The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 26 of 35

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BOOK EIGHTEEN

 

          So these fought on in the likeness of blazing fire. Meanwhile,

       Antilochos came, a swift-footed messenger, to Achilleus,

       and found him sitting in front of the steep-horned ships, thinking

       over in his heart of things which had now been accomplished.

5     Disturbed, Achilleus spoke to the spirit in his own great heart:

       “Ah me, how is it that once again the flowing-haired Achaians

       are driven out of the plain on their ships in fear and confusion?

       May the gods not accomplish vile sorrows upon the heart in me

       in the way my mother once made it clear to me, when she told me

10   how while I yet lived the bravest of all the Myrmidons

       must leave the light of the sun beneath the hands of the Trojans.

       Surely, then, the strong son of Menoitios has perished.

       Unhappy! and yet I told him, once he had beaten the fierce fire

       off, to come back to the ships, not fight in strength against Hektor.”

 

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

       meanwhile the son of stately Nestor was drawing near him

       and wept warm tears, and gave Achilleus his sorrowful message:

       “Ah me, son of valiant Peleus; you must hear from me

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

20   Patroklos has fallen, and now they are fighting over his body

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

          He spoke, and the black cloud of sorrow closed on Achilleus.

       In both hands he caught up the grimy dust, and poured it

       over his head and face, and fouled his handsome countenance,

25   and the black ashes were scattered over his immortal tunic.

       And he himself, mightily in his might, in the dust lay

       at length, and took and tore at his hair with his hands, and defiled it.

       And the handmaidens Achilleus and Patroklos had taken

       captive, stricken at heart cried out aloud, and came running

30   out of doors about valiant Achilleus, and all of them

       beat their breastswith their hands, and the limbs went slack in each of them.

       On the other side Antilochos mourned with him, letting the tears fall,

       and held the hands of Achilleus as he grieved in his proud heart,

       fearing Achilleus might cut his throat with the iron. He cried out

35   terribly, aloud, and the lady his mother heard him

       as she sat in the depths of the sea at the side of her aged father,

       and she cried shrill in turn, and the goddesses gathered about her,

       all who along the depth of the sea were daughters of Nereus.

       For Glauke was there, Kymodokē and Thaleia,

40   Nesaie and Speio and Thoë, and ox-eyed Halia;

       Kymothoë was there, Aktaia and Limnoreia,

       Melitē and Iaira, Amphithoë and Agauë,

       Doto and Proto, Dynamenē and Pherousa,

       Dexamenē and Amphinomē and Kallianeira;

45   Doris and Panopē and glorious Galateia,

       Nemertes and Apseudes and Kallianassa;

       Klymenē was there, Ianeira and Ianassa,

       Maira and Oreithyia and lovely-haired Amatheia,

       and the rest who along the depth of the sea were daughters of Nereus.

50   The silvery cave was filled with these, and together all of them

       beat their breasts, and among them Thetis led out the threnody:

       “Hear me, Nereïds, my sisters; so you may all know

       well all the sorrows that are in my heart, when you hear of them from me.

       Ah me, my sorrow, the bitterness in this best of child-bearing,

55   since I gave birth to a son who was without fault and powerful,

       conspicuous among heroes; and he shot up like a young tree,

       and I nurtured him, like a tree grown in the pride of the orchard.

       I sent him away with the curved ships into the land of Ilion

       to fight with the Trojans; but I shall never again receive him

60   won home again to his country and into the house of Peleus.

       Yet while I see him live and he looks on the sunlight, he has

       sorrows, and though I go to him I can do nothing to help him.

       Yet I shall go, to look on my dear son, and to listen

       to the sorrow that has come to him as he stays back from the fighting.”

 

65      So she spoke, and left the cave, and the others together

       went with her in tears, and about them the wave of the water

       was broken. Now these, when they came to the generous Troad,

       followed each other out on the seashore, where close together

       the ships of the Myrmidons were hauled up about swift Achilleus.

70   There as he sighed heavily the lady his mother stood by him

       and cried out shrill and aloud, and took her son’s head in her arms, then

       sorrowing for him she spoke to him in winged words: “Why then,

       child, do you lament? What sorrow has come to your heart now?

