The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 10 of 35

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BOOK TWO

 

          Now the rest of the gods, and men who were lords of chariots,

       slept night long, but the ease of sleep came not upon Zeus

       who was pondering in his heart how he might bring honor

       to Achilleus, and destroy many beside the ships of the Achaians.

5      Now to his mind this thing appeared to be the best counsel,

       to send evil Dream to Atreus’ son Agamemnon.

       He cried out to the dream and addressed him in winged words:

       “Go forth, evil Dream, beside the swift ships of the Achaians.

       Make your way to the shelter of Atreus’ son Agamemnon;

10   speak to him in words exactly as I command you.

       Bid him arm the flowing-haired Achaians for battle

       in all haste; since now he might take the wide-wayed city

       of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos

       arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over

15   by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans.”

          So he spoke, and Dream listened to his word and descended.

       Lightly he came down beside the swift ships of the Achaians

       and came to Agamemnon the son of Atreus. He found him

       sleeping within his shelter in a cloud of immortal slumber.

20   Dream stood then beside his head in the likeness of Nestor,

       Neleus’ son, whom Agamemnon honored beyond all

       elders beside. In Nestor’s likeness the divine Dream spoke to him:

       “Son of wise Atreus breaker of horses, are you sleeping?

       He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels

25   and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous.

       Listen quickly to what I say, since I am a messenger

       of Zeus, who far away cares much for you and is pitiful.

       Zeus bids you arm the flowing-haired Achaians for battle

       in all haste; since now you might take the wide-wayed city

30   of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos

       arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over

       by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans

       from Zeus. Keep this thought in your heart then, let not forgetfulness

       take you, after you are released from the kindly sweet slumber.”

35      So he spoke and went away, and left Agamemnon

       there, believing things in his heart that were not to be accomplished.

       For he thought that on that very day he would take Priam’s city;

       fool, who knew nothing of all the things Zeus planned to accomplish,

       Zeus, who yet was minded to visit tears and sufferings

40   on Trojans and Danaäns alike in the strong encounters.

       Agamemnon awoke from sleep, the divine voice drifting

       around him. He sat upright and put on his tunic,

       beautiful, fresh woven, and threw the great mantle over it.

       Underneath his shining feet he bound the fair sandals

45   and across his shoulders slung the sword with the nails of silver,

       and took up the scepter of his fathers, immortal forever.

       Thus he went beside the ships of the bronze-armored Achaians.

          Now the goddess Dawn drew close to tall Olympos

       with her message of light to Zeus and the other immortals.

50   But Agamemnon commanded his clear-voiced heralds to summon

       by proclamation to assembly the flowing-haired Achaians,

       and the heralds made their cry and the men were assembled swiftly.

          First he held a council session of the high-hearted princes

       beside the ship of Nestor, the king of the race of Pylos.

55   Summoning these he compacted before them his close counsel:

       “Hear me, friends: in my sleep a Dream divine came to me

       through the immortal night, and in appearance and stature

       and figure it most closely resembled splendid Nestor.

       It came and stood above my head and spoke a word to me:

60   ‘Son of wise Atreus breaker of horses, are you sleeping?

       He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels

       and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous.

       Now listen quickly to what I say, since I am a messenger

       from Zeus, who far away cares much for you and is pitiful.

65   Zeus bids you arm the flowing-haired Achaians for battle

       in all haste; since now you might take the wide-wayed city

       of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos

       arguing the matter, since Hera has forced them all over

       by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans

70   by Zeus’ will. Keep this within your heart.’ So speaking

       the Dream went away on wings, and sweet sleep released me.

       Come then, let us see if we can arm the sons of the Achaians.

       Yet first, since it is the right way, I will make trial of them

       by words, and tell them even to flee in their benched vessels.

75   Do you take stations here and there, to check them with orders.”

          He spoke thus, and sat down again, and among them rose up

       Nestor, he who ruled as a king in sandy Pylos.

       He in kind intention toward all stood forth and addressed them:

       “Friends, who are leaders of the Argives and keep their counsel,

80   had it been any other Achaian who told of this dream

       we should have called it a lie and we might rather have turned from it.

       Now he who claims to be the best of the Achaians has seen it.

       Come then, let us see if we can arm the sons of the Achaians.”

          So he spoke and led the way departing from the council,

85   and the rest rose to their feet, the scattered kings, obeying

       the shepherd of the people, and the army thronged behind them.

       Like the swarms of clustering bees that issue forever

       in fresh bursts from the hollow in the stone, and hang like

       bunched grapes as they hover beneath the flowers in springtime

90   fluttering in swarms together this way and that way,

       so the many nations of men from the ships and the shelters

       along the front of the deep sea beach marched in order

       by companies to the assembly, and Rumor walked blazing among them,

       Zeus’ messenger, to hasten them along. Thus they were assembled

95   and the place of their assembly was shaken, and the earth groaned

       as the people took their positions and there was tumult. Nine heralds

       shouting set about putting them in order, to make them cease their

       clamor and listen to the kings beloved of Zeus. The people

       took their seats in sober fashion and were marshaled in their places

100  and gave over their clamoring. Powerful Agamemnon

       stood up holding the scepter Hephaistos had wrought him carefully.

       Hephaistos gave it to Zeus the king, the son of Kronos,

       and Zeus in turn gave it to the courier Argeïphontes,

       and lord Hermes gave it to Pelops, driver of horses,

105  and Pelops again gave it to Atreus, the shepherd of the people.

       Atreus dying left it to Thyestes of the rich flocks,

       and Thyestes left it in turn to Agamemnon to carry

       and to be lord of many islands and over all Argos.

       Leaning upon this scepter he spoke and addressed the Argives:

110  “Fighting men and friends, O Danaäns, henchmen of Ares:

       Zeus son of Kronos has caught me fast in bitter futility.

       He is hard; who before this time promised me and consented

       that I might sack strong-walled Ilion and sail homeward.

       Now he has devised a vile deception, and bids me go back

115  to Argos in dishonor having lost many of my people.

