascalaphus, the son of Mars; the spear went
through his shoulder, and he clutched the earth in the palms of his
hands as he fell sprawling in the dust.
Grim Mars of awful voice did not yet know that his son had fallen,
for he was sitting on the summits of Olympus under the golden
clouds, by command of Jove, where the other gods were also sitting,
forbidden to take part in the battle. Meanwhile men fought furiously
about the body. Deiphobus tore the helmet from off his head, but
Meriones sprang upon him, and struck him on the arm with a spear so
that the visored helmet fell from his hand and came ringing down
upon the ground. Thereon Meriones sprang upon him like a vulture, drew
the spear from his shoulder, and fell back under cover of his men.
Then Polites, own brother of Deiphobus passed his arms around his
waist, and bore him away from the battle till he got to his horses
that were standing in the rear of the fight with the chariot and their
driver. These took him towards the city groaning and in great pain,
with the blood flowing from his arm.
The others still fought on, and the battle-cry rose to heaven
without ceasing. Aeneas sprang on Aphareus son of Caletor, and
struck him with a spear in his throat which was turned towards him;
his head fell on one side, his helmet and shield came down along
with him, and death, life’s foe, was shed around him. Antilochus spied
his chance, flew forward towards Thoon, and wounded him as he was
turning round. He laid open the vein that runs all the way up the back
to the neck; he cut this vein clean away throughout its whole
course, and Thoon fell in the dust face upwards, stretching out his
hands imploringly towards his comrades. Antilochus sprang upon him and
stripped the armour from his shoulders, glaring round him fearfully as
he did so. The Trojans came about him on every side and struck his
broad and gleaming shield, but could not wound his body, for Neptune
stood guard over the son of Nestor, though the darts fell thickly
round him. He was never clear of the foe, but was always in the
thick of the fight; his spear was never idle; he poised and aimed it
in every direction, so eager was he to hit some one from a distance or
to fight him hand to hand.
As he was thus aiming among the crowd, he was seen by Adamas son
of Asius, who rushed towards him and struck him with a spear in the
middle of his shield, but Neptune made its point without effect, for
he grudged him the life of Antilochus. One half, therefore, of the
spear stuck fast like a charred stake in Antilochus’s shield, while
the other lay on the ground. Adamas then sought shelter under cover of
his men, but Meriones followed after and hit him with a spear midway
between the private parts and the navel, where a wound is particualrly
painful to wretched mortals. There did Meriones transfix him, and he
writhed convulsively about the spear as some bull whom mountain
herdsmen have bound with ropes of withes and are taking away perforce.
Even so did he move convulsively for a while, but not for very long,
till Meriones came up and drew the spear out of his body, and his eyes
were veiled in darkness.
Helenus then struck Deipyrus with a great Thracian sword, hitting
him on the temple in close combat and tearing the helmet from his
head; the helmet fell to the ground, and one of those who were
fighting on the Achaean side took charge of it as it rolled at his
feet, but the eyes of Deipyrus were closed in the darkness of death.
On this Menelaus was grieved, and made menacingly towards Helenus,
brandishing his spear; but Helenus drew his bow, and the two
attacked one another at one and the same moment, the one with his
spear, and the other with his bow and arrow. The son of Priam hit
the breastplate of Menelaus’s corslet, but the arrow glanced from
off it. As black beans or pulse come pattering down on to a
threshing-floor from the broad winnowing-shovel, blown by shrill winds
and shaken by the shovel- even so did the arrow glance off and
recoil from the shield of Menelaus, who in his turn wounded the hand
with which Helenus carried his bow; the spear went right through his
hand and stuck in the bow itself, so that to his life he retreated
under cover of his men, with his hand dragging by his side- for the
spear weighed it down till Agenor drew it out and bound the hand
carefully up in a woollen sling which his esquire had with him.
Pisander then made straight at Menelaus- his evil destiny luring him
on to his doom, for he was to fall in fight with you, O Menelaus. When
the two were hard by one another the spear of the son of Atreus turned
aside and he missed his aim; Pisander then struck the shield of
brave Menelaus but could not pierce it, for the shield stayed the
spear and broke the shaft; nevertheless he was glad and made sure of
victory; forthwith, however, the son of Atreus drew his sword and
sprang upon him. Pisander then seized the bronze battle-axe, with
its long and polished handle of olive wood that hung by his side under
his shield, and the two made at one another. Pisander struck the
peak of Menelaus’s crested helmet just under the crest itself, and
Menelaus hit Pisander as he was coming towards him, on the forehead,
just at the rise of his nose; the bones cracked and his two
gore-bedrabbled eyes fell by his feet in the dust. He fell backwards
to the ground, and Menelaus set his heel upon him, stripped him of his
armour, and vaunted over him saying, “Even thus shall you Trojans
leave the ships of the Achaeans, proud and insatiate of battle
though you be: nor shall you lack any of the disgrace and shame
which you have heaped upon myself. Cowardly she-wolves that you are,
you feared not the anger of dread Jove, avenger of violated
hospitality, who will one day destroy your city; you stole my wedded
wife and wickedly carried off much treasure when you were her guest,
and now you would fling fire upon our ships, and kill our heroes. A
day will come when, rage as you may, you shall be stayed. O father
Jove, you, who they say art above all both gods and men in wisdom, and
from whom all things that befall us do proceed, how can you thus
favour the Trojans- men so proud and overweening, that they are
never tired of fighting? All things pall after a while- sleep, love,
sweet song, and stately dance- still these are things of which a man
would surely have his fill rather than of battle, whereas it is of
battle that the Trojans are insatiate.”
So saying Menelaus stripped the blood-stained armour from the body
of Pisander, and handed it over to his men; then he again ranged
himself among those who were in the front of the fight.
Harpalion son of King Pylaemenes then sprang upon him; he had come
to fight at Troy along with his father, but he did not go home
again. He struck the middle of Menelaus’s shield with his spear but
could not pierce it, and to save his life drew back under cover of his
men, looking round him on every side lest he should be wounded. But
Meriones aimed a bronze-tipped arrow at him as he was leaving the
field, and hit him on the right buttock; the arrow pierced the bone
through and through, and penetrated the bladder, so he sat down
where he was and breathed his last in the arms of his comrades,
stretched like a worm upon the ground and watering the earth with
the blood that flowed from his wound. The brave Paphlagonians tended
him with all due care; they raised him into his chariot, and bore
him sadly off to the city of Troy; his father went also with him
weeping bitterly, but there was no ransom that could bring his dead
son to life again.
Paris was deeply grieved by the death of Harpalion, who was his host
when he went among the Paphlagonians; he aimed an arrow, therefore, in
order to avenge him. Now there was a certain man named Euchenor, son
of Polyidus the prophet, a brave man and wealthy, whose home was in
Corinth. This Euchenor had set sail for Troy well knowing that it
would be the death of him, for his good old father Polyidus had
often told him that he must either stay at home and die of a
terrible disease, or go with the Achaeans and perish at the hands of
the Trojans; he chose, therefore, to avoid incurring the heavy fine
the Achaeans would have laid upon him, and at the same time to
escape the pain and suffering of disease. Paris now smote him on the
jaw under his ear, whereon the life went out of him and he was
enshrouded in the darkness of death.
Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. But Hector had
not yet heard, and did not know that the Argives were making havoc
of his men on the left wing of the battle, where the Achaeans ere long
would have triumphed over them, so vigorously did Neptune cheer them
on and help them. He therefore held on at the point where he had first
forced his way through the gates and the wall, after breaking
through the serried ranks of Danaan warriors. It was here that the
ships of Ajax and Protesilaus were drawn up by the sea-shore; here the
wall was at its lowest, and the fight both of man and horse raged most
fiercely. The Boeotians and the Ionians with their long tunics, the
Locrians, the men of Phthia, and the famous force of the Epeans
could hardly stay Hector as he rushed on towards the ships, nor
could they drive him from them, for he was as a wall of fire. The
chosen men of the Athenians were in the van, led by Menestheus son
of Peteos, with whom were also Pheidas, Stichius, and stalwart Bias:
Meges son of Phyleus, Amphion, and Dracius commanded the Epeans, while
Medon and staunch Podarces led the men of Phthia. Of these, Medon
was bastard son to Oileus and brother of Ajax, but he lived in Phylace
away from his own country, for he had killed the brother of his
stepmother Eriopis, the wife of Oileus; the other, Podarces, was the
son of Iphiclus son of Phylacus. These two stood in the van of the
Phthians, and defended the ships along with the Boeotians.
