Homer poems

Homer(Disputed - c 850 B.C.E. / Disputed)
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The Iliad: Book 14

- by Homer 34

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

Translated by Samuel Butler

The Iliad: Book 17

- by Homer 34

Brave Menelaus son of Atreus now came to know that Patroclus had
fallen, and made his way through the front ranks clad in full armour
to bestride him. As a cow stands lowing over her first calf, even so
did yellow-haired Menelaus bestride Patroclus. He held his round
shield and his spear in front of him, resolute to kill any who
should dare face him. But the son of Panthous had also noted the body,
and came up to Menelaus saying, "Menelaus, son of Atreus, draw back,
leave the body, and let the bloodstained spoils be. I was first of the
Trojans and their brave allies to drive my spear into Patroclus, let
me, therefore, have my full glory among the Trojans, or I will take
aim and kill you."
To this Menelaus answered in great anger "By father Jove, boasting
is an ill thing. The pard is not more bold, nor the lion nor savage
wild-boar, which is fiercest and most dauntless of all creatures, than
are the proud sons of Panthous. Yet Hyperenor did not see out the days
of his youth when he made light of me and withstood me, deeming me the
meanest soldier among the Danaans. His own feet never bore him back to
gladden his wife and parents. Even so shall I make an end of you
too, if you withstand me; get you back into the crowd and do not
face me, or it shall be worse for you. Even a fool may be wise after
the event."
Euphorbus would not listen, and said, "Now indeed, Menelaus, shall
you pay for the death of my brother over whom you vaunted, and whose
wife you widowed in her bridal chamber, while you brought grief
unspeakable on his parents. I shall comfort these poor people if I
bring your head and armour and place them in the hands of Panthous and
noble Phrontis. The time is come when this matter shall be fought
out and settled, for me or against me."
As he spoke he struck Menelaus full on the shield, but the spear did
not go through, for the shield turned its point. Menelaus then took
aim, praying to father Jove as he did so; Euphorbus was drawing
back, and Menelaus struck him about the roots of his throat, leaning
his whole weight on the spear, so as to drive it home. The point
went clean through his neck, and his armour rang rattling round him as
he fell heavily to the ground. His hair which was like that of the
Graces, and his locks so deftly bound in bands of silver and gold,
were all bedrabbled with blood. As one who has grown a fine young
olive tree in a clear space where there is abundance of water- the
plant is full of promise, and though the winds beat upon it from every
quarter it puts forth its white blossoms till the blasts of some
fierce hurricane sweep down upon it and level it with the ground- even
so did Menelaus strip the fair youth Euphorbus of his armour after
he had slain him. Or as some fierce lion upon the mountains in the
pride of his strength fastens on the finest heifer in a herd as it
is feeding- first he breaks her neck with his strong jaws, and then
gorges on her blood and entrails; dogs and shepherds raise a hue and
cry against him, but they stand aloof and will not come close to
him, for they are pale with fear- even so no one had the courage to
face valiant Menelaus. The son of Atreus would have then carried off
the armour of the son of Panthous with ease, had not Phoebus Apollo
been angry, and in the guise of Mentes chief of the Cicons incited
Hector to attack him. "Hector," said he, "you are now going after
the horses of the noble son of Aeacus, but you will not take them;
they cannot be kept in hand and driven by mortal man, save only by
Achilles, who is son to an immortal mother. Meanwhile Menelaus son
of Atreus has bestridden the body of Patroclus and killed the
noblest of the Trojans, Euphorbus son of Panthous, so that he can
fight no more."
The god then went back into the toil and turmoil, but the soul of
Hector was darkened with a cloud of grief; he looked along the ranks
and saw Euphorbus lying on the ground with the blood still flowing
from his wound, and Menelaus stripping him of his armour. On this he
made his way to the front like a flame of fire, clad in his gleaming
armour, and crying with a loud voice. When the son of Atreus heard
him, he said to himself in his dismay, "Alas! what shall I do? I may
not let the Trojans take the armour of Patroclus who has fallen
fighting on my behalf, lest some Danaan who sees me should cry shame
upon me. Still if for my honour's sake I fight Hector and the
Trojans single-handed, they will prove too many for me, for Hector
is bringing them up in force. Why, however, should I thus hesitate?