       Such is the way it will be pleasing to Zeus, who is too strong,

       who before now has broken the crests of many cities

       and will break them again, since his power is beyond all others.

       And this shall be a thing of shame for the men hereafter

120  to be told, that so strong, so great a host of Achaians

       carried on and fought in vain a war that was useless

       against men fewer than they, with no accomplishment shown for it;

       since if both sides were to be willing, Achaians and Trojans,

       to cut faithful oaths of truce, and both to be numbered,

125  and the Trojans were to be counted by those with homes in the city,

       while we were to be allotted in tens, we Achaians,

       and each one of our tens chose a man of Troy to pour wine for it,

       still there would be many tens left without a wine steward.

       By so much I claim we sons of the Achaians outnumber

130  the Trojans—those who live in the city; but there are companions

       from other cities in their numbers, wielders of the spear, to help them,

       who drive me hard back again and will not allow me,

       despite my will, to sack the well-founded stronghold of Ilion.

       And now nine years of mighty Zeus have gone by, and the timbers

135  of our ships have rotted away and the cables are broken

       and far away our own wives and our young children

       are sitting within our halls and wait for us, while still our work here

       stays forever unfinished as it is, for whose sake we came hither.

       Come then, do as I say, let us all be won over; let us

140  run away with our ships to the beloved land of our fathers

       since no longer now shall we capture Troy of the wide ways.”

          So he spoke, and stirred up the passion in the breast of all those

       who were within that multitude and listened to his counsel.

       And the assembly was shaken as on the sea the big waves

145  in the main by Ikaria, when the south and south-east winds

       driving down from the clouds of Zeus the father whip them.

       As when the west wind moves across the grain deep standing,

       boisterously, and shakes and sweeps it till the tassels lean, so

       all of that assembly was shaken, and the men in tumult

150  swept to the ships, and underneath their feet the dust lifted

       and rose high, and the men were all shouting to one another

       to lay hold on the ships and drag them down to the bright sea.

       They cleaned out the keel channels and their cries hit skyward

       as they made for home and snatched the props from under the vessels.

 

155      Then for the Argives a homecoming beyond fate might have

       been accomplished, had not Hera spoken a word to Athene:

       “For shame, now, Atrytone, daughter of Zeus of the aegis.

       As things are, the Argives will take flight homeward over

       the wide ridges of the sea to the land of their fathers,

160  and thus they would leave to Priam and to the Trojans Helen of Argos,

       to glory over, for whose sake many Achaians

       lost their lives in Troy far from their own native country.

       But go now along the host of the bronze-armored Achaians.

       Speak to each man in words of gentleness and draw him backward

165  nor let them drag down to the salt sea their oarswept vessels.”

          So she spoke, nor did the goddess gray-eyed Athene

       disobey her, but went in speed down the peaks of Olympos,

       and lightly she arrived beside the fast ships of the Achaians.

       There she came on Odysseus, the equal of Zeus in counsel,

170  standing still; he had laid no hand upon his black, strong-benched

       vessel, since disappointment touched his heart and his spirit.

       Athene of the gray eyes stood beside him and spoke to him:

       “Son of Laërtes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus:

       will it be this way? Will you all hurl yourselves into your benched ships

175  and take flight homeward to the beloved land of your fathers,

       and would you thus leave to Priam and to the Trojans Helen

       of Argos, to glory over, for whose sake many Achaians

       lost their lives in Troy far from their own native country?

       Go now along the host of the Achaians, give way no longer,

180  speak to each man in words of gentleness and draw them backward,

       nor let them drag down to the salt sea their oarswept vessels.”

          So she spoke, and he knew the voice of the goddess speaking

       and went on the run, throwing aside his cloak, which was caught up

       by Eurybates the herald of Ithaka who followed him.

185  He came face to face with Agamemnon, son of Atreus,

       and took from him the scepter of his fathers, immortal forever.

       With this he went beside the ships of the bronze-armored Achaians.

          Whenever he encountered some king, or man of influence,

       he would stand beside him and with soft words try to restrain him:

190  “Excellency! It does not become you to be frightened like any

       coward. Rather hold fast and check the rest of the people.

       You do not yet clearly understand the purpose of Atreides.

       Now he makes trial, but soon will bear hard on the sons of the Achaians.

       Did we not all hear what he was saying in council?

195  May he not in anger do some harm to the sons of the Achaians!

       For the anger of god-supported kings is a big matter,

       to whom honor and love are given from Zeus of the counsels.”

          When he saw some man of the people who was shouting,

       he would strike at him with his staff, and reprove him also:

200  “Excellency! Sit still and listen to what others tell you,

       to those who are better men than you, you skulker and coward

       and thing of no account whatever in battle or council.

       Surely not all of us Achaians can be as kings here.

       Lordship for many is no good thing. Let there be one ruler,

205  one king, to whom the son of devious-devising Kronos

       gives the scepter and right of judgment, to watch over his people.”

          So he went through the army marshaling it, until once more

       they swept back into the assembly place from the ships and the shelters

       clamorously, as when from the thunderous sea the surf-beat

210  crashes upon the great beach, and the whole sea is in tumult.

          Now the rest had sat down, and were orderly in their places,

       but one man, Thersites of the endless speech, still scolded,

       who knew within his head many words, but disorderly;

       vain, and without decency, to quarrel

215  with the princes with any word he thought might be amusing to the Argives.

       This was the ugliest man who came beneath Ilion. He was

       bandy-legged and went lame of one foot, with shoulders

       stooped and drawn together over his chest, and above this

       his skull went up to a point with the wool grown sparsely upon it.

220  Beyond all others Achilleus hated him, and Odysseus.

       These two he was forever abusing, but now at brilliant

       Agamemnon he clashed the shrill noise of his abuse. The Achaians

       were furiously angry with him, their minds resentful.

       But he, crying the words aloud, scolded Agamemnon:

225  “Son of Atreus, what thing further do you want, or find fault with

       now? Your shelters are filled with bronze; there are plenty of the choicest

       women for you within your shelter, whom we Achaians

       give to you first of all whenever we capture some stronghold.

