The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 14 of 35

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BOOK SIX

 

          So the grim encounter of Achaians and Trojans was left

       to itself, and the battle veered greatly now one way, now in another,

       over the plain as they guided their bronze spears at each other

       in the space between the waters of Xanthos and Simoeis.

5       First Telamonian Aias, that bastion of the Achaians,

       broke the Trojan battalions and brought light to his own company,

       striking down the man who was far the best of the Thracians,

       Akamas, the huge and mighty, the son of Eussoros.

       Throwing first, he struck the horn of the horse-haired helmet

10   and the bronze spear-point fixed in his forehead and drove inward

       through the bone; and a mist of darkness clouded both eyes.

          Diomedes of the great war cry cut down Axylos,

       Teuthras’ son, who had been a dweller in strong-founded Arisbe,

       a man rich in substance and a friend to all humanity

15   since in his house by the wayside he entertained all comers.

       Yet there was none of these now to stand before him and keep off

       the sad destruction, and Diomedes stripped life from both of them,

       Axylos and his henchman Kalesios, who was the driver

       guiding his horses; so down to the underworld went both men.

20      Now Euryalos slaughtered Opheltios and Dresos,

       and went in pursuit of Aisepos and Pedasos, those whom the naiad

       nymph Abarbare had borne to blameless Boukolion.

       Boukolion himself was the son of haughty Laomedon,

       eldest born, but his mother conceived him in darkness and secrecy.

25   While shepherding his flocks he lay with the nymph and loved her,

       and she conceiving bore him twin boys. But now Mekistios’

       son unstrung the strength of these and the limbs in their glory,

       Euryalos, and stripped the armor away from their shoulders.

          Polypoites the stubborn in battle cut down Astyalos,

30   while Odysseus slaughtered one from Perkote, Pidytes,

       with the bronze spear, and great Aretaon was killed by Teukros.

       Nestor’s son Antilochos with the shining shaft killed

       Ableros; the lord of men, Agamemnon, brought death to Elatos,

       whose home had been on the shores of Satnioeis’ lovely waters,

35   sheer Pedasos. And Leïtos the fighter caught Phylakos

       as he ran away; and Eurypylos made an end of Melanthios.

          Now Menelaos of the great war cry captured Adrestos

       alive; for his two horses bolting over the level land

       got entangled in a tamarisk growth, and shattered the curving

40   chariot at the tip of the pole; so they broken free went

       on toward the city, where many beside stampeded in terror.

       So Adrestos was whirled beside the wheel from the chariot

       headlong into the dust on his face; and the son of Atreus,

       Menelaos, with the far-shadowed spear in his hand, stood over him.

45   But Adrestos, catching him by the knees, supplicated:

       “Take me alive, son of Atreus, and take appropriate ransom.

       In my rich father’s house the treasures lie piled in abundance;

       bronze is there, and gold, and difficultly wrought iron,

       and my father would make you glad with abundant repayment

50   were he to hear that I am alive by the ships of the Achaians.”

          So he spoke, and moved the spirit inside Menelaos.

       And now he was on the point of handing him to a henchman

       to lead back to the fast Achaian ships; but Agamemnon

       came on the run to join him and spoke his word of argument:

55   “Dear brother, O Menelaos, are you concerned so tenderly

       with these people? Did you in your house get the best of treatment

       from the Trojans? No, let not one of them go free of sudden

       death and our hands; not the young man child that the mother carries

       still in her body, not even he, but let all of Ilion’s

60   people perish, utterly blotted out and unmourned for.”

          The hero spoke like this, and bent the heart of his brother

       since he urged justice. Menelaos shoved with his hand Adrestos

       the warrior back from him, and powerful Agamemnon

       stabbed him in the side and, as he writhed over, Atreides,

65   setting his heel upon the midriff, wrenched out the ash spear.

 

          Nestor in a great voice cried out to the men of Argos:

       “O beloved Danaän fighters, henchmen of Ares,

       let no man anymore hang back with his eye on the plunder

       designing to take all the spoil he can gather back to the vessels;

70   let us kill the men now, and afterward at your leisure

       all along the plain you can plunder the perished corpses.”

          So he spoke, and stirred the spirit and strength in each man.

