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Book XXI

BOOK XXI

NOW when they came to the ford of the full-flowing river Xanthus,

begotten of immortal Jove, Achilles cut their forces in two: one

half he chased over the plain towards the city by the same way

that the Achaeans had taken when flying panic-stricken on the

preceding day with Hector in full triumph; this way did they fly

pell-mell, and Juno sent down a thick mist in front of them to

stay them. The other half were hemmed in by the deep

silver-eddying stream, and fell into it with a great uproar. The

waters resounded, and the banks rang again, as they swam hither

and thither with loud cries amid the whirling eddies. As locusts

flying to a river before the blast of a grass fire--the flame

comes on and on till at last it overtakes them and they huddle

into the water--even so was the eddying stream of Xanthus filled

with the uproar of men and horses, all struggling in confusion

before Achilles.

Forthwith the hero left his spear upon the bank, leaning it

against a tamarisk bush, and plunged into the river like a god,

armed with his sword only. Fell was his purpose as he hewed the

Trojans down on every side. Their dying groans rose hideous as

the sword smote them, and the river ran red with blood. As when

fish fly scared before a huge dolphin, and fill every nook and

corner of some fair haven--for he is sure to eat all he can

catch--even so did the Trojans cower under the banks of the

mighty river, and when Achilles' arms grew weary with killing

them, he drew twelve youths alive out of the water, to sacrifice

in revenge for Patroclus son of Menoetius. He drew them out like

dazed fawns, bound their hands behind them with the girdles of

their own shirts, and gave them over to his men to take back to

the ships. Then he sprang into the river, thirsting for still

further blood.

There he found Lycaon, son of Priam seed of Dardanus, as he was

escaping out of the water; he it was whom he had once taken

prisoner when he was in his father's vineyard, having set upon

him by night, as he was cutting young shoots from a wild fig-tree

to make the wicker sides of a chariot. Achilles then caught him

to his sorrow unawares, and sent him by sea to Lemnos, where the

son of Jason bought him. But a guest-friend, Eetion of Imbros,

freed him with a great sum, and sent him to Arisbe, whence he had

escaped and returned to his father's house. He had spent eleven

days happily with his friends after he had come from Lemnos, but

on the twelfth heaven again delivered him into the hands of

Achilles, who was to send him to the house of Hades sorely

against his will. He was unarmed when Achilles caught sight of

him, and had neither helmet nor shield; nor yet had he any spear,

for he had thrown all his armour from him on to the bank, and was

sweating with his struggles to get out of the river, so that his

strength was now failing him.

Then Achilles said to himself in his surprise, "What marvel do I

see here? If this man can come back alive after having been sold

over into Lemnos, I shall have the Trojans also whom I have slain

rising from the world below. Could not even the waters of the

grey sea imprison him, as they do many another whether he will or

no? This time let him taste my spear, that I may know for certain

whether mother earth who can keep even a strong man down, will be

able to hold him, or whether thence too he will return."

Thus did he pause and ponder. But Lycaon came up to him dazed and

trying hard to embrace his knees, for he would fain live, not

die. Achilles thrust at him with his spear, meaning to kill him,

but Lycaon ran crouching up to him and caught his knees, whereby

the spear passed over his back, and stuck in the ground,

hungering though it was for blood. With one hand he caught

Achilles' knees as he besought him, and with the other he

clutched the spear and would not let it go. Then he said,

"Achilles, have mercy upon me and spare me, for I am your

suppliant. It was in your tents that I first broke bread on the

day when you took me prisoner in the vineyard; after which you

sold me away to Lemnos far from my father and my friends, and I

brought you the price of a hundred oxen. I have paid three times

as much to gain my freedom; it is but twelve days that I have

come to Ilius after much suffering, and now cruel fate has again

thrown me into your hands. Surely father Jove must hate me, that

he has given me over to you a second time. Short of life indeed

did my mother Laothoe bear me, daughter of aged Altes--of Altes

who reigns over the warlike Lelegae and holds steep Pedasus on

the river Satnioeis. Priam married his daughter along with many

other women and two sons were born of her, both of whom you will

have slain. Your spear slew noble Polydorus as he was fighting in

the front ranks, and now evil will here befall me, for I fear

that I shall not escape you since heaven has delivered me over to

you. Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart, spare

me, for I am not of the same womb as Hector who slew your brave

and noble comrade."

