The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 23 of 35

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BOOK FIFTEEN

 

          But after they had crossed back over the ditch and the sharp stakes

       in flight, and many had gone down under the hands of the Danaäns,

       they checked about once more and stood their ground by the chariots,

       green for fear and terrified. But now Zeus wakened

5     by Hera of the gold throne on the high places of Ida,

       and stood suddenly upright, and saw the Achaians and Trojans,

       these driven to flight, the others harrying them in confusion,

       these last Argives, and saw among them the lord Poseidon.

       He saw Hektor lying in the plain, his companions sitting

10   around him, he dazed at the heart and breathing painfully,

       vomiting blood, since not the weakest Achaian had hit him.

       Then the father of gods and men seeing Hektor pitied him

       and looked scowling terribly at Hera, and spoke a word to her:

       “Hopeless one, it was your evil design, your treachery, Hera,

15   that stayed brilliant Hektor from battle, terrified his people.

       I do not know, perhaps for this contrivance of evil

       and pain you will win first reward when I lash you with whip strokes.

       Do you not remember that time you hung from high and on your feet

       I slung two anvils, and about your hands drove a golden

20   chain, unbreakable. You among the clouds and the bright sky

       hung, nor could the gods about tall Olympos endure it

       and stood about, but could not set you free. If I caught one

       I would seize and throw him from the threshold, until he landed

       stunned on the earth, yet even so the weariless agony

25   for Herakles the godlike would not let go my spirit.

       You with the north wind’s aid winning over the stormwinds drove him

       on across the desolate sea in evil intention

       and then on these swept him away to Kos, the strong-founded.

       I myself rescued him there and brought him back once more

30   to horse-pasturing Argos, when he had been through much hardship.

       I will remind you of all this, so you will give up

       your deceptions, see if your lovemaking in bed will help you,

       that way you lay with me apart from the gods, and deceived me.”

          He spoke, and the lady the ox-eyed goddess Hera was frightened

35   and she spoke to him and addressed him in winged words: “Now let

       Earth be my witness in this, and the wide heaven above us,

       and the dripping water of the Styx, which oath is the biggest

       and most formidable oath among the blessed immortals.

       The sanctity of your head be witness, and the bed of marriage

40   between us: a thing by which I at least could never swear vainly.

       It is not through my will that the shaker of the earth Poseidon

       afflicts the Trojans and Hektor and gives aid to the others,

       but it is his own passion that urges him to it and drives him.

       He saw the Achaians hard pressed beside their ships, and pitied them.

45   No, but I myself also would give him counsel

       to go with you, O dark clouded, that way that you lead us.”

          She spoke, and now the father of gods and men smiled on her

       and spoke again in answer to her, and addressed her in winged words:

       “If even you, lady Hera of the ox eyes, hereafter

50   were to take your place among the immortals thinking as I do,

       then Poseidon, hard though he may wish it otherwise,

       must at once turn his mind so it follows your heart, and my heart.

       If now all this that you say is real, and you speak truthfully,

       go now among the generations of the gods, and summon

55   Iris to come here to me, and Apollo the glorious archer,

       so that Iris may go among the bronze-armored people

       of the Achaians, and give a message to lord Poseidon

       to leave the fighting and come back to the home that is his. Also

       let Phoibos Apollo stir Hektor back into battle,

60   breathe strength into him once more, and make him forget the agonies

       that now are wearing out his senses. Let him drive strengthless

       panic into the Achaians, and turn them back once more;

       let them be driven in flight and tumble back on the benched ships

       of Achilleus, Peleus’ son. And he shall rouse up Patroklos

65   his companion. And glorious Hektor shall cut down Patroklos

       with the spear before Ilion, after he has killed many others

       of the young men, and among them my own son, shining Sarpedon.

       In anger for him brilliant Achilleus shall then kill Hektor.

       And from then on I would make the fighting surge back from the vessels

70   always and continuously, until the Achaians

       capture headlong Ilion through the designs of Athene.

       Before this I am not stopping my anger, and I will not let

       any other of the immortals stand there by the Danaäns

       until the thing asked by the son of Peleus has been accomplished

75   as I undertook at the first and bent my head in assent to it

       on that day when embracing my knees immortal Thetis

       supplicated honor for Achilleus, sacker of cities.”

          He spoke, and the goddess of the white arms Hera did not disobey him

       but went back to tall Olympos from the mountains of Ida.

80   As the thought flashes in the mind of a man who, traversing

       much territory, thinks of things in the mind’s awareness,

       “I wish I were this place, or this,” and imagines many things;

       so rapidly in her eagerness winged Hera, a goddess.

       She came to sheer Olympos and entered among the assembled

85   immortal gods in the house of Zeus, and they seeing her

       rose all to swarm about her and lifted their cups in greeting.

       But Hera passed by the others and accepted a cup from Themis

       of the fair cheeks, since she had first come running to greet her

       and had spoken to her and addressed her in winged words: “Hera,

90   why have you come? You seem like one who has been terrified.

       I know, it was the son of Kronos, your husband, frightened you.”