       Then once more would the Trojans have climbed back into Ilion’s

       wall, subdued by terror before the warlike Achaians,

75   had not Priam’s son, Helenos, best by far of the augurs,

       stood beside Aineias and Hektor and spoken a word to them:

       “Hektor and Aineias, on you beyond others is leaning

       the battle-work of Trojans and Lykians, since you are our greatest

       in every course we take, whether it be in thought or in fighting:

80   stand your ground here; visit your people everywhere; hold them

       fast by the gates, before they tumble into their women’s

       arms, and become to our enemies a thing to take joy in.

       Afterward, when you have set all the battalions in motion,

       the rest of us will stand fast here and fight with the Danaäns

85   though we are very hard hit indeed; necessity forces us;

       but you, Hektor, go back again to the city, and there tell

       your mother and mine to assemble all the ladies of honor

       at the temple of gray-eyed Athene high on the citadel;

       there opening with a key the door to the sacred chamber

90   let her take a robe, which seems to her the largest and loveliest

       in the great house, and that which is far her dearest possession,

       and lay it along the knees of Athene the lovely haired. Let her

       promise to dedicate within the shrine twelve heifers,

       yearlings, never broken, if only she will have pity

95   on the town of Troy, and the Trojan wives, and their innocent children.

       So she might hold back from sacred Ilion the son of Tydeus,

       that wild spear-fighter, the strong one who drives men to thoughts of terror,

       who I say now is become the strongest of all the Achaians.

       For never did we so fear Achilleus even, that leader

100  of men, who they say was born of a goddess. This man has gone clean

       berserk, so that no one can match his warcraft against him.”

          So he spoke, and Hektor did not disobey his brother,

       but at once in all his armor leapt to the ground from his chariot

       and shaking two sharp spears in his hands ranged over the whole host

105  stirring them up to fight and waking the ghastly warfare.

       So they whirled about and stood their ground against the Achaians,

       and the Argives gave way backward and stopped their slaughtering,

       and thought some one of the immortals must have descended

       from the starry sky to stand by the Trojans, the way they rallied.

110  But Hektor lifted his voice and cried aloud to the Trojans:

       “You high-hearted Trojans and far-renowned companions,

       be men now, dear friends, and remember your furious valor

       until I can go back again to Ilion, and there tell

       the elder men who sit as counselors, and our own wives,

115  to make their prayer to the immortals and promise them hecatombs.”

          So spoke Hektor of the shining helm, and departed;

       and against his ankles as against his neck clashed the dark ox-hide,

       the rim running round the edge of the great shield massive in the middle.

          Now Glaukos, sprung of Hippolochos, and the son of Tydeus

120  came together in the space between the two armies, battle-bent.

       Now as these advancing came to one place and encountered,

       first to speak was Diomedes of the great war cry:

       “Who among mortal men are you, good friend?

       Since never before have I seen you in the fighting where men win glory,

125  yet now you have come striding far out in front of all others

       in your great heart, who have dared stand up to my spear far-shadowing.

       Yet unhappy are those whose sons match warcraft against me.

       But if you are some one of the immortals come down from the bright sky,

       know that I will not fight against any god of the heaven,

130  since even the son of Dryas, Lykourgos the powerful, did not

       live long; he who tried to fight with the gods of the bright sky,

       who once drove the fosterers of rapturous Dionysos

       headlong down the sacred Nyseian hill, and all of them

       shed and scattered their wands on the ground, stricken with an ox-goad

135  by murderous Lykourgos, while Dionysos in terror

       dived into the salt surf, and Thetis took him to her bosom,

       frightened, with the strong shivers upon him at the man’s blustering.

       But the gods who live at their ease were angered with Lykourgos,

       and the son of Kronos struck him to blindness, nor did he live long

140  afterward, since he was hated by all the immortals.

       Therefore neither would I be willing to fight with the blessed

       gods; but if you are one of those mortals who eat what the soil yields,

       come nearer, so that sooner you may reach your appointed destruction.”

          Then in turn the shining son of Hippolochos answered:

145  “High-hearted son of Tydeus, why ask of my generation?

       As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.

       The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber

       burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.

       So one generation of men will grow while another

150  dies. Yet if you wish to learn all this and be certain

       of my genealogy: there are plenty of men who know it.

