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Book IX


THUS did the Trojans watch. But Panic, comrade of blood-stained

Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achaeans, and their princes were

all of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from

Thrace--the north and the northwest--spring up of a sudden and

rouse the fury of the main--in a moment the dark waves uprear

their heads and scatter their sea-wrack in all directions--even

thus troubled were the hearts of the Achaeans.

The son of Atreus in dismay bade the heralds call the people to a

council man by man, but not to cry the matter aloud; he made

haste also himself to call them, and they sat sorry at heart in

their assembly. Agamemnon shed tears as it were a running stream

or cataract on the side of some sheer cliff; and thus, with many

a heavy sigh he spoke to the Achaeans. "My friends," said he,

"princes and councillors Of the Argives, the hand of heaven has

been laid heavily upon me. Cruel Jove gave me his solemn promise

that I should sack the city of Troy before returning, but he has

played me false, and is now bidding me go ingloriously back to

Argos with the loss of much people. Such is the will of Jove, who

has laid many a proud city in the dust as he will yet lay others,

for his power is above all. Now, therefore, let us all do as I

say and sail back to our own country, for we shall not take


Thus he spoke, and the sons of the Achaeans for a long while sat

sorrowful there, but they all held their peace, till at last

Diomed of the loud battle-cry made answer saying, "Son of Atreus,

I will chide your folly, as is my right in council. Be not then

aggrieved that I should do so. In the first place you attacked me

before all the Danaans and said that I was a coward and no

soldier. The Argives young and old know that you did so. But the

son of scheming Saturn endowed you by halves only. He gave you

honour as the chief ruler over us, but valour, which is the

highest both right and might he did not give you. Sir, think you

that the sons of the Achaeans are indeed as unwarlike and

cowardly as you say they are? If your own mind is set upon going

home--go--the way is open to you; the many ships that followed

you from Mycene stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of

us stay here till we have sacked Troy. Nay though these too

should turn homeward with their ships, Sthenelus and myself will

still fight on till we reach the goal of Ilius, for heaven was

with us when we came."

The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words of Diomed,

and presently Nestor rose to speak. "Son of Tydeus," said he, "in

war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all

who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light

of what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the

end of the whole matter. You are still young--you might be the

youngest of my own children--still you have spoken wisely and

have counselled the chief of the Achaeans not without discretion;

nevertheless I am older than you and I will tell you everything;

therefore let no man, not even King Agamemnon, disregard my

saying, for he that foments civil discord is a clanless,

hearthless outlaw.

"Now, however, let us obey the behests of night and get our

suppers, but let the sentinels every man of them camp by the

trench that is without the wall. I am giving these instructions

to the young men; when they have been attended to, do you, son of

Atreus, give your orders, for you are the most royal among us

all. Prepare a feast for your councillors; it is right and

reasonable that you should do so; there is abundance of wine in

your tents, which the ships of the Achaeans bring from Thrace

daily. You have everything at your disposal wherewith to

entertain guests, and you have many subjects. When many are got

together, you can be guided by him whose counsel is wisest--and

sorely do we need shrewd and prudent counsel, for the foe has lit

his watchfires hard by our ships. Who can be other than dismayed?

This night will either be the ruin of our host, or save it."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The

sentinels went out in their armour under command of Nestor's son

Thrasymedes, a captain of the host, and of the bold warriors

Ascalaphus and Ialmenus: there were also Meriones, Aphareus and

Deipyrus, and the son of Creion, noble Lycomedes. There were

seven captains of the sentinels, and with each there went a

hundred youths armed with long spears: they took their places

midway between the trench and the wall, and when they had done so

they lit their fires and got every man his supper.

The son of Atreus then bade many councillors of the Achaeans to

his quarters prepared a great feast in their honour. They laid

their hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon

as they had enough to eat and drink, old Nestor, whose counsel

was ever truest, was the first to lay his mind before them. He,

therefore, with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus.

