The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 25 of 35

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BOOK SEVENTEEN

 

          As Patroklos went down before the Trojans in the hard fighting

       he was not unseen by Atreus’ son, warlike Menelaos,

       who stalked through the ranks of the champions, helmed in the bright bronze,

       and bestrode the body, as over a first-born calf the mother

5     cow stands lowing, she who has known no children before this.

       So Menelaos of the fair hair stood over Patroklos

       and held the spear and the perfect circle of his shield before him,

       raging to cut down any man who might come forth against him.

       Nor did the fall of blameless Patroklos pass unattended

10   by Panthoös’ son of the strong ash spear, Euphorbos, who standing

       close to face him spoke a word to warlike Menelaos:

       “Son of Atreus, Menelaos, illustrious, leader of armies:

       give way, let the bloody spoils be, get back from this body,

       since before me no one of the Trojans, or renowned companions,

15   struck Patroklos down with the spear in the strong encounter.

       Thereby let me win this great glory among the Trojans

       before I hit you and strip the sweetness of life away from you.”

          Deeply stirred, Menelaos of the fair hair answered him:

       “Father Zeus, it is not well for the proud man to glory.

20   Neither the fury of the leopard is such, not such is the lion’s,

       nor the fury of the devastating wild boar, within whose breast

       the spirit is biggest and vaunts in the pride of his strength, is so great

       as goes the pride in these sons of Panthoös of the strong ash spear.

       Yet even the strength of Hyperenor, breaker of horses,

25   had no joy of his youth when he stood against me and taunted me

       and said that among all the Danaäns I was the weakest

       in battle. Yet I think that his feet shall no more carry him

       back, to pleasure his beloved wife and his honored parents.

       So I think I can break your strength as well, if you only

30   stand against me. No, but I myself tell you to get back

       into the multitude, not stand to face me, before you

       take some harm. Once a thing has been done, the fool sees it.”

          He spoke so, but did not persuade Euphorbos, who answered:

       “Then, lordly Menelaos, you must now pay the penalty

35   for my brother, whom you killed, and boast that you did it,

       and made his wife a widow in the depth of a young bride chamber

       and left to his parents the curse of lamentation and sorrow.

       Yet I might stop the mourning of these unhappy people

       if I could carry back to them your head, and your armor,

40   and toss them into Panthoös’ hands, and to Phrontis the lovely.

       No, this struggle shall not go long untested between us

       nor yet unfought, whether it prove our strength or our terror.”

          He spoke, and stabbed Menelaos’ shield in its perfect circle,

       nor did the bronze break its way through, but the spearhead bent back

45   in the strong shield. And after him Atreus’ son, Menelaos,

       made his prayer to father Zeus and lunged with the bronze spear

       and as he was drawing back caught him in the pit of the gullet

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

       and clean through the soft part of the neck the spearpoint was driven.

50   He fell, thunderously, and his armor clattered upon him,

       and his hair, lovely as the Graces, was splattered with blood, those

       braided locks caught waspwise in gold and silver. As some

       slip of an olive tree strong-growing that a man raises

       in a lonely place, and drenched it with generous water, so that

55   it blossoms into beauty, and the blasts of winds from all quarters

       tremble it, and it bursts into pale blossoming. But then

       a wind suddenly in a great tempest descending upon it

       wrenches it out of its stand and lays it at length on the ground; such

       was Euphorbos of the strong ash spear, the son of Panthoös,

60   whom Menelaos Atreides killed, and was stripping his armor.

          As when in the confidence of his strength some lion

       hill-reared snatches the finest cow in a herd as it pastures;

       first the lion breaks her neck caught fast in the strong teeth,

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

65   savagely, as the dogs and the herdsmen raise a commotion

       loudly about him, but from a distance, and are not willing

       to go in and face him, since the hard green fear has hold of them;

       so no heart in the breast of any Trojan had courage

       to go in and face glorious Menelaos. Then easily

70   the son of Atreus might have taken the glorious armor

       from Panthoös’ son, only Phoibos Apollo begrudged him

       and stirred up Hektor, a match for the running war god, against him

       in semblance of a man, the leader of the Kikones,

       Mentes, and spoke aloud to him, and addressed him in winged words:

75   “While you, Hektor, run after what can never be captured,

       the horses of valiant Aiakides; they are difficult horses

       for mortal man to manage, or even to ride behind them

       for all except Achilleus, who was born of an immortal mother;

       meanwhile Menelaos, the warlike son of Atreus,

80   stands over Patroklos and has killed the best man of the Trojans,

       Euphorbos, Panthoös’ son, and stopped his furious valor.”

          So he spoke, and went back, a god, to the mortals’ struggle.

       But bitter sorrow closed over Hektor’s heart in its darkness.

       He looked about then across the ranks, and at once was aware

85   of the two men, one stripping the glorious armor, the other

       sprawled on the ground, and blood running from the gash of the spear-thrust.

       He stalked through the ranks of the champions helmed in the bright bronze

       with a shrill scream, and looking like the flame of Hephaistos,

       weariless. Nor did Atreus’ son fail to hear the sharp cry.

90   Deeply troubled, he spoke to his own great-hearted spirit:

       Ah me; if I abandon here the magnificent armor,

       and Patroklos, who has fallen here for the sake of my honor,

       shall not some one of the Danaäns, seeing it, hold it against me?

