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Book XVII

BOOK XVII

BRAVE Menelaus son of Atreus now came to know that Patroclus had

fallen, and made his way through the front ranks clad in full

armour to bestride him. As a cow stands lowing over her first

calf, even so did yellow-haired Menelaus bestride Patroclus. He

held his round shield and his spear in front of him, resolute to

kill any who should dare face him. But the son of Panthous had

also noted the body, and came up to Menelaus saying, "Menelaus,

son of Atreus, draw back, leave the body, and let the

bloodstained spoils be. I was first of the Trojans and their

brave allies to drive my spear into Patroclus, let me, therefore,

have my full glory among the Trojans, or I will take aim and kill

you."

To this Menelaus answered in great anger "By father Jove,

boasting is an ill thing. The pard is not more bold, nor the lion

nor savage wild-boar, which is fiercest and most dauntless of all

creatures, than are the proud sons of Panthous. Yet Hyperenor did

not see out the days of his youth when he made light of me and

withstood me, deeming me the meanest soldier among the Danaans.

His own feet never bore him back to gladden his wife and parents.

Even so shall I make an end of you too, if you withstand me; get

you back into the crowd and do not face me, or it shall be worse

for you. Even a fool may be wise after the event."

Euphorbus would not listen, and said, "Now indeed, Menelaus,

shall you pay for the death of my brother over whom you vaunted,

and whose wife you widowed in her bridal chamber, while you

brought grief unspeakable on his parents. I shall comfort these

poor people if I bring your head and armour and place them in the

hands of Panthous and noble Phrontis. The time is come when this

matter shall be fought out and settled, for me or against me."

As he spoke he struck Menelaus full on the shield, but the spear

did not go through, for the shield turned its point. Menelaus

then took aim, praying to father Jove as he did so; Euphorbus was

drawing back, and Menelaus struck him about the roots of his

throat, leaning his whole weight on the spear, so as to drive it

home. The point went clean through his neck, and his armour rang

rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground. His hair

which was like that of the Graces, and his locks so deftly bound

in bands of silver and gold, were all bedrabbled with blood. As

one who has grown a fine young olive tree in a clear space where

there is abundance of water--the plant is full of promise, and

though the winds beat upon it from every quarter it puts forth

its white blossoms till the blasts of some fierce hurricane sweep

down upon it and level it with the ground--even so did Menelaus

strip the fair youth Euphorbus of his armour after he had slain

him. Or as some fierce lion upon the mountains in the pride of

his strength fastens on the finest heifer in a herd as it is

feeding--first he breaks her neck with his strong jaws, and then

gorges on her blood and entrails; dogs and shepherds raise a hue

and cry against him, but they stand aloof and will not come close

to him, for they are pale with fear--even so no one had the

courage to face valiant Menelaus. The son of Atreus would have

then carried off the armour of the son of Panthous with ease, had

not Phoebus Apollo been angry, and in the guise of Mentes chief

of the Cicons incited Hector to attack him. "Hector," said he,

"you are now going after the horses of the noble son of Aeacus,

but you will not take them; they cannot be kept in hand and

driven by mortal man, save only by Achilles, who is son to an

immortal mother. Meanwhile Menelaus son of Atreus has bestridden

the body of Patroclus and killed the noblest of the Trojans,

Euphorbus son of Panthous, so that he can fight no more."

The god then went back into the toil and turmoil, but the soul of

Hector was darkened with a cloud of grief; he looked along the

ranks and saw Euphorbus lying on the ground with the blood still

flowing from his wound, and Menelaus stripping him of his armour.

On this he made his way to the front like a flame of fire, clad

in his gleaming armour, and crying with a loud voice. When the

son of Atreus heard him, he said to himself in his dismay, "Alas!

what shall I do? I may not let the Trojans take the armour of

Patroclus who has fallen fighting on my behalf, lest some Danaan

who sees me should cry shame upon me. Still if for my honour's

sake I fight Hector and the Trojans single-handed, they will

prove too many for me, for Hector is bringing them up in force.

