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Title: Stories from the Iliad
Author: Havell, H. L. (Herbert Lord), -1913
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories from the Iliad" ***

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[Frontispiece: "Athene shot down from Olympus like a falling star"
(Patten Wilson)]






"_A nation without fancy, without some romance, never did never can,
never will, hold a great place under the sun....  What enchanted us in
our childhood, and is captivating a million of young fancies now, has,
at the same blessed time of life, enchanted vast hosts of men and women
who have done their long day's work and laid their grey heads down to



  First published February 1908
  39-41 Parker Street, Kingsway, London, W.C.2

  Reprinted: August 1908; February 1909; May 1910; July 1913;
  July 1916; July 1917; August 1919; April 1922; April 1924;
  March 1926; April 1928; November 1929

  Printed in Great Britain by The Riverside Press Limited



  I.  The Story
  II.  The Divine Characters
  III.  The Human Characters
  IV.  The Similes

The Quarrel

The Dream: The Muster of Greeks

Greeks and Trojans Face to Face: The Duel

The Breaking of the Truce

The Exploits of Diomede

The Battle continued: Hector and Andromache

Second Battle: Repulse of the Greeks

The Embassy to Achilles

The Night Raid on the Trojan Camp

The Brave Deeds of Agamemnon: Reverses of the Greeks

The Attack on the Grecian Camp

Poseidon aids the Greeks

Zeus is Beguiled by Hera

The Last Battle by the Ships

Achilles sends Patroclus to Battle

The Fight for the Body of Patroclus

The News is brought to Achilles

The Shield of Achilles

The Reconciliation

Achilles in the Battlefield

The Death of Hector

The Funeral Games of Patroclus

Priam Ransoms the Body of Hector

Pronouncing List of Names


"Athene shot down from Olympus
    like a falling star" (_Patten Wilson_) _Frontispiece_

The Leaders of the Greeks (_Christian G. Heyne_)

Paris (_Vatican, Rome_)

Helen on the Walls of Troy (_Lord Leighton_)

Hector's Farewell (_Friedrich Preller, Jr._)

Menelaus (_Vatican, Rome_)

Homer Hymning the Fall of Troy (_Baron H. de Triqueti_)

Captive Andromache (_Lord Leighton_)



In order to understand the structure of the _Iliad_, we must keep fast
hold of the guiding clue which is supplied by the author in the first
line of his poem.  The subject, he tells us, is the _Wrath of
Achilles_.  The motive of the greatest of epics is _wrath_--blind,
unreasoning fury, which knows no law, and acknowledges no right.
Keeping this in view, we are able to explain what seems at first sight
to be a strange anomaly in the conduct of the story--the absence of the
hero from the scene of action during three-fourths of the narrative.
For Achilles is not less the hero of the _Iliad_ than Odysseus is the
hero of the _Odyssey_, and in both cases the character of the man
determines the structure of the poem.  Odysseus is a man of middle age,
in the maturity of his splendid powers, with his judgment refined by
experience, and his passions cooled by time.  From the moment when he
sets sail from Troy he remains faithful to the fixed desire of his
heart.  All the malice of Poseidon, all the spells of Circe, all the
loveliness of Calypso, cannot shake him from his resolve to return to
his home in Ithaca, and live out his life in calm domestic happiness
and peace.  Yet he is entirely free from the narrowness which commonly
belongs to a fixed idea.  He knows the uncertainty which attaches to
all human hopes, and is as ready to enjoy the passing hour as the
youngest sailor of his crew.  He has the hungry intellect, which would
fain take all knowledge into its compass, and the spirit of soaring
enterprise, which delights in discovery and daring adventure.  But
above all he has the patient, constant human heart, faithful through
all turns of fortune to one sober ideal.  It is this steadfastness of
purpose and sweet reasonableness in the hero which gives to the
narrative of the _Odyssey_ its smooth and pellucid flow, and makes it
the most delightful of all story-books.

Achilles, on the other hand, is the incarnation of the spirit of youth,
with its passionate pride, its acute sensibility, and its absorption in
self.  He is like one of the great forces of nature--unreasoning,
elemental, mighty to create or destroy.  His inaction is as tremendous
as his action.  He is offended, and the Greeks, deprived of his aid,
are brought to the brink of ruin--his friend is slain by Hector, and
the current of his fury, thus directed into a new channel, sweeps the
whole Trojan army before it in havoc and rout.

This, then, is the plan of the _Iliad_--to describe the effects of
Achilles' anger, first on the Greeks, then on the Trojans.  A brief
review of the story will show how the plan is worked out.  In the ninth
year of the war, the Greeks have taken a small town in the
neighbourhood of Troy, and Agamemnon has received a maiden named
Chryseis as his share of the spoil.  Chryses, the maiden's father,
comes to the Grecian camp to ransom his child, but he is rudely
repulsed by Agamemnon, and invokes the vengeance of Apollo, whose
priest he is, on the Greeks.  Apollo sends a pestilence on the camp,
and Agamemnon is compelled in consequence to restore Chryseis, but he
recompenses himself by seizing another maiden, named Briseis, awarded
to Achilles as a prize at the capture of the same city.  Achilles vows
vengeance on the whole Greek army for this outrage, and Thetis, his
mother, obtains a promise from Zeus, the supreme god of Olympus, that
her son's vow shall be fulfilled to the letter.  Accordingly Zeus sends
a false dream to Agamemnon, bidding him lead the whole army against
Troy, with the assurance of a decisive victory.  Agamemnon obeys the
summons in all good faith, and the two armies meet on the plain before
the city.  But just as the general encounter is about to begin, Paris
offers to meet Menelaus in single combat, and a truce is made in order
that the duel may take place.  They fight, and Menelaus is victorious,
but Paris is saved from death or capture by the intervention of

Menelaus now claims the fulfilment of the conditions of the truce--the
restoration of Helen with all her wealth.  But before the point can be
debated, Pandarus, a Trojan, at the instigation of Athene, aims an
arrow at Menelaus, and wounds him in the side.  This treacherous act
leads to an immediate renewal of hostilities, and in the battle which
follows the Trojans are reduced to such straits by the powers of
Diomede that Hector goes on a mission to the city, to institute a
solemn supplication in the temple of Athene, in the vain hope of
diverting her anger from the Trojans.  Having accomplished his errand,
he returns to the field, bringing with him Paris, who, since his defeat
by Menelaus, has been dallying in Helen's bower; and then follows a
duel between Hector and Ajax, in which the Greek champion has the
advantage.  At the suggestion of Nestor, the Greeks fortify their camp
with a moat and rampart; and this brings us to the end of the seventh

Hitherto the Greeks have had a decided advantage in battle with the
Trojans, and nothing has been done to carry out the promise which Zeus
made to Thetis.  But now the father of gods and men begins to take
decisive measures to fulfil his pledge; the gods are forbidden to
interfere between the rival armies, and in the next day's battle the
Greeks are driven back in panic to their camp, while the Trojans,
contrary to their custom, keep the field all night, intending to attack
the Greek stronghold in full force next day.  So despondent are the
Greeks that an embassy is sent with an offer of magnificent gifts to
Achilles, if he will lay aside his anger and come to the help of his
distressed countrymen.  Achilles refuses all compromise, and the rest
of the night is occupied by the bold raid undertaken by Diomede and
Odysseus on the Thracian camp.

At the opening of the eleventh book our attention is concentrated on
the valorous exploits of Agamemnon, who is at length compelled to
retire by a severe wound in the arm; Diomede is pierced through the
foot by an arrow from the bow of Paris, and Odysseus, Machaon, and
Eurypylus are also disabled.  Patroclus is sent by Achilles to inquire
of Nestor concerning the fortunes of the Greeks, and Nestor then makes
the suggestion which marks the turning-point in the first act of the
great epic drama: if, he says, Achilles will not go to the field
himself, at least let him send Patroclus to lead the Myrmidons[1]
against the Trojans.  Nothing comes of the proposal for the present,
but it is to bear fatal fruit both for Patroclus and Achilles in the
near future.  The Greeks are again driven behind their defences, and a
furious struggle ensues, at the end of which the gates of the camp are
demolished, and the Trojans, led by Hector, are on the point of setting
fire to the ships.

[1] The followers of Achilles

At this moment the attention of Zeus is withdrawn from the battle, and
Poseidon seizes the opportunity to interfere in favour of the Greeks.
By his influence the scale is turned again, Hector receives fearful
injuries from a huge stone hurled by Ajax, and the Trojans are driven
headlong across the plain.  Zeus is lulled to sleep by the contrivance
of Hera, and when he awakens it is to find his whole scheme of
vengeance on the point of being frustrated.  In great anger he sends a
peremptory message to Poseidon to withdraw from the battle, and lays
his commands on Apollo, who brings back Hector, healed and whole, to
the field, and leads the Trojans once more to the assault of the camp.
In spite of the desperate valour of Ajax, the Greeks are driven back to
their ships, and the Trojans bring torches, with the intention of
burning the whole fleet.

Then at last Achilles, yielding to the earnest entreaty of Patroclus,
sends him to the aid of the Greeks, equipped in his own armour, and
leading the whole force of the Myrmidons.  Patroclus easily drives the
Trojans back from the camp, and slays Sarpedon, one of the bravest
warriors among the allies of Troy; but he himself falls by Hector's
hand, and the armour of Achilles passes into the possession of his
slayer.  A tremendous struggle ensues over the body of Patroclus, which
is only ended by the appearance of Achilles himself, who comes,
attended by strange prodigies, to the wall, and, by the mere terror of
his presence, scares the Trojans from the field, and saves his friend's
body from outrage.

The rest of the story may be briefly told.  By the intercession of
Thetis, Hephæstus, the divine smith, makes a splendid suit of armour
for Achilles, and, after a solemn scene of reconciliation with
Agamemnon, Achilles leads the Greeks to battle.  The whole torrent of
his fury is now turned upon the Trojans, and, after a wholesale
massacre of lesser victims, he meets Hector in single combat, slays
him, and drags his body behind his chariot to the camp.  The funeral
obsequies of Patroclus are celebrated with great pomp, and then
Achilles, who is possessed by a demon of rage and grief, continues for
a space of twelve days to wreak his vengeance on the lifeless body of
Hector, which he drags repeatedly behind his car round the tomb of
Patroclus.  The gods interpose to make an end of this senseless fury,
and Hector's body, which has been miraculously preserved from harm, is
restored to Priam, who comes in the night, under the conduct of Hermes,
and redeems the corpse with a heavy ransom.  With the burial of Hector
the poem reaches its conclusion.

Such, in the briefest and baldest outline, is the story of the _Iliad_.
Space does not allow us to discuss the various objections which have
been raised against some of the details of the narrative, still less to
enumerate the reconstructions and mutilations to which the great epic
has been subjected in the dissecting-room of criticism.  Where opinion
is still so much divided, we may be allowed to state our conviction
that the _Iliad_, though wanting the structural perfection of the
_Odyssey_, is one poem, and the work of one master mind.


The gods in the _Iliad_ play a very active and human part, and indeed
they may be said in a sense to be more human than the men themselves.
They are passionate, sensual, vindictive; they have no sense of fair
play, but are always ready to help their favourites by all means, fair
or foul.  When Patroclus is to die, he is stripped of his armour and
beaten half senseless by Apollo, and delivered over in this helpless
state to Euphorbus and Hector; and Hector, in his turn, is cheated and
beguiled to his death by Athene.  In the chariot race which is
described in the twenty-third book Athene wrecks the car of Eumelus to
secure the victory for Diomede; and the same goddess interferes in the
foot race on behalf of Odysseus, whom she loves like a mother.  We have
already remarked, in the Introduction to the _Odyssey_, that the only
humorous scenes in the _Iliad_ are those in which the gods play the
chief or sole part.  And, in fact, the want of dignity and decorum
which we find in these mighty beings is simply astonishing.  The battle
of the gods, which is introduced with such pomp and parade, ends in the
broadest farce.  In the fifth book, Ares roars and bellows like a beast
when he is wounded by the spear of Diomede, and Aphrodite, whose hand
has been scratched, goes whimpering and whining to her mother for
comfort.  Only in a few passages do we find a great and worthy
conception of the divine nature--as in the famous lines in the first
book, when Zeus nods his immortal head confirming his oath to Thetis,
and in the sublime description of Poseidon at the beginning of the
thirteenth book.

At the head of the Olympian hierarchy stands Zeus the lord of the sky,
who divides with his brothers, Hades and Poseidon, the empire of the
universe.  He is the highest in power and authority, and with him rests
the final decision in all the disputes of Olympus.  But this genial and
patriarchal deity is not without his troubles: he rules over a
disorderly household, and his purposes are constantly thwarted by the
lesser powers who reign under him.  In his heart of hearts he favours
Priam and the Trojans, but he is a fond and indulgent father and
husband, and Hera, his wife, and Athene, his daughter, cherish an
implacable hatred against Troy and all things Trojan.  The reason for
this bitter animosity does not appear: for the judgment of Paris, which
is the cause assigned by later legends, is only mentioned in one
passage, of doubtful authenticity.  Hera is described as a lady of
shrewish and vixenish temper; she will never be satisfied, says Zeus,
until she has gone down into Troy and eaten Priam and all his people
raw!  Her human counterpart is Hecuba, who would like, she says, to
tear out the heart of Achilles, and devour it.  On the side of the
Trojans are Apollo, Artemis, Hephæstus, the river-god Scamander, and

Such are the gods of Homer, and such the national divinities of Greece.
For the poems of Homer and Hesiod, as Herodotus informs us, are the
chief sources of the popular theology.  Small wonder, then, that the
more earnest minds of a later age were much occupied by the endeavour
to raise and purify the accepted mythology, or that Plato excludes
Homer, "the great magician," from his scheme of reformed education.


Of Achilles and Odysseus we have already spoken at some length, so that
we have only to notice briefly the other chief characters.  At the head
of the Greek army stands Agamemnon, whose authority rests on his
personal prowess, his vast wealth, and the extent of his dominions.  In
the absence of Achilles he shares with Ajax and Diomede the highest
place among the warriors of Greece.  A certain strain of weakness runs
through his character.  He is jealous of his authority, and somewhat
covetous, and at moments of crisis and peril he is always foremost in
the counsels of despair.  Next to him in rank comes Menelaus, his
brother, an amiable but somewhat feeble prince, to whom the poet shows
a certain playful tenderness, such as is felt by chivalrous natures
towards a woman or a child.

The most knightly figure on the Greek side is the young Diomede, whose
wonderful exploits fill so large a space in the earlier part of the
poem.  His gallant and buoyant spirit shines brightest when the
fortunes of the Greeks are at their lowest ebb; and the beautiful
episode of his meeting with Glaucus on the battlefield is a rare
exception to the savage ferocity of Homeric warfare.

After Achilles, the mightiest champion of Greece is the great
Telamonian Ajax.  He is a giant in stature and strength, and is the
chief bulwark of the Greeks against the impetuous valour of Hector.  In
character, he is modest and unassuming; he lacks the brilliant
qualities of Achilles, though equal to him in sheer physical force.  He
is the type of the rugged soldier, such as we find among the Spartans
of a later date, loyal to his prince, a faithful comrade, ever at the
post of danger, ever prompt to help where the need is sorest.  His
plain, frank nature views with contempt the fantastic pride of
Achilles, whose frightful egoism, and indifference to the sufferings of
his countrymen, revolt and disgust him.

[Illustration: The Leaders of the Greeks (Christian G. Heyne)]

This list may fitly be closed with the name of Nestor, "the
clear-voiced orator, from whose lips flowed eloquence sweeter than
honey."  As becomes his age, he assumes the office of peacemaker
between Agamemnon and Achilles; in spite of his eighty years, he still
takes the field and fights in the van, though his arm is now of less
value than his head.  With regard to his eloquence, it can hardly be
said, judging by the specimen preserved, that he is quite worthy of his
reputation.  He is, in fact, garrulous, rambling, and tedious--though
in these qualities he is even surpassed by the aged Phœnix, who has
played the part of male nurse to Achilles, and excels in a style of
oratory dear to the professional guardians of childhood.

The great champion of the Trojans is Hector, the son of Priam and
Hecuba.  His character is, in every respect, a contrast to that of
Achilles.  With him the claims of king and country ever come first,
though he is not indifferent to personal distinction.  He falls very
far short of the ideal knight--without fear and without reproach.  In
these qualities he seems to be eclipsed by Glaucus and Sarpedon, the
princes of Lycia, whose beautiful friendship finds its most illustrious
record in the immortal lines of the twelfth book,[2] the finest
exposition in the world of the principle involved in the words
_noblesse oblige_.  Hector, on the other hand, is full of weakness: at
one time he is faint-hearted, and has to be recalled to the duties of
his great position by the reproaches of those who serve under him; at
another time he is overbold, and his rashness brings upon the Trojans
overwhelming disaster.  Yet with all this, his character is full of
interest.  In his greater moments he rises to sublime heights of
heroism.  He does not shrink from the consequences of his actions, but
goes to certain death with the spirit of a patriot and martyr.  He is
the mirror of knightly courtesy, kind and gentle even to the guilty and
the fallen; and his last meeting with Andromache is hardly to be
matched for beauty and pathos in all literature.

[2] See p. 107.

A bare mention must suffice for Priam, the white-haired King, and the
most tragic figure in the poem; Paris, the curled darling of Aphrodite,
a mere beautiful animal, without soul or conscience, and the lovely
passion-stricken Helen, whose strange story seems to have a closer
affinity with mediæval romance than with classical antiquity.


One word must be added on the frequent comparisons, or similes, which
form one of the most characteristic features of the poem.  At least
half the _Iliad_ is occupied with descriptions of battle, and Homeric
warfare is exceedingly simple and uniform, consisting almost entirely
of single combats between individual chieftains, or wholesale slaughter
wrought by some puissant arm on the promiscuous herd of soldiers.  To
render so unpromising a theme interesting and attractive must have
taxed the skill and invention of the poet to their utmost limit; and
his principal resources for attaining this end is in the lavish use of
the simile.  In those parts of the poem where much is to be told in
little space this ornament occurs rarely, or not at all.  In the first
book, which is crowded with incidents, not a single simile is used.
But where the action is to be delayed or elaborated, and especially in
the battle pieces, the similes are flung broadcast, shining like stars
among the racing clouds of a stormy sky.  Every corner of nature, and
every province of human life, are ransacked to furnish illustrations of
the eternal drama of "battle, and murder, and sudden death."  In a
moment we are rapt by the magic of the poet from the steam and squalor
of slaughter to some busy scene of human industry, or some living
picture, grand, lovely, or terrible, drawn from the great panorama of
nature.  Nothing is too great, nothing too little, to furnish material
for this splendid treasury of poetry.  It would be easy to discourse
for pages on this fascinating subject; but we must content ourselves
with the above brief hint, and will conclude our remarks by declaring
our full agreement with those who regard the similes in the _Iliad_ as
the chief glory and beauty in the first and greatest of epic poems.


The Quarrel


The scene of our story is laid in the north-western corner of Asia
Minor, where the blue waters of the Hellespont mingle with the waves of
the Ægæan.  The whole coast is lined with a multitude of war galleys,
drawn up, row behind row, for a space of several miles; and behind them
are thousands and thousands of wooden huts, affording shelter to a
whole nation of warriors, with their slaves and followers.  For nine
years the Greeks have lain here encamped, striving in vain to sack the
ancient city of Troy, whose towers and battlements, some five miles
distant, can be seen from the elevated parts of the camp.  The whole
surrounding country has been laid waste, and town after town has been
visited by all the horrors of war; but the walls of Troy still stand
firm against all assault, and the end seems as far off as ever.

The chiefs are assembled in council, and in their midst sits Agamemnon,
the mightiest prince in Greece, whose nod a hundred thousand warriors
obey.  Suddenly, a voice is heard on the outskirts of the crowd which
surrounds the circle of elders, and an aged man, clad in the long
flowing robes of a priest, is led into the royal presence.  In his hand
he carries a rod, adorned with studs of gold, and wreathed with olive
leaves.  "A boon, great king, a boon!" he cries, lifting the rod on
high.  "Speak," answers Agamemnon.  "What wouldst thou have of me?"
"Give me back my child, my daughter Chryseis," answers the priest.
"Thou hast sacked my city, thou hast burnt my home; restore unto me my
child, and leave me not altogether desolate in mine old age."

Dark was the brow of Agamemnon when he heard these words, and short and
stern was his answer.  "Let me not find thee," he said, "lingering here
in the camp, and come not hither again on such an errand.  Thy daughter
thou shall not see again; she is mine, the captive of my bow and of my
spear, and shall be my slave until the day of her death."  In vain the
old man urged him with entreaty, and offered a rich ransom to redeem
his child from bondage.  "Talk not to me of ransom," answered
Agamemnon: "not all the gold of thy temple shall purchase liberty for
the maiden, for she hath found favour in my sight.  Get thee gone at
once, and provoke me no further."

Then the priest, whose name was Chryses, feared for his own life, and
fled from the angry face of the King.  Down to the margin of the sea he
went, and gazing with tear-dimmed eyes over the heaving waters, thus he
prayed to Apollo, his protector and lord: "Hear me, god of the silver
bow, whose altar steams day and night with offerings from the choicest
of the flock.  Remember my faithful service, and let thine arrows
avenge my tears on the Greeks."

So he prayed, and Apollo heard him, and down from the peaks of Olympus
he sped.  In his hand he bare his mighty bow, and the arrows in his
quiver made an angry rattling as he swooped down on the Grecian camp,
swift and sudden as the southern night.  He took his stand on a hill,
and loosed an arrow from the string; and dire was the twang of the
silver bow.  First, he sent his shafts among the dogs and mules; then
he changed his aim, and rained destruction among the men; and the whole
place was filled with the smoke of funeral pyres.

For nine days the deadly shower fell without ceasing; but on the tenth,
Achilles summoned a general gathering of the host, to inquire into the
causes of the calamity which had fallen on his countrymen.  The chiefs
met in full conclave, and about them were gathered the meaner sort in
their tens of thousands.  When the clamorous cries of the multitude
were stilled, Achilles rose in his place, and addressing himself
directly to Agamemnon said: "Son of Atreus, how long wilt thou suffer
thy people to perish?  Is it not enough that our blood is poured forth
every day in battle with thy foes, but must pestilence also make havoc
among our ranks?  This is Apollo's work, and it is time to ask some
priest or soothsayer how we have offended the god, that we may appease
his anger with the fat of goats and lambs, and save ourselves from
further harm."

Among the elders sat Calchas, the chief seer of the Greeks; who knew
all things--what was, and had been, and was to come--and was the chosen
leader of the army in matters of religion.  Seeing all eyes turned upon
him he stood up and answered the challenge of Achilles, though with
manifest reluctance and constraint.

"Illustrious chieftain," he said, "thou hast asked the cause of
Apollo's anger, and I know that thou lookest to me for an answer.  But
swear unto me first that thou wilt defend me in word and in deed; for I
fear that, by revealing the counsels of the god whom I serve, I shall
offend one who is the greatest and mightiest among us."

"Tell us what thou knowest, and fear nothing," answered Achilles;
"while I live no one shall lift his hand against thee, no, not
Agamemnon himself."

Thus encouraged, Calchas spoke out, and declared that the only means of
staying the pestilence was by sending back Chryseis to her father,
without price or ransom, and offering a costly sacrifice of atonement
to Apollo in his temple at Chrysa.  It was not without reason that the
prudent seer had appealed to Achilles for protection; for no sooner had
his words been uttered than Agamemnon sprang from his seat, with fury
in his looks, and overwhelmed the prophet with a torrent of reproaches.
"Ill fare thy prophecies, thou prophet of ill!" he cried.  "Not one
good word have I ever heard from thy lips; but this is the worst that
ever thou hast spoken.  Hard and bitter is the charge which thou hast
laid upon me, bidding me restore this maiden, fairer and dearer to me
than Clytæmnestra, my wedded wife.  Nevertheless I will send her back,
if I cannot save my people otherwise; but look ye to it, princes and
councillors of Greece, that I find fit recompense for my loss; for she
was a choice prize of war, set apart for me as a gift of privilege and

"And thinkest thou," said Achilles, roused at once to opposition by
this unwarrantable claim, "that it befits thine honour as a king to be
covetous of thy people's goods?  Be generous; let thy prize go, and
when next we divide the spoil of a captured town we will repay thee
threefold and fourfold for thy loss."

"Payment I will have, and that right speedily," answered Agamemnon,
with darkening brow.  "See that ye find means to fill the place of this
maiden, or one of you shall yield up his prize to me, whether it be
Ajax, or Odysseus, or thou Achilles, who art so bold of speech, that
thou mayest learn that I am king indeed.  But concerning this we can
speak again hereafter; our present task is to restore Chryseis to her
father, and appease the god with sacrifice."

Agamemnon thought perhaps by his last words to avert the anger of the
fiery young prince, whose eyes flashed fire when he heard the King's
threat.  But if such was his purpose it failed altogether.  No sooner
had he ended than the full tempest of Achilles' wrath fell upon his
head.  "Thou soul of avarice!" he cried, "clad in shamelessness as with
a garment, was it for thee that we crossed all those weary leagues of
water to make war on the men of Troy?  I have no quarrel with the
Trojans; they have not lifted my cattle, or driven off my horses, for
my home is far beyond their reach, divided from Asia by shadowy
mountains and sounding seas.  For thee, thou dog, and for thy brother
have I toiled, and in the division of the spoil 'tis but little that I
win as the price of my sweat and my blood; and thou seekest to rob me
of that little, to add to thine own monstrous hoard.  I will go back
forthwith to my native land of Phthia, for I have no mind to abide here
in dishonour and heap up treasure for thee."

"Go when thou wilt," answered Agamemnon, in scornful tones.  "Heaven
forbid that I should hinder thee!  Most hateful to me art thou of all
the chivalry of Greece, for thou hast a heart full of hatred and
malice.  Go and lord it over thine own tribe; I am the master here, and
as sure as I am a crowned and anointed king I will take thy prize, even
the maiden Briseis, and lead her to my tent, that thou mayest learn to
curb thy saucy tongue in the presence of thy lord."

Thus publicly insulted and defied, Achilles sat speechless with rage,
fighting against the passion which shook his mighty frame.  At last it
seemed that he had resolved to let his fury have full scope; slowly he
drew his sword from its scabbard, his mouth was opened for the battle
cry, and in another moment the haughty King would have lain weltering
in his blood; but in the very act of springing on his foe he felt
himself restrained from behind, and turning to confront this new
assailant he stood face to face with the goddess Athene.  Unseen and
unheard by the rest, the grey-eyed goddess spoke, bidding him to desist
from his murderous purpose.  "Put up thy sword," she said; "speak
daggers to him, if thou wilt, but use none.  Thine honour is safe in
the hands of Zeus, and the day of reckoning shall come, when that proud
head shall be humbled to the very dust before thee."

To those who were looking on it seemed that Achilles had fallen into a
sudden trance of thought, from which he started abruptly, and,
thrusting back his sword into its sheath, resumed the war of words with
Agamemnon.  "Thou drunkard," he cried, "with eye of dog and heart of
deer, foremost in the revel and last in the fray!  Thou of the itching
palm, who lovest the chink of stolen gold, but turnest pale at the
clash of steel!  False shepherd, that devourest thy flock!  Cowardly
master of cowardly sheep!  Now by this sceptre I swear, by this symbol
of justice which the elders hold in their hands when they give judgment
before the people, the day is not far distant when all this host shall
be filled with longing for me, to save them from Hector's destroying
arm, when their bravest and their strongest are falling beneath his
spear.  Then shalt thou learn thy folly too late, and drink to the
dregs the bitter cup which thou hast filled for me."

With that he flung the sceptre at Agamemnon's feet, and sat down again
in his place.  Then arose Nestor, the clear-voiced orator of Pylos,
from whose lips flowed eloquence sweeter than honey.  Two generations
of men had lived and died since his birth, and he still dwelt in kingly
honour among the third.  And thus he spake, striving to make peace
between the two angry chieftains: "Alas! what sorrow has come upon the
sons of Greece!--sorrow to us, but joy unto Priam and the sons of
Priam, when they hear of the feud which hath arisen between ye twain.
Be guided by me; I am older than ye, and before ye were born I moved as
an equal among heroes mightier than ye, and was second to none in
council and in fight.  Hearken therefore to me, even as they did.  Seek
not, Agamemnon, to take from Achilles his prize of honour; and thou,
Achilles, provoke not the King to anger by thy bitter words, for as
thou art our bulwark in war, so he sits higher than thou in sceptred

"Thou sayest well," answered Agamemnon, "but this man's insolence is
not to be borne.  Because he is a stout spearman he thinks that he can
lord it over us all.  But there are some here who will not brook his

"There is one here," retorted Achilles, "who refuses to be thy slave.
But enough of this--I will waste no more words on thee.  Come and take
away my prize, if those who stand here suffer thee to do this wrong;
but touch not aught else of my possessions, or thy blood shall pay the

With these words the stormy debate, so fruitful in disaster to the
Greeks, came to an end.


Agamemnon's first task, when he returned to his tent, was to send back
Chryseis, under the charge of Odysseus, to her father.  This done, he
at once took steps to secure possession of Briseis, the captive maiden
who had been bestowed on Achilles as his prize of honour.  Talthybius
and Eurybates, the royal heralds, were sent to the quarters of Achilles
to demand the surrender of Briseis.  "And if he will not give her up to
you," added the King, "I will come myself and take her by force."  So
they went with slow and reluctant steps on their thankless errand; and
they found Achilles sitting alone by his ship, where it was drawn up on
the beach.  Awestruck and silent they stood in the presence of that
great chief, unable to utter a sound; but he knew full well why they
had come, and greeted them with courtesy and kindness.  "Draw near," he
said, "and fear nothing from me.  I respect your office, and impute not
to you your master's guilt.  Patroclus my comrade shall deliver unto
you the maiden, and be ye my witnesses in this matter, when it is asked
why I threw down my sword and refused to fight any longer in
Agamemnon's cause."

So saying he summoned Patroclus, and bade him bring forth Briseis from
the tent; and Patroclus went, and presently returned, leading the
weeping maiden by the hand, and gave her in charge of the heralds.
When they were gone, Achilles wandered away by the margin of the sea,
nursing his wounded spirit, and full of angry and bitter thoughts.
Presently he came to a stand, and, stretching out his hands towards the
sea, cried like a child in pain to Thetis, his mother: "Short is the
term of years which Fate has vouchsafed to me, and therefore thou hast
promised me honour from the hands of Zeus.  But now is mine honour
turned to infamy, and I am become a very scorn of men, and an outcast
among the people."  His words were broken by sobs and tears, for he was
but a boy in years, and was smarting with an agony of wounded pride.
And his mother heard him where she sat in her crystal cave in the
depths of the sea; for she was a goddess, and daughter of the sea-god,
Nereus.  Swiftly she rose, "like an exhalation," to the surface of the
sea, and came and stood by her young hero's side.  "Why weepest thou,
my child?" she asked, with a tender caress.  "Tell thy mother all thy
pain, that she may bear the burden with thee."

"Thou knowest full well," replied Achilles, with a groan; "what boots
it to repeat to thee the story of my shame?"  Nevertheless he went on
to pour out all the tale of injury and outrage; for sorrow grows
lighter in the telling.  "Thou alone," he added, when he had finished
the recital, "canst heal this deadly hurt to mine honour.  I have often
heard thee boast of an old service rendered to Zeus, when the other
Olympians rose up in revolt against him, and he was in sore straits.
Go, therefore, to Olympus, and remind him of the debt which he owes
unto thee, and ask him in requital to lend aid to the Trojans, that the
Greeks may be hurled back in rout upon their ships, and Agamemnon may
learn what it means to deal despitefully with the best warrior in his

"It shall be done as thou sayest," answered Thetis; "Leave everything
in my hands, and thou shalt have atonement in full measure.  Until
twelve days are passed I can do nothing, for Zeus has gone on a far
journey, to partake of a banquet in the land of the Ethiopians.  When
he returns I will lay thy case before him; and meanwhile sit thou idle
here, and go not into battle, but leave me to champion thy cause."
With this promise she left him, and he sat down to digest his anger,
and wait for the day of redress.


On the dawn of the twelfth day Thetis rose again from her cavern into
mid-air, and was borne by the breezes unto Olympus.  She found the lord
of heaven sitting apart on the topmost peak of the mountain, and
kneeling before him she preferred her request.  When Zeus heard what
she desired he fell into a muse, and answered not a word; but Thetis
remained kneeling at his feet, and, clinging to him with both hands,
repeated her prayer.  Being urged thus with importunity, at last the
sire opened his mouth, and answered in heavy tones: "Thou wilt put
enmity between me and Hera, my wife; already she upbraids me for
showing favour to the Trojans, and thou askest me to take sides openly
with them against the Greeks.  But go to, what care I for the wrath of
Hera?  Nevertheless, get thee gone speedily, lest she find us together.
Howbeit, thou shalt have thy wish; behold, I swear it, and confirm it
with my nod, and whatsoever I have thus confirmed cannot be annulled or

Thereupon the monarch of the sky bowed his immortal head, with all its
dark and waving locks, and shook the mountain to its base.

Having thus attained her purpose, Thetis departed, and as soon as she
was gone Zeus joined the assembly of the gods in the high palace of
Olympus.  All the gods rose from their seats to pay him homage as he
entered and took his place on the royal throne.  But the sharp eyes of
Hera had spied out his conference with Thetis, and forthwith she
assailed her indulgent lord in mocking tones: "What plot hast thou been
hatching now, thou god of craft?  I know that thou art keeping some
mischief from me, thy lawful wife."

"Daughter of Cronos," answered Zeus, avoiding her piercing glance,
"thou canst not expect that I should share all my counsels with thee.
Whatever it is meet for thee to know thou shall learn; but I have some
secrets which are not for thy ear."

"Thou must keep thy secrets more carefully," said Hera, with a bitter
smile, "if thou wouldst deceive me.  Listen, ye gods, while I tell you
this fine secret!  Zeus has promised Thetis that the Greeks shall
suffer defeat, to avenge the insult put upon her son."

"And if such be my will, who shall say me nay?" replied Zeus, with a
stern look.  "I warn thee not to thwart my purpose, or all the gods who
sit here shall not save thee from chastisement."

Then fear fell upon Hera, and she sat biting her lips, venturing no
reply.  And all the gods sat silent, glancing anxiously at one another,
when they heard the angry tones of the Olympian sire.

At last Hephæstus, the lame god of fire, came to his mother's relief.
Rising from his seat, he took a goblet of nectar from the hands of
Hebe, who was serving drink to the gods, and went hobbling to the place
where Hera sat.  "Mother mine," said, he, as he offered her the cup, "I
counsel thee to give way, and not provoke our father to anger.  Shall
we, the sons and daughters of heaven, brawl over our cups for the sake
of miserable mortals?  Let Zeus have his way--for what can we do
against him?  Hast thou forgotten how he served me when I presumed to
stand between thee and his ire?--how he caught me by the foot, and
flung me forth from the open portals of Olympus, as a boy slings a
stone?  From morn till eve I fell, and at the setting of the sun I
struck on Lemnos, the Ægæan isle."

Hera smiled at her ungainly son; and when she had drunk of the nectar
he took the cup, and went limping round the circle of the gods,
offering them to drink.  And all the immortals laughed loud and long,
to see the huge, hairy god engaged in the office of the lovely Hebe.
Then music and song came to crown the banquet, as Apollo led the choir
of the Muses on his golden harp.

The Dream: The Muster of Greeks


Agamemnon lay sleeping in his tent, and in a dream he saw Nestor, the
son of Neleus, who addressed him in these words: "Sleepest thou, son of
Atreus?  It is not meet that thou, on whom lies the weight of a mighty
monarchy, shouldst slumber all night long.  Hearken now to my words: I
am the bearer of a message from Zeus, who bids thee summon the whole
host of Greeks, and lead them against Troy.  Her hour is come at last,
and the gods with one consent have decided that she shall fall."

Agamemnon awoke, and behold it was a dream.  But the words had sunk
deep into his heart, and he deemed that the vision had spoken truth.
In that vain belief he arose from his couch, clothed himself in a fair
linen tunic and a woollen robe, and, taking his sceptre in his hand,
went to rouse Nestor and tell him his dream.  Then the whole body of
the chiefs met in council, and the heralds were sent round to proclaim
a general assembly of the army.  The people came flocking at the
summons, numberless as bees which hover round the flowers in spring;
and nine heralds went about among the multitude, marshalling the
clamorous commons in their places, and commanding silence, that the
counsel of the King might be heard.

As this was a great occasion, it had been resolved, in the private
meeting of the elders, to try the temper of the people before
disclosing to them the real purpose of their leaders.  Accordingly,
when silence had been obtained, Agamemnon rose up in his place, holding
in his hand his ancestral sceptre, the symbol of his great office,
which had descended from father to son since the days of Pelops, the
founder of the royal house of Argos.  Planting the sceptre firmly
before him, and leaning upon it, thus spake the King, to prove the
heart of his people.

"Friends and comrades in war, I have heavy news to tell you.  Zeus
brought us hither under a solemn promise that in the end we should take
the sacred city of Priam.  But now he hath revoked his promise, and
bids us sail back to Greece, for all our toil is vain.  Shame and
dishonour must be our portion, now and hereafter, when our sons' sons
shall hear how we, the embattled host of Greece, outnumbering the
citizens of Troy by ten to one, fought against them for nine long
years, and then departed, as beaten and broken men.  But such is the
will of Zeus, and none can gainsay it.  Therefore I bid you hoist sail
and away, for we are not destined to take the town of Troy."

At these words of the King there arose a wild commotion among his
hearers, and the vast multitude swayed to and fro like the waves of the
Ægæan driven this way and that by shifting gusts of wind.  Then, as a
wide field of corn bends down before the strong breath of the west, the
whole host turned seaward, and with a mighty shout they rushed downward
to the shore, and began to launch their ships.

Agamemnon, and those who were in his confidence, were thunderstruck by
the tremendous effect of his speech, and stood helpless and amazed in
the midst of this scene of tumult.  The first to recover himself was
Odysseus, the wisest and the firmest spirit among all the chieftains.
Flinging off his mantle he went to Agamemnon, and took from his hand
the royal sceptre.  Armed with this symbol of authority he hurried
hither and thither among the excited throng, urging each man by threats
or entreaties to return to the place of assembly, and wait there for
further instructions from the recognised leaders of the host.

To those of rank and character he spoke courteously, urging them to use
their influence among their followers, and check the general flight;
while with the baser sort he used rougher means of persuasion, striking
them with the sceptre and rebuking them fiercely.  Others among the
chiefs followed his example, and at length the tumult was stayed, and
the fickle mob swept back into the camp with a roar like the billows
breaking on a long line of rocky shore.

[Illustration: Paris.  Vatican, Rome.  Photo Anderson]

At length that vast audience was seated, and waiting attentively to
hear the counsels of the King.  But one unruly knave remained standing,
and poured out a torrent of abuse against Agamemnon and the other
chiefs.  This fellow's name was Thersites, and of all the Greeks who
came up against Troy he was the foulest, both in aspect and in speech.
His huge misshapen head, sparsely covered with thin, downy hair, sat
awry on his stooping shoulders.  He was bandy-legged, and lame of one
foot.  And he was the sworn enemy of the valiant, the noble, and the
wise.  This low-born railer now began to shriek out insults in a
hideous voice against Agamemnon, his sovereign lord.  "Son of Atreus,"
he bawled, "what lackest thou yet?  Thy tents are full of gold, and
crowded with slaves, which we have won for thee with our swords and our
spears.  Lustest thou yet after more gold, the ransom of Trojan
captives?  Or dost thou want more Trojan dames to be thy handmaids?
Up, sirs, let us be gone, lest we be called women, and not men, if we
remain here to heap up riches for this greedy tyrant.  Have we not seen
him put public dishonour on our bravest warrior, taking from him his
lawful prize?  Surely Achilles lacks gall to make oppression bitter,
seeing that he has suffered this bitter wrong to go unavenged.  Were he
of like mind with me, the ruffian king would not have survived to
commit further outrages."

A stern voice here broke in upon the seditious harangue, and Thersites
perceived with alarm that Odysseus was standing by him, staff in hand.
"Peace, saucy knave!" said the Prince of Ithaca, in threatening tones.
"How darest thou, the very scum and refuse of the army, to hold such
language against our exalted leader?  If I find thee uttering thy mad
folly again, may my head be smitten from my shoulders, and may I never
more be called the father of Telemachus, if I do not strip thee naked
and drive thee forth from among the people with blows like this."  And
suiting the action to the word he laid the heavy staff with no gentle
hand across the deformed shoulders of Thersites.  The wretch shrank
beneath the blow with a cry of pain, and the golden staff left its
print in a crimson weal on his back.  So he sat huddled together, with
distorted face, wiping away his tears, and spoke not another word.

Having thus silenced that loose tongue, Odysseus mounted a platform,
whence he could be seen and heard of all the host, and lifting up his
mighty voice he began to rebuke the people for their weakness and want
of faith.  "Must I speak to you," he said, "as to homesick women and
children, or as to veteran warriors bound by an oath to follow their
great captain for weal or for woe?  Not that I blame you overmuch, for
indeed your service has been both long and hard.  For nine long years
we have toiled in vain, and the cordage of our ships is rotten, and
their timbers are warped.  Nevertheless, endure yet a little while,
until we have learnt whether the son of Cronos is a true prophet or no.
Ye cannot have forgotten the day when our ships were assembled at
Aulis, or the portents vouchsafed us there at a solemn sacrifice to the
gods.  The altar was raised in the shadow of a goodly plane-tree, near
a running water; and in the tree was a nest of sparrows, a mother with
eight young, cheeping and cowering beneath the leaves.  Just as we were
kindling the altar fire, a great serpent, with blood-red back, darted
up from the altar into the tree and pounced upon the sparrows' nest.
The mother-bird fluttered anxiously around, uttering piteous cries to
see the monster devouring her young; and the serpent, when he had
swallowed up the nestlings, caught their mother by the wing as she
hovered near, and swallowed her also.  Then we beheld a wonder: for the
serpent, when he came down from the tree, was turned into a stone.  And
while we stood amazed Calchas declared unto us the meaning of that
omen: "Why stand ye thus amazed, ye warriors of Greece?  That which ye
have seen is a sign from Zeus, and this is the interpretation thereof:
the nine birds are the nine years, during which we shall lay siege to
Troy, and the serpent is the tenth year, in which Troy shall fall!
Therefore abide steadfast, my comrades, for the nine years are passed,
and we are nearing the end of our labours."