When a man fights in despite of heaven with one whom a god
befriends, he will soon rue it. Let no Danaan think ill of me if I
give place to Hector, for the hand of heaven is with him. Yet, if I
could find Ajax, the two of us would fight Hector and heaven too, if
we might only save the body of Patroclus for Achilles son of Peleus.
This, of many evils would be the least."
While he was thus in two minds, the Trojans came up to him with
Hector at their head; he therefore drew back and left the body,
turning about like some bearded lion who is being chased by dogs and
men from a stockyard with spears and hue and cry, whereon he is
daunted and slinks sulkily off- even so did Menelaus son of Atreus
turn and leave the body of Patroclus. When among the body of his
men, he looked around for mighty Ajax son of Telamon, and presently
saw him on the extreme left of the fight, cheering on his men and
exhorting them to keep on fighting, for Phoebus Apollo had spread a
great panic among them. He ran up to him and said, "Ajax, my good
friend, come with me at once to dead Patroclus, if so be that we may
take the body to Achilles- as for his armour, Hector already has it."
These words stirred the heart of Ajax, and he made his way among the
front ranks, Menelaus going with him. Hector had stripped Patroclus of
his armour, and was dragging him away to cut off his head and take the
body to fling before the dogs of Troy. But Ajax came up with his
shield like wall before him, on which Hector withdrew under shelter of
his men, and sprang on to his chariot, giving the armour over to the
Trojans to take to the city, as a great trophy for himself; Ajax,
therefore, covered the body of Patroclus with his broad shield and
bestrode him; as a lion stands over his whelps if hunters have come
upon him in a forest when he is with his little ones- in the pride and
fierceness of his strength he draws his knit brows down till they
cover his eyes- even so did Ajax bestride the body of Patroclus, and
by his side stood Menelaus son of Atreus, nursing great sorrow in
his heart.
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus looked fiercely at Hector and
rebuked him sternly. "Hector," said he, "you make a brave show, but in
fight you are sadly wanting. A runaway like yourself has no claim to
so great a reputation. Think how you may now save your town and
citadel by the hands of your own people born in Ilius; for you will
get no Lycians to fight for you, seeing what thanks they have had
for their incessant hardships. Are you likely, sir, to do anything
to help a man of less note, after leaving Sarpedon, who was at once
your guest and comrade in arms, to be the spoil and prey of the
Danaans? So long as he lived he did good service both to your city and
yourself; yet you had no stomach to save his body from the dogs. If
the Lycians will listen to me, they will go home and leave Troy to its
fate. If the Trojans had any of that daring fearless spirit which lays
hold of men who are fighting for their country and harassing those who
would attack it, we should soon bear off Patroclus into Ilius. Could
we get this dead man away and bring him into the city of Priam, the
Argives would readily give up the armour of Sarpedon, and we should
get his body to boot. For he whose squire has been now killed is the
foremost man at the ships of the Achaeans- he and his close-fighting
followers. Nevertheless you dared not make a stand against Ajax, nor
face him, eye to eye, with battle all round you, for he is a braver
man than you are."
Hector scowled at him and answered, "Glaucus, you should know
better. I have held you so far as a man of more understanding than any
in all Lycia, but now I despise you for saying that I am afraid of
Ajax. I fear neither battle nor the din of chariots, but Jove's will
is stronger than ours; Jove at one time makes even a strong man draw
back and snatches victory from his grasp, while at another he will set
him on to fight. Come hither then, my friend, stand by me and see
indeed whether I shall play the coward the whole day through as you
say, or whether I shall not stay some even of the boldest Danaans from
fighting round the body of Patroclus."
As he spoke he called loudly on the Trojans saying, "Trojans,
Lycians, and Dardanians, fighters in close combat, be men, my friends,
and fight might and main, while I put on the goodly armour of
Achilles, which I took when I killed Patroclus."
With this Hector left the fight, and ran full speed after his men
who were taking the armour of Achilles to Troy, but had not yet got
far. Standing for a while apart from the woeful fight, he changed
his armour. His own he sent to the strong city of Ilius and to the
Trojans, while he put on the immortal armour of the son of Peleus,
which the gods had given to Peleus, who in his age gave it to his son;
but the son did not grow old in his father's armour.