       Speak out, do not hide it. These things are brought to accomplishment

75   through Zeus: in the way that you lifted your hands and prayed for,

       that all the sons of the Achaians be pinned on their grounded vessels

       by reason of your loss, and suffer things that are shameful.”

          Then sighing heavily Achilleus of the swift feet answered her:

       “My mother, all these things the Olympian brought to accomplishment.

80   But what pleasure is this to me, since my dear companion has perished,

       Patroklos, whom I loved beyond all other companions,

       as well as my own life. I have lost him, and Hektor, who killed him,

       has stripped away that gigantic armor, a wonder to look on

       and splendid, which the gods gave Peleus, a glorious present,

85   on that day they drove you to the marriage bed of a mortal.

       I wish you had gone on living then with the other goddesses

       of the sea, and that Peleus had married some mortal woman.

       As it is, there must be on your heart a numberless sorrow

       for your son’s death, since you can never again receive him

90   won home again to his country; since the spirit within does not drive me

       to go on living and be among men, except on condition

       that Hektor first be beaten down under my spear, lose his life

       and pay the price for stripping Patroklos, the son of Menoitios.”

          Then in turn Thetis spoke to him, letting the tears fall:

95   “Then I must lose you soon, my child, by what you are saying,

       since it is decreed your death must come soon after Hektor’s.”

          Then deeply disturbed Achilleus of the swift feet answered her:

       “I must die soon, then; since I was not to stand by my companion

       when he was killed. And now, far away from the land of his fathers,

100  he has perished, and lacked my fighting strength to defend him.

       Now, since I am not going back to the beloved land of my fathers,

       since I was no light of safety to Patroklos, nor to my other

       companions, who in their numbers went down before glorious Hektor,

       but sit here beside my ships, a useless weight on the good land,

105  I, who am such as no other of the bronze-armored Achaians

       in battle, though there are others also better in council—-why,

       I wish that strife would vanish away from among gods and mortals,

       and gall, which makes a man grow angry for all his great mind,

       that gall of anger that swarms like smoke inside of a man’s heart

110  and becomes a thing sweeter to him by far than the dripping of honey.

       So it was here that the lord of men Agamemnon angered me.

       Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, and for all our

       sorrow beat down by force the anger deeply within us.

       Now I shall go, to overtake that killer of a dear life,

115  Hektor; then I will accept my own death, at whatever

       time Zeus wishes to bring it about, and the other immortals.

       For not even the strength of Herakles fled away from destruction,

       although he was dearest of all to lord Zeus, son of Kronos,

       but his fate beat him under, and the wearisome anger of Hera.

120  So I likewise, if such is the fate which has been wrought for me,

       shall lie still, when I am dead. Now I must win excellent glory,

       and drive some one of the women of Troy, or some deep-girdled

       Dardanian woman, lifting up to her soft cheeks both hands

       to wipe away the close bursts of tears in her lamentation,

125  and learn that I stayed too long out of the fighting. Do not

       hold me back from the fight, though you love me. You will not persuade me.”

          In turn the goddess Thetis of the silver feet answered him:

       “Yes, it is true, my child, this is no cowardly action,

       to beat aside sudden death from your afflicted companions.

130  Yet, see now, your splendid armor, glaring and brazen,

       is held among the Trojans, and Hektor of the shining helmet

       wears it on his own shoulders, and glories in it. Yet I think

       he will not glory for long, since his death stands very close to him.

       Therefore do not yet go into the grind of the war god,

135  not before with your own eyes you see me come back to you.

       For I am coming to you at dawn and as the sun rises

       bringing splendid armor to you from the lord Hephaistos.”

          So she spoke, and turned, and went away from her son,

       and turning now to her sisters of the sea she spoke to them:

140  “Do you now go back into the wide fold of the water

       to visit the ancient of the sea and the house of our father,

       and tell him everything. I am going to tall Olympos

       and to Hephaistos, the glorious smith, if he might be willing

       to give me for my son renowned and radiant armor.”

145      She spoke, and they plunged back beneath the wave of the water,

       while she the goddess Thetis of the silver feet went onward

       to Olympos, to bring back to her son the glorious armor.

          So her feet carried her to Olympos; meanwhile the Achaians

       with inhuman clamor before the attack of manslaughtering Hektor

150  fled until they were making for their own ships and the Hellespont;

       nor could the strong-greaved Achaians have dragged the body

       of Patroklos, henchman of Achilleus, from under the missiles,

       for once again the men and the horses came over upon him,

       and Hektor, Priam’s son, who fought like a flame in his fury.