Odysseus ended, and a great roar of acclamation went up from a hundred
thousand throats, and rolled like thunder along the hollow shore.  The
next speaker was Nestor, who addressed Agamemnon, and bade him command
an immediate muster of the whole army, and lead a general attack upon
the Trojans.  "Let the people," said he, "be ordered according to their
several tribes and clans, that thou mayest distinguish the
faint-hearted from the loyal and valiant.  Thus shall thou learn, if
disaster befalleth thee, to whom it is due--whether to adverse heaven,
or to the cowardice and weakness of thine allies."

"Thou speakest ever to the purpose," answered Agamemnon; "and would
that I had ten such counsellers as thee!  Then would Priam's royal city
soon bow her head, sunk in the dust beneath our victorious hands.  But
the son of Cronos hath sown division among us, and put enmity between
me and my bravest champion.  But to our task: let the people now get
their morning meal, and then prepare for battle.  Let every man whet
his spear, and look to the fastenings of his shield; let every steed be
fed, and every chariot set in order, that we may fight all day till the
going down of the sun.  There shall be no rest or respite till darkness
puts an end to the fray.  Many a shield strap shall drip with sweat,
and many a hand ache with holding the spear, and the steeds shall droop
with weariness, ere the day be done.  And if I find any man skulking
among the ships, I will give his flesh to feed the dogs and vultures."

Then the people arose and scattered among their tents, and soon the
smoke of a thousand fires went eddying up into the still morning air.
And every warrior lifted up his heart in prayer to heaven, that he
might return safe and sound from the great perils which lay before him.

Agamemnon slaughtered an ox five years old, and summoned the noblest of
the chiefs, among whom were Nestor, Idomeneus, the two princes named
Ajax, Diomede, and Odysseus, to take their meal with him.  In those
days every meal was a sacrifice, and this was the manner in which it
was performed: the company stood round the ox, holding in their hands a
portion of barleymeal.  Then the giver of the feast addressed a prayer
to Zeus, the meal was sprinkled between the horns of the victim, and
after that the beast was slaughtered and flayed.  Portions of the meat
were then cut off from the carcass, wrapped in a double layer of fat,
and burnt as an offering to the gods.  When all religious rites had
been duly paid, the choicer parts of the meat were broiled in thin
slices over the fire, and eaten with wheat or barley bread.  The flesh
of beeves and swine, or less commonly of sheep and goats, with bread
and wine, formed almost the sole diet of the Homeric heroes.

When they had finished a copious repast, Nestor, who, despite his
eighty years, was as keen and alert as the youngest soldier, sprang
from his seat, and cried: "To arms, comrades, to arms!  Agamemnon, bid
the heralds summon the host to the field."

The King gave the order required, and forthwith the heralds, who were
chosen for the power and reach of their voices, went about in the camp,
and called the people to arms.  Then every captain called his company
together, and led them to the place appointed for the general array.
And by degrees a strange fire spread from rank to rank, kindling in
every breast a fierce longing for battle.  All softer emotions, all
homesick longings, were forgotten; for a mysterious influence was at
work, due to the unseen presence of Athene, who was there with her
wondrous, immortal shield, with its fringe of golden tassels.  None
beheld her, but all felt her power, and the boldest grew bolder, and
the weakest were inspired with a valour not their own.

Like a fire blazing among the thickets high up on a mountainside, so
blazed the sunlight on shield and helmet, as those countless thousands
poured forth into the plain of Scamander, and the earth shook beneath
the tramp of steeds and men.  On and still on streamed the tide of
warriors, unnumbered as the leaves in spring, or as flies that buzz
round the milkpails on a sunny day, when the goats are milked by a
hundred hands.

And as the shepherd numbers his sheep, for he knoweth them every one,
so moved the captains with mastery, each among his own people, and
marshalled them in their ranks.  Conspicuous among all was seen the
majestic form of Agamemnon, to whom it seemed that every god had on
that day bestowed some peculiar grace, to make him the observed of all
observers, and give the world assurance of a king.

But what tongue can count the myriads brought together by the word of
power on Scamander's plain, or what memory can hold the names of the
nations assembled there?  All the chivalry of Greece had obeyed the
summons of the monarch, sent forth nine years before, and they had come
flocking in their thousands from the broad plains of Thessaly; from the
mountain dells of Locris and of Phocis; from the fat fields of
Bœotia; from Attica, with her thin soil and bright, pellucid air;
from Salamis, the mother of heroes; from storied Argos and renowned
Sparta; from the western islands, and from Creta, the cradle of gods.
It would be a weary task to tell over all the heroic titles in that
muster-roll of fame, but a few must be mentioned, as being the prime in
valour and in worth.

From Locris came the lesser Ajax, son of Oileus.  He was small of
stature, but swift of foot, and the most skilful spearsman among all
the Greeks.  His greater namesake, Ajax, son of Telamon, and cousin to
Achilles, came from Salamis; he was a giant in stature and in strength,
and, next to Achilles, the greatest warrior in all the host.

The ancient city of Tiryns in Argos, with its massy walls, built by a
mighty race in the very dawn of time, sent forth a goodly company in
eighty ships; and these were commanded by Diomede, son of Tydeus, a
gallant and youthful prince, whose deeds fill many a page in the tale
of Troy divine.  And from the neighbouring city of Mycenæ, the royal
seat of the line of Pelops, came Agamemnon himself, at whose imperial
nod whole nations flew to arms.  His brother, Menelaus, the husband of
Helen, on whose account the war had arisen, brought sixty ships, manned
by the warriors of Sparta, of which city he was king.  He was a mild
and gentle prince, and a zealous leader, though in valour and prowess
not of the first rank.

Ninety ships formed the contingent led by Nestor, the aged King of
Pylos, the most venerable figure, and the wisest head, among all those
who fought in the cause of Helen.

Of those who came from the islands the most famous were Odysseus, King
of Ithaca, the hero of another famous story, mighty in word and in
deed, and, after Nestor, the sagest counsellor in the Grecian camp; and
Idomeneus of Crete, a grey-haired veteran who had proved his valour on
many a hard-fought field.

Among others singled out for special mention are Nireus, renowned for
his wonderful beauty, but otherwise a weakling; Philoctetes, now living
in lonely exile on the island of Lemnos, where he had been left by the
Greeks on account of a dreadful wound, which rendered his presence in
the camp unbearable, and Protesilaus, who had been the first to leap on
to the Trojan shore, and had been struck down by a Trojan in the very

These two were missing in the grand review of the forces which was now
held in anticipation of a victorious march upon Troy, and their places
were supplied by others.  But there was one whose place none could
fill, and whose absence was soon to make itself felt in dire and deadly
fashion.  Achilles sat idle in his tent, brooding over the insult which
he had received two weeks before.  His ponderous spear, which none but
he could wield, was resting from slaughter, and his squires were
polishing the armour which he was not to wear that day.  He started
when he heard the great shout of the Greeks, as the word was given to
march, and his heart burned with longing for battle; but remembering
his wrongs, he sank back in his seat, frowning darkly, and muttered the
single word "Revenge!"

Greeks and Trojans face to face: The Duel


Priam was sitting in council with all his elders before the doors of
his palace, when a messenger rushed breathless up with the tidings that
the Greeks were marching in full force against the city.  Instantly the
meeting broke up, and the Trojan leaders, with Hector at their head,
set out with the whole body of native warriors and their allies to bar
the way of the invader.

Halting before a solitary mound, the tomb of the Amazon Myrine, within
sight of the walls of Troy, they drew up their forces in order of
battle.  The native Trojans, who fought under Hector, son of Priam,
formed the flower of the army; but in numbers they were far exceeded by
the troops which had assembled, at the call of Priam, from the adjacent
provinces and coastlands of western Asia--from Lydia, Mysia,
Paphlagonia, and far-off Lycia--from Sestos and Abydos and Thrace.
After Hector, the most famous leaders were Æneas, son of Anchises and
Aphrodite; Pandarus, unrivalled for his skill in archery; Paris, whose
crime had brought all these woes on his country, and above all the two
captains of the Lycians--Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, and Glaucus, the
most knightly figure among all the heroes of Greece and Troy.

When the various members of that motley host had taken their appointed
stations, the defenders of Troy advanced with clamour and with tumult,
like flocks of cranes winging their way to the shores of the ocean
stream to make war on the Pygmies.  Presently the van of the Greeks
came in sight, moving on in silence, like men with one mind and one

Foremost among the Trojan champions was seen the gay and beautiful
Paris.  He was clad in a panther's skin, over which hung his bow and
arrows, and besides these weapons, in the use of which he excelled, he
was armed with two long spears and a sword.  Menelaus marked him as he
came on with long strides, and rejoiced in spirit, like a hungry lion
when he catches sight of his prey; and leaping down from his car he
advanced with uplifted spear to take vengeance on his treacherous foe.
But when Paris saw him coming his guilty heart quailed within him, and
he shrank back among the ranks of his comrades, like one who has
trodden on a snake while walking in a mountain glen.

"Now curse on thy fair, false face!" cried Hector to his cowardly
brother, "thou carpet-knight, thou foul deceiver!  Better for thee to
have died childless and unwed than thus to bring shame on thy father
and all thy kinsfolk and people.  Thou art a fit foe for women, whom
thou beguilest with witchcraft of thy wit, and wicked gifts; but all
thy gifts--thy curling locks, thy smooth, white brow, thy sweet voice,
and cunning minstrelsy--avail thee naught when thou lookest upon the
face of a man.  Verily the Trojans are as dastardly as thyself, or long
ere this thou wouldst have put on a doublet of stone[1] for all the
ills that thou hast wrought."

[1] That is, "Wouldst have been stoned to death."

"I have deserved thy rebuke," answered Paris.  "Keen as the blade of an
axe, which bites deep into the heart of an oak, when wielded by a
sinewy arm, so is the keenness of thy spirit, and thou knowest not
fear.  Nevertheless, mock me not for the lovely gifts of Aphrodite, for
the gifts of heaven are not to be despised.  And if thou desirest me to
take up this quarrel with Menelaus thou hast thy wish.  I will fight
against him hand to hand, and he who is victor shall be lord of Helen
and all her possessions.  So shall the long strife have an end, and
peace shall dwell again within our borders."

When Hector heard his brother's bold words he was glad, and gave the
word to make the Trojans sit down in their ranks.  At first the Greeks
did not understand what was happening, and pressed onward to the attack
with a shower of stones and arrows; but Agamemnon soon perceived that
Hector had something to propose, and gave the signal for a general halt.

Then Hector, standing midway between the two armies, made known the
offer of Paris, and asked for an armistice, that the two champions
might try the issue between them.  All eyes were now turned on
Menelaus, who responded boldly to the challenge.  "I am well content,"
said he, "that this quarrel should be decided by the hands of us twain;
for it grieves my heart that so many should suffer for the sake of my
private wrong.  Let two lambs be brought--a white ram as an offering to
the sun, and a black ram as an offering to the earth; and go some of
you to fetch Priam, that he may preside at the treaty.  His sons we may
not trust, for they are hot-blooded and faithless; but an old man's
head is cool, and his eye looks before and after."

Right pleased were both Greeks and Trojans when the order was sent
round to dismount from their cars and pile their arms; for they thought
that the end of their bitter feud was near.  Two heralds were
despatched to bring down Priam from the city, and Agamemnon sent
another for a victim to be sacrificed on behalf of the Greeks.


Helen was sitting in her chamber, weaving a fair tapestry, on which
were wrought the famous deeds done in her cause by Greek and Trojan
heroes, when her task was interrupted by the sudden entrance of her
kinswoman, Laodice, a daughter of Priam.  "Make haste, dear sister,"
said the lady, "come with me, and see the wonderful thing which has
been brought to pass.  Greeks and Trojans are sitting down in amity
together, and Paris and Menelaus are to fight with long spears for the
mastery; and he that prevaileth shall call thee his wife."

When she heard that, a great longing came into the heart of Helen for
her Spartan home and her former lord.  With one tearful glance at the
speaker she rose from her seat, veiled her face, and made her way to
the high tower above the gate where Priam was sitting with the elders
of Troy.  The shrill, piping voices[2] of the old men struck upon her
ears as she stepped out upon the turret; and when they saw her they put
their heads together, and whispered their admiration of her wondrous
loveliness.  "How fair, how very fair she is!" murmured one
white-bearded veteran.  "Is she not worthy to be the arbitress of life
and death to a whole generation of heroes!  Nevertheless let her
depart, and breed no further mischief to us and our children."

[2] Compared by Homer to grasshoppers.

Then Priam called to her, and beckoned her with a courteous gesture to
take her place by his side.  "Come hither, dear daughter," he said,
"where thou canst see thy former husband, and thy kinsfolk and friends.
I blame thee not at all because of this war which the gods have brought
upon me in mine old age.  Now tell me," he continued, pointing with his
finger towards the Greek army, which lay in full view upon the plain,
"who is that stately man to whom all the other chieftains seem to pay
homage?  Ne'er saw I one of so kingly a mien."

"I dread thy presence, father," answered Helen, glancing in the
direction indicated, and then casting down her eyes.  "I tremble before
thee, kind as thou art, for I feel all the wrong which I have done unto
thee and thine.  And as touching him of whom thou askest, that is
Agamemnon, son of Atreus, lord of a wide empire, a righteous king, and
a valiant warrior.  Once I called him brother," she added, with a sigh.

"'Tis then as I thought," rejoined Priam, "for there is sovereignty in
his look.  And who is he who stands next to Agamemnon, in stature less
than he, but broader of shoulder and deeper of chest?  Methinks he is
like a stately ram, who stalks majestic before the flock as they go to

"That is Odysseus, son of Laertes," answered Helen, "bred in the rugged
isle of Ithaca.  All Greece cannot show his equal in wisdom and

"Lady," said Antenor, an elder of high rank.  "herein thou hast spoken
the very truth.  I entertained him of whom thou speakest as my guest
when he came hither on an embassy with Menelaus, and I heard them both
speaking before the assembly of the Trojans.  When they stood up
together Menelaus was by far the taller; but when they were seated
there was greater dignity in Odysseus.  Then as to eloquence, Odysseus
bore away the palm from all--though Menelaus spoke both fluently and to
the purpose.  At first, when Odysseus rose to speak, we wondered to see
how ungracefully he stood, leaning heavily on his sceptre, with eyes
fixed upon the ground.  He seemed a very churl, unskilled in all
courtesy and the arts of civil life.  But when he lifted up his mighty
voice, and his words floated about us like the snowflakes of winter, we
knew that we were listening to a divinely gifted man."

At Priam's request Helen named the other chieftains of the Greeks, Ajax
and Idomeneus, and the rest; and when the recital was ended she
remained gazing wistfully at the dense masses of fighting men who sat
waiting on the plain.  "I cannot see them," she murmured sadly: "they
are not there."  "Of whom speakest thou?" asked Priam.  "Of Castor and
Polydeuces," she answered, "the bold rider, and the stout boxer, my own
brothers, born of the same mother with me.  Perchance they sailed not
in the fleet to Troy, or perchance they have remained behind in the
camp, in sorrow for their sister's shame."

[Illustration: Helen on the Walls of Troy.  Lord Leighton.  By
permission of Henry Graves & Co., Ltd.]

Ah!  Helen, thy brothers are lying where shame and sorrow can reach
them no more, sleeping in their quiet graves, in Lacedæmon, their
native land.


While Priam was still conversing with Helen, a herald entered with the
startling news that his presence was required in the field, to settle
the conditions of the single combat between Paris and Menelaus.  Some
natural pangs he felt, when he heard of the danger which threatened his
son.  Nevertheless he set out at once, taking with him the victims
required for the sacrifice.  When he came to the open space between the
two armies he found all things ready for the solemn rite.  The chiefs
stood waiting in a circle, and in their midst was Agamemnon, who acted
as priest.  The heralds mingled two portions of pure[3] wine in a bowl,
and poured water over the hands of the chieftains.  Then Agamemnon drew
a sharp knife, which hung at his girdle by his ponderous sword, and
cutting off a few hairs from the foreheads of the victims gave them to
the heralds to distribute among the princes.  When this was done,
amidst a general hush he uttered this solemn prayer: "Father Zeus, Lord
of Ida, most glorious, most mighty, ye rivers, and thou earth, and ye
dread powers beneath, who take vengeance after death on all those who
swear a false oath, be ye all the witnesses and guardians of our
treaty.  If Paris slays Menelaus he shall keep Helen for his wife, with
all her goods; but should Paris fall Helen shall go back to Menelaus,
her lawful lord.  Let the war be decided by the issue of this combat,
and Heaven defend the right!"  Therewith he cut the throats of the
victims, and laid their quivering bodies on the ground.  Then the
drink-offering was poured, with this awful imprecation on those who
should break the treaty: "If any man violate our sworn oath, may his
brains be poured out, even as this wine, and may his wife and children
be sold into bondage."

[3] In sacrifices pure wine was used; wine for drinking was always
mixed with water.

Priam now took his departure from the field, for he could not bear to
see his son in deadly combat with Menelaus.  When he was gone, Hector
and Odysseus measured out the ground for the duel, and shook the lots
in a helmet, to see who should be the first to cast his spear; and the
lot fell on Paris.  Meanwhile Paris was putting on his armour; for he
had come lightly equipped as an archer into the field.

The two rivals took their stand on either side, clad in their brazen
harness, and armed with sword and spear.  And first Paris cast his
spear, which struck upon the shield of Menelaus, and did him no harm.
Then Menelaus lifted up his spear, and murmured a prayer to Zeus:
"Grant me, O King, to take vengeance on him who brought dishonour on my
home, where he dwelt as my honoured guest."  As he spoke, he flung his
good ashen spear, which clove its way through the shield of Paris, and
tore his tunic close to his side; but Paris swerved aside and escaped a
wound.  Before he could recover himself Menelaus was upon him, sword in
hand, and struck him with all his force upon the helmet; but once more
fortune favoured the Trojan, for the blade was shivered on the ridge of
the helmet, and Menelaus grasped a useless hilt.  "Curse on thee,
treacherous steel!" cried he, and, seizing Paris by the helmet, began
to drag him towards the ranks of the Greeks.  This time he would have
succeeded, and taken his enemy captive, had not the strap which held
the helmet given way under the strain, so that the brazen headpiece
came away empty in his hand.

Menelaus flung the helmet towards his friends, and picking up his spear
turned again upon his cowardly foe, with purpose to slay him.  But
Paris was nowhere to be seen: an invisible hand had caught him up, and
carried him away from the righteous hand of the avenger.  For
Aphrodite, the soft goddess of love, had been hovering near to protect
her favourite.  She it was who had caused the helmet strap to break,
and now she saved him a second time, and bore him swiftly to his house
in Troy.  There he was presently visited by the lovely Helen, who,
though she scorned him in her heart, was drawn thither by a fatal spell
which she could not resist; and in the sunshine of her smiles he soon
forgot dishonour and defeat.

All this time Menelaus was raging about the field, like a tiger robbed
of his prey, and calling upon the Trojans to surrender the recreant to
his vengeance; and they would gladly have done so, if they had known
where to find him, for they hated him worse than death.  And Agamemnon,
amid general applause, demanded the surrender of Helen, according to
the terms of the treaty.

The Breaking of the Truce


The gods were met in full assembly in their golden palace, pledging one
another in full cups of nectar, and looking down upon the great drama
which was being enacted on the plains of Troy.  Then Zeus began to
speak, casting a sly glance at his fair consort, Hera: "Menelaus has
two stout backers among the gods, Hera, Queen of Argos, and Athene,
strong to defend.  But they seem to have renounced his cause, for they
have suffered Aphrodite to steal away Paris when death stared him in
the face.  'Tis well, then, Menelaus has the victory, and naught
remains but to give back Helen, and put an end to the war."

At this most unwelcome proposal Athene frowned angrily at her father,
but said nothing; Hera, however, could not contain her wrath, and
raised her voice in indignant protest: "Out upon thee, son of Cronos,
what a word hast thou spoken!  Is this to be the end of all my toil and
my sweat, when I travelled without ceasing, until my steeds were
well-nigh foundered, to gather this host against Troy?  Do as thou
wilt; but know this, that, if thou doest this thing, not one of us
shall praise thee, no, not one."

"What strange passion possesses thee?" answered Zeus, in tones of
displeasure, "Why harbourest thou this deadly rancour against Priam and
the sons of Priam?  Methinks thou couldst find it in thy heart to go
down into the city, and feast on the raw flesh of the men of Troy,
until thou hadst devoured them all.  Howbeit, let there be peace among
us; I give thee leave to work thy will upon this king and his people;
only remember that I have yielded to thee in this, and when I am minded
to destroy some city which is dear to thee stand not thou in my way.
For I love the towers of holy Ilios, and they that dwell therein, for
they have paid me faithful worship, with meat-offering and with
drink-offering, with reverence and with prayer."

"Take Argos," replied the impetuous Hera.  "Take Sparta or Mycenæ, the
three choicest jewels in my crown; burn, waste, and destroy them, if
such be thy pleasure.  Only grant me this boon, and let me wreak my
fury upon Troy.  If thou consentest to this, lay thy command upon thy
daughter, Athene, that she may go down among the Greeks and Trojans,
and make an end of this detested truce."

Zeus nodded in token of approval, and Athene, who was only waiting for
the signal, shot down from Olympus like a falling star, and alighted in
the space between the two armies.  Arrived there, she put on the form
of Laodocus, a noble Trojan youth, and went in search of Pandarus, a
famous bowman, and a favourite of the archer-god Apollo.  And when she
had found him, she spake unto him in this wise: "Bold son of Lycaon,
art thou man enough to do a great deed, and win praise and reward from
all the Trojans, but especially from Paris?  If thou art, take thine
arrows and thy bow, and aim a shaft at Menelaus, having first vowed a
vow to Apollo that when thou returnest to thy home among the rich
pastures of Ida, thou wilt offer him a sacrifice of lambs, the
firstlings of the flock."

So spake Athene, tempting him; and he hearkened unto her in his folly,
and began to take the cover from his bow.  It was a powerful weapon,
formed from the horns of a great ibex, which he himself had brought
down by a skilful shot long ago.  The horns, each sixteen palms in
length, were set firmly in a solid bridge, and tipped at each end with
gold.  Resting the lower end of the bow against his foot, he leaned
upon it, and strung it, and laying it down took off the lid of his
quiver, and selected an arrow.  Then he took up the bow again, and set
the arrow on the string.  His companions, who had been covering him
with their shields while he was making his preparations, now stepped
aside, and he, having made his vow to Apollo, lifted up his bow, drew
the arrow to his ear, and shot.  The bow twanged loud and clear, and
the arrow leapt hissing towards the Grecian ranks.

Then ill had it fared with thee, Menelaus, had not Athene been standing
at thy side, to guard thee from fatal hurt.  And as a mother brushes a
fly from the face of her babe, lying in sweet slumber on her lap, so
Athene suffered not the arrow to reach any vital part, but guided it to
the place where the plates of his corslet met at his side.  Through the
girdle pierced the shaft, through the brazen corslet, and through the
taslet which covered his loins; the point just grazed the surface of
his flesh, and the red blood began to flow, staining his thighs, and
trickling down to his ankles.

When Agamemnon saw his brother wounded and bleeding, he ran to his
side, and taking him by the hand began to deplore the evil issue of
their treaty.  "Must thy life pay the forfeit for the perjured men of
Troy, who have trampled our covenant underfoot?  I know indeed that
vengeance will overtake them in the end from the hands of Zeus, whose
name they have taken in vain; yea, well I know that the day shall come
when holy Ilios shall fall, involved with all her people in one common
doom.  But what will that avail, if I lose thee, my brother?  My army
will desert me, for they cannot fight without a cause, and thou art the
cause which brought them hither.  Troy's doom will be wrought by other
hands, and I shall go back to Argos, a beaten man, leaving thy bones to
rot in a foreign grave."

"Speak not so loud," said Menelaus, when Agamemnon paused at last;
"thou wilt cause a panic in the army.  There is no ground for alarm;
the wound is not deep.  Send for Machaon, the skilled leech, that he
may draw out the arrow, and stanch the flow of blood."

Then Agamemnon was comforted, and sent Talthybius the herald to bring
the leech, who was a son of Asclepius, the most famous physician of
those times.  After some delay, Machaon came to the place where
Menelaus was standing, leaning on his brother's arm, and surrounded by
an anxious group of his friends.  With firm but gentle hand the leech
drew out the arrow, and, removing the prince's armour, exposed the
wound to view.  Then he applied healing herbs, and bade the patient be
of good cheer, for his hurt was but slight.


The truce having been broken by the treacherous act of Pandarus, both
sides prepared for an immediate assault.  Agamemnon, as soon as he was
assured that his brother was in no danger, summoned his chariot, and,
bidding the driver keep within call, went on foot up and down the ranks
of the Greeks, encouraging those whom he saw pressing forward to the
attack with promises of favour and reward, and upbraiding those who
hung back with taunts and rebukes.  His heart rejoiced when he saw the
towering form of Ajax, who was hurrying to battle, followed close by a
stout troop of spearsmen, with shield pressing on shield, and bristling
spears.  Near him was Idomeneus, the grizzled captain of the Cretans,
with his comrade, Meriones, at the head of a numerous and
well-appointed troop.  And after these he came to the men of Nestor,
who were receiving instructions from their veteran leader how to bear
themselves in the battle.  "Keep your ranks," he was saying, "and fight
shoulder to shoulder, the horsemen in the van, and the infantry ready
to support them behind.  And let no one be carried away by his zeal to
engage singlehanded with the enemy, for union is strength, and weakness
comes of division."

These were the foremost, but there were others, and among them some of
the most valiant leaders in the army, whose station was more remote,
and who had not yet heard of the breaking of the truce.  One of these
was Diomede, and when Agamemnon found him standing inactive, he rebuked
him harshly, reminding him of his father's prowess, and calling him an
unworthy son.  The young chieftain deigned no answer to the unmerited
reproach, but at once put his men in motion to join the encounter.

The whole army was now advancing, rank pressing on rank, and column on
column, like the waves rushing landward along a wide-watered shore.
The Greeks came on in silence, broken only by the short, sharp words of
command; but the Trojans, whose army was made up of a motley throng of
many nations, rushed to the onset with multitudinous cries, like ewes
at milking-time in the folds of a wealthy sheep master, when they hear
the voices of their lambs.  On the Trojan side was Ares, and on the
side of the Greeks stern-eyed Athene, with whom were seen Panic and
Flight, and insatiable Strife, who is small of stature at the beginning
of a fray, but grows and grows as the feud proceeds, until her head
presses against the sky as she stalks along the earth.

Then the air was rent with a deafening crash, as the two armies met,
and shield was dashed against shield, and brazen armour was dinted by
spear and axe and sword.  Shouts of triumph arose, and cries of
anguish, as the wild _mêlée_ swayed to and fro, and the ground ran with
blood.  As two torrents descending from copious springs high up in the
mountains, and swollen high by winter rains, mingle their waters with a
roar at a place where two glens meet--such was the roar which went up
to heaven, at the conflict of those mailed hosts.

Among the many victims of that bloody day, some are singled out for
especial mention.  One of these was Simocisius, a tall and comely
youth, so named because he was born on the banks of the Simocis, when
his mother went to visit her parents on their farm.  Ajax marked him as
he came on, and smote him in the breast with his spear; and down he
fell, like a tall poplar, which rears its stately height in a meadow by
the riverside, until it is hewn down by a wheelwright to make a felly
for a chariot; and there it lies seasoning on the banks of the stream.
So lay the young Simocisius, and Ajax stripped him of his armour.
While he was thus engaged, Antiphus, a son of Priam, flung a javelin at
him, but, missing him, struck down Leucus, a comrade of Odysseus, who
had laid hold of the corpse to hale it away.  Odysseus was exceeding
wroth at the fall of his comrade, and stepping forward he flung his
spear, and smote Democoon, a natural son of Priam, in the temple.  The
Trojan champions fell back before him, and the Greeks rushed forward
and gained possession of the dead.  Apollo, who sat watching the battle
from the citadel of Troy, was indignant when he saw the Trojans give
ground, and shouted to them in a loud voice, crying: "Up, ye horsemen
of Troy, and fly not from these Greeks, for their flesh is not of stone
or of iron, to resist the thrust of your spears.  Now is your time,
while Achilles is absent, chewing the cud of his ire among the ships."

The Trojans rallied at the cry of the god, and the battle was resumed
with fresh fury on both sides.  It was no child's play, no holiday
tilting, which was seen that morning on the Trojan plain, but the dire
and dreadful game of war, with Ares and Athene for players, and the
blood of heroes for the stakes.

The Exploits of Diomede


Agamemnon's taunts had sunk deep into the heart of Diomede, and he went
into battle with a stern resolve to vindicate his manhood in the eyes
of all Greece.  A fierce light blazed from his helm and shield as he
rushed, like a living engine of destruction, into the thickest of the
fight.  The first to feel the weight of his arm was a young Trojan
named Phegeus, son of Dares, a priest of Hephæstus.  Mounted on the
same car with his brother Idæus, he drove furiously at Diomede, who was
fighting on foot, and aimed a blow at him with his spear; but the
weapon went wide of the mark, and the next moment he rolled from his
car, pierced through the breast by the spear of Diomede.  Idæus sprang
to the ground and fled, leaving car and horses as a spoil to his
brother's slayer.

While Diomede was disposing of his booty, the Greeks pursued their
advantage, and there was not a chieftain of name among them who failed
to slay his man.  Then fell Scamandrius, a famous Trojan hunter, and
the favourite of Artemis, pierced in the back by the spear of Menelaus,
and Phericlus, whose father, Tecton, had built the fatal ships which
bore Paris and his retinue to Greece, and many more, of whose names
there is no record.

Back to the field came Diomede, sweeping all before him like a river in
flood, which breaks down dyke and dam, and covers the smiling fields
with ruin.  So impetuous were his movements as he darted to and fro in
pursuit of the flying Trojans, that it was hard to see on which side he
fought; but, wherever he passed, his path was strewn with Trojan dead.

At last he received a check from Pandarus, the archer whose treacherous
hand had broken the truce an hour or two before.  Watching him from a
safe distance, Pandarus shot an arrow, which pierced clean through
Diomede's right shoulder, staining his corslet with blood.  Loud was
the joy of Pandarus when he saw the success of his archery: "Turn
again," he shouted, "ye horsemen of Troy!  Back to the fray, every one!
The bravest of the Greeks is wounded unto death."

The boast of Pandarus was premature, for the wound was not severe,
though sufficient to disable the hero's arm for the moment.  Diomede
drew back out of the press, and with the assistance of Sthenelus, his
charioteer, drew out the arrow which was galling his shoulder.  Then he
stood apart and prayed to Athene, the patron goddess of his mighty
father, Tydeus.  And she heard him, and came and stood before him in
all her divine majesty, and said: "Take heart, son of Tydeus, for I am
ever near thee, and I have put into thy heart all the valour of thy
sire.  And I have taken from thine eyes the darkness which before lay
upon them, that thou mayest look upon the gods and know them, face to
face.[1]  If thou seest any of the other gods, avoid them, and presume
not to fight against the children of heaven; but if Aphrodite, Jove's
froward daughter, comes into the battle, have at her, and strike, and
fear nothing."

[1] Compare "Stories from the Æneid," p. 18.

Athene vanished as she spoke, but Diomede felt her influence working
powerfully within him, and in an instant the flow of his blood was
stanched, and he felt no more pain from his wound.  Then like a lion
who has been grazed by the shepherd's spear as he leaps into a lonely
sheepfold, and is but provoked to new rage by that slight wound, so
that he falls upon the helpless flock, and gluts himself with carnage,
while the shepherd cowers away in terror--so Diomede returned with new
fury to the slaughter, and drove the Trojans in rout before him.  Like
hammer on anvil, so rained his strokes among the ranks of the foe.
With one blow he sent his spear through the breast of a tall Trojan;
with the next his keen falchion shore oft the arm and shoulder of
another.  Leaving these where they lay, he went in pursuit of Abas and
Polyidus, the sons of Eurydamas, a famous seer and interpreter of
dreams.  Often had they listened to their father's lore, and brought
their dreams to him to expound unto them.  But the worst dream they
ever had now came upon them; and when they awoke they were on the banks
of the Styx.  Yet another Trojan father had cause to mourn that
day--Phænops, a man of wealth, who sent two sons, the children of his
old age, to the war.  But never again did his aged eyes brighten to
behold the face of his children, and all his wealth was divided among

When Æneas observed the havoc which was wrought by the arm of Diomede
he went to Pandarus, and said to him: "Where is thy boasted skill in
archery, that thou sufferest this man to hew down our ranks, and never
liftest thy bow against him?  Come, shoot me an arrow at the breast of
Diomede, and first utter a prayer to Zeus, that we may know if the gods
are indeed against us."

"If that be Diomede," answered Pandarus, "there is something divine in
this frenzy of his; methinks he is some god, who has put on the
likeness of Diomede.  But now, I aimed an arrow at him, and struck him
fairly in the right shoulder.  I thought that he was already a
passenger to Hades, but, lo! he comes forth stronger and more terrible
than before.  In an evil hour I took my bow from the wall, when I came
to fight on the side of Priam; and I hearkened not to my father's words
when he bade me fight like the rest with chariot and with horses,
whereof he had goodly store.  Twice have I drawn my bow this day
against the noblest of the Greeks, Menelaus, and Diomede, and struck
them fair, and made their blood to flow; but it hath naught availed.
If ever I get safely home again, I will offer my head to be severed
from my shoulders by the meanest churl, if I do not break this accursed
bow of mine in pieces, and burn it with fire."

"This is idle talk," answered Æneas.  "We must meet this man face to
face and hand to hand if we would stay his fury.  Come, mount my car
with me, that thou mayest see of what mettle are these steeds of mine,
unrivalled in flight or in pursuit.  If thou wilt, take the reins, and
I will stand by thy side to wield the spear; or if thou preferrest it,
I will drive and thou shalt fight."

"Drive thou," replied Pandarus, mounting by the side of Æneas, "so that
if there be need of hasty flight, the steeds may not fail us, knowing
their master's hand."  "Thou sayest well," said Æneas, and, lashing the
horses to a gallop, drove rapidly towards the place where Diomede was

"Back, Diomede!" shouted Sthenelus, in alarm, when he saw them
approaching.  "I see two mighty men coming against us--Pandarus, son of
Lycaon, and Æneas, whose mother is the goddess Aphrodite.  Mount the
car, and let us retreat."

"How darest thou name retreat to me," answered Diomede sternly, "I
scorn thy counsels, and will go to meet these champions even as I am,
on foot; both of them shall not return alive.  And now mark my words,
and do as I shall bid thee: if these twain fall beneath my spear, leave
thou the horses which thou art driving, and, having mounted the car of
Æneas, drive with all speed to the rear.  For these steeds are of blood
divine, descended from those which Zeus gave unto Tros as a recompense
for the loss of Ganymede his son.  If we can capture them it will be a
splendid prize."

So saying, he turned to meet the Trojan chieftains, who were now close
at hand.  Pandarus held his weapon ready poised, and when he came
within throwing distance he cast his lance, crying: "Take that, bold
son of Tydeus!  Perchance I shall have better luck with the spear."
The weighty spear, thrown by no feeble hand, pierced through the shield
of Diomede, and struck against his breastplate, but there stopped
short, without inflicting a wound.  "Thou hast no luck to-day, Sir
Pandarus," said Diomede, smiling grimly.  "Now see how thou likest the
taste of Grecian steel," and as he spoke he hurled with all his force,
right in the face of Pandarus.  The keen point struck him just beneath
the eye, and passing downwards clove through his tongue at the root,
and came out under his chin; and the false Trojan fell with a crash on
the plain, and died as he fell.

Æneas had now but one thought--to save his comrade's body from outrage
at the hands of the Greeks; for it was the cruel custom of those days
to mutilate the bodies of slaughtered enemies.  Valiantly he took his
stand, bestriding the fallen Pandarus, holding his shield before him,
and armed with two spears.  But Diomede picked up a huge stone, and
flung it at Æneas; and the jagged missile struck him on the hip, just
at the socket of the thigh, bruising the sinews and lacerating the
flesh.  Æneas sank down on one knee, sick and giddy with the pain of
that dreadful blow; and that would have been his last hour had not his
goddess mother perceived his evil plight, and come to her son's relief.
Swiftly she flew to the place where he lay, and, throwing her white
arms about him, bore him from the field, covered by the folds of her

Sthenelus had not forgotten his friend's command, and as soon as he saw
the car of Æneas deserted he made fast the reins of his own steeds to
the chariot rim, and mounting the Trojan car drove at a gallop towards
the rear.  Meeting a comrade he gave the captured chariot into his
charge, and returned with all speed to the support of Diomede, who was
in hot pursuit of the tender goddess and her wounded son.  Presently he
caught her in the midst of the press, and, thrusting with his spear,
wounded her on the hand, in the thick part of the thumb.  The ichor[2]
flowed forth in a purple stream, and stained her immortal vestments,
wrought for her by the Graces; and with a loud shriek she let fall her
son, who was picked up and borne to a place of safety by Apollo.

[2] The blood of the gods was so called.

"Hast thou had enough of war, daughter of Zeus?" shouted Diomede as she
fled; "go and make war on cowardly women--they are thy proper prey."


The beautiful, tender goddess of love, who was a stranger to wounds and
pain, was found by Iris wandering about the battlefield in a distracted
state, with livid face and shaking limbs.  Iris took her by the hand,
and brought her to the place where Ares was sitting, outside the roar
and tumult of battle.  When she saw her brother, Aphrodite fell on her
knees before him, and begged him to lend her his car, and Ares having
readily consented, she mounted the golden chariot with Iris, and was
driven through the air till she came to Olympus.  There she sought her
mother Dione, who received her with sweet words of comfort, and asked
who had handled her so roughly?  "It was that unmannerly Greek, the son
of Tydeus," answered Aphrodite pettishly, "for the Greeks have left off
butchering the Trojans, and are making war on the gods."

"Take heart, my child," said Dione, "and be not overmuch dismayed, for
many of us, the children of heaven, have suffered at the hands of
mortals, for whose sake we afflict one another.  Ares was bound and
held captive by the giant sons of Aloeus, and would have perished in
his bonds, had not Hermes stolen him away.  Hera was wounded in the
breast with an arrow by Hercules; and Hades came groaning to Olympus,
hurt in the shoulder by the same presumptuous hand.  And thou hast
suffered through the spite of Athene, who set on the son of Tydeus to
assail thee.  Rash fool!  He knows not that he who fights with gods is
doomed to an early grave.  Let him take heed lest the young wife whom
he left at home in Argos be made a widow untimely, and rouse her
household at dead of night, weeping and wailing for her fallen lord."

Then she laid a healing finger on her daughter's wound, and the hand
was made whole, and the bitter pangs were stilled.  Athene had been
watching the scene, and now she said mockingly to her father: "Be not
wroth, dread sire, at what I shall say!  Surely Aphrodite hath been
seeking to beguile some Grecian dame on behalf of her darling Trojans,
and amidst her soft caresses has scratched her slender hand on the pin
of the lady's brooch."

Zeus smiled at his daughter's words, and calling Aphrodite to him he
took her in his fatherly arms and said: "Not for thee, my child, are
wars and fightings; leave these to Ares and Athene, and keep to thine
own province of love and marriage."


When Diomede saw his prey snatched from him a second time he was very
wroth, and followed close on Apollo, who was bearing Æneas towards the
city.  Three times he sprang upon the god, and three times Apollo
hurled him back; and he was preparing to make a fourth assault, when
Apollo rebuked him sternly, and bade him stand off.  Remembering the
words of Athene, who had warned him not to meddle with any other god
save Aphrodite, Diomede drew back, and Æneas was carried in safety to
the shelter of the citadel.

Apollo was highly incensed at the presumption of Diomede, and leaving
Æneas in good hands he hastened back to the battlefield, and roused
Ares to take up the cause of insulted heaven, and chastise the impious
man who twice that day had pointed his weapon against the person of a
god.  Ares readily took up the challenge, and putting on the likeness
of a Trojan he flung himself in the path of the panic-stricken
fugitives, shouting: "Where are the sons of Priam, and why suffer they
the people to be slaughtered like sheep?"

"Hearest thou what he saith?" cried Sarpedon, the giant leader of the
Lycians, to Hector, who had been dismayed, like the rest, by the
prowess of Diomede.  "What art thou doing, thou and thy brethren, that
ye leave the brunt of battle to be borne by your allies?  Have we not
left home and country, our wives and our little ones, to pour out our
blood in defence of thy city?--and wilt thou not play thy part, when
honour and duty call thee--when the very stones of thy streets cry
aloud to thee to be the first in the onset, the last to retreat?"

Stung by Sarpedon's reproaches, Hector leapt from his car, and exerted
all his authority to rally the flying Trojans.  By his efforts the
flight was checked, and the Trojans wheeled their chariots and returned
to the charge.  The ranks of the Greeks grew white from the clouds of
dust thrown up by their chariot wheels as they came on like a
whirlwind, with Ares in their van.  Presently, to the equal delight and
amazement of the Trojans, the princely form of Æneas was seen
glittering among the foremost champions; and his step was as light, and
his arm as firm, as when the fight began.  They would have learnt, if
they had asked, that this was the work of Apollo; but they had no time
to question him, for by this time the storm of battle was raging with
redoubled fury.

Like clouds which lie heavy on the mountain-tops, when all the winds
are sleeping, so steadfast stood the Greeks to abide the shock of that
charge.  And Agamemnon strode up and down the armed files, crying as he
passed: "Stand firm, and play the man!  Before you lies the path of
honour, but behind is shame and defeat."

Long the contest swayed to and fro with doubtful issue, and many a
Greek, and many a Trojan, named or unnamed, received the wages of the
sword.  At last Diomede, whose vision had been purged by Athene,
recognised Ares under his disguise; then even he began to lose heart,
and cried out to the Greeks: "We must retreat!  Ares is fighting
against us.  Fall back upon the ships, keeping your faces to the foe."
And slowly, step by step, disputing every inch of ground, the Greeks
began to retire.