       There is a city, Ephyrē, in the corner of horse-pasturing

       Argos; there lived Sisyphos, that sharpest of all men,

       Sisyphos, Aiolos’ son, and he had a son named Glaukos,

155  and Glaukos in turn sired Bellerophontes the blameless.

       To Bellerophontes the gods granted beauty and desirable

       manhood; but Proitos in anger devised evil things against him,

       and drove him out of his own domain, since he was far greater,

       from the Argive country Zeus had broken to the sway of his scepter.

160  Beautiful Anteia the wife of Proitos was stricken

       with passion to lie in love with him, and yet she could not

       beguile valiant Bellerophontes, whose will was virtuous.

       So she went to Proitos the king and uttered her falsehood:

       ‘Would you be killed, O Proitos? Then murder Bellerophontes

165  who tried to lie with me in love, though I was unwilling’.

       So she spoke, and anger took hold of the king at her story.

       He shrank from killing him, since his heart was awed by such action,

       but sent him away to Lykia, and handed him murderous symbols,

       which he inscribed in a folding tablet, enough to destroy life,

170  and told him to show it to his wife’s father, that he might perish.

       Bellerophontes went to Lykia in the blameless convoy

       of the gods; when he came to the running stream of Xanthos, and Lykia,

       the lord of wide Lykia tendered him full-hearted honor.

       Nine days he entertained him with sacrifice of nine oxen,

175  but afterward when the rose fingers of the tenth dawn showed, then

       he began to question him, and asked to be shown the symbols,

       whatever he might be carrying from his son-in-law’, Proitos.

       Then after he had been given his son-in-laws wicked symbols

       first he sent him away with orders to kill the Chimaira

180  none might approach; a thing of immortal make, not human,

       lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle,

       and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire.

       He killed the Chimaira, obeying the portents of the immortals.

       Next after this he fought against the glorious Solymoi,

185  and this he thought was the strongest battle with men that he entered;

       but third he slaughtered the Amazons, who fight men in battle.

       Now as he came back the king spun another entangling

       treachery; for choosing the bravest men in wide Lykia

       he laid a trap, but these men never came home thereafter

190  since all of them were killed by blameless Bellerophontes.

       Then when the king knew him for the powerful stock of the god,

       he detained him there, and offered him the hand of his daughter,

       and gave him half of all the kingly privilege. Thereto

       the men of Lykia cut out a piece of land, surpassing

195  all others, fine ploughland and orchard for him to administer.

       His bride bore three children to valiant Bellerophontes,

       Isandros and Hippolochos and Laodameia.

       Laodameia lay in love beside Zeus of the counsels

       and bore him godlike Sarpedon of the brazen helmet.

200  But after Bellerophontes was hated by all the immortals,

       he wandered alone about the plain of Aleios, eating

       his heart out, skulking aside from the trodden track of humanity.

       As for Isandros his son, Ares the insatiate of fighting

       killed him in close battle against the glorious Solymoi,

205  while Artemis of the golden reins killed the daughter in anger.

       But Hippolochos begot me, and I claim that he is my father;

       he sent me to Troy, and urged upon me repeated injunctions,

       to be always among the bravest, and hold my head above others,

       not shaming the generation of my fathers, who were

210  the greatest men in Ephyrē and again in wide Lykia.

       Such is my generation and the blood I claim to be born from.”

          He spoke, and Diomedes of the great war cry was gladdened.

       He drove his spear deep into the prospering earth, and in winning

       words of friendliness he spoke to the shepherd of the people:

215  “See now, you are my guest friend from far in the time of our fathers.

       Brilliant Oineus once was host to Bellerophontes

       the blameless, in his halls, and twenty days he detained him,

       and these two gave to each other fine gifts in token of friendship.

       Oineus gave his guest a war belt bright with the red dye,

220  Bellerophontes a golden and double-handled drinking-cup,

       a thing I left behind in my house when I came on my journey.

       Tydeus, though, I cannot remember, since I was little

       when he left me, that time the people of the Achaians perished

       in Thebe. Therefore I am your friend and host in the heart of Argos;

225  you are mine in Lykia, when I come to your country.

       Let us avoid each other’s spears, even in the close fighting.

