The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 27 of 35

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BOOK NINETEEN

 

          Now Dawn the yellow-robed arose from the river of Ocean

       to carry her light to men and to immortals. And Thetis

       came to the ships and carried with her the gifts of Hephaistos.

       She found her beloved son lying in the arms of Patroklos

5     crying shrill, and his companions in their numbers about him

       mourned. She, shining among divinities, stood there beside them.

       She clung to her son’s hand and called him by name and spoke to him:

       “My child, now, though we grieve for him, we must let this man lie

       dead, in the way he first was killed through the gods’ designing.

10   Accept rather from me the glorious arms of Hephaistos,

       so splendid, and such as no man has ever worn on his shoulders.”

          The goddess spoke so, and set down the armor on the ground

       before Achilleus, and all its elaboration clashed loudly.

       Trembling took hold of all the Myrmidons. None had the courage

15   to look straight at it. They were afraid of it. Only Achilleus

       looked, and as he looked the anger came harder upon him

       and his eyes glittered terribly under his lids, like sunflare.

       He was glad, holding in his hands the shining gifts of Hephaistos.

       But when he had satisfied his heart with looking at the intricate

20   armor, he spoke to his mother and addressed her in winged words:

       “My mother, the god has given me these weapons; they are such

       as are the work of immortals. No mortal man could have made them.

       Therefore now I shall arm myself in them. Yet I am sadly

       afraid, during this time, for the warlike son of Menoitios

25   that flies might get into the wounds beaten by bronze in his body

       and breed worms in them, and these make foul the body, seeing

       that the life is killed in him, and that all his flesh may be rotted.”

          In turn the goddess Thetis the silver-footed answered him:

       “My child, no longer let these things be a care in your mind.

30   I shall endeavor to drive from him the swarming and fierce things,

       those flies, which feed upon the bodies of men who have perished;

       and although he lie here till a year has gone to fulfillment,

       still his body shall be as it was, or firmer than ever.

       Go then and summon into assembly the fighting Achaians,

35   and unsay your anger against Agamemnon, shepherd of the people,

       and arm at once for the fighting, and put your war strength upon you.”

          She spoke so, and drove the strength of great courage into him;

       and meanwhile through the nostrils of Patroklos she distilled

       ambrosia and red nectar, so that his flesh might not spoil.

 

40      But he, brilliant Achilleus, walked along by the seashore

       crying his terrible cry, and stirred up the fighting Achaians.

       And even those who before had stayed where the ships were assembled,

       they who were helmsmen of the ships and handled the steering oar,

       they who were stewards among the ships and dispensers of rations,

45   even these came then to assembly, since now Achilleus

       had appeared, after staying so long from the sorrowful battle.

       And there were two who came limping among them, henchmen of Ares

       both, Tydeus’ son the staunch in battle, and brilliant Odysseus,

       leaning on spears, since they had the pain of their wounds yet upon them,

50   and came and took their seats in the front rank of those assembled.

       And last of them came in the lord of men Agamemnon

       with a wound on him, seeing that Koön, the son of Antenor,

       had stabbed him with the bronze edge of the spear in the strong encounter.

       But now, when all the Achaians were in one body together,

55   Achilleus of the swift feet stood up before them and spoke to them:

       “Son of Atreus, was this after all the better way for

       both, for you and me, that we, for all our hearts’ sorrow,

       quarreled together for the sake of a girl in soul-perishing hatred?

       I wish Artemis had killed her beside the ships with an arrow

60   on that day when I destroyed Lyrnessos and took her.

       For thus not all these too many Achaians would have bitten

       the dust, by enemy hands, when I was away in my anger.

       This way was better for the Trojans and Hektor; yet I think

       the Achaians will too long remember this quarrel between us.

65   Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us,

       and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us.

       Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me

       unrelentingly to rage on. Come, then! The more quickly

       drive on the flowing-haired Achaians into the fighting,

70   so that I may go up against the Trojans, and find out

       if they still wish to sleep out beside the ships. I think rather

       they will be glad to rest where they are, whoever among them

       gets away with his life from the fury of our spears’ onset.”

