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Title: Achilles
Author: Becker, Karl Friedrich
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Achilles" ***

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                   [Illustration: _DEATH OF HECTOR_]

                    _Life Stories for Young People_


              _Translated, and abridged from the German of
                         Carl Friedrich Becker_

                            GEORGE P. UPTON
              _Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc._

                        WITH THREE ILLUSTRATIONS

                  [Illustration: A. C. McCLURG & CO.]

                          A. C. McCLURG & CO.

                          A. C. McClurg & Co.
                       Published September, 1912


                          Translator’s Preface

In tracing the career of Achilles in connection with the Trojan war,
that inimitable classic story-teller, Carl Friedrich Becker, follows the
lines of Homer’s Iliad. He gives the reader a graphic picture of the
stirring events in the ten years’ siege maintained by the Greeks, under
the leadership of Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ, in their finally successful
effort to redress the injury done to Menelaus, king of Sparta, whose
wife, Helen, was carried off by Paris. The striking points in this
thrilling narrative are the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles; the
exploits of Hector, noblest character of them all; the human
impersonations of the gods, who take part in the strife—some on one
side, some on the other; the death of Patroclus; the final
reconciliation of Achilles and Agamemnon and the former’s tremendous
exploits; the death of Hector, and the touching interview with the aged
Priam, who seeks to recover his body.

The ultimate fate of Achilles and the fall of the city are not told, nor
the wretched end of Agamemnon, who, according to Æschylus, was killed by
Clytemnestra, the queen, upon his return. Hector is one of the most
conspicuous figures in this great drama and appears only second to
Achilles among all the warriors. The exciting Trojan war story has never
been told more graphically or interestingly in modern prose than in
Becker’s version. In adapting it to the series of “Life Stories” the
translator has been obliged to abridge the original work somewhat, but
the parts omitted do not interfere with the flow of the story.

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, _May_, 1912.


  Chapter                                                           Page
  I The Greeks March Against Troy—Agamemnon Quarrels with Achilles    11
  II Thetis Promises to Aid the Angry Achilles and Begs Jupiter’s
          Assistance—Juno is Angry—Agamemnon and the Other Princes
          Summon the Greeks to Battle                                 21
  III Meeting of the Armies—Menelaus and Paris—Agamemnon Leads the
          Greeks into Battle                                          28
  IV Continuation of the Battle—The Gods Take Part                    38
  V The Greeks are Successful—Hector Hastens to the City—Glaucus
          and Diomedes, Hector and Andromache                         46
  VI Hector and Ajax in Single Combat—A Truce—Another Battle at
          the Ships                                                   53
  VII Agamemnon Advises Flight—Council of the Princes—A Deputation
          is Sent to Achilles                                         63
  VIII Agamemnon in Battle—Many of the Greeks are Wounded             71
  IX Agamemnon Consoled—The Gods Take Part in the Strife and the
          Trojans are Driven Back                                     82
  X Jupiter’s Message to Poseidon—The Battle for the Ships            90
  XI Patroclus Hastens into Battle and Scatters the Trojans—Hector
          and Patroclus                                               97
  XII The Fight for Patroclus’ Body—Achilles Mourns His Fallen
          Friend—Thetis and Vulcan—The Shield of Achilles            104
  XIII Achilles and Agamemnon Become Reconciled—Achilles Goes into
          Battle                                                     115
  XIV Achilles in Battle—His Fight on the River Scamander            120
  XV Hector and Achilles—Hector’s Death                              131
  XVI Priam and Achilles—Hector’s Burial in Troy                     139


  Death of Hector                                         _Frontispiece_
  Rescue of Paris by Aphrodite                                        34
  Thetis Consoling Achilles                                          110


                               Chapter I
     The Greeks March against Troy—Agamemnon Quarrels with Achilles

Troy was a small portion of that section of Asia Minor which was later
called Phrygia. Its northern coast touched the entrance to the
Hellespont. It was very densely populated and had, besides many little
plantations, villages, and settlements of farmers or herdsmen, a large
city with a strong wall, towers, and gates. Homer never called the city
Troy, but always Ilios or Ilium. The surroundings he calls Troy and the
inhabitants Trojans, after an ancestor named Tros, who was said to have
founded the city. He describes them as a bold, enterprising people, who
lived in a high degree of comfort and practised many arts of which the
Europeans of that time were ignorant.

The Achaians, as Homer calls the inhabitants of Greece, and the Trojans,
engaged in mutual depredations upon each other’s property,—until at last
the long-standing national hatred broke out violently through the fault
of the Trojans. Alexandros, or Paris, one of the sons of the old Trojan
king, Priam, sailed across to Europe and paid a visit to King Menelaus,
ruler over several cities in Sparta. He was hospitably received and
entertained for many days, but repaid his good host with most shameless
ingratitude. He persuaded the queen, the beautiful Helen, to forget her
duty and flee with him. Menelaus sought revenge and called upon his
brother Agamemnon, ruler over Mycenæ, old Nestor of Pylos, Ulysses of
Ithaca, and many other valiant princes to ally themselves with him. A
number of young lords who had long been wishing to take part in some
glorious enterprise, like the expedition of the Argonauts, of which
their fathers had so much to tell, offered their services with
innumerable followers.

News of the mighty campaign which was being arranged spread throughout
Greece, causing great rejoicing. Everyone looked upon it as a great
opportunity and an event in which it would be shameful not to take part.
A whole year passed in preparing the equipments. In the meanwhile Nestor
and Ulysses travelled about everywhere to persuade the princes of Greece
and its neighboring islands, who had hesitated hitherto, not to miss
their share in the honors and spoils which so brilliant a campaign was
sure to afford. For the object was nothing less than the destruction of
the celebrated city of Troy, and the booty which was to be expected from
such a rich people was incalculable. They had excellent success on this
recruiting expedition, calling upon Peleus, father of Achilles in
Thessalia, King Idomeneus in Crete, old Telamon in Salamis, and others.

The harbor of Aulis in Bœotia was selected for the place of meeting and
at the appointed time more than one thousand ships assembled, with men
from all parts of Greece. They agreed to offer the command to Agamemnon,
one of the foremost among the princes, partly because he had brought the
largest following and partly because he and his brother had organized
the campaign. He was, besides, a clever and honorable man and a brave
warrior, although considerably inferior in physical strength to
Achilles, the invincible.

All was ready for departure, but the ships waited in vain for a
favorable wind. It was supposed that some god was delaying the voyage
and that he must be propitiated by an offering, so the priest Calchas
was commanded to consult the oracle. After observing the usual signs he
announced that Agamemnon had slain a sacred animal in the chase, thereby
offending Artemis, who now demanded a human sacrifice in the shape of
Agamemnon’s eldest daughter, Iphigenia. She was accordingly brought to
the altar, but Artemis relented at the moment when the fatal stroke was
about to be given, removed the trembling maiden in a dense cloud, and
put an animal in her place. When Iphigenia awoke from her swoon, she
found herself in the temple of Artemis in Taurus, where she served for a
long time as priestess.

The same day, after this sacrifice, a favorable wind swelled the sails
and the impatient heroes boarded their ships. In a few days the fleet
arrived at Troy. On the way they had stopped to plunder a few cities on
the islands of Scyros and Lesbos, had killed the men, and taken the
women on board as slaves. After landing they proceeded in the same
manner in the country about Troy. At the end of the war the godlike
Achilles boasted that he alone with his Myrmidons had conquered twelve
rich cities by sea and eleven by land in the Trojan territory. The booty
which each skirmishing party brought in to camp was divided and the
chief always received the best of everything. The inhabitants of the
capital were safe behind their walls, and as the Greek forces were
seldom united, the Trojans were often able, by a sudden sortie, to
repulse the attacking parties which ventured too near the gates. This
desultory warfare continued for several years, until many of the
Achaians began to long for home. But they were ashamed to depart thus,
without having accomplished their object. The leaders concentrated their
men and began the siege in earnest.

The Trojans now took measures for more careful defence and sent to the
neighboring peoples to demand their aid. Many princes responded to the
call with their followers, until they had formed an alliance equal in
strength to the Achaians. In the tenth year of the siege fortune seemed
to have turned her back on the Greeks, for besides the hardships of war,
they had to contend with a pestilence, and finally were nearly destroyed
by the Trojans, while their two mightiest chiefs, Agamemnon and
Achilles, were quarrelling.

Agamemnon had plundered a city and had taken Chryseïs, daughter of a
priest of Apollo, for his slave. In the same way Achilles had become
possessed of a maid named Briseïs, to whom he became so attached that he
wished to keep her always with him. After a time the priest appeared in
the Greek camp with rich presents to ransom his daughter, but Agamemnon
did not wish to give up the maiden and returned a harsh answer. The
Greeks urged him to release the maid out of respect for the priest and
for fear of Apollo’s wrath, but the obstinate man refused to listen to
reason and bade the father depart on pain of chastisement. With loud
lamentations the old man retired to the seacoast and prayed to Apollo.
The legend tells us that Apollo at once left Olympus, seated himself at
some distance from the ships, and began to shoot his arrows into the
Greek camp. Whatever was struck died a sudden death by the plague. First
the donkeys and dogs and then the men fell victims. The pestilence raged
for nine days, during which the funeral pyres burned incessantly.

This filled the leaders with great apprehension, so that on the tenth
day Achilles summoned a folk assembly and advised the people to call
upon the seer Calchas to discover what fault of the army had brought
this woe upon them and by means of what sacrifice the god might be
appeased. Calchas hesitated, but at length answered that he knew the
reason, but feared to give it until the bravest among the heroes had
sworn to protect him in case a man of great power among the Achaians
should be angry at his decree. Then Achilles stood up and made a public
vow to protect him, even though the man he meant were Agamemnon,
mightiest of the Greeks. “Very well, then,” replied Calchas, “I will
declare the truth. Yes, it is Agamemnon with whom Apollo is angry, for
he has dishonored his priest and has refused to restore his daughter to
him. Therefore hath he sent this punishment upon us and we cannot escape
it until the maiden shall be returned freely to her father and a rich
sacrifice has been offered to the god upon his holy altar.”

Agamemnon, trembling with rage, cried: “Miserable seer, must I do
penance for the people’s sins? The maiden is wise and well trained in
feminine tasks. I prize her above my spouse, Clytemnestra, and must I
give her up? Let it be so; take her! I will bear even more than this for
the people’s good. But I tell you, ye must provide another gift in her
place, for she was my share of the booty.”

“Avaricious, insatiable man,” answered Achilles, “what dost thou demand?
I knew not that we had treasures in reserve. Therefore be patient until
the gods aid us to conquer rich Troy. Then thou mayst replace thy
treasure many times over.”

Although this speech was just, the angry man imagined that it was
intended in mockery and he cried: “Not so, Achilles; strong and brave as
thou art, thou shalt not intimidate me! Dost thou expect to keep thy
spoils and the others theirs, while mine is taken from me? I tell thee,
if I receive no compensation, I will myself take it from thy tent or
those of Ulysses or of Ajax, or wherever I please, and let him whom I
despoil avenge himself. Take now the maiden, put her aboard the ship,
together with the sacrificial steer, and row her to Chryse, where her
father lives, that the god may no longer be angry with us.”

This speech infuriated Achilles and he cried angrily: “What! Thou
wouldst take away my prize? Did we march against the Trojans for our own
sakes? Not I, indeed! They never injured me, nor ever robbed me of a
horse or cow, nor pillaged my newly sown fields. I was well protected by
wooded hills and the broad sea and never thought of Troy in my Phthian
home. It was solely on thy account, thou selfish, shameless man, that I
came hither to avenge thine and thy brother’s sullied honor. And this
hast thou so speedily forgotten and threatenest even to take away the
spoils which the Achaians have unanimously accorded me and which I have
honestly earned? Have I not hitherto borne the chief burden of the war?
Who has fought as much as I? Let him appear! And when have I received
prizes like thine? Thou hast always taken the best of everything, while
I have contented myself with little. Very well! Thou mayest fight alone!
I return to Phthia!”

“Fly, if thy heart bids thee!” flashed forth Agamemnon in anger. “Truly
I shall not beg thee to remain. There are other warriors here through
whom Jupiter will help me to achieve honor. Thou hast been obnoxious to
me from the beginning. Thou hast ever loved quarrelling and strife and
hast never kept peace. Thy strength hath been given thee by the gods and
thou dost pride thyself altogether too much upon it. Thou mayest sail
away with all thy followers and rule peacefully over thy Myrmidons. Thy
wrath is nothing to me. But I tell thee, that as Phœbus Apollo has taken
Chryse’s daughter from me, I shall take from thee the rosy daughter of
Briseïs, thy prize, so that thou mayest learn how much more powerful I
am than thou, and that no other in future shall dare to defy me as thou
hast done.”

In a rage Achilles drew his shining sword from its scabbard to cut down
Agamemnon. Suddenly, unseen by all the rest, the goddess Athena stood
behind him and whispered to him not to draw his sword against the king,
but that he might scold as much as he pleased. “Thy word I must obey, oh
goddess,” answered Achilles, “though anger fills my heart. The gods
attend those who follow their counsel.” With these words he returned his
sword to its scabbard, but turning to Agamemnon he cried: “Thou
miserable drunkard, with the look of a dog and the courage of a hare!
Never hast thou dared to risk a decisive battle or to lie in ambush with
the other nobles; but it is more comfortable to take away his prize from
the single man who opposes thee. I swear that thou shalt never again see
me raise my arm against the Trojans, though all thy Achaians should
perish and thou shouldst beseech me on thy knees to save thee.”

Thus he spake, and dashing his sceptre upon the ground, sat down in
silence. Agamemnon was preparing to answer this passionate speech when
up rose old Nestor, reverenced like a father by everyone for his age,
wisdom, and experience. When it was seen that he wished to speak all
were quiet. Even Agamemnon bridled his anger, and the well-meaning old
man began: “Dear friends, what are you about! What an unhappy fate do ye
bring upon us all! How Priam, his sons, and the whole Trojan people will
rejoice when they hear that the foremost Achaians are quarrelling.
Listen to me, for ye are all much younger than I. However much power the
Achaians have given thee, Agamemnon, do not abuse it. Let Achilles keep
the prize with which the Achaians have rewarded him. And thou, Achilles,
do not defy the king, for never has Jupiter crowned a king with such
honor as this one. Though thou art stronger than he and boastest thyself
of divine ancestry, he is the more powerful and all the people obey

“Truly, honorable father,” answered Agamemnon, “thou hast spoken
worthily. But this man is unreasonable; he wishes to be above all
others, to rule all, to make laws for all.”

Achilles interrupted him. “Indeed I should be a coward did I submit to
all thy insults. I will keep the vow I have sworn. One thing I will
say—if the Achaians wish the maiden they have given me, they may have
her. But woe to thee if thou layest hands upon my other spoils.”

Agamemnon insisted on taking the maiden, and he had the power to carry
out his threats. Wisdom counselled Achilles to surrender what he was not
strong enough to hold. He withdrew from the quarrel with more dignity
than his unjust enemy, and his threat of abandoning the war gave him
ample satisfaction. The result proved his value. He had thus far been
the only one able to vanquish Hector, Priam’s most valiant son; and now
that he had withdrawn, it was the Trojans, day after day, who were the
victors. It seemed as though a god had doomed the Greeks to destruction.

Agamemnon first sent Ulysses to conduct his slave and the appointed
animals for the sacrifice to her father’s home. Next he called upon two
heralds to fetch the beautiful Briseïs from Achilles’ tent. They obeyed
his command in fear and trembling. But Achilles banished their fears,
saying: “Come hither, ye sacred messengers and peace be with ye. For ye
are not to blame, but he who sends ye. He shall have the maid. Go,
Patroclus, and fetch her out. Ye are all witnesses before gods and men
that I have sworn never to lift a hand again for Agamemnon against

They received the maid from the hands of his friend, Patroclus, and she
went reluctantly away with them, often glancing sorrowfully backward
toward the tent of her former beloved master.

                               Chapter II
      Thetis Promises to Aid the Angry Achilles and Begs Jupiter’s
  Assistance—Juno is Angry—Agamemnon and the Other Princes Summon the
                            Greeks to Battle

Achilles gazed gloomily after the men, then arose quickly and seated
himself far from his companions on the beach, looking moodily out over
the dark waters. He bethought him of his mother, Thetis, who lived in
the blue depths of the sea, spread out his arms, and prayed to her for
aid. She heard him and hastened to appear. Floating over the sea like a
cloud, she seated herself beside her weeping son and tenderly caressed
him. “Dear son, why dost thou weep?” she asked. “What troubles thee?
Speak! Conceal nothing from me.” With deep sighs he related what had
happened to him, begging his mother to avenge his wrongs and to
intercede for him with Jupiter.

It was early on the twelfth day since Achilles had retired from the fray
when Thetis rose from the dark waves and ascended the heights of
Olympus. She found the mighty Jupiter seated on the summit of the
mountain, apart from the other gods, bowed herself before him, embraced
his knees with her left hand, and caressed his chin with her right hand.
“Father Jupiter,” she said coaxingly, “if thou lovest me, grant me a
boon and show favor to my son, who has but a short life to live. Give
him redress against Agamemnon and let the Trojans prevail, until the
Achaians shall be obliged to recompense him with redoubled honors, for
this base insult.”

The father of the gods and men began dejectedly: “Thou wilt involve me
in strife and enmity with Juno. Even now she quarrels with me and says I
am aiding the Trojans. Leave me quickly, that she may not see thee, and
I will grant thy request with a nod.”

The goddess descended from the shining heights of Olympus into the
depths of the sea, while Jupiter arose and went to his palace. When the
gods saw him coming they all left their places and went respectfully to
meet him. He approached the throne and seated himself. But his jealous
consort had noticed Thetis and began straightway to pick a quarrel with
him. “Yes, I saw the silver-footed Thetis at thy knee, saw thy nod, and
saw her depart content. Doubtless thou art about to honor Achilles once
more, castigate the Achaians, and protect the insolent Trojans.”

“Thou art continually spying upon me,” answered the ruler. “But it shall
do thee no good—I do as I please. Therefore sit still and be silent, for
shouldst thou arouse my anger, all the immortals together could not save
thee from my powerful hands.”

Thus spake the Thunderer, and Juno was frightened. All the gods were
sorry for her, especially Hephæstus, the artist god of fire; for she was
his mother, and he had already learned that Jove’s threats often
received terrible fulfilment. He began in his mother’s behalf: “It is
intolerable that thou shouldst quarrel over mortals. I admonish thee,
mother, to bear thyself acceptably, that our father may be content and
our feast be undisturbed.” He took his goblet, and handing it to his
mother, said: “Be patient, dear mother, even though grieved at heart,
that I may not have to look upon thy punishment. Once before when he
struck thee and I attempted to restrain him, he took me by the heel and
cast me down into the air, so that I fell for a whole day before I
struck the earth, and I have limped ever since.”

The mother smiled and took the cup, and Hephæstus filled the goblets of
the other gods. Then Apollo with his muses broke forth in sweet song,
and thus the day passed among the immortals in blissful contentment.
When Helios had put out his flaming torch, each went to his dwelling to
rest. Jove was the only one whom sleep fled. He meditated anxiously how
he might favor Achilles by defeating the Greeks. He sent a deceptive
dream to Agamemnon, telling him to prepare for battle and that it would
be easy for him to conquer the city. As soon as he awoke, Agamemnon told
the other princes of his dream. The assembly was called together.
Agamemnon was uncertain whether he dared call upon the discontented
army, and wishing first to feel his way, he began to talk of their
return. “Here we have lain for ten years,” he said. “The ships are
rotting, the anchor ropes are mouldering, and we have as yet
accomplished nothing. Indeed the gods seem to be against us. Therefore
my advice is that we quickly put to sea and sail for home before the
Trojans do us a greater mischief. You all must see that we cannot take
the city.”

He had scarcely ended when the whole company rushed exultantly away to
the ships, for all were anxious to return to their homes. This was more
than the king had expected and he looked on in despair, while the other
brave leaders gnashed their teeth. They were powerless to stay the
tumultuous rabble until Ulysses, hurrying forward with quick presence of
mind, admonished leaders and men to return to the assembly. “Do not be
in such a hurry,” he would say when he met one of the princes; “hear the
end. Thou dost not know the king’s mind yet. He but wished to test us,
and woe to thee if the mighty king’s wrath overtake thee.” Then he drove
the people back, and they came with a roar like angry waves breaking on
a rocky shore. They knew Ulysses’ warlike spirit and feared he might
advise renewal of the struggle. Only respect for his great authority
moved them to return.

