The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 19 of 35

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BOOK ELEVEN

 

          Now Dawn rose from her bed, where she lay by haughty Tithonos,

       to carry her light to men and to immortals. Zeus sent down

       in speed to the fast ships of the Achaians the wearisome goddess

       of Hate, holding in her hands the portent of battle.

5     She took her place on the huge-hollowed black ship of Odysseus

       which lay in the middle, so that she could cry out to both flanks,

       either as far as the shelters of Telamonian Aias

       or to those of Achilleus; since these had hauled their balanced ships up

       at the ends, certain of their manhood and their hands’ strength.

10   There the goddess took her place, and cried out a great cry

       and terrible and loud, and put strength in all the Achaians’

       hearts, to go on tirelessly with their fighting of battles.

       And now battle became sweeter to them than to go back

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

 

15        And Atreus’ son cried out aloud and drove the Achaians

       to gird them, while he himself put the shining bronze upon him.

       First he placed along his legs the beautiful greaves linked

       with silver fastenings to hold the greaves at the ankles.

       Afterward he girt on about his chest the corselet

20   that Kinyras had given him once, to be a guest present

       For the great fame and rumor of war had carried to Kypros

       how the Achaians were to sail against Troy in their vessels.

       Therefore he gave the king as a gift of grace this corselet.

       Now there were ten circles of deep cobalt upon it,

25   and twelve of gold and twenty of tin. And toward the opening

       at the throat there were rearing up three serpents of cobalt

       on either side, like rainbows, which the son of Kronos

       has marked upon the clouds, to be a portent to mortals.

       Across his shoulders he slung the sword, and the nails upon it

30   were golden and glittered, and closing about it the scabbard

       was silver, and gold was upon the swordstraps that held it.

       And he took up the man-enclosing elaborate stark shield,

       a thing of splendor. There were ten circles of bronze upon it,

       and set about it were twenty knobs of tin, pale-shining,

35   and in the very center another knob of dark cobalt.

       And circled in the midst of all was the blank-eyed face of the Gorgon

       with her stare of horror, and Fear was inscribed upon it, and Terror.

       The strap of the shield had silver upon it, and there also on it

       was coiled a cobalt snake, and there were three heads upon him

40   twisted to look backward and grown from a single neck, all three.

       Upon his head he set the helmet, two-horned, four-sheeted,

       with the horse-hair crest, and the plumes nodded terribly above it.

       Then he caught up two strong spears edged with sharp bronze

       and the brazen heads flashed far from him deep into heaven.

45   And Hera and Athene caused a crash of thunder about him,

       doing honor to the lord of deep-golden Mykenai.

          Thereupon each man gave orders to his charioteer

       to rein in the horses once again by the ditch, in good order,

       while they themselves, dismounted and armed in their war gear, swept onward

50   to the ditch, and their incessant clamor rose up in the morning.

       In battle array they came to the ditch well ahead of the horseman

       and the horseman followed a little behind. And the son of Kronos

       drove down the evil turmoil upon them, and from aloft cast

       down dews dripping blood from the sky, since he was minded

55   to hurl down a multitude of strong heads to the house of Hades.

          On the other side of the ditch at the break of the plain the Trojans

       gathered about tall Hektor and stately Poulydamas

       and Aineias, honored by Trojans in their countryside as a god is,

       and the three sons of Antenor, Polybos, and brilliant Agenor,

60   and Akamas, a young man still, in the likeness of the immortals.

       And Hektor carried the perfect circle of his shield in the foremost,

       as among the darkened clouds the bale star shows forth

       in all shining, then merges again in the clouds and the darkness.

       So Hektor would at one time be shining among the foremost,

65   and then once more urging on the last, and complete in bronze armor

       glittered like the thunder-flash of Zeus of the aegis, our father.

          And the men, like two lines of reapers who, facing each other,

       drive their course all down the field of wheat or of barley

       for a man blessed in substance, and the cut swathes drop showering,

70   so Trojans and Achaians driving in against one another

       cut men down, nor did either side think of disastrous panic.

       The pressure held their heads on a line, and they whirled and fought like

       wolves, and Hate, the Lady of Sorrow, was gladdened to watch them.

       She alone of all the immortals attended this action

75   but the other immortals were not there, but sat quietly

       remote and apart in their palaces, where for each one of them

       a house had been built in splendor along the folds of Olympos.

       All were blaming the son of Kronos, Zeus of the dark mists,

       because his will was to give glory to the Trojans. To these gods

80   the father gave no attention at all, but withdrawn from them

       and rejoicing in the pride of his strength sat apart from the others

       looking out over the city of Troy and the ships of the Achaians,

       watching the flash of the bronze, and men killing and men killed.

 

          So long as it was early morning and the sacred daylight increasing,

85   so long the thrown weapons of both took hold and men dropped under them.

       But at that time when the woodcutter makes ready his supper

       in the wooded glens of the mountains, when his arms and hands have grown weary

       from cutting down the tall trees, and his heart has had enough of it,

       and longing for food and for sweet wine takes hold of his senses;

90   at that time the Danaäns by their manhood broke the battalions

       calling across the ranks to each other. First Agamemnon

       drove on, and killed a man, Bienor, shepherd of the people,

       himself, then his companion Oïleus, lasher of horses;

       who, springing down from behind his horses, stood forth to face him,

95   but Agamemnon stabbed straight at his face as he came on in fury

       with the sharp spear, nor did helm’s bronze-heavy edge hold it,

       but the spearhead passed through this and the bone, and the inward

       brain was all spattered forth. So he beat him down in his fury,

       and Agamemnon the lord of men left them lying there

100  and their white bodies showing, since he had stripped off their tunics.

       Then he went on to kill and strip Isos and Antiphos,

       two sons of Priam, bastard one and one lawful, both riding

       in a single chariot. The bastard, Isos, was charioteer

       and renowned Antiphos rode beside him. Before this Achilleus

105  had caught these two at the knees of Ida, and bound them in pliant

       willows as they watched by their sheep, and released them for ransom.