When Jove, lord of the storm-cloud, saw Hector standing aloof and
arming himself in the armour of the son of Peleus, he wagged his
head and muttered to himself saying, "A! poor wretch, you arm in the
armour of a hero, before whom many another trembles, and you reck
nothing of the doom that is already close upon you. You have killed
his comrade so brave and strong, but it was not well that you should
strip the armour from his head and shoulders. I do indeed endow you
with great might now, but as against this you shall not return from
battle to lay the armour of the son of Peleus before Andromache."
The son of Saturn bowed his portentous brows, and Hector fitted
the armour to his body, while terrible Mars entered into him, and
filled his whole body with might and valour. With a shout he strode in
among the allies, and his armour flashed about him so that he seemed
to all of them like the great son of Peleus himself. He went about
among them and cheered them on- Mesthles, Glaucus, Medon,
Thersilochus, Asteropaeus, Deisenor and Hippothous, Phorcys,
Chromius and Ennomus the augur. All these did he exhort saying,
"Hear me, allies from other cities who are here in your thousands,
it was not in order to have a crowd about me that I called you
hither each from his several city, but that with heart and soul you
might defend the wives and little ones of the Trojans from the
fierce Achaeans. For this do I oppress my people with your food and
the presents that make you rich. Therefore turn, and charge at the
foe, to stand or fall as is the game of war; whoever shall bring
Patroclus, dead though he be, into the hands of the Trojans, and shall
make Ajax give way before him, I will give him one half of the
spoils while I keep the other. He will thus share like honour with
myself."
When he had thus spoken they charged full weight upon the Danaans
with their spears held out before them, and the hopes of each ran high
that he should force Ajax son of Telamon to yield up the body- fools
that they were, for he was about to take the lives of many. Then
Ajax said to Menelaus, "My good friend Menelaus, you and I shall
hardly come out of this fight alive. I am less concerned for the
body of Patroclus, who will shortly become meat for the dogs and
vultures of Troy, than for the safety of my own head and yours. Hector
has wrapped us round in a storm of battle from every quarter, and
our destruction seems now certain. Call then upon the princes of the
Danaans if there is any who can hear us."
Menelaus did as he said, and shouted to the Danaans for help at
the top of his voice. "My friends," he cried, "princes and counsellors
of the Argives, all you who with Agamemnon and Menelaus drink at the
public cost, and give orders each to his own people as Jove vouchsafes
him power and glory, the fight is so thick about me that I cannot
distinguish you severally; come on, therefore, every man unbidden, and
think it shame that Patroclus should become meat and morsel for Trojan
hounds."
Fleet Ajax son of Oileus heard him and was first to force his way
through the fight and run to help him. Next came Idomeneus and
Meriones his esquire, peer of murderous Mars. As for the others that
came into the fight after these, who of his own self could name them?
The Trojans with Hector at their head charged in a body. As a
great wave that comes thundering in at the mouth of some heaven-born
river, and the rocks that jut into the sea ring with the roar of the
breakers that beat and buffet them- even with such a roar did the
Trojans come on; but the Achaeans in singleness of heart stood firm
about the son of Menoetius, and fenced him with their bronze
shields. Jove, moreover, hid the brightness of their helmets in a
thick cloud, for he had borne no grudge against the son of Menoetius
while he was still alive and squire to the descendant of Aeacus;
therefore he was loth to let him fall a prey to the dogs of his foes
the Trojans, and urged his comrades on to defend him.
