The Iliad – Book 6 – 10

BOOK VI

THE fight between Trojans and Achaeans was now left to rage as it
would, and the tide of war surged hither and thither over the plain as
they aimed their bronze-shod spears at one another between the streams
of Simois and Xanthus.
First, Ajax son of Telamon, tower of strength to the Achaeans, broke
a phalanx of the Trojans, and came to the assistance of his comrades
by killing Acamas son of Eussorus, the best man among the Thracians,
being both brave and of great stature. The spear struck the projecting
peak of his helmet: its bronze point then went through his forehead
into the brain, and darkness veiled his eyes.
Then Diomed killed Axylus son of Teuthranus, a rich man who lived in
the strong city of Arisbe, and was beloved by all men; for he had a
house by the roadside, and entertained every one who passed; howbeit
not one of his guests stood before him to save his life, and Diomed
killed both him and his squire Calesius, who was then his
charioteer- so the pair passed beneath the earth.
Euryalus killed Dresus and Opheltius, and then went in pursuit of
Aesepus and Pedasus, whom the naiad nymph Abarbarea had borne to noble
Bucolion. Bucolion was eldest son to Laomedon, but he was a bastard.
While tending his sheep he had converse with the nymph, and she
conceived twin sons; these the son of Mecisteus now slew, and he
stripped the armour from their shoulders. Polypoetes then killed
Astyalus, Ulysses Pidytes of Percote, and Teucer Aretaon. Ablerus fell
by the spear of Nestor’s son Antilochus, and Agamemnon, king of men,
killed Elatus who dwelt in Pedasus by the banks of the river
Satnioeis. Leitus killed Phylacus as he was flying, and Eurypylus slew
Melanthus.
Then Menelaus of the loud war-cry took Adrestus alive, for his
horses ran into a tamarisk bush, as they were flying wildly over the
plain, and broke the pole from the car; they went on towards the
city along with the others in full flight, but Adrestus rolled out,
and fell in the dust flat on his face by the wheel of his chariot;
Menelaus came up to him spear in hand, but Adrestus caught him by
the knees begging for his life. “Take me alive,” he cried, “son of
Atreus, and you shall have a full ransom for me: my father is rich and
has much treasure of gold, bronze, and wrought iron laid by in his
house. From this store he will give you a large ransom should he
hear of my being alive and at the ships of the Achaeans.”
Thus did he plead, and Menelaus was for yielding and giving him to a
squire to take to the ships of the Achaeans, but Agamemnon came
running up to him and rebuked him. “My good Menelaus,” said he,
“this is no time for giving quarter. Has, then, your house fared so
well at the hands of the Trojans? Let us not spare a single one of
them- not even the child unborn and in its mother’s womb; let not a
man of them be left alive, but let all in Ilius perish, unheeded and
forgotten.”
Thus did he speak, and his brother was persuaded by him, for his
words were just. Menelaus, therefore, thrust Adrestus from him,
whereon King Agamemnon struck him in the flank, and he fell: then
the son of Atreus planted his foot upon his breast to draw his spear
from the body.
Meanwhile Nestor shouted to the Argives, saying, “My friends, Danaan
warriors, servants of Mars, let no man lag that he may spoil the dead,
and bring back much booty to the ships. Let us kill as many as we can;
the bodies will lie upon the plain, and you can despoil them later
at your leisure.”
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. And now the
Trojans would have been routed and driven back into Ilius, had not
Priam’s son Helenus, wisest of augurs, said to Hector and Aeneas,
“Hector and Aeneas, you two are the mainstays of the Trojans and
Lycians, for you are foremost at all times, alike in fight and
counsel; hold your ground here, and go about among the host to rally
them in front of the gates, or they will fling themselves into the
arms of their wives, to the great joy of our foes. Then, when you have
put heart into all our companies, we will stand firm here and fight
the Danaans however hard they press us, for there is nothing else to
be done. Meanwhile do you, Hector, go to the city and tell our
mother what is happening. Tell her to bid the matrons gather at the
temple of Minerva in the acropolis; let her then take her key and open
the doors of the sacred building; there, upon the knees of Minerva,
let her lay the largest, fairest robe she has in her house- the one
she sets most store by; let her, moreover, promise to sacrifice twelve
yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad, in the temple of
the goddess, if she will take pity on the town, with the wives and
little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus from falling on
the goodly city of Ilius; for he fights with fury and fills men’s
souls with panic. I hold him mightiest of them all; we did not fear
even their great champion Achilles, son of a goddess though he be,
as we do this man: his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none
can vie with him in prowess”
Hector did as his brother bade him. He sprang from his chariot,
and went about everywhere among the host, brandishing his spears,
urging the men on to fight, and raising the dread cry of battle.
Thereon they rallied and again faced the Achaeans, who gave ground and
ceased their murderous onset, for they deemed that some one of the
immortals had come down from starry heaven to help the Trojans, so
strangely had they rallied. And Hector shouted to the Trojans,
“Trojans and allies, be men, my friends, and fight with might and
main, while I go to Ilius and tell the old men of our council and
our wives to pray to the gods and vow hecatombs in their honour.”
With this he went his way, and the black rim of hide that went round
his shield beat against his neck and his ancles.
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus went into the
open space between the hosts to fight in single combat. When they were
close up to one another Diomed of the loud war-cry was the first to
speak. “Who, my good sir,” said he, “who are you among men? I have
never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all
others if you abide my onset. Woe to those fathers whose sons face
my might. If, however, you are one of the immortals and have come down
from heaven, I will not fight you; for even valiant Lycurgus, son of
Dryas, did not live long when he took to fighting with the gods. He it
was that drove the nursing women who were in charge of frenzied
Bacchus through the land of Nysa, and they flung their thyrsi on the
ground as murderous Lycurgus beat them with his oxgoad. Bacchus
himself plunged terror-stricken into the sea, and Thetis took him to
her bosom to comfort him, for he was scared by the fury with which the
man reviled him. Thereon the gods who live at ease were angry with
Lycurgus and the son of Saturn struck him blind, nor did he live
much longer after he had become hateful to the immortals. Therefore
I will not fight with the blessed gods; but if you are of them that
eat the fruit of the ground, draw near and meet your doom.”
And the son of Hippolochus answered, son of Tydeus, why ask me of my
lineage? Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees.
Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring
returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the
generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away.
If, then, you would learn my descent, it is one that is well known
to many. There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of
horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest
of all mankind. He was the son of Aeolus, and had a son named Glaucus,
who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most
surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and
being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over
which Jove had made him ruler. For Antea, wife of Proetus, lusted
after him, and would have had him lie with her in secret; but
Bellerophon was an honourable man and would not, so she told lies
about him to Proteus. ‘Proetus,’ said she, ‘kill Bellerophon or die,
for he would have had converse with me against my will.’ The king
was angered, but shrank from killing Bellerophon, so he sent him to
Lycia with lying letters of introduction, written on a folded
tablet, and containing much ill against the bearer. He bade
Bellerophon show these letters to his father-in-law, to the end that
he might thus perish; Bellerophon therefore went to Lycia, and the
gods convoyed him safely.
“When he reached the river Xanthus, which is in Lycia, the king
received him with all goodwill, feasted him nine days, and killed nine
heifers in his honour, but when rosy-fingered morning appeared upon
the tenth day, he questioned him and desired to see the letter from
his son-in-law Proetus. When he had received the wicked letter he
first commanded Bellerophon to kill that savage monster, the Chimaera,
who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a
lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and
she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he
was guided by signs from heaven. He next fought the far-famed
Solymi, and this, he said, was the hardest of all his battles.
Thirdly, he killed the Amazons, women who were the peers of men, and
as he was returning thence the king devised yet another plan for his
destruction; he picked the bravest warriors in all Lycia, and placed
them in ambuscade, but not a man ever came back, for Bellerophon
killed every one of them. Then the king knew that he must be the
valiant offspring of a god, so he kept him in Lycia, gave him his
daughter in marriage, and made him of equal honour in the kingdom with
himself; and the Lycians gave him a piece of land, the best in all the
country, fair with vineyards and tilled fields, to have and to hold.
“The king’s daughter bore Bellerophon three children, Isander,
Hippolochus, and Laodameia. Jove, the lord of counsel, lay with
Laodameia, and she bore him noble Sarpedon; but when Bellerophon
came to be hated by all the gods, he wandered all desolate and
dismayed upon the Alean plain, gnawing at his own heart, and
shunning the path of man. Mars, insatiate of battle, killed his son
Isander while he was fighting the Solymi; his daughter was killed by
Diana of the golden reins, for she was angered with her; but
Hippolochus was father to myself, and when he sent me to Troy he urged
me again and again to fight ever among the foremost and outvie my
peers, so as not to shame the blood of my fathers who were the noblest
in Ephyra and in all Lycia. This, then, is the descent I claim.”
Thus did he speak, and the heart of Diomed was glad. He planted
his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. “Then,”
he said, you are an old friend of my father’s house. Great Oeneus once
entertained Bellerophon for twenty days, and the two exchanged
presents. Oeneus gave a belt rich with purple, and Bellerophon a
double cup, which I left at home when I set out for Troy. I do not
remember Tydeus, for he was taken from us while I was yet a child,
when the army of the Achaeans was cut to pieces before Thebes.
Henceforth, however, I must be your host in middle Argos, and you mine
in Lycia, if I should ever go there; let us avoid one another’s spears
even during a general engagement; there are many noble Trojans and
allies whom I can kill, if I overtake them and heaven delivers them
into my hand; so again with yourself, there are many Achaeans whose
lives you may take if you can; we two, then, will exchange armour,
that all present may know of the old ties that subsist between us.”
With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one
another’s hands, and plighted friendship. But the son of Saturn made
Glaucus take leave of his wits, for he exchanged golden armour for
bronze, the worth of a hundred head of cattle for the worth of nine.
Now when Hector reached the Scaean gates and the oak tree, the wives
and daughters of the Trojans came running towards him to ask after
their sons, brothers, kinsmen, and husbands: he told them to set about
praying to the gods, and many were made sorrowful as they heard him.
Presently he reached the splendid palace of King Priam, adorned with
colonnades of hewn stone. In it there were fifty bedchambers- all of
hewn stone- built near one another, where the sons of Priam slept,
each with his wedded wife. Opposite these, on the other side the
courtyard, there were twelve upper rooms also of hewn stone for
Priam’s daughters, built near one another, where his sons-in-law slept
with their wives. When Hector got there, his fond mother came up to
him with Laodice the fairest of her daughters. She took his hand
within her own and said, “My son, why have you left the battle to come
hither? Are the Achaeans, woe betide them, pressing you hard about the
city that you have thought fit to come and uplift your hands to Jove
from the citadel? Wait till I can bring you wine that you may make
offering to Jove and to the other immortals, and may then drink and be
refreshed. Wine gives a man fresh strength when he is wearied, as
you now are with fighting on behalf of your kinsmen.”
And Hector answered, “Honoured mother, bring no wine, lest you unman
me and I forget my strength. I dare not make a drink-offering to
Jove with unwashed hands; one who is bespattered with blood and
filth may not pray to the son of Saturn. Get the matrons together, and
go with offerings to the temple of Minerva driver of the spoil; there,
upon the knees of Minerva, lay the largest and fairest robe you have
in your house- the one you set most store by; promise, moreover, to
sacrifice twelve yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad,
in the temple of the goddess if she will take pity on the town, with
the wives and little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus
from off the goodly city of Ilius, for he fights with fury, and
fills men’s souls with panic. Go, then, to the temple of Minerva,
while I seek Paris and exhort him, if he will hear my words. Would
that the earth might open her jaws and swallow him, for Jove bred
him to be the bane of the Trojans, and of Priam and Priam’s sons.
Could I but see him go down into the house of Hades, my heart would
forget its heaviness.”
His mother went into the house and called her waiting-women who
gathered the matrons throughout the city. She then went down into
her fragrant store-room, where her embroidered robes were kept, the
work of Sidonian women, whom Alexandrus had brought over from Sidon
when he sailed the seas upon that voyage during which he carried off
Helen. Hecuba took out the largest robe, and the one that was most
beautifully enriched with embroidery, as an offering to Minerva: it
glittered like a star, and lay at the very bottom of the chest. With
this she went on her way and many matrons with her.
When they reached the temple of Minerva, lovely Theano, daughter
of Cisseus and wife of Antenor, opened the doors, for the Trojans
had made her priestess of Minerva. The women lifted up their hands
to the goddess with a loud cry, and Theano took the robe to lay it
upon the knees of Minerva, praying the while to the daughter of
great Jove. “Holy Minerva,” she cried, “protectress of our city,
mighty goddess, break the spear of Diomed and lay him low before the
Scaean gates. Do this, and we will sacrifice twelve heifers that
have never yet known the goad, in your temple, if you will have pity
upon the town, with the wives and little ones If the Trojans.” Thus
she prayed, but Pallas Minerva granted not her prayer.
While they were thus praying to the daughter of great Jove, Hector
went to the fair house of Alexandrus, which he had built for him by
the foremost builders in the land. They had built him his house,
storehouse, and courtyard near those of Priam and Hector on the
acropolis. Here Hector entered, with a spear eleven cubits long in his
hand; the bronze point gleamed in front of him, and was fastened to
the shaft of the spear by a ring of gold. He found Alexandrus within
the house, busied about his armour, his shield and cuirass, and
handling his curved bow; there, too, sat Argive Helen with her
women, setting them their several tasks; and as Hector saw him he
rebuked him with words of scorn. “Sir,” said he, “you do ill to
nurse this rancour; the people perish fighting round this our town;
you would yourself chide one whom you saw shirking his part in the
combat. Up then, or ere long the city will be in a blaze.”
And Alexandrus answered, “Hector, your rebuke is just; listen
therefore, and believe me when I tell you that I am not here so much
through rancour or ill-will towards the Trojans, as from a desire to
indulge my grief. My wife was even now gently urging me to battle, and
I hold it better that I should go, for victory is ever fickle. Wait,
then, while I put on my armour, or go first and I will follow. I shall
be sure to overtake you.”
Hector made no answer, but Helen tried to soothe him. “Brother,”
said she, “to my abhorred and sinful self, would that a whirlwind
had caught me up on the day my mother brought me forth, and had
borne me to some mountain or to the waves of the roaring sea that
should have swept me away ere this mischief had come about. But, since
the gods have devised these evils, would, at any rate, that I had been
wife to a better man- to one who could smart under dishonour and men’s
evil speeches. This fellow was never yet to be depended upon, nor
never will be, and he will surely reap what he has sown. Still,
brother, come in and rest upon this seat, for it is you who bear the
brunt of that toil that has been caused by my hateful self and by
the sin of Alexandrus- both of whom Jove has doomed to be a theme of
song among those that shall be born hereafter.”
