Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Book XI

BOOK XI

AND now as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus, harbinger of

light alike to mortals and immortals, Jove sent fierce Discord

with the ensign of war in her hands to the ships of the Achaeans.

She took her stand by the huge black hull of Ulysses' ship which

was middlemost of all, so that her voice might carry farthest on

either side, on the one hand towards the tents of Ajax son of

Telamon, and on the other towards those of Achilles--for these

two heroes, well-assured of their own strength, had valorously

drawn up their ships at the two ends of the line. There she took

her stand, and raised a cry both loud and shrill that filled the

Achaeans with courage, giving them heart to fight resolutely and

with all their might, so that they had rather stay there and do

battle than go home in their ships.

The son of Atreus shouted aloud and bade the Argives gird

themselves for battle while he put on his armour. First he girded

his goodly greaves about his legs, making them fast with ankle-

clasps of silver; and about his chest he set the breastplate

which Cinyras had once given him as a guest-gift. It had been

noised abroad as far as Cyprus that the Achaeans were about to

sail for Troy, and therefore he gave it to the king. It had ten

courses of dark cyanus, twelve of gold, and ten of tin. There

were serpents of cyanus that reared themselves up towards the

neck, three upon either side, like the rainbows which the son of

Saturn has set in heaven as a sign to mortal men. About his

shoulders he threw his sword, studded with bosses of gold; and

the scabbard was of silver with a chain of gold wherewith to hang

it. He took moreover the richly-dight shield that covered his

body when he was in battle--fair to see, with ten circles of

bronze running all round it. On the body of the shield there were

twenty bosses of white tin, with another of dark cyanus in the

middle: this last was made to show a Gorgon's head, fierce and

grim, with Rout and Panic on either side. The band for the arm to

go through was of silver, on which there was a writhing snake of

cyanus with three heads that sprang from a single neck, and went

in and out among one another. On his head Agamemnon set a helmet,

with a peak before and behind, and four plumes of horse-hair that

nodded menacingly above it; then he grasped two redoubtable

bronze-shod spears, and the gleam of his armour shot from him as

a flame into the firmament, while Juno and Minerva thundered in

honour of the king of rich Mycene.

Every man now left his horses in charge of his charioteer to hold

them in readiness by the trench, while he went into battle on

foot clad in full armour, and a mighty uproar rose on high into

the dawning. The chiefs were armed and at the trench before the

horses got there, but these came up presently. The son of Saturn

sent a portent of evil sound about their host, and the dew fell

red with blood, for he was about to send many a brave man

hurrying down to Hades.

The Trojans, on the other side upon the rising slope of the

plain, were gathered round great Hector, noble Polydamas, Aeneas

who was honoured by the Trojans like an immortal, and the three

sons of Antenor, Polybus, Agenor, and young Acamas beauteous as a

god. Hector's round shield showed in the front rank, and as some

baneful star that shines for a moment through a rent in the

clouds and is again hidden beneath them; even so was Hector now

seen in the front ranks and now again in the hindermost, and his

bronze armour gleamed like the lightning of aegis-bearing Jove.

And now as a band of reapers mow swathes of wheat or barley upon

a rich man's land, and the sheaves fall thick before them, even

so did the Trojans and Achaeans fall upon one another; they were

in no mood for yielding but fought like wolves, and neither side

got the better of the other. Discord was glad as she beheld them,

for she was the only god that went among them; the others were

not there, but stayed quietly each in his own home among the

dells and valleys of Olympus. All of them blamed the son of

Saturn for wanting to give victory to the Trojans, but father

Jove heeded them not: he held aloof from all, and sat apart in

his all-glorious majesty, looking down upon the city of the

Trojans, the ships of the Achaeans, the gleam of bronze, and

alike upon the slayers and on the slain.

Now so long as the day waxed and it was still morning, their

darts rained thick on one another and the people perished, but as

the hour drew nigh when a woodman working in some mountain forest

will get his midday meal--for he has felled till his hands are

weary; he is tired out, and must now have food--then the Danaans

with a cry that rang through all their ranks, broke the

battalions of the enemy. Agamemnon led them on, and slew first

Bienor, a leader of his people, and afterwards his comrade and

charioteer Oileus, who sprang from his chariot and was coming

full towards him; but Agamemnon struck him on the forehead with

his spear; his bronze visor was of no avail against the weapon,

which pierced both bronze and bone, so that his brains were

battered in and he was killed in full fight.