At first the Trojans drove the Achaeans back, and they withdrew from
the dead man daunted. The Trojans did not succeed in killing any
one, nevertheless they drew the body away. But the Achaeans did not
lose it long, for Ajax, foremost of all the Danaans after the son of
Peleus alike in stature and prowess, quickly rallied them and made
towards the front like a wild boar upon the mountains when he stands
at bay in the forest glades and routs the hounds and lusty youths that
have attacked him- even so did Ajax son of Telamon passing easily in
among the phalanxes of the Trojans, disperse those who had
bestridden Patroclus and were most bent on winning glory by dragging
him off to their city. At this moment Hippothous brave son of the
Pelasgian Lethus, in his zeal for Hector and the Trojans, was dragging
the body off by the foot through the press of the fight, having
bound a strap round the sinews near the ancle; but a mischief soon
befell him from which none of those could save him who would have
gladly done so, for the son of Telamon sprang forward and smote him on
his bronze-cheeked helmet. The plumed headpiece broke about the
point of the weapon, struck at once by the spear and by the strong
hand of Ajax, so that the bloody brain came oozing out through the
crest-socket. His strength then failed him and he let Patroclus'
foot drop from his hand, as he fell full length dead upon the body;
thus he died far from the fertile land of Larissa, and never repaid
his parents the cost of bringing him up, for his life was cut short
early by the spear of mighty Ajax. Hector then took aim at Ajax with a
spear, but he saw it coming and just managed to avoid it; the spear
passed on and struck Schedius son of noble Iphitus, captain of the
Phoceans, who dwelt in famed Panopeus and reigned over much people; it
struck him under the middle of the collar-bone the bronze point went
right through him, coming out at the bottom of his shoulder-blade, and
his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.
Ajax in his turn struck noble Phorcys son of Phaenops in the middle of
the belly as he was bestriding Hippothous, and broke the plate of
his cuirass; whereon the spear tore out his entrails and he clutched
the ground in his palm as he fell to earth. Hector and those who
were in the front rank then gave ground, while the Argives raised a
loud cry of triumph, and drew off the bodies of Phorcys and Hippothous
which they stripped presently of their armour.
The Trojans would now have been worsted by the brave Achaeans and
driven back to Ilius through their own cowardice, while the Argives,
so great was their courage and endurance, would have achieved a
triumph even against the will of Jove, if Apollo had not roused
Aeneas, in the likeness of Periphas son of Epytus, an attendant who
had grown old in the service of Aeneas' aged father, and was at all
times devoted to him. In his likeness, then, Apollo said, "Aeneas, can
you not manage, even though heaven be against us, to save high
Ilius? I have known men, whose numbers, courage, and self-reliance
have saved their people in spite of Jove, whereas in this case he
would much rather give victory to us than to the Danaans, if you would
only fight instead of being so terribly afraid."
Aeneas knew Apollo when he looked straight at him, and shouted to
Hector saying, "Hector and all other Trojans and allies, shame on us
if we are beaten by the Achaeans and driven back to Ilius through
our own cowardice. A god has just come up to me and told me that
Jove the supreme disposer will be with us. Therefore let us make for
the Danaans, that it may go hard with them ere they bear away dead
Patroclus to the ships."
As he spoke he sprang out far in front of the others, who then
rallied and again faced the Achaeans. Aeneas speared Leiocritus son of
Arisbas, a valiant follower of Lycomedes, and Lycomedes was moved with
pity as he saw him fall; he therefore went close up, and speared
Apisaon son of Hippasus shepherd of his people in the liver under
the midriff, so that he died; he had come from fertile Paeonia and was
the best man of them all after Asteropaeus. Asteropaeus flew forward
to avenge him and attack the Danaans, but this might no longer be,
inasmuch as those about Patroclus were well covered by their
shields, and held their spears in front of them, for Ajax had given
them strict orders that no man was either to give ground, or to
stand out before the others, but all were to hold well together
about the body and fight hand to hand. Thus did huge Ajax bid them,
and the earth ran red with blood as the corpses fell thick on one
another alike on the side of the Trojans and allies, and on that of
the Danaans; for these last, too, fought no bloodless fight though
many fewer of them perished, through the care they took to defend
and stand by one another.
Thus did they fight as it were a flaming fire; it seemed as though
it had gone hard even with the sun and moon, for they were hidden over
all that part where the bravest heroes were fighting about the dead
son of Menoetius, whereas the other Danaans and Achaeans fought at
their ease in full daylight with brilliant sunshine all round them,
and there was not a cloud to be seen neither on plain nor mountain.