          In turn the goddess Hera of the white arms answered her:

       “Ask me nothing of this, divine Themis. You yourself

       know what his spirit is, how it is stubborn and arrogant.

95   Preside still over the gods in their house, the feast’s fair division.

       Yet so much may you hear, and with you all the immortals,

       how Zeus discloses evil actions, and I do not think

       the heart of all will be pleasured alike, neither among mortals

       nor gods either, although one now still feasts at his pleasure.”

100      The lady Hera spoke so and sat down, and the gods

       about the house of Zeus were troubled. Hera was smiling

       with her lips, but above the dark brows her forehead

       was not at peace. She spoke before them all in vexation:

       “Fools, we who try to work against Zeus, thoughtlessly.

105  Still we are thinking in our anger to go near, and stop him

       by argument or force. He sits apart and cares nothing

       nor thinks of us, and says that among the other immortals

       he is pre-eminently the greatest in power and strength. Therefore

       each of you must take whatever evil he sends you.

110  Since I think already a sorrow has been wrought against Ares.

       His son has been killed in the fighting, dearest of all men

       to him, Askalaphos, whom stark Ares calls his own son.”

          So she spoke. Then Ares struck against both his big thighs

       with the flats of his hands, and spoke a word of anger and sorrow:

115  “Now, you who have your homes on Olympos, you must not blame me

       for going among the ships of the Achaians, and avenging my son’s

       slaughter, even though it be my fate to be struck by Zeus’

       thunderbolt, and sprawl in the blood and dust by the dead men.”

          So he spoke, and ordered Fear and Terror to harness

120  his horses, and himself got into his shining armor.

       And there might have been wrought another anger, and bitterness

       from Zeus, still greater, more wearisome among the immortals,

       had not Athene, in her fear for the sake of all gods,

       sprung up and out through the forecourt, left her chair where she was sitting,

125  and taken the helmet off from his head, the shield from his shoulders,

       and snatched out of his heavy hand the bronze spear, and fixed it

       apart, and then in speech reasoned with violent Ares:

       “Madman, mazed of your wits, this is ruin! Your ears can listen

       still to reality, but your mind is gone and your discipline.

130  Do you not hear what the goddess Hera of the white arms tells us,

       and she coming back even now from Zeus of Olympos?

       Do you wish, after running the course of many misfortunes

       yourself, still to come back to Olympos under compulsion

       though reluctant, and plant seed of great sorrow among the rest of us?

135  Since he will at once leave the Achaians and the high-hearted

       Trojans, and come back to batter us on Olympos

       and will catch up as they come the guilty one and the guiltless.

       Therefore I ask of you to give up your anger for your son.

       By now some other, better of his strength and hands than your son was,

140  has been killed, or will soon be killed; and it is a hard thing

       to rescue all the generation and seed of all mortals.”

          So she spoke, and seated on a chair violent Ares.

       But Hera called to come with her outside the house Apollo

       and Iris, who is messenger among the immortal

145  gods, and spoke to them and addressed them in winged words: “Zeus wishes

       both of you to go to him with all speed, at Ida;

       but when you have come there and looked upon Zeus’ countenance,

       then you must do whatever he urges you, and his orders.”

          So the lady Hera spoke, and once more returning

150  sat on her throne. They in a flash of speed winged their way onward.

       They came to Ida with all her springs, the mother of wild beasts,

       and found the wide-browed son of Kronos on the height of Gargaron,

       sitting still, and fragrant cloud gathered in a circle about him.

       These two came into the presence of Zeus the cloud-gatherer

155  and stood, nor was his heart angry when he looked upon them,

       seeing they had promptly obeyed the message of his dear lady.

       He spoke to Iris first of the two, and addressed her in winged words:

       “Go on your way now, swift Iris, to the lord Poseidon,

       and give him all this message nor be a false messenger. Tell him

160  that he must now quit the war and the fighting, and go back

       among the generations of gods, or into the bright sea.

       And if he will not obey my words, or thinks nothing of them,

       then let him consider in his heart and his spirit

       that he might not, strong though he is, be able to stand up

165  to my attack; since I say I am far greater than he is

       in strength, and elder born; yet his inward heart shrinks not from calling

       himself the equal of me, though others shudder before me.”

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

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

170  As those times when out of the clouds the snow or the hail whirls

       cold beneath the blast of the north wind born in the bright air,

       so rapidly in her eagerness winged Iris, the swift one,

       and stood beside the famed shaker of the earth, and spoke to him:

       “I have a certain message for you, dark-haired, earth-encircler,

175   and came here to bring it to you from Zeus of the aegis.

       His order is that you quit the war and the fighting, and go back

       among the generations of gods, or into the bright sea.

       And if you will not obey his words, or think nothing of them,

       his threat is that he himself will come to fight with you

180  here, strength against strength, but warns you to keep from under

       his hands, since he says he is far greater than you are

       in strength, and elder born. Yet your inward heart shrinks not from calling

       yourself the equal of him, though others shudder before him.”

          Then deeply vexed the famed shaker of the earth spoke to her:

185  “No, no. Great though he is, this that he has said is too much,

       if he will force me against my will, me, who am his equal

       in rank. Since we are three brothers born by Rheia to Kronos,

       Zeus, and I, and the third is Hades, lord of the dead men.