When all the princes were seated and order had once more been restored,
Ulysses was about to take up the sceptre. Suddenly Thersites pushed
forward. He was despised by the whole army as a quarrelsome, insolent
fellow, who seldom let an opportunity go by to insult the princes, not
excepting Agamemnon himself, with mocking, rebellious words. He was the
ugliest of all the Greeks, having a lame foot, a deformed shoulder, a
pointed, bald head, and a cast in one eye.

“What wilt thou now, Atreus’ son?” he shrieked at Agamemnon. “I should
have thought thou hadst collected enough money and valuable spoils to
have satisfied thy avarice. Dost thou desire still more? Must the
Achaians still sacrifice themselves to fill thy insatiable throat? Are
ye not ashamed, ye princes, to suffer such a king to lead ye to
destruction? But ye are women or ye would desert him and embark without

“Silence, foolish babbler!” cried Ulysses. “If I ever again hear thee
slander one of us so shamelessly, true as I live, I will tear thy
clothes from thy body and whip thee out of the assembly so that the
whole camp shall hear thy cries!” Thus spake the hero, beating him about
the back and shoulders with the sceptre, so that he cowered down and
then ran away crying out.

The heralds now commanded silence as Ulysses again stood up to speak.
Turning to Agamemnon he said: “Oh son of Atreus, how badly have the
Achaians kept faith with thee. They promised not to return home until we
had conquered Troy, and now they act like children. I do not blame
anyone for longing for his home after ten years of absence. But just
because we have waited so long, it were a shame to return when we are so
near the goal. For we must succeed or all the signs of the immortal Jove
are a mockery. Did not Calchas tell us, back in Aulis, how it would be?
Do ye not remember the sparrow’s nest in the beautiful maple tree near
our altar? I can still see the spotted serpent gliding up its trunk and
swallowing the eight young birds and catching the frightened mother bird
at last by the wing. We were all alarmed at the omen, but Calchas
interpreted the occurrence favorably. He said: ‘The war shall consume
nine years, but in the tenth, Troy shall fall.’ Behold, friends, the
prophecy is about to be fulfilled, and will ye now flee? Wait but a
short time until we have taken the proud city of Priam, and then let us
depart laden with rich booty and crowned with immortal glory.”

Old Nestor next arose to persuade those who still hesitated. “That is
right,” he said. “Let reason speak to you. Shall our great plans go up
in smoke and shall our sacred vows to Menelaus and his good brother,
Agamemnon, be broken? Indeed no! Lead the Achaians into battle, great
king, and most of them will, I hope, cheerfully follow thee. Let the men
be gathered together by tribes, that each may fight for his own blood.
Then thou shalt clearly see whether the gods protect the city or whether
it is the cowardice and ignorance of our army which defeats us.”

“Well spoken!” cried Agamemnon. “We must not rest until the fortress is
taken. Jove will surely aid us. His flashing lightnings as we left Aulis
are the surest pledge of this. The city would already be ours had I ten
men in my army as wise as thou art, O Nestor, and alas! had Achilles not
left us—Achilles, whom I have wounded so sorely. But come! Let everyone
prepare for the battle. Let us quickly refresh and strengthen ourselves
and then advance upon the city in a body.”

With these words he dismissed the assembly and the people streamed back
to the tents to arm themselves and take some food. The king invited all
the chiefs to join him at breakfast in his tent. Nestor, Idomeneus, the
two brave Ajaxes, Diomedes, and Ulysses were there, besides his brother
Menelaus. They took a steer, strewing sacred barley upon it, and while
they all stood about it in a circle, Agamemnon lifted up his voice and
prayed to Jupiter for victory. Alas! he did not know that the god had
turned against him.

The drivers harnessed their horses, the warriors donned helmet and
shield and took up their lances, and the heralds lifted up their mighty
voices above the din, to call the stragglers together. Company after
company, they assembled like a swarm of migrating birds. Then the
princes hastily mustered the ranks and arranged the races and tribes as
Nestor had advised. But the king called to them in a loud voice to fight
bravely, and when all was in readiness they swept forwards with a din
and outcry, like a flock of screeching cranes.

                              Chapter III
Meeting of the Armies—Menelaus and Paris—Agamemnon Leads the Greeks into

The Trojan nobles were holding a council of war before the palace when
Iris, a messenger from Jupiter, appearing in the shape of Priam’s son
Polites, joined them. He came from one of the watch towers and brought
the news that an incalculable number of Achaians was approaching.
Hastily the council broke up, each chief going to assemble his people,
that they might be ready to meet the Greeks before they should reach the
city wall. In their midst were many heroes, but distinguished amongst
them all for invincible strength and heroic courage were Hector, son of
Priam, several of his brothers, and also Æneas, a connection of the
royal house.

Masses of men now poured out of the open city gates and ranged
themselves in long lines of battle. The Achaians advanced ever nearer,
but could not be distinguished for the tremendous dust which arose
before them, enveloping them like a cloud. When they came to a
standstill the leaders at last recognized one another. In front of the
Trojans marched the godlike Paris, wearing a leopard skin, his bow slung
over his shoulder, his sword on his thigh, and swinging two javelins in
his right hand. With mocking words he challenged the bravest Achaians to
combat. His arch-enemy, Menelaus, was the first to hear him and his
heart swelled with anger, while he burned to meet the robber of his
honor. He guided his chariot toward him, sprang hastily down, and ran to
meet him, eager as a lion to spring upon its prey. The handsome youth
was frightened at his appearance and fled, vanishing among the throng of

His brother Hector saw his flight and was indignant at the sight.
“Coward,” he cried, “would that thou hadst never been born or else hadst
died ere ever thou didst learn to seduce women! Now thou hast made a
laughing-stock of thyself before both armies. I can only wonder how thou
hadst ever the courage to go to a foreign land and there to steal away a
beautiful woman. The deed has been the undoing of us all and brought
eternal shame upon thyself. Menelaus appears quite different to thee
to-day, I suppose, from what he did then? Had he caught thee, thy lute
and curled hair, thy slender shape, and the favor of Aphrodite had
availed thee little. Were the Trojans not a cowardly rabble thou wouldst
long ago have paid the penalty for all thou hast brought upon them.”

Paris answered: “Thou art right, brother. But forgive me. Wouldst thou
see me fight, bid the others cease and let me challenge Menelaus to
single combat before the people. Then let whichever is the victor take
Helen, with all the other treasures, that the Trojans and Achaians may
part in peace.”

These words pleased Hector and he advanced, holding out his lance before
the Greeks and calling upon them to cease fighting. The arrows of the
enemy fell about him like rain until Agamemnon spied him and cried
loudly: “Stop, men! Do not shoot, for he wishes to speak to us.”

Hector called out: “Hear me now, Achaians and Trojans! Paris, my
brother, the cause of all this trouble, would also make an end of it and
challenges Menelaus to single combat. Whichever wins shall take both
Helen and the treasure and the death of the vanquished shall end the
war. Ye shall all return to your homes and we will swear a bond of

Menelaus listened, well pleased, and stepped forth to accept the
challenge, only stipulating that a solemn pledge should be taken with
all the customary sacrifices and observances and that King Priam should
himself be present at the combat. All this was willingly granted.

In the meanwhile Agamemnon and Hector sent for the lambs and goats for
the sacrifice. Priam was seated upon the city wall near the Scæan gate
with the elders who were no longer able to go into battle, and there the
message was brought him by a herald. Helen also received the message,
which she heard with pleasure, hoping in her heart that Menelaus might
be the victor; for she had begun to long for her former husband, her
native city, and old friends. She hastily wrapped herself in a silvery
veil of linen and hurried away to the Scæan gate, accompanied by two
female attendants. The aged men at the tower were entranced with her
beauty and compared her to one of the immortal goddesses. Priam welcomed
her kindly, saying: “Approach, my daughter. Sit here beside me, that
thou mayest see all thy dear relatives and thy former husband. Do not
weep. It is not thy fault. It is the immortal gods who have sent us this
unhappy war. But tell me, who is that stately man who stands out amongst
all the others, so noble and commanding in appearance?”

“How kind thou art, gracious father, and how unhappy am I!” answered
Helen. “Would I had died ere I followed thy son hither. That stately
hero of whom thou speakest is Agamemnon, the powerful king of Mycenæ. He
was my brother-in-law. Alas! would that he were now.”

“So that is Agamemnon!” replied Priam slowly, observing him with
admiration. “But tell me more. I see one who is not so tall, but with
broad chest and mighty shoulders. He has laid his weapons upon the
ground and goes among the soldiers, from one company to another, even as
a ram musters the flock.”

“That is Ulysses, Laërtes’ son,” said Helen; “a good soldier and the
wisest of them all in council.”

“That is true, and now I recognize him myself,” said Antenor. “He came
with Menelaus into the city, as ambassador from the Achaians, to make
terms for thee.”

“But look!” cried Priam. “There go two others, who appear to be powerful

“Truly they are valiant heroes,” answered Helen. “The first is Ajax of
Salamis and the other Idomeneus, king of Crete. He often visited us and
Menelaus entertained him gladly, for he is an excellent man.”

While this conversation was going on, there came a herald to the aged
king to announce that the chariot was waiting to take him to the
battlefield. On their arrival in the midst of the two armies, Agamemnon
advanced to meet the king, surrounded by the other princes. Heralds went
among the company, sprinkling the hands of each with water; for none
might perform a sacred rite with unclean hands. Then Agamemnon drew a
great knife from his belt and sheared the wool from the lambs’ heads and
the heralds gave a piece of it to each prince. Then Agamemnon lifted up
his hands and prayed: “Father Jupiter, glorious ruler, and thou, Helios,
all-seeing sungod; ye Streams and Earth and ye Shades who punish those
who swear falsely, be ye witnesses of our vows and of this solemn
treaty. If Paris vanquish King Menelaus, he shall keep Helen and her
treasures and we will return to our country. But if he fall in the
fight, the Trojans shall give up the woman, together with all the
treasure, and pay us besides a fair tribute in this and future years.
And should they ever refuse to fulfil this vow, I shall renew the war
and never stop until I have received full satisfaction.” All took the
oath and the king cut the throats of the lambs and laid them down upon
the ground. Then each took wine and poured the first drops upon the
earth in honor of the gods, saying: “May Jupiter thus spill the blood of
him who shall first break the sacred oath.”

“Worthy men,” said old Priam, with tears in his eyes, “grant me leave to
return home that I may not look upon the combat. Let Jupiter decide. He
knoweth best the right.” With these words he was lifted into his chariot
and Antenor drove him swiftly to the palace.

Hector and Ulysses, the arbiters of the combat, now measured off the
ground and put the lots in a helmet, one for Menelaus and one for Paris,
in order to decide who should first cast his spear. Hector shook the
helmet until one of the lots flew out. It was that of Paris. The
bystanders at once retired to a distance and seated themselves in a
circle. Paris, in shining armor and carrying a heavy javelin, advanced
from one side and Menelaus from the other into the middle of the arena.
They shook their weapons fiercely and Paris was the first to cast his
javelin. But he struck only the edge of Menelaus’ shield; the point was
bent and the spear fell harmless to the ground.

Menelaus cast his spear with such force that it pierced the shield and
would have penetrated his heart had Paris not quickly sprung aside. But
while he was gazing in dismay at the wreck of his shield, Menelaus
sprang upon him with drawn sword and had cloven his head in twain had
not the thick helmet shivered the brittle blade. For the third time he
sprang at Paris and seized him by the helmet to throw him to the ground,
but at the same moment the chin strap broke and Menelaus’ arm flew up
and he found himself holding the empty helmet in his hand. Paris took
the opportunity to rush away and take refuge among the Trojans, and when
Menelaus turned to cast his spear a second time at him, he had already
disappeared. It was the friendly goddess Aphrodite who had saved him.

While the Greeks were loudly acclaiming the victor, Jupiter put it into
the heart of a Trojan to shoot an arrow at Menelaus. Pandarus was the
man’s name and Athena herself had put the arrow into his hands just as
Menelaus passed under the city wall. But the wound was not dangerous and
was quickly dressed by Machaon with a salve which he always carried
about him. The victorious cries of the Achaians now changed to cries of
rage. All condemned the treacherous act and called down the vengeance of
Jupiter upon the Trojan people.

             [Illustration: _RESCUE OF PARIS BY APHRODITE_]

Agamemnon assembled his cohorts once more and hastened among the ranks
encouraging, threatening. Brave Idomeneus he found ready armed amongst
his Cretans. Next he mustered the tribes under command of the two
Ajaxes, which were ready to go into battle. The next company that he met
were the Pylians, under the command of young princes whom old Nestor
directed. The old man was even now going about among the men,
restraining the horsemen and placing the weaker in the middle, with the
more courageous and experienced at the front and on the sides, and
giving much valuable advice to the young leaders. Well pleased,
Agamemnon hurried on to the Athenians and Cephallenians, led by
Menestheus and Ulysses. He found the two chieftains conversing
unconcernedly together and called to them: “Is this the interest ye take
in the war? All the rest are armed and ready and would ye be left
behind? Ye are always foremost at the banquet and now ye look on while
ten companies of Achaians enter the battlefield before ye.”

Ulysses answered, darkly frowning: “What words are these, oh ruler? When
hast thou ever found us tardy in battle? When the fight begins we shall
not be far away, and thou shalt see the father of Telemachus at the
front amongst the Trojan horsemen. Those were empty words thou spakest!”
Smiling at his anger Agamemnon answered: “Noble son of Laërtes, thou
needest no advice nor blame from me, for we are of one mind. Let it be
forgotten if I have spoken harshly.”

He hastened to the next company, where he found Diomedes and Sthenelus
standing together in their chariot, the former with sad and disheartened
mien. “What, son of Tydeus!” he said to him, “thou seemest disturbed and
art trembling. Thy noble father knew no fear. What deeds that man
accomplished! His son is less heroic in battle, though more ready of

“Speak not falsely, Atride,” answered Sthenelus, as Diomedes bowed
respectfully under the king’s reproaches. “We boast ourselves braver
than our fathers, for they led many foot-soldiers and horsemen to Thebes
and failed to take the city, while we stormed it with but few followers.
Do not praise our fathers at our expense.”

“Silence, friend,” interrupted Diomedes. “I do not blame Agamemnon for
inciting the Achaians to battle. The fame and gain will be his if the
war is ended gloriously, and his the disgrace and ruin should the
Achaians be put to flight.”

With these words he sprang from the chariot, so that his bronze harness
rattled, and began to arm himself for the fight. Agamemnon passed on.
While he was mustering the right wing, the left advanced to the attack.
They moved slowly and silently forward, enveloped in a cloud of dust. At
last Achaians and Trojans met; shield rang against shield, lance broke
lance. Now loud shouts arose, and mingled with the battle cries were
heard the groans of the wounded and dying being dragged away by their
friends, that they might not be trampled upon or subjected to the
cruelties of the enemy. Above the din of battle rose the commands of the
chieftains and the cries of the soldiers. Swords hissed through the air,
spears whistled, shields rang against one another.

Hector, seeing his companions give way, called to them: “Forward, Trojan
horsemen! Come, do not leave the field to the Argives. They are made
neither of iron nor stone that our spears should rebound from them, and
Achilles, the great hero, no longer fights in their ranks.”

The Trojans took courage at this and renewed the battle. Diores, the
Greek, was stretched senseless upon the ground by a heavy stone, and
just as his conqueror, the Trojan Peirus, had given him the deathblow
with his spear and was about to strip his victim, Thoas the Ætolian
rushed upon him with his sword and he fell across the body of Diores.
But Thoas was obliged to flee in turn, for the Trojans ran up to carry
off Peirus, and he had to seek other booty. It had been a hot day and
horse and rider were panting.

                               Chapter IV
             Continuation of the Battle—The Gods Take Part

The sun stood high in the heavens and the battle continued to rage with
the greatest bitterness. Hector and Æneas, Agamemnon, Ulysses, and the
other great heroes raged about the broad battlefield like beasts of
prey. Diomedes was especially favored by Athena on this great day and
laid many warriors in the dust. Among the Trojans, two sons of the rich
and pious priest of Vulcan, Dares, spurred forward from the swarm of
warriors against him. One of them cast his spear at the hero, but missed
the mark, which but served to enrage the warrior. He grimly cast back at
the youth and pierced him through the heart. His brother turned and fled
and Diomedes quickly seized the handsome steeds and commanded his men to
conduct them to the ships.

One could not tell to which side Diomedes belonged, for he was always in
the midst of the fight. He was at last espied by Pandarus, the same who
had broken the oath by shooting at Menelaus. He approached Diomedes
stealthily from behind and shot a sharp arrow into his right shoulder,
so that blood stained his coat of mail. “Come, ye Trojans,” he cried, “I
have wounded the most formidable of the Achaians.” But the arrow had not
penetrated so deeply as he thought. Diomedes sought his charioteer
Sthenelus. “Friend,” he said, “come quickly and pluck this arrow from my
shoulder.” As it was withdrawn, blood spurted from the wound and the
warrior prayed to Athena: “Hear me, goddess, and as thou hast ever been
my protector in battle, oh aid me now and let me slay the man who hath
wounded me and boasts that I shall not much longer see the light of

The goddess heard him and stanched the blood. “Thou canst return to the
fight,” she said. “I have endowed thee with the strength and courage of
thy father and will distinguish thee to-day above all other Achaians.
Only take care not to oppose the immortal gods in battle, but attack all
others courageously. If Jupiter’s daughter Aphrodite should enter the
field, thou mayest wound her with thy sharp spear.” The goddess
disappeared and Diomedes flew back to the foremost ranks with renewed
ardor. Behind him came his followers, ready to strip his victims of
their armor and to carry away the captured horses and chariots. Æneas
called upon Pandarus and said: “Where are to-day thy bow and
never-failing arrows? Here is a chance to distinguish thyself. See,
there is a man who has slain many, and none of our warriors can prevail
against him.”

“That is Diomedes, son of Tydeus,” interrupted Pandarus; “he must be
under the protection of a god. Already my arrow has wounded him so that
blood spurted from the place, and in spite of this he is again in the
field wielding his deadly lance. I dare not aim at him again, for it is
unlucky to contend with the gods. Besides, I came on foot to Ilium and
have no horses or chariot.”

“Come, friend, take mine and learn what Trojan horses are. Here, take
the whip and reins, while I remain on foot and watch the fight.”

“Do thou guide the steeds thyself, Æneas, for they know thee; else might
Diomedes take them captive and slay us too. I will meet him with the
point of my sharp spear.”

Together they mounted the handsome chariot and dashed toward Diomedes,
who was driving across the field with Sthenelus. “Look!” cried
Sthenelus. “There come two heroes making for us. Let me turn back, for
they seem bold warriors, and thou art weary with long fighting and thy
painful wound.”

“Not so,” said Diomedes angrily. “It is not my custom thus to flee. I
will await them here, and if one of them escape, the other shall be my
prey. Do thou follow me, and if I should wound them both, seize thou the
enemy’s steeds. I know them. They are magnificent horses of the famous
breed which Jupiter once gave to King Thoas for his captured son
Ganymede. Hasten, for the chariot is already upon us.”

He swung himself to the ground and at the same moment Pandarus’ arrow
struck his shield, and though it made him stagger, he shook the shield
in Pandarus’ face and cried: “Do not triumph too soon, but rather take
care that thou thyself escape death!” Æneas turned his steeds in terror,
but he could not save his friend; Diomedes’ spear had struck him down.
As Æneas descended to bear away the body, he too was sorely wounded.
Sthenelus meanwhile led away the beautiful steeds and they were taken to
Diomedes’ tents.

Aphrodite now approached her fainting son and her merciful arms bore him
off the field. “It must be a goddess who has rescued him,” said Diomedes
to himself. “But it can be none other than Aphrodite, who appears so
unwarlike. Good, I will overtake her and attain undying fame.” He
hastened after the goddess, swung his spear, and wounded her in the
wrist, so that her clear blood stained the earth. The goddess screamed
and let the warrior slip from her arms, but he was again rescued by
Phœbus Apollo, who covered him with a dark cloud.

Diomedes still pursued the goddess with loud cries. “Retire, daughter of
Jupiter, and leave the battlefield to men. It is bad enough that thou
causest women to bring such misery upon the nations. Woe to thee
shouldst thou come near me in the fight!” The goddess was terrified and
fled as fast as she could. Iris came to meet her and conducted her to
the edge of the battlefield, where Mars, the god of war, sat gloating
over his work. A cloud surrounded him and concealed him from mortal
eyes. “Dear brother,” said Aphrodite, “lend me thy horses that I may
quickly reach Olympus. Look! A mortal has wounded me.” Iris took the
reins and the horses flew swiftly away through the air.