These last moreover would rest for a while and leave off fighting, for
they were some distance apart and beyond the range of one another's
weapons, whereas those who were in the thick of the fray suffered both
from battle and darkness. All the best of them were being worn out
by the great weight of their armour, but the two valiant heroes,
Thrasymedes and Antilochus, had not yet heard of the death of
Patroclus, and believed him to be still alive and leading the van
against the Trojans; they were keeping themselves in reserve against
the death or rout of their own comrades, for so Nestor had ordered
when he sent them from the ships into battle.
Thus through the livelong day did they wage fierce war, and the
sweat of their toil rained ever on their legs under them, and on their
hands and eyes, as they fought over the squire of the fleet son of
Peleus. It was as when a man gives a great ox-hide all drenched in fat
to his men, and bids them stretch it; whereon they stand round it in a
ring and tug till the moisture leaves it, and the fat soaks in for the
many that pull at it, and it is well stretched- even so did the two
sides tug the dead body hither and thither within the compass of but a
little space- the Trojans steadfastly set on drag ing it into Ilius,
while the Achaeans were no less so on taking it to their ships; and
fierce was the fight between them. Not Mars himself the lord of hosts,
nor yet Minerva, even in their fullest fury could make light of such a
battle.
Such fearful turmoil of men and horses did Jove on that day ordain
round the body of Patroclus. Meanwhile Achilles did not know that he
had fallen, for the fight was under the wall of Troy a long way off
the ships. He had no idea, therefore, that Patroclus was dead, and
deemed that he would return alive as soon as he had gone close up to
the gates. He knew that he was not to sack the city neither with nor
without himself, for his mother had often told him this when he had
sat alone with her, and she had informed him of the counsels of
great Jove. Now, however, she had not told him how great a disaster
had befallen him in the death of the one who was far dearest to him of
all his comrades.
The others still kept on charging one another round the body with
their pointed spears and killing each other. Then would one say, "My
friends, we can never again show our faces at the ships- better, and
greatly better, that earth should open and swallow us here in this
place, than that we should let the Trojans have the triumph of bearing
off Patroclus to their city."
The Trojans also on their part spoke to one another saying,
"Friends, though we fall to a man beside this body, let none shrink
from fighting." With such words did they exhort each other. They
fought and fought, and an iron clank rose through the void air to
the brazen vault of heaven. The horses of the descendant of Aeacus
stood out of the fight and wept when they heard that their driver
had been laid low by the hand of murderous Hector. Automedon,
valiant son of Diores, lashed them again and again; many a time did he
speak kindly to them, and many a time did he upbraid them, but they
would neither go back to the ships by the waters of the broad
Hellespont, nor yet into battle among the Achaeans; they stood with
their chariot stock still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some
dead man or woman, and bowed their heads to the ground. Hot tears fell
from their eyes as they mourned the loss of their charioteer, and
their noble manes drooped all wet from under the yokestraps on
either side the yoke.
The son of Saturn saw them and took pity upon their sorrow. He
wagged his head, and muttered to himself, saying, "Poor things, why
did we give you to King Peleus who is a mortal, while you are
yourselves ageless and immortal? Was it that you might share the
sorrows that befall mankind? for of all creatures that live and move
upon the earth there is none so pitiable as he is- still, Hector son
of Priam shall drive neither you nor your chariot. I will not have it.
It is enough that he should have the armour over which he vaunts so
vainly. Furthermore I will give you strength of heart and limb to bear
Automedon safely to the ships from battle, for I shall let the Trojans
triumph still further, and go on killing till they reach the ships;
whereon night shall fall and darkness overshadow the land."
As he spoke he breathed heart and strength into the horses so that
they shook the dust from out of their manes, and bore their chariot
swiftly into the fight that raged between Trojans and Achaeans. Behind
them fought Automedon full of sorrow for his comrade, as a vulture
amid a flock of geese. In and out, and here and there, full speed he
dashed amid the throng of the Trojans, but for all the fury of his
pursuit he killed no man, for he could not wield his spear and keep
his horses in hand when alone in the chariot; at last, however, a
comrade, Alcimedon, son of Laerces son of Haemon caught sight of him
and came up behind his chariot. "Automedon," said he, "what god has
put this folly into your heart and robbed you of your right mind, that
you fight the Trojans in the front rank single-handed? He who was your
comrade is slain, and Hector plumes himself on being armed in the
armour of the descendant of Aeacus."