       This time the son of Atreus, wide-powerful Agamemnon,

       struck Isos with the thrown spear in the chest above the nipple

       and hit Antiphos by the ear with the sword and hurled him from his horses,

110  and in eager haste he stripped off from these their glorious armor

       which he knew; he had seen these two before by the fast ships

       when Achilleus of the swift feet had brought them in from Ida.

       And as a lion seizes the innocent young of the running

       deer, and easily crunches and breaks them caught in the strong teeth

115  when he has invaded their lair, and rips out the soft heart from them,

       and even if the doe be very near, still she has no strength

       to help, for the ghastly shivers of fear are upon her also

       and suddenly she dashes away through the glades and the timber

       sweating in her speed away from the pounce of the strong beast;

120  so there was no one of the Trojans who could save these two

       from death, but they themselves were running in fear from the Argives.

          Next he caught Peisandros and Hippolochos stubborn in battle,

       sons of Antimachos the wise, who beyond all others

       had taken the gold of Alexandros, glorious gifts, so that

125  he had opposed the return of Helen to fair-haired Menelaos.

       Powerful Agamemnon caught his two sons riding

       in one chariot, who together guided the running horses.

       Now the glittering reins escaped from the hands of both of them

       and they were stunned with fear, for against them rose like a lion

130  Atreus’ son, and they supplicated him out of the chariot:

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

       In the house of Antimachos the treasures lie piled in abundance,

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

       and our father would make you glad with abundant repayment

135  were he to hear we were alive by the ships of the Achaians.”

          Thus these two cried out upon the king, lamenting

       and in pitiful phrase, but they heard the voice that was without pity:

       “If in truth you are the sons of wise Antimachos,

       that man who once among the Trojans assembled advised them

140  that Menelaos, who came as envoy with godlike Odysseus,

       should be murdered on the spot nor let go back to the Achaians,

       so now your mutilation shall punish the shame of your father.”

          He spoke, and spurned Peisandros to the ground from the chariot

       with a spear-stroke in the chest, and he crashed on his back to the ground. Then

145  Hippolochos sprang away, but Atreides killed him dismounted,

       cutting away his arms with a sword-stroke, free of the shoulder,

       and sent him spinning like a log down the battle. Thereafter

       he left them, and toward that place where the most battalions were shaken

       drove, and beside him drove the rest of the strong-greaved Achaians,

150  and footmen killed footmen who fled under strong compulsion

       and riders killed riders, and a storm of dust rose up under them

       out of the plain uplifted by the thundering feet of their horses.

       They killed with the bronze, and among them powerful Agamemnon

       went onward always slaying and urged on the rest of the Argives.

155  As when obliterating fire comes down on the timbered forest

       and the roll of the wind carries it everywhere, and bushes

       leaning under the force of the fire’s rush tumble uprooted,

       so before Atreus’ son Agamemnon went down the high heads

       of the running Trojans, and in many places the strong-necked horses

160  rattled their empty chariots along the causeways of battle,

       and longed for their haughty charioteers, who were lying

       along the ground, to delight no longer their wives, but the vultures.

          But Zeus drew Hektor out from under the dust and the missiles,

       out of the place where men were killed, the blood and confusion,

165  while Atreides followed urging the Danaäns forever onward.

       The Trojans swept in their flight past the barrow of ancient Ilos

       Dardanos’ son, to the center of the level ground and the fig tree,

       as they made for the city, and he followed them always, screaming,

       Atreus’ son, his invincible hands spattered with bloody filth.

170  But when they had made their way to the Skaian gates and the oak tree

       the Trojans stood their ground, and each side endured the other,

       the Trojans stood their ground, and each side endured the other,

       while others still in the middle plain stampeded like cattle

       when a lion, coming upon them in the dim night, has terrified

       the whole herd, while for a single one sheer death is emerging.

175  First the lion breaks her neck caught fast in the strong teeth,

       then gulps down the blood and all the guts that are inward;

       so Atreus’ son, powerful Agamemnon, went after them

       killing ever the last of the men; and they fled in terror.

       Many were hurled from behind their horses, face downward or sprawling

180  under the hands of Atreides who raged with his spear in the forefront.

       But when he was on the point of making his way to the city

       and the steep wall, the father of gods and of men descending

       out of the sky took his place along the ridges of Ida

       of the fountains, and held fast in his hands the thunderbolt.

185  He sent on her way Iris of the golden wings with a message:

       “Go on your way, swift Iris, and carry my word to Hektor:

       as long as he beholds Agamemnon, shepherd of the people,

       raging among the champions and cutting down the ranged fighters,

       so long let him hold back and urge on the rest of his people

190  to fight against the enemy through this strong encounter.

       But when, either struck with a spear or hit by a flying arrow,

       he springs up behind his horses, then I guarantee power to Hektor

       to kill men, till he makes his way to the strong-benched vessels,

       until the sun goes down and the blessed darkness comes over.”

 

195      He spoke, and swift wind-footed Iris did not disobey him,

       but went down along the hills of Ida to sacred Ilion,

       and found the son of wise Priam, Hektor the brilliant,

       standing among the compacted chariots and by the horses.

       Iris the swift of foot came close beside and spoke to him:

200  “Hektor, O son of Priam and equal of Zeus in counsel,

       Zeus my father has sent me down to tell you this message.

       As long as you behold Agamemnon, shepherd of the people,

       raging among the champions and cutting down the ranged fighters,

       so long hold back from the fighting,

       but urge on the rest of your people

205  to fight against the enemy through this strong encounter.

       But when, either struck with a spear or hit by a flying arrow,

       he springs up behind his horses, then Zeus guarantees power to you

       to kill men, till you make your way to the strong-benched vessels,

       until the sun goes down and the blessed darkness comes over.”

210      Swift-foot Iris spoke to him thus and went away from him,

       and Hektor in all his armor leapt to the ground from his chariot

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

       stirring them up to fight and waking the ghastly warfare.