And Hector answered, “Bid me not be seated, Helen, for all the
goodwill you bear me. I cannot stay. I am in haste to help the
Trojans, who miss me greatly when I am not among them; but urge your
husband, and of his own self also let him make haste to overtake me
before I am out of the city. I must go home to see my household, my
wife and my little son, for I know not whether I shall ever again
return to them, or whether the gods will cause me to fill by the hands
of the Achaeans.”
Then Hector left her, and forthwith was at his own house. He did not
find Andromache, for she was on the wall with her child and one of her
maids, weeping bitterly. Seeing, then, that she was not within, he
stood on the threshold of the women’s rooms and said, “Women, tell me,
and tell me true, where did Andromache go when she left the house? Was
it to my sisters, or to my brothers’ wives? or is she at the temple of
Minerva where the other women are propitiating the awful goddess?”
His good housekeeper answered, “Hector, since you bid me tell you
truly, she did not go to your sisters nor to your brothers’ wives, nor
yet to the temple of Minerva, where the other women are propitiating
the awful goddess, but she is on the high wall of Ilius, for she had
heard the Trojans were being hard pressed, and that the Achaeans
were in great force: she went to the wall in frenzied haste, and the
nurse went with her carrying the child.”
Hector hurried from the house when she had done speaking, and went
down the streets by the same way that he had come. When he had gone
through the city and had reached the Scaean gates through which he
would go out on to the plain, his wife came running towards him,
Andromache, daughter of great Eetion who ruled in Thebe under the
wooded slopes of Mt. Placus, and was king of the Cilicians. His
daughter had married Hector, and now came to meet him with a nurse who
carried his little child in her bosom- a mere babe. Hector’s darling
son, and lovely as a star. Hector had named him Scamandrius, but the
people called him Astyanax, for his father stood alone as chief
guardian of Ilius. Hector smiled as he looked upon the boy, but he did
not speak, and Andromache stood by him weeping and taking his hand
in her own. “Dear husband,” said she, “your valour will bring you to
destruction; think on your infant son, and on my hapless self who
ere long shall be your widow- for the Achaeans will set upon you in
a body and kill you. It would be better for me, should I lose you,
to lie dead and buried, for I shall have nothing left to comfort me
when you are gone, save only sorrow. I have neither father nor
mother now. Achilles slew my father when he sacked Thebe the goodly
city of the Cilicians. He slew him, but did not for very shame despoil
him; when he had burned him in his wondrous armour, he raised a barrow
over his ashes and the mountain nymphs, daughters of aegis-bearing
Jove, planted a grove of elms about his tomb. I had seven brothers
in my father’s house, but on the same day they all went within the
house of Hades. Achilles killed them as they were with their sheep and
cattle. My mother- her who had been queen of all the land under Mt.
Placus- he brought hither with the spoil, and freed her for a great
sum, but the archer- queen Diana took her in the house of your father.
Nay- Hector- you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear
husband- have mercy upon me; stay here upon this wall; make not your
child fatherless, and your wife a widow; as for the host, place them
near the fig-tree, where the city can be best scaled, and the wall
is weakest. Thrice have the bravest of them come thither and
assailed it, under the two Ajaxes, Idomeneus, the sons of Atreus,
and the brave son of Tydeus, either of their own bidding, or because
some soothsayer had told them.”
And Hector answered, “Wife, I too have thought upon all this, but
with what face should I look upon the Trojans, men or women, if I
shirked battle like a coward? I cannot do so: I know nothing save to
fight bravely in the forefront of the Trojan host and win renown alike
for my father and myself. Well do I know that the day will surely come
when mighty Ilius shall be destroyed with Priam and Priam’s people,
but I grieve for none of these- not even for Hecuba, nor King Priam,
nor for my brothers many and brave who may fall in the dust before
their foes- for none of these do I grieve as for yourself when the day
shall come on which some one of the Achaeans shall rob you for ever of
your freedom, and bear you weeping away. It may be that you will
have to ply the loom in Argos at the bidding of a mistress, or to
fetch water from the springs Messeis or Hypereia, treated brutally
by some cruel task-master; then will one say who sees you weeping,
‘She was wife to Hector, the bravest warrior among the Trojans
during the war before Ilius.’ On this your tears will break forth anew
for him who would have put away the day of captivity from you. May I
lie dead under the barrow that is heaped over my body ere I hear
your cry as they carry you into bondage.”
He stretched his arms towards his child, but the boy cried and
nestled in his nurse’s bosom, scared at the sight of his father’s
armour, and at the horse-hair plume that nodded fiercely from his
helmet. His father and mother laughed to see him, but Hector took
the helmet from his head and laid it all gleaming upon the ground.
Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his
arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods.
“Jove,” he cried, “grant that this my child may be even as myself,
chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength,
and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he
comes from battle, ‘The son is far better than the father.’ May he
bring back the blood-stained spoils of him whom he has laid low, and
let his mother’s heart be glad.’”
With this he laid the child again in the arms of his wife, who
took him to her own soft bosom, smiling through her tears. As her
husband watched her his heart yearned towards her and he caressed
her fondly, saying, “My own wife, do not take these things too
bitterly to heart. No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time,
but if a man’s hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is
no escape for him when he has once been born. Go, then, within the
house, and busy yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your
distaff, and the ordering of your servants; for war is man’s matter,
and mine above all others of them that have been born in Ilius.”
He took his plumed helmet from the ground, and his wife went back
again to her house, weeping bitterly and often looking back towards
him. When she reached her home she found her maidens within, and
bade them all join in her lament; so they mourned Hector in his own
house though he was yet alive, for they deemed that they should
never see him return safe from battle, and from the furious hands of
the Achaeans.
Paris did not remain long in his house. He donned his goodly
armour overlaid with bronze, and hasted through the city as fast as
his feet could take him. As a horse, stabled and fed, breaks loose and
gallops gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to
bathe in the fair-flowing river- he holds his head high, and his
mane streams upon his shoulders as he exults in his strength and flies
like the wind to the haunts and feeding ground of the mares- even so
went forth Paris from high Pergamus, gleaming like sunlight in his
armour, and he laughed aloud as he sped swiftly on his way.
Forthwith he came upon his brother Hector, who was then turning away
from the place where he had held converse with his wife, and he was
himself the first to speak. “Sir,” said he, “I fear that I have kept
you waiting when you are in haste, and have not come as quickly as you
bade me.”
“My good brother,” answered Hector, you fight bravely, and no man
with any justice can make light of your doings in battle. But you
are careless and wilfully remiss. It grieves me to the heart to hear
the ill that the Trojans speak about you, for they have suffered
much on your account. Let us be going, and we will make things right
hereafter, should Jove vouchsafe us to set the cup of our
deliverance before ever-living gods of heaven in our own homes, when
we have chased the Achaeans from Troy.”

BOOK VII

WITH these words Hector passed through the gates, and his brother
Alexandrus with him, both eager for the fray. As when heaven sends a
breeze to sailors who have long looked for one in vain, and have
laboured at their oars till they are faint with toil, even so
welcome was the sight of these two heroes to the Trojans.
Thereon Alexandrus killed Menesthius the son of Areithous; he
lived in Ame, and was son of Areithous the Mace-man, and of
Phylomedusa. Hector threw a spear at Eioneus and struck him dead
with a wound in the neck under the bronze rim of his helmet.
Glaucus, moreover, son of Hippolochus, captain of the Lycians, in hard
hand-to-hand fight smote Iphinous son of Dexius on the shoulder, as he
was springing on to his chariot behind his fleet mares; so he fell
to earth from the car, and there was no life left in him.
When, therefore, Minerva saw these men making havoc of the
Argives, she darted down to Ilius from the summits of Olympus, and
Apollo, who was looking on from Pergamus, went out to meet her; for he
wanted the Trojans to be victorious. The pair met by the oak tree, and
King Apollo son of Jove was first to speak. “What would you have
said he, “daughter of great Jove, that your proud spirit has sent
you hither from Olympus? Have you no pity upon the Trojans, and
would you incline the scales of victory in favour of the Danaans?
Let me persuade you- for it will be better thus- stay the combat for
to-day, but let them renew the fight hereafter till they compass the
doom of Ilius, since you goddesses have made up your minds to
destroy the city.”
And Minerva answered, “So be it, Far-Darter; it was in this mind
that I came down from Olympus to the Trojans and Achaeans. Tell me,
then, how do you propose to end this present fighting?”
Apollo, son of Jove, replied, “Let us incite great Hector to
challenge some one of the Danaans in single combat; on this the
Achaeans will be shamed into finding a man who will fight him.”
Minerva assented, and Helenus son of Priam divined the counsel of
the gods; he therefore went up to Hector and said, “Hector son of
Priam, peer of gods in counsel, I am your brother, let me then
persuade you. Bid the other Trojans and Achaeans all of them take
their seats, and challenge the best man among the Achaeans to meet you
in single combat. I have heard the voice of the ever-living gods,
and the hour of your doom is not yet come.”
Hector was glad when he heard this saying, and went in among the
Trojans, grasping his spear by the middle to hold them back, and
they all sat down. Agamemnon also bade the Achaeans be seated. But
Minerva and Apollo, in the likeness of vultures, perched on father
Jove’s high oak tree, proud of their men; and the ranks sat close
ranged together, bristling with shield and helmet and spear. As when
the rising west wind furs the face of the sea and the waters grow dark
beneath it, so sat the companies of Trojans and Achaeans upon the
plain. And Hector spoke thus:-
“Hear me, Trojans and Achaeans, that I may speak even as I am
minded; Jove on his high throne has brought our oaths and covenants to
nothing, and foreshadows ill for both of us, till you either take
the towers of Troy, or are yourselves vanquished at your ships. The
princes of the Achaeans are here present in the midst of you; let him,
then, that will fight me stand forward as your champion against
Hector. Thus I say, and may Jove be witness between us. If your
champion slay me, let him strip me of my armour and take it to your
ships, but let him send my body home that the Trojans and their
wives may give me my dues of fire when I am dead. In like manner, if
Apollo vouchsafe me glory and I slay your champion, I will strip him
of his armour and take it to the city of Ilius, where I will hang it
in the temple of Apollo, but I will give up his body, that the
Achaeans may bury him at their ships, and the build him a mound by the
wide waters of the Hellespont. Then will one say hereafter as he sails
his ship over the sea, ‘This is the monument of one who died long
since a champion who was slain by mighty Hector.’ Thus will one say,
and my fame shall not be lost.”
Thus did he speak, but they all held their peace, ashamed to decline
the challenge, yet fearing to accept it, till at last Menelaus rose
and rebuked them, for he was angry. “Alas,” he cried, “vain braggarts,
women forsooth not men, double-dyed indeed will be the stain upon us
if no man of the Danaans will now face Hector. May you be turned every
man of you into earth and water as you sit spiritless and inglorious
in your places. I will myself go out against this man, but the
upshot of the fight will be from on high in the hands of the
immortal gods.”
With these words he put on his armour; and then, O Menelaus, your
life would have come to an end at the hands of hands of Hector, for he
was far better the man, had not the princes of the Achaeans sprung
upon you and checked you. King Agamemnon caught him by the right
hand and said, “Menelaus, you are mad; a truce to this folly. Be
patient in spite of passion, do not think of fighting a man so much
stronger than yourself as Hector son of Priam, who is feared by many
another as well as you. Even Achilles, who is far more doughty than
you are, shrank from meeting him in battle. Sit down your own
people, and the Achaeans will send some other champion to fight
Hector; fearless and fond of battle though he be, I ween his knees
will bend gladly under him if he comes out alive from the
hurly-burly of this fight.”
With these words of reasonable counsel he persuaded his brother,
whereon his squires gladly stripped the armour from off his shoulders.
Then Nestor rose and spoke, “Of a truth,” said he, “the Achaean land
is fallen upon evil times. The old knight Peleus, counsellor and
orator among the Myrmidons, loved when I was in his house to
question me concerning the race and lineage of all the Argives. How
would it not grieve him could he hear of them as now quailing before
Hector? Many a time would he lift his hands in prayer that his soul
might leave his body and go down within the house of Hades. Would,
by father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, that I were still young and
strong as when the Pylians and Arcadians were gathered in fight by the
rapid river Celadon under the walls of Pheia, and round about the
waters of the river Iardanus. The godlike hero Ereuthalion stood
forward as their champion, with the armour of King Areithous upon
his shoulders- Areithous whom men and women had surnamed ‘the
Mace-man,’ because he fought neither with bow nor spear, but broke the
battalions of the foe with his iron mace. Lycurgus killed him, not
in fair fight, but by entrapping him in a narrow way where his mace
served him in no stead; for Lycurgus was too quick for him and speared
him through the middle, so he fell to earth on his back. Lycurgus then
spoiled him of the armour which Mars had given him, and bore it in
battle thenceforward; but when he grew old and stayed at home, he gave
it to his faithful squire Ereuthalion, who in this same armour
challenged the foremost men among us. The others quaked and quailed,
but my high spirit bade me fight him though none other would
venture; I was the youngest man of them all; but when I fought him
Minerva vouchsafed me victory. He was the biggest and strongest man
that ever I killed, and covered much ground as he lay sprawling upon
the earth. Would that I were still young and strong as I then was, for
the son of Priam would then soon find one who would face him. But you,
foremost among the whole host though you be, have none of you any
stomach for fighting Hector.”
Thus did the old man rebuke them, and forthwith nine men started
to their feet. Foremost of all uprose King Agamemnon, and after him
brave Diomed the son of Tydeus. Next were the two Ajaxes, men
clothed in valour as with a garment, and then Idomeneus, and
Meriones his brother in arms. After these Eurypylus son of Euaemon,
Thoas the son of Andraemon, and Ulysses also rose. Then Nestor
knight of Gerene again spoke, saying: “Cast lots among you to see
who shall be chosen. If he come alive out of this fight he will have
done good service alike to his own soul and to the Achaeans.”
Thus he spoke, and when each of them had marked his lot, and had
thrown it into the helmet of Agamemnon son of Atreus, the people
lifted their hands in prayer, and thus would one of them say as he
looked into the vault of heaven, “Father Jove, grant that the lot fall
on Ajax, or on the son of Tydeus, or upon the king of rich Mycene
himself.”
As they were speaking, Nestor knight of Gerene shook the helmet, and
from it there fell the very lot which they wanted- the lot of Ajax.
The herald bore it about and showed it to all the chieftains of the
Achaeans, going from left to right; but they none of of them owned it.
