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Book XXII

BOOK XXII

THUS the Trojans in the city, scared like fawns, wiped the sweat

from off them and drank to quench their thirst, leaning against

the goodly battlements, while the Achaeans with their shields

laid upon their shoulders drew close up to the walls. But stern

fate bade Hector stay where he was before Ilius and the Scaean

gates. Then Phoebus Apollo spoke to the son of Peleus saying,

"Why, son of Peleus, do you, who are but man, give chase to me

who am immortal? Have you not yet found out that it is a god whom

you pursue so furiously? You did not harass the Trojans whom you

had routed, and now they are within their walls, while you have

been decoyed hither away from them. Me you cannot kill, for death

can take no hold upon me."

Achilles was greatly angered and said, "You have baulked me,

Far-Darter, most malicious of all gods, and have drawn me away

from the wall, where many another man would have bitten the dust

ere he got within Ilius; you have robbed me of great glory and

have saved the Trojans at no risk to yourself, for you have

nothing to fear, but I would indeed have my revenge if it were in

my power to do so."

On this, with fell intent he made towards the city, and as the

winning horse in a chariot race strains every nerve when he is

flying over the plain, even so fast and furiously did the limbs

of Achilles bear him onwards. King Priam was first to note him as

he scoured the plain, all radiant as the star which men call

Orion's Hound, and whose beams blaze forth in time of harvest

more brilliantly than those of any other that shines by night;

brightest of them all though he be, he yet bodes ill for mortals,

for he brings fire and fever in his train--even so did Achilles'

armour gleam on his breast as he sped onwards. Priam raised a cry

and beat his head with his hands as he lifted them up and shouted

out to his dear son, imploring him to return; but Hector still

stayed before the gates, for his heart was set upon doing battle

with Achilles. The old man reached out his arms towards him and

bade him for pity's sake come within the walls. "Hector," he

cried, "my son, stay not to face this man alone and unsupported,

or you will meet death at the hands of the son of Peleus, for he

is mightier than you. Monster that he is; would indeed that the

gods loved him no better than I do, for so, dogs and vultures

would soon devour him as he lay stretched on earth, and a load of

grief would be lifted from my heart, for many a brave son has he

reft from me, either by killing them or selling them away in the

islands that are beyond the sea: even now I miss two sons from

among the Trojans who have thronged within the city, Lycaon and

Polydorus, whom Laothoe peeress among women bore me. Should they

be still alive and in the hands of the Achaeans, we will ransom

them with gold and bronze, of which we have store, for the old

man Altes endowed his daughter richly; but if they are already

dead and in the house of Hades, sorrow will it be to us two who

were their parents; albeit the grief of others will be more

short-lived unless you too perish at the hands of Achilles. Come,

then, my son, within the city, to be the guardian of Trojan men

and Trojan women, or you will both lose your own life and afford

a mighty triumph to the son of Peleus. Have pity also on your

unhappy father while life yet remains to him--on me, whom the son

of Saturn will destroy by a terrible doom on the threshold of old

age, after I have seen my sons slain and my daughters haled away

as captives, my bridal chambers pillaged, little children dashed

to earth amid the rage of battle, and my sons' wives dragged away

by the cruel hands of the Achaeans; in the end fierce hounds will

tear me in pieces at my own gates after some one has beaten the

life out of my body with sword or spear-hounds that I myself

reared and fed at my own table to guard my gates, but who will

yet lap my blood and then lie all distraught at my doors. When a

young man falls by the sword in battle, he may lie where he is

and there is nothing unseemly; let what will be seen, all is

honourable in death, but when an old man is slain there is

nothing in this world more pitiable than that dogs should defile

his grey hair and beard and all that men hide for shame."

The old man tore his grey hair as he spoke, but he moved not the

heart of Hector. His mother hard by wept and moaned aloud as she

bared her bosom and pointed to the breast which had suckled him.

