The Iliad of Homer | Chapter 31 of 35

Author: Homer | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 365705 Views | Add a Review

Please hit next button if you encounter an empty page

BOOK TWENTY-THREE

 

          So they were mourning through the city. Meanwhile, the Achaians,

       after they had made their way back to their ships and the Hellespont,

       scattered, the rest of them, each man to his own ship. Except

       Achilleus would not allow the Myrmidons to be scattered,

5     but called out to his companions whose delight was in battle:

       “Myrmidons, you of the fast horses, my steadfast companions,

       we must not yet slip free of the chariots our single-foot horses,

       but with these very horses and chariots we must drive close up

       to Patroklos and mourn him, since such is the privilege of the perished.

10   Then, when we have taken full satisfaction from the sorrowful

       dirge, we shall set our horses free, and all of us eat here.”

          He spoke, and all of them assembled moaned, and Achilleus led them.

       Three times, mourning, they drove their horses with flowing manes about

       the body, and among them Thetis stirred the passion for weeping.

15   The sands were wet, and the armor of men was wet with their tears. Such

       was their longing after Patroklos, who drove men to thoughts of terror.

       Peleus’ son led the thronging chant of their lamentation,

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

       “Good-bye, Patroklos. I hail you even in the house of the death god.

20   All that I promised you in time past I am accomplishing,

       that I would drag Hektor here and give him to the dogs to feed on

       raw, and before your burning pyre to behead twelve glorious

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

          He spoke, and thought of shameful treatment for glorious Hektor.

25   He laid him on his face in the dust by the bier of Menoitios’

       son. Meanwhile the others took off each man his glittering

       brazen armor, and all unyoked their proud neighing horses

       and sat down in their thousands beside the ship of swift-footed

       Aiakides, who set the funeral feast in abundance

30   before them; and many shining oxen were slaughtered with the stroke

       of the iron, and many sheep and bleating goats and numerous

       swine with shining teeth and the fat abundant upon them

       were singed and stretched out across the flame of Hephaistos.

       The blood ran and was caught in cups all around the dead man.

 

35      But now the kings of the Achaians brought the swift-footed

       lord, the son of Peleus, to great Agamemnon, hardly

       persuading him, since his heart was still angered for his companion.

       When these had made their way to the shelter of Agamemnon

       straightway they gave orders to the heralds, the clear crying,

40   to set a great cauldron over the fire, if so they might persuade

       the son of Peleus to wash away the filth of the bloodstains,

       but he denied them stubbornly and swore an oath on it:

       “No, before Zeus, who is greatest of gods and the highest,

       there is no right in letting water come near my head, until

45   I have laid Patroklos on the burning pyre, and heaped the mound over him,

       and cut my hair for him, since there will come no second sorrow

       like this to my heart again while I am still one of the living.

       Then let us now give way to the gloomy feast; and with the dawn

       cause your people to rise, O lord of men Agamemnon,

50   and bring in timber and lay it by, with all that is fitting

       for the dead man to have when he goes down under the gloom and the darkness,

       so that with the more speed the unwearying fire may burn him

       away from our eyes, and the people turn back to that which they must do.”

          So he spoke, and they listened well to him and obeyed him,

55   and in speed and haste they got the dinner ready, and each man

       feasted, nor was any man’s hunger denied a fair portion.

       But when they had put aside their desire for eating and drinking,

       they went away to sleep, each man into his own shelter,

       but along the beach of the thunderous sea the son of Peleus

60   lay down, groaning heavily, among the Myrmidon numbers

       in a clear place where the waves washed over the beach; and at that time

       sleep caught him and was drifted sweetly about him, washing

       the sorrows out of his mind, for his shining limbs were grown weary

       indeed, from running in chase of Hektor toward windy Ilion;

65   and there appeared to him the ghost of unhappy Patroklos

       all in his likeness for stature, and the lovely eyes, and voice,

       and wore such clothing as Patroklos had worn on his body.

       The ghost came and stood over his head and spoke a word to him:

       “You sleep, Achilleus; you have forgotten me; but you were not

70   careless of me when I lived, but only in death. Bury me

       as quickly as may be, let me pass through the gates of Hades.

       The souls, the images of dead men, hold me at a distance,

       and will not let me cross the river and mingle among them,

       but I wander as I am by Hades’ house of the wide gates.

75   And I call upon you in sorrow, give me your hand; no longer

       shall I come back from death, once you give me my rite of burning.

       No longer shall you and I, alive, sit apart from our other

       beloved companions and make our plans, since the bitter destiny

       that was given me when I was born has opened its jaws to take me.

80   And you, Achilleus like the gods, have your own destiny;

       to be killed under the wall of the prospering Trojans. There is one

       more thing I will say, and ask of you, if you will obey me:

       do not have my bones laid apart from yours, Achilleus,

       but with them, just as we grew up together in your house,

85   when Menoitios brought me there from Opous, when I was little,

       and into your house, by reason of a baneful manslaying,

       on that day when I killed the son of Amphidamas. I was

       a child only, nor intended it, but was angered over a dice game.

       There the rider Peleus took me into his own house,

90   and brought me carefully up, and named me to be your henchman.

       Therefore, let one single vessel, the golden two-handled

       urn the lady your mother gave you, hold both our ashes.”

          Then in answer to him spoke swift-footed Achilleus:

       “How is it, O hallowed head of my brother, you have come back to me

95   here, and tell me all these several things? Yet surely

       I am accomplishing all, and I shall do as you tell me.

       But stand closer to me, and let us, if only for a little,

       embrace, and take full satisfaction from the dirge of sorrow.”

          So he spoke, and with his own arms reached for him, but could not

100  take him, but the spirit went underground, like vapor,

       with a thin cry, and Achilleus started awake, staring,

       and drove his hands together, and spoke, and his words were sorrowful:

       “Oh, wonder! Even in the house of Hades there is left something,

       a soul and an image, but there is no real heart of life in it.

105  For all night long the phantom of unhappy Patroklos

       stood over me in lamentation and mourning, and the likeness

       to him was wonderful, and it told me each thing I should do.”

