So marched they then as though all the land were swept with fire; and the earth groaned beneath them, as beneath Zeus that hurleth the thunderbolt in his wrath, when he scourgeth the land about Typhoeus in the country of the Arimi, where men say is the couch of Typhoeus. Even so the earth groaned greatly beneath their tread as they went;and full swiftly did they speed across the plain. And to the Trojans went, as a messenger from Zeus that beareth the aegis, wind-footed, swift Iris with a grievous message. These were holding assembly at Priam's gate, all gathered in one body, the young men alike and the elders.And swift-footed Iris stood near and spake to them; and she made her voice like to that of Polites, son of Priam, who was wont to sit as a sentinel of the Trojans, trusting in his fleetness of foot, on the topmost part of the barrow of aged Aesyetes, awaiting until the Achaeans should sally forth from their ships.Likening herself to him swifted-footed Iris spake to Priam, saying:
Old sir, ever are endless words dear to thee, now even as of yore in time of peace; but war unabating is afoot. Verily full often have I entered ere now into battles of warriors, but never yet have I seen a host so goodly and so great;for most like to the leaves or the sands are they, as they march over the plain to fight against the city. Hector, to thee beyond all others do I give command, and do thou even according to my word. Inasmuch as there are allies full many throughout the great city of Priam, and tongue differs from tongue among men that are scattered abroad;let each one therefore give the word to those whose captain he is, and these let him lead forth, when he has marshalled the men of his own city.So spake she, and Hector in no wise failed to know the voice of the goddess, but forthwith brake up the gathering; and they rushed to arms. The gates one and all were opened wide, and forth the folk hasted,both footmen and charioteers; and a great din arose. Now there is before the city a steep mound afar out in the plain, with a clear space about it on this side and on that; this do men verily call Batieia, but the immortals call it the barrow of Myrine, light of step.There on this day did the Trojans and their allies separate their companies. The Trojans were led by great Hector of the flashing helm, the son of Priam, and with him were marshalled the greatest hosts by far and the goodliest, raging with the spear.
Of the Dardanians again the valiant son of Anchises was captain,even Aeneas, whom fair Aphrodite conceived to Anchises amid the spurs of Ida, a goddess couched with a mortal man. Not alone was he; with him were Antenor's two sons, Archelochus and Acamas, well skilled in all manner of fighting. And they that dwelt in Zeleia beneath the nethermost foot of Ida,men of wealth, that drink the dark water of Aesepus, even the Troes, these again were led by the glorious son of Lycaon, Pandarus, to whom Apollo himself gave the bow. And they that held Adrasteia and the land of Apaesus, and that held Pityeia and the steep mount of Tereia,these were led by Adrastus and Araphius, with corslet of linen, sons twain of Merops of Percote, that was above all men skilled in prophesying, and would not suffer his sons to go into war, the bane of men. But the twain would in no wise hearken, for the fates of black death were leading them on. And they that dwelt about Percote and Practius, and that held Sestus and Abydus and goodly Arisbe, these again were led by Hyrtacus' son Asius, a leader of men—Asius, son of Hyrtacus, whom his horses tawny and tall had borne from Arisbe, from the river Selleïs. And Hippothous led the tribes of the Pelasgi, that rage with the spear, even them that dwelt in deep-soiled Larisa; these were led by Hippothous and Pylaeus, scion of Ares, sons twain of Pelasgian Lethus, son of Teutamus. But the Thracians Acamas led and Peirous, the warrior,even all them that the strong stream of the Hellespont encloseth. And Euphemus was captain of the Ciconian spearmen, the son of Ceas' son Troezenus, nurtured of Zeus. But Pyraechmes led the Paeonians, with curved bows, from afar, out of Amydon from the wide-flowing Axius—Axius the water whereof floweth the fairest over the face of the earth. And the Paphlagonians did Pylaemenes of the shaggy[*](1) heart lead from the land of the Eneti, whence is the race of wild she-mules. These were they that held Cytorus and dwelt about Sesamon, and had their famed dwellings around the river Partheniusand Cromna and Aegialus and lofty Erythini. But of the Halizones Odius and Epistrophus were captains from afar, from Alybe, where is the birth-place of silver.
And of the Mysians the captains were Chromis and Ennomus the augur; howbeit with his auguries he warded not off black fate,but was slain beneath the hands of the son of Aeacus, swift of foot, in the river, where Achilles was making havoc of the Trojans and the others as well. And Phorcys and godlike Ascanius led the Phrygians from afar, from Ascania, and were eager to fight in the press of battle. And the Maeonians had captains twain, Mesthles and Antiphus,the two sons of TaIaemenes, whose mother was the nymph of the Gygaean lake; and they led the Maeonians, whose birth was beneath Tmolas. And Nastes again led the Carians, uncouth of speech, who held Miletus and the mountain of Phthires, dense with its leafage, and the streams of Maeander, and the steep crests of Mycale.These were led by captains twain, Amphimachus and Nastes—Nastes and Amphimachus, the glorious children of Nomion. And he[*](1) came to the war all decked with gold, like a girl, fool that he was; but his gold in no wise availed to ward off woeful destruction; nay, he was slain in the river beneath the hands of the son of Aeacus, swift of foot;and Achilles, wise of heart, bare off the gold. And Sarpedon and peerless Glaucus were captains of the Lycians from afar out of Lycia, from the eddying Xanthus.