       Yet if I fight, alone as I am, the Trojans and Hektor

95   for shame, shall they not close in, many against one, about me?

       Hektor of the shining helm leads all of the Trojans

       here. Then why does my own heart within me debate this?

       When a man, in the face of divinity, would fight with another

       whom some god honors, the big disaster rolls sudden upon him.

100  Therefore, let no Danaän seeing it hold it against me

       if I give way before Hektor, who fights from God. Yet if somewhere

       I could only get some word of Aias of the great war cry,

       we two might somehow go, and keep our spirit of battle

       even in the face of divinity, if we might win the body

105  for Peleïd Achilleus. It would be our best among evils.”

          Now as he was pondering this in his heart and his spirit

       meanwhile the ranks of the Trojans came on, and Hektor led them;

       and Menelaos backed away from them and left the dead man,

       but kept turning on his way like some great bearded lion

110  when dogs and men drive him off from a steading with weapons

       and shouts, and in the breast of the lion the strong heart of valor

       freezes, and he goes reluctant away from the fenced ground.

       So fair-haired Menelaos moved from Patroklos, but turning

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

115  and looked all about for huge Aias, the son of Telamon,

       and saw soon where he was, at the left of the entire battle

       encouraging his companions and urging them into the fighting,

       since Phoibos Apollo had smitten them all with unearthly terror.

       He went on the run, and presently stood beside him and spoke to him:

120  “This way, Aias, we must make for fallen Patroklos

       to try if we can carry back to Achilleus the body

       which is naked; Hektor of the shining helm has taken his armor.”

          So he spoke, and stirred the spirit in valiant Aias

       who strode among the champions, fair-haired Menelaos with him.

125  But Hektor, when he had stripped from Patroklos the glorious armor,

       dragged at him, meaning to cut his head from his shoulders with the sharp bronze,

       to haul off the body and give it to the dogs of Troy; but meanwhile

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

       and Hektor drew back to the company of his own companions

130  and sprang to his chariot, but handed over the beautiful armor

       to the Trojans, to take back to the city and to be his great glory.

       Now Aias covering the son of Menoitios under his broad shield

       stood fast, like a lion over his young, when the lion

       is leading his little ones along, and men who are hunting

135  come upon them in the forest. He stands in the pride of his great strength

       hooding his eyes under the cover of down-drawn eyelids.

       Such was Aias as he bestrode the hero Patroklos,

       while on the other side Atreus’ son, warlike Menelaos,

       stood fast, feeding still bigger the great sorrow within him.

 

140      But Glaukos, lord of the Lykian men, the son of Hippolochos,

       looked at Hektor, scowling, and laid a harsh word upon him:

       “Hektor, splendid to look at, you come far short in your fighting.

       That fame of yours, high as it is, belongs to a runner.

       Take thought now how to hold fast your town, your citadel

145  by yourself, with those your people who were born in Ilion;

       since no Lykian will go forth now to fight with the Danaäns

       for the sake of your city, since after all we got no gratitude

       for our everlasting hard struggle against your enemies.

       How then, O hard-hearted, shall you save a worse man in all your

150  company, when you have abandoned Sarpedon, your guest-friend

       and own companion, to be the spoil and prey of the Argives,

       who was of so much use to you, yourself and your city

       while he lived? Now you have not the spirit to keep the dogs from him.

       Therefore now, if any of the Lykian men will obey me,

155  we are going home, and the headlong destruction of Troy shall be manifest.

       For if the Trojans had any fighting strength that were daring

       and unshaken, such as comes on men who, for the sake of their country,

       have made the hard hateful work come between them and their enemies,

       we could quickly get the body of Patroklos inside Ilion.

160  If, dead man though he be, he could be brought into the great city

       of lord Priam, if we could tear him out of the fighting,

       the Argives must at once give up the beautiful armor

       of Sarpedon, and we could carry his body inside Ilion.

       Such is the man whose henchman is killed. He is far the greatest

165  of the Argives by the ships, and his men fight hard at close quarters.

       No, but you could not bring yourself to stand up against Aias

       of the great heart, nor to look at his eyes in the clamor of fighting

       men, nor attack him direct, since he is far better than you are.”

          Looking darkly at him tall Hektor of the shining helm answered:

170  “Glaukos, why did a man like you speak this word of annoyance?

       I am surprised. I thought that for wits you surpassed all others

       of those who dwell in Lykia where the soil is generous; and yet

       now I utterly despise your heart for the thing you have spoken

       when you said I cannot stand in the face of gigantic Aias.

175  I am not one who shudders at attack and the thunder of horses.

       But always the mind of Zeus is a stronger thing than a man’s mind.

       He terrifies even the warlike man, he takes away victory

       lightly, when he himself has driven a man into battle.

       Come here, friend, and watch me at work; learn, standing beside me,

180  whether I shall be a coward all day, as you proclaim me,

       or whether I stop some Danaän, for all of his fury,

       from his fighting strength and from the defense of fallen Patroklos.”

          So speaking he called afar in a great voice to the Trojans:

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

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

       while I am putting on the beautiful armor of blameless

       Achilleus, which I stripped from Patroklos the strong when I killed him.”