          So he spoke, and stirred in all of them the passion of mourning,

       and Dawn of the rose fingers showed on them as still they mourned

110  about the forlorn body. Now powerful Agamemnon

       gave order for men and mules to assemble from all the shelters

       and bring in timber, and a great man led them in motion,

       Meriones, the henchman of courtly Idomeneus. These then

       went out and in their hands carried axes to cut wood

115  and ropes firmly woven, and their mules went on ahead of them.

       They went many ways, uphill, downhill, sidehill and slantwise;

       but when they came to the spurs of Ida with all her well springs,

       they set to hewing with the thin edge of bronze and leaning

       their weight to the strokes on towering-leafed oak trees that toppled

120  with huge crashing; then the Achaians splitting the timbers

       fastened them to the mules and these with their feet tore up

       the ground as they pulled through the dense undergrowth to the flat land.

       All the woodcutters carried logs themselves; such was the order

       of Meriones, the henchman of courtly Idomeneus. These then

125  threw down their burdens in order along the beach, where Achilleus

       had chosen place for a huge grave mound, for himself and Patroklos.

          Then when on all sides they had thrown down abundance of timber,

       they sat down where they were, assembled. And now Achilleus

       gave order at once to the Myrmidons, whose delight was in battle,

130  to belt themselves in bronze and each man to yoke his horses

       to the chariot. And they rose up and got into their armor

       and stepped up, charioteer and sideman, into the chariots

       with the horsemen in front, and behind them came on a cloud of foot-soldiers

       by thousands; and in the midst his companions carried Patroklos.

135  They covered all the corpse under the locks of their hair, which they cut off

       and dropped on him, and behind them brilliant Achilleus held the head

       sorrowing, for this was his true friend he escorted toward Hades.

          When these had come to the place Achilleus had spoken of to them

       they laid him down, and quickly piled up abundant timber.

140  And now brilliant swift-footed Achilleus remembered one more thing.

       He stood apart from the pyre and cut off a lock of fair hair

       which he had grown long to give to the river Spercheios, and gazing

       in deep distress out over the wine-blue water, he spoke forth:

       “Spercheios, it was in vain that Peleus my father vowed to you

145  that there, when I had won home to the beloved land of my fathers,

       I would cut my hair for you and make you a grand and holy

       sacrifice of fifty rams consecrate to the waters

       of your springs, where is your holy ground and your smoking altar.

       So the old man vowed, but you did not accomplish his purpose.

150  Now, since I do not return to the beloved land of my fathers,

       I would give my hair into the keeping of the hero Patroklos.”

          He spoke, and laid his hair in the hands of his beloved

       companion, and stirred in all of them the passion of mourning.

       And now the light of the sun would have set on their lamentation

155  had not Achilleus soon stood by Agamemnon and spoken:

       “Son of Atreus, beyond others the people of the Achaians

       will obey your words. There can be enough, even in mourning.

       Now cause them to scatter from the fire and bid them make ready

       their dinner; and we, who are most nearly concerned with the dead man,

160  shall do this work; except only let the leaders stay near us.”

          Then the lord of men, Agamemnon, when he had heard this,

       at once caused the people to disperse among the balanced ships,

       but the close mourners stayed by the place and piled up the timber,

       and built a pyre a hundred feet long this way and that way,

165  and on the peak of the pyre they laid the body, sorrowful

       at heart; and in front of it skinned and set in order numbers

       of fat sheep and shambling horn-curved cattle; and from all

       great-hearted Achilleus took the fat and wrapped the corpse in it

       from head to foot, and piled up the skinned bodies about it.

170  Then he set beside him two-handled jars of oil and honey

       leaning them against the bier, and drove four horses with strong necks

       swiftly aloft the pyre with loud lamentation. And there were

       nine dogs of the table that had belonged to the lord Patroklos.

       Of these he cut the throats of two, and set them on the pyre;

175  and so also killed twelve noble sons of the great-hearted Trojans

       with the stroke of bronze, and evil were the thoughts in his heart against them,

       and let loose the iron fury of the fire to feed on them.

       Then he groaned, and called by name on his beloved companion:

       “Good-bye, Patroklos. I hail you even in the house of the death god

180  for all that I promised you in time past I am accomplishing.

       Here are twelve noble sons of the great-hearted Trojans

       whom the fire feeds on, all, as it feeds on you. But I will not

       give Hektor, Priam’s son, to the fire, but the dogs, to feast on.”

          So he spoke his threat. But the dogs did not deal with Hektor,

185  for Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, drove the dogs back from him

       by day and night, and anointed him with rosy immortal

       oil, so Achilleus, when he dragged him about, might not tear him.

       And Phoibos Apollo brought down a darkening mist about him

       from the sky to the plain, and covered with it all the space that was taken

190  by the dead man, to keep the force of the sun from coming

       first, and wither his body away by limbs and sinews.

          But the pyre of dead Patroklos would not light. Then swift-footed

       brilliant Achilleus thought of one more thing that he must do.

       He stood apart from the pyre and made his prayer to the two winds

195  Boreas and Zephyros, north wind and west, and promised them splendid

       offerings, and much outpouring from a golden goblet entreated them

       to come, so that the bodies might with best speed burn in the fire

       and the timber burst into flame. And Iris, hearing his prayer,

       went swiftly as messenger to the winds for him. Now the winds

200  assembled within the house of storm-blowing Zephyros

       were taking part in a feast, and Iris paused in her running

       and stood on the stone doorsill; but they, when their eyes saw her,

       sprang to their feet, and each one asked her to sit beside him.

       But she refused to be seated and spoke her word to them: “I must not

205  sit down. I am going back to the running waters of Ocean

       and the Aithiopians’ land, where they are making grand sacrifice

       to the immortals; there I, too, shall partake of the sacraments.

       But Achilleus’ prayer is that Boreas and blustering Zephyros

       may come to him, and he promises them splendid offerings,

210  so that you may set ablaze the funeral pyre, whereon lies

       Patroklos, with all Achaians mourning about him.”

          She spoke so, and went away, and they with immortal

       clamor rose up, and swept the clouds in confusion before them.

       They came with a sudden blast upon the sea, and the waves rose

215  under the whistling wind. They came to the generous Troad

       and hit the pyre, and a huge inhuman blaze rose, roaring.