Now when they were marshalled, the several companies with their captains, the Trojans came on with clamour and with a cry like birds, even as the clamour of cranes ariseth before the face of heaven, when they flee from wintry storms and measureless rain,and with clamour fly toward the streams of Ocean, bearing slaughter and death to Pigmy men, and in the early dawn they offer evil battle. But the Achaeans came on in silence, breathing fury, eager at heart to bear aid each man to his fellow. Even as when the South Wind sheddeth a mist over the peaks of a mountain, a mist that the shepherd loveth not, but that to the robber is better than night, and a man can see only so far as he casteth a stone; even in such wise rose the dense dust-cloud from beneath their feet as they went; and full swiftly did they speed across the plain. Now when they were come near, as they advanced one host against the other, among the Trojans there stood forth as champion godlike Alexander, bearing upon his shoulders a panther skin and his curved bow, and his sword; and brandishing two spears tipped with bronze he challenged all the best of Argivesto fight with him face to face in dread combat. But when Menelaus, dear to Ares, was ware of him as he came forth before the throng with long strides, then even as a lion is glad when he lighteth on a great carcase, having found a horned stag or a wild goatwhen he is hungry; for greedily doth he devour it, even though swift dogs and lusty youths set upon him: even so was Menelaus glad when his eyes beheld godlike Alexander; for he thought that he had gotten him vengeance[*](1) on the sinner. And forthwith he leapt in his armour from his chariot to the ground. But when godlike Alexander was ware of him as he appeared among the champions, his heart was smitten, and back he shrank into the throng of his comrades, avoiding fate. And even as a man at sight of a snake in the glades of a mountain starteth back, and trembling seizeth his limbs beneath him,and he withdraweth back again and pallor layeth hold of his cheeks; even so did godlike Alexander, seized with fear of Atreus' son, shrink back into the throng of the lordly Trojans.
But Hector saw him, and chid him with words of shame:
Evil Paris, most fair to look upon, thou that art mad after women, thou beguiler,would that thou hadst ne'er been born[*](2) and hadst died unwed. Aye, of that were I fain, and it had been better far than that thou shouldest thus be a reproach, and that men should look upon thee in scorn. Verily, methinks, will the long-haired Achaeans laugh aloud, deeming that a prince is our champion because a comelyform is his, while there is no strength in his heart nor any valour. Was it in such strength as this that thou didst sail over the main in thy seafaring ships, when thou hadst gathered thy trusty comrades, and, coming to an alien folk, didst bring back a comely woman from a distant land, even a daughter of[*](1) warriors who wield the spear,but to thy father and city and all the people a grievous bane—to thy foes a joy, but to thine own self a hanging down of the head? Wilt thou indeed not abide Menelaus, dear to Ares? Thou wouldest learn what manner of warrior he is whose lovely wife thou hast. Then will thy lyre help thee not, neither the gifts of Aphrodite,thy locks and thy comeliness, when thou shalt lie low in the dust. Nay, verily, the Trojans are utter cowards: else wouldest thou ere this have donned a coat of stone[*](2) by reason of all the evil thou hast wrought.And to him did godlike Alexander make answer, saying:
Hector, seeing that thou dost chide me duly, and not beyond what is due—ever is thy heart unyielding, even as an axe that is driven through a beam by the hand of man that skilfully shapeth a ship's timber, and it maketh the force of his blow to wax; even so is the heart in thy breast undaunted—cast not in my teeth the lovely gifts of golden Aphrodite.Not to be flung aside, look you, are the glorious gifts of the gods, even all that of themselves they give, whereas by his own will could no man win them. But now, if thou wilt have me war and do battle, make the other Trojans to sit down and all the Achaeans, but set ye me in the midst and Menelaus, dear to Ares,to do battle for Helen and all her possessions. And whichsoever of us twain shall win, and prove him the better man, let him duly take all the wealth and the woman, and bear them to his home. But for you others, do ye swear friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice. So should ye dwell in deep-soiled Troyland, and let them returnto Argos, pasture-land of horses, and to Achaea, the land of fair women.