155  Three times from behind glorious Hektor caught him

       by the feet, trying to drag him, and called aloud on the Trojans.

       Three times the two Aiantes with their battle-fury upon them

       beat him from the corpse, but he, steady in the confidence of his great strength,

       kept making, now a rush into the crowd, or again at another time

160  stood fast, with his great cry, but gave not a bit of ground backward.

       And as herdsmen who dwell in the fields are not able to frighten

       a tawny lion in his great hunger away from a carcass,

       so the two Aiantes, marshals of men, were not able

       to scare Hektor, Priam’s son, away from the body.

165  And now he would have dragged it away and won glory forever

       had not swift wind-footed Iris come running from Olympos

       with a message for Peleus’ son to arm. She came secretly

       from Zeus and the other gods, since it was Hera who sent her.

       She came and stood close to him and addressed him in winged words:

170  “Rise up, son of Peleus, most terrifying of all men.

       Defend Patroklos, for whose sake the terrible fighting

       stands now in front of the ships. They are destroying each other;

       the Achaians fight in defense over the fallen body

       while the others, the Trojans, are rushing to drag the corpse off

175  to windy Ilion, and beyond all glorious Hektor

       rages to haul it away, since the anger within him is urgent

       to cut the head from the soft neck and set it on sharp stakes.

       Up, then, lie here no longer; let shame come into your heart, lest

       Patroklos become sport for the dogs of Troy to worry,

180  your shame, if the body goes from here with defilement upon it.”

       Then in turn Achilleus of the swift feet answered her:

       “Divine Iris, what god sent you to me with a message?”

          Then in turn swift wind-footed Iris spoke to him:

       “Hera sent me, the honored wife of Zeus; but the son of

185  Kronos, who sits on high, does not know this, nor any other

       immortal, of all those who dwell by the snows of Olympos.”

          Then in answer to her spoke Achilleus of the swift feet:

       “How shall I go into the fighting? They have my armor.

       And my beloved mother told me I must not be armored,

190  not before with my own eyes I see her come back to me.

       She promised she would bring magnificent arms from Hephaistos.

       Nor do I know of another whose glorious armor I could wear

       unless it were the great shield of Telamonian Aias.

       But he himself wears it, I think, and goes in the foremost

195  of the spear-fight over the body of fallen Patroklos.”

          Then in turn swift wind-footed Iris spoke to him:

       “Yes, we also know well how they hold your glorious armor.

       But go to the ditch, and show yourself as you are to the Trojans,

       if perhaps the Trojans might be frightened, and give way

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

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

          So speaking Iris of the swift feet went away from him;

       but Achilleus, the beloved of Zeus, rose up, and Athene

       swept about his powerful shoulders the fluttering aegis;

205  and she, the divine among goddesses, about his head circled

       a golden cloud, and kindled from it a flame far-shining.

       As when a flare goes up into the high air from a city

       from an island far away, with enemies fighting about it

       who all day long are in the hateful division of Ares

210  fighting from their own city, but as the sun goes down signal

       fires blaze out one after another, so that the glare goes

       pulsing high for men of the neighboring islands to see it,

       in case they might come over in ships to beat off the enemy;

       so from the head of Achilleus the blaze shot into the bright air.

215  He went from the wall and stood by the ditch, nor mixed with the other

       Achaians, since he followed the close command of his mother.

       There he stood, and shouted, and from her place Pallas Athene

       gave cry, and drove an endless terror upon the Trojans.

       As loud as comes the voice that is screamed out by a trumpet

220  by murderous attackers who beleaguer a city,

       so then high and clear went up the voice of Aiakides.

       But the Trojans, when they heard the brazen voice of Aiakides,

       the heart was shaken in all, and the very floating-maned horses

       turned their chariots about, since their hearts saw the coming afflictions.

225  The charioteers were dumbfounded as they saw the unwearied dangerous

       fire that played above the head of great-hearted Peleion

       blazing, and kindled by the goddess gray-eyed Athene.

       Three times across the ditch brilliant Achilleus gave his great cry,

       and three times the Trojans and their renowned companions were routed.