       Nightlong they piled the flames on the funeral pyre together

       and blew with a screaming blast, and nightlong swift-footed Achilleus

       from a golden mixing bowl, with a two-handled goblet in his hand,

220  drew the wine and poured it on the ground and drenched the ground with it,

       and called upon the soul of unhappy Patroklos. And as

       a father mourns as he burns the bones of a son, who was married

       only now, and died to grieve his unhappy parents,

       so Achilleus was mourning as he burned his companion’s

225  bones, and dragged himself by the fire in close lamentation.

          At that time when the dawn star passes across earth, harbinger

       of light, and after him dawn of the saffron mantle is scattered

       across the sea, the fire died down and the flames were over.

       The winds took their way back toward home again, crossing

230  the Thracian water, and it boiled with a moaning swell as they crossed it.

       The son of Peleus turned aside and away from the burning

       and lay down exhausted, and sweet sleep rose upon him. But now

       they who were with the son of Atreus assembled together

       and the sound and murmur of their oncoming wakened Achilleus,

235  who straightened himself and sat upright and spoke a word to him:

       “Son of Atreus, and you other greatest of all the Achaians,

       first put out with gleaming wine the pyre that is burning,

       all that still has on it the fury of fire; and afterward

       we shall gather up the bones of Patroklos, the son of Menoitios,

240  which we shall easily tell apart, since they are conspicuous

       where he lay in the middle of the pyre and the others far from him

       at the edge burned, the men indiscriminately with the horses.

       And let us lay his bones in a golden jar and a double

       fold of fat, until I myself enfold him in Hades.

245  And I would have you build a grave mound which is not very great

       but such as will be fitting, for now; afterward, the Achaians

       can make it broad and high—such of you Achaians as may be

       left to survive me here by the benched ships, after I am gone.”

          So he spoke, and they did as swift-footed Peleion told them.

250  First with gleaming wine they put out the pyre that was burning,

       as much as was still aflame, and the ashes dropped deep from it.

       Then they gathered up the white bones of their gentle companion,

       weeping, and put them into a golden jar with a double

       fold of fat, and laid it away in his shelter, and covered it

255  with a thin veil; then laid out the tomb and cast down the holding walls

       around the funeral pyre, then heaped the loose earth over them

       and piled the tomb, and turned to go away. But Achilleus

       held the people there, and made them sit down in a wide assembly,

       and brought prizes for games out of his ships, cauldrons and tripods,

260  and horses and mules and the powerful high heads of cattle

       and fair-girdled women and gray iron. First of all

       he set forth the glorious prizes for speed of foot for the horsemen:

       a woman faultless in the work of her hands to lead away

       and a tripod with ears and holding twenty-two measures

265  for the first prize; and for the second he set forth a six-year-old

       unbroken mare who carried a mule foal within her.

       Then for the third prize he set forth a splendid unfired

       cauldron, which held four measures, with its natural gloss still upon it.

       For the fourth place he set out two talents’ weight of gold, and for

270  the fifth place set forth an unfired jar with two handles.

       He stood upright and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Son of Atreus and all you other strong-greaved Achaians,

       these prizes are in the place of games and wait for the horsemen.

       Now if we Achaians were contending for the sake of some other

275  hero, I myself should take the first prize away to my shelter.

       You know how much my horses surpass in their speed all others;

       yes, for they are immortal horses, and Poseidon gave them

       to Peleus my father, who in turn gave them into my hands.

       But I stay here at the side, and my single-foot horses stay with me;

280  such is the high glory of the charioteer they have lost,

       the gentle one, who so many times anointed their manes with

       soft olive oil, after he had washed them in shining water.

       Therefore these two horses stand here and grieve, and their manes

       are swept along the ground as they stand with hearts full of sorrow.

285  But take, the rest of you, places in the field, whichever Achaian

       has confidence in his horses and his compacted chariot.”

          So spoke the son of Peleus, and the swift riders gathered.

       Far the first to rise up was the lord of men Eumelos,

       own son of Admetos, who surpassed in horsemanship. After

290  him rose up the son of Tydeus, strong Diomedes,

       and led under the yoke the Trojan horses whom he had taken

       by force from Aineias, but Aineias himself was saved by Apollo.

       After him rose the son of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaos

       the sky-descended, and led beneath the yoke the swift horses,

295  Aithe, Agamemnon’s mare, and his own Podargos.

       Echepolos, son of Anchises, gave her to Agamemnon

       as a gift, so as not to have to go with him to windy Ilion

       but stay where he was and enjoy himself, since Zeus had given him

       great wealth, and he made his home in the wide spaces of Sikyon.

300   This mare, who was straining hard for the race, Menelaos harnessed.

       Fourth to order his horses with flowing manes was Antilochos,

       the glorious son of Nestor, Neleus’ son, the high-hearted

       lord, and fast-running horses out of the breed of Pylos

       pulled his chariot, and his father standing close beside him

305  gave well-intentioned advice to his own good understanding:

       “Antilochos, you are young indeed, but Zeus and Poseidon

       have loved you and taught you horsemanship in all of its aspects.

       Therefore there is no great need to instruct you; you yourself

       know well how to double the turning-post. Yet in this race your horse

310  should run slowest. Therefore I think your work will be heavy.

       The horses of these men are faster, but they themselves do not

       understand anymore than you of the science of racing.

       Remember then, dear son, to have your mind full of every

       resource of skill, so that the prizes may not elude you.

315  The woodcutter is far better for skill than he is for brute strength.

       It is by skill that the sea captain holds his rapid ship

       on its course, though torn by winds, over the wine-blue water.

       By skill charioteer outpasses charioteer. He

       who has put all his confidence in his horses and chariot

320  and recklessly makes a turn that is loose one way or another

       finds his horses drifting out of the course and does not control them.

       But the man, though he drive the slower horses, who takes his advantage,

       keeps his eye always on the post and turns tight, ever watchful,

       pulled with the ox-hide reins on the course, as in the beginning,

325  and holds his horses steady in hand, and watches the leader.

       I will give you a clear mark and you cannot fail to notice it.

       There is a dry stump standing up from the ground about six feet,

       oak, it may be, or pine, and not rotted away by rain-water,

       and two white stones are leaned against it, one on either side,

330  at the joining place of the ways, and there is smooth driving around it.

       Either it is the grave-mark of someone who died long ago,

       or was set as a racing goal by men who lived before our time.

       Now swift-footed brilliant Achilleus has made it the turning-post.