With such words did the princely son of Priam beseech Achilles;

but Achilles answered him sternly. "Idiot," said he, "talk not to

me of ransom. Until Patroclus fell I preferred to give the

Trojans quarter, and sold beyond the sea many of those whom I had

taken alive; but now not a man shall live of those whom heaven

delivers into my hands before the city of Ilius--and of all

Trojans it shall fare hardest with the sons of Priam. Therefore,

my friend, you too shall die. Why should you whine in this way?

Patroclus fell, and he was a better man than you are. I too--see

you not how I am great and goodly? I am son to a noble father,

and have a goddess for my mother, but the hands of doom and death

overshadow me all as surely. The day will come, either at dawn or

dark, or at the noontide, when one shall take my life also in

battle, either with his spear, or with an arrow sped from his

bow."

Thus did he speak, and Lycaon's heart sank within him. He loosed

his hold of the spear, and held out both hands before him; but

Achilles drew his keen blade, and struck him by the collar-bone

on his neck; he plunged his two-edged sword into him to the very

hilt, whereon he lay at full length on the ground, with the dark

blood welling from him till the earth was soaked. Then Achilles

caught him by the foot and flung him into the river to go down

stream, vaunting over him the while, and saying, "Lie there among

the fishes, who will lick the blood from your wound and gloat

over it; your mother shall not lay you on any bier to mourn you,

but the eddies of Scamander shall bear you into the broad bosom

of the sea. There shall the fishes feed on the fat of Lycaon as

they dart under the dark ripple of the waters--so perish all of

you till we reach the citadel of strong Ilius--you in flight, and

I following after to destroy you. The river with its broad silver

stream shall serve you in no stead, for all the bulls you offered

him and all the horses that you flung living into his waters.

None the less miserably shall you perish till there is not a man

of you but has paid in full for the death of Patroclus and the

havoc you wrought among the Achaeans whom you have slain while I

held aloof from battle."

So spoke Achilles, but the river grew more and more angry, and

pondered within himself how he should stay the hand of Achilles

and save the Trojans from disaster. Meanwhile the son of Peleus,

spear in hand, sprang upon Asteropaeus son of Pelegon to kill

him. He was son to the broad river Axius and Periboea eldest

daughter of Acessamenus; for the river had lain with her.

Asteropaeus stood up out of the water to face him with a spear in

either hand, and Xanthus filled him with courage, being angry for

the death of the youths whom Achilles was slaying ruthlessly

within his waters. When they were close up with one another

Achilles was first to speak. "Who and whence are you," said he,

"who dare to face me? Woe to the parents whose son stands up

against me." And the son of Pelegon answered, "Great son of

Peleus, why should you ask my lineage. I am from the fertile land

of far Paeonia, captain of the Paeonians, and it is now eleven

days that I am at Ilius. I am of the blood of the river Axius--of

Axius that is the fairest of all rivers that run. He begot the

famed warrior Pelegon, whose son men call me. Let us now fight,

Achilles."

Thus did he defy him, and Achilles raised his spear of Pelian

ash. Asteropaeus failed with both his spears, for he could use

both hands alike; with the one spear he struck Achilles' shield,

but did not pierce it, for the layer of gold, gift of the god,

stayed the point; with the other spear he grazed the elbow of

Achilles' right arm drawing dark blood, but the spear itself went

by him and fixed itself in the ground, foiled of its bloody

banquet. Then Achilles, fain to kill him, hurled his spear at

Asteropaeus, but failed to hit him and struck the steep bank of

the river, driving the spear half its length into the earth. The

son of Peleus then drew his sword and sprang furiously upon him.