230  There at that time twelve of the best men among them perished

       upon their own chariots and spears. Meanwhile the Achaians

       gladly pulled Patroklos out from under the missiles

       and set him upon a litter, and his own companions about him

       stood mourning, and along with them swift-footed Achilleus

235  went, letting fall warm tears as he saw his steadfast companion

       lying there on a carried litter and torn with the sharp bronze,

       the man he had sent off before with horses and chariot

       into the fighting; who never again came home to be welcomed.

          Now the lady Hera of the ox eyes drove the unwilling

240  weariless sun god to sink in the depth of the Ocean,

       and the sun went down, and the brilliant Achaians gave over

       their strong fighting, and the doubtful collision of battle.

          The Trojans on the other side moved from the strong encounter

       in their turn, and unyoked their running horses from under the chariots,

245  and gathered into assembly before taking thought for their supper.

       They stood on their feet in assembly, nor did any man have the patience

       to sit down, but the terror was on them all, seeing that Achilleus

       had appeared, after he had stayed so long from the difficult fighting.

       First to speak among them was the careful Poulydamas,

250  Panthoös’ son, who alone of them looked before and behind him.

       He was companion to Hektor, and born on the same night with him,

       but he was better in words, the other with the spear far better.

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

       “Now take careful thought, dear friends; for I myself urge you

255  to go back into the city and not wait for the divine dawn

       in the plain beside the ships. We are too far from the wall now.

       While this man was still angry with great Agamemnon,

       for all that time the Achaians were easier men to fight with.

       For I also used then to be one who was glad to sleep out

260  near their ships, and I hoped to capture the oarswept vessels.

       But now I terribly dread the swift-footed son of Peleus.

       So violent is the valor in him, he will not be willing

       to stay here in the plain, where now Achaians and Trojans

       from either side sunder between them the wrath of the war god.

265  With him, the fight will be for the sake of our city and women.

       Let us go into the town; believe me; thus it will happen.

       For this present, immortal night has stopped the swift-footed

       son of Peleus, but if he catches us still in this place

       tomorrow, and drives upon us in arms, a man will be well

270  aware of him, be glad to get back into sacred Ilion,

       the man who escapes; there will be many Trojans the vultures

       and dogs will feed on. But let such a word be out of my hearing

       ! If all of us will do as I say, though it hurts us to do it,

       this night we will hold our strength in the market place, and the great walls

275  and the gateways, and the long, smooth-planed, close-joined gate timbers

       that close to fit them shall defend our city. Then, early

       in the morning, under dawn, we shall arm ourselves in our war gear

       and take stations along the walls. The worse for him, if he endeavors

       to come away from the ships and fight us here for our city.

280  Back he must go to his ships again, when he wears out the strong necks

       of his horses, driving them at a gallop everywhere by the city.

       His valor will not give him leave to burst in upon us

       nor sack our town. Sooner the circling dogs will feed on him.”

          Then looking darkly at him Hektor of the shining helm spoke:

285  “Poulydamas, these things that you argue please me no longer

       when you tell us to go back again and be cooped in our city.

       Have you not all had your glut of being fenced in our outworks?

       There was a time when mortal men would speak of the city

       of Priam as a place with much gold and much bronze. But now

290  the lovely treasures that lay away in our houses have vanished,

       and many possessions have been sold and gone into Phrygia

       and into Maionia the lovely, when great Zeus was angry.

       But now, when the son of devious-devising Kronos has given

       me the winning of glory by the ships, to pin the Achaians

295  on the sea, why, fool, no longer show these thoughts to our people.

       Not one of the Trojans will obey you. I shall not allow it.

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

       Now, take your supper by positions along the encampment,

       and do not forget your watch, and let every man be wakeful.

300  And if any Trojan is strongly concerned about his possessions,

       let him gather them and give them to the people, to use them in common.

       It is better for one of us to enjoy them than for the Achaians.

       In the morning, under dawn, we shall arm ourselves in our war gear

       and waken the bitter god of war by the hollow vessels.

305  If it is true that brilliant Achilleus is risen beside their

       ships, then the worse for him if he tries it, since I for my part

       will not run from him out of the sorrowful battle, but rather

       stand fast, to see if he wins the great glory, or if I can win it.

       The war god is impartial. Before now he has killed the killer.”