"With yourself, most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon,

will I both begin my speech and end it, for you are king over

much people. Jove, moreover, has vouchsafed you to wield the

sceptre and to uphold righteousness, that you may take thought

for your people under you; therefore it behooves you above all

others both to speak and to give ear, and to out the counsel of

another who shall have been minded to speak wisely. All turns on

you and on your commands, therefore I will say what I think will

be best. No man will be of a truer mind than that which has been

mine from the hour when you, sir, angered Achilles by taking the

girl Briseis from his tent against my judgment. I urged you not

to do so, but you yielded to your own pride, and dishonoured a

hero whom heaven itself had honoured--for you still hold the

prize that had been awarded to him. Now, however, let us think

how we may appease him, both with presents and fair speeches that

may conciliate him."

And King Agamemnon answered, "Sir, you have reproved my folly

justly. I was wrong. I own it. One whom heaven befriends is in

himself a host, and Jove has shown that he befriends this man by

destroying much people of the Achaeans. I was blinded with

passion and yielded to my worser mind; therefore I will make

amends, and will give him great gifts by way of atonement. I will

tell them in the presence of you all. I will give him seven

tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of

gold. I will give him twenty iron cauldrons and twelve strong

horses that have won races and carried off prizes. Rich, indeed,

both in land and gold is he that has as many prizes as my horses

have won me. I will give him seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians,

whom I chose for myself when he took Lesbos--all of surpassing

beauty. I will give him these, and with them her whom I erewhile

took from him, the daughter of Briseus; and I swear a great oath

that I never went up into her couch, nor have been with her after

the manner of men and women.

"All these things will I give him now, and if hereafter the gods

vouchsafe me to sack the city of Priam, let him come when we

Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load his ship with gold and

bronze to his liking; furthermore let him take twenty Trojan

women, the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach

Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, he shall be my son-in-law

and I will show him like honour with my own dear son Orestes, who

is being nurtured in all abundance. I have three daughters,

Chrysothemis, Laodice, and lphianassa, let him take the one of

his choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of

Peleus; I will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his

daughter, and will give him seven well established cities,

Cardamyle, Enope, and Hire, where there is grass; holy Pherae and

the rich meadows of Anthea; Aepea also, and the vine-clad slopes

of Pedasus, all near the sea, and on the borders of sandy Pylos.

The men that dwell there are rich in cattle and sheep; they will

honour him with gifts as though he were a god, and be obedient to

his comfortable ordinances. All this will I do if he will now

forgo his anger. Let him then yield; it is only Hades who is

utterly ruthless and unyielding--and hence he is of all gods the

one most hateful to mankind. Moreover I am older and more royal

than himself. Therefore, let him now obey me."

Then Nestor answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men,

Agamemnon. The gifts you offer are no small ones, let us then

send chosen messengers, who may go to the tent of Achilles son of

Peleus without delay. Let those go whom I shall name. Let

Phoenix, dear to Jove, lead the way; let Ajax and Ulysses follow,

and let the heralds Odius and Eurybates go with them. Now bring

water for our hands, and bid all keep silence while we pray to

Jove the son of Saturn, if so be that he may have mercy upon us."

Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well.

Men-servants poured water over the hands of the guests, while

pages filled the mixing-bowls with wine and water, and handed it

round after giving every man his drink-offering; then, when they

had made their offerings, and had drunk each as much as he was

minded, the envoys set out from the tent of Agamemnon son of

Atreus; and Nestor, looking first to one and then to another, but

most especially at Ulysses, was instant with them that they

should prevail with the noble son of Peleus.

They went their way by the shore of the sounding sea, and prayed

earnestly to earth-encircling Neptune that the high spirit of the

son of Aeacus might incline favourably towards them. When they

reached the ships and tents of the Myrmidons, they found Achilles

playing on a lyre, fair, of cunning workmanship, and its

cross-bar was of silver. It was part of the spoils which he had

taken when he sacked the city of Eetion, and he was now diverting

himself with it and singing the feats of heroes. He was alone

with Patroclus, who sat opposite to him and said nothing, waiting

till he should cease singing. Ulysses and Ajax now came in--

Ulysses leading the way--and stood before him. Achilles sprang

from his seat with the lyre still in his hand, and Patroclus,

when he saw the strangers, rose also. Achilles then greeted them

saying, "All hail and welcome--you must come upon some great

matter, you, who for all my anger are still dearest to me of the


With this he led them forward, and bade them sit on seats covered

with purple rugs; then he said to Patroclus who was close by him,

"Son of Menoetius, set a larger bowl upon the table, mix less

water with the wine, and give every man his cup, for these are

very dear friends, who are now under my roof."