       You must drive your chariot and horses so as to hug this,

335  and yourself, in the strong-fabricated chariot, lean over

       a little to the left of the course, and as for your right horse, whip him

       and urge him along, slackening your hands to give him his full rein,

       but make your left-hand horse keep hard against the turning-post

       so that the hub’s edge of your fashioned wheel will seem to be

340  touching it, yet take care not really to brush against it,

       for, if so, you might damage your horses and break your chariot,

       and that will be a thing of joy for the others, and a failure

       for you. So, dear son, drive thoughtfully and be watchful.

       For if you follow the others but get first by the turning-post,

345  there is none who could sprint to make it up, nor close you, nor pass you,

       not if the man behind you were driving the great Arion,

       the swift horse of Adrestos, whose birth is from the immortals,

       or Laomedon’s horses, who were the pride of those raised in this country.”

          So spoke Nestor the son of Neleus, and turned back to his place

350  and sat down, having talked to his son of each stage in the contest.

       Fifth to order his horses with flowing manes was Meriones.

       They climbed to the chariots and deposited the lots. Achilleus

       shook them, and the first to fall out was that of Antilochos,

       Nestor’s son, and strong Eumelos drew next after him,

355  and after him the son of Atreus, Menelaos the spear-famed.

       Meriones drew the next lane to drive, and the last for the driving

       of horses was drawn by far the best of them all, Diomedes.

       They stood in line for the start, and Achilleus showed them the turn-post

       far away on the level plain, and beside it he stationed

360  a judge, Phoinix the godlike, the follower of his father,

       to mark and remember the running and bring back a true story.

          Then all held their whips high-lifted above their horses,

       then struck with the whip thongs and in words urged their horses onward

       into speed. Rapidly they made their way over the flat land

365  and presently were far away from the ships. The dust lifting

       clung beneath the horses’ chests like cloud or a stormwhirl.

       Their manes streamed along the blast of the wind, the chariots

       rocking now would dip to the earth who fosters so many

       and now again would spring up clear of the ground, and the drivers

370  stood in the chariots, with the spirit beating in each man

       with the strain to win, and each was calling aloud upon his own

       horses, and the horses flew through the dust of the flat land.

       But as the rapid horses were running the last of the race-course

       back, and toward the gray sea, then the mettle of each began to

375  show itself, and the field of horses strung out, and before long

       out in front was the swift-stepping team of the son of Pheres,

       Eumelos, and after him the stallions of Diomedes,

       the Trojan horses, not far behind at all, but close on him,

       for they seemed forever on the point of climbing his chariot

380  and the wind of them was hot on the back and on the broad shoulders

       of Eumelos. They lowered their heads and flew close after him.

       And now he might have passed him or run to a doubtful decision,

       had not Phoibos Apollo been angry with Diomedes,

       Tydeus’ son, and dashed the shining whip from his hands, so

385  that the tears began to stream from his eyes, for his anger

       as he watched how the mares of Eumelos drew far ahead of him

       while his own horses ran without the whip and were slowed. Yet

       Athene did not fail to see the foul play of Apollo

       on Tydeus’ son. She swept in speed to the shepherd of the people

390  and gave him back his whip, and inspired strength into his horses.

       Then in her wrath she went on after the son of Admetos

       and she, a goddess, smashed his chariot yoke, and his horses

       ran on either side of the way, the pole dragged, and Eumelos

       himself was sent spinning out beside the wheel of the chariot

395  so that his elbows were all torn, and his mouth, and his nostrils,

       and his forehead was lacerated about the brows, and his eyes

       filled with tears, and the springing voice was held fast within him.

       Then the son of Tydeus, turning his single-foot horses to pass him,

       went far out in front of the others, seeing that Athene

400  had inspired strength in his horses and to himself gave the glory.

       After him came the son of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaos.

       But Antilochos cried out aloud to his father’s horses:

       “Come on, you two. Pull, as fast as you can! I am not

       trying to make you match your speed with the speed of those others,

405  the horses of Tydeus’ valiant son, to whom now Athene

       has granted speed and to their rider has given the glory.

       But make your burst to catch the horses of the son of Atreus

       nor let them leave you behind, for fear Aithe who is female

       may shower you in mockery. Are you falling back, my brave horses?

410  For I will tell you this, and it will be a thing accomplished.

       There will be no more care for you from the shepherd of the people,

       Nestor, but he will slaughter you out of hand with the edge

       of bronze, if we win the meaner prize because you are unwilling.

       Keep on close after him and make all the speed you are able.

415  I myself shall know what to do and contrive it, so that

       we get by in the narrow place of the way. He will not escape me.”

          So he spoke, and they fearing the angry voice of their master

       ran harder for a little while, and presently after this

       battle-stubborn Antilochos saw where the hollow way narrowed.

420  There was a break in the ground where winter water had gathered

       and broken out of the road, and made a sunken place all about.

       Menelaos shrinking from a collision of chariots steered there,

       but Antilochos also turned out his single-foot horses

       from the road, and bore a little way aside, and went after him;

425  and the son of Atreus was frightened and called out aloud to Antilochos:

       “Antilochos, this is reckless horsemanship. Hold in your horses.

       The way is narrow here, it will soon be wider for passing.

       Be careful not to crash your chariot and wreck both of us.”

          So he spoke, but Antilochos drove on all the harder

430  with a whiplash for greater speed, as if he had never heard him.

       As far as is the range of a discus swung from the shoulder

       and thrown by a stripling who tries out the strength of his young manhood,

       so far they ran even, but then the mares of Atreides gave way

       and fell back, for he of his own will slackened his driving

435  for fear that in the road the single-foot horses might crash

       and overturn the strong-fabricated chariots, and the men

       themselves go down in the dust through their hard striving for victory.

       But Menelaos of the fair hair called to him in anger:

       “Antilochos, there is no other man more cursed than you are.

440  Damn you. We Achaians lied when we said you had good sense.

       Even so, you will not get this prize without having to take oath.

       ” He spoke, and lifted his voice and called aloud to his horses:

       “Never hold back now, never stop, for all your hearts are

       sorrowful. The feet of these and their knees will weary

445  before yours do, seeing that the youth is gone from those horses.”

          So he spoke, and they fearing the angry voice of their master

       ran the harder, and soon were close up behind the others.

          Now the Argives who sat in their assembly were watching

       the horses, and the horses flew through the dust of the flat land.