When, however, in due course he reached the man who had written upon
it and had put it into the helmet, brave Ajax held out his hand, and
the herald gave him the lot. When Ajax saw him mark he knew it and was
glad; he threw it to the ground and said, “My friends, the lot is
mine, and I rejoice, for I shall vanquish Hector. I will put on my
armour; meanwhile, pray to King Jove in silence among yourselves
that the Trojans may not hear you- or aloud if you will, for we fear
no man. None shall overcome me, neither by force nor cunning, for I
was born and bred in Salamis, and can hold my own in all things.”
With this they fell praying to King Jove the son of Saturn, and thus
would one of them say as he looked into the vault of heaven, “Father
Jove that rulest from Ida, most glorious in power, vouchsafe victory
to Ajax, and let him win great glory: but if you wish well to Hector
also and would protect him, grant to each of them equal fame and
prowess.
Thus they prayed, and Ajax armed himself in his suit of gleaming
bronze. When he was in full array he sprang forward as monstrous
Mars when he takes part among men whom Jove has set fighting with
one another- even so did huge Ajax, bulwark of the Achaeans, spring
forward with a grim smile on his face as he brandished his long
spear and strode onward. The Argives were elated as they beheld him,
but the Trojans trembled in every limb, and the heart even of Hector
beat quickly, but he could not now retreat and withdraw into the ranks
behind him, for he had been the challenger. Ajax came up bearing his
shield in front of him like a wall- a shield of bronze with seven
folds of oxhide- the work of Tychius, who lived in Hyle and was by far
the best worker in leather. He had made it with the hides of seven
full-fed bulls, and over these he had set an eighth layer of bronze.
Holding this shield before him, Ajax son of Telamon came close up to
Hector, and menaced him saying, “Hector, you shall now learn, man to
man, what kind of champions the Danaans have among them even besides
lion-hearted Achilles cleaver of the ranks of men. He now abides at
the ships in anger with Agamemnon shepherd of his people, but there
are many of us who are well able to face you; therefore begin the
fight.”
And Hector answered, “Noble Ajax, son of Telamon, captain of the
host, treat me not as though I were some puny boy or woman that cannot
fight. I have been long used to the blood and butcheries of battle.
I am quick to turn my leathern shield either to right or left, for
this I deem the main thing in battle. I can charge among the
chariots and horsemen, and in hand to hand fighting can delight the
heart of Mars; howbeit I would not take such a man as you are off
his guard- but I will smite you openly if I can.”
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it from him. It struck
the sevenfold shield in its outermost layer- the eighth, which was
of bronze- and went through six of the layers but in the seventh
hide it stayed. Then Ajax threw in his turn, and struck the round
shield of the son of Priam. The terrible spear went through his
gleaming shield, and pressed onward through his cuirass of cunning
workmanship; it pierced the shirt against his side, but he swerved and
thus saved his life. They then each of them drew out the spear from
his shield, and fell on one another like savage lions or wild boars of
great strength and endurance: the son of Priam struck the middle of
Ajax’s shield, but the bronze did not break, and the point of his dart
was turned. Ajax then sprang forward and pierced the shield of Hector;
the spear went through it and staggered him as he was springing
forward to attack; it gashed his neck and the blood came pouring
from the wound, but even so Hector did not cease fighting; he gave
ground, and with his brawny hand seized a stone, rugged and huge, that
was lying upon the plain; with this he struck the shield of Ajax on
the boss that was in its middle, so that the bronze rang again. But
Ajax in turn caught up a far larger stone, swung it aloft, and
hurled it with prodigious force. This millstone of a rock broke
Hector’s shield inwards and threw him down on his back with the shield
crushing him under it, but Apollo raised him at once. Thereon they
would have hacked at one another in close combat with their swords,
had not heralds, messengers of gods and men, come forward, one from
the Trojans and the other from the Achaeans- Talthybius and Idaeus
both of them honourable men; these parted them with their staves,
and the good herald Idaeus said, “My sons, fight no longer, you are
both of you valiant, and both are dear to Jove; we know this; but
night is now falling, and the behests of night may not be well
gainsaid.”
Ajax son of Telamon answered, “Idaeus, bid Hector say so, for it was
he that challenged our princes. Let him speak first and I will
accept his saying.”
Then Hector said, “Ajax, heaven has vouchsafed you stature and
strength, and judgement; and in wielding the spear you excel all
others of the Achaeans. Let us for this day cease fighting;
hereafter we will fight anew till heaven decide between us, and give
victory to one or to the other; night is now falling, and the
behests of night may not be well gainsaid. Gladden, then, the hearts
of the Achaeans at your ships, and more especially those of your own
followers and clansmen, while I, in the great city of King Priam,
bring comfort to the Trojans and their women, who vie with one another
in their prayers on my behalf. Let us, moreover, exchange presents
that it may be said among the Achaeans and Trojans, ‘They fought
with might and main, but were reconciled and parted in friendship.’
On this he gave Ajax a silver-studded sword with its sheath and
leathern baldric, and in return Ajax gave him a girdle dyed with
purple. Thus they parted, the one going to the host of the Achaeans,
and the other to that of the Trojans, who rejoiced when they saw their
hero come to them safe and unharmed from the strong hands of mighty
Ajax. They led him, therefore, to the city as one that had been
saved beyond their hopes. On the other side the Achaeans brought
Ajax elated with victory to Agamemnon.
When they reached the quarters of the son of Atreus, Agamemnon
sacrificed for them a five-year-old bull in honour of Jove the son
of Saturn. They flayed the carcass, made it ready, and divided it into
joints; these they cut carefully up into smaller pieces, putting
them on the spits, roasting them sufficiently, and then drawing them
off. When they had done all this and had prepared the feast, they
ate it, and every man had his full and equal share, so that all were
satisfied, and King Agamemnon gave Ajax some slices cut lengthways
down the loin, as a mark of special honour. As soon as they had had
enough to cat and drink, old Nestor whose counsel was ever truest
began to speak; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he
addressed them thus:-
“Son of Atreus, and other chieftains, inasmuch as many of the
Achaeans are now dead, whose blood Mars has shed by the banks of the
Scamander, and their souls have gone down to the house of Hades, it
will be well when morning comes that we should cease fighting; we will
then wheel our dead together with oxen and mules and burn them not far
from the ships, that when we sail hence we may take the bones of our
comrades home to their children. Hard by the funeral pyre we will
build a barrow that shall be raised from the plain for all in
common; near this let us set about building a high wall, to shelter
ourselves and our ships, and let it have well-made gates that there
may be a way through them for our chariots. Close outside we will
dig a deep trench all round it to keep off both horse and foot, that
the Trojan chieftains may not bear hard upon us.”
Thus he spoke, and the princess shouted in applause. Meanwhile the
Trojans held a council, angry and full of discord, on the acropolis by
the gates of King Priam’s palace; and wise Antenor spoke. “Hear me
he said, “Trojans, Dardanians, and allies, that I may speak even as
I am minded. Let us give up Argive Helen and her wealth to the sons of
Atreus, for we are now fighting in violation of our solemn
covenants, and shall not prosper till we have done as I say.”
He then sat down and Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen rose to
speak. “Antenor,” said he, “your words are not to my liking; 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. I will speak plainly, and hereby notify to the Trojans that
I will not give up the woman; but the wealth that I brought home
with her from Argos I will restore, and will add yet further of my
own.”
On this, when Paris had spoken and taken his seat, Priam of the race
of Dardanus, peer of gods in council, rose and with all sincerity
and goodwill addressed them thus: “Hear me, Trojans, Dardanians, and
allies, that I may speak even as I am minded. Get your suppers now
as hitherto throughout the city, but keep your watches and be wakeful.
At daybreak let Idaeus go to the ships, and tell Agamemnon and
Menelaus sons of Atreus the saying of Alexandrus through whom this
quarrel has come about; and let him also be instant with them that
they now cease fighting till we burn our dead; hereafter we will fight
anew, till heaven decide between us and give victory to one or to
the other.”
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. They took
supper in their companies and at daybreak Idaeus went his wa to the
ships. He found the Danaans, servants of Mars, in council at the stern
of Agamemnon’s ship, and took his place in the midst of them. “Son
of Atreus,” he said, “and princes of the Achaean host, Priam and the
other noble Trojans have sent me to tell you the saying of
Alexandrus through whom this quarrel has come about, if so be that you
may find it acceptable. All the treasure he took with him in his ships
to Troy- would that he had sooner perished- he will restore, and
will add yet further of his own, but he will not give up the wedded
wife of Menelaus, though the Trojans would have him do so. Priam
bade me inquire further if you will cease fighting till we burn our
dead; hereafter we will fight anew, till heaven decide between us
and give victory to one or to the other.”
They all held their peace, but presently Diomed of the loud
war-cry spoke, saying, “Let there be no taking, neither treasure,
nor yet Helen, for even a child may see that the doom of the Trojans
is at hand.”
The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words that Diomed
had spoken, and thereon King Agamemnon said to Idaeus, “Idaeus, you
have heard the answer the Achaeans make you-and I with them. But as
concerning the dead, I give you leave to burn them, for when men are
once dead there should be no grudging them the rites of fire. Let Jove
the mighty husband of Juno be witness to this covenant.”
As he spoke he upheld his sceptre in the sight of all the gods,
and Idaeus went back to the strong city of Ilius. The Trojans and
Dardanians were gathered in council waiting his return; when he
came, he stood in their midst and delivered his message. As soon as
they heard it they set about their twofold labour, some to gather
the corpses, and others to bring in wood. The Argives on their part
also hastened from their ships, some to gather the corpses, and others
to bring in wood.
The sun was beginning to beat upon the fields, fresh risen into
the vault of heaven from the slow still currents of deep Oceanus, when
the two armies met. They could hardly recognise their dead, but they
washed the clotted gore from off them, shed tears over them, and
lifted them upon their waggons. Priam had forbidden the Trojans to
wail aloud, so they heaped their dead sadly and silently upon the
pyre, and having burned them went back to the city of Ilius. The
Achaeans in like manner heaped their dead sadly and silently on the
pyre, and having burned them went back to their ships.
Now in the twilight when it was not yet dawn, chosen bands of the
Achaeans were gathered round the pyre and built one barrow that was
raised in common for all, and hard by this they built a high wall to
shelter themselves and their ships; they gave it strong gates that
there might be a way through them for their chariots, and close
outside it they dug a trench deep and wide, and they planted it within
with stakes.
Thus did the Achaeans toil, and the gods, seated by the side of Jove
the lord of lightning, marvelled at their great work; but Neptune,
lord of the earthquake, spoke, saying, “Father Jove, what mortal in
the whole world will again take the gods into his counsel? See you not
how the Achaeans have built a wall about their ships and driven a
trench all round it, without offering hecatombs to the gods? The The
fame of this wall will reach as far as dawn itself, and men will no
longer think anything of the one which Phoebus Apollo and myself built
with so much labour for Laomedon.”
Jove was displeased and answered, “What, O shaker of the earth,
are you talking about? A god less powerful than yourself might be
alarmed at what they are doing, but your fame reaches as far as dawn
itself. Surely when the Achaeans have gone home with their ships,
you can shatter their wall and Ring it into the sea; you can cover the
beach with sand again, and the great wall of the Achaeans will then be
utterly effaced.”
Thus did they converse, and by sunset the work of the Achaeans was
completed; they then slaughtered oxen at their tents and got their
supper. Many ships had come with wine from Lemnos, sent by Euneus
the son of Jason, born to him by Hypsipyle. The son of Jason freighted
them with ten thousand measures of wine, which he sent specially to
the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaus. From this supply the
Achaeans bought their wine, some with bronze, some with iron, some
with hides, some with whole heifers, and some again with captives.
They spread a goodly banquet and feasted the whole night through, as
also did the Trojans and their allies in the city. But all the time
Jove boded them ill and roared with his portentous thunder. Pale
fear got hold upon them, and they spilled the wine from their cups
on to the ground, nor did any dare drink till he had made offerings to
the most mighty son of Saturn. Then they laid themselves down to
rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.

BOOK VIII

NOW when Morning, clad in her robe of saffron, had begun to suffuse
light over the earth, Jove called the gods in council on the topmost
crest of serrated Olympus. Then he spoke and all the other gods gave
ear. “Hear me,” said he, “gods and goddesses, that I may speak even as
I am minded. Let none of you neither goddess nor god try to cross
me, but obey me every one of you that I may bring this matter to an
end. If I see anyone acting apart and helping either Trojans or
Danaans, he shall be beaten inordinately ere he come back again to
Olympus; or I will hurl him down into dark Tartarus far into the
deepest pit under the earth, where the gates are iron and the floor
bronze, as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth, that
you may learn how much the mightiest I am among you. Try me and find
out for yourselves. Hangs me a golden chain from heaven, and lay
hold of it all of you, gods and goddesses together- tug as you will,
you will not drag Jove the supreme counsellor from heaven to earth;
but were I to pull at it myself I should draw you up with earth and
sea into the bargain, then would I bind the chain about some
pinnacle of Olympus and leave you all dangling in the mid firmament.
So far am I above all others either of gods or men.”
They were frightened and all of them of held their peace, for he had
spoken masterfully; but at last Minerva answered, “Father, son of
Saturn, king of kings, we all know that your might is not to be
gainsaid, but we are also sorry for the Danaan warriors, who are
perishing and coming to a bad end. We will, however, since you so
bid us, refrain from actual fighting, but we will make serviceable
suggestions to the Argives that they may not all of them perish in
your displeasure.”
Jove smiled at her and answered, “Take heart, my child,
Trito-born; I am not really in earnest, and I wish to be kind to you.”
With this he yoked his fleet horses, with hoofs of bronze and
manes of glittering gold. He girded himself also with gold about the
body, seized his gold whip and took his seat in his chariot. Thereon
he lashed his horses and they flew forward nothing loth midway twixt
earth and starry heaven. After a while he reached many-fountained Ida,
mother of wild beasts, and Gargarus, where are his grove and
fragrant altar. There the father of gods and men stayed his horses,
took them from the chariot, and hid them in a thick cloud; then he
took his seat all glorious upon the topmost crests, looking down
upon the city of Troy and the ships of the Achaeans.
The Achaeans took their morning meal hastily at the ships, and
afterwards put on their armour. The Trojans on the other hand likewise
armed themselves throughout the city, fewer in numbers but
nevertheless eager perforce to do battle for their wives and children.
All the gates were flung wide open, and horse and foot sallied forth
with the tramp as of a great multitude.
When they were got together in one place, shield clashed with
shield, and spear with spear, in the conflict of mail-clad men. Mighty
was the din as the bossed shields pressed hard on one another-
death- cry and shout of triumph of slain and slayers, and the earth
ran red with blood.