So spake he, and Hector rejoiced greatly when he heard his words; and he went into the midst, and kept back the battalions of the Trojans with his spear grasped by the middle; and they all sate them down.But the long-haired Achaeans sought the while to aim their arrows at him, and to smite him, and to cast at him with stones. But aloud shouted Agamemnon, king of men:
Hold, ye Argives, shoot no more, ye youths of the Achaeans; for Hector of the flashing helm makes as though he would say somewhat.So spake he, and they stayed them from battle, and became silent forthwith.And Hector spake between the two hosts:
Hear from me, ye Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans, the words of Alexander, for whose sake strife hath been set afoot. The other Trojans and all the Achaeans he biddeth to lay aside their goodly battle-gear upon the bounteous earth,and himself in the midst and Menelaus, dear to Ares, to do battle for Helen and all her possessions. And whichsoever of the twain shall win, and prove him the better man, let him duly take all the wealth and the woman, and bear them to his home; but for us others, let us swear friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice.So spake he, and they all became hushed in silence; and among them spake Menelaus, good at the war-cry:
Hearken ye now also unto me, for upon my heart above all others hath sorrow come; my mind is that Argives and Trojans now be parted, seeing ye have suffered many woesbecause of my quarrel and Alexander's beginning thereof.[*](1) And for whichsoever of us twain death and fate are appointed, let him lie dead; but be ye others parted with all speed. Bring ye two lambs, a white ram and a black ewe, for Earth and Sun, and for Zeus we will bring another;and fetch ye hither the mighty Priam, that he may himself swear an oath with sacrifice, seeing that his sons are over-weening and faithless; lest any by presumptuous act should do violence to the oaths of Zeus. Ever unstable are the hearts of the young; but in whatsoever an old man taketh part, he looketh both before and after,that the issue may be far the best for either side.
So spake he, and the Achaeans and Trojans waxed glad, deeming that they had won rest from woeful war. So they stayed their chariots in the ranks, and themselves stepped forth, and did off their battle-gear. This they laid upon the ground,each hard by each, and there was but little space between. And Hector sent to the city heralds twain with all speed to fetch the lambs and to summon Priam. And Talthybius did lord Agamemnon send forth to the hollow ships, and bade him bring a lamb;and he failed not to hearken to goodly Agamemnon. But Iris went as a messenger to white-armed Helen, in the likeness of her husband's sister, the wife of Antenor's son, even her that lord Helicaon, Antenor's son, had to wife, Laodice, the comeliest of the daughters of Priam.She found Helen in the hall, where she was weaving a great purple web of double fold, and thereon was broidering many battles of the horse-taming Trojans and the brazen-coated Achaeans, that for her sake they had endured at the hands of Ares. Close to her side then came Iris, swift of foot, and spake to her, saying:
Come hither, dear lady, that thou mayest behold the wondrous doings of the horse-taming Trojans and the brazen-coated Achaeans. They that of old were wont to wage tearful war against one another on the plain, their hearts set on deadly battle, even they abide now in silence, and the battle has ceased,and they lean upon their shields, and beside them their long spears are fixed. But Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with their long spears for thee; and whoso shall conquer, his dear wife shalt thou be called.So spake the goddess, and put into her heart sweet longingfor her former lord and her city and parents; and straightway she veiled herself with shining linen, and went forth from her chamber, letting fall round tears, not alone, for with her followed two handmaids as well, Aethra, daughter of Pittheus, and ox-eyed Clymene;and with speed they came to the place where were the Scaean gates.
And they that were about Priam and Panthous and Thymoetes and Lampus and Clytius and Hicetaon, scion of Ares, and Ucalegon and Antenor, men of prudence both, sat as elders of the people at the Scaean gates.Because of old age had they now ceased from battle, but speakers they were full good, like unto cicalas that in a forest sit upon a tree and pour forth their lily-like[*](1) voice; even in such wise sat the leaders of the Trojans upon the wall. Now when they saw Helen coming upon the wall,softly they spake winged words one to another:
Small blame that Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans should for such a woman long time suffer woes; wondrously like is she to the immortal goddesses to look upon. But even so, for all that she is such an one, let her depart upon the ships,neither be left here to be a bane to us and to our children after us.So they said, but Priam spake, and called Helen to him:
Come hither, dear child, and sit before me, that thou mayest see thy former lord and thy kinsfolk and thy people—thou art nowise to blame in my eyes; it is the gods, methinks, that are to blame,who roused against me the tearful war of the Achaeans —and that thou mayest tell me who is this huge warrior, this man of Achaea so valiant and so tall. Verily there be others that are even taller by a head, but so comely a man have mine eyes never yet beheld,neither one so royal: he is like unto one that is a king.And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying:
Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolkand my daughter, well-beloved,[*](2) and the lovely companions of my girlhood. But that was not to be; wherefore I pine away with weeping. Howbeit this will I tell thee, whereof thou dost ask and enquire. Yon man is the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, that is both a noble king and a valiant spearman.And he was husband's brother to shameless me, as sure as ever such a one there was.So spake she, and the old man was seized with wonder, and said:
Ah, happy son of Atreus, child of fortune, blest of heaven; now see I that youths of the Achaeans full many are made subject unto thee. Ere now have I journeyed to the land of Phrygia, rich in vines,and there I saw in multitudes the Phrygian warriors, masters of glancing steeds, even the people of Otreus and godlike Mygdon, that were then encamped along the banks of Sangarius. For I, too, being their ally, was numbered among them on the day when the Amazons came, the peers of men.Howbeit not even they were as many as are the bright-eyed Achaeans.