Meanwhile Diomedes was still on the field seeking Æneas, and not until
he heard Apollo’s threatening voice, “Take heed, son of Tydeus, and give
way, tremble and do not strive with the gods,” did he desist and
remember Athena’s warning. Apollo carried Aphrodite’s son to his sacred
temple on the heights of Pergamus. There he healed and strengthened him,
and the hero soon reappeared among his followers, who were amazed at the
miracle. He at once plunged into the fight and slew many brave youths
among the Achaians.

Apollo had meanwhile complained to Mars of the defeat of the Trojans and
of Diomedes’ insolence in daring to attack the gods. The god of war, who
inclined first to one side, then to the other, was persuaded to take
part in the battle himself, and this time to support the Trojans.
Concealed in a cloud, he strode first before Hector, then before another
Trojan, and wherever he went the aim never failed. Diomedes, however,
had been endowed by his friend Athena with the power to recognize the
gods when they appeared amongst men, so that he was terrified, as he was
about to throw himself upon Hector, to see the war god striding before
him. He started back, and hastening toward the other Greek warriors
cried: “Take care, friends, give way and do not contend with the gods!
For Hector hath ever a god at his side. Mars is with him now in the
guise of a mortal.” Diomedes, in awe of Mars, retired from the field,
although the battle still raged. Hector slew two of the bravest Greek
warriors and captured their horses. Ajax of Salamis looked grimly on,
but did not dare attack him; he preferred to pursue a weaker man,
Amphius of Pæsus.

The battle had begun almost under the walls of Troy, but the Greeks had
been forced back nearly to the ships, and they began to lose courage.
Juno and Athena now determined to protect their favorites; for had they
not promised Menelaus to avenge his wrongs? They signed Hebe to hitch
the horses to the splendid chariot. Athena donned her breastplate, put
on her golden helmet, and took up her mighty lance and the shield called
ægis. It was decorated with golden tassels and in the midst was the head
of Medusa, the mere sight of which turned men to stone. Thus armed, she
mounted the shining chariot, and Juno, standing beside her, guided the
steeds. The gates of heaven, guarded by the Horæ, opened of themselves
and the goddesses stormed the heights of Olympus, where the father of
the gods was sitting in solitude looking down upon the confusion. “Art
thou not angered, Father Jupiter,” spake Juno, “that Mars is destroying
the great and noble Achaian people? Wilt thou object if I force him from
the field?”

Jupiter answered: “To work! Set Pallas Athena upon him. She will soon
discomfit him.”

Overjoyed at the permission, Juno turned the horses and in an instant
they had descended to the field before Troy. They paused where the
Simois flows into the Scamander and enveloped chariot and steeds in a
thick cloud. Then they hastened to the side of Tydeus’ son, and in
Stentor’s shape and with his brazen voice Juno cried out: “Shame upon
ye, people of Argos, so glorious to look upon and so faint-hearted. When
Achilles was among you, the Trojans scarce ventured from the gates, but
now that the only man among you is gone, they push you back to the

Athena approached Diomedes where he stood beside his chariot, cooling
the wound which Pandarus had inflicted. He was just beginning to feel
the pain of it and could scarcely move his arm. He loosened the leather
straps and pressed out the blood. “Shame upon you, son of Tydeus,” said
the goddess reproachfully. “Thou art not as thy noble father. He was
more eager for the fray and slew countless men of Cadmus’ race before
Thebes. Thou knowest that I never leave thy side. Speak, how can fear
have dominion over thee?”

“Goddess,” answered the hero, “for I recognize thy voice, neither sloth
nor fear restrain me, but I remember thy command. I plunged into the
thick of the fight and piled corpse on corpse, until I saw Mars, the
terrible, who fights in the front ranks of the Trojans. I gave way
before him and warned the others; for who shall fight against the gods?”

The goddess answered: “Diomedes, beloved of my soul, henceforth fear
neither Mars nor any of the immortals, for I am beside thee. Turn thy
prancing horses upon Mars and wound him boldly at close range, the
unstable one.”

She then took Sthenelus’ place in the chariot, wearing the helm of
Aides, which rendered her invisible even to Mars. She guided the chariot
straight towards him. When Mars saw Diomedes approaching he turned
towards him, and leaning over, was about to plunge his spear into his
body, but Athena turned it aside, and now Diomedes gave him such a
thrust in the side that a mortal would certainly have succumbed. He
withdrew the shaft and Mars fled, howling like ten thousand men. Both
Achaians and Trojans were terrified at the din and Diomedes was amazed
at his own deed and saw with astonishment the god rise up into the sky.
There he showed the painful wound to Jupiter and complained loudly of

But the father of the gods answered grimly: “Spare me thy whining! I
despise thee above all the gods. Thou hast always loved quarrels and
bickerings and art as stubborn and contentious as thy mother, Juno. But
I cannot see my son suffer.” With these words he commanded Pæon, the
physician of Olympus, to heal him. He placed a cooling balm upon the
wound and Mars was healed, for he was immortal. Then Juno bathed him and
clothed him with soft garments. As soon as the murderous Mars had been
driven from the field the goddesses returned to the dwellings of the
Olympian gods.

                               Chapter V
    The Greeks are Successful—Hector Hastens to the City—Glaucus and
                    Diomedes, Hector and Andromache

The day was declining, but once more the Achaians pressed forward with
renewed courage, knowing that Mars was no longer on the field. The
Trojans gave way before them, and soon they were near enough to see
again the elders and the women upon the city walls. Hector and Æneas did
their best to spur the soldiers to resistance, but without avail. Then
Helenus, one of Priam’s sons, who had the gift of prophecy, spake unto
Hector: “Dear brother, do thou and Æneas try once more to encourage the
people. Then go and leave the battle to us. Hasten into the city. Tell
our mother quickly to summon the noble women of the city to Athena’s
sacred temple and there to lay her most costly garment in the lap of the
goddess. Furthermore she shall promise to sacrifice twelve yearling
calves upon Athena’s altar, if she will repulse that terrible warrior,
Tydeus’ son.”

Hector carried out his brother’s bidding and while he was away the
Achaians regained the supremacy. Nestor went busily about admonishing
them not to waste any time in collecting booty, but only to kill, kill,
kill. Afterward, he said, there would be plenty of time to strip the
accoutrements from the slain. Diomedes the insatiable, panting still for
fresh conquests, espied a man among the Trojans whom he had never seen
before, but who appeared by his rich armor, his stature, and commanding
mien to be one of the leaders. When they had approached each other
within a spear’s cast, they both reined in their steeds and Diomedes
cried out to the enemy: “Who art thou, excellent sir? I have not seen
thee before, although thou seemest to be a practised warrior. Art thou
some god? Then would I not contend with thee, for such rashness hath
ever brought misfortune to a mortal. But if thou art a man like myself,
advance, that thou mayest quickly meet thy doom.”

It was Glaucus, Hippolochus’ son, who answered: “Oh son of Tydeus, dost
thou ask who I am? The children of men are like the leaves of the
forest, blown about by the winds and budding anew when Spring
approaches. One flourishes and another fades. My race is a glorious one.
It sprang from the Argive land and my ancestors ruled the city of
Ephyra. Anolus was the founder of my family; Sisyphus, his son, was that
wise king whose son was Glaucus; his son in turn the glorious
Bellerophon, endowed by the gods with superhuman beauty and strength.
Who has not heard of his heroic deeds? He slew Chimæra, the creature
with a lion’s head, a dragon’s tail, and body of a goat—a savage,
ravening monster. Next he conquered the king’s hostile neighbors,
gaining every battle. The king gave him his beautiful daughter and half
of his kingdom. His two sons were Isander and Hippolochus, who is my
father. He sent me hither to Troy and admonished me to excel all others
and never to disgrace my ancestors.”

Diomedes planted his spear in the sand, crying joyfully: “Then thou art
my friend for old times’ sake. My grandfather Œneus entertained the
glorious Bellerophon in his house for twenty days, and on his departure
they exchanged gifts in token of friendship. Œneus’ gift was a purple
girdle and Bellerophon’s a golden goblet, which I have in my possession
and often admire. Therefore thou shalt be my guest in Argos and I thine,
if I should ever visit Lycia. So let us avoid each other in the battle.
There remain enough Trojans for me and enough Achaians for thee to kill.
But as a pledge of the agreement let us exchange armor that it may be
seen that we are friends of old standing.” They descended from their
chariots, shook hands cordially, and took off their armor. Glaucus got
the worst of the bargain, for his breastplate and shield were of gold,
while those of Diomedes were only of brass. However, he gave them up
gladly. They then renewed their vows of friendship and drove rapidly
away in opposite directions.

When Hector reached the Scæan gate he was surrounded by Trojan women
inquiring for their sons, brothers, and husbands, but he could not stay
to comfort them and hastened away to his father’s palace, where he
sought out his venerable mother, Hecuba. “Dear son,” she began, “why
hast thou deserted the battlefield to come hither? The cruel Achaians
are pressing us hard. But tarry until I bring thee good wine, that thou
mayest make an offering to the gods and then refresh thyself; for wine
giveth strength to a weary man.”

“Not so, mother,” answered Hector. “Befouled as I am, how can I
sacrifice to the gods? Not for this did I come hither, but to bring thee
a message from Helenus.” Then he repeated his brother’s instructions and
Hecuba hastened to obey them.

Hector meanwhile made his way to the handsome palace of Paris, where he
found his brother turning over and examining his weapons. Helen sat by
the fireside among her maidens, occupied with domestic tasks. “Strange
man!” said Hector. “I cannot understand thy conduct. The people are
melting away before the walls and this bloody battle is chiefly on thine
account. Thou wert always bitter against the slothful and hast ever
encouraged others to fight. Come, let us go, before the city is fired by
the enemy.”

“Gladly will I follow thee, brother,” answered Paris. “Thy reproaches
are just. I have been brooding upon my misfortune, but my wife has just
persuaded me to return to the field, and I am ready. Tarry a while until
I have put on my armor or else go and I will follow thee.”

“Dear Hector,” spake gracious Helen sadly, “how it grieves me to see you
all engaged in this cruel war, for the sake of a contemptible woman like
myself. O that I had been destroyed at birth or had been flung into the
sea! Or, if the gods have destined me to such misfortune, would at least
that I had fallen into the hands of a brave man, who would take the
disgrace and reproaches of his family to heart and could wipe out his
shame by heroic deeds. But Paris is not a man. Enter and be seated,
Hector, for thou has toiled most arduously in my behalf and suffered
most for thy brother’s crime.”

“Thy gracious invitation I may not accept,” answered Hector, “for my
heart urges me to return to aid the Trojans. I beg thee persuade Paris
to overtake me before I leave the city. Now I must go to my own house to
see my wife once more and little son; for who knoweth whether I shall
ever return?”

He did not find his spouse at home, but on the tower at the Scæan gate,
where she was following the fate of the Trojans. As he neared the gate
she came to meet him, the modest, sensible Andromache, and behind her
came the nurse with the little boy. His loving wife took him tenderly by
the hand and wept over him. “Thy courage will surely be thy death,” she
said. “Take pity on thy miserable wife and infant son, for the Achaians
will surely kill thee, and then I had best sink into the earth; for what
would remain for me? I am alone. Hector, thou art father and mother and
brother to me, my precious husband. Take pity on me and remain in the
tower. Do not make me a widow and thy son an orphan.”

Hector answered: “Dearly beloved, I am troubled also at thy fate, but I
could not face the Trojan people if I shunned danger like a coward.
True, I foresee the day when sacred Ilium will fall, bringing disaster
upon the king and all the people, and thy fate touches me more nearly
than that of father, mother, or brothers. Thou mayest be carried away to
slavery in Argos to labor for a cruel mistress. Rather would I be in the
grave than see thee in misery.”

Sadly the hero stretched out his arms to his boy, but the child hid his
face in the nurse’s bosom, terrified at the helmet with its fluttering
plumes. Smiling, the father took it off and laid it on the ground, and
now the boy went to him willingly. He kissed the child tenderly, and
turning his eyes heavenward prayed fervently; “Jupiter and ye other
gods, grant that my boy may be a leader among the Trojans like his
father and powerful in Ilium, that sometime it may be said: ‘He is much
greater than his father.’ May his mother rejoice in him.”

As he placed the child in its mother’s arms, she smiled through her
tears. “Poor wife,” he said, caressing her, “do not grieve too much. I
shall not be sent to Hades unless it is my fate—no one can escape his
destiny, be he high or low. Do thou attend to thine affairs at home and
keep thy maidens busily at work. Men are made for war, and I most of
all.” He picked up his helmet and hurried away. Andromache went also,
but often turned to gaze after her dear husband.

Paris overtook his brother at the gate. “Do not be angry, brother, at my
tardiness,” he said. “My good fellow,” answered Hector, “thou art a
brave warrior, but often indifferent. I cannot bear the scornful gossip
of the people who are enduring so much for thy sake. But we will talk of
this another time—perhaps when we shall make a thankoffering for the
defeat of the Achaians.” Thus speaking they hastened towards the

                               Chapter VI
  Hector and Ajax in Single Combat—A Truce—Another Battle at the Ships

To the weary Trojans the appearance of the two heroes was as welcome as
a long-desired breeze after a calm at sea to a sailor, and they soon
made their presence felt. Pierced by Paris’ arrow, the excellent
Menestheus fell and Hector slew the valiant Eïoneus. Many another who
had believed Hector far away met death at his hands.

Then came his brother Helenus, the seer, and bade him summon a warrior
from among the Achaians to come forth and fight with him in single
combat. The gods had revealed to him that the day of Hector’s doom was
not yet come. Immediately the hero ran to the front, and requesting a
truce cried out: “Hear me, ye Trojans and Achaians! Jupiter hath brought
to naught our agreement, and our quarrel has not been settled as we
hoped. Let us now arrange a second combat. Send your most valiant
warrior forth to fight with me. If he slay me, let him take my costly
armor, but my body he shall send to Ilium, that my bones may be burned
and the ashes preserved. Should the gods grant that I slay him, then I
will hang his armor in the temple of Phœbus Apollo. But ye may raise a
fitting monument on the shore, so that when his grandchild sails the
Hellespont and passes the high promontory he may say: ‘That is the
mighty monument to the brave hero whom Hector slew in the final

For a while all was quiet in the Greek camp. Each was waiting for the
other to offer himself, for it was a hazardous undertaking. At last
Menelaus arose, overcome by a rising feeling of shame, and cried angrily
to the other princes: “Ha! ye who can boast so well at home and on the
battlefield are women, where is your courage now? It would indeed be our
everlasting shame if none of the Achaians dared match himself with
Hector. Sit still, ye cowards! I will gird myself for the fight. The
victory lies in the hands of the immortal gods.”

He began to put on his armor, but the other kings, and even his brother,
restrained him. “Stay, my brother,” said Agamemnon; “do not be in a
hurry to take up the challenge. Some other valiant Achaian will
doubtless come forward.” Menelaus reluctantly obeyed, and now old Nestor
began to reproach the faint-hearted warriors. “Your hearts have no
courage and your bones no marrow,” he said. “If I were like myself of
old, when I slew the hero Ereuthalion, Hector should soon find his man.”

Abashed at Nestor’s well-merited rebuke, nine men arose and came
forward. Agamemnon himself was among them and the two Ajaxes; the others
were Diomedes, Ulysses, Idomeneus, and his charioteer Meriones,
Eurypylus, and Thoas. It was proposed that they draw lots, and it fell
to the elder Ajax, who was proud of the honor that had come to him. “I
trust that Jupiter will give me the victory, for I am not unskilful and
fear not the foeman; but pray for me that Jupiter may give me success,”
he said.

Ajax now rushed forward to meet the waiting Hector. Truly he was no mean
adversary, being a man of powerful build. His armor was impenetrable and
it was this fact alone which now saved him from certain death. His
shield was composed of seven layers of cowhide with an iron covering;
helmet and breastplate were equally strong. According to the custom of
the time, the combat did not begin at once and in silence, but the
warriors first paused to taunt and revile each other.

Ajax cried out: “Now thou canst see, Hector, that there are still men
among the Achaians who are not afraid to accept thy challenge, even
though Achilles is not with us. I am but one of many. Come, let us to

“Thinkest thou to anger me by thy defiance, son of Telamon?” answered
Hector. “Do not deceive thyself. I know how to hurl the spear and turn
the shield so that no bolt can touch me. My deeds bear witness to my
words. Beware, valiant hero, I shall not attack thee with craft, but

At the same moment he hurled the great spear with all his might, and it
pierced six of the leathern layers of Ajax’s shield before its power was
spent. Ajax quickly aimed his own at Hector’s breast. Hector’s shield
was not strong enough to withstand the blow; however, by a quick turn of
his body, he prevented the point from entering his flesh. Both men now
withdrew their spears from the shields and threw themselves upon each
other. But Hector’s well-aimed blow only blunted the point of his lance
and Ajax’s spear slipped on the smooth surface of Hector’s shield,
wounding him slightly in the neck. Then Hector turned hastily to pick up
a stone, which he hurled with all his might at Ajax’s head, but the hero
warded it off with his shield. Ajax then picked up a much larger stone,
which he threw, breaking Hector’s shield and wounding his knee. No doubt
Hector would have attacked him once more had the Greeks themselves not
interfered, sending forward a herald who separated the heroes, saying:
“Warriors, it is enough. Ye are good fighters and beloved of Jupiter;
that we have all seen. But night is falling and the darkness bids us
cease our strife.”

“Very well, friend,” said Ajax. “Bid Hector lay down his arms, for he
began the fight. When he is ready to stop, I also am willing.”

Then Hector said calmly: “Ajax, thou hast borne thyself manfully and
some god hath lent thee strength and skill. Let us now rest and renew
the fight another time, until death shall claim one of us. Go thou to
feast with thy people, while I return to Priam’s city. But before we
part let us exchange gifts that future generations may say, ‘Behold,
they fought a bitter fight, then parted in friendship.’”

Thereupon he presented Ajax with his finely-chased sword with its
graceful scabbard and Ajax gave him his purple belt. Thus they parted,
each side welcoming his man with cries of triumphant joy. Agamemnon
entertained the chieftains in his tent as usual and to-day he set the
largest and choicest pieces before Ajax. When the meal was ended Nestor
began: “Listen to my advice, chieftains. Let us pause to-morrow long
enough to bury our dead. We will burn the bodies that each may gather
the ashes of his friends to bear them home to his people. But here we
will erect a great monument to mark the place where the brave warriors
have fallen. I have also another proposal to make. What think ye if we
should hastily construct a deep moat and a bulwark with a great gateway
around our camp? Then we should be as safe in our tents as in a walled
city.” The counsel of the old man was received with universal approval
and Agamemnon determined to set to work at once.

The Trojan princes too were holding council to decide what they should
do to force the Achaians to retire. Antenor, the wise, urged the return
of Helen, but none would consent, not even Priam and Hector, to force
Paris to give up his beloved wife. “I will gladly return the treasure
which we took from Menelaus,” he said, “and give him plentifully of mine
own, if that will propitiate the Achaians. But never will I give up

“For the present let us be on our guard,” answered King Priam, “and
to-morrow let Idæus go down and give Paris’ message to the Achaians and
ask if they are not inclined to an armistice, until we have burned the
dead and paid them funeral honors.”

Early the next morning Idæus went forth on his errand. He entered
Agamemnon’s tent and delivered his message. The Greeks welcomed the
proposal for a truce, but Paris’ offer was rejected with disdain. “Let
no one take Paris’ property,” roared Diomedes. “We no longer fight for
Paris’ wealth, nor even for Helen. Even though he should send her back,
Troy shall fall, and truly the end is not far off!” Agamemnon and the
other chieftains all signified their approval and the herald took the
message back to the city.

Meanwhile the greater part of the Achaians were engaged in digging a
moat and building a wall about the camp. The outcome showed that this
precaution had not been unnecessary, for as soon as the battle was
renewed the Achaians began to lose ground. Jupiter forbade the gods to
take sides, and driving the celestial steeds himself, he descended from
Olympus to Mount Ida, from whence he could observe the battlefield. The
slaughter had begun early in the morning and already many Trojans had
fallen, and still more Achaians, for the Trojans fought desperately.

