Iliad

Homer

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

And the cry of battle was not unmarked of Nestor, albeit at his wine, but he spake winged words to the son of Asclepius:

Bethink thee, goodly Machaon, how these things are to be; louder in sooth by the ships waxes the cry of lusty youths.Howbeit do thou now sit where thou art and quaff the flaming wine, until fair-tressed Hecamede shall heat for thee a warm bath, and wash from thee the clotted blood, but I will go straightway to a place of outlook and see what is toward.
So spake he and took the well-wrought shield of his son,horse-taming Thrasymedes, that was lying in the hut, all gleaming with bronze; but the son had the shield of his father. And he grasped a valorous spear, tipped with sharp bronze, and took his stand outside the hut, and forthwith saw a deed of shame, even the Achaeans in rout and the Trojans high of heart driving them;and the wall of the Achaeans was broken down. And as when the great sea heaveth darkly with a soundless swell, and forebodeth the swift paths of the shrill winds, albeit but vaguely, nor do its waves roll forward to this side or to that until some settled gale cometh down from Zeus;even so the old man pondered, his mind divided this way and that, whether he should haste into the throng of the Danaans of swift steeds, or go after Agamemnon, son of Atreus, shepherd of the host. And as he pondered, this thing seemed to him the better—to go after the son of Atreus. But the others meanwhile were fighting on and slaying one another,and about their bodies rang the stubborn bronze, as they thrust one at the other with swords and two-edged spears.

And Nestor was met by the kings, fostered of Zeus, as they went up from the ships, even all they that had been smitten with the bronze, the son of Tydeus, and Odysseus, and Atreus' son, Agamemnon.Far apart from the battle were their ships drawn up on the shore of the grey sea; for these had they drawn up to land in the foremost row, but had builded the wall close to the hindmost.[*](69.1) For albeit the beach was wide, yet might it in no wise hold all the ships, and the host was straitened;wherefore they had drawn up the ships row behind row, and had filled up the wide mouth of all the shore that the headlands shut in between them. The kings therefore were faring all in one body, leaning each on his spear, to look upon the war and the combat, and grieved were the hearts in their breasts.And old Nestor met them, and made the spirit to quail in the breasts of the Achaeans. Then lord Agamemnon lifted up his voice and spake to him:

O Nestor, son of Neleus, great glory of the Achaeans, wherefore hast thou left the war, the bane of men, and come hither? I fear me lest in sooth mighty Hector make good his word and the threats wherewith on a time he threatened us,as he spake amid the Trojans, even that he would not return to Ilios from the ships till he had burned the ships with fire and furthermore slain the men. On this wise spake he, and now all this is verily being brought to pass. Out upon it! surely the other well-greaved Achaeansare laying up wrath against me in their hearts, even as doth Achilles, and have no mind to fight by the sterns of the ships.
Then made answer to him the horseman Nestor of Gerenia:
Yea, verily, these things have now been brought to pass and are here at hand, neither could Zeus himself, that thundereth on high, fashion them otherwise.For, lo, the wall has been thrown down, wherein we put our trust that it should be an unbreakable bulwark for our ships and ourselves. And the foemen at the swift ships maintain a ceaseless fight, and make no end; nor couldst thou any more tell, wert thou to look never so closely, from what side the Achaeans are driven in rout,so confusedly are they slain, and the cry of battle goeth up to heaven. But for us, let us take thought how these things are to be, if so be wit may aught avail. But into the war I bid not that we should enter; in no wise may a wounded man do battle.

Then again made answer the king of men, Agamemnon:

Nestor, seeing they are fighting at the sterns of the ships, and the well-built wall hath availed not, nor in any wise the trench, whereat the Danaans laboured sore, and hoped in their hearts that it would be an unbreakable bulwark for their ships and for themselves—even so, I ween, must it be the good pleasure of Zeus, supreme in might,that the Achaeans should perish here far from Argos, and have no name. I knew it when with a ready heart he was aiding the Danaans, and I know it now when he is giving glory to our foes, even as to the blessed gods, and hath bound our might and our hands. Nay, come, even as I shall bid, let us all obey.Let us drag down the ships that are drawn up in the first line hard by the sea, and let us draw them all forth into the bright sea, and moor them afloat with anchor-stones, till immortal night shall come, if so be that even at her bidding the Trojans will refrain from war; and thereafter might we drag down all the ships.For in sooth I count it not shame to flee from ruin, nay, not though it be by night. Better it is if one fleeth from ruin and escapeth, than if he be taken.
Then with an angry glance from beneath his brows Odysseus of many wiles addressed him:
Son of Atreus, what a word hath escaped the barrier of thy teeth! Doomed man that thou art, would that thou wert in command of some other, inglorious army,and not king over us, to whom Zeus hath given, from youth right up to age, to wind the skein of grievous wars till we perish, every man of us. Art thou in truth thus eager to leave behind thee the broad-wayed city of the Trojans, for the sake of which we endure many grievous woes?Be silent, lest some other of the Achaeans hear this word, that no man should in any wise suffer to pass through his mouth at all, no man who hath understanding in his heart to utter things that are right, and who is a sceptred king to whom hosts so many yield obedience as are the Argives among whom thou art lord.But now have I altogether scorn of thy wits, that thou speakest thus, seeing thou biddest us, when war and battle are afoot, draw down our well-benched ships to the sea, that so even more than before the Trojans may have their desire, they that be victors even now, and that on us utter destruction may fall. For the Achaeanswill not maintain their fight once the ships are drawn down to the sea, but will ever be looking away, and will withdraw them from battle. Then will thy counsel prove our bane, thou leader of hosts.