 

310      So spoke Hektor, and the Trojans thundered to hear him;

       fools, since Pallas Athene had taken away the wits from them.

       They gave their applause to Hektor in his counsel of evil,

       but none to Poulydamas, who had spoken good sense before them.

       They took their supper along the encampment. Meanwhile the Achaians

315  mourned all night in lamentation over Patroklos.

       Peleus’ son led the thronging chant of their lamentation,

       and laid his manslaughtering hands over the chest of his dear friend

       with outbursts of incessant grief. As some great bearded lion

       when some man, a deer hunter, has stolen his cubs away from him

320  out of the close wood; the lion comes back too late, and is anguished,

       and turns into many valleys quartering after the man’s trail

       on the chance of finding him, and taken with bitter anger;

       so he, groaning heavily, spoke out to the Myrmidons:

       “Ah me. It was an empty word I cast forth on that day

325  when in his halls I tried to comfort the hero Menoitios.

       I told him I would bring back his son in glory to Opous

       with Ilion sacked, and bringing his share of war spoils allotted.

       But Zeus does not bring to accomplishment all thoughts in men’s minds.

       Thus it is destiny for us both to stain the same soil

330  here in Troy; since I shall never come home, and my father,

       Peleus the aged rider, will not welcome me in his great house,

       nor Thetis my mother, but in this place the earth will receive me.

       But seeing that it is I, Patroklos, who follow you underground,

       I will not bury you till I bring to this place the armor

335  and the head of Hektor, since he was your great-hearted murderer.

       Before your burning pyre I shall behead twelve glorious

       children of the Trojans, for my anger over your slaying.

       Until then, you shall lie where you are in front of my curved ships

       and beside you women of Troy and deep-girdled Dardanian women

340  shall sorrow for you night and day and shed tears for you, those whom

       you and I worked hard to capture by force and the long spear

       in days when we were storming the rich cities of mortals.”

          So speaking brilliant Achilleus gave orders to his companions

       to set a great cauldron across the fire, so that with all speed

345  they could wash away the clotted blood from Patroklos.

       They set up over the blaze of the fire a bath-water cauldron

       and poured water into it and put logs underneath and kindled them.

       The fire worked on the swell of the cauldron, and the water heated.

       But when the water had come to a boil in the shining bronze, then

350  they washed the body and anointed it softly with olive oil

       and stopped the gashes in his body with stored-up unguents

       and laid him on a bed, and shrouded him in a thin sheet

       from head to foot, and covered that over with a white mantle.

          Then all night long, gathered about Achilleus of the swift feet,

355  the Myrmidons mourned for Patroklos and lamented over him.

       But Zeus spoke to Hera, who was his wife and his sister:

       “So you have acted, then, lady Hera of the ox eyes.

       You have roused up Achilleus of the swift feet. It must be then

       that the flowing-haired Achaians are born of your own generation.”

360      Then the goddess the ox-eyed lady Hera answered him:

       “Majesty, son of Kronos, what sort of thing have you spoken?

       Even one who is mortal will try to accomplish his purpose

       for another, though he be a man and knows not such wisdom as we do.

       As for me then, who claim I am highest of all the goddesses,

365  both ways, since I am eldest born and am called your consort,

       yours, and you in turn are lord over all the immortals,

       how could I not weave sorrows for the men of Troy, when I hate them?”

          Now as these two were saying things like this to each other,

       Thetis of the silver feet came to the house of Hephaistos,

370  imperishable, starry, and shining among the immortals,

       built in bronze for himself by the god of the dragging footsteps.

       She found him sweating as he turned here and there to his bellows

       busily, since he was working on twenty tripods

       which were to stand against the wall of his strong-founded dwelling.

375  And he had set golden wheels underneath the base of each one

       so that of their own motion they could wheel into the immortal

       gathering, and return to his house: a wonder to look at.

       These were so far finished, but the elaborate ear handles

       were not yet on. He was forging these, and beating the chains out.

380  As he was at work on this in his craftsmanship and his cunning

       meanwhile the goddess Thetis the silver-footed drew near him.

       Charis of the shining veil saw her as she came forward,

       she, the lovely goddess the renowned strong-armed one had married.

          She came, and caught her hand and called her by name and spoke to her:

385  “Why is it, Thetis of the light robes, you have come to our house now?

       We honor you and love you; but you have not come much before this.