Why, however, should I thus hesitate? When a man fights in

despite of heaven with one whom a god befriends, he will soon rue

it. Let no Danaan think ill of me if I give place to Hector, for

the hand of heaven is with him. Yet, if I could find Ajax, the

two of us would fight Hector and heaven too, if we might only

save the body of Patroclus for Achilles son of Peleus. This, of

many evils would be the least."

While he was thus in two minds, the Trojans came up to him with

Hector at their head; he therefore drew back and left the body,

turning about like some bearded lion who is being chased by dogs

and men from a stockyard with spears and hue and cry, whereon he

is daunted and slinks sulkily off--even so did Menelaus son of

Atreus turn and leave the body of Patroclus. When among the body

of his men, he looked around for mighty Ajax son of Telamon, and

presently saw him on the extreme left of the fight, cheering on

his men and exhorting them to keep on fighting, for Phoebus

Apollo had spread a great panic among them. He ran up to him and

said, "Ajax, my good friend, come with me at once to dead

Patroclus, if so be that we may take the body to Achilles--as for

his armour, Hector already has it."

These words stirred the heart of Ajax, and he made his way among

the front ranks, Menelaus going with him. Hector had stripped

Patroclus of his armour, and was dragging him away to cut off his

head and take the body to fling before the dogs of Troy. But Ajax

came up with his shield like wall before him, on which Hector

withdrew under shelter of his men, and sprang on to his chariot,

giving the armour over to the Trojans to take to the city, as a

great trophy for himself; Ajax, therefore, covered the body of

Patroclus with his broad shield and bestrode him; as a lion

stands over his whelps if hunters have come upon him in a forest

when he is with his little ones--in the pride and fierceness of

his strength he draws his knit brows down till they cover his

eyes--even so did Ajax bestride the body of Patroclus, and by his

side stood Menelaus son of Atreus, nursing great sorrow in his

heart.

Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus looked fiercely at Hector and

rebuked him sternly. "Hector," said he, "you make a brave show,

but in fight you are sadly wanting. A runaway like yourself has

no claim to so great a reputation. Think how you may now save

your town and citadel by the hands of your own people born in

Ilius; for you will get no Lycians to fight for you, seeing what

thanks they have had for their incessant hardships. Are you

likely, sir, to do anything to help a man of less note, after

leaving Sarpedon, who was at once your guest and comrade in arms,

to be the spoil and prey of the Danaans? So long as he lived he

did good service both to your city and yourself; yet you had no

stomach to save his body from the dogs. If the Lycians will

listen to me, they will go home and leave Troy to its fate. If

the Trojans had any of that daring fearless spirit which lays

hold of men who are fighting for their country and harassing

those who would attack it, we should soon bear off Patroclus into

Ilius. Could we get this dead man away and bring him into the

city of Priam, the Argives would readily give up the armour of

Sarpedon, and we should get his body to boot. For he whose squire

has been now killed is the foremost man at the ships of the

Achaeans--he and his close-fighting followers. Nevertheless you

dared not make a stand against Ajax, nor face him, eye to eye,

with battle all round you, for he is a braver man than you are."

Hector scowled at him and answered, "Glaucus, you should know

better. I have held you so far as a man of more understanding

than any in all Lycia, but now I despise you for saying that I am

afraid of Ajax. I fear neither battle nor the din of chariots,

but Jove's will is stronger than ours; Jove at one time makes

even a strong man draw back and snatches victory from his grasp,

while at another he will set him on to fight. Come hither then,

my friend, stand by me and see indeed whether I shall play the

coward the whole day through as you say, or whether I shall not

stay some even of the boldest Danaans from fighting round the

body of Patroclus."

As he spoke he called loudly on the Trojans saying, "Trojans,

Lycians, and Dardanians, fighters in close combat, be men, my

friends, and fight might and main, while I put on the goodly

armour of Achilles, which I took when I killed Patroclus."

With this Hector left the fight, and ran full speed after his men

who were taking the armour of Achilles to Troy, but had not yet

got far. Standing for a while apart from the woeful fight, he

changed his armour. His own he sent to the strong city of Ilius

and to the Trojans, while he put on the immortal armour of the

son of Peleus, which the gods had given to Peleus, who in his age

gave it to his son; but the son did not grow old in his father's

armour.