Hitherto Hera and Athene had remained inactive spectators of the
struggle: but when they saw that the tide of battle had turned they
resolved to make a vigorous stand against the victorious career of
Ares.  With her own hand Hera harnessed the steeds to her royal car,
which was the work of no mortal artist, with its brazen wheels and axle
of iron.  The body of the car was cunningly wrought with bands of gold
and silver; the pole was a solid bar of silver, and the yoke was of
gold.  Meanwhile Athene was arming herself for the conflict.  First she
put on a coat of mail, not to be pierced by any mortal weapon; on her
head she placed a helmet, glittering with symbols of war and death;
then she grasped her shield, the immortal ægis, of "ethereal temper,
massy, large, and round," on which were pictured Panic and Strife,
Defence and Pursuit, and all the dread powers whose realm is the
battlefield; and in the midst glared the Gorgon's head, with its awful
eyes, which freeze the blood and paralyse the limbs.

Having asked and obtained permission of Zeus, they mounted the car,
Hera guiding the fiery coursers of heaven, and Athene standing, spear
in hand, at her side.  In another moment they drew up before the cloudy
portals of Olympus, which are given in charge of the mystic Daughters
of Time, to open and to shut.  Wide flew the gates, with muttered roar,
at the summons of the queen of heaven; and forth they leapt into the
void and cavernous vault of air.  Far as a man can see into the dim
distance, when he stands on some skyey peak and gazes across the purple
sea--so wide is the space traversed by the heavenly steeds at a single

When they came to the place where Simoeis and Scamander mingle their
waters in one stream, they drew up their car, and dismounted, leaving
the steeds in charge of the river-god Simoeis, whose banks put forth
ambrosial herbs for them to feed upon.  Then, walking delicately, like
a pair of doves,[3] but with no tender thoughts in their breasts, they
went and joined the ranks of the Greeks, where they stood at bay round
Diomede, like boars or lions hard pressed by the hunters.  Standing in
their midst, Hera took the form and the voice of Stentor, whose shout
was as the shout of fifty men.  "Shame on you, ye Greeks!" she
thundered.  "As long as Achilles fought among you, the Trojans never
ventured beyond their gates; but now they are fighting at the very
confines of your camp."

[3] I have preserved the language of the original, which seems to have
a touch of irony.

Diomede had drawn back from the fighting-line, for his arm was lamed by
the wound which he had received from Pandarus, which now began to
stiffen and grow painful.  In this state he was found by Athene, just
as he was lifting up his shield strap to wipe away the blood from his
shoulder.  Laying her hand on the yoke of his car she said: "The son of
Tydeus is most unlike his sire, who was little of stature, but mighty
of heart.  With him I needed the curb to restrain his fiery spirit,
which prompted him to fight against any odds.  But thy sluggish nature
ever wants the goad.  Say, art thou weary, or art thou afraid?"

"It is not fear that has made me shrink," answered Diomede.  "I am but
obeying thy behest, when thou forbadest me to resist any god, save only
Aphrodite.  And thou seest Ares is lending aid to the Greeks."

"Fear neither Ares, nor any other god," replied Athene.  "Mount thou
thy car with me, and thou shalt see whether this turncoat, this fickle,
furious, bloodthirsty god of war, will brook thy onset when I am by thy

Thereupon she thrust down Sthenelus from the chariot, and taking his
place beckoned to Diomede to mount with her.  Diomede obeyed, and the
beechen axle groaned beneath the weight of the hero and the goddess.
Athene plied the lash, and drove straight at Ares, who was stooping to
strip off the armour of a Greek champion whom he had just slain with
his own hand.  The goddess had put on the helmet of Hades, which made
her invisible to the eyes of Ares; and he, when he saw Diomede coming
against him, left off stripping the corpse, and charged with levelled
spear.  But Athene caught the weapon by the shaft, and turned the point
aside.  Then Diomede thrust at Ares with his spear, Athene aiding him,
and wounded him in the side.  And as the roar of ten thousand men in
the full fury of battle, so was the roar of Ares when he felt that

Like a heavy thundercloud, which hangs black and threatening when
heaven is overcast, and a storm is brewing on a sultry day, such
appeared the giant form of Ares as he fled darkling across the sky to
Olympus; and when he reached the seat of the gods he sat down near
Zeus, his father, and showed him the immortal blood flowing from his
wound.  "What thinkest thou," he said, speaking in a pitiful voice, "of
these deeds of violence?  Thou art the author of this wound; for it is
thy weak indulgence which makes thy daughter, Athene, so violent and
unruly.  Nothing but the speed of my feet saved me from worse outrage."

But the injured Ares found scant sympathy from his father.  "Come not
to me," he said sternly, "with thy whining complaints.  Blame thy
mother for what thou hast suffered; for to her thou owest the froward
temper which makes thee the most hateful to me of all my children.
Nevertheless I will not leave thee in pain, for thou art my son, the
child of my wedded love.  Were it not so, I would have found thee a
place in the dungeons where the Titans groan."  Then he laid his
commands upon Pæan, the god of healing, who sprinkled powerful remedies
on the wound, which gave instant relief.  Swift as is the action of the
fig-juice when it falls with eager droppings[4] into milk, and turns it
to curd, so quickly closed the wound under the skilful hands of Pæan.
And when he had bathed, Ares sat down, hale and whole, by his father's

[4] Used as rennet.  "Eager droppings" is from Hamlet.

The Battle Continued: Hector and Andromache


Having driven Ares from the field, Hera and Athene returned to Olympus,
leaving the battle to be decided by human strength and valour.  Soon
the numbers and prowess of the Greeks began to prevail, and the Trojans
were gradually forced back towards their walls.  At this critical
moment Hector, who hitherto had played but a secondary part in the
battle, was suddenly inspired with almost superhuman courage and
energy, and by his example the Trojans were saved from a general rout.
Having allayed the panic, he left the other leaders to make head
against the enemy, and went himself into the city, with the purpose of
ordering a general sacrifice and supplication, to avert the anger of

Both armies were growing weary of the long struggle, and during
Hector's absence the work of slaughter ceased for a time by mutual
consent.  Diomede alone kept the field, and stalked about in the space
between the two armies, eyeing the ranks of the Trojans, and seeking
for a foeman worthy of his steel.  Glaucus, the Lycian captain, marked
his defiant attitude, and strode forward undaunted to the encounter.
When they were met in the middle of the plain, Diomede accosted him
with haughty mien, and said: "Who art thou, bold sir, that hast dared
to match thyself with me?  Unhappy are the parents whose sons affront
my might.[1]  If thou be a god, I will not meddle with thee, for I fear
to lift my hand again to fight with the sons of heaven.  But if thou
art of the race of men, that live by bread, come on, and I will give
thee to thy doom.  But first tell me thy name and thy race."

[1] "And with their darkness durst _affront_ his light."--Milton,
_P.L._ i.

"Valiant son of Tydeus," answered Glaucus, "why askest thou my race?
As the leaves which clothe the woods in spring, to be scattered by
autumn winds, such are the generations of men: one riseth up, and
another is passing away.  Nevertheless, if thou desirest to know my
race, know that I am sprung from the line of Sisyphus, through my
grandsire Bellerophon, who came as an exile to Lycia, banished from his
native Corinth by a woman's spite.  For, while he was dwelling as a
guest in the house of Prœtus, King of Corinth, the Queen Anteia
poisoned her husband's ears against him, because he had refused to be
her partner in crime, and Prœtus believed her lying tale, and sought
opportunity to destroy Bellerophon.  So he sent him on an embassy to
the King of Lycia, the father of Anteia, and gave him a sealed packet
to take with him.  Bellerophon set sail, and after a fair voyage he
landed in Lycia, and went up to the palace of the King.  Then for nine
days the King made good cheer, and invited the highest in the land to
meet his noble guest; and on the tenth day he asked concerning the
business which had brought him to Lycia.  Bellerophon gave him the
packet, and he opened it privately, and found within it a folded
tablet, whereon were written these words: _Bellerophon is a traitor,
and hath sought to bring dishonour on our house: he must die_.

"When he had read the message from his son-in-law the King was wroth,
and devised means to compass Bellerophon's death.  First, he bade him
slay the Chimæra, a dreadful monster, with the head of a lion, the body
of a goat, and a long coiling tail like a vast serpent.  The gods
helped Bellerophon to slay this monster, and the King then sent him to
fight against the Solymi, a fierce and warlike tribe.  But neither they
nor the Amazons, with whom also the King bade him fight, could work any
mischief on that valiant champion.  Yet a fourth time the King tried to
take his life, and sent an ambush of picked men to slay him by
treachery on his way back to Lycia; and Bellerophon killed them all.

"Being now assured that his guest was the favourite of heaven, the King
retained him in his house as an honoured guest, and gave him his
daughter to wife; and he received a fair appanage of cornland and
vineyard, and three children were born to him, one of whom,
Hippolochus, is my father.  Thus have I told thee my lineage and my

Diomede had listened with deep attention to the Lycian chieftain's
story, and when he had heard him to the end he came forward with
outstretched hands and cordial words of greeting: "Thou art a friend,"
he said, "of my father's house, for Œneus, my grandsire, long ago
welcomed Bellerophon as his guest, and entertained him for many days.
I have still among my treasures a golden cup which Bellerophon gave to
his host as a parting gift.  Therefore let us remember the ancient tie
which connects our families, and avoid each other's spears when we meet
in the press of battle.  And let us now change armour, that all these
may know that we are friends, both we and our fathers."

So for a while that knightly pair stood with hand clasped in hand, and
gazed into each other's faces with eyes of kindness, joined for a few
brief moments by an ancient tie of amity, but soon to be parted by
national feud.  Then Glaucus took off his golden armour, and gave it to
Diomede, without grudging, though he received in exchange armour of


We must now follow Hector on his errand of piety to the town.  As he
entered the gates, an anxious crowd of Trojan women pressed round him,
with eager questions about brothers, husbands, or sons.  He put them
gently aside, bidding them pray to the gods, and made his way through
the streets until he came to the vast pile of the royal palace, where
dwelt Priam and his fifty sons and twelve daughters, with their wives
and husbands.  Hecuba, his mother, saw him coming, and hastened to meet
him, taking with her Laodice, the fairest of her daughters.  "What has
brought thee hither, my son?" said she, holding his hand, "is it that
the Trojans are hard pressed by the Greeks, and thy spirit moved thee
to go up to Jove's holy temple and pray?  Wait awhile, till I bring
thee a cup of wine, that thou mayest pour a drink-offering and then
take a comfortable draught, to refresh thee after thy sore toils."

"I will drink no wine, mother," answered Hector, "lest I dull my
spirit, and unnerve mine arm.  Neither may I pour a drink-offering with
hands defiled by blood and the soil of battle.  But go thou to the
temple of Athene, thou and the venerable mothers of Troy, and take with
thee a robe, the largest and the most precious which thou hast, that
thou mayest lay it on the knees of the goddess, as an offering meet for
her.  Do this, and vow a sacrifice of twelve yearling heifers that have
never felt the goad, if so be that she will take pity on us and our
wives and little ones, and save us from the fury of Diomede.  As for
me, I go to find Paris, and rouse him to play a man's part among the
defenders of Troy."

Having despatched his mother on that bootless errand, Hector went to
visit Paris in his luxurious home, which was built on the same hill
where stood the palace of Priam.  Clad in all his brazen mail, and
carrying in his hand a spear eleven cubits long, he crossed the
threshold, and passed on to Helen's bower, where Paris was sitting,
with his armour strewn around him, fitting new feathers to his arrows.
The great warrior stood awhile, gazing in silence at his unworthy
brother; then smiling bitterly he said: "I perceive that thou art wroth
with thy poor countrymen seeing that thou leavest them to perish, while
thou art dallying here.  Rouse thee, Paris," he added, changing his
tone; "the flames of war, which thou hast kindled, are blazing round
our walls.  Shake off this unmanly sloth, and play the man for once."

"Hector, I feel the justice of thy reproaches," answered Paris.  "But
it was sorrow, not anger, that kept me in my chamber.  But away with
regrets!  My turn will come, and I am resolved to go back to the
battle, urged thereto both by Helen's entreaties and by thy biting
words.  Wait while I don my armour--or go thou first, and I will
overtake thee."

Hector turned to go, without answering a word; but Helen, who was
present with her handmaids, laid her hand upon his arm, and said:
"Leave me not thus, dear brother!  Kill me not by thine accusing
silence!  Unhappy that I am, the sport and victim of evil powers, given
over to perdition from my birth!  And if I needs must sin, could I not
at least have sinned for a man, and not have wrecked my life for a
caitiff like this, without conscience, without heart?  But sit thee
down, Hector, and rest awhile, for on thee lies heaviest the burden
which has been laid upon thy city for my sake, and for the sake of
Paris, an ill-starred pair, whose evil fate shall be a theme of song in
days to come."

"Seek not to detain me, Helen," answered Hector gently; "my duty calls
me hence, and I must join my faithful comrades, whom I left in the toil
and heat of the fray.  Thither am I bound, when I have taken one
look--it may be for the very last time--at my house, and my wife, and
my little child.  Look thou that Paris keeps his word, and joins me
before I quit the town."

With hasty step Hector left the house, and went to his own home, which
was close by.  Learning there from a handmaid that Andromache had gone
with her child and his nurse to watch the battle from the tower of the
citadel, he went back to look for her there.  As he ascended the steep
path which led to the tower, the quick ear of Andromache recognised his
footstep, and she ran to meet him, followed by the nurse, who carried
the little Astyanax, a lovely boy, fair as the morning star, the sweet
pledge of their wedded love.  She clasped her husband's hand, and said,
with a look of fond reproach in her tearful eyes: "Rash man, it will be
thine undoing, this hardy spirit of thine!  At thee every spear is
pointed, when thou goest into battle, and soon, very soon, the Greeks
will take thy life.  Then who shall be my defender, and who shall guard
thy child, when thou art gone?  I shall be left alone in the world, for
all my kith and kin have perished.  My father, Eëtion, was slain by
Achilles, when he sacked my native city, the stately town of Thebes;
and his tomb lies in the shadow of a fair grove of elms, planted there
by the nymphs to do him honour.  Seven brothers I had, who grew up with
me in my home; and they were slain by Achilles in a cattle raid, and
one grave received them all.  My mother Achilles released for gold, and
she went back to her father's house; but she also is no more, slain by
the gentle shafts of Artemis.

[Illustration: Hector's Farewell.  Friedrich Preller, Jr.  By
permission of F. Bruckmann, Munich]

"Hector, thou art my father, my mother, my brother, my husband, my
life, my all!  Leave me not to perish in lonely widowhood with a
fatherless child.  Call the people within the walls, and fight no more
in the open plain.  Why wilt thou hazard thy life against such fearful

"Dear love, it cannot be," answered Hector sadly; "what would my
brethren say, if I bade them skulk like cowards behind their walls?
No; I must go where honour calls me, though I know that Troy is doomed
with all her sons.  Yea, the day shall dawn when temple and tower shall
go down, and these streets shall run with Trojan blood.  Then many a
noble dame shall be led away captive, and among them--bitter, bitter
thought!--thou shalt go, to eat the hard bread of bondage, and do
menial service under a haughty mistress.  Methinks I see thee, stooping
under thy burden, as thou bearest water from some Grecian spring, while
men point the finger at thee, and cry in scorn: 'Hail, Andromache, wife
of Hector, Troy's bravest champion!'  May death overtake me, and hide
me deep in darkness and the grave, before ever I see thee dragged into
slavery by ruffian hands."

A long silence followed, broken only by the sobs of Andromache, who was
overpowered by the dreadful picture conjured up by her husband's words.
At last Hector beckoned to the nurse, who had been standing a little
apart, to bring him the child, and stretched out his arms to receive
him; but the little one clung crying to his nurse's breast, affrighted
by the brazen helmet and its nodding plume.  His father and mother
exchanged a loving smile, and Hector removed his helmet, and, laying it
on the ground, took the boy in his arms, kissed him, and fondled him,
and then put up this prayer to heaven: "Father Zeus, and all ye gods,
grant that this, my child, may be strong and valiant in fight, even as
I am, and win him honour among the Trojans; and may his mother's heart
be glad when he comes back from the war laden with the spoils of the

Then he gave the child to his mother, who pressed him to her bosom with
a tearful smile.  "Now I must leave thee," he said, with a tender
gesture: "and mourn not overmuch for me.  I shall not die before my
day: every man has his appointed time, be he noble or base.  Thou hast
thy tasks, I mine; let us both play our part bravely, and leave the
rest to heaven."

With many a pause and many a backward glance Andromache left him, and
went back to her house, with her heart full of sad foreboding.  When
she was gone, Hector remained standing for awhile, lost in sorrowful
thought.  He was about to turn away when he heard the clatter of
hurrying feet, and Paris came running up, glittering in his
new-burnished armour, and tossing his plume, like some wanton,
stall-fed steed.  For he was a stout fellow, though a coward at heart,
and was full of vigour and animal spirits after his long rest.  "Who is
the laggard now?" cried the gay holiday soldier, with a loud laugh.
"Art thou ready to go, or shall I wait for thee awhile?"

"Forget my harsh words," answered Hector mildly.  "I was vexed on thy
account, when I saw thee hanging back, and heard the Trojans speak evil
of thee.  Let us forget our quarrels, and fight side by side for hearth
and home; perhaps we may yet live to see happier days."

Second Battle: Repulse of the Greeks


The result of the first day's fighting had been all in favour of the
Greeks, but, as many had fallen on both sides, a truce was made by
mutual consent for the next day, to enable both armies to bury their
dead.  By the advice of Nestor the Greeks dug a trench and threw up a
rampart for the defence of their camp, and by the zealous labour of
that vast multitude the work was finished on the same night.

Zeus had not forgotten his promise to Thetis, and on the morning of the
third day he summoned all the gods to council, and thus declared his
will: "Hear me, all ye gods and goddesses, and let none dare to cross
my purpose.  I forbid any among you to take part in the battle to-day,
and if any disobey me I will take him and fling him into Tartarus, the
black and gloomy pit, as far beneath Hades as heaven is above the
earth.  Then shall ye learn how much mightier am I than ye all

Without waiting for question or reply, the lord of Olympus mounted his
car, and swept along his airy road until he came to the mountain-range
of Ida, overlooking the Trojan plain.  There he halted and took his
station on Mount Gargarus, the highest peak of Ida, from which he had a
complete view of Troy and the Grecian camp.

Forth sallied the rival hosts, and soon the clash of arms rang through
the cool morning air, as Greek grappled with Trojan in deadly conflict.
All through the long hours, until noon, the issue remained doubtful;
but when the sun stood at the zenith Zeus lifted a pair of golden
scales, and weighed the fates of Greeks and Trojans; and the scale
which held the fate of the Greeks sank down, heavy with defeat and
disaster.  Then Zeus thundered with a mighty peal from Ida, and hurled
his bolt among the thronging ranks of the Greeks; and they were sore
amazed, and pale Fear gat hold of them.  Not one among them dared to
stand his ground, neither Ajax, nor Idomeneus, nor Agamemnon himself.
Only Nestor lagged behind, for he was hindered by the fall of one of
his horses, which had been pierced through the brain by Paris with an
arrow.  Nestor sprang down, and began cutting through the traces with
his sword; and while he was thus engaged, Hector came thundering past
in hot pursuit of the Greeks, and seeing Nestor's plight turned aside
to slay him.  Diomede saw the old man's danger, and lashing his horses
to a gallop drove instantly to his aid.  "Mount, mount," he cried,
"with me, and leave to my squires these sorry steeds of thine.  Take
thou the reins, and we will see if we can check the onset of the
Trojans, and arrest Hector's destroying arm."

Nestor was not slow to obey the summons, and mounting by the side of
Diomede he drove straight at Hector.  Then Diomede flung his spear, and
struck down Hector's charioteer, and, pursuing his advantage, he fell
fiercely on the broken columns of the Trojans, scattered in wild
pursuit of the enemy.  Already the Greeks were beginning to rally, when
Zeus hurled a second bolt, which crashed down before the feet of the
horses of Diomede.  "We must fly," said Nestor; "heaven is against us,"
and wheeling the affrighted steeds he followed the main body of the
Greeks, who were now in full retreat towards the ships.  That was a
bitter moment for the gallant Diomede, when he heard the exulting voice
of Hector, calling him coward, minion, woman.  But peal after peal came
from the frowning peak of Ida, now wrapped in black clouds; and that
proud spirit was forced to bow to a higher power.

"On, Trojans, on!" shouted Hector, pushing on at full speed to head the
pursuit.  "Zeus favours our cause, and the Greeks are doomed.  Neither
walls, nor moat, nor all their sorry devices, shall stay our fury, but
we will burn their ships and cut them off to a man."  So on they sped,
driving the Greeks before them across the plain, even to the very gates
of the camp.  Here the leaders turned at bay, and Agamemnon succeeded
by desperate efforts in restoring some order in the panic-stricken
host.  Foremost among the defenders of the camp were Ajax, the greater
and the less, Idomeneus and his comrade, Meriones, Diomede, and Teucer
the half-brother of the greater Ajax.  Teucer especially, who was a
famous archer, did splendid service to the Greeks in that dreadful
strait.  Crouched behind the vast orb of his mighty kinsman's shield he
watched his opportunity, and shot down man after man as the Trojans
came rushing to the assault.

"Well done, brave bowman!" cried Agamemnon, who was standing near, as
the eighth victim to Teucer's skill bit the dust.  "Now aim an arrow at
yonder mad dog"; and he pointed at Hector, who was leading the attack.
Again the bow twanged, but this time he missed his mark, and instead of
Hector struck another son of Priam, who was fighting by his brother's
side.  And as droops the poppyflower in a fair garden plot, heavy with
its seed-pod, and drenched with the summer rains, so drooped that
comely head, oppressed by the weight of its helmet.

"Nine have I slain," cried Teucer, in triumph.  "Now let me see if my
tenth arrow will bring down this noble quarry"; and once more he
pointed a shaft at Hector's breast.  But a second time the arrow went
amiss, and pierced through the heart of Hector's charioteer.
Cebriones, Hector's brother, succeeded to this dangerous office, thus
twice left vacant on one day; while Hector himself sprang to the
ground, and picking up a stone hurled it at Teucer, who was just
fitting another arrow to his bowstring.  The stone struck Teucer on the
collar-bone, breaking the bowstring, and paralysing his arm.  Ajax
sprang forward to cover his injured brother, who was carried, groaning
with pain, to the shelter of the ships.

The fall of Teucer struck fresh dismay into the Greeks, who now shrank
back behind their defences, Hector following them close, and cutting
down the stragglers, like a hound hanging on the flanks of a wild boar.
When the last man had passed the barriers the gates were shut, and
Hector was left outside, glaring with baffled rage.


Deep was the wrath of Hera when she saw her darling Greeks driven like
sheep before the exultant Trojans, and huddled in wild disorder behind
their ramparts.  As the voice of Hector rang out above the din, like a
trumpet sounding the charge, she rocked herself with fury in her seat,
and at last, being able to contain herself no longer, she cried to
Athene: "I will not endure it!  Come what may, I will save my Greeks
from perishing by the hands of that mad Trojan."

"It is the hand of Zeus," answered Athene, "that hath brought these
foul deeds to pass, in fulfilment of the promise which he made to
Thetis, when she clasped his knees, and besought him to honour her son.
Graceless, thankless god!  Did I not serve him day and night, when I
watched like a mother over Heracles, his favourite son, and saved him
from a thousand perils?  And this is my reward, to be crossed in all my
designs, and robbed of my just revenge, by him, my false father, who
fools me with his caresses, and calls me his dear, grey-eyed maid!  But
go thou and harness our steeds, while I put on my armour, and we will
try whether Hector will blench or not when he sees my spear flashing
among the dykes of war,[1] and the Trojans falling thick and fast, to
glut the dogs and vultures with their fat and their flesh."

[1] The armed columns, which keep back the _flood_ of battle.

Not a minute elapsed before the rebellious goddesses were equipped for
battle, and ready to swoop like eagles on the heads of the hated
Trojans.  But Zeus had been watching their movements, and summoning
Iris he sent her with a stern, imperious message to his mutinous wife
and child.  Prompt at his command, Iris sped on her rainbow wings to
Olympus, and met the angry pair as they were issuing from the gates.
"Are ye mad?" she said, confronting them with warning looks.  "Listen
to my message, and get ye back the way ye came.  Thus saith the son of
Cronos, and his words shall surely come to pass: he will maim the swift
steeds which draw your car, and blast you with his lightnings, and
shatter your chariot wheels, and for ten long years ye shall not be
healed of the wounds from those corrosive fires.  Then shall thou
learn, thou grey-eyed maid, what it means to fight with thy sire."

Both Hera and Athene knew full well how far they might presume on the
indulgence of Zeus, and without another word they turned back to
Olympus, unyoked their steeds, and with quaking hearts joined the
company of the gods.  Soon after, the monarch of Olympus entered, and
took his seat on his exalted throne; for he had returned from Ida when
his business for the day was ended.  Not a word, not a look, did he
receive in greeting from his wife and daughter; but he knew their
thoughts, and said: "Why sit ye thus dismayed, Hera and Athene?  It
cannot be that ye are wearied from doing battle with the Trojans,
against whom ye have so dire a grudge, for ye were seized with
trembling before ever ye had looked into the face of war.  And well for
you that it was so!--or your warring should have had a fearful end."

Athene remained cowed and silent, but the shrewish Hera, though she too
was scared by her husband's anger, could not hold her peace, but
muttered a few words of complaint and remonstrance, of which only the
words "faithful Greeks" and "unmerited disaster" were audible.  But
Zeus was in no mood for contradiction, and he cut her short with this
peremptory announcement of his purpose: "To-morrow, if thou wilt, thou
shalt see thy 'faithful Greeks' plunged yet deeper in 'unmerited
disaster.'  They shall have no respite from slaughter and defeat until
the swift-footed son of Peleus shall once more be roused to arms.  Go
then, and fill heaven and earth with thy rage and thy fury--go down to
Tartarus, if thou choosest, and tell thy wrongs to the demons who dwell
in that sunless den."


Night fell at last, bringing relief to the sore-stricken Greeks, and
compelling the reluctant Trojans to suspend their attack on the camp.
Hector drew off his forces, and pitched his camp by the riverside.
This was a sign of great confidence on the part of the Trojans, who
hitherto had rarely ventured outside their walls, and had always
returned to the city at nightfall.  But now the besiegers had become
the besieged, and active preparations were made for a campaign in the
open field.  Orders were sent to the city for supplies of corn and wine
and cattle to victual the camp, and the elders of Troy were warned to
keep a vigilant watch during the night, to guard against surprise.

When these measures of prudence were completed, Hector, who had been
the leading spirit through all this eventful day, summoned the Trojan
chieftains to a council of war.  High and proud was his glance, as he
stood leaning on his tall spear, with its point of tempered bronze and
its socket of gold; for he dreamt of nothing less than the total rout
and discomfiture of the Greeks.  And he found ready hearers in the
leaders of the Trojans and their allies, who read in his looks an
augury of triumph and victory.  "This day," he said, "I thought to have
destroyed the Grecian fleet and army, and to have offered thanks to the
gods of our country in the Trojan citadel.  For this time night has
saved them from utter ruin; but the blow is only delayed, not averted,
and to-morrow we will set the finish to this glorious work.  Let every
man now get to his supper with good heart and hope, and look ye to it
that numerous fires be lighted in the camp, sufficient to illuminate
all the country round, as far as to the fleet.  For I fear that these
hounds will try to escape under cover of night, and I would not that
they should leave us without some token of our loving-kindness--some
deep mark in their flesh from Trojan arrow or spear to remember us by
when they reach their homes in Greece.  If they abide here till
to-morrow, the better for us, and the worse for them!  Then shall
Diomede, the mighty son of Tydeus, pay the price of the lives which he
has taken, and to-morrow's sun shall behold him lying stiff and stark,
with all his comrades heaped in slaughter around him."

Having listened to the words of their great captain, the leaders
dispersed to their several quarters to carry out his orders.  And the
swift southern night came down, wrapping sea and land in shadow.  But
soon the realm of darkness was invaded by the flame of a thousand
fires.  Thick as are the stars which cluster round the moon on a
windless summer night, gladdening the shepherd's heart as he keeps his
lonely vigil among the hills, so thick shone the fires of the Trojans
in the space between the river and the ships.  By every fire sat fifty
men, and their horses stood near at hand, tethered to the cars,
cropping their barley and waiting for the dawn.

The Embassy to Achilles


So the Trojans held their bivouac, and whiled away the time with
drinking, and music, and song.  Far other were the feelings of the
cowed and beaten Greeks.  Many a warrior lay sleepless on his uneasy
couch, tossed on a troubled sea of anxiety and dread.  Among the
leaders there was no thought of rest, and they soon received a hasty
summons to attend a council in Agamemnon's quarters.  Small comfort had
they to receive from the lips of their king, who was utterly broken and
cast down, and had nothing to advise but instant flight.  A long
silence followed his despairing words, and the first to speak was
Diomede, whose young and elastic spirit made him a bright exception
amid the general despondency of his comrades.  Indignantly rejecting
the cowardly counsels of Agamemnon, he avowed his intention of
remaining and carrying on the war with his single troop, if all the
rest of the Greeks deserted their posts.  His bold words rekindled the
courage of the rest, and they all joined their voices in a fixed
resolution to remain and fight out their quarrel to the last.

"'Tis well," said Nestor, who was the next to speak.  "Thou art a
proper youth, young son of Tydeus, worthy to take the lead in council
and in fight.  But now listen to an old man's advice.  The Trojans are
holding their leaguer within sight of our gates, and may make an onfall
at any moment; therefore let a watch be set by the moat outside the
camp, and let this charge be given to the young men.  We, the elders,
have a graver matter to consider--how we may end the lamentable feud
which has brought division among us, and made us an easy prey to our

The matter thus obscurely hinted at by Nestor was, of course, the
quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon; and as soon as the watch was
set, and left under the charge of Antilochus, Nestor's eldest son, the
old King of Pylos reopened the debate with these words: "To thee,
mighty son of Atreus, I will address myself, for thou art the
vicegerent of Zeus, and holdest the sceptre of righteousness which thou
hast received from his hands.  Great is thy place, and high the trust
imposed in thee--even the lives and fortunes of all this people.
Therefore will I speak roundly with thee, concealing nothing which is
in my heart.  Thou hast erred, great sovereign, thou hast erred
grievously, in putting public dishonour on the bravest and most
illustrious champion in all thy host.  It is thine act which hath
brought us to this pass; and it is for thee to make restitution, that
he may cease from his sore anger, and incline his heart unto us again."

Far from showing any resentment at Nestor's plain speaking, Agamemnon
freely confessed his fault.  "I have sinned," he said, "yea, I have
sinned grievously, in the great blindness of my heart.  But, thanks be
to heaven!  I am both able and willing to atone for the wrong which I
have done.  Attend, while I declare unto you the ransom which I will
pay unto Achilles to wipe out the stain upon his honour.  Vessels of
silver will I give him, and vessels of bronze, ten talents of gold, and
twelve steeds, all prizewinners, which have won me much wealth by the
speed of their feet.  Also I will give him seven women, my
bondservants, skilled in all manner of needlework, whom I won at the
sack of Lesbos; and with them shall go Briseis, who, since I took her
from him, has lived in all honour with the ladies of my retinue.  And
if ever the gods grant us to capture the city of Priam he shall have a
shipload of treasure, and twenty Trojan ladies, the noblest and the
fairest, as his share of the spoil.  Moreover, when we return home from
the war, he shall be as a son of my house, and I will give him one of
my daughters in marriage, without money and without price,[1] and will
add a rich dower besides.  And he shall be a prince of my land, and
lord of seven fair cities, honoured and obeyed as a god by those that
dwell therein.  Surely, if he hath a human heart, he cannot turn away
from me, his monarch, and his elder, when I come to him with full
hands, beseeching him to forgive."

[1] In Homeric times wives were bought by their husbands.

The King's magnificent offer drew warm words of praise from the chiefs,
and nothing now remained but to choose those who were to be entrusted
with this important embassy.  At the suggestion of Nestor it was
decided to send Phœnix, an aged noble, who was connected with
Achilles by close ties of early affection, Odysseus, and the greater
Ajax.  After a few words of warning and counsel from Nestor, they were
despatched forthwith to the tent of Achilles, and with them went two
heralds, to give greater solemnity to their mission.


So together they passed along the level sand, with many a prayer to
Poseidon, lord of the sea, that they might easily persuade the mighty
heart of Æacides.[2]  And when they came to the tents and ships of the
Myrmidons, they found Achilles sitting at the door of his tent, and
soothing his troubled spirit with song, and the clear music of a harp,
which he had taken among the spoil of Eëtion's city.  Opposite to him
sat Patroclus, the most beloved of his comrades, waiting until Achilles
should have finished his lay, whose theme was the deeds of famous men.
And they came and stood before him, with Odysseus at their head.  When
Achilles saw them he gave a cry of surprise, and sprang from his seat,
harp in hand; and Patroclus rose up with him.  Then, greeting them with
a courteous gesture, he said: "Welcome, dear friends!  Most welcome are
ye of all the Greeks, even in this hour of my displeasure.  Be seated.
I know why ye have come hither--sore indeed is the need."  So saying,
he led the way into the tent, and as soon as they were seated he called
to Patroclus, saying: "Set forth the largest bowl, and open the oldest
cask of wine, to do honour to the dear guests who have come under my

[2] Grandson of Æacus, the father of Peleus.

Therewith he placed a table, in the light of the fire, and on it he
laid the loin of a sheep and another of a fat goat, and the chine of a
hog.  Automedon, his squire, held the meat, and Achilles with his own
hands cut it into slices, spitted it, and roasted it over the glowing
embers.  When all was ready, they feasted sumptuously, and drank of the
rich wine which Achilles poured out without stint.  The banquet being
ended, Ajax made a sign to Phœnix; but Odysseus took the word from
him, and, rising with a full cup in his hand, pledged Achilles, and
said: "I drink to thee, son of Peleus, and thank thee for thy good
cheer.  Never have I tasted choicer fare, not even in the tent of
Agamemnon himself.  But, alas! my noble host, we have little heart for
feasting and making merry, for we stand on the very brink of ruin, and
thou alone canst save us.  The Trojans have pitched their camp before
our very gates, and it will not be long before they sweep us into the
sea.  Zeus hath openly taken sides with our foes, and affrights us with
thunders and with lightnings; and Hector, full of mad presumption, is
breathing out threatenings and slaughter against us.  I fear--yea, I
fear exceedingly--that the god will accomplish his threats, and that we
are indeed doomed to perish in the land of Troy, far from our native
Argos.  Up, then, and gird thee to the fight, if thou art minded to
save the sons of Greece, even in the eleventh hour.  If thou wait
longer the mischief will be done, and thou wilt repent of thy
stubbornness too late.  Remember the words of thy father, Peleus, when
he sent thee to the war: 'My son, thou art very strong, but this good
gift thou owest to heaven.  Do thou curb thy haughty spirit, and turn
thee to thoughts of kindness, if thou wouldst be honoured of old and
young.'  Thou hast forgotten the good words of thy father, and given
place to malice and uncharitableness.  Quit this froward mood, and mark
while I tell thee the brave gifts which Agamemnon offers as the price
of thy good will."

Accordingly Odysseus went on to recite the whole tale of the royal
bounty, and when the list was complete he wound up his speech by
appealing at once to the humanity, the pride, and the ambition of
Achilles.  "If thou despisest Agamemnon and his gifts, take pity on thy
poor countrymen, who will honour thee as a god, and glorify thee as
their preserver.  And now thou mayest slay Hector, for assuredly he
will not refrain from thee in the frenzy which possesseth him, boasting
that there is none to match him among all the Greeks who sailed to

Odysseus resumed his seat, and amidst a breathless silence Achilles
rose up and began to speak, calmly at first, but rising in passion as
he proceeded.  "Most noble son of Laertes, I will answer thee bluntly
and to the purpose, that ye may know my mind, and may not come hither
on this errand again.  For hateful to me, even as the gates of death,
is the man who hides one thing in his heart, and speaks another.  Hear,
then, what I have to say.  Neither Agamemnon, nor all the Greeks
together, shall turn me from my purpose.  I have fought--thou knowest
how I have fought--against the common foe; and what my reward hath been
thou knowest also.  Like a mother bird, who flies to and fro, never
weary, never resting, carrying morsels to her nestlings, while she
remains empty herself, so have I passed my days in war and bloodshed,
and my nights in sleepless watchings, putting my life in jeopardy, for
the sake of another man's wife.  Twelve cities have I sacked, sailing
the sea in my ships, and eleven on land, within the realm of Troy.
First the toil, which was mine, and after that the spoil, which was
his.  I brought it all, and laid it at his feet, and he kept the
greater part by far, giving me back a little--a very little--for all my
pains.  And that little he hath taken away.  Let him keep it, and joy
go with it!  I loved the maid Briseis, yea, dearly I loved her!
Thinketh he that he alone and his brother love their wives?  She was my
prize, my bride: he hath torn her from mine arms, and that foul deed I
will never forgive.

"And as to the gifts which he offers, let him know that I came here to
fight for honour, not for pelf.  He hath denied mine honour, and now he
would bribe me to erase that dark record with a purse of gold.  But I
will not be bribed.  Away with his gifts!  I value them not a straw.
Not though he offered me ten times and twenty times as much--all the
wealth that he hath, or ever shall have--not for all the riches of
Egyptian Thebes, which sends forth ten thousand warriors, with
chariots, and with horses, from its hundred gates--no, not for
treasures unnumbered as the sands and dust of the earth--could he buy
pardon of me, until he hath suffered the full penalty of the outrage
which devours my heart.

"Long ago my mother gave me the choice of two diverse fates--short life
with honour, or long life without a name.  Mine honour is
lost--therefore I will cling to my life, and live it out to the end.
Thy miser king holds that men's lives are to be bought and sold, as the
lives of sheep and oxen; but herein he is mistaken again.  Wealth may
be won, and lost, and won back again, seized by the strong hand, or
heaped up slowly by plodding industry; but the breath of our life
cannot be called back again, when once it hath passed the door of our
lips.  Therefore I am determined to end my days in peace and quietness
among my own people, and quit these brawls, which concern not me.  And
I counsel all the rest to do the same, for it is clear that Troy's
overthrow is not to be wrought by you.

"Ye have heard my answer; go tell it to the chiefs, and bid them be
assured that they have naught to hope from me."

Deep was the disappointment of the three envoys, as they followed the
wild eloquence of that fierce and implacable man.  For a long time not
a word was spoken, for it seemed vain to argue against such passion and
pride.  At last the venerable Phœnix rose feebly from his place, and
in a voice broken with sobs and tears began a discourse of immense
length, full of tender personal reminiscence and old-world legend.
This old man had a curious history.  Born to wealth and power, he
became an exile in his youth, having been cursed by his father, whom he
had bitterly provoked in the course of a family feud.  In consequence
of the curse he remained a childless man, and, finding a new home in
the land of Peleus, he lavished more than a father's tenderness on
Achilles, Peleus' infant son.

These incidents from his own life, which he dwelt on with the fond
garrulity of an old nurse, furnished a copious theme to Phœnix in
the first part of his harangue.  "I little thought," he said, "when I
set thee on my knee, a little, helpless babe, and fed thee with choice
morsels of meat, and held the cup to thy lips, and thou wouldst spill
the wine over my gown in thy childish weakness--I little thought to see
thee grow up to be so pitiless and inflexible, more hard to move than
the gods themselves, whom we approach with prayer and sacrifice, and
with bended knees.  Beware of the vengeance which waits upon a stubborn
and unforgiving heart.  Swift and strong is the dread goddess Ate, who
prompts man to give and take offence; but Penitence is an old and
wrinkled goddess, who goes halting behind her, to heal the mischief;
and if he who is wronged will not listen to her voice he himself
becomes the offender, and the whole guilt of the quarrel rests on his
head.  Hearken thou, therefore, to her gentle pleading, and receive the
bountiful gifts of Agamemnon, or the day will come when thou wilt take
thy sword perforce, and fight the battles of the Greeks without reward."

Achilles listened with manifest impatience to the rambling appeals of
Phœnix; and when at length the old man had finished, he replied
briefly: "I seek no reward but the favour of Zeus, which I have, and
shall not cease to have as long as the breath of life is in me.  Vex me
no more with thy vain repinings; my purpose is fixed, and it is for
thee to choose whether thou wilt be friends with Agamemnon or with me.
If thou art on my side remain here for the night, and to-morrow we will
consider whether we will go or stay."

The conference was brought to a close by a few words from Ajax, whose
frank and soldierly heart was hot with indignation at the vindictive
temper of Achilles.  Turning to Odysseus, he said: "Noble son of
Laertes, let us be going.  Words are wasted on this fierce and froward
man.  Surely he has a heart of stone, which no kindly thought, no
gentle memory of ancient comradeship, can soften.  All the homage of
his countrymen, all the loving-kindness of his friends, are as dirt
beneath his feet.  Many a man hath accepted a price for the blood of a
son or brother slain, and suffered the slayer to remain unharmed in the
land; but thou, Achilles, hast scorned the most princely offers for the
sake of one captive maid.  O yet at last be moved!  Bring not scorn
upon us, thy guests, thy friends, but give us a gentle answer to take
back to our countrymen in their dire need."

These manly and moving words had some effect on Achilles, half maddened
as he was by wounded pride.  Yet still he would not yield, though his
answer showed that he had not been in earnest when he spoke of
abandoning the war.  "Thou hast spoken well, Ajax," he said, "and there
is much reason in what thou sayest.  But my heart boils with rage when
I think of the contumely which was heaped upon me before the eyes of
all Greece, as though I were some beggared and nameless outcast; and I
will not put on mine armour again, until I see the smoke arising from
the Grecian ships, and Hector drawing near to my galleys with sword and
fire.  Then, methinks, his career of victory will end."