       All was divided among us three ways, each given his domain.

190  I when the lots were shaken drew the gray sea to live in

       forever; Hades drew the lot of the mists and the darkness,

       and Zeus was allotted the wide sky, in the cloud and the bright air.

       But earth and high Olympos are common to all three. Therefore

       I am no part of the mind of Zeus. Let him in tranquility

195  and powerful as he is stay satisfied with his third share.

       And let him absolutely stop frightening me, as if I were

       mean, with his hands. It were better to keep for the sons and the daughters

       he got himself these blusterings and these threats of terror.

       They will listen, because they must, to whatever he tells them.”

200     Then in turn swift wind-footed Iris answered him:

       “Am I then to carry, O dark-haired, earth-encircler,

       this word, which is strong and steep, back to Zeus from you?

       Or will you change a little? The hearts of the great can be changed.

       You know the Furies, how they forever side with the elder.”

205     Then in turn the shaker of the earth Poseidon spoke to her:

       “Now this, divine Iris, was a word quite properly spoken.

       It is a fine thing when a messenger is conscious of justice.

       But this thing comes as a bitter sorrow to my heart and my spirit,

       when Zeus tries in words of anger to reprimand one who

210  is his equal in station, and endowed with destiny like his.

       Still, this time I will give way, for all my vexation.

       But I will say this also, and make it a threat in my anger.

       If ever, acting apart from me and Athene the spoiler,

       apart from Hera and Hermes and the lord Hephaistos,

215  he shall spare headlong Ilion, and shall not be willing

       to take it by storm, and bestow great victory on the Argives,

       let him be sure, there will be no more healing of our anger.”

          The shaker of the earth spoke, and left the Achaian people,

       and went, merging in the sea, and the fighting Achaians longed for him.

220  After this Zeus who gathers the clouds spoke to Apollo:

       “Go now, beloved Phoibos, to the side of brazen-helmed Hektor,

       since by this he who encircles the earth and shakes it

       is gone into the bright sea and has avoided the anger

       that would be ours. In truth, this would have been a fight those other

225  gods would have heard about, who gather to Kronos beneath us.

       Now this way it was far better for me, and for himself

       also, that, for all his vexation before, he gave way

       to my hands. We would have sweated before this business was finished.

       Now yourself take up in your hands the aegis with fluttering

230  tassels, and shake it hard to scare the Achaian fighters.

       Then, striker from afar, let your own concern be glorious Hektor.

       So long waken the huge strength in him, until the Achaians

       run in flight, and come to the ships and the crossing of Helle.

       From there on I myself shall think of the word and the action

235  to make the Achaians get wind once more, after their hard fighting.”

          He spoke so, and Apollo, not disregarding his father,

       came down along the mountains of Ida in the likeness of a rapid

       hawk, the dove’s murderer and swiftest of all things flying.

       He found brilliant Hektor, the son of wise Priam, sitting

240  now, no longer sprawled, as he gathered new strength back into him

       and recognized his companions about him. The sweat and hard breathing

       had begun to stop, once the will in Zeus of the aegis wakened him.

       Apollo who works from afar stood beside him, and spoke to him:

       “Hektor, son of Priam, why do you sit in such weakness

245  here apart from the others? Did some disaster befall you?”

          In his weakness Hektor of the shining helm spoke to him:

       “Who are you, who speak to me face to face, O noblest

       of gods? Did you not know how by the Achaians’ grounded

       ships, Aias of the great war cry struck me in the chest with a boulder

250   as I slaughtered his companions, and stayed my furious valor?

       Truly, I thought that on this day I would come to the corpses

       and the house of the death god, once I had breathed the inward life from me.”

          In turn the lord, the worker from afar, Apollo, spoke to him:

       “Take heart; such an avenger am I whom the son of Kronos

255  sent down from Ida, to stand by your side and defend you,

       Phoibos Apollo of the golden sword, who in time before this

       also have stood to defend yourself and your sheer citadel.

       So come now, and urge on your cavalry in their numbers

       to drive on their horses against the hollow ships. Meanwhile

260  I shall move on before you and make all the way for the horses

       smooth before them, and bend back the Achaian fighters.”

          He spoke, and breathed huge strength into the shepherd of the people.

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

       breaking free of his rope gallops over the plain in thunder

265  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

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

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

       so Hektor moving rapidly his feet and his knees went

270  onward, stirring the horsemen when he heard the god’s voice speak.

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

       into flight a horned stag or a wild goat. Inaccessible

       the rocky cliff or the shadowed forest has covered the quarry

       so that the men know it was not their fortune to take him;

275  and now by their clamoring shows in the way a great bearded

       lion, and bends them to sudden flight for all their eagerness;

       so the Danaäns until that time kept always in close chase

       assembled, stabbing at them with swords and leaf-headed spears,

       but when they saw Hektor once more ranging the men’s ranks

280  they were frightened, and by their feet collapsed all their bravery.