Agamemnon stripped their shirts from off them and left them with

their breasts all bare to lie where they had fallen. He then went

on to kill Isus and Antiphus two sons of Priam, the one a

bastard, the other born in wedlock; they were in the same

chariot--the bastard driving, while noble Antiphus fought beside

him. Achilles had once taken both of them prisoners in the glades

of Ida, and had bound them with fresh withes as they were

shepherding, but he had taken a ransom for them; now, however,

Agamemnon son of Atreus smote Isus in the chest above the nipple

with his spear, while he struck Antiphus hard by the ear and

threw him from his chariot. Forthwith he stripped their goodly

armour from off them and recognized them, for he had already seen

them at ships when Achilles brought them in from Ida. As a lion

fastens on the fawns of a hind and crushes them in his great

jaws, robbing them of their tender life while he on his way back

to his lair--the hind can do nothing for them even though she be

close by, for she is in an agony of fear, and flies through the

thick forest, sweating, and at her utmost speed before the mighty

monster--so, no man of the Trojans could help Isus and Antiphus,

for they were themselves flying panic before the Argives.

Then King Agamemnon took the two sons of Antimachus, Pisander and

brave Hippolochus. It was Antimachus who had been foremost in

preventing Helen's being restored to Menelaus, for he was largely

bribed by Alexandrus; and now Agamemnon took his two sons, both

in the same chariot, trying to bring their horses to a stand--for

they had lost hold of the reins and the horses were mad with

fear. The son of Atreus sprang upon them like a lion, and the

pair besought him from their chariot. "Take us alive," they

cried, "son of Atreus, and you shall receive a great ransom for

us. Our father Antimachus has great store of gold, bronze, and

wrought iron, and from this he will satisfy you with a very large

ransom should he hear of our being alive at the ships of the

Achaeans."

With such piteous words and tears did they beseech the king, but

they heard no pitiful answer in return. "If," said Agamemnon,

"you are sons of Antimachus, who once at a council of Trojans

proposed that Menelaus and Ulysses, who had come to you as

envoys, should be killed and not suffered to return, you shall

now pay for the foul iniquity of your father."

As he spoke he felled Pisander from his chariot to the earth,

smiting him on the chest with his spear, so that he lay face

uppermost upon the ground. Hippolochus fled, but him too did

Agamemnon smite; he cut off his hands and his head--which he sent

rolling in among the crowd as though it were a ball. There he let

them both lie, and wherever the ranks were thickest thither he

flew, while the other Achaeans followed. Foot soldiers drove the

foot soldiers of the foe in rout before them, and slew them;

horsemen did the like by horsemen, and the thundering tramp of

the horses raised a cloud of dust from off the plain. King

Agamemnon followed after, ever slaying them and cheering on the

Achaeans. As when some mighty forest is all ablaze--the eddying

gusts whirl fire in all directions till the thickets shrivel and

are consumed before the blast of the flame--even so fell the

heads of the flying Trojans before Agamemnon son of Atreus, and

many a noble pair of steeds drew an empty chariot along the

highways of war, for lack of drivers who were lying on the plain,

more useful now to vultures than to their wives.

Jove drew Hector away from the darts and dust, with the carnage

and din of battle; but the son of Atreus sped onwards, calling

out lustily to the Danaans. They flew on by the tomb of old Ilus,

son of Dardanus, in the middle of the plain, and past the place

of the wild fig-tree making always for the city--the son of

Atreus still shouting, and with hands all bedrabbled in gore; but

when they had reached the Scaean gates and the oak tree, there

they halted and waited for the others to come up. Meanwhile the

Trojans kept on flying over the middle of the plain like a herd

of cows maddened with fright when a lion has attacked them in the

dead of night--he springs on one of them, seizes her neck in the

grip of his strong teeth and then laps up her blood and gorges

himself upon her entrails--even so did King Agamemnon son of

Atreus pursue the foe, ever slaughtering the hindmost as they

fled pell-mell before him. Many a man was flung headlong from his

chariot by the hand of the son of Atreus, for he wielded his

spear with fury.

But when he was just about to reach the high wall and the city,

the father of gods and men came down from heaven and took his

seat, thunderbolt in hand, upon the crest of many-fountained Ida.

He then told Iris of the golden wings to carry a message for him.

"Go," said he, "fleet Iris, and speak thus to Hector--say that so

long as he sees Agamemnon heading his men and making havoc of the

Trojan ranks, he is to keep aloof and bid the others bear the

brunt of the battle, but when Agamemnon is wounded either by

spear or arrow, and takes to his chariot, then will I vouchsafe

him strength to slay till he reach the ships and night falls at

the going down of the sun."

Iris hearkened and obeyed. Down she went to strong Ilius from the

crests of Ida, and found Hector son of Priam standing by his

chariot and horses. Then she said, "Hector son of Priam, peer of

gods in counsel, father Jove has sent me to bear you this

message--so long as you see Agamemnon heading his men and making

havoc of the Trojan ranks, you are to keep aloof and bid the

others bear the brunt of the battle, but when Agamemnon is

wounded either by spear or arrow, and takes to his chariot, then

will Jove vouchsafe you strength to slay till you reach the

ships, and till night falls at the going down of the sun."