When Jove, lord of the storm-cloud, saw Hector standing aloof and

arming himself in the armour of the son of Peleus, he wagged his

head and muttered to himself saying, "A! poor wretch, you arm in

the armour of a hero, before whom many another trembles, and you

reck nothing of the doom that is already close upon you. You have

killed his comrade so brave and strong, but it was not well that

you should strip the armour from his head and shoulders. I do

indeed endow you with great might now, but as against this you

shall not return from battle to lay the armour of the son of

Peleus before Andromache."

The son of Saturn bowed his portentous brows, and Hector fitted

the armour to his body, while terrible Mars entered into him, and

filled his whole body with might and valour. With a shout he

strode in among the allies, and his armour flashed about him so

that he seemed to all of them like the great son of Peleus

himself. He went about among them and cheered them on--Mesthles,

Glaucus, Medon, Thersilochus, Asteropaeus, Deisenor and

Hippothous, Phorcys, Chromius and Ennomus the augur. All these

did he exhort saying, "Hear me, allies from other cities who are

here in your thousands, it was not in order to have a crowd about

me that I called you hither each from his several city, but that

with heart and soul you might defend the wives and little ones of

the Trojans from the fierce Achaeans. For this do I oppress my

people with your food and the presents that make you rich.

Therefore turn, and charge at the foe, to stand or fall as is the

game of war; whoever shall bring Patroclus, dead though he be,

into the hands of the Trojans, and shall make Ajax give way

before him, I will give him one half of the spoils while I keep

the other. He will thus share like honour with myself."

When he had thus spoken they charged full weight upon the Danaans

with their spears held out before them, and the hopes of each ran

high that he should force Ajax son of Telamon to yield up the

body--fools that they were, for he was about to take the lives of

many. Then Ajax said to Menelaus, "My good friend Menelaus, you

and I shall hardly come out of this fight alive. I am less

concerned for the body of Patroclus, who will shortly become meat

for the dogs and vultures of Troy, than for the safety of my own

head and yours. Hector has wrapped us round in a storm of battle

from every quarter, and our destruction seems now certain. Call

then upon the princes of the Danaans if there is any who can hear

us."

Menelaus did as he said, and shouted to the Danaans for help at

the top of his voice. "My friends," he cried, "princes and

counsellors of the Argives, all you who with Agamemnon and

Menelaus drink at the public cost, and give orders each to his

own people as Jove vouchsafes him power and glory, the fight is

so thick about me that I cannot distinguish you severally; come

on, therefore, every man unbidden, and think it shame that

Patroclus should become meat and morsel for Trojan hounds."

Fleet Ajax son of Oileus heard him and was first to force his way

through the fight and run to help him. Next came Idomeneus and

Meriones his esquire, peer of murderous Mars. As for the others

that came into the fight after these, who of his own self could

name them?

The Trojans with Hector at their head charged in a body. As a

great wave that comes thundering in at the mouth of some

heaven-born river, and the rocks that jut into the sea ring with

the roar of the breakers that beat and buffet them--even with

such a roar did the Trojans come on; but the Achaeans in

singleness of heart stood firm about the son of Menoetius, and

fenced him with their bronze shields. Jove, moreover, hid the

brightness of their helmets in a thick cloud, for he had borne no

grudge against the son of Menoetius while he was still alive and

squire to the descendant of Aeacus; therefore he was loth to let

him fall a prey to the dogs of his foes the Trojans, and urged

his comrades on to defend him.

At first the Trojans drove the Achaeans back, and they withdrew

from the dead man daunted. The Trojans did not succeed in killing

any one, nevertheless they drew the body away. But the Achaeans

did not lose it long, for Ajax, foremost of all the Danaans after

the son of Peleus alike in stature and prowess, quickly rallied

them and made towards the front like a wild boar upon the

mountains when he stands at bay in the forest glades and routs

the hounds and lusty youths that have attacked him--even so did

Ajax son of Telamon passing easily in among the phalanxes of the

Trojans, disperse those who had bestridden Patroclus and were

most bent on winning glory by dragging him off to their city. At

this moment Hippothous brave son of the Pelasgian Lethus, in his

zeal for Hector and the Trojans, was dragging the body off by the

foot through the press of the fight, having bound a strap round

the sinews near the ancle; but a mischief soon befell him from

which none of those could save him who would have gladly done so,

for the son of Telamon sprang forward and smote him on his

bronze-cheeked helmet. The plumed headpiece broke about the point

of the weapon, struck at once by the spear and by the strong hand

of Ajax, so that the bloody brain came oozing out through the

crest-socket. His strength then failed him and he let Patroclus'