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

215  and the Argives against them pulled together their battle lines.

       So the fighting grew close and they faced each other, and foremost

       Agamemnon drove on, trying to fight far ahead of all others.

 

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

       who was the first to come forth and stand against Agamemnon

220  of the very Trojans, or their renowned companions in battle.

          Iphidamas, Antenor’s son, the huge and stalwart

       who had been reared in generous Thrace, the mother of sheepflocks.

       Kisseus had raised him in his own house when he was little,

       his mother’s father, whose child was Theano, the girl of the fair cheeks.

225  But when he had arrived at the stature of powerful manhood

       Kisseus detained him there and gave him his daughter. Married

       he went away from the bride chamber, looking for glory

       from the Achaians, with twelve curved ships that followed with him.

       These balanced vessels he had left behind in Perkote

230  and gone himself to fight on foot at Ilion; and there

       he came face to face with Atreus’ son, Agamemnon.

       Now when these in their advance were close to each other

       the son of Atreus missed with his throw, and the spear was turned past him,

       but Iphidamas stabbed to the belt underneath the corselet

235  and leaned in on the stroke in the confidence of his strong hand

       but could not get clean through the bright war belt, far sooner

       the spearpoint pushed against the silver bent back, like softlead.

       And in his hand wide-powerful Agamemnon catching it

       dragged it against him, raging like a lion, and tore it

240  out of his hand, then struck the neck with his sword, and unstrung him.

       So Iphidamas fell there and went into the brazen slumber,

       unhappy, who came to help his own people, and left his young wife

       a bride, and had known no delight from her yet, and given much for her.

       First he had given a hundred oxen, then promised a thousand

245  head of goats and sheep, which were herded for him in abundance.

       Now Agamemnon, son of Atreus, stripped him and went back

       to the throng of the Achaians bearing the splendid armor.

          When Koön, conspicuous among the fighters, perceived him,

       he who was Antenor’s eldest born, the strong sorrow

250  misted about his eyes for the sake of his fallen brother.

       He came from the side and unobserved at great Agamemnon

       and stabbed with his spear at the middle arm, underneath the elbow,

       and the head of the glittering spear cut its way clean through.

       Agamemnon the lord of men shuddered with fear then

255  but even so did not give up the attack or his fighting

       but sprang at Koön, gripping a spear that struck with the wind’s speed.

       Now Koön was dragging his father’s son, his brother Iphidamas,

       by the foot back eagerly, and cried out on all the bravest,

       but as he dragged him into the crowd, Agamemnon thrust at him

260  with the smoothed bronze spear underneath the knobbed shield, and unstrung him,

       then came up and hewed off his head over Iphidamas.

       There under the king, Atreus’ son, the sons of Antenor

       filled out their destiny and went down to the house of the death god.

          But Agamemnon ranged the ranks of the other fighters

265  with spear and sword and with huge stones that he flung, for such time

       as the blood was still running warm from the spear-wound.

       But after the sore place was dry, and the flow of blood stopped,

       the sharp pains began to break in on the strength of Atreides.

       As the sharp sorrow of pain descends on a woman in labor,

270  the bitterness that the hard spirits of childbirth bring on,

       Hera’s daughters, who hold the power of the bitter birthpangs,

       so the sharp pains began to break in on the strength of Atreides.

       He sprang back into the car, and called to his charioteer

       to drive him back to the hollow ships, since his heart was heavy.

275  He lifted his voice and called in a piercing cry to the Danaäns:

       “Friends, O leaders and men of counsel among the Argives,

       you must still continue to defend our seafaring vessels

       from the wearying attack, since Zeus of the counsels would not

       allow me to do battle daylong against the Trojans.”

280      He spoke, and the charioteer lashed on the bright-maned horses

       back toward the hollow ships, and they winged their way unreluctant.

       The foam ran down their chests, they were powdered with dust from beneath them

       as they carried the stricken king away from the fighting.

          When Hektor was aware of Agamemnon withdrawing

285  he called out in a great voice to Trojans and Lykians:

       “Trojans, Lykians and Dardanians who fight at close quarters,

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

       Their best man is gone, and Zeus, Kronos’ son, has consented

       to my great glory; but steer your single-foot horses straight on

290  at the powerful Danaäns, so win you the higher glory.”

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

       As when some huntsman drives to action his hounds with shining

       teeth against some savage beast, wild boar or lion,

       so against the Achaians Hektor the son of Priam,

295  a man like the murderous war god, lashed on the high-hearted Trojans.

       And he himself with high thoughts strode out in the foremost

       and hurled himself on the struggle of men like a high-blown storm-cloud

       which swoops down from above to trouble the blue sea-water.

          Who then was the first, and who the last that he slaughtered,

300  Hektor, Priam’s son, now that Zeus granted him glory?

       Asaios first, and then Autonoös and Opites,

       and Dolops, Klytios’ son, Opheltios and Agelaos,

       and Aisymnos, and Oros, and Hipponoös stubborn in battle.

       He killed these, who were lords of the Danaäns, and thereafter

305  the multitude, as when the west wind strikes in the deepening

       whirlstorm to batter the clouds of the shining south wind,

       so that the bulging big waves roll hard and the blown spume

       scatters high before the force of the veering wind’s blast.

       So the massed high heads of the people were struck down by Hektor.

310  And now there might have been havoc and hopeless things done, now

       the running Achaians might have tumbled back into their own ships

       had not Odysseus cried out to Tydeus’ son, Diomedes:

       “Son of Tydeus, what has happened to us that we have forgotten

       our fighting strength? Come here and stand with me, brother. There must be

315  shame on us, if Hektor of the glancing helm captures our vessels.”

          Then in answer powerful Diomedes spoke to him:

       “Yes, I will stand with you and take what I must, yet

       we shall not have our way for long, since Zeus the cloud-gatherer

       would wish to give the power to the Trojans rather than to us.”