 

          Now Thoas spoke forth among them, the son of Andraimon,

       far the best of the Aitolians, one skilled in the spear’s throw

       and brave in close fight. In assembly few of the Achaians

       when the young men contended in debate could outdo him.

285  He in kind intention now spoke forth and addressed them:

       “Can this be? Here is a strange thing I see with my own eyes,

       how this Hektor has got to his feet once more, and eluded

       the death spirits. I think in each of us the heart had high hope

       he was killed under the hands of Telamonian Aias.

290  Now some one of the gods has come to his help and rescued

       Hektor, who has unstrung the knees of so many Danaäns.

       I think he will do it once more now. It is not without Zeus

       the deep-thundering that he stands their champion in all this fury.

       Come then, let us do as I say, let us all be persuaded.

295  Let us tell the multitude to make its way back toward the vessels

       while we ourselves, who claim we are greatest in all the army,

       stand, and see if we can face him first, and hold him off from them

       with spears lifted against him, and I think for all of his fury

       his heart will be afraid to plunge into our Danaän company.

 

300      So he spoke, and they listened to him with care, and obeyed him.

       They who rallied about Aias, the lord Idomeneus,

       Teukros, Meriones, and Meges, a man like the war god,

       closed their order for hard impact, calling on the bravest

       to face Hektor and the Trojans. Meanwhile behind them

305  the multitude made their way back toward the ships of the Achaians.

          The Trojans came down on them in a pack, and Hektor led them

       in long strides, and in front of him went Phoibos Apollo

       wearing a mist about his shoulders, and held the tempestuous

       terrible aegis, shaggy, conspicuous, that the bronze-smith

310  Hephaistos had given Zeus to wear to the terror of mortals.

       Gripping this in both hands he led on the Trojan people.

          But the Argives stood in close order against them, and the battle cry rose up

       in a thin scream from either side, the arrows from the bowstrings

       jumping, while from violent hands the numerous thrown spears

315  were driven, some deep in the bodies of quick-stirring young men,

       while many in the space between before they had got to the white skin

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

       So long as Phoibos Apollo held stilled in his hands the aegis,

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

320  But when he stared straight into the eyes of the fast-mounted Danaäns

       and shook the aegis, and himself gave a great baying cry, the spirit

       inside them was mazed to hear it, they forgot their furious valor.

       And they, as when in the dim of the black night two wild beasts

       stampede a herd of cattle or big flock of sheep, falling

325  suddenly upon them, when no herdsman is by, the Achaians

       fled so in their weakness and terror, since Apollo drove

       terror upon them, and gave the glory to the Trojans and Hektor.

          There man killed man all along the scattered encounter.

       Hektor first killed Stichios and Arkesilaos,

330  one the leader of the bronze-armored Boiotians, the other

       trusted companion in arms of great-hearted Menestheus.

       But Aineias slaughtered Medon and Iasos. Of these

       Medon was a bastard son of godlike Oïleus

       and therefore brother of Aias, but had made his home in Phylakē

335   away from the land of his fathers, having killed a man, a relation

       of Eriopis, his stepmother, the wife of Oïleus.

       Iasos was a leader appointed of the Athenians,

       and was called the son of Sphelos, the son of Boukolos.

       Poulydamas killed Mekisteus, and Polites Echios

340  in the first onfall, and brilliant Agenor cut down Klonios.

       Paris struck Deïochos from behind at the shoulder’s

       base, as he ran away through the front ranks, and drove the bronze clean through.

          While these stripped the armor from their men, meanwhile the Achaians

       blundering about the deep-dug ditch and the sharp stakes

345  ran this way and that in terror, forced into their rampart.

       But Hektor called aloud in a piercing cry to the Trojans:

       “Make hard for the ships, let the bloody spoils be. That man

       I see in the other direction apart from the vessels,

       I will take care that he gets his death, and that man’s relations

350  neither men nor women shall give his dead body the rite of burning.

       In the space before our city the dogs shall tear him to pieces.”

          So speaking with a whipstroke from the shoulder he lashed on his horses

       calling across the ranks to the Trojans, who along with him

       all cried aloud as they steered the horses who pulled their chariots,

355  with inhuman clamor, and in front of them Phoibos Apollo

       easily, kicking them with his feet, tumbled the banked edges

       of the deep ditch into the pit between, and bridged over a pathway

       both wide and long, about as long as the force of a spearcast

       goes when a man has thrown it to try his strength. They streamed over

360  in massed formation, with Apollo in front of them holding

       the tremendous aegis, and wrecked the bastions of the Achaians

       easily, as when a little boy piles sand by the seashore

       when in his innocent play he makes sand towers to amuse him

       and then, still playing, with hands and feet ruins them and wrecks them.

365  So you, lord Apollo, piled in confusion much hard work

       and painful done by the Argives and drove terror among them.

       So they reined in and stood fast again beside their ships, calling

       aloud upon each other, and to all of the gods, uplifting

       their hands each man of them cried out his prayers in a great voice,

370  and beyond others Gerenian Nestor, the Achaians’ watcher,

       prayed, reaching out both arms to the starry heavens:

       “Father Zeus, if ever in wheat-deep Argos one of us

       burning before you the rich thigh pieces of sheep or ox prayed

       he would come home again, and you nodded your head and assented,

375  remember this, Olympian, save us from the day without pity;

       let not the Achaians be beaten down like this by the Trojans.”