Now so long as the day waxed and it was still morning their
weapons beat against one another, and the people fell, but when the
sun had reached mid-heaven, the sire of all balanced his golden
scales, and put two fates of death within them, one for the Trojans
and the other for the Achaeans. He took the balance by the middle, and
when he lifted it up the day of the Achaeans sank; the death-fraught
scale of the Achaeans settled down upon the ground, while that of
the Trojans rose heavenwards. Then he thundered aloud from Ida, and
sent the glare of his lightning upon the Achaeans; when they saw this,
pale fear fell upon them and they were sore afraid.
Idomeneus dared not stay nor yet Agamemnon, nor did the two
Ajaxes, servants of Mars, hold their ground. Nestor knight of Gerene
alone stood firm, bulwark of the Achaeans, not of his own will, but
one of his horses was disabled. Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen had
hit it with an arrow just on the top of its head where the mane begins
to grow away from the skull, a very deadly place. The horse bounded in
his anguish as the arrow pierced his brain, and his struggles threw
others into confusion. The old man instantly began cutting the
traces with his sword, but Hector’s fleet horses bore down upon him
through the rout with their bold charioteer, even Hector himself,
and the old man would have perished there and then had not Diomed been
quick to mark, and with a loud cry called Ulysses to help him.
“Ulysses,” he cried, “noble son of Laertes where are you flying
to, with your back turned like a coward? See that you are not struck
with a spear between the shoulders. Stay here and help me to defend
Nestor from this man’s furious onset.”
Ulysses would not give ear, but sped onward to the ships of the
Achaeans, and the son of Tydeus flinging himself alone into the
thick of the fight took his stand before the horses of the son of
Neleus. “Sir,” said he, “these young warriors are pressing you hard,
your force is spent, and age is heavy upon you, your squire is naught,
and your horses are slow to move. Mount my chariot and see what the
horses of Tros can do- how cleverly they can scud hither and thither
over the plain either in flight or in pursuit. I took them from the
hero Aeneas. Let our squires attend to your own steeds, but let us
drive mine straight at the Trojans, that Hector may learn how
furiously I too can wield my spear.”
Nestor knight of Gerene hearkened to his words. Thereon the
doughty squires, Sthenelus and kind-hearted Eurymedon, saw to Nestor’s
horses, while the two both mounted Diomed’s chariot. Nestor took the
reins in his hands and lashed the horses on; they were soon close up
with Hector, and the son of Tydeus aimed a spear at him as he was
charging full speed towards them. He missed him, but struck his
charioteer and squire Eniopeus son of noble Thebaeus in the breast
by the nipple while the reins were in his hands, so that he died there
and then, and the horses swerved as he fell headlong from the chariot.
Hector was greatly grieved at the loss of his charioteer, but let
him lie for all his sorrow, while he went in quest of another
driver; nor did his steeds have to go long without one, for he
presently found brave Archeptolemus the son of Iphitus, and made him
get up behind the horses, giving the reins into his hand.
All had then been lost and no help for it, for they would have
been penned up in Ilius like sheep, had not the sire of gods and men
been quick to mark, and hurled a fiery flaming thunderbolt which
fell just in front of Diomed’s horses with a flare of burning
brimstone. The horses were frightened and tried to back beneath the
car, while the reins dropped from Nestor’s hands. Then he was afraid
and said to Diomed, “Son of Tydeus, turn your horses in flight; see
you not that the hand of Jove is against you? To-day he vouchsafes
victory to Hector; to-morrow, if it so please him, he will again grant
it to ourselves; no man, however brave, may thwart the purpose of
Jove, for he is far stronger than any.”
Diomed answered, “All that you have said is true; there is a grief
however which pierces me to the very heart, for Hector will talk among
the Trojans and say, ‘The son of Tydeus fled before me to the
ships.’ This is the vaunt he will make, and may earth then swallow
me.”
“Son of Tydeus,” replied Nestor, “what mean you? Though Hector say
that you are a coward the Trojans and Dardanians will not believe him,
nor yet the wives of the mighty warriors whom you have laid low.”
So saying he turned the horses back through the thick of the battle,
and with a cry that rent the air the Trojans and Hector rained their
darts after them. Hector shouted to him and said, “Son of Tydeus,
the Danaans have done you honour hitherto as regards your place at
table, the meals they give you, and the filling of your cup with wine.
Henceforth they will despise you, for you are become no better than
a woman. Be off, girl and coward that you are, you shall not scale our
walls through any Hinching upon my part; neither shall you carry off
our wives in your ships, for I shall kill you with my own hand.”
The son of Tydeus was in two minds whether or no to turn his
horses round again and fight him. Thrice did he doubt, and thrice
did Jove thunder from the heights of. Ida in token to the Trojans that
he would turn the battle in their favour. Hector then shouted to
them and said, “Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians, lovers of close
fighting, be men, my friends, and fight with might and with main; I
see that Jove is minded to vouchsafe victory and great glory to
myself, while he will deal destruction upon the Danaans. Fools, for
having thought of building this weak and worthless wall. It shall
not stay my fury; my horses will spring lightly over their trench, and
when I am BOOK at their ships forget not to bring me fire that I may
burn them, while I slaughter the Argives who will be all dazed and
bewildered by the smoke.”
Then he cried to his horses, “Xanthus and Podargus, and you Aethon
and goodly Lampus, pay me for your keep now and for all the
honey-sweet corn with which Andromache daughter of great Eetion has
fed you, and for she has mixed wine and water for you to drink
whenever you would, before doing so even for me who am her own
husband. Haste in pursuit, that we may take the shield of Nestor,
the fame of which ascends to heaven, for it is of solid gold, arm-rods
and all, and that we may strip from the shoulders of Diomed. the
cuirass which Vulcan made him. Could we take these two things, the
Achaeans would set sail in their ships this self-same night.”
Thus did he vaunt, but Queen Juno made high Olympus quake as she
shook with rage upon her throne. Then said she to the mighty god of
Neptune, “What now, wide ruling lord of the earthquake? Can you find
no compassion in your heart for the dying Danaans, who bring you
many a welcome offering to Helice and to Aegae? Wish them well then.
If all of us who are with the Danaans were to drive the Trojans back
and keep Jove from helping them, he would have to sit there sulking
alone on Ida.”
King Neptune was greatly troubled and answered, “Juno, rash of
tongue, what are you talking about? We other gods must not set
ourselves against Jove, for he is far stronger than we are.”
Thus did they converse; but the whole space enclosed by the ditch,
from the ships even to the wall, was filled with horses and
warriors, who were pent up there by Hector son of Priam, now that
the hand of Jove was with him. He would even have set fire to the
ships and burned them, had not Queen Juno put it into the mind of
Agamemnon, to bestir himself and to encourage the Achaeans. To this
end he went round the ships and tents carrying a great purple cloak,
and took his stand by the huge black hull of Ulysses’ ship, which
was middlemost of all; it was from this place that his voice would
carry farthest, 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. From this spot then, with a
voice that could be heard afar, he shouted to the Danaans, saying,
“Argives, shame on you cowardly creatures, brave in semblance only;
where are now our vaunts that we should prove victorious- the vaunts
we made so vaingloriously in Lemnos, when we ate the flesh of horned
cattle and filled our mixing-bowls to the brim? You vowed that you
would each of you stand against a hundred or two hundred men, and
now you prove no match even for one- for Hector, who will be ere
long setting our ships in a blaze. Father Jove, did you ever so ruin a
great king and rob him so utterly of his greatness? yet, when to my
sorrow I was coming hither, I never let my ship pass your altars
without offering the fat and thigh-bones of heifers upon every one
of them, so eager was I to sack the city of Troy. Vouchsafe me then
this prayer- suffer us to escape at any rate with our lives, and let
not the Achaeans be so utterly vanquished by the Trojans.”
Thus did he pray, and father Jove pitying his tears vouchsafed him
that his people should live, not die; forthwith he sent them an eagle,
most unfailingly portentous of all birds, with a young fawn in its
talons; the eagle dropped the fawn by the altar on which the
Achaeans sacrificed to Jove the lord of omens; When, therefore, the
people saw that the bird had come from Jove, they sprang more fiercely
upon the Trojans and fought more boldly.
There was no man of all the many Danaans who could then boast that
he had driven his horses over the trench and gone forth to fight
sooner than the son of Tydeus; long before any one else could do so he
slew an armed warrior of the Trojans, Agelaus the son of Phradmon.
He had turned his horses in flight, but the spear struck him in the
back midway between his shoulders and went right through his chest,
and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell forward from his
chariot.
After him came Agamemnon and Menelaus, sons of Atreus, the two
Ajaxes clothed in valour as with a garment, Idomeneus and his
companion in arms Meriones, peer of murderous Mars, and Eurypylus
the brave son of Euaemon. Ninth came Teucer with his bow, and took his
place under cover of the shield of Ajax son of Telamon. When Ajax
lifted his shield Teucer would peer round, and when he had hit any one
in the throng, the man would fall dead; then Teucer would hie back
to Ajax as a child to its mother, and again duck down under his
shield.
Which of the Trojans did brave Teucer first kill? Orsilochus, and
then Ormenus and Ophelestes, Daetor, Chromius, and godlike
Lycophontes, Amopaon son of Polyaemon, and Melanippus. these in turn
did he lay low upon the earth, and King Agamemnon was glad when he saw
him making havoc of the Trojans with his mighty bow. He went up to him
and said, “Teucer, man after my own heart, son of Telamon, captain
among the host, shoot on, and be at once the saving of the Danaans and
the glory of your father Telamon, who brought you up and took care
of you in his own house when you were a child, bastard though you
were. Cover him with glory though he is far off; I will promise and
I will assuredly perform; if aegis-bearing Jove and Minerva grant me
to sack the city of Ilius, you shall have the next best meed of honour
after my own- a tripod, or two horses with their chariot, or a woman
who shall go up into your bed.”
And Teucer answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, you need not urge
me; from the moment we began to drive them back to Ilius, I have never
ceased so far as in me lies to look out for men whom I can shoot and
kill; I have shot eight barbed shafts, and all of them have been
buried in the flesh of warlike youths, but this mad dog I cannot hit.”
As he spoke he aimed another arrow straight at Hector, for he was
bent on hitting him; nevertheless he missed him, and the arrow hit
Priam’s brave son Gorgythion in the breast. His mother, fair
Castianeira, lovely as a goddess, had been married from Aesyme, and
now he bowed his head as a garden poppy in full bloom when it is
weighed down by showers in spring- even thus heavy bowed his head
beneath the weight of his helmet.
Again he aimed at Hector, for he was longing to hit him, and again
his arrow missed, for Apollo turned it aside; but he hit Hector’s
brave charioteer Archeptolemus in the breast, by the nipple, as he was
driving furiously into the fight. The horses swerved aside as he
fell headlong from the chariot, and there was no life left in him.
Hector was greatly grieved at the loss of his charioteer, but for
all his sorrow he let him lie where he fell, and bade his brother
Cebriones, who was hard by, take the reins. Cebriones did as he had
said. Hector thereon with a loud cry sprang from his chariot to the
ground, and seizing a great stone made straight for Teucer with intent
kill him. Teucer had just taken an arrow from his quiver and had
laid it upon the bow-string, but Hector struck him with the jagged
stone as he was taking aim and drawing the string to his shoulder;
he hit him just where the collar-bone divides the neck from the chest,
a very deadly place, and broke the sinew of his arm so that his
wrist was less, and the bow dropped from his hand as he fell forward
on his knees. Ajax saw that his brother had fallen, and running
towards him bestrode him and sheltered him with his shield.
Meanwhile his two trusty squires, Mecisteus son of Echius, and
Alastor, came up and bore him to the ships groaning in his great pain.
glad when he saw
Jove now again put heart into the Trojans, and they drove the
Achaeans to their deep trench with Hector in all his glory at their
head. As a hound grips a wild boar or lion in flank or buttock when he
gives him chase, and watches warily for his wheeling, even so did
Hector follow close upon the Achaeans, ever killing the hindmost as
they rushed panic-stricken onwards. When they had fled through the set
stakes and trench and many Achaeans had been laid low at the hands
of the Trojans, they halted at their ships, calling upon one another
and praying every man instantly as they lifted up their hands to the
gods; but Hector wheeled his horses this way and that, his eyes
glaring like those of Gorgo or murderous Mars.
Juno when she saw them had pity upon them, and at once said to
Minerva, “Alas, child of aegis-bearing Jove, shall you and I take no
more thought for the dying Danaans, though it be the last time we ever
do so? See how they perish and come to a bad end before the onset of
but a single man. Hector the son of Priam rages with intolerable fury,
and has already done great mischief.”
Minerva answered, “Would, indeed, this fellow might die in his own
land, and fall by the hands of the Achaeans; but my father Jove is mad
with spleen, ever foiling me, ever headstrong and unjust. He forgets
how often I saved his son when he was worn out by the labours
Eurystheus had laid on him. He would weep till his cry came up to
heaven, and then Jove would send me down to help him; if I had had the
sense to foresee all this, when Eurystheus sent him to the house of
Hades, to fetch the hell-hound from Erebus, he would never have come
back alive out of the deep waters of the river Styx. And now Jove
hates me, while he lets Thetis have her way because she kissed his
knees and took hold of his beard, when she was begging him to do
honour to Achilles. I shall know what to do next time he begins
calling me his grey-eyed darling. Get our horses ready, while I go
within the house of aegis-bearing Jove and put on my armour; we
shall then find out whether Priam’s son Hector will be glad to meet us
in the highways of battle, or whether the Trojans will glut hounds and
vultures with the fat of their flesh as they he dead by the ships of
the Achaeans.”
Thus did she speak and white-armed Juno, daughter of great Saturn,
obeyed her words; she set about harnessing her gold-bedizened
steeds, while Minerva daughter of aegis-bearing Jove flung her
richly vesture, made with her own hands, on to the threshold of her
father, and donned the shirt of Jove, arming herself for battle.
Then she stepped into her flaming chariot, and grasped the spear so
stout and sturdy and strong with which she quells the ranks of
heroes who have displeased her. Juno lashed her horses, and the
gates of heaven bellowed as they flew open of their own accord-
gates over which the Hours preside, in whose hands are heaven and
Olympus, either to open the dense cloud that hides them or to close
it. Through these the goddesses drove their obedient steeds.
But father Jove when he saw them from Ida was very angry, and sent
winged Iris with a message to them. “Go,” said he, “fleet Iris, turn
them back, and see that they do not come near me, for if we come to
fighting there will be mischief. This is what I say, and this is
what I mean to do. I will lame their horses for them; I will hurl them
from their chariot, and will break it in pieces. It will take them all
ten years to heal the wounds my lightning shall inflict upon them;
my grey-eyed daughter will then learn what quarrelling with her father
means. I am less surprised and angry with Juno, for whatever I say she
always contradicts me.”
