Iliad

Homer

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

First to begin the rout was Peneleos the Boeotian. For as he abode ever facing the foe he was smitten on the surface of the shoulder with a spear, a grazing blow,but the spear-point of Polydamas cut even to the bone,[*](1) for he it was that cast at him from nigh at hand. And Leitus again, the son of great-souled Alectryon, did Hector wound in close fight, on the hand at the wrist, and made him cease from fighting: and casting an anxious glance about him he shrank back, seeing he no more had hope that bearing spear in hand he might do battle with the Trojans.And as Hector pursued after Leitus, Idomeneus smote him upon the corselet, on the breast beside the nipple; but the long spear-shaft was broken in the socket, and the Trojans shouted aloud. And Hector cast at Idomeneus, Deucalion's son, as he stood upon his car, and missed him by but little;howbeit he smote Coeranus the comrade and charioteer of Meriones that followed him from out of well-built Lyctus—for on foot had Idomeneus come at the first from the curved ships, and would have yielded great victory to the Trojans, had not Coeranus speedily driven up the swift-footed horses.Thus to Idomeneus he came as a light of deliverance, and warded from him the pitiless day of doom, but him self lost his life at the hands of man-slaying Hector— this Coeranus did Hector smite beneath the jaw under the ear, and the spear dashed out his teeth by the roots,[*](1) and clave his tongue asunder in the midst; and he fell from out the car, and let fall the reins down upon the ground.And Meriones stooped, and gathered them in his own hands from the earth, and spake to Idomeneus:

Ply now the lash, until thou be come to the swift ships. Lo, even of thyself thou knowest that victory is no more with the Achaeans.
So spake he, and Idomeneus lashed the fair-maned horses backto the hollow ships; for verily fear had fallen upon his soul.

Nor were great-hearted Aias and Menelaus unaware how that Zeus was giving to the Trojans victory to turn the tide of battle; and of them great Telamonian Aias was first to speak, saying:

Out upon it, now may any man, how foolish so ever he be,know that father Zeus himself is succouring the Trojans. For the missiles of all of them strike home, whosoever hurleth them, be he brave man or coward: Zeus in any case guideth them all aright; but for us the shafts of every man fall vainly to the ground. Nay, come, let us of ourselves devise the counsel that is best,whereby we may both hale away the corpse, and ourselves return home for the joy of our dear comrades, who methinks are sore distressed as they look hither-ward, and deem that the fury and the irresistible hands of man-slaying Hector will not be stayed, but will fall upon the black ships.But I would there were some comrade to bear word with all speed to the son of Peleus, for methinks he hath not even heard the woeful tale, that his dear comrade is slain. Howbeit, nowhere can I see such a one among the Achaeans, for in darkness are they all enwrapped, themselves and their horses withal.Father Zeus, deliver thou from the darkness the sons of the Achaeans, and make clear sky, and grant us to see with our eyes. In the light do thou e'en slay us, seeing such is thy good pleasure.
So spake he, and the Father had pity on him as he wept, and forthwith scattered the darkness and drave away the mist,and the sun shone forth upon them and all the battle was made plain to view. Then Aias spake unto Menelaus, good at the war-cry:
Look forth now, Menelaus, nurtured of Zeus, if so be thou mayest have sight of Antilochus yet alive, son of great-souled Nestor, and bestir thou him to go with speed unto Achilles, wise of heart,to tell him that his comrade, far the dearest, is slain.

So spake he, and Menelaus, good at the war-cry, failed not to hearken, but went his way as a lion from a steading when he waxeth weary with vexing dogs and men that suffer him not to seize the fattest of the herd,watching the whole night through; but he in his lust for flesh goeth straight on, yet accomplisheth naught thereby, for thick the darts fly to meet him, hurled by bold hands, and blazing brands withal, before which he quaileth, how eager soever he be, and at dawn he departeth with sure heart;even so from Patroclus departed Menelaus, good at the war-cry, sorely against his will; for exceedingly did he fear lest the Achaeans in sorry rout should leave him to be a prey to the foemen. And many a charge laid he on Meriones and the Aiantes, saying:

Ye Aiantes twain, leaders of the Argives, and thou, Meriones,now let each man remember the kindliness of hapless Patroclus; for to all was he ever gentle while yet he lived, but now death and fate have come upon him.
So saying fair-haired Menelaus departed, glancing warily on every side as an eagle, which, men say, haththe keenest sight of all winged things under heaven, of whom, though he be on high, the swift-footed hare is not unseen as he croucheth beneath a leafy bush, but the eagle swoopeth upon him and forthwith seizeth him, and robbeth him of life. Even so then, Menelaus, nurtured of Zeus, did thy bright eyesrange everywhither over the throng of thy many comrades, if so be they niight have sight of Nestor's son yet alive. Him he marked full quickly on the left of the whole battle, heartening his comrades and urging them on to fight. And drawing nigh fair-haired Menelaus spake to him, saying:
Antilochus, up, come hither, thou nurtured of Zeus, that thou mayest learn woeful tidings, such as I would had never been. Even now, I ween, thou knowest, for thine eyes behold it, how that a god rolleth ruin upon the Danaans, and that victory is with the men of Troy. And slain is the best man of the Achaeans,even Patroclus, and great longing for him is wrought for the Danaans. But do thou with speed run to the ships of the Achaeans and bear word unto Achilles, in hope that he may forthwith bring safe to his ship the corpse—the naked corpse; but his armour is held by Hector of the flashing helm.

So spake he, and Antilochus had horror, as he heard that word.Long time was he speechless, and both his eyes were filled with tears, and the flow of his voice was checked. Yet not even so was he neglectful of the bidding of Menelaus, but set him to run, and gave his armour to his peerless comrade Laodocus, that hard beside him was wheeling his single-hoofed horses. Him then as he wept his feet bare forth from out the battle to bear an evil tale to Peleus' son Achilles. Nor was thy heart, Menelaus, nurtured of Zeus, minded to bear aid to the sore-pressed comrades from whom Antilochus was departed, and great longing was wrought for the men of Pylos.Howbeit, for their aid he sent goodly Thrasymedes, and himself went again to bestride the warrior Patroclus; and he ran, and took his stand beside the Aiantes, and forthwith spake to them[*](1) :

Yon man have I verily sent forth to the swift ships, to go to Achilles, fleet of foot. Howbeit I deem notthat Achilles will come forth, how wroth soever he be against goodly Hector; for in no wise may he fight against the Trojans unarmed as he is. But let us of ourselves devise the counsel that is best, whereby we may both hale away the corpse, and ourselves escape death and fate amid the battle-din of the Trojans.
Then great Telamonian Aias answered him:
All this hast thou spoken aright, most glorious Menelaus. But do thou and Meriones stoop with all speed beneath the corpse, and raise him up, and bear him forth from out the toil of war; but behind you we twain will do battle with the Trojans and goodly Hector,one in heart as we are one in name, even we that aforetime have been wont to stand firm in fierce battle, abiding each by the other's side.
So spake he, and the others took in their arms the dead from the ground, and lifted him on high in their great might; and thereat the host of the Trojans behind them shouted aloud, when they beheld the Achaeans lifting the corpse.And they charged straight upon them like hounds that in front of hunting youths dart upon a wounded wild boar: awhile they rush upon him fain to rend him asunder, but whenso he wheeleth among them trusting in his might, then they give ground and shrink in fear, one here, one there;even so the Trojans for a time ever followed on in throngs, thrusting with swords and two-edged spears, but whenso the twain Aiantes would wheel about and stand against them, then would their colour change, and no man dared dart forth and do battle for the dead.