320      He spoke, and hurled down Thymbraios to the ground from his horses

       with a stroke of the spear by the left nipple. Meanwhile Odysseus

       killed this lord of battle’s henchman, godlike Molion.

       They left these to lie there, since they had ended their fighting,

       then went into the ranks and wrought havoc, as when two wild boars

325  hurl themselves in their pride upon the hounds who pursue them.

       So they whirled on the Trojans again and destroyed them. Meanwhile

       the Achaians gladly drew breath again after their flight from great Hektor.

          There they took a chariot and two men, lords in their countryside,

       sons both of Merops of Perkote, who beyond all men

330  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.

       Tydeus’ son, Diomedes of the renowned spear, stripped them

       of life and spirit, and took away their glorious armor

335  while Odysseus killed Hypeirochos and Hippodamos.

          There the son of Kronos strained the battle even between them

       as he looked down from Ida. They went on killing each other.

       Now Tydeus’ son stabbed with the spear Agastrophos, a chief

       and son of Paion, striking at the hip joint. His horses

340  were not by for his escape, but he, strongly infatuate,

       had a henchman holding them aside, while he, dismounted,

       raged on among the champions until so he lost his dear life.

       Hektor saw it sharply across the ranks and rose up against them

       with a great cry, and behind him came on the Trojan battalions.

345  Diomedes of the great war cry shivered as he saw him

       and suddenly he spoke to Odysseus as he came near:

       “Here is this curse, Hektor the huge, wheeling down upon us.

       Let us stand, and hold our ground against him, and beat him off from us.”

          So he spoke, and balanced the spear far-shadowed, and threw it

350  aiming at the head, and struck against his mark, nor missed it,

       at the high peak of the helm, but the bronze from the bronze was driven

       back, nor reached his shining skin, the helmet guarded it,

       three-ply and hollow-eyed, which Phoibos Apollo gave him.

       But Hektor sprang far away back and merged among his own people,

355  and dropping to one knee stayed leaning on the ground with his heavy

       hand, and a covering of black night came over both eyes.

       But while the son of Tydeus was following his spear’s cast

       far through the front fighters where it fixed in the earth, meanwhile

       Hektor got his wind again, and springing back into his chariot

360  drove back into the multitude and avoided the dark death.

       Then shaking his spear powerful Diomedes called to him:

       “Once again now you escaped death, dog. And yet the evil

       came near you, but now once more Phoibos Apollo has saved you,

       he to whom you must pray when you go into the thunder of spears thrown.

365  Yet I may win you, if I encounter you ever hereafter,

       if beside me also there is some god who will help me.

       Now I must chase whoever I can overtake of the others.”

          He spoke, and set about stripping the spear-famed son of Paion.

       But now Alexandros, the lord of lovely-haired Helen,

370  pulled his bow against Tydeus’ son, the shepherd of the people,

       leaning against the column, work of men’s hand, on the gravemound

       of Ilos, Dardanos’ son, an elder of the folk in the old days.

       Now Diomedes was stripping the corselet of strong Agastrophos

       from about his chest, and the shining shield from his shoulders

375  and the heavy helm, as the other pulled his bow at the handgrip

       and shot, and the arrow escaping his hand flew not vain

       but struck the flat of the right foot, and the shaft driven clean through

       stuck in the ground. Then Alexandros, laughing merrily,

       sprang from his hiding-place and cried out his speech of triumph:

380  “You are hit, and my arrow flew not in vain. How I wish

       I had struck you in the depth of the belly and torn the life from you.

       So the Trojans, who shudder before you as bleating goats do

       before a lion, would have got their wind again after disaster.”

          Then not at all frightened strong Diomedes answered him:

       

385  “You archer, foul fighter, lovely in your locks, eyer of young girls.

       If you were to make trial of me in strong combat with weapons

       your bow would do you no good at all, nor your close-showered arrows.

       Now you have scratched the flat of my foot, and even boast of this.

       I care no more than if a witless child or a woman

390  had struck me; this is the blank weapon of a useless man, no fighter.

       But if one is struck by me only a little, that is far different,

       the stroke is a sharp thing and suddenly lays him lifeless,

       and that man’s wife goes with cheeks torn in lamentation,

       and his children are fatherless, while he staining the soil with his red blood

395  rots away, and there are more birds than women swarming about him.”

          He spoke, and Odysseus the spear-famed coming up from nearby

       stood in front; so he sat down behind him and pulled out

       the sharp arrow from his foot, and the hard pain came over his flesh.

       He sprang back into the car and called to his charioteer

400  to drive him back to the hollow ships, since his heart was heavy.

          Now Odysseus the spear-famed was left alone, nor did any

       of the Argives stay beside him, since fear had taken all of them.

       And troubled, he spoke then to his own great-hearted spirit:

       “Ah me, what will become of me? It will be a great evil

405  if I run, fearing their multitude, yet deadlier if I am caught

       alone; and Kronos’ son drove to flight the rest of the Danaäns.

       Yet still, why does the heart within me debate on these things

       Since I know that it is the cowards who walk out of the fighting,

       but if one is to win honor in battle, he must by all means

410  stand his ground strongly, whether he be struck or strike down another.”

          While he was pondering these things in his heart and his spirit

       the ranks of the armored Trojans came on against him, and penned him

       in their midst, but made thereby a wound in their ranks, as when

       closing about a wild boar the hounds and the lusty young men

415  rush him, and he comes out of his lair in the deep of a thicket

       grinding to an edge the white fangs in the crook of the jawbones,

       and these sweep in all about him, and the vaunt of his teeth uprises

       as they await him, terrible though he is, without wavering;

       so closing on Odysseus beloved of Zeus the Trojans

420  rushed him. First he stabbed lordly Deïopites

       in the shoulder, lunging from above with a stroke of the sharp spear,

       and after him he killed Thoön and Ennomos, and next

       stabbed Chersidamas as he sprang down from behind his horses

       in the navel with a spear’s stroke underneath the massive

425  shield, and he dropping in the dust clawed the ground with his hand. These

       he leftlying, and stabbed with the spear the son of Hippasos,

       Charops, full brother of Sokos, a man rich in substance. And Sokos

       moved in, a man like a god, to stand over his fallen brother

       and came and stood close by Odysseus and spoke a word to him:

430  “Honored Odysseus, insatiable of guile and endeavor,

       today you will have two sons of Hippasos to vaunt over

       for having killed two such men as we and stripping our armor,

       or else, stricken underneath my spear, you might lose your own life.”