With this Iris went her way, fleet as the wind, from the heights
of Ida to the lofty summits of Olympus. She met the goddesses at the
outer gates of its many valleys and gave them her message. “What,”
said she, “are you about? Are you mad? The son of Saturn forbids
going. This is what he says, and this is he means to do, he will
lame your horses for you, he will hurl you from your chariot, and will
break it in pieces. It will take you all ten years to heal the
wounds his lightning will inflict upon you, that you may learn,
grey-eyed goddess, what quarrelling with your father means. He is less
hurt and angry with Juno, for whatever he says she always
contradicts him but you, bold bold hussy, will you really dare to
raise your huge spear in defiance of Jove?”
With this she left them, and Juno said to Minerva, “Of a truth,
child of aegis-bearing Jove, I am not for fighting men’s battles
further in defiance of Jove. Let them live or die as luck will have
it, and let Jove mete out his judgements upon the Trojans and
Danaans according to his own pleasure.”
She turned her steeds; the Hours presently unyoked them, made them
fast to their ambrosial mangers, and leaned the chariot against the
end wall of the courtyard. The two goddesses then sat down upon
their golden thrones, amid the company of the other gods; but they
were very angry.
Presently father Jove drove his chariot to Olympus, and entered
the assembly of gods. The mighty lord of the earthquake unyoked his
horses for him, set the car upon its stand, and threw a cloth over it.
Jove then sat down upon his golden throne and Olympus reeled beneath
him. Minerva and Juno sat alone, apart from Jove, and neither spoke
nor asked him questions, but Jove knew what they meant, and said,
“Minerva and Juno, why are you so angry? Are you fatigued with killing
so many of your dear friends the Trojans? Be this as it may, such is
the might of my hands that all the gods in Olympus cannot turn me; you
were both of you trembling all over ere ever you saw the fight and its
terrible doings. I tell you therefore-and it would have surely been- I
should have struck you with lighting, and your chariots would never
have brought you back again to Olympus.”
Minerva and Juno groaned in spirit as they sat side by side and
brooded mischief for the Trojans. Minerva sat silent without a word,
for she was in a furious passion and bitterly incensed against her
father; but Juno could not contain herself and said, “What, dread
son of Saturn, are you talking about? We know how great your power is,
nevertheless we have compassion upon the Danaan warriors who are
perishing and coming to a bad end. We will, however, since you so
bid us, refrain from actual fighting, but we will make serviceable
suggestions to the Argives, that they may not all of them perish in
your displeasure.”
And Jove answered, “To-morrow morning, Juno, if you choose to do so,
you will see the son of Saturn destroying large numbers of the
Argives, for fierce Hector shall not cease fighting till he has roused
the son of Peleus when they are fighting in dire straits at their
ships’ sterns about the body of Patroclus. Like it or no, this is
how it is decreed; for aught I care, you may go to the lowest depths
beneath earth and sea, where Iapetus and Saturn dwell in lone Tartarus
with neither ray of light nor breath of wind to cheer them. You may go
on and on till you get there, and I shall not care one whit for your
displeasure; you are the greatest vixen living.”
Juno made him no answer. The sun’s glorious orb now sank into
Oceanus and drew down night over the land. Sorry indeed were the
Trojans when light failed them, but welcome and thrice prayed for
did darkness fall upon the Achaeans.
Then Hector led the Trojans back from the ships, and held a
council on the open space near the river, where there was a spot ear
corpses. They left their chariots and sat down on the ground to hear
the speech he made them. He grasped a spear eleven cubits long, the
bronze point of which gleamed in front of it, while the ring round the
spear-head was of gold Spear in hand he spoke. “Hear me,” said he,
“Trojans, Dardanians, and allies. I deemed but now that I should
destroy the ships and all the Achaeans with them ere I went back to
Ilius, but darkness came on too soon. It was this alone that saved
them and their ships upon the seashore. Now, therefore, let us obey
the behests of night, and prepare our suppers. Take your horses out of
their chariots and give them their feeds of corn; then make speed to
bring sheep and cattle from the city; bring wine also and corn for
your horses and gather much wood, that from dark till dawn we may burn
watchfires whose flare may reach to heaven. For the Achaeans may try
to fly beyond the sea by night, and they must not embark scatheless
and unmolested; many a man among them must take a dart with him to
nurse at home, hit with spear or arrow as he is leaping on board his
ship, that others may fear to bring war and weeping upon the
Trojans. Moreover let the heralds tell it about the city that the
growing youths and grey-bearded men are to camp upon its
heaven-built walls. Let the women each of them light a great fire in
her house, and let watch be safely kept lest the town be entered by
surprise while the host is outside. See to it, brave Trojans, as I
have said, and let this suffice for the moment; at daybreak I will
instruct you further. I pray in hope to Jove and to the gods that we
may then drive those fate-sped hounds from our land, for ’tis the
fates that have borne them and their ships hither. This night,
therefore, let us keep watch, but with early morning let us put on our
armour and rouse fierce war at the ships of the Achaeans; I shall then
know whether brave Diomed the son of Tydeus will drive me back from
the ships to the wall, or whether I shall myself slay him and carry
off his bloodstained spoils. To-morrow let him show his mettle,
abide my spear if he dare. I ween that at break of day, he shall be
among the first to fall and many another of his comrades round him.
Would that I were as sure of being immortal and never growing old, and
of being worshipped like Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this day
will bring evil to the Argives.”
Thus spoke Hector and the Trojans shouted applause. They took
their sweating steeds from under the yoke, and made them fast each
by his own chariot. They made haste to bring sheep and cattle from the
city, they brought wine also and corn from their houses and gathered
much wood. They then offered unblemished hecatombs to the immortals,
and the wind carried the sweet savour of sacrifice to heaven- but
the blessed gods partook not thereof, for they bitterly hated Ilius
with Priam and Priam’s people. Thus high in hope they sat through
the livelong night by the highways of war, and many a watchfire did
they kindle. As when the stars shine clear, and the moon is bright-
there is not a breath of air, not a peak nor glade nor jutting
headland but it stands out in the ineffable radiance that breaks
from the serene of heaven; the stars can all of them be told and the
heart of the shepherd is glad- even thus shone the watchfires of the
Trojans before Ilius midway between the ships and the river Xanthus. A
thousand camp-fires gleamed upon the plain, and in the glow of each
there sat fifty men, while the horses, champing oats and corn beside
their chariots, waited till dawn should come.

BOOK IX

THUS did the Trojans watch. But Panic, comrade of blood-stained
Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achaeans and their princes were all
of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from Thrace- the
north and the northwest- spring up of a sudden and rouse the fury of
the main- in a moment the dark waves uprear their heads and scatter
their sea-wrack in all directions- even thus troubled were the
hearts of the Achaeans.
The son of Atreus in dismay bade the heralds call the people to a
council man by man, but not to cry the matter aloud; he made haste
also himself to call them, and they sat sorry at heart in their
assembly. Agamemnon shed tears as it were a running stream or cataract
on the side of some sheer cliff; and thus, with many a heavy sigh he
spoke to the Achaeans. “My friends,” said he, “princes and councillors
Of the Argives, the hand of heaven has been laid heavily upon me.
Cruel Jove gave me his solemn promise that I should sack the city of
Troy before returning, but he has played me false, and is now
bidding me go ingloriously back to Argos with the loss of much people.
Such is the will of Jove, who has laid many a proud city in the dust
as he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. Now, therefore,
let us all do as I say and sail back to our own country, for we
shall not take Troy.”
Thus he spoke, and the sons of the Achaeans for a long while sat
sorrowful there, but they all held their peace, till at last Diomed of
the loud battle-cry made answer saying, “Son of Atreus, I will chide
your folly, as is my right in council. Be not then aggrieved that I
should do so. In the first place you attacked me before all the
Danaans and said that I was a coward and no soldier. The Argives young
and old know that you did so. But the son of scheming Saturn endowed
you by halves only. He gave you honour as the chief ruler over us, but
valour, which is the highest both right and might he did not give you.
Sir, think you that the sons of the Achaeans are indeed as unwarlike
and cowardly as you say they are? If your own mind is set upon going
home- go- the way is open to you; the many ships that followed you
from Mycene stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay
here till we have sacked Troy. Nay though these too should turn
homeward with their ships, Sthenelus and myself will still fight on
till we reach the goal of Ilius, for for heaven was with us when we
came.”
The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words of Diomed,
and presently Nestor rose to speak. “Son of Tydeus,” said he, “in
war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all
who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light of
what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end of
the whole matter. You are still young- you might be the youngest of my
own children- still you have spoken wisely and have counselled the
chief of the Achaeans not without discretion; nevertheless I am
older than you and I will tell you every” thing; therefore let no man,
not even King Agamemnon, disregard my saying, for he that foments
civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw.
“Now, however, let us obey the behests of night and get our suppers,
but let the sentinels every man of them camp by the trench that is
without the wall. I am giving these instructions to the young men;
when they have been attended to, do you, son of Atreus, give your
orders, for you are the most royal among us all. Prepare a feast for
your councillors; it is right and reasonable that you should do so;
there is abundance of wine in your tents, which the ships of the
Achaeans bring from Thrace daily. You have everything at your disposal
wherewith to entertain guests, and you have many subjects. When many
are got together, you can be guided by him whose counsel is wisest-
and sorely do we need shrewd and prudent counsel, for the foe has
lit his watchfires hard by our ships. Who can be other than
dismayed? This night will either be the ruin of our host, or save it.”
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The sentinels
went out in their armour under command of Nestor’s son Thrasymedes,
a captain of the host, and of the bold warriors Ascalaphus and
Ialmenus: there were also Meriones, Aphareus and Deipyrus, and the son
of Creion, noble Lycomedes. There were seven captains of the
sentinels, and with each there went a hundred youths armed with long
spears: they took their places midway between the trench and the wall,
and when they had done so they lit their fires and got every man his
supper.
The son of Atreus then bade many councillors of the Achaeans to
his quarters prepared a great feast in their honour. They laid their
hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon as they
had enough to eat and drink, old Nestor, whose counsel was ever
truest, was the first to lay his mind before them. He, therefore, with
all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus.
“With yourself, most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
will I both begin my speech and end it, for you are king over much
people. Jove, moreover, has vouchsafed you to wield the sceptre and to
uphold righteousness, that you may take thought for your people
under you; therefore it behooves you above all others both to speak
and to give ear, and to out the counsel of another who shall have been
minded to speak wisely. All turns on you and on your commands,
therefore I will say what I think will be best. No man will be of a
truer mind than that which has been mine from the hour when you,
sir, angered Achilles by taking the girl Briseis from his tent against
my judgment. I urged you not to do so, but you yielded to your own
pride, and dishonoured a hero whom heaven itself had honoured- for you
still hold the prize that had been awarded to him. Now, however, let
us think how we may appease him, both with presents and fair
speeches that may conciliate him.”
And King Agamemnon answered, “Sir, you have reproved my folly
justly. I was wrong. I own it. One whom heaven befriends is in himself
a host, and Jove has shown that he befriends this man by destroying
much people of the Achaeans. I was blinded with passion and yielded to
my worser mind; therefore I will make amends, and will give him
great gifts by way of atonement. I will tell them in the presence of
you all. I will give him seven tripods that have never yet been on the
fire, and ten talents of gold. I will give him twenty iron cauldrons
and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes.
Rich, indeed, both in land and gold is he that has as many prizes as
my horses have won me. I will give him seven excellent workwomen,
Lesbians, whom I chose for myself when he took Lesbos- all of
surpassing beauty. I will give him these, and with them her whom I
erewhile took from him, the daughter of Briseus; and I swear a great
oath that I never went up into her couch, nor have been with her after
the manner of men and women.
“All these things will I give him now down, and if hereafter the
gods vouchsafe me to sack the city of Priam, let him come when we
Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load his ship with gold and
bronze to his liking; furthermore let him take twenty Trojan women,
the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean
Argos, wealthiest of all lands, he shall be my son-in-law and I will
show him like honour with my own dear son Orestes, who is being
nurtured in all abundance. I have three daughters, Chrysothemis,
Laodice, and lphianassa, let him take the one of his choice, freely
and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; I will add such
dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give
him seven well established cities, Cardamyle, Enope, and Hire, where
there is grass; holy Pherae and the rich meadows of Anthea; Aepea
also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasus, all near the sea, and on
the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in
cattle and sheep; they will honour him with gifts as though he were
a god, and be obedient to his comfortable ordinances. All this will
I do if he will now forgo his anger. Let him then yieldit is only
Hades who is utterly ruthless and unyielding- and hence he is of all
gods the one most hateful to mankind. Moreover I am older and more
royal than himself. Therefore, let him now obey me.”
Then Nestor answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of men,
Agamemnon. The gifts you offer are no small ones, let us then send
chosen messengers, who may go to the tent of Achilles son of Peleus
without delay. Let those go whom I shall name. Let Phoenix, dear to
Jove, lead the way; let Ajax and Ulysses follow, and let the heralds
Odius and Eurybates go with them. Now bring water for our hands, and
bid all keep silence while we pray to Jove the son of Saturn, if so be
that he may have mercy upon us.”
Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well. Men-servants
poured water over the hands of the guests, while pages filled the
mixing-bowls with wine and water, and handed it round after giving
every man his drink-offering; then, when they had made their
offerings, and had drunk each as much as he was minded, the envoys set
out from the tent of Agamemnon son of Atreus; and Nestor, looking
first to one and then to another, but most especially at Ulysses,
was instant with them that they should prevail with the noble son of
Peleus.
They went their way by the shore of the sounding sea, and prayed
earnestly to earth-encircling Neptune that the high spirit of the
son of Aeacus might incline favourably towards them. When they reached
the ships and tents of the Myrmidons, they found Achilles playing on a
lyre, fair, of cunning workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver.
It was part of the spoils which he had taken when he sacked the city
of Eetion, and he was now diverting himself with it and singing the
feats of heroes. He was alone with Patroclus, who sat opposite to
him and said nothing, waiting till he should cease singing. Ulysses
and Ajax now came in- Ulysses leading the way -and stood before him.
Achilles sprang from his seat with the lyre still in his hand, and
Patroclus, when he saw the strangers, rose also. Achilles then greeted
them saying, “All hail and welcome- you must come upon some great
matter, you, who for all my anger are still dearest to me of the
Achaeans.”
With this he led them forward, and bade them sit on seats covered
with purple rugs; then he said to Patroclus who was close by him, “Son
of Menoetius, set a larger bowl upon the table, mix less water with
the wine, and give every man his cup, for these are very dear friends,
who are now under my roof.”