foot drop from his hand, as he fell full length dead upon the

body; thus he died far from the fertile land of Larissa, and

never repaid his parents the cost of bringing him up, for his

life was cut short early by the spear of mighty Ajax. Hector then

took aim at Ajax with a spear, but he saw it coming and just

managed to avoid it; the spear passed on and struck Schedius son

of noble Iphitus, captain of the Phoceans, who dwelt in famed

Panopeus and reigned over much people; it struck him under the

middle of the collar-bone the bronze point went right through

him, coming out at the bottom of his shoulder-blade, and his

armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to the ground.

Ajax in his turn struck noble Phorcys son of Phaenops in the

middle of the belly as he was bestriding Hippothous, and broke

the plate of his cuirass; whereon the spear tore out his entrails

and he clutched the ground in his palm as he fell to earth.

Hector and those who were in the front rank then gave ground,

while the Argives raised a loud cry of triumph, and drew off the

bodies of Phorcys and Hippothous which they stripped presently of

their armour.

The Trojans would now have been worsted by the brave Achaeans and

driven back to Ilius through their own cowardice, while the

Argives, so great was their courage and endurance, would have

achieved a triumph even against the will of Jove, if Apollo had

not roused Aeneas, in the likeness of Periphas son of Epytus, an

attendant who had grown old in the service of Aeneas' aged

father, and was at all times devoted to him. In his likeness,

then, Apollo said, "Aeneas, can you not manage, even though

heaven be against us, to save high Ilius? I have known men, whose

numbers, courage, and self-reliance have saved their people in

spite of Jove, whereas in this case he would much rather give

victory to us than to the Danaans, if you would only fight

instead of being so terribly afraid."

Aeneas knew Apollo when he looked straight at him, and shouted to

Hector saying, "Hector and all other Trojans and allies, shame on

us if we are beaten by the Achaeans and driven back to Ilius

through our own cowardice. A god has just come up to me and told

me that Jove the supreme disposer will be with us. Therefore let

us make for the Danaans, that it may go hard with them ere they

bear away dead Patroclus to the ships."

As he spoke he sprang out far in front of the others, who then

rallied and again faced the Achaeans. Aeneas speared Leiocritus

son of Arisbas, a valiant follower of Lycomedes, and Lycomedes

was moved with pity as he saw him fall; he therefore went close

up, and speared Apisaon son of Hippasus shepherd of his people in

the liver under the midriff, so that he died; he had come from

fertile Paeonia and was the best man of them all after

Asteropaeus. Asteropaeus flew forward to avenge him and attack

the Danaans, but this might no longer be, inasmuch as those about

Patroclus were well covered by their shields, and held their

spears in front of them, for Ajax had given them strict orders

that no man was either to give ground, or to stand out before the

others, but all were to hold well together about the body and

fight hand to hand. Thus did huge Ajax bid them, and the earth

ran red with blood as the corpses fell thick on one another alike

on the side of the Trojans and allies, and on that of the

Danaans; for these last, too, fought no bloodless fight though

many fewer of them perished, through the care they took to defend

and stand by one another.

Thus did they fight as it were a flaming fire; it seemed as

though it had gone hard even with the sun and moon, for they were

hidden over all that part where the bravest heroes were fighting

about the dead son of Menoetius, whereas the other Danaans and

Achaeans fought at their ease in full daylight with brilliant

sunshine all round them, and there was not a cloud to be seen

neither on plain nor mountain. These last moreover would rest for

a while and leave off fighting, for they were some distance apart

and beyond the range of one another's weapons, whereas those who

were in the thick of the fray suffered both from battle and

darkness. All the best of them were being worn out by the great

weight of their armour, but the two valiant heroes, Thrasymedes

and Antilochus, had not yet heard of the death of Patroclus, and

believed him to be still alive and leading the van against the

Trojans; they were keeping themselves in reserve against the

death or rout of their own comrades, for so Nestor had ordered

when he sent them from the ships into battle.