       There are plenty of Trojans and famed companions in battle for me

       to kill, whom the god sends me, or those I run down with my swift feet,

       many Achaians for you to slaughter, if you can do it.

230  But let us exchange our armor, so that these others may know

       how we claim to be guests and friends from the days of our fathers.”

          So they spoke, and both springing down from behind their horses

       gripped each other’s hands and exchanged the promise of friendship;

       but Zeus the son of Kronos stole away the wits of Glaukos

235  who exchanged with Diomedes the son of Tydeus armor

       of gold for bronze, for nine oxen’s worth the worth of a hundred.

          Now as Hektor had come to the Skaian gates and the oak tree,

       all the wives of the Trojans and their daughters came running about him

       to ask after their sons, after their brothers and neighbors,

240  their husbands; and he told them to pray to the immortals,

       all, in turn; but there were sorrows in store for many.

          Now he entered the wonderfully built palace of Priam.

       This was fashioned with smooth-stone cloister walks, and within it

       were embodied fifty sleeping chambers of smoothed stone

245  built so as to connect with each other; and within these slept

       each beside his own wedded wife, the sons of Priam.

       In the same inner court on the opposite side, to face these,

       lay the twelve close smooth-stone sleeping chambers of his daughters

       built so as to connect with each other; and within these slept,

250  each by his own modest wife, the lords of the daughters of Priam.

       There, there came to meet Hektor his bountiful mother

       with Laodikē, the loveliest looking of all her daughters.

       She clung to his hand and called him by name and spoke to him: “Why then,

       child, have you come here and left behind the bold battle?

255  Surely it is these accursed sons of the Achaians who wear you

       out, as they fight close to the city, and the spirit stirred you

       to return, and from the peak of the citadel lift your hands, praying

       to Zeus. But stay while I bring you honey-sweet wine, to pour out

       a libation to father Zeus and the other immortals

260  first, and afterward if you will drink yourself, be strengthened.

       In a tired man, wine will bring back his strength to its bigness,

       in a man tired as you are tired, defending your neighbors.”

          Tall Hektor of the shining helm spoke to her answering:

       “My honored mother, lift not to me the kindly sweet wine,

265  for fear you stagger my strength and make me forget my courage;

       and with hands unwashed I would take shame to pour the glittering

       wine to Zeus; there is no means for a man to pray to the dark-misted

       son of Kronos, with blood and muck all spattered upon him.

       But go yourself to the temple of the spoiler Athene,

270  assembling the ladies of honor, and with things to be sacrificed,

       and take a robe, which seems to you the largest and loveliest

       in the great house, and that which is far your dearest possession.

       Lay this along the knees of Athene the lovely haired. Also

       promise to dedicate within the shrine twelve heifers,

275  yearlings, never broken, if only she will have pity

       on the town of Troy, and the Trojan wives, and their innocent children,

       if she will hold back from sacred Ilion the son of Tydeus,

       that wild spear-fighter, the strong one who drives men to thoughts of terror.

       So go yourself to the temple of the spoiler Athene,

280  while I go in search of Paris, to call him, if he will listen

       to anything I tell him. How I wish at this moment the earth might

       open beneath him. The Olympian let him live, a great sorrow

       to the Trojans, and high-hearted Priam, and all of his children.

       If only I could see him gone down to the house of the death god,

285  then I could say my heart had forgotten its joyless affliction.”

          So he spoke, and she going into the great house called out

       to her handmaidens, who assembled throughout the city the highborn

       women; while she descended into the fragrant store-chamber.

       There lay the elaborately wrought robes, the work of Sidonian

290  women, whom Alexandros himself, the godlike, had brought home

       from the land of Sidon, crossing the wide sea, on that journey

       when he brought back also gloriously descended Helen.

       Hekabē lifted out one and took it as gift to Athene,

       that which was the loveliest in design and the largest,

295  and shone like a star. It lay beneath the others. She went on

       her way, and a throng of noble women hastened about her.

          When these had come to Athene’s temple on the peak of the citadel,

       Theano of the fair cheeks opened the door for them, daughter

       of Kisseus, and wife of Antenor, breaker of horses,

300  she whom the Trojans had established to be Athene’s priestess.