A little past noon a threatening storm gathered on Mount Ida and the
people recognized the presence of the father of the gods, for he alone
had power over the flashing lightning. It was soon apparent whom he
favored, for suddenly a terrible thunderbolt with blinding flashes
struck the foremost ranks of the Achaians, so that all were
panic-stricken and none dared remain on the field against the will of
Jupiter. All fled to the ships, pale with terror. Nestor was about to
follow, when an arrow from Paris’ bow laid one of his horses low, and if
Diomedes had not come to his rescue, he would certainly have fallen a
prey to the pursuing Trojans. Filled with renewed courage at the
thunderbolts of Jove, which they took for favorable omens, they were
like dogs on the track of the frightened flock. Hector called loudly
upon his people to attack the wall and gave orders that firebrands be
brought from the city to fire the ships. But the Trojans were dubious
about attacking the Greeks within their fortifications. They were not
well prepared for such an undertaking.

The Greeks now stood behind the wall, huddled close to the ships. The
terrible thunderstorm had passed over and the sun shone once more.
Agamemnon boarded a ship, where he might be seen and heard by all. The
warriors were silent while he cried: “Shame upon you, sons of Argos, who
in Lemnos boasted that ye would each fight one hundred Trojans! Now ye
flee like frightened deer before a single man. Already Hector threatens
to burn the ships. No wonder! It is your cowardice which makes him bold.
Oh, father Jupiter, hast thou ever cursed a king as thou hast me? And
yet how many fat cattle have I not offered up? On the way hither I did
not pass by a single one of thy sacred temples where I did not stop to
burn fat haunches in thine honor. Thou hast doubtless determined to
destroy us here.”

Full of pity, the father of gods and men looked down upon him and made a
sign that he would save the Danæans. He sent an eagle bearing a young
deer in its beak, which it dropped as it flew high above the Greek camp,
so that it fell palpitating before the altar of Jupiter on the ships. As
soon as the Greeks saw this favorable sign, they pressed forward with
fresh zeal into the Trojan lines. The heroes were like ravening wolves.
Teucer of Salamis, who was skilful with the bow, remained beside his
brother Ajax, who covered him with his shield whenever he was in danger.
Every arrow hit its mark. Agamemnon looked on with delight, and clapping
the youth on the shoulder, he cried: “Well done, my dear fellow! Thus
shalt thou bring joy and glory to thy father in his old age. If the gods
grant me the victory over Troy thy reward shall not fail—whether it be a
tripod, a pair of horses and a chariot, or a beautiful slave girl.”

Soon afterward Hector’s chariot came galloping up. Teucer quickly set an
arrow to his bow and aimed at the hero, but the missile went astray and
Hector did not see the youth. Teucer shot another arrow, which pierced
the charioteer’s breast. Hector sprang down, and just as Teucer was
taking aim for the third time, a rock from Hector’s hand struck his
breast and he sank on his knees. Ajax covered him with his shield until
soldiers came up and carried the wounded youth away to his tent.

Juno and Athena, gazing sadly at the unfortunate outcome of the battle,
ventured in their resentment to disobey the command of the father of the
gods and go to the rescue of the hard-pressed Achaians. But Jupiter
espied them and sent the gold-winged Iris to warn them to turn back or
he would strike them with a thunderbolt that would shatter their chariot
and teach them not to resist father and husband. Pouting, they obeyed,
and in a rage arrived at Olympus and seated themselves in the great
hall. Soon afterwards the mountain trembled at the tread of Jupiter, who
entered the hall and seated himself on his golden throne with dark looks
at his wife and daughter, whose glances were fixed defiantly on the

“Why are ye so sad?” he began mockingly. “Ye did not remain long on the
battlefield, meseems. Your lovely limbs trembled ere ever ye saw the
fray. Truly ye would never have returned to the glorious home of the
gods had my thunderbolt struck you. My power is far beyond that of the
other gods. Even should they all come to measure their strength against
mine, and if I stood at heaven’s gate and let down a chain to earth and
all Olympus hung to the chain, ye could not pull me down. If I but
raised my hand ye would all fly up. Even the earth and sea I would draw
up, and if I should wind the chain around the peaked top of Olympus, the
whole globe would dangle in space.”

Meanwhile night had fallen, which put a stop to further strife. Hector
retired to the middle of the field and gave orders that the whole army
should remain in camp lighting watchfires everywhere, so that the Greeks
might not board their ships unseen and steal away. The old men and boys
were to watch the city gates to guard against surprise.

                              Chapter VII
Agamemnon Advises Flight—Council of the Princes—A Deputation is Sent to

Fear and unrest prevailed in the camp by the ships, and even Agamemnon
was no longer confident. He quietly called the chieftains to a council
of war. “Friends,” he said, “I perceive that Jupiter is not inclined to
fulfil the promise of his omens and no longer desires that I take Troy
and lead ye home laden with booty. He has already destroyed many of us
and our misery grows greater day by day. Surely he is but making sport
of us. Therefore let us launch our ships and return home, saving at
least those of us who are left.”

For a while the princes were silent. Then Diomedes sprang up and spake:
“Do not be angry, O King, if I disagree with thee. It seems to me thou
art faint-hearted, for none of us has given up hope. Truly the gods do
not give everything to one man, and Jupiter has made thee a powerful
king; but valor, the flower of manly virtues, he has denied thee. If
thou art so anxious to return, very good; then go. The way is open and
the ships are ready. But the rest of us will remain until we have
destroyed Priam’s fortress. And if all others should flee, I would
remain with my friend Sthenelus, for it is the gods who have brought us

All the warriors applauded this, and when Nestor had praised Diomedes’
words, there was no further talk of retreat. The venerable man now
counselled that the walls should be carefully guarded and that
watchfires should be lighted everywhere. He signed to Agamemnon to
invite the friends into his tent, offer them refreshment, learn each
one’s opinion, and to follow the best.

Nestor was the first to speak. “Great Atride,” he began, “if thou wilt
consider when it was the gods began to compass our ruin, thou wilt admit
that our misfortunes began on the day when thou didst unjustly insult
and abuse, to our great sorrow, that most valiant man whom even the
immortals have honored. We were all displeased and thou knowest how I
tried to dissuade thee. I think that even now we had better seek to
conciliate the angry man with flattering words and gifts.”

“Honored Nestor,” answered Agamemnon, “I will not deny that I was in the
wrong. It is true a single man, if chosen by the gods, is equal in might
to an army. But having offended I will gladly make amends and offer him
every atonement. I will give him rich gifts and he shall have, besides,
the maiden over whom we quarrelled. How glad I would have been to return
her as soon as my rage had cooled. If Jupiter will but grant me the good
fortune to destroy Priam’s mighty fortress, Achilles’ vessel shall be
heaped up with gold and silver and he may select twenty Trojan women for
himself, the fairest after Helen. And when we return to Argos I will
refuse him none of my daughters, should he wish to become my son-in-law,
and will present him with seven of my most populous cities as a wedding
gift. Thus will I honor him if he be willing to forget.”

To this Nestor answered: “Son of Atreus, thou dost offer princely gifts
which might well propitiate the proudest. Let us send messengers to him.
Let them be Ulysses and Ajax and the venerable Phœnix, whom his father
Peleus sent hither as his companion and friend. Let the heralds, Hodius
and Eurybates, accompany them.”

The encampment of the Myrmidons was on the seashore and they found
Achilles in his tent, apart from the others, playing the harp and
singing of heroic deeds. His good friend and comrade, Patroclus, sat
opposite him listening. Ajax and Ulysses entered first and Achilles
immediately put down his harp and came towards them. Patroclus also
arose to welcome his old comrades.

“Ye are heartily welcome, old friends,” began Achilles, “for I am not
angry with you. Sit on these cushions and, Patroclus, bring a tankard
and mix the wine, for we have honored guests here.”

After they had eaten and poured out a libation to the gods, Ulysses took
the goblet and drank to Achilles with a hearty handclasp. “Greeting to
thee, Pelide,” he began. “It is not food and drink we crave. But we are
troubled that thou art not on the battlefield. The Trojans have pushed
forward to the ships and nothing stops them. Jupiter has sent fiery
tokens to encourage them and the invincible Hector is hard upon us with
murder in his eye. Already he has threatened to burn the ships. Even at
night he does not retire, but encamps on the open field and the whole
plain is illumined by his campfires. No doubt he is now eagerly awaiting
daybreak to destroy us, for he fears neither gods nor men.

“Hear what Agamemnon offers thee—gifts so costly that they would suffice
to make any man rich and powerful. Ten pounds of gold will he give thee,
and seven new tripods, with twenty polished basins, besides twelve
magnificent horses and seven Lesbian slave women accompanying Briseïs’
daughter. And when we shall have conquered Priam’s city, thou shalt heap
thy ship with gold and bronze and take twenty of Troy’s fairest women
for thyself. And when we return to blessed Argos thou shalt be his
son-in-law and he will honor thee as his own son. But if thy hatred of
Atreus’ son is so great that thou canst not forgive him, then consider
the dire need of the Achaian people, who are ready to pay thee honor
like a god. Truly thou shalt earn great glory.”

Achilles answered him: “Noble son of Laërtes, let me open my heart to
thee frankly. Neither Agamemnon nor any other Greek can move me to fight
again for this ungrateful people. The coward and the hero enjoy equal
reputation among you. Why should I risk my life for others? As the
swallow feeds its young with the morsels which it denies itself, thus I
have spent my sweat and blood these many days for the ungrateful Achaian
people; have watched through many a restless night, fought brave men,
burning their houses and stealing away their women and children. I have
destroyed twelve populous cities in Troy by sea and eleven by land and
always delivered the spoils up to Agamemnon. He remained quietly at the
ships and took my plunder gladly, keeping always the greater part for
himself. Although each chieftain received a princely gift, he took mine
from me—the lovely woman who was dear to me as a spouse.

“Why did we accompany him hither? Was it not for the sake of beauteous
Helen? Do we not love our women even as he? Let him leave me in peace
and take counsel with thee, Ulysses, and with the other chieftains. For
Hector shall never again meet me in battle. To-morrow I shall launch my
ships, make offerings to the gods, and if thou wilt take notice, friend,
thou shalt see my ships at dawn, floating upon the Hellespont. If
Neptune favors me I may reach my native Phthia on the third day. There I
have riches enough, so that I shall not need the gifts of the haughty
king. No, should he offer me twenty times as much, and even a city like
unto the Egyptian Thebes, which, it is said, has one hundred gates out
of each of which issue two hundred men with horses and chariots in time
of war, even then he could not persuade me until he had atoned for his

“Let him find another husband, who is nobler and more powerful than I,
for his daughter. Should I reach home safely, my father will choose me a
noble consort, for there are many beautiful Achaian maidens who are not
wanting in rich dowries. I long for Phthia and already I foretaste the
joys of reigning over my father’s good subjects and enjoying a life of
plentiful ease by the side of a gentle spouse. Life is worth more than
all Agamemnon’s treasures, and once lost can never be regained.

“Dost know what fate my goddess mother hath revealed to me? Either I die
young upon the battlefield and my name shall be imperishable upon earth,
or I shall live to a great age without renown. Let it be as I have said,
and if ye would have a word of advice from me, it is this: ‘Sail away
before Hector burns your ships, for ye will never conquer Troy.’ Go,
friends, and take this message to the Greeks. But, Phœnix, stay and
return with me to our native land, if so it pleaseth thee; for I would
not compel thee.”

They were all silent until the gray-haired Phœnix began to speak. “If
thou hast determined to return, noble Achilles, how can I part from
thee, my son, for thy father confided thee to my care? Thy splendid
deeds have made me proud and happy; but now, forgive me, godlike
Achilles, now thy obstinate and unreasonable behavior grieves me. Calm
thy rage. A gentle disposition well becomes the hero, and even the anger
of the gods can be placated. How often have we seen them appeased by
sacrifices and penitential prayers. Yea, woe unto him who listens not to
repentant supplication and who hardens his heart against the enemy who
is ready to make atonement. Behold what gifts Agamemnon offers to win
thee. What is the wrong thou hast suffered in comparison with this great
honor? The ancient heroes of whom our fathers tell certainly were
subject to fits of anger, but they also allowed themselves to be

“Phœnix, honored sire,” answered Achilles, “do not disturb my soul with
lamentations; rather as my friend shouldst thou hate him who hath
wronged me. But now repose thyself. As soon as dawn appears we will take
counsel whether to go or stay.” With a secret sign he bade Patroclus
prepare a soft couch for Phœnix.

Hastily Ajax arose, saying: “Let us be going, for we can scarce expect
to persuade this hard-hearted man, and our friends are awaiting us
anxiously. Cruel man, to cause all thy friends to suffer for one. How
oft have anger and revenge for a murdered brother been forgotten when
the murderer has offered gifts and tokens of repentance. But thou hast a
stony and implacable heart in thy bosom, and all this on account of a
girl. Oh be persuaded! We have come here as thy old friends.”

“Ajax, godlike son of Telamon,” answered Achilles, “thou hast read my
soul. But my heart is full of bitterness when I think of the man who
treated me so vilely before the Argives. Go and bear him the message. I
will not take up arms until the firebrands of the Trojans fall upon my
own ships. Terrible as he is, I think Hector will not venture near my
tents.” Perceiving that their eloquence was unavailing, the ambassadors
returned to Agamemnon’s tent. Phœnix, however, remained with Achilles.

The Greek princes were much cast down at the answer to their mission.
Only Diomedes was able to keep up their courage by his unshakable
confidence. “Atreus’ son,” he cried, “would thou hadst never implored
help of the Pelide or offered him rich presents. He was proud enough
before. Let him go or come; he will take up his lance as soon as his
heart speaks. But do thou, King Agamemnon, as soon as Eos’ rosy fingers
paint the sky, array thine horsemen and thy cohorts in front of the
ships and place thyself at the front. Let us now to rest, for it is late
and to-morrow we fight for our lives.”

All agreed. The goblets were filled once more, a libation poured out to
the gods, and then they separated, each one going to his own tent.

                              Chapter VIII
           Agamemnon in Battle—Many of the Greeks are Wounded

Morning had scarcely dawned when Agamemnon called all to arms, appearing
in the foremost ranks clad in his most splendid armor and determined to
fight more heroically this day than ever before. The great mass of
foot-soldiers pressed forward in long lines shouting their battle cries,
the war chariots containing the leaders following after them.

At last the two armies met and whole ranks of men fell like grain before
the reaper’s scythe. For some hours each side held its own, but toward
noon the Achaians broke through the enemy’s lines and forced them back.
As soon as the ranks were broken and bodies of men began to scatter in
little groups over the plain, the charioteers had room for action and
dashed forward to terrorize the foot-soldiers.

Agamemnon was among the foremost, hurling his deadly lance continually
at the Trojan princes. Two young and beautiful sons of Priam, both in
one chariot, fell before him, and he took their accoutrements and
horses. Next two sons of Antimachus came his way and received no quarter
at his hands. He stood with bloody arm uplifted, swinging his lance,
ready to strike down any who approached him. The Trojans fled in
multitudes at the sound of his lionlike voice, and amid the wild
confusion one could see frightened horses, with empty chariots trailing
behind them, galloping back toward the city. Agamemnon and the other
chieftains were relentlessly pursuing the flying Trojans, and as a lion
following a herd of cattle will fasten his cruel claws into the necks of
those which fall behind, thus the Achaians struck down many a fleeing

It was now Hector’s care to stop the rout and bring order into the ranks
once more at the city gates. He implored, he admonished, he scolded and
threatened, and thus drove them back again after a brief rest. Shamed by
his words, the young princes sought out the most dangerous antagonists
to show their valor. Iphidamas, son of Antenor, was even anxious to
contend with Agamemnon himself, who, however, saw him coming and was the
first to cast his lance. But the youth dodged the missile and ran
quickly at him with his own spear and would surely have run him through
had the brazen coat not bent the point of the weapon and broken the
force of the blow. Agamemnon seized hold of the youth’s lance with his
powerful left hand and forced both him and it down, while, with a sudden
blow of his sword, he cut off the youth’s head. A servant soon stripped
him and carried off the armor.

Koon, Antenor’s second son, who had seen his brother’s fall, called some
of his companions together to avenge him. They approached Agamemnon
unobserved and Koon cast his spear, which struck the hero’s arm,
wounding him so that the warm blood spurted forth. The youth was
triumphant, for although Agamemnon did not fall, he saw him stagger
backward. He wished to make use of this moment to carry off his
brother’s body, but as he was bending over it, Agamemnon’s spear entered
his side, and before he could recover himself Agamemnon had sprung upon
him and cut off his head. The hero then turned away and attacked another
body of the enemy, slaying many. As long as the warm blood continued to
gush out he did not notice his wound, but when it began to dry, he could
no longer endure the pain and was obliged to retire from the field. He
mounted his chariot, admonishing the Achaians once more to fight
bravely, and then drove rapidly away to his tent to have his wound

His departure revived the sinking courage of the Trojans. Hector pressed
forward and the Achaians, abandoned by their courageous leader, turned
to flee, as the Trojans had done before. The young princes sought to
measure their strength against Hector, but only paid for their temerity
with their lives. Seeing this, Ulysses’ heart burned with rage. He
called Diomedes and said: “Son of Tydeus, let us fight together against
that terrible man. It would be a shame should plumed Hector take our
great ships from us.”

“Gladly will I tarry here,” answered his friend surlily; “but much good
will it do us, for Jove, the Thunderer, does not intend the victory for
us, but for the Trojans.” However, they set forth together and plunged
amongst the swarms of soldiers like two raging lions, driving them
backward, as waves are whipped by the wind. Hector saw this from afar
and quick as a flash he bore down upon them in his chariot, sprang to
earth, and met the heroes on foot.

“Look,” cried Diomedes to Ulysses when he saw him; “there cometh our
destruction. But let us stand firm, we will not flee.”

They stood awaiting him with their lances in position, and at the moment
when Hector emerged from the crowd Diomedes’ spear struck his helmet
with such force that he was thrown stunned to the ground. But the weapon
had not wounded him, for his iron helmet was not broken, and before
Diomedes had time to rush upon him with his sword, Hector had jumped up
and plunged back into the crowd. Ulysses’ lance had missed the mark, and
before the two had recovered their weapons Hector was safely on his
chariot. Diomedes stamped his foot with rage. He now set upon the enemy
more murderously than ever, and as he drove them back and was nearing
the tomb of the old Trojan King Ilus, he was met by Paris, who stayed
his mad impetuosity. Hiding behind a pillar of the tomb, he let fly one
of his never-failing arrows, which struck Diomedes, pinning his foot to
the ground. He saw the hero falter and stand still and sprang from his
hiding place crying in triumph: “Ha! it was a good shot. But how gladly
would I have pierced a vital part and taken thy life!”

“Miserable coward!” roared Diomedes. “Hadst thou met me in the open thy
bow and arrow had helped thee little. And now thou boastest as though
thou hadst conquered me, and it is but a scratch. It is as though a
mosquito had stung me. Woe unto thee when I catch thee!” However, the
wound was troublesome enough, for he could not stand on his foot, and
Paris would perhaps have ventured to shoot a second arrow, if Ulysses
had not come up in the nick of time. He placed himself in front of his
friend and covered him with his shield, while Diomedes sat on the ground
and drew the arrow out of his foot, which caused him sharp pain. He then
called for his charioteer and drove back to the ships, his heart full of

Ulysses remained behind alone, for his companions had retreated in
terror, and now he found himself suddenly surrounded by the Trojans. He
could not escape and resolved to sell his life dearly with the blood of
his enemies. He met their attack like a wild boar at bay, and so savage
was his onslaught that the enemy, surprised, stood still and none dared
come near him. But when he had stabbed Charops, the noble son of
Hippasus, his brother Socus, full of grief and anger, stepped boldly
forward to avenge him, crying: “Murderous Ulysses, either thou shalt
boast that thou hast slain both of Hippasus’ sons or thou shalt die by
my hand!” With this he threw himself upon Ulysses with his spear and did
actually pierce the shield and coat of mail, tearing the flesh and
causing him to start back. But when Ulysses felt that the wound was not
mortal, he quickly hurled his own lance, crying: “Miserable man, thou
too art destined to fall this day by my hand!” Socus shrieked aloud, for
the weapon had pierced clean through his breast.

On the other side of the battlefield the fighting was equally fierce.
Hector and Paris were busy with spear and bow. Paris wounded the
venerable Machaon, a good soldier and much prized for his surgical
skill, for he had saved many lives. Therefore his friends were anxious
about him and Nestor lifted him into his chariot and drove quickly away
with him to camp. There they dismounted to refresh themselves in the
cool breeze from the sea and to dry their damp clothing. Then they
entered Nestor’s tent, where he bound up his friend’s wound and gave him
food. While they were eating Patroclus entered the tent. Achilles had
sent him to inquire who the wounded man was whom he had seen brought in
by Nestor’s chariot. For Achilles was accustomed, when the Greeks were
fighting, to station himself on the high deck of his vessel to watch the
fray, not without regrets that he was condemned to idleness; often his
hand would grasp his sword involuntarily. His joy over the overthrow of
the Achaians was the sweetest revenge he had for his wounded pride.