After this final declaration of his purpose by Achilles, Ajax and
Odysseus took their leave, and returned to the assembled chieftains,
who still sat anxiously awaiting the result of the mission.  Phœnix
remained behind, having resolved to cast in his lot with Achilles.

The Night Raid on the Trojan Camp


Uneasy lay the head of Agamemnon the King that night, and, thick as
lightnings which herald the storm, thronging cares shot through his
brain, forbidding all repose.  As often as he opened his eyes he saw
the red gleam of the Trojan watchfires; and the hum of the armed
multitude, mingled with the strains of flute and pipe, filled his ears.
After an hour of weary tossing he left his couch, and wandered out into
the camp, until he came to the quarters of Menelaus, and, finding him
also afoot, he sent him to call up Ajax and Idomeneus, and went himself
to summon Nestor, intending to hold a midnight council, and devise some
plan of relief in this hour of general depression and dismay.

On the way he was joined by Diomede and Odysseus, and when they all met
it was resolved to pay a visit to the sentinels and see if they were
faithful to their trust.  When they came to the place where the pickets
were stationed, outside the barriers, they found the whole troop
keeping watch and ward with sleepless vigilance, like dogs in charge of
a sheep-fold when they hear a lion prowling without.  Every man was on
the alert, with his face towards the Trojan leaguer, as if expecting an
instant attack.  Nestor's long experience of war now enabled him to
make a suggestion which led to one of the most famous adventures in the
whole course of the war.  "Is there one among you bold enough," he
said, "to go and spy out the movements of the Trojans in their camp,
and bring back a report of what they design against us?  'Twould be a
noble enterprise, and would bring both fame and profit to him who
should accomplish it."

There was a short pause, and then Diomede declared himself willing to
undertake this perilous adventure, "But will not one of you go with
me?" he asked.  "Two heads are better than one, and I may find myself
in a strait in which I should need a comrade's help and advice."

Six of the leaders at once offered to accompany Diomede, and among
these were Menelaus, Odysseus, and Antilochus, the captain of the
outpost, who was especially eager to go.  "Choose him whom thou
thinkest best fitted for the task, without respect to rank or birth,"
said Agamemnon, in fear lest he should name Menelaus for his companion.
"Well, then," answered Diomede, "I choose Odysseus, the hardiest and
the shrewdest spirit among us all, and the darling of Athene.  With him
at my side I will go through fire and water without scathe."

"A truce to thy praises," said Odysseus, "and let us away, for the
night is far spent, and the day is at hand."


Lightly armed and equipped, the stout-hearted pair passed out of the
light of the watchfires, and set their faces towards the Trojan camp.
Just as they were starting they heard the cry of a heron flying on the
right, and Odysseus was glad, for he knew it was a sign sent by Athene,
promising success to their journey.  Murmuring a prayer, they stepped
forward boldly, like two lions bound on a midnight foray, and crossed
the battlefield of yesterday, over corpses and broken armour and pools
of blood.  Suddenly Odysseus came to a halt, and laying his hand on
Diomede's arm whispered: "I hear a footstep as of one coming this way,
whether to spy out our camp, or to plunder the dead, I know not.  Let
us allow him to go by us, and then spring upon him as he passes."

Crouching down among the heaps of slain, they waited until the man had
passed in the direction of the ships, and then leapt from their ambush
and gave chase.  When he heard them he hesitated a moment, doubting
whether they were friends or foes; then, recognising them as Greeks, he
bounded away at full speed, Odysseus and Diomede following hard behind,
like two hounds on the track of a doe or hare.  But the fellow was a
fleet runner, and would have been fairly driven into the hands of the
Greek sentinels, if Diomede had not raised his spear, and sent it
whizzing close to the ear of the fugitive, crying as he did so: "Halt!
whoever thou art, or my next cast shall bring thee down."

Then the wretch was afraid, and stood still, in obedience to the
summons, with knees knocking together and chattering teeth; and the two
Greeks ran up, panting for breath, and seized him by the arms.  Weeping
with terror he began to beg for his life.  "Make me your prisoner," he
faltered, "and I will pay you a heavy ransom, for my father's house is
full of silver and gold, and vessels of iron,[1] choicely wrought, and
he will pay you a heavy price when he hears that I am alive."

[1] Iron was scarce and highly prized among the Homeric Greeks.

"Have no fears for thy life," said Odysseus; "only answer me truly, and
thou art safe.  Why art thou wandering here in the dead of night?  Art
thou on an adventure of thine own, or did Hector send thee to spy out
the Grecian camp?"

"It was Hector who beguiled me to commit this folly," answered the
captive, whose name was Dolon; "for he bribed me with a great bribe,
promising to give me the steeds of Peleus' haughty son, if I would go
down to the fleet, and bring back information whether you were
preparing to fly from our shores in the night."

"Thou art ambitious, I see," replied Odysseus, smiling.  "Bold must be
thy heart, and firm thy hand, if thou wouldst drive the steeds of
Æacides, which are of no mortal breed.  But tell me now, and answer me
truly, where is Hector stationed in the Trojan camp, and in what order
have the others pitched their tents?"

"Hector and the chiefs," answered Dolon, still shaking with mortal
dread, "have their quarters by the tomb of Ilus, and round them lie the
native Trojans, keeping good watch.  The allies are encamped about
them, in no fixed order, and they are all asleep.  On the very
outskirts of the camp lie the Thracians, and Rhesus their king; and if
ye are minded to make an onfall on their leaguer ye may do it in
safety, and win a rare prize.  For Rhesus hath a pair of milk-white
coursers, unmatched in strength and speed, and a car richly adorned
with silver and gold.  Likewise he hath a suit of golden armour, fit
for the gods to wear.  And all this ye may win without a blow.  Now
leave me in the custody of your comrades, or bind me fast here, that ye
may know when ye return whether I have spoken the truth."

But that night was to afford a second instance of broken faith, hardly
less infamous than the first.  Having tempted this poor caitiff to
betray his comrades by promising him his life, they now gave him the
traitor's wage.  "Thou must die, Dolon," said Diomede coldly, "for all
thy good news.  Thou art a foe, delivered into our hands, and thou
shalt never spy upon us or fight with us again."  Dolon clung to him
with cries of anguished entreaty, pleading for his life; but Diomede,
with one downward stroke of his sword, swept off his head, which
rolled, with lips still moving, in the dust.  Then stripping off his
armour, he hung it in a tamarisk tree, and, having marked the place,
went forward with Odysseus in the direction of the Thracian camp.

When they came to the quarters of Rhesus, they found him lying in the
midst of his men, with his famous steeds standing near, tethered to
their car.  All the troop was sleeping heavily, for they were newly
arrived at Troy, and had travelled far and fast the day before.  "There
he is," whispered Odysseus, "and these are his steeds, a glorious pair!
Now to work!  Slay me a score of these sluggards while I loose the

Thereupon Diomede drew his sword, and struck right and left like a
headsman, until he had slain some dozen of the sleeping Thracians; and,
as he proceeded, Odysseus dragged the slaughtered men out of the way,
to make a path for the horses, which were young, and unused to such
sights.  Diomede's last victim was the giant Rhesus, who was breathing
heavily, and dreaming of his home; but a Grecian blade cut short his
dreams, and his fleet coursers now found a new master.  While Diomede
was thus busy, Odysseus untethered the steeds, and coupling them
together by their harness drove them out of the camp, striking them
with a bow which he carried; for he had forgotten to take up the whip.
Diomede still lingered, meditating some final act of daring, to crown
the night's adventure.  Beneath him lay the corpse of Rhesus, and his
golden armour, and he was hesitating whether to take these, or slay a
few more Thracians, when Odysseus gave a low whistle, warning him that
it was time to be going.  The next moment he heard the sound of
hurrying footsteps, and, perceiving that the alarm had been given, he
joined Odysseus, and mounting one of the horses seized the other by the
bridle, and rode at a rapid trot towards the sea.  Odysseus ran by his
side, holding on by the harness, for he was no rider,[2] but a swift
and enduring runner.

[2] Riding was little practised among the Homeric heroes.

They had no sooner departed than a wild commotion arose behind them in
the awakened Thracian camp, but increasing their pace they soon reached
the spot where they had left the unhappy Dolon, and, having paused for
a moment to take up his armour, they hurried forward, and before long
they were within hail of the Grecian outposts, where the whole company
of the leaders was still assembled, anxiously awaiting their return.

Nestor was the first to hear the sound of the horses' feet, and
thinking that the Trojans were attacking he ran to raise the alarm.
But he was soon reassured when he heard the voice of Diomede, followed
a moment later by the arrival of the hardy adventurers with their
splendid booty.  Joyful were the greetings on both sides, and when the
story of that great exploit had been briefly told they all dispersed to
their quarters, to snatch a few hours of sleep before the toils of the
coming day.

The Brave Deeds of Agamemnon: Reverses of the Greeks

In the still hours of the dawn the Greeks were startled from their
slumbers by a loud and fearful cry, which came from no mortal lips, but
from Eris, the dread goddess of strife, who had been sent down by Zeus
to give the signal for battle.  The first to obey that awful summons
was Agamemnon; for this was to be his great day, and his heart was
aflame with the lust of slaughter.  Springing from his couch he began
to don his armour.  First he put on his greaves, which were made of
pliant white metal, with ankle pieces of silver.  Then he took up his
corslet, with a glance of pride, for it was of choice and costly
workmanship, cunningly fashioned of thin strips or courses of metal.
Ten courses were of blue steel, and ten of gold, and twenty of tin; and
round about the corslet wound three serpents, wrought in divers
colours, like the rainbow, with their heads meeting where the corslet
narrowed at the neck.  His sword glittered with golden ornaments, and
the scabbard was of silver, and the baldric of gold.  On his shield,
which had ten circles of brass, were twenty bosses of white tin, and in
the centre a boss of blue steel; and it bore an image of the Gorgon's
head and the dreadful faces of Rout and Panic.  Attached to it was a
silver strap, bearing the device of a serpent with three heads.

Glittering in this gorgeous panoply, brandishing two spears, and
raising his battle cry, Agamemnon rushed to the gates of the camp, and
placed himself at the head of his bravest champions, who were mustering
there with the flower of the Greek army, prepared for the expected
attack.  They had not long to wait; hardly had they set their ranks in
order, when the Trojans appeared on the summit of the slope which ran
down to the shore.  And like a star which appears and disappears on a
stormy night, when the sky is covered with scudding clouds, so
glittered the mailed form of Hector, as he ranged in and out among the
advancing columns, marshalling his men to the fight.

Then like two lines of reapers working together on opposite sides of a
deep field of wheat or barley, so met Greeks and Trojans on the plain
before the camp, and war's dread harvest began.  None of the gods were
present, save only Eris, whose savage heart was glad when she smelt the
smell of blood.  And Zeus sat apart on a lonely peak, looking down upon
Troy and the Grecian fleet and the two warring nations in the space

The Brave Deeds of Agamemnon: Reverses of the Greeks


In the still hours of the dawn the Greeks were startled from their
slumbers by a loud and fearful cry, which came from no mortal lips, but
from Eris, the dread goddess of strife, who had been sent down by Zeus
to give the signal for battle.  The first to obey that awful summons
was Agamemnon; for this was to be his great day, and his heart was
aflame with the lust of slaughter.  Springing from his couch he began
to don his armour.  First he put on his greaves, which were made of
pliant white metal, with ankle pieces of silver.  Then he took up his
corslet, with a glance of pride, for it was of choice and costly
workmanship, cunningly fashioned of thin strips or courses of metal.
Ten courses were of blue steel, and ten of gold, and twenty of tin; and
round about the corslet wound three serpents, wrought in divers
colours, like the rainbow, with their heads meeting where the corslet
narrowed at the neck.  His sword glittered with golden ornaments, and
the scabbard was of silver, and the baldric of gold.  On his shield,
which had ten circles of brass, were twenty bosses of white tin, and in
the centre a boss of blue steel; and it bore an image of the Gorgon's
head and the dreadful faces of Rout and Panic.  Attached to it was a
silver strap, bearing the device of a serpent with three heads.

Glittering in this gorgeous panoply, brandishing two spears, and
raising his battle cry, Agamemnon rushed to the gates of the camp, and
placed himself at the head of his bravest champions, who were mustering
there with the flower of the Greek army, prepared for the expected
attack.  They had not long to wait; hardly had they set their ranks in
order, when the Trojans appeared on the summit of the slope which ran
down to the shore.  And like a star which appears and disappears on a
stormy night, when the sky is covered with scudding clouds, so
glittered the mailed form of Hector, as he ranged in and out among the
advancing columns, marshalling his men to the fight.

Then like two lines of reapers working together on opposite sides of a
deep field of wheat or barley, so met Greeks and Trojans on the plain
before the camp, and war's dread harvest began.  None of the gods were
present, save only Eris, whose savage heart was glad when she smelt the
smell of blood.  And Zeus sat apart on a lonely peak, looking down upon
Troy and the Grecian fleet and the two warring nations in the space

Until the hour of noon the battle was waged with equal fortune on both
sides.  But just at the time when a woodman in some mountain glen
breaks off his labour to prepare his midday meal, having wearied his
hands with holding the axe, the Greeks made a vigorous charge, and
broke through the Trojan line.  Agamemnon fought in advance of all the
rest, and recognising among the enemy two sons of Priam, who had
formerly been taken captive by Achilles and let go for a ransom, he
slew them both, and stripped off their armour.  And as a lion slays two
hapless fawns, while their dam, who is feeding near, flies sweating
with terror from the onslaught of the mighty beast, so the Trojans saw
their young princes slain, but were helpless to aid them, being
themselves hard pressed by the victorious Greeks.

Like a famished lion who has broken into a sheep-fold, and ravages the
flock, so fell Agamemnon on the huddled masses of the Trojans, striking
about him with sword and spear.  Presently he had an opportunity of
gratifying his private revenge; for right before him, impeded by the
press, he saw the two sons of Antimachus, a Trojan who was bribed with
gold by Paris to oppose the restoration of Helen.  There they stood
helpless, both together in one car, holding out their hands in
supplication, and begging him to spare their lives.  "There is no mercy
for such as you," cried Agamemnon fiercely.  "Did not your father, in
the hearing of all the people, advise the murder of my brother,
Menelaus, when he came on an embassy to Troy?  Die, and pay for your
father's treachery."  With that he thrust down one of them with his
spear, and the other, who turned to fly, he slew with his sword,
lopping off head and arms, and spurning the trunk with his foot, so
that it rolled like a log along the ground.  Then, raising his battle
cry, he plunged into the thick of the fight, where the main body of the
Trojans were flying before the Greeks, horse and foot mingled together
in headlong rout.  And as a fire sweeps through the dry brushwood,
borne onward by the wind, and leaving a black waste behind, so thick
and fast fell the Trojans before Agamemnon; and many an empty car went
rattling over the field, borne hither and thither by its affrighted
steeds, whose master was lying where he fell, until the vultures
assembled to the banquet at eventide.

Across the plain they sped, past the tomb of Ilus and the wild
fig-tree, making straight for the city, and as they came to the gates
they turned at bay, and waited for those who were still flying before
Agamemnon and the Greeks.

"Now haste thee, swift Iris!" said Zeus to the maiden messenger of
heaven, "and bear this message to Hector.  As long as he sees Agamemnon
foremost in the slaughter, let him hold back, and leave the others to
stem the tide of war; but when Agamemnon receives a wound, as he shall
do soon, then let Hector take the lead again, and drive the Greeks back
upon their ships."

Hector duly received the message, as he was rallying his men to defend
their gates; and in obedience to the command of Zeus he retired from
the front, and waited for the promised relief.  He had not long to
wait.  Presently Agamemnon was assailed by Iphidamas, a son of Antenor,
one of the chief men of Troy, who charged at him, spear in hand, and
thrusting with all his force struck him full on the breastplate.  But
the spear point was turned on the tempered metal, and Agamemnon,
seizing the shaft, dragged the weapon from his hands, and smote down
the tall champion with a blow of his sword.  But as he was stooping to
strip the armour from the corpse, Coön, the brother of Iphidamas, crept
up to his side, and drove his spear clean through Agamemnon's forearm.

Though grievously hurt Agamemnon turned on his assailant, and cut him
down; and having thus avenged himself he still fought on, dealing havoc
among the Trojans with his spear and his sword, and with heavy stones.
But presently his blood ceased to flow, and his arm grew stiff, as the
wound began to close.  Being now in dreadful pain, he could fight no
longer, and summoning his chariot he left the field, and drove at full
speed back to the camp.


"Forward, men of Troy!" shouted Hector, rushing to the front.
"Agamemnon is sorely wounded, and Zeus has promised us the victory."
And as a hunter cheers on his hounds against a lion or wild boar, so
Hector encouraged his Trojans, by word and by action, to assail the
Greeks; and like a black squall which leaps suddenly on the Ægæan, he
himself led the assault, strong in the support of Zeus, and confident
of victory.

Diomede marked him as he moved his way through the Grecian ranks, and
stood to oppose him, poising his spear.  The weapon flew, and struck
him on the helmet, but rebounded from the massive brazen ridge, and
dropped on the ground.  Hector, though unwounded, was hurled back by
that ponderous stroke, and sank, half-stunned, on one knee, leaning on
his hand.  Following up his advantage, Diomede rushed forward to regain
his spear; but meanwhile Hector had recovered from his faintness, and
escaped in his chariot to the rear.  "Again thou hast avoided death at
my hands, thou dog!" shouted Diomede after him.  "But I will slay thee
yet."  And he stooped to take the armour from a Trojan whom he had

Leaning against a stone pillar, the monument of Ilus, an ancient King
of Troy, stood the gay archer Paris; and when he saw Diomede kneeling
by the fallen Trojan he took steady aim, and launched an arrow, which
pierced through Diomede's right foot, and pinned him to the ground.
"Thou art hit," he cried, springing from his ambush with a loud laugh.
"Would that my shaft had cloven thy very heart!  So should I have given
a breathing space to the Trojans, who cower before thee like bleating
goats before a lion."

"Out on thee, cowardly bowman!" answered Diomede, with scorn.  "Thou
fightest thy battles from a safe distance, and shunnest the push of
sword or spear.  And now thou art boasting aloud over this pinprick,
which harms me not at all.  There is no force in the blow from a
coward's arm.  But the touch of my weapon means death, and they who
feel it need no second stroke.  Their last bed is the bare, cold
ground, and vultures perform their obsequies."

Notwithstanding these bold words, the wound was severe, and as soon as
Odysseus, who ran to aid his friend, had drawn out the shaft, Diomede
was obliged to retire from the battlefield.

As Odysseus was about to join the ranks of the retreating Greeks he
found himself hemmed in by a party of Trojan spearsmen, who surrounded
him with a circle of bristling points.  Then as a wild boar issues from
his shady lair, foaming and champing his teeth, and charges down upon
the hounds and hunters who have beset the covert, so sprang Odysseus on
his assailants, and in a moment four of them lay writhing at his feet.
The last of these, a young noble named Charops, found an avenger in
Socus, his brother, who thrust so vigorously at Odysseus with his spear
that the point clave through shield and corslet, and made a long ragged
wound in his side.  Socus, in his turn, who fled as soon as the blow
was struck, was gored in the back, between the shoulders, by the spear
of Odysseus.  But that sage and valiant warrior was now in deadly
peril; for when the Trojans saw his blood flowing, as he drew out the
lance from his corslet and shield, they fell upon him like one man,
with wild cries of triumph.  Slowly he gave back before them, shouting
aloud to his friends to come to his rescue.  Three times he cried, and
his voice reached the ears of Menelaus, who hurried to his relief,
bringing with him the mighty Ajax, son of Telamon.

They came not a moment too soon, for Odysseus was hard beset by his
clamorous foes, who crowded round him, like jackals round a tall
antlered stag which has been wounded with an arrow, and has fled to the
shelter of the woods: but while the jackals are yelping about him, up
comes a great bearded lion, and scatters the jackals, and makes the
stag his prey.  So when the towering form of Ajax appeared, as he
advanced with his huge orbed shield, the Trojans abandoned their
intended victim, and fled in dismay.  Menelaus took the wounded man by
the hand, and led him to the place where his chariot was waiting,
leaving Ajax occupied with a fresh column of Trojans, who came pouring
to the attack when they saw their friends routed.  Then mightily raged
the sword of Ajax, falling like a flail on the heads of his foes, and
man and horse went down before him.

All this time Hector had been fighting in another part of the field, at
the extreme left of the line of battle, where the Greeks were led by
Nestor and Idomeneus.  A lucky shot from the bow of Paris disabled
Machaon, who, besides being a stout fighter, was the most skilful leech
in the Greek army.  "We must save him at any cost," said Idomeneus to
Nestor.  "A skilful physician is worth a whole troop of spearsmen.
Mount thou thy car, and carry him with all speed to the camp."  Nestor
did as he was advised, and Idomeneus was thus left to bear the brunt

Just at this moment Cebriones, Hector's charioteer, came galloping up
with the news that the main body of the Trojans was suffering severely
from the attack led by Ajax.  As the departure of Nestor and Machaon
had left him little to do in this part of the field, Hector at once
mounted his chariot, and directed his course towards the spot where
Ajax was fighting.  Right between the warring lines he drove, trampling
over corpses, helmets, and shields; and steeds and car were spattered
with blood.  Soon he was joined by a strong troop of Trojan warriors,
and Ajax found himself assailed by a storm of missiles.  Then even that
mighty man felt a touch of fear, and throwing his shield behind him he
began slowly to retire, halting at every step, and striking down some
too daring assailant.  Like a lion who has been driven off from a
herdsman's steading with javelins, and with stones, and with burning
brands, yet will not leave the place, but prowls near all night,
lusting after the flesh of the fat beeves--so Ajax, though hard beset,
drew back reluctantly, inch by inch, before the clamour and fury of his
foes.  Dogged he was, and hard to stir from his place, like some big
greedy ass who has found his way into a deep field of corn, and will
not budge till he has filled his belly, though assailed by a laughing
crowd of children, who rain blows on his back and ribs,--even so the
blows rained upon Ajax, who was encumbered by the weight of the spears
which had pierced his shield.  At last, the Greeks advanced to his
succour in close array, and joining their ranks he wheeled once more
and faced the thronging Trojans.


The tide of battle had thus turned again, and the Greeks were being
driven steadily back upon their camp.  The roar of the conflict reached
the ears of Achilles, who was standing near his ship, peering out
eagerly over the Trojan plain; and at the same moment he saw Nestor
driving past in his chariot, bringing with him the wounded Machaon.
Then he called to Patroclus, and bade him go and inquire who the
injured man was.  "I think," he added, "that it was Machaon; but the
car passed me in a flash, and I saw not his face.  Methinks the hour of
my revenge is near, for the Greeks are in a sore strait."  Ah! son of
Peleus, thy revenge is indeed near, but thou little dreamest how dearly
thou wilt pay for that bitter morsel.

When Patroclus reached the tent of Nestor he found the venerable King
of Pylos sitting with Machaon, waiting while a handmaid prepared for
them a slight refection.  The woman drew a table before them, and on it
she placed a brazen dish, with onions, and honeycomb, and barley cakes.
Then she took a massive cup, embossed with gold, resting on a double
base, and having four golden handles, each one of which was wrought in
the form of two doves, which seemed to be feeding from the cup.  In
this vessel she prepared a posset, pouring in a rich red wine, into
which she sprinkled cheese of goats' milk and white barley meal.  And
when the posset was ready she set it on the table, and bade them drink.

The cup was very weighty, and a strong hand was needed to lift it to
the lips; but Nestor raised it easily, old as he was, and was about to
take a draught, when, looking up, he saw Patroclus standing at the door
of the tent.  Replacing the goblet on the table, Nestor rose to greet
him, and taking him by the hand invited him to enter.  But Patroclus
hesitated, wishing to return at once with the required information to
his friend, whose impatient and exacting mood he knew and feared.  "I
was sent," he said, "to ask the name of the wounded man, and I see that
it is Machaon.  Achilles waits for an answer, and I dare not keep him
waiting."  Nevertheless, he lingered awhile, and listened to the long
harangue of that "old man eloquent," who soon wandered, according to
his wont, into a long story of his youthful prowess, when he lived as
the sole survivor of twelve sons in the house of his father Neleus.
"But why," he asked, when that theme was exhausted--"why should
Achilles inquire about one wounded Greek?  He knows not the extent of
our mischances, nor how much cause we have to mourn.  Diomede, the
valiant son of Tydeus, is stricken with an arrow, Agamemnon also is
wounded, and likewise Odysseus.  Will Achilles now be satisfied, or is
he waiting until our ships are consumed with fire, and all of us put to
the sword?  Would that this arm of mine were as of yore, when I was the
bulwark of my father's house, and of all my people.  But Achilles puts
forth his might and his valour only for his own honour and glory, and
cares not though his country perish.  Canst thou do nothing with him?
Remember the charge which Menœtius, thy father, gave thee, when we
were sojourning, I and Odysseus, in the house of Peleus.  We came
thither to summon thee and Achilles to the war, and ye were both fain
to go.  And these were the parting words of Menœtius to thee: "My
son, Achilles, is far mightier than thou, but thou art the elder, and
it is for thee to guide him, and counsel him for his good.  Be wise,
and be kind, and he will obey thee."

"Ah! take those words to heart, and reason with that wilful youth.  If
he is obeying some oracle from Zeus, which forbids him to go into
battle, at least let him send thee to lead the Myrmidons in his stead,
and let him lend thee his armour, that the Trojans may be affrighted
when they see thee, thinking that Achilles has arisen.  Thus, at least,
we shall get a little respite, and gain time to breathe."

Pondering deeply on the last words of Nestor, which were to prove so
fatal to himself, Patroclus hastened back on the way to his own
quarters.  But he was to be delayed a second time: for as he was
passing the tent of Odysseus he met Eurypylus, one of the bravest of
the Greeks, who came limping towards him, being wounded in the thigh by
an arrow.  He was a pitiful sight, begrimed with dust and sweat, and
bleeding copiously from his wound.  And Patroclus groaned in spirit
when he saw him, for he was cut to the heart to find so many of his
comrades disabled.  "Woe is me!" he said, with a glance of pity, "to
see thee thus.  But tell me, how goes the day?"

"We can keep the field no longer," answered Eurypylus.  "The Greeks
must retire behind their barriers.  But thou seest how grievously I am
hurt; take me with thee to thy tent, and cut the arrow out of my thigh,
and when thou hast washed my wound with warm water, lay thereon some of
the powerful simples which Achilles received from the wise centaur,
Chiron.  For of the two leeches of the army one, Machaon, is in need of
a physician himself, and Podalirius, the other, is fighting in the

"I am in haste," said Patroclus, "howbeit, I will not leave thee in
this state"; and, supporting the wounded man in his arms, he guided him
slowly to his tent, and seating him on a couch of bulls' hides played
the part of physician with such skill and success that the blood was
stanched, and the sharp pain allayed.

The Attack on the Grecian Camp

The Greeks were now driven back upon their defences, and a furious
struggle ensued for the possession of the walls.  The battle was no
longer a succession of duels, such as we have witnessed hitherto, but a
desperate contest for life and death, in which high and low, nobles and
commons, had to take their share.  As before, Hector took the lead, and
tried to force his way across the moat, and up the steep slope on the
other side, which was topped by a wall of stone, and a stiff fence of
palisades.  Again and again he rushed at the yawning moat in his car,
but each time his horses refused the leap, and stood neighing and
trembling, with their hoofs planted at the brink.

At last, perceiving that he was wasting his strength to no purpose, he
changed his method of attack, and leaving his car in charge of a squire
prepared to lead the assault on foot.  Some time was lost while he was
collecting a picked body of men to follow him, and instructing them how
to proceed; and while he was taking his measures, Asius, a captain of
the allies, made a bold attempt to carry the Greek position at a single
blow.  Disregarding Hector's orders, he remained in his chariot, called
to his troop to keep close behind him, and drove rapidly round the line
of the wall, looking for a weak point where he might hope to force an
entrance.  He succeeded beyond his hopes; for on the extreme left of
the camp he found a gate which was still open to admit any stragglers
who might have been left behind in the flight of the Greeks.  With a
shout of triumph he drove straight at the open gateway, with all his
company following pell-mell.  But just as he was about to cross the
portals he found himself confronted by a pair of gigantic brothers, who
stood like two mighty oaks deep-rooted on a mountain top, ready to
dispute the way.  They were well supported by the defenders who lined
the walls, and a hail of stones and javelins rattled down on the
shields of Asius and his men, who were driven back with loss and
compelled to retire out of range.  The gates were then closed and
barred, and for this time the camp was saved.

Meanwhile the Trojans under Hector's command were still hesitating on
the brink of the moat.  For a strange portent had occurred, which gave
them pause, just as they were rushing to the assault.  On the left hand
of the army they saw an eagle soaring high in the air, holding a huge
serpent in his talons, which writhed and struggled to escape.  And
indeed the eagle had met his match, for suddenly the serpent drew back
his head, and darting forward bit his captor in the breast.  The eagle
gave a scream of pain, and dropping the serpent, which fell in the
midst of the Trojans, flew swiftly away.

The Attack on the Grecian Camp

The Greeks were now driven back upon their defences, and a furious
struggle ensued for the possession of the walls.  The battle was no
longer a succession of duels, such as we have witnessed hitherto, but a
desperate contest for life and death, in which high and low, nobles and
commons, had to take their share.  As before, Hector took the lead, and
tried to force his way across the moat, and up the steep slope on the
other side, which was topped by a wall of stone, and a stiff fence of
palisades.  Again and again he rushed at the yawning moat in his car,
but each time his horses refused the leap, and stood neighing and
trembling, with their hoofs planted at the brink.

At last, perceiving that he was wasting his strength to no purpose, he
changed his method of attack, and leaving his car in charge of a squire
prepared to lead the assault on foot.  Some time was lost while he was
collecting a picked body of men to follow him, and instructing them how
to proceed; and while he was taking his measures, Asius, a captain of
the allies, made a bold attempt to carry the Greek position at a single
blow.  Disregarding Hector's orders, he remained in his chariot, called
to his troop to keep close behind him, and drove rapidly round the line
of the wall, looking for a weak point where he might hope to force an
entrance.  He succeeded beyond his hopes; for on the extreme left of
the camp he found a gate which was still open to admit any stragglers
who might have been left behind in the flight of the Greeks.  With a
shout of triumph he drove straight at the open gateway, with all his
company following pell-mell.  But just as he was about to cross the
portals he found himself confronted by a pair of gigantic brothers, who
stood like two mighty oaks deep-rooted on a mountain top, ready to
dispute the way.  They were well supported by the defenders who lined
the walls, and a hail of stones and javelins rattled down on the
shields of Asius and his men, who were driven back with loss and
compelled to retire out of range.  The gates were then closed and
barred, and for this time the camp was saved.

Meanwhile the Trojans under Hector's command were still hesitating on
the brink of the moat.  For a strange portent had occurred, which gave
them pause, just as they were rushing to the assault.  On the left hand
of the army they saw an eagle soaring high in the air, holding a huge
serpent in his talons, which writhed and struggled to escape.  And
indeed the eagle had met his match, for suddenly the serpent drew back
his head, and darting forward bit his captor in the breast.  The eagle
gave a scream of pain, and dropping the serpent, which fell in the
midst of the Trojans, flew swiftly away.

All stood amazed, and doubt and fear crept into their hearts when they
saw the monster writhing at their feet.  At last Polydamas, a warrior
who was famed for his skill in augury, turned to Hector, and said: "My
prince, the sign is against us; and as the eagle was stricken, when he
strove to carry the dappled snake to his young, so shall we also be
stricken, if we persist in our assault on the Grecian stronghold.  Let
us draw off our men, lest we be found fighting against the gods, and
bring upon ourselves rout and disaster."

"Polydamas," answered Hector, with bended brows, "if thou hast no
better counsel than this thou hadst better hold thy peace, for the gods
have marred thy wit.  Vain man! knowest thou not that we came hither
under a sure promise from Zeus?  Are we to obey his voice, or shall we
be cowed by the flapping of a wing?  What care I for any fowl that
flies east or west, while I stand under the favour of heaven's high
lord?  To the patriot all omens are good, when his country summons him
to her defence.  A truce to thine idle prate!  Thou hast naught to
fear, whether we fight or fly, for thou art never seen on the perilous
edge of battle.  But keep thy cold counsels for thine own coward heart,
or I will find means to lock thy lips for ever."

Thereupon he sprang forward towards the wall, and all his men followed,
raising a deafening shout.  And from the glens of Ida there came a
rushing mighty wind, which bore a blinding cloud of dust into the faces
of the Greeks, and hindered them in the work of defence.  The Trojans
had now crossed the moat, and were striving with all their force to
break down the wall.  Some tugged at the battlements, and tried to pull
them down, while others brought levers to overthrow the projecting
buttresses.  On the other side the Greeks fought stubbornly, making a
fence with their shields along the line of the wall, and keeping up a
shower of javelins and stones.

Foremost in the defence were the greater and lesser Ajax, who hurried
up and down the battlements, encouraging, rebuking, and threatening.
"Stand fast!" they cried.  "This is no time for flinching.  Let every
man do his part, whether he be weak or strong.  Your lives are in your
own hands."

As on a winter day, when Zeus has lulled the winds to sleep, and all
the air is thick with flying snowflakes, until mountain top and jutting
promontory, green field and black ploughland, level shore and rocky
bay, are all hidden under the same dazzling mantle, whose fringe
touches the cold, grey sea--so thick flew the missiles on either side,
rattling down uninterruptedly on battlement and helmet and shield.

Conspicuous among the allies of the Trojans were Glaucus and Sarpedon,
the leaders of the Lycians.  They were bosom friends, of one heart and
one mind; and the night before they had discoursed earnestly together
on the duties and privileges of their rank.  The words of Sarpedon on
this occasion are ever memorable.  "I need not tell thee, Glaucus," he
said, "why we twain are honoured above all the rest with the highest
seats, the costliest fare, and cups ever full, and why a fair domain of
corn-land and olive ground and vineyard was set apart for us on the
banks of Xanthus.  As we have received freely, so freely must we give,
sparing not even our heart's blood in the service of those to whom we
owe all we have.  Let us be no sluggard kings, first in the feast and
last in the fray, but, as we are foremost in privilege, so let us be
foremost in peril.  Man walketh as a vain shadow, and all his steps are
encompassed by death; die he must, ere many days are passed--herein he
hath no choice--but, unless he hath the soul of a slave, he will choose
death with honour."

Acting in the spirit of these noble words, Sarpedon, with Glaucus at
his side, and all the chivalry of Lycia at his back, now made a
determined attack on the part of the wall where Menestheus, the captain
of the Athenians, was directing the defence.  Menestheus, feeling that
he was ill provided to sustain the onset of these two famous captains,
raised his voice to summon Ajax to his succour; but his cry was drowned
by the tremendous din of the battle which was raging around him, and
the thundering blows which the Trojans were now raining upon the gates.
So he sent an urgent message by a herald, begging Ajax to come to his
relief.  Ajax responded promptly to the call, and joined the men under
Menestheus, bringing with him Teucer, his half-brother, who was now
sufficiently recovered from his wound to take part in the defence.

On came the storming party, with Sarpedon at their head, and they were
already beginning to swarm up the battlements, when the arrival of
Teucer and Ajax gave them a check.  Lifting up a ponderous stone, which
he found lying loose by the wall, Ajax dashed out the brains of a stout
Lycian, whose knee was already on the rampart, and down he toppled,
plunging headforemost, like a diver, into the moat; and at the same
moment a lucky shot from Teucer's bow struck Glaucus in the arm.
Incensed to see his comrade wounded, Sarpedon redoubled his efforts,
and grasping one of the battlements with both hands he wrenched it from
its place, and sent it crashing to the ground.  But, being fiercely
attacked by Ajax and Teucer together, he was compelled to draw back a
little, and wait for support.  "On, Lycians!" he shouted.  "Why loiter
ye behind?  I cannot win the wall alone."

The Lycians rallied to the voice of their prince, and the battle was
renewed with fresh fury on both sides.  Up the steep bank they swarmed
again, and strove with all their might to drive back the defenders from
their battlements.  But the Greeks would not yield an inch, and
besiegers and besieged held their ground stubbornly in that grim
controversy, like two farmers who stand, with measuring-lines in their
hands, disputing hotly about a few inches of ground, on the boundaries
of their fields--or like an honest labouring woman, who holds the scale
in even balance, weighing the wool which she has spun to win a scanty
wage wherewith to buy her children bread.[1]  So in even balance hung
the fray, and many were the wounds given and received in back or in
breast, until the battlements ran with blood.

[1] The yarn is weighed to show that none of the raw wool has been

But the chief honour of the day was reserved for Hector, who was the
first to set foot within the fortress of the Greeks.  While the battle
was still raging on the wall, he made his way to the main entrance of
the camp, which was defended by stout oaken gates, fast closed with
massy bolt and bar.  In front of the gates lay a huge stone, such as
two men could hardly lift in these less heroic days.  Lifting the
mighty boulder, he carried it, easily as a shepherd carries a fleece,
close up to the gates.  Then, planting his feet firmly, he heaved that
ponderous mass above his head, and flung.  Like a thunderbolt flew the
enormous missile, dashing through panel and bolt and bar.  The gates,
torn from their hinges, fell inward, and over the ruins sprang Hector,
with brow black as night, and death in his glance.  Terribly gleamed
his brazen armour as he leapt upon the foe, with a lance in each hand.
None save the gods could have dared to face him in that hour of triumph
and victory.  The Trojans poured in behind him, or leapt down from the
wall, now deserted by the panic-stricken Greeks, who fled with one
accord to the shelter of their ships.

Poseidon aids the Greeks


The promise which Zeus had made to Thetis seemed now on the point of
being fulfilled, and accordingly Zeus, by whose direct interference
alone the Trojans had been able to work such havoc among the Greeks,
relaxed his attention, and left the rival armies to fight out the issue
between them, never dreaming that any of the gods would venture to act
against his express command.

But Poseidon, his brother, and second only to Zeus himself in power,
was a staunch ally of the Greeks, and was bitterly indignant that they
should suffer defeat at the hands of the hated and despised Trojans.
As long as the eye of Zeus was on the battlefield he dared not
interfere; but as soon as he saw his great brother engaged elsewhere he
left his seat on the island of Samothrace, where he had been
overlooking the battle, and sped on his way to Ægæ, his sacred city on
the shores of the Gulf of Corinth.  The mountains bowed their heads,
and the trees vailed[1] their high tops, beneath the immortal feet of
Poseidon, the King.  In three steps he reached his goal, and entered
his shining, golden palace, built in the cool depths of that glassy
bay.  There he bade harness his brazen-footed steeds, and mounting the
car drove it across the waters.  The charmed billows parted to make him
a path, and round him played the dolphins, and other huge children of
the deep, as his wheels passed unwetted over that heaving, liquid
floor.  So on they bounded, until they reached the shores of Troy.

[1] "_Vailing_ [stooping] her high top lower than her
ribs."--Shakespeare: _Merchant of Venice_.

The Greeks were still flying before the victorious Trojans, who pressed
them hard, with furious uproar, when suddenly there appeared among them
one like unto Calchas, the prophet, in form and in voice.  "Take heart,
comrades!" said he, addressing himself to Ajax, who, with his namesake,
was still heading the defence; "we shall beat them yet, if only we can
quench the fury of that madman, Hector, who bears himself like a son of
Zeus.  Have at them, and thrust them back from the ships!"

His words were common, but they were uttered by a god, and breathed a
mysterious influence, which was aided by a light touch from the staff
which he bore.  Instantly a strange lightness and vigour entered into
their limbs, and when the pretended Calchas vanished as abruptly as he
came, they knew that the words which they had heard were spoken by no
mortal lips.

Without pausing for a moment, Poseidon continued the work which he had
begun.  From rank to rank, from leader to leader, he flew, inspiring,
encouraging, entreating; and wherever he passed a new fire was kindled
in every breast, so that they who but a moment before had given up all
for lost now thought with shame of their faintheartedness, and rallied
to the call of their leaders, resolved to conquer or die.

Where Ajax and his namesake fought were mustered the choicest troops in
the Greek army.  Shoulder to shoulder, and knee to knee, they stood,
making a firm fence with shield overlapping shield, and bristling with
a forest of spears.  "Stand fast!" shouted Ajax, as Hector came on with
headlong rush, like some huge rock, which hangs threatening on a steep
mountain-side, until it is undermined by a winter torrent, and thunders
down the slope until it has spent its force and lies motionless on the
plain.  So Hector hurled himself with fury against the solid phalanx of
the Greeks, but spent his fury in vain on that hedge of iron, and could
not break through it, for all his rage.


Idomeneus, the leader of the Cretans, had been absent some time from
the battle, attending to a wounded comrade, and when he left him he
went to his tent, to replace part of his armour, which had been damaged
in the fight.  On reaching his quarters he was met by Meriones, his
second in command, who had gone to fetch a fresh spear, having broken
his own on a Trojan shield.  "What doest thou here, Meriones?" he
asked.  "Art thou wounded, or bringest thou some message to me?"

"I came to fetch a spear," answered Meriones; "my own was broken in the
fight."  "Spears there are in plenty in my tent," said Idomeneus, "and
helmets, and shields, and burnished corslets--the spoils of many a
vanquished Trojan."  "And in mine too there is no lack of such,"
replied Meriones.  "But thy tent was nearer.  Thou knowest best whether
I do my devoir on the field of honour or not."

"I have seen thee prove thy manly worth," said Idomeneus.  "Thou needst
not remind me.  I have noted thy bearing in the long cold hours of the
night, when thou wast one of a picked company lying in ambush, and
waiting for the dawn.  This is the sternest, sharpest test of valour
and endurance.  Mark then the coward, how he flushes, and then pales,
shifting uneasily from one foot to another, as he cowers in his place,
with chattering teeth and wildly beating heart, and mark the hero,
crouched, like a good hound, motionless and silent, ready to spring at
his enemy's throat.  None ever passed through that sharp ordeal with
more honour than thou.  And in open battle thy face is ever to the foe,
and thy scars are all in front.  But enough of this: here stand we
bragging of our prowess, while our comrades are encompassed by the
flames of war.  Let us away, and show our manhood by deeds, not words."