When she had thus spoken Iris left him, and Hector sprang full

armed from his chariot to the ground, brandishing his spear as he

went about everywhere among the host, cheering his men on to

fight, and stirring the dread strife of battle. The Trojans then

wheeled round, and again met the Achaeans, while the Argives on

their part strengthened their battalions. The battle was now in

array and they stood face to face with one another, Agamemnon

ever pressing forward in his eagerness to be ahead of all others.

Tell me now ye Muses that dwell in the mansions of Olympus, who,

whether of the Trojans or of their allies, was first to face

Agamemnon? It was Iphidamas son of Antenor, a man both brave and

of great stature, who was brought up in fertile Thrace, the

mother of sheep. Cisses, his mother's father, brought him up in

his own house when he was a child--Cisses, father to fair Theano.

When he reached manhood, Cisses would have kept him there, and

was for giving him his daughter in marriage, but as soon as he

had married he set out to fight the Achaeans with twelve ships

that followed him: these he had left at Percote and had come on

by land to Ilius. He it was that now met Agamemnon son of Atreus.

When they were close up with one another, the son of Atreus

missed his aim, and Iphidamas hit him on the girdle below the

cuirass and then flung himself upon him, trusting to his strength

of arm; the girdle, however, was not pierced, nor nearly so, for

the point of the spear struck against the silver and was turned

aside as though it had been lead: King Agamemnon caught it from

his hand, and drew it towards him with the fury of a lion; he

then drew his sword, and killed Iphidamas by striking him on the

neck. So there the poor fellow lay, sleeping a sleep as it were

of bronze, killed in the defence of his fellow-citizens, far from

his wedded wife, of whom he had had no joy though he had given

much for her: he had given a hundred-head of cattle down, and had

promised later on to give a thousand sheep and goats mixed, from

the countless flocks of which he was possessed. Agamemnon son of

Atreus then despoiled him, and carried off his armour into the

host of the Achaeans.

When noble Coon, Antenor's eldest son, saw this, sore indeed were

his eyes at the sight of his fallen brother. Unseen by Agamemnon

he got beside him, spear in hand, and wounded him in the middle

of his arm below the elbow, the point of the spear going right

through the arm. Agamemnon was convulsed with pain, but still not

even for this did he leave off struggling and fighting, but

grasped his spear that flew as fleet as the wind, and sprang upon

Coon who was trying to drag off the body of his brother--his

father's son--by the foot, and was crying for help to all the

bravest of his comrades; but Agamemnon struck him with a

bronze-shod spear and killed him as he was dragging the dead body

through the press of men under cover of his shield: he then cut

off his head, standing over the body of Iphidamas. Thus did the

sons of Antenor meet their fate at the hands of the son of

Atreus, and go down into the house of Hades.

As long as the blood still welled warm from his wound Agamemnon

went about attacking the ranks of the enemy with spear and sword

and with great handfuls of stone, but when the blood had ceased

to flow and the wound grew dry, the pain became great. As the

sharp pangs which the Eilithuiae, goddesses of childbirth,

daughters of Juno and dispensers of cruel pain, send upon a woman

when she is in labour--even so sharp were the pangs of the son of

Atreus. He sprang on to his chariot, and bade his charioteer

drive to the ships, for he was in great agony. With a loud clear

voice he shouted to the Danaans, "My friends, princes and

counsellors of the Argives, defend the ships yourselves, for Jove

has not suffered me to fight the whole day through against the

Trojans."

With this the charioteer turned his horses towards the ships, and

they flew forward nothing loth. Their chests were white with foam

and their bellies with dust, as they drew the wounded king out of

the battle.

When Hector saw Agamemnon quit the field, he shouted to the

Trojans and Lycians saying, "Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanian

warriors, be men, my friends, and acquit yourselves in battle

bravely; their best man has left them, and Jove has vouchsafed me

a great triumph; charge the foe with your chariots that you may

win still greater glory."

With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and as a

huntsman hounds his dogs on against a lion or wild boar, even so

did Hector, peer of Mars, hound the proud Trojans on against the

Achaeans. Full of hope he plunged in among the foremost, and fell

on the fight like some fierce tempest that swoops down upon the

sea, and lashes its deep blue waters into fury.

What, then is the full tale of those whom Hector son of Priam

killed in the hour of triumph which Jove then vouchsafed him?

First Asaeus, Autonous, and Opites; Dolops son of Clytius,

Opheltius and Agelaus; Aesymnus, Orus and Hipponous steadfast in

battle; these chieftains of the Achaeans did Hector slay, and

then he fell upon the rank and file. As when the west wind

hustles the clouds of the white south and beats them down with

the fierceness of its fury--the waves of the sea roll high, and

the spray is flung aloft in the rage of the wandering wind--even

so thick were the heads of them that fell by the hand of Hector.

All had then been lost and no help for it, and the Achaeans would

have fled pell-mell to their ships, had not Ulysses cried out to

Diomed, "Son of Tydeus, what has happened to us that we thus

forget our prowess? Come, my good fellow, stand by my side and

help me, we shall be shamed for ever if Hector takes the ships."

