So saying he made for the warrior Cebriones with the rush of a lion that, while he wasteth the farm-stead, hath been smitten on the breast, and his own valour bringeth him to ruin; even so upon Cebriones, O Patroclus, didst thou leap furiously.And Hector over against him leapt from his chariot to the ground. So the twain joined in strife for Cebriones like two lions, that on the peaks of a mountain fight for a slain hind, both of them hungering, both high of heart; even so for Cebriones the two masters of the war-cry,even Patroclus, son of Menoetius, and glorious Hector, were fain each to cleave the other's flesh with the pitiless bronze. Hector, when once he had seized the corpse by the head, would not loose his hold, and Patroclus over against him held fast hold of the foot; and about them the others, Trojans and Danaans, joined in fierce conflict.And as the East Wind and the South strive with one another in shaking a deep wood in the glades of a mountain,—a wood of beech and ash and smooth-barked cornel, and these dash one against the other their long boughs with a wondrous din, and there is a crashing of broken branches;even so the Trojans and Achaeans leapt one upon another and made havoc, nor would either side take thought of ruinous flight. And round about Cebriones many sharp spears were fixed, and many winged arrows that leapt from the bow-string, and many great stones smote against shields, as men fought around him.But he in the whirl of dust lay mighty in his mightiness, forgetful of his horsemanship.
Now as long as the sun bestrode mid-heaven, so long the missiles of either side reached their mark, and the folk kept falling; but when he turned to the time for the unyoking of oxen,then verily beyond their portion the Achaeans proved the better. Forth from out the range of darts they drew the warrior Cebriones from the battle-din of the Trojans, and stripped the armour from his shoulders; and Patroclus with fell intent leapt upon the Trojans. Thrice then leapt he upon them, the peer of swift Ares,crying a terrible cry, and thrice he slew nine men. But when for the fourth time he rushed on, like a god, then for thee, Patroclus, did the end of life appear; for Phoebus met thee in the fierce conflict, an awful god. And Patroclus marked him not as he passed through the turmuoil,for enfolded in thick mist did he meet him; and Apollo took his stand behind him, and smote his back and broad shoulders with the flat of his hand, and his eyes were made to whirl. And from his head Phoebus Apollo smote the helmet, that rang as it rolledbeneath the feet of the horses—the crested helm; and the plumes were befouled with blood and dust. Not until that hour had the gods suffered that helm with plume of horse-hair to be befouled with dust, but ever did it guard the head and comely brow of a godlike man, even of Achilles; but then Zeus vouchsafed it to Hector,to wear upon his head, yet was destruction near at hand for him. And in the hands of Patroclus the far-shadowing spear was wholly broken, the spear, heavy, and huge, and strong, and tipped with bronze; and from his shoulders the tasselled shield with its baldric fell to the ground, and his corselet did Apollo loose—the prince, the son of Zeus.Then blindness seized his mind, and his glorious limbs were loosed beneath him, and he stood in a daze; and from behind him from close at hand a Dardanian smote him upon the back between the shoulders with a cast of his sharp spear, even Panthous' son, Euphorbus, that excelled all men of his years in casting the spear, and in horsemanship, and in speed of foot; and lo, twenty warriors had he already castfrom their cars at his first coming with his chariot to learn his lesson of war. He it was that first hurled his spear at thee, knight Patroclus, yet subdued thee not; but he ran back again and mingled with the throng, when he had drawn forth the ashen spear from the flesh, and he abode notPatroclus, unarmed though he was, in the fray. But Patroclus, overcome by the stroke of the god and by the spear, drew back into the throng of his comrades, avoiding fate.
But Hector, when he beheld great-souled Patroclus drawing back, smitten with the sharp bronze,came nigh him through the ranks, and smote him with a thrust of his spear in the nethermost belly, and drave the bronze clean through; and he fell with a thud, and sorely grieved the host of the Achaeans. And as a lion overmastereth in fight an untiring boar, when the twain fight with high hearts on the peaks of a mountainfor a scant spring, wherefrom both are minded to drink: hard panteth the boar, yet the lion overcometh him by his might; even so from the valiant son of Menoetius, after he had slain many, did Hector, Priam's son, take life away, smiting him from close at hand with his spear. And vaunting over him he spake winged words:
Patroclus, thou thoughtest, I ween, that thou wouldest sack our city, and from the women of Troy wouldest take the day of freedom, and bear them in thy ships to thy dear native land, thou fool. Nay, in front of them the swift horses of Hector stride forth to the fight,and with the spear I myself am pre-eminent among the war-loving Trojans, even I that ward from them the day of doom; but for thee, vultures shall devour thee here. Ah, poor wretch, even Achilles, for all his valour, availed thee not, who, I ween, though himself abiding behind, laid strait command upon thee, as thou wentest forth:Then, thy strength all spent, didst thou answer him, knight Patroclus:Come not back, I charge thee, Patroclus, master of horsemen,to the hollow ships, till thou hast cloven about the breast of man-slaying Hector the tunic red with his blood.So, I ween, spake he to thee, and persuaded thy wits in thy witlessness.
For this time, Hector, boast thou mightily; for to thee haveZeus, the son of Cronos, and Apollo, vouchsafed victory, they that subdued me full easily, for of themselves they took the harness from my shoulders. But if twenty such as thou had faced me, here would all have perished, slain by my spear. Nay, it was baneful Fate and the son of Leto that slew me,and of men Euphorbus, while thou art the third in my slaying. And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart: verily thou shalt not thyself be long in life, but even now doth death stand hard by thee, and mighty fate, that thou be slain beneath the hands of Achilles, the peerless son of Aeacus.Even as he thus spake the end of death enfolded him; and his soul fleeting from his limbs was gone to Hades, bewailing her fate, leaving manliness and youth. And to him even in his death spake glorious Hector:
Patroclus, wherefore dost thou prophesy for me sheer destruction?Who knows but that Achilles, the son of fair-tressed Thetis, may first be smitten by my spear, and lose his life?So saying, he drew forth the spear of bronze from the wound, setting his foot upon the dead, and thrust him backward from the spear. And forthwith he was gone with his spear after Automedon, the god-like squire of the swift-footed son of Aeacus,for he was fain to smite him; but his swift horses bare him away, the immortal horses that the gods gave as glorious gifts to Peleus.