“Ah, here is Patroclus,” cried Nestor. “Enter, friend, and sit down with
us. I have not seen thee for a long time.”

“Do not press me, venerable sir,” answered Patroclus. “I may not remain,
for I must take the tidings to Achilles for which he has sent me, and
now that I have seen Machaon I must away. Thou well knowest how
impatient he is.”

But Nestor continued: “We thought that Achilles was no longer interested
in our fate. And hast thou, his friend and companion, no influence with
him? Canst thou not win him with persuasive words and tame his proud
heart? That was what thy good father expected.” Patroclus was moved by
his words, and promising to do what he could, took his leave.

Once more the Achaians were obliged to take refuge behind the walls of
the camp. Hector, followed by the victorious Trojans, drove all before
him. When the greater part of the Achaians had reached the shelter of
the gate, Hector gave orders that all the charioteers should leave their
chariots and lead their bands on foot across the moat, for he was
determined to climb or tear down the flimsy walls. Hector was
successful, although there was a fearful struggle at the wall. The
Achaians defended their last stand with desperate courage, while the
Trojans were just as determined to accomplish their purpose of driving
the enemy from their coasts and burning their ships that day.

Thus far Jupiter seemed to aid the Trojans, for a terrible gale arose
which blinded the eyes of the Achaians with dust, though they still
fought manfully on and Hector was not able to accomplish his purpose.
Two Lycian youths, Sarpedon and Glaucus, met outside the wall, resolved
to shed glory upon their people by their bravery and enterprise. They
sought to break down the wall at a spot defended by Menestheus, and
their first onslaught was so savage that the Greek looked about him for
help. He sent a messenger to Ajax and Teucer to come quickly to his aid,
and they came running up with spear and bow. Ajax threw a stone which
killed Sarpedon’s attendant, who was already on top of the wall. Next
Glaucus climbed up, but received Teucer’s arrow in his arm, which
incapacitated him for further fighting. He got down very quietly, so
that the Achaians should not observe his misfortune, pausing to cast one
more spear, which did its deadly work. Then he drove back to the city.

At last Sarpedon succeeded in making the first breach in the top of the
breastworks, and under repeated blows the rest followed. This made the
wall so low at this place that the soldiers could shoot over it, and
here the hottest fighting now took place. It was impossible to move
Sarpedon from his position. After a long struggle Hector came up, saw
the breach, and cried joyfully: “Forward, ye Trojan horsemen, break
through the Argives’ wall and cast burning brands into the ships!” He
raised a mighty stone in both arms, and although it was so heavy that
two of the strongest men could not have lifted it or even have loaded it
on a wagon with crowbars, Hector bore it as easily as a shepherd might
carry a bundle of shorn wool, and with feet planted firmly wide apart,
he hurled it with such force against the gateway that the bolts cracked,
the hinges gave way, and the gate flew wide open. He sprang triumphantly
into the intrenchments, followed by the shouting Trojans. The frightened
Achaians hurried away to defend their ships. The cries and confusion
were indescribable. The Achaians were in despair. Nothing remained for
them but to save their ships, and placing themselves in front of them in
long rows with lances set, they thus awaited the final onset of the

Each now forgot his own distress and all worked together, and soon a
solid chain of armed men surrounded the ships like a wall. Hector
himself, like a mighty rock which falls from the mountain top and
plunges from ledge to ledge until it rests upon the plain, could get no
farther, but was obliged to pause before the wall of lances. He tried to
encourage his men by promising them great rewards. Now they believed
that the last decisive moment had come and that before night it would be
seen whether the gods had determined on the destruction of the Achaians
or of Troy. But Jupiter was but favoring the Trojans in order to please
Achilles and his mother, Thetis. Fate had already decreed that Troy was
to fall, and even the gods could not change this decision, for they too
were subject to the laws of iron necessity. As soon as Agamemnon had
been sufficiently punished and Achilles could be persuaded to join the
ranks of fighting Achaians, the destruction of the mighty city was to be

As soon as the Achaians had intrenched themselves they grew bolder and
began a fearless attack. Idomeneus charged the Trojans, followed by his
brave Cretans. As the hurricane raises dark clouds of dust between the
battle lines, thus the ironclad cohorts moved hurriedly forward and
threw themselves on a party of the enemy. Idomeneus himself sought an
antagonist among the princes, and now he chanced upon Othryoneus, who
had just joined the Trojans with his squadron and had a reputation for
great bravery. He had wooed Priam’s most beautiful daughter, not with
the customary gifts, but instead had promised his aid in driving the
Achaians out of Asia. Priam had given his word, and the young hero was
just beginning the struggle for the lovely prize when Idomeneus’ spear
put a sudden end to his life.

The battle raged fiercest on the right side of the camp where Hector was
fighting. He was determined, in spite of the heroes who opposed him, to
capture and burn the ships. All the fury of war was displayed on this
spot—rage, despair, revenge, wild cries, fear, horror, and flight. The
ground was slippery with the blood of the fallen; there was now no time
to remove the corpses of the slain. The Trojans were the first to lose
courage. Even Hector dared not keep his post where Ajax, Ulysses, and
Idomeneus stood together like a wall, but sought out weaker adversaries
and contented himself by answering the challenge of the two Ajaxes with
insults and boasts.

“Why dost thou seek to frighten the common soldiers?” called the elder
Ajax to him. “Drive us back if thou canst! Thou wouldst gladly take our
ships, wouldst thou not? But I tell thee that thy proud Troy shall
sooner sink into ashes than our fleet, and thou shalt sooner turn thy
face homeward in flight than triumph over us.”

At this moment an eagle flew high over the heads of the Achaians toward
the right and, delighted with the omen, they had confidence in Ajax’s
words. But Hector answered him defiantly: “Miserable boaster, what
foolishness is this! Would I were but as certainly a son of Jupiter as
that to-day will bring destruction upon ye all. And woe to thee shouldst
thou stand before my spear! It would tear thy delicate body and give thy
blood to the dogs.” He then dashed away with his band to enter the
battle at another point. All were intimidated where he appeared, and the
battle cries of the Trojans surrounding him rose high into the air.

                               Chapter IX
Agamemnon Consoled—The Gods Take Part in the Strife and the Trojans are
                              Driven Back

The Greek heroes who had been wounded on the morning of this unlucky day
and had been obliged to retire from the fight had remained in their
tents in great discouragement, caring for their wounds. Nestor still sat
with Machaon, and after he had tended him and given him food and drink
he arose restlessly and said to his wounded friend: “My dear fellow, let
me go and see what our fortunes are. The shouts of the warriors seem
louder at the wall.”

He took a shield and lance and went out. Alas, what a sight met his
eyes! The wall was half demolished, the gateway shattered, the Trojans
inside the intrenchments, and such wild confusion prevailed that one
could not tell friend from foe. He sighed deeply and considered for a
moment whether he should go down into the turmoil or seek Agamemnon in
his tent. He chose the latter course. But as he turned in the direction
of the kings’ ships, the wounded lords, Tydeus’ son Diomedes, Ulysses,
and Agamemnon, came toward him with slow steps, leaning on their lances
and sick with wounds.

“Nestor, Neleus’ son,” cried Agamemnon, “whence comest thou and why
didst thou leave the field? Alas, I fear that all will come to pass as
Hector has threatened; that the Trojans will not rest until our ships
are burned and our people destroyed. The Achaians hate and curse me as
Achilles hates me, for it is I who have led them into this misery. No
doubt they are now deserting or sitting brooding beside the ships.”

“What has been, even Jupiter cannot change,” answered Nestor. “But let
us consider what is still to be done.”

“Then let me tell thee what I think,” said Agamemnon. “As we are at the
end of our resources, my advice is that as soon as it is dark we launch
our ships and sail away while the Trojans are asleep. Let them call us
cowards! It is better to escape thus than to be destroyed.”

“What words are these, O Atride,” said Ulysses, frowning. “Thou shouldst
have led an army of deserters hither, instead of commanding men like us,
who have been taught from early youth to support the hardships of war
unto death. What? Dost thou really intend to save thyself by stealing
away like a thief in the night? Hush! That no one else may hear such
unbecoming words!”

Agamemnon answered him: “Ulysses, I feel thy stern rebuke deeply, and I
would not have the Argives launch the ships against their will. If
anyone can give better counsel, let us hear it.”

Now Diomedes began to speak. “It is not far to seek if thou wilt listen
to me. I am indeed the youngest here, but as well born as any, and I
think Jupiter hath given me courage and strength for manly deeds. My
advice, then, is that we return to the battlefield, not to fight, for
our wounds prevent that, but in order to encourage the others.”

This speech pleased all and they followed him straight to the place of
combat. Just as they arrived there they were met by Poseidon in the
figure of an elderly warrior, who grasped the right hand of the ruler
and said: “Take courage, brave Atride, the immortal gods will not be
angry with thee forever. Thou shalt surely see the day when the Trojans
will retreat in defeat to their city and their heroes fall before our
lance thrusts.”

With these words the old man returned to the fight and with encouraging
words spurred on the hesitating soldiers to renewed effort. His voice
resounded over the battlefield like the shouting of a thousand men and
the Achaians obeyed it. The princes gazed after him in astonishment, for
his kingly figure was unknown to them. They suspected that it was a god
come to encourage them. Through hatred of the Trojans, Poseidon was
secretly aiding the Achaians contrary to the express commands of
Jupiter. But it would have gone hard with him if the son of Cronos, who
was looking down on the battlefield from Mount Ida, had discovered him
at once. Juno contrived a scheme to prevent this for a while at least.
She went to Aphrodite and said coaxingly: “Wilt thou grant me a favor,
or refuse it because thou art resentful of my aiding the Achaians,
whilst thou art for the Trojans?”

Aphrodite graciously answered: “Mighty Juno, speak. What dost thou
desire? If I can grant it I will do so.”

Then Juno said cunningly: “Give me thy magic girdle of love and longing,
which inclines the hearts of gods and men to thee. I wish to visit old
grandfather Oceanus, who has quarrelled with his spouse Thetis, and try
if I may not reconcile them.”

“How could I refuse thee my help?” answered the goddess. “Here, take it,
and mayest thou be successful.”

Smiling happily, Juno took the magic girdle and hastened to her chamber.
She bathed her delicate body, anointed it with ambrosial oil, and
arranged her hair in shining ringlets. She then put on the fine long
robe which Athena had woven for her, closed it with golden clasps on her
breast, and wound the magic girdle about her waist. Beautiful earrings,
a shimmering veil, and golden sandals completed the splendid dress. Juno
now hastened over the heights of Olympus and across the mountains and
streams of earth to Lemnos, where she found Sleep, the brother of Death.
He was indispensable to her in carrying out the trick she had planned,
so she took him graciously by the hand and said: “Mighty Sleep, who
tamest gods and men, if thou wouldst ever do me a service, do it now and
I shall be forever grateful. My son Hephæstus shall fashion thee an
indestructible seat, whose cushions are always soft, and it shall be
shining with gold and have a comfortable footstool for thy feet.”

A smile like a ray of sunshine lit up the god’s face. Nothing could have
tempted him more. Yawning he asked: “What dost thou want of me, honored

“Come with me and put the father of the gods to sleep for a short time,”
she said. “And to make it easier for thee, I will beguile him with sweet

“Thou askest a hard thing,” answered Sleep. “Anyone else I would dare
approach, even ever-flowing old Oceanus; but Jupiter, the Terrible, I
cannot venture near unless he calls for me himself. Only remember how he
raged the time I deceived him at thy behest, when thou didst pursue his
dear son Hercules with storms, with intent to imprison him on the island
of Kos. All Olympus trembled at his wrath, and I should have been lost
had Night not protected me out of friendship.”

Juno replied: “Dost thou suppose the father of the gods cares as much
for the Trojans as he did for his dear son? No indeed! As thy reward I
promise thee for thy wife the fairest of the Graces, whom thou hast so
long desired.”

“Then swear it,” cried Sleep, overjoyed, “that I may trust thee, and I
will do thy bidding instantly.”

The goddess touched the earth with one hand and the sea with the other
and swore by the River Styx and by the gods of the underworld. Then they
both passed over the sea to Phrygia. Juno went straight up Ida, while
Sleep, in the form of a nighthawk, slowly circled about the mountain top
and hid himself in the branches of a tall pine tree.

When Jupiter saw his consort he was greatly astonished. His dear wife
had never appeared so lovely to him before. She had Juno’s eyes, but
Aphrodite’s soulful glance; Juno’s voice, but the words seemed to come
from the heart of the goddess of love. The masterful, rebellious Juno,
become gentle, kind, tender, and modest, so surprised him that he
immediately forgot all his past grievances against her and gave himself
up to the sweet delusion that this change would last forever. And now
Juno became so confiding and affectionate that her lord forgot the
Trojans and in looking at her his back was turned to them, so that he
could not see his disobedient brother Poseidon. At last she made secret
signs to the bird lurking in the pine branches to encompass the happy
one with his outspread wings, and he was soon peacefully at rest. Sleep
then flew quickly down to Poseidon to tell him that Jupiter was
slumbering and that it was now time to aid the Achaians in earnest.

Then the sea god in the shape of an old warrior went up and down the
ranks preaching courage. Under his leadership the people charged forward
like a hurricane beating against a forest. Many men fell, most of them
Trojans. Hector knew not that a god was opposing him, so he did not give
way and still expected victory. But he soon met his doom. He had just
cast his lance in vain at Ajax, and was about to pick up a stone, when
Ajax quickly hurled a great piece of rock, which struck the hero under
his shield and he fell back breathless. Shield and stone dropped from
his hands and he tumbled over in the sand. Ajax and his friends were
about to come up and strip him, but at this moment the bravest Trojan
princes, Æneas, Polydamas, Agenor, and the valiant Lycians, Sarpedon and
Glaucus, surrounded him, all covering him with their shields at once,
until some of the servants lifted him on their shoulders and carried him
to his chariot. When the chariot crossed the ford of the little River
Scamander or Xanthus, the friends lifted down the moaning and still
unconscious hero, laid him on the ground, and sprinkled him with water.
He revived, opened his eyes, and wanted to arise, so they took hold of
his arms and lifted him to a kneeling position. A stream of dark blood
burst from his lips and he sank into unconsciousness again.

The news of Hector’s fall was greeted with loud rejoicing in the Achaian
army. Their old courage returned and Poseidon’s presence worked wonders
of heroism. The Trojans retreated farther and farther and few of the
leaders fought alone. Victory now inclined toward the side of the
Achaians, for Hector lay wounded on the banks of the Xanthus and the
gods no longer fought for Troy. Thus the Trojans soon found themselves
again near the city walls and even forced behind them.

                               Chapter X
         Jupiter’s Message to Poseidon—The Battle for the Ships

Jupiter awoke and rubbed his eyes. His first glance sought the ships.
How changed was the situation! “Ha, Juno,” he cried angrily, “this is
thy work, deceitful, malicious woman! So that was the meaning of thy
caresses, thy friendliness and sweet talk, false serpent. Of what use is
it to chastise thee? Hast thou already forgotten thy punishment when
thou didst send a storm to drive my son Hercules into imprisonment on
Kos and I made thee swing on a chain twixt heaven and earth with an
anvil fastened to each foot? Suppose that now I were to—”

“Heaven and Earth are my witnesses, and I will even swear it by the
Styx, that Poseidon did not go into the battle at my behest,” said the
affrighted goddess. “I do not know whether the Achaians have persuaded
him to it or his own heart. Rather would I counsel him to go
whithersoever thou commandest.”

The father of gods and men answered, smiling grimly: “If thou wert of my
mind, regal Juno, Poseidon would certainly soon change his course. But
now call Iris quickly and Apollo of the bow, that they may descend and
command Poseidon to leave the battlefield and return to his palace.”

The lily-armed Juno willingly obeyed, though she still meditated
mischief in her heart. She drove quickly to high Olympus, where she
found the immortals in the banquet hall. Craftily she spoke to them. “It
is useless to seek to change Jupiter’s decrees,” she said. “Little he
cares for us, for he feels himself high above us all in strength and
power. Only just now I saw Ascalaphus, the beloved son of mighty Mars,
slain in battle.”

“Do not blame me, ye dwellers in Olympus, if I go to avenge the death of
my son,” wailed Mars; “even though the bolt of the Thunderer strike me
down.” He rushed from the hall and donned his shining armor, appearing
greater and more terrible than ever.

Incalculable mischief would have followed if Athena, concerned for the
rest of the gods, had not hurried after him and taken his helmet,
shield, and lance from him by force. “Imbecile,” she cried, “wouldst
thou destroy us all? Woe unto us if he should see thee, the terrible
Jupiter! Thy son was but a mortal and other noble warriors have fallen;
it is impossible to save them all from death.” With these words she
forced her angry brother back to the throne and he obediently submitted
to her warning.

Apollo and Iris flew quickly down to the green summit of Ida, where
Jupiter sat enveloped in dark clouds. Iris he sent with a stern message
to Poseidon and his beloved son Apollo to Hector to strengthen him with
his divine breath. “Then lead him into the battle once more,” said
Jupiter, “and aid him thyself to drive the Achaians on board their
ships. Take the terrible ægis in thy hand and shake it, that their
hearts may quake.”

Iris delivered her message to the sea god and he answered it defiantly.
“Powerful as he is, I call that tyrannical. To combat my will—mine, who
am his equal! For are not he and Pluto and I brothers, and were not the
upper and under worlds divided equally between us? We cast lots; air
fell to him and water to me, but earth and sky are free to us all, and
he shall not stop me here. Let him rule his consort and his sons and
daughters. What care I for his threats or commands!”

Then Iris said doubtfully: “What, dark-haired World-power! Shall I take
Jupiter thy answer in just those words, or wilt thou not change thy
mind? It is well to keep the peace and respect is always due the elder.”

“Iris, exquisite goddess,” answered the angry king, “thou speakest
sensibly and with reason, but it was righteous anger overcame me, for no
brother should rule another. Now that I come to think it over, I know I
had best obey him. But tell him this—that if, contrary to the wishes of
all the other gods, he protects Ilium’s fortress and gives not the
victory to the Achaians, he may expect our eternal enmity.”

He spoke, left the battlefield, and plunged into the sea. Meanwhile
Apollo had appeared to Hector, saying: “Be comforted, son of Priam, for
Jupiter sends me to save thee. I am Phœbus Apollo, who hath so often
protected thee and thine. Follow me, that we may scatter the Achaians.”
Thus the god encouraged the shepherd of the people, and like a colt
which has broken its halter and gallops after the other horses to the
pasture, he hastened into the battle turmoil. The reappearance of the
hero caused astonishment and consternation among the enemy, and as the
invisible Apollo shook the shield of Jupiter, the mighty ægis, fear and
horror took complete possession of the people, and turning they fled
back to the ships. The battle raged fiercer than before, and many brave
men fell there.

Then Hector called aloud: “The time has come, brave Trojans, to board
the ships. Let all keep together. Let no one tarry to gather booty, and
if one remains behind, he shall die by my own hand.” He urged his horses
across the moat, and the others followed him with exultant cries. When
they reached the ships they paused and prayed aloud to the gods for
victory. A long roll of thunder presaged good fortune, and with
redoubled courage they charged forward. Hector tried to board a vessel,
but in vain. The Achaians, from the deck, thrust back everyone who made
the attempt with their long oars, and where Hector fought there were
always to be found gathered together the bravest warriors. The Trojans,
with their double-edged lances, fought in their chariots, but the
Achaians, from the high decks of their dark vessels, used long,
ironbound oars.

While the battle raged between the wall and the ships Patroclus was
sitting in Eurypylus’ tent nursing his wounded friend. But he dared not
remain long, for fear of arousing Achilles’ anger. He felt that he must
see how his friends were faring, and his heart urged him to persuade
Achilles to come to the rescue of the Achaians at last. He left the tent
and gazed with horror upon the dreadful battleground. He saw Hector rush
forward with a flaming torch and try to fire a ship, but the Achaians
turned aside the fatal missile. Ajax of Salamis stood upon the deck and
thrust down with his lance all who bore a burning brand. Hector aimed
his javelin at him, but it struck Lykophron, who stood beside him. Ajax
then called upon Teucer: “Look, brother, our friend has fallen by
Hector’s hand! Where is thy avenging arrow?”

Teucer hastily climbed up with his bow and with the first arrow struck
Klitus from his chariot. He then selected a second and sharper arrow for
Hector and, as he was quite near to him, would doubtless have pierced
him had the cord of his bow not broken just as he was in the act of
drawing it. “Woe is me!” he cried. “A god brings all our attempts to
naught and must have broken this cord, a newly twisted one, which I put
on this morning.”