       With a wailing cry all lifted up their hands to Athene,

       and Theano of the fair cheeks taking up the robe laid it

       along the knees of Athene the lovely haired, and praying

       she supplicated the daughter of powerful Zeus: “O lady,

305  Athene, our city’s defender, shining among goddesses:

       break the spear of Diomedes, and grant that the man be

       hurled on his face in front of the Skaian gates; so may we

       instantly dedicate within your shrine twelve heifers,

       yearlings, never broken, if only you will have pity

310  on the town of Troy, and the Trojan wives, and their innocent children.”

          She spoke in prayer, but Pallas Athene turned her head from her.

          So they made their prayer to the daughter of Zeus the powerful.

       But Hektor went away to the house of Alexandros,

       a splendid place he had built himself, with the men who at that time

315  were the best men for craft smanship in the generous Troad,

       who had made him a sleeping room and a hall and a courtyard

       near the houses of Hektor and Priam, on the peak of the citadel.

       There entered Hektor beloved of Zeus, in his hand holding

       the eleven-cubit-long spear, whose shaft was tipped with a shining

320  bronze spearhead, and a ring of gold was hooped to hold it.

       He found the man in his chamber busy with his splendid armor,

       the corselet and the shield, and turning in his hands the curved bow,

       while Helen of Argos was sitting among her attendant women

       directing the magnificent work done by her handmaidens.

325      But Hektor saw him, and in words of shame he rebuked him:

       “Strange man! It is not fair to keep in your heart this coldness.

       The people are dying around the city and around the steep wall

       as they fight hard; and it is for you that this war with its clamor

       has flared up about our city. You yourself would fight with another

330  whom you saw anywhere hanging back from the hateful encounter.

       Up then, to keep our town from burning at once in the hot fire.”

          Then in answer the godlike Alexandros spoke to him:

       “Hektor, seeing you have scolded me rightly, not beyond measure,

       therefore I will tell, and you in turn understand and listen.

335  It was not so much in coldness and bitter will toward the Trojans

       that I sat in my room, but I wished to give myself over to sorrow.

       But just now with soft words my wife was winning me over

       and urging me into the fight, and that way seems to me also

       the better one. Victory passes back and forth between men.

340  Come then, wait for me now while I put on my armor of battle,

       or go, and I will follow, and I think I can overtake you.”

          He spoke, but Hektor of the shining helm gave him no answer,

       but Helen spoke to him in words of endearment: “Brother

       by marriage to me, who am a nasty bitch evil-intriguing,

345  how I wish that on that day when my mother first bore me

       the foul whirlwind of the storm had caught me away and swept me

       to the mountain, or into the wash of the sea deep-thundering

       where the waves would have swept me away before all these things had happened.

       Yet since the gods had brought it about that these vile things must be,

350  I wish I had been the wife of a better man than this is,

       one who knew modesty and all things of shame that men say.

       But this man’s heart is no steadfast thing, nor yet will it be so

       ever hereafter; for that I think he shall take the consequence.

       But come now, come in and rest on this chair, my brother,

355  since it is on your heart beyond all that the hard work has fallen

       for the sake of dishonored me and the blind act of Alexandros,

       us two, on whom Zeus set a vile destiny, so that hereafter

       we shall be made into things of song for the men of the future.”

          Then tall Hektor of the shining helm answered her: “Do not, Helen,

360  make me sit with you, though you love me. You will not persuade me.

       Already my heart within is hastening me to defend

       the Trojans, who when I am away long greatly to have me.

       Rather rouse this man, and let himself also be swift to action

       so he may overtake me while I am still in the city.

365  For I am going first to my own house, so I can visit

       my own people, my beloved wife and my son, who is little,

       since I do not know if ever again I shall come back this way,

       or whether the gods will strike me down at the hands of the Achaians.”

          So speaking Hektor of the shining helm departed

370  and in speed made his way to his own well-established dwelling,

       but failed to find in the house Andromachē of the white arms;

       for she, with the child, and followed by one fair-robed attendant,

       had taken her place on the tower in lamentation, and tearful.

       When he saw no sign of his perfect wife within the house, Hektor

375  stopped in his way on the threshold and spoke among the handmaidens:

       “Come then, tell me truthfully as you may, handmaidens:

       where has Andromachē of the white arms gone?

       Is she with any of the sisters of her lord or the wives of his brothers?