       Or is it still more gold you will be wanting, that some son

230  of the Trojans, breakers of horses, brings as ransom out of Ilion,

       one that I, or some other Achaian, capture and bring in?

       Is it some young woman to lie with in love and keep her

       all to yourself apart from the others? It is not right for

       you, their leader, to lead in sorrow the sons of the Achaians.

235  My good fools, poor abuses, you women, not men, of Achaia,

       let us go back home in our ships, and leave this man here

       by himself in Troy to mull his prizes of honor

       that he may find out whether or not we others are helping him.

       And now he has dishonored Achilleus, a man much better

240  than he is. He has taken his prize by force and keeps her.

       But there is no gall in Achilleus’ heart, and he is forgiving.

       Otherwise, son of Atreus, this were your last outrage.”

          So he spoke, Thersites, abusing Agamemnon

       the shepherd of the people. But brilliant Odysseus swiftly

245  came beside him scowling and laid a harsh word upon him:

       “Fluent orator though you be, Thersites, your words are

       ill-considered. Stop, nor stand up alone against princes.

       Out of all those who came beneath Ilion with Atreides

       I assert there is no worse man than you are. Therefore

250  you shall not lift up your mouth to argue with princes,

       cast reproaches into their teeth, nor sustain the homegoing.

       We do not even know clearly how these things will be accomplished,

       whether we sons of the Achaians shall win home well or badly;

       yet you sit here throwing abuse at Agamemnon,

255  Atreus’ son, the shepherd of the people, because the Danaän

       fighters give him much. You argue nothing but scandal.

       And this also will I tell you, and it will be a thing accomplished.

       If once more I find you playing the fool, as you are now,

       nevermore let the head of Odysseus sit on his shoulders,

260  let me nevermore be called Telemachos’ father,

       if I do not take you and strip away your personal clothing,

       your mantle and your tunic that cover over your nakedness,

       and send you thus bare and howling back to the fast ships,

       whipping you out of the assembly place with the strokes of indignity.”

265  So he spoke and dashed the scepter against his back and

       shoulders, and he doubled over, and a round tear dropped from him,

       and a bloody welt stood up between his shoulders under

       the golden scepter’s stroke, and he sat down again, frightened,

       in pain, and looking helplessly about wiped off the tear-drops.

270  Sorry though the men were they laughed over him happily,

       and thus they would speak to each other, each looking at the man next him:

       “Come now: Odysseus has done excellent things by thousands,

       bringing forward good counsels and ordering armed encounters;

       but now this is far the best thing he ever has accomplished

275  among the Argives, to keep this thrower of words, this braggart

       out of assembly. Never again will his proud heart stir him

       up, to wrangle with the princes in words of revilement.”

          So the multitude spoke, but Odysseus, sacker of cities,

       stood up holding the staff, and beside him gray-eyed Athene

280  in the likeness of a herald enjoined the people to silence,

       that at once the foremost and the utmost sons of the Achaians

       might listen to him speaking and deliberate his counsel.

       He in kind intention toward all stood forth and addressed them:

       “Son of Atreus: now, my lord, the Achaians are trying

285  to make you into a thing of reproach in the sight of all mortal

       men, and not fulfilling the promise they undertook once

       as they set forth to come here from horse-pasturing Argos,

       to go home only after you had sacked strong-walled Ilion.

       For as if they were young children or widowed women

290  they cry out and complain to each other about going homeward.

       In truth, it is a hard thing, to be grieved with desire for going.

       Any man who stays away one month from his own wife

       with his intricate ship is impatient, one whom the storm winds

       of winter and the sea rising keep back. And for us now

295  this is the ninth of the circling years that we wait here. Therefore

       I cannot find fault with the Achaians for their impatience

       beside the curved ships; yet always it is disgraceful

       to wait long and at the end go home empty-handed.

       No, but be patient, friends, and stay yet a little longer

300  until we know whether Kalchas’ prophecy is true or is not true.

       For I remember this thing well in my heart, and you all are

       witnesses, whom the spirits of death have not carried away from us;

       yesterday and before, at Aulis, when the ships of the Achaians

       were gathered bringing disaster to the Trojans and Priam,

305  and we beside a spring and upon the sacred altars

       were accomplishing complete hecatombs to the immortals

       under a fair plane tree whence ran the shining of water.

       There appeared a great sign; a snake, his back blood-mottled,

       a thing of horror, cast into the light by the very Olympian,

310  wound its way from under the altar and made toward the plane tree.

       Thereupon were innocent children, the young of the sparrow,

       cowering underneath the leaves at the uttermost branch tip,

       eight of them, and the mother was the ninth, who bore these children.

       The snake ate them all after their pitiful screaming,

315  and the mother, crying aloud for her young ones, fluttered about him,

       and as she shrilled he caught her by the wing and coiled around her.

       After he had eaten the sparrow herself with her children

       the god who had shown the snake forth made him a monument,

       striking him stone, the son of devious-devising Kronos,

320  and we standing about marveled at the thing that had been done.

       So as the terror and the god’s monsters came into the hecatomb

       Kalchas straightway spoke before us interpreting the gods’ will:

       ‘Why are you turned voiceless, you flowing-haired Achaians?

       Zeus of the counsels has shown us this great portent: a thing late,

325  late to be accomplished, whose glory shall perish never.

       As this snake has eaten the sparrow herself with her children,

       eight of them, and the mother was the ninth, who bore them,

       so for years as many as this shall we fight in this place

       and in the tenth year we shall take the city of the wide ways.’

330  So he spoke to us then; now all this is being accomplished.

       Come then, you strong-greaved Achaians, let every man stay

       here, until we have taken the great citadel of Priam.”

          So he spoke, and the Argives shouted aloud, and about them

       the ships echoed terribly to the roaring Achaians

335  as they cried out applause to the word of godlike Odysseus.