Patroclus did as his comrade bade him; he set the chopping-block

in front of the fire, and on it he laid the loin of a sheep, the

loin also of a goat, and the chine of a fat hog. Automedon held

the meat while Achilles chopped it; he then sliced the pieces and

put them on spits while the son of Menoetius made the fire burn

high. When the flame had died down, he spread the embers, laid

the spits on top of them, lifting them up and setting them upon

the spit-racks; and he sprinkled them with salt. When the meat

was roasted, he set it on platters, and handed bread round the

table in fair baskets, while Achilles dealt them their portions.

Then Achilles took his seat facing Ulysses against the opposite

wall, and bade his comrade Patroclus offer sacrifice to the gods;

so he cast the offerings into the fire, and they laid their hands

upon the good things that were before them. As soon as they had

had enough to eat and drink, Ajax made a sign to Phoenix, and

when he saw this, Ulysses filled his cup with wine and pledged


"Hail," said he, "Achilles, we have had no scant of good cheer,

neither in the tent of Agamemnon, nor yet here; there has been

plenty to eat and drink, but our thought turns upon no such

matter. Sir, we are in the face of great disaster, and without

your help know not whether we shall save our fleet or lose it.

The Trojans and their allies have camped hard by our ships and by

the wall; they have lit watchfires throughout their host and deem

that nothing can now prevent them from falling on our fleet.

Jove, moreover, has sent his lightnings on their right; Hector,

in all his glory, rages like a maniac; confident that Jove is

with him he fears neither god nor man, but is gone raving mad,

and prays for the approach of day. He vows that he will hew the

high sterns of our ships in pieces, set fire to their hulls, and

make havoc of the Achaeans while they are dazed and smothered in

smoke; I much fear that heaven will make good his boasting, and

it will prove our lot to perish at Troy far from our home in

Argos. Up, then, and late though it be, save the sons of the

Achaeans who faint before the fury of the Trojans. You will

repent bitterly hereafter if you do not, for when the harm is

done there will be no curing it; consider ere it be too late, and

save the Danaans from destruction.

"My good friend, when your father Peleus sent you from Phthia to

Agamemnon, did he not charge you saying, 'Son, Minerva and Juno

will make you strong if they choose, but check your high temper,

for the better part is in goodwill. Eschew vain quarrelling, and

the Achaeans old and young will respect you more for doing so.'

These were his words, but you have forgotten them. Even now,

however, be appeased, and put away your anger from you. Agamemnon

will make you great amends if you will forgive him; listen, and I

will tell you what he has said in his tent that he will give you.

He will give you seven tripods that have never yet been on the

fire, and ten talents of gold; twenty iron cauldrons, and twelve

strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes. Rich

indeed both in land and gold is he who has as many prizes as

these horses have won for Agamemnon. Moreover he will give you

seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians, whom he chose for himself,

when you took Lesbos--all of surpassing beauty. He will give you

these, and with them her whom he erewhile took from you, the

daughter of Briseus, and he will swear a great oath, he has never

gone up into her couch nor been with her after the manner of men

and women. All these things will he give you now down, and if

hereafter the gods vouchsafe him to sack the city of Priam, you

can come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load your

ship with gold and bronze to your liking. You can take twenty

Trojan women, the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we

reach Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, you shall be his

son-in-law, and he will show you like honour with his own dear

son Orestes, who is being nurtured in all abundance. Agamemnon

has three daughters, Chrysothemis, Laodice, and Iphianassa; you

may take the one of your choice, freely and without gifts of

wooing, to the house of Peleus; he will add such dower to boot as

no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give you seven

well-established cities, Cardamyle, Enope, and Hire where there

is grass; holy Pheras and the rich meadows of Anthea; Aepea also,

and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasus, all near the sea, and on the

borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in

cattle and sheep; they will honour you with gifts as though were

a god, and be obedient to your comfortable ordinances. All this

will he do if you will now forgo your anger. Moreover, though you

hate both him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the

rest of the Achaeans who are being harassed in all their host;

they will honour you as a god, and you will earn great glory at

their hands. You might even kill Hector; he will come within your

reach, for he is infatuated, and declares that not a Danaan whom

the ships have brought can hold his own against him."