       But come in with me, so I may put entertainment before you.

       ” She spoke, and, shining among divinities, led the way forward

       and made Thetis sit down in a chair that was wrought elaborately

390  and splendid with silver nails, and under it was a footstool.

       She called to Hephaistos the renowned smith and spoke a word to him:

       “Hephaistos, come this way; here is Thetis, who has need of you.”

          Hearing her the renowned smith of the strong arms answered her:

       “Then there is a goddess we honor and respect in our house.

395  She saved me when I suffered much at the time of my great fall

       through the will of my own brazen-faced mother, who wanted

       to hide me, for being lame. Then my soul would have taken much suffering

       had not Eurynomē and Thetis caught me and held me,

       Eurynomē, daughter of Ocean, whose stream bends back in a circle.

400  With them I worked nine years as a smith, and wrought many intricate

       things; pins that bend back, curved clasps, cups, necklaces, working

       there in the hollow of the cave, and the stream of Ocean around us

       went on forever with its foam and its murmur. No other

       among the gods or among mortal men knew about us

405  except Eurynomē and Thetis. They knew, since they saved me.

       Now she has come into our house; so I must by all means

       do everything to give recompense to lovely-haired Thetis

       for my life. Therefore set out before her fair entertainment

       while I am putting away my bellows and all my instruments.”

 

410      He spoke, and took the huge blower off from the block of the anvil

       limping; and yet his shrunken legs moved lightly beneath him.

       He set the bellows away from the fire, and gathered and put away

       all the tools with which he worked in a silver strongbox.

       Then with a sponge he wiped clean his forehead, and both hands,

415  and his massive neck and hairy chest, and put on a tunic,

       and took up a heavy stick in his hand, and went to the doorway

       limping. And in support of their master moved his attendants.

       These are golden, and in appearance like living young women.

       There is intelligence in their hearts, and there is speech in them

420  and strength, and from the immortal gods they have learned how to do things.

       These stirred nimbly in support of their master, and moving

       near to where Thetis sat in her shining chair, Hephaistos

       caught her by the hand and called her by name and spoke a word to her:

       “Why is it, Thetis of the light robes, you have come to our house now?

425  We honor you and love you; but you have not come much before this.

       Speak forth what is in your mind. My heart is urgent to do it

       if I can, and if it is a thing that can be accomplished.”

          Then in turn Thetis answered him, letting the tears fall:

       “Hephaistos, is there among all the goddesses on Olympos

430  one who in her heart has endured so many grim sorrows

       as the griefs Zeus, son of Kronos, has given me beyond others?

       Of all the other sisters of the sea he gave me to a mortal,

       to Peleus, Aiakos’ son, and I had to endure mortal marriage

       though much against my will. And now he, broken by mournful

435  old age, lies away in his halls. Yet I have other troubles.

       For since he has given me a son to bear and to raise up

       conspicuous among heroes, and he shot up like a young tree,

       I nurtured him, like a tree grown in the pride of the orchard.

       I sent him away in the curved ships to the land of Ilion

440  to fight with the Trojans; but I shall never again receive him

       won home again to his country and into the house of Peleus.

       Yet while I see him live and he looks on the sunlight, he has

       sorrows, and though I go to him I can do nothing to help him.

       And the girl the sons of the Achaians chose out for his honor

445  powerful Agamemnon took her away again out of his hands.

       For her his heart has been wasting in sorrow; but meanwhile the Trojans

       pinned the Achaians against their grounded ships, and would not

       let them win outside, and the elders of the Argives entreated

       my son, and named the many glorious gifts they would give him.

450  But at that time he refused himself to fight the death from them;

       nevertheless he put his own armor upon Patroklos

       and sent him into the fighting, and gave many men to go with him.

       All day they fought about the Skaian Gates, and on that day

       they would have stormed the city, if only Phoibos Apollo

455  had not killed the fighting son of Menoitios there in the first ranks

       after he had wrought much damage, and given the glory to Hektor.

       Therefore now I come to your knees; so might you be willing

       to give me for my short-lived son a shield and a helmet

       and two beautiful greaves fitted with clasps for the ankles

460  and a corselet. What he had was lost with his steadfast companion

       when the Trojans killed him. Now my son lies on the ground, heart sorrowing.”

