Then was the gathering broken up, and the folk scattered, each man to go to his own ship. The rest bethought them of supper and of sweet sleep, to take their fill thereof; but Achilles wept, ever remembering his dear comrade, neither might sleep,that mastereth all, lay hold of him, but he turned him ever to this side or to that, yearning for the man-hood and valorous might of Patroclus, thinking on all he had wrought with him and all the woes he had borne, passing though wars of men and the grievous waves. Thinking thereon he would shed big tears,lying now upon his side, now upon his back, and now upon his face; and then again he would rise upon his feet and roam distraught along the shore of the sea. Neither would he fail to mark the Dawn, as she shone over the sea and the sea-beaches, but would yoke beneath the car his swift horses,and bind Hector behind the chariot to drag him withal; and when he had haled him thrice about the barrow of the dead son of Menoetius, he would rest again in his hut, but would leave Hector outstretched on his face in the dust. Howbeit Apollo kept all defacement from his flesh, pitying the warrioreven in death, and with the golden aegis he covered him wholly, that Achilles might not tear his body as he dragged him.
Thus Achilles in his fury did foul despite unto goodly Hector; but the blessed gods had pity on him as they beheld him, and bestirred the keen-sighted Argeiphontes to steal away the corpse.And the thing was pleasing unto all the rest, yet not unto Hera or Poseidon or the flashing-eyed maiden, but they continued even as when at the first sacred Ilios became hateful in their eyes and Priam and his folk, by reason of the sin of Alexander, for that he put reproach upon those goddesses when they came to his steading,and gave precedence to her who furthered his fatal lustfulness. But when at length the twelfth morn thereafter was come, then among the immortals spake Phoebus Apollo:
Cruel are ye, O ye gods, and workers of bane. Hath Hector then never burned for you thighs of bulls and goats without blemish?Him now have ye not the heart to save, a corpse though he be, for his wife to look upon and his mother and his child, and his father Priam and his people, who would forthwith burn him in the fire and pay him funeral rites. Nay, it is the ruthless Achilles, O ye gods, that ye are fain to succour,him whose mind is nowise right, neither the purpose in his breast one that may be bent; but his heart is set on cruelty, even as a lion that at the bidding of his great might and lordly spirit goeth forth against the flocks of men to win him a feast; even so hath Achilles lost all pity, neither is shame in his heart,the which harmeth men greatly and profiteth them withal. Lo, it may be that a man hath lost one dearer even than was this—a brother, that the selfsame mother bare, or haply a son; yet verily when he hath wept and wailed for him he maketh an end; for an enduring soul have the Fates given unto men.But this man, when he hath reft goodly Hector of life, bindeth him behind his chariot and draggeth him about the barrow of his dear comrade; in sooth neither honour nor profit shall he have therefrom. Let him beware lest we wax wroth with him, good man though he be; for lo, in his fury he doth foul despite unto senseless clay.Then stirred to anger spake to him white-armed Hera:
Even this might be as thou sayest, Lord of the silver bow, if indeed ye gods will vouchsafe like honour to Achilles and to Hector. Hector is but mortal and was suckled at a woman's breast, but Achilles is the child of a goddess that I mine own selffostered and reared, and gave to a warrior to be his wife, even to Peleus, who was heartily dear to the immortals. And all of you, O ye gods, came to her marriage, and among them thyself too didst sit at the feast, thy lyre in thy hand, O thou friend of evil-doers, faithless ever.
Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered her, and said:
Hera, be not thou utterly wroth against the gods; the honour of these twain shall not be as one; howbeit Hector too was dearest to the gods of all mortals that are in Ilios. So was he to me at least, for nowise failed he of acceptable gifts. For never was my altar in lack of the equal feast,the drink-offiering and the savour of burnt-offering, even the worship that is our due. Howbeit of the stealing away of bold Hector will we naught; it may not be but that Achilles would be ware thereof; for verily his mother cometh ever to his side alike by night and day. But I would that one of the gods would call Thetis to come unto me,that I may speak to her a word of wisdom, to the end that Achilles may accept gifts from Priam, and give Hector back.So spake he, and storm-footed Iris hasted to bear his message, and midway between Samos and rugged Imbros she leapt into the dark sea, and the waters sounded loud above her.Down sped she to the depths hike a plummet of lead, the which, set upon the horn of an ox of the field, goeth down bearing death to the ravenous fishes. And she found Thetis in the hollow cave, and round about her other goddesses of the sea sat in a throng, and she in their midstwas wailing for the fate of her peerless son, who to her sorrow was to perish in deep-soiled Troy, far from his native land. And swift-footed Iris drew near, and spake to her:
Rouse thee, 0 Thetis; Zeus, whose counsels are everlasting, calleth thee.Then spake in answer Thetis, the silver-footed goddess:
Wherefore summoneth me that mighty god? I have shame to mingle in the company of the immortals, seeing I have measurehess griefs at heart. Howbeit I will go, neither shall his word be vain, whatsoever he shall speak.