Thus the twain were hasting to bear the corpse forth from out the battle to the hollow ships, and against them was strained a conflict fierce as fire that, rushing upon a city of men with sudden onset, setteth it aflame, and houses fall amid the mighty glare, and the might of the wind driveth it roaring on.Even so against them as they went came ever the ceaseless din of chariots and of spearmen. But as mules that, putting forth on either side their great strength, drag forth from the mountain down a rugged path a beam haply, or a great ship-timber, and within them their heartsas they strive are distressed with toil alike and sweat; even so these hasted to bear forth the corpse. And behind them the twain Aiantes held back the foe, as a ridge holdeth back a flood—some wooded ridge that chanceth to lie all athwart a plain and that holdeth back even the dread streams of mighty rivers, and forthwith turneth the current of them all to wander over the plain, neither doth the might of their flood avail to break through it; even so the twain Aiantes ever kept back the battle of the Trojans, but these ever followed after and two among them above all others, even Aeneas, Anchises' son, and glorious Hector.And as flieth a cloud of starlings or of daws, shrieking cries of doom, when they see coming upon them a falcon that beareth death unto small birds; so before Aeneas and Hector fled the youths of the Achaeans, shrieking cries of doom, and forgat all fighting.And fair arms full many fell around and about the trench as the Danaans fled; but there was no ceasing from war.

So fought they like unto blazing fire, but Antilochus, swift of foot, came to bear tidings to Achilles. Him he found in front of his ships with upright horns,[*](289.1) boding in his heart the thing that even now was brought to pass;and sore troubled he spake unto his own great-hearted spirit:

Ah, woe is me, how is it that again the long-haired Achaeans are being driven toward the ships in rout over the plain? Let it not be that the gods have brought to pass grievous woes for my soul, even as on a time my mother declared unto me, and said thatwhile yet I lived the best man of the Myrmidons should leave the light of the sun beneath the hands of the Trojans! in good sooth the valiant son of Menoetius must now, be dead, foolhardy one. Surely I bade him come back again to the ships when he had thrust off the consuming fire, and not to fight amain with Hector.
While he pondered thus in mind and heart, there drew nigh unto him the son of lordly Nestor, shedding hot tears, and spake the grievous tidings:
Woe is me, thou son of wise-hearted Peleus, full grievous is the tidings thou must hear, such as I would had never been.Low lies Patroclus, and around his corpse are they fighting—his naked corpse; but his armour is held by Hector of the flashing helm.

So spake he, and a black cloud of grief enwrapped Achilles, and with both his hands he took the dark dustand strewed it over his head and defiled his fair face, and on his fragrant tunic the black ashes fell. And himself in the dust lay outstretched, mighty in his mightiness, and with his own hands he tore and marred his hair. And the handmaidens, that Achilles and Patroclus had got them as booty, shrieked aloud in anguish of heart,and ran forth around wise-hearted Achilles, and all beat their breasts with their hands, and the knees of each one were loosed be-neath her. And over against them Antilochus wailed and shed tears, holding the hands of Achilles, that in his noble heart was moaning mightily; for he feared lest he should cut his throat asunder with the knife.Then terribly did Achilles groan aloud, and his queenly mother heard him as she sat in the depths of the sea beside the old man her father. Thereat she uttered a shrill cry, and the goddesses thronged about her, even all the daughters of Nereus that were in the deep of the sea. There were Glauce and Thaleia and Cymodoce,Nesaea and Speio and Thoë and ox-eyed Halië, and Cymothoë and Actaeä and Limnoreia, and Melite and Iaera and Amphithoe and Agave, Doto and Proto and Pherousa and Dynamene, and Dexamene and Amphinone and Callianeira,Doris and Pynope and glorious Galatea, Nemertes and Apseudes and Callianassa, and there were Clymene and Ianeira and Ianassa, Maera and Orithyia and fair-tressed Amatheia, and other Nereids that were in the deep of the sea.With these the bright cave was filled, and they all alike beat their breasts, and Thetis was leader in their lamenting:

Listen, sister Nereids, that one and all ye may hear and know all the sorrows that are in my heart. Ah, woe is me unhappy, woe is me that bare to my sorrow the best of men,for after I had borne a son peerless and stalwart, pre-eminent among warriors, and he shot up like a sapling; then when I had reared him as a tree in a rich orchard plot, I sent him forth in the beaked ships to Ilios to war with the Trojans; but never again shall I welcome himback to his home, to the house of Peleus. And while yet he liveth, and beholdeth the light of the sun, he hath sorrow, neither can I anywise help him, though I go to him. Howbeit go I will, that I may behold my dear child, and hear what grief has come upon him while yet he abideth aloof from the war.

