Then the son of Peleus forthwith ordained in the sight of the Danaans other prizes for a third contest, even for toilsome wrestling — for him that should win, a great tripod to stand upon the fire, that the Achaeans prized amongst them at the worth of twelve oxen; and for him that should be worsted he set in the midst a womanof manifold skill in handiwork, and they prized her at the worth of four oxen. And he stood up and spake among the Argives saying:
Up now, ye twain that will make essay likewise in this contest.So spake he, and thereat arose great Telamonian Aias, and up stood Odysseus of many wiles, he of guileful mind.Then the twain, when they had girded themselves, stepped into the midst of the place of gathering, and laid hold each of the other in close grip with their mighty hands, even as the gable-rafters of a high house, which some famous craftsman joineth together, that he may have shelter from the might of the winds. And their backs creaked beneath the violent tugging of bold hands,and the sweat flowed down in streams; and many a weal, red with blood, sprang up along their ribs and shoulders; and ever they strove amain for victory, to win the fashioned tripod. Neither might Odysseus avail to trip Aias and throw him to the ground,nor Aias him, for the mighty strength of Odysseus held firm. But when at the last they were like to weary the well-greaved Achaeans, then unto Odysseus spake great Telamonian Aias, saying:
Zeus-born, son of Laertes, Odysseus of many wiles, lift thou me, or let me lift thee; but the issue shall rest with Zeus.He spake, and lifted him; but Odysseus forgat not his guile. He smote with a sure blow the hollow of Aias' knee from behind, and loosed his limbs, so that he was thrown backward, and Odysseus fell upon his chest; and the people gazed thereon and were seized with wonder. Then in his turn the much-enduring goodly Odysseus essayed to lift,and moved him a little from the ground, but lifted him not, howbeit he crooked his knee within that of Aias, and upon the ground the twain fell one hard by the other, and were befouled with dust. And now would they have sprung up again for the third time and have wrestled, but that Achilles himself uprose, and held them back:
No longer strain ye now, neither be worn with pain. Victory is with you both; take then equa1 prizes and go your ways, that other Achaeans too may strive.So spake he, and they readily hearkened to him and obeyed, and wiping from their bodies the dust they put upon them their tunics.
Then the son of Peleus straightway set forth other prizes for fleetness of foot: a mixingbowl of silver, richly wrought; six measures it held, and in beauty it was far the goodliest in all the earth, seeing that Sidonians, well skilled in deft handiwork, had wrought it cunningly, and men of the Phoenicians brought it over the murky deep, and landed it in harbour,and gave it as a gift to Thoas; and as a ransom for Lycaon, son of Priam, Jason's son Euneos gave it to the warrior Patroclus. This bowl did Achilles set forth as a prize in honour of his comrade, even for him whoso should prove fleetest in speed of foot.For the second again he set an ox great and rich with fat; and a half-talent in gold he appointed for the last. And he stood up, and spake among the Argives saying:
Up now, ye that will make essay likewise in this contest.So spake he, and forthwith uprose swift Aias, son of Oïleus,and Odysseus of many wiles, and after them Antilochus, Nestor's son, for he surpassed all the youths in swiftness of foot. Then took they their places in a row, and Achilles showed them the goal, and a course was marked out for them from the turning-point.[*](551.1) Then speedily the son of Oïleus forged to the front, and close after him sped goodly Odysseus;close as is the weaving-rod to the breast of a fair-girdled woman, when she deftly draweth it in her hands, pulling the spool past the warp, and holdeth the rod nigh to her breast;[*](551.2) even so close behind ran Odysseus,and his feet trod in the footsteps of Aias or ever the dust had settled therein, and down upon his head beat the breath of goodly Odysseus, as he ran ever swiftly on; and all the Achaeans shouted to further him as he struggled for victory, and called to him as he strained to the utmost. But when now they were running the last part of the course, straightway Odysseus made prayer in his heart to flashing-eyed Athene:
Hear me, goddess, and come a goodly helper to my feet.So spake he in prayer, and Pallas Athene heard him, and made his limbs light, his feet and his hands above. But when they were now about to dart forth to win the prize, then Aias slipped as he ran—for Athene hampered him—where was strewn the filth from the slaying of the loud bellowing bulls that swift-footed Achilles had slain in honour of Patroclus; and with the filth of the bulls were his mouth and nostrils filled. So then much-enduring, goodly Odysseus took up the bowl, seeing he came in the first, and glorious Aias took the ox.And he stood holding in his hands the horn of the ox of the field, spewing forth the filth; and he spake among the Argives:
Out upon it, lo, the goddess hampered me in my running, she that standeth ever by Odysseus' side like a mother, and helpeth him.