Thus through the livelong day did they wage fierce war, and the

sweat of their toil rained ever on their legs under them, and on

their hands and eyes, as they fought over the squire of the fleet

son of Peleus. It was as when a man gives a great ox-hide all

drenched in fat to his men, and bids them stretch it; whereon

they stand round it in a ring and tug till the moisture leaves

it, and the fat soaks in for the many that pull at it, and it is

well stretched--even so did the two sides tug the dead body

hither and thither within the compass of but a little space--the

Trojans steadfastly set on dragging it into Ilius, while the

Achaeans were no less so on taking it to their ships; and fierce

was the fight between them. Not Mars himself the lord of hosts,

nor yet Minerva, even in their fullest fury could make light of

such a battle.

Such fearful turmoil of men and horses did Jove on that day

ordain round the body of Patroclus. Meanwhile Achilles did not

know that he had fallen, for the fight was under the wall of Troy

a long way off the ships. He had no idea, therefore, that

Patroclus was dead, and deemed that he would return alive as soon

as he had gone close up to the gates. He knew that he was not to

sack the city neither with nor without himself, for his mother

had often told him this when he had sat alone with her, and she

had informed him of the counsels of great Jove. Now, however, she

had not told him how great a disaster had befallen him in the

death of the one who was far dearest to him of all his comrades.

The others still kept on charging one another round the body with

their pointed spears and killing each other. Then would one say,

"My friends, we can never again show our faces at the ships--

better, and greatly better, that earth should open and swallow us

here in this place, than that we should let the Trojans have the

triumph of bearing off Patroclus to their city."

The Trojans also on their part spoke to one another saying,

"Friends, though we fall to a man beside this body, let none

shrink from fighting." With such words did they exhort each

other. They fought and fought, and an iron clank rose through the

void air to the brazen vault of heaven. The horses of the

descendant of Aeacus stood out of the fight and wept when they

heard that their driver had been laid low by the hand of

murderous Hector. Automedon, valiant son of Diores, lashed them

again and again; many a time did he speak kindly to them, and

many a time did he upbraid them, but they would neither go back

to the ships by the waters of the broad Hellespont, nor yet into

battle among the Achaeans; they stood with their chariot stock

still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some dead man or woman,

and bowed their heads to the ground. Hot tears fell from their

eyes as they mourned the loss of their charioteer, and their

noble manes drooped all wet from under the yokestraps on either

side the yoke.

The son of Saturn saw them and took pity upon their sorrow. He

wagged his head, and muttered to himself, saying, "Poor things,

why did we give you to King Peleus who is a mortal, while you are

yourselves ageless and immortal? Was it that you might share the

sorrows that befall mankind? for of all creatures that live and

move upon the earth there is none so pitiable as he is--still,

Hector son of Priam shall drive neither you nor your chariot. I

will not have it. It is enough that he should have the armour

over which he vaunts so vainly. Furthermore I will give you

strength of heart and limb to bear Automedon safely to the ships

from battle, for I shall let the Trojans triumph still further,

and go on killing till they reach the ships; whereon night shall

fall and darkness overshadow the land."

As he spoke he breathed heart and strength into the horses so

that they shook the dust from out of their manes, and bore their

chariot swiftly into the fight that raged between Trojans and

Achaeans. Behind them fought Automedon full of sorrow for his

comrade, as a vulture amid a flock of geese. In and out, and here

and there, full speed he dashed amid the throng of the Trojans,

but for all the fury of his pursuit he killed no man, for he

could not wield his spear and keep his horses in hand when alone

in the chariot; at last, however, a comrade, Alcimedon, son of

Laerces son of Haemon caught sight of him and came up behind his

chariot. "Automedon," said he, "what god has put this folly into

your heart and robbed you of your right mind, that you fight the

Trojans in the front rank single-handed? He who was your comrade

is slain, and Hector plumes himself on being armed in the armour

of the descendant of Aeacus."