Asteropaeus vainly tried to draw Achilles' spear out of the bank

by main force; thrice did he tug at it, trying with all his might

to draw it out, and thrice he had to leave off trying; the fourth

time he tried to bend and break it, but ere he could do so

Achilles smote him with his sword and killed him. He struck him

in the belly near the navel, so that all his bowels came gushing

out on to the ground, and the darkness of death came over him as

he lay gasping. Then Achilles set his foot on his chest and

spoiled him of his armour, vaunting over him and saying, "Lie

there--begotten of a river though you be, it is hard for you to

strive with the offspring of Saturn's son. You declare yourself

sprung from the blood of a broad river, but I am of the seed of

mighty Jove. My father is Peleus, son of Aeacus ruler over the

many Myrmidons, and Aeacus was the son of Jove. Therefore as Jove

is mightier than any river that flows into the sea, so are his

children stronger than those of any river whatsoever. Moreover

you have a great river hard by if he can be of any use to you,

but there is no fighting against Jove the son of Saturn, with

whom not even King Achelous can compare, nor the mighty stream of

deep-flowing Oceanus, from whom all rivers and seas with all

springs and deep wells proceed; even Oceanus fears the lightnings

of great Jove, and his thunder that comes crashing out of

heaven."

With this he drew his bronze spear out of the bank, and now that

he had killed Asteropaeus, he let him lie where he was on the

sand, with the dark water flowing over him and the eels and

fishes busy nibbling and gnawing the fat that was about his

kidneys. Then he went in chase of the Paeonians, who were flying

along the bank of the river in panic when they saw their leader

slain by the hands of the son of Peleus. Therein he slew

Thersilochus, Mydon, Astypylus, Mnesus, Thrasius, Oeneus, and

Ophelestes, and he would have slain yet others, had not the river

in anger taken human form, and spoken to him from out the deep

waters saying, "Achilles, if you excel all in strength, so do you

also in wickedness, for the gods are ever with you to protect

you: if, then, the son of Saturn has vouchsafed it to you to

destroy all the Trojans, at any rate drive them out of my stream,

and do your grim work on land. My fair waters are now filled with

corpses, nor can I find any channel by which I may pour myself

into the sea for I am choked with dead, and yet you go on

mercilessly slaying. I am in despair, therefore, O captain of

your host, trouble me no further."

Achilles answered, "So be it, Scamander, Jove-descended; but I

will never cease dealing out death among the Trojans, till I have

pent them up in their city, and made trial of Hector face to

face, that I may learn whether he is to vanquish me, or I him."

As he spoke he set upon the Trojans with a fury like that of the

gods. But the river said to Apollo, "Surely, son of Jove, lord of

the silver bow, you are not obeying the commands of Jove who

charged you straitly that you should stand by the Trojans and

defend them, till twilight fades, and darkness is over an the

earth."

Meanwhile Achilles sprang from the bank into mid-stream, whereon

the river raised a high wave and attacked him. He swelled his

stream into a torrent, and swept away the many dead whom Achilles

had slain and left within his waters. These he cast out on to the

land, bellowing like a bull the while, but the living he saved

alive, hiding them in his mighty eddies. The great and terrible

wave gathered about Achilles, falling upon him and beating on his

shield, so that he could not keep his feet; he caught hold of a

great elm-tree, but it came up by the roots, and tore away the

bank, damming the stream with its thick branches and bridging it

all across; whereby Achilles struggled out of the stream, and

fled full speed over the plain, for he was afraid.

But the mighty god ceased not in his pursuit, and sprang upon him

with a dark-crested wave, to stay his hands and save the Trojans

from destruction. The son of Peleus darted away a spear's throw

from him; swift as the swoop of a black hunter-eagle which is the

strongest and fleetest of all birds, even so did he spring

forward, and the armour rang loudly about his breast. He fled on

in front, but the river with a loud roar came tearing after. As

one who would water his garden leads a stream from some fountain

over his plants, and all his ground-spade in hand he clears away

the dams to free the channels, and the little stones run rolling

round and round with the water as it goes merrily down the bank

faster than the man can follow--even so did the river keep

catching up with Achilles albeit he was a fleet runner, for the

gods are stronger than men. As often as he would strive to stand

his ground, and see whether or no all the gods in heaven were in

league against him, so often would the mighty wave come beating

down upon his shoulders, and be would have to keep flying on and

on in great dismay; for the angry flood was tiring him out as it

flowed past him and ate the ground from under his feet.