Like murderous Ares when he arms him for battle in the savage land of
Thrace, and by his side goes Terror, his son, whose fierce eyes appal
the stoutest heart, so rushed Idomeneus back to the field, with
Meriones, his trusty friend.  "Let us make for the left of the fighting
line," cried Idomeneus.  "On the right the Trojans are weaker, and in
the centre fights Telamonian Ajax, a pillar of strength, the equal of
Achilles in all save speed of foot.  On the left the need is sorest,
with most room for a leader of note."

As on a wild and gusty day, when two clouds of dust are whirled
together by conflicting winds, so met the Greek and Trojan columns,
with clash of shield and glitter of spear, when Idomeneus and his
comrade returned to the field.  Not in vain had Idomeneus boasted of
his deeds of war.  Many a Trojan went down that day before his spear;
and the first of them was Othryoneus, who was lately come to Troy, and
was a suitor for the hand of Cassandra, the fairest of Priam's
daughters.  Great was the price which he had promised to pay for his
bride.  "Give me thy daughter," he said, "and I will drive these Greeks
out of the land."  But the lance of Idomeneus cut short his wooing, and
down he fell with a sounding crash.  "Is it thou, gallant bridegroom?"
shouted Idomeneus, as his helmet fell off, exposing his face.  "How
wilt thou keep thy bargain with Priam now?  That wager is lost, but
come with me, and we will find thee a fair partner yet.  Thou shalt
have the fairest of Agamemnon's daughters, if thou wilt aid us to sack
the stately city of Troy.  How likest thou the terms?"

Thus insulting his fallen foe, Idomeneus began to drag him away by the
foot, intending to spoil him of his armour.  While thus employed, he
was confronted by Asius, who came on foot against him, his squire
following close with the chariot, so that he felt the hot breath of the
horses on his shoulders.  But Idomeneus was too quick for him, and
pierced him, as he stood with weapon poised, in the throat, driving the
point clean through his neck.  Like an oak, or poplar, or tall pine,
hewn down on a mountainside to make a ship's timber, so fell that proud
champion, and lay in his blood at his horse's feet, moaning and
clutching at the dust.  The charioteer was dumfoundered by his master's
fall, and dropped the reins in his terror; and while he stood thus,
with staring eyes and gaping mouth, Antilochus thrust him through with
his spear, and leaping into the car drove off with his prize.

Idomeneus was now fiercely assailed by a formidable antagonist, in the
person of Deiphobus, a brother of Hector, and one of the bravest of the
Trojans.  Idomeneus crouched low as he saw him coming with brandished
spear; and the weapon passed over him, just grazing the rim of his
shield, but found a victim in another Greek, who was advancing to his
support, and received the point in his breast.  Down he went, and
Deiphobus cried exultingly: "Not unavenged falls Asius, but I have
given him a companion on his journey to the shades."

Thus saved from his peril, the stout old Cretan glared about him,
looking for another mark for his spear; and he found one in the young
Alcathous, who was married to a daughter of Anchises, and was thus
closely related to Æneas.  The youthful prince, being new to the work
of war, was bewildered by the roar and tumult of the struggle which was
raging around him, and stood, overpowered by sudden panic, within close
range of the Cretan captain's lance.  "Sleepest thou, pretty lad!"
shouted the grim veteran, "I will wake thee from thy slumber."  And he
clove him through the breast with his spear, which stilled the last
beatings of his heart.

"Three Trojans for one Greek!" shouted Idomeneus.  "Art thou content,
Deiphobus?  Come hither, and I will add a fourth.  It will be glory
enough for thee to die by the hand of Idomeneus, whose grandsire was
Minos, the very son of Zeus."

Deiphobus deemed it prudent to decline the challenge, and he went in
search of Æneas, to inform him of his kinsman's fall.  Æneas was
loitering in the rear, for he had a grudge against Priam, which chilled
his ardour for the battle.  But when he heard that Alcathous was slain
his heart burned to avenge him, and he hurried to the front, where he
was joined by Paris and a strong band of Trojans.  Idomeneus, on his
part, was reinforced by the arrival of Meriones, Antilochus, and
Ascalaphus, a son of Ares, with their followers; and so the fight raged
on, and many a stout warrior went down to swell the muster-roll of

There fought Helenus, the prophetic son of Priam, armed with bow and
arrows, and wielding a mighty falchion, tempered in a Thracian forge.
With one blow of that trenchant blade he shattered the helmet of a
Greek warrior, a friend of Menelaus, and laid him at his feet, stunned
and bleeding.  Menelaus sprang to his friend's relief, and flung his
spear at Helenus; and at the same moment Helenus shot an arrow, which
struck the prince on the breastplate, but rebounded as beans or pulse
rebound from the winnower's shovel, while the spear of Menelaus pierced
him through the left hand, pinning it to the bow.  Helenus retired,
trailing the spear after him, until a comrade drew it out, and bound up
the wounded hand with a woollen sling, which he took from his squire.

Menelaus was now attacked by another Trojan chieftain, who, after
making an abortive thrust with his spear, took in his hand an axe,
which hung inside his shield, and, swinging the weapon over his head by
its long shaft of olive-wood, leapt upon him with a fierce cry.  But
before the blow could descend he received a fearful wound in the
forehead, from the sword of the Spartan king, and fell backwards in the
dust.  "So may all the Trojans perish!" cried Menelaus, setting his
foot on the breast of his prostrate foe.  "Ye have robbed me of my
wife; ye have plundered my treasure, after receiving generous welcome
under my roof.  And now ye come hither to burn our fleet, and butcher
us in our camp.  Great sire of heaven, men praise thy righteousness,
and call thee wise above all gods and men: how then canst thou lend thy
countenance to these bloodthirsty robbers, whose pastime is murder,
whose joy is to betray?"

[Illustration: Menelaus.  Vatican, Rome]

Carried away by his eloquence, Menelaus failed to observe that he was
threatened by a new assailant.  This was Harpalion, son of the King of
Paphlagonia, who charged at him, lance in hand.  Menelaus was just in
time to receive the blow on his shield, and before Harpalion could
recover his weapon he was transfixed by the spear of Meriones, and lay
writhing like a worm on the ground, until he was borne, groaning, from
the field by his attendants, followed by his weeping father.

Paris was wroth at the fall of the Paphlagonian prince, who was his
friend and guest, and he drew his bow at a venture, and slew Euchenor,
the son of a famous seer, who dwelt in Corinth.  Often his father had
prophesied to him that he was destined to die either by a wasting
disease, or on the battlefield at Troy.  He chose a warrior's death,
and found it on that day, by the hand of Paris.


In the other part of the camp, near the main gate, where Hector had
first effected an entrance, the Greeks were still fighting with
indomitable spirit under Telamonian Ajax, and his namesake, the son of
Oileus.  These two held together, and battled side by side, like two
stout oxen yoked to the same plough, and toiling from dawn till sunset,
while the sweat streams without ceasing from the roots of their horns:
so stood they side by side, and bore the brunt, all through that long
and bitter fray.  And behind them were arrayed the bowmen and slingers
of Locris, whose captain was the lesser Ajax, and kept up such a shower
of arrows and leaden bullets that the Trojans at length began to waver,
and broke their ranks.

When Polydamas, the wisest head among the Trojans, saw that the great
assault, which had begun so boldly, was beginning to flag, he called
Hector aside, and said to him: "Hector, thou art strong of hand, but
weak of head.  Seest thou not that we are wasting our valour, by
fighting thus in scattered parties, with no settled plan of attack?
Now, hearken to me, and do as I shall say, if thou wouldst not have us
driven back in shameful rout upon the town.  Gather all our parties
into one strong phalanx, and charge with them all at once on one point
in the Grecian line.  Thus, and thus only, may we hope to prevail,
outnumbered as we are by two to one."

Hector saw that the advice was good, and, leaving Polydamas to hold the
Greeks in check, he went in search of Asius, Deiphobus, and the rest,
who were fighting on the left.  Sore were the gaps which now appeared
in that gallant company, and many a hero, whom he called by name, was
lying cold in death.  Gathering such as remained, he formed them into
one body with those whom he had left in the charge of Deiphobus, and
with the powerful column thus formed made repeated charges, which were
sustained with undaunted firmness by Ajax and his men.

Zeus is beguiled by Hera


While the battle swayed to and fro, and the Greeks were enabled by
Poseidon's aid to hold their own against the Trojans, Zeus was sitting
on a lonely peak of Ida, wrapped in a high celestial reverie.  Hera saw
the uxorious king from her place of outlook on Olympus, and, noting his
abstracted mood, she resolved to play him a trick.  So she went to her
chamber, which her son Hephæstus had made for her, and opened the door
with a private key, which she always kept by her, so that none might
invade her apartment in her absence.  Having locked herself in, she
began to make her toilet with peculiar care.  First, she washed her
person with ambrosia, and anointed herself with a fragrant oil, so rich
and rare that, when she lifted the lid of the casket in which it was
stored, a divine perfume filled earth and heaven with sweetness.  Then
she dressed her lustrous hair, and put on a wondrous robe, which
Athene's own hands had wrought for her, clasping it to her bosom with
golden brooches.  A rich girdle confined her robe at the waist, and in
her ears she hung earrings of costly pearl; and when she had put on her
sandals, and thrown a glittering veil over her head, she went forth
smiling in triumphant beauty, like a bride adorned for her husband.

Having thus prepared the whole battery of her charms, she went in
search of Aphrodite, and when she had found her she drew her apart from
the other gods, and said: "Wilt thou grant me a boon, dear child, or
wilt thou deny me in anger, because I favour thine enemies, the
Greeks?"  "Name thy request, great queen of heaven," answered
Aphrodite, "and I will grant it, if I can."

Concealing her real purpose, the cunning Hera replied: "I am bound on a
journey to the ends of the earth, to visit the ancient deity Oceanus,
and Tethys, his wife, who have long been parted by a bitter quarrel.
If I can bring them together in love and kindness I shall do a good
deed, and repay part of the great debt of gratitude which I owe them.
Therefore, lend me, I pray thee, the mighty talisman which thou hast,
whereof neither man nor god can resist the powerful spell."

"It becomes me not," answered Aphrodite, "to deny thee in this, for
thou art the consort of high Jove."  And therewith she took from her
bosom an amulet, in which there was a mysterious virtue, able to soften
the hardest heart, and turn it to thoughts of love and tenderness.
There dwelt persuasion and sweet endearment, the eloquence of silence
and the witchery of sighs.  "Take it," she said, "and hide it in the
folds of thy robe.  Armed with this, thou wilt accomplish all thy

Hera smiled her thanks, and taking the amulet sped away on her errand,
which carried her, not, as she had pretended, to the distant dwelling
of Oceanus, but to Lemnos, the Ægæan isle, the home of sleep.  Arrived
there, she sought out the drowsy god, and found him nodding in his
shadowy cave.  "Monarch of men and gods," she began, "Immortal Sleep,
thou hast done me good service in the past, and I think thou wilt not
fail me now.  I would have thee lock fast the eyes of Zeus in slumber
deep and long.  Ask me not why, but do it, and I will give thee a
golden throne, wrought, with a footstool, by Hephæstus, my son, whereon
thou mayest sit in state like the Olympian king himself."

"Ask me aught else," answered Sleep, lifting his heavy eyes with a look
of fear, "only ask me not to lay Zeus in slumber against his will.
Hast thou forgotten what wild work he made when, at thy entreaty, I
shed my power upon him, and lulled his wits in a deep trance, that thou
mightest wreak thy malice on his favourite, Heracles?  Then didst thou
raise a storm, which drove Heracles far out of his course, when he was
on his voyage from Troy.  But when thy lord awoke, and saw what thou
hadst done, he fell to buffeting all the gods in Olympus, who had
hidden me from his sight.  And soon they must have delivered me to his
vengeance, and I should have been undone, but an ancient and venerable
deity, even Night herself, came to my aid, and besought him to pardon
me; and so he did, for he would not offend the august goddess, primeval

"Go to," said Hera.  "This is a far smaller thing than that of which
thou speakest.  All I desire is an hour of respite for mine afflicted
Greeks.  Come, do as I bid thee, and thou shalt have Pasiphaë, one of
the Graces, for thy wife, and so fulfil the dearest of thy desires."

Then Sleep was glad, and answering said: "Swear to me, by the
inviolable waters of Styx--placing one hand on the earth, and the other
on the sea, that all the nether gods may be our witnesses--swear that
thou wilt give me Pasiphaë for my bride."

Hera took the oath required, calling by name all the Titans that dwell
in Tartarus.  Then together they flew across the sea to Troyland, and
paused not till they reached the wooded hills of Ida.  Upwards then
they soared, over the forest-clad slopes, and there was the sound of a
going in the tree tops as they passed.  And when they came to the peak
where Zeus was sitting, Sleep disguised himself in the form of a swift,
and hid himself in the branches of a tall fir-tree.  But Hera went and
stood in the presence of her lord.

As soon as the god saw her he was struck with wonder at her surpassing
beauty, and his heart overflowed with tenderness, as in the old days
when first he made her his bride.  And the little swift shot down from
the tree, and come flitting round the monarch's head.  "Dear lady of my
love," said he, "sit down by me awhile, and let us hold sweet converse
together."  So down she sat by his side, and took his hand, and
beguiled him with her false blandishments.  Like two simple lovers they
seemed, caught in sly Cupid's silver net--he the sovereign of earth and
heaven, and she, his imperious queen.  And swiftly the subtle influence
of Sleep came over him, and down he sank overpowered, couched on a soft
bed of crocus and hyacinth and violet, which the earth put forth to
bear up his sacred person; and on him rested a canopy of golden cloud,
that he might slumber unobserved.


Safe now from the observation of Zeus, Hera descended swiftly to bear
the news to Poseidon, and urge him to redouble his efforts on behalf of
the Greeks.  Having brought her message, she returned to Ida, and
remained watching by the side of Zeus, ready to give warning when he

Poseidon was not slow to seize the occasion thus offered.  Suddenly, as
the Greeks were preparing to receive a furious charge from the enemy,
there appeared in their van a gigantic warrior, clad from head to foot
in mail of proof, and wielding a sword which flashed and burned with an
awful light.  "On, Greeks, on!" he shouted; and his voice was as the
sound of many waters.  "Down with them, even unto the ground, that
Hector may know that there is more than one Achilles among us."  And
the two armies met, with a crash which was echoed by all the caverns of
Ida, and recoiled again, each solid phalanx reeling from that
tremendous shock.

Into the space thus left sprang Hector, and hurled his spear at Ajax,
who was stepping forth to meet him.  The weapon struck him on the
breast, just at the point where the shield strap, heavily studded with
metal, was crossed by the baldric of his sword; and this double
barrier, backed by the corslet, proved an effectual defence.  Hector
fell back, vexed at his ill-fortune, and, as he was retiring, Ajax
picked up one of the stones which were lying around, to serve as props
for the ships, and flinging it struck him on the back of the neck, just
above the rim of his shield.  It was no maiden's hand which had aimed
that blow, and Hector was sent spinning like a top.  And as an oak
reels and staggers when struck by the bolt of Zeus, and topples
headlong to earth, a blackened and shattered trunk, so fell the mighty
Hector, crushed under the weight of his shield, which was pressed down
upon him by the ponderous stone.

When they saw him fall, the Greeks rushed forward, hoping to make him
their prisoner.  But the bravest of the Trojans and their
allies--Sarpedon, Æneas, Glaucus, and Polydamas--interposed their
shields, giving time for the others to lift him up and carry him to the
place where his car and horses were waiting.  Carefully they placed his
senseless body on the chariot, and drove him towards the city, until
they came to the ford of Scamander.  There they halted, and, laying him
on the bank, dashed water in his face.  Presently he looked up, and
leaning forward on his hands began to vomit blood.  Then darkness came
over his eyes, and he fell back again in a swoon.

Now that Hector was down, the Trojans had no course left to them but to
retreat.  They still fought valiantly, and the Greeks had to pay dear
for their success.  But slowly and surely they were being driven back
from the camp.

The Last Battle by the Ships

Hera was watching the action with such eagerness that she had forgotten
her charge, and was startled by the angry voice of Zeus, who had
awakened suddenly, and was looking down upon her with lowering brows.
"This is thy work," he said sternly, pointing to the Trojan plain,
where Hector lay senseless, and his comrades were beginning to fly.
"Wilt thou never be schooled to obedience, or what harder lesson
lackest thou yet?  Dost thou remember the time when I hung thee in
chains in the cold vault of ether, with two anvils at thy feet, and all
the gods together were powerless to relieve thee?  This was thy reward
for thy evil devices against my son, Heracles; but that shall be mirth
and laughter compared with the rod which thou shall feel if thou cease
not from thy mutiny against my sovereign will."

Then Hera was sore afraid, and she answered submissively: "I swear by
earth and heaven, and by the down-falling waters of Styx, the greatest
and most awful thing by which a god may swear--yea, by thy sacred head
I swear it, and by the holy bond which unites us--it was not by my
devices that Poseidon first began to aid the Greeks, but he was led
thereto by the thoughts of his own heart.  And, by my advice, he will
give way to thee."

Somewhat appeased by her humility, Zeus replied: "If that be so, and
thou art willing to heal the mischief thou hast done, go and send
hither Iris and Apollo, that they may receive my commands.  And
understand me once for all--I will not cease from my rage and my fury
against the Greeks, nor suffer any of the gods to aid them, until the
vengeance of Pelides is accomplished, and the oath fulfilled which I
sware unto his mother, Thetis, when she touched my knees and besought
me to honour her son."

Swift as is the glance of the mind when some great traveller revolves
all his wanderings in thought, and murmurs to himself: "Would that I
were in this place or that!" naming some distant scene which he hath
visited, so swiftly flew Hera with her lord's message.  When she
reached Olympus she found all the gods seated together, drinking their
nectar from golden cups.  Smiling with her lips, but bending her dark
brows in a gloomy frown, she said, as she eyed that festal gathering:
"Ye are making good cheer, I see!  And ye will be cheered the more when
I tell you what Zeus intends.  Ay, drink deep!" she continued, turning
to Ares, who was just draining a full cup, "thou hast need of comfort,
for thy son is slain."  And she named a Greek, Ascalaphus, son of Ares,
who had been slain by Deiphobus in the battle.

When he heard that, the god of war groaned with grief and anger, and
crying: "I will avenge him!" rushed to seize his arms.  But Athene
hastened after him, and finding him already equipped for battle she
snatched the spear from his hand, and took the helmet from his head,
saying: "Madman, wilt thou undo us all?  Go back to thy place, lest the
wrath of Zeus descend upon the whole company of the gods, and on thee
the first.  Better men have fallen than this son of thine, and we must
look to our own safety, and leave mortals to their fate."

While Athene was occupied in restraining the frenzy of Ares, Hera
despatched Iris and Apollo to receive the commands of Zeus.  So they
went forthwith to Ida, and found Zeus sitting in the place where he had
slept, with the golden cloud still hanging above his head.  Zeus was
well content that his wilful consort had been so prompt in his
business, and he commanded Iris to go down to the fleet, and warn
Poseidon to leave the battlefield.  "And thus and thus shalt thou say
unto him," added Zeus, instructing her in the very words which she was
to use.

Iris descended to earth, walking delicately along her rainbow bridge,
and, having found Poseidon among the warring Greeks, she said to him:
"Thus saith Zeus, our sovereign lord and king: 'Let Poseidon leave the
battlefield, and depart to Olympus, or to his own watery realm.  And if
he will not obey me I will come myself, and fight against him, face to
face.  Let him avoid my hands, for he knoweth that I am far mightier
than he, and higher in station and in dignity.'"

"What!" answered Poseidon, swelling with injured pride.  "Am I my
brother's slave, that he sends me this haughty summons?  I am no
subject of his, but his peer, holding a third part in our divided
empire.  For three sons were born unto Cronos--Zeus and Hades and
myself.  And when Cronos ceased to reign we cast lots between us, and
Zeus obtained the throne of heaven, I of the sea, and Hades of the
underworld; but the earth, and wide Olympus, were left common to us
all.  Therefore I bid him keep to his own domain, and not meddle with
me, for I will not live under his laws, nor bow to his rod, which he
may keep for his sons and daughters."

"Is this, then, the answer which I must carry back to Zeus?" asked Iris
gravely.  "Oh, reflect a little!  Enter not into an unnatural feud with
thine elder brother."

"'Tis wisely said," replied Poseidon.  "Thou art a discreet messenger,
and knowest how to season thy words with courtesy.  'Twere ill, as thou
sayest, to stir up the demon of domestic strife among us.  Therefore I
will depart, and leave him to work his will.  But, since he has used
threats, let him hear this from me: if he seeks to avert the doom of
Troy, he will find a cold welcome when he joins the circle of the gods
in Olympus."

It was not without relief that Zeus heard of Poseidon's submission; for
he had feared that he would be obliged to engage in a fearful struggle,
which would have confounded earth and heaven.  This danger being
removed, he sent Apollo, armed with his own shield--the awful ægis,
clothed with attributes of terror--commanding him to heal Hector of his
hurt, and bring him back to battle.  Like a falcon stooping on his
quarry, Apollo shot down from Ida's peak, and alighted at the ford of
Scamander, where Hector was still lying.  By this time the stricken man
had recovered from his swoon, and was gazing in bewilderment around him.

One touch from that potent hand, one word from those immortal lips,
sufficed to banish all the effects of the fearful blow which had left
Hector as weak as a child.  Bounding to his feet, he cried: "Lead on,
mighty god!  I fear no perils with thee at my side," and like a gallant
war horse, that smelleth the battle afar off, he ran at full speed to
rejoin the Trojans, who were now flying tumultuously from the camp.
And as when a troop of hunters with their hounds have started a royal
stag, and chased him with wild halloo to the thick covert of a tangled
wood; then suddenly they shrink back with cries of dismay, for they see
a lion standing in the path: so panic fell upon the Greeks in the midst
of their triumph, when they saw Hector returning to battle, full of
vigour and courage, though they had already counted him among the dead.

On poured the Trojans, Hector and Apollo leading the van, and the
Greeks gave ground before them, scared by the dread ægis, which Apollo
shook in their faces, crying his terrible cry.  At first they yielded
slowly, keeping their ranks, and attempting some defence; but soon the
retreat became a rout, and the moat was filled with a struggling
multitude, seeking the shelter of the wall and the ships.  "Kill,
kill!" cried Hector fiercely.  "Pause not to strip the dead, but slay
the men, and burn their ships.  Let me but see anyone skulking behind
for plunder and he dies by my hand."

With that he lashed his horses, and drove straight across the moat, the
Trojans following him in dense column.  In front strode Apollo,
trampling down the sides of the moat as he went, and making a path
broad as the farthest cast of a spear.  Then he hurled himself on the
wall, and overthrew it, as easily as a child destroys with his feet a
castle of sand which he has raised in sport on the margin of the sea.

Like a towering billow, which topples down upon a ship, crushing her
bulwarks and flooding her with brine, so rushed the Trojans in a
torrent over the wall, and fell upon the hindmost row of ships; and the
Greeks on their side mounted the decks, and thrust at their assailants
with long boarding-pikes, which lay ready to hand.

Foremost among the defenders was seen the giant form of Telamonian
Ajax; and by his side fought Teucer, whose bow had already done such
good service to the Greeks.  But just as Teucer was aiming an arrow at
Hector his bowstring snapped, and the arrow dropped harmless to the
ground.  "Fate is against us to-day," he cried; "it was a new string,
the stoutest and the best I had, which I fitted to my bow this very

"Go quickly," answered Ajax.  "And arm thyself with shield and spear;
there is no room here for thine archery to-day."  And Teucer went and
armed himself, and returned with all speed to his mighty brother's side.

Hector was overjoyed when he saw Teucer's mishap, which he hailed as
the direct act of Zeus himself.  "On, Trojans!" he shouted; "on, ye men
of Lycia!  Zeus is fighting on our side.  Now is the great day of
vengeance, after all the weary years when we were penned within our
walls like sheep."

"Why flinch ye?" cried Ajax, in his turn, to the Greeks.  "Know ye not
that we must conquer or die to-day?  Or will we reach home on foot, if
ye suffer your ships to be burned?  Come, join the wild dance to which
Hector summons us.  Fight, and we will drive out this rabble yet; but
if ye falter we shall surely perish."

Again the Greeks rallied to the well-known voice of Ajax, and drew up
in close order before the ships, barring Hector's way.  But the finger
of Apollo had touched him, filling his breast with a divine frenzy.
Foaming and glaring with rage, he flung himself on the solid phalanx,
and cut down a tall champion of Mycenæ, making a gap in the line.
Before the Greeks could close their ranks the Trojans were among them,
hewing them down as a woodman hews a path through the forest.  Forward
and still forward they pressed, driving the Greeks before them, and
compelling them to retire from the first line of ships.

Then nothing but the tremendous valour of Ajax could have saved the
Greek army from total rout and ruin.  Active as a panther, in spite of
his huge bulk, he sprang from deck to deck, wielding an enormous
boarding-pike and striking down the Trojans, as they advanced with
lighted torches to set fire to the ships.  Like a practised rider, who
yokes together four horses, and drives them at a gallop along a level
highroad, leaping from one steed to another as he goes--so Ajax shifted
his ground from one ship to another, dashing down Trojan after Trojan,
and shouting to the Greeks to come to his support.

It was a grim and desperate struggle.  There was no shooting of arrows,
no casting of javelins now, but foot to foot, and hand to hand, they
fought, with axe, and sword, and spear.  At last Hector forced his way
to a beautiful galley, which had brought Protesilaus[1] to Troy, and
laying his hand on the high, fanlike ornament of the stern he shouted:
"Bring a torch, that I may be the first to kindle the fire which shall
burn these accursed ships, which came here for our destruction, but
shall now serve as a pyre for their crews."

[1] P. 24.

Achilles sends Patroclus to Battle


Patroclus had been long detained by Eurypylus, whose wound was severe,
and demanded all his skill.  But when the roar of battle drew nearer
and nearer, and he heard the voice of Hector calling for a torch, he
would delay no longer, but sprang up and ran in headlong haste to the
quarters of the Myrmidons.  There he found Achilles still sitting
before his tent, and listening to the mingled cries of triumph and
dismay which came from the distant scene of conflict.  When Patroclus
saw him, he came and stood by his side, and lifted up his voice, and

"Why weepest thou, Patroclus," asked Achilles, "like a little maid, who
runs by her mother's side, plucking her by the gown, and looking into
her face with tearful eyes, begging to be carried?  What means this
melting mood?  Hast thou ill news of thy father, or of mine, or are
these tears for the Greeks, now perishing by their own transgression?"

"Ah! son of Peleus," answered Patroclus, with a pitiful sigh, "take not
my words amiss, but I am sore afflicted for the sake of my countrymen.
Their best and noblest are grievously wounded, and the leeches are busy
about them; and those that remain can no longer make head against the
foe.  Can nothing move thee?  What avails all thy splendid manhood, if
thou wilt sit idle here, until thine arm is palsied with age?  Oh! yet
at last relent, if thou art indeed the son of gentle Thetis, and not
some savage changeling, born of the rocks, and nourished by the sea!
If thou wilt not go to the field thyself, at least let me put on thine
armour, and lead the Myrmidons to aid our friends in their dreadful

For some time Achilles answered nothing, and it was evident that a sore
struggle was passing in his breast.  At last he looked up, and said
with an effort: "Thou hast prevailed, son of Menœtius, though I
vowed that I would never cease from mine anger until the fire had
reached my own ships.  When I think of the foul outrage----  But
enough!  Down, down, rebellious pride!"  He paused, frowning, and
grinding his teeth; for the fierce fit had come on him again.  Then,
mastering himself, he continued: "Thou shalt have my armour, and lead
the Myrmidons to battle.  But take heed to what I shall say, and let
not thine ardour carry thee too far, but when thou hast driven the
enemy out of the camp lead thy men back, and be not tempted to fight in
the open field, lest thou rob me of mine honour, and leave naught for
me to do.  Remember this, and have a care for thyself, for they have a
mighty ally on their side, even Apollo."

While they were thus conversing, Ajax was still keeping up an unequal
struggle against an overpowering force.  The Trojans surrounded the
ship on which he was fighting, and plied him with a shower of missiles,
which rattled on his helmet, and threatened every moment to bring him
down.  His left shoulder ached with holding his shield, which was
thrust back upon him by a dozen spears at once.  Yet still he fought
on, with his breath coming in heavy gasps, and the sweat pouring from
every limb.  Then Hector aimed a blow with his sword, and cut off the
head of the pike which Ajax was wielding.  Thus left without a weapon,
Ajax was compelled at last to retreat, and the Trojans rushed forward,
and set fire to the ship.

Achilles saw the smoke rising, and cried: "Arm thee, Patroclus.  Make
haste!  I will go and call up the Myrmidons."  Patroclus hurried to the
tent, and put on the armour of Achilles--the greaves and starry
corslet, the helmet and vast orbed shield--and girded on his great
comrade's sword.  Only the spear of Achilles he took not, for no arm in
all the host, save only the arm of Achilles, could wield that ponderous
beam of ash, toughened by many a storm on the windy slopes of Pelion,
where it grew.

Meanwhile Automedon, Achilles' charioteer, was yoking to the car the
two immortal steeds--Xanthus and Balius--offspring of the West Wind,
and nourished on the meadows by the shores of Oceanus.  And with them
went as a trace horse the mortal courser, Pedasus, which Achilles had
taken among the spoils when he sacked the city of Eëtion.

When the Myrmidons heard their leader's voice calling them to arms,
they rushed forth from their tents, like thirsty wolves which have
gorged themselves with the flesh of a tall stag, and now hasten, with
bloodstained chaps and lolling tongues, to slake their thirst in a deep
mountain pool.  With like eagerness arose the hardy veterans, whose
warlike spirit had been fed high by their long repose; and proud was
the glance of Achilles, as he glanced down the armed files, marshalled
under five famous captains, five times five hundred men.  When all were
standing silent at their posts he addressed them briefly, and said:
"Now is the time to make good the threats which ye uttered against the
Trojans, during all the long time of my wrath.  Remember how ye
murmured against me because I suffered you not to go unto battle.
'Hard-hearted son of Peleus,' ye would say, 'surely thy mother
nourished thee with gall, and therefore art thou so ruthless to thy
loving comrades, keeping them here in inglorious ease.'  See that your
deeds are as valiant as your words, and let the Trojans feel the weight
of your arm this day."

Firm and close as blocks of stone, fitted together by a master-builder
to be the wall of some great house, so stood the warriors in that
invincible column, shield leaning on shield, and man on man; and in the
van were seen the tall figures of Patroclus and Automedon, two leaders
with one heart.  Then Achilles went to his tent, and brought forth a
golden goblet, a gift from his mother, and sacred to the service of
Zeus.  Having purified it with sulphur, and washed it with fresh water,
he cleansed his own hands, and filling the bowl with wine returned to
the open space before the tent.  Then lifting up his eyes to heaven he
poured the drink-offering, and prayed thus to the king and lord of
Olympus: "O thou, whose ancient dwelling is in wintry Dodona, where thy
chosen priests serve thee day and night with fasting and prayer, as
thou hast lent thine ear to my former petition, and grievously
afflicted the Greeks for my sake, so grant me once more my heart's
desire.  Let thine eyes rest with favour on my noble comrade, and give
him honour in the battle.  And when he hath driven the Trojans from the
camp bring him back safe, with his armour, and all this company, to our

So prayed he in his ignorance, having yet to learn that Zeus is a
jealous god, dispensing his gifts with unequal hand, two evil for one


Like a swarm of wasps which have their nest by the roadside, and being
ever provoked by wanton children wreak their vengeance on some harmless
wayfarer; so flew the Myrmidons to join the fray, and soon the Trojans
felt their sting.  "For Achilles and for honour!" shouted Patroclus, as
he hurled his spear, and struck down Pyræchmes, the savage leader of a
wild mountain tribe from northern Greece.  The rude clansmen fled when
they saw their leader fall, and soon the panic spread to the whole
Trojan army, and they too fled, leaving the burning ship, the flames of
which were soon quenched by a score of eager hands.  Like a cloud which
lies heavy on a mountain top, and is then suddenly rent and dispersed,
revealing all the long range of countless hills, peak beyond peak, far
away to the distant sea, with green glades between, and above the
boundless chasm of sky, up to the dazzling zenith: so was dispersed
that cloud of Trojans which had hung about the ships, and the Greeks
saw the fair face of Hope again.

But the end of that long and bloody day was still far off.  Outside the
barriers the Trojans rallied again, and a fearful slaughter ensued.
There the sword of Patroclus bit deep, making dire havoc among the
ranks of the Lycians, until Sarpedon, their leader, incensed by the
slaughter of his men, sprang from his car, and threw himself in the
way, to arrest that destroying hand.

Like two vultures, which tear each other with beak and claw, fighting
with loud screams on a lofty crag, so leapt the two champions, the
Lycian and the Greek, upon each other, uttering loud their battle-cry.

When Zeus saw his son Sarpedon about to engage in deadly combat with
Patroclus he was filled with pity, for he knew that the Lycian
chieftain was going to his doom.  "How sayest thou, Hera," he began,
"shall I save him, and waft him away in a cloud to his fair domain in
Lycia, or shall I leave him to his fate?"

"That must not be," answered Hera.  "His thread is spun, and his life
is forfeit; shouldst thou annul that decree it will be an evil example
to the other gods, who will forthwith all seek to avert the stroke of
fate from their sons, of whom many are fighting in the fields of Troy.
If thou wouldst do him honour, send Death and gentle Sleep to bear him
softly, after he has fallen, from the battlefield, and bring him to his
kinsfolk in Lycia, that they may pay him the rites which are due to the
mighty dead."

"Thou hast persuaded me," answered Zeus, bowing his immortal head in
sorrow.  And he caused a rain of blood to fall upon the earth, in sad
tribute to the heroic spirit which was about to pass away.

While this debate was proceeding, the struggle had already begun.  In
the first cast of their spears both warriors missed their aim.
Patroclus slew the comrade of Sarpedon, while Sarpedon's lance struck
Pedasus, the mortal steed, in the shoulder, and he fell dead.  His
immortal companions plunged wildly, striving to break away from the
yoke when they saw their comrade slain.  But Automedon cut the traces
by which the slaughtered steed was attached to the car; and, being rid
of their sad burden, Xanthus and Balius were once more obedient to the

Again the heroes flung their spears, and the weapon of Sarpedon flew
over his antagonist's left shoulder.  But the spear of Patroclus sank
deep into Sarpedon's breast, and he fell, writhing in his death agony,
and sending forth loud groans, like a bull when he feels the lion's
claws tearing his flanks.  So raged Sarpedon in the pangs of death, and
rolling his eyes he sought the familiar face of his beloved Glaucus.
"Friend of my heart!" he cried, "valiant Glaucus, companion of all my
toils, now must thou prove thy manly worth.  Rally round thee the
stoutest of the Lycians, and let not thy foot go back, or thy hand
cease from slaying, until thou hast saved my body from the Greeks.  To
thee I shall be a reproach, and a hanging of the head, even unto thy
life's end, if thou leave me, a rifled and dishonoured corpse, in the
hands of the foe."

Even as he spoke, death stopped his breath and darkened his eyes.  And
Patroclus set his foot on the corpse, and drew forth his spear, while
the Myrmidons took possession of the empty car with its affrighted

Glaucus was in dire distress when he heard his dying comrade's voice.
But he was disabled by the wound which he had received in scaling the
wall.  Nursing his injured arm, he prayed aloud to Apollo: "Hear me, O
King, whether thou art now in Lycia or in Troy; for thine ear is ever
open to the cry of need, however far away.  My hand is maimed, and my
arm is burning with sharp pains, so that I cannot wield my spear,
though Sarpedon is fallen, and his father hath forsaken him.  So
forsake thou not me, but heal my wound, and give me back my strength,
that I may save his body from outrage."

Apollo heard, and granted his prayer, and straightway the flow of his
blood was stopped, and he felt in his body that he was healed of his
hurt.  Then Glaucus was glad, and he made all haste to do his comrade's
bidding.  First he called to the men of Lycia to do battle for their
slaughtered captain, and then he went to rouse the Trojan leaders to do
their duty by their great ally.  Finding Hector engaged in another part
of the field, he reproached him for his neglect.  "Hast thou
forgotten," he asked indignantly, "what thou owest to us, who have come
on a far journey to shed our blood for thee and thy country?  Cold lies
Sarpedon, chief pillar of thine allies; come, friends, and help us to
save his corpse, or ye will be shamed for ever."

This was bitter news for the Trojans, who reverenced Sarpedon as the
chief corner-stone of their defence; and they rushed with one accord to
avenge his death.  Patroclus on his side summoned the bravest of the
Greeks to his aid, and the whole fury of the struggle was now centred
in the place where the dead Sarpedon lay.

The first who fell in this new battle was a friend of Patroclus, who
years ago had found a new home in the house of Peleus, having been
banished from his own country for the murder of his cousin.  He was now
struck down by a stone from the hand of Hector; and Patroclus, in his
anger at his comrade's death, made so furious an assault that the
Trojans gave way before him about the length of a spear's cast.  Then
Glaucus advanced again, and slew Bathycles, a man of high note among
the Myrmidons; and Meriones on the other side killed Laogonus, the
priest of Idæan Zeus.  Æneas, ever famed for his piety, hurled his
spear at Meriones, hoping to avenge the fall of that sacred head; but
Meriones stooped low, and the spear flew over his head, and sunk deep
in the ground, with quivering shaft, just behind him.  "The Cretan can
dance, I see!" shouted Æneas; "he comes from a land of dancers."  "Thou
shall dance to my piping, before thou hast done," answered Meriones
derisively.  "Thinkest thou that we owe thee a life for every cast of
thy spear?"  "Peace!" said Patroclus, rebuking him.  "We must fight
with our swords, not with our tongues, if we would do aught worthy

Thick and fast rained the blows, on shield and helmet and mailed
breast, as the two armies closed again, and the sound was as of an army
of woodmen plying their axes together in a deep mountain glade.  In the
midst lay the lifeless Sarpedon, covered from head to foot with
javelins, and blood, and dust, so that his dearest friend could not
have recognised his face.  Like flies buzzing round a milk pail, so
thronged the Greeks and Trojans round the body.

Zeus sat watching the battle, pondering in his heart what measure of
glory he should mete out to Patroclus before he laid him low by the arm
of Hector.  At last, having taken his resolve, he caused a coward
spirit to enter into Hector's heart, and the Trojan captain wheeled his
car, and fled towards the city.  The panic spread to the other Trojans,
and the Lycians, and they retreated, leaving the body of Sarpedon in
the hands of the Greeks, who despoiled it of its armour, and were about
to do it further dishonour when a higher power intervened.  In the very
act of violating the dead, they saw their lifeless victim snatched from
them by an invisible hand; for Apollo had received the commands of
Zeus, and bore away the soiled and blackened body to the riverside,
where he washed it clean, anointed it with ambrosia, and gave it, robed
in immortal raiment, into the charge of Sleep and Death, for safe and
speedy conveyance to Lycia.


High dreams of triumph arose in the heart of Patroclus when he saw the
enemy flying, and, forgetting the earnest injunction of Achilles, he
bade Automedon lay on the lash, and followed in hot pursuit.  Even to
the very walls he drove; but then he found awaiting him one mightier
than Hector, even Apollo himself, who shook the ægis in his face, and
warned him back.  Patroclus retired a little, and while he hesitated
Apollo went to the gates of the city, where Hector was lingering, in
doubt whether to continue the battle, or to withdraw behind the walls.

"What doest thou here, son of Priam?" said the god; "come with me, and
I will show thee where the path of glory lies."  When he heard Apollo's
voice, Hector's courage returned, and he commanded Cebriones, his
charioteer, to drive back to the battlefield.  Avoiding the other
Greeks, Hector made straight for the place where Patroclus had been
left standing by Apollo.  Patroclus came to meet him, holding his spear
in his left hand, while in his right he grasped a jagged stone.  And as
the car approached, he flung the stone with all his force, and struck
Cebriones on the forehead, shattering the bones.  The reins dropped
from his hands, and without a single cry he fell from the car, striking
the ground with his head.  "How bravely the man tumbles!" cried
Patroclus.  "He would make a rare diver, and earn a good wage by
bringing up oysters from the sea.  I perceive that the Trojans can
dance, as well as the Cretans."

Thereupon he leapt upon the prostrate charioteer, and Hector sprang
forward to defend his comrade's body.  So there they met, like two
hungry lions fighting for the carcass of a stag; and the Greeks and
Trojans thronged on either side to their support, like two winds from
opposite quarters, which shatter the boughs of beech and ash in a
mountain forest.  All the ground about the corpse was set thick with
javelins and arrows, and heaped with the stones which crashed upon
corslet and shield.  And there lay the giant Trojan, while the battle
raged above him, mighty and mightily fallen, and all his horsemanship

Never had the arm of Patroclus dealt such havoc among the foemen's
ranks as then; for his doom was near, and Zeus gave him honour in this,
his latest hour.  Thrice he made an onset, fierce as the god of war
himself, and thrice he slew nine men.  But when for the fourth time he
sprang to the encounter, Phœbus made after him, and smote him on the
back with his open hand.  Patroclus reeled and grew dizzy, like one who
has received a sunstroke.  Then Apollo struck the helmet from his head,
and it rolled clattering among the horses' feet, that mighty brazen
helm, whose plumes, now soiled with dust and gore, had once waved above
the princely brow of Achilles.  The spear was shivered to pieces in his
hand, and his shield slipped from his shoulder to the ground.  And as
he stood thus, defenceless and amazed, a Trojan, whose name was
Euphorbus, wounded him between the shoulders with his spear.  The blow
was not mortal, and Patroclus drew back, to mingle with the press; but
Hector followed after him, and drove his spear deep into his side.  And
as a lion overpowers a wild boar, fighting with him in the lone
mountains for the possession of a little spring, and slays him by his
might, so slew Hector the valiant son of Menœtius, and stayed the
ravage of the Trojan ranks.

"Ah!  Patroclus," said he, gazing in triumph on the dying hero, "thou
thoughtest this day to have taken our city by storm, and led captive
the women of Troy.  But they have in me a defender who is too strong
for thee.  Vain man!  Achilles, I doubt not, bade thee bring back to
him the bloody spoils of Hector, and now thou liest slain by Hector's

"Boast not," answered Patroclus faintly.  "It is small glory for thee
to have slain the slain.  I received my death blow from Apollo and
Euphorbus, not from thee.  And thine own fate shall overtake thee soon,
when thou shalt die by the hands of Æacides."