And next the old man saw Odysseus, and asked:
Come now, tell me also of yonder man, dear child, who he is. Shorter is he by a head than Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but broader of shoulder and of chest to look upon.His battle-gear lieth upon the bounteous earth, but himself he rangeth like the bell-wether of a herd through the ranks of warriors. Like a ram he seemeth to me, a ram of thick fleece, that paceth through a great flock of white ewes.To him made answer Helen, sprung from Zeus:
This again is Laertes' son, Odysseus of many wiles, that was reared in the land of Ithaca, rugged though it be, and he knoweth all manner of craft and cunning devices.Then to her again made answer Antenor, the wise:
Lady, this verily is a true word that thou hast spoken,for erstwhile on a time goodly Odysseus came hither also on an embassy concerning thee, together with Menelaus, dear to Ares; and it was I that gave them entertainment and welcomed them in my halls, and came to know the form and stature of them both and their cunning devices. Now when they mingled with the Trojans, as they were gathered together,when they stood Menelaus overtopped him with his broad shoulders; howbeit when the twain were seated Odysseus was the more royal. But when they began to weave the web of speech and of counsel in the presence of all, Menelaus in truth spake fluently, with few words, but very clearly, seeing he was not a man of lengthy speechnor of rambling, though verily in years he was the younger. But whenever Odysseus of many wiles arose, he would stand and look down with eyes fixed upon the ground, and his staff he would move neither backwards nor forwards, but would hold it stiff, in semblance like a man of no understanding;thou wouldest have deemed him a churlish man and naught but a fool. But whenso he uttered his great voice from his chest, and words like snowflakes on a winter's day, then could no mortal man beside vie with Odysseus; then did we not so marvel to behold Odysseus' aspect.
And, thirdly, the old man saw Aias, and asked:
Who then is this other Achaean warrior, valiant and tall, towering above the Argives with his head and broad shoulders?And to him made answer long-robed Helen, fair among women:
This is huge Aias, bulwark of the Achaeans.And Idomeneus over against him standeth amid the Cretans even as a god, and about him are gathered the captains of the Cretans. Full often was Menelaus, dear to Ares, wont to entertain him in our house, whenever he came from Crete. And now all the rest of the bright-eyed Achaeans do I see,whom I could well note, and tell their names; but two marshallers of the host can I not see, Castor, tamer of horses, and the goodly boxer, Polydeuces, even mine own brethren, whom the same mother bare. Either they followed not with the host from lovely Lacedaemon,or though they followed hither in their seafaring ships, they have now no heart to enter into the battle of warriors for fear of the words of shame and the many revilings that are mine.So said she; but they ere now were fast holden of the life-giving earth there in Lacedaemon, in their dear native land. Meanwhile the heralds were bearing through the city the offerings for the holy oaths of the gods, two lambs and, in a goat-skin bottle, wine that maketh glad the heart, the fruit of the earth. And the herald Idaeus bare a shining bowl and golden cups; and he came to the old king's side and roused him, saying:
Rise, thou son of Laomedon, the chieftains of the horse-taming Trojans, and of the brazen-coated Achaeans, summon thee to go down into the plain, that ye may swear oaths of faith with sacrifice. But Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with long spears for the woman's sake;and whichsoever of the twain shall conquer, him let woman and treasure follow; and we others, swearing friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice, should then dwell in deep-soiled Troy, but they will depart to Argos, pastureland of horses, and Achaea, the land of fair women.So spake he, and the old man shuddered, yet bade his companionsyoke the horses; and they speedily obeyed. Then Priam mounted and drew back the reins, and by his side Antenor mounted the beauteous car; and the twain drave the swift horses through the Scaean gates to the plain.
But when they were now come to the Trojans and Achaeans,they stepped forth from the chariot upon the bounteous earth, and went into the midst of the Trojans and Achaeans. Straightway then rose up Agamemnon, king of men, and Odysseus of many wiles, and the lordly heralds brought together the offerings for the holy oaths of the gods, and mixed the wine in the bowl,and poured water over the hands of the kings. And the son of Atreus drew forth with his hand the knife that ever hung beside the great sheath of his sword, and cut hair from off the heads of the lambs; and the heralds portioned it out to the chieftans of the Trojans and Achaeans.Then in their midst Agamemnon lifted up his hands and prayed aloud:
Father Zeus, that rulest from Ida, most glorious, most great, and thou Sun, that beholdest all things and hearest all things, and ye rivers and thou earth, and ye that in the world below take vengeance on men that are done with life, whosoever hath sworn a false oath;be ye witnesses, and watch over the oaths of faith. If Alexander slay Menelaus, then let him keep Helen and all her treasure; and we will depart in our seafaring ships. But if so be fair-haired Menelaus shall slay Alexander,then let the Trojans give back Helen and all her treasure, and pay to the Argives in requital such recompense as beseemeth, even such as shall abide in the minds of men that are yet to be. Howbeit, if Priam and the sons of Priam be not minded to pay recompense unto me, when Alexander falleth,then will I fight on even thereafter, to get me recompense, and will abide here until I find an end of war.He spake, and cut the lambs' throats with the pitiless bronze; and laid them down upon the ground gasping and failing of breath, for the bronze had robbed them of their strength.Then they drew wine from the bowl into the cups, and poured it forth, and made prayer to the gods that are for ever. And thus would one of the Achaeans and Trojans say:
Zeus, most glorious, most great, and ye other immortal gods, which host soever of the twain shall be first to work harm in defiance of the oaths,may their brains be thus poured forth upon the ground even as this wine, theirs and their children's; and may their wives be made slaves to others.