          He spoke, and the strong-greaved Achaians were pleasured to hear him

75   and how the great-hearted son of Peleus unsaid his anger.

       Now among them spoke forth the lord of men Agamemnon

       from the place where he was sitting, and did not stand up among them:

       “Fighting men and friends, O Danaäns, henchmen of Ares:

       it is well to listen to the speaker, it is not becoming

80   to break in on him. This will be hard for him, though he be able.

       How among the great murmur of people shall anyone listen

       or speak either? A man, though he speak very clearly, is baffled.

       I shall address the son of Peleus; yet all you other

       Argives listen also, and give my word careful attention.

85   This is the word the Achaians have spoken often against me

       and found fault with me in it, yet I am not responsible

       but Zeus is, and Destiny, and Erinys the mist-walking

       who in assembly caught my heart in the savage delusion

       on that day I myself stripped from him the prize of Achilleus.

90   Yet what could I do? It is the god who accomplishes all things.

       Delusion is the elder daughter of Zeus, the accursed

       who deludes all; her feet are delicate and they step not

       on the firm earth, but she walks the air above men’s heads

       and leads them astray. She has entangled others before me.

95   Yes, for once Zeus even was deluded, though men say

       he is the highest one of gods and mortals. Yet Hera

       who is female deluded even Zeus in her craftiness

       on that day when in strong wall-circled Thebe Alkmene

       was at her time to bring forth the strength of Herakles. Therefore

100  Zeus spoke forth and made a vow before all the immortals:

       ‘Hear me, all you gods and all you goddesses: hear me

       while I speak forth what the heart within my breast urges.

       This day Eileithyia of women’s child-pains shall bring forth

       a man to the light who, among the men sprung of the generation

105  of my blood, shall be lord over all those dwelling about him.’

       Then in guileful intention the lady Hera said to him:

       ‘You will be a liar, not put fulfillment on what you have spoken.

       Come, then, lord of Olympos, and swear before me a strong oath

       that he shall be lord over all those dwelling about him

110  who this day shall fall between the feet of a woman,

       that man who is born of the blood of your generation.’ So Hera

       spoke. And Zeus was entirely unaware of her falsehood,

       but swore a great oath, and therein lay all his deception.

       But Hera in a flash of speed left the horn of Olympos

115  and rapidly came to Argos of Achaia, where she knew

       was the mighty wife of Sthenelos, descended of Perseus.

       And she was carrying a son, and this was the seventh month for her,

       but she brought him sooner into the light, and made him premature,

       and stayed the childbirth of Alkmene, and held back the birth pangs.

120  She went herself and spoke the message to Zeus, son of Kronos:

       8216;Father Zeus of the shining bolt, I will tell you a message

       for your heart. A great man is born, who will be lord over the Argives,

       Eurystheus, son of Sthenelos, of the seed of Perseus,

       your generation. It is not unfit that he should rule over

125  the Argives.’ She spoke, and the sharp sorrow struck at his deep heart.

       He caught by the shining hair of her head the goddess Delusion

       in the anger of his heart, and swore a strong oath, that never

       after this might Delusion, who deludes all, come back

       to Olympos and the starry sky. So speaking, he whirled her

130  about in his hand and slung her out of the starry heaven,

       and presently she came to men’s establishments. But Zeus

       would forever grieve over her each time that he saw his dear son

       doing some shameful work of the tasks that Eurystheus set him.

       So I in my time, when tall Hektor of the shining helm

135  was forever destroying the Argives against the sterns of their vessels,

       could not forget Delusion, the way I was first deluded.

       But since I was deluded and Zeus took my wits away from me,

       I am willing to make all good and give back gifts in abundance.

       Rise up, then, to the fighting and rouse the rest of the people.

140  Here am I, to give you all those gifts, as many

       as brilliant Odysseus yesterday went to your shelter and promised.