Automedon son of Diores answered, "Alcimedon, there is no one else
who can control and guide the immortal steeds so well as you can, save
only Patroclus- while he was alive- peer of gods in counsel. Take then
the whip and reins, while I go down from the car and fight.
Alcimedon sprang on to the chariot, and caught up the whip and
reins, while Automedon leaped from off the car. When Hector saw him he
said to Aeneas who was near him, "Aeneas, counsellor of the
mail-clad Trojans, I see the steeds of the fleet son of Aeacus come
into battle with weak hands to drive them. I am sure, if you think
well, that we might take them; they will not dare face us if we both
attack them."
The valiant son of Anchises was of the same mind, and the pair
went right on, with their shoulders covered under shields of tough dry
ox-hide, overlaid with much bronze. Chromius and Aretus went also with
them, and their hearts beat high with hope that they might kill the
men and capture the horses- fools that they were, for they were not to
return scatheless from their meeting with Automedon, who prayed to
father Jove and was forthwith filled with courage and strength
abounding. He turned to his trusty comrade Alcimedon and said,
"Alcimedon, keep your horses so close up that I may feel their
breath upon my back; I doubt that we shall not stay Hector son of
Priam till he has killed us and mounted behind the horses; he will
then either spread panic among the ranks of the Achaeans, or himself
be killed among the foremost."
On this he cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaus, "Ajaxes
captains of the Argives, and Menelaus, give the dead body over to them
that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of us
living; for Hector and Aeneas who are the two best men among the
Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war. Nevertheless
the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will therefore hurl my spear
and leave the rest to Jove."
He poised and hurled as he spoke, whereon the spear struck the round
shield of Aretus, and went right through it for the shield stayed it
not, so that it was driven through his belt into the lower part of his
belly. As when some sturdy youth, axe in hand, deals his blow behind
the horns of an ox and severs the tendons at the back of its neck so
that it springs forward and then drops, even so did Aretus give one
bound and then fall on his back the spear quivering in his body till
it made an end of him. Hector then aimed a spear at Automedon but he
saw it coming and stooped forward to avoid it, so that it flew past
him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on
quivering till Mars robbed it of its force. They would then have
fought hand to hand with swords had not the two Ajaxes forced their
way through the crowd when they heard their comrade calling, and
parted them for all their fury- for Hector, Aeneas, and Chromius
were afraid and drew back, leaving Aretus to lie there struck to the
heart. Automedon, peer of fleet Mars, then stripped him of his
armour and vaunted over him saying, "I have done little to assuage
my sorrow for the son of Menoetius, for the man I have killed is not
so good as he was."
As he spoke he took the blood-stained spoils and laid them upon
his chariot; then he mounted the car with his hands and feet all
steeped in gore as a lion that has been gorging upon a bull.
And now the fierce groanful fight again raged about Patroclus, for
Minerva came down from heaven and roused its fury by the command of
far-seeing Jove, who had changed his mind and sent her to encourage
the Danaans. As when Jove bends his bright bow in heaven in token to
mankind either of war or of the chill storms that stay men from
their labour and plague the flocks- even so, wrapped in such radiant
raiment, did Minerva go in among the host and speak man by man to
each. First she took the form and voice of Phoenix and spoke to
Menelaus son of Atreus, who was standing near her. "Menelaus," said
she, "it will be shame and dishonour to you, if dogs tear the noble
comrade of Achilles under the walls of Troy. Therefore be staunch, and
urge your men to be so also."
Menelaus answered, "Phoenix, my good old friend, may Minerva
vouchsafe me strength and keep the darts from off me, for so shall I
stand by Patroclus and defend him; his death has gone to my heart, but
Hector is as a raging fire and deals his blows without ceasing, for
Jove is now granting him a time of triumph."
Minerva was pleased at his having named herself before any of the
other gods. Therefore she put strength into his knees and shoulders,
and made him as bold as a fly, which, though driven off will yet
come again and bite if it can, so dearly does it love man's blood-
even so bold as this did she make him as he stood over Patroclus and
threw his spear. Now there was among the Trojans a man named Podes,
son of Eetion, who was both rich and valiant. Hector held him in the
highest honour for he was his comrade and boon companion; the spear of
Menelaus struck this man in the girdle just as he had turned in
flight, and went right through him. Whereon he fell heavily forward,
and Menelaus son of Atreus drew off his body from the Trojans into the
ranks of his own people.