So spake they, but not yet was the son of Cronos to vouchsafe them fulfillment. Then in their midst spake Priam, Dardanus' son, saying:
Hearken to me, ye Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans.I verily will go my way back to windy Ilios, since I can in no wise bear to behold with mine eyes my dear son doing battle with Menelaus, dear to Ares. But this, I ween, Zeus knoweth, and the other immortal gods, for which of the twain the doom of death is ordained.So spake the godlike man, and let place the lambs in his chariot, and himself mounted, and drew back the reins, and by his side Antenor mounted the beauteous car; and the twain departed back to Ilios. But Hector, Priam's son, and goodly Odysseusfirst measured out a space, and thereafter took the lots and shook them in the bronze-wrought helmet, to know which of the twain should first let fly his spear of bronze. And the people made prayer and lifted their hands to the gods; and thus would one of the Achaeans and Trojans speak:
Father Zeus, that rulest from Ida, most glorious, most great, whichsoever of the twain it be that brought these troubles upon both peoples, grant that he may die and enter the house of Hades, whereas to us there may come friendship and oaths of faith.So spake they, and great Hector of the flashing helm shook the helmet,looking behind him the while; and straightway the lot of Paris leapt forth. Then the people sate them down in ranks, where were each man's high-stepping horses, and his inlaid armour was set. But goodly Alexander did on about his shoulders his beautiful armour, even he, the lord of fair-haired Helen.The greaves first he set about his legs; beautiful they were, and fitted with silver ankle-pieces; next he did on about his chest the corselet of his brother Lycaon, and fitted it to himself. And about his shoulders he cast his silver-studded swordof bronze, and thereafter his shield great and sturdy; and upon his mighty head he set a well-wrought helmet with horse-hair crest —and terribly did the plume nod from above— and he took a valorous spear, that fitted his grasp. And in the self-same manner warlike Menelaus did on his battle-gear.
But when they had armed themselves on either side of the throng, they strode into the space between the Trojans and Achaeans, glaring terribly; and amazement came upon them that beheld, both the Trojans, tamers of horses, and the well-greaved Achaeans; and the twain took their stand near together in the measured space,brandishing their spears in wrath one at the other. First Alexander hurled his far-shadowing spear, and smote upon the son of Atreus' shield that was well balanced on every side[*](1) ; howbeit the bronze brake not through but its point was turned in the stout shield. Next Atreus' son, Menelaus, rushed upon him with his spear,and made prayer to father Zeus:
Zeus, our king, grant that I may avenge me on him that was first to do me wrong, even on goodly Alexander, and subdue thou him beneath my hands; that many a one even of men yet to be may shudder to work evil to his host, that hath shown him friendship.He spoke, and poised his far-shadowing spear, and hurled it; and he smote upon the son of Priam's shield, that was well balanced upon every side. Through the bright shield went the mighty spear, and through the corselet, richly dight, did it force its way; and straight on beside his flank the spear shore through his tunic;but he bent aside and escaped black fate. Then the son of Atreus drew his silver-studded sword, and raising himself on high smote the horn of his helmet; but upon it his sword shattered in pieces three, aye, four, and fell from his hand. Then the son of Atreus uttered a bitter cry with a glance at the broad heaven:
Father Zeus, than thou is no other god more baleful. Verily I deemed that I had got me vengeance upon Alexander for his wickedness, but now is my sword broken in my hands, and forth from my grasp has my spear flown in vain, and I smote him not.So saying, he sprang upon him, and seized him by the helmet with thick crest of horse-hair,and whirling him about began to drag him towards the well-greaved Achaeans; and Paris was choked by the richly-broidered strap beneath his soft throat, that was drawn tight beneath his chin to hold his helm. And now would Menelaus have dragged him away, and won glory unspeakable, had not Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, been quick to see,and to his cost broken in twain the thong, cut from the hide of a slaughtered ox; and the empty helm came away in his strong hand. This he then tossed with a swing into the company of the well-greaved Achaeans, and his trusty comrades gathered it up; but himself he sprang back again, eager to slay his foewith spear of bronze.