Automedon son of Diores answered, "Alcimedon, there is no one

else who can control and guide the immortal steeds so well as you

can, save only Patroclus--while he was alive--peer of gods in

counsel. Take then the whip and reins, while I go down from the

car and fight."

Alcimedon sprang on to the chariot, and caught up the whip and

reins, while Automedon leaped from off the car. When Hector saw

him he said to Aeneas who was near him, "Aeneas, counsellor of

the mail-clad Trojans, I see the steeds of the fleet son of

Aeacus come into battle with weak hands to drive them. I am sure,

if you think well, that we might take them; they will not dare

face us if we both attack them."

The valiant son of Anchises was of the same mind, and the pair

went right on, with their shoulders covered under shields of

tough dry ox-hide, overlaid with much bronze. Chromius and Aretus

went also with them, and their hearts beat high with hope that

they might kill the men and capture the horses--fools that they

were, for they were not to return scatheless from their meeting

with Automedon, who prayed to father Jove and was forthwith

filled with courage and strength abounding. He turned to his

trusty comrade Alcimedon and said, "Alcimedon, keep your horses

so close up that I may feel their breath upon my back; I doubt

that we shall not stay Hector son of Priam till he has killed us

and mounted behind the horses; he will then either spread panic

among the ranks of the Achaeans, or himself be killed among the

foremost."

On this he cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaus, "Ajaxes

captains of the Argives, and Menelaus, give the dead body over to

them that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of

us living; for Hector and Aeneas who are the two best men among

the Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war.

Nevertheless the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will

therefore hurl my spear and leave the rest to Jove."

He poised and hurled as he spoke, whereon the spear struck the

round shield of Aretus, and went right through it for the shield

stayed it not, so that it was driven through his belt into the

lower part of his belly. As when some sturdy youth, axe in hand,

deals his blow behind the horns of an ox and severs the tendons

at the back of its neck so that it springs forward and then

drops, even so did Aretus give one bound and then fall on his

back the spear quivering in his body till it made an end of him.

Hector then aimed a spear at Automedon but he saw it coming and

stooped forward to avoid it, so that it flew past him and the

point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on quivering

till Mars robbed it of its force. They would then have fought

hand to hand with swords had not the two Ajaxes forced their way

through the crowd when they heard their comrade calling, and

parted them for all their fury--for Hector, Aeneas, and Chromius

were afraid and drew back, leaving Aretus to lie there struck to

the heart. Automedon, peer of fleet Mars, then stripped him of

his armour and vaunted over him saying, "I have done little to

assuage my sorrow for the son of Menoetius, for the man I have

killed is not so good as he was."

As he spoke he took the blood-stained spoils and laid them upon

his chariot; then he mounted the car with his hands and feet all

steeped in gore as a lion that has been gorging upon a bull.

And now the fierce groanful fight again raged about Patroclus,

for Minerva came down from heaven and roused its fury by the

command of far-seeing Jove, who had changed his mind and sent her

to encourage the Danaans. As when Jove bends his bright bow in

heaven in token to mankind either of war or of the chill storms

that stay men from their labour and plague the flocks--even so,

wrapped in such radiant raiment, did Minerva go in among the host

and speak man by man to each. First she took the form and voice

of Phoenix and spoke to Menelaus son of Atreus, who was standing

near her. "Menelaus," said she, "it will be shame and dishonour

to you, if dogs tear the noble comrade of Achilles under the

walls of Troy. Therefore be staunch, and urge your men to be so

also."

Menelaus answered, "Phoenix, my good old friend, may Minerva

vouchsafe me strength and keep the darts from off me, for so

shall I stand by Patroclus and defend him; his death has gone to

my heart, but Hector is as a raging fire and deals his blows

without ceasing, for Jove is now granting him a time of triumph."

Minerva was pleased at his having named herself before any of the

other gods. Therefore she put strength into his knees and

shoulders, and made him as bold as a fly, which, though driven

off will yet come again and bite if it can, so dearly does it

love man's blood--even so bold as this did she make him as he

stood over Patroclus and threw his spear. Now there was among the

Trojans a man named Podes, son of Eetion, who was both rich and

valiant. Hector held him in the highest honour for he was his

comrade and boon companion; the spear of Menelaus struck this man

in the girdle just as he had turned in flight, and went right

through him. Whereon he fell heavily forward, and Menelaus son of

Atreus drew off his body from the Trojans into the ranks of his

own people.