Hector had seen the accident, accepted it as a favorable omen, and
cheered on his men. “Let everyone fight with all his might, for the
Olympian Jove is with us. And if ye fall it shall be a glorious death
for the women and children of Troy, and surely the Trojans shall
recompense ye as soon as the Achaians are driven away.”

Where Hector rushed in, the troops huddled together like a herd of sheep
before a wolf. None dared defend himself, but bowed his head in terror,
and trembling, received his deathblow with averted face. The hero’s
fluttering plumes were like a lion’s mane and his eyes flashed fury
under his dark brows. Fear and shame kept the Achaians together. They
continually encouraged one another. Nestor particularly besought the
people to make one last attempt.

Among the Achaian leaders the most notable courage was shown by the
Telamonian Ajax. He ran from one ship to another to encourage the
soldiers, who could scarcely be forced to make another stand. A Trojan
brought Hector a torch, which he threw into the foremost of the deserted
ships. The sight drove the Achaians to desperation. They all rushed
forward to defend the ship and a horrible struggle took place. Battle
axes, swords, and lances hissed through the air and much blood flowed.
Hector clung to the ship and shouted: “Bring up the firebrands! Jupiter
has given us the day and we shall certainly take the ships.” And “fire!
fire!” echoed through the entire army, so that all the Achaians
trembled. Ajax himself could make no headway, but standing on one of the
ships, he threw lance after lance at everyone he saw approaching with
fire. His voice was never silent, but rose continually above the din,
calling to his people: “Friends, keep up your courage and show
yourselves men! Is there any help but in yourselves or is there another
wall behind you? Do ye know of other ships, if these are burned, to
carry you over the sea? Your deliverance depends solely upon

Fruitless zeal! The rattling spears of the enemy drove them to flight
more convincingly than the voice of the lone leader to the attack. Their
strength was broken.

                               Chapter XI
   Patroclus Hastens into Battle and Scatters the Trojans—Hector and

Profoundly grieved at the sad fate of his comrades, Patroclus turned
from the bloody spectacle and hurried to Achilles’ tent. Hot tears were
rolling down his cheeks as he entered. Achilles, dismayed, forgot to
rebuke him and inquired with concern: “Why dost thou weep, Patroclus?
Speak, tell me all!”

Sighing deeply, Patroclus replied: “Son of Peleus, thou mighty hero of
the Achaians, do not be angry with me if I tell thee that the Achaians
are suffering too great misery. All over the field and at the ships
their bravest warriors have fallen, and but few of the princes remain
unharmed. Diomedes has been shot through the foot and Agamemnon through
the arm; Ulysses is wounded in the side and Eurypylus received an arrow
in his thigh. The deserted soldiers are panic-stricken and thou,
obstinate one, wilt not take pity on them. Cruel man! Thou art so brave
and yet thou wilt not raise thy hand to save thy despairing friends. May
a god never be angry with me as thou art angry. Surely Peleus is not thy
father nor a goddess thy mother. The dark sea depths or adamantine rocks
must have brought thee forth, so unfeeling is thy heart. Or is it that
thou obeyest some secret command of the gods and darest not take part in
the battle? Then, at least, send me and give me thy Myrmidons that I may
perchance drive back the Trojans from the ships. Lend me thy armor that
the Trojans, deceived, may retreat and the Achaian warriors take fresh

“No behest of the gods restrains me,” replied Achilles, “nor is it my
purpose to be angry forever. As soon as the Trojans approach my tents
and ships, I shall gird on my sword and spear, and woe to him whom I
shall meet! But until then, let Agamemnon bitterly repent his outrage
and promise expiatory sacrifices to all the gods. But I shall not allow
the Trojans the pleasure of destroying the ships. Therefore go, as thou
desirest. Lead the Myrmidons into battle, for the danger is great.
Diomedes no longer shakes his mighty spear and I do not hear the hated
Agamemnon’s valiant battle cry; instead, Hector’s lionlike voice
penetrates my tent, with the loud rejoicing of the Trojans. Take my
resplendent armor, but listen well to what I say. Thou mayest drive the
Trojans from the ships and back to the intrenchments, but pursue them no
farther. Take care not to allow thyself to be enticed into an open
battle, nor still less dare to storm Troy’s fortress without me, for
mine must be the glory, that the Achaians may learn whom they have

With these words he climbed to the upper deck of his ship to
reconnoitre. And how horrified he was to see Protesilaus’ ship in
flames, Hector still advancing, and the Achaians giving way. “Hurry,
hurry, Patroclus!” he cried and smote his thigh with impatience. “The
ships are already burning! Put on the armor quickly, while I gather the
Myrmidons.” There were more than two thousand of them, splendid warriors
of great strength and stature. At their leader’s call they assembled
under arms. Achilles divided them into five companies, to each of which
he gave a leader of proven courage and experience. Meanwhile Patroclus
bade Automedon bring forth Achilles’ chariot and horses, with a second
one for emergencies. Then he put on the shining armor, placed on his
head the great helmet with its crest of waving horsehair, and took two
lances, but not that of Achilles, for no other living mortal could wield

Thus armed he sprang into the chariot beside Automedon, who was waiting,
whip in hand. Then Achilles went to the chest which his mother had given
him, filled with cloths and warm garments, and took out of it a precious
golden goblet from which he was accustomed to make sacrifice to the
greatest of the gods alone. He dipped it in the sea, washed his hands,
then filled the goblet with clear wine, and with it in his hands went to
the door of his tent. “Father Jupiter, ruler of the world,” he prayed,
while he poured the first drops on the ground in honor of the god, “hear
me now as thou didst hear me when I was honored before the Achaians.
Grant that my friend may return to me covered with glory, and fill his
heart and the hearts of his companions with courage, that they may make
an end of the Trojans at the ships, and that Hector may learn that
Patroclus knows how to order the battle even if I am not with him.”

The appearance of Patroclus and his followers was like sunshine after a
shower to the Achaians. The Trojans were frightened, for they thought
that Achilles had come forth again, and even without him the advent of
two thousand fresh warriors was matter enough for concern. When
Achilles’ band made a dash for Protesilaus’ burning ship, not a Trojan
stood his ground. The space about the ship was cleared by the Myrmidons
and they quenched the fire which had already destroyed half of the ship.
But the battle was by no means at an end. The leaders of the Trojans
rallied their forces inside the intrenchments and put them in order once
more. Patroclus did his friend credit; he was indefatigable and himself
slew many of the boldest warriors. The other Achaian leaders joined him
and new life and hope filled every breast.

The Trojans could no longer maintain their position inside the
intrenchments. Hector was the first to reach the open plain with his
chariot, but many another who tried to follow him was crushed in the
throng. But the rout would not have been so general had Patroclus
remembered Achilles’ instructions. But his success, the suddenness of
the victory, and particularly his secret desire to kill Hector, misled
the zealous man to pursue the fleeing enemy. He jumped from his chariot,
which he instructed to have follow him, and hurried after his victims.
Now he overthrew Pronous and took his armor; next he slew the charioteer
Thestor and took his likewise. With a stone he crushed the head of
Euryalus, who was about to attack him, and many others were struck down
by his mighty arm. Not a Trojan was able to withstand Patroclus. The
foolish man! Had he but remembered Achilles’ warning he might have
escaped death; but Jupiter’s decree is mightier than man.

A few hours earlier the Trojans had broken down the enemy’s wall and now
the Achaians were seeking to conquer the lofty walls of Troy’s fortress,
and Patroclus himself was ambitious of being the first to enter the
city. But Hector plucked up courage and commanded his charioteer to
drive straight at the leader. As soon as he saw him coming, Patroclus
left the wall and ran furiously to meet him, holding his lance in his
left hand and in the right a stone which he had hastily picked up. This
he threw with all his might at the two tall men in the chariot, and
behold, it struck the good Kebriones, Priam’s son, and crushed his
skull, so that his body fell abruptly across the chariot seat. Patroclus
cried out maliciously: “See how hasty the man is! There are splendid
divers among the Trojans. If he could but have tried his luck in the
water, instead of in the sand, he would have caught plenty of oysters to
satisfy his hunger.”

He sprang upon the wounded man to take his arms, but Hector jumped from
his chariot and seized his brother’s head. Patroclus took his feet and
the two men struggled for the body. A crowd of Trojans and Achaians came
to their aid, and spears, shields, and naked swords rattled noisily
against one another. The Trojans defended Hector as well as they could,
but while he struggled for the body, none could get near him. However, a
bold Trojan seized a favorable opportunity, and with a powerful blow of
his sword, knocked off Patroclus’ helmet, cutting the strap of his
shield at the same time, so that it fell to the earth. The hero started
back and let go the corpse, but as he turned, Euphorbus stabbed him in
the back. He tried to escape, but Hector laid him low with his heavy
lance. The Achaians trembled, and even the most courageous of them lost
their heads, and none dared interfere as Hector, bracing his foot
against the body, drew out his spear, then stripped off the armor. It
was now Hector’s turn to mock at the dying man and he cried: “Well,
Patroclus, dost thou still expect to lay waste our city and carry off
our women? One could see thou hadst great deeds in mind. No doubt
Achilles bade thee not return without Hector’s bloody coat of mail. Now,
poor man, thou liest here and givest me thy fine armor, but thee I give
to the dogs and birds of prey for food.”

Faintly the dying man answered him: “It is a foolish boast, Hector. Thou
camest, when I was defenseless and wounded, to rob me. In open conflict
I could have slain twenty like thee, but a boy could have done what thou
hast done. But vengeance is approaching and when it comes, think of me.
The godlike Achilles still lives.”

“Spare me thy prophecies and die,” replied Hector. “Who knoweth but
Achilles, like thee, may give up his soul at the point of my spear?”
With these words he left the dying man and carried the splendid armor to
a place of safety, then went back into the fray.

                              Chapter XII
      The Fight for Patroclus’ Body—Achilles Mourns for His Fallen
               Friend—Thetis and Vulcan—Achilles’ Shield

Hector next roved about seeking to capture the splendid steeds of
Achilles with which Patroclus had entered the field, but he could not
come near them, for Patroclus’ charioteer, Automedon, was already far
distant. Meanwhile the space about Patroclus’ body was deserted except
for Menelaus, who stood guard beside it, covering it with his shield
until some of his comrades should come up to bear it away to the ships.
He was spied by Euphorbus, brother of that Hyperenor who had fallen by
Menelaus’ hand the day before. He approached within a spear’s cast and
called to him: “Son of Atreus, stand back from the dead! Thou shalt not
give honorable burial to this destroyer who hath slain so many of us.
Back, before I rob thee of thy sweet life!”

“Great Jupiter,” cried Menelaus, “did one ever hear such insolence! Only
yesterday thy brother Hyperenor was equally bold, but I believe he has
paid the penalty, for he can scarcely have returned to his dear wife and
old father on his own feet. The same fate awaiteth thee, if thou
approach nearer. I advise thee to escape while thou canst.”

“It is for my brother’s sake that I would fight with thee,” cried
Euphorbus. “How delighted shall my father be when I bring him thy bloody
armor in token of vengeance. But why do I waste time in talk? Let us try
our skill.”

As he spoke he ran at Menelaus full tilt with his lance, but the point
bent like lead against the shield and did not even scratch it. Then
Menelaus ran him through with his own spear and the slender youth fell,
as a tender sprout of olive is uprooted by the wind. His long waving
hair was bathed in blood and he, who but a moment before had bounded
among the ranks of warriors like a deer, lay unrecognizable. Menelaus
was about to take his armor when he saw Hector at a distance, and not
caring to face him he left Patroclus’ body and ran to fetch the elder
Ajax, that together they might protect their friend from the thieving
hands of the Trojans.

Then Glaucus spoke sullenly to Hector. “Thou art a great boaster, but
never have I seen thee at the post of danger, nor attempting to defend
or avenge any of thy comrades. The heroic Sarpedon, who sacrificed so
much for thee, was left to his fate, and no one knoweth where he fell.
Do the Lycians deserve this at thy hands? If thou art so ungrateful and
no honor is paid a fallen hero, then mayest thou fight thy battles alone
and I will take my Lycians home. If ye Trojans were men of courage and
decision, ye would carry off the body of Patroclus to a place of safety.
Doubtless the Achaians would then offer the body of Sarpedon and his
weapons in exchange and even more. But thou fleest the battle like a
coward, fearing Ajax, who is, indeed, quite another sort of man.”

Darkly Hector gazed at him and began: “Ah, my friend, I have always
taken thee for a man of sense, but now hast thou spoken rashly. When did
the enemy or the snorting of horses ever terrify me? No, I fear neither
Ajax nor Diomedes nor any of the Achaian heroes, but rather the decree
of Jove, who has apparently given victory into the hands of the enemy.
What availeth the valor of a mortal against the god of gods? But if thou
wilt observe my actions, take heed and see if I am as timid as thou hast

Clad in Achilles’ magnificent armor he immediately assembled his men
with loud battle cries. Calling all the princes together, he spoke to
them. “Friends and allies, not to be in the midst of many men have I
called ye to Troy, but that ye might aid me in time of danger to protect
our wives and children. It is for this that our poor people are laboring
to feed and sustain ye with their flocks and the fruits of their fields,
and for this I am striving with sword and speech to encourage ye and
spur ye on to the combat. Then let us fight to the death! And to him who
bears the body of Patroclus into Troy I promise a rich recompense.”

All followed him, shouting, to the spot where Menelaus and Ajax stood
shielding the body of Patroclus. Their hearts beat wildly when they saw
the little band bearing down on them, and Menelaus ran as fast as he
could to procure more help. “Come friends,” he cried, “there lies
Patroclus, whom the Trojans would seize and carry away to become food
for Trojan dogs. Do ye not feel the shame of it?”

The younger Ajax was the first to hear and respond; then came Idomeneus
and Meriones, each with a band of followers. They arrived beside the
corpse just as Hector and his men came up, and the shock of meeting was
like the ocean tide at the mouth of some mighty river which empties into
the sea, so terrible was the crash of shields and lances.

Then Automedon with Achilles’ steeds came dashing along, resolved
himself to contend for the corpse. Hector saw him coming and cried,
rejoicing, to Æneas: “There come Achilles’ splendid horses! Come, if
thou wilt aid me, let us take them!” They ran toward the chariot, but
Automedon, springing to the ground, called Ajax and Menelaus to his aid.
Chromeus and Aretus joined Hector and Æneas and a fresh contest raged
about the chariot. Hector aimed well and cast with mighty power, but
Automedon dashed quickly aside and the spear flew far over him into the
earth, where it quivered for a long time. Automedon was more fortunate,
and although Hector dodged the blow, it struck Aretus, who stood behind
him. Meanwhile evening was descending and Ajax was anxious to secure the
body before night came on. But it was all the Achaians could do to hold
back the enemy. Then Ajax said to Menelaus: “If only some good youth
would hasten to the ships and take to Achilles the tidings of his
friend’s death perhaps he would come himself to rescue the body from the
enemy’s hands. Dost thou see Antilochus, Nestor’s son? I think he could
reach camp quickest.” Menelaus hastened away to seek the youth, where he
was fighting at the other side of the battlefield. He was horrified to
learn of the hero’s death and tears filled his eyes; but he did not
tarry and hurried away to Achilles.

Menelaus returned straightway to Ajax, saying: “I have sent him, but I
doubt whether Achilles will come without his armor. So let us try once
more to secure the body.”

“Thou art right,” answered Ajax. “Let us make another attempt, and if
they retire but a little way, do thou and Meriones seize the corpse
while the rest of us keep off the mighty Hector and the other Trojans.”

This strategy partially succeeded and Menelaus and Meriones were able to
drag the body some distance away. Meanwhile Achilles had been
impatiently awaiting his tardy friend. He ascended to his usual post,
the high deck of his ship, and saw, approaching through the twilight and
clouds of dust, dense crowds which looked like fleeing men. It seemed to
him that he could hear Hector’s triumphant voice pursuing the Achaians.
An uneasy premonition seized him and he was about to send out a
messenger when young Antilochus appeared before him and spake, weeping:
“Woe is me, son of Peleus, I bring thee sad tidings. Patroclus is slain,
and our warriors are fighting desperately for his naked body, for Hector
has taken his weapons.”

Achilles grew pale as death. He tore his hair with rage, beat his
breast, and threw himself upon the ground, covering dress, face, and
head with dust. His eyes flashed dangerously, his heart palpitated, and
horrible groans escaped his half-open lips. His slaves gathered about
him in affright; but when they learned the cause of his boundless
sorrow, they all burst out weeping. Antilochus wept also and held the
hero’s hands, fearing that the passionate man would harm himself. This
terrible despair lasted a long time, but at last the overburdened heart
found relief in tears and he broke out in loud lamentations.

His mother Thetis heard him and arose from the depths of the sea to seat
herself beside her unhappy son. She pressed his head to her bosom and
inquired tenderly: “Dear child, what is troubling thee now? Do not
conceal anything from me. Speak! Hath Jupiter not fulfilled thy wish and
given the victory to the Trojans?”

“What care I for the favor of Jupiter when Patroclus, whom I loved as
myself, lies dead! Hector hath slain him and taken the armor, that
splendid gift of my valiant father. For what a fate was I born! But,
indeed, I will not live if I may not slay Hector and avenge the death of
my friend.”

“Glorious son,” said his mother, weeping, “when thou hast slain him it
will be thy doom; for thy death is decreed immediately after Hector’s.”

“Would that I were already dead,” answered Achilles gloomily, “as I was
not permitted to save my friend. But I will avenge him and pay him such
honor as no mortal has ever received before. Then let Jupiter do with me
as he will. Death is the lot of all. Even great Hercules died, the best
beloved of all Jupiter’s sons. But before Death takes me, many a Trojan
woman shall lament that I have slain her son or young spouse. They shall
all learn that my long rest is ended.”

“I shall not restrain thee,” answered the silver-footed Thetis, “for thy
grief is righteous and thy resolution to honor the dead and save thy
friends from destruction is commendable. But thou hast no weapons and I
forbid thee to enter the turmoil of Mars until at dawn thou seest me
returning with armor from the hand of the artist Vulcan.” She suddenly
disappeared and ascended to Olympus to beg the weapons from the god.

              [Illustration: _THETIS CONSOLING ACHILLES_]

Meanwhile the noise of the struggle grew louder as the fortunes of war
drove the Achaians to flight. With loud cries the Trojans followed the
body of Patroclus in the twilight, and although the two bearers hurried
as fast as they could to get it to a place of safety, they were often in
danger of losing it. Hector pursued them continually with his men and
more than once had seized one of the dead man’s feet. The two Ajaxes had
no thought of killing Hector, for his gigantic stature appalled them.
They only held the corpse tighter, to keep it from being torn from them.
Just as they were nearing the moat, they would have lost it, if a swift
messenger had not summoned Achilles. “Help! help! Achilles!” he cried.
“Hector will soon have taken the body of Patroclus. He threatens to cut
off the head and put it on a pike and to throw the trunk to the Trojan
dogs. What a disgrace if thy friend’s body be taken and misused!”

Like a maniac, without armor or weapons, Achilles rushed out, and in a
voice like thunder rolling in the mountains, he roared out most terrible
threats, so that both Trojans and Achaians were overcome by fear and
Hector, terrified, let go the corpse and quickly retired with his
followers, thinking Achilles was already on his track. Thus the two
heroes brought the corpse safely into camp. Achilles gazed long upon his
friend, speechless, with bowed head, clenched hands, and tears coursing
down his cheeks. The Trojans now held council whether they should spend
the night in the city or on the battlefield. Polydamas was anxious to
retire, for he feared Achilles; but Hector insisted on remaining, for he
held that it would be cowardly to allow the enemy to suspect that they
were afraid. “Let Achilles come forth to-morrow,” he concluded; “he will
do so at his own risk. I shall surely not fly before him. I long to meet
him, and then Jupiter shall decide which one of us shall be covered with
glory. Mars is a vacillating god, who oft destroys the destroyer.”

So they encamped on the field for the night. Youths brought forth
animals from the city for the sacrifice, together with bread and wine,
lit fires, and prepared the evening meal. The Achaians also, after
supping, laid down to rest. But Achilles could not sleep. Kneeling
beside his dead friend, he laid his hand on his cold breast and sobbed.
Overcome with grief he cried: “Before the earth hides me, thou shalt be
avenged, my Patroclus. I will lay Hector’s weapons at thy feet and
Hector’s bloody head beside them. I will slay twelve Trojan youths in
thine honor. Rest thou here in peace, for the morrow shall shed glory
upon thee and me.”