Ajax son of Oileus never for a moment left the side of Ajax son of
Telamon, but as two swart oxen both strain their utmost at the
plough which they are drawing in a fallow field, and the sweat
steams upwards from about the roots of their horns- nothing but the
yoke divides them as they break up the ground till they reach the
end of the field- even so did the two Ajaxes stand shoulder to
shoulder by one another. Many and brave comrades followed the son of
Telamon, to relieve him of his shield when he was overcome with
sweat and toil, but the Locrians did not follow so close after the son
of Oileus, for they could not hold their own in a hand-to-hand
fight. They had no bronze helmets with plumes of horse-hair, neither
had they shields nor ashen spears, but they had come to Troy armed
with bows, and with slings of twisted wool from which they showered
their missiles to break the ranks of the Trojans. The others,
therefore, with their heavy armour bore the brunt of the fight with
the Trojans and with Hector, while the Locrians shot from behind,
under their cover; and thus the Trojans began to lose heart, for the
arrows threw them into confusion.
The Trojans would now have been driven in sorry plight from the
ships and tents back to windy Ilius, had not Polydamas presently
said to Hector, “Hector, there is no persuading you to take advice.
Because heaven has so richly endowed you with the arts of war, you
think that you must therefore excel others in counsel; but you
cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has made one man
an excellent soldier; of another it has made a dancer or a singer
and player on the lyre; while yet in another Jove has implanted a wise
understanding of which men reap fruit to the saving of many, and he
himself knows more about it than any one; therefore I will say what
I think will be best. The fight has hemmed you in as with a circle
of fire, and even now that the Trojans are within the wall some of
them stand aloof in full armour, while others are fighting scattered
and outnumbered near the ships. Draw back, therefore, and call your
chieftains round you, that we may advise together whether to fall
now upon the ships in the hope that heaven may vouchsafe us victory,
or to beat a retreat while we can yet safely do so. I greatly fear
that the Achaeans will pay us their debt of yesterday in full, for
there is one abiding at their ships who is never weary of battle,
and who will not hold aloof much longer.”
Thus spoke Polydamas, and his words pleased Hector well. He sprang
in full armour from his chariot and said, “Polydamas, gather the
chieftains here; I will go yonder into the fight, but will return at
once when I have given them their orders.”
He then sped onward, towering like a snowy mountain, and with a loud
cry flew through the ranks of the Trojans and their allies. When
they heard his voice they all hastened to gather round Polydamas the
excellent son of Panthous, but Hector kept on among the foremost,
looking everywhere to find Deiphobus and prince Helenus, Adamas son of
Asius, and Asius son of Hyrtacus; living, indeed, and scatheless he
could no longer find them, for the two last were lying by the sterns
of the Achaean ships, slain by the Argives, while the others had
been also stricken and wounded by them; but upon the left wing of
the dread battle he found Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen,
cheering his men and urging them on to fight. He went up to him and
upbraided him. “Paris,” said he, “evil-hearted Paris, fair to see
but woman-mad and false of tongue, where are Deiphobus and King
Helenus? Where are Adamas son of Asius, and Asius son of Hyrtacus?
Where too is Othryoneus? Ilius is undone and will now surely fall!”
Alexandrus answered, “Hector, why find fault when there is no one to
find fault with? I should hold aloof from battle on any day rather
than this, for my mother bore me with nothing of the coward about
me. From the moment when you set our men fighting about the ships we
have been staying here and doing battle with the Danaans. Our comrades
about whom you ask me are dead; Deiphobus and King Helenus alone
have left the field, wounded both of them in the hand, but the son
of Saturn saved them alive. Now, therefore, lead on where you would
have us go, and we will follow with right goodwill; you shall not find
us fail you in so far as our strength holds out, but no man can do
more than in him lies, no matter how willing he may be.”
With these words he satisfied his brother, and the two went
towards the part of the battle where the fight was thickest, about
Cebriones, brave Polydamas, Phalces, Orthaeus, godlike Polyphetes,
Palmys, Ascanius, and Morys son of Hippotion, who had come from
fertile Ascania on the preceding day to relieve other troops. Then
Jove urged them on to fight. They flew forth like the blasts of some
fierce wind that strike earth in the van of a thunderstorm- they
buffet the salt sea into an uproar; many and mighty are the great
waves that come crashing in one after the other upon the shore with
their arching heads all crested with foam- even so did rank behind
rank of Trojans arrayed in gleaming armour follow their leaders
onward. The way was led by Hector son of Priam, peer of murderous
Mars, with his round shield before him- his shield of ox-hides covered
with plates of bronze- and his gleaming helmet upon his temples. He
kept stepping forward under cover of his shield in every direction,
making trial of the ranks to see if they would give way be him, but he
could not daunt the courage of the Achaeans. Ajax was the first to
stride out and challenge him. “Sir,” he cried, “draw near; why do
you think thus vainly to dismay the Argives? We Achaeans are excellent
soldiers, but the scourge of Jove has fallen heavily upon us. Your
heart, forsooth, is set on destroying our ships, but we too have bands
that can keep you at bay, and your own fair town shall be sooner taken
and sacked by ourselves. The time is near when you shall pray Jove and
all the gods in your flight, that your steeds may be swifter than
hawks as they raise the dust on the plain and bear you back to your
As he was thus speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand, and
the host of the Achaeans shouted, for they took heart at the omen. But
Hector answered, “Ajax, braggart and false of tongue, would that I
were as sure of being son for evermore to aegis-bearing Jove, with
Queen Juno for my mother, and of being held in like honour with
Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this day is big with the
destruction of the Achaeans; and you shall fall among them if you dare
abide my spear; it shall rend your fair body and bid you glut our
hounds and birds of prey with your fat and your flesh, as you fall
by the ships of the Achaeans.”
With these words he led the way and the others followed after with a
cry that rent the air, while the host shouted behind them. The Argives
on their part raised a shout likewise, nor did they forget their
prowess, but stood firm against the onslaught of the Trojan
chieftains, and the cry from both the hosts rose up to heaven and to
the brightness of Jove’s presence.


NESTOR was sitting over his wine, but the cry of battle did not
escape him, and he said to the son of Aesculapius, “What, noble
Machaon, is the meaning of all this? The shouts of men fighting by our
ships grow stronger and stronger; stay here, therefore, and sit over
your wine, while fair Hecamede heats you a bath and washes the clotted
blood from off you. I will go at once to the look-out station and
see what it is all about.”
As he spoke he took up the shield of his son Thrasymedes that was
lying in his tent, all gleaming with bronze, for Thrasymedes had taken
his father’s shield; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod spear, and
as soon as he was outside saw the disastrous rout of the Achaeans who,
now that their wall was overthrown, were flying pell-mell before the
Trojans. As when there is a heavy swell upon the sea, but the waves
are dumb- they keep their eyes on the watch for the quarter whence the
fierce winds may spring upon them, but they stay where they are and
set neither this way nor that, till some particular wind sweeps down
from heaven to determine them- even so did the old man ponder
whether to make for the crowd of Danaans, or go in search of
Agamemnon. In the end he deemed it best to go to the son of Atreus;
but meanwhile the hosts were fighting and killing one another, and the
hard bronze rattled on their bodies, as they thrust at one another
with their swords and spears.
The wounded kings, the son of Tydeus, Ulysses, and Agamemnon son
of Atreus, fell in Nestor as they were coming up from their ships- for
theirs were drawn up some way from where the fighting was going on,
being on the shore itself inasmuch as they had been beached first,
while the wall had been built behind the hindermost. The stretch of
the shore, wide though it was, did not afford room for all the
ships, and the host was cramped for space, therefore they had placed
the ships in rows one behind the other, and had filled the whole
opening of the bay between the two points that formed it. The kings,
leaning on their spears, were coming out to survey the fight, being in
great anxiety, and when old Nestor met them they were filled with
dismay. Then King Agamemnon said to him, “Nestor son of Neleus, honour
to the Achaean name, why have you left the battle to come hither? I
fear that what dread Hector said will come true, when he vaunted among
the Trojans saying that he would not return to Ilius till he had fired
our ships and killed us; this is what he said, and now it is all
coming true. Alas! others of the Achaeans, like Achilles, are in anger
with me that they refuse to fight by the sterns of our ships.”
Then Nestor knight of Gerene answered, “It is indeed as you say;
it is all coming true at this moment, and even Jove who thunders
from on high cannot prevent it. Fallen is the wall on which we
relied as an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet. The
Trojans are fighting stubbornly and without ceasing at the ships; look
where you may you cannot see from what quarter the rout of the
Achaeans is coming; they are being killed in a confused mass and the
battle-cry ascends to heaven; let us think, if counsel can be of any
use, what we had better do; but I do not advise our going into
battle ourselves, for a man cannot fight when he is wounded.”