       Now among them spoke the Gerenian horseman, Nestor:

       “Oh, for shame! You are like children when you hold assembly,

       infant children, to whom the works of war mean nothing.

       Where then shall our covenants go, and the oaths we have taken?

340  Let counsels and the meditations of men be given to the flames then,

       with the unmixed wine poured and the right hands we trusted.

       We do our fighting with words only, and can discover

       no remedy, though we have stayed here a long time. Son of Atreus,

       do you still as before hold fast to your counsel unshaken

345  and be the leader of the Argives through the strong encounters;

       let them go perish, these one or two, who think apart from

       the rest of the Achaians, since there will be no use in them

       until they get back again to Argos without ever learning

       whether Zeus of the aegis promises false or truly.

350  For I say to you, the son of all-powerful Kronos

       promised, on that day when we went in our fast-running vessels,

       we of Argos, carrying blood and death to the Trojans.

       He flashed lightning on our right, showing signs of favor.

       Therefore let no man be urgent to take the way homeward

355  until after he has lain in bed with the wife of a Trojan

       to avenge Helen’s longing to escape and her lamentations.

       But if any man is terribly desirous to go home,

       let him only lay his hands on his well-benched black ship,

       that before all others he may win death and destruction.

360  Come, my lord: yourself be careful, and listen to another.

       This shall not be a word to be cast away that I tell you.

       Set your men in order by tribes, by clans, Agamemnon,

       and let clan go in support of clan, let tribe support tribe.

       If you do it this way, and the Achaians obey you,

365  you will see which of your leaders is bad, and which of your people,

       and which also is brave, since they will fight in divisions,

       and might learn also whether by magic you fail to take this

       city, or by men’s cowardice and ignorance of warfare.”

          Then in answer again spoke powerful Agamemnon:

370  “Once again, old sir, you surpass the sons of the Achaians

       in debate. O father Zeus, Athene, Apollo:

       would that among the Achaians I had ten such counselors.

       Then perhaps the city of lord Priam would be bent

       underneath our hands, captured and sacked. But instead

375  Zeus of the aegis, son of Kronos, has given me bitterness,

       who drives me into unprofitable abuse and quarrels.

       For I and Achilleus fought together for a girl’s sake

       in words’ violent encounter, and I was the first to be angry.

       If ever we can take one single counsel, then no longer

380  shall the Trojans’ evil be put aside, not even for a small time.

       Now go back, take your dinner, and let us gather our warcraft.

       Let a man put a good edge to his spear, and his shield in order,

       let each put good fodder before his swift-footed horses,

       and each man look well over his chariot, careful of his fighting,

385  that all day long we may be in the division of hateful Ares.

       There will not even for a small time be any respite

       unless darkness come down to separate the strength of the fighters.

       There will be a man’s sweat on the shield-strap binding the breast to

       the shield hiding the man’s shape, and the hand on the spear grow weary.

390  There will be sweat on a man’s horse straining at the smoothed chariot.

       But any man whom I find trying, apart from the battle,

       to hang back by the curved ships, for him no longer

       will there be any means to escape the dogs and the vultures.”

          So he spoke, and the Argives shouted aloud, as surf crashing

395  against a sheer ness, driven by the south wind descending,

       some cliff out-jutting, left never alone by the waves from

       all the winds that blow, as they rise one place and another.

       They stood up scattering and made for the ships; they kindled

       the fires’ smoke along the shelters, and took their dinner,

400  each man making a sacrifice to some one of the immortal

       gods, in prayer to escape death and the grind of Ares.

       But Agamemnon the lord of men dedicated a fat ox

       five years old to Zeus, all-powerful son of Kronos,

       and summoned the nobles and the great men of all the Achaians,

405  Nestor before all others, and next the lord Idomeneus,

       next the two Aiantes and Tydeus’ son Diomedes,

       and sixth Odysseus, a man like Zeus himself for counsel.

       Of his own accord came Menelaos of the great war cry

       who knew well in his own mind the cares of his brother.

410  They stood in a circle about the ox and took up the scattering

       barley; and among them powerful Agamemnon spoke in prayer:

       “Zeus, exalted and mightiest, sky-dwelling in the dark mist:

       let not the sun go down and disappear into darkness

       until I have hurled headlong the castle of Priam

415  blazing, and lit the castle gates with the flames’ destruction;

       not till I have broken at the chest the tunic of Hektor

       torn with the bronze blade, and let many companions about him

       go down headlong into the dust, teeth gripping the ground soil.”

          He spoke, but none of this would the son of Kronos accomplish,

420  who accepted the victims, but piled up the unwished-for hardship.

          Now when all had made prayer and flung down the scattering barley,

       first they drew back the victim’s head, cut his throat and skinned him,

       and cut away the meat from the thighs and wrapped them in fat,

       making a double fold, and laid shreds of flesh above them.

425  Placing these on sticks cleft and peeled they burned them,

       and spitted the vitals and held them over the flame of Hephaistos.

       But when they had burned the thigh pieces and tasted the vitals

       they cut all the remainder into pieces and spitted them

       and roasted all carefully and took off the pieces.

430  Then after they had finished the work and got the feast ready

       they feasted, nor was any man’s hunger denied a fair portion.

       But when they had put away their desire for eating and drinking

       the Gerenian horseman Nestor began speaking among them:

       “Son of Atreus, most lordly and king of men, Agamemnon,

435  let us talk no more of these things, nor for a long time

       set aside the action which the god puts into our hands now.

       Come then, let the heralds of the bronze-armored Achaians

       make proclamation to the people and assemble them by the vessels,

       and let us together as we are go down the wide host

440  of the Achaians, to stir more quickly the fierce war god.”

          He spoke, nor did the lord of men Agamemnon neglect him,

       but straightway commanded the clear-voiced heralds to summon

       by proclamation to battle the flowing-haired Achaians;

       and the heralds made their cry and the men were assembled swiftly.

445  And they, the god-supported kings, about Agamemnon

       ran marshaling the men, and among them gray-eyed Athene

       holding the dear treasured aegis, ageless, immortal,

       from whose edges float a hundred all-golden tassels,

       each one carefully woven, and each worth a hundred oxen.