Achilles answered, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, I should give

you formal notice plainly and in all fixity of purpose that there

be no more of this cajoling, from whatsoever quarter it may come.

Him do I hate even as the gates of hell who says one thing while

he hides another in his heart; therefore I will say what I mean.

I will be appeased neither by Agamemnon son of Atreus nor by any

other of the Danaans, for I see that I have no thanks for all my

fighting. He that fights fares no better than he that does not;

coward and hero are held in equal honour, and death deals like

measure to him who works and him who is idle. I have taken

nothing by all my hardships--with my life ever in my hand; as a

bird when she has found a morsel takes it to her nestlings, and

herself fares hardly, even so many a long night have I been

wakeful, and many a bloody battle have I waged by day against

those who were fighting for their women. With my ships I have

taken twelve cities, and eleven round about Troy have I stormed

with my men by land; I took great store of wealth from every one

of them, but I gave all up to Agamemnon son of Atreus. He stayed

where he was by his ships, yet of what came to him he gave

little, and kept much himself.

"Nevertheless he did distribute some meeds of honour among the

chieftains and kings, and these have them still; from me alone of

the Achaeans did he take the woman in whom I delighted--let him

keep her and sleep with her. Why, pray, must the Argives needs

fight the Trojans? What made the son of Atreus gather the host

and bring them? Was it not for the sake of Helen? Are the sons of

Atreus the only men in the world who love their wives? Any man of

common right feeling will love and cherish her who is his own, as

I this woman, with my whole heart, though she was but a fruitling

of my spear. Agamemnon has taken her from me; he has played me

false; I know him; let him tempt me no further, for he shall not

move me. Let him look to you, Ulysses, and to the other princes

to save his ships from burning. He has done much without me

already. He has built a wall; he has dug a trench deep and wide

all round it, and he has planted it within with stakes; but even

so he stays not the murderous might of Hector. So long as I

fought the Achaeans Hector suffered not the battle range far from

the city walls; he would come to the Scaean gates and to the oak

tree, but no further. Once he stayed to meet me and hardly did he

escape my onset: now, however, since I am in no mood to fight

him, I will to-morrow offer sacrifice to Jove and to all the

gods; I will draw my ships into the water and then victual them

duly; to-morrow morning, if you care to look, you will see my

ships on the Hellespont, and my men rowing out to sea with might

and main. If great Neptune vouchsafes me a fair passage, in three

days I shall be in Phthia. I have much there that I left behind

me when I came here to my sorrow, and I shall bring back still

further store of gold, of red copper, of fair women, and of iron,

my share of the spoils that we have taken; but one prize, he who

gave has insolently taken away. Tell him all as I now bid you,

and tell him in public that the Achaeans may hate him and beware

of him should he think that he can yet dupe others for his

effrontery never fails him.

"As for me, hound that he is, he dares not look me in the face.

I will take no counsel with him, and will undertake nothing in

common with him. He has wronged me and deceived me enough, he

shall not cozen me further; let him go his own way, for Jove has

robbed him of his reason. I loathe his presents, and for himself

care not one straw. He may offer me ten or even twenty times what

he has now done, nay--not though it be all that he has in the

world, both now or ever shall have; he may promise me the wealth

of Orchomenus or of Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in

the whole world, for it has a hundred gates through each of which

two hundred men may drive at once with their chariots and horses;

he may offer me gifts as the sands of the sea or the dust of the

plain in multitude, but even so he shall not move me till I have

been revenged in full for the bitter wrong he has done me. I will

not marry his daughter; she may be fair as Venus, and skilful as

Minerva, but I will have none of her: let another take her, who

may be a good match for her and who rules a larger kingdom. If

the gods spare me to return home, Peleus will find me a wife;

there are Achaean women in Hellas and Phthia, daughters of kings

that have cities under them; of these I can take whom I will and

marry her. Many a time was I minded when at home in Phthia to woo

and wed a woman who would make me a suitable wife, and to enjoy

the riches of my old father Peleus. My life is more to me than

all the wealth of Ilius while it was yet at peace before the

Achaeans went there, or than all the treasure that lies on the

stone floor of Apollo's temple beneath the cliffs of Pytho.