       Or if you will, hold back, though you lean hard into the battle,

       while my followers take the gifts from my ship and bring them

       to you, so you may see what I give to comfort your spirit.”

 

145      Then in answer to him spoke Achilleus of the swift feet:

       “Son of Atreus, most lordly and king of men, Agamemnon,

       the gifts are yours to give if you wish, and as it is proper,

       or to keep with yourself. But now let us remember our joy in warcraft,

       immediately, for it is not fitting to stay here and waste time

150  nor delay, since there is still a big work to be done.

       So can a man see once more Achilleus among the front fighters

       with the bronze spear wrecking the Trojan battalions. Therefore

       let each of you remember this and fight his antagonist.”

          Then in answer to him spoke resourceful Odysseus:

155  “Not that way, good fighter that you are, godlike Achilleus.

       Do not drive the sons of the Achaians on Ilion when they are hungry,

       to fight against the Trojans, since not short will be the time

       of battle, once the massed formations of men have encountered

       together, with the god inspiring fury in both sides.

160  Rather tell the men of Achaia here by their swift ships,

       to take food and wine, since these make fighting fury and warcraft.

       For a man will not have strength to fight his way forward all day

       long until the sun goes down if he is starved for food. Even

       though in his heart he be very passionate for the battle,

165  yet without his knowing it his limbs will go heavy, and hunger

       and thirst will catch up with him and cumber his knees as he moves on.

       But when a man has been well filled with wine and with eating

       and then does battle all day long against the enemy,

       why, then the heart inside him is full of cheer, nor do his limbs

170  get weary, until all are ready to give over the fighting.

       Come then, tell your men to scatter and bid them get ready

       a meal; and as for the gifts, let the lord of men Agamemnon

       bring them to the middle of our assembly so all the Achaians

       can see them before their eyes, so your own heart may be pleasured.

175  And let him stand up before the Argives and swear an oath to you

       that he never entered into her bed and never lay with her

       as is natural for people, my lord, between men and women.

       And by this let the spirit in your own heart be made gracious.

       After that in his own shelter let him appease you

180  with a generous meal, so you will lack nothing of what is due you.

       And you, son of Atreus, after this be more righteous to another

       man. For there is no fault when even one who is a king

       appeases a man, when the king was the first one to be angry.”

          Then in turn the lord of men Agamemnon answered him: “

185  Hearing what you have said, son of Laërtes, I am pleased with you.

       Fairly have you gone through everything and explained it.

       And all this I am willing to swear to, and my heart urges me,

       and I will not be foresworn before the gods. Let Achilleus

       stay here the while, though he lean very hard toward the work of the war god,

190  and remain the rest of you all here assembled, until the gifts come

       back from my shelter and while we cut our oaths of fidelity.

       And for you yourself, Odysseus, I give you this errand, this order,

       that you choose out excellent young men of all the Achaians

       and bring the gifts back here from my ship, all that you promised

195  yesterday to Achilleus, and bring the women back also.

       And in the wide host of the Achaians let Talthybios make ready

       a boar for me, and dedicate it to Zeus and Helios.”

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

       “Son of Atreus, most lordly and king of men, Agamemnon,

200  at some other time rather you should busy yourself about these things,

       when there is some stopping point in the fighting, at some time

       when there is not so much fury inside of my heart. But now

       as things are they lie there torn whom the son of Priam

       Hektor has beaten down, since Zeus was giving him glory,

205  and then you urge a man to eating. No, but I would now

       drive forward the sons of the Achaians into the fighting

       starving and unfed, and afterward when the sun sets

       make ready a great dinner, when we have paid off our defilement.

       But before this, for me at least, neither drink nor food shall

210  go down my very throat, since my companion has perished

       and lies inside my shelter torn about with the cutting

       bronze, and turned against the forecourt while my companions

       mourn about him. Food and drink mean nothing to my heart

       but blood does, and slaughter, and the groaning of men in the hard work.”