450  With this fluttering she swept through the host of the Achaians

       urging them to go forward. She kindled the strength in each man’s

       heart to take the battle without respite and keep on fighting.

       And now battle became sweeter to them than to go back

       in their hollow ships to the beloved land of their fathers.

455  As obliterating fire lights up a vast forest

       along the crests of a mountain, and the flare shows far off,

       so as they marched, from the magnificent bronze the gleam went

       dazzling all about through the upper air to the heaven.

          These, as the multitudinous nations of birds winged,

460  of geese, and of cranes, and of swans long-throated

       in the Asian meadow beside the Kaÿstrian waters

       this way and that way make their flights in the pride of their wings, then

       settle in clashing swarms and the whole meadow echoes with them,

       so of these the multitudinous tribes from the ships and

465  shelters poured to the plain of Skamandros, and the earth beneath their

       feet and under the feet of their horses thundered horribly.

       They took position in the blossoming meadow of Skamandros,

       thousands of them, as leaves and flowers appear in their season.

          Like the multitudinous nations of swarming insects

470  who drive hither and thither about the stalls of the sheepfold

       in the season of spring when the milk splashes in the milk pails:

       in such numbers the flowing-haired Achaians stood up

       through the plain against the Trojans, hearts burning to break them.

          These, as men who are goatherds among the wide goatflocks

475  easily separate them in order as they take to the pasture,

       thus the leaders separated them this way and that way

       toward the encounter, and among them powerful Agamemnon,

       with eyes and head like Zeus who delights in thunder,

       like Ares for girth, and with the chest of Poseidon;

480  like some ox of the herd pre-eminent among the others,

       a bull, who stands conspicuous in the huddling cattle;

       such was the son of Atreus as Zeus made him that day,

       conspicuous among men, and foremost among the fighters.

          Tell me now, you Muses who have your homes on Olympos.

485  For you, who are goddesses, are there, and you know all things,

       and we have heard only the rumor of it and know nothing.

       Who then of those were the chief men and the lords of the Danaäns?

       I could not tell over the multitude of them nor name them,

       not if I had ten tongues and ten mouths, not if I had

490  a voice never to be broken and a heart of bronze within me,

       not unless the Muses of Olympia, daughters

       of Zeus of the aegis, remembered all those who came beneath Ilion.

       I will tell the lords of the ships, and the ships numbers.

          Leïtos and Peneleos were leaders of the Boiotians,

495  with Arkesilaos and Prothoënor and Klonios;

       they who lived in Hyria and in rocky Aulis,

       in the hill-bends of Eteonos, and Schoinos, and Skolos,

       Thespeia and Graia, and in spacious Mykalessos;

       they who dwelt about Harma and Eilesion and Erythrai,

500  they who held Eleon and Hyle and Peteon,

       with Okalea and Medeon, the strong-founded citadel,

       Kopai, and Eutresis, and Thisbe of the dove-cotes;

       they who held Koroneia, and the meadows of Haliartos,

       they who held Plataia, and they who dwelt about Glisa,

505  they who held the lower Thebes, the strong-founded citadel,

       and Onchestos the sacred, the shining grove of Poseidon;

       they who held Arne of the great vineyards, and Mideia,

       with Nisa the sacrosanct and uttermost Anthedon.

       Of these there were fifty ships in all, and on board

510  each of these a hundred and twenty sons of the Boiotians.

          But they who lived in Aspledon and Orchomenos of the Minyai,

       Askalaphos led these, and Ialmenos, children of Ares,

       whom Astyochē bore to him in the house of Aktor

       Azeus’ son, a modest maiden; she went into the chamber

515  with strong Ares, who was laid in bed with her secretly.

       With these two there were marshaled thirty hollow vessels.

          Schedios and Epistrophos led the men of Phokis,

       children of Iphitos, who was son of great-hearted Naubolos.

       These held Kyparissos, and rocky Pytho, and Krisa

520  the sacrosanct together with Daulis and Panopeus;

       they who lived about Hyampolis and Anamoreia,

       they who dwelt about Kephisos, the river immortal,

       they who held Lilaia beside the well springs of Kephisos.

       Following along with these were forty black ships,

525  and the leaders marshaling the ranks of the Phokians set them

       in arms on the left wing of the host beside the Boiotians.

          Swift Aias son of Oïleus led the men of Lokris,

       the lesser Aias, not great in size like the son of Telamon,

       but far slighter. He was a small man armored in linen,

530  yet with the throwing spear surpassed all Achaians and Hellenes.

       These were the dwellers in Kynos and Opoeis and Kalliaros,

       and in Bessa, and Skarphe, and lovely Augeiai,

       in Thronion and Tarphe and beside the waters of Boagrios.

       Following along with him were forty black ships

535  of the Lokrians, who dwell across from sacred Euboia.

          They who held Euboia, the Abantes, whose wind was fury,

       Chalkis, and Eretria, the great vineyards of Histiaia,

       and seaborne Kerinthos and the steep stronghold of Dion,

       they who held Karystos and they who dwelt about Styra,

540  of these the leader was Elephenor, scion of Ares,

       son of Chalkodon and lord of the great-hearted Abantes.

       And the running Abantes followed with him, their hair grown

       long at the back, spearmen furious with the out-reached ash spear

       to rip the corselets girt about the chests of their enemies.

545  Following along with him were forty black ships.

          But the men who held Athens, the strong-founded citadel,

       the deme of great-hearted Erechtheus, whom once Athene

       Zeus’ daughter tended after the grain-giving fields had borne him,

       and established him to be in Athens in her own rich temple;

550  there as the circling years go by the sons of the Athenians

       make propitiation with rams and bulls sacrificed;

       of these men the leader was Peteos’ son Menestheus.

       Never on earth before had there been a man born like him

       for the arrangement in order of horses and shielded fighters.

555  Nestor alone could challenge him, since he was far older.

       Following along with him were fifty black ships.