Apollo then went up to Hector and spurred him on to fight, in the

likeness of Phaenops son of Asius who lived in Abydos and was the

most favoured of all Hector's guests. In his likeness Apollo

said, "Hector, who of the Achaeans will fear you henceforward now

that you have quailed before Menelaus who has ever been rated

poorly as a soldier? Yet he has now got a corpse away from the

Trojans single-handed, and has slain your own true comrade, a man

brave among the foremost, Podes son of Eetion."

A dark cloud of grief fell upon Hector as he heard, and he made

his way to the front clad in full armour. Thereon the son of

Saturn seized his bright tasselled aegis, and veiled Ida in

cloud: he sent forth his lightnings and his thunders, and as he

shook his aegis he gave victory to the Trojans and routed the

Achaeans.

The panic was begun by Peneleos the Boeotian, for while keeping

his face turned ever towards the foe he had been hit with a spear

on the upper part of the shoulder; a spear thrown by Polydamas

had grazed the top of the bone, for Polydamas had come up to him

and struck him from close at hand. Then Hector in close combat

struck Leitus son of noble Alectryon in the hand by the wrist,

and disabled him from fighting further. He looked about him in

dismay, knowing that never again should he wield spear in battle

with the Trojans. While Hector was in pursuit of Leitus,

Idomeneus struck him on the breastplate over his chest near the

nipple; but the spear broke in the shaft, and the Trojans cheered

aloud. Hector then aimed at Idomeneus son of Deucalion as he was

standing on his chariot, and very narrowly missed him, but the

spear hit Coiranus, a follower and charioteer of Meriones who had

come with him from Lyctus. Idomeneus had left the ships on foot

and would have afforded a great triumph to the Trojans if

Coiranus had not driven quickly up to him, he therefore brought

life and rescue to Idomeneus, but himself fell by the hand of

murderous Hector. For Hector hit him on the jaw under the ear;

the end of the spear drove out his teeth and cut his tongue in

two pieces, so that he fell from his chariot and let the reins

fall to the ground. Meriones gathered them up from the ground and

took them into his own hands, then he said to Idomeneus, "Lay on,

till you get back to the ships, for you must see that the day is

no longer ours."

On this Idomeneus lashed the horses to the ships, for fear had

taken hold upon him.

Ajax and Menelaus noted how Jove had turned the scale in favour

of the Trojans, and Ajax was first to speak. "Alas," said he,

"even a fool may see that father Jove is helping the Trojans. All

their weapons strike home; no matter whether it be a brave man or

a coward that hurls them, Jove speeds all alike, whereas ours

fall each one of them without effect. What, then, will be best

both as regards rescuing the body, and our return to the joy of

our friends who will be grieving as they look hitherwards; for

they will make sure that nothing can now check the terrible hands

of Hector, and that he will fling himself upon our ships. I wish

that some one would go and tell the son of Peleus at once, for I

do not think he can have yet heard the sad news that the dearest

of his friends has fallen. But I can see not a man among the

Achaeans to send, for they and their chariots are alike hidden in

darkness. O father Jove, lift this cloud from over the sons of

the Achaeans; make heaven serene, and let us see; if you will

that we perish, let us fall at any rate by daylight."

Father Jove heard him and had compassion upon his tears.

Forthwith he chased away the cloud of darkness, so that the sun

shone out and all the fighting was revealed. Ajax then said to

Menelaus, "Look, Menelaus, and if Antilochus son of Nestor be

still living, send him at once to tell Achilles that by far the

dearest to him of all his comrades has fallen."