          So he spoke in prayer, and Zeus of the counsels thundered

       a great stroke, hearing the prayer of the old man, the son of Neleus.

          But the Trojans, hearing the thunderstroke of Zeus of the aegis,

380  remembered even more their warcraft, and sprang on the Argives.

       They, as when the big waves on the sea wide-wandering

       wash across the walls of a ship underneath the leaning

       force of the wind, which particularly piles up the big waves,

       so the Trojans with huge clamor went over the rampart

385  and drove their horses to fight alongside the grounded vessels,

       with leaf-headed spears, some at close quarters, others from their horses.

       But the Achaians climbing high on their black ships fought from them

       with long pikes that lay among the hulls for sea fighting,

       shrouded about the heads in bronze that was soldered upon them.

 

390      Meanwhile Patroklos, all the time the Achaians and Trojans

       were fighting on both sides of the wall, far away from the fast ships,

       had sat all this time in the shelter of courtly Eurypylos

       and had been entertaining him with words and applying

       medicines that would mitigate the black pains to the sore wound.

395   But when he saw the Trojans were sweeping over the rampart

       and the outcry and the noise of terror rose from the Danaäns

       Patroklos groaned aloud then and struck himself on both thighs

       with the flats of his hands and spoke a word of lamentation:

       “Eurypylos, much though you need me I cannot stay here

400  longer with you. This is a big fight that has arisen.

       Now it is for your henchman to look after you, while I

       go in haste to Achilleus, to stir him into the fighting.

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

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

405     As he was speaking his feet carried him away. Meanwhile

       the Achaians stood steady against the Trojan attack, but they could not

       beat the enemy, fewer as they were, away from their vessels,

       nor again had the Trojans strength to break the battalions

       of the Danaäns, and force their way into the ships and the shelters.

410  But as a chalkline straightens the cutting of a ship’s timber

       in the hands of an expert carpenter, who by Athene’s

       inspiration is well versed in all his craft’s subtlety,

       so the battles fought by both sides were pulled fast and even.

       Now by the ships others fought in their various places

415  but Hektor made straight for glorious Aias. These two

       were fighting hard for a single ship, and neither was able,

       Hektor to drive Aias off the ship, and set fire to it,

       nor Aias to beat Hektor back, since the divinity

       drove him. Shining Aias struck with the spear Kaletor,

420  Klytios’ son, in the chest as he brought fire to the vessel.

       He fell, thunderously, and the torch dropped from his hand. Then

       Hektor, when his eyes were aware of his cousin fallen

       in the dust in front of the black ship, uplifting

       his voice in a great cry called to the Trojans and Lykians:

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

       do not anywhere in this narrow place give way from the fighting

       but stand by the son of Klytios, do not let the Achaians

       strip the armor from him, fallen where the ships are assembled.”

          So he spoke, and made a cast at Aias with the shining

430  spear, but missed him and struck the son of Mastor, Lykophron,

       henchman of Aias from Kythera who had been living

       with him; for he had killed a man in sacred Kythera.

       Hektor struck him in the head above the ear with the sharp bronze

       as he stood next to Aias, so that Lykophron sprawling

435  dropped from the ship’s stern to the ground, and his strength was broken.

       And Aias shuddered at the sight, and spoke to his brother:

       “See, dear Teukros, our true companion, the son of Mastor,

       is killed, who came to us from Kythera and in our household

       was one we honored as we honored our beloved parents.

440  Now great-hearted Hektor has killed him. Where are your arrows

       of sudden death, and the bow that Phoibos Apollo gave you?”

          He spoke, and Teukros heard and came running to stand beside him

       holding in his hand the backstrung bow and the quiver

       to hold arrows, and let go his hard shots against the Trojans.

445  First he struck down Kleitos, the glorious son of Peisenor

       and companion of Poulydamas, proud son of Panthoös.

       Now Kleitos held the reins, and gave all his care to the horses,

       driving them into that place where the most battalions were shaken,

       for the favor of Hektor and the Trojans, but the sudden evil

450  came to him, and none for all their desire could defend him,

       for the painful arrow was driven into his neck from behind him.

       He fell out of the chariot, and the fast-footed horses

       shied away, rattling the empty car; but Poulydamas

       their master saw it at once, and ran first to the heads of the horses.

455  He gave them into the hands of Astynoös, Protiaon’s

       son, with many orders to be watchful and hold the horses

       close; then himself went back into the ranks of the champions.

          But Teukros picked up another arrow for bronze-helmed

       Hektor, and would have stopped his fighting by the ships of the Achaians

460  had he hit him during his bravery and torn the life from him;

       but he was not hidden from the close purpose of Zeus, who was guarding

       Hektor, and denied that glory to Telamonian Teukros;

       who broke in the unfaulted bow the close-twisted sinew

       as Teukros drew it against him, so the bronze-weighted arrow

465  went, as the bow dropped out of his hands, driven crazily sidewise.