          He spoke, and stabbed Odysseus’ shield in its perfect circle.

435  All the way through the glittering shield went the heavy spearhead

       and crashed its way through the intricately wrought corselet,

       and all the skin was torn away from his ribs, yet Pallas

       Athene would not let the point penetrate the man’s vitals.

       Odysseus saw that the fatal end had not yet come to him,

440  and drew back and spoke a word to Sokos: “Ah, wretch,

       surely now steep destruction is advancing upon you.

       It is true, you have stopped my fighting against the Trojans,

       but I declare that here and now dark death and slaughter

       will come upon you this day, and that beaten down under my spear

445  you will give glory to me and your life to Hades of the horses.”

          He spoke, and Sokos turning from him was striding in flight

       but in his back even as he was turning the spear fixed

       between the shoulders and was driven on through the chest beyond it.

       He fell, thunderously, and great Odysseus boasted over him:

450  “Sokos, son of wise Hippasos the breaker of horses,

       death was too quick for you and ran you down; you could not

       avoid it. Wretch, since now your father and your honored mother

       will not be able to close your eyes in death, but the tearing

       birds will get you, with their wings close-beating about you.

455  If I die, the brilliant Achaians will bury me in honor.”

          So he spoke, and dragged the heavy spear of wise Sokos

       out of his flesh and out of the shield massive in the middle,

       and as it was torn out the blood sprang and his heart was sickened.

       But the great-hearted Trojans, when they saw the blood of Odysseus,

460  cried aloud through the close battle and all made a charge against him.

       He gave back a little way and called out for his companions.

       Three times he called, as much voice as a man’s head could hold,

       and three times Menelaos the warlike heard him shouting

       and immediately spoke to Aias, who was nearby him:

465  “Son of Telamon, seed of Zeus, Aias, lord of the people,

       the war cry of patient Odysseus is ringing about me

       with a sound as if he had been cut off by himself, and the Trojans

       were handling him violently in the strong encounter. Therefore

       let us go to him through the battle. It is better to defend him against them.

470  I fear that, caught alone, he may be hurt by the Trojans

       brave as he is, and so a great loss may befall the Danaäns.”

          He spoke, and led the way, and the other followed, a mortal

       like a god. They found Odysseus beloved of Zeus, and around him

       the Trojans crowded, as bloody scavengers in the mountains

475  crowd on a horned stag who is stricken, one whom a hunter

       shot with an arrow from the string, and the stag has escaped him, running

       with his feet, while the blood stayed warm, and his knees were springing beneath him.

       But when the pain of the flying arrow has beaten him, then

       the rending scavengers begin to feast on him in the mountains

480  and the shaded glen. But some spirit leads that way a dangerous

       lion, and the scavengers run in terror, and the lion eats it;

       so about wise much-devising Odysseus the Trojans

       crowded now, valiant and numerous, but the hero

       with rapid play of his spear beat off the pitiless death-day.

485  Now Aias came near him, carrying like a wall his shield,

       and stood forth beside him, and the Trojans fled one way and another.

       Then taking Odysseus by the hand warlike Menelaos

       led him from the battle, while his henchman drove the horses close up.

          But Aias leaping upon the Trojans struck down Doryklos,

490  Priam’s son, but a bastard, and thereafter stabbed Pandokos,

       and so also Lysandros and Pyrasos and Pylartes.

       As when a swollen river hurls its water, big with rain,

       down the mountains to the flat land following rain from the sky god,

       and sweeps down with it numbers of dry oaks and of pine trees

495  numbers, until it hurls its huge drift wood into the salt sea;

       so now glittering Aias cumbered the plain as he chased them,

       slaughtering men and horses alike, nor yet had Hektor

       heard, since he was fighting at the left of the entire battle

       by the banks of Skamandros river, where more than elsewhere

500  the high heads of men were dropping, and the tireless clamor

       rising about tall Nestor and Idomeneus the warlike.

       Now Hektor was encountering these and doing grim work

       with spear and horsemanship, ruining the battalions of young men.

       Yet even so the Achaians would not have given from his path

505  had not Alexandros, the lord of lovely-haired Helen,

       stayed from his bravery the shepherd of the people, Machaon,

       hitting him with a three-barbed arrow in the right shoulder.

       And the Achaians whose wind was fury were frightened for him,

       that the enemy might catch him in the backturn of the fighting.

510  At once Idomeneus called out to brilliant Nestor:

       “Nestor, son of Neleus, great glory of the Achaians,

       quick, get up on your chariot, let Machaon beside you

       mount, and steer your single-foot horses to the ships in all speed.

       A healer is a man worth many men in his knowledge

515  of cutting out arrows and putting kindly medicines on wounds.”

          He spoke, and the Gerenian horseman Nestor obeyed him.

       Immediately he mounted the chariot, and Machaon,

       son of the great healer Asklepios, mounted beside him.

       He lashed on the horses, and they winged their way unreluctant

520  back toward the hollow ships, since this was the way they desired.

          Now Kebriones, who saw how the Trojans were being driven,

       and who stood beside Hektor in the chariot, spoke a word to him:

       “Hektor, you and I encounter the Danaäns at the utmost

       edge of the sorrowful battle, but meanwhile the rest of the Trojans

525  are driven pell-mell upon each other, the men and their horses.

       The Telamonian Aias drives them; I know him surely

       for he carries the broad shield on his shoulders. So, let us also

       steer our horses and chariot that way, since there the horsemen

       and the foot-ranks more than elsewhere hurling the wicked war-hate

530  against each other, are destroying, and the ceaseless clamor has risen.”