But him Aphrodite snatched up, full easily as a goddess may, and shrouded him in thick mist, and set him down in his fragrant, vaulted[*](1) chamber, and herself went to summon Helen. Her she found on the high wall, and round about her in throngs were the women of Troy.Then with her hand the goddess laid hold of her fragrant robe, and plucked it, and spake to her in the likeness of an ancient dame, a wool-comber, who had been wont to card the fair wool for her when she dwelt in Lacedaemon, and who was well loved of her; in her likeness fair Aphrodite spake:
Come hither; Alexander calleth thee to go to thy home. There is he in his chamber and on his inlaid couch, gleaming with beauty and fair raiment. Thou wouldest not deem that he had come thither from warring with a foe, but rather that he was going to the dance, or sat there as one that had but newly ceased from the dance.So spake she, and stirred Helen's heart in her breast; and when she marked the beauteous neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and her flashing eyes, then amazement seized her, and she spake, and addressed her, saying:
Strange goddess, why art thou minded to beguile me thus?Verily thou wilt lead me yet further on to one of the well-peopled cities of Phrygia or lovely Maeonia, if there too there be some one of mortal men who is dear to thee, seeing that now Menelaus hath conquered goodly Alexander, and is minded to lead hateful me to his home.It is for this cause that thou art now come hither with guileful thought. Go thou, and sit by his side, and depart from the way of the gods, neither let thy feet any more bear thee back to Olympus; but ever be thou troubled for him, and guard him, until he make thee his wife, or haply his slave.But thither will I not go—it were a shameful thing—to array that man's couch; all the women of Troy will blame me hereafter; and I have measureless griefs at heart.Then stirred to wrath fair Aphrodite spake to her:
Provoke me not, rash woman, lest I wax wroth and desert thee,and hate thee, even as now I love thee wondrously; and lest I devise grievous hatred between both, Trojans alike and Danaans; then wouldst thou perish of an evil fate.So spake she, and Helen, sprung from Zeus, was seized with fear; and she[*](1) went, wrapping herself in her bright shining mantle,in silence; and she was unseen of the Trojan women; and the goddess led the way.
Now when they were come to the beautiful palace of Alexander, the handmaids turned forthwith to their tasks, but she, the fair lady, went to the high-roofed chamber. And the goddess, laughter-loving Aphrodite, took for her a chair,and set it before the face of Alexander. Thereon Helen sate her down, the daughter of Zeus that beareth the aegis, with eyes turned askance; and she chid her lord, and said:
Thou hast come back from the war; would thou hadst perished there, vanquished by a valiant man that was my former lord.Verily it was thy boast aforetime that thou wast a better man than Menelaus, dear to Ares, in the might of thy hands and with thy spear. But go now, challenge Menelaus, dear to Ares, again to do battle with thee, man to man. But, nay, I of myself bid thee refrain, and not war amain against fair-haired Menelaus,nor fight with him in thy folly, lest haply thou be vanquished anon by his spear.Then Paris made answer, and spake to her, saying:
Chide not my heart, lady, with hard words of reviling. For this present hath Menelaus vanquished me with Athene's aid,but another time shall I vanquish him; on our side too there be gods. But come, let us take our joy, couched together in love; for never yet hath desire so encompassed my soul—nay, not when at the first I snatched thee from lovely Lacedaemon and sailed with thee on my seafaring ships,and on the isle of Cranae had dalliance with thee on the couch of love—as now I love thee, and sweet desire layeth hold of me.He spake, and led the way to the couch, and with him followed his wife. Thus the twain were couched upon the corded bed; but the son of Atreus ranged through the throng like a wild beast,if anywhere he might have sight of godlike Alexander. But none of the Trojans or their famed allies could then discover Alexander to Menelaus, dear to Ares. Not for love verily were they fain to hide him, could any have seen him, for he was hated of all even as black death.Then the king of men, Agamemnon, spake among them, saying:
Hearken to me, ye Trojans and Dardanians and allies. Victory is now of a surety seen to rest with Menelaus, dear to Ares; do ye therefore give up Argive Helen and the treasure with her, and pay ye in requital such recompense as beseemeth,even such as shall abide in the minds of men that are yet to be.So spake the son of Atreus, and all the Achaeans shouted assent.
Now the gods, seated by the side of Zeus, were holding assembly on the golden floor, and in their midst the queenly Hebe poured them nectar, and they with golden goblets pledged one the other as they looked forth upon the city of the Trojans.And forthwith the son of Cronos made essay to provoke Hera with mocking words, and said with malice:
Twain of the goddesses hath Menelaus for helpers, even Argive Hera, and Alalcomenean[*](153.1) Athene. Howbeit these verily sit apart and take their pleasure in beholding,whereas by the side of that other laughter-loving Aphrodite ever standeth, and wardeth from him fate, and but now she saved him, when he thought to perish. But of a surety victory rests with Menelaus, dear to Ares; let us therefore take thought how these things are to be;whether we shall again rouse evil war and the dread din of battle, or put friendship between the hosts. If this might in any wise be welcome to all and their good pleasure, then might the city of king Priam still be an habitation, and Menelaus take back Argive Helen.So spake he, and thereat Athene and Hera murmured, who sat side by side, and were devising ills for the Trojans. Athene verily held her peace and said naught, wroth though she was at father Zeus, and fierce anger gat hold of her; howbeit Hera's breast contained not her anger, but she spake to him, saying:
Most dread son of Cronos, what a word hast thou said! How art thou minded to render my labour vain and of none effect, and the sweat that I sweated in my toil,—aye, and my horses twain waxed weary with my summoning the host for the bane of Priam and his sons? Do thou as thou wilt; but be sure we other gods assent not all thereto.Then, stirred to hot anger, spake to her Zeus, the cloud-gatherer:
Strange queen, wherein do Priam and the sons of Priam work thee ills so many, that thou ragest unceasingly to lay waste the well-built citadel of Ilios? If thou wert to enter within the gates and the high walls,and to devour Priam raw and the sons of Priam and all the Trojans besides, then perchance mightest thou heal thine anger. Do as thy pleasure is; let not this quarrel in time to come be to thee and me a grievous cause of strife between us twain. And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart.When it shall be that I, vehemently eager to lay waste a city, choose one wherein dwell men that are dear to thee, seek thou in no wise to hinder my anger, but suffer me; since I too have yielded to thee of mine own will, yet with soul unwilling. For of all cities beneath sun and starry heavenwherein men that dwell upon the face of the earth have their abodes, of these sacred Ilios was most honoured of my heart, and Priam and the people of Priam, with goodly spear of ash. For never at any time was mine altar in lack of the equal feast, the drink-offering, and the savour of burnt-offering, even the worship that is our due.