       And Teukros shuddered at the sight, and spoke to his brother:

       “See now, how hard the divinity cuts across the intention

       in all our battle, who struck the bow out of my hand, who has broken

       the fresh-twisted sinew of the bowstring I bound on

470  this morning, so it would stand the succession of springing arrows.”

          Then in turn huge Telamonian Aias answered him:

       “Dear brother, then let your bow and your showering arrows

       lie, now that the god begrudging the Danaäns wrecked them.

       But take a long spear in your hands, a shield on your shoulder,

475  and close with the Trojans, and drive on the rest of your people.

       Let them not, though they have beaten us, easily capture

       our strong-benched ships. We must remember the frenzy of fighting.”

          He spoke, and Teukros put away the bow in his shelter

       and threw across his shoulders the shield of the fourfold ox-hide.

480  Over his mighty head he set the well-fashioned helmet

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

       Then he caught up a powerful spear, edged with sharp bronze,

       and went on his way, running fast, and stood beside Aias.

          But Hektor, when he saw how the arrows of Teukros were baffled,

485  lifted his voice in a great cry to the Trojans and Lykians:

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

       be men now, dear friends, remember your furious valor

       along the hollow ships, since I have seen with my own eyes

       how by the hand of Zeus their bravest man’s arrows were baffled.

490  Easily seen is the strength that is given from Zeus to mortals

       either in those into whose hands he gives the surpassing

       glory, or those he diminishes and will not defend them

       as now he diminishes the strength of the Argives, and helps us.

       Fight on then by the ships together. He who among you

495  finds by spear thrown or spear thrust his death and destiny,

       let him die. He has no dishonor when he dies defending

       his country, for then his wife shall be saved and his children afterward,

       and his house and property shall not be damaged, if the Achaians

       must go away with their ships to the beloved land of their fathers.”

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

       But Aias on the other side called to his companions:

       “Shame, you Argives; here is the time of decision, whether

       we die, or live on still and beat back ruin from our vessels.

       Do you expect, if our ships fall to helm-shining Hektor,

505  you will walk each of you back dryshod to the land of your fathers?

       Do you not hear how Hektor is stirring up all his people,

       how he is raging to set fire to our ships? He is not

       inviting you to come to a dance. He invites you to battle.

       For us there can be no design, no purpose, better than this one,

510  to close in and fight with the strength of our hands at close quarters.

       Better to take in a single time our chances of dying

       or living, than go on being squeezed in the stark encounter

       right up against our ships, as now, by men worse than we are.”

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

515  There Hektor killed the son of Perimedes, Schedios,

       lord of the men of Phokis; but Aias killed Laodamas,

       leader of the foot-soldiers, and shining son of Antenor.

       Then Poulydamas stripped Otos of Kyllene, companion

       to Meges, Phyleus’ son, and a lord among the great-hearted

520  Epeians. Meges seeing it lunged at him, but Poulydamas

       bent down and away, so that Meges missed him. Apollo

       would not let Panthoös’ son go down among the front fighters,

       but Meges stabbed with the spear the middle of the chest of Kroismos.

       He fell, thunderously, and Meges was stripping the armor

525  from his shoulders, but meanwhile Dolops lunged at him, Lampos’

       son, a man crafty with the spear and strongest of the sons born

       to Lampos, Laomedon’s son, one skilled in furious fighting.

       He from close up stabbed with his spear at the shield of Phyleides

       in the middle, but the corselet he wore defended him, solid

530  and built with curving plates of metal, which in days past Phyleus

       had taken home from Ephyra and the river Selleëis.

       A guest and friend had given him it, lord of men, Euphetes,

       to carry into the fighting and beat off the attack of the enemy,

       and now it guarded the body of his son from destruction.

535  But Meges stabbed with the sharp spear at the uttermost summit

       of the brazen helmet thick with horse-hair, and tore off

       the mane of horse-hair from the helmet, so that it toppled

       groundward and lay in the dust in all its new shining of purple.

       Yet Dolops stood his ground and fought on, in hope still of winning,

540  but meanwhile warlike Menelaos came to stand beside Meges,

       and came from the side and unobserved with his spear, and from behind

       threw at his shoulder, so the spear tore through his chest in its fury

       to drive on, so that Dolops reeled and went down, face forward.

       The two of them swept in to strip away from his shoulders

545   the bronze armor, but Hektor called aloud to his brothers,

       the whole lot, but first scolded the son of Hiketaon,

       strong Melanippos. He in Perkote had tended his lumbering

       cattle, in the days before when the enemy were still far off;

       but when the oarswept ships of the Danaäns came, then

550  he returned to Ilion, and was a great man among the Trojans,

       and lived with Priam, who honored him as he honored his children.

       Now Hektor spoke a word and called him by name and scolded him:

       “Shall we give way so, Melanippos? Does it mean nothing

       even to you in the inward heart that your cousin is fallen?

555  Do you not see how they are busied over the armor of Dolops?

       Come on, then; no longer can we stand far off and fight with

       the Argives. Sooner we must kill them, or else sheer Ilion

       be stormed utterly by them, and her citizens be killed.”