Even as he spake the shadow of death fell upon him, and his soul took
wing for the realm of Hades, bewailing her lot, leaving all that beauty
and manly bloom.

The Fight for the Body of Patroclus


Menelaus was the first to mark the fall of Patroclus, and he came with
a rush and stood over his body to defend it, like a young mother of the
herd when she stands lowing plaintively over her calf, the first that
she has borne.  Shield on shoulder and spear in hand he stood, glaring
defiance at the foe; and Euphorbus, the Trojan who had dealt the first
blow at Patroclus, took up the challenge, addressing Menelaus with
these haughty words: "Make way, son of Atreus, and leave me to take my
lawful spoil.  'Twas I that wounded Patroclus first, and his armour
belongs by right to me.  Back, or thou shalt die the death."

"If big words could kill," answered Menelaus, with scorn, "then wert
thou and thy brethren the most dreaded warriors of all thy nation; for
there are no such windy braggarts in Priam's army.  Away with thee, if
thou wouldst have breath left in thee to boast again."

But Euphorbus, though a boaster, and a mere novice in war, was no
coward.  He thrust manfully at Menelaus, who parried the blow with his
shield, and then, striking in his turn, and throwing all his weight
into the stroke, drove his spear into Euphorbus' throat, so that the
point came out at the back of his neck.  Down he went, and his armour
clattered upon him, and his love locks, curiously adorned with gold and
silver, were dabbled with blood.  As when a man tends carefully a green
olive-shoot, in some sheltered spot, near a gushing fountain-head; and
now it is a comely tree, just bursting into blossom, and lightly rocked
by all the airs of heaven: then comes a sudden tempest, and uproots it
from the soil, and all its promise is marred: so stricken and cut off
in the dawn of his manhood lay that gallant lad.  And as a lion comes
down from the mountains, trusting in his might, and strikes down a
young heifer feeding in a meadow, the fairest of the herd, breaking her
neck with his mighty teeth, and then glutting himself with her blood
and her flesh; and the herdsmen with their hounds stand apart, making
great uproar, but not one dares to interrupt him in his meal: so dared
not one of the Trojans to stand against Menelaus face to face.

Hector, who after slaying Patroclus had gone off in pursuit of the car
of Achilles, was recalled from that fruitless chase by the tidings of
Euphorbus' death.  With a loud cry of rage he turned back, and hastened
to the place where the young Trojan lay, side by side with Patroclus.
Menelaus stayed not to abide his coming, but fell back upon the ranks
of his comrades, and there halted, and scanned the fighting line,
looking for the great Telamonian Ajax.  Observing him at last on the
extreme left of the battle, he ran up to him, crying eagerly: "Make
haste, Ajax, and aid me to recover the body of Patroclus, that we may
carry it back, naked as it is, to Achilles; for the armour Hector has
taken already."

So together they went, and stood side by side over the body of
Patroclus; and Hector in his turn shrank back, when he was confronted
by the towering form of Ajax, with his massive, sevenfold shield.  But
he took with him the armour, and gave it to two of his men to carry to
the city.

Glaucus was full of anger when he saw Hector quail before Ajax, and he
reproached him bitterly, calling him faint-hearted, and false to his
great office.  "It is a thankless task," he said, "to fight under such
a leader.  Henceforth let the Trojans make shift to defend their city
without our aid, for we of Lycia at least will fight their battles no
more.  Basely hast thou dealt with us, after all our good service,
leaving our great captain Sarpedon in the hands of the Greeks.  If ye
of Troy had the spirit of men, ye would aid us to capture the body of
Patroclus, that we might keep it to exchange for Sarpedon's corpse.
But thou art a prudent warrior, and fearest the face of Ajax, knowing
him to be a far better man than thou art."

"O folly of the wise!" answered Hector scornfully.  "'Tis Glaucus can
talk thus, who hath the rarest wit, as we are told, among all the men
of Lycia.  Come and stand by me, and thou shall see if I fear the face
of Ajax, or any other Greek.  But first I will put on the armour of
Achilles, which was given, men say, by the gods, as a wedding gift to
his father Peleus."  And with that he ran and overtook the men who were
carrying the spoils of Patroclus towards the city, and taking off his
own armour began to put on that of Achilles.

[Illustration: Homer hymning the Fall of Troy.  (Baron H. de Triqueti)]

When Zeus beheld him thus gaily equipping himself in the spoils of the
mighty, he shook his head, and spake thus to his own heart: "Ah!
wretch, thy triumph will be short lived, and the hand of doom is
stretched out already to take thee.  But thou shall have thine hour,
and Andromache shall hear of thy deeds, though never more shall she
welcome thee returning from battle."

He said it, and confirmed it with a nod, and forthwith the very demon
of war entered into the heart of Hector, and with a fierce cry he ran
back to the field, glittering in the armour of Pelides, which seemed to
have been wrought for himself, so well it fitted his limbs.

Even the great Ajax felt a cold touch of fear as Hector bore down upon
him, with the most famous warriors of Troy and Lycia at his back.  "We
are lost," he said to Menelaus, "unless we can get some other succour
to beat back this tempest of war."  Then, raising his voice, he
shouted: "To the rescue, ye captains and princes of the Greeks!  Let
not Patroclus become a prey to dogs in the streets of Troy."  His cry
was heard, and soon he was joined by Idomeneus, and Meriones, and the
lesser Ajax.

Like the roar of the advancing tide, when it meets the torrent waters
at the mouth of the mighty river, such was the shout of the Trojans as
they rushed to the onset.  And the Greeks stood firm to meet them,
making a fence with their shields over the body of Patroclus.  At the
first shock of that tremendous charge they were forced to give ground a
little, and one of the Trojans fastened a thong to the ankle of the
corpse, and began to drag it away.  But he had not gone far when Ajax
sprang upon him, and with one blow of his sword shivered his helmet,
and clave him to the chin.  This gave time for the Greeks to rally, and
the battle was renewed in that narrow space round the body of
Patroclus, where many a valiant deed was wrought, and many a hero bit
the dust, fighting for the possession of a helpless corpse.  Over this
struggling mass of warriors in the centre of the field was spread a
thick curtain of darkness, for Zeus had ordered it so, while the rest
of the Greeks and Trojans were fighting in the broad sunlight.  Far
away on the border of the fight were Antilochus, the son of Nestor, and
his brother, who had not yet heard that Patroclus had been slain.

But in that dark kernel of the battle the ruthless tug of war went on.
There was no stay, no pause, while they hewed, and thrust, and strove,
till the blinding sweat poured down into their eyes, and their knees
shook with weariness.  As when a master currier gives to his journeymen
a great bull's hide, well drenched with fat, to be stretched, and they
stand in a circle, and tug with all their might, straining it equally
on all sides, until all moisture departs from it, and the fat
penetrates to every pore; so they tugged the body between them, this
way and that, the Trojans haling it towards the city, and the Greeks
towards their camp.  "Die, ye Greeks!" cried Ajax, who was fighting
like twenty men; "die, rather than give up the body to the Trojans."


After the fall of Patroclus, Automedon had driven his car out of the
press of battle, flying from the fury of Hector.  When Hector was
recalled from the pursuit, Automedon strove in vain to stir his horses
from the spot where he had halted.  In vain he plied the lash, in vain
he coaxed and threatened; still as a monumental pillar on a tomb they
stood, with their heads drooping to the earth, and their glossy manes
streaming over their eyes, while the hot tears dropped fast in the
dust, as they wept for the gentle prince, whom they had borne so often
to battle.

Zeus pitied them in their sorrow, and spake thus within himself: "Ah!
hapless pair, why did we give you to a mortal master, while ye know
neither age nor death?  What part or lot have ye with human misery, or
with man, the most wretched thing that breathes and moves on earth?
But Hector shall never mount the car behind you, or put the bit in your
mouths--I will not suffer that.  Be strong, and bear your driver safe,
until the battle be done."

Therewith, he breathed new vigour into the steeds, and they shook the
dust from their manes, and galloped lightly with the car back to the
fighting lines.  Singlehanded, Automedon could take no part in the
hand-to-hand battle with the Trojans, and for some time he contented
himself with making rapid charges with his chariot, swooping down here
and there, like an eagle pouncing on a flock of geese, and easily
avoiding every attack.  At last he found a helper in a comrade named
Alcimedon, and handing the reins to him he dismounted himself to fight
on foot.

When Hector saw the car of Achilles in charge of a strange driver he
called to Æneas, and said: "See, there are the steeds of Æacides,
ill-guided, and ill-defended; let us not miss the occasion to win so
glorious a prize."  So together they went, Æneas and Hector, and two
other Trojans, in high hope to slay Automedon, and take the car.  But
Automedon, uttering a prayer to Zeus, flung his spear, and slew Aretus,
one of his assailants; and before Hector, who missed his cast at
Automedon, could come to close quarters with his sword, Ajax
interposed, and drove him back.

The arrival of Automedon had interrupted the struggle for the
possession of the body of Patroclus; but it was resumed with new fury
on both sides, and the Greeks now received a new ally in the person of
Athene, who obtained permission from Zeus to bring aid to her old
allies.  Disguised in the form of the aged Phœnix, she went and
stood by the side of Menelaus, and said to him: "Courage, son of
Atreus!  We shall win the battle yet, and save the noble comrade of
Achilles from the foeman's hands."

"Ah!  Phœnix," answered Menelaus, "I would that Athene would put
strength into my arm; then might I, as far as it is now possible,
retrieve the bitter loss which we have suffered this day."

Athene was glad that he had named her before any other god, and she
filled him with an indomitable spirit, and gave him the stubborn
courage of a fly, which returns again and again to the attack, in its
fierce desire for blood.  And, seeing a good mark for his spear in the
back of a flying Trojan, Menelaus flung, and pierced him in the waist.
The man whom he slew was Podes, a son of Eëtion, and a friend and boon
companion of Hector.  Provoked beyond measure by the death of his
comrade, Hector led such a determined charge against the Greek centre
that even the bravest began to flinch; and to affright them the more
there came a deafening peal of thunder from the heights of Ida, now
wrapped in a pitchy cloud.

The first to fly was Peneleos, the bravest of the Bœotians, whose
shoulder had been cut to the bone by the spear of Polydamas.  Then
Idomeneus, coming to succour a wounded Greek, broke his spear on
Hector's breastplate, and it would have gone hard with him had not
Cœranus, a Cretan, driven up to the rescue in the car of Meriones;
for Idomeneus had come to the field on foot, leaving his own car in the
camp.  The brave Cœranus paid for this good service with his life,
sustaining a fearful thrust from Hector's spear, which struck him just
at the angle of the jaw, and severed his tongue at the root.  He fell
from the car, and dropped the reins on the ground; but Meriones picked
them up, and gave them to Idomeneus, who drove off at full speed
towards the ships.

Thus deprived of his bravest supporters, Ajax cast a glance of dismay
at Menelaus, who was still fighting at his side, and said: "Alas! even
a blind man might see that Zeus himself is aiding the Trojans.  Every
weapon of theirs finds its mark, let it be hurled by ever so weak a
hand; but our spears fall idle to the ground, one and all.  Yet,
abandoned though we are, let us take thought how we may save the body
of Patroclus, and ourselves return alive to gladden the eyes of our
faithful comrades, who methinks are in sore distress, thinking that the
might and the murderous hands of Hector shall no more be stayed until
they have hurled destruction on our fleet.  Also I would fain despatch
a messenger to bear the bitter tidings to Pelides, who dreams not that
his beloved Patroclus has perished.  But I cannot see anyone to whom I
might deliver this charge, for men and steeds alike are covered by
thick darkness.  Dread sire of heaven, at least from darkness deliver
the sons of Greece!  Bring back the day, and give us the sight of our
eyes.  Slay us, if die we must--but slay us in the light!"

Zeus had compassion on that brave man in his agony, and forthwith the
thick cloud of darkness was removed, and the sun shone out, and all the
field of battle was disclosed to view.  "Now haste, Menelaus," said
Ajax.  "Go thou, and find Antilochus, who is very dear to Achilles, and
bid him carry this message, which none other may dare to bring."

Menelaus was very reluctant to leave his place among the defenders of
Patroclus.  Slowly, and with many a backward glance, he turned to go,
like a lion who is driven off at dawn by a shower of javelins and
burning brands, after he has prowled all night round the stalls where
fat oxen are housed.  "Ah! remember," he said earnestly, pausing once
more, "remember how dear, how gentle he was to us all, this poor
Patroclus, who now lies cold in death.  Forsake him not, but stand by
him till I come back."

After this fervent appeal he made all haste, and ran along the fighting
line, looking about him with a piercing glance, like an eagle soaring
high in the heaven, who spies out a hare as she crouches in the shadow
of a thicket.  So did the keen eye of Menelaus soon discern where
Antilochus was fighting, on the extreme left of the field.  "Dire is
the news I bring," said Menelaus, halting by his side: "Patroclus is
slain, Hector has his armour, and thou art chosen to tell Achilles of
his loss, that if it be possible he may yet save the body."

With parted lips, and eyes staring with horror, Antilochus stood gazing
at the bringer of the message of woe.  Then dashing the tears from his
eyes, and drawing a deep sobbing breath, he flung down his shield and
sped away on his mournful errand.

"I have sent him," said Menelaus, when he had returned with all speed
to the defenders of the fallen Patroclus.  "I know not what Achilles
will do--he cannot fight without armour.  But to our task."  "The
Trojans have drawn off a little," answered Ajax.  "Now is the time: do
thou and Meriones take the corpse on your shoulders, while I and my
brother-in-arms hold the foe in play."

Without a moment's delay Menelaus and Meriones hoisted the body on
their shoulders and began to carry it towards the camp: which when the
Trojans saw, they raised a great shout, and rushed after, like hounds
attacking a wounded wild boar; but as the hounds are scattered when the
great brute wheels to the charge, so fled the Trojans before the
determined stand of Ajax and his comrade.

But only for a moment: on they came again, fierce as a mighty
conflagration, which sweeps through the streets of a town, driven
before the gale, while the houses melt away like wax in the flames:
with like furious uproar came horse and foot hard at their heels, as
they bore the body from the field.  But stoutly and stubbornly they
plodded on with their burden, panting and sweating like a pair of mules
which drag a heavy beam down a rugged mountain path: and behind them
those two doughty champions opposed an impassable barrier to the
Trojans, like a long wooded mountain spur, which hurls back the fierce
assault of a swollen stream, and cannot be broken.

Yet even now the issue seemed doubtful; for just as the bearers reached
the barriers of the camp Hector and Æneas led a vigorous charge,
scattering the Greeks as a hawk scatters a noisy mob of starlings or

The News is brought to Achilles


"Why tarries Patroclus so long?" asked Achilles of himself, as he sat
waiting by his tent.  "Alas!  I fear that he hath disobeyed me, and
lost his life by his rashness.  Did not my mother tell me that the
noblest of the Greeks should fall in battle with the Trojans while I
lived?"  His alarm increased when he saw straggling parties of the
Greeks entering the camp, with every sign of panic and defeat.
Presently the roar of the struggle drew nearer and nearer, and he had
just determined to rush to the ramparts, and learn the worst, when
Antilochus came running up, and in broken accents panted out his
dreadful message.

As when a thunderbolt descends, laying low some giant of the forest, so
fell the mighty Pelides, laid prostrate beneath that stunning blow.
Then that proud head, which had never bowed to mortal man, was defiled
with dust, and those heroic limbs, the very mould of manly strength and
beauty, grovelled and writhed on the ground.  He tore his hair, cast
ashes on his head, and moaned like a wounded beast in his agony.  And
all the handmaids whom he had taken in war gathered round him, wailing
and beating their breasts; for sorrow was their portion, and their
tears were ever ready to flow.  By his side knelt Antilochus, holding
his hands, in fear lest he should do violence to his life.

Then Achilles shook off the grasp of Antilochus, and started to his
feet with a fearful cry, glaring wildly, like one about to do some
desperate act.  But just at this moment a sound of female voices came
floating over the placid sea, and Thetis glided into his presence, with
all her band of Ocean nymphs attending.  Achilles flung himself down
again when he saw her, with a fresh burst of grief; and kneeling by him
she embraced him tenderly, and weeping cried: "O child of my sorrow,
what new cause of mourning hath reached thee now?  Hath not Zeus
fulfilled his promise, and avenged thine honour?"

"What avails his promise, or the fulfilment thereof?" answered
Achilles, groaning bitterly.  "What care I for honour, if I must pay
for it with the life of my best beloved?  He lies in his blood, and
Hector, his slayer, has taken the glorious armour which the gods gave
to Peleus when they made thee his unwilling bride.  'Twas a woeful
match, for thee and for me, and soon thou shall reap the bitter fruit,
for Hector must die by my hand, to appease the ghost of Patroclus, and
thou hast told me that, when Hector falls, my own end is not far off."
A mournful silence followed, broken only by the sobs of Thetis, who
knew her son had pronounced his own doom.  Then Achilles burst out
again, in louder and angrier tones: "But let me die, when that task is
done!  What has life been to me?--a burden to myself, and a curse to
others!  Here have I lain, like a useless trunk, encumbering the sod,
and left my comrades to perish, and given him, the very light of mine
eyes, to be a prey to the spoiler.  Accursed, and thrice accursed, be
the spirit of strife, which trickles, sweeter than honey, into the
hearts of men, and rises up again, in words more bitter than
gall!--even as Agamemnon provoked me to fierce anger, which now comes
back upon me, with thrice envenomed sting.  But past is past--we will
speak no more of that.  My fate calls me to vengeance--and after that
the grave.  Then away, soft visitings of love and gentle sorrow!  And
thou, fond heart, become a stone!  I will strew with havoc the path
which leads me to mine enemy, and the streets of Troy shall be filled
with lamentation, and women wailing for their dead."

"I know that I cannot shake thy purpose," answered Thetis sadly, "and
it shall be as thou hast said.  But unarmed thou canst not go into
battle.  Remain here therefore until my return, and by to-morrow's dawn
I will bring thee such armour as never mortal wore."


While these events were passing, the struggle over the slain Patroclus
raged fiercer than ever.  Slowly the Greeks were driven back to the
very gates of their camp, and at the eleventh hour that pitiful prize
which had cost so much blood would have fallen into the hands of the
Trojans, had not Hera intervened and sent Iris to summon Achilles to
the rescue.

"Rouse thee, son of Peleus!" said Iris, appearing at his side.  "Hector
hath sworn to set the head of Patroclus on the battlements of Troy, and
he will accomplish his threat if thou sittest idle here."

"How can I go unarmed to the field?" answered Achilles.  "I know of
none whose armour I might wear, save only Ajax, and he is fighting at
the front."

"No more words," replied Iris.  "Do as thou art bidden, and heaven will
find a way."  Then Achilles arose, and went to the ramparts; and Athene
drew near him, and threw her tasselled ægis over his shoulders, and on
his head she caused a golden cloud to descend, which shot forth rays of
angry light.  As in a beleaguered city, where a thousand watch-fires
are lighted, and all day long the pillars of smoke ascend, but in the
darkness the red blaze is seen afar, a signal of distress to distant
allies--so shone that unearthly fire on the head of Achilles, as he
stood on the brink of the moat.  Then he lifted up his voice, and
shouted; and the sound was as the sound of a trumpet summoning to arms.

When they saw the dreadful light, and heard the brazen voice of
Pelides, the Trojans were astonished, and halted in the midst of their
wild assault; and while they wavered the Greeks fell upon them, and
drove them back in disorder.  The tide had turned at last, and the long
day of battle, so full of strange revolutions of fortune, came to an

Slowly and reverently the body of Patroclus was laid upon a bier, and
carried to the tent of Achilles.  But a few short hours before he had
gone forth, with horses and with chariots, to battle, in the pride of
youth and strength; and now he lay cold in death, gored with hideous
wounds by Trojan spears.  And all night long Achilles and his comrades
mourned for their slaughtered hero, the gentlest and the best of all
their band.  Like a lion who leaves his whelps in their dark forest
lair, and returns to find his bed empty, and his young ones gone;
roaring with rage and grief he tracks the footsteps of the robber along
many a mountain path, and all the forest is filled with the sound of
his wrath: such was Pelides in his sorrow, and such the voice of his
mourning.  "Vain, alas! was the promise which I made to thy father
Menœtius, that I would bring thee back safe to thy home in Locris,
loaded with the spoils of Troy.  Thy blood is red on the Trojan sod,
where mine too shall flow before many days are passed.  Now hear my
vow, Patroclus, and take comfort, even in death I will not pay the last
rites to thy corpse until I have brought Hector's body hither, with the
armour which he has taken, and slain twelve Trojan captives as a
sacrifice to thy shade.  Till then thou shalt lie as thou art, and the
women of Troy, whom we won with the might of our hands, shall mourn
thee night and day."

Then they washed the body, and anointed it with fragrant oil, and laid
it, wrapped in fine linen, on a bed to wait for burial.


The Trojans still kept the field, though with far other feelings than
when they lit their camp-fires, only the night before.  Before ever
they thought of supper the chiefs met in council, and stood about in
anxious groups, waiting until some recognised leader should advise them
in their present strait.  Then Polydamas, who was esteemed the wisest
head among them, came forward and commanded silence; and all listened
attentive to hear what he should say.  "Friends," he began, "ye had
best take heed what ye do; as for me, I have but one thing to
advise--back to the city, and let not to-morrow's dawn find us here!
We have all had our hopes, and I among the rest; but all those hopes
are fled now that Achilles has arisen again; and if we abide his coming
we shall learn too late what it means to face him in the open field.
Here, where we stand, dogs and vultures will hold their foul revel, and
batten on our flesh, at the going-down of the sun.  Therefore, I say
again, back to the city, and put a stout bulwark of stone and oak
between yourselves and this terrible man.  To-morrow we will man the
walls, and laugh at his fury if he seeks to assail us there.  Yea, his
steeds shall weary with drawing his car, and he himself shall sicken of
the vain attempt, for he knows well that Troy is not destined to fall
by his hands."

So ran the counsels of prudence; but another spirit was there also--the
spirit of rash confidence and unauthorised ambition--and it found
passionate utterance in the voice of Hector, who was the next to speak.
"I like not thy words, Polydamas," said he, with an angry look; "I like
not the cowardly counsel which bids us skulk behind our walls.  Who is
not sick of our long confinement in that pinfold there?  We have
drained our treasury, and scattered abroad the wealth for which Troy
was once famed throughout the world, wherever human speech is heard.
But now that we have been vouchsafed the glorious promise of carrying
the war into the enemy's camp, and driving these hounds of war out of
our land--now, I say, unlock no more the thoughts of thy base soul, to
damp our courage, and quench the bright flame of hope which has been
kindled in our breasts.  Now hear what I advise: to-night we will hold
our camp here, and keep watch in turn; and to-morrow at first peep of
day we will put on our armour and march against the Grecian stronghold.
Achilles is arisen, sayest thou?  The worse for him: I will not fly
before him, but will meet him face to face, and slay him, or be slain."

The fiery eloquence of Hector carried his hearers with him, and they
resolved with one accord to remain where they were, and abide the issue.

The Shield of Achilles

Mindful of her promise, Thetis, when she left Achilles, went
straightway to Olympus and entered the dwelling of Hephæstus.  It was a
wondrous structure, all of brass, which the lame god had planned and
fashioned by his own skill and labour.  She found him in his forge,
blowing up the fire with his bellows; for he was hard at work, setting
the finish to twenty brazen vessels, for use in his house.  Each vessel
ran on golden wheels, and moved to and fro of its own accord, coming
and going at the master's bidding.  With him sat Charis, his wife,
watching her husband at his toil; and when she saw Thetis enter she
came forward to greet her, and placed a chair, inlaid with silver, for
her to sit on.  Then she called to Hephæstus, who was stooping over his
forge, and said: "Leave thy work, and come and welcome this honoured

"Welcome indeed she is, and honoured too," said the hospitable god,
limping across the stithy with outstretched hands.  "Did she not save
me from my shrewish mother, who was ashamed of her crippled son, and
sought to put me out of the way, when I was but a child?  Then it would
have gone hard with me if Thetis had not received me into her home, the
deep cavern, round which Oceanus wraps his watery coils, foaming and
thundering everlastingly.  There I dwelt in peace for nine long years,
and many a pretty jewel I wrought for my preservers--brooches, and
bracelets and necklaces.  And none of the gods knew where I was, save
only kind Thetis and Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus.  Therefore thrice
welcome, sweet lady of the sea!  I owe thee my life, and shall be
rejoiced if I can pay part of the debt.  Take her, dear Charis, to the
guest-chamber, while I put away the implements of my trade."

Thetis left the forge with her hostess, and when they were gone
Hephæstus gathered up his tools, and turned the bellows away from the
fire.  The tools he placed in a vast silver chest, and then taking a
sponge he cleansed his face and hands, his brawny neck, and hairy
chest.  Then he put on a clean tunic, and went to join Charis and her
guest.  His huge heavy frame was ill supported on a pair of thin,
crooked legs; but his own inventive genius had enabled him to supply
this defect, for on either side of him walked a wonderful creature,
wrought by himself in gold, with the form and face of a maiden, a human
voice, and human wit.  Leaning on these strange supporters, he entered
the guest-chamber, and sat down by the side of Thetis.  "What need," he
asked, "has brought thee to my poor house--an angel's visit, indeed, to
me, both rare and dear?"

Encouraged by the cordial tone of the good-natured god, Thetis poured
out afresh all the tale of her woes, beginning from the time when,
sorely against her will, she became the bride of Peleus.  He was now an
old man, broken and infirm, and she a goddess, radiant in her immortal
bloom, was still chained to the human wreck, and Achilles, her son,
still in the prime of his splendid manhood, was a perpetual source of
trouble and grief.  "Few indeed," she went on, "and evil, are the days
of his life.  First foully insulted by his sovereign, and now
broken-hearted at the loss of his dearest friend!  Help me to do what I
can to comfort him in this bitter hour; lend me thy skill, and make him
a suit of armour such as never mortal man hath worn before."

"If that be all," answered Hephæstus cheerfully, "thy prayer is granted
as soon as uttered.  Arms he shall have, which shall make him the
wonder of the world when he goes forth to battle."

Then leaving Thetis in charge of his wife he went back to his forge,
and having stripped to the waist addressed himself to his work.  Round
the furnace in the centre of the stithy were twenty pairs of bellows,
each serving a separate smelting oven.  These he now turned to the
fire, and commanded them to blow, for they were endowed with a
consciousness of their own, and obeyed the master's will, now sending
forth a tremendous blast, which made the fire roar with fury, and the
flames leap upward to the roof, now breathing low, like some huge
monster in his softer mood.  Into the smelting ovens he cast bronze and
tin, silver and gold; and when his metal was ready he placed a
ponderous anvil on the anvil block, and took in one hand a mighty
hammer, while in the other he grasped the tongs.

And first a shield he fashioned, vast and strong,[1] with threefold
rim, and baldric of silver.  The shield was of five folds; and on it he
wrought many a pictured scene with wondrous skill.

[1] This line is from Cowper's version.

There were imaged earth and sea, the unwearied sun, and the moon in her
waxing and her waning, and the heavens with all their starry
crown--Pleiades, and Hyades, and Orion's might, and the Bear, whom men
likewise call the Wain, who turns on the same spot, and watches Orion,
and alone has no share in the baths of Ocean.

And there was fashioned many a scene from human life, peace and war,
pastime and industry.  The first was a city, and along the streets a
bridal procession was passing, with blazing torches, and the loud
hymeneal song, and the whirl of dancers, and the music of flute and
harp; and the women stood at their thresholds, admiring that gay
company.  But in the market-place was heard the voice of loud dispute;
for the elders were met in their session, to decide a quarrel
concerning the blood-price of a murdered man.  The slayer brought
witnesses to prove that he had paid the whole amount; but the plaintiff
denied that he had received a doit.  Outside the circle stood the
clamorous mob, eager partisans of either side, and held in check by the
heralds with their rods of office, and in the midst sat the elders in
solemn conclave on their seats of polished stone, rising up in turn to
give sentence.  And he whose judgment was held wisest was to receive a
reward of two talents of gold.

A second city there was, hard beset by stress of war.  For about it lay
two armies encamped, whose counsels were divided: in one the leaders
were for taking the city by storm, while in the other they would have
made a treaty, by which the citizens were to buy off the attack with
half their goods.  But while the besiegers were disputing, the citizens
left their walls to be defended by the old men and the weaker sort, and
sallied out in full force to lay an ambush for a convoy which was on
its way to the enemy's camp.  So forth they marched, with Ares and
Athene at their head, distinguished by their towering stature and
golden armour.  And when they came to the chosen place of ambush, by
the riverside, where was a watering-place for flocks and herds, they
crouched down among the bushes, leaving two scouts to warn them of the
convoy's approach.  Soon they heard the lowing of cattle, and the
bleating of sheep, and the sound of the herdsmen's pipes, as they came
on, dreaming of no harm; then forth rushed the armed troop, and cut
down the herdsmen, and began to drive off the beasts.

The cries of the herdsmen, and the bellowing of the affrighted beasts,
reached the ears of the besiegers, as they sat in council, and seizing
their arms they mounted their horses, and hurried to the rescue.  Then
began a furious struggle, in which all the demons of war--Strife, and
Confusion, and deadly Fate--held high carnival, and drank deep of human

[2] It should be observed that the poet gives the whole succession of
incidents which are merely hinted at by the artist, who is confined to
one moment in the story.

Then followed diverse scenes of happy toil.  The first was a fair
fallow land of rich tilth, where ploughmen were driving their teams to
and fro, drawing long furrows, straight and deep, and pausing now and
then to refresh themselves with a cup of wine, which was handed to them
by a man who stood ready at the end of the field.  Dark rose the
curling furrow, as the ploughshare passed, and the sods seemed of rich
black soil, though wrought in gold; for therein was displayed the
artist's skill.

The next was a harvest of yellow corn, and a row of busy reapers with
sharp sickles in their hands.  Others stood ready to bind the sheaves,
and these again were supplied by a willing troop of boys, who gathered
up the swathe as fast as it fell, and handed the ripe bundles to the
binders.  Near at hand stood the master, rejoicing in his wealth; and
under a tree at the border of the field the henchmen were slaughtering
an ox, to make savoury meat for him and his guests, while women were
preparing a mess of pottage for the reapers.

Likewise he fashioned a vineyard, heavy with great clusters of grapes,
and along the rows moved a merry troop of boys and girls, with baskets
in their hands, gathering the luscious fruit; and when their baskets
were full they brought their burdens home with dancing steps, led by a
boy who played the harp and sang the sweet dirge of summer in his
shrill, childish voice.

Then came a herd of oxen going to pasture, and lowing as they went
along the waving rushes, along the murmuring stream.  Four herdsmen
followed, and with them were nine dogs.  But lo! a noble bull, the
leader of the herd, falls suddenly in his tracks, struck down by the
claws of two ravening lions.  They begin to drag him off, and the
herdsmen follow at a distance, cheering on their dogs, which leap and
bay wildly, but will not close with those terrible robbers.

The last scene of all was a dance of youths and maidens, the youths
clad in close-fitting doublets, and wearing hangers at their sides, and
the maidens wearing light garments of linen, and circlets of gold on
their heads.  Holding one another by the wrist, they first moved in a
giddy circle, swift and true as the wheel flies in the potter's hands,
and then they parted in two rows, and met again, weaving and unweaving
all the mazy figures of a Cretan dance, while two tumblers whirled
among them, and a singer gave the time with his voice.

Framing this rich succession of pictures ran the broad stream of
Oceanus, rolling his waters round the outer rim of the shield.

Corslet, and greaves, and helmet with crest of gold, were fashioned
next, and when the great work was done, Hephæstus brought it and laid
it at the feet of Thetis.  After due thanks, she took leave of her
generous friends, and then sped on her way to the Grecian camp, bearing
the costly gift of Hephæstus to her son.

The Reconciliation


Dawn was beginning to redden the waters of the Hellespont when Thetis
reached the tent of Achilles.  She found him sitting, lost in a gloomy
reverie, by the side of the bed on which the body of Patroclus lay.
"Come," said Thetis, touching him lightly on the shoulder, "let the
dead bury their dead, and behold the glorious armour which Hephæstus
has wrought for thee."

With that she set down the dazzling panoply, fresh from the forge of
the god; the ethereal metal rang with a dreadful sound, and from the
burnished surface darted angry beams of light, blinding the eyes of the
Myrmidons who had drawn near to gaze, so that they fled in terror from
the sight.  But the eyes of Achilles flashed with an answering fire,
and his heart burned with fierce joy, as he handled the work of the
immortal armourer.  "Mother," he said, when he had scrutinised every
piece, "the work is worthy of the artist--I can say no more.  And now
to battle!  Yet one thing I fear--lest the body of my friend be marred
by decay before my vow is accomplished and I am free to bury him."

"Let not that care disquiet thee," answered Thetis, "I will find a
means to keep off the destroying hordes of the air, that breathe
corruption in the limbs of fallen warriors.  Though he lie unburied for
the space of a whole year, his flesh shall remain pure and clean, as
the flesh of a little child.  Now go thou and summon the Greeks to the
place of assembly, that when thou hast renounced thy feud with
Agamemnon, thou mayest gird thee with might and go forth to battle."
Then she brought nectar and ambrosia, and embalmed therewith the body
of Patroclus, that his flesh might remain sound and whole.

But Achilles strode rapidly along the strand, shouting as he went to
call the people to the assembly.  And forthwith from every tent the
multitude came flocking, and not one remained behind, no, not even
those who pursued peaceful crafts, and were not wont to take part in
the councils of the armed host.  For not one was willing to be absent
from that memorable meeting.

As he passed on, he overtook Odysseus and Diomede, who were limping
painfully along, leaning on their spears; for they were still sore with
their wounds.  After a few words of greeting, he left them to follow,
and went forward to the place where the chiefs were sitting round the
throne of Agamemnon, which was still vacant.  It was a level spot, in
the centre of a natural hollow, whose sides rose gently, until they
were closed by a background of waving woods.  And now all the slopes
were black with a swarming multitude, armed and unarmed, stout
spearmen, and noisy rabble.  At last Agamemnon was seen approaching,
moving slowly and with pain.  He took his seat on the royal throne, and
then a dead hush fell on all that vast company, as Achilles rose in his
place, and began to speak.

"Great King," he said, "we are met to end the lamentable feud which
arose out of our quarrel for the sake of the maid Briseis.  Would that
she had never been born, or had been stricken with sudden death by the
gentle shafts of Artemis, before ever she had put enmity between me and
thee!  So would many a brave man have been alive and well who now lies
sleeping an iron sleep.  Yes, for many a year to come the Greeks will
speak of the wrath of Achilles, and of him who was the cause.  But here
it ends: my wrath is now aimed at another mark, and once more I am thy
faithful friend and ally.  War, war without quarter or mercy--that is
all I ask for now.  Let us see if the Trojans will hold their camp at
our gates when they stand beneath the shadow of my destroying spear."

Right glad were the Greeks to learn that the tremendous passions of
Achilles were now enlisted on their side.  But their joyful cries were
changed to murmurs of resentment when Agamemnon rose to answer; for
they saw in him the author of all their disasters.  Signs of remorse
and confusion appeared in his face; and the first words of his speech
were heard with difficulty amidst the tumult.  "Friends and comrades in
arms," he began, "I beseech you to hear me with patience, while I make
confession of my fault.  I have sinned, I cannot deny it, through the
dread power of Ate,[1] who blinded my heart, and maimed my wits, on the
day when I took from Achilles his prize.  Ah! she is a fearful goddess,
this Ate, a fiend to vex mankind.  Soft is her tread, and her path lies
on the heads of men: unseen, unheard, she approaches, and enters into
the soul of him whom she has marked for ruin.  Once she dwelt among the
gods in Olympus, but she dared to lay her foul spells on Zeus himself,
so that he fell into grievous error; and when he learnt how he had been
deceived, he swore a mighty oath that never again should that abhorred
witch set foot in the celestial abode.  So he caught her by the hair,
and flung her down to earth, to plague the tribes of men.  And she it
was who made me her victim, whereby all this mischief befell.  But now
I am ready to make all good, and heal the wrong which I have wrought.
And all the gifts which I promised yesterday by the mouth of Odysseus
are thine, Achilles, without abatement of one jot.  Wait awhile, before
thou goest into battle, and my squires shall bring them to thy tent."

[1] A personification of moral blindness.

"As for the gifts," replied Achilles, "they are thine to give or to
withhold as thou choosest.  But of that hereafter; for the present, I
have work to do which admits of no delay.  No more of talk, but let us
away to the field at once."

But here the voice of prudence intervened, checking the fiery
impetuosity of Achilles.  "Hear me a moment, valiant prince," said
Odysseus.  "We must not lead the people fasting to battle, for an empty
man hath little heart for the fight, which methinks will be neither
short nor easy to-day.  Let the people first eat their fill, for a man
cannot face the foe from dawn till eve without tasting meat.  However
willing his spirit, his flesh is weak; his limbs are soon overtaken
with weariness, his mouth is parched with thirst, and his knees totter
as he goes.  Therefore, I say, let us eat, and after that to battle.
And thou, Achilles, shalt receive the gifts of Agamemnon, and partake
of a banquet of honour with the other chieftains in his tent.  The King
knows what is fitting, and he cannot do less."

Agamemnon willingly assented, and was proceeding to give the order to
bring the gifts when Achilles started up again, in eager protest
against this delay.

"Illustrious King," he said, "surely there will be time enough to speak
of these lesser matters when we have humbled the pride of the Trojans,
who are waiting for us on the plain.  My friend lies slaughtered,
pierced by Hector's spear, and ye talk to me of meat and drink!  By my
will the whole army should keep a solemn fast, until we have washed out
the stain on our honour in a sea of blood, and then, after the great
act of vengeance is complete, we will feast and make merry.  I at least
will suffer no morsel or drop to pass my lips as long as my comrade
lies in my tent with his feet to the door, and the women mourning
round.  No; far other thoughts fill my heart--blood and slaughter, and
the groans of dying men."

But these desperate counsels found no favour with the veteran heads of
the army, and a deep hum of approval greeted the more sober eloquence
of Odysseus, who now rose again to reply.  "Mighty son of Peleus," he
said, "thou art stronger far than I, and thy spear writes deadlier
record on the foemen's ranks; but I have lived longer than thou, and
seen more: bear with me, then, while I speak what reason and experience
hath taught me.  Soon weary grows the hand which toils in war's barren
harvest, where the swathe is so thick, and the yield so scanty when the
day is done.  We cannot keep a fast for every Greek that falls--where
would be the end?  The warrior's dirge is short, and he is honoured
enough if he is mourned for a day.  And those who are left must eat,
that they may have strength to fight on the morrow.  To your tents,
then, every one!  And when ye have eaten, come quickly, armed for the
fight, and await no second summons."

For all his fierce impatience, Achilles was compelled to yield.  With
great effort he controlled himself while the gifts were brought, and
the ceremonies performed, with no circumstance of solemnity omitted, to
ratify the covenant of forgiveness and reconciliation between him and
Agamemnon.  And so the first act in the great drama of his wrath is


Seven youths of princely rank, attended by a long train of bearers,
were despatched to the tent of Achilles, loaded with the costly gifts
of atonement from the King.  With them went Briseis, thus returned to
her former lord.  When she saw Patroclus on the bed where he lay, she
beat her breast, and, embracing the cold body, burst into a passion of
weeping.  "Friend of my sorrow!" she cried, "I left thee living, and I
find thee dead.  Woe, and more woe, is all my portion.  When I came
hither, an orphaned captive, bereaved of all, thou didst comfort me in
my great affliction, promising, when the war was over, to make me
Achilles' lawful wife.  Thy gentleness and thy knightly courtesy shed
balm upon my wounded spirit, and now thou art gone, and my last comfort
is gone with thee."

So mourned Briseis, and all the captive ladies wept afresh when they
heard her, having cause enough for tears, every one.  The sound of
their lamentation reached the ears of Achilles where he sat, but he
remained unmoved by the tragedy of these lesser spirits, being absorbed
in the sense of his own great loss.  The tide of his passion had ebbed
again, leaving his heart cold and desolate.  His men brought him food
and drink, but he repulsed them sternly, and would touch nothing.  He
thought of the happy past--when he and Patroclus had partaken together
of many a cheerful meal--and then of the bitter present, when the sight
of bread and meat filled him with loathing.  He thought of his father
Peleus, growing old in his solitary home, waiting in sad expectation to
hear of his son's death, and of the young Neoptolemus, his own child,
growing up among strangers in the island of Scyros.  "Lost, lost, all
lost!" he murmured; "I shall never see them again."

But the gods had not forgotten their favourite.  Zeus beheld him as he
sat thus stricken and forlorn, and sent Athene to inspire him with new
comfort and strength.  Unseen, she alighted at his side, and fed him,
though he knew it not, with heavenly food, filling his heart with more
than mortal vigour and courage.  Meanwhile the clash of arms rang
through the camp as the Greeks marched out, column after column, to
battle, thick as autumnal leaves, or hovering snowflakes in winter.
The air seemed on fire with the flash of myriads of spears, and the
earth shook beneath the thunder of their tread.

Roused by the sound, Achilles sprang to his feet, and buckled on his
corslet, and clasped the greaves to his ankles.  Then he flung the
sword over his shoulder, and thrust his arm through the strap of his
shield, which shone like the full-orbed moon, or a beaconlight blazing
afar over a stormy sea.  Last of all, he lifted his mighty helmet, with
its nodding, golden plume, and set it on his head.  And now, being
arrayed in his harness from head to foot, he raised himself to his
towering height, and stretched his fleet limbs, to prove the armour;
and it became unto him as wings, making him lighter and nimbler than
ever before.