Menelaus heeded his words and went his way as a lion from a

stockyard--the lion is tired of attacking the men and hounds, who

keep watch the whole night through and will not let him feast on

the fat of their herd. In his lust of meat he makes straight at

them but in vain, for darts from strong hands assail him, and

burning brands which daunt him for all his hunger, so in the

morning he slinks sulkily away--even so did Menelaus sorely

against his will leave Patroclus, in great fear lest the Achaeans

should be driven back in rout and let him fall into the hands of

the foe. He charged Meriones and the two Ajaxes straitly saying,

"Ajaxes and Meriones, leaders of the Argives, now indeed remember

how good Patroclus was; he was ever courteous while alive, bear

it in mind now that he is dead."

With this Menelaus left them, looking round him as keenly as an

eagle, whose sight they say is keener than that of any other

bird--however high he may be in the heavens, not a hare that runs

can escape him by crouching under bush or thicket, for he will

swoop down upon it and make an end of it--even so, O Menelaus,

did your keen eyes range round the mighty host of your followers

to see if you could find the son of Nestor still alive. Presently

Menelaus saw him on the extreme left of the battle cheering on

his men and exhorting them to fight boldly. Menelaus went up to

him and said, "Antilochus, come here and listen to sad news,

which I would indeed were untrue. You must see with your own eyes

that heaven is heaping calamity upon the Danaans, and giving

victory to the Trojans. Patroclus has fallen, who was the bravest

of the Achaeans, and sorely will the Danaans miss him. Run

instantly to the ships and tell Achilles, that he may come to

rescue the body and bear it to the ships. As for the armour,

Hector already has it."

Antilochus was struck with horror. For a long time he was

speechless; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no

utterance, but he did as Menelaus had said, and set off running

as soon as he had given his armour to a comrade, Laodocus, who

was wheeling his horses round, close beside him.

Thus, then, did he run weeping from the field, to carry the bad

news to Achilles son of Peleus. Nor were you, O Menelaus, minded

to succour his harassed comrades, when Antilochus had left the

Pylians--and greatly did they miss him--but he sent them noble

Thrasymedes, and himself went back to Patroclus. He came running

up to the two Ajaxes and said, "I have sent Antilochus to the

ships to tell Achilles, but rage against Hector as he may, he

cannot come, for he cannot fight without armour. What then will

be our best plan both as regards rescuing the dead, and our own

escape from death amid the battle-cries of the Trojans?"

Ajax answered, "Menelaus, you have said well: do you, then, and

Meriones stoop down, raise the body, and bear it out of the fray,

while we two behind you keep off Hector and the Trojans, one in

heart as in name, and long used to fighting side by side with one

another."

On this Menelaus and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and

lifted him high aloft with a great effort. The Trojan host raised

a hue and cry behind them when they saw the Achaeans bearing the

body away, and flew after them like hounds attacking a wounded

boar at the loo of a band of young huntsmen. For a while the

hounds fly at him as though they would tear him in pieces, but

now and again he turns on them in a fury, scaring and scattering

them in all directions--even so did the Trojans for a while

charge in a body, striking with sword and with spears pointed ai

both the ends, but when the two Ajaxes faced them and stood at

bay, they would turn pale and no man dared press on to fight

further about the dead.

In this wise did the two heroes strain every nerve to bear the

body to the ships out of the fight. The battle raged round them

like fierce flames that when once kindled spread like wildfire

over a city, and the houses fall in the glare of its burning--

even such was the roar and tramp of men and horses that pursued

them as they bore Patroclus from the field. Or as mules that put

forth all their strength to draw some beam or great piece of

ship's timber down a rough mountain-track, and they pant and

sweat as they, go even so did Menelaus and pant and sweat as they

bore the body of Patroclus. Behind them the two Ajaxes held

stoutly out. As some wooded mountain-spur that stretches across a

plain will turn water and check the flow even of a great river,

nor is there any stream strong enough to break through it--even

so did the two Ajaxes face the Trojans and stem the tide of their

fighting though they kept pouring on towards them and foremost

among them all was Aeneas son of Anchises with valiant Hector. As

a flock of daws or starlings fall to screaming and chattering

when they see a falcon, foe to all small birds, come soaring near

them, even so did the Achaean youth raise a babel of cries as

they fled before Aeneas and Hector, unmindful of their former

prowess. In the rout of the Danaans much goodly armour fell round

about the trench, and of fighting there was no end.

 Homer

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