And Diomed answered, "Come what may, I will stand firm; but we

shall have scant joy of it, for Jove is minded to give victory to

the Trojans rather than to us."

With these words he struck Thymbraeus from his chariot to the

ground, smiting him in the left breast with his spear, while

Ulysses killed Molion who was his squire. These they let lie, now

that they had stopped their fighting; the two heroes then went on

playing havoc with the foe, like two wild boars that turn in fury

and rend the hounds that hunt them. Thus did they turn upon the

Trojans and slay them, and the Achaeans were thankful to have

breathing time in their flight from Hector.

They then took two princes with their chariot, the two sons of

Merops of Percote, who excelled all others in the arts of

divination. He had forbidden his sons to go to the war, but they

would not obey him, for fate lured them to their fall. Diomed son

of Tydeus slew them both and stripped them of their armour, while

Ulysses killed Hippodamus and Hypeirochus.

And now the son of Saturn as he looked down from Ida ordained

that neither side should have the advantage, and they kept on

killing one another. The son of Tydeus speared Agastrophus son of

Paeon in the hip-joint with his spear. His chariot was not at

hand for him to fly with, so blindly confident had he been. His

squire was in charge of it at some distance and he was fighting

on foot among the foremost until he lost his life. Hector soon

marked the havoc Diomed and Ulysses were making, and bore down

upon them with a loud cry, followed by the Trojan ranks; brave

Diomed was dismayed when he saw them, and said to Ulysses who was

beside him, "Great Hector is bearing down upon us and we shall be

undone; let us stand firm and wait his onset."

He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it, nor did he miss

his mark. He had aimed at Hector's head near the top of his

helmet, but bronze was turned by bronze, and Hector was

untouched, for the spear was stayed by the visored helm made with

three plates of metal, which Phoebus Apollo had given him. Hector

sprang back with a great bound under cover of the ranks; he fell

on his knees and propped himself with his brawny hand leaning on

the ground, for darkness had fallen on his eyes. The son of

Tydeus having thrown his spear dashed in among the foremost

fighters, to the place where he had seen it strike the ground;

meanwhile Hector recovered himself and springing back into his

chariot mingled with the crowd, by which means he saved his life.

But Diomed made at him with his spear and said, "Dog, you have

again got away though death was close on your heels. Phoebus

Apollo, to whom I ween you pray ere you go into battle, has again

saved you, nevertheless I will meet you and make an end of you

hereafter, if there is any god who will stand by me too and be my

helper. For the present I must pursue those I can lay hands on."

As he spoke he began stripping the spoils from the son of Paeon,

but Alexandrus husband of lovely Helen aimed an arrow at him,

leaning against a pillar of the monument which men had raised to

Ilus son of Dardanus, a ruler in days of old. Diomed had taken

the cuirass from off the breast of Agastrophus, his heavy helmet

also, and the shield from off his shoulders, when Paris drew his

bow and let fly an arrow that sped not from his hand in vain, but

pierced the flat of Diomed's right foot, going right through it

and fixing itself in the ground. Thereon Paris with a hearty

laugh sprang forward from his hiding-place, and taunted him

saying, "You are wounded--my arrow has not been shot in vain;

would that it had hit you in the belly and killed you, for thus

the Trojans, who fear you as goats fear a lion, would have had a

truce from evil."

Diomed all undaunted answered, "Archer, you who without your bow

are nothing, slanderer and seducer, if you were to be tried in

single combat fighting in full armour, your bow and your arrows

would serve you in little stead. Vain is your boast in that you

have scratched the sole of my foot. I care no more than if a girl

or some silly boy had hit me. A worthless coward can inflict but

a light wound; when I wound a man though I but graze his skin it

is another matter, for my weapon will lay him low. His wife will

tear her cheeks for grief and his children will be fatherless:

there will he rot, reddening the earth with his blood, and

vultures, not women, will gather round him."

Thus he spoke, but Ulysses came up and stood over him. Under this

cover he sat down to draw the arrow from his foot, and sharp was

the pain he suffered as he did so. Then he sprang on to his

chariot and bade the charioteer drive him to the ships, for he

was sick at heart.

Ulysses was now alone; not one of the Argives stood by him, for

they were all panic-stricken. "Alas," said he to himself in his

dismay, "what will become of me? It is ill if I turn and fly

before these odds, but it will be worse if I am left alone and

taken prisoner, for the son of Saturn has struck the rest of the

Danaans with panic. But why talk to myself in this way? Well do I

know that though cowards quit the field, a hero, whether he wound

or be wounded, must stand firm and hold his own."