          Hearing her the renowned smith of the strong arms answered her:

       “Do not fear. Let not these things be a thought in your mind.

       And I wish that I could hide him away from death and its sorrow

465  at that time when his hard fate comes upon him, as surely

       as there shall be fine armor for him, such as another

       man out of many men shall wonder at, when he looks on it.”

          So he spoke, and left her there, and went to his bellows.

       He turned these toward the fire and gave them their orders for working.

470  And the bellows, all twenty of them, blew on the crucibles,

       from all directions blasting forth wind to blow the flames high

       now as he hurried to be at this place and now at another,

       wherever Hephaistos might wish them to blow, and the work went forward.

       He cast on the fire bronze which is weariless, and tin with it

475  and valuable gold, and silver, and thereafter set forth

       upon its standard the great anvil, and gripped in one hand

       the ponderous hammer, while in the other he grasped the pincers.

          First of all he forged a shield that was huge and heavy,

       elaborating it about, and threw around it a shining

480  triple rim that glittered, and the shield strap was cast of silver.

       There were five folds composing the shield itself, and upon it

       he elaborated many things in his skill and craftsmanship.

          He made the earth upon it, and the sky, and the sea’s water,

       and the tireless sun, and the moon waxing into her fullness,

485  and on it all the constellations that festoon the heavens,

       the Pleiades and the Hyadēs and the strength of Orion

       and the Bear, whom men give also the name of the Wagon,

       who turns about in a fixed place and looks at Orion

       and she alone is never plunged in the wash of the Ocean.

 

490      On it he wrought in all their beauty two cities of mortal

       men. And there were marriages in one, and festivals.

       They were leading the brides along the city from their maiden chambers

       under the flaring of torches, and the loud bride song was arising.

       The young men followed the circles of the dance, and among them

495  the flutes and lyres kept up their clamor as in the meantime

       the women standing each at the door of her court admired them.

       The people were assembled in the market place, where a quarrel

       had arisen, and two men were disputing over the blood price

       for a man who had been killed. One man promised full restitution

500  in a public statement, but the other refused and would accept nothing.

       Both then made for an arbitrator, to have a decision;

       and people were speaking up on either side, to help both men.

       But the heralds kept the people in hand, as meanwhile the elders

       were in session on benches of polished stone in the sacred circle

505  and held in their hands the staves of the heralds who lift their voices.

       The two men rushed before these, and took turns speaking their cases,

       and between them lay on the ground two talents of gold, to be given

       to that judge who in this case spoke the straightest opinion.

          But around the other city were lying two forces of armed men

510  shining in their war gear. For one side counsel was divided

       whether to storm and sack, or share between both sides the property

       and all the possessions the lovely citadel held hard within it.

       But the city’s people were not giving way, and armed for an ambush.

       Their beloved wives and their little children stood on the rampart

515  to hold it, and with them the men with age upon them, but meanwhile

       the others went out. And Ares led them, and Pallas Athene.

       These were gold, both, and golden raiment upon them, and they were

       beautiful and huge in their armor, being divinities,

       and conspicuous from afar, but the people around them were smaller.

520  These, when they were come to the place that was set for their ambush,

       in a river, where there was a watering place for all animals,

       there they sat down in place shrouding themselves in the bright bronze.

       But apart from these were sitting two men to watch for the rest of them

       and waiting until they could see the sheep and the shambling cattle,

525  who appeared presently, and two herdsmen went along with them

       playing happily on pipes, and took no thought of the treachery.

       Those others saw them, and made a rush, and quickly thereafter

       cut off on both sides the herds of cattle and the beautiful

       flocks of shining sheep, and killed the shepherds upon them.

530  But the other army, as soon as they heard the uproar arising

       from the cattle, as they sat in their councils, suddenly mounted

       behind their light-foot horses, and went after, and soon overtook them.

       These stood their ground and fought a battle by the banks of the river,

       and they were making casts at each other with their spears bronze-headed;

535  and Hate was there with Confusion among them, and Death the destructive;

       she was holding a live man with a new wound, and another

       one unhurt, and dragged a dead man by the feet through the carnage.

       The clothing upon her shoulders showed strong red with the men’s blood.

       All closed together like living men and fought with each other

540  and dragged away from each other the corpses of those who had fallen.