So saying she left the cave, and the nymphs went with her weeping, and around them the waves of the sea were cloven asunder. And when they were come to the deep-soiled land of Troy they stepped forth upon the beach, one after the other, where the ships of the Myrmidons were drawn up in close lines round about swift Achilles.Then to his side, as he groaned heavily, came his queenly mother, and with a shrill cry she clasped the head of her son, and with wailing spake unto him winged words:

My child, why weepest thou? What sorrow hath come upon thy heart. Speak out; hide it not. Thy wish has verily been brought to pass for theeby Zeus, as aforetime thou didst pray, stretching forth thy hands, even that one and all the sons of the Achaeans should be huddled at the sterns of the ships in sore need of thee, and should suffer cruel things.
Then groaning heavily swift-footed Achilles answered her:
My mother, these prayers verily hath the Olympian brought to pass for me,but what pleasure have I therein, seeing my dear comrade is dead, even Patroclus, whom I honoured above all my comrades, even as mine own self? Him have I lost, and his armour Hector that slew him hath stripped from him, that fair armour, huge of size, a wonder to behold, that the gods gave as a glorious gift to Peleuson the day when they laid thee in the bed of a mortal man. Would thou hadst remained where thou wast amid the immortal maidens of the sea, and that Peleus had taken to his home a mortal bride. But now—it was thus that thou too mightest have measureless grief at heart for thy dead son, whom thou shalt never again welcometo his home; for neither doth my own heart bid me live on and abide among men, unless Hector first, smitten by my spear, shall lose his life, and pay back the price for that he made spoil of Patroclus, son of Menoetius.
Then Thetis again spake unto him, shedding tears the while:
Doomed then to a speedy death, my child, shalt thou be, that thou spakest thus; for straightway after Hector is thine own death ready at hand.

Then, mightily moved, swift-footed Achilles spake to her:

Straightway may I die, seeing I was not to bear aid to my comrade at his slaying. Far, far from his own landhath he fallen, and had need of me to be a warder off of ruin. Now therefore, seeing I return not to my dear native land, neither proved anywise a light of deliverance to Patroclus nor to my other comrades, those many that have been slain by goodly Hector, but abide here by the ships. Profitless burden upon the earth—I that in war am such as is none other of the brazen-coated Achaeans, albeit in council there be others better— so may strife perish from among gods and men, and anger that setteth a man on to grow wroth, how wise soever he be, and that sweeter far than trickling honeywaxeth like smoke in the breasts of men; even as but now the king of men, Agamemnon, moved me to wrath. Howbeit these things will we let be as past and done, for all our pain, curbing the heart in our breasts, because we must. But now will I go forth that I may light on the slayer of the man I loved,even on Hector; for my fate, I will accept it whenso Zeus willeth to bring it to pass, and the other immortal gods. For not even the mighty Heracles escaped death, albeit he was most dear to Zeus, son of Cronos, the king, but fate overcame him, and the dread wrath of Hera.So also shall I, if a like fate hath been fashioned for me, lie low when I am dead. But now let me win glorious renown, and set many a one among the deep-bosomed Trojan or Dardanian dames to wipe with both hands the tears from her tender cheeks, and ceaseless moaning;and let them know that long in good sooth have I kept apart from the war. Seek not then to hold me back from battle, for all thou lovest me; thou shalt not persuade me.

Then answered him the goddess, silver-footed Thetis:

Aye, verily, as thou sayest, my child, it is in truth no ill thing to ward utter destruction from thy comrades, that are hard beset.But thy goodly armour is held among the Trojans, thine armour of bronze, all gleaming-bright. This doth Hector of the flashing helm wear on his own shoulders, and exulteth therein. Yet I deem that not for long shall he glory therein. seeing his own death is nigh at hand. But do thou not enter into the turmoil of Aresuntil thine eyes shall behold me again coming hither. For in the morning will I return at the rising of the sun, bearing fair armour from the lord Hephaestus.
So saying she turned her to go back from her son, and being turned she spake among her sisters of the sea:
Do ye now plunge beneath the broad bosom of the deep, to visit the old man of the sea, and the halls of our father, and tell him all. But I will get me to high Olympus to the house of Hephaestus, the famed craftsman, if so be he will give to my son glorious shining armour.
So spake she, and they forthwith plunged beneath the surge of the sea, while she, the goddess, silver-footed Thetis, went her way to Olympus, that she might bring glorious armour for her dear son.