While he was thus in two minds, the ranks of the Trojans advanced

and hemmed him in, and bitterly did they come to rue it. As

hounds and lusty youths set upon a wild boar that sallies from

his lair whetting his white tusks--they attack him from every

side and can hear the gnashing of his jaws, but for all his

fierceness they still hold their ground--even so furiously did

the Trojans attack Ulysses. First he sprang spear in hand upon

Deiopites and wounded him on the shoulder with a downward blow;

then he killed Thoon and Ennomus. After these he struck

Chersidamas in the loins under his shield as he had just sprung

down from his chariot; so he fell in the dust and clutched the

earth in the hollow of his hand. These he let lie, and went on to

wound Charops son of Hippasus own brother to noble Socus. Socus,

hero that he was, made all speed to help him, and when he was

close to Ulysses he said, "Far-famed Ulysses, insatiable of craft

and toil, this day you shall either boast of having killed both

the sons of Hippasus and stripped them of their armour, or you

shall fall before my spear."

With these words he struck the shield of Ulysses. The spear went

through the shield and passed on through his richly wrought

cuirass, tearing the flesh from his side, but Pallas Minerva did

not suffer it to pierce the entrails of the hero. Ulysses knew

that his hour was not yet come, but he gave ground and said to

Socus, "Wretch, you shall now surely die. You have stayed me from

fighting further with the Trojans, but you shall now fall by my

spear, yielding glory to myself, and your soul to Hades of the

noble steeds."

Socus had turned in flight, but as he did so, the spear struck

him in the back midway between the shoulders, and went right

through his chest. He fell heavily to the ground and Ulysses

vaunted over him saying, "O Socus, son of Hippasus tamer of

horses, death has been too quick for you and you have not escaped

him: poor wretch, not even in death shall your father and mother

close your eyes, but the ravening vultures shall enshroud you

with the flapping of their dark wings and devour you. Whereas

even though I fall the Achaeans will give me my due rites of

burial."

So saying he drew Socus's heavy spear out of his flesh and from

his shield, and the blood welled forth when the spear was

withdrawn so that he was much dismayed. When the Trojans saw that

Ulysses was bleeding they raised a great shout and came on in a

body towards him; he therefore gave ground, and called his

comrades to come and help him. Thrice did he cry as loudly as man

can cry, and thrice did brave Menelaus hear him; he turned,

therefore, to Ajax who was close beside him and said, "Ajax,

noble son of Telamon, captain of your people, the cry of Ulysses

rings in my ears, as though the Trojans had cut him off and were

worsting him while he is single-handed. Let us make our way

through the throng; it will be well that we defend him; I fear he

may come to harm for all his valour if he be left without

support, and the Danaans would miss him sorely."

He led the way and mighty Ajax went with him. The Trojans had

gathered round Ulysses like ravenous mountain jackals round the

carcase of some horned stag that has been hit with an arrow--the

stag has fled at full speed so long as his blood was warm and his

strength has lasted, but when the arrow has overcome him, the

savage jackals devour him in the shady glades of the forest. Then

heaven sends a fierce lion thither, whereon the jackals fly in

terror and the lion robs them of their prey--even so did Trojans

many and brave gather round crafty Ulysses, but the hero stood at

bay and kept them off with his spear. Ajax then came up with his

shield before him like a wall, and stood hard by, whereon the

Trojans fled in all directions. Menelaus took Ulysses by the

hand, and led him out of the press while his squire brought up

his chariot, but Ajax rushed furiously on the Trojans and killed

Doryclus, a bastard son of Priam; then he wounded Pandocus,

Lysandrus, Pyrasus, and Pylartes; as some swollen torrent comes

rushing in full flood from the mountains on to the plain, big

with the rain of heaven--many a dry oak and many a pine does it

engulf, and much mud does it bring down and cast into the sea--

even so did brave Ajax chase the foe furiously over the plain,

slaying both men and horses.

Hector did not yet know what Ajax was doing, for he was fighting

on the extreme left of the battle by the banks of the river

Scamander, where the carnage was thickest and the war-cry loudest

round Nestor and brave Idomeneus. Among these Hector was making

great slaughter with his spear and furious driving, and was

destroying the ranks that were opposed to him; still the Achaeans

would have given no ground, had not Alexandrus husband of lovely

Helen stayed the prowess of Machaon, shepherd of his people, by

wounding him in the right shoulder with a triple-barbed arrow.

The Achaeans were in great fear that as the fight had turned

against them the Trojans might take him prisoner, and Idomeneus

said to Nestor, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean

name, mount your chariot at once; take Machaon with you and drive

your horses to the ships as fast as you can. A physician is worth

more than several other men put together, for he can cut out

arrows and spread healing herbs."

Nestor knight of Gerene did as Idomeneus had counselled; he at

once mounted his chariot, and Machaon son of the famed physician

Aesculapius, went with him. He lashed his horses and they flew

onward nothing loth towards the ships, as though of their own

free will.

Then Cebriones seeing the Trojans in confusion said to Hector

from his place beside him, "Hector, here are we two fighting on

the extreme wing of the battle, while the other Trojans are in

pell-mell rout, they and their horses. Ajax son of Telamon is

driving them before him; I know him by the breadth of his shield:

let us turn our chariot and horses thither, where horse and foot

are fighting most desperately, and where the cry of battle is

loudest."