450  Idomeneus, lord of the Kretans, was first to make out the horses,

       for he sat apart from the others assembled, and higher up, where

       he could see all ways, and from far off he heard Diomedes

       calling, and knew him, and made out one horse ahead of the others

       who was conspicuous, all red, except on his forehead

455  there was a white mark, round, like the full moon. Idomeneus

       rose to his feet upright and spoke his word out to the Argives:

       “Friends, who are leaders of the Argives and keep their counsel:

       am I the only one who can see the horses, or can you

       also? It seems to me there are other horses leading

460  and I make out another charioteer. The mares of Eumelos

       must have come to grief somewhere in the plain, who led on the way out,

       for those I saw running out in front as they made the turn-post

       I can see no longer anywhere, though I watch and though my eyes

       look everywhere about the plain of Troy. But it must be

465  that the reins got away from the charioteer, or he could not hold them

       well in hand at the goal and failed to double the turn-post.

       There I think he must have been thrown out and his chariot broken,

       and the mares bolted away with the wildness upon their spirit.

       But you also stand up and look for yourselves; I cannot

470  well make out, but it seems to me the man who is leading

       is an Aitolian by birth, but lord of the Argives,

       the son of Tydeus, breaker of horses, strong Diomedes.”

          Swift Aias, son of Oïleus, spoke shamefully to him in anger:

       “Idomeneus, what was all this windy talk? The light-footed

475  horses are still far where they sweep over the great plain.

       You are not by so much the youngest among the Argives,

       nor do the eyes in your head see so much sharper than others.

       But forever you are windy with your words, and you should not

       be a windy speaker. There are others here better than you are.

480  The horses who are in front are the same as before, and they are

       those of Eumelos, and he stands holding the reins behind them.”

          The lord of the Kretans answered him to his face in anger:

       “Aias, surpassing in abuse, yet stupid, in all else

       you are worst of the Argives with that stubborn mind of yours. Come then,

485  let us put up a wager of a tripod or cauldron

       and make Agamemnon, son of Atreus, witness between us

       as to which horses lead. And when you pay, you will find out.”

          So he spoke, and swift Aias, son of Oïleus, was rising

       up, angry in turn, to trade hard words with him. And now

490  the quarrel between the two of them would have gone still further,

       had not Achilleus himself risen up and spoken between them:

       “No longer now, Aias and Idomeneus, continue

       to exchange this bitter and evil talk. It is not becoming.

       If another acted so, you yourselves would be angry.

495  Rather sit down again among those assembled and watch for

       the horses, and they in their strain for victory will before long

       be here. Then you each can see for himself, and learn which

       of the Argives’ horses have run first and which have run second.”

          He spoke, and now Tydeus’ son in his rapid course was close on them

500  and he lashed them always with the whipstroke from the shoulder. His horses

       still lifted their feet light and high as they made their swift passage.

       Dust flying splashed always the charioteer, and the chariot

       that was overlaid with gold and tin still rolled hard after

       the flying feet of the horses, and in their wake there was not much

505  trace from the running rims of the wheels left in the thin dust.

       The horses came in running hard. Diomedes stopped them

       in the middle of where the men were assembled, with the dense sweat starting

       and dripping to the ground from neck and chest of his horses.

       He himself vaulted down to the ground from his shining chariot

510  and leaned his whip against the yoke. Nor did strong Sthenelos

       delay, but made haste to take up the prizes, and gave the woman

       to his high-hearted companions to lead away and the tripod

       with ears to carry, while Diomedes set free the horses.

          After him Neleian Antilochos drove in his horses,

515  having passed Menelaos, not by speed but by taking advantage.

       But even so Menelaos held his fast horses close on him.

       As far as from the wheel stands the horse who is straining

       to pull his master with the chariot over the flat land;

       the extreme hairs in the tail of the horse brush against the running

520  rim of the wheel, and he courses very close, there is not much

       space between as he runs a great way over the flat land;

       by so much Menelaos was left behind by Antilochos

       the blameless. At first he was left behind the length of a discus

       thrown, but was overhauling him fast, with Aithe

525  of the fair mane, Agamemnon’s mare, putting on a strong burst.

       If both of them had had to run the course any further,

       Menelaos would have passed him, and there could have been no argument.

       But Meriones, strong henchman of Idomeneus, was left

       a spearcast’s length behind by glorious Menelaos.

530  For his horses with splendid manes were slowest of all, and likewise

       he himself was of least account for the racing of chariots.

       Last and behind them all came in the son of Admetos

       dragging his fine chariot and driving his horses before him,

       and seeing this, brilliant swift-footed Achilleus took pity upon him

535  and stood forth among the Argives and spoke to them all in winged words:

       “The best man is driving his single-foot horses in last.

       Come then, we must give some kind of prize, and well he deserves it;

       second prize; let first place go to the son of Tydeus.”

          So he spoke, and all gave approval to what he was urging,

540  and he would have given him the horse, since all the Achaians

       approved, had not Antilochos, son of great-hearted Nestor,

       stood up to answer Peleid Achilleus, and argue:

       “Achilleus, I shall be very angry with you if you accomplish

       what you have said. You mean to take my prize away from me,

545  with the thought in mind that his chariot fouled and his running horses

       but he himself is great. He should have prayed to the immortal

       gods. That is why he came in last of all in the running.

       But if you are sorry for him and he is dear to your liking,

       there is abundant gold in your shelter, and there is bronze there

550  and animals, and there are handmaidens and single-foot horses.

       You can take from these, and give him afterward a prize still greater

       than mine, or now at once, and have the Achaians applaud you.

       But the mare I will not give up, and the man who wants her

       must fight me for her with his hands before he can take her.”

555      So he spoke, but brilliant swift-footed Achilleus, favoring

       Antilochos, smiled, since he was his beloved companion,

       and answered him and addressed him in winged words: “Antilochos,

       if you would have me bring some other thing out of my dwelling

       as special gift for Eumelos, then for your sake I will do it.

       I will give him that corselet I stripped from Asteropaios;

560  it is bronze, but there is an overlay circled about it

       in shining tin. It will be a gift that will mean much to him.”

          He spoke, and told Automedon, his beloved companion,

       to bring it out of the shelter, and he went away, and brought it back,

565  and put it in Eumelos’ hands. And he accepted it joyfully.