And King Agamemnon answered, “Nestor, if the Trojans are indeed
fighting at the rear of our ships, and neither the wall nor the trench
has served us- over which the Danaans toiled so hard, and which they
deemed would be an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet- I
see it must be the will of Jove that the Achaeans should perish
ingloriously here, far from Argos. I knew when Jove was willing to
defend us, and I know now that he is raising the Trojans to like
honour with the gods, while us, on the other hand, he bas bound hand
and foot. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; let us bring down
the ships that are on the beach and draw them into the water; let us
make them fast to their mooring-stones a little way out, against the
fall of night- if even by night the Trojans will desist from fighting;
we may then draw down the rest of the fleet. There is nothing wrong in
flying ruin even by night. It is better for a man that he should fly
and be saved than be caught and killed.”
Ulysses looked fiercely at him and said, “Son of Atreus, what are
you talking about? Wretch, you should have commanded some other and
baser army, and not been ruler over us to whom Jove has allotted a
life of hard fighting from youth to old age, till we every one of us
perish. Is it thus that you would quit the city of Troy, to win
which we have suffered so much hardship? Hold your peace, lest some
other of the Achaeans hear you say what no man who knows how to give
good counsel, no king over so great a host as that of the Argives
should ever have let fall from his lips. I despise your judgement
utterly for what you have been saying. Would you, then, have us draw
down our ships into the water while the battle is raging, and thus
play further into the hands of the conquering Trojans? It would be
ruin; the Achaeans will not go on fighting when they see the ships
being drawn into the water, but will cease attacking and keep
turning their eyes towards them; your counsel, therefore, Sir captain,
would be our destruction.”
Agamemnon answered, “Ulysses, your rebuke has stung me to the heart.
I am not, however, ordering the Achaeans to draw their ships into
the sea whether they will or no. Some one, it may be, old or young,
can offer us better counsel which I shall rejoice to hear.”
Then said Diomed, “Such an one is at hand; he is not far to seek, if
you will listen to me and not resent my speaking though I am younger
than any of you. I am by lineage son to a noble sire, Tydeus, who lies
buried at Thebes. For Portheus had three noble sons, two of whom,
Agrius and Melas, abode in Pleuron and rocky Calydon. The third was
the knight Oeneus, my father’s father, and he was the most valiant
of them all. Oeeneus remained in his own country, but my father (as
Jove and the other gods ordained it) migrated to Argos. He married
into the family of Adrastus, and his house was one of great abundance,
for he had large estates of rich corn-growing land, with much
orchard ground as well, and he had many sheep; moreover he excelled
all the Argives in the use of the spear. You must yourselves have
heard whether these things are true or no; therefore when I say well
despise not my words as though I were a coward or of ignoble birth.
I say, then, let us go to the fight as we needs must, wounded though
we be. When there, we may keep out of the battle and beyond the
range of the spears lest we get fresh wounds in addition to what we
have already, but we can spur on others, who have been indulging their
spleen and holding aloof from battle hitherto.”
Thus did he speak; whereon they did even as he had said and set out,
King Agamemnon leading the way.
Meanwhile Neptune had kept no blind look-out, and came up to them in
the semblance of an old man. He took Agamemnon’s right hand in his own
and said, “Son of Atreus, I take it Achilles is glad now that he
sees the Achaeans routed and slain, for he is utterly without remorse-
may he come to a bad end and heaven confound him. As for yourself, the
blessed gods are not yet so bitterly angry with you but that the
princes and counsellors of the Trojans shall again raise the dust upon
the plain, and you shall see them flying from the ships and tents
towards their city.”
With this he raised a mighty cry of battle, and sped forward to
the plain. The voice that came from his deep chest was as that of nine
or ten thousand men when they are shouting in the thick of a fight,
and it put fresh courage into the hearts of the Achaeans to wage war
and do battle without ceasing.
Juno of the golden throne looked down as she stood upon a peak of
Olympus and her heart was gladdened at the sight of him who was at
once her brother and her brother-in-law, hurrying hither and thither
amid the fighting. Then she turned her eyes to Jove as he sat on the
topmost crests of many-fountained Ida, and loathed him. She set
herself to think how she might hoodwink him, and in the end she deemed
that it would be best for her to go to Ida and array herself in rich
attire, in the hope that Jove might become enamoured of her, and
wish to embrace her. While he was thus engaged a sweet and careless
sleep might be made to steal over his eyes and senses.
She went, therefore, to the room which her son Vulcan had made
her, and the doors of which he had cunningly fastened by means of a
secret key so that no other god could open them. Here she entered
and closed the doors behind her. She cleansed all the dirt from her
fair body with ambrosia, then she anointed herself with olive oil,
ambrosial, very soft, and scented specially for herself- if it were so
much as shaken in the bronze-floored house of Jove, the scent pervaded
the universe of heaven and earth. With this she anointed her
delicate skin, and then she plaited the fair ambrosial locks that
flowed in a stream of golden tresses from her immortal head. She put
on the wondrous robe which Minerva had worked for her with
consummate art, and had embroidered with manifold devices; she
fastened it about her bosom with golden clasps, and she girded herself
with a girdle that had a hundred tassels: then she fastened her
earrings, three brilliant pendants that glistened most beautifully,
through the pierced lobes of her ears, and threw a lovely new veil
over her head. She bound her sandals on to her feet, and when she
had arrayed herself perfectly to her satisfaction, she left her room
and called Venus to come aside and speak to her. “My dear child,” said
she, “will you do what I am going to ask of you, or will refuse me
because you are angry at my being on the Danaan side, while you are on
the Trojan?”
Jove’s daughter Venus answered, “Juno, august queen of goddesses,
daughter of mighty Saturn, say what you want, and I will do it for
at once, if I can, and if it can be done at all.”
Then Juno told her a lying tale and said, “I want you to endow me
with some of those fascinating charms, the spells of which bring all
things mortal and immortal to your feet. I am going to the world’s end
to visit Oceanus (from whom all we gods proceed) and mother Tethys:
they received me in their house, took care of me, and brought me up,
having taken me over from Rhaea when Jove imprisoned great Saturn in
the depths that are under earth and sea. I must go and see them that I
may make peace between them; they have been quarrelling, and are so
angry that they have not slept with one another this long while; if
I can bring them round and restore them to one another’s embraces,
they will be grateful to me and love me for ever afterwards.”
Thereon laughter-loving Venus said, “I cannot and must not refuse
you, for you sleep in the arms of Jove who is our king.”
As she spoke she loosed from her bosom the curiously embroidered
girdle into which all her charms had been wrought- love, desire, and
that sweet flattery which steals the judgement even of the most
prudent. She gave the girdle to Juno and said, “Take this girdle
wherein all my charms reside and lay it in your bosom. If you will
wear it I promise you that your errand, be it what it may, will not be
When she heard this Juno smiled, and still smiling she laid the
girdle in her bosom.
Venus now went back into the house of Jove, while Juno darted down
from the summits of Olympus. She passed over Pieria and fair
Emathia, and went on and on till she came to the snowy ranges of the
Thracian horsemen, over whose topmost crests she sped without ever
setting foot to ground. When she came to Athos she went on over the,
waves of the sea till she reached Lemnos, the city of noble Thoas.
There she met Sleep, own brother to Death, and caught him by the hand,
saying, “Sleep, you who lord it alike over mortals and immortals, if
you ever did me a service in times past, do one for me now, and I
shall be grateful to you ever after. Close Jove’s keen eyes for me
in slumber while I hold him clasped in my embrace, and I will give you
a beautiful golden seat, that can never fall to pieces; my
clubfooted son Vulcan shall make it for you, and he shall give it a
footstool for you to rest your fair feet upon when you are at table.”
Then Sleep answered, “Juno, great queen of goddesses, daughter of
mighty Saturn, I would lull any other of the gods to sleep without
compunction, not even excepting the waters of Oceanus from whom all of
them proceed, but I dare not go near Jove, nor send him to sleep
unless he bids me. I have had one lesson already through doing what
you asked me, on the day when Jove’s mighty son Hercules set sail from
Ilius after having sacked the city of the Trojans. At your bidding I
suffused my sweet self over the mind of aegis-bearing Jove, and laid
him to rest; meanwhile you hatched a plot against Hercules, and set
the blasts of the angry winds beating upon the sea, till you took
him to the goodly city of Cos away from all his friends. Jove was
furious when he awoke, and began hurling the gods about all over the
house; he was looking more particularly for myself, and would have
flung me down through space into the sea where I should never have
been heard of any more, had not Night who cows both men and gods
protected me. I fled to her and Jove left off looking for me in
spite of his being so angry, for he did not dare do anything to
displease Night. And now you are again asking me to do something on
which I cannot venture.”
And Juno said, “Sleep, why do you take such notions as those into
your head? Do you think Jove will be as anxious to help the Trojans,
as he was about his own son? Come, I will marry you to one of the
youngest of the Graces, and she shall be your own- Pasithea, whom
you have always wanted to marry.”
Sleep was pleased when he heard this, and answered, “Then swear it
to me by the dread waters of the river Styx; lay one hand on the
bounteous earth, and the other on the sheen of the sea, so that all
the gods who dwell down below with Saturn may be our witnesses, and
see that you really do give me one of the youngest of the Graces-
Pasithea, whom I have always wanted to marry.”