Patroclus did as his comrade bade him; he set the chopping-block
in front of the fire, and on it he laid the loin of a sheep, the
loin also of a goat, and the chine of a fat hog. Automedon held the
meat while Achilles chopped it; he then sliced the pieces and put them
on spits while the son of Menoetius made the fire burn high. When
the flame had died down, he spread the embers, laid the spits on top
of them, lifting them up and setting them upon the spit-racks; and
he sprinkled them with salt. When the meat was roasted, he set it on
platters, and handed bread round the table in fair baskets, while
Achilles dealt them their portions. Then Achilles took his seat facing
Ulysses against the opposite wall, and bade his comrade Patroclus
offer sacrifice to the gods; so he cast the offerings into the fire,
and they laid their hands upon the good things that were before
them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Ajax made a
sign to Phoenix, and when he saw this, Ulysses filled his cup with
wine and pledged Achilles.
“Hail,” said he, “Achilles, we have had no scant of good cheer,
neither in the tent of Agamemnon, nor yet here; there has been
plenty to eat and drink, but our thought turns upon no such matter.
Sir, we are in the face of great disaster, and without your help
know not whether we shall save our fleet or lose it. The Trojans and
their allies have camped hard by our ships and by the wall; they
have lit watchfires throughout their host and deem that nothing can
now prevent them from falling on our fleet. Jove, moreover, has sent
his lightnings on their right; Hector, in all his glory, rages like
a maniac; confident that Jove is with him he fears neither god nor
man, but is gone raving mad, and prays for the approach of day. He
vows that he will hew the high sterns of our ships in pieces, set fire
to their hulls, and make havoc of the Achaeans while they are dazed
and smothered in smoke; I much fear that heaven will make good his
boasting, and it will prove our lot to perish at Troy far from our
home in Argos. Up, then, and late though it be, save the sons of the
Achaeans who faint before the fury of the Trojans. You will repent
bitterly hereafter if you do not, for when the harm is done there will
be no curing it; consider ere it be too late, and save the Danaans
from destruction.
“My good friend, when your father Peleus sent you from Phthia to
Agamemnon, did he not charge you saying, ‘Son, Minerva and Juno will
make you strong if they choose, but check your high temper, for the
better part is in goodwill. Eschew vain quarrelling, and the
Achaeans old and young will respect you more for doing so.’ These were
his words, but you have forgotten them. Even now, however, be
appeased, and put away your anger from you. Agamemnon will make you
great amends if you will forgive him; listen, and I will tell you what
he has said in his tent that he will give you. He will give you
seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of
gold; twenty iron cauldrons, and twelve strong horses that have won
races and carried off prizes. Rich indeed both in land and gold is
he who has as many prizes as these horses have won for Agamemnon.
Moreover he will give you seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians, whom he
chose for himself, when you took Lesbos- all of surpassing beauty.
He will give you these, and with them her whom he erewhile took from
you, the daughter of Briseus, and he will swear a great oath, he has
never gone up into her couch nor been with her after the manner of men
and women. All these things will he give you now down, and if
hereafter the gods vouchsafe him to sack the city of Priam, you can
come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load your ship
with gold and bronze to your liking. You can take twenty Trojan women,
the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean
Argos, wealthiest of all lands, you shall be his son-in-law, and he
will show you like honour with his own dear son Orestes, who is
being nurtured in all abundance. Agamemnon has three daughters,
Chrysothemis, Laodice, and Iphianassa; you may take the one of your
choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; he
will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter,
and will give you seven well-established cities, Cardamyle, Enope, and
Hire where there is grass; holy Pheras and the rich meadows of Anthea;
Aepea also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasus, all near the sea, and
on the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in
cattle and sheep; they will honour you with gifts as though were a
god, and be obedient to your comfortable ordinances. All this will
he do if you will now forgo your anger. Moreover, though you hate both
him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the rest of the
Achaeans who are being harassed in all their host; they will honour
you as a god, and you will earn great glory at their hands. You
might even kill Hector; he will come within your reach, for he is
infatuated, and declares that not a Danaan whom the ships have brought
can hold his own against him.”
Achilles answered, “Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, I should give you
formal notice plainly and in all fixity of purpose that there be no
more of this cajoling, from whatsoever quarter it may come. Him do I
hate even as the gates of hell who says one thing while he hides
another in his heart; therefore I will say what I mean. I will be
appeased neither by Agamemnon son of Atreus nor by any other of the
Danaans, for I see that I have no thanks for all my fighting. He
that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are
held in equal honour, and death deals like measure to him who works
and him who is idle. I have taken nothing by all my hardships- with my
life ever in my hand; as a bird when she has found a morsel takes it
to her nestlings, and herself fares hardly, even so man a long night
have I been wakeful, and many a bloody battle have I waged by day
against those who were fighting for their women. With my ships I
have taken twelve cities, and eleven round about Troy have I stormed
with my men by land; I took great store of wealth from every one of
them, but I gave all up to Agamemnon son of Atreus. He stayed where he
was by his ships, yet of what came to him he gave little, and kept
much himself.
“Nevertheless he did distribute some meeds of honour among the
chieftains and kings, and these have them still; from me alone of
the Achaeans did he take the woman in whom I delighted- let him keep
her and sleep with her. Why, pray, must the Argives needs fight the
Trojans? What made the son of Atreus gather the host and bring them?
Was it not for the sake of Helen? Are the sons of Atreus the only
men in the world who love their wives? Any man of common right feeling
will love and cherish her who is his own, as I this woman, with my
whole heart, though she was but a fruitling of my spear. Agamemnon has
taken her from me; he has played me false; I know him; let him tempt
me no further, for he shall not move me. Let him look to you, Ulysses,
and to the other princes to save his ships from burning. He has done
much without me already. He has built a wall; he has dug a trench deep
and wide all round it, and he has planted it within with stakes; but
even so he stays not the murderous might of Hector. So long as I
fought the Achaeans Hector suffered not the battle range far from
the city walls; he would come to the Scaean gates and to the oak tree,
but no further. Once he stayed to meet me and hardly did he escape
my onset: now, however, since I am in no mood to fight him, I will
to-morrow offer sacrifice to Jove and to all the gods; I will draw
my ships into the water and then victual them duly; to-morrow morning,
if you care to look, you will see my ships on the Hellespont, and my
men rowing out to sea with might and main. If great Neptune vouchsafes
me a fair passage, in three days I shall be in Phthia. I have much
there that I left behind me when I came here to my sorrow, and I shall
bring back still further store of gold, of red copper, of fair
women, and of iron, my share of the spoils that we have taken; but one
prize, he who gave has insolently taken away. Tell him all as I now
bid you, and tell him in public that the Achaeans may hate him and
beware of him should he think that he can yet dupe others for his
effrontery never fails him.
“As for me, hound that he is, he dares not look me in the face. I
will take no counsel with him, and will undertake nothing in common
with him. He has wronged me and deceived me enough, he shall not cozen
me further; let him go his own way, for Jove has robbed him of his
reason. I loathe his presents, and for himself care not one straw.
He may offer me ten or even twenty times what he has now done, nay-
not though it be all that he has in the world, both now or ever
shall have; he may promise me the wealth of Orchomenus or of
Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the whole world, for
it has a hundred gates through each of which two hundred men may drive
at once with their chariots and horses; he may offer me gifts as the
sands of the sea or the dust of the plain in multitude, but even so he
shall not move me till I have been revenged in full for the bitter
wrong he has done me. I will not marry his daughter; she may be fair
as Venus, and skilful as Minerva, but I will have none of her: let
another take her, who may be a good match for her and who rules a
larger kingdom. If the gods spare me to return home, Peleus will
find me a wife; there are Achaean women in Hellas and Phthia,
daughters of kings that have cities under them; of these I can take
whom I will and marry her. Many a time was I minded when at home in
Phthia to woo and wed a woman who would make me a suitable wife, and
to enjoy the riches of my old father Peleus. My life is more to me
than all the wealth of Ilius while it was yet at peace before the
Achaeans went there, or than all the treasure that lies on the stone
floor of Apollo’s temple beneath the cliffs of Pytho. Cattle and sheep
are to be had for harrying, and a man buy both tripods and horses if
he wants them, but when his life has once left him it can neither be
bought nor harried back again.
“My mother Thetis tells me that there are two ways in which I may
meet my end. If I stay here and fight, I shall not return alive but my
name will live for ever: whereas if I go home my name will die, but it
will be long ere death shall take me. To the rest of you, then, I say,
‘Go home, for you will not take Ilius.’ Jove has held his hand over
her to protect her, and her people have taken heart. Go, therefore, as
in duty bound, and tell the princes of the Achaeans the message that I
have sent them; tell them to find some other plan for the saving of
their ships and people, for so long as my displeasure lasts the one
that they have now hit upon may not be. As for Phoenix, let him
sleep here that he may sail with me in the morning if he so will.
But I will not take him by force.”
They all held their peace, dismayed at the sternness with which he
had denied them, till presently the old knight Phoenix in his great
fear for the ships of the Achaeans, burst into tears and said,
“Noble Achilles, if you are now minded to return, and in the
fierceness of your anger will do nothing to save the ships from
burning, how, my son, can I remain here without you? Your father
Peleus bade me go with you when he sent you as a mere lad from
Phthia to Agamemnon. You knew nothing neither of war nor of the arts
whereby men make their mark in council, and he sent me with you to
train you in all excellence of speech and action. Therefore, my son, I
will not stay here without you- no, not though heaven itself vouchsafe
to strip my years from off me, and make me young as I was when I first
left Hellas the land of fair women. I was then flying the anger of
father Amyntor, son of Ormenus, who was furious with me in the
matter of his concubine, of whom he was enamoured to the wronging of
his wife my mother. My mother, therefore, prayed me without ceasing to
lie with the woman myself, that so she hate my father, and in the
course of time I yielded. But my father soon came to know, and
cursed me bitterly, calling the dread Erinyes to witness. He prayed
that no son of mine might ever sit upon knees- and the gods, Jove of
the world below and awful Proserpine, fulfilled his curse. I took
counsel to kill him, but some god stayed my rashness and bade me think
on men’s evil tongues and how I should be branded as the murderer of
my father: nevertheless I could not bear to stay in my father’s
house with him so bitter a against me. My cousins and clansmen came
about me, and pressed me sorely to remain; many a sheep and many an ox
did they slaughter, and many a fat hog did they set down to roast
before the fire; many a jar, too, did they broach of my father’s wine.
Nine whole nights did they set a guard over me taking it in turns to
watch, and they kept a fire always burning, both in the cloister of
the outer court and in the inner court at the doors of the room
wherein I lay; but when the darkness of the tenth night came, I
broke through the closed doors of my room, and climbed the wall of the
outer court after passing quickly and unperceived through the men on
guard and the women servants. I then fled through Hellas till I came
to fertile Phthia, mother of sheep, and to King Peleus, who made me
welcome and treated me as a father treats an only son who will be heir
to all his wealth. He made me rich and set me over much people,
establishing me on the borders of Phthia where I was chief ruler
over the Dolopians.
“It was I, Achilles, who had the making of you; I loved you with all
my heart: for you would eat neither at home nor when you had gone
out elsewhere, till I had first set you upon my knees, cut up the
dainty morsel that you were to eat, and held the wine-cup to your
lips. Many a time have you slobbered your wine in baby helplessness
over my shirt; I had infinite trouble with you, but I knew that heaven
had vouchsafed me no offspring of my own, and I made a son of you,
Achilles, that in my hour of need you might protect me. Now,
therefore, I say battle with your pride and beat it; cherish not
your anger for ever; the might and majesty of heaven are more than
ours, but even heaven may be appeased; and if a man has sinned he
prays the gods, and reconciles them to himself by his piteous cries
and by frankincense, with drink-offerings and the savour of burnt
sacrifice. For prayers are as daughters to great Jove; halt, wrinkled,
with eyes askance, they follow in the footsteps of sin, who, being
fierce and fleet of foot, leaves them far behind him, and ever baneful
to mankind outstrips them even to the ends of the world; but
nevertheless the prayers come hobbling and healing after. If a man has
pity upon these daughters of Jove when they draw near him, they will
bless him and hear him too when he is praying; but if he deny them and
will not listen to them, they go to Jove the son of Saturn and pray
that he may presently fall into sin- to his ruing bitterly
hereafter. Therefore, Achilles, give these daughters of Jove due
reverence, and bow before them as all good men will bow. Were not
the son of Atreus offering you gifts and promising others later- if he
were still furious and implacable- I am not he that would bid you
throw off your anger and help the Achaeans, no matter how great
their need; but he is giving much now, and more hereafter; he has sent
his captains to urge his suit, and has chosen those who of all the
Argives are most acceptable to you; make not then their words and
their coming to be of none effect. Your anger has been righteous so
far. We have heard in song how heroes of old time quarrelled when they
were roused to fury, but still they could be won by gifts, and fair
words could soothe them.
“I have an old story in my mind- a very old one- but you are all
friends and I will tell it. The Curetes and the Aetolians were
fighting and killing one another round Calydon- the Aetolians
defending the city and the Curetes trying to destroy it. For Diana
of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Oeneus had
not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other gods had all
been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Jove alone
he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it
had escaped him, and this was a grievous sin. Thereon the archer
goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him- a
savage wild boar with great white tusks that did much harm to his
orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them
to the ground. But Meleager son of Oeneus got huntsmen and hounds from
many cities and killed it- for it was so monstrous that not a few were
needed, and many a man did it stretch upon his funeral pyre. On this
the goddess set the Curetes and the Aetolians fighting furiously about
the head and skin of the boar.
“So long as Meleager was in the field things went badly with the
Curetes, and for all their numbers they could not hold their ground
under the city walls; but in the course of time Meleager was angered
as even a wise man will sometimes be. He was incensed with his
mother Althaea, and therefore stayed at home with his wedded wife fair
Cleopatra, who was daughter of Marpessa daughter of Euenus, and of
Ides the man then living. He it was who took his bow and faced King
Apollo himself for fair Marpessa’s sake; her father and mother then
named her Alcyone, because her mother had mourned with the plaintive
strains of the halcyon-bird when Phoebus Apollo had carried her off.
Meleager, then, stayed at home with Cleopatra, nursing the anger which
he felt by reason of his mother’s curses. His mother, grieving for the
death of her brother, prayed the gods, and beat the earth with her
hands, calling upon Hades and on awful Proserpine; she went down
upon her knees and her bosom was wet with tears as she prayed that
they would kill her son- and Erinys that walks in darkness and knows
no ruth heard her from Erebus.