          But now Menelaos, heart full of bitterness, stood up among them

       in relentless anger against Antilochos, and the herald

       put the staff into his hand and gave the call for the Argives

       to be silent. And he stood forth, a man like a god, and spoke to them:

570  “Antilochos, you had good sense once. See what you have done.

       You have defiled my horsemanship, you have fouled my horses

       by throwing your horses in their way, though yours were far slower.

       Come then, O leaders of the Argives and their men of counsel:

       judge between the two of us now; and without favor;

575  so that no man of the bronze-armored Achaians shall say of us:

       ‘Menelaos using lies and force against Antilochos

       went off with the mare he won, for his horses were far slower

       but he himself was greater in power and degree.’ Or rather

       come, I myself will give the judgment, and I think no other

580  man of the Danaäns can call it in question, for it will be right.

       Antilochos, beloved of Zeus, come here. This is justice.

       Stand in front of your horses and chariot, and in your hand take

       up the narrow whip with which you drove them before, then

       lay your hand on the horses and swear by him who encircles

585  the earth and shakes it you used no guile to baffle my chariot.”

          Then in turn Antilochos of the good counsel answered him:

       “Enough now. For I, my lord Menelaos, am younger

       by far than you, and you are the greater and go before me.

       You know how greedy transgressions flower in a young man, seeing

590  that his mind is the more active but his judgment is lightweight. Therefore

       I would have your heart be patient with me. I myself will give you

       the mare I won, and if there were something still greater you asked for

       out of my house, I should still be willing at once to give it

       to you, beloved of Zeus, rather than all my days

595  fall from your favor and be in the wrong before the divinities.”

          He spoke, the son of Nestor the great-hearted, and leading

       the mare up gave her to Menelaos’ hands. But his anger

       was softened, as with dew the ears of corn are softened

       in the standing corn growth of a shuddering field. For you also

600  the heart, O Menelaos, was thus softened within you.

       He spoke to him aloud and addressed him in winged words: “Antilochos,

       I myself, who was angry, now will give way before you,

       since you were not formerly loose-minded or vain. It is only

       that this time your youth got the better of your intelligence.

605  Beware another time of playing tricks on your betters.

       Any other man of the Achaians might not have appeased me.

       But you have suffered much for me, and done much hard work,

       and your noble father, too, and your brother for my sake. Therefore

       I will be ruled by your supplication. I will even give you

610  the mare, though she is mine, so that these men too may be witnesses

       that the heart is never arrogant nor stubborn within me.”

          He spoke, and gave Antilochos’ companion, Noëmon,

       the mare to lead away, and himself took the glittering cauldron.

       Fourth, in the order he had driven, Meriones took up

615  the two talents’ weight of gold. But the fifth prize, the two-handled

       jar, was left. Achilleus carried it through the assembly

       of the Argives, and gave it to Nestor, and stood by and spoke to him:

       “This, aged sir, is yours to lay away as a treasure

       in memory of the burial of Patroklos; since never

620  again will you see him among the Argives. I give you this prize

       for the giving; since never again will you fight with your fists nor wrestle,

       nor enter again the field for the spear-throwing, nor race

       on your feet; since now the hardship of old age is upon you.”

          He spoke, and put it in the hands of Nestor, who took it

625  joyfully and spoke in answer and addressed him in winged words:

       “Yes, child: all this you said to me was true as you said it.

       My limbs are no longer steady, dear friend; not my feet, neither

       do my arms, as once they did, swing light from my shoulders.

       I wish I were young again and the strength still unshaken within me

630  as once, when great Amaryngkeus was buried by the Epeians

       at Bouprasion, and his sons gave games for a king’s funeral.

       There, there was no man like me, not among the Epeians

       nor yet of the Pylians themselves or great-hearted Aitolians.

       At boxing I won against Klytomedes, the son of Enops,

635  at wrestling against Angkaios of Pleuron, who stood up against me.

       In the foot-race, for all his speed, I outran Iphiklos,

       and with the spear I out-threw Polydoros and Phyleus.

       It was only in the chariot-race that the sons of Aktor

       defeated me, crossing me in the crowd, so intent on winning

640  were they, for the biggest prizes had been left for the horse-race.

       Now these sons of Aktor were twins; one held the reins at his leisure,

       held the reins at his leisure while the other lashed on the horses.

       This was I, once. Now it is for the young men to encounter

       in such actions, and for me to give way to the persuasion

645  of gloomy old age. But once I shone among the young heroes.

       Go now, and honor the death of your companion with contests.

       I accept this from you gratefully, and my heart is happy

       that you have remembered me and my kindness, that I am not forgotten

       for the honor that should be my honor among the Achaians.

650  May the gods, for what you have done for me, give you great happiness.”

 

          He spoke, and Peleides went back among the great numbers

       of Achaians assembled, when he had listened to all the praise spoken

       by Neleus’ son, and set forth the prizes for the painful boxing.

       He led out into the field and tethered there a hard-working

655  six-year-old unbroken jenny, the kind that is hardest

       to break; and for the loser set out a two-handled goblet.

       He stood upright and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Son of Atreus, and all you other strong-greaved Achaians,

       we invite two men, the best among you, to contend for these prizes

660  with their hands up for the blows of boxing. He whom Apollo

       grants to outlast the other, and all the Achaians witness it,

       let him lead away the hard-working jenny to his own shelter.

       The beaten man shall take away the two-handled goblet.”

          He spoke, and a man huge and powerful, well skilled in boxing,

665  rose up among them; the son of Panopeus, Epeios.

       He laid his hand on the hard-working jenny, and spoke out:

       “Let the man come up who will carry off the two-handled goblet.

       I say no other of the Achaians will beat me at boxing

       and lead off the jenny. I claim I am the champion. Is it not

670  enough that I fall short in battle? Since it could not be

       ever, that a man could be a master in every endeavor.

       For I tell you this straight out, and it will be a thing accomplished.

       I will smash his skin apart and break his bones on each other.

       Let those who care for him wait nearby in a huddle about him

675  to carry him out, after my fists have beaten him under.”

          So he spoke, and all of them stayed stricken to silence.

       Alone Euryalos stood up to face him, a godlike

       man, son of lord Mekisteus of the seed of Talaos;

       of him who came once to Thebes and the tomb of Oidipous after

680  his downfall, and there in boxing defeated all the Kadmeians.