Then the son of Peleus lifted up his voice to heaven saying,

"Father Jove, is there none of the gods who will take pity upon

me, and save me from the river? I do not care what may happen to

me afterwards. I blame none of the other dwellers on Olympus so

severely as I do my dear mother, who has beguiled and tricked me.

She told me I was to fall under the walls of Troy by the flying

arrows of Apollo; would that Hector, the best man among the

Trojans, might there slay me; then should I fall a hero by the

hand of a hero; whereas now it seems that I shall come to a most

pitiable end, trapped in this river as though I were some

swineherd's boy, who gets carried down a torrent while trying to

cross it during a storm."

As soon as he had spoken thus, Neptune and Minerva came up to him

in the likeness of two men, and took him by the hand to reassure

him. Neptune spoke first. "Son of Peleus," said he, "be not so

exceeding fearful; we are two gods, come with Jove's sanction to

assist you, I, and Pallas Minerva. It is not your fate to perish

in this river; he will abate presently as you will see; moreover

we strongly advise you, if you will be guided by us, not to stay

your hand from fighting till you have pent the Trojan host within

the famed walls of Ilius--as many of them as may escape. Then

kill Hector and go back to the ships, for we will vouchsafe you a

triumph over him."

When they had so said they went back to the other immortals, but

Achilles strove onward over the plain, encouraged by the charge

the gods had laid upon him. All was now covered with the flood of

waters, and much goodly armour of the youths that had been slain

was rifting about, as also many corpses, but he forced his way

against the stream, speeding right onwards, nor could the broad

waters stay him, for Minerva had endowed him with great strength.

Nevertheless Scamander did not slacken in his pursuit, but was

still more furious with the son of Peleus. He lifted his waters

into a high crest and cried aloud to Simois saying, "Dear

brother, let the two of us unite to save this man, or he will

sack the mighty city of King Priam, and the Trojans will not hold

out against him. Help me at once; fill your streams with water

from their sources, rouse all your torrents to a fury; raise your

wave on high, and let snags and stones come thundering down you

that we may make an end of this savage creature who is now

lording it as though he were a god. Nothing shall serve him

longer, not strength nor comeliness, nor his fine armour, which

forsooth shall soon be lying low in the deep waters covered over

with mud. I will wrap him in sand, and pour tons of shingle round

him, so that the Achaeans shall not know how to gather his bones

for the silt in which I shall have hidden him, and when they

celebrate his funeral they need build no barrow."

On this he upraised his tumultuous flood high against Achilles,

seething as it was with foam and blood and the bodies of the

dead. The dark waters of the river stood upright and would have

overwhelmed the son of Peleus, but Juno, trembling lest Achilles

should be swept away in the mighty torrent, lifted her voice on

high and called out to Vulcan her son. "Crook-foot," she cried,

"my child, be up and doing, for I deem it is with you that

Xanthus is fain to fight; help us at once, kindle a fierce fire;

I will then bring up the west and the white south wind in a

mighty hurricane from the sea, that shall bear the flames against

the heads and armour of the Trojans and consume them, while you

go along the banks of Xanthus burning his trees and wrapping him

round with fire. Let him not turn you back neither by fair words

nor foul, and slacken not till I shout and tell you. Then you may

stay your flames."