          So he spoke, and lashed forward the bright-maned horses

       with the singing whip, and they at the feel of the stroke lightly

       carried the running chariot among Achaians and Trojans,

       trampling down dead men and shields, and the axle under

535  the chariot was all splashed with blood and the rails which encircled

       the chariot, struck by flying drops from the feet of the horses,

       from the running rims of the wheels. So Hektor was straining to plunge in

       the turmoil of men, and charge them and break them. He hurled the confusion

       of disaster upon the Danaäns, and stayed from the spear’s stroke

540  little, but with his spear and his sword and with huge stones flung

       ranged about among the ranks of the rest of the fighters

       yet kept clear still of the attack of Telamonian Aias.

          But Zeus father who sits on high drove fear upon Aias.

       He stood stunned, and swung the sevenfold ox-hide shield behind him

545  and drew back, throwing his eyes round the crowd of men, like a wild beast,

       turning on his way, shifting knee past knee only a little;

       as when the men who live in the wild and their dogs have driven

       a tawny lion away from the mid-fenced ground of their oxen,

       and will not let him tear out the fat of the oxen, watching

550  nightlong against him, and he in his hunger for meat closes in

       but can get nothing of what he wants, for the raining javelins

       thrown from the daring hands of the men beat ever against him,

       and the flaming torches, and these he balks at for all of his fury

       and with the daylight goes away, disappointed of desire;

555  so Aias, disappointed at heart, drew back from the Trojans

       much unwilling, but feared for the ships of the Achaians. As when

       a donkey, stubborn and hard to move, goes into a cornfield

       in despite of boys, and many sticks have been broken upon him,

       but he gets in and goes on eating the deep grain, and the children

560  beat him with sticks, but their strength is infantile; yet at last

       by hard work they drive him out when he is glutted with eating;

       so the high-hearted Trojans and companions in arms gathered

       from far places kept after great Aias, the son of Telamon,

       stabbing always with their spears at the center of the great shield.

565  And now Aias would remember again his furious valor

       and turn upon them, and beat back the battalions of Trojans,

       breakers of horses, and then again would turn and run from them.

       He blocked them all from making their way on to the fast ships

       and himself stood and fought on in the space between the Achaians

570  and Trojans, and of the spears thrown by the daring hands of the fighters

       some that were driven forward stuck fast in the great shield, others

       and many in the mid space before they had got to his white skin

       stood fast in the ground, though they had been straining to reach his body.

          Now as Eurypylos the glorious son of Euaimon

575  saw how Aias was being overpowered by the dense spears,

       he came and stood beside him and made a cast with his bright spear

       and struck Apisaon, son of Phausias, shepherd of the people,

       in the liver under the midriff, and at once took the strength from his knees.

       Eurypylos springing forward stripped the armor from his shoulders

580  but godlike Alexandros watched him as he was stripping

       the armor of Apisaon, and at once drew his bow, and shot

       at Eurypylos, and hit him in the right thigh with the arrow,

       and the reed shaft was broken off, and his thigh was heavy with pain.

       To avoid death he shrank into the host of his own companions.

585  He lifted his voice and called in a piercing cry to the Danaäns:

       “Friends, O leaders and men of counsel among the Argives,

       turn again and stand and beat off the pitiless death-day

       from Aias, who is being overpowered with spears thrown; and I think

       he cannot escape out of this sorrowful battle. Therefore

590  stand fast and face them around great Aias, the son of Telamon.”

          So spoke wounded Eurypylos, and the others about him

       stood in their numbers and sloped their shields over his shoulders, holding

       the spears away, and Aias came back to join them. He turned

       and stood, when he had got back to the swarm of his own companions.

 

595      So they fought on in the likeness of blazing fire. And meanwhile

       the horses of Neleus sweating carried Nestor away from

       the fighting, and carried also the shepherd of the people, Machaon.

       Now swift-footed brilliant Achilleus saw him and watched him,

       for he was standing on the stern of his huge-hollowed vessel

600  looking out over the sheer war work and the sorrowful onrush.

       At once he spoke to his own companion in arms, Patroklos,

       calling from the ship, and he heard it from inside the shelter, and came out

       like the war god, and this was the beginning of his evil.

       The strong son of Menoitios spoke first, and addressed him:

605  “What do you wish with me, Achilleus? Why do you call me?”

          Then in answer again spoke Achilleus of the swift feet:

       “Son of Menoitios, you who delight my heart, O great one,

       now I think the Achaians will come to my knees and stay there

       in supplication, for a need past endurance has come to them.

610  But go now, Patroklos beloved of Zeus, to Nestor

       and ask him who is this wounded man he brings in from the fighting.

       Indeed, seeing him from behind I thought he was like Machaon,

       Asklepios’ son, in all ways, but I got no sight of the man’s face

       since the horses were tearing forward and swept on by me.”

615      So he spoke, and Patroklos obeyed his beloved companion

       and went on the run along the shelters and ships of the Achaians.

          Now when the others came to the shelter of the son of Neleus,

       they themselves dismounted to the prospering earth, and the henchman

       Eurymedon unharnessed the horses of the old man

620  from the chariot. The men wiped off the sweat on their tunics

       and stood to the wind beside the beach of the sea, and thereafter

       went inside the shelter and took their places on settles.

       And lovely-haired Hekamede made them a potion, she whom

       the old man won from Tenedos, when Achilleus stormed it.

625  She was the daughter of great-hearted Arsinoös. The Achaians

       chose her out for Nestor, because he was best of them all in counsel.

       First she pushed up the table in front of them, a lovely

       table, polished and with feet of cobalt, and on it

       she laid a bronze basket, with onion to go with the drinking,

630  and pale honey, and beside it bread, blessed pride of the barley,

       and beside it a beautifully wrought cup which the old man brought with him

       from home. It was set with golden nails, the eared handles upon it

       were four, and on either side there were fashioned two doves

       of gold, feeding, and there were double bases beneath it.