          So spoke Hektor of the shining helm, and departed

       from the hateful battle, and running caught up with his companions

190  very soon, since he went on quick feet, and they had not gone far

       carrying the glorious armor of Peleus’ son toward the city.

       He stood apart from the sorrowful fighting, and changed his armor,

       and gave what he had worn to the fighting Trojans to carry

       to sacred Ilion, and himself put on that armor immortal

195  of Peleïd Achilleus, which the Uranian gods had given

       to his loved father; and he in turn grown old had given it

       to his son; but a son who never grew old in his father’s armor.

          When Zeus who gathers the clouds saw him, apart from the others

       arming himself in the battle gear of godlike Peleïdes,

200  he stirred his head and spoke to his own spirit: “Ah, poor wretch!

       There is no thought of death in your mind now, and yet death stands

       close beside you as you put on the immortal armor

       of a surpassing man. There are others who tremble before him.

       Now you have killed this man’s dear friend, who was strong and gentle,

205  and taken the armor, as you should not have done, from his shoulders

       and head. Still for the present I will invest you with great strength

       to make up for it that you will not come home out of the fighting,

       nor Andromachē take from your hands the glorious arms of Achilleus.”

          He spoke, the son of Kronos, and nodded his head with the dark brows.

210  The armor was fitted to Hektor’s skin, and Ares the dangerous

       war god entered him, so that the inward body was packed full

       of force and fighting strength. He went onward calling in a great voice

       to his renowned companions in arms, and figured before them

       flaming in the battle gear of great-hearted Peleion.

215  “He ranged their ranks, and spoke a word to encourage each captain,

       to Mesthles and Glaukos, to Thersilochos and Medon,

       Deisenor and Hippothoös and Asteropaios,

       to Phorkys and Chromios and the bird interpreter Ennomos,

       and stirring all of these forward called to them in winged words:

220  “Hear me, you numberless hordes of companions who live at our borders.

       It was not for any desire nor need of a multitude

       that man by man I gathered you to come here from your cities,

       but so that you might have good will to defend the innocent

       children of the Trojans, and their wives, from the fighting Achaians.

225  With such a purpose I wear out my own people for presents

       and food, wherewith I make strong the spirit within each one of you.

       Therefore a man must now turn his face straight forward, and perish

       or survive. This is the sweet invitation of battle.

       That man of you who drags Patroklos, dead as he is, back

230  among Trojans, breakers of horses, and Aias gives way before him,

       I will give him half the spoils for his portion, and keep half

       for myself, and his glory shall be as great as mine is.”

          So he spoke, and they lifted their spears and went straight for the Danaäns

       who felt their weight, and inside each man the spirit was hopeful

235  to get the body away from Telamonian Aias.

       Fools! since over the dead man he tore the life out of many.

       Then Aias himself spoke to Menelaos of the great war cry:

       “Illustrious Menelaos, dear friend, I no longer have hope

       that even you and I can win back out of the fighting.

240  My fear is not so much for the dead body of Patroklos

       who presently must glut the dogs and the birds of Troy, so much

       as I fear for my own head, my life, and what may befall it,

       and for yours, since this cloud of war is darkened on all things,

       this Hektor, while for you and me sheer death is emerging.

245  Come then, call the great men of the Danaäns, if one might hear you.”

          He spoke, and Menelaos of the great war cry obeyed him.

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

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

       you that beside Agamemnon and Menelaos, the two sons

250  of Atreus, drink the community’s wine and give, each man, his orders

       to the people; and from Zeus the respect and honor attend you.

       It is hard for me to discriminate among you each man

       who is a leader, so big is the bitter fight that has blazed up.

       Then let a man come of his own accord, think it shameful

255  that Patroklos be given to the dogs of Troy to delight them.”

          He spoke, and swift Aias son of Oïleus was sharp to hear him

       and was first to come running along the battle, and join him,

       and after him Idomeneus, and Idomeneus’ companion

       Meriones, a match for the murderous lord of battles.

260  But what man could tell forth from his heart the names of the others,

       all who after these waked the war strength of the Achaians?

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

       As when at the outpouring place of a rain-glutted river

       the huge surf of the sea roars against the current, out-jutting

265  beaches thunder aloud to the backwash of the salt water,

       with such a bellow the Trojans came on, but now the Achaians

       stood fast about the son of Menoitios, in a single courage

       and fenced beneath their bronze-armored shields, while the son of Kronos

       drifted across the glitter of their helmets a deepening

270  mist; since before this time he had not hated Menoitios’

       son, while he lived yet and was Achilleus’ companion,

       and loathed now that he should become the spoil of the hated

       Trojans’ dogs, and stirred his companions on to defend him.

          First the Trojans shouldered back the glancing-eyed Achaians,

275  who abandoned the body and ran for terror, nor did the high-hearted

       Trojans take any with their spears, for all of their striving,

       but dragged at the dead man, only the Achaians were not long destined

       to fail him, since they were pulled around in sudden speed

       by Aias, who for his beauty and the work of his hands surpassed

280  all other Danaäns, after the blameless son of Peleus.

       He steered through the front fighters in pride of strength like a savage

       wild boar, who among the mountains easily scatters

       the dogs and strong young men when he turns at bay in the valley.