Cattle and sheep are to be had for harrying, and a man buy both

tripods and horses if he wants them, but when his life has once

left him it can neither be bought nor harried back again.

"My mother Thetis tells me that there are two ways in which I may

meet my end. If I stay here and fight, I shall not return alive

but my name will live for ever: whereas if I go home my name will

die, but it will be long ere death shall take me. To the rest of

you, then, I say, 'Go home, for you will not take Ilius.' Jove

has held his hand over her to protect her, and her people have

taken heart. Go, therefore, as in duty bound, and tell the

princes of the Achaeans the message that I have sent them; tell

them to find some other plan for the saving of their ships and

people, for so long as my displeasure lasts the one that they

have now hit upon may not be. As for Phoenix, let him sleep here

that he may sail with me in the morning if he so will. But I

will not take him by force."

They all held their peace, dismayed at the sternness with which

he had denied them, till presently the old knight Phoenix in his

great fear for the ships of the Achaeans, burst into tears and

said, "Noble Achilles, if you are now minded to return, and in

the fierceness of your anger will do nothing to save the ships

from burning, how, my son, can I remain here without you? Your

father Peleus bade me go with you when he sent you as a mere lad

from Phthia to Agamemnon. You knew nothing neither of war nor of

the arts whereby men make their mark in council, and he sent me

with you to train you in all excellence of speech and action.

Therefore, my son, I will not stay here without you--no, not

though heaven itself vouchsafe to strip my years from off me, and

make me young as I was when I first left Hellas the land of fair

women. I was then flying the anger of father Amyntor, son of

Ormenus, who was furious with me in the matter of his concubine,

of whom he was enamoured to the wronging of his wife my mother.

My mother, therefore, prayed me without ceasing to lie with the

woman myself, that so she hate my father, and in the course of

time I yielded. But my father soon came to know, and cursed me

bitterly, calling the dread Erinyes to witness. He prayed that no

son of mine might ever sit upon knees--and the gods, Jove of the

world below and awful Proserpine, fulfilled his curse. I took

counsel to kill him, but some god stayed my rashness and bade me

think on men's evil tongues and how I should be branded as the

murderer of my father; nevertheless I could not bear to stay in

my father's house with him so bitter a against me. My cousins and

clansmen came about me, and pressed me sorely to remain; many a

sheep and many an ox did they slaughter, and many a fat hog did

they set down to roast before the fire; many a jar, too, did they

broach of my father's wine. Nine whole nights did they set a

guard over me taking it in turns to watch, and they kept a fire

always burning, both in the cloister of the outer court and in

the inner court at the doors of the room wherein I lay; but when

the darkness of the tenth night came, I broke through the closed

doors of my room, and climbed the wall of the outer court after

passing quickly and unperceived through the men on guard and the

women servants. I then fled through Hellas till I came to fertile

Phthia, mother of sheep, and to King Peleus, who made me welcome

and treated me as a father treats an only son who will be heir to

all his wealth. He made me rich and set me over much people,

establishing me on the borders of Phthia where I was chief ruler

over the Dolopians.