635  Another man with great effort could lift it full from the table,

       but Nestor, aged as he was, lifted it without strain.

       In this the woman like the immortals mixed them a potion

       with Pramneian wine, and grated goat’s-milk cheese into it

       with a bronze grater, and scattered with her hand white barley into it.

640  When she had got the potion ready, she told them to drink it,

       and both when they had drunk it were rid of their thirst’s parching

       and began to take pleasure in conversation, talking with each other,

       and Patroklos came and stood, a godlike man, in the doorway.

       Seeing him the old man started up from his shining

645  chair, and took him by the hand, led him in and told him to sit down,

       but Patroklos from the other side declined, and spoke to him:

       “No chair, aged sir beloved of Zeus. You will not persuade me.

       Honored, and quick to blame, is the man who sent me to find out

       who was this wounded man you were bringing. Now I myself

650  know, and I see it is Machaon, the shepherd of the people.

       Now I go back as messenger to Achilleus, to tell him.

       You know yourself, aged sir beloved of Zeus, how he is;

       a dangerous man; he might even be angry with one who is guiltless.”

          Then in turn the Gerenian horseman Nestor answered him:

655  “Now why is Achilleus being so sorry for the sons of the Achaians

       who have been wounded with spears thrown, he who knows nothing

       of the sorrow that has risen along the host, since the bravest

       are lying up among the ships with arrow or spear wounds

       The son of Tydeus, strong Diomedes, was hit by an arrow,

660  and Odysseus has a pike wound, and Agamemnon the spear-famed,

       and Eurypylos has been wounded in the thigh with an arrow. And even now

       I have brought this other one, Machaon, out of the fighting

       hit by an arrow from the bowstring. Meanwhile Achilleus

       brave as he is cares nothing for the Danaäns nor pities them.

665  Is he going to wait then till the running ships by the water

       are burned with consuming fire for all the Argives can do, till

       we ourselves are killed one after another? Since there is not

       any longer in my gnarled limbs the strength that there once was.

       If only I were young now, and the strength still steady within me,

670  as that time when a quarrel was made between us and the Eleians

       over a driving of cattle, when I myself killed Itymoneus,

       the brave son of Hypeirochos who made his home in Elis.

       I was driving cattle in reprisal, and he, as he was defending

       his oxen, was struck among the foremost by a spear thrown from my hand

675  and fell, and his people who live in the wild fled in terror about him.

       And we got and drove off together much spoil from this pastureland:

       fifty herds of oxen, as many sheepflocks, as many

       droves of pigs, and again as many wide-ranging goatflocks,

       and a hundred and fifty brown horses, mares all of them

680  and many with foals following underneath. And all there

       we drove inside the keep of Neleian Pylos, making

       our way nightwise to the town. And Neleus was glad in his heart

       that so much had come my way, who was young to go to the fighting.

       And next day as dawn showed the heralds lifted their clear cry

685  for all to come who had anything owed them in shining Elis.

       And the men who were chiefs among the Pylians assembling

       divided the spoil. There were many to whom the Epeians owed something

       since we in Pylos were few and we had been having the worst of it.

       For Herakles had come in his strength against us and beaten us

690  in the years before, and all the bravest among us had been killed.

       For we who were sons of lordly Neleus had been twelve, and now

       I alone was left of these, and all the others had perished,

       and grown haughty over this the bronze-armored Epeians

       despised and outraged us, and devised wicked actions against us.

695  Now the old man took for himself a herd of cattle and a big flock

       of sheep, choosing out three hundred of them along with the shepherds;

       for indeed a great debt was owing to him in shining Elis.

       It was four horses, race-competitors with their own chariot,

       who were on their way to a race and were to run for a tripod,

700  but Augeias the lord of men took these, and kept them

       and sent away their driver who was vexed for the sake of the horses.

       Now aged Neleus, angry over things said and things done,

       took a vast amount for himself, and gave the rest to the people

       to divide among them, so none might go away without a just share.

 

705      So we administered all this spoil, and all through the city

       wrought sacrifices to the gods; and on the third day the Epeians

       came all against us, numbers of men and single-foot horses

       in full haste, and among them were armored the two Moliones,

       boys still, not yet altogether skilled in furious fighting.

710  There is a city, Thryoessa, a headlong hill town

       far away by the Alpheios at the bottom of sandy Pylos.

       They had thrown their encampment about that place, furious to smash it.

       But when they had swept the entire plain, Athene came running

       to us, a messenger from Olympos by night, and warned us

715  to arm. It was no hesitant host she assembled in Pylos

       but people straining hard toward the battle. Now Neleus would not

       let me be armed among them, and had hidden away my horses

       because he thought I was not yet skilled in the work of warfare.

       Even so I was pre-eminent among our own horsemen

720  though I went on foot; since thus Athene guided the battle.

       There is a river, Minyeïos, which empties its water

       in the sea beside Arene. There we waited for the divine Dawn,

       we horsemen among the Pylians, and the hordes of the streaming foot-soldiers,

       and from there having armed in all speed and formed in our armor

725  we came by broad daylight to the sacred stream of Alpheios.

       There we wrought fine sacrifices to Zeus in his great strength

       and sacrificed a bull to Alpheios, a bull to Poseidon,

       but to Athene of the gray eyes a cow from the herds. Then

       we took our dinner along the host in divided watches

730   and went to sleep, each man in his own armor, by the current

       of the river, and meanwhile the high-hearted Epeians

       had taken their places around the city, furious to smash it.

       But sooner than this there was shown forth a great work of the war god,

       for when the sun in his shining lifted above the earth, then

735  we joined our battle together, with prayers to Zeus and Athene.

          Now when the battle came on between Pylians and Epeians,

       I was first to kill a man, and I won his single-foot horses.

       It was Moulios the spearman who was son-in-law to Augeias

       and had as wife his eldest daughter, fair-haired Agamede

740  who knew of all the medicines that are grown in the broad earth.