Apollo then went up to Hector and spurred him on to fight, in the
likeness of Phaenops son of Asius who lived in Abydos and was the most
favoured of all Hector's guests. In his likeness Apollo said, "Hector,
who of the Achaeans will fear you henceforward now that you have
quailed before Menelaus who has ever been rated poorly as a soldier?
Yet he has now got a corpse away from the Trojans single-handed, and
has slain your own true comrade, a man brave among the foremost, Podes
son of Eetion.
A dark cloud of grief fell upon Hector as he heard, and he made
his way to the front clad in full armour. Thereon the son of Saturn
seized his bright tasselled aegis, and veiled Ida in cloud: he sent
forth his lightnings and his thunders, and as he shook his aegis he
gave victory to the Trojans and routed the Achaeans.
The panic was begun by Peneleos the Boeotian, for while keeping
his face turned ever towards the foe he had been hit with a spear on
the upper part of the shoulder; a spear thrown by Polydamas had grazed
the top of the bone, for Polydamas had come up to him and struck him
from close at hand. Then Hector in close combat struck Leitus son of
noble Alectryon in the hand by the wrist, and disabled him from
fighting further. He looked about him in dismay, knowing that never
again should he wield spear in battle with the Trojans. While Hector
was in pursuit of Leitus, Idomeneus struck him on the breastplate over
his chest near the nipple; but the spear broke in the shaft, and the
Trojans cheered aloud. Hector then aimed at Idomeneus son of Deucalion
as he was standing on his chariot, and very narrowly missed him, but
the spear hit Coiranus, a follower and charioteer of Meriones who
had come with him from Lyctus. Idomeneus had left the ships on foot
and would have afforded a great triumph to the Trojans if Coiranus had
not driven quickly up to him, he therefore brought life and rescue
to Idomeneus, but himself fell by the hand of murderous Hector. For
Hector hit him on the jaw under the ear; the end of the spear drove
out his teeth and cut his tongue in two pieces, so that he fell from
his chariot and let the reins fall to the ground. Meriones gathered
them up from the ground and took them into his own hands, then he said
to Idomeneus, "Lay on, till you get back to the ships, for you must
see that the day is no longer ours."
On this Idomeneus lashed the horses to the ships, for fear had taken
hold upon him.
Ajax and Menelaus noted how Jove had turned the scale in favour of
the Trojans, and Ajax was first to speak. "Alas," said he, "even a
fool may see that father Jove is helping the Trojans. All their
weapons strike home; no matter whether it be a brave man or a coward
that hurls them, Jove speeds all alike, whereas ours fall each one
of them without effect. What, then, will be best both as regards
rescuing the body, and our return to the joy of our friends who will
be grieving as they look hitherwards; for they will make sure that
nothing can now check the terrible hands of Hector, and that he will
fling himself upon our ships. I wish that some one would go and tell
the son of Peleus at once, for I do not think he can have yet heard
the sad news that the dearest of his friends has fallen. But I can see
not a man among the Achaeans to send, for they and their chariots
are alike hidden in darkness. O father Jove, lift this cloud from over
the sons of the Achaeans; make heaven serene, and let us see; if you
will that we perish, let us fall at any rate by daylight."
Father Jove heard him and had compassion upon his tears. Forthwith
he chased away the cloud of darkness, so that the sun shone out and
all the fighting was revealed. Ajax then said to Menelaus, "Look,
Menelaus, and if Antilochus son of Nestor be still living, send him at
once to tell Achilles that by far the dearest to him of all his
comrades has fallen."
Menelaus heeded his words and went his way as a lion from a
stockyard- the lion is tired of attacking the men and hounds, who keep
watch the whole night through and will not let him feast on the fat of
their herd. In his lust of meat he makes straight at them but in vain,
for darts from strong hands assail him, and burning brands which daunt
him for all his hunger, so in the morning he slinks sulkily away- even
so did Menelaus sorely against his will leave Patroclus, in great fear
lest the Achaeans should be driven back in rout and let him fall
into the hands of the foe. He charged Meriones and the two Ajaxes
straitly saying, "Ajaxes and Meriones, leaders of the Argives, now
indeed remember how good Patroclus was; he was ever courteous while
alive, bear it in mind now that he is dead."