       The spear-famed son of Tydeus was his second, and talked to him

       in encouragement, and much desired the victory for him.

       First he pulled on the boxing belt about his waist, and then

       gave him the thongs carefully cut from the hide of a ranging

685  ox. The two men, girt up, strode into the midst of the circle

       and faced each other, and put up their ponderous hands at the same time

       and closed, so that their heavy arms were crossing each other,

       and there was a fierce grinding of teeth, the sweat began to run

       everywhere from their bodies. Great Epeios came in, and hit him

690  as he peered out from his guard, on the cheek, and he could no longer

       keep his feet, but where he stood the glorious limbs gave.

       As in the water roughened by the north wind a fish jumps

       in the weeds of the beach-break, then the dark water closes above him,

       so Euryalos left the ground from the blow, but great-hearted Epeios

695  took him in his arms and set him upright, and his true companions

       stood about him, and led him out of the circle, feet dragging

       as he spat up the thick blood and rolled his head over on one side.

       He was dizzy when they brought him back and set him among them.

       But they themselves went and carried off the two-handled goblet.

 

700      Now Peleides set forth the prizes for the third contest,

       for the painful wrestling, at once, and displayed them before the Danaäns.

       There was a great tripod, to set over fire, for the winner.

       The Achaians among themselves valued it at the worth of twelve oxen.

       But for the beaten man he set in their midst a woman

705  skilled in much work of her hands, and they rated her at four oxen.

       He stood upright and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Rise up, two who would endeavor this prize.” So he spoke

       and presently there rose up huge Telamonian Aias,

       and resourceful Odysseus rose, who was versed in every advantage.

710  The two men, girt up, strode out into the midst of the circle,

       and grappled each other in the hook of their heavy arms, as when

       rafters lock, when a renowned architect has fitted them

       in the roof of a high house to keep out the force of the winds’ spite.

       Their backs creaked under stress of violent hands that tugged them

715  stubbornly, and the running sweat broke out, and raw places

       frequent all along their ribs and their shoulders broke out

       bright red with blood, as both of them kept up their hard efforts

       for success and the prize of the wrought tripod. Neither Odysseus

       was able to bring Aias down or throw him to the ground, nor

720  could Aias, but the great strength of Odysseus held out against him.

       But now as they made the strong-greaved Achaians begin to be restless,

       at last great Telamonian Aias said to the other:

       “Son of Laërtes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus:

       lift me, or I will lift you. All success shall be as Zeus gives it.”

725      He spoke, and heaved; but not forgetting his craft Odysseus

       caught him with a stroke behind the hollow of the knee, and unnerved

       the tendons, and threw him over backward, so that Odysseus

       fell on his chest as the people gazed upon them and wondered.

       Next, brilliant much-enduring Odysseus endeavored to lift him

730  and budged him a little from the ground, but still could not raise him

       clear, then hooked a knee behind, so that both of them went down

       together to the ground, and lay close, and were soiled in the dust. Then

       they would have sprung to their feet once more and wrestled a third fall,

       had not Achilleus himself stood up and spoken to stop them:

735  “Wrestle no more now; do not wear yourselves out and get hurt.

       You have both won. Therefore take the prizes in equal division

       and retire, so the rest of the Achaians can have their contests.”

          So he spoke, and they listened close to him and obeyed him

       and wiped the dust away from their bodies, and put on their tunics.

 

740      At once the son of Peleus set out prizes for the foot-race:

       a mixing bowl of silver, a work of art, which held only

       six measures, but for its loveliness it surpassed all others

       on earth by far, since skilled Sidonian craftsmen had wrought it

       well, and Phoenicians carried it over the misty face of the water

745  and set it in the harbor, and gave it for a present to Thoas.

       Euneos, son of Jason, gave it to the hero Patroklos

       to buy Lykaon, Priam’s son, out of slavery, and now

       Achilleus made it a prize in memory of his companion,

       for that man who should prove in the speed of his feet to run lightest.

750  For second place he set out a great ox with fat deep upon him,

       and for the last runner half a talent’s weight of gold. He stood

       upright then and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Rise up, you who would endeavor this prize.” So he spoke

       and presently there rose up swift Aias, the son of Oïleus,

755  and Odysseus the resourceful rose up, and after him Nestor’s

       son, Antilochos, the best runner among all the young men.

       They stood in line for the start, and Achilleus showed them the turn-post.

       The field was strung out from the scratch, and not long afterward

       Oïleus’ son was out in front, but brilliant Odysseus

760  overhauled him close, as near as to the breast of a woman

       fair-girdled is the rod she pulls in her hands carefully

       as she draws the spool out and along the warp, and holds it

       close to her chest. So Odysseus ran close up, but behind him,

       and his feet were hitting the other’s tracks before the dust settled.

765  Great Odysseus was breathing on the back of the head of Aias

       as he ran and held his speed, and all the Achaians were shouting

       for his effort to win, and hallooed him hard along in his running.

       But as they were running the last part of the race, then Odysseus

       said a prayer inside his own mind to gray-eyed Athene:

770  “Hear me, goddess; be kind; and come with strength for my footsteps.”

          So he spoke in prayer, and Pallas Athene heard him.

       She made his limbs light, both his feet and the hands above them.

       Now as they were for making their final sprint for the trophy,

       there Aias slipped in his running, for Athene unbalanced him,

775  where dung was scattered on the ground from the bellowing oxen slaughtered

       by swift-footed Achilleus, those he slew to honor Patroklos;

       and his mouth and nose were filled with the cow dung, so that Odysseus

       the great and much enduring took off the mixing bowl, seeing

       he had passed him and come in first, and the ox went to glorious Aias.

780  He stood there holding in his hands the horn of the field-ox,

       spitting the dung from his mouth, and spoke his word to the Argives:

       “Ah, now! That goddess made me slip on my feet, who has always

       stood over Odysseus like a mother, and taken good care of him.”

          He spoke, and all the rest of them laughed happily at him.

785  In turn Antilochos took up prize for last place, and carried it

       off, and grinning spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Friends, you all know well what I tell you, that still the immortals

       continue to favor the elder men. For see now, Aias

       is elder than I, if only by a little, but this man

790  is out of another age than ours and one of the ancients.