"Hector," she cried, weeping bitterly the while, "Hector, my son,

spurn not this breast, but have pity upon me too: if I have ever

given you comfort from my own bosom, think on it now, dear son,

and come within the wall to protect us from this man; stand not

without to meet him. Should the wretch kill you, neither I nor

your richly dowered wife shall ever weep, dear offshoot of

myself, over the bed on which you lie, for dogs will devour you

at the ships of the Achaeans."

Thus did the two with many tears implore their son, but they

moved not the heart of Hector, and he stood his ground awaiting

huge Achilles as he drew nearer towards him. As serpent in its

den upon the mountains, full fed with deadly poisons, waits for

the approach of man--he is filled with fury and his eyes glare

terribly as he goes writhing round his den--even so Hector leaned

his shield against a tower that jutted out from the wall and

stood where he was, undaunted.

"Alas," said he to himself in the heaviness of his heart, "if I

go within the gates, Polydamas will be the first to heap reproach

upon me, for it was he that urged me to lead the Trojans back to

the city on that awful night when Achilles again came forth

against us. I would not listen, but it would have been indeed

better if I had done so. Now that my folly has destroyed the

host, I dare not look Trojan men and Trojan women in the face,

lest a worse man should say, 'Hector has ruined us by his

self-confidence.' Surely it would be better for me to return

after having fought Achilles and slain him, or to die gloriously

here before the city. What, again, if I were to lay down my

shield and helmet, lean my spear against the wall and go straight

up to noble Achilles? What if I were to promise to give up Helen,

who was the fountainhead of all this war, and all the treasure

that Alexandrus brought with him in his ships to Troy, aye, and

to let the Achaeans divide the half of everything that the city

contains among themselves? I might make the Trojans, by the

mouths of their princes, take a solemn oath that they would hide

nothing, but would divide into two shares all that is within the

city--but why argue with myself in this way? Were I to go up to

him he would show me no kind of mercy; he would kill me then and

there as easily as though I were a woman, when I had off my

armour. There is no parleying with him from some rock or oak

tree as young men and maidens prattle with one another. Better

fight him at once, and learn to which of us Jove will vouchsafe

victory."

Thus did he stand and ponder, but Achilles came up to him as it

were Mars himself, plumed lord of battle. From his right shoulder

he brandished his terrible spear of Pelian ash, and the bronze

gleamed around him like flashing fire or the rays of the rising

sun. Fear fell upon Hector as he beheld him, and he dared not

stay longer where he was but fled in dismay from before the

gates, while Achilles darted after him at his utmost speed. As a

mountain falcon, swiftest of all birds, swoops down upon some

cowering dove--the dove flies before him but the falcon with a

shrill scream follows close after, resolved to have her--even so

did Achilles make straight for Hector with all his might, while

Hector fled under the Trojan wall as fast as his limbs could take

him.

On they flew along the waggon-road that ran hard by under the

wall, past the lookout station, and past the weather-beaten wild

fig-tree, till they came to two fair springs which feed the river

Scamander. One of these two springs is warm, and steam rises from

it as smoke from a burning fire, but the other even in summer is

as cold as hail or snow, or the ice that forms on water. Here,

hard by the springs, are the goodly washing-troughs of stone,

where in the time of peace before the coming of the Achaeans the

wives and fair daughters of the Trojans used to wash their

clothes. Past these did they fly, the one in front and the other

giving chase behind him: good was the man that fled, but better

far was he that followed after, and swiftly indeed did they run,

for the prize was no mere beast for sacrifice or bullock's hide,

as it might be for a common foot-race, but they ran for the life

of Hector. As horses in a chariot race speed round the

turning-posts when they are running for some great prize--a

tripod or woman--at the games in honour of some dead hero, so did

these two run full speed three times round the city of Priam. All

the gods watched them, and the sire of gods and men was the first

to speak.

"Alas," said he, "my eyes behold a man who is dear to me being

pursued round the walls of Troy; my heart is full of pity for

Hector, who has burned the thigh-bones of many a heifer in my

honour, one while on the crests of many-valleyed Ida, and again

on the citadel of Troy; and now I see noble Achilles in full

pursuit of him round the city of Priam. What say you? Consider

among yourselves and decide whether we shall now save him or let

him fall, valiant though he be, before Achilles, son of Peleus."