Meanwhile Thetis had arrived in Olympus and went straightway to Vulcan’s
dwelling. Late as it was, she heard him hammering in his workshop, for
he was making twenty bronze tripods for the Olympians’ hall. He had
fastened golden wheels to each foot, so that they could roll to the
banquet of themselves. They were all finished except for the handles,
and these he wished to complete that night. Aphrodite, the beautiful
spouse of the lame fire god, was the first to spy the newcomer at the
door. She took her hand, saying: “Welcome, dear friend, what bringeth
thee so late from thy sea depths? Thou dost not often visit me.” She led
her within and called her spouse.

He immediately left his anvil, washed his hands with a sponge, also his
sooty face, neck, and powerful chest, threw on his cloak, and leaning on
his golden staff, came limping to the door. He took the goddess’ hand
and bade her welcome. “I always think of thee with gratitude,” he said;
“for thou didst take me in when I was lamed and my mother would not
tolerate me in heaven. Then I lived for a time in thy crystal palace
under the sea and fashioned many a pretty piece of work—rings and
clasps, pins and chains—until Juno took me into favor again and I left
thy dwelling. Therefore, Aphrodite, see that thou entertain our guest

When Thetis had partaken of the nectar and ambrosia which Aphrodite set
before her, she began to recite all her son’s troubles, from Agamemnon’s
injustice down to the fall of Patroclus. Then she begged the god to
forge new armor for the unlucky Achilles, so that he might be ready to
attack Hector in the morning. Aphrodite was displeased, for she feared
for the Trojans, but the god paid no attention to her and promised to
fulfil Thetis’ desire. He immediately returned to his workshop and began
the work.

Before the night was two thirds past the most splendid suit of armor
that ever a hero had possessed was completed. The shield especially was
a work of art. In the middle the earth was represented with the sea and
sky, sun, moon, and stars. There were also two cities; one at peace and
the other in the throes of war. In one a wedding was being celebrated
with music and dance and there were many pictures of peaceful labor in
field and vineyard. The other city was in a state of siege, and one
could plainly see the besiegers and the citizens defending themselves.
Around the edge of the shield flowed the deep river Oceanus.

                              Chapter XIII
      Achilles and Agamemnon Reconciled—Achilles Goes into Battle

Rosy-fingered Eos was mounting the eastern sky as Thetis arrived at her
son’s tent with the rich suit of armor. She found him still stretched
beside Patroclus’ body with the mourning women about him. Achilles
accepted Vulcan’s wonderful work joyfully, and the sight of the weapons
made his eyes flash with a dangerous light. When he had carefully
examined and admired the artistic embellishments he said to Thetis:
“Mother, these weapons are not the work of a mortal; some god has forged
them. Come, I will arm myself, that the Trojans may tremble at the
glorious sight.”

He then approached the tents and ships of the Achaians, calling to them
loudly to come forth. They rejoiced to hear the thunder of that voice,
which had been silent so long, and came hastening to the council place.
Diomedes was limping painfully and leaning on his lance. Even Agamemnon
and Ulysses, both weakened by painful wounds, came dragging themselves
along with staves. When they were all seated in their places, Achilles
took up the sceptre and spoke. “Son of Atreus, let us be reconciled, as
we have long wished to be. I had rather the gods had slain the rosy
maiden before ever a quarrel on her account had estranged us and my
anger sent so many noble Achaians down to Hades. But let us forget the
bitter past. I have moderated my anger, for a generous man should not be
implacable, however much he has been wronged. And now let us hasten to
lead our people to the combat, for the Trojans must not burn the ships

He was interrupted by a loud shout of exultation. The tidings that he
had relented and would join them in the battle was enough to fill all
hearts with joy. In their excitement they did not care to hear more, and
not until the thunderous tones of the heralds had commanded silence
could Agamemnon’s answer be heard. “Jupiter alone knows,” said he, “how
blind rage could have led me to commit such an injustice, from which my
heart now recoils and which I have long bitterly repented. Thou hast
already heard from Ulysses of the gifts which I offered thee in
reparation, and even now, that thou comest of thyself, I will take
nothing back. My servants shall deliver all to thee, if thou wilt but
save the Achaians.”

Smiling, the warlike Achilles answered him: “I care not whether thou
givest or retainest thy treasure. Let us think only of the war and lead
the battalions without delay against the enemy, for there is much work
to do and great deeds must be accomplished this day.”

Now Ulysses spoke up. “Not thus, excellent Achilles; we must not be
hasty. Let the soldiers partake of food, for the battle will not be of a
few hours’ duration only. Thou hast more endurance than all others, but
none but thee can hold out through the long day’s work without food or
drink. Let the people first break their fast, while Agamemnon sends for
the promised gifts, that we may all look upon them. Then he shall feast
thee in his tent, that thou mayest enjoy all the honor due thee; for
even a king should propitiate the man whom he hath wronged.”

“I gladly follow thy wise counsel,” answered Agamemnon, “and if thou
wilt, thou mayest go thyself to my ships, with six picked men, to fetch
the promised gifts.”

“Son of Atreus,” interrupted Achilles, “never mind the gifts. Let us
think only of the slain, who are calling to us to avenge them. And ye
talk of eating and drinking and of rest! If I were in command the people
should be led forth fasting and at night; after the day’s work they
should feast twice over. For my part, not a drop shall pass my lips
until I shall have avenged my friend. I have no thoughts, but of murder,
bloodshed, and the death rattle of falling men.”

“Great son of Peleus,” suggested Ulysses, “though thou art no doubt
stronger and braver than I, yet I think I can give thee good counsel,
for I have lived longer and seen much. Take my advice this once. Thou
canst conquer only with warriors who are rested, refreshed, and eager
for the fight; but the hungry and thirsty soldier will follow thee
half-heartedly and in the end be overcome by his own weakness.”

Without awaiting Achilles’ answer, the leaders gave the soldiers the
signal to break their fast. Ulysses quickly selected six good comrades
and went to fetch the presents from Agamemnon’s ships and tents. He
selected the basins, ewers, the horses and women, weighed out ten pounds
of gold, and then summoned the fair Briseïs to follow him. On their
return to the council place Agamemnon sent the gifts immediately to
Achilles’ encampment.

In vain the noble Achaian heroes surrounded Achilles and begged him to
join them at the banquet. He shook his head, saying: “Kind friends, do
not trouble me, for I am very sorrowful and I shall fast until the sun
sets.” The princes retired sadly to their tents to partake of food. Only
Atreus’ sons and the noble Ulysses, Nestor, Idomeneus, and the gigantic
Phœnix remained with him, trying to comfort the mourner. He sat brooding
over his sorrow. “Dear, unhappy friend,” he said, “how oft hast thou
brought me my breakfast and tended me while the others went forth to
battle, and now thou liest here dead; but neither food nor drink can
refresh me while I mourn for thee. I had always hoped that I alone
should die in the Trojan land and that thou shouldst return to Phthia,
to bring up my son, dear Neoptolemus. And now thou art gone before me.”

Thus he lamented, and all his friends mourned with him. Even Jupiter was
touched by his deep sorrow and sent his daughter Athena down secretly to
strengthen his heart with heavenly nectar, and thus the hero was able to
appear in all his glory when the warriors gathered together. The lust of
battle had dried the tears upon his eyelids.

                              Chapter XIV
               Achilles in Battle—The Fight on the River

All Olympus was now interested in the combat of mortals since the
godlike Achilles had taken up arms again. Many of the divinities
promised him victory, but Jupiter was resolved that he should not yet
destroy the splendid city of the Trojans, for fate had not decreed that
it should fall by his hand. Therefore he commanded the other gods to
stay the zeal of the Pelide should he rage too terribly. The Trojans
were already armed and in the field and the swarms of Achaians flew to
meet them like a heap of dry leaves driven before the wind. Achilles
looked everywhere for Hector, but without discovering him. Instead, he
espied two other chieftains, Æneas and Lykaon.

Æneas determined to face the hero. He commended his soul to his divine
mother and pushed forward shouting fierce threats. Achilles ran toward
him without hesitation and then stopping suddenly he called out: “How
canst thou venture so far from thy men, Æneas? What is it impels thee to
fight with me? Dost think perchance that if thou shouldst conquer me
thou shalt become ruler of the Trojans? Priam has still plenty of sons!
Did I not meet thee on Mount Ida, where father Jupiter himself was
scarce able to save thee? Thou didst run like a deer, not daring to look
behind thee. Thou hadst better fly now, if life is dear to thee, and
take care not to get in my way a second time.”

“Son of Peleus,” answered Æneas, “do not hope to frighten me with words
like a child. My race is as exalted as thine own, for I was fathered by
Anchises of Dardanus’ family and Aphrodite is my mother. My family is
old and powerful. But why do we gossip like women? Come, let us see
whether it be Aphrodite or Thetis who shall mourn for her son to-day.”

He was the first to cast his spear, and Achilles held his shield before
him at arm’s length, so that should it pierce the metal, it might not
touch his body. But the swift-flying weapon glanced off harmlessly.
Immediately he hurled his own powerful lance, but Æneas threw himself on
the ground and covered himself. The mighty lance crashed through the
edge of his shield and buried itself in the ground just behind the
crouching man. He arose quickly, seized a great stone, and threw it at
the head of Achilles, who was rushing upon him with drawn sword in a
blind rage, forgetting to shield himself, so that had Vulcan’s helmet
not been so strong, helmet and skull would doubtless have been crushed.
Æneas was about to exult over his fall, but Achilles only staggered back
a step and a god warned Æneas to escape. He therefore drew Achilles’
heavy spear from his shield, and throwing it down, fled into the crowd
of Trojans.

When Achilles came to, he found himself on the ground, supporting
himself on one arm, and alone. He was astonished and said to himself:
“What miracle is this? Here lies my spear and my adversary is nowhere to
be seen. But indeed Æneas must be beloved of the gods, for no one has
ever vanquished me thus. But he did not venture to kill me in my swoon
and is, no doubt, happy to have himself escaped. And now I must away to
measure myself with other Trojans.” He first returned to his Myrmidons
and cheered them with loud cries of “Forward, man to man! Let none hold
back! I cannot alone conquer the whole Trojan army, even Mars himself
could not do that. But my lance shall never rest.”

Among the Trojans the gallant Hector was going about encouraging his
bands. “Do not fear, ye valiant Trojans, because the enemy has gained a
single man to-day. Grim Achilles has certainly uttered great threats,
but words are not deeds. Behold, I go forward to encounter him unafraid,
though his hand were a bolt of lightning and his breast of bronze.”

Achilles had already broken into the ranks of the Trojans and slain a
man here and there. He was like a hungry wolf hasting from one victim to
another. His lance was constantly in flight. He pierced the noble
Demoleon, then laid his charioteer Hippodamos in the dust, then drawing
his spear from the body, he hurled it after Polydorus, Priam’s youngest
son, whom his father had begged not to enter the fight. But the youth,
considered the best runner in the army, was passionate and fiery and
would not be restrained. Just as he was flying past, Achilles’ terrible
spear struck him. He fell, groaning and holding his wounded side. Thus
his brother Hector espied him and in a passion of grief he advanced upon
Achilles, swinging his lance like flashing lightning.

Seeing him coming thus, Achilles cried: “Ah! there is he who killed my
friend! Come, Hector, come, that thou mayest meet thy doom!” He had
scarcely spoken when Hector stood before him and answered unabashed: “Do
not hope to intimidate me with words, O Achilles! Even if thou art
stronger than I, it rests with the gods to decide whether I shall not
rob thee of thy life.”

He threw the lance with all his might, but it glanced off Achilles’
hard-polished shield. He turned about, frightened, and fled like the
wind before the hero’s hissing spear. “Ah! truly Phœbus must be with
thee,” cried Achilles. “Destruction was hard upon thee and thou hast
escaped. But the next time I meet thee I shall send thee down to Hades.”
He glanced about angrily for other adversaries.

See, now his chariot pursues a band of Trojans who prefer to flee all
together rather than meet this single man. He pressed forward to one
side, cutting them off from the rest of the army and driving them all
into the river. There they paddled about like swimming poodles until
Achilles, leaving his lance on the bank, sprang after them to stab those
whom he could reach with his sword. Finally he drove twelve youths into
the reeds and there bound their hands behind their backs with his armor
straps. He then led them out and gave them into the hands of his
charioteer to take back to the Myrmidons. They were destined for a cruel
sacrifice to Patroclus.

Achilles turned again to the river and there he recognized with
astonishment, among those who were trying in vain to clamber up the
steep banks, a youth, son of Priam, named Lykaon, whom he had taken at
the beginning of the war and sold for one hundred oxen into Lemnos. Some
years later a rich Phrygian had purchased him, from whom he had but
lately escaped, having returned only eleven days before to the house of
his venerable father. “Ha! there is Lykaon!” cried Achilles in surprise.
“How comes he here? This time he shall taste the tip of my spear and we
shall see if he return from the underworld to cause me trouble again.”
He went to fetch his spear and Lykaon swam as hard as he could to throw
himself at his feet and beg for mercy.

“Fool!” thundered the terrible voice of the hero, “what do I want with
ransom money? Before Patroclus fell I was inclined to show mercy and
carried away many captives, but now not one who falls into my hands
shall survive—least of all one of Priam’s sons. Die then, my friend!
Thou criest out in vain. Patroclus, too, had to die, who was far
mightier than thou. And seest thou not how great and powerful I am? My
father was a noble king, a goddess is my mother, and yet my death and
doom are drawing near and sooner or later I shall fall by the spear or

The poor youth’s heart and knees trembled. He spread out his arms, shut
his eyes, and thus received the death stroke. Then Achilles seized him
by the feet and flung him far out into the river. “There! Swim among the
fish,” he cried. “Many a one shall feed on Lykaon. Thus I shall pursue
ye all, until ye have atoned for Patroclus’ death and the woe of the

But the river god who heard this blasphemy was angered. Asteropæus, son
of Pelegon, was still standing in the water and Scamander breathed
courage into him. He was practised in casting with both hands and
Achilles saw him advancing with two raised spears. He shouted to him:
“Who art thou, rash man? Unhappy are the parents of those who contend
with me!”

“What wouldst thou know of me, great Pelide?” he answered. “I came from
distant Pæonia with a gallant army but eleven days ago. Now let us
fight, valiant Achilles.”

With these words he let fly both lances at once upon the hero. One of
them rebounded harmlessly from the shield, the other brushed his left
elbow and buried itself in the sand. And now Achilles swung his bloody
staff, but missed aim also, and his lance struck the sandy bank on the
other side of the river. Angrily he sprang into the water with drawn
sword, and striding powerfully through the waves, he approached the
unlucky Asteropæus, who was trying in vain to secure Achilles’ lance.
Before he could do so the hero felled him, and he sank down unconscious.

“Ah,” he cried joyously, “thou couldst scarcely contend with a man of
Jupiter’s divine race, although thy ancestor was a river god.”

Achilles drew his spear out of the earth and left the dying man gasping
at the water’s edge. He threw himself next upon a troop of Pæonians and
drove them into the stream. Those who would not go of their own accord
he thrust down into a watery grave. Then from the depths of the stream
he heard the voice of the river god: “O Achilles, thou art superhuman in
thy fury and the gods are always with thee. But I warn thee, that if
Jupiter hath given the Trojans into thy hand this day, murder where thou
wilt, but do not pollute my waters, for my stream is already glutted
with the dead, and even now I can scarce flow down into the holy sea.
Therefore forbear!”

Achilles heard the warning unmoved and replied: “It shall be as thou
sayest, divine Scamander, but I shall never stop destroying the Trojans
until I have fought the last decisive battle with Hector.”

But when he chanced upon a fresh troop of the enemy, who were astray
near the river, he forgot the river god’s decree, and when they all
jumped into the stream to gain the opposite shore he plunged in after
them. Then the invisible god arose in his might, determined to destroy
him. He sent wave after wave breaking over him and drew him deeper and
deeper down. Struggle as he might he could make no headway against the
mighty stream on whose waves he rose and fell, almost losing his balance
and being carried away. The bodies of the slain bore against him and he
could scarcely hold them back with his shield. He struggled to the
shore, but the angry god stirred up a foaming surf which threw him back

Almost exhausted he struggled forward once more and grasped a young elm
whose branches hung over the stream; but just as he was about to swing
himself up by it the roots gave way, so that it lay across the river
like a bridge. Upon this the hero reached the bank, although he vainly
hoped to escape the river god thus. Furiously Scamander followed him
across the fallow fields with breaking waves. He also called to his aid
the other streams who generally dash their waters from the mountain
heights to destroy the farmer’s fields only in springtime. To the
Simoïs, which joins him just before he flows into the sea, he cried:
“Come, brother, and help me stem the power of this terrible man, else he
will batter down the walls of Priam’s fortress to-day; for none can
withstand him. Arise, friend, let thy floods loose; roll down rocks and
stones with thundering waves upon him, that we may tame him. For I ween
that neither his strength nor beauty nor his resplendent weapons shall
save him. They shall be buried deep in mud, and him will I cover with
sand and heap a monument of shells and pebbles over him so high that
none shall ever find his bones.”

The hero was almost overcome and in his despair cried aloud: “Father
Jupiter, not a single one of the gods will take pity on me, and I
thought ye all loved me! But none has deceived me more than my divine
mother, who promised me the glorious death of a hero before Troy. And
now, alas, an ignoble end awaits me, and I shall be drowned as
ignominiously as any swineherd in a mud puddle.”

Then from afar a solemn and consoling voice arose. “Be comforted,
Peleus’ son, thou shalt not die in the waters. Keep up the struggle
until the Trojans have fled the field. But when Hector is vanquished
thou shalt return.”

This promise filled his heart with courage, for it was the voice of
Poseidon, to whom all streams are subject. And now the waters quickly
subsided and were drawn into the broad gulf of the sea. Then a south
wind arose which sucked up the moisture from the ground and bore it
away. The valiant hero soon stood upon firm ground again and hurried
away as fast as he could to plunge into the fray. Fired by his example,
his people followed him like a consuming flame fanned by the wind. All
who could do so fled to the walls, most of them toward the gate. The
venerable Priam sat upon the top of the wall, looking mournfully down
upon the sad plight of his people. When the crush at the gate became
intolerable he descended and called to the guards: “Friends, open the
doors and let the men in, for they can no longer withstand the terrible
Pelide. When all are inside, shut the gate and put up the bars, that the
enemy may not enter also.”

In the confusion of flight, where none wished to be lost, Achilles and
his band would doubtless have pushed in with them had not Apollo
distracted his attention by the sight of Agenor. This bold youth stood
concealed behind a beech tree turning over a thousand projects in his
anxious mind. “What shall I do?” he said to himself. “I am too far
behind to follow the others—he would take me in the back like a coward.
If I try to creep along the wall and escape by way of the thickets of
Ida, the bushes may hide me; then I could steal up to the gate at night
and whisper to them softly to let me in. But what if he should discover
me there? Then I should be lost indeed; for who is as strong as he? But
his body is not invulnerable and he is a mortal like the others.
Therefore I will try my skill with him, that I may save my life with

Meanwhile Achilles came running up and espied the man hidden behind the
tree. Agenor stepped boldly forth and cried: “Madman, dost thou hope to
destroy the fortress to-day? Nevermore! There are still plenty of brave
men in the city, and all are fighting for parents, wives, and children.
On the contrary, thy own sad fate may be upon thee to-day, thou
ungovernable monster.”

With these words his flashing sword descended upon Achilles, and not
without effect. He struck his shin, and only the impenetrable greaves
fashioned by Vulcan prevented the leg from being shattered. Like a
wounded boar Achilles pounced upon the youth, who fled through
wheatfields and thickets along the river, leading his grim pursuer far
away from the city; for he did not give up the chase until the youth was
lost to sight. And this never would have occurred had the blow on his
leg not sapped his strength. But Apollo had arranged it thus, so that
for this time the Trojans should escape; for when he returned breathless
he found them safe behind their walls.

                               Chapter XV
                   Hector and Achilles—Hector’s Death

The Achaians, their shields slung over their shoulders, were awaiting
Achilles close under the walls of Troy. All the Trojans were within the
city except Hector, who had remained outside, resolved to meet Achilles
once more in combat; for he believed that he owed it to his fatherland
and to his own honor, either to free his people from this dread enemy or
to give up his own life for them. His old father looked gloomily down
from the wall and signalled for him to come inside, but in vain.