Juno did as he had said. She swore, and invoked all the gods of
the nether world, who are called Titans, to witness. When she had
completed her oath, the two enshrouded themselves in a thick mist
and sped lightly forward, leaving Lemnos and Imbrus behind them.
Presently they reached many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, and
Lectum where they left the sea to go on by land, and the tops of the
trees of the forest soughed under the going of their feet. Here
Sleep halted, and ere Jove caught sight of him he climbed a lofty
pine-tree- the tallest that reared its head towards heaven on all Ida.
He hid himself behind the branches and sat there in the semblance of
the sweet-singing bird that haunts the mountains and is called Chalcis
by the gods, but men call it Cymindis. Juno then went to Gargarus, the
topmost peak of Ida, and Jove, driver of the clouds, set eyes upon
her. As soon as he did so he became inflamed with the same
passionate desire for her that he had felt when they had first enjoyed
each other’s embraces, and slept with one another without their dear
parents knowing anything about it. He went up to her and said, “What
do you want that you have come hither from Olympus- and that too
with neither chariot nor horses to convey you?”
Then Juno told him a lying tale and said, “I am going to the world’s
end, to visit Oceanus, from whom all we gods proceed, and mother
Tethys; they received me into their house, took care of me, and
brought me up. I must go and see them that I may make peace between
them: they have been quarrelling, and are so angry that they have
not slept with one another this long time. The horses that will take
me over land and sea are stationed on the lowermost spurs of
many-fountained Ida, and I have come here from Olympus on purpose to
consult you. I was afraid you might be angry with me later on, if I
went to the house of Oceanus without letting you know.”
And Jove said, “Juno, you can choose some other time for paying your
visit to Oceanus- for the present let us devote ourselves to love
and to the enjoyment of one another. Never yet have I been so
overpowered by passion neither for goddess nor mortal woman as I am at
this moment for yourself- not even when I was in love with the wife of
Ixion who bore me Pirithous, peer of gods in counsel, nor yet with
Danae the daintily-ancled daughter of Acrisius, who bore me the
famed hero Perseus. Then there was the daughter of Phoenix, who bore
me Minos and Rhadamanthus: there was Semele, and Alcmena in Thebes
by whom I begot my lion-hearted son Hercules, while Semele became
mother to Bacchus the comforter of mankind. There was queen Ceres
again, and lovely Leto, and yourself- but with none of these was I
ever so much enamoured as I now am with you.”
Juno again answered him with a lying tale. “Most dread son of
Saturn,” she exclaimed, “what are you talking about? Would you have us
enjoy one another here on the top of Mount Ida, where everything can
be seen? What if one of the ever-living gods should see us sleeping
together, and tell the others? It would be such a scandal that when
I had risen from your embraces I could never show myself inside your
house again; but if you are so minded, there is a room which your
son Vulcan has made me, and he has given it good strong doors; if
you would so have it, let us go thither and lie down.”
And Jove answered, “Juno, you need not be afraid that either god
or man will see you, for I will enshroud both of us in such a dense
golden cloud, that the very sun for all his bright piercing beams
shall not see through it.”
With this the son of Saturn caught his wife in his embrace;
whereon the earth sprouted them a cushion of young grass, with
dew-bespangled lotus, crocus, and hyacinth, so soft and thick that
it raised them well above the ground. Here they laid themselves down
and overhead they were covered by a fair cloud of gold, from which
there fell glittering dew-drops.
Thus, then, did the sire of all things repose peacefully on the
crest of Ida, overcome at once by sleep and love, and he held his
spouse in his arms. Meanwhile Sleep made off to the ships of the
Achaeans, to tell earth-encircling Neptune, lord of the earthquake.
When he had found him he said, “Now, Neptune, you can help the Danaans
with a will, and give them victory though it be only for a short
time while Jove is still sleeping. I have sent him into a sweet
slumber, and Juno has beguiled him into going to bed with her.”
Sleep now departed and went his ways to and fro among mankind,
leaving Neptune more eager than ever to help the Danaans. He darted
forward among the first ranks and shouted saying, “Argives, shall we
let Hector son of Priam have the triumph of taking our ships and
covering himself with glory? This is what he says that he shall now
do, seeing that Achilles is still in dudgeon at his ship; We shall get
on very well without him if we keep each other in heart and stand by
one another. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say. Let us each
take the best and largest shield we can lay hold of, put on our
helmets, and sally forth with our longest spears in our hands; will
lead you on, and Hector son of Priam, rage as he may, will not dare to
hold out against us. If any good staunch soldier has only a small
shield, let him hand it over to a worse man, and take a larger one for
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The son of
Tydeus, Ulysses, and Agamemnon, wounded though they were, set the
others in array, and went about everywhere effecting the exchanges
of armour; the most valiant took the best armour, and gave the worse
to the worse man. When they had donned their bronze armour they
marched on with Neptune at their head. In his strong hand he grasped
his terrible sword, keen of edge and flashing like lightning; woe to
him who comes across it in the day of battle; all men quake for fear
and keep away from it.
Hector on the other side set the Trojans in array. Thereon Neptune
and Hector waged fierce war on one another- Hector on the Trojan and
Neptune on the Argive side. Mighty was the uproar as the two forces
met; the sea came rolling in towards the ships and tents of the
Achaeans, but waves do not thunder on the shore more loudly when
driven before the blast of Boreas, nor do the flames of a forest
fire roar more fiercely when it is well alight upon the mountains, nor
does the wind bellow with ruder music as it tears on through the
tops of when it is blowing its hardest, than the terrible shout
which the Trojans and Achaeans raised as they sprang upon one another.
Hector first aimed his spear at Ajax, who was turned full towards
him, nor did he miss his aim. The spear struck him where two bands
passed over his chest- the band of his shield and that of his
silver-studded sword- and these protected his body. Hector was angry
that his spear should have been hurled in vain, and withdrew under
cover of his men. As he was thus retreating, Ajax son of Telamon
struck him with a stone, of which there were many lying about under
the men’s feet as they fought- brought there to give support to the
ships’ sides as they lay on the shore. Ajax caught up one of them
and struck Hector above the rim of his shield close to his neck; the
blow made him spin round like a top and reel in all directions. As
an oak falls headlong when uprooted by the lightning flash of father
Jove, and there is a terrible smell of brimstone- no man can help
being dismayed if he is standing near it, for a thunderbolt is a
very awful thing- even so did Hector fall to earth and bite the
dust. His spear fell from his hand, but his shield and helmet were
made fast about his body, and his bronze armour rang about him.
The sons of the Achaeans came running with a loud cry towards him,
hoping to drag him away, and they showered their darts on the Trojans,
but none of them could wound him before he was surrounded and
covered by the princes Polydamas, Aeneas, Agenor, Sarpedon captain
of the Lycians, and noble Glaucus: of the others, too, there was not
one who was unmindful of him, and they held their round shields over
him to cover him. His comrades then lifted him off the ground and bore
him away from the battle to the place where his horses stood waiting
for him at the rear of the fight with their driver and the chariot;
these then took him towards the city groaning and in great pain.
When they reached the ford of the air stream of Xanthus, begotten of
Immortal Jove, they took him from off his chariot and laid him down on
the ground; they poured water over him, and as they did so he breathed
again and opened his eyes. Then kneeling on his knees he vomited
blood, but soon fell back on to the ground, and his eyes were again
closed in darkness for he was still sturined by the blow.
When the Argives saw Hector leaving the field, they took heart and
set upon the Trojans yet more furiously. Ajax fleet son of Oileus
began by springing on Satnius son of Enops and wounding him with his
spear: a fair naiad nymph had borne him to Enops as he was herding
cattle by the banks of the river Satnioeis. The son of Oileus came
up to him and struck him in the flank so that he fell, and a fierce
fight between Trojans and Danaans raged round his body. Polydamas
son of Panthous drew near to avenge him, and wounded Prothoenor son of
Areilycus on the right shoulder; the terrible spear went right through
his shoulder, and he clutched the earth as he fell in the dust.
Polydamas vaunted loudly over him saying, “Again I take it that the
spear has not sped in vain from the strong hand of the son of
Panthous; an Argive has caught it in his body, and it will serve him
for a staff as he goes down into the house of Hades.”
The Argives were maddened by this boasting. Ajax son of Telamon
was more angry than any, for the man had fallen close be, him; so he
aimed at Polydamas as he was retreating, but Polydamas saved himself
by swerving aside and the spear struck Archelochus son of Antenor, for
heaven counselled his destruction; it struck him where the head
springs from the neck at the top joint of the spine, and severed
both the tendons at the back of the head. His head, mouth, and
nostrils reached the ground long before his legs and knees could do
so, and Ajax shouted to Polydamas saying, “Think, Polydamas, and
tell me truly whether this man is not as well worth killing as
Prothoenor was: he seems rich, and of rich family, a brother, it may
be, or son of the knight Antenor, for he is very like him.”