       Or has she gone to the house of Athene, where all the other

380  lovely-haired women of Troy propitiate the grim goddess?”

          Then in turn the hard-working housekeeper gave him an answer:

       “Hektor, since you have urged me to tell you the truth, she is not

       with any of the sisters of her lord or the wives of his brothers,

       nor has she gone to the house of Athene, where all the other

385  lovely-haired women of Troy propitiate the grim goddess,

       but she has gone to the great bastion of Ilion, because she heard that

       the Trojans were losing, and great grew the strength of the Achaians.

       Therefore she has gone in speed to the wall, like a woman

       gone mad, and a nurse attending her carries the baby.”

390      So the housekeeper spoke, and Hektor hastened from his home

       backward by the way he had come through the well-laid streets. So

       as he had come to the gates on his way through the great city,

       the Skaian gates, whereby he would issue into the plain, there

       at last his own generous wife came running to meet him,

395  Andromachē, the daughter of high-hearted Eëtion;

       Eëtion, who had dwelt underneath wooded Plakos,

       in Thebe below Plakos, lord over the Kilikian people.

       It was his daughter who was given to Hektor of the bronze helm.

       She came to him there, and beside her went an attendant carrying

400  the boy in the fold of her bosom, a little child, only a baby,

       Hektor’s son, the admired, beautiful as a star shining,

       whom Hektor called Skamandrios, but all of the others

       Astyanax—lord of the city; since Hektor alone saved Ilion.

       Hektor smiled in silence as he looked on his son, but she,

405  Andromachē, stood close beside him, letting her tears fall,

       and clung to his hand and called him by name and spoke to him: “Dearest,

       your own great strength will be your death, and you have no pity

       on your little son, nor on me, ill-starred, who soon must be your widow;

       for presently the Achaians, gathering together,

410  will set upon you and kill you; and for me it would be far better

       to sink into the earth when I have lost you, for there is no other

       consolation for me after you have gone to your destiny—only

       grief; since I have no father, no honored mother.

       It was brilliant Achilleus who slew my father, Eëtion,

415  when he stormed the strong-founded citadel of the Kilikians,

       Thebe of the towering gates. He killed Eëtion

       but did not strip his armor, for his heart respected the dead man,

       but burned the body in all its elaborate war-gear

       and piled a grave mound over it, and the nymphs of the mountains,

420  daughters of Zeus of the aegis, planted elm trees about it.

       And they who were my seven brothers in the great house all went

       upon a single day down into the house of the death god,

       for swift-footed brilliant Achilleus slaughtered all of them

       as they were tending their white sheep and their lumbering oxen;

425  and when he had led my mother, who was queen under wooded Plakos,

       here, along with all his other possessions, Achilleus

       released her again, accepting ransom beyond count, but Artemis

       of the showering arrows struck her down in the halls of her father.

       Hektor, thus you are father to me, and my honored mother,

430  you are my brother, and you it is who are my young husband.

       Please take pity upon me then, stay here on the rampart,

       that you may not leave your child an orphan, your wife a widow,

       but draw your people up by the fig tree, there where the city

       is openest to attack, and where the wall may be mounted.

435  Three times their bravest came that way, and fought there to storm it

       about the two Aiantes and renowned Idomeneus,

       about the two Atreidai and the fighting son of Tydeus.

       Either some man well skilled in prophetic arts had spoken,

       or the very spirit within themselves had stirred them to the onslaught.”

440      Then tall Hektor of the shining helm answered her: “All these

       things are in my mind also, lady; yet I would feel deep shame

       before the Trojans, and the Trojan women with trailing garments,

       if like a coward I were to shrink aside from the fighting;

       and the spirit will not let me, since I have learned to be valiant

445  and to fight always among the foremost ranks of the Trojans,

       winning for my own self great glory, and for my father.

       For I know this thing well in my heart, and my mind knows it:

       there will come a day when sacred Ilion shall perish,

       and Priam, and the people of Priam of the strong ash spear.