       So now the son of haughty Telamon, glorious Aias,

285  turned to charge and easily scatter the Trojan battalions,

       who had taken their stand bestriding Patroklos, in high hope

       of dragging him off to their own city, and so winning honor.

          Indeed, Hippothoös, glorious son of Pelasgian Lethos,

       was trying to drag him by the foot through the strong encounter

290  by fastening the sling of his shield round the ankle tendons

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

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

       The son of Telamon, sweeping in through the mass of the fighters,

       struck him at close quarters through the brazen cheeks of his helmet

295  and the helm crested with horse-hair was riven about the spearhead

       to the impact of the huge spear and the weight of the hand behind it

       and the brain ran from the wound along the spear by the eye-hole,

       bleeding. There his strength was washed away, and from his hands

       he let fall to the ground the foot of great-hearted Patroklos

300  to lie there, and himself collapsed prone over the dead man

       far away from generous Larissa, and he could not

       render again the care of his dear parents; he was short-lived,

       beaten down beneath the spear of high-hearted Aias.

          Again Hektor threw at Aias with the shining javelin,

305  but Aias with his eyes straight on him avoided the bronze spear

       by a little, and Hektor struck Schedios, the son of high-hearted

       Iphitos and far the best of the Phokians, one who lived

       in his home in famous Panopeus and was lord over many people.

       He struck him fair beneath the collar-bone, and the pointed

310  bronze head tore clean through and came out by the base of the shoulder.

       He fell, thunderously, and his armor clattered upon him.

          But Aias in turn cut at Phorkys, the wise son of Phainops,

       in the middle of the belly as he stood over fallen Hippothoös,

       and broke the hollow of the corselet, so that the entrails spurted

315  from the bronze, and he went down clawing the dust in his fingers.

       The champions of Troy gave back then, and glorious Hektor,

       and the Argives gave a great cry and dragged back the bodies

       of Hippothoös and Phorkys, and eased the armor from their shoulders.

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

320  wall, subdued by terror before the warlike Achaians,

       and the Argives, even beyond Zeus’ destiny, might have won glory

       by their own force and strength, had not Apollo in person

       stirred on Aineias; he had assumed the form of the herald

       Periphas, Epytos’ son, growing old in his herald’s office

325  by Aineias’ aged father, and a man whose thoughts were of kindness.

       In the likeness of this man Zeus’ son Apollo spoke to him:

       “Aineias, how could you be the man to defend sheer Ilion

       even against a god’s will, as I have seen other men do it

       in the confidence of their own force and strength, their own manhood

330  and their own numbers, though they had too few people for it?

       But now Zeus wishes the victory far rather for our side

       than the Danaäns’, only yourselves keep blenching and will not fight them.”

          So he spoke, but Aineias knew far-striking Apollo

       as he looked him straight in the face, and called in a great voice to Hektor:

335  “Hektor, and you other lords of the Trojans and their companions,

       here is a shameful thing! We are climbing back into Ilion’s

       wall, subdued by terror before the warlike Achaians.

       Yet see, some one of the gods is standing beside me, and tells me

       that Zeus the supreme counselor lends his weight to our fighting.

340  Therefore we must go straight for the Danaäns, so that they may not

       carry thus easily back to their ships the fallen Patroklos.”

          He spoke, and with a long leap stood far before the front fighters,

       and the Trojans turned and held their ground against the Achaians.

       And now Aineias killed Leiokritos, with a spear-thrust,

345  the son of Arisbas and noble companion of Lykomedes;

       but as he fell the warrior Lykomedes pitied him,

       and stood close in, and made a cast with the shining javelin

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

       in the liver under the midriff, and the strength of his knees was broken.

350  He was one who had come from Paionia of the rich soil

       and was best of her men in fighting next to Asteropaios.

          As this man fell, warlike Asteropaios pitied him

       and he in turn drove forward eager to fight with the Danaäns,

       but was not able to do it, for they, standing about Patroklos,

355  fenced him behind their shields on all sides, and held their spears out-thrust.

       For Aias ranged their whole extent with his numerous orders,

       and would not let any man give back from the body, nor let one

       go out and fight by himself far in front of the other Achaians,

       but made them stand hard and fast about him and fight at close quarters.

360  Such were the orders of gigantic Aias. The ground ran

       with red blood, the dead men dropped one after another

       from the ranks alike of Trojans and their mighty companions

       and Danaäns also, since these fought not without bloodletting,

       but far fewer of them went down, since they ever remembered

365  always to stand massed and beat sudden death from each other.

 

          So they fought on in the likeness of fire, nor would you have thought

       the sun was still secure in his place in the sky, nor the moon, since

       the mist was closed over all that part of the fight where the bravest

       stood about Patroklos, the fallen son of Menoitios.

370  Now elsewhere the rest of the Trojans and strong-greaved Achaians

       fought naturally in the bright air, with the sun’s sharp glitter

       everywhere about them, no cloud was showing anywhere

       on earth nor on the mountains. They fought their battle by intervals

       standing each well off at a distance, avoiding the painful

375  shots from the other side; but they in the middle were suffering

       distress in the mist and the fighting, with the cruel bronze wearing them.