“Then was heard the din of battle about the gates of Calydon, and
the dull thump of the battering against their walls. Thereon the
elders of the Aetolians besought Meleager; they sent the chiefest of
their priests, and begged him to come out and help them, promising him
a great reward. They bade him choose fifty plough-gates, the most
fertile in the plain of Calydon, the one-half vineyard and the other
open plough-land. The old warrior Oeneus implored him, standing at the
threshold of his room and beating the doors in supplication. His
sisters and his mother herself besought him sore, but he the more
refused them; those of his comrades who were nearest and dearest to
him also prayed him, but they could not move him till the foe was
battering at the very doors of his chamber, and the Curetes had scaled
the walls and were setting fire to the city. Then at last his
sorrowing wife detailed the horrors that befall those whose city is
taken; she reminded him how the men are slain, and the city is given
over to the flames, while the women and children are carried into
captivity; when he heard all this, his heart was touched, and he
donned his armour to go forth. Thus of his own inward motion he
saved the city of the Aetolians; but they now gave him nothing of
those rich rewards that they had offered earlier, and though he
saved the city he took nothing by it. Be not then, my son, thus
minded; let not heaven lure you into any such course. When the ships
are burning it will be a harder matter to save them. Take the gifts,
and go, for the Achaeans will then honour you as a god; whereas if you
fight without taking them, you may beat the battle back, but you
will not be held in like honour.”
And Achilles answered, “Phoenix, old friend and father, I have no
need of such honour. I have honour from Jove himself, which will abide
with me at my ships while I have breath in my body, and my limbs are
strong. I say further- and lay my saying to your heart- vex me no more
with this weeping and lamentation, all in the cause of the son of
Atreus. Love him so well, and you may lose the love I bear you. You
ought to help me rather in troubling those that trouble me; be king as
much as I am, and share like honour with myself; the others shall take
my answer; stay here yourself and sleep comfortably in your bed; at
daybreak we will consider whether to remain or go.”
On this she nodded quietly to Patroclus as a sign that he was to
prepare a bed for Phoenix, and that the others should take their
leave. Ajax son of Telamon then said, “Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, let us be gone, for I see that our journey is vain. We must
now take our answer, unwelcome though it be, to the Danaans who are
waiting to receive it. Achilles is savage and remorseless; he is
cruel, and cares nothing for the love his comrades lavished upon him
more than on all the others. He is implacable- and yet if a man’s
brother or son has been slain he will accept a fine by way of amends
from him that killed him, and the wrong-doer having paid in full
remains in peace among his own people; but as for you, Achilles, the
gods have put a wicked unforgiving spirit in your heart, and this, all
about one single girl, whereas we now offer you the seven best we
have, and much else into the bargain. Be then of a more gracious mind,
respect the hospitality of your own roof. We are with you as
messengers from the host of the Danaans, and would fain he held
nearest and dearest to yourself of all the Achaeans.”
“Ajax,” replied Achilles, “noble son of Telamon, you have spoken
much to my liking, but my blood boils when I think it all over, and
remember how the son of Atreus treated me with contumely as though I
were some vile tramp, and that too in the presence of the Argives. Go,
then, and deliver your message; say that I will have no concern with
fighting till Hector, son of noble Priam, reaches the tents of the
Myrmidons in his murderous course, and flings fire upon their ships.
For all his lust of battle, I take it he will be held in check when he
is at my own tent and ship.”
On this they took every man his double cup, made their
drink-offerings, and went back to the ships, Ulysses leading the
way. But Patroclus told his men and the maid-servants to make ready
a comfortable bed for Phoenix; they therefore did so with
sheepskins, a rug, and a sheet of fine linen. The old man then laid
himself down and waited till morning came. But Achilles slept in an
inner room, and beside him the daughter of Phorbas lovely Diomede,
whom he had carried off from Lesbos. Patroclus lay on the other side
of the room, and with him fair Iphis whom Achilles had given him
when he took Scyros the city of Enyeus.
When the envoys reached the tents of the son of Atreus, the Achaeans
rose, pledged them in cups of gold, and began to question them. King
Agamemnon was the first to do so. Tell me, Ulysses,” said he, “will he
save the ships from burning, or did be refuse, and is he still
furious?”
Ulysses answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
Achilles will not be calmed, but is more fiercely angry than ever, and
spurns both you and your gifts. He bids you take counsel with the
Achaeans to save the ships and host as you best may; as for himself,
he said that at daybreak he should draw his ships into the water. He
said further that he should advise every one to sail home likewise,
for that you will not reach the goal of Ilius. ‘Jove,’ he said, ‘has
laid his hand over the city to protect it, and the people have taken
heart.’ This is what he said, and the others who were with me can tell
you the same story- Ajax and the two heralds, men, both of them, who
may be trusted. The old man Phoenix stayed where he was to sleep,
for so Achilles would have it, that he might go home with him in the
morning if he so would; but he will not take him by force.”
They all held their peace, sitting for a long time silent and
dejected, by reason of the sternness with which Achilles had refused
them, till presently Diomed said, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of
men, Agamemnon, you ought not to have sued the son of Peleus nor
offered him gifts. He is proud enough as it is, and you have
encouraged him in his pride am further. Let him stay or go as he will.
He will fight later when he is in the humour, and heaven puts it in
his mind to do so. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; we have
eaten and drunk our fill, let us then take our rest, for in rest there
is both strength and stay. But when fair rosy-fingered morn appears,
forthwith bring out your host and your horsemen in front of the ships,
urging them on, and yourself fighting among the foremost.”
Thus he spoke, and the other chieftains approved his words. They
then made their drink-offerings and went every man to his own tent,
where they laid down to rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.

BOOK X

NOW the other princes of the Achaeans slept soundly the whole
night through, but Agamemnon son of Atreus was troubled, so that he
could get no rest. As when fair Juno’s lord flashes his lightning in
token of great rain or hail or snow when the snow-flakes whiten the
ground, or again as a sign that he will open the wide jaws of hungry
war, even so did Agamemnon heave many a heavy sigh, for his soul
trembled within him. When he looked upon the plain of Troy he
marvelled at the many watchfires burning in front of Ilius, and at the
sound of pipes and flutes and of the hum of men, but when presently he
turned towards the ships and hosts of the Achaeans, he tore his hair
by handfuls before Jove on high, and groaned aloud for the very
disquietness of his soul. In the end he deemed it best to go at once
to Nestor son of Neleus, and see if between them they could find any
way of the Achaeans from destruction. He therefore rose, put on his
shirt, bound his sandals about his comely feet, flung the skin of a
huge tawny lion over his shoulders- a skin that reached his feet-
and took his spear in his hand.
Neither could Menelaus sleep, for he, too, boded ill for the Argives
who for his sake had sailed from far over the seas to fight the
Trojans. He covered his broad back with the skin of a spotted panther,
put a casque of bronze upon his head, and took his spear in his brawny
hand. Then he went to rouse his brother, who was by far the most
powerful of the Achaeans, and was honoured by the people as though
he were a god. He found him by the stern of his ship already putting
his goodly array about his shoulders, and right glad was he that his
brother had come.
Menelaus spoke first. “Why,” said he, “my dear brother, are you thus
arming? Are you going to send any of our comrades to exploit the
Trojans? I greatly fear that no one will do you this service, and
spy upon the enemy alone in the dead of night. It will be a deed of
great daring.”
And King Agamemnon answered, “Menelaus, we both of us need shrewd
counsel to save the Argives and our ships, for Jove has changed his
mind, and inclines towards Hector’s sacrifices rather than ours. I
never saw nor heard tell of any man as having wrought such ruin in one
day as Hector has now wrought against the sons of the Achaeans- and
that too of his own unaided self, for he is son neither to god nor
goddess. The Argives will rue it long and deeply. Run, therefore, with
all speed by the line of the ships, and call Ajax and Idomeneus.
Meanwhile I will go to Nestor, and bid him rise and go about among the
companies of our sentinels to give them their instructions; they
will listen to him sooner than to any man, for his own son, and
Meriones brother in arms to Idomeneus, are captains over them. It
was to them more particularly that we gave this charge.”
Menelaus replied, “How do I take your meaning? Am I to stay with
them and wait your coming, or shall I return here as soon as I have
given your orders?” “Wait,” answered King Agamemnon, “for there are so
many paths about the camp that we might miss one another. Call every
man on your way, and bid him be stirring; name him by his lineage
and by his father’s name, give each all titular observance, and
stand not too much upon your own dignity; we must take our full
share of toil, for at our birth Jove laid this heavy burden upon us.”
With these instructions he sent his brother on his way, and went
on to Nestor shepherd of his people. He found him sleeping in his tent
hard by his own ship; his goodly armour lay beside him- his shield,
his two spears and his helmet; beside him also lay the gleaming girdle
with which the old man girded himself when he armed to lead his people
into battle- for his age stayed him not. He raised himself on his
elbow and looked up at Agamemnon. “Who is it,” said he, “that goes
thus about the host and the ships alone and in the dead of night, when
men are sleeping? Are you looking for one of your mules or for some
comrade? Do not stand there and say nothing, but speak. What is your
business?”
And Agamemnon answered, “Nestor, son of Neleus, honour to the
Achaean name, it is I, Agamemnon son of Atreus, on whom Jove has
laid labour and sorrow so long as there is breath in my body and my
limbs carry me. I am thus abroad because sleep sits not upon my
eyelids, but my heart is big with war and with the jeopardy of the
Achaeans. I am in great fear for the Danaans. I am at sea, and without
sure counsel; my heart beats as though it would leap out of my body,
and my limbs fail me. If then you can do anything- for you too
cannot sleep- let us go the round of the watch, and see whether they
are drowsy with toil and sleeping to the neglect of their duty. The
enemy is encamped hard and we know not but he may attack us by night.”
Nestor replied, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,
Jove will not do all for Hector that Hector thinks he will; he will
have troubles yet in plenty if Achilles will lay aside his anger. I
will go with you, and we will rouse others, either the son of
Tydeus, or Ulysses, or fleet Ajax and the valiant son of Phyleus. Some
one had also better go and call Ajax and King Idomeneus, for their
ships are not near at hand but the farthest of all. I cannot however
refrain from blaming Menelaus, much as I love him and respect him- and
I will say so plainly, even at the risk of offending you- for sleeping
and leaving all this trouble to yourself. He ought to be going about
imploring aid from all the princes of the Achaeans, for we are in
extreme danger.”
And Agamemnon answered, “Sir, you may sometimes blame him justly,
for he is often remiss and unwilling to exert himself- not indeed from
sloth, nor yet heedlessness, but because he looks to me and expects me
to take the lead. On this occasion, however, he was awake before I
was, and came to me of his own accord. I have already sent him to call
the very men whom you have named. And now let us be going. We shall
find them with the watch outside the gates, for it was there I said
that we would meet them.”
“In that case,” answered Nestor, “the Argives will not blame him nor
disobey his orders when he urges them to fight or gives them
instructions.”
With this he put on his shirt, and bound his sandals about his
comely feet. He buckled on his purple coat, of two thicknesses, large,
and of a rough shaggy texture, grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod
spear, and wended his way along the line of the Achaean ships. First
he called loudly to Ulysses peer of gods in counsel and woke him,
for he was soon roused by the sound of the battle-cry. He came outside
his tent and said, “Why do you go thus alone about the host, and along
the line of the ships in the stillness of the night? What is it that
you find so urgent?” And Nestor knight of Gerene answered, “Ulysses,
noble son of Laertes, take it not amiss, for the Achaeans are in great
straits. Come with me and let us wake some other, who may advise
well with us whether we shall fight or fly.”
On this Ulysses went at once into his tent, put his shield about his
shoulders and came out with them. First they went to Diomed son of
Tydeus, and found him outside his tent clad in his armour with his
comrades sleeping round him and using their shields as pillows; as for
their spears, they stood upright on the spikes of their butts that
were driven into the ground, and the burnished bronze flashed afar
like the lightning of father Jove. The hero was sleeping upon the skin
of an ox, with a piece of fine carpet under his head; Nestor went up
to him and stirred him with his heel to rouse him, upbraiding him
and urging him to bestir himself. “Wake up,” he exclaimed, “son of
Tydeus. How can you sleep on in this way? Can you not see that the
Trojans are encamped on the brow of the plain hard by our ships,
with but a little space between us and them?”
On these words Diomed leaped up instantly and said, “Old man, your
heart is of iron; you rest not one moment from your labours. Are there
no younger men among the Achaeans who could go about to rouse the
princes? There is no tiring you.”
And Nestor knight of Gerene made answer, “My son, all that you
have said is true. I have good sons, and also much people who might
call the chieftains, but the Achaeans are in the gravest danger;
life and death are balanced as it were on the edge of a razor. Go
then, for you are younger than I, and of your courtesy rouse Ajax
and the fleet son of Phyleus.”
Diomed threw the skin of a great tawny lion about his shoulders- a
skin that reached his feet- and grasped his spear. When he had
roused the heroes, he brought them back with him; they then went the
round of those who were on guard, and found the captains not
sleeping at their posts but wakeful and sitting with their arms
about them. As sheep dogs that watch their flocks when they are
yarded, and hear a wild beast coming through the mountain forest
towards them- forthwith there is a hue and cry of dogs and men, and
slumber is broken- even so was sleep chased from the eyes of the
Achaeans as they kept the watches of the wicked night, for they turned
constantly towards the plain whenever they heard any stir among the
Trojans. The old man was glad bade them be of good cheer. “Watch on,
my children,” said he, “and let not sleep get hold upon you, lest
our enemies triumph over us.”
With this he passed the trench, and with him the other chiefs of the
Achaeans who had been called to the council. Meriones and the brave
son of Nestor went also, for the princes bade them. When they were
beyond the trench that was dug round the wall they held their
meeting on the open ground where there was a space clear of corpses,
for it was here that when night fell Hector had turned back from his
onslaught on the Argives. They sat down, therefore, and held debate
with one another.
Nestor spoke first. “My friends,” said he, “is there any man bold
enough to venture the Trojans, and cut off some straggler, or us
news of what the enemy mean to do whether they will stay here by the
ships away from the city, or whether, now that they have worsted the
Achaeans, they will retire within their walls. If he could learn all
this and come back safely here, his fame would be high as heaven in
the mouths of all men, and he would be rewarded richly; for the chiefs
from all our ships would each of them give him a black ewe with her
lamb- which is a present of surpassing value- and he would be asked as
a guest to all feasts and clan-gatherings.”
They all held their peace, but Diomed of the loud war-cry spoke
saying, “Nestor, gladly will I visit the host of the Trojans over
against us, but if another will go with me I shall do so in greater
confidence and comfort. When two men are together, one of them may see
some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man
is alone he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker.”
On this several offered to go with Diomed. The two Ajaxes,
servants of Mars, Meriones, and the son of Nestor all wanted to go, so
did Menelaus son of Atreus; Ulysses also wished to go among the host
of the Trojans, for he was ever full of daring, and thereon
Agamemnon king of men spoke thus: “Diomed,” said he, “son of Tydeus,
man after my own heart, choose your comrade for yourself- take the
best man of those that have offered, for many would now go with you.