On this Vulcan kindled a fierce fire, which broke out first upon

the plain and burned the many dead whom Achilles had killed and

whose bodies were lying about in great numbers; by this means the

plain was dried and the flood stayed. As the north wind, blowing

on an orchard that has been sodden with autumn rain, soon dries

it, and the heart of the owner is glad--even so the whole plain

was dried and the dead bodies were consumed. Then he turned

tongues of fire on to the river. He burned the elms the willows

and the tamarisks, the lotus also, with the rushes and marshy

herbage that grew abundantly by the banks of the river. The eels

and fishes that go darting about everywhere in the water, these,

too, were sorely harassed by the flames that cunning Vulcan had

kindled, and the river himself was scalded, so that he spoke

saying, "Vulcan, there is no god can hold his own against you. I

cannot fight you when you flare out your flames in this way;

strive with me no longer. Let Achilles drive the Trojans out of

city immediately. What have I to do with quarrelling and helping

people?"

He was boiling as he spoke, and all his waters were seething. As

a cauldron upon a large fire boils when it is melting the lard of

some fatted hog, and the lard keeps bubbling up all over when the

dry faggots blaze under it--even so were the goodly waters of

Xanthus heated with the fire till they were boiling. He could

flow no longer but stayed his stream, so afflicted was he by the

blasts of fire which cunning Vulcan had raised. Then he prayed to

Juno and besought her saying, "Juno, why should your son vex my

stream with such especial fury? I am not so much to blame as all

the others are who have been helping the Trojans. I will leave

off, since you so desire it, and let son leave off also.

Furthermore I swear never again will I do anything to save the

Trojans from destruction, not even when all Troy is burning in

the flames which the Achaeans will kindle."

As soon as Juno heard this she said to her son Vulcan, "Son

Vulcan, hold now your flames; we ought not to use such violence

against a god for the sake of mortals."

When she had thus spoken Vulcan quenched his flames, and the

river went back once more into his own fair bed.

Xanthus was now beaten, so these two left off fighting, for Juno

stayed them though she was still angry; but a furious quarrel

broke out among the other gods, for they were of divided

counsels. They fell on one another with a mighty uproar--earth

groaned, and the spacious firmament rang out as with a blare of

trumpets. Jove heard as he was sitting on Olympus, and laughed

for joy when he saw the gods coming to blows among themselves.

They were not long about beginning, and Mars piercer of shields

opened the battle. Sword in hand he sprang at once upon Minerva

and reviled her. "Why, vixen," said he, "have you again set the

gods by the ears in the pride and haughtiness of your heart? Have

you forgotten how you set Diomed son of Tydeus on to wound me,

and yourself took visible spear and drove it into me to the hurt

of my fair body? You shall now suffer for what you then did to

me."

As he spoke he struck her on the terrible tasselled aegis--so

terrible that not even can Jove's lightning pierce it. Here did

murderous Mars strike her with his great spear. She drew back and

with her strong hand seized a stone that was lying on the plain--

great and rugged and black--which men of old had set for the

boundary of a field. With this she struck Mars on the neck, and

brought him down. Nine roods did he cover in his fall, and his

hair was all soiled in the dust, while his armour rang rattling

round him. But Minerva laughed and vaunted over him saying,

"Idiot, have you not learned how far stronger I am than you, but

you must still match yourself against me? Thus do your mother's

curses now roost upon you, for she is angry and would do you

mischief because you have deserted the Achaeans and are helping

the Trojans."

She then turned her two piercing eyes elsewhere, whereon Jove's

daughter Venus took Mars by the hand and led him away groaning

all the time, for it was only with great difficulty that he had

come to himself again. When Queen Juno saw her, she said to

Minerva, "Look, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, that

vixen Venus is again taking Mars through the crowd out of the

battle; go after her at once."

Thus she spoke. Minerva sped after Venus with a will, and made at

her, striking her on the bosom with her strong hand so that she

fell fainting to the ground, and there they both lay stretched at

full length. Then Minerva vaunted over her saying, "May all who

help the Trojans against the Argives prove just as redoubtable

and stalwart as Venus did when she came across me while she was

helping Mars. Had this been so, we should long since have ended

the war by sacking the strong city of Ilius."