       These men were the bravest, but there were two men of glory,

       Thrasymedes and Antilochos, who had not yet heard

       how Patroklos the blameless had been killed, but still thought

380  he was alive and fighting in the first shock with the Trojans.

       But these two, watching against death or flight in their company,

       fought their separate battle, since such was their order from Nestor

       as he was urging them forth from the black ships into the fighting.

          So for these daylong the hard bitterness of the wearing

385  battle rose. With the ever-relentless sweat and the weariness

       knees, legs, and feet that supported from underneath each fighter,

       their hands and eyes also were running wet as they fought on

       over the brave henchman of swift-footed Aiakides.

       As when a man gives the hide of a great ox, a bullock,

390  drenched first deep in fat, to all his people to stretch out;

       the people take it from him and stand in a circle about it

       and pull, and presently the moisture goes and the fat sinks

       in, with so many pulling, and the bull’s hide is stretched out level;

       so the men of both sides in a cramped space tugged at the body

395  in both directions; and the hearts of the Trojans were hopeful

       to drag him away to Ilion, those of the Achaians

       to get him back to the hollow ships. And about him a savage

       struggle arose. Not Ares who rallies men, not Athene,

       watching this fight could have scorned it, not even in some strong anger,

400  such was the wicked work of battle for men and for horses

       Zeus strained tight above Patroklos that day. But the brilliant

       Achilleus did not yet know at all that Patroklos had fallen.

       Since now the men were fighting far away from the fast ships

       under the Trojan wall, and Achilleus had no expectation

405  that Patroklos was dead, but thought he was alive and close under

       the gates, and would come back. He had not thought that Patroklos

       would storm the city without himself, nor with himself either;

       for often he had word from his mother, not known to mortals;

       she was ever telling him what was the will of great Zeus; but this time

410  his mother did not tell Achilleus of all the evil

       that had been done, nor how his dearest companion had perished.

          So they about the body gripping their headed spears kept

       inexorably close together, and slaughtered on both sides.

       And such would be the saying of some bronze-armored Achaian:

415  “Friends, there is no glory for usif we go back again

       to our hollow ships, but here and now let the black earth open

       gaping for all; this would soon be far better for us

       if we give up this man to the Trojans, breakers of horses,

       to take away to their own city and win glory from him.”

420      And such in turn would be the cry of some high-hearted Trojan:

       “O friends, though it be destined for all of us to be killed here

       over this man, still none of us must give ground from the fighting.”

          Thus a man would speak, and stir the spirit in each one

       of his fellowship. So they fought on, and the iron tumult

425  went up into the brazen sky through the barren bright air.

       But the horses of Aiakides standing apart from the battle

       wept, as they had done since they heard how their charioteer

       had fallen in the dust at the hands of murderous Hektor.

       In truth Automedon, the powerful son of Diores,

430  hit them over and over again with the stroke of the flying

       lash, or talked to them, sometimes entreating them, sometimes threatening.

       They were unwilling to go back to the wide passage of Helle

       and the ships, or back into the fighting after the Achaians,

       but still as stands a grave monument which is set over

435  the mounded tomb of a dead man or lady, they stood there

       holding motionless in its place the fair-wrought chariot,

       leaning their heads along the ground, and warm tears were running

       earthward from underneath the lids of the mourning horses

       who longed for their charioteer, while their bright manes were made dirty

440  as they streamed down either side of the yoke from under the yoke pad.

       As he watched the mourning horses the son of Kronos pitied them,

       and stirred his head and spoke to his own spirit: “Poor wretches,

       why then did we ever give you to the lord Peleus,

       a mortal man, and you yourselves are immortal and ageless?

445  Only so that among unhappy men you also might be grieved?

       Since among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it

       there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.

       At least the son of Priam, Hektor, shall not mount behind you

       in the carefully wrought chariot. I will not let him. Is it not

450  enough for him that he has the armor and glories in wearing it?

       But now I will put vigor into your knees and your spirits

       so that you bring back Automedon out of the fighting

       safe to the hollow ships; since I shall still give the Trojans

       the glory of killing, until they win to the strong-benched vessels,

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

       So spoke Zeus, and breathed great vigor into the horses,

       and they shaking the dust from their manes to the ground lightly

       carried the running chariot among the Achaians and Trojans.

       Automedon fought from them, though grieving for his companion.

460  He would dash in, like a vulture among geese, with his horses,

       and lightly get away out of the Trojans’ confusion

       and lightly charge in again in pursuit of a great multitude,

       and yet could kill no men when he swept in in chase of them.

       He had no way while he was alone in a separate chariot

465  to lunge with the spear and still keep in hand his fast-running horses.

       But at last there was one of his companions who laid eyes upon him:

       Alkimedon, the son of Laërkes, descended from Haimon.

       He stood behind the chariot and called to Automedon:

       “Automedon, what god put this unprofitable purpose

470  into your heart, and has taken away the better wits, so that

       you are trying to fight the Trojans in the first shock of encounter

       by yourself, since your companion has been killed, and Hektor

       glories in wearing Aiakides’ armor on his own shoulders?”

          In turn Automedon answered him, the son of Diores:

475  “Alkimedon, which other of the Achaians could handle

       the management and the strength of immortal horses as you can,

       were it not Patroklos, the equal of the immortals in counsel,

       while he lived? Now death and fate have closed in upon him.