          Out of Salamis Aias brought twelve ships and placed them

       next to where the Athenian battalions were drawn up.

          They who held Argos and Tiryns of the huge walls,

560  Hermionē and Asinē lying down the deep gulf,

       Troizen and Eïonai, and Epidauros of the vineyards,

       they who held Aigina and Mases, sons of the Achaians,

       of these the leader was Diomedes of the great war cry

       with Sthenelos, own son to the high-renowned Kapaneus,

565  and with them as a third went Euryalos, a man godlike,

       son of Mekisteus the king, and scion of Talaos;

       but the leader of all was Diomedes of the great war cry.

       Following along with these were eighty black ships.

          But the men who held Mykenai, the strong-founded citadel,

570  Korinth the luxurious, and strong-founded Kleonai;

       they who dwelt in Orneai and lovely Araithyrea,

       and Sikyon, where of old Adrestos had held the kingship;

       they who held Hyperesia and steep Gonoëssa,

       they who held Pellene and they who dwelt about Aigion,

575  all about the seashore and about the wide headland of Helikē,

       of their hundred ships the leader was powerful Agamemnon,

       Atreus’ son, with whom followed far the best and bravest

       people; and among them he himself stood armored in shining

       bronze, glorying, conspicuous among the great fighters,

580  since he was greatest among them all, and led the most people.

          They who held the swarming hollow of Lakedaimon,

       Pharis, and Sparta, and Messe of the dove-cotes,

       they who dwelt in Bryseiai and lovely Augeiai,

       they who held Amyklai and the seaward city of Helos,

585  they who held Laas, and they who dwelt about Oitylos,

       of these his brother Menelaos of the great war cry

       was leader, with sixty ships marshaled apart from the others.

       He himself went among them in the confidence of his valor,

       driving them battleward, since above all his heart was eager

590  to avenge Helen’s longing to escape and her lamentations.

          They who dwelt about Pylos and lovely Arene,

       and Thryon, the Alpheios crossing, and strong-built Aipy;

       they who lived in Kyparisseeis and Amphigeneia,

       Pteleos and Helos and Dorion, where the Muses

595  encountering Thamyris the Thracian stopped him from singing

       as he came from Oichalia and Oichalian Eurytos;

       for he boasted that he would prevail, if the very Muses,

       daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis, were singing against him,

       and these in their anger struck him maimed, and the voice of wonder

600  they took away, and made him a singer without memory;

       of these the leader was the Gerenian horseman, Nestor,

       in whose command were marshaled ninety hollow vessels.

          They who held Arkadia under the sheer peak, Kyllene,

       beside the tomb of Aipytos, where men fight at close quarters,

605  they who dwelt in Orchomenos of the flocks, and Pheneos,

       about Rhipe and Stratia and windy Enispe;

       they who held Tegea and Mantineia the lovely,

       they who held Stymphalos, and dwelt about Parrhasia,

       their leader was Angkaios’ son, powerful Agapenor.

610  Sixty was the number of their ships, and in each ship

       went many men of Arkadia, well skilled in battle.

       Agamemnon the lord of men himself had given

       these for the crossing of the wine-blue sea their strong-benched vessels,

       Atreus’ son, since the work of the sea was nothing to these men.

615      They who lived in Bouprasion and brilliant Elis,

       all as much as Hyrmine and Myrsinos the uttermost

       and the Olenian rock and Alesion close between them,

       of these there were four chieftains, and with each man ten swift

       vessels followed, with many Epeian men on board them.

620  Of two tens Thalpios and Amphimachos were leaders,

       of Aktor’s seed, sons one of Kteatos, one of Eurytos.

       Ten more were led by Amaryngkeus’ son, strong Diores,

       and of the fourth ten godlike Polyxeinos was leader,

       son of lord Agasthenes, of the race of Augeias.

 

625      They who came from Doulichion and the sacred Echinai,

       islands, where men live across the water from Elis,

       Meges was the leader of these, a man like Ares,

       Phyleus’ son, whom the rider dear to Zeus had begotten,

       Phyleus, who angered with his father had settled Doulichion.

630  Following along with him were forty black ships.

          But Odysseus led the high-hearted men of Kephallenia,

       those who held Ithaka and leaf-trembling Neriton,

       those who dwelt about Krokyleia and rigged Aigilips,

       those who held Zakynthos and those who dwelt about Samos,

635  those who held the mainland and the places next to the crossing.

       All these men were led by Odysseus, like Zeus in counsel.

       Following with him were twelve ships with bows red painted.

          Thoas son of Andraimon was leader of the Aitolians,

       those who dwelt in Pleuron and Olenos and Pylene,

640  Kalydon of the rocks and Chalkis beside the seashore,

       since no longer were the sons of high-hearted Oineus living,

       nor Oineus himself, and fair-haired Meleagros had perished.

       So all the lordship of the Aitolians was given to Thoas.

       Following along with him were forty black ships.

645      Idomeneus the spear-famed was leader of the Kretans,

       those who held Knosos and Gortyna of the great walls,

       Lyktos and Miletos and silver-shining Lykastos,

       and Phaistos and Rhytion, all towns well established,

       and others who dwelt beside them in Krete of the hundred cities.

650  Of all these Idomeneus the spear-famed was leader,

       with Meriones, a match for the murderous Lord of Battles.

       Following along with these were eighty black ships.

          Herakles’ son Tlepolemos the huge and mighty

       led from Rhodes nine ships with the proud men of Rhodes aboard them,

655  those who dwelt about Rhodes and were ordered in triple division,

       Ialysos and Lindos and silver-shining Kameiros.

       Of all these Tlepolemos the spear-famed was leader,

       he whom Astyocheia bore to the strength of Herakles.

       Herakles brought her from Ephyra and the river Selleëis

660  after he sacked many cities of strong, god-supported fighters.

       Now when Tlepolemos was grown in the strong-built mansion,

       he struck to death his own father’s beloved uncle,

       Likymnios, scion of Ares, a man already ageing.