Then in answer to him spake ox-eyed, queenly Hera:
Verily have I three cities that are far dearest in my sight, Argos and Sparta and broad-wayed Mycenae; these do thou lay waste whensoe'er they shall be hateful to thy heart. Not in their defence do I stand forth, nor account them too greatly.For even though I grudge thee, and am fain to thwart their overthrow, I avail naught by my grudging, for truly thou art far the mightier. Still it beseemeth that my labour too be not made of none effect; for I also am a god, and my birth is from the stock whence is thine own, and crooked-counselling Cronos begat me as the most honoured of his daughtersin twofold wise, for that I am eldest, and am called thy wife, whilst thou art king among all the immortals. Nay then, let us yield one to the other herein, I to thee and thou to me, and all the other immortal gods will follow with us; and do thou straightway bid Athenego her way into the dread din of battle of Trojans and Achaeans, and contrive how that the Trojans may be first in defiance of their oaths to work evil upon the Achaeans that exult in their triumph.So said she, and the father of men and gods failed not to hearken; forthwith he spake to Athene winged words:
Haste thee with all speed unto the host into the midst of Trojans and Achaeans, and contrive how that the Trojans may be first in defiance of their oaths to work evil upon the Achaeans that exult in their triumph.So saying, he stirred on Athene that was already eager, and down from the peaks of Olympus she went darting.Even in such wise as the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sendeth a star to be a portent for seamen or for a wide host of warriors, a gleaming star, and therefrom the sparks fly thick; even so darted Pallas Athene to earth, and down she leapt into the midst; and amazement came upon all that beheld,on horse-taming Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans; and thus would a man say with a glance at his neighbour:
Verily shall we again have evil war and the dread din of battle, or else friendship is set amid the hosts by Zeus, who is for men the dispenser of battle.
So would many a one of Achaeans and Trojans speak. But Athene entered the throng of the Trojans in the guise of a man, even of Laodocus, son of Antenor, a valiant spearman, in quest of god-like Pandarus, if haply she might find him. And she found Lycaon's son, peerless and stalwart,as he stood, and about him were the stalwart ranks of the shield-bearing hosts that followed him from the streams of Aesepus. Then she drew near, and spake to him winged words:
Wilt thou now hearken to me, thou wise-hearted son of Lycaon? Then wouldst thou dare to let fly a swift arrow upon Menelaus,and wouldst win favour and renown in the eyes of all the Trojans, and of king Alexander most of all. From him of a surety wouldst thou before all others bear off glorious gifts, should he see Menelaus, the warlike son of Atreus, laid low by thy shaft, and set upon the grievous pyre.Nay, come, shoot thine arrow at glorious Menelaus, and vow to Apollo, the wolf-born[*](161.1) god, famed for his bow, that thou wilt sacrifice a glorious hecatomb of firstling lambs, when thou shalt come to thy home, the city of sacred Zeleia.So spake Athene, and persuaded his heart in his folly.Straightway he uncovered his polished bow of the horn of a wild ibex, that himself on a time had smitten beneath the breast as it came forth from a rock, he lying in wait the while in a place of ambush, and had struck it in the chest, so that it fell backward in a cleft of the rock. From its head the horns grew to a length of sixteen palms;these the worker in horn had wrought and fitted together, and smoothed all with care, and set thereon a tip of gold. This bow he bent, leaning it against the ground, and laid it carefully down; and his goodly comrades held their shields before him, lest the warrior sons of the Achaeans should leap to their feetor ever Menelaus, the warlike son of Atreus, was smitten. Then opened he the lid of his quiver, and took forth an arrow, a feathered arrow that had never been shot, freighted[*](161.2) with dark pains; and forthwith he fitted the bitter arrow to the string, and made a vow to Apollo, the wolf-born god, famed for his bow,that he would sacrifice a glorious hecatomb of firstling lambs, when he should come to his home, the city of sacred Zeleia. And he drew the bow, clutching at once the notched arrow and the string of ox's sinew: the string he brought to his breast and to the bow the iron arrow-head. But when he had drawn the great bow into a round,the bow twanged and the string sang aloud, and the keen arrow leapt, eager to wing its way amid the throng.