Do not through delicacy reject the better man, and take the worst
out of respect for his lineage, because he is of more royal blood.”
He said this because he feared for Menelaus. Diomed answered, “If
you bid me take the man of my own choice, how in that case can I
fail to think of Ulysses, than whom there is no man more eager to face
all kinds of danger- and Pallas Minerva loves him well? If he were
to go with me we should pass safely through fire itself, for he is
quick to see and understand.”
“Son of Tydeus,” replied Ulysses, “say neither good nor ill about
me, for you are among Argives who know me well. Let us be going, for
the night wanes and dawn is at hand. The stars have gone forward,
two-thirds of the night are already spent, and the third is alone left
us.”
They then put on their armour. Brave Thrasymedes provided the son of
Tydeus with a sword and a shield (for he had left his own at his ship)
and on his head he set a helmet of bull’s hide without either peak
or crest; it is called a skull-cap and is a common headgear.
Meriones found a bow and quiver for Ulysses, and on his head he set
a leathern helmet that was lined with a strong plaiting of leathern
thongs, while on the outside it was thickly studded with boar’s teeth,
well and skilfully set into it; next the head there was an inner
lining of felt. This helmet had been stolen by Autolycus out of
Eleon when he broke into the house of Amyntor son of Ormenus. He
gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Scandea, and Amphidamas
gave it as a guest-gift to Molus, who gave it to his son Meriones; and
now it was set upon the head of Ulysses.
When the pair had armed, they set out, and left the other chieftains
behind them. Pallas Minerva sent them a heron by the wayside upon
their right hands; they could not see it for the darkness, but they
heard its cry. Ulysses was glad when he heard it and prayed to
Minerva: “Hear me,” he cried, “daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, you who
spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships;
befriend me in this mine hour, and grant that we may return to the
ships covered with glory after having achieved some mighty exploit
that shall bring sorrow to the Trojans.”
Then Diomed of the loud war-cry also prayed: “Hear me too,” said he,
“daughter of Jove, unweariable; be with me even as you were with my
noble father Tydeus when he went to Thebes as envoy sent by the
Achaeans. He left the Achaeans by the banks of the river Aesopus,
and went to the city bearing a message of peace to the Cadmeians; on
his return thence, with your help, goddess, he did great deeds of
daring, for you were his ready helper. Even so guide me and guard me
now, and in return I will offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer
of a year old, unbroken, and never yet brought by man under the
yoke. I will gild her horns and will offer her up to you in
sacrifice.”
Thus they prayed, and Pallas Minerva heard their prayer. When they
had done praying to the daughter of great Jove, they went their way
like two lions prowling by night amid the armour and blood-stained
bodies of them that had fallen.
Neither again did Hector let the Trojans sleep; for he too called
the princes and councillors of the Trojans that he might set his
counsel before them. “Is there one,” said he, “who for a great
reward will do me the service of which I will tell you? He shall be
well paid if he will. I will give him a chariot and a couple of
horses, the fleetest that can be found at the ships of the Achaeans,
if he will dare this thing; and he will win infinite honour to boot;
he must go to the ships and find out whether they are still guarded as
heretofore, or whether now that we have beaten them the Achaeans
design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are neglecting to keep
their watches.”
They all held their peace; but there was among the Trojans a certain
man named Dolon, son of Eumedes, the famous herald- a man rich in gold
and bronze. He was ill-favoured, but a good runner, and was an only
son among five sisters. He it was that now addressed the Trojans.
“I, Hector,” said he, “Will to the ships and will exploit them. But
first hold up your sceptre and swear that you will give me the
chariot, bedight with bronze, and the horses that now carry the
noble son of Peleus. I will make you a good scout, and will not fail
you. I will go through the host from one end to the other till I
come to the ship of Agamemnon, where I take it the princes of the
Achaeans are now consulting whether they shall fight or fly.”
When he had done speaking Hector held up his sceptre, and swore
him his oath saying, “May Jove the thundering husband of Juno bear
witness that no other Trojan but yourself shall mount those steeds,
and that you shall have your will with them for ever.”
The oath he swore was bootless, but it made Dolon more keen on
going. He hung his bow over his shoulder, and as an overall he wore
the skin of a grey wolf, while on his head he set a cap of ferret
skin. Then he took a pointed javelin, and left the camp for the ships,
but he was not to return with any news for Hector. When he had left
the horses and the troops behind him, he made all speed on his way,
but Ulysses perceived his coming and said to Diomed, “Diomed, here
is some one from the camp; I am not sure whether he is a spy, or
whether it is some thief who would plunder the bodies of the dead; let
him get a little past us, we can then spring upon him and take him.
If, however, he is too quick for us, go after him with your spear
and hem him in towards the ships away from the Trojan camp, to prevent
his getting back to the town.”
With this they turned out of their way and lay down among the
corpses. Dolon suspected nothing and soon passed them, but when he had
got about as far as the distance by which a mule-plowed furrow exceeds
one that has been ploughed by oxen (for mules can plow fallow land
quicker than oxen) they ran after him, and when he heard their
footsteps he stood still, for he made sure they were friends from
the Trojan camp come by Hector’s orders to bid him return; when,
however, they were only a spear’s cast, or less away form him, he
saw that they were enemies as fast as his legs could take him. The
others gave chase at once, and as a couple of well-trained hounds
press forward after a doe or hare that runs screaming in front of
them, even so did the son of Tydeus and Ulysses pursue Dolon and cut
him off from his own people. But when he had fled so far towards the
ships that he would soon have fallen in with the outposts, Minerva
infused fresh strength into the son of Tydeus for fear some other of
the Achaeans might have the glory of being first to hit him, and he
might himself be only second; he therefore sprang forward with his
spear and said, “Stand, or I shall throw my spear, and in that case
I shall soon make an end of you.”
He threw as he spoke, but missed his aim on purpose. The dart flew
over the man’s right shoulder, and then stuck in the ground. He
stood stock still, trembling and in great fear; his teeth chattered,
and he turned pale with fear. The two came breathless up to him and
seized his hands, whereon he began to weep and said, “Take me alive; I
will ransom myself; we have great store of gold, bronze, and wrought
iron, and from this my father will satisfy you with a very large
ransom, should he hear of my being alive at the ships of the
Achaeans.”
“Fear not,” replied Ulysses, “let no thought of death be in your
mind; but tell me, and tell me true, why are you thus going about
alone in the dead of night away from your camp and towards the
ships, while other men are sleeping? Is it to plunder the bodies of
the slain, or did Hector send you to spy out what was going on at
the ships? Or did you come here of your own mere notion?”
Dolon answered, his limbs trembling beneath him: “Hector, with his
vain flattering promises, lured me from my better judgement. He said
he would give me the horses of the noble son of Peleus and his
bronze-bedizened chariot; he bade me go through the darkness of the
flying night, get close to the enemy, and find out whether the ships
are still guarded as heretofore, or whether, now that we have beaten
them, the Achaeans design to fly, and through sheer exhaustion are
neglecting to keep their watches.”
Ulysses smiled at him and answered, “You had indeed set your heart
upon a great reward, but the horses of the descendant of Aeacus are
hardly to be kept in hand or driven by any other mortal man than
Achilles himself, whose mother was an immortal. But tell me, and
tell me true, where did you leave Hector when you started? Where
lies his armour and his horses? How, too, are the watches and
sleeping-ground of the Trojans ordered? What are their plans? Will
they stay here by the ships and away from the city, or now that they
have worsted the Achaeans, will they retire within their walls?”
And Dolon answered, “I will tell you truly all. Hector and the other
councillors are now holding conference by the monument of great
Ilus, away from the general tumult; as for the guards about which
you ask me, there is no chosen watch to keep guard over the host.
The Trojans have their watchfires, for they are bound to have them;
they, therefore, are awake and keep each other to their duty as
sentinels; but the allies who have come from other places are asleep
and leave it to the Trojans to keep guard, for their wives and
children are not here.”
Ulysses then said, “Now tell me; are they sleeping among the
Trojan troops, or do they lie apart? Explain this that I may
understand it.”
“I will tell you truly all,” replied Dolon. “To the seaward lie
the Carians, the Paeonian bowmen, the Leleges, the Cauconians, and the
noble Pelasgi. The Lysians and proud Mysians, with the Phrygians and
Meonians, have their place on the side towards Thymbra; but why ask
about an this? If you want to find your way into the host of the
Trojans, there are the Thracians, who have lately come here and lie
apart from the others at the far end of the camp; and they have Rhesus
son of Eioneus for their king. His horses are the finest and strongest
that I have ever seen, they are whiter than snow and fleeter than
any wind that blows. His chariot is bedight with silver and gold,
and he has brought his marvellous golden armour, of the rarest
workmanship- too splendid for any mortal man to carry, and meet only
for the gods. Now, therefore, take me to the ships or bind me securely
here, until you come back and have proved my words whether they be
false or true.”
Diomed looked sternly at him and answered, “Think not, Dolon, for
all the good information you have given us, that you shall escape
now you are in our hands, for if we ransom you or let you go, you will
come some second time to the ships of the Achaeans either as a spy
or as an open enemy, but if I kill you and an end of you, you will
give no more trouble.”
On this Dolon would have caught him by the beard to beseech him
further, but Diomed struck him in the middle of his neck with his
sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the
dust while he was yet speaking. They took the ferret-skin cap from his
head, and also the wolf-skin, the bow, and his long spear. Ulysses
hung them up aloft in honour of Minerva the goddess of plunder, and
prayed saying, “Accept these, goddess, for we give them to you in
preference to all the gods in Olympus: therefore speed us still
further towards the horses and sleeping-ground of the Thracians.”
With these words he took the spoils and set them upon a tamarisk
tree, and they marked the place by pulling up reeds and gathering
boughs of tamarisk that they might not miss it as they came back
through the’ flying hours of darkness. The two then went onwards
amid the fallen armour and the blood, and came presently to the
company of Thracian soldiers, who were sleeping, tired out with
their day’s toil; their goodly armour was lying on the ground beside
them all orderly in three rows, and each man had his yoke of horses
beside him. Rhesus was sleeping in the middle, and hard by him his
horses were made fast to the topmost rim of his chariot. Ulysses
from some way off saw him and said, “This, Diomed, is the man, and
these are the horses about which Dolon whom we killed told us. Do your
very utmost; dally not about your armour, but loose the horses at
once- or else kill the men yourself, while I see to the horses.”
Thereon Minerva put courage into the heart of Diomed, and he smote
them right and left. They made a hideous groaning as they were being
hacked about, and the earth was red with their blood. As a lion
springs furiously upon a flock of sheep or goats when he finds without
their shepherd, so did the son of Tydeus set upon the Thracian
soldiers till he had killed twelve. As he killed them Ulysses came and
drew them aside by their feet one by one, that the horses might go
forward freely without being frightened as they passed over the dead
bodies, for they were not yet used to them. When the son of Tydeus
came to the king, he killed him too (which made thirteen), as he was
breathing hard, for by the counsel of Minerva an evil dream, the
seed of Oeneus, hovered that night over his head. Meanwhile Ulysses
untied the horses, made them fast one to another and drove them off,
striking them with his bow, for he had forgotten to take the whip from
the chariot. Then he whistled as a sign to Diomed.
But Diomed stayed where he was, thinking what other daring deed he
might accomplish. He was doubting whether to take the chariot in which
the king’s armour was lying, and draw it out by the pole, or to lift
the armour out and carry it off; or whether again, he should not
kill some more Thracians. While he was thus hesitating Minerva came up
to him and said, “Get back, Diomed, to the ships or you may be
driven thither, should some other god rouse the Trojans.”
Diomed knew that it was the goddess, and at once sprang upon the
horses. Ulysses beat them with his bow and they flew onward to the
ships of the Achaeans.
But Apollo kept no blind look-out when he saw Minerva with the son
of Tydeus. He was angry with her, and coming to the host of the
Trojans he roused Hippocoon, a counsellor of the Thracians and a noble
kinsman of Rhesus. He started up out of his sleep and saw that the
horses were no longer in their place, and that the men were gasping in
their death-agony; on this he groaned aloud, and called upon his
friend by name. Then the whole Trojan camp was in an uproar as the
people kept hurrying together, and they marvelled at the deeds of
the heroes who had now got away towards the ships.
When they reached the place where they had killed Hector’s scout,
Ulysses stayed his horses, and the son of Tydeus, leaping to the
ground, placed the blood-stained spoils in the hands of Ulysses and
remounted: then he lashed the horses onwards, and they flew forward
nothing loth towards the ships as though of their own free will.
Nestor was first to hear the tramp of their feet. “My friends,” said
he, “princes and counsellors of the Argives, shall I guess right or
wrong?- but I must say what I think: there is a sound in my ears as of
the tramp of horses. I hope it may Diomed and Ulysses driving in
horses from the Trojans, but I much fear that the bravest of the
Argives may have come to some harm at their hands.”
He had hardly done speaking when the two men came in and dismounted,
whereon the others shook hands right gladly with them and
congratulated them. Nestor knight of Gerene was first to question
them. “Tell me,” said he, “renowned Ulysses, how did you two come by
these horses? Did you steal in among the Trojan forces, or did some
god meet you and give them to you? They are like sunbeams. I am well
conversant with the Trojans, for old warrior though I am I never
hold back by the ships, but I never yet saw or heard of such horses as
these are. Surely some god must have met you and given them to you,
for you are both of dear to Jove, and to Jove’s daughter Minerva.”
And Ulysses answered, “Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean
name, heaven, if it so will, can give us even better horses than
these, for the gods are far mightier than we are. These horses,
however, about which you ask me, are freshly come from Thrace.
Diomed killed their king with the twelve bravest of his companions.
Hard by the ships we took a thirteenth man- a scout whom Hector and
the other Trojans had sent as a spy upon our ships.”
He laughed as he spoke and drove the horses over the ditch, while
the other Achaeans followed him gladly. When they reached the strongly
built quarters of the son of Tydeus, they tied the horses with
thongs of leather to the manger, where the steeds of Diomed stood
eating their sweet corn, but Ulysses hung the blood-stained spoils
of Dolon at the stern of his ship, that they might prepare a sacred
offering to Minerva. As for themselves, they went into the sea and
washed the sweat from their bodies, and from their necks and thighs.
When the sea-water had taken all the sweat from off them, and had
refreshed them, they went into the baths and washed themselves.
After they had so done and had anointed themselves with oil, they
sat down to table, and drawing from a full mixing-bowl, made a
drink-offering of wine to Minerva.