"It was I, Achilles, who had the making of you; I loved you with

all my heart: for you would eat neither at home nor when you had

gone out elsewhere, till I had first set you upon my knees, cut

up the dainty morsel that you were to eat, and held the wine-cup

to your lips. Many a time have you slobbered your wine in baby

helplessness over my shirt; I had infinite trouble with you, but

I knew that heaven had vouchsafed me no offspring of my own, and

I made a son of you, Achilles, that in my hour of need you might

protect me. Now, therefore, I say battle with your pride and beat

it; cherish not your anger for ever; the might and majesty of

heaven are more than ours, but even heaven may be appeased; and

if a man has sinned he prays the gods, and reconciles them to

himself by his piteous cries and by frankincense, with

drink-offerings and the savour of burnt sacrifice. For prayers

are as daughters to great Jove; halt, wrinkled, with eyes

askance, they follow in the footsteps of sin, who, being fierce

and fleet of foot, leaves them far behind him, and ever baneful

to mankind outstrips them even to the ends of the world; but

nevertheless the prayers come hobbling and healing after. If a

man has pity upon these daughters of Jove when they draw near

him, they will bless him and hear him too when he is praying; but

if he deny them and will not listen to them, they go to Jove the

son of Saturn and pray that he may presently fall into sin--to

his ruing bitterly hereafter. Therefore, Achilles, give these

daughters of Jove due reverence, and bow before them as all good

men will bow. Were not the son of Atreus offering you gifts and

promising others later--if he were still furious and implacable--

I am not he that would bid you throw off your anger and help the

Achaeans, no matter how great their need; but he is giving much

now, and more hereafter; he has sent his captains to urge his

suit, and has chosen those who of all the Argives are most

acceptable to you; make not then their words and their coming to

be of none effect. Your anger has been righteous so far. We have

heard in song how heroes of old time quarrelled when they were

roused to fury, but still they could be won by gifts, and fair

words could soothe them.

"I have an old story in my mind--a very old one--but you are all

friends and I will tell it. The Curetes and the Aetolians were

fighting and killing one another round Calydon--the Aetolians

defending the city and the Curetes trying to destroy it. For

Diana of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because

Oeneus had not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other

gods had all been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of

great Jove alone he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her,

or somehow or other it had escaped him, and this was a grievous

sin. Thereon the archer goddess in her displeasure sent a

prodigious creature against him--a savage wild boar with great

white tusks that did much harm to his orchard lands, uprooting

apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them to the ground. But

Meleager son of Oeneus got huntsmen and hounds from many cities

and killed it--for it was so monstrous that not a few were

needed, and many a man did it stretch upon his funeral pyre. On

this the goddess set the Curetes and the Aetolians fighting

furiously about the head and skin of the boar.

"So long as Meleager was in the field things went badly with the

Curetes, and for all their numbers they could not hold their

ground under the city walls; but in the course of time Meleager

was angered as even a wise man will sometimes be. He was incensed

with his mother Althaea, and therefore stayed at home with his

wedded wife fair Cleopatra, who was daughter of Marpessa daughter

of Euenus, and of Ides the man then living. He it was who took

his bow and faced King Apollo himself for fair Marpessa's sake;

her father and mother then named her Alcyone, because her mother

had mourned with the plaintive strains of the halcyon-bird when

Phoebus Apollo had carried her off. Meleager, then, stayed at

home with Cleopatra, nursing the anger which he felt by reason of

his mother's curses. His mother, grieving for the death of her

brother, prayed the gods, and beat the earth with her hands,

calling upon Hades and on awful Proserpine; she went down upon

her knees and her bosom was wet with tears as she prayed that

they would kill her son--and Erinys that walks in darkness and

knows no ruth heard her from Erebus.

"Then was heard the din of battle about the gates of Calydon, and

the dull thump of the battering against their walls. Thereon the

elders of the Aetolians besought Meleager; they sent the chiefest

of their priests, and begged him to come out and help them,

promising him a great reward. They bade him choose fifty

plough-gates, the most fertile in the plain of Calydon, the

one-half vineyard and the other open plough-land. The old warrior

Oeneus implored him, standing at the threshold of his room and

beating the doors in supplication. His sisters and his mother

herself besought him sore, but he the more refused them; those of

his comrades who were nearest and dearest to him also prayed him,

but they could not move him till the foe was battering at the

very doors of his chamber, and the Curetes had scaled the walls

and were setting fire to the city. Then at last his sorrowing

wife detailed the horrors that befall those whose city is taken;

she reminded him how the men are slain, and the city is given

over to the flames, while the women and children are carried into

captivity; when he heard all this, his heart was touched, and he

donned his armour to go forth. Thus of his own inward motion he

saved the city of the Aetolians; but they now gave him nothing of

those rich rewards that they had offered earlier, and though he

saved the city he took nothing by it. Be not then, my son, thus

minded; let not heaven lure you into any such course. When the

ships are burning it will be a harder matter to save them. Take

the gifts, and go, for the Achaeans will then honour you as a

god; whereas if you fight without taking them, you may beat the

battle back, but you will not be held in like honour."