       Therefore take over from me the whip and the glittering guide reins

480  while I dismount from behind the horses, so I may do battle.”

          He spoke, and Alkimedon vaulted up to the charging chariot

       and quickly gathered up the reins and the lash in his hands, while

       Automedon sprang down. But glorious Hektor saw them

       and immediately spoke to Aineias, who stood close beside him:

485  “Aineias, lord of the counsels of the bronze-armored Trojans,

       I see before us the horses of swift-footed Aiakides

       who appear now in the fighting with weak charioteers. Therefore

       I could be hopeful of their capture, if you were willing

       in heart to go with me. If we two went forth against them

490  they would not dare to stand their ground and do battle against us.”

          He spoke, and the strong son of Anchises did not disobey him.

       The two went strongly forward, hooding their shoulders in well-tanned

       and stubborn hides of oxen with deep bronze beaten upon them.

       Along with these went Chromios and godlike Aretos

495  both together, and the spirit within each had high hopes

       of killing the men and driving away the strong-necked horses;

       poor fools, who were not going to come back from Automedon

       without the shedding of blood; and he with a prayer to Zeus father

       was filled about the darkening heart with war-strength and courage,

500  and spoke now to Alkimedon his trusted companion:

       “Alkimedon, no longer check the horses back from me

       but keep them breathing right against my back. I have no thought

       that I can stand up to the strength of Hektor the son of Priam.

       Sooner, I think, he will kill us and mount behind the mane-floating

505  horses of Achilleus, and scatter the ranks of the Argive

       fighting men; or else himself go down in the first rush.”

          He spoke, and called to the two Aiantes and Menelaos:

       “Aiantes, lords of the Argives, and Menelaos, we call you

       to leave the dead man in the care of those who are fittest

510  to stand bestriding him and fend off the ranks of the Trojans

       while you beat back the day without pity from us who are living.

       For Hektor and Aineias, the greatest men of the Trojans,

       are leaning the weight of their charge this way through the sorrowful battle.

       Yet all these are things that are lying upon the gods’ knees.

515  I myself will cast; and Zeus will look after the issue.”

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

       and struck the shield of Aretos on its perfect circle,

       nor could the shield hold off the spear, but the bronze smashed clean through

       and was driven on through the belt to the deep of the belly.

520  As when a strong-grown man with sharp axe in his hands chops

       at an ox, ranger of the fields, behind the horns, cutting

       all the way through the sinew, and the ox springing forward topples,

       so Aretos sprang forward, then toppled back, and sharp-driven

       into the depth of his belly the quivering spear unstrung him.

525  Then Hektor made a cast with the shining spear at Automedon,

       but he, keeping his eyes straight on him, avoided the bronze spear.

       For he bent forward, and behind his back the long spearshaft

       was driven into the ground so that the butt end was shaken

       on the spear. Then and there Ares the huge took the force from it.

530  And now they would have gone for each other with swords at close quarters,

       had not the two Aiantes driven strongly between them,

       who came on through the battle at the call of their companion,

       and in fear before them Hektor and Aineias and godlike

       Chromios gave ground back and away once more, leaving

535  Aretos lying there where he was with a wound in his vitals.

       Then Automedon, a match for the running god of battles,

       stripped the armor, and spoke a word of boasting above him:

       “Now I have put a little sorrow from my heart for Patroklos’

       death, although the man I killed was not great as he was.”

540      So he spoke, and took up the bloody war spoils and laid them

       inside the chariot, and himself mounted it, the blood running

       from hands and feet, as on some lion who has eaten a bullock.

          Once again over Patroklos was close drawn a strong battle

       weary and sorrowful, and Athene from the sky descending

545  waked the bitter fighting, since Zeus of the wide brows sent her

       down to stir the Danaäns, for now his purpose had shifted.

       As when in the sky Zeus strings for mortals the shimmering

       rainbow, to be a portent and sign of war, or of wintry

       storm, when heat perishes, such storm as stops mortals’

550  work upon the face of the earth, and afflicts their cattle,

       so Athene shrouded in the shimmering cloud about her

       merged among the swarming Achaians, and wakened each man.

       And first she spoke, stirring him on, to the son of Atreus,

       strong Menelaos, since he was the one who was standing close to her.

555  She likened herself in form and weariless voice to Phoinix:

       “Menelaos, this will be a thing of shame, a reproach said

       of you, if under the wall of the Trojans the dogs in their fury

       can mutilate the staunch companion of haughty Achilleus.

       But hold strongly on, and stir up all the rest of your people.”

560      Then in turn Menelaos of the great war cry answered her:

       “Phoinix, my father, aged and honored, if only Athene

       would give me such strength, and hold the volleying missiles off from me!

       So for my part I would be willing to stand by Patroklos

       and defend him, since in his death he hurt my heart greatly.

565  Yet Hektor holds still the awful strength of a fire, nor falters

       in raging with the bronze spear, since Zeus is giving him glory.”

          So he spoke, and the goddess gray-eyed Athene was happy

       that first among all the divinities his prayer had bespoken her.

       She put strength into the man’s shoulders and knees, inspiring

570  in his breast the persistent daring of that mosquito

       who though it is driven hard away from a man’s skin, even

       so, for the taste of human blood, persists in biting him.