       As he came on I threw and hit him with the bronze-headed spear

       and he dropped in the dust, whereupon I springing into his chariot

       took my place among the champions, as the high-hearted Epeians

       fled one way and another in terror when they saw the man fall

745  who was leader of their horsemen and the best of them all in fighting.

       Then I charged upon them like a black whirlwind, and overtook

       fifty chariots, and for each of the chariots two men

       caught the dirt in their teeth beaten down under my spear.

       And now I would have killed the young Moliones, scions

750  of Aktor, had not their father who shakes the earth in his wide strength

       caught them out of the battle, shrouding them in a thick mist.

       Then Zeus gave huge power into the hands of the Pylians,

       for we chased them on over the hollow plain, killing

       the men themselves, and picking up their magnificent armor

755  until we brought our horses to Bouprasion of the wheatfields

       and the Olenian rock, where there is a hill called the hill

       of Alesios. There at last Athene turned back our people.

       There I killed my last man and left him. There the Achaians

       steered back from Bouprasion to Pylos their fast-running horses,

760  and all glorified Zeus among the gods, but among men Nestor.

          That was I, among men, if it ever happened. But Achilleus

       will enjoy his own valor in loneliness, though I think

       he will weep much, too late, when his people are perished from him.

       Dear child, surely this was what Menoitios told you

765  that day when he sent you out from Phthia to Agamemnon.

       We two, brilliant Odysseus and I, were inside with you

       and listened carefully to everything, all that he told you.

       For we had come to the strong-established house of Peleus

       assembling fighting men all through generous Achaia. We came

770  there, and found the hero Menoitios inside, and you,

       Achilleus beside you, and Peleus the aged horseman was burning

       the fat thigh pieces of an ox to Zeus who delights in the thunder

       in the garth of the courtyard. He was holding a golden beaker

       and pouring the bright wine over the burning dedications. You two

775  were over the meat of the ox attending to it, and we came

       and stood in the forecourt, and Achilleus sprang up wondering

       and took us by the hand and led us in, and told us to sit down,

       and set hospitality properly before us, as is the stranger’s

       right. Now when we had taken our pleasure of eating and drinking

780  I began to talk, and invited you both to come with us,

       and you were altogether willing, and your fathers spoke to you.

       And Peleus the aged was telling his own son, Achilleus,

       to be always best in battle and pre-eminent beyond all others,

       but for you, Menoitios, Aktor’s son, had this to say to you:

785  ‘My child, by right of blood Achilleus is higher than you are,

       but you are the elder. Yet in strength he is far the greater.

       You must speak solid words to him, and give him good counsel,

       and point his way. If he listens to you it will be for his own good.’

       This is what the old man told you, you have forgotten. Yet even

790  now you might speak to wise Achilleus, he might be persuaded.

       Who knows if, with God helping, you might trouble his spirit

       by entreaty, since the persuasion of a friend is a strong thing.

       But if he is drawing back from some prophecy known in his own heart

       and by Zeus’ will his honored mother has told him of something,

795  let him send you out, at least, and the rest of the Myrmidon people

       follow you, and you may be a light given to the Danaäns.

       And let him give you his splendid armor to wear to the fighting,

       if perhaps the Trojans might think you are he, and give way

       from their attack, and the fighting sons of the Achaians get wind

800  again after hard work. There is little breathing space in the fighting.

       You, unwearied, might with a mere cry pile men wearied

       back upon their city, and away from the ships and the shelters.”

          So he spoke, and stirred the feeling in the breast of Patroklos,

       and he went on the run along the ships to the son of Aiakos,

805  Achilleus. But as Patroklos came in his running to the ships

       of great Odysseus, where the Achaians had their assembly and dealt out

       rights, and where were established their altars to the immortals,

       there Eurypylos, who had been wounded in the thigh with an arrow,

       met him, the illustrious son of Euaimon, limping

810  away from the battle, and the watery sweat was running

       down his shoulders and face, and from the sore wound dark blood

       continued to drip, and yet the will stayed steady within him.

       And the strong son of Menoitios looked on him in pity

       and was sorrowful over him, and addressed him in winged words:

815  “Poor wretches, you leaders and men of counsel among the Danaäns,

       was it your fate then, far from your friends and the land of your fathers,

       to glut with your shining fat the running dogs here in Troy land

       But tell me this, my lord Eurypylos grown under God’s hand:

       will the Achaians somehow be able to hold huge Hektor

820  or must they now perish beaten down under his spear?”

          Then Eurypylos who was wounded answered him in turn:

       “No longer, illustrious Patroklos, can the Achaians

       defend themselves, but they will be piled back into their black ships.

       For all of these who were before the bravest in battle

825  are lying up among the ships with arrow or spear wounds

       under the hands of the Trojans whose strength is forever on the uprise.

       But help save me now at least, leading me away to my black ship,

       and cut the arrow out of my thigh, wash the dark blood running

       out of it with warm water, and put kind medicines on it,

830  good ones, which they say you have been told of by Achilleus,

       since Cheiron, most righteous of the Centaurs, told him about them.

       As for Machaon and Podaleirios, who are healers,

       I think Machaon has got a wound, and is in the shelters

       lying there, and himself is in need of a blameless healer,

835  while the other in the plain is standing the bitter attack of the Trojans.”

          Then in turn the strong son of Menoitios spoke to him:

       “But how shall this be, my lord Eurypylos, how shall we do it?

       I am on my way carrying a message to wise Achilleus

       given me by Gerenian Nestor, the Achaians’ watcher.

840  But even so I will not leave you in your affliction.”

          He spoke, and holding the shepherd of the host under the arms led him

       to his shelter, and a henchman seeing them spread out some ox-hides,

       and Patroklos laid him there and with a knife cut the sharp tearing

       arrow out of his thigh, and washed the black blood running from it

845  with warm water, and, pounding it up in his hands, laid on

       a bitter root to make pain disappear, one which stayed

       all kinds of pain. And the wound dried, and the flow of blood stopped.

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Comments

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

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