       At once he put ships together and assembled a host of people

665  and went fugitive over the sea, since the others threatened,

       the rest of the sons and the grandsons of the strength of Herakles.

       And he came to Rhodes a wanderer, a man of misfortune,

       and they settled there in triple division by tribes, beloved

       of Zeus himself, who is lord over all gods and all men,

670  Kronos’ son, who showered the wonder of wealth upon them.

          Nireus from Syme led three balanced vessels,

       Nireus son of Aglaia and the king Charopos,

       Nireus, the most beautiful man who came beneath Ilion

       beyond the rest of the Danaäns next after perfect Achilleus.

675  But he was a man of poor strength and few people with him.

          They who held Nisyros and Krapathos and Kasos,

       and Kos, Eurypylos’ city, and the islands called Kalydnai,

       of these again Pheidippos and Antiphos were the leaders,

       sons both of Thessalos who was born to the lord Herakles.

680  In their command were marshaled thirty hollow vessels.

          Now all those who dwelt about Pelasgian Argos,

       those who lived by Alos and Alope and at Trachis,

       those who held Phthia and Hellas the land of fair women,

       who were called Myrmidons and Hellenes and Achaians,

685  of all these and their fifty ships the lord was Achilleus.

       But these took no thought now for the grim clamor of battle

       since there was no one who could guide them into close order,

       since he, swift-footed brilliant Achilleus, lay where the ships were,

       angered over the girl of the lovely hair, Briseis,

690  whom after much hard work he had taken away from Lyrnessos

       after he had sacked Lyrnessos and the walls of Thebe

       and struck down Epistrophos and Mynes the furious spearmen,

       children of Euenos, king, and son of Selepios.

       For her sake he lay grieving now, but was soon to rise up.

 

695      They who held Phylakē and Pyrasos of the flowers,

       the precinct of Demeter, and Iton, mother of sheepflocks,

       Antron by the seashore, and Pteleos deep in the meadows,

       of these in turn fighting Protesilaos was leader

       while he lived; but now the black earth had closed him under,

700  whose wife, cheeks torn for grief, was left behind in Phylakē

       and a marriage half completed; a Dardanian man had killed him

       as he leapt from his ship, far the first of all the Achaians.

       Yet these, longing as they did for their leader, did not go leaderless,

       but Podarkes, scion of Ares, set them in order,

705  child of Iphikles, who in turn was son to Phylakos

       rich in flocks, full brother of high-hearted Protesilaos,

       younger born; but the elder man was braver also,

       Protesilaos, a man of battle; yet still the people

       lacked not a leader, though they longed for him and his valor.

710  Following along with Podarkes were forty black ships.

          They who lived by Pherai beside the lake Boibeis,

       by Boibe and Glaphyrai and strong-founded Iolkos,

       of their eleven ships the dear son of Admetos was leader,

       Eumelos, born to Admetos by the beauty among women

715  Alkestis, loveliest of all the daughters of Pelias.

          They who lived about Thaumakia and Methone,

       they who held Meliboia and rugged Olizon,

       of their seven ships the leader was Philoktetes

       skilled in the bow’s work, and aboard each vessel were fifty

720  oarsmen, each well skilled in the strength of the bow in battle.

       Yet he himself lay apart in the island, suffering strong pains,

       in Lemnos the sacrosanct, where the sons of the Achaians had left him

       in agony from the sore bite of the wicked water snake.

       There he lay apart in his pain; yet soon the Argives

725  beside their ships were to remember lord Philoktetes.

       Yet these, longing as they did for their leader, did not go leaderless,

       but Medon, the bastard son of Oïleus, set them in order,

       whom Rhene bore to Oïleus the sacker of cities.

          They who held Trikke and the terraced place of Ithome,

730  and Oichalia, the city of Oichalian Eurytos,

       of these in turn the leaders were two sons of Asklepios,

       good healers both themselves, Podaleirios and Machaon.

       In their command were marshaled thirty hollow vessels.

          They who held Ormenios and the spring Hypereia,

735  they who held Asterion and the pale peaks of Titanos,

       Eurypylos led these, the shining son of Euaimon.

       Following along with him were forty black ships.

          They who held Argissa and dwelt about Gyrtone,

       Orthe and Elone and the white city Oloösson,

740  of these the leader was Polypoites, stubborn in battle,

       son of Peirithoös whose father was Zeus immortal,

       he whom glorious Hippodameia bore to Peirithoös

       on that day when he wreaked vengeance on the hairy beast men

       and drove them from Pelion and hurled them against the Aithikes;

745  not by himself, for Leonteus was with him, scion of Ares,

       Leonteus, son of high-hearted Koronos the son of Kaineus.

       Following in the guidance of these were forty black ships.

          Gouneus from Kyphos led two and twenty vessels,

       and the Enienes and the Perrhaibians stubborn in battle

750  followed him, they who made their homes by wintry Dodona,

       and they who by lovely Titaressos held the tilled acres,

       Titaressos, who into Peneios casts his bright current:

       yet he is not mixed with the silver whirls of Peneios,

       but like oil is floated along the surface above him:

755  since he is broken from the water of Styx, the fearful oath-river.

          Prothoös son of Tenthredon was leader of the Magnesians,

       those who dwelt about Peneios and leaf-trembling

       Pelion. Of these Prothoös the swift-footed was leader.

       Following along with him were forty black ships.

 

760  These then were the leaders and the princes among the Danaäns.

       Tell me then, Muse, who of them all was the best and bravest

       of the men, and the men’s horses, who went with the sons of Atreus.

          Best by far among the horses were the mares of Eumelos

       Pheres’ son, that he drove, swift-moving like birds, alike in

765  texture of coat, in age, both backs drawn level like a plumb-line.

       These Apollo of the silver bow had bred in Pereia,

       mares alike, who went with the terror of the god of battle.

       Among the men far the best was Telamonian Aias

       while Achilleus stayed angry, since he was far best of all of them,

770  and the horses also, who carried the blameless son of Peleus.