So spake he, but they all laughed merrily at him.Then Antilochus bare away the last prize, smiling the while, and spake among the Argives, saying:
Among you all that know it well, will I declare, my friends, that even to this day the immortals shew honour to older men. For Aias is but a little older than I,whereas Odysseus is of an earlier generation and of earlier men—a green old age is his, men say—yet hard were he for any other Achaean to contend with in running, save only for Achilles.So spake he,and gave glory to the son of Peleus, swift of foot. And Achilles made answer, and spake to him, saying:
Antilochus, not in vain shall thy word of praise be spoken; nay, I will add to thy prize a half-talent of gold.So saying, he set it in his hands, and Antilochus received it gladly. But the son of Peleus brought and set in the place of gathering a far-shadowing spear, and therewith a shield and helmet,the battlegear of Sarpedon, that Patroclus stripped from him; and he stood up, and spake among the Argives, saying:
To win these prizes invite we warriors twain, the best there are, to clothe them in their armour and take bronze that cleaveth the flesh, and so make trial each of the other before the host.Whoso of the twain shall first reach the other's fair flesh, and touch the inward parts through armour and dark blood, to him will I give this silver-studded sword—a goodly Thracian sword which I took from Asteropaeus; and these arms let the twain bear away to hold in common;and a goodly banquet shall we set before them in our huts.So spake he, and thereat arose great Telamonian Aias, and up rose the son of Tydeus, stalwart Diomedes. So when they had armed them on either side of the throng, into the midst strode the twain, eager for battle,glaring terribly; and amazement held all the Achaeans. But when they were come near as they advanced one against the other, thrice they set upon each other, and thrice they clashed together. Then Aias thrust upon the shield, that was well-balanced upon every side, but reached not the flesh, for the corselet within kept off the spear.But Tydeus' son over the great shield sought ever to reach the neck with the point of his shining spear. Then verily the Achaeans, seized with fear for Aias, bade them cease and take up equal prizes. Howbeit to Tydeus' son the warrior gave the great sword,bringing it with its scabbard and its well-cut baldric.
Then the son of Peleus set forth a mass of rough-cast iron, which of old the mighty strength of Eëtion was wont to hurl; but him had swift-footed goodly Achilles slain, and bare this away on his ships with his other possessions.And he stood up, and spake among the Argives, saying :
Up now, ye that will make essay likewise in this contest. Though his rich fields lie very far remote, the winner hereof will have it five revolving years to serve his need; for not through lack of iron will his shepherd or ploughmanfare to the city; nay, this will supply them.So spake he, and thereat arose Polypoetes, staunch in fight, and the mighty strength of godlike Leonteus, and Aias, son of Telamon, and goodly Epeius. Then they took their places in order, and goodly Epeius grasped the mass,and whirled and flung it; and all the Achaeans laughed aloud thereat. Then in turn Leonteus, scion of Ares, made a cast; and thirdly great Telamonian Aias hurled it from his strong hand, and sent it past the marks of all. But when Polypoetes, staunch in fight,grasped the mass, far as a herdsman flings his crook, and it flieth whirling over the herds of kine, even so far cast he it beyond all the gathering; and the folk shouted aloud. And the comrades of strong Polypoetes rose up and bare to the hollow ships the prize of the king. Then for the archers he set forth as a prize dark iron—ten double axes laid he down, and ten single; and he set up the mast of a dark-prowed ship far off in the sands, and with a slender cord made fast thereto by the foot a timorous dove, and bade shoot thereat.
Whoso shall hit the timorous dove let him take up all the double axes and bear them home, and whoso shall hit the cord, albeit he miss the bird: lo, his is the worser shot; he shall bear as his prize the single axes.
So spake he, and there arose the might of the prince Teucer,and Meriones the valiant squire of Idomeneus. Then took they the lots and shook them in a helmet of bronze, and Teucer drew by lot the first place. Forthwith he let fly an arrow with might, howbeit he vowed not that he would sacrifice to the king a glorious hecatomb of firstling lambs.So he missed the bird, for Apollo grudged him that, but hit the cord beside its foot wherewith the bird was tied, and clean away the bitter arrow cut the cord. Then the dove darted skyward, and the cord hung loose toward earth; and the Achaeans shouted aloud.But Meriones speedily snatched the bow from Teucer's hand—an arrow had he long been holding while Teucer aimed—and vowed forthwith that he would sacrifice to Apollo that smiteth afar a glorious hecatomb of firstling lambs. High up beneath the cloud he spied the timorous dove;there as she circled round he struck her in the midst beneath the wing, and clean through passed the shaft, and fell again and fixed itself in the ground before the foot of Meriones; but the dove, lighting on the mast of the dark-prowed ship, hung down her head, and her thick plumage drooped.Swiftly the life fled from her limbs, and she fell far from the mast; and the people gazed thereon and were seized with wonder. And Meriones took up all ten double axes, and Teucer bare the single to the hollow ships. Then the son of Peleus brought and set in the place of gathering a far-shadowing spearand a cauldron, that the fire had not yet touched, of an ox's worth, embossed with flowers; and men that were hurlers of javelins arose. Up rose the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon and Meriones, the valiant squire of Idomeneus. But among them spake swift-footed, goodly Achilles:
Son of Atreus, we know how far thou excellest all, and how far thou art the best in might and in the casting of the spear; nay, take thou this prize and go thy way to the hollow ships; but the spear let us give to the warrior Meriones, if thy heart consenteth thereto: so at least would I have it:So spake he, and the king of men, Agamemnon, failed not to hearken. Then to Meriones he gave the spear of bronze, but the warrior handed to the herald Talthybius the beauteous prize.