       With such daring she darkened to fullness the heart inside him.

       He stood over Patroklos, and made a cast with the shining

575  spear. There was one among the Trojans, Podes, Eëtion’s

       son, a rich man and good, whom Hektor prized above others

       in the countryside, since he was his friend and ate at his table.

       Now fair-haired Menelaos struck this man, at the war belt

       as he swept away in flight, and drove the bronze spear clean through it.

580  He fell, thunderously, and Atreus’ son Menelaos

       dragged the body away from the Trojans among his companions.

       But now Apollo came and stood beside Hektor, and stirred him,

       assuming the shape of Phainops, Asios’ son, who among all

       guest friends was dearest to Hektor, and lived at home in Abydos.

585  In the likeness of this man far-striking Apollo spoke to him:

       “Hektor, what other Achaian now shall be frightened before you?

       See,you have shrunk before Menelaos, who in times before this

       was a soft spearfighter; and now he has gone taking off single-handed

       a body from among the Trojans. He has killed your trusted companion,

590  valiant among the champions, Podes, the son of Eëtion.”

          He spoke, and the dark cloud of sorrow closed over Hektor.

       He took his way among the champions helmed in the shining

       bronze. And now the son of Kronos caught up the betasseled

       glaring aegis, and shrouded Ida in mists. He let go

595  a lightning flash and a loud thunderstroke, shaking the mountain,

       gave victory to the Trojans, and terrified the Achaians.

          First to begin the flight was Peneleos the Boiotian.

       For he, turning always toward the attack, was hit in the shoulder’s

       end, a slight wound, but the spear of Poulydamas, who had thrown it

600  from a stance very close to him, had grated the bone’s edge.

       Then Hektor wounded in the hand by the wrist Leïtos,

       the son of great-hearted Alektryon, and halted his warcraft,

       and he drew back staring about him since his spirit had hope no longer

       of holding a spear steady in his hand to fight with the Trojans.

605  Now as Hektor made a rush for Leïtos, Idomeneus

       struck him on the corselet over the chest by the nipple,

       but the long shaft was broken behind the head, and the Trojans

       shouted. Now Hektor made a cast at Deukalian Idomeneus

       as he stood in his chariot, and missed him by only a little,

610  but struck the follower and charioteer of Meriones,

       Koiranos, who had come with him from strong-founded Lyktos.

       Now Idomeneus at the first had come on foot, leaving the oarswept

       ships, and now would have given the Trojans a mighty triumph,

       had not Koiranos swiftly come up with the fast-running horses;

615  came as light to the other and beat from him the day without pity,

       but himself lost his life at the hands of manslaughtering Hektor,

       who hit him under the jaw by the ear, and the spearshaft pushed out

       his teeth by the roots from the base, and split the tongue through the middle.

       He toppled from the chariot, with the reins on the ground scattered,

620  but Meriones leaning down caught these up in his own hands

       from the surface of the plain, and called aloud to Idomeneus:

       “Lash them now, until you can get back to our fast ships.

       You see yourself there is no more strength left in the Achaians.”

          So he spoke, and Idomeneus whipped the mane-floating horses

625  back to the hollow ships, with fear fallen upon his spirit.

          Nor was it unseen by great-hearted Aias how Zeus shifted

       the strength of the fighting toward the Trojans, nor by Menelaos.

       First of the two to speak was huge Telamonian Aias:

       “Shame on it! By now even one with a child’s innocence

630  could see how father Zeus himself is helping the Trojans.

       The weapons of each of these take hold, no matter who throws them,

       good fighter or bad, since Zeus is straightening all of them equally,

       while ours fall to the ground and are utterly useless. Therefore

       let us deliberate with ourselves upon the best counsel,

635  how at the same time to rescue the dead body, and also

       win back ourselves, and bring joy to our beloved companions

       who look our way and sorrow for us, and believe no longer

       that the fury of manslaughtering Hektor, his hands irresistible,

       can be held, but must be driven on to the black ships.

640  But there should be some companion who could carry the message

       quickly to Peleus’ son, since I think he has not yet heard

       the ghastly news, how his beloved companion has fallen.

       Yet I cannot make out such a man among the Achaians,

       since they are held in the mist alike, the men and their horses.

645  Father Zeus, draw free from the mist the sons of the Achaians,

       make bright the air, and give sight back to our eyes; in shining

       daylight destroy us, if to destroy us be now your pleasure.”

          He spoke thus, and as he wept the father took pity upon him,

       and forthwith scattered the mist and pushed the darkness back from them,

650  and the sun blazed out, and all the battle was plain before them.

       Now Aias spoke to him of the great war cry, Menelaos:

       “Look hard, illustrious Menelaos, if you can discover

       Antilochos still living, the son of great-hearted Nestor,

       and send him out to run with a message to wise Achilleus

655  how one who was far the dearest of his companions has fallen.”

          He spoke, and Menelaos of the great war cry obeyed him,

       and went on his way, as from a mid-fenced ground some lion

       who has been harrying dogs and men, but his strength is worn out;

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

660  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;

665  so Menelaos of the great war cry went from Patroklos

       much unwilling, and was afraid for him, lest the Achaians

       under pressure of fear might leave him as spoil for the enemy,

       and had much to urge on Meriones and the Aiantes:

       “Aiantes, O lords of the Argives, and you, Meriones,

670  now let each one of you remember unhappy Patroklos

       who was gentle, and understood how to be kindly toward all men

       while he lived. Now death and fate have closed in upon him.”