With this he lashed his goodly steeds, and when they felt the

whip they drew the chariot full speed among the Achaeans and

Trojans, over the bodies and shields of those that had fallen:

the axle was bespattered with blood, and the rail round the car

was covered with splashes both from the horses' hoofs and from

the tyres of the wheels. Hector tore his way through and flung

himself into the thick of the fight, and his presence threw the

Danaans into confusion, for his spear was not long idle;

nevertheless though he went among the ranks with sword and spear,

and throwing great stones, he avoided Ajax son of Telamon, for

Jove would have been angry with him if he had fought a better man

than himself.

Then father Jove from his high throne struck fear into the heart

of Ajax, so that he stood there dazed and threw his shield behind

him--looking fearfully at the throng of his foes as though he

were some wild beast, and turning hither and thither but

crouching slowly backwards. As peasants with their hounds chase a

lion from their stockyard, and watch by night to prevent his

carrying off the pick of their herd--he makes his greedy spring,

but in vain, for the darts from many a strong hand fall thick

around him, with burning brands that scare him for all his fury,

and when morning comes he slinks foiled and angry away--even so

did Ajax, sorely against his will, retreat angrily before the

Trojans, fearing for the ships of the Achaeans. Or as some lazy

ass that has had many a cudgel broken about his back, when he

into a field begins eating the corn--boys beat him but he is too

many for them, and though they lay about with their sticks they

cannot hurt him; still when he has had his fill they at last

drive him from the field--even so did the Trojans and their

allies pursue great Ajax, ever smiting the middle of his shield

with their darts. Now and again he would turn and show fight,

keeping back the battalions of the Trojans, and then he would

again retreat; but he prevented any of them from making his way

to the ships. Single-handed he stood midway between the Trojans

and Achaeans: the spears that sped from their hands stuck some of

them in his mighty shield, while many, though thirsting for his

blood, fell to the ground ere they could reach him to the

wounding of his fair flesh.

Now when Eurypylus the brave son of Euaemon saw that Ajax was

being overpowered by the rain of arrows, he went up to him and

hurled his spear. He struck Apisaon son of Phausius in the liver

below the midriff, and laid him low. Eurypylus sprang upon him,

and stripped the armour from his shoulders; but when Alexandrus

saw him, he aimed an arrow at him which struck him in the right

thigh; the arrow broke, but the point that was left in the wound

dragged on the thigh; he drew back, therefore, under cover of his

comrades to save his life, shouting as he did so to the Danaans,

"My friends, princes and counsellors of the Argives, rally to the

defence of Ajax who is being overpowered, and I doubt whether he

will come out of the fight alive. Hither, then, to the rescue of

great Ajax son of Telamon."

Even so did he cry when he was wounded; thereon the others came

near, and gathered round him, holding their shields upwards from

their shoulders so as to give him cover. Ajax then made towards

them, and turned round to stand at bay as soon as he had reached

his men.

Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the

mares of Neleus, all in a lather with sweat, were bearing Nestor

out of the fight, and with him Machaon shepherd of his people.

Achilles saw and took note, for he was standing on the stern of

his ship watching the hard stress and struggle of the fight. He

called from the ship to his comrade Patroclus, who heard him in

the tent and came out looking like Mars himself--here indeed was

the beginning of the ill that presently befell him. "Why," said

he, "Achilles, do you call me? What do you want with me?" And

Achilles answered, "Noble son of Menoetius, man after my own

heart, I take it that I shall now have the Achaeans praying at my

knees, for they are in great straits; go, Patroclus, and ask

Nestor who it is that he is bearing away wounded from the field;

from his back I should say it was Machaon son of Aesculapius, but

I could not see his face for the horses went by me at full

speed."

Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him, and set off

running by the ships and tents of the Achaeans.

When Nestor and Machaon had reached the tents of the son of

Neleus, they dismounted, and an esquire, Eurymedon, took the

horses from the chariot. The pair then stood in the breeze by the

seaside to dry the sweat from their shirts, and when they had so

done they came inside and took their seats. Fair Hecamede, whom

Nestor had had awarded to him from Tenedos when Achilles took it,

mixed them a mess; she was daughter of wise Arsinous, and the

Achaeans had given her to Nestor because he excelled all of them

in counsel. First she set for them a fair and well-made table

that had feet of cyanus; on it there was a vessel of bronze and

an onion to give relish to the drink, with honey and cakes of

barley-meal. There was also a cup of rare workmanship which the

old man had brought with him from home, studded with bosses of

gold; it had four handles, on each of which there were two golden

doves feeding, and it had two feet to stand on. Any one else

would hardly have been able to lift it from the table when it was

full, but Nestor could do so quite easily. In this the woman, as

fair as a goddess, mixed them a mess with Pramnian wine; she

grated goat's milk cheese into it with a bronze grater, threw in

a handful of white barley-meal, and having thus prepared the mess

she bade them drink it. When they had done so and had thus

quenched their thirst, they fell talking with one another, and at

this moment Patroclus appeared at the door.