So saying, the fair goddess took a dark-hued veil, than which was no raiment more black,and set out to go, and before her wind-footed swift Iris led the way; and about them the surge of the sea parted asunder. And when they had stepped forth upon the beach they sped unto heaven; and they found the son of Cronos, whose voice is borne afar, and around him sat gathered together all the other blessed gods that are for ever.Then she sate her down beside father Zeus, and Athene gave place. And Hera set in her hand a fair golden cup, and spake words of cheer.; and Thetis drank, and gave back the cup. Then among them the father of men and gods was first to speak:
Thou art come to Olympus, 0, goddess Thetis,for all thy sorrow, though thou hast comfortless grief at heart; I know it of myself; yet even so will I tell thee wherefore I called thee hither. For nine days' space hath strife arisen among the immortals as touching the corpse of Hector and Achilles, sacker of cities. They are for bestirring the keen-sighted Argeiphontes to steal the body away,yet herein do I accord honour unto Achilles; for I would fain keep in time to come thy worship and thy love. Haste thee with all speed to the host and declare unto thy son my bidding. Say unto him that the gods are angered with him, and that I above all immortals am filled with wrath, for that in the fury of his hearthe holdeth Hector at the beaked ships and gave him not back, if so be he may be seized with fear of me and give Hector back. But I will send forth Iris unto great-hearted Priam, to bid him go to the ships of the Achaeans to ransom his dear son, and to bear gifts unto Achilles which shall make glad his heart.
So spake he, and the goddess, silver-footed Thetis, failed not to hearken, but went darting down from the peaks of Olympus, and came to the hut of her son. There she found him groaning ceaselessly, and round about him his dear comrades with busy haste were making ready their early meal,and in the hut a ram, great and shaggy, lay slaughtered for them. Then she, his queenly mother, sate her down close by his side and stroked him with her hand, and spake, and called him by name:
My child, how long wilt thou devour thine heart with weeping and sorrowing, and wilt take no thought of food,neither of the couch? Good were it for thee even to have dalliance in a woman's embrace. For, I tell thee, thou shalt not thyself be long in life, but even now doth death stand hard by thee and mighty fate. But hearken thou forthwith unto me, for I am a messenger unto thee from Zeus. He declareth that that the gods are angered with thee,and that himself above all immortals is filled with wrath, for that in the fury of thine heart thou holdest Hector at the beaked ships, and gavest him not back. Nay come, give him up, and take ransom for the dead.Then in answer to her spake Achilles, swift of foot:
So let it be; whoso bringeth ransom, let him bear away the dead,if verily with full purpose of heart the Olympian himself so biddeth.On this wise amid the gathering of the ships mother and son spake many winged words one to the other, but the son of Cronos sent forth Iris to sacred Ilios:
Up, go, swift Iris; leave thou the abode of Olympusand bear tidings within Ilios unto great-hearted Priam that he go to the ships of the Achaeans to ransom his dear son, and that he bear gifts unto Achilles which shall make glad his heart; alone let him go, neither let any man beside of the Trojans go with him. A herald may attend him, an elder man,to guide the mules and the light-running waggon, and to carry back to the city the dead, even him that Achilles slew. Let not death be in his thoughts. neither any fear; such a guide will we give him, even Argeiphontes, who shall lead him, until in his leading he bring him nigh to Achilles.And when he shall have led him into the hut, neither shall Achilles himself slay him nor suffer any other to slay; for not without wisdom is he, neither without purpose, nor yet hardened in sin; nay, with all kindliness will he spare a suppliant man.