But he knew well who it was, and the Trojans were greatly angered.
Acamas then bestrode his brother’s body and wounded Promachus the
Boeotian with his spear, for he was trying to drag his brother’s
body away. Acamas vaunted loudly over him saying, “Argive archers,
braggarts that you are, toil and suffering shall not be for us only,
but some of you too shall fall here as well as ourselves. See how
Promachus now sleeps, vanquished by my spear; payment for my brother’s
blood has not long delayed; a man, therefore, may well be thankful
if he leaves a kinsman in his house behind him to avenge his fall.”
His taunts infuriated the Argives, and Peneleos was more enraged
than any of them. He sprang towards Acamas, but Acamas did not stand
his ground, and he killed Ilioneus son of the rich flock-master
Phorbas, whom Mercury had favoured and endowed with greater wealth
than any other of the Trojans. Ilioneus was his only son, and Peneleos
now wounded him in the eye under his eyebrows, tearing the eye-ball
from its socket: the spear went right through the eye into the nape of
the neck, and he fell, stretching out both hands before him.
Peneleos then drew his sword and smote him on the neck, so that both
head and helmet came tumbling down to the ground with the spear
still sticking in the eye; he then held up the head, as though it
had been a poppy-head, and showed it to the Trojans, vaunting over
them as he did so. “Trojans,” he cried, “bid the father and mother
of noble Ilioneus make moan for him in their house, for the wife
also of Promachus son of Alegenor will never be gladdened by the
coming of her dear husband- when we Argives return with our ships from
As he spoke fear fell upon them, and every man looked round about to
see whither he might fly for safety.
Tell me now, O Muses that dwell on Olympus, who was the first of the
Argives to bear away blood-stained spoils after Neptune lord of the
earthquake had turned the fortune of war. Ajax son of Telamon was
first to wound Hyrtius son of Gyrtius, captain of the staunch Mysians.
Antilochus killed Phalces and Mermerus, while Meriones slew Morys
and Hippotion, Teucer also killed Prothoon and Periphetes. The son
of Atreus then wounded Hyperenor shepherd of his people, in the flank,
and the bronze point made his entrails gush out as it tore in among
them; on this his life came hurrying out of him at the place where
he had been wounded, and his eyes were closed in darkness. Ajax son of
Oileus killed more than any other, for there was no man so fleet as he
to pursue flying foes when Jove had spread panic among them.


BUT when their flight had taken them past the trench and the set
stakes, and many had fallen by the hands of the Danaans, the Trojans
made a halt on reaching their chariots, routed and pale with fear.
Jove now woke on the crests of Ida, where he was lying with
golden-throned Juno by his side, and starting to his feet he saw the
Trojans and Achaeans, the one thrown into confusion, and the others
driving them pell-mell before them with King Neptune in their midst.
He saw Hector lying on the ground with his comrades gathered round
him, gasping for breath, wandering in mind and vomiting blood, for
it was not the feeblest of the Achaeans who struck him.
The sire of gods and men had pity on him, and looked fiercely on
Juno. “I see, Juno,” said he, “you mischief- making trickster, that
your cunning has stayed Hector from fighting and has caused the rout
of his host. I am in half a mind to thrash you, in which case you will
be the first to reap the fruits of your scurvy knavery. Do you not
remember how once upon a time I had you hanged? I fastened two
anvils on to your feet, and bound your hands in a chain of gold
which none might break, and you hung in mid-air among the clouds.
All the gods in Olympus were in a fury, but they could not reach you
to set you free; when I caught any one of them I gripped him and
hurled him from the heavenly threshold till he came fainting down to
earth; yet even this did not relieve my mind from the incessant
anxiety which I felt about noble Hercules whom you and Boreas had
spitefully conveyed beyond the seas to Cos, after suborning the
tempests; but I rescued him, and notwithstanding all his mighty
labours I brought him back again to Argos. I would remind you of
this that you may learn to leave off being so deceitful, and
discover how much you are likely to gain by the embraces out of
which you have come here to trick me.”
Juno trembled as he spoke, and said, “May heaven above and earth
below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx- and this
is the most solemn oath that a blessed god can take- nay, I swear also
by your own almighty head and by our bridal bed- things over which I
could never possibly perjure myself- that Neptune is not punishing
Hector and the Trojans and helping the Achaeans through any doing of
mine; it is all of his own mere motion because he was sorry to see the
Achaeans hard pressed at their ships: if I were advising him, I should
tell him to do as you bid him.”
The sire of gods and men smiled and answered, “If you, Juno, were
always to support me when we sit in council of the gods, Neptune, like
it or no, would soon come round to your and my way of thinking. If,
then, you are speaking the truth and mean what you say, go among the
rank and file of the gods, and tell Iris and Apollo lord of the bow,
that I want them- Iris, that she may go to the Achaean host and tell
Neptune to leave off fighting and go home, and Apollo, that he may
send Hector again into battle and give him fresh strength; he will
thus forget his present sufferings, and drive the Achaeans back in
confusion till they fall among the ships of Achilles son of Peleus.
Achilles will then send his comrade Patroclus into battle, and
Hector will kill him in front of Ilius after he has slain many
warriors, and among them my own noble son Sarpedon. Achilles will kill
Hector to avenge Patroclus, and from that time I will bring it about
that the Achaeans shall persistently drive the Trojans back till
they fulfil the counsels of Minerva and take Ilius. But I will not
stay my anger, nor permit any god to help the Danaans till I have
accomplished the desire of the son of Peleus, according to the promise
I made by bowing my head on the day when Thetis touched my knees and
besought me to give him honour.”
Juno heeded his words and went from the heights of Ida to great
Olympus. Swift as the thought of one whose fancy carries him over vast
continents, and he says to himself, “Now I will be here, or there,”
and he would have all manner of things- even so swiftly did Juno
wing her way till she came to high Olympus and went in among the
gods who were gathered in the house of Jove. When they saw her they
all of them came up to her, and held out their cups to her by way of
greeting. She let the others be, but took the cup offered her by
lovely Themis, who was first to come running up to her. “Juno,” said
she, “why are you here? And you seem troubled- has your husband the
son of Saturn been frightening you?”
And Juno answered, “Themis, do not ask me about it. You know what
a proud and cruel disposition my husband has. Lead the gods to
table, where you and all the immortals can hear the wicked designs
which he has avowed. Many a one, mortal and immortal, will be
angered by them, however peaceably he may be feasting now.”
On this Juno sat down, and the gods were troubled throughout the
house of Jove. Laughter sat on her lips but her brow was furrowed with
care, and she spoke up in a rage. “Fools that we are,” she cried,
“to be thus madly angry with Jove; we keep on wanting to go up to
him and stay him by force or by persuasion, but he sits aloof and
cares for nobody, for he knows that he is much stronger than any other
of the immortals. Make the best, therefore, of whatever ills he may
choose to send each one of you; Mars, I take it, has had a taste of
them already, for his son Ascalaphus has fallen in battle- the man
whom of all others he loved most dearly and whose father he owns
himself to be.”
When he heard this Mars smote his two sturdy thighs with the flat of
his hands, and said in anger, “Do not blame me, you gods that dwell in
heaven, if I go to the ships of the Achaeans and avenge the death of
my son, even though it end in my being struck by Jove’s lightning
and lying in blood and dust among the corpses.”
As he spoke he gave orders to yoke his horses Panic and Rout,
while he put on his armour. On this, Jove would have been roused to
still more fierce and implacable enmity against the other immortals,
had not Minerva, ararmed for the safety of the gods, sprung from her
seat and hurried outside. She tore the helmet from his head and the
shield from his shoulders, and she took the bronze spear from his
strong hand and set it on one side; then she said to Mars, “Madman,
you are undone; you have ears that hear not, or you have lost all
judgement and understanding; have you not heard what Juno has said
on coming straight from the presence of Olympian Jove? Do you wish
to go through all kinds of suffering before you are brought back
sick and sorry to Olympus, after having caused infinite mischief to
all us others? Jove would instantly leave the Trojans and Achaeans
to themselves; he would come to Olympus to punish us, and would grip
us up one after another, guilty or not guilty. Therefore lay aside
your anger for the death of your son; better men than he have either
been killed already or will fall hereafter, and one cannot protect
every one’s whole family.”
With these words she took Mars back to his seat. Meanwhile Juno
called Apollo outside, with Iris the messenger of the gods. “Jove,”
she said to them, “desires you to go to him at once on Mt. Ida; when
you have seen him you are to do as he may then bid you.”