215      Then in answer to him spoke resourceful Odysseus:

       “Son of Peleus, Achilleus, far greatest of the Achaians,

       you are stronger than I am and greater by not a little

       with the spear, yet I in turn might overpass you in wisdom

       by far, since I was born before you and have learned more things.

220  Therefore let your heart endure to listen to my words.

       When there is battle men have suddenly their fill of it

       when the bronze scatters on the ground the straw in most numbers

       and the harvest is most thin, when Zeus has poised his balance,

       Zeus, who is administrator to men in their fighting.

225  There is no way the Achaians can mourn a dead man by denying

       the belly. Too many fall day by day, one upon another,

       and how could anyone find breathing space from his labor?

       No, but we must harden our hearts and bury the man who

       dies, when we have wept over him on the day, and all those

230  who are left about from the hateful work of war must remember

       food and drink, so that afterward all the more strongly

       we may fight on forever relentless against our enemies

       with the weariless bronze put on about our bodies. Let one not

       wait longing for any other summons to stir on the people.

235  This summons now shall be an evil on anyone left behind

       by the ships of the Argives. Therefore let us drive on together

       and wake the bitter war god on the Trojans, breakers of horses.”

          He spoke, and went away with the sons of glorious Nestor,

       with Meges, the son of Phyleus, and Meriones, and Thoas,

240  and Lykomedes, the son of Kreion, and Melanippos. These went

       on their way to the shelter of Atreus’ son Agamemnon.

       No sooner was the order given than the thing had been done.

       They brought back seven tripods from the shelter, those Agamemnon

       had promised, and twenty shining cauldrons, twelve horses. They brought back

245  immediately the seven women the work of whose hands was

       blameless, and the eighth of them was Briseis of the fair cheeks.

       Odysseus weighed out ten full talents of gold and led them

       back, and the young men of the Achaians carried the other gifts.

       They brought these into the midst of assembly, and Agamemnon

250  stood up, and Talthybios in voice like an immortal

       stood beside the shepherd of the people with the boar in his hands.

       Atreus’ son laid hands upon his work-knife, and drew it

       from where it hung ever beside the great sheath of his war sword,

       and cut first hairs away from the boar, and lifting his hands up

255  to Zeus, prayed, while all the Argives stayed fast at their places

       in silence and in order of station, and listened to their king.

       He spoke before them in prayer gazing into the wide sky:

       “Let Zeus first be my witness, highest of the gods and greatest,

       and Earth, and Helios the Sun, and Furies, who underground

260  avenge dead men, when any man has sworn to a falsehood,

       that I have never laid a hand on the girl Briseis

       on pretext to go to bed with her, or for any other

       reason, but she remained, not singled out, in my shelter.

       If any of this is falsely sworn, may the gods give me many

265  griefs, all that they inflict on those who swear falsely before them.”

          So he spoke, and with pitiless bronze he cut the boar’s throat.

       Talthybios whirled the body about, and threw it in the great reach

       of the gray sea, to feed the fishes. Meanwhile Achilleus

       stood up among the battle-fond Achaians, and spoke to them:

270  “Father Zeus, great are the delusions with which you visit men.

       Without you, the son of Atreus could never have stirred so

       the heart inside my breast, nor taken the girl away from me

       against my will, and be in helplessness. No, but Zeus somehowwished that death should befall great numbers of the Achaians.

275  Go now and take your dinner, so we may draw on the battle.”

 

          So he spoke, and suddenly broke up the assembly.

       Now these scattered away each man to his own ship. Meanwhile

       the great-hearted Myrmidons disposed of the presents.

       They went on their way carrying them to the ship of godlike Achilleus,

280  and stowed the gifts in the shelters, and let the women be settled,

       while proud henchmen drove the horses into Achilleus’ horse-herd.

          And now, in the likeness of golden Aphrodite, Briseis

       when she saw Patroklos lying torn with sharp bronze, folding

       him in her arms cried shrilly above him and with her hands tore

285  at her breasts and her soft throat and her beautiful forehead.