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

560  godlike. But huge Telamonian Aias stirred on the Argives:

       “Dear friends, be men; let shame be in your hearts, and discipline,

       and have consideration for each other in the strong encounters,

       since more come through alive when men consider each other,

       and there is no glory when they give way, nor warcraft either.”

565     He spoke, and they likewise grew furious in their defense,

       and put his word away in their hearts, and fenced in their vessels

       in a circle of bronze, but Zeus against them wakened the Trojans.

       Then Menelaos of the great war cry stirred on Antilochos:

       “Antilochos, no other Achaian is younger than you are,

570  nor faster on his feet, nor strong as you are in fighting.

       You could make an outrush and strike down some man of the Trojans.”

          So speaking, he hastened back but stirred Antilochos onward,

       and he sprang forth from the champions and hefted the shining javelin,

       glaring round about him, and the Trojans gave way in the face

575  of the man throwing with the spear. And he made no vain cast

       but struck Hiketaon’s son, Melanippos the high-hearted,

       in the chest next to the nipple as he swept into the fighting.

       He fell, thunderously, and darkness closed over both eyes.

       Antilochos sprang forth against him, as a hound rushes

580  against a stricken fawn that as he broke from his covert

       a hunter has shot at, and hit, and broken his limbs’ strength.

       So Antilochos stubborn in battle sprang, Melanippos,

       at you, to strip your armor, but did not escape brilliant Hektor’s

       notice, who came on the run through the fighting against him.

585  Antilochos did not hold his ground, although a swift fighter,

       but fled away like a wild beast who has done some bad thing,

       one who has killed a hound or an ox-herd tending his cattle

       and escapes, before a gang of men has assembled against him;

       so Nestor’s son ran away, and after him the Trojans and Hektor

590  with unearthly clamor showered their groaning weapons against him.

       He turned and stood when he got into the swarm of his own companions.

          But the Trojans in the likeness of ravening lions swept on

       against the ships, and were bringing to accomplishment Zeus’ orders,

       who wakened always the huge strength in them, dazed the courage

595  of the Argives, and denied their glory, and stirred on the others.

       Zeus’ desire was to give glory to the son of Priam,

       Hektor, that he might throw on the curved ships the inhuman

       weariless strength of fire, and so make completely accomplished

       the prayer of Thetis. Therefore Zeus of the counsels waited

600  the sight before his eyes of the flare, when a single ship burned.

       From thereon he would make the attack of the Trojans

       surge back again from the ships, and give the Danaäns glory.

       With this in mind he drove on against the hollow ships Hektor,

       Priam’s son, though Hektor without the god was in fury

605  and raged, as when destructive fire or spear-shaking Ares

       rages among the mountains and dense places of the deep forest.

       A slaver came out around his mouth, and under the lowering

       brows his eyes were glittering, the helm on his temples

       was shaken and thundered horribly to the fighting of Hektor.

610  Out of the bright sky Zeus himself was working to help him

       and among men so numerous he honored this one man

       and glorified him, since Hektor was to have only a short life

       and already the day of his death was being driven upon him

       by Pallas Athene through the strength of Achilleus. And now

615  he was probing the ranks of men, and trying to smash them,

       and made for where there were most men together, and the best armor.

       But even so he could not break them, for all his fury,

       for they closed into a wall and held him, like some towering

       huge sea-cliff that lies close along the gray salt water

620  and stands up against the screaming winds and their sudden directions

       and against the waves that grow to bigness and burst up against it.

       So the Danaäns stood steady against the Trojans, nor gave way.

       But he, lit about with flame on all sides, charged on their numbers

       and descended upon them as descends on a fast ship the battering

625  wave storm-bred from beneath the clouds, and the ship goes utterly

       hidden under the foam, and the dangerous blast of the hurricane

       thunders against the sail, and the hearts of the seamen are shaken

       with fear, as they are carried only a little way out of death’s reach.

       So the heart in the breast of each Achaian was troubled.

630  Hektor came on against them, as a murderous lion on cattle

       who in the low-lying meadow of a great marsh pasture

       by hundreds, and among them a herdsman who does not quite know

       how to fight a wild beast off from killing a horn-curved

       ox, and keeps pace with the first and the last of the cattle

635  always, but the lion making his spring at the middle

       eats an ox as the rest stampede; so now the Achaians

       fled in unearthly terror before father Zeus and Hektor,

       all, but he got one only, Periphetes of Mykenai,

       beloved son of Kopreus, who for the lord Eurystheus

640  had gone often with messages to powerful Herakles.

       To him, a meaner father, was born a son who was better

       for all talents, in the speed of his feet and in battle

       and for intelligence counted among the first in Mykenai.

       Thereby now higher was the glory he granted to Hektor.

645  For as he whirled about to get back, he fell over the out-rim

       of the shield he carried, which reached to his feet to keep the spears from him.

       Stumbling on this he went over on his back, and the helmet

       that circled his temples clashed horribly as he went down.

       Hektor saw it sharply, and ran up and stood beside him,

650  and stuck the spear into his chest and killed him before the eyes

       of his dear friends, who for all their sorrowing could do nothing

       to help their companion, being themselves afraid of great Hektor.