When the old man saw him he sprang from his seat, seized his

hand, led him into the tent, and bade him take his place among

them; but Patroclus stood where he was and said, "Noble sir, I

may not stay, you cannot persuade me to come in; he that sent me

is not one to be trifled with, and he bade me ask who the wounded

man was whom you were bearing away from the field. I can now see

for myself that he is Machaon, shepherd of his people. I must go

back and tell Achilles. You, sir, know what a terrible man he is,

and how ready to blame even where no blame should lie."

And Nestor answered, "Why should Achilles care to know how many

of the Achaeans may be wounded? He recks not of the dismay that

reigns in our host; our most valiant chieftains lie disabled,

brave Diomed, son of Tydeus, is wounded; so are Ulysses and

Agamemnon; Eurypylus has been hit with an arrow in the thigh, and

I have just been bringing this man from the field--he too wounded

with an arrow. Nevertheless, Achilles, so valiant though he be,

cares not and knows no ruth. Will he wait till the ships, do what

we may, are in a blaze, and we perish one upon the other? As for

me, I have no strength nor stay in me any longer; would that I

were still young and strong as in the days when there was a fight

between us and the men of Elis about some cattle-raiding. I then

killed Itymoneus, the valiant son of Hypeirochus, a dweller in

Elis, as I was driving in the spoil; he was hit by a dart thrown

by my hand while fighting in the front rank in defence of his

cows, so he fell and the country people around him were in great

fear. We drove off a vast quantity of booty from the plain, fifty

herds of cattle and as many flocks of sheep; fifty droves also of

pigs, and as many wide-spreading flocks of goats. Of horses,

moreover, we seized a hundred and fifty, all of them mares, and

many had foals running with them. All these did we drive by night

to Pylus, the city of Neleus, taking them within the city; and

the heart of Neleus was glad in that I had taken so much, though

it was the first time I had ever been in the field. At daybreak

the heralds went round crying that all in Elis to whom there was

a debt owing should come; and the leading Pylians assembled to

divide the spoils. There were many to whom the Epeans owed

chattels, for we men of Pylus were few and had been oppressed

with wrong; in former years Hercules had come, and had laid his

hand heavy upon us, so that all our best men had perished. Neleus

had had twelve sons, but I alone was left; the others had all

been killed. The Epeans presuming upon all this had looked down

upon us and had done us much evil. My father chose a herd of

cattle and a great flock of sheep--three hundred in all--and he

took their shepherds with him, for there was a great debt due to

him in Elis, to wit four horses, winners of prizes. They and

their chariots with them had gone to the games and were to run

for a tripod, but King Augeas took them, and sent back their

driver grieving for the loss of his horses. Neleus was angered by

what he had both said and done, and took great value in return,

but he divided the rest, that no man might have less than his

full share.

"Thus did we order all things, and offer sacrifices to the gods

throughout the city; but three days afterwards the Epeans came in

a body, many in number, they and their chariots, in full array,

and with them the two Moliones in their armour, though they were

still lads and unused to fighting. Now there is a certain town,

Thryoessa, perched upon a rock on the river Alpheus, the border

city Pylus. This they would destroy, and pitched their camp about

it, but when they had crossed their whole plain, Minerva darted

down by night from Olympus and bade us set ourselves in array;

and she found willing soldiers in Pylos, for the men meant

fighting. Neleus would not let me arm, and hid my horses, for he

said that as yet I could know nothing about war; nevertheless

Minerva so ordered the fight that, all on foot as I was, I fought

among our mounted forces and vied with the foremost of them.

There is a river Minyeius that falls into the sea near Arene, and

there they that were mounted (and I with them) waited till

morning, when the companies of foot soldiers came up with us in

force. Thence in full panoply and equipment we came towards noon

to the sacred waters of the Alpheus, and there we offered victims

to almighty Jove, with a bull to Alpheus, another to Neptune, and

a herd-heifer to Minerva. After this we took supper in our

companies, and laid us down to rest each in his armour by the

river.

"The Epeans were beleaguering the city and were determined to

take it, but ere this might be there was a desperate fight in

store for them. When the sun's rays began to fall upon the earth

we joined battle, praying to Jove and to Minerva, and when the

fight had begun, I was the first to kill my man and take his

horses--to wit the warrior Mulius. He was son-in-law to Augeas,

having married his eldest daughter, golden-haired Agamede, who

knew the virtues of every herb which grows upon the face of the

earth. I speared him as he was coming towards me, and when he

fell headlong in the dust, I sprang upon his chariot and took my

place in the front ranks. The Epeans fled in all directions when

they saw the captain of their horsemen (the best man they had)

laid low, and I swept down on them like a whirlwind, taking fifty

chariots--and in each of them two men bit the dust, slain by my

spear. I should have even killed the two Moliones, sons of Actor,

unless their real father, Neptune lord of the earthquake, had

hidden them in a thick mist and borne them out of the fight.