Thereon Juno left them and resumed her seat inside, while Iris and
Apollo made all haste on their way. When they reached
many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, they found Jove seated
on topmost Gargarus with a fragrant cloud encircling his head as
with a diadem. They stood before his presence, and he was pleased with
them for having been so quick in obeying the orders his wife had given
He spoke to Iris first. “Go,” said he, “fleet Iris, tell King
Neptune what I now bid you- and tell him true. Bid him leave off
fighting, and either join the company of the gods, or go down into the
sea. If he takes no heed and disobeys me, let him consider well
whether he is strong enough to hold his own against me if I attack
him. I am older and much stronger than he is; yet he is not afraid
to set himself up as on a level with myself, of whom all the other
gods stand in awe.”
Iris, fleet as the wind, obeyed him, and as the cold hail or
snowflakes that fly from out the clouds before the blast of Boreas,
even so did she wing her way till she came close up to the great
shaker of the earth. Then she said, “I have come, O dark-haired king
that holds the world in his embrace, to bring you a message from Jove.
He bids you leave off fighting, and either join the company of the
gods or go down into the sea; if, however, you take no heed and
disobey him, he says he will come down here and fight you. He would
have you keep out of his reach, for he is older and much stronger than
you are, and yet you are not afraid to set yourself up as on a level
with himself, of whom all the other gods stand in awe.”
Neptune was very angry and said, “Great heavens! strong as Jove
may be, he has said more than he can do if he has threatened
violence against me, who am of like honour with himself. We were three
brothers whom Rhea bore to Saturn- Jove, myself, and Hades who rules
the world below. Heaven and earth were divided into three parts, and
each of us was to have an equal share. When we cast lots, it fell to
me to have my dwelling in the sea for evermore; Hades took the
darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds
were the portion that fell to Jove; but earth and great Olympus are
the common property of all. Therefore I will not walk as Jove would
have me. For all his strength, let him keep to his own third share and
be contented without threatening to lay hands upon me as though I were
nobody. Let him keep his bragging talk for his own sons and daughters,
who must perforce obey him.
Iris fleet as the wind then answered, “Am I really, Neptune, to take
this daring and unyielding message to Jove, or will you reconsider
your answer? Sensible people are open to argument, and you know that
the Erinyes always range themselves on the side of the older person.”
Neptune answered, “Goddess Iris, your words have been spoken in
season. It is well when a messenger shows so much discretion.
Nevertheless it cuts me to the very heart that any one should rebuke
so angrily another who is his own peer, and of like empire with
himself. Now, however, I will give way in spite of my displeasure;
furthermore let me tell you, and I mean what I say- if contrary to the
desire of myself, Minerva driver of the spoil, Juno, Mercury, and King
Vulcan, Jove spares steep Ilius, and will not let the Achaeans have
the great triumph of sacking it, let him understand that he will incur
our implacable resentment.”
Neptune now left the field to go down under the sea, and sorely
did the Achaeans miss him. Then Jove said to Apollo, “Go, dear
Phoebus, to Hector, for Neptune who holds the earth in his embrace has
now gone down under the sea to avoid the severity of my displeasure.
Had he not done so those gods who are below with Saturn would have
come to hear of the fight between us. It is better for both of us that
he should have curbed his anger and kept out of my reach, for I should
have had much trouble with him. Take, then, your tasselled aegis,
and shake it furiously, so as to set the Achaean heroes in a panic;
take, moreover, brave Hector, O Far-Darter, into your own care, and
rouse him to deeds of daring, till the Achaeans are sent flying back
to their ships and to the Hellespont. From that point I will think
it well over, how the Achaeans may have a respite from their
Apollo obeyed his father’s saying, and left the crests of Ida,
flying like a falcon, bane of doves and swiftest of all birds. He
found Hector no longer lying upon the ground, but sitting up, for he
had just come to himself again. He knew those who were about him,
and the sweat and hard breathing had left him from the moment when the
will of aegis-bearing Jove had revived him. Apollo stood beside him
and said, “Hector, son of Priam, why are you so faint, and why are you
here away from the others? Has any mishap befallen you?”
Hector in a weak voice answered, “And which, kind sir, of the gods
are you, who now ask me thus? Do you not know that Ajax struck me on
the chest with a stone as I was killing his comrades at the ships of
the Achaeans, and compelled me to leave off fighting? I made sure that
this very day I should breathe my last and go down into the house of
Then King Apollo said to him, “Take heart; the son of Saturn has
sent you a mighty helper from Ida to stand by you and defend you, even
me, Phoebus Apollo of the golden sword, who have been guardian
hitherto not only of yourself but of your city. Now, therefore,
order your horsemen to drive their chariots to the ships in great
multitudes. I will go before your horses to smooth the way for them,
and will turn the Achaeans in flight.”
As he spoke he infused great strength into the shepherd of his
people. And as a horse, stabled and full-fed, breaks loose and gallops
gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to take his
bath in the river- he tosses his head, and his mane streams over his
shoulders as in all the pride of his strength he flies full speed to
the pastures where the mares are feeding- even so Hector, when he
heard what the god said, urged his horsemen on, and sped forward as
fast as his limbs could take him. As country peasants set their hounds
on to a homed stag or wild goat- he has taken shelter under rock or
thicket, and they cannot find him, but, lo, a bearded lion whom
their shouts have roused stands in their path, and they are in no
further humour for the chase- even so the Achaeans were still charging
on in a body, using their swords and spears pointed at both ends,
but when they saw Hector going about among his men they were afraid,
and their hearts fell down into their feet.
Then spoke Thoas son of Andraemon, leader of the Aetolians, a man
who could throw a good throw, and who was staunch also in close fight,
while few could surpass him in debate when opinions were divided. He
then with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: “What, in
heaven’s name, do I now see? Is it not Hector come to life again?
Every one made sure he had been killed by Ajax son of Telamon, but
it seems that one of the gods has again rescued him. He has killed
many of us Danaans already, and I take it will yet do so, for the hand
of Jove must be with him or he would never dare show himself so
masterful in the forefront of the battle. Now, therefore, let us all
do as I say; let us order the main body of our forces to fall back
upon the ships, but let those of us who profess to be the flower of
the army stand firm, and see whether we cannot hold Hector back at the
point of our spears as soon as he comes near us; I conceive that he
will then think better of it before he tries to charge into the
press of the Danaans.”
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. Those who
were about Ajax and King Idomeneus, the followers moreover of
Teucer, Meriones, and Meges peer of Mars called all their best men
about them and sustained the fight against Hector and the Trojans, but
the main body fell back upon the ships of the Achaeans.
The Trojans pressed forward in a dense body, with Hector striding on
at their head. Before him went Phoebus Apollo shrouded in cloud
about his shoulders. He bore aloft the terrible aegis with its
shaggy fringe, which Vulcan the smith had given Jove to strike
terror into the hearts of men. With this in his hand he led on the
The Argives held together and stood their ground. The cry of
battle rose high from either side, and the arrows flew from the
bowstrings. Many a spear sped from strong hands and fastened in the
bodies of many a valiant warrior, while others fell to earth midway,
before they could taste of man’s fair flesh and glut themselves with
blood. So long as Phoebus Apollo held his aegis quietly and without
shaking it, the weapons on either side took effect and the people
fell, but when he shook it straight in the face of the Danaans and
raised his mighty battle-cry their hearts fainted within them and they
forgot their former prowess. As when two wild beasts spring in the
dead of night on a herd of cattle or a large flock of sheep when the
herdsman is not there- even so were the Danaans struck helpless, for
Apollo filled them with panic and gave victory to Hector and the
The fight then became more scattered and they killed one another
where they best could. Hector killed Stichius and Arcesilaus, the one,
leader of the Boeotians, and the other, friend and comrade of
Menestheus. Aeneas killed Medon and Iasus. The first was bastard son
to Oileus, and brother to Ajax, but he lived in Phylace away from
his own country, for he had killed a man, a kinsman of his
stepmother Eriopis whom Oileus had married. Iasus had become a
leader of the Athenians, and was son of Sphelus the son of Boucolos.
Polydamas killed Mecisteus, and Polites Echius, in the front of the
battle, while Agenor slew Clonius. Paris struck Deiochus from behind
in the lower part of the shoulder, as he was flying among the
foremost, and the point of the spear went clean through him.
While they were spoiling these heroes of their armour, the
Achaeans were flying pellmell to the trench and the set stakes, and
were forced back within their wall. Hector then cried out to the
Trojans, “Forward to the ships, and let the spoils be. If I see any
man keeping back on the other side the wall away from the ships I will
have him killed: his kinsmen and kinswomen shall not give him his dues
of fire, but dogs shall tear him in pieces in front of our city.”