Grasping in his right hand his spear--the mighty Pelian ash, pointed
with death--he went forth before the tent, where Automedon stood
waiting with his car.  "Now hear me, ye children of the wind!" he
cried, addressing his steeds, "see that ye play me not false to-day, as
when ye left Patroclus dead on the field, and came back with an empty

Then there befell a wondrous thing; for the good steed Xanthus,
drooping low his head, answered with a human voice, and spake thus unto
his master: "Yea, we will carry thee safe back, most dread Achilles,
when the fight is o'er.  It was by no sloth or tardiness of ours that
thy brave comrade met his death; that deed was wrought by the hand of
Apollo, using Hector as his instrument--even as thou too shalt be cut
off by a human weapon, but by no human power."

So spake the immortal courser, for the first and the last time; for
fate suffered it not again.  And Achilles answered him, and said:
"Waste not thy prophecies on me, good steed!  I know my fate--death on
the battlefield, far from my home: but ere that hour comes I will send
many a Trojan to herald my coming among the dead."

Then, shouting his dread battle-cry, he sprang into his car, and drove
headlong to the front.

Achilles in the Battlefield


By high permission of all-ruling Jove the gods were now free to take
part in the war, and they all with one accord came down from Olympus to
mingle with the fray.  Only Zeus remained behind, as supreme arbiter of
the final issue.  All the rest took sides with the Greeks or Trojans,
and five rival pairs confronted each other in the field--Poseidon found
a match in Apollo, the great ally of the Trojans--Hera, who loved the
Greeks like a mother, was confronted by the archer-goddess
Artemis--against Athene stood Ares, whose fickle mind now inclined to
the Trojans--Hermes, who favoured the Greeks, was met on the other side
by Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo--and lastly Hephæstus and
Scamander, the opposing powers of fire and water, took the field, the
former for the Greeks, the latter for the Trojans.

All nature was in uproar as these tremendous allies entered the scene
of conflict.  Earth shook, and the mountains reeled to their
foundations, and the towers of Troy and the Grecian ships reeled as in
an earthquake.  Then trembling came upon Hades, the monarch of the
dead, and leaping from his throne he cried aloud in fear, lest the
earth, rent by Poseidon's trident, should disclose to mortal and
immortal eyes the dank and dreary mansions of the dead, which even the
gods abhor.

Far in front of the Grecian line was seen the glittering form of
Achilles, who scanned the Trojan ranks like a lion who seeks his prey,
having but one thought, but one aim--to meet Hector, and slay him.  But
Hector's hour was not yet come, for Apollo stood near to shield him
from his great enemy, and delay the fatal stroke which sooner or later
must lay him low.  And first the god put it into the heart of Æneas to
defy Achilles to battle, and gave him unwonted courage and strength,
that he might not flinch in that fearful encounter.  Then Æneas heard a
voice which whispered within him, and seemed to say: "Art thou not the
son of Aphrodite, who is the daughter of supreme Jove?  Why fearest
thou then this upstart child of Thetis, of far meaner lineage than
thine?  Go face him, and let him learn that neither are the Trojans
forsaken of heaven."

So between the advancing lines they met, both sons of gods, but far
different in their fate.  At first Achilles had not observed his
approach, but stalked, heedless of all lesser foes, before the
embattled host of Troy, like a lion bent on ravage, against whom a
whole township is gathered, with purpose to slay him and at first he
goes on his way, disdaining the menaces of that rabble rout--but then,
being pricked by the point of a random spear, he gathers himself,
foaming and gnashing his teeth, for the spring, and his mighty spirit
groans within him, and he lashes his flanks on both sides with his
tail, goading himself to battle--then glaring and roaring he launches
his vast weight at the foe, resolved to kill or be killed--so sprang
Achilles against Æneas, in wrath at his presumption.

"What wouldst thou of me, Æneas?" he cried, in disdainful mood.  "Have
the Trojans promised thee a fair estate, if thou take my life?  Or
hopest thou, perchance, to sit in the seat of Priam, if thou accomplish
this great deed?  I thought thou hadst had enough of me and my spear.
Hast thou forgotten when I chased thee through the glades of Ida,
having caught thee alone among the grazing herds?  Then didst thou
never turn thy head to look back, until thou hadst reached the shelter
of a fenced city.  And I sacked the city, and led captive the women;
but thou didst escape me again, through the special mercy of Zeus.  Go
back, vain man, and join the press of thy comrades or thou shalt not
escape me now.

"Who art thou?" answered Æneas, undaunted, "that thinkest to affright
me with boastful words, as if I were a witless boy?  Know, proud man,
that I am of higher descent than thine, for in my veins flows the royal
blood of Dardanus, mingled with the blood of gods.  Go to, let us
wrangle no more like women in the market-place, but decide the quarrel
with our spears."

As he spoke, he cast his spear, which struck with strong impact against
the shield of Achilles; and he, when he felt the shock, held the shield
away from his body, fearing that the point would pass through and reach
his flesh.  But immortal armour is not easy to be pierced by mortal
weapons, and the spear dropped harmless to the earth.  Then Achilles
flung in his turn, and the spear tore its way through the upper rim of
Æneas' shield: and he, stooping low, heard the rush of the mighty
lance, as it flew over his head, and buried itself in the ground behind
him.  Having thus both missed their cast, they prepared to renew the
struggle hand to hand.  Achilles drew his sword, and rushed to the
encounter with a fierce cry: while Æneas lifted a heavy stone, and
stood ready to hurl it as his antagonist drew near.

But that combat, which must have ended fatally for the Trojan, was not
destined to be fought out to its end.  "Behold," said Poseidon, who was
watching the unequal duel, to Hera, who sat near him, "my spirit is
troubled because of Æneas, whom his own rashness, and the evil counsels
of Apollo, are leading to his doom.  But this must not be: he is
reserved for a better fate, which shall be accomplished after the
towers of Troy have been levelled with the dust.  In him shall the line
of Dardanus be preserved, and from him shall be born a mighty race, to
found a new empire on the ruins of the old."[1]

[1] These lines contain the germ of the _Æneid_.

"Do as thou wilt," answered Hera.  "As for me, I have sworn a great
oath that I will never save a Trojan from perishing, no, not in the
last fatal hour when Troy shall be consumed with fire."

When Poseidon heard that, he went and stood between the fighting
champions; and on the eyes of Achilles he shed a thick darkness, that
he might not see what was done.  Then he drew the spear from the shield
of Æneas, and threw it at Achilles' feet; and catching up the Trojan
prince in his hand he bore him aloft over the heads of the Greeks and
Trojans, until he reached the utmost verge of the battlefield.  There
he set him down, and, becoming visible in all his divine majesty,
addressed him in these solemn words of warning: "Æneas, what put this
mad thought into thy heart, to fight against Achilles, who is both
stronger than thou and dearer to the gods?  Tempt not thy fate again,
but when thou meetest him avoid his spear; and after he is slain, then
mayest thou boldly encounter the bravest of the Greeks, for no other
hath power to do thee hurt."


When the darkness fell from the eyes of Achilles he looked round about
him, and saw his spear lying at his feet, but sought in vain for Æneas.
"What wonder is this?" he said to himself; "the spear is returned to
me, but mine enemy is vanished.  Surely the gods love him also, though
I deemed that he boasted idly.  Let him go!  It will be long before he
desires to face me again."

Then, shouting to the Greeks to support him, he fell upon the main body
of the Trojans, seeking everywhere for Hector; and finding him not (for
Apollo as yet withheld the Trojan patriot from his eyes) he began to
deal out indiscriminate slaughter wherever he went.  A brave Lycian,
the son of a mountain nymph, who rushed to attack him, was his first
victim; with one blow of that tremendous spear his head was shattered
as with a battering-ram, and he fell beneath the feet of the horses,
and the wheels of the car passed over his body.

Among the many who went to swell the list of the slain that day was
Polydorus, a favourite son of Priam, who loved him as his youngest
born, and who had forbidden him to go into battle.  But he, trusting in
the speed of his feet, had come to the field the day before, and now
appeared in the van of the Trojans, a graceful and agile youth, lovely
and pleasant to behold.  But as he pursued his gay career a javelin
from the hand of Achilles pierced his armour at the waist, and he fell,
torn in the midst by a hideous wound.

Hector saw his brother fall, and full of rage and grief sprang forward
to avenge his death.  When Achilles saw his great enemy at last within
his reach he leapt towards him with a loud and exultant cry: "Draw
near, and pay the price of my comrade, whom thou hast slain!"  "Proud
man, I fear thee not," answered Hector, undismayed: "I know that thou
art far mightier than I, but nevertheless I defy thee, and trust that
heaven will lend keenness to my spear."

But the end was not yet.  Apollo intervened to save the gallant Trojan,
and bore him away wrapped in a cloud of darkness.  Three times Achilles
struck, and three times his spear smote idly on the empty air.  "Thou
dog!" he cried at last, finding his efforts unavailing, "Thou hast
avoided me now, but I will destroy thee yet, for I have friends among
the gods as well as thou.  Till then, let my vengeance fall upon thy

And as a fire rages in a forest on a mountainside, licking up the
underwood, and thrusting out its red fangs to devour the tall trees, so
raged Pelides in the fury of slaughter, and the earth ran red with
blood.  And as two broad-browed steers move to and fro on a
threshing-floor, treading out the corn, so trampled the steeds of
Achilles on corpses and shields and broken armour, as he passed on,
raining wounds and death on every side.


The Trojan army was now split into two divisions, one of which was
flying across the plain towards the city, while Achilles drove the
other before him towards the banks of Scamander.  Into the stream they
flocked, without pausing in their flight, like a cloud of locusts
driven by a fire to seek refuge in the nearest water; and Scamander's
bed was choked by a huddled multitude of horses and men.

Leaning his spear against a plane-tree, Achilles leapt into the river,
sword in hand, and struck right and left, until the waters were
crimsoned with blood.  And as a shoal of fish flies before the onset of
a dolphin, seeking the shallow waters near the shore, so shrank the
Trojans from the sword of Achilles, and hid themselves under the
arching banks.  Then he remembered his promise to Patroclus, and,
choosing twelve comely youths from that panic-stricken throng, he drove
them before him, and gave them, bound, to his men to be brought alive
to the ships.  This done, he went back to continue the work of
slaughter; and as he reached the river's brink he saw a Trojan, who had
just left the water, and was preparing to fly towards the city.  "Aha!
are we met again?" cried Achilles, recognising in the fugitive a
certain Lycaon, one of the numerous family of Priam, whom once before
he had taken prisoner, having caught him during a night foray, when the
luckless youth was busy cutting the young shoots of the olive, to make
a rim for a chariot.  On that occasion he had spared his life, and sold
him into captivity to the King of Lemnos, from whom he had been
ransomed by a friend of Priam, and so found his way back to Troy.  For
eleven days since his return from Lemnos he had taken his pleasure
among his friends, and on the twelfth his fate threw him into the hands
of Achilles for the second and last time.

Lycaon had flung away shield and helmet and spear, that he might be
lightened in the race for his life.  But Achilles was upon him before
he was aware, threatening him with uplifted spear.  "So thou hast
returned from Lemnos?" he said mockingly.  "We will now send thee on a
longer journey, and we will see if thou come back again this time."
The wretched youth flung himself down, and avoiding the spear-point
crawled on his knees to Achilles, and clinging to him said: "Have pity
on me, great warrior, and have respect for the sacred tie between host
and guest; for I was thy guest, illustrious chieftain, and have broken
bread under thy roof, on the day when thou madest me captive.  Thou
hast no cause to hate me, for I was not born of the same mother as
Hector, who slew thy friend."

But there was no sign of relenting in the stern face which was bent
over him, and he received a foretaste of the pangs of death as he heard
the answer of Achilles.  "Talk not to me," said he, "of ransom or
redemption.  As long as Patroclus was alive I was well pleased to make
prisoners and release them for a price, but now not one shall escape of
all those who fall into my hands, and least of all the sons of Priam.
Thou must die, my friend!  Why seems it to thee so hard?  Patroclus met
his fate with the rest, and he was a far better man than thou art.
Look upon me; am I not a tall and proper man?  Yet the shadow of death
is creeping nearer and ever nearer to me, and soon the hour of my doom
shall strike, whether at morn, or at noon, or at eventide."

At these words Lycaon's heart froze within him, and leaving hold of the
spear he sank down on his knees, stretching out both his hands in mute
entreaty.  Then Achilles lifted up his sword, and clove him to the
waist, and seizing his body by the foot flung it into the river.  "Lie
there among the fishes!" cried that ruthless man: "They will tend thy
wounds, until Scamander bears thee to the deep, where thou shalt find
fit burial in some sea monster's maw.  Death, death to all your
accursed race!  Naught shall avail you your silver-eddying stream, to
whose deity ye offer sacrifice of bulls and horses, but ye shall pay
threefold and fourfold the debt of blood which ye owe me for the lives
of the Greeks whom ye have slain."

The river-god heard him, and, waxing exceeding wroth, began to consider
how he should stop the murderous career of Achilles.  And while he was
still debating within himself Achilles was confronted by Asteropæus, a
brave Thracian chieftain, and the son of the presiding deity of Axius,
a broad and noble stream.  This man now barred the way of Achilles,
brandishing a spear in each hand.  "Whence and what art thou?" cried
Achilles, amazed that anyone should dare to oppose him; for he knew not
that Scamander had steeled the heart of Asteropæus to do this deed.
"Art thou weary of thy life?" he asked again, as the Thracian still
came on.  "I will tell thee what I am," answered Asteropæus boldly: "I
am the son of a deity, even as thou art, and my father was Axius, the
fairest river on earth.  Now let us fight, great son of Thetis."

With that he flung both spears at once, for he was equally skilled with
both hands; and one of the spears struck against the shield of
Achilles, but could not penetrate it, while the other grazed his right
arm, and drew blood.  Then Achilles hurled his spear, which missed
Asteropæus, and buried itself to half its length in the river bank.
Asteropæus grasped the shaft, and strove with all his might to tear the
weapon from the ground.  Failing in this, he next tried to break it in
the middle, to use as a club; but by this time Achilles was upon him,
and with one stroke of his sword clove him almost in twain.  "Thou hast
found thy match, thou river's brood!" he cried, stripping off the
bloodstained armour.  "Fool, that comparest thyself with me, whose
fathers sprang in a direct line from Jove!  He, methinks, is mightier
than any river, yea, mightier than Oceanus, the great father of floods,
who trembles before the red lightning, and the voice of the thunder,
when it crashes through the skies."

So saying he lightly plucked out the embedded spear, and went in
pursuit of the men of Asteropæus, who were crouching in terror along
the river's banks.  Seven of them he slew, and was about to continue
the work of carnage when he received a check.  From the depths of the
stream a mysterious voice arose, in tones of protest and complaint:
"Achilles, thine arm is exceeding mighty, and thy prowess more than
mortal; for the gods are ever near to aid thee.  If Zeus hath given
thee leave to slaughter all the Trojans, at least drive them away from
my bed and butcher them on the plain.  My waters are choked with
corpses, and I cannot roll my current any longer towards the holy sea,
because my channel is straitened by the multitude of thy miserable
victims.  Give place, great chieftain, and cumber me no more."

"It shall be as thou sayest, thou god revered," answered Achilles.
"But suffer me yet a little while until my task is done."  And without
further parley he sprang down again into the river bed.  Then the god
was wroth, and prepared to expel that daring intruder from his domain.
He gathered all his waters, which rose up in surging billows, and
washed the corpses ashore; and to the living he gave shelter, hiding
them away in great hollow eddies.  Then, collecting himself in one
towering wave, he rushed upon Achilles, buffeting his shield, and
eating away the ground under his feet.  Achilles grasped an elm, a tall
and stately tree, and clung to it for support; but the torrent had
undermined its roots, and the next moment it fell, tearing a huge gap
in the bank, and damming back the waters with its leafy boughs.  Then
he leaped from the yellow, swirling torrent, and darted across the
plain in head-long flight; for he was sore afraid.  But Scamander
followed hard at his heels, roaring and arching his crest.  In vain
Achilles ran and doubled, and doubled and ran; the river pursued him
everywhere, until his strength began to fail him; and if he stood still
for a moment the waves rose instantly as high as his shoulders,
threatening to swallow him up.  Then he gave himself up for lost, and
with a groan he gazed upward to the broad heaven, and uttered this
despairing cry for help: "O all ye gods, is this then to be my end?  Am
I to perish thus, drowned like some nameless churl, who is swept away
while crossing a ford in winter?"

Some friendly power heard his wild appeal, and lent him new strength
and courage to continue the struggle.  So on he panted across the
plain, which by this time was covered with floating corpses, helmets,
and shields.  But Scamander raged the more furiously when he saw his
prey still eluding his clutch, and he called aloud to Simocis, his
brother stream, to join in the pursuit.  And Simocis answered to his
call, and mustered all his waters from every fountainhead and every
tributary stream.  Then the twin rivers roared together in unison, and
came down upon him, battering him with uprooted trees and rolling
rocks, which they swept along in their course, "We will quell thee,"
they shouted, "thou godless man, for all thy beauty and thy strength,
and thou and thy gleaming panoply shall be wrapped in a thick shroud of
mud, at the bottom of our blackest and deepest pool.  Thy dirge shall
be sung by our rolling waters, and thy monument none shall behold."

Achilles was now in extremity, and would surely have ended as ignobly
as the river-god had said, if another power had not come to his aid.
"Where art thou, my son, Hephæstus?" cried Hera, seeing that Achilles
could hold out no longer.  "Thou art he who should save our champion in
this strait, for thou and Scamander are natural enemies.  Haste thee to
the rescue, armed with thy proper element; and I will summon the blasts
of the West and the South to fan thy flames.  Let fire fight with
water, and spare not, nor cease thy fury until I give thee the signal
to desist."

Hephæstus made haste to obey his mother, and forthwith he caused a
sheet of fire to sweep across the plain, burning the corpses, and
drying up the flood.  Then he turned his flames upon the river himself,
and all the trees which fringed his banks--elms, and willows, and
plane-trees--were soon ablaze.  Speedily the fire spread to the rushes
and water plants, and at last the very waters began to grow hot, so
that the fishes leapt into the air in their agony, and Scamander
himself was in dire distress.

"It is enough," he cried, yielding to a superior power.  "Torment me no
more, Hephæstus!  Let Achilles destroy the whole nation of Trojans, if
he will--I will not seek to prevent him."

By this time the waters were beginning to boil and bubble, and clouds
of steam rose into the air.  Seeing that the river was thoroughly
quelled, Hera gave the signal, and Hephæstus drew off his forces, and
left Scamander in peace.


After his escape from the river, Achilles went in pursuit of the other
Trojans, who had fallen back towards the town.  Then began a second
rout, and a second slaughter, and Priam, who was watching the field
from his citadel, soon beheld the whole remnant of the Trojan army
flying before Achilles towards the city.  With a cry of alarm he
hastened down to the gates, and gave directions to the warders to draw
bolt and bar, and admit the flying multitude.  "But stand ready," he
said, "to make all fast, as soon as the people are safe within, for
fear lest this terrible man should enter the town."

The warders did as they were bidden, and held the gates ready; and
before long the first of the fugitives came panting in, their lips
parched with thirst, and their armour powdered with dust.

Still unsated with slaughter, Achilles came on in hot pursuit, and
Priam's fears might have been realised if Agenor, a young Trojan noble,
had not been inspired by Apollo with sudden courage, which prompted him
to cross the destroyer's path.  "I will face this man," he said,
halting from his flight.  "He too is of mortal flesh, and has but one
life to lose.  I will face him, though Zeus fight on his side."

As a leopard comes forth from his thick covert to meet the hunter, when
he hears the baying of the hounds, and, even though sorely wounded,
fights on till he is slain, so stood Agenor to meet Achilles, with
shield on breast, and spear poised for the throw.  "Thou thoughtest to
have taken Troy this day," he cried.  "Thou fool!  This deed is not for
thee; thou shall not read to the end the story of her woes, but here,
on this spot, I will end thy life of blood."

With that he cast his spear, which struck him on the greave above the
knee, but rebounded from the tempered metal; but before Achilles could
return the attack Apollo removed Agenor from his reach, and putting on
the likeness of Agenor fled away towards the river, luring Achilles
after him.  The Trojans were thus given time to make good their escape,
and the city was soon filled with a frightened and disordered host,
thankful to have escaped with bare life.  All along the battlements
were seen groups of exhausted men, who wiped the sweat from their
brows, and drank deep draughts of wine to quench their burning thirst.
Only one was left outside: This was Hector, who remained of his own
free will, resolved to decide the issue in single combat with Achilles.

The Death of Hector


Having achieved his purpose, Apollo now resumed his own shape, and
halting before Achilles thus addressed him: "Knowest thou not me,
Achilles?  See, the Trojans are safe from thy fury, gathered within
their gates.  What wouldst thou have?  Is it my life thou seekest?
Cease, presumptuous mortal, and remember what thou art!"

"Thou hast foiled me, archer-god," answered Achilles, perceiving that
he had been tricked.  "Thou hast robbed me of my prey, or many another
Trojan would have bitten the dust.  I would make thee rue this wrong to
mine honour had I but the power."  Then, like a fiery courser starting
in the race, he sped away towards the city, bent on high designs.  Like
the red rays of that sultry star whose rising heralds in the fierce
heat of summer, the season of drought and fever, such was the bright
but fearful gleam which flashed from his armour as he ran.

Priam was the first who saw that ill-omened ray, from the place where
he stood, on the wall above the gate.  And when he marked the
destroyer's approach he groaned aloud, and beat his head, and then,
stretching out his hands over the battlements, thus spake unto Hector,
beseeching him earnestly, and with tears: "O Hector, my son, my son,
remain not there, thus deserted and alone, to abide the coming of that
fearful man, seeing that he is mightier far than thou.  He hath robbed
me of many a noble son, whom he hath killed or sold into captivity in
distant isles.  Spare me this last and bitterest blow!  Fling not thy
life away, to bring glory on Pelides, and on us sorrow and loss
unspeakable.  Alas! will it never cease, the storm of misery which
rains without pause on this white, distracted head!  No, I see them
flocking, the spectres of worse evils yet to come, sorrow on sorrow,
and woe on woe--murdered sons and daughters dragged into bondage, a
violated home, and little children dashed to the ground in the fury of
battle.  Last scene of all--an old man slaughtered on his own
hearthstone, and the dogs who fed at his table and guarded his door now
maddened by sights and sounds of horror, and lapping his blood!"

The old man broke off, overpowered by the dark vision which his fancy
had conjured up; and the appeal was taken up by Hecuba, the venerable
Queen of Troy.  "By this breast which nourished thee," she cried, "by
the sacred name of mother, I implore thee to abandon thy rash purpose.
Fly from this man, or he will slay thee, and dogs will devour thy flesh
in the Grecian camp."

But all the anguished entreaties of his father and mother had no power
to shake the resolution of Hector.  He could not go back now; he had
rejected with scorn the prudent advice which Polydamas had given the
night before, and had thereby caused the death of a legion of Trojans.
How could he face the taunts of the women whom his rashness had made
widows, and the mute reproaches of the children now orphaned by his
act?  He had openly defied Achilles, and it was too late to recall the
challenge.  A wild plan crossed his mind, only to be instantly
rejected: should he lay aside shield, and helmet, and spear, and go
unarmed to Achilles, offering to make an end of this lamentable war at
the cost of half the city's goods, and the free restitution of Helen
with all her wealth?  "No," he said, convinced at once of the desperate
folly of such an enterprise: "I should then be guilty of self-murder:
he would butcher me without mercy, before I had time to utter a word.
This is no time for gentle parley, as between maid and youth sitting in
soft dalliance under rock or tree: I must meet him with sword and
spear, for victory or death."

Achilles was now close at hand, with the mighty Pelian ash swaying on
his right shoulder, and his armour blazing like the light of the rising
sun.  When Hector saw him advancing, like an incarnate spirit of
vengeance, all his heroic resolves forsook him, and seized with sudden
terror he turned and fled.  And as a falcon swoops down on a hare, and
pounces, and pounces again, as his victim leaps and doubles, to escape
from the fatal clutch, so Achilles darted after Hector, following all
the turns and windings of his flight.  Past a low hill they went,
whence the Trojan scout had espied the advance of the Greeks not many
days before, and past the wild fig-tree, following a beaten road, which
led to two fair springs, the double source of eddying Scamander.  One
of the springs is of hot water, and a cloud of steam hangs over it,
like the smoke of a burning fire; but the other is cold as ice.  Here
were broad washing-pits, lined with stone, in which the wives and
daughters were wont to tread the clothes, in the old peaceful days,
before ever the Greeks had landed on the shores of Troy.  Leaving these
behind them, they sped on, and still on, pursuer and pursued.  Noble
was the quarry, but the hunter was nobler far, and never before had he
run in so keen a chase.  Like mettled steeds, which strive for the
mastery, where the prize is a vessel of gold or of silver, they flew;
but here they were running for a far higher stake, even the very life
of Troy's bravest son.

Three times they compassed the whole circuit of the walls, and again
and again Hector tried to draw his pursuer within range of the spears
of the Trojans who lined the battlements; but each time his effort was
defeated by Achilles, who barred his way to the city, and drove him
back into the open plain.

As one who pursues his enemy in a dream, and cannot catch him, though
he seems ever within reach, so was Achilles ever baffled, when he
strove to overtake Hector, and Hector, when he strove to escape.  All
the Greeks stood near in their ranks, watching the chase--and many a
time a spear was levelled at Hector, to strike him down; but Achilles
beckoned with his hand, and forbade his comrades to come between him
and his victim.

For the fourth time they came to the place of the washing-pits, and
here by mutual consent they paused to draw breath; for both were sore
spent with running, and could not go a step farther.  As Achilles stood
panting, and leaning on his spear, Athene drew near to him, unseen of
all the rest, and said: "He cannot escape us now, though Apollo should
grovel in the dust at the feet of Zeus, begging for his life.  Remain
awhile and recover thy strength, and I will go and persuade him to
fight thee face to face."

About an arrow's flight distant, Hector had come to a standstill, and
drooped heavily, resting his hands on his knees, half strangled by his
efforts to breathe.  Suddenly, to his amazement, he saw Deiphobus, his
brother, standing by his side, and heard the familiar tones of his
voice.  "Dear brother," said Deiphobus, "thou art hard beset, and
driven to bay by this fierce son of Peleus.  But lo!  I am here to aid
thee, and I will not fail thee in this strait."

"Deiphobus," answered Hector, "thou wert ever dearest to me of all the
sons whom Hecuba bore to Priam: but now thou art dear and honoured too,
since alone of all my nation thou hast dared to leave the shelter of
the walls."

"Ay," answered the pretended Deiphobus, "my mother and my father, and
all my friends, strove to hold me back; but my heart yearned towards
thee in thy mortal need.  But come with me, and together we will try
the fortune of war.  Go thou first, and I will follow."

Hector accordingly advanced to meet Achilles, who was already moving
towards him.  "I will fly thee no more," he said, when they were within
a spear's cast of each other, "I will either slay thee, or be slain.
But let us first make a covenant, and call the gods to witness it:
swear thou that, if I fall, thou wilt restore my body and my armour to
the Trojans--and I will swear to do the like by thee."

"Talk not to me of covenants, thou villain!" answered Achilles
fiercely.  "As there is no treaty possible between lions and men, no
concord between wolves and lambs, but only fear and hatred, so is there
hate unending between me and thee, which naught but death may cancel or
abate.  Summon up all thy manhood, and prepare to pay the price of my
comrades whom thou hast slain."

This said he poised and flung his spear; but Hector stooped low, and
the spear flew over his head, and sank deep into the earth.  Unobserved
by Hector, Athene drew it out, and gave it back to Achilles.  "Take now
my spear!" shouted the Trojan, "take it to thy heart, thou braggart,
that thinkest to dismay me with boastful words!"  The weapon flew
straight to its mark, and, striking the centre of Achilles' shield,
rebounded to a distance, and fell rattling on the ground.  Then Hector
called anxiously to Deiphobus, bidding him bring another lance.  But no
answer came, for the real Deiphobus was safe behind the walls, and he
who had appeared to Hector was a false Deiphobus, concealing the person
of Athene.

"Alas!  I have been deceived," said Hector.  "My last bolt is shot, and
my fate summons me to death.  Let me not die inglorious and without a
struggle, but in such wise that I shall be named with honour by
generations yet unborn."

Then, drawing his sword, he rushed upon Achilles, who came on slowly,
towering above the rampart of his shield, nodding his golden plumes and
brandishing high his spear, whose point twinkled and flashed like the
light of the evening star.  Scanning every joint in Hector's armour, at
last Achilles spied a point, between the shoulder-blade and the neck,
which was undefended; and at this mark he hurled his spear with all his
force and pierced him through the neck.  But the passage of his voice
was left untouched, so that he was still able to speak.

"Thou hast paid thy debt to Patroclus," said Achilles, standing over
his fallen enemy, "and now thou shalt pay the usury.  Dogs and vultures
shall give thee burial, but he shall lie in an honoured tomb."

"By thy life," answered Hector faintly, "by thy father's name, I
implore thee, give not my body to be devoured by dogs, but restore it
to my friends, who will pay thee a heavy ransom, that I may receive my
due in death."

"Thou dog!" replied Achilles, with a furious look, "talk not of thy
dues, nor name my father to me!  Would that I could find it in my heart
to carve and devour thy flesh, as surely as thou shalt not escape the
hounds and vultures, no, not if Priam were to offer thy weight in gold,
after what thou hast done unto me and mine."

"I knew that I should not persuade thee," said Hector, with his dying
breath.  "Thou hast a heart of iron.  But vengeance shall reach thee in
the day when Apollo and Paris shall subdue thee at the gates of Troy."

As he uttered this prophecy a shudder ran through his limbs, and the
gallant spirit fled to the land of shadows.

"Die!" said Achilles, as Hector uttered his last sigh.  "As for me, I
am prepared to meet my fate whensoever heaven wills its accomplishment."

Then he drew out his spear, and laying it aside, began to strip off the
armour which Hector had taken from Patroclus.  And the Greeks came
crowding round, to gaze on the beauty and stature of Hector, and stab
the helpless body with their spears.  Far other had he seemed to them
when he came with fire and sword to burn their ships, and fill their
camp with slaughter!

When Achilles had finished stripping the corpse, he stood up and spoke
thus to the assembled host: "Princes and counsellors of the Greeks, now
that the gods have granted us to slay this mighty champion, who hath
done us more harm than all the rest together, shall we not advance in
full force against the city, and end the war at one bold stroke?  But
alas! what am I saying?  We have another and a sadder duty to perform.
Patroclus lies among the ships, unburied, unwept, and shall I forget
him in this hour of triumph?  No; not in the hour of death, not in the
grave itself, which brings, they say, oblivion to all, shall my love
for him grow cold.  Therefore follow me, sirs, to the ships, and raise
the song of victory.  We have gained great glory, we have slain Troy's
chief defender, to whom all the Trojans prayed as to a god."

Then, in fulfilment of his horrible menaces, he prepared to take
hideous vengeance on his slaughtered enemy.  Stooping down he pierced
the dead man's feet from heel to ankle, and passed a leathern thong
through the holes; then he made fast the thong behind the chariot, and,
taking up the armour, he sprang into the driver's place, and lashed his
horses to a gallop.  So amid a swirling cloud of dust the fallen hero
was dragged along, with his dark locks streaming, and that comely head
marred and defiled; and Zeus delivered him to injury and outrage at the
hands of his enemies in his own native land.


But what were the feelings of the Trojans watching on the walls when
they saw their great champion fall, and with what eyes did the aged
king and the fond mother behold their Hector, their joy and pride, and
chief defence, butchered, mutilated, and dragged through the dust!
Through all the city arose a great cry of lamentation, and such horror
was written on every face as if the Greeks had carried Troy by storm,
and were filling her streets with fire and slaughter.  Priam was hardly
restrained from going forth at once, with the purpose of entering the
Grecian camp, and throwing himself at the feet of Achilles.

But there was another, bound by an even nearer and dearer tie to the
slain, who was the last to learn the fearful news.  This was
Andromache, Hector's wife, who was sitting at her loom in the
retirement of her chamber, weaving a piece of flowered tapestry.
Presently she left her task, and calling her handmaids bade them
prepare the bath for their master against his return from battle.  Her
face was cheerful and serene, and she smiled as she thought of the
happy meeting which seemed so near.  But in the midst of these pleasant
household cares a dreadful sound reached her ears--a shrill note, as of
women shrieking, mingled with the deeper groans of men.  "Hark!" she
said, turning deadly pale, and dropping the shuttle, which she had been
holding in her hand: "What mean these cries?"  Then, as she paused
again to listen, she heard the voice of Hecuba, raised in loud anguish
above the rest.  With a woman's quick instinct she divined that the
worst had befallen her, and shrieking: "Hector, my Hector, is slain!"
she hastened, with ashy cheeks, and tottering knees, to the walls.  The
crowd fell back at her approach, and every voice was hushed when they
saw her bending over the battlements, and gazing with wild eyes across
the plain.  Then she saw Achilles in full career towards the ships,
dragging her husband's body behind his car.  At that sight she gave one
gasping cry, and reeling back fell swooning into the arms of her
kinswomen who were standing ready to aid.  Thus for awhile she lay,
motionless and lifeless, with her long hair, escaped from its bands,
streaming about her.  At last she drew a deep, sobbing breath, and
opening her eyes looked into the anxious faces bent over her.  Then the
full consciousness of her loss rushed back upon her in a bitter flood,
and breaking from the gentle hands which held her she made as if she
would fling herself down from the battlements.  She was prevented by
kindly force, and led away, moaning and weeping, to her widowed home.

[Illustration: Captive Andromache.  Lord Leighton.  By permission of
the B.P.C., London]

The Funeral Games of Patroclus


When Achilles reached the camp, he commanded his men to remain under
arms, and led the whole company, with horses and with chariots, in
solemn procession, three times round the couch on which the dead
Patroclus lay.  When the strange rite was ended, the couch, which had
been brought out for this purpose, was carried back with its burden to
the tent, and they unyoked their horses, and prepared to take their
supper.  Hector's body was flung into a corner, where it lay exposed to
the burning sun, and the cold dews of night.  Achilles feasted his men
bountifully, and then went, attended by a special guard of honour, to
partake of a banquet in the royal tent.  Being invited to refresh
himself with a bath, he stubbornly refused, and swore a great oath that
he would never wash the stains of battle from his person until
Patroclus had been buried with all the pomp of woe.  At the banquet he
seemed ill at ease, and as soon as it was ended he prayed his kingly
host to have him excused, and went back to the quarters of the

Night came down, and silence fell on the sleeping camp.  Achilles had
not sought his bed, but had laid himself down on the sand, in a clear
space, where the billows broke at his feet.  There sleep soon overtook
him, stilling the dull ache of sorrow; for his limbs were very weary,
after that tremendous fight, and still more tremendous race.  And as he
slept the ghost of Patroclus came and stood by his side, like to the
living man in stature and in face and in voice, and in the very
garments he had on; and thus spake the spectre, in hollow and mournful
tones: "Ah! fickle heart, oblivious of the dead, canst thou sleep,
Achilles?  Has death broken the bond which united us in life?  Bury me
with all speed, and let me wander no more, a homeless ghost, at the
gates of Hades, disowned and rejected by the other spirits who have
crossed the dark river.  Give me thy hand, sweet friend, I entreat
thee!  For never again shall I return to earth, when ye have given my
body to the flames--never more shall we sit retired from our comrades,
as once in life, and take sweet counsel together.  My fate hath seized
me, and cast me down into the pit which was prepared for me when I was
born; and for thee too the bolt is prepared, which shall lay thee low
beneath the walls of Troy.  And one more charge have I to lay upon
thee: let not our bones lie apart, Achilles, but let us be joined in
death, even as we were united in life.  One home, one love, we shared,
and thy father was to me as mine own, from the day when I slew my
playmate in a childish brawl, and was brought by Menœtius to the
house of Peleus.  Therefore, when thy fate hath reached thee, let our
ashes be mingled in one urn."

"Wherefore, beloved," answered Achilles in his sleep, "hast thou come
hither to remind me of my duty, and seemest to doubt my love?  Come
nearer, that I may embrace thee!  Yet a little while let my heart beat
against thine, and ease its heavy burden of sorrow."

With these words he stretched out his eager arms to clasp Patroclus to
his breast; but the ghost eluded his grasp, and with one piercing wail
melted away like smoke into the darkness.  "Alas!" cried Achilles,
springing up in amaze, and summoning his comrades, "I perceive that,
even in the house of Hades, there is a spirit and a phantom of the
dead--but understanding none at all--for all night long the ghost of
the hapless Patroclus stood by my side moaning and lamenting, and
straitly charging me concerning all that I must do.  And the phantom
was in aspect as the living man himself."


At earliest dawn a long train of mules was seen ascending the lower
slopes of Ida, attended by a numerous company of men, all carrying axes
and ropes of withes.  The whole troop was under the command of
Meriones, the squire of Idomeneus, on whom the task had been laid of
providing fuel for the funeral pyre of Patroclus.  A large grove of
pines was felled, the trunks were divided into logs, and these were
bound into bundles and laid on the backs of the mules.  Then down the
slope they were driven at a quick trot, the men running beside them;
and when they reached the camp the mules were unloaded and the logs
piled up in an open space pointed out by Achilles.  A thousand willing
hands aided in the work, and soon a huge stack of pinewood towered in
the midst of the ships and tents.

When the pyre was raised, Achilles gave the order to the Myrmidons to
gird on their armour and harness the steeds to their cars.  The whole
army stood waiting, drawn up in silence on either side of the way by
which the funeral train was to pass; and presently the procession was
seen approaching.  First came the chariots, each carrying two men--the
driver, and the man-at-arms; behind these followed a numerous troop of
infantry, marching slowly in dense array; and in the space between the
corpse was borne, covered with locks of hair which the Myrmidons had
cut off as a last tribute to the dead.

Achilles walked behind the bier, supporting the head of Patroclus in
his hands, and moving heavily, as one that mourns for a brother; and so
they passed on, through the long lane of mailed warriors, until they
came to the place where the pyre was built.

Then Achilles took a sharp knife, and cut off from his forehead a long
lock of hair, and, placing the lock in the dead man's hand, turned
round and gazed wistfully across the dark gulf of waters which divided
him from his home.  "Alas for the hopes of men!" he said, in a voice of
distress.  "My father Peleus designed this lock for another purpose, as
an offering to thee, Spercheus, my native stream, if ever I returned
safe from the war.  But now thine altar, which stands in thy grove near
thy sacred source, shall never smoke for me again.  A foreign grave
awaits me, far from my home and kindred, and Peleus is absolved from
his vow.  Therefore to thee, Patroclus, I dedicate this lock."

The Greeks now dispersed to their quarters leaving those who were
nearest to the dead, by birth or by station, to perform the last rites.
The chief mourners approached the bier, and lifting it with the corpse
placed it on the top of the pyre.  Many sheep and oxen were slaughtered
and flayed, and the body of Patroclus was wrapped from head to foot in
the fat taken from the carcasses.  Then the carcasses of the victims
were heaped up round the bier, with jars of honey and olive-oil.  Four
horses were next slaughtered, and two favourite hounds of Patroclus,
and their bodies added to the rest.  Last of all the twelve Trojan
captives whom he had taken in battle the day before were led in chains
to the spot, butchered by Achilles with his own hands, and flung upon
the pyre.

"It is done!" cried Achilles, when this last savage tribute was paid to
his friend, "I have accomplished my vow, and the fire may now do its
work--but for thee, Hector, no fire shall be lighted, but dogs shall
devour thee."

That cruel threat at least was not to be fulfilled.  Unseen hands were
busy about the fallen Trojan hero, guarding him day and night from the
prowling dogs of the camp.  Aphrodite embalmed his body with a heavenly
essence, which closed all his wounds, and kept his flesh pure and
unharmed; and Apollo covered all the place where he lay with a dark
cloud, to shield him from the scorching rays of the sun.

Meanwhile torches had been brought to kindle the pyre.  But the huge
mass smouldered sullenly, and the victims remained unconsumed.  Then
Achilles took a golden bowl, and pouring a libation to Boreas and
Zephyrus, the twin gods of the winds, prayed them to lend their blasts
and blow the fire to a blaze.  Iris heard his prayer, and went swiftly
to call the winds to his aid.  She found them seated at table with all
their brethren in the house of Zephyrus; and thus spake Iris to that
boisterous company: "Why sit ye here feasting and making merry, when
there is work for you to do?  Hear ye not the prayers of Achilles, who
needs your help, that the pyre of Patroclus may burn freely, and
consume him to ashes, with all that lies about him."

Prompt at the summons, the winds arose, with clamour and uproarious
din, and rushed down the mountainside, chasing the clouds before them.
Over the complaining sea they swept, and flew whistling onward till
they reached the shores of Troy.  There they fell upon the smouldering
pyre, and the flames leaped and bellowed in response to the roaring
blast.  So all night long they lashed the fire to fury, and all night
long Achilles paced to and fro before the pyre, pouring libations from
a golden bowl on the ground, and calling aloud to the ghost of his
ill-starred friend.  As mourns a father when he burns the bones of his
son, a young bridegroom cut off by death on his wedding-day, so mourned
Achilles as the fire devoured his comrade's body--so pitiful were his
cries, so faltering his gait.

Towards dawn the fire began to die out, and nothing was left but a vast
heap of glowing ashes.  Then the winds went back to their home, and
earth and ocean sank to rest, beneath the gentle light of the morning
star.  Soothed by the calm influence of the hour, Achilles fell into a
fitful slumber, but was soon aroused by the sound of footsteps and the
murmur of voices.  Starting up, he saw a goodly company of nobles
approaching, with Agamemnon at their head; and with their assistance
the ritual ceremonies due to the dead were completed.  First, they
poured wine on the glowing mass of embers, till the last spark was
extinguished; then they collected the ashes of Patroclus, which lay by
themselves, surrounded by the charred remains of beasts and men.  A
costly urn of gold received the few handfuls of dust which were all
that remained of him whom they had so cherished and honoured; and the
urn was buried in a low mound of earth, which was one day to be raised
to a commanding height, as a monument to the great Achilles.


When the last tribute of sorrow had been paid, the rest of the day was
devoted to sport and festivity.  In heroic times funeral games were an
important part of the honours assigned to a fallen warrior; and those
of Patroclus were celebrated on a scale of unrivalled magnificence.