And Achilles answered, "Phoenix, old friend and father, I have no

need of such honour. I have honour from Jove himself, which will

abide with me at my ships while I have breath in my body, and my

limbs are strong. I say further--and lay my saying to your

heart--vex me no more with this weeping and lamentation, all in

the cause of the son of Atreus. Love him so well, and you may

lose the love I bear you. You ought to help me rather in

troubling those that trouble me; be king as much as I am, and

share like honour with myself; the others shall take my answer;

stay here yourself and sleep comfortably in your bed; at daybreak

we will consider whether to remain or go."

On this she nodded quietly to Patroclus as a sign that he was to

prepare a bed for Phoenix, and that the others should take their

leave. Ajax son of Telamon then said, "Ulysses, noble son of

Laertes, let us be gone, for I see that our journey is vain. We

must now take our answer, unwelcome though it be, to the Danaans

who are waiting to receive it. Achilles is savage and

remorseless; he is cruel, and cares nothing for the love his

comrades lavished upon him more than on all the others. He is

implacable--and yet if a man's brother or son has been slain he

will accept a fine by way of amends from him that killed him, and

the wrong-doer having paid in full remains in peace among his own

people; but as for you, Achilles, the gods have put a wicked

unforgiving spirit in your heart, and this, all about one single

girl, whereas we now offer you the seven best we have, and much

else into the bargain. Be then of a more gracious mind, respect

the hospitality of your own roof. We are with you as messengers

from the host of the Danaans, and would fain he held nearest and

dearest to yourself of all the Achaeans."

"Ajax," replied Achilles, "noble son of Telamon, you have spoken

much to my liking, but my blood boils when I think it all over,

and remember how the son of Atreus treated me with contumely as

though I were some vile tramp, and that too in the presence of

the Argives. Go, then, and deliver your message; say that I will

have no concern with fighting till Hector, son of noble Priam,

reaches the tents of the Myrmidons in his murderous course, and

flings fire upon their ships. For all his lust of battle, I take

it he will be held in check when he is at my own tent and ship."

On this they took every man his double cup, made their

drink-offerings, and went back to the ships, Ulysses leading the

way. But Patroclus told his men and the maid-servants to make

ready a comfortable bed for Phoenix; they therefore did so with

sheepskins, a rug, and a sheet of fine linen. The old man then

laid himself down and waited till morning came. But Achilles

slept in an inner room, and beside him the daughter of Phorbas

lovely Diomede, whom he had carried off from Lesbos. Patroclus

lay on the other side of the room, and with him fair Iphis whom

Achilles had given him when he took Scyros the city of Enyeus.

When the envoys reached the tents of the son of Atreus, the

Achaeans rose, pledged them in cups of gold, and began to

question them. King Agamemnon was the first to do so. "Tell me,

Ulysses," said he, "will he save the ships from burning, or did

be refuse, and is he still furious?"

Ulysses answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, king of men,

Agamemnon, Achilles will not be calmed, but is more fiercely

angry than ever, and spurns both you and your gifts. He bids you

take counsel with the Achaeans to save the ships and host as you

best may; as for himself, he said that at daybreak he should draw

his ships into the water. He said further that he should advise

every one to sail home likewise, for that you will not reach the

goal of Ilius. 'Jove,' he said, 'has laid his hand over the city

to protect it, and the people have taken heart.' This is what he

said, and the others who were with me can tell you the same

story--Ajax and the two heralds, men, both of them, who may be

trusted. The old man Phoenix stayed where he was to sleep, for so

Achilles would have it, that he might go home with him in the

morning if he so would; but he will not take him by force."

They all held their peace, sitting for a long time silent and

dejected, by reason of the sternness with which Achilles had

refused them, till presently Diomed said, "Most noble son of

Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, you ought not to have sued the

son of Peleus nor offered him gifts. He is proud enough as it is,

and you have encouraged him in his pride still further. Let him

stay or go as he will. He will fight later when he is in the

humour, and heaven puts it in his mind to do so. Now, therefore,

let us all do as I say; we have eaten and drunk our fill, let us

then take our rest, for in rest there is both strength and stay.

But when fair rosy-fingered morn appears, forthwith bring out

your host and your horsemen in front of the ships, urging them

on, and yourself fighting among the foremost."

Thus he spoke, and the other chieftains approved his words. They

then made their drink-offerings and went every man to his own

tent, where they laid down to rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.


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