Then Minerva said, "Father, wielder of the lightning, lord of

cloud and storm, what mean you? Would you pluck this mortal whose

doom has long been decreed out of the jaws of death? Do as you

will, but we others shall not be of a mind with you."

And Jove answered, "My child, Trito-born, take heart. I did not

speak in full earnest, and I will let you have your way. Do

without let or hindrance as you are minded."

Thus did he urge Minerva who was already eager, and down she

darted from the topmost summits of Olympus.

Achilles was still in full pursuit of Hector, as a hound chasing

a fawn which he has started from its covert on the mountains, and

hunts through glade and thicket. The fawn may try to elude him by

crouching under cover of a bush, but he will scent her out and

follow her up until he gets her--even so there was no escape for

Hector from the fleet son of Peleus. Whenever he made a set to

get near the Dardanian gates and under the walls, that his people

might help him by showering down weapons from above, Achilles

would gain on him and head him back towards the plain, keeping

himself always on the city side. As a man in a dream who fails to

lay hands upon another whom he is pursuing--the one cannot escape

nor the other overtake--even so neither could Achilles come up

with Hector, nor Hector break away from Achilles; nevertheless he

might even yet have escaped death had not the time come when

Apollo, who thus far had sustained his strength and nerved his

running, was now no longer to stay by him. Achilles made signs to

the Achaean host, and shook his head to show that no man was to

aim a dart at Hector, lest another might win the glory of having

hit him and he might himself come in second. Then, at last, as

they were nearing the fountains for the fourth time, the father

of all balanced his golden scales and placed a doom in each of

them, one for Achilles and the other for Hector. As he held the

scales by the middle, the doom of Hector fell down deep into the

house of Hades--and then Phoebus Apollo left him. Thereon Minerva

went close up to the son of Peleus and said, "Noble Achilles,

favoured of heaven, we two shall surely take back to the ships a

triumph for the Achaeans by slaying Hector, for all his lust of

battle. Do what Apollo may as he lies grovelling before his

father, aegis-bearing Jove, Hector cannot escape us longer. Stay

here and take breath, while I go up to him and persuade him to

make a stand and fight you."

Thus spoke Minerva. Achilles obeyed her gladly, and stood still,

leaning on his bronze-pointed ashen spear, while Minerva left him

and went after Hector in the form and with the voice of

Deiphobus. She came close up to him and said, "Dear brother, I

see you are hard pressed by Achilles who is chasing you at full

speed round the city of Priam, let us await his onset and stand

on our defence."

And Hector answered, "Deiphobus, you have always been dearest to

me of all my brothers, children of Hecuba and Priam, but

henceforth I shall rate you yet more highly, inasmuch as you have

ventured outside the wall for my sake when all the others remain

inside."

Then Minerva said, "Dear brother, my father and mother went down

on their knees and implored me, as did all my comrades, to remain

inside, so great a fear has fallen upon them all; but I was in an

agony of grief when I beheld you; now, therefore, let us two make

a stand and fight, and let there be no keeping our spears in

reserve, that we may learn whether Achilles shall kill us and

bear off our spoils to the ships, or whether he shall fall before

you."

Thus did Minerva inveigle him by her cunning, and when the two

were now close to one another great Hector was first to speak. "I

will-no longer fly you, son of Peleus," said he, "as I have been

doing hitherto. Three times have I fled round the mighty city of

Priam, without daring to withstand you, but now, let me either

slay or be slain, for I am in the mind to face you. Let us, then,

give pledges to one another by our gods, who are the fittest

witnesses and guardians of all covenants; let it be agreed

between us that if Jove vouchsafes me the longer stay and I take

your life, I am not to treat your dead body in any unseemly

fashion, but when I have stripped you of your armour, I am to

give up your body to the Achaeans. And do you likewise."