450  But it is not so much the pain to come of the Trojans

       that troubles me, not even of Priam the king nor Hekabē,

       not the thought of my brothers who in their numbers and valor

       shall drop in the dust under the hands of men who hate them,

       as troubles me the thought of you, when some bronze-armored

455  Achaian leads you off, taking away your day of liberty,

       in tears; and in Argos you must work at the loom of another,

       and carry water from the spring Messeis or Hypereia,

       all unwilling, but strong will be the necessity upon you;

       and some day seeing you shedding tears a man will say of you:

460  ‘This is the wife of Hektor, who was ever the bravest fighter

       of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought about Ilion.

       ’ So will one speak of you; and for you it will be yet a fresh grief,

       to be widowed of such a man who could fight off the day of your slavery.

       But may I be dead and the piled earth hide me under before I

465  hear you crying and know by this that they drag you captive.”

          So speaking glorious Hektor held out his arms to his baby,

       who shrank back to his fair-girdled nurse’s bosom

       screaming, and frightened at the aspect of his own father,

       terrified as he saw the bronze and the crest with its horse-hair,

470  nodding dreadfully, as he thought, from the peak of the helmet.

       Then his beloved father laughed out, and his honored mother,

       and at once glorious Hektor lifted from his head the helmet

       and laid it in all its shining upon the ground. Then taking

       up his dear son he tossed him about in his arms, and kissed him,

475  and lifted his voice in prayer to Zeus and the other immortals:

       “Zeus, and you other immortals, grant that this boy, who is my son,

       may be as I am, pre-eminent among the Trojans,

       great in strength, as am I, and rule strongly over Ilion;

       and some day let them say of him: ‘He is better by far than his father,’

480  as he comes in from the fighting; and let him kill his enemy

       and bring home the blooded spoils, and delight the heart of his mother.”

          So speaking he set his child again in the arms of his beloved

       wife, who took him back again to her fragrant bosom

       smiling in her tears; and her husband saw, and took pity upon her,

485  and stroked her with his hand, and called her by name and spoke to her:

       “Poor Andromachē! Why does your heart sorrow so much for me?

       No man is going to hurl me to Hades, unless it is fated,

       but as for fate, I think that no man yet has escaped it

       once it has taken its first form, neither brave man nor coward.

490  Go therefore back to our house, and take up your own work,

       the loom and the distaff, and see to it that your handmaidens

       ply their work also; but the men must see to the fighting,

       all men who are the people of Ilion, but I beyond others.”

          So glorious Hektor spoke and again took up the helmet

495  with its crest of horse-hair, while his beloved wife went homeward,

       turning to look back on the way, letting the live tears fall.

       And as she came in speed into the well-settled household

       of Hektor the slayer of men, she found numbers of handmaidens

       within, and her coming stirred all of them into lamentation.

500  So they mourned in his house over Hektor while he was living

       still, for they thought he would never again come back from the fighting

       alive, escaping the Achaian hands and their violence.

          But Paris in turn did not linger long in his high house,

       but when he had put on his glorious armor with bronze elaborate

505  he ran in the confidence of his quick feet through the city.

       As when some stalled horse who has been corn-fed at the manger

       breaking free of his rope gallops over the plain in thunder

       to his accustomed bathing place in a sweet-running river

       and in the pride of his strength holds high his head, and the mane floats

510  over his shoulders; sure of his glorious strength, the quick knees

       carry him to the loved places and the pasture of horses;

       so from uttermost Pergamos came Paris, the son of

       Priam, shining in all his armor of war as the sun shines,

       laughing aloud, and his quick feet carried him; suddenly thereafter

515  he came on brilliant Hektor, his brother, where he yet lingered

       before turning away from the place where he had talked with his lady.

       It was Alexandros the godlike who first spoke to him:

       “Brother, I fear that I have held back your haste, by being

       slow on the way, not coming in time, as you commanded me.”

520      Then tall Hektor of the shining helm spoke to him in answer:

       “Strange man! There is no way that one, giving judgment in fairness,

       could dishonor your work in battle, since you are a strong man.

       But of your own accord you hang back, unwilling. And my heart

       is grieved in its thought, when I hear shameful things spoken about you

525   by the Trojans, who undergo hard fighting for your sake.

       Let us go now; some day hereafter we will make all right

       with the immortal gods in the sky, if Zeus ever grant it,

       setting up to them in our houses the wine-bowl of liberty

       after we have driven out of Troy the strong-greaved Achaians.”

Comments

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

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