To him then made answer, Agamemnon, king of men:

Odysseus, in good sooth thou hast stung my heart with harsh reproof;yet I urge not that against their will the sons of the Achaeans should drag the well-benched ships down to the sea. But now I would there were one who might utter counsel better than this of mine, be he young man or old; right welcome were it unto me.
Then among them spake also Diomedes, good at the war-cry:
Near by is that man; not long shall we seek him, if so be ye are minded to give ear, and be no wise vexed and wroth, each one of you, for that in years I am the youngest among you. Nay, but of a goodly father do I too declare that I am come by lineage, even of Tydeus, whom in Thebe the heaped-up earth covereth.For to Portheus were born three peerless sons, and they dwelt in Pleuron and steep Calydon, even Agrius and Melas, and the third was the horseman Oeneus, that was father to my father, and in valour was pre-eminent among them. He verily abode there, but my father went wandering to Argos, and there was settled,for so I ween was the will of Zeus and the other gods. And he wedded one of the daughters of Adrastus, and dwelt in a house rich in substance, and abundance was his of wheat-bearing fields, and many orchards of trees round about, and withal many sheep; and with his spear he excelled all the Argives.Of these things it must be that ye have heard, whether I speak sooth. Wherefore ye shall not say that by lineage I am a coward and a weakling, and so despise my spoken counsel, whatsoever I may speak aright. Come, let us go down to the battle, wounded though we be, since needs we must. Thereafter will we hold ourselves aloof from the fight,beyond the range of missiles, lest haply any take wound on wound; but the others will we spur on and send into battle, even them that hitherto have done pleasure to their resentment, and that stand aloof and fight not.
So spake he, and they readily hearkened to him and obeyed. So they set out to go, and the king of men, Agamemnon, led them. And no blind watch did the famed Shaker of Earth keep, but went with them in likeness of an old man, and he laid hold of the right hand of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, and spake, and addressed him with winged words:
Son of Atreus, now in sooth, methinks, doth the baneful heart of Achillesrejoice within his breast, as he beholdeth the slaughter and rout of the Achaeans, seeing he hath no understanding, no, not a whit. Nay, even so may he perish, and a god bring him low. But with thee are the blessed gods in no wise utterly wroth; nay, even yet, I ween, shall the leaders and rulers of the Trojansraise the dust of the wide plain, and thyself behold them fleeing to the city from the ships and huts.
So saying, he shouted mightily, as he sped over the plain. Loud as nine thousand warriors, or ten thousand, cry in battle when they join in the strife of the War-god,even so mighty a shout did the lord, the Shaker of Earth, send forth from his breast. and in the heart of each man of the Achaeans he put great strength, to war and fight unceasingly.

Now Hera of the golden throne, standing on a peak of Olympus, therefrom had sight of him, and forthwith knew himas he went busily about in the battle where men win glory, her own brother and her lord's withal; and she was glad at heart. And Zeus she marked seated on the topmost peak of many-fountained Ida, and hateful was he to her heart. Then she took thought, the ox-eyed, queenly Hera,how she might beguile the mind of Zeus that beareth the aegis. And this plan seemed to her mind the best—to go to Ida, when she had beauteously adorned her person, if so be he might desire to lie by her side and embrace her body in love, and she might shed a warm and gentle sleepupon his eyelids and his cunning mind. So she went her way to her chamber, that her dear son Hephaestus had fashioned for her, and had fitted strong doors to the door-posts with a secret bolt, that no other god might open. Therein she entered, and closed the bright doors.With ambrosia first did she cleanse from her lovely body every stain, and anointed her richly with oil, ambrosial, soft, and of rich fragrance; were this but shaken in the palace of Zeus with threshold of bronze, even so would the savour thereof reach unto earth and heaven.Therewith she annointed her lovely body, and she combed her hair, and with her hands pIaited the bright tresses, fair and ambrosial, that streamed from her immortal head. Then she clothed her about in a robe ambrosial, which Athene had wrought for her with cunning skill, and had set thereon broideries full many;and she pinned it upon her breast with brooches of gold, and she girt about her a girdle set with an hundred tassels, and in her pierced ears she put ear-rings with three clustering[*](81.1) drops; and abundant grace shone therefrom. And with a veil over all did the bright goddessveil herself, a fair veil, all glistering, and white was it as the sun; and beneath her shining feet she bound her fair sandals. But when she had decked her body with all adornment, she went forth from her chamber, and calling to her Aphrodite, apart from the other gods, she spake to her, saying:

Wilt thou now hearken to me, dear child, in what I shall say? or wilt thou refuse me, being angered at heart for that I give aid to the Danaans and thou to the Trojans?