Iliad

Homer

Homer, creator; Murray, A. T. (Augustus Taber), 1866-1940, translator

And the son of Atreus, Menelaus, dear to Ares, failed not to mark that Patroclus had been slain in battle by the Trojans, but fared amid the foremost fighters, harnessed in flaming bronze, and bestrode the dead, as over a calf standeth lowing plaintively its mother, that hath brought forthher first-born, ere then knowing naught of motherhood; even so over Patroclus strode fair-haired Menelaus, and before him he held his spear and his shield that was well-balanced upon every side, eager to slay the man who should come to seize the corpse. Then was Panthous' son, of the good spear of ash, not unheedfulof the falling of peerless Patroclus, but he took his stand hard by him, and spake to Menelaus, dear to Ares:

Menelaus, son of Atreus, fostered of Zeus, thou leader of hosts, give back, and leave the corpse, and let be the bloody spoils; for before me no man of the Trojans and their famed allies smotePatroclus with the spear in the fierce conflict; wherefore suffer thou me to win goodly renown among the Trojans, lest I cast and smite thee, and rob thee of honey-sweet life.
Then, his heart mightily stirred, fair-haired Menelaus spake unto him:
O father Zeus, no good thing is it to boast overweeningly.Verily neither is the spirit of pard so high, nor of lion, nor of wild boar, of baneful mind, in whose breast the greatest fury exulteth exceedingly in might, as is the spirit of Panthous' sons, of the good spear of ash. Nay, but in sooth even the mighty Hyperenor, tamer of horses,had no profit of his youth, when he made light of me and abode my coming, and deemed that among the Danaans I was the meanest warrior; not on his own feet, I ween, did he fare home to make glad his dear wife and his worthy parents. Even so, meseems, shall I loose thy might as well,if thou stand to face me; nay, of myself I bid thee get thee back into the throng, and stand not forth to face me, ere yet some evil befall thee; when it is wrought even a fool getteth understanding.
So spake he, yet persuaded not the other, but he answered, saying:
Now in good sooth, Menelaus, nurtured of Zeus,shalt thou verily pay the price for my brother whom thou slewest, and over whom thou speakest vauntingly; and thou madest his wife a widow in her new-built bridal chamber, and broughtest grief unspeakable and sorrow upon his parents. Verily for them in their misery should I prove an assuaging of grief, if I but bring thy head and thy armourand lay them in the hands of Panthous and queenly Phrontis. Howbeit not for long shall the struggle be untried or unfought, be it for victory or for flight.

So saying, he smote upon his shield that was well-balanced upon every side; howbeit the bronze brake not through,but its point was bent back in the stout shield. Then in turn did Atreus' son, Menelaus, rush upon him with his spear, and made prayer to father Zeus; and as he gave back, stabbed him at the base of the throat, and put his weight into the thrust, trusting in his heavy hand; and clean out through the tender neck passed the point.And he fell with a thud, and upon him his armour clanged. In blood was his hair drenched, that was like the hair of the Graces, and his tresses that were braided with gold and silver. And as a man reareth a lusty sapling of an olive in a lonely place, where water welleth up abundantly—a goodly sapling and a fair-growing; and the blasts of all the winds make it to quiver, and it burgeoneth out with white blossoms; but suddenly cometh the wind with a mighty tempest, and teareth it out of its trench, and layeth it low upon the earth; even in such wise didMenelaus, son of Atreus, slay Panthous' son, Euphorbus of the good ashen spear, and set him to spoil him of his armour. And as when a mountain-nurtured lion, trusting in his might, hath seized from amid a grazing herd the heifer that is goodliest: her neck he seizeth first in his strong jaws, and breaketh it, and thereafter devoureth the blood and all the inward parts in his fury;and round about him hounds and herds-men folk clamour loudly from afar, but have no will to come against him, for pale fear taketh hold on them; even so dared not the heart in the breast of any Trojan go to face glorious Menelaus.Full easily then would Atreus' son have borne off the glorious armour of the son of Panthous, but that Phoebus Apollo begrudged it him, and in the likeness of a man, even of Mentes, leader of the Cicones, aroused against him Hector, the peer of swift Ares. And he spake and addressed him in winged words:

Hector, now art thou hasting thus vainly after what thou mayest not attain, even the horses of the wise-hearted son of Aeacus; but hard are they for mortal men to master or to drive, save only for Achilles, whom an immortal mother bare. Meanwhile hath warlike Menelaus, son of Atreus,bestridden Patroclus, and slain the best man of the Trojans, even Panthous' son, Euphorbus, and hath made him cease from his furious valour.

So spake he, and went back again, a god into the toil of men. But the soul of Hector was darkly clouded with dread sorrow, and he glanced then along the lines, and forthwith was ware of the onestripping off the glorious arms, and of the other lying on the ground; and the blood was flowing down from the stricken wound. Then strode he forth amid the foremost fighters, harnessed in flaming bronze, crying a shrill cry, in fashion like unto the flame of Hephaestus that none may quench. Nor was his shrill cry unheard of the son of Atreus,but sore troubled he spake to his own great-hearted spirit:

Ah, woe is me! If I leave behind the goodly arms, and Patroclus, that here lieth low for that he would get me recompense, I fear lest many a Danaan wax wroth against me, whosoever beholdeth it. But if for very shame I, that am alone, do battle with Hector and the Trojans,I fear lest haply they beset me round about, many against one; for all the Trojans is Hector of the flashing helm leading hitherward. But why doth my heart thus hold converse with me? Whenso a warrior is minded against the will of heaven to fight with another whom a god honoureth, forthwith then upon him rolleth mighty woe.Therefore shall no man of the Danaans wax wroth against me, whoso shall mark me giving ground before Hector, seeing he fighteth with the help of heaven. But if I might anywhere find Aias, good at the war-cry, then might we twain turn back and bethink us of fight, even were it against the will of heaven, in hope to save the deadfor Achilles, Peleus' son: of ills that were the best.