          So spoke fair-haired Menelaos, and went away from them

       peering about on all sides, like an eagle, who, as men say,

675  sees most sharply of all winged creatures under the heaven,

       and lofty though he hover the cowering hare, the swift-footed,

       escapes not his sight as he crouches in the shaggy bush, but the eagle

       plunges suddenly to grab him and tear the life from him.

       So now in you, Menelaos, illustrious, the eyes shining

680  circled everywhere your swarming hordes of companions,

       if the man might see anywhere Nestor’s son, still living,

       and saw soon where he was, at the left of the entire battle,

       encouraging his companions and urging them into the fighting.

       Menelaos the fair-haired stood beside him and spoke to him:

685  “Antilochos, turn this way, illustrious, and hear from me

       the ghastly message of a thing I wish never had happened.

       You can see for yourself, I think, already, from watching,

       how the god is wheeling disaster against the Danaäns

       and how the Trojans are winning. The best of the Achaians has fallen,

690  Patroklos, and a huge loss is inflicted upon the Danaäns.

       Run then quickly to Achilleus, by the ships of the Achaians,

       and tell him. He might in speed win back to his ship the dead body

       which is naked. Hektor of the shining helm has taken his armor.”

          So he spoke, and Antilochos hated his word as he listened.

695  He stayed for a long time without a word, speechless, and his eyes

       filled with tears, the springing voice was held still within him,

       yet even so he neglected not Menelaos’ order

       but went on the run, handing his war gear to a blameless companion,

       Laodokos, who had turned nearby his single-foot horses.

 

700      Now as his feet carried him, weeping, out of the battle,

       with his message of evil for the son of Peleus, Achilleus,

       so now, Menelaos, the spirit in you, illustrious,

       wished not to defend his stricken companions, after Antilochos

       was gone from them, and his loss wrought greatly upon the Pylians;

705  rather he sent Thrasymedes the brilliant over to help them,

       while he himself went back again to the hero Patroklos

       running, and took his place beside the Aiantes, and spoke to them:

       “Now I have sent the man you spoke of back to the fast ships

       on his way to swift-footed Achilleus, yet think not even

710  he can come now, for all his great anger with Hektor the brilliant.

       There is no way he could fight bare of armor against the Trojans.

       We by ourselves must deliberate upon the best counsel

       how at the same time to rescue the dead body, and also

       ourselves escape death and destiny from the clamoring Trojans.”

715      Then in turn huge Telamonian Aias answered him:

       “All you have said, renowned Menelaos, is fair and orderly.

       But come: you and Meriones stoop and shoulder the body

       at once, and carry it out of the hard fighting. Behind you

       we two shall fight off the Trojans and glorious Hektor,

720  we, who have the same name, the same spirit, and who in times past

       have stood fast beside each other in the face of the bitter war god.”

          He spoke, and they caught the body from the ground in their arms, lifting

       him high with a great heave, and the Trojan people behind them

       shouted aloud as they saw the Achaians lifting the dead man,

725  and made a rush against them like dogs, who sweep in rapidly

       on a wounded wild boar, ahead of the young men who hunt him,

       and for the moment race in raging to tear him to pieces

       until in the confidence of his strength he turns on them, at bay,

       and they give ground and scatter for fear one way and another;

730  so the Trojans until that time kept always in close chase

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

       but every time the two Aiantes would swing round to face them

       and stand fast, the color of their skin changed, and no longer

       could any endure to sweep in further and fight for the body.

735      So these, straining, carried the dead man out of the battle

       and back to the hollow ships, and the fight that was drawn fast between them

       was wild as fire which, risen suddenly, storming a city

       of men sets it ablaze, and houses diminish before it

       in the high glare, and the force of the wind on it roars it to thunder;

740  so, as the Danaäns made their way back, the weariless roaring

       of horses, chariots, and spearmen was ever upon them.

       But they, as mules who have put the on-drive of strength upon them

       drag down from the high ground along a steep stony trail either

       a beam or some big timber for a ship, and the heart in them

745  wearies under the hard work and sweat of their urgent endeavor;

       so these, straining, carried the dead man away, and behind them

       the two Aiantes held them off, as a timbered rock ridge

       holds off water, one that is placed to divide an entire plain,

       which, though flood-currents of strong rivers drive sorely against it,

750  holds them off and beats back the waters of them all to be scattered

       over the plain, and all the strength of their streams cannot break it;

       so behind the Achaians the Aiantes held off forever

       the Trojan attack. But these stayed close, and two beyond others,

       Aineias, who was son of Anchises, and glorious Hektor.

755  But before these, as goes a cloud of daws or of starlings

       screaming terror when they have seen coming forth against them

       the hawk, whose coming is murder for the little birds, so now

       before Aineias and Hektor the young Achaian warriors

       went, screaming terror, all the delight of battle forgotten.

760  Many fine pieces of armor littered the ground on both sides

       of the ditch, as the Danaäns fled. There was no check in the fighting.

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

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