With this Menelaus left them, looking round him as keenly as an
eagle, whose sight they say is keener than that of any other bird-
however high he may be in the heavens, not a hare that runs can escape
him by crouching under bush or thicket, for he will swoop down upon it
and make an end of it- even so, O Menelaus, did your keen eyes range
round the mighty host of your followers to see if you could find the
son of Nestor still alive. Presently Menelaus saw him on the extreme
left of the battle cheering on his men and exhorting them to fight
boldly. Menelaus went up to him and said, "Antilochus, come here and
listen to sad news, which I would indeed were untrue. You must see
with your own eyes that heaven is heaping calamity upon the Danaans,
and giving victory to the Trojans. Patroclus has fallen, who was the
bravest of the Achaeans, and sorely will the Danaans miss him. Run
instantly to the ships and tell Achilles, that he may come to rescue
the body and bear it to the ships. As for the armour, Hector already
has it."
Antilochus was struck with horror. For a long time he was
speechless; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no utterance,
but he did as Menelaus had said, and set off running as soon as he had
given his armour to a comrade, Laodocus, who was wheeling his horses
round, close beside him.
Thus, then, did he run weeping from the field, to carry the bad news
to Achilles son of Peleus. Nor were you, O Menelaus, minded to succour
his harassed comrades, when Antilochus had left the Pylians- and
greatly did they miss him- but he sent them noble Thrasymedes, and
himself went back to Patroclus. He came running up to the two Ajaxes
and said, "I have sent Antilochus to the ships to tell Achilles, but
rage against Hector as he may, he cannot come, for he cannot fight
without armour. What then will be our best plan both as regards
rescuing the dead, and our own escape from death amid the battle-cries
of the Trojans?"
Ajax answered, "Menelaus, you have said well: do you, then, and
Meriones stoop down, raise the body, and bear it out of the fray,
while we two behind you keep off Hector and the Trojans, one in
heart as in name, and long used to fighting side by side with one
another."
On this Menelaus and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and
lifted him high aloft with a great effort. The Trojan host raised a
hue and cry behind them when they saw the Achaeans bearing the body
away, and flew after them like hounds attacking a wounded boar at
the loo of a band of young huntsmen. For a while the hounds fly at him
as though they would tear him in pieces, but now and again he turns on
them in a fury, scaring and scattering them in all directions- even so
did the Trojans for a while charge in a body, striking with sword
and with spears pointed ai both the ends, but when the two Ajaxes
faced them and stood at bay, they would turn pale and no man dared
press on to fight further about the dead.
In this wise did the two heroes strain every nerve to bear the
body to the ships out of the fight. The battle raged round them like
fierce flames that when once kindled spread like wildfire over a city,
and the houses fall in the glare of its burning- even such was the
roar and tramp of men and horses that pursued them as they bore
Patroclus from the field. Or as mules that put forth all their
strength to draw some beam or great piece of ship's timber down a
rough mountain-track, and they pant and sweat as they, go even so
did Menelaus and pant and sweat as they bore the body of Patroclus.
Behind them the two Ajaxes held stoutly out. As some wooded
mountain-spur that stretches across a plain will turn water and
check the flow even of a great river, nor is there any stream strong
enough to break through it- even so did the two Ajaxes face the
Trojans and stern the tide of their fighting though they kept
pouring on towards them and foremost among them all was Aeneas son
of Anchises with valiant Hector. As a flock of daws or starlings
fall to screaming and chattering when they see a falcon, foe to i'll
small birds, come soaring near them, even so did the Achaean youth
raise a babel of cries as they fled before Aeneas and Hector,
unmindful of their former prowess. In the rout of the Danaans much
goodly armour fell round about the trench, and of fighting there was
no end.

Translated by Samuel Butler

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Poems by Homer, Homer's poems collection. Homer is a classical and famous poet (Disputed - c 850 B.C.E. / Disputed). Share all poems of Homer.

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