       The woman like the immortals mourning for him spoke to him:

       “Patroklos, far most pleasing to my heart in its sorrows,

       I left you here alive when I went away from the shelter,

       but now I come back, lord of the people, to find you have fallen.

290  So evil in my life takes over from evil forever.

       The husband on whom my father and honored mother bestowed me

       I saw before my city lying torn with the sharp bronze,

       and my three brothers, whom a single mother bore with me

       and who were close to me, all went on one day to destruction.

295  And yet you would not let me, when swift Achilleus had cut down

       my husband, and sacked the city of godlike Mynes, you would not

       let me sorrow, but said you would make me godlike Achilleus’

       wedded lawful wife, that you would take me back in the ships

       to Phthia, and formalize my marriage among the Myrmidons.

300  Therefore I weep your death without ceasing. You were kind always.”

          So she spoke, lamenting, and the women sorrowed around her

       grieving openly for Patroklos, but for her own sorrows

       each. But the lords of Achaia were gathered about Achilleus

       beseeching him to eat, but he with a groan denied them:

305  “I beg of you, if any dear companion will listen

       to me, stop urging me to satisfy the heart in me

       with food and drink, since this strong sorrow has come upon me.

       I will hold out till the sun goes down and endure, though it be hard.”

          So he spoke, and caused the rest of the kings to scatter;

310  but the two sons of Atreus stayed with him, and brilliant Odysseus,

       and Nestor, and Idomeneus, and the aged charioteer, Phoinix,

       comforting him close in his sorrow, yet his heart would not

       be comforted, till he went into the jaws of the bleeding battle.

       Remembering Patroklos he sighed much for him, and spoke aloud:

315  “There was a time, ill fated, O dearest of all my companions,

       when you yourself would set the desirable dinner before me

       quickly and expertly, at the time the Achaians were urgent

       to carry sorrowful war on the Trojans, breakers of horses.

       But now you lie here torn before me, and my heart goes starved

320  for meat and drink, though they are here beside me, by reason

       of longing for you. There is nothing worse than this I could suffer,

       not even if I were to hear of the death of my father

       who now, I think, in Phthia somewhere lets fall a soft tear

       for bereavement of such a son, for me, who now in a strange land

325  make war upon the Trojans for the sake of accursed Helen;

       or the death of my dear son, who is raised for my sake in Skyros

       now, if godlike Neoptolemos is still one of the living.

       Before now the spirit inside my breast was hopeful

       that I alone should die far away from horse-pasturing Argos

330  here in Troy; I hoped you would win back again to Phthia

       so that in a fast black ship you could take my son back

       from Skyros to Phthia, and show him all my possessions,

       my property, my serving men, my great high-roofed house.

       For by this time I think that Peleus must altogether

335  have perished, or still keeps a little scant life in sorrow

       for the hatefulness of old age and because he waits ever from me

       the evil message, for the day he hears I have been killed.”

          So he spoke, mourning, and the elders lamented around him

       remembering each those he had left behind in his own halls.

340  The son of Kronos took pity on them as he watched them mourning

       and immediately spoke in winged words to Athene:

       “My child, have you utterly abandoned the man of your choice?

       Is there no longer deep concern in your heart for Achilleus?

       Now he has sat down before the steep horned ships and is mourning

345  for his own beloved companion, while all the others

       have gone to take their dinner, but he is fasting and unfed.

       Go then to him and distil nectar inside his chest, and delicate

       ambrosia, so the weakness of hunger will not come upon him.”

          Speaking so, he stirred Athene, who was eager before this,

350  and she in the likeness of a wide-winged, thin-crying

       hawk plummeted from the sky through the bright air. Now the Achaians

       were arming at once along the encampment. She dropped the delicate

       ambrosia and the nectar inside the breast of Achilleus

       softly, so no sad weakness of hunger would come on his knees,

355  and she herself went back to the close house of her powerful

       father, while they were scattering out away from the fast ships.