          He made upon it a soft field, the pride of the tilled land,

       wide and triple-ploughed, with many ploughmen upon it

       who wheeled their teams at the turn and drove them in either direction.

       And as these making their turn would reach the end-strip of the field,

545  a man would come up to them at this point and hand them a flagon

       of honey-sweet wine, and they would turn again to the furrows

       in their haste to come again to the end-strip of the deep field.

       The earth darkened behind them and looked like earth that has been ploughed

       though it was gold. Such was the wonder of the shield’s forging.

 

550      He made on it the precinct of a king, where the laborers

       were reaping, with the sharp reaping hooks in their hands. Of the cut swathes

       some fell along the lines of reaping, one after another,

       while the sheaf-binders caught up others and tied them with bind-ropes.

       There were three sheaf-binders who stood by, and behind them

555  were children picking up the cut swathes, and filled their arms with them

       and carried and gave them always; and by them the king in silence

       and holding his staff stood near the line of the reapers, happily.

       And apart and under a tree the heralds made a feast ready

       and trimmed a great ox they had slaughtered. Meanwhile the women

560  scattered, for the workmen to eat, abundant white barley.

          He made on it a great vineyard heavy with clusters,

       lovely and in gold, but the grapes upon it were darkened

       and the vines themselves stood out through poles of silver. About them

       he made a field-ditch of dark metal, and drove all around this

565  a fence of tin; and there was only one path to the vineyard,

       and along it ran the grape-bearers for the vineyard’s stripping.

       Young girls and young men, in all their light-hearted innocence,

       carried the kind, sweet fruit away in their woven baskets,

       and in their midst a youth with a singing lyre played charmingly

570  upon it for them, and sang the beautiful song for Linos

       in a light voice, and they followed him, and with singing and whistling

       and light dance-steps of their feet kept time to the music.

          He made upon it a herd of horn-straight oxen. The cattle

       were wrought of gold and of tin, and thronged in speed and with lowing

575  out of the dung of the farmyard to a pasturing place by a sounding

       river, and beside the moving field of a reed bed.

       The herdsmen were of gold who went along with the cattle,

       four of them, and nine dogs shifting their feet followed them.

       But among the foremost of the cattle two formidable lions

580  had caught hold of a bellowing bull, and he with loud lowings

       was dragged away, as the dogs and the young men went in pursuit of him.

       But the two lions, breaking open the hide of the great ox,

       gulped the black blood and the inward guts, as meanwhile the herdsmen

       were in the act of setting and urging the quick dogs on them.

585  But they, before they could get their teeth in, turned back from the lions,

       but would come and take their stand very close, and bayed, and kept clear.

          And the renowned smith of the strong arms made on it a meadow

       large and in a lovely valley for the glimmering sheepflocks,

       with dwelling places upon it, and covered shelters, and sheepfolds.

590      And the renowned smith of the strong arms made elaborate on it

       a dancing floor, like that which once in the wide spaces of Knosos

       Daidalos built for Ariadne of the lovely tresses.

       And there were young men on it and young girls, sought for their beauty

       with gifts of oxen, dancing, and holding hands at the wrist. These

595  wore, the maidens long light robes, but the men wore tunics

       of finespun work and shining softly, touched with olive oil.

       And the girls wore fair garlands on their heads, while the young men

       carried golden knives that hung from sword-belts of silver.

       At whiles on their understanding feet they would run very lightly,

600  as when a potter crouching makes trial of his wheel, holding

       it close in his hands, to see if it will run smooth. At another

       time they would form rows, and run, rows crossing each other.

       And around the lovely chorus of dancers stood a great multitude

       happily watching, while among the dancers two acrobats

605  led the measures of song and dance revolving among them.

          He made on it the great strength of the Ocean River

       which ran around the uttermost rim of the shield’s strong structure.

          Then after he had wrought this shield, which was huge and heavy,

       he wrought for him a corselet brighter than fire in its shining,

610  and wrought him a helmet, massive and fitting close to his temples,

       lovely and intricate work, and laid a gold top-ridge along it,

       and out of pliable tin wrought him leg-armor. Thereafter

       when the renowned smith of the strong arms had finished the armor

       he lifted it and laid it before the mother of Achilleus.

615  And she like a hawk came sweeping down from the snows of Olympos

       and carried with her the shining armor, the gift of Hephaistos.

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

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