Then, O Menelaus, the blessed gods, the immortals, forgat thee not; and before all the daughter of Zeus, she that driveth the spoil, who took her stand before thee, and warded off the stinging arrow.She swept it just aside from the flesh, even as a mother sweepeth a fly from her child when he lieth in sweet slumber; and of herself she guided it where the golden clasps of the belt were fastened and the corselet overlapped. On the clasped belt lighted the bitter arrow,and through the belt richly dight was it driven, and clean through the curiously wrought corselet did it force its way, and through the taslet[*](163.1) which he wore, a screen for his flesh and a barrier against darts, wherein was his chiefest defence; yet even through this did it speed. So the arrow grazed the outermost flesh of the warrior,and forthwith the dark blood flowed from the wound. As when a woman staineth ivory with scarlet, some woman of Maeonia or Caria, to make a cheek-piece for horses, and it lieth in a treasure-chamber, though many horsemen pray to wear it; but it lieth there as a king's treasure,alike an ornament for his horse and to its driver a glory; even in such wise, Menelaus, were thy thighs stained with blood, thy shapely thighs and thy legs and thy fair ankles beneath. Thereat shuddered the king of men, Agamemnon, as he saw the black blood flowing from the wound,and Menelaus, dear to Ares, himself likewise shuddered. But when he saw that the sinew[*](1) and the barbs were without the flesh, back again into his breast was his spirit gathered. But with a heavy moan spake among them lord Agamemnon, holding Menelaus by the hand; and his comrades too made moan:
Dear brother, it was for thy death, meseems, that I swore this oath with sacrifice, setting thee forth alone before the face of the Achaeans to do battle with the Trojans, seeing the Trojans have thus smitten thee, and trodden under foot the oaths of faith. Yet in no wise is an oath of none effect and the blood of lambs and drink-offerings of unmixed wine and the hand-clasps, wherein we put our trust.For even if for the moment the Olympian vouchsafeth not fulfillment, yet late and at length doth he fulfill them, and with a heavy price do men make atonement, even with their own heads and their wives and their children. For of a surety know I this in heart and soul: the day shall come when sacred Ilios shall be laid low,and Priam, and the people of Priam, with goodly spear of ash; and Zeus, son of Cronos, throned on high, that dwelleth in the heaven, shall himself shake over them all his dark aegis in wrath for this deceit. These things verily shall not fail of fulfillment; yet dread grief for thee shall be mine, O Menelaus,if thou shalt die and fill up thy lot of life. Aye, and as one most despised should I return to thirsty Argos, for straightway will the Achaeans bethink them of their native land, and so should we leave to Priam and the Trojans their boast, even Argive Helen. And thy bones shall the earth rotas thou liest in the land of Troy with thy task unfinished; and thus shall many a one of the overweening Trojans say, as he leapeth upon the barrow of glorious Menelaus:Would that in every matter it may he thus that Agamemnon may fulfill his wrath, even as now he led hither a host of the Achaeans to no purpose, and lo!he hath departed home to his dear native land with empty ships, and hath left here noble Menelaus.So shall some man speak in aftertime; in that day let the wide earth gape for me.
But fair-haired Menelaus spake and heartened him, saying:
Be thou of good cheer, neither affright in any wise the host of the Achaeans.Not in a fatal spot hath the shaft been fixed; ere that my flashing belt stayed it, and the kilt beneath, and the taslet that the coppersmiths fashioned.Then in answer to him spake lord Agamemnon:
Would it may be so, dear Menelaus.But the leech shall search the wound and lay thereon simples that shall make thee cease from dark pains.Therewith he spake to Talthybius, the godlike herald:
Talthybius, make haste to call hither Machaon, son of Asclepius, the peerless leech,to see warlike Menelaus, son of Atreus, whom some man well skilled in archery hath smitten with an arrow, some Trojan or Lycian, compassing glory for himself but for us sorrow.So spake he, and the herald failed not to hearken, as he heard, but went his way throughout the host of the brazen-coated Achaeans,glancing this way and that for the warrior Machaon; and he marked him as he stood, and round about him were the stalwart ranks of the shield-bearing hosts that followed him from Trica, the pastureland of horses. And he came up to him, and spake winged words, saying:
Rouse thee, son of Asclepius; lord Agamemnon calleth theeto see warlike Menelaus, captain of the Achaeans, whom some man, well skilled in archery, hath smitten with an arrow, some Trojan or Lycian, compassing glory for himself but for us sorrow.So spake he, and roused the heart in his breast, and they went their way in the throng throughout the broad host of the Achaeans. And when they were come where was fair-haired Menelaus,wounded, and around him were gathered in a circle all they that were chieftains, the godlike hero came and stood in their midst, and straightway drew forth the arrow from the clasped belt; and as it was drawn forth the sharp barbs were broken backwards.And he loosed the flashing belt and the kilt beneath and the taslet that the coppersmiths fashioned. But when he saw the wound where the bitter arrow had lighted, he sucked out the blood, and with sure knowledge spread thereon soothing simples, which of old Cheiron had given to his father with kindly thought. While they were thus busied with Menelaus, good at the war-cry, meanwhile the ranks of the shield-bearing Trojans came on; and the Achaeans again did on their battle-gear, and bethought them of war.