       As when in their thickness the snowflakes of Zeus come fluttering

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

       so now in their thickness the pride of the helms bright shining

360  were carried out from the ships, and shields massive in the middle

       and the corselets strongly hollowed and the ash spears were worn forth.

       The shining swept to the sky and all earth was laughing about them

       under the glitter of bronze and beneath their feet stirred the thunder

       of men, within whose midst brilliant Achilleus helmed him.

365  A clash went from the grinding of his teeth, and his eyes glowed

       as if they were the stare of a fire, and the heart inside him

       was entered with sorrow beyond endurance. Raging at the Trojans

       he put on the gifts of the god, that Hephaistos wrought him with much toil.

          First he placed along his legs the fair greaves linked with

370  silver fastenings to hold the greaves at the ankles.

       Afterward he girt on about his chest the corselet,

       and across his shoulders slung the sword with the nails of silver,

       a bronze sword, and caught up the great shield, huge and heavy

       next, and from it the light glimmered far, as from the moon.

375  And as when from across water a light shines to mariners

       from a blazing fire, when the fire is burning high in the mountains

       in a desolate steading, as the mariners are carried unwilling

       by storm winds over the fish-swarming sea, far away from their loved ones;

       so the light from the fair elaborate shield of Achilleus

380  shot into the high air. And lifting the helm he set it

       massive upon his head, and the helmet crested with horse-hair

       shone like a star, the golden fringes were shaken about it

       which Hephaistos had driven close along the horn of the helmet.

       And brilliant Achilleus tried himself in his armor, to see

385  if it fitted close, and how his glorious limbs ran within it,

       and the armor became as wings and upheld the shepherd of the people.

       Next he pulled out from its standing place the spear of his father,

       huge, heavy, thick, which no one else of all the Achaians

       could handle, but Achilleus alone knew how to wield it,

390  the Pelian ash spear which Cheiron had brought to his father

       from high on Pelion, to be death for fighters in battle.

       Automedon and Alkimos, in charge of the horses,

       yoked them, and put the fair breast straps about them, and forced the bits home

       between their jaws, and pulled the reins back against the compacted

395  chariot seat, and one, Automedon, took up the shining

       whip caught close in his hand and vaulted up to the chariot,

       while behind him Achilleus helmed for battle took his stance

       shining in all his armor like the sun when he crosses above us,

       and cried in a terrible voice on the horses of his father: “

400  Xanthos, Balios, Bay and Dapple, famed sons of Podarge,

       take care to bring in another way your charioteer back

       to the company of the Danaäns, when we give over fighting,

       not leave him to lie fallen there, as you did to Patroklos.”

          Then from beneath the yoke the gleam-footed horse answered him,

405  Xanthos, and as he spoke bowed his head, so that all the mane

       fell away from the pad and swept the ground by the cross-yoke;

       the goddess of the white arms, Hera, had put a voice in him:

       “We shall still keep you safe for this time, O hard Achilleus.

       And yet the day of your death is near, but it is not we

410  who are to blame, but a great god and powerful Destiny.

       For it was not because we were slow, because we were careless,

       that the Trojans have taken the armor from the shoulders of Patroklos,

       but it was that high god, the child of lovely-haired Leto,

       who killed him among the champions and gave the glory to Hektor.

415  But for us, we two could run with the blast of the west wind

       who they say is the lightest of all things; yet still for you

       there is destiny to be killed in force by a god and a mortal.”

          When he had spoken so the Furies stopped the voice in him,

       but deeply disturbed, Achilleus of the swift feet answered him: “

420  Xanthos, why do you prophesy my death? This is not for you.

       I myself know well it is destined for me to die here

       far from my beloved father and mother. But for all that

       I will not stop till the Trojans have had enough of my fighting.”

       He spoke, and shouting held on in the foremost his single-foot horses.

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Comments

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

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