Juno smiled as she listened. Meanwhile King Neptune turned to

Apollo saying, "Phoebus, why should we keep each other at arm's

length? it is not well, now that the others have begun fighting;

it will be disgraceful to us if we return to Jove's

bronze-floored mansion on Olympus without having fought each

other; therefore come on, you are the younger of the two, and I

ought not to attack you, for I am older and have had more

experience. Idiot, you have no sense, and forget how we two alone

of all the gods fared hardly round about Ilius when we came from

Jove's house and worked for Laomedon a whole year at a stated

wage and he gave us his orders. I built the Trojans the wall

about their city, so wide and fair that it might be impregnable,

while you, Phoebus, herded cattle for him in the dales of many

valleyed Ida. When, however, the glad hours brought round the

time of payment, mighty Laomedon robbed us of all our hire and

sent us off with nothing but abuse. He threatened to bind us hand

and foot and sell us over into some distant island. He tried,

moreover, to cut off the ears of both of us, so we went away in a

rage, furious about the payment he had promised us, and yet

withheld; in spite of all this, you are now showing favour to his

people, and will not join us in compassing the utter ruin of the

proud Trojans with their wives and children."

And King Apollo answered, "Lord of the earthquake, you would have

no respect for me if I were to fight you about a pack of

miserable mortals, who come out like leaves in summer and eat the

fruit of the field, and presently fall lifeless to the ground.

Let us stay this fighting at once and let them settle it among

themselves."

He turned away as he spoke, for he would lay no hand on the

brother of his own father. But his sister the huntress Diana,

patroness of wild beasts, was very angry with him and said, "So

you would fly, Far-Darter, and hand victory over to Neptune with

a cheap vaunt to boot. Baby, why keep your bow thus idle? Never

let me again hear you bragging in my father's house, as you have

often done in the presence of the immortals, that you would stand

up and fight with Neptune."

Apollo made her no answer, but Jove's august queen was angry and

upbraided her bitterly. "Bold vixen," she cried, "how dare you

cross me thus? For all your bow you will find it hard to hold

your own against me. Jove made you as a lion among women, and

lets you kill them whenever you choose. You will find it better

to chase wild beasts and deer upon the mountains than to fight

those who are stronger than you are. If you would try war, do so,

and find out by pitting yourself against me, how far stronger I

am than you are."

She caught both Diana's wrists with her left hand as she spoke,

and with her right she took the bow from her shoulders, and

laughed as she beat her with it about the ears while Diana

wriggled and writhed under her blows. Her swift arrows were shed

upon the ground, and she fled weeping from under Juno's hand as a

dove that flies before a falcon to the cleft of some hollow rock,

when it is her good fortune to escape. Even so did she fly

weeping away, leaving her bow and arrows behind her.

Then the slayer of Argus, guide and guardian, said to Leto,

"Leto, I shall not fight you; it is ill to come to blows with any

of Jove's wives. Therefore boast as you will among the immortals

that you worsted me in fair fight."

Leto then gathered up Diana's bow and arrows that had fallen

about amid the whirling dust, and when she had got them she made

all haste after her daughter. Diana had now reached Jove's

bronze-floored mansion on Olympus, and sat herself down with many

tears on the knees of her father, while her ambrosial raiment was

quivering all about her. The son of Saturn drew her towards him,

and laughing pleasantly the while began to question her saying,

"Which of the heavenly beings, my dear child, has been treating

you in this cruel manner, as though you had been misconducting

yourself in the face of everybody?" and the fair-crowned goddess

of the chase answered, "It was your wife Juno, father, who has

been beating me; it is always her doing when there is any

quarrelling among the immortals."

Thus did they converse, and meanwhile Phoebus Apollo entered the

strong city of Ilius, for he was uneasy lest the wall should not

hold out and the Danaans should take the city then and there,

before its hour had come; but the rest of the ever-living gods

went back, some angry and some triumphant to Olympus, where they

took their seats beside Jove lord of the storm cloud, while

Achilles still kept on dealing out death alike on the Trojans and

on their horses. As when the smoke from some burning city ascends

to heaven when the anger of the gods has kindled it--there is

then toil for all, and sorrow for not a few--even so did Achilles

bring toil and sorrow on the Trojans.