Her then were her feet bearing to Olympus, but the Achaeans fled with wondrous shouting from before man-slaying Hector,and came to the ships and the Hellespont. Howbeit Patroclus, the squire of Achilles, might the well-greaved Achaeans not draw forth from amid the darts; for now again there overtook him the host and the chariots of Troy, and Hector, son of Priam, in might as it were a flame.Thrice from behind did glorious Hector seize him by the feet, fain to drag him away, and called mightily upon the Trojans, and thrice did the two Aiantes, clothed in furious valour, hurl him back from the corpse. But he, ever trusting in his might, would now charge upon them in the fray, and would now standand shout aloud; but backward would he give never a whit. And as shepherds of the steading avail not in any wise to drive from a carcase a tawny lion when he hungereth sore, even so the twain warrior Aiantes availed not to affright Hector, Priam's son, away from the corpse.And now would he have dragged away the body, and have won glory unspeakable, had not wind-footed, swift Iris speeding from Olympus with a message that he array him for battle, come to the son of Peleus, all unknown of Zeus and the other gods, for Hera sent her forth. And she drew nigh, and spake to him winged words:

Rouse thee, son of Peleus, of all men most dread. Bear thou aid to Patroclus, for whose sake is a dread strife afoot before the ships. And men are slaying one another, these seeking to defend the corpse of the dead, while the Trojans charge on to drag him to windy Ilios; and above all glorious Hectoris fain to drag him away; and his heart biddeth him shear the head from the tender neck, and fix it on the stakes of the wall. Nay, up then, lie here no more! Let awe come upon thy soul that Patroclus should become the sport of the dogs of Troy.Thine were the shame, if anywise he come, a corpse despitefully entreated.
[*](301.1)

Then swift-footed goodly Achilles answered her:

Goddess Iris, who of the gods sent thee a messenger to me?
And to him again spake wind-footed, swift Iris:
Hera sent me forth, the glorious wife of Zeus;and the son of Cronos, throned on high, knoweth naught hereof, neither any other of the immortals that dwell upon snowy Olympus.
Then in answer to her spake Achilles, swift of foot:
But how shall I enter the fray? They yonder hold my battle-gear; and my dear mother forbade that I array me for the fightuntil such time as mine eyes should behold her again coming hither; for she pledged her to bring goodly armour from Hephaestus. No other man know I whose glorious armour I might don, except it were the shield of Aias, son of Telamon. Howbeit himself, I ween, hath dalliance amid the foremost fighters,as he maketh havoc with his spear in defence of dead Patroclus.
And to him again spake wind-footed, swift Iris:
Well know we of ourselves that thy glorious armour is held of them; but even as thou art go thou to the trench, and show thyself to the men of Troy, if so be that, seized with fear of thee,the Trojans may desist from battle, and the warlike sons of the Achaeans may take breath, wearied as they are; for scant is the breathing-space in war.
When she had thus spoken swift-footed Iris departed; but Achilles, dear to Zeus, roused him, and round about his mighty shoulders Athene flung her tasselled aegis,and around his head the fair goddess set thick a golden cloud, and forth from the man made blaze a gleaming fire. And as when a smoke goeth up from a city and reacheth to heaven from afar, from an island that foes beleaguer, and the men thereof contend the whole day through in hateful warfrom their city's walls, and then at set of sun flame forth the beacon-fires one after another and high aloft darteth the glare thereof for dwellers round about to behold, if so be they may come in their ships to be warders off of bane; even so from the head of Achilles went up the gleam toward heaven.Then strode he from the wall to the trench, and there took his stand, yet joined him not to the company of the Achaeans, for he had regard to his mother's wise behest. There stood he and shouted, and from afar Pallas Athene uttered her voice; but amid the Trojans he roused confusion unspeakable.