Achilles glared at him and answered, "Fool, prate not to me about

covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions,

wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other

out and out an through. Therefore there can be no understanding

between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us,

till one or other shall fall and glut grim Mars with his life's

blood. Put forth all your strength; you have need now to prove

yourself indeed a bold soldier and man of war. You have no more

chance, and Pallas Minerva will forthwith vanquish you by my

spear: you shall now pay me in full for the grief you have caused

me on account of my comrades whom you have killed in battle."

He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it. Hector saw it

coming and avoided it; he watched it and crouched down so that it

flew over his head and stuck in the ground beyond; Minerva then

snatched it up and gave it back to Achilles without Hector's

seeing her; Hector thereon said to the son of Peleus, "You have

missed your aim, Achilles, peer of the gods, and Jove has not yet

revealed to you the hour of my doom, though you made sure that he

had done so. You were a false-tongued liar when you deemed that I

should forget my valour and quail before you. You shall not drive

spear into the back of a runaway--drive it, should heaven so

grant you power, drive it into me as I make straight towards you;

and now for your own part avoid my spear if you can--would that

you might receive the whole of it into your body; if you were

once dead the Trojans would find the war an easier matter, for it

is you who have harmed them most."

He poised his spear as he spoke and hurled it. His aim was true

for he hit the middle of Achilles' shield, but the spear

rebounded from it, and did not pierce it. Hector was angry when

he saw that the weapon had sped from his hand in vain, and stood

there in dismay for he had no second spear. With a loud cry he

called Deiphobus and asked him for one, but there was no man;

then he saw the truth and said to himself, "Alas! the gods have

lured me on to my destruction. I deemed that the hero Deiphobus

was by my side, but he is within the wall, and Minerva has

inveigled me; death is now indeed exceedingly near at hand and

there is no way out of it--for so Jove and his son Apollo the

far-darter have willed it, though heretofore they have been ever

ready to protect me. My doom has come upon me; let me not then

die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some

great thing that shall be told among men hereafter."

As he spoke he drew the keen blade that hung so great and strong

by his side, and gathering himself together be sprang on Achilles

like a soaring eagle which swoops down from the clouds on to some

lamb or timid hare--even so did Hector brandish his sword and

spring upon Achilles. Achilles mad with rage darted towards him,

with his wondrous shield before his breast, and his gleaming

helmet, made with four layers of metal, nodding fiercely forward.

The thick tresses of gold with which Vulcan had crested the

helmet floated round it, and as the evening star that shines

brighter than all others through the stillness of night, even

such was the gleam of the spear which Achilles poised in his

right hand, fraught with the death of noble Hector. He eyed his

fair flesh over and over to see where he could best wound it, but

all was protected by the goodly armour of which Hector had

spoiled Patroclus after he had slain him, save only the throat

where the collar-bones divide the neck from the shoulders, and

this is a most deadly place: here then did Achilles strike him as

he was coming on towards him, and the point of his spear went

right through the fleshy part of the neck, but it did not sever

his windpipe so that he could still speak. Hector fell headlong,

and Achilles vaunted over him saying, "Hector, you deemed that

you should come off scatheless when you were spoiling Patroclus,

and recked not of myself who was not with him. Fool that you

were: for I, his comrade, mightier far than he, was still left

behind him at the ships, and now I have laid you low. The

Achaeans shall give him all due funeral rites, while dogs and

vultures shall work their will upon yourself."

Then Hector said, as the life ebbed out of him, "I pray you by

your life and knees, and by your parents, let not dogs devour me

at the ships of the Achaeans, but accept the rich treasure of

gold and bronze which my father and mother will offer you, and

send my body home, that the Trojans and their wives may give me

my dues of fire when I am dead."

Achilles glared at him and answered, "Dog, talk not to me neither

of knees nor parents; would that I could be as sure of being able

to cut your flesh into pieces and eat it raw, for the ill you

have done me, as I am that nothing shall save you from the

dogs--it shall not be, though they bring ten or twenty-fold

ransom and weigh it out for me on the spot, with promise of yet

more hereafter. Though Priam son of Dardanus should bid them

offer me your weight in gold, even so your mother shall never lay

you out and make lament over the son she bore, but dogs and

vultures shall eat you utterly up."