       But Achilleus lay apart among his curved sea-wandering

       vessels, raging at Agamemnon, the shepherd of the people,

       Atreus’ son; and his men beside the break of the sea-beach

       amused themselves with discs and with light spears for throwing

775  and bows; and the horses, standing each beside his chariot,

       champed their clover and the parsley that grows in wet places,

       resting, while the chariots of their lords stood covered

       in the shelters, and the men forlorn of their warlike leader

       wandered here and there in the camp, and did no fighting.

 

780      But the rest went forward, as if all the earth with flame were eaten,

       and the ground echoed under them, as if Zeus who delights in thunder

       were angry, as when he batters the earth about Typhoeus,

       in the land of the Arimoi, where they say Typhoeus lies prostrate.

       Thus beneath their feet the ground re-echoed loudly

785  to men marching, who made their way through the plain in great speed.

          Now to the Trojans came as messenger wind-footed Iris,

       in her speed, with the dark message from Zeus of the aegis.

       These were holding assembly in front of the doors of Priam

       gathered together in one place, the elders and the young men.

790  Standing close at hand swift-running Iris spoke to them,

       and likened her voice to that of the son of Priam, Polites,

       who confident in the speed of his feet kept watch for the Trojans

       aloft the ancient burial mound of ancient Aisyetes,

       waiting for the time when the Achaians should move from their vessels.

795  In this man’s likeness Iris the swift-running spoke to them:

       “Old sir, dear to you forever are words beyond number

       as once, when there was peace; but stintless war has arisen.

       In my time I have gone into many battles among men,

       yet never have I seen a host like this, not one so numerous.

800  These look terribly like leaves, or the sands of the seashore,

       as they advance across the plain to fight by the city.

       Hektor, on you beyond all I urge this, to do as I tell you:

       all about the great city of Priam are many companions,

       but multitudinous is the speech of the scattered nations:

805  let each man who is their leader give orders to these men,

       and let each set his citizens in order, and lead them.”

          She spoke, nor did Hektor fail to mark the word of the goddess.

       Instantly he broke up the assembly; they ran to their weapons.

       All the gates were opened and the people swept through them

810  on foot, and with horses, and a clamor of shouting rose up.

          Near the city but apart from it there is a steep hill

       in the plain by itself, so you pass one side or the other.

       This men call the Hill of the Thicket, but the immortal

       gods have named it the burial mound of dancing Myrina.

815  There the Trojans and their companions were marshaled in order.

          Tall Hektor of the shining helm was leader of the Trojans,

       Priam’s son; and with him far the best and the bravest

       fighting men were armed and eager to fight with the spear’s edge.

          The strong son of Anchises was leader of the Dardanians,

820  Aineias, whom divine Aphrodite bore to Anchises

       in the folds of Ida, a goddess lying in love with a mortal:

       not Aineias alone, but with him were two sons of Antenor,

       Archelochos and Akamas, both skilled in all fighting.

          They who lived in Zeleia below the foot of Mount Ida,

825  men of wealth, who drank the dark water of Aisepos,

       Trojans: of these the leader was the shining son of Lykaon,

       Pandaros, with the bow that was actual gift of Apollo.

          They who held Adresteia and the countryside of Apaisos,

       they who held Pityeia and the sheer hill of Tereia,

830  these were led by Adrestos and Amphios armored in linen,

       sons both of Merops of Perkote, who beyond all men

       knew the art of prophecy, and tried to prevent his two sons

       from going into the battle where men die. Yet these would not

       listen, for the spirits of dark death were driving them onward.

 

835      They who dwelt in the places about Perkote and Praktion,

       who held Sestos and Abydos and brilliant Arisbe,

       their leader was Asios, Hyrtakos’ son, a prince of the people,

       Asios, son of Hyrtakos, whom huge and shining

       horses carried from Arisbe and the river Selleëis.

840      Hippothoös led the tribes of spear-fighting Pelasgians,

       they who dwelt where the soil is rich about Larissa;

       Hippothoös and Pylaios, scion of Ares, led these,

       sons alike of Pelasgian Lethos, son of Teutamos.

          Akamas led the men of Thrace with the fighter Peiroös,

845  all the Thracians held within the hard stream of the Hellespont.

          Euphemos was leader of the Kikonian spearmen,

       son of Troizenos, Keas’ son, the king whom the gods loved.

          Pyraichmes in turn led the Paionians with their curved bows,

       from Amydon far away and the broad stream of Axios,

850  Axios, whose stream on all earth is the loveliest water.

          Pylaimones the wild heart was leader of the Paphlagonēs,

       from the land of the Enetoi where the wild mules are engendered,

       those who held Kytoros and those who dwelt about Sesamos,

       those whose renowned homes were about Parthenios river,

855  and Kromna and Aigialos and high Erythinoi.

          Odios and Epistrophos led the Halizones

       from Alybē far away, where silver was first begotten.

          Chromis, with Ennomos the augur, was lord of the Mysians;

       yet his reading of birds could not keep off dark destruction

860  but he went down under the hands of swift-running Aiakides

       in the river, as he slew other Trojans beside him.

          Phorkys and godlike Askanios were lords of the Phrygians

       from Askania far away, eager to fight in the onfall.

          Mesthles and Antiphos were leaders of the Maionians,

865  sons of Talaimenes, who was born of the lake Gygaian:

       these led the Maionian men whose home was beneath Mount Tmolos.

          The Karians of the outland speech were led by Nastes,

       they who held Miletos and the leaf-deep mountain of Phthiron,

       the waters of Maiandros and the headlong peaks of Mykalē;

870  of these the two leaders were Amphimachos and Nastes,

       Nastes and Amphimachos, the shining sons of Nomion.

       Nastes came like a girl to the fighting in golden raiment,

       poor fool, nor did this avail to keep dismal death back;

       but he went down under the hands of swift-running Aiakides

875  in the river, and fiery Achilleus stripped the gold from him.

          Sarpedon with unfaulted Glaukos was lord of the Lykians

       from Lykia far away, and the whirling waters of Xanthos.

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Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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