Old King Priam stood on a high tower of the wall looking down on

huge Achilles as the Trojans fled panic-stricken before him, and

there was none to help them. Presently he came down from off the

tower and with many a groan went along the wall to give orders to

the brave warders of the gate. "Keep the gates," said he, "wide

open till the people come flying into the city, for Achilles is

hard by and is driving them in rout before him. I see we are in

great peril. As soon as our people are inside and in safety,

close the strong gates for I fear lest that terrible man should

come bounding inside along with the others."

As he spoke they drew back the bolts and opened the gates, and

when these were opened there was a haven of refuge for the

Trojans. Apollo then came full speed out of the city to meet them

and protect them. Right for the city and the high wall, parched

with thirst and grimy with dust, still they fied on, with

Achilles wielding his spear furiously behind them. For he was as

one possessed, and was thirsting after glory.

Then had the sons of the Achaeans taken the lofty gates of Troy

if Apollo had not spurred on Agenor, valiant and noble son to

Antenor. He put courage into his heart, and stood by his side to

guard him, leaning against a beech tree and shrouded in thick

darkness. When Agenor saw Achilles he stood still and his heart

was clouded with care. "Alas," said he to himself in his dismay,

"if I fly before mighty Achilles, and go where all the others are

being driven in rout, he will none the less catch me and kill me

for a coward. How would it be were I to let Achilles drive the

others before him, and then fly from the wall to the plain that

is behind Ilius till I reach the spurs of Ida and can hide in the

underwood that is thereon? I could then wash the sweat from off

me in the river and in the evening return to Ilius. But why

commune with myself in this way? Like enough he would see me as I

am hurrying from the city over the plain, and would speed after

me till he had caught me--I should stand no chance against him,

for he is mightiest of all mankind. What, then, if I go out and

meet him in front of the city? His flesh too, I take it, can be

pierced by pointed bronze. Life is the same in one and all, and

men say that he is but mortal despite the triumph that Jove son

of Saturn vouchsafes him."

So saying he stood on his guard and awaited Achilles, for he was

now fain to fight him. As a leopardess that bounds from out a

thick covert to attack a hunter--she knows no fear and is not

dismayed by the baying of the hounds; even though the man be too

quick for her and wound her either with thrust or spear, still,

though the spear has pierced her she will not give in till she

has either caught him in her grip or been killed outright--even

so did noble Agenor son of Antenor refuse to fly till he had made

trial of Achilles, and took aim at him with his spear, holding

his round shield before him and crying with a loud voice. "Of a

truth," said he, "noble Achilles, you deem that you shall this

day sack the city of the proud Trojans. Fool, there will be

trouble enough yet before it, for there is many a brave man of us

still inside who will stand in front of our dear parents with our

wives and children, to defend Ilius. Here therefore, huge and

mighty warrior though you be, here shall you die."

As he spoke his strong hand hurled his javelin from him, and the

spear struck Achilles on the leg beneath the knee; the greave of

newly wrought tin rang loudly, but the spear recoiled from the

body of him whom it had struck, and did not pierce it, for the

gods gift stayed it. Achilles in his turn attacked noble Agenor,

but Apollo would not vouchsafe him glory, for he snatched Agenor

away and hid him in a thick mist, sending him out of the battle

unmolested Then he craftily drew the son of Peleus away from

going after the host, for he put on the semblance of Agenor and

stood in front of Achilles, who ran towards him to give him chase

and pursued him over the corn lands of the plain, turning him

towards the deep waters of the river Scamander. Apollo ran but a

little way before him and beguiled Achilles by making him think

all the time that he was on the point of overtaking him.

Meanwhile the rabble of routed Trojans was thankful to crowd

within the city till their numbers thronged it; no longer did

they dare wait for one another outside the city walls, to learn

who had escaped and who were fallen in fight, but all whose feet

and knees could still carry them poured pell-mell into the town.

 Homer

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