Hector with his dying breath then said, "I know you what you are,

and was sure that I should not move you, for your heart is hard

as iron; look to it that I bring not heaven's anger upon you on

the day when Paris and Phoebus Apollo, valiant though you be,

shall slay you at the Scaean gates."

When he had thus said the shrouds of death enfolded him, whereon

his soul went out of him and flew down to the house of Hades,

lamenting its sad fate that it should enjoy youth and strength no

longer. But Achilles said, speaking to the dead body, "Die; for

my part I will accept my fate whensoever Jove and the other gods

see fit to send it."

As he spoke he drew his spear from the body and set it on one

side; then he stripped the blood-stained armour from Hector's

shoulders while the other Achaeans came running up to view his

wondrous strength and beauty; and no one came near him without

giving him a fresh wound. Then would one turn to his neighbour

and say, "It is easier to handle Hector now than when he was

flinging fire on to our ships" and as he spoke he would thrust

his spear into him anew.

When Achilles had done spoiling Hector of his armour, he stood

among the Argives and said, "My friends, princes and counsellors

of the Argives, now that heaven has vouchsafed us to overcome

this man, who has done us more hurt than all the others together,

consider whether we should not attack the city in force, and

discover in what mind the Trojans may be. We should thus learn

whether they will desert their city now that Hector has fallen,

or will still hold out even though he is no longer living. But

why argue with myself in this way, while Patroclus is still lying

at the ships unburied, and unmourned--he whom I can never forget

so long as I am alive and my strength fails not? Though men

forget their dead when once they are within the house of Hades,

yet not even there will I forget the comrade whom I have lost.

Now, therefore, Achaean youths, let us raise the song of victory

and go back to the ships taking this man along with us; for we

have achieved a mighty triumph and have slain noble Hector to

whom the Trojans prayed throughout their city as though he were a

god."

On this he treated the body of Hector with contumely: he pierced

the sinews at the back of both his feet from heel to ancle and

passed thongs of ox-hide through the slits he had made: thus he

made the body fast to his chariot, letting the head trail upon

the ground. Then when he had put the goodly armour on the chariot

and had himself mounted, he lashed his horses on and they flew

forward nothing loth. The dust rose from Hector as he was being

dragged along, his dark hair flew all abroad, and his head once

so comely was laid low on earth, for Jove had now delivered him

into the hands of his foes to do him outrage in his own land.

Thus was the head of Hector being dishonoured in the dust. His

mother tore her hair, and flung her veil from her with a loud cry

as she looked upon her son. His father made piteous moan, and

throughout the city the people fell to weeping and wailing. It

was as though the whole of frowning Ilius was being smirched with

fire. Hardly could the people hold Priam back in his hot haste to

rush without the gates of the city. He grovelled in the mire and

besought them, calling each one of them by his name. "Let be, my

friends," he cried, "and for all your sorrow, suffer me to go

single-handed to the ships of the Achaeans. Let me beseech this

cruel and terrible man, if maybe he will respect the feeling of

his fellow-men, and have compassion on my old age. His own father

is even such another as myself--Peleus, who bred him and reared

him to be the bane of us Trojans, and of myself more than of all

others. Many a son of mine has he slain in the flower of his

youth, and yet, grieve for these as I may, I do so for one--

Hector--more than for them all, and the bitterness of my sorrow

will bring me down to the house of Hades. Would that he had died

in my arms, for so both his ill-starred mother who bore him, and

myself, should have had the comfort of weeping and mourning over

him."

Thus did he speak with many tears, and all the people of the city

joined in his lament. Hecuba then raised the cry of wailing among

the Trojans. "Alas, my son," she cried, "what have I left to live

for now that you are no more? Night and day did I glory in you

throughout the city, for you were a tower of strength to all in

Troy, and both men and women alike hailed you as a god. So long

as you lived you were their pride, but now death and destruction

have fallen upon you."

