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.