The great event of the day was to be the chariot race, and splendid
prizes were offered by Achilles, who was the sole patron and prize
giver, for the winners.  When the gifts were set in order, Achilles
rose and invited all who prided themselves in their horsemanship to
take part in the friendly contest.  "If," he said, "we were keeping
this festival in honour of any other Greek, I myself must needs carry
off the first prize; for no steeds in all the army can vie with mine,
the immortal coursers which were a gift from Poseidon to my father.
But this is a day of mourning both to me and to them; for they have
lost their gentle charioteer, and now stand, sorrow-stricken, with
manes drooping to the ground, in their stalls, deprived of his loving
care.  Therefore take your places, all ye who would prove the mettle of
your horses, and your own mastery of this gallant game."

Four chieftains brought their cars to try their fortune in the race:
Eumelus, a prince of Thessaly, a land renowned for its breed of horses;
Diomede, who drove the horses which he had taken from Æneas; Menelaus,
with a mare of Agamemnon's, named Arthe, and his own horse Podargus;
and Antilochus, whose car was drawn by a pair from his father's
stables.  Nestor, who knew their quality, which was indeed but poor,
accompanied his son to the starting-point, and as they were the first
to arrive he improved the occasion by proffering a world of good
advice, reinforced by many a pithy saw, showing Antilochus how the want
of speed may be remedied by cunning and skill.  "Art," he said, "is far
greater than force.  Art drives the axe, though aimed by a weaker arm,
deep into the heart of the oak; art controls the motions of tall ships,
by means of a very small helm; and art may save thee from reaching the
goal last in this race."

In the ancient chariot races the starting-point and the winning-post
were always the same, as it was the custom to run a certain distance,
and then wheel round a certain point, and return on the homeward track,
which was parallel to the other.  The turning-point was marked by a
pillar, or some other conspicuous object, and here a desperate struggle
often took place between the rival cars for the inside place, taxing
the skill and courage of the drivers to the utmost.  Nestor had been
over the course, and gave his son minute directions as to the
appearance and position of the turning-post, which was far off on the
plain, and invisible from the starting-point.  "You will see," he said,
"a withered stump of oak or fir, rising to about a fathom above the
earth, with a white stone leaning against it on either side.  There you
must turn; and see that you lose no ground in wheeling round to the
homeward track.  Give your right horse the reins, and urge him to full
speed with voice and lash, but rein in the other, and hold him back;
and let the nave of your left wheel just seem to graze the stump.  If
you can pass another car in turning, there is no fear that he will
catch you again.  Thou hast my counsel: go, and prosper--be wary, and
be wise."

At the last moment a fifth chariot appeared on the scene, driven by
Meriones.  Lots were cast for the stations, and Antilochus was so
fortunate as to obtain the inside place.  The cars drew up in a line,
Achilles gave the word, and away they went in a cloud of dust, the
horses' manes streaming, the drivers shouting, and the cars gliding
smoothly, or leaping and plunging at the uneven places.

Soon the cars began to separate by wider and wider intervals, and a
keen struggle ensued between the Thracian horses, driven by Eumelus,
and the Trojans, driven by Diomede.  Eumelus took the lead, but Diomede
followed him so close that he felt the hot breath of the pursuing
horses on his back.  So they ran for about a bowshot; then Diomede
dropped his whip, and his horses, wanting the lash, began to fall back.
This accident befell him by the malice of Apollo, who owed him a grudge
for the havoc which he had wrought among the Trojans.  But Athene had
not forgotten her favourite, and she contrived that he should recover
his whip, and put fresh mettle into his steeds.  Nor did she stop
there, but, overtaking the car of Eumelus, she broke the yoke which
coupled his horses, so that they reared violently in opposite
directions, and the pole of the car was dashed to the ground.  Thus
suddenly arrested at the height of his speed, Eumelus rolled headlong
from the car, and sustained woeful damage.  The skin was torn from his
elbows and nose and mouth, his forehead was severely bruised, and he
lay for a while senseless where he fell.  This mishap secured an easy
victory for Diomede.  Avoiding the wreck, he pressed onwards, leaving
the whole field far behind, turned the goal successfully, and drove at
an easy gallop along the homeward track.

He was followed at a long distance by Menelaus, now second in the race;
and the third place was held by Antilochus, whose ambition had been
fired by the unlooked-for good fortune of Diomede, so that he hoped by
some similar accident to obtain at least the second prize.  Cheering on
his horses, he went hard in pursuit of Menelaus, who was just then
approaching a difficult piece of ground, where the course had been
hollowed out by the winter rains.  The place was too narrow to allow
two cars to pass, and Antilochus determined to secure the lead before
Menelaus had time to reach the broad course on the other side of the
ravine.  Accordingly he plied the lash unsparingly, and overtook
Menelaus at the moment when he was about to enter the neck of the dry
watercourse.  "Keep back!" shouted Menelaus in alarm.  "Do not try to
pass me here, or you will wreck both our cars."

Antilochus pretended not to hear, and drove on harder than ever, so
that Menelaus, who was a timid driver, was compelled to rein in his
horses and let him go by.

While the race was being thus run, with varying turns of fortune, the
chieftains assembled round Achilles were sitting in their places,
waiting for the return of the cars, and discussing the chances of the
drivers.  Presently Idomeneus, who sat somewhat apart from the rest, in
a position which gave him a long view over the course, cried out
excitedly: "Diomede is leading!  I can see the white mark on the face
of one of the horses, which shows that he is one of the Trojan
stallions--the red chestnut, with a mark like a half-moon on his
forehead.  Look out, some of you who have younger eyes than mine, and
see if I am right."

"Hold thy peace, old prater!" said Ajax, son of Oileus, roughly.  "We
can see nothing yet--neither canst thou.  Eumelus was leading when we
saw him last, and doubtless he is leading still."

"Thou mannerless fellow!" answered Idomeneus hotly.  "Foremost in a
brawl, and in all else the least of the Greeks!  Come, let us lay a
wager, and Agamemnon shall hold the stakes; or art thou afraid to back
thy saucy tongue?"

Ajax started up in a rage, hurling abuse at the Cretan veteran, and
words would have soon led to blows, had not Achilles interposed his
authority to put an end to the quarrel.  "For shame!" he said, rising
from his seat, "I wonder to hear you, two men of name and high station,
wrangling like boors.  What avails this idle contention?  Wait but a
moment, and the winner will be here to answer for himself."

Even as he spoke, a loud huzza was heard, and a moment after, the
Trojan car, driven by Diomede, turned the last corner, and came racing
lightly down the last straight stretch of the course, until it was
pulled up before the chair of Achilles.  Sthenelus was standing ready
to welcome his comrade, and the first prize--a female slave, and a huge
cauldron for heating water for the bath--was forthwith delivered to the

After a long interval Antilochus came in, driving at a heavy gallop,
and hotly pursued by Menelaus, who was gaining at every stride, and had
by this time reduced the wide gap which had separated them to a mere
hand's-breadth.  His horses were displaying splendid mettle, especially
the mare Arthe, who had been given to Agamemnon by a wealthy noble of
Sicyon, as the price of his exemption from serving in the war; and if
the course had been a bowshot longer he would have passed Antilochus,
and taken the second prize.  As it was, he came in third, but those who
stood near as he was dismounting could see that he was red with
indignation, and big with some grievance, real or supposed.

The fourth was Meriones, who was a poor driver, and whose steeds were
the weakest; and last of all came Eumelus, with face sorely disfigured,
dragging his wrecked car behind him, and driving before him his horses.
"The last man is the best!" cried Achilles, moved to pity by his
ill-fortune.  "How say you, sirs?  Shall we not give him the second
prize?"  The proposal found general approval, excepting, of course,
with Antilochus, who loudly protested against such an award.  "Thou art
no friend of mine, Achilles," he said angrily, "if thou deprive me of
the gift which I have fairly earned.  Prizes are given to reward the
winners, not to console the unlucky.  If you wish to be generous, you
can make Eumelus happy by bestowing on him some other gift, of equal or
greater value, out of the rich store which is laid up in your tent.
But this prize is mine, and I will not give her up no, not if I have to
fight for her."

So saying, he seized the halter of the mare, who was tethered near,
with her foal, to be given to him who won the second place.

The great Achilles smiled indulgently at the defiant attitude of
Antilochus, who was very dear to him.  "It shall be as you say," he
replied.  "The prize is yours, and to Eumelus I will give the corslet
of Asteropæus, which I won in the battle yesterday."  Automedon brought
the corslet--a curious piece of work, finely fashioned in brass, with a
casting of white metal--and Eumelus' eyes glistened with pleasure as he
received it.

But the storm which had been lowering in the face of Menelaus ever
since Antilochus had passed him now burst.  Having caused the herald to
proclaim silence he took the staff from his hands, as a sign that he
had an important statement to make, and standing up before the whole
assembly proclaimed his wrongs to the ears of all.  "I am astonished,"
he said, "at the conduct of Antilochus.  He has beaten me in the race
by a trick, though his horses are far inferior to mine in any fair
trial of speed.  I appeal to all those present to say whether it is not
so.  If he denies it, let him take his whip in his hand, and holding
his horses by the rein swear a solemn oath, in the name of Poseidon,
the god of horsemanship, that he did not hinder me by fraud in the

Menelaus was clearly in the wrong, indeed, his whole plea was absurd;
for nothing but his own faint-heartedness had lost him the second
prize.  But out of respect to his high rank and amiable character
Antilochus was willing to appease him.  Accordingly he brought the mare
with her foal to Menelaus, and placing the bridle in his hand said
respectfully: "Spare me thy reproaches, gentle prince!  I yield to thee
the prize, and would sacrifice much more than this, rather than lose
thy favour and incur the anger of heaven."

As falls the refreshing dew on the bristling ears of barley, when the
crops are ripening, so fell the soft answer of Antilochus on the
Spartan prince's heart, and the sharp stings of resentment pricked him
no more.  "Thou shalt have the prize," he said mildly, "though it is
mine by right.  Thou art not wont to be so heedless of what is due to
others: but this time thy young blood didst get the mastery of thy
better sense.  Take heed that thou art not so reckless again.  I have
yielded to thee in this for thy father's sake, and for thine also; for
ye have both suffered many things in my cause."  And so the dispute,
which threatened to disturb the harmony of the meeting, was happily

Five prizes had been offered for the race, and as Eumelus had received
a special gift, the fifth prize, a drinking goblet, still remained
unclaimed.  Observing this, Achilles seized the occasion of showing his
esteem for the venerable King of Pylos.  So he took the cup, and going
to the place where Nestor was sitting put it in his hands.  "Take this,
father," he said, "as a memorial of our lost Patroclus, in whose honour
we are met to-day.  Thou art full of years and honours, and deservest
the highest prize of all, though thou canst not strive with young men
in boxing, or in wrestling, or in speed of foot."

"Thou sayest truly, my son," answered the old man, "my feet are heavy
with age, and my arms dart not nimbly from the shoulder, as they did of
yore.  Yet the day has been when none could vie with me in feats of
strength and skill.  Well do I remember the funeral games of a noble
prince of Elis, where I won the prize in every contest, except only in
the chariot race, and then I was overmatched by numbers, for the
winning car had two drivers, one plying the lash, and the other
managing the reins.  Alas for my youth!  Alas for my vanished strength!
Now I must be content to see others excel, though once I was mighty
among the mightiest.  Let then the games proceed, and receive an old
man's blessing for thy kindly gift."


"Now let the boxers try their skill and hardihood," said Achilles, when
he had returned to his seat.  "Here is a stout mule of six years old
for the winner, and for the loser there is a silver cup."

In answer to the challenge a huge champion named Epeus strode into the
ring, and, laying his hand on the mule, cried boastfully: "Come on,
whoever wishes to win the cup!  The mule is surely mine, for there is
no boxer here who can match me.  If there be anyone who would dispute
the prize with me, let him stand up, when he has made all ready for his
funeral--for I will pound his flesh, and batter his bones, until he is
fit only for burial."

Epeus, with his massive frame and brawny arms, seemed quite capable of
performing his threats, and it was some time before anyone was found
willing to face him.  At last Euryalus, an Argive, whose father had
been a famous boxer, was encouraged by his friend Diomede to try his
chances in this painful and dangerous sport; and having stripped to the
waist, and bound their hands with tough leathern thongs, the two
combatants confronted each other in the centre of the ring.  The
struggle was very short, for after they had fenced a little with their
fists Euryalus received a crushing blow on the side of his jaw, and
dropped in a heap where he stood, like a great fish flung by the waves
on the beach.  Spitting out blood, and rolling his head from side to
side, he was led away by his friends, and Epeus carried off the mule in

Then followed a hard-contested match between Odysseus and Telamonian
Ajax, for the championship in wrestling.  Stripped, like the boxers, to
the waist, they clutched each other in a fierce embrace, and remained
thus locked together, their strong arms crossed like the rafters in a
roof, and their sides growing black under the iron pressure.  They
seemed rooted to the ground, and neither could stir the other an inch.
Then Ajax, suddenly exerting his enormous strength, lifted Odysseus
bodily into the air; but Odysseus struck him with his heel behind the
knee, and they fell together, Odysseus above, and Ajax below.  Rising
again to their feet they wrestled a second bout, and this time
Odysseus, though foiled in his attempt to lift the huge bulk of his
antagonist, succeeded in tripping him by a crook of the knee, and they
came down again, and lay side by side.  Once more they would have
renewed the struggle, but Achilles put an end to the contest, and
awarded them an equal prize.

A beautiful silver bowl, the work of Sidonian artists, which Achilles
had once received as the ransom of the unhappy Lycaon, was now offered
as the first prize for the foot race.  The second prize was a fat ox,
and the third one half of a talent of gold.  There were three
competitors: the lesser Ajax, who was famed for his speed of foot,
Odysseus, and Antilochus.  The distance was about a furlong, and Ajax
took the lead from the start, though Odysseus pressed him so hard that
he seemed glued to him; and so they ran, without changing their
positions, over half the course, the Greeks shouting to encourage
Odysseus, who was a popular favourite.  Still Ajax held the lead, and
seemed about to win, when he slipped in a miry place, where the ground
was wet with the blood of the oxen slaughtered by Achilles at the
funeral of Patroclus, and pitched head foremost in the horrid mire,
which filled his mouth and nostrils.  But he was on his feet again in a
moment, and though he could not overtake Odysseus he succeeded in
obtaining the second prize.  "It is an old story," he said, holding the
ox by the horn, and spitting out the slime which filled his mouth;
"Odysseus was helped by Athene, who watches over him as a mother over
her child."

The Greeks laughed at his discomfiture, and found fresh matter for
mirth in the humorous excuses of Antilochus, who had been left far
behind in the race.  "You know," he said, "that the gods are always on
the side of the elder men; Ajax is a little older than I, and Odysseus
belongs to another generation.  But he is in a green old age, and none
can vie with him in speed, except only Achilles."

"Thy praise shall not be spoken for nothing," said Achilles, smiling,
and he gave him one half of a talent of gold as a reward for his good

Contests in archery and throwing the weight succeeded, and an encounter
with sword and spear took place between Ajax and Diomede.  Then
Achilles offered two prizes for throwing the javelin, and Agamemnon, in
recognition of his high rank and known skill in this exercise, was
allowed to take the first prize without a trial.  With this incident
the games came to an end.

Priam ransoms the Body of Hector


The busy day was over, and night sank down on the Grecian camp,
bringing to all, save one tormented spirit, the blessed gift of sleep.
With silence and solitude the pangs of sorrow awakened with new
keenness in the heart of Achilles, and he lay tossing and turning on
his uneasy pillow, seeking rest, and finding none.  A thousand memories
of his friendship with Patroclus--gallant adventures, hairbreadth
escapes, moving accidents by flood and field--coursed through his mind,
bringing home to him the immensity of his loss.  After some hours of
sleepless misery he sprang to his feet, and throwing on his clothes
went down to the sea, and roamed distracted along the sand.  With the
first glimmer of daylight he yoked his horses to the car, and drove
round and round the tomb of Patroclus, dragging after him the body of
Hector.  Having made the circuit of the tomb three times, he unyoked
his horses, and retired once more to his tent, leaving his lifeless
victim face downwards in the dust.

Twelve days passed; and every day the same outrage was repeated.  All
the gods, except Poseidon, Hera, and Athene, whose hatred of all things
Trojan was inveterate, were indignant at his senseless barbarity, and
they began to urge Hermes to steal Hector's body, and restore it to his
friends.  But nothing was done until, on the twelfth day, Apollo rose
up and reproached the gods, who were met in full assembly, for their
cruel indifference.  "Is there no pity," he said, "is there no justice,
left in heaven, that ye suffer this inhuman son of Peleus to wreak his
brutal fury on the body of a man of stainless life, constant all his
days in sacrifice and prayer?  All your favour is lavished on Achilles,
who has the heart of a ravening lion, nourished in havoc and carnage.
Death lies about the paths of mortals, taking their nearest and their
dearest; yet sorrow must sleep at last, for patience is the best gift
which the gods have given to men.  But this man is more cruel in his
love than in his hate, and because he has lost a friend his rancour
burns on like an unquenchable fire."

"Thou forgettest," answered Hera, "that Achilles is the son of a
goddess, and shares the privileges of divine descent.  His father also
was a favourite of heaven, and thou thyself, Phœbus, didst lend the
music of thy harp to grace his nuptials; but now, it seemeth, thou
takest delight in baser company."

"Fair consort," said Zeus, "be not thus implacable.  Granted that
Achilles stands higher in honour, yet Hector hath also his claim on our
regard, for none was ever more pious than he.  Therefore, that we may
end this miserable coil at once, let Iris go and summon hither his
mother Thetis, that we may contrive some way of restoring Hector to his

Iris hastened to obey the command, and, stooping from Olympus to the
surface of the sea, dropped like a leaden plummet into the purple
depths, until she reached the grotto where Thetis dwelt.  She found her
sitting among the Nereids, mourning the lot of her matchless son, whose
death was near at hand.  "What wants the monarch of heaven from me?"
she asked, when she heard the summons from Zeus.  "I am ill prepared to
attend the happy session of the gods, for grief has clouded my mind and
marred my face."  Nevertheless she rose to go, and putting on a veil of
funereal blackness followed Iris, who brought her speedily to the
assembly of the gods.

"We thank thee, Thetis," said Zeus, beckoning her to a seat next to his
throne, "that thou hast answered so promptly to our call.  We know thy
sorrows, and have respect for thee and thy son; and for this cause have
we sent for thee.  For nine days there has been strife among us,
concerning the body of Hector, which Achilles still keeps in his
possession.  Some there were who would have had Hermes steal it away,
but this I would not suffer, out of regard to thy son's honour.  But go
thou to the camp, and tell him that we are sore displeased with him,
because in his madness he keeps the corpse of his enemy and will not
ransom it.  And I will send Iris with a charge to Priam, that he may go
with acceptable gifts to the tent of Achilles, and redeem the body for


Still nursing his wound, still torn by the demons of rage and grief,
Achilles sat moodily in his tent, while his comrades were busy about
him, preparing the morning meal.  Suddenly he felt a gentle touch on
his shoulder, and looking up he saw his mother's face bent over him,
with looks of sympathy and love.  "My son," she said, in a low sweet
voice, "how long wilt thou devour thy heart in bootless anguish,
refusing meat and drink, and spurning the tender offices of human
affection?  O darken not the little remnant that remains to thee of
life, but take what good thou canst, and at least live as a man.  I
have come with a message to thee from Zeus, who bids thee to give up
Hector's body, and receive the ransom which his friends will offer

"Be it so," answered Achilles.  "Let them bring the price, and I will
give back the body."  Overjoyed by his ready consent, Thetis bade him
farewell, and returned to her ocean home.

Meanwhile the ever-active Iris was gone on another errand, carrying the
commands of Zeus to Priam.  Swiftly she passed through the streets of
Troy, and entered the house of woe, where the voice of sorrow had never
ceased since the day when Hector had fallen by the hands of Achilles.
Priam himself was lying prostrate on the ground in the courtyard, with
his white locks defied with dust and ashes.  Round him were gathered
his sons, trying in vain to rouse him from his stupor; and at the
windows were seen from time to time the white faces of women, when any
of his daughters paused in their household tasks to glance at the
sorrow-stricken group outside.

Lying thus, mute and motionless, Priam was startled to hear a still,
small voice, which seemed to be speaking at a great distance,
addressing him in these words: "Take comfort, son of Dardanus, and be
not dismayed!  I who speak have not come to foretell thee harm, but
only good.  Thy cries and thy groanings have gone up to the ear of
Zeus, and he hath sent me to comfort and advise thee.  Hearken now, and
do as I shall tell thee: let them prepare thee a wain, loaded with
precious gifts, and go thou in thy car to the tent of Achilles, and let
only a herald go with thee, a man stricken in years like thyself, to
guide the mules.  Fear nothing, for heaven is near thee, and the gods
have put it into the heart of Achilles to hear thy prayer."

To the amazement of those who stood near, and who knew nothing of the
cause, new life and energy were seen to enter the palsied limbs of
Priam, and starting to his feet he ordered his sons to prepare the mule
car, and make fast to it the great wicker basket which was used for the
carriage of goods.  Then, without staying for question or reply, he
hastened into the house, and calling to Hecuba made known to her his
purpose.  When she heard what he intended, Hecuba lifted up her hands,
and answered in tones of astonishment and terror.  "Is it Priam who
speaks--the monarch revered for his wisdom even in distant lands--or is
it some madman who has taken upon him Priam's likeness?  What, wilt
thou go into the presence of that butcher, whose savage hands have made
thee all but childless?  Faithless and ruthless as he is, thinkest thou
that he will reverence thy grey hairs?  No, he will slaughter thee
without pity, and give us new cause for tears.  Hector hath received
the portion appointed to him at his birth, and dogs shall eat his flesh
where he lies in the tent of that man of blood.  May the curse of
heaven light on his slayer!  Would that I could tear his heart with my
teeth, and devour it!  Then would my noble son be avenged, who died
bravely before the face of all his people, with no thought of flight or

But Priam was not to be shaken in his resolve.  "Seek not to hinder
me," he answered, "and vex me not with thy evil forebodings.  I go not
at the bidding of any earthly prophet, but with direct assurance of the
aid and countenance of heaven.  If I have been deceived, I am prepared
to die, so that the stroke but find me holding my son in my arms, and
clinging to him in a last embrace."

With that he went to his treasure-chamber, and opening the chests of
cedarwood took from them rich robes, choice tapestries, and costly
raiment.  To these he added ten talents of gold and a bowl of silver,
which he had received as a gift of honour when he went on an embassy to
Thrace.  And having set the gifts in order he went forth again into the
courtyard, to hasten the preparations for his journey.  Finding there a
crowd of Trojans, whom some rumour had drawn to the palace, he drove
them all out, beating them with his staff, and crying: "What make ye
here, idle caitiffs?  Have ye not sorrow enough at home that ye come
hither to chatter and pry into my grief?  Ye will soon learn what ye
have lost in my Hector, when ye fly like sheep without a shepherd
before the wolves of Greece."  The Trojans fled before the old man's
anger, and he looked about him, seeking his sons.  "Where are ye," he
cried, "children of my shame?  Would that ye had all perished, and
Hector alone were left!  Alas! the best are ever taken first, and in
those that remain there is neither comfort nor strength, but only
dishonour and reproach.  Liars, dancers, devourers of the people--these
are my children now."

Roused by the loud rebukes of their father, the young princes made
haste to bring forth the mule car and harness the mules.  Then they
loaded the car with the gifts to Achilles, and yoked to the chariot the
horses which Priam himself was to drive.

When all was ready, Hecuba came and stood by the chariot, bearing a
golden cup filled with wine.  "Take this," she said to Priam, "and pour
a drink-offering to Zeus, if so be that he will vouchsafe thee a sign,
and show thee whether it be by his will or not that thou goest on this

"Thou sayest well," answered Priam.  "It is a good thing to hold up our
hands to heaven in prayer."  Thereupon he washed his hands in water,
which was brought by a handmaid, took the cup from his wife, and
standing by the altar in the middle of the courtyard lifted up his
voice and prayed: "Lord of Ida, most glorious, most great, grant that
the heart of Achilles may incline in pity towards me, and send thy
messenger, the swift eagle whom thou lovest best of all fowls, that
having seen him we may go with good heart and courage to the Grecian

Even as he spoke, a mighty eagle was seen soaring over the city on the
right hand, with his vast wings outspread, like the folding doors of a
rich man's house.  Rejoicing in the omen, Priam mounted his chariot,
and drove through the echoing porch, preceded by the herald Idæus, who
drove the mule car.  Along the streets they passed, making what speed
they could, through the multitudes who had flocked out to see them
depart, and who mourned them as already dead.

Night had fallen, and all the sky was thick set with stars, as they
left the city gates, and turned their faces towards the sea.  When they
reached the ford of the river they paused to let the animals drink: and
while they halted Idæus suddenly cried out in tones of terror: "My
lord, we are undone!  I see a man approaching, and I fear he means us
no good."  Priam peered out into the darkness, following with his eyes
the pointing finger of Idæus, and saw a tall figure moving with rapid
steps towards them.

"What doest thou here?" said the stranger, who was a graceful and
comely youth, and whose voice sounded like the chiming of a silver
bell.  "Why art thou here unguarded, at the very gates of the foe?  But
be of good cheer--I will not harm thee, nor suffer others to do so.  I
see in thee a likeness to my dear father."

"Fair youth," answered Priam, whose alarm had vanished before the
gentle mien and kind words of the young Greek, "surely some god has
sent thee in my way, in pity for my helpless state.  Tell me, who art
thou, and who is the father who is blest with such a son?"

"I am a follower of Achilles," was the startling reply, "and came
hither in the same ship.  My father is Polyctor, a wealthy man, and of
like age with thee.  I am the youngest of seven sons, and the lot fell
upon me to follow the host to Troy.  And this night I came out to spy
upon the movements of the Trojans."

"If thou art a comrade of Achilles," said Priam, "thou canst tell me
concerning my son Hector.  Lies his body still by the ships, or has
Achilles given it already to his dogs to devour?"

"Neither dog," answered the other, "nor unclean fowl hath approached
him, nor hath the worm had power over his flesh.  Unmarred by violence,
untouched by decay, he lieth, without soil or stain, and all his wounds
are closed.  This miracle the gods have wrought, in the great love
which they bear him."

"Glad news thou tellest me," said Priam, "and now I know that piety
hath its reward, even in death."  Then he took out a silver cup from
the mule car, and offering it to the stranger said: "Take this for
thyself, and conduct me safe to the ships of Achilles, that I may see
the face of my son."

"Tempt me not, old man," replied the Greek.  "This cup belongs to
Achilles, and if I should steal it from him what thinkest thou that he
would do unto me?  But come, give me the reins, and I will guide thee
to thy goal--yea, though it were in distant Argos, thou shouldst reach
it safe and sound, and none should molest thee."

So saying, he sprang to the side of Priam, and took the reins.  Under
his guidance the horses seemed to be endued with wings, and in a very
short time they reached the main entrance of the camp.  The gates flew
open, as if by magic, and all the sentries were sleeping at their
posts.  On to the extreme verge of the camp they went, still
unchallenged, and drew up at length before a high stockade, within
which were the quarters of Achilles.  Once more the gates opened at a
touch, and they entered.  Here the mysterious stranger dismounted from
the car, and turning on Priam a countenance which shone with a
celestial radiance he said: "I have brought thee to the place where
thou wouldst go, and now I will leave thee, for the task is finished
which Zeus my father gave me to do.  For know that I am Hermes, the
herald of the gods, and the strong helper of those that are in need."


The dwelling of Achilles, which, for want of a better word, we have
called a tent, was in reality a roomy building, constructed of solid
pine trunks, and thatched with moss and rushes.  On this memorable
evening Achilles was sitting in the main apartment of the dwelling, and
two of his squires were removing the vessels used at the evening meal.
The light of the fire gleamed fitfully on his face, and he seemed in a
gentler and more placid mood than had been usual with him for many
days.  He had partaken freely of food and wine, and conversed
cheerfully with his attendants.  He was now silent, and sat musing
quietly by himself, when suddenly, to his amazement, an old man of tall
stature and regal port entered the room, and throwing himself on the
ground before him clasped his knees and kissed his hands--those
terrible murderous hands!--bathing them with his tears.  Like a man who
has slain a fellow-countryman, and enters the house of some wealthy
noble, where a great company is gathered, to implore shelter and
protection--for the avenger of blood is at his heels--so seemed that
aged man to Achilles and those that were with him, so trembling,
helpless, and forlorn.  And as they gazed in deep wonder, murmuring to
each other the name of Priam, he began, in a voice broken with weeping,
to urge his petition: "Pity me, Achilles, for thy father's sake, an old
man like me, standing on the brink of the grave.  Maybe he is in sole
straits, oppressed by those that dwell about him, for want of thy
succouring arm.  Yet still he has hope, as long as thou livest, and
looks forward to the joyful day of thy return.  But what hope have I,
what solace, what refuge from the blows which fate aims without ceasing
at mine afflicted head?  Fifty sons I had, when the sons of Greece
first came to these shores, and of these the greater part have paid
their last tribute to the stern god of war.  And he, the bravest and
the best, the bulwark of my city, fell by thy hand not many days since.
Him have I come to ransom at a great price.  In the name of thy father,
in the name of the gods whom we both adore, have mercy on me,
Achilles--on me, who have found it in my heart to do what mortal never
did before, to lift to my lips the hand that slew my son!"

Then at last that iron-hearted man was melted into compassion when he
saw the renowned King of Asia prostrate at his feet, humbled to the
dust for the sake of one poor boon--permission to give his son's body
to the grave.  And the sight of all that misery awakened anew the
thought of his own sad lot, his recent loss, his brief and troubled
life, soon to be ended by a coward's hand, the desolation of his home,
and his father pining in solitary old age.  Surely he also had cause
enough for tears!

So the two great enemies were united for the time by the common bond of
human sorrow.  Then Achilles rose, and, taking the old man by the hand,
led him to a seat, and placing himself by his side said to him: "O
marked by sorrow's seal before all the children of men, what a heart
must thou have, to meet me face to face, who have given to death so
many of thy valiant sons!  But thou knowest that it is the common lot:
only the gods know neither care nor grief, but mortal life is
encompassed with ills.  Two caskets there are which stand by the throne
of Zeus, one filled with good gifts, and the other with evil gifts.
And for the more part Zeus mingles the gifts, and tempers much evil
with a little good; but now and then some wretch receives naught but
evil, and wanders from land to land as misery's thrall, branded by the
malice of fate.  To Peleus, my father, good things were given at
first--wealth, power, and prosperity, and a goddess for his bride.  But
now he is receiving his portion of ill.  And thou too, Priam, wast in
old times renowned for the number of thy blessings, and men called thee
great king, happy father, and envied thine abundance.  But in thy
latter years thou hast seen naught but wars and fightings, losses and
deaths.  So shifts the tide, so turns the scale, now up, now down, and
naught that we can do will avail to raise or diminish by one tittle the
sum of our fate."

Up to this point Priam had prospered in his mission beyond his hopes.
But now he obtained a glimpse of the fearful passions which were
smouldering in the breast of Achilles, and ready at any moment to leap
up in devouring flames.  Being invited by Achilles to stay and rest
awhile before resuming his journey, he would have refused, alleging
that he could not rest until he had the body of Hector safe in his
keeping.  But that fierce and imperious nature brooked not the
slightest hint of opposition.  "Provoke me no further, old man," said
the terrible chieftain, with a dark glance at his guest.  "Hector's
body thou shalt have--but there must be no unseemly haste.  My heart is
exceeding sore; touch not thou the galled spot, lest I should do thee
mischief, and break the ordinances of heaven."

Then, leaving Priam where he sat, Achilles went out with Automedon and
another of his squires, and, bidding Idæus attend his master, they
unyoked the mules, and brought in the ransom.  "Now, haste thee,
Automedon," said Achilles, in a low tone, "go with the handmaids to the
place where Hector's body lies, and when they have washed and anointed
it return with it hither.  Be silent, and be wary; for if Priam sees
what ye are doing--if he catches sight of Hector's body, where now it
lies--I fear that he will break out into anger against me, and becoming
outrageous provoke me to slay him."

Having carried out their orders with all due caution, they brought the
body, wrapped in fine linen, and Achilles with his own hands placed it
in the mule car.  But he groaned in spirit when he thought of his
promise to Patroclus, and cried aloud, invoking his ghost: "Take it not
amiss, my Patroclus, when the news reaches thee in the house of the
dead, that I have restored the body of thy slayer.  His father hath
paid me no mean ransom, whereof thou shalt have thy share."

The laws of hospitality required that Priam should not leave Achilles'
roof without breaking bread.  Accordingly, on his return to the house,
Achilles urged his guest to take some food.  "Remember," he said, "that
Niobe herself, so constant in her sorrow that even now, though turned
to a stone, she weeps and weeps for ever--even she tasted food when the
first anguish of her grief was passed.  Thou knowest her sad story--how
she boasted that she had borne twelve fair children, six stalwart sons
and six lovely daughters--and taunted Leto that she had only borne two.
But those two were Apollo and Artemis, a god and a goddess, and they
slew all the children of Niobe, to avenge the insult to their mother.
Apollo slew the sons with his silver bow, and Artemis, the
archer-goddess, slew the daughters.  For nine days they lay in their
blood, with none to give them burial; but on the tenth day the gods
buried them with their own hands.  And if she, that stricken mother,
could sit down to meat, so do thou also, Priam; after that, thou shall
take some sleep, and at dawn I will send thee back in safety to Troy."

The meal was prepared, and they sat down face to face at the same
table, joined as host and guest, after all that had passed between
them.  But Priam's eyes were exceeding heavy, for he had hardly closed
them in slumber since the awful day when he saw Hector stricken to
death before his sight; and after tasting a morsel he begged Achilles
to show him the place where he was to rest.


Priam's bed was laid under the portico which ran round the outside of
the dwelling, for fear lest any chance visitor to Achilles should see
him if he lay within.  Overcome by weariness, he soon fell into a deep
sleep.  But in the dead of night he was roused by the voice of Hermes,
whose watchful eye had never left him, and who now came to warn him of
the perils by which he was surrounded.  What if Agamemnon should hear
that the King of Troy was lying asleep in the midst of the Grecian
camp!  All the wealth of Troy would hardly suffice to ransom such a

Priam rose in haste, now fully alive to his danger, and found the
horses ready harnessed, and Idæus waiting with the mule car.  The same
powerful hand which had brought them to the dwelling of Achilles now
smoothed the way for their return, and day was just breaking as they
crossed the ford of the river.

The first to observe their coming was Cassandra, a daughter of Priam,
who was watching from the highest tower of the citadel; and the report
soon spread throughout the city that Priam was returning, bringing with
him the body of Hector.  Then not a man nor a woman was left in the
city, but all with one accord streamed out through the gates to meet
the strange procession.  There was seen Hecuba, the mother of the
slain, leaning on the shoulder of Andromache, his faithful wife; and
following them at a distance, with downcast eyes, avoiding the looks of
hate which were cast at her, went the fatal Helen.  During all the
years that she had lived as an unwelcome guest in the house of Priam,
Hector had never reminded her by a look or a word of the miseries which
she had brought on his country.  He was all gentleness, all goodness,
even to her, who had sinned so grievously against him and his people;
and when hard words were aimed at her by any of his kinsfolk his
patience and charity had ever been her shield.

By the authority of Achilles a truce of eleven days was granted to the
Trojans to celebrate the obsequies of Hector.  For nine days he lay in
the chamber prepared for him in the palace, and all the city was given
up to mourning.  On the tenth day they buried him, and on the eleventh
they raised his monument.

And so, after long delay, that knightly spirit passed into its rest.


  Abydos (abī'dos)
  Abas (ă'-bas)
  Achilles (akil'les)
  Æneas (eenee'as)
  Æacides (eeă'cidees)
  Ægæ (ee'gee)
  Æthe (ee'thee)
  Agamemnon (agamem'non
  Agenor (agee'nor)
  Ajax (a'jax)
  Alœus (alō'yūs)
  Alcathous (alcă'thō-ŭs)
  Alcimedon (alkĭ'mĭdon)
  Anchises (ankī'sees)
  Antenor (antee'nor)
  Antiphus (an'tĭfŭs)
  Antea (antee'ă)
  Andromache (andrō'măkee)
  Antilochus (antil'ōkŭs)
  Antimachus (anti'măkŭs)
  Aphrodite (ăfrōdī'tee)
  Ares (ā'rees)
  Artemis (ar'tĕmĭs)
  Asclepius (asklee'pĭŭs)
  Astyanax (asti'ănax)
  Asius (ā'sius)
  Ascalaphus (ascăl'ăfŭs)
  Asteropæus (asterōpee'ŭs)
  Athene (athee'nee)
  Atreus (ā'trūs)
  Ate (ā'tee)
  Aulis (au'lis)
  Automedon (autō'mĕdon)
  Axius (ax'ĭŭs)

  Balius (băl'ĭŭs)
  Bathycles (băthĭ-clees)
  Bœotia (beeō'tĭă)
  Bellerophon (bellĕ'rōfōn)
  Boreas (bōr'ĕās)

  Calchas (cal'kas)
  Castor (cas'tōr)
  Cebriones (kĕb'rĭōnees)
  Charops (kā'rops)
  Chiron (kī'ron)
  Chrysa (krī'să)
  Chryseis (krī'see'is)
  Chryses (krī'sees)
  Chimæra (kĭmee'ră)
  Clytæmnestra (clīteemnes'tră)
  Cœranus (kee'rănŭs)
  Cronos (crōn'ōs)

  Dares (dă'rees)
  Deiphobus (deeĭf'ōbŭs)
  Democoon (deemōk'ōōn)
  Diomede (dī'ōmeed)
  Dione (dio'nee)
  Dolon (dōl'ōn)
  Dodona (dōdō'nă)

  Eëtion (ee-ĕt'ĭōn)
  Epeus (ĕpee'ŭs)
  Eris (ĕ'ris)
  Euchenor (ūkee'nōr)
  Eumelus (ūmee'lŭs)
  Euphorbus (ūfor'bus)
  Euryalus (urī'ălŭs)
  Eurybates (ūrĭ'bătees)
  Eurydamas (ūrĭ'dămas)
  Eurypylus (ūrĭ'pĭlŭs)
  Eurynome (ūrĭ'nōmee)

  Ganymede (gănĭmeed)
  Gargarus (gar'gă'rŭs)
  Glaucus (glau'cus)

  Hades (Hā'dees)
  Harpalion (harpăl'ĭōn)
  Hecuba (hĕc'ŭbă)
  Hebe (heebee)
  Helenus (hēl'ēnūs)
  Hephæstus (heefees'tūs)
  Hera (hee'rā)
  Hermes (her'mees)
  Heracles (her'āclees)
  Hippolochus (hippōl'ō-kus)

  Idæus (īdee'ŭs)
  Idomeneus (īdōm'enyŭs)
  Ilios (ī'lĭōs)
  Iphidamas (īfĭ'dămās)
  Iris (ī'ris)
  Ithaca (ĭ'thăcă)

  Laertes (lāĕr'tees)
  Laodice (laō'dĭkee)
  Laodocus (lāō'dōkŭs)
  Laogonus (lāō'gōntĭs)
  Lemnos (lem'nos)
  Leucus (loo'kŭs)
  Locris (lō'cris)
  Lycaon (līcā'ōn)

  Machaon (măkā'ōn)
  Menœtius (mĕnee'tĭŭs)
  Menelaus (mĕnĕlā'ŭs)
  Menestheus (mĕnĕs'thyŭs)
  Meriones (mee'rĭŭnees)
  Mycenæ (mīsee'nee)
  Myrine (mĭrī'nee)

  Neoptolemus (nĕ-ōptōl'ĕmŭs)
  Nereus (nee'rūs)
  Nestor (nes'tōr)
  Nireus (nī'rūs)

  Oceanus (ōsee'ănŭs)
  Odysseus (odis'syŭs)
  Œneus (ee'nyŭs)
  Oileus (ōī'lyŭs)
  Othryoneus (ōth'rĭōnyŭs)

  Pæan (pee'an)
  Pandarus (pan'dărŭs)
  Paphlagonia (păflăgōnĭa)
  Patroclus (pătrō'clŭs)
  Pedasus (pee'dăsŭs)
  Pelops (pĕl'ops)
  Peneleos (peenĕl'ĕōs)
  Phænops (fee'nops)
  Phegeus (fee'gyūs)
  Phereclus (fĕrĕ'clŭs)
  Philoctetes (fĭloctee'tees)
  Phocis (fō'kis)
  Phthia (fthī'ă)
  Podalirius (pōdălī'rĭŭs)
  Podargus (pōdar'gŭs)
  Podes (pō'dees)
  Polydeuces (pōlĭdyū'kees)
  Polydamas (pōlĭ'dămas)
  Polyctor (pōlic'tor)
  Polydorus (pōlĭdōr'ŭs)
  Polyidus (pōlĭī'dŭs)
  Poseidon (pŭsī'dōn)
  Priam (prī'am)
  Protesilaus (prōtĕsĭlā'ŭs)
  Prœtus (pree'tŭs)
  Pylos (pī'los)
  Pyræchmes (pĭreek'mees)

  Samothrace (sămōthrā'kee)
  Sarpedon (sarpee'dōn)
  Scamander (scăman'dĕr)
  Scamandrius (scăman'drĭus)
  Scyros (skī'ros)
  Sicyon (sĭk'ĭōn)
  Simoeis (sĭm'ōeis)
  Simœisius (sĭmōei'sĭŭs)
  Sisyphus (sĭ'sĭfŭs)
  Solymi (sōl'ĭmĭ)
  Socus (sō'cŭs)
  Spercheus (sperkee'ŭs)
  Stentor (sten'tōr)
  Sthenelus (sthĕn'ĕlŭs)

  Talthybius (talthĭb'ĭŭs)
  Telamon (tĕl'ămōn)
  Telemachus (tēlĕ'măkŭs)
  Tethys (tee'thĭs)
  Teucer (tyū'ser)
  Thetis (thē'tĭs)
  Thersites (thersī'tees)
  Tiryns (tī'rins)
  Tydeus (tī'dyūs)

  Zephyrus (zĕf'ĭrŭs)
  Zeus (zyŭs)

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