Thereon Jove vouchsafed the Pylians a great victory, for we

chased them far over the plain, killing the men and bringing in

their armour, till we had brought our horses to Buprasium, rich

in wheat, and to the Olenian rock, with the hill that is called

Alision, at which point Minerva turned the people back. There I

slew the last man and left him; then the Achaeans drove their

horses back from Buprasium to Pylos and gave thanks to Jove among

the gods, and among mortal men to Nestor.

"Such was I among my peers, as surely as ever was, but Achilles

is for keeping all his valour for himself; bitterly will he rue

it hereafter when the host is being cut to pieces. My good

friend, did not Menoetius charge you thus, on the day when he

sent you from Phthia to Agamemnon? Ulysses and I were in the

house, inside, and heard all that he said to you; for we came to

the fair house of Peleus while beating up recruits throughout all

Achaea, and when we got there we found Menoetius and yourself,

and Achilles with you. The old knight Peleus was in the outer

court, roasting the fat thigh-bones of a heifer to Jove the lord

of thunder; and he held a gold chalice in his hand from which he

poured drink-offerings of wine over the burning sacrifice. You

two were busy cutting up the heifer, and at that moment we stood

at the gates, whereon Achilles sprang to his feet, led us by the

hand into the house, placed us at table, and set before us such

hospitable entertainment as guests expect. When we had satisfied

ourselves with meat and drink, I said my say and urged both of

you to join us. You were ready enough to do so, and the two old

men charged you much and straitly. Old Peleus bade his son

Achilles fight ever among the foremost and outvie his peers,

while Menoetius the son of Actor spoke thus to you: 'My son,'

said he, 'Achilles is of nobler birth than you are, but you are

older than he, though he is far the better man of the two.

Counsel him wisely, guide him in the right way, and he will

follow you to his own profit.' Thus did your father charge you,

but you have forgotten; nevertheless, even now, say all this to

Achilles if he will listen to you. Who knows but with heaven's

help you may talk him over, for it is good to take a friend's

advice. If, however, he is fearful about some oracle, or if his

mother has told him something from Jove, then let him send you,

and let the rest of the Myrmidons follow with you, if perchance

you may bring light and saving to the Danaans. And let him send

you into battle clad in his own armour, that the Trojans may

mistake you for him and leave off fighting; the sons of the

Achaeans may thus have time to get their breath, for they are

hard pressed and there is little breathing time in battle. You,

who are fresh, might easily drive a tired enemy back to his walls

and away from the tents and ships."

With these words he moved the heart of Patroclus, who set off

running by the line of the ships to Achilles, descendant of

Aeacus. When he had got as far as the ships of Ulysses, where was

their place of assembly and court of justice, with their altars

dedicated to the gods, Eurypylus son of Euaemon, met him, wounded

in the thigh with an arrow, and limping out of the fight. Sweat

rained from his head and shoulders, and black blood welled from

his cruel wound, but his mind did not wander. The son of

Menoetius when he saw him had compassion upon him and spoke

piteously saying, "O unhappy princes and counsellors of the

Danaans, are you then doomed to feed the hounds of Troy with your

fat, far from your friends and your native land? Say, noble

Eurypylus, will the Achaeans be able to hold great Hector in

check, or will they fall now before his spear?"

Wounded Eurypylus made answer, "Noble Patroclus, there is no hope

left for the Achaeans but they will perish at their ships. All

they that were princes among us are lying struck down and wounded

at the hands of the Trojans, who are waxing stronger and

stronger. But save me and take me to your ship; cut out the arrow

from my thigh; wash the black blood from off it with warm water,

and lay upon it those gracious herbs which, so they say, have

been shown you by Achilles, who was himself shown them by Chiron,

most righteous of all the centaurs. For of the physicians

Podalirius and Machaon, I hear that the one is lying wounded in

his tent and is himself in need of healing, while the other is

fighting the Trojans upon the plain."

"Hero Eurypylus," replied the brave son of Menoetius, "how may

these things be? What can I do? I am on my way to bear a message

to noble Achilles from Nestor of Gerene, bulwark of the Achaeans,

but even so I will not be unmindful of your distress."

With this he clasped him round the middle and led him into the

tent, and a servant, when he saw him, spread bullock-skins on the

ground for him to lie on. He laid him at full length and cut out

the sharp arrow from his thigh; he washed the black blood from

the wound with warm water; he then crushed a bitter herb, rubbing

it between his hands, and spread it upon the wound; this was a

virtuous herb which killed all pain; so the wound presently dried

and the blood left off flowing.

 Homer

Sorry, no summary available yet.