As he spoke he laid his whip about his horses’ shoulders and
called to the Trojans throughout their ranks; the Trojans shouted with
a cry that rent the air, and kept their horses neck and neck with
his own. Phoebus Apollo went before, and kicked down the banks of
the deep trench into its middle so as to make a great broad bridge, as
broad as the throw of a spear when a man is trying his strength. The
Trojan battalions poured over the bridge, and Apollo with his
redoubtable aegis led the way. He kicked down the wall of the Achaeans
as easily as a child who playing on the sea-shore has built a house of
sand and then kicks it down again and destroys it- even so did you,
O Apollo, shed toil and trouble upon the Argives, filling them with
panic and confusion.
Thus then were the Achaeans hemmed in at their ships, calling out to
one another and raising their hands with loud cries every man to
heaven. Nestor of Gerene, tower of strength to the Achaeans, lifted up
his hands to the starry firmament of heaven, and prayed more fervently
than any of them. “Father Jove,” said he, “if ever any one in
wheat-growing Argos burned you fat thigh-bones of sheep or heifer
and prayed that he might return safely home, whereon you bowed your
head to him in assent, bear it in mind now, and suffer not the Trojans
to triumph thus over the Achaeans.”
All counselling Jove thundered loudly in answer to die prayer of the
aged son of Neleus. When the heard Jove thunder they flung
themselves yet more fiercely on the Achaeans. As a wave breaking
over the bulwarks of a ship when the sea runs high before a gale-
for it is the force of the wind that makes the waves so great- even so
did the Trojans spring over the wall with a shout, and drive their
chariots onwards. The two sides fought with their double-pointed
spears in hand-to-hand encounter-the Trojans from their chariots,
and the Achaeans climbing up into their ships and wielding the long
pikes that were lying on the decks ready for use in a sea-fight,
jointed and shod with bronze.
Now Patroclus, so long as the Achaeans and Trojans were fighting
about the wall, but were not yet within it and at the ships,
remained sitting in the tent of good Eurypylus, entertaining him
with his conversation and spreading herbs over his wound to ease his
pain. When, however, he saw the Trojans swarming through the breach in
the wall, while the Achaeans were clamouring and struck with panic, he
cried aloud, and smote his two thighs with the flat of his hands.
“Eurypylus,” said he in his dismay, “I know you want me badly, but I
cannot stay with you any longer, for there is hard fighting going
on; a servant shall take care of you now, for I must make all speed to
Achilles, and induce him to fight if I can; who knows but with
heaven’s help I may persuade him. A man does well to listen to the
advice of a friend.”
When he had thus spoken he went his way. The Achaeans stood firm and
resisted the attack of the Trojans, yet though these were fewer in
number, they could not drive them back from the ships, neither could
the Trojans break the Achaean ranks and make their way in among the
tents and ships. As a carpenter’s line gives a true edge to a piece of
ship’s timber, in the hand of some skilled workman whom Minerva has
instructed in all kinds of useful arts- even so level was the issue of
the fight between the two sides, as they fought some round one and
some round another.
Hector made straight for Ajax, and the two fought fiercely about the
same ship. Hector could not force Ajax back and fire the ship, nor yet
could Ajax drive Hector from the spot to which heaven had brought him.
Then Ajax struck Caletor son of Clytius in the chest with a spear as
he was bringing fire towards the ship. He fell heavily to the ground
and the torch dropped from his hand. When Hector saw his cousin fallen
in front of the ship he shouted to the Trojans and Lycians saying,
“Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians good in close fight, bate not a jot,
but rescue the son of Clytius lest the Achaeans strip him of his
armour now that he has fallen.”
He then aimed a spear at Ajax, and missed him, but he hit
Lycophron a follower of Ajax, who came from Cythera, but was living
with Ajax inasmuch as he had killed a man among the Cythereans.
Hector’s spear struck him on the head below the ear, and he fell
headlong from the ship’s prow on to the ground with no life left in
him. Ajax shook with rage and said to his brother, “Teucer, my good
fellow, our trusty comrade the son of Mastor has fallen, he came to
live with us from Cythera and whom we honoured as much as our own
parents. Hector has just killed him; fetch your deadly arrows at
once and the bow which Phoebus Apollo gave you.”
Teucer heard him and hastened towards him with his bow and quiver in
his hands. Forthwith he showered his arrows on the Trojans, and hit
Cleitus the son of Pisenor, comrade of Polydamas the noble son of
Panthous, with the reins in his hands as he was attending to his
horses; he was in the middle of the very thickest part of the fight,
doing good service to Hector and the Trojans, but evil had now come
upon him, and not one of those who were fain to do so could avert
it, for the arrow struck him on the back of the neck. He fell from his
chariot and his horses shook the empty car as they swerved aside. King
Polydamas saw what had happened, and was the first to come up to the
horses; he gave them in charge to Astynous son of Protiaon, and
ordered him to look on, and to keep the horses near at hand. He then
went back and took his place in the front ranks.
Teucer then aimed another arrow at Hector, and there would have been
no more fighting at the ships if he had hit him and killed him then
and there: Jove, however, who kept watch over Hector, had his eyes
on Teucer, and deprived him of his triumph, by breaking his
bowstring for him just as he was drawing it and about to take his aim;
on this the arrow went astray and the bow fell from his hands.
Teucer shook with anger and said to his brother, “Alas, see how heaven
thwarts us in all we do; it has broken my bowstring and snatched the
bow from my hand, though I strung it this selfsame morning that it
might serve me for many an arrow.”
Ajax son of Telamon answered, “My good fellow, let your bow and your
arrows be, for Jove has made them useless in order to spite the
Danaans. Take your spear, lay your shield upon your shoulder, and both
fight the Trojans yourself and urge others to do so. They may be
successful for the moment but if we fight as we ought they will find
it a hard matter to take the ships.”
Teucer then took his bow and put it by in his tent. He hung a shield
four hides thick about his shoulders, and on his comely head he set
his helmet well wrought with a crest of horse-hair that nodded
menacingly above it; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod spear, and
forthwith he was by the side of Ajax.
When Hector saw that Teucer’s bow was of no more use to him, he
shouted out to the Trojans and Lycians, “Trojans, Lycians, and
Dardanians good in close fight, be men, my friends, and show your
mettle here at the ships, for I see the weapon of one of their
chieftains made useless by the hand of Jove. It is easy to see when
Jove is helping people and means to help them still further, or
again when he is bringing them down and will do nothing for them; he
is now on our side, and is going against the Argives. Therefore
swarm round the ships and fight. If any of you is struck by spear or
sword and loses his life, let him die; he dies with honour who dies
fighting for his country; and he will leave his wife and children safe
behind him, with his house and allotment unplundered if only the
Achaeans can be driven back to their own land, they and their ships.”
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Ajax on the
other side exhorted his comrades saying, “Shame on you Argives, we are
now utterly undone, unless we can save ourselves by driving the
enemy from our ships. Do you think, if Hector takes them, that you
will be able to get home by land? Can you not hear him cheering on his
whole host to fire our fleet, and bidding them remember that they
are not at a dance but in battle? Our only course is to fight them
with might and main; we had better chance it, life or death, once
for all, than fight long and without issue hemmed in at our ships by
worse men than ourselves.”
With these words he put life and soul into them all. Hector then
killed Schedius son of Perimedes, leader of the Phoceans, and Ajax
killed Laodamas captain of foot soldiers and son to Antenor. Polydamas
killed Otus of Cyllene a comrade of the son of Phyleus and chief of
the proud Epeans. When Meges saw this he sprang upon him, but
Polydamas crouched down, and he missed him, for Apollo would not
suffer the son of Panthous to fall in battle; but the spear hit
Croesmus in the middle of his chest, whereon he fell heavily to the
ground, and Meges stripped him of his armour. At that moment the
valiant soldier Dolops son of Lampus sprang upon Lampus was son of
Laomedon and for his valour, while his son Dolops was versed in all
the ways of war. He then struck the middle of the son of Phyleus’
shield with his spear, setting on him at close quarters, but his
good corslet made with plates of metal saved him; Phyleus had
brought it from Ephyra and the river Selleis, where his host, King
Euphetes, had given it him to wear in battle and protect him. It now
served to save the life of his son. Then Meges struck the topmost
crest of Dolops’s bronze helmet with his spear and tore away its plume
of horse-hair, so that all newly dyed with scarlet as it was it
tumbled down into the dust. While he was still fighting and
confident of victory, Menelaus came up to help Meges, and got by the
side of Dolops unperceived; he then speared him in the shoulder,
from behind, and the point, driven so furiously, went through into his
chest, whereon he fell headlong. The two then made towards him to
strip him of his armour, but Hector called on all his brothers for
help, and he especially upbraided brave Melanippus son of Hiketaon,
who erewhile used to pasture his herds of cattle in Percote before the
war broke out; but when the ships of the Danaans came, he went back to
Ilius, where he was eminent among the Trojans, and lived near Priam
who treated him as one of his own sons. Hector now rebuked him and
said, “Why, Melanippus, are we thus remiss? do you take no note of the
death of your kinsman, and do you not see how they are trying to
take Dolops’s armour? Follow me; there must be no fighting the Argives
from a distance now, but we must do so in close combat till either
we kill them or they take the high wall of Ilius and slay her people.”