       But his, they say, is a green old age. It would be a hard thing

       for any Achaian to match his speed. Except for Achilleus.”

          So he spoke, and glorified the swift-footed Peleion.

       And Achilleus gave him an answer for what he said, and spoke to him:

795  “Antilochos, your good word for me shall not have been spoken

       in vain. I shall give you another half-talent of gold in addition.”

          He spoke, and put it in Antilochos’ hands, who received it joyfully.

       Then the son of Peleus carried into the circle and set down

       a far-shadowing spear, and set down beside it a shield and a helmet:

800  the armor of Sarpedon, that Patroklos stripped from his body.

       He stood upright and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “We invite two men, the best among you, to contend for these prizes.

       Let them draw their armor upon them and take up the rending bronze spears

       and stand up to each other in the trial of close combat. The fighter

805  who is first of the two to get in a stroke at the other’s fair body,

       to get through armor and dark blood and reach to the vitals,

       to that man I will give this magnificent silver-nailed

       sword of Thrace I stripped from the body of Asteropaios.

       But let both men carry off this armor and have it in common;

810  and we shall set out a brave dinner before them both in our shelters.”

          So he spoke, and there rose up huge Telamonian Aias,

       and next the son of Tydeus rose up, strong Diomedes.

       When these were in their armor on either side of the assembly,

       they came together in the middle space, furious for the combat,

815  with dangerous looks, and wonder settled on all the Achaians.

       Then as, moving forward, the two were closing in on each other,

       there were three charges, three times they swept in close. Then Aias

       stabbed at Diomedes shield on its perfect circle

       but did not get through to the skin, for the corselet inside it guarded him.

820   The son of Tydeus, over the top of the huge shield, was always

       menacing the neck of Aias with the point of the shining

       spear, but when the Achaians saw it in fear for Aias

       they called for them to stop and divide the prizes evenly.

       But the hero Achilleus carried the great sword, with its scabbard

825  and carefully cut sword belt, and gave it to Diomedes.

          Now the son of Peleus set in place a lump of pig-iron,

       which had once been the throwing-weight of Eëtion in his great strength;

       but now swift-footed brilliant Achilleus had slain him and taken

       the weight away in the ships along with the other possessions.

830  He stood upright and spoke his word out among the Argives:

       “Rise up, you who would endeavor to win this prize also.

       For although the rich demesnes of him who wins it lie far off

       indeed, yet for the succession of five years he will have it

       to use; for his shepherd for want of iron will not have to go in

835  to the city for it, nor his ploughman either. This will supply them.”

          So he spoke, and up stood Polypoites the stubborn in battle,

       and Leonteus in his great strength, a godlike man, and there rose up

       Aias, the son of Telamon, and brilliant Epeios.

       They stood in order to throw, and great Epeios took up the weight

840  and whirled and threw it, and all the Achaians laughed when they saw him.

       Second to throw in turn was Leonteus, scion of Ares,

       and third in turn huge Telamonian Aias threw it

       from his ponderous hand, and overpassed the marks of all others.

       But when Polypoites stubborn in battle caught up the iron,

845  he overthrew the entire field by as far as an ox-herd

       can cast with his throwing stick which spins through the air and comes down

       where the cattle graze in their herds, and all the Achaians applauded,

       and the companions of powerful Polypoites uprising

       carried the prize of the king away to the hollow vessels.

 

850      But Achilleus set gloomy iron forth once more, for the archers.

       He set ten double-bladed axes forth, ten with single

       blades, and planted far away on the sands the mast pole

       of a dark-prowed ship, and tethered a tremulous wild pigeon to it

       by a thin string attached to her foot, then challenged the archers

855  to shoot at her: “Now let the man who hits the wild pigeon

       take up and carry away home with him all the full axes.

       But if one should miss the bird and still hit the string, that man,

       seeing that he is the loser, still shall have the half-axes.”

          So he spoke, and there rose up in his strength the lord Teukros,

860  and Meriones rose up, Idomeneus’ powerful henchman.

       They chose their lots, and shook them up in a brazen helmet,

       and Teukros was allotted first place to shoot. He let fly

       a strong-shot arrow, but did not promise the lord of archery

       that he would accomplish for him a grand sacrifice of lambs first born.

865  He missed the bird, for Apollo begrudged him that, but he did hit

       the string beside the foot where the bird was tied, and the tearing

       arrow went straight through and cut the string, and the pigeon

       soared swift up toward the sky, while the string dropped and dangled

       toward the ground. But still the Achaians thundered approval.

870  Meriones in a fury of haste caught the bow from his hand,

       but had had out an arrow before, while Teukros was aiming,

       and forthwith promised to the one who strikes from afar, Apollo,

       that he would accomplish for him a grand sacrifice of lambs first born.

       Way up under the clouds he saw the tremulous wild dove

875  and as she circled struck her under the wing in the body

       and the shaft passed clean through and out of her, so that it dropped back

       and stuck in the ground beside the foot of Meriones, but the bird

       dropped and fell on top of the mast of the dark-prowed vessel

       and drooped her neck and the beating wings went slack, and the spirit

880  of life fled swift away from her limbs. Far down from the mast peak

       she dropped to earth. And the people gazed upon it and wondered.

       Then Meriones gathered up all ten double axes,

       but Teukros carried the half-axes back to the hollow ships.

          Then the son of Peleus carried into the circle and set down

885  a far-shadowing spear and an unfired cauldron with patterns

       of flowers on it, the worth of an ox. And the spear-throwers rose up.

       The son of Atreus rose, wide-powerful Agamemnon,

       and Meriones rose up, Idomeneus’ powerful henchman.

       But now among them spoke swift-footed brilliant Achilleus:

890  “Son of Atreus, for we know how much you surpass all others,

       by how much you are greatest for strength among the spear-throwers,

       therefore take this prize and keep it and go back to your hollow

       ships; but let us give the spear to the hero Meriones;

       if your own heart would have it this way, for so I invite you.”

895      He spoke, nor did Agamemnon lord of men disobey him.

       The hero gave the bronze spear to Meriones, and thereafter

       handed his prize, surpassingly lovely, to the herald Talthybios.

Comments

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

Share your Thoughts for The Iliad of Homer

500+ SHARES Facebook Twitter Reddit Google LinkedIn Email
Share Button