Hector's wife had as yet heard nothing, for no one had come to

tell her that her husband had remained without the gates. She was

at her loom in an inner part of the house, weaving a double

purple web, and embroidering it with many flowers. She told her

maids to set a large tripod on the fire, so as to have a warm

bath ready for Hector when he came out of battle; poor woman, she

knew not that he was now beyond the reach of baths, and that

Minerva had laid him low by the hands of Achilles. She heard the

cry coming as from the wall, and trembled in every limb; the

shuttle fell from her hands, and again she spoke to her

waiting-women. "Two of you," she said, "come with me that I may

learn what it is that has befallen; I heard the voice of my

husband's honoured mother; my own heart beats as though it would

come into my mouth and my limbs refuse to carry me; some great

misfortune for Priam's children must be at hand. May I never live

to hear it, but I greatly fear that Achilles has cut off the

retreat of brave Hector and has chased him on to the plain where

he was singlehanded; I fear he may have put an end to the

reckless daring which possessed my husband, who would never

remain with the body of his men, but would dash on far in front,

foremost of them all in valour."

Her heart beat fast, and as she spoke she flew from the house

like a maniac, with her waiting-women following after. When she

reached the battlements and the crowd of people, she stood

looking out upon the wall, and saw Hector being borne away in

front of the city--the horses dragging him without heed or care

over the ground towards the ships of the Achaeans. Her eyes were

then shrouded as with the darkness of night and she fell fainting

backwards. She tore the attiring from her head and flung it from

her, the frontlet and net with its plaited band, and the veil

which golden Venus had given her on the day when Hector took her

with him from the house of Eetion, after having given countless

gifts of wooing for her sake. Her husband's sisters and the wives

of his brothers crowded round her and supported her, for she was

fain to die in her distraction; when she again presently breathed

and came to herself, she sobbed and made lament among the Trojans

saying, "Woe is me, O Hector; woe, indeed, that to share a common

lot we were born, you at Troy in the house of Priam, and I at

Thebes under the wooded mountain of Placus in the house of Eetion

who brought me up when I was a child--ill-starred sire of an

ill-starred daughter--would that he had never begotten me. You

are now going into the house of Hades under the secret places of

the earth, and you leave me a sorrowing widow in your house. The

child, of whom you and I are the unhappy parents, is as yet a

mere infant. Now that you are gone, O Hector, you can do nothing

for him nor he for you. Even though he escape the horrors of this

woeful war with the Achaeans, yet shall his life henceforth be

one of labour and sorrow, for others will seize his lands. The

day that robs a child of his parents severs him from his own

kind; his head is bowed, his cheeks are wet with tears, and he

will go about destitute among the friends of his father, plucking

one by the cloak and another by the shirt. Some one or other of

these may so far pity him as to hold the cup for a moment towards

him and let him moisten his lips, but he must not drink enough to

wet the roof of his mouth; then one whose parents are alive will

drive him from the table with blows and angry words. 'Out with

you,' he will say, 'you have no father here,' and the child will

go crying back to his widowed mother--he, Astyanax, who erewhile

would sit upon his father's knees, and have none but the

daintiest and choicest morsels set before him. When he had played

till he was tired and went to sleep, he would lie in a bed, in

the arms of his nurse, on a soft couch, knowing neither want nor

care, whereas now that he has lost his father his lot will be

full of hardship--he, whom the Trojans name Astyanax, because

you, O Hector, were the only defence of their gates and

battlements. The wriggling writhing worms will now eat you at the

ships, far from your parents, when the dogs have glutted

themselves upon you. You will lie naked, although in your house

you have fine and goodly raiment made by hands of women. This

will I now burn; it is of no use to you, for you can never again

wear it, and thus you will have respect shown you by the Trojans

both men and women."

In such wise did she cry aloud amid her tears, and the women

joined in her lament.

 Homer

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