He led on as he spoke, and the hero Melanippus followed after.
Meanwhile Ajax son of Telamon was cheering on the Argives. “My
friends,” he cried, “be men, and fear dishonour; quit yourselves in
battle so as to win respect from one another. Men who respect each
other’s good opinion are less likely to be killed than those who do
not, but in flight there is neither gain nor glory.”
Thus did he exhort men who were already bent upon driving back the
Trojans. They laid his words to heart and hedged the ships as with a
wall of bronze, while Jove urged on the Trojans. Menelaus of the
loud battle-cry urged Antilochus on. “Antilochus,” said he, “you are
young and there is none of the Achaeans more fleet of foot or more
valiant than you are. See if you cannot spring upon some Trojan and
kill him.”
He hurried away when he had thus spurred Antilochus, who at once
darted out from the front ranks and aimed a spear, after looking
carefully round him. The Trojans fell back as he threw, and the dart
did not speed from his hand without effect, for it struck Melanippus
the proud son of Hiketaon in the breast by the nipple as he was coming
forward, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily
to the ground. Antilochus sprang upon him as a dog springs on a fawn
which a hunter has hit as it was breaking away from its covert, and
killed it. Even so, O Melanippus, did stalwart Antilochus spring
upon you to strip you of your armour; but noble Hector marked him, and
came running up to him through the thick of the battle. Antilochus,
brave soldier though he was, would not stay to face him, but fled like
some savage creature which knows it has done wrong, and flies, when it
has killed a dog or a man who is herding his cattle, before a body
of men can be gathered to attack it. Even so did the son of Nestor
fly, and the Trojans and Hector with a cry that rent the air
showered their weapons after him; nor did he turn round and stay his
flight till he had reached his comrades.
The Trojans, fierce as lions, were still rushing on towards the
ships in fulfilment of the behests of Jove who kept spurring them on
to new deeds of daring, while he deadened the courage of the Argives
and defeated them by encouraging the Trojans. For he meant giving
glory to Hector son of Priam, and letting him throw fire upon the
ships, till he had fulfilled the unrighteous prayer that Thetis had
made him; Jove, therefore, bided his time till he should see the glare
of a blazing ship. From that hour he was about so to order that the
Trojans should be driven back from the ships and to vouchsafe glory to
the Achaeans. With this purpose he inspired Hector son of Priam, who
was cager enough already, to assail the ships. His fury was as that of
Mars, or as when a fire is raging in the glades of some dense forest
upon the mountains; he foamed at the mouth, his eyes glared under
his terrible eye-brows, and his helmet quivered on his temples by
reason of the fury with which he fought. Jove from heaven was with
him, and though he was but one against many, vouchsafed him victory
and glory; for he was doomed to an early death, and already Pallas
Minerva was hurrying on the hour of his destruction at the hands of
the son of Peleus. Now, however, he kept trying to break the ranks
of the enemy wherever he could see them thickest, and in the goodliest
armour; but do what he might he could not break through them, for they
stood as a tower foursquare, or as some high cliff rising from the
grey sea that braves the anger of the gale, and of the waves that
thunder up against it. He fell upon them like flames of fire from
every quarter. As when a wave, raised mountain high by wind and storm,
breaks over a ship and covers it deep in foam, the fierce winds roar
against the mast, the hearts of the sailors fail them for fear, and
they are saved but by a very little from destruction- even so were the
hearts of the Achaeans fainting within them. Or as a savage lion
attacking a herd of cows while they are feeding by thousands in the
low-lying meadows by some wide-watered shore- the herdsman is at his
wit’s end how to protect his herd and keeps going about now in the van
and now in the rear of his cattle, while the lion springs into the
thick of them and fastens on a cow so that they all tremble for
fear- even so were the Achaeans utterly panic-stricken by Hector and
father Jove. Nevertheless Hector only killed Periphetes of Mycenae; he
was son of Copreus who was wont to take the orders of King
Eurystheus to mighty Hercules, but the son was a far better man than
the father in every way; he was fleet of foot, a valiant warrior,
and in understanding ranked among the foremost men of Mycenae. He it
was who then afforded Hector a triumph, for as he was turning back
he stumbled against the rim of his shield which reached his feet,
and served to keep the javelins off him. He tripped against this and
fell face upward, his helmet ringing loudly about his head as he did
so. Hector saw him fall and ran up to him; he then thrust a spear into
his chest, and killed him close to his own comrades. These, for all
their sorrow, could not help him for they were themselves terribly
afraid of Hector.
They had now reached the ships and the prows of those that had
been drawn up first were on every side of them, but the Trojans came
pouring after them. The Argives were driven back from the first row of
ships, but they made a stand by their tents without being broken up
and scattered; shame and fear restrained them. They kept shouting
incessantly to one another, and Nestor of Gerene, tower of strength to
the Achaeans, was loudest in imploring every man by his parents, and
beseeching him to stand firm.
“Be men, my friends,” he cried, “and respect one another’s good
opinion. Think, all of you, on your children, your wives, your
property, and your parents whether these be alive or dead. On their
behalf though they are not here, I implore you to stand firm, and
not to turn in flight.”
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Minerva lifted
the thick veil of darkness from their eyes, and much light fell upon
them, alike on the side of the ships and on that where the fight was
raging. They could see Hector and all his men, both those in the
rear who were taking no part in the battle, and those who were
fighting by the ships.
Ajax could not bring himself to retreat along with the rest, but
strode from deck to deck with a great sea-pike in his hands twelve
cubits long and jointed with rings. As a man skilled in feats of
horsemanship couples four horses together and comes tearing full speed
along the public way from the country into some large town- many
both men and women marvel as they see him for he keeps all the time
changing his horse, springing from one to another without ever missing
his feet while the horses are at a gallop- even so did Ajax go
striding from one ship’s deck to another, and his voice went up into
the heavens. He kept on shouting his orders to the Danaans and
exhorting them to defend their ships and tents; neither did Hector
remain within the main body of the Trojan warriors, but as a dun eagle
swoops down upon a flock of wild-fowl feeding near a river-geese, it
may be, or cranes, or long-necked swans- even so did Hector make
straight for a dark-prowed ship, rushing right towards it; for Jove
with his mighty hand impelled him forward, and roused his people to
follow him.
And now the battle again raged furiously at the ships. You would
have thought the men were coming on fresh and unwearied, so fiercely
did they fight; and this was the mind in which they were- the Achaeans
did not believe they should escape destruction but thought
themselves doomed, while there was not a Trojan but his heart beat
high with the hope of firing the ships and putting the Achaean
heroes to the sword.
Thus were the two sides minded. Then Hector seized the stern of
the good ship that had brought Protesilaus to Troy, but never bore him
back to his native land. Round this ship there raged a close
hand-to-hand fight between Danaans and Trojans. They did not fight
at a distance with bows and javelins, but with one mind hacked at
one another in close combat with their mighty swords and spears
pointed at both ends; they fought moreover with keen battle-axes and
with hatchets. Many a good stout blade hilted and scabbarded with
iron, fell from hand or shoulder as they fought, and the earth ran red
with blood. Hector, when he had seized the ship, would not loose his
hold but held on to its curved stern and shouted to the Trojans,
“Bring fire, and raise the battle-cry all of you with a single
voice. Now has Jove vouchsafed us a day that will pay us for all the
rest; this day we shall take the ships which came hither against
heaven’s will, and which have caused us such infinite suffering
through the cowardice of our councillors, who when I would have done
battle at the ships held me back and forbade the host to follow me; if
Jove did then indeed warp our judgements, himself now commands me
and cheers me on.”
As he spoke thus the Trojans sprang yet more fiercely on the
Achaeans, and Ajax no longer held his ground, for he was overcome by
the darts that were flung at him, and made sure that he was doomed.
Therefore he left the raised deck at the stern, and stepped back on to
the seven-foot bench of the oarsmen. Here he stood on the look-out,
and with his spear held back Trojan whom he saw bringing fire to the
ships. All the time he kept on shouting at the top of his voice and
exhorting the Danaans. “My friends,” he cried, “Danaan heroes,
servants of Mars, be men my friends, and fight with might and with
main. Can we hope to find helpers hereafter, or a wall to shield us
more surely than the one we have? There is no strong city within
reach, whence we may draw fresh forces to turn the scales in our
favour. We are on the plain of the armed Trojans with the sea behind
us, and far from our own country. Our salvation, therefore, is in
the might of our hands and in hard fighting.”
As he spoke he wielded his spear with still greater fury, and when
any Trojan made towards the ships with fire at Hector’s bidding, he
would be on the look-out for him, and drive at him with his long
spear. Twelve men did he thus kill in hand-to-hand fight before the