          Now they had got among the ships, and the ends were about them

       of the ships hauled up in the first line, but the Trojans swarmed

655  on them. The Argives under force gave back from the first line

       of their ships, but along the actual shelters they rallied

       in a group, and did not scatter along the encampment. Shame held them

       and fear. They kept up a continuous call to each other,

       and beyond others Gerenian Nestor, the Achaians’ watcher,

660  supplicated each man by the knees for the sake of his parents.

       “Dear friends, be men; let shame be in your hearts and discipline

       in the sight of other men, and each one of you remember

       his children and his wife, his property and his parents,

       whether a man’s father and mother live or have died. Here now

665  I supplicate your knees for the sake of those who are absent

       to stand strongly and not be turned to the terror of panic.”

          So he spoke, and stirred the spirit and heart in each man,

       and from their eyes Athene pushed the darkness immortal

       of mist, and the light came out hard against them on both sides

670  whether they looked from the ships or from the closing of battle.

       They knew Hektor of the great war cry, they knew his companions

       whether they stood away behind and out of the fighting

       or whether alongside the fast ships they fought in the battle.

          Nor did it still please great-hearted Aias to stand back

675  where the other sons of the Achaians had taken position;

       but he went in huge strides up and down the decks of the vessels.

       He wielded in his hands a great pike for sea fighting,

       twenty-two cubits long and joined together by clinchers.

       And as a man who is an expert rider of horses

680  who when he has chosen and coupled four horses out of many

       makes his way over the plain galloping toward a great city

       along the traveled road, and many turn to admire him,

       men or women, while he steadily and never slipping

       jumps and shifts his stance from one to another as they gallop;

685  so Aias ranged crossing from deck to deck of the fast ships

       taking huge strides, and his voice went always up to the bright sky

       as he kept up a terrible bellow and urged on the Danaäns

       to defend their ships and their shelters, while on the other side Hektor

       would not stay back among the mass of close-armored Trojans,

690  but as a flashing eagle makes his plunge upon other

       flying birds as these feed in a swarm by a river,

       whether these be geese or cranes or swans long-throated,

       so Hektor steered the course of his outrush straight for a vessel

       with dark prows, and from behind Zeus was pushing him onward

695  hard with his big hand, and stirred on his people beside him.

 

          Now once again a grim battle was fought by the vessels;

       you would say that they faced each other unbruised, unwearied

       in the fighting, from the speed in which they went for each other.

       This was the thought in each as they struggled on: the Achaians

700  thought they could not get clear of the evil, but must perish,

       while the heart inside each one of the Trojans was hopeful

       to set fire to the ships and kill the fighting men of Achaia.

       With such thoughts in mind they stood up to fight with each other.

       Hektor caught hold of the stern of a grand, fast-running,

705  seafaring ship, that once had carried Protesilaos

       to Troy, and did not take him back to the land of his fathers.

       It was around his ship that now Achaians and Trojans

       cut each other down at close quarters, nor any longer

       had patience for the volleys exchanged from bows and javelins

710  but stood up close against each other, matching their fury,

       and fought their battle with sharp hatchets and axes, with great

       swords and with leaf-headed pikes, and many magnificent

       swords were scattered along the ground, black-thonged, heavy-hilted,

       sometimes dropping from the hands, some glancing from shoulders

715  of men as they fought, so the ground ran black with blood. Hektor

       would not let go of the stern of a ship where he had caught hold of it

       but gripped the sternpost in his hands and called to the Trojans:

       “Bring fire, and give single voice to the clamor of battle.

       Now Zeus has given us a day worth all the rest of them:

720  the ships’ capture, the ships that came here in spite of the gods’ will

       and have visited much pain on us, by our counselors’ cowardice

       who would not let me fight by the grounded ships, though I wanted to,

       but held me back in restraint, and curbed in our fighters.

       But Zeus of the wide brows, though then he fouled our intentions,

725  comes now himself to urge us on and give us encouragement.”

          He spoke, and they thereby came on harder against the Argives.

       Their volleys were too much for Aias, who could hold no longer

       his place, but had to give back a little, expecting to die there,

       back to the seven-foot midship, and gave up the high deck of the balanced

730  ship. There he stood and waited for them, and with his pike always

       beat off any Trojan who carried persistent fire from the vessels.

       He kept up a terrible bellowing, and urged on the Danaäns:

       “Friends and fighting men of the Danaäns, henchmen of Ares,

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

735  Do we think there are others who stand behind us to help us?

       Have we some stronger wall that can rescue men from perdition?

       We have no city built strong with towers lying near us, within which

       we could defend ourselves and hold off this host that matches us.

       We hold position in this plain of the close-armored Trojans,

740  bent back against the sea, and far from the land of our fathers.

       Salvation’s light is in our hands’ work, not the mercy of battle.”

          He spoke, and came forward with his sharp spear, raging for battle.

       And whenever some Trojan crashed against the hollow ships

       with burning fire, who sought to wake the favor of Hektor,

745  Aias would wait for him and then stab with the long pike

       and so from close up wounded twelve in front of the vessels.

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

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