Achilles returned from his pursuit of Agenor, his lance on his shoulder.
At the sight old Priam beat his breast in consternation and he trembled,
seeing his son without and alone. “Dear son,” he entreated, “do not face
that cruel man, for he is stronger than thou. Alas, would that the gods
hated him as I do and he would soon be food for the dogs! How many of my
sons he has already murdered or sold to distant isles! And now, my
Hector, thou on whom the Trojan people put their hopes, wilt thou also
go to meet him? Come, take pity on me! Already hath Jupiter heaped
endless misfortunes upon mine old age, and should he rob me of thee now,
I already foresee the enemy breaking into our fortress, carrying off our
women, murdering our children, and plundering our treasures. Woe is me!
for I shall become food for mine own dogs in the courtyard. Alas, that
would be the most lamentable of all destinies!”

But Hector could not be persuaded and remained steadfast at the gate,
awaiting Achilles. “Woe is me if I should hide now behind walls and
gates!” he said. “Then Polydamas could chide me with reason for
sacrificing so many good friends to-day. I would not follow his advice
and retire into the city, but presumed to contend with Achilles alone,
and alas, I have not saved a single man from his fury and, I openly
avow, have myself avoided him in fear, for he is truly terrible in his
might. But now I must challenge fate boldly, that the women of Troy may
not denounce me for leading the people to destruction and then fleeing
like a coward. But how would it be if I should lay helmet and shield on
the ground beside my lance and thus go to meet the hero and offer him a
peaceful settlement? Offer him Helen and all their treasure, together
with half of all the goods which the houses of the Trojan princes
contain? But no! I cannot approach him a suppliant. It would be base and
unworthy and he would strike me down unarmed like a weak woman. No! I
will fight like a man. Be my fate what it may, I will conquer or die
with honor.”

Achilles came up looking like Mars himself. When Hector saw him he
trembled, and fled like a dove pursued by a hawk. Hector turned first to
the left, then to the right, striving to tire out his pursuer; but in
vain. Now they ran past the watch tower, now past the fig tree, and now
by the hot springs, where were the stone basins of the washerwomen. His
pursuer drove him clear round the great city, yea, even three times
round the walls, and as often as Hector tried to slip through an open
portal, Achilles would drive him out again into the open fields, keeping
near the walls himself. But when they passed the place where the
Achaians were resting on their spears awaiting the outcome, Achilles
forbade anyone to cast a spear at Hector and rob him of the honor of the

As they neared the hot springs for the fourth time, a man ran forward as
though to offer Hector aid. It was Athena in the form of Hector’s
brother Deïphobus, who called to him: “Brother, I saw thy danger and am
come forth to help thee. Stop and await him boldly.”

“Beloved Deïphobus, how didst thou dare—”

“My soul was wrung and I could no longer look upon the grief of my
father and mother.”

“So be it, I will fight,” said Hector, and made ready to meet the foe.
“I will no longer flee before thee, O Pelide,” he cried to Achilles. “My
heart bids me encounter thee, whether I conquer or fall. But let us
first make a compact and swear to it before the all-seeing gods. Should
Jupiter give me the victory, I will not misuse thee. Thy armor will I
take and leave thy body to the Achaians, that they may give it burial.
And thou shalt do the same to me.”

But with a furious look Achilles roared his answer. “No compacts, hated
Hector! Does the lion make a compact with the cattle, or the wolf with
the lambs? One of us must lie stretched upon the ground, that Mars may
be satiated with his blood. I hope that thou mayest not escape me, and
thus atone at once for all the woe thou hast inflicted on my people.”

Thus speaking, he sent his terrible spear flying through the air. But
Hector, quickly sinking on one knee, avoided it and the iron missile
passed over him. Fresh courage filled him, and springing up joyfully he
cried: “Wide of the mark, godlike Achilles! Thou art a good talker and
crafty, hoping I should lose strength and courage. Now protect thyself,
for my spear shall not strike thee lightly!”

He hurled his lance with tremendous force and did not miss the mark, for
the point struck the boss of the shield with a loud crash and would have
pierced both shield and breast had the shield not been forged by Vulcan
himself. But the lance rebounded like a ball thrown against a wall and
Hector stood confounded, for he had but one spear. He quickly looked
about for Deïphobus and called loudly for another spear, but there was
no answer and his brother was nowhere to be seen. Then he was filled
with foreboding. “Woe is me!” he cried. “Some cunning god in Deïphobus’
shape hath deceived me, and now, when I hoped he would save me, he has
disappeared.” In desperation he seized his sword, rushing forward like a
soaring eagle swooping down upon its prey. But Achilles had already
picked up Hector’s spear, and, as they charged each other, the long
spear reached its goal sooner than the short sword. Taken in the neck
above his breastplate, the hope of Troy sank into the dust, while the
cruel victor and all the Achaians loudly rejoiced.

“Ha!” cried Achilles as he drew forth his spear, “only yesterday thou
wert so proudly triumphant, as thou didst invade our ships in Patroclus’
stolen harness, and to-day thou liest powerless before the walls of thy
proud fortress. Surely thou didst little dream that the slain hero had
left a powerful avenger. We shall pay him all the honors of a hero,
while thou shalt make a shameful end among the dogs and birds of prey.”

Breathing painfully, Hector tried to speak. “I conjure thee by thy life
and by thy parents, let me not be torn by Damæan dogs, but accept the
bronze and valuable gold which my father and mother shall offer thee.
Send my body to Ilios, that the men and women of Troy may pay me the
last honors of the funeral pyre.” But Achilles shouted: “Silence and
die, contemptible one!”

Dying, Hector answered: “Indeed I knew I should not move thee, for thou
hast an iron heart. But think of me when the gods avenge me and thou
sinkest into the dust felled by the shots of Phœbus Apollo.” And Death,
the brother of Sleep, bore the hero’s soul down to Hades. Many warriors
from the Greek army came up and looked with admiration upon the splendid
form of the hero. And to one another they said: “It is wonderful how
much gentler he is to look on now than there at our ships when he was
leading the assault.”

Achilles arose among the people and spoke. “Friends, now that the gods
have permitted me to subdue the man who has done us greater injury than
any other, let us discover whether the Trojans will dare withstand us,
without the support of their great hero. But what am I saying? My friend
lies still unburied. Therefore let us chant the hymn of victory and take
Hector with us as an expiatory offering for my friend.”

First the procession passed by the Scæan gate, that the Trojans standing
there upon the walls might see it. There sat old Priam and his spouse
Hecuba, without any warning of the outcome of the combat. What a
horrible sight for the venerable father and loving mother! Their bravest
son, the pride and hope of Troy, dragged at the wheels of the victor’s
chariot! All Troy set up a despairing lament, as though the city were
already in ruins and a prey to devouring flames. His mother, almost
beside herself with grief, wrung her hands, and shrieking, pulled the
veil from her head and tore her gray hair. And his father was scarcely
to be restrained from going down to cut his son loose or die across his
mutilated body. He called on those by name who stood about it; begged,
implored, wept, and threw himself on the ground, strewing dust on his
gray head. And all those who saw it wept with him.

Hector’s faithful wife, Andromache, was the last to learn the sad
tidings, for she had been busy in her home attending to household duties
among her women. And now, as twilight fell, she sent one of her maids to
heat water in a tripod for the hero’s bath when he should return. From a
distance arose a sound of loud lamentation and wailing of women. The
wife trembled and sad foreboding filled her heart. “Follow me,” she
cried to two of the maids. “My knees are trembling, for I fear the noble
Achilles has cut off the valiant Hector from the city, for he is always
before all others and fears no one.”

She rushed out, the servants following after her. There was nobody to be
seen in the street; the cries came from the walls. The unhappy woman
hastened thither. One look revealed the tragedy, and she sank down in a
swoon. She lay for long as one dead, and at length, when consciousness
returned, she began in a low, broken voice: “Hector! Alas, the unhappy
people! Oh, that I had never been born! Now must thou go down to Hades
and I remain here a widow, miserable and deserted. And thy young
son—trouble and sorrow menace his future now that thou art gone—for
others will seek to take his patrimony—and his childhood shall pass
without a friend. For an orphaned child has no playmates; and when the
other boys take their share of their fathers’ feast, none calls the
orphan boy to divide with him. The child casts down his eyes ashamed and
weeps silently. Then, hungry, he goes about among his father’s friends,
pulls one by the coat, another by the cloak; and if one of them is
kindly inclined, he will perhaps hold the goblet to his lips. But, alas,
he does not give him his fill. The other boys, insolent and greedy, do
not suffer him at their feasts, but push him away, crying: ‘Thy father
doth not sit at our feasts.’ Then the child goes away and cries in his
mother’s arms. O ye gods, my Astyanax! How gayly his father used to rock
him on his knees! And now, robbed of a tender father, he shall suffer
much—our Astyanax, as the Trojans call him.”

Thus mourned Andromache, and round about her wept and lamented the women
of Troy.

                              Chapter XVI
               Priam and Achilles—Hector’s Burial in Troy

It was after sundown when the assembled Achaians dispersed. Each
returned to his own ship or tent to partake of the evening meal and then
lay down to rest, well content. Only Achilles could not sleep for
thinking of his lost friend. In vain he tossed to and fro on his bed;
sweet slumber came not nigh him. Thus he mourned half the night, then
suddenly arose, ran out into the darkness, and wandered up and down the
shore, his heart full of sorrow. At last he went to Patroclus’ grave,
then hastened back to yoke his horses to the chariot, to which he bound
Hector’s corpse once more and dragged him thrice round the grave mound.
After this he drove the horses back to the enclosure and threw himself
again upon his couch.

Meanwhile the palace of old Priam had become a house of mourning. The
afflicted father had taken no food nor drink since the death of his son,
and the wailing of the wife and mother had so touched the people that
they gathered about the house in crowds. Even the gods looked down
pitifully on the unhappy family and Apollo appeared in dreams to Priam
to strengthen his heart and encourage him to enter the Greek camp and
plead for the body of his son. Jupiter commanded Hermes to accompany the
old man, so that no enemy should hinder him or do him an injury by the
way. Overjoyed at the divine vision, Priam forgot his complaints and
went at once to the chamber where stood the chests in which he kept his
treasures. He said to Hecuba, his mourning spouse: “I go to conciliate
our terrible enemy with presents, and the god who has given me courage
will protect me.”

Then the queen burst out weeping, saying reproachfully: “Unhappy man!
Hast thou lost thy senses? How canst thou go alone to the ships and meet
the man who has slain so many of thy valiant sons! Truly thy heart is
made of iron! Ah! if he set eyes upon thee and seize thee, that false
and terrible man will have neither mercy nor respect nor reverence for
thine age. Oh, do not go! Let us mourn at a distance our lost son, whom
the fates at his birth decreed should be vanquished far from his people.
Remain with us, dear one, that thou mayest preserve thine own life.”

But the old man answered confidently: “I should not go if it were only a
priest or seer who sent me, but I saw a god in my dream. He will not
deceive me and my own heart impels me to go. Dost thou say the monster
would kill me? Oh let him do so, if only he will strike me down upon the
breast of my dear son!”

He opened the chest and took out the rich garments which he intended to
take with him for a ransom—twelve splendid festal robes, twelve warm
covers, and as many tunics and magnificent cloaks. Then from another
chest he took ten talents of gold, four polished basins, and two
tripods. Even the exquisite goblet presented by the Thracians when he
visited them as ambassador from his father he did not withhold. For he
did not begrudge giving even his greatest treasure to soften the hard
heart of Achilles and ransom his beloved son.

When he had closed the box and turned around, he found himself
surrounded by a crowd of idle people, who had come up to stare at the
treasures which were to be offered for Hector’s ransom. Angrily he cried
out: “Out with you! Away, ye idlers! Have ye not trouble enough at home,
that ye come to look upon my sorrow? Only think what ye have lost in
Hector! Without his support the Achaians will have an easier victory.
Then it will be your turn to lament, but I shall doubtless then be

He drove them out of the courtyard, then called for his sons, reproving
them. “Where are ye? Not one is at hand when I need ye! My best sons are
dead, only the good-for-nothings remain. Pack these gifts quickly in the
hampers, and when it grows dark, harness the horses and summon my old,
experienced Idæus.”

Abashed, the sons obeyed all these commands and Hecuba began to prepare
a strengthening draught for the travellers. Carrying a golden goblet in
her right hand, she came out to the chariot, and placing herself in
front of the steeds, she said to her husband: “Here, beloved, take this
and pour out a libation to Jupiter and petition him for a safe return,
as thou goest against my wishes. For I should never let thee go if I
could prevent it. And even now I would counsel thee to consult the god
and learn whether it is his will to protect thee. Should this prayer
remain unanswered then I would say, Remain. For woe to him who goes into
danger without divine support!”

The worthy man answered her: “I will obey thy behest. It is always well
to lift up our hands to Jupiter.” He spake and called upon the
stewardess for water, which she brought in a silver dish, sprinkling him
with her right hand, while with the left she held a basin beneath. After
this he received the wine cup from his spouse, poured out the first
drops in honor of Jupiter, and prayed aloud with eyes raised to the sky:
“Father Jupiter, almighty ruler, let me approach Achilles as a friend
and find favor before him. Grant me a sign that thou wilt protect me, so
that I may set out confident and comforted.” His wish was fulfilled, for
soon afterward one of the eagles which nest high up in the clefts of
Mount Ida flew past on his right hand. All who saw this rejoiced and the
king and his companion mounted the chariot, full of confidence. His sons
accompanied him to the city gates and, weeping, wished him luck.

Now the swift messenger of the gods descended from Olympus to the shores
of the Hellespont and wandered along the road which Priam was to take.
He had assumed the form of a Greek youth of noble race, whose appearance
inspired confidence. Priam had arrived at the grave of Ilus, where the
Scamander flows gently along, and there he had stopped to water his
horses. Old Idæus saw the godlike youth coming along the river bank in
the twilight and said fearfully to the king: “Look! son of Dardanus,
there cometh a strange man. He will surely kill us both and make off
with our goods. What shall we do? Shall we fly to the city or shall we
get down and embrace his knees, begging for mercy?” Priam looked up and
saw with dismay that the man was already close to the chariot. Sudden
fear paralyzed his limbs, but when he saw the youth’s face close by and
heard his friendly voice he was reassured.

“Greeting to thee, old man.” Thus the youth addressed him. “Whither
goest thou so late when all other mortals are asleep? Dost thou not fear
the Achaians, who are not far away? And neither thou, nor the old man
thy companion, are fit to defend yourselves. But I will not harm thee,
for thou art so like my dear father, noble king, that I am drawn to

“Fortune favors me,” cried the old man. “Now I see that Jupiter is with
me, as he hath sent me such a noble guide through the dark night, of
such remarkable stature and strength and of such wisdom. Truly thou hast
fortunate parents.”

“Tell me, old man,” continued the stranger, “where art thou taking these
goods? Art trying to carry thy greatest treasures to a place of safety
before the destruction of Troy, or art thou flying secretly from the
city for fear of the victorious enemy? For indeed thou hast lost thy
chief treasure. As long as noble Hector lived, ye could battle on equal
terms with the Achaians.” This warmed the old father’s heart. “Who art
thou,” he asked, “who speakest so kindly of my poor son?”

“Who does not so?” answered the stranger. “How often I have seen him in
the stress of battle driving the Argives in droves before him. We often
stood and admired him from a distance when Achilles forbade us to join
in the battle; for I am one of his companions and came hither in the
same ship with him. My father is a noble Myrmidon called Polyctor. He
has property and money, but is an old man like thyself. I am the
youngest of seven brothers. When Achilles went to war we cast lots to
see which should go with him, and the lot fell to me. I have been
wandering about, thinking of the fate of Troy, for to-morrow the
Achaians intend to assault the city. They are weary of the long truce
and are anxious to end the war.”

“If thou art one of Achilles’ companions,” said Priam, “thou canst
doubtless tell me whether my son’s body is still lying at the ships or
whether the cruel man has already thrown it to the dogs.”

The stranger replied: “Not yet have dogs or birds of prey touched it,
although it has lain there for twelve days and Achilles drags it round
the grave of his friend every morning. Neither has decomposition touched
it, and the beautiful limbs are still preserved in remarkable freshness.
Seeing him, one would suppose he had but just died. Thus the gods watch
over him even in death, for they always loved him.”

How happy the old man was at this news. “Oh child,” he cried, “how good
it is for a man to pay honor to the gods with due offerings. My son
never forgot that. He never failed to make sacrifice before he partook
of food himself, and now in death he is receiving his reward. Oh what a
happy father I am! Here, friend, take this handsome cup in remembrance
of Priam. It was intended for Achilles, for I am going to him to ransom
my Hector. But I have enough other gifts for him. Take it and guide me
to his tent. Thou knowest the way.”

“Wilt thou tempt me, old man?” answered the stranger. “I will not yield
to it. I cannot take a gift from thee without Achilles’ knowledge and
rob him of it. No, I am too much in awe of him. Some harm might befall
me. But I will accompany thee, notwithstanding, and no plunderer shall
come nigh thee unpunished.”

With these words he swung himself on to the chariot and placed himself
between the two old men, taking the whip and reins from the herald. The
horses trotted along boldly and confidently through the fields and soon
brought the travellers to the walls of the camp. From a distance they
saw the servants busied with the remains of the evening meal, but the
god waved his staff and they all sank into a deep slumber. Then he
unbarred the gates, drove inside and in the direction of the enclosure
in which the tents and ships of the Myrmidons stood. There he took leave
of Priam and disappeared; but before he went he pointed out Achilles’
tent and encouraged the trembling old man. “Go boldly in,” said he, “and
embrace his knees. The sight of thee will certainly move him, for his
soul is filled with melancholy. Adjure him by his father and by his
divine mother, whom he loves tenderly. Thou wilt certainly touch his
heart if thou speak of her.”

Much comforted the king got down, leaving the chariots and the presents
outside in the care of his old companion. His heart beat faster as he
crossed the threshold of the tent, but after a moment of indecision he
entered. He found Achilles still sitting at the table where he had
supped. Beside him stood his two favorite companions, the excellent
driver Automedon and the skilful spearsman Alkimos. The great hero was
leaning on his elbows, sunk deep in moody thought, and was not aware of
the entrance of the old man until he had fallen at his feet, clasped his
knees, and kissed his hands—those horrible hands which had murdered so
many of his sons. Achilles was amazed, for he had been taken completely
by surprise. For a moment they gazed into each other’s faces, Achilles
puzzled and agitated, Priam imploring and anxious. At length a flood of
tears relieved the oppressed heart of the venerable man and in a
trembling voice he uttered these beseeching words:

“Remember thy father, godlike Achilles, who languishes at home, old and
helpless like myself. Ah, perhaps his neighbors are even now oppressing
him and there is none to protect him. But he knows that he has a good
and faithful son, even though far away, who will make an end of all his
troubles when he returns. The old man is full of hope and every day he
cherishes sweet thoughts of thee. But woe is me! I was the happiest of
fathers. I had raised fifty sons, nineteen of them born of one mother.
They were my pride and joy. Then ye came to invest my city and the
unhappy war took one of them after the other until but few were left.
But among them all, the best one still remained—he who had protected me
and all of us thus far; but now he also is no more. Alas, I can no
longer beg for his life, but we long to see the dead once more and pay
him the honors due my son. At home sisters, wife, and mother mourn for
him, and see, here lies his unhappy father at thy feet. Give him back to
me. I have brought thee rich gifts. Fear the gods! Bethink thee and
imagine thy old father kneeling thus to a younger man. But I suffer as
no mortal ere has done before me and press my lips to the hand which
slew my children.”

The heart of the invincible hero could not withstand these words and
tears. He was deeply moved. The picture of his own gray-haired father
rose before him and a sad longing for his embrace filled his heart. He
wept aloud and bent gently down to raise the old man up, but Priam still
clasped his knees tightly. Thus they both sobbed, each conscious of his
own fate through the sorrow of the other. At last, when they had wept
for some time, Achilles spoke. “In truth, unhappy man, thou hast been
much afflicted. And yet thou hast dared to come alone and by night to
the Achaian ships and to the man who has slain thy bravest sons. Thy
heart is certainly strong and courageous. But come, forget thy sorrow
and let me see no more of thy tears. Arise and sit here and let us calm
ourselves. The gods have decreed that miserable mankind should live in
sorrow, while they know naught of trouble. For many they have mixed the
sad lots with the happy ones, but some receive only ill fortune, so that
his whole life is a miserable failure and he is favored neither by gods
nor men. Alas! neither is my father fortunate. Although the gods have
bestowed worldly goods and power upon him, and although a goddess became
his spouse, it is ordained that there shall be no heir to his kingdom;
for alas! he shall never look upon me again, though his heart longs for
me. I am not fated to return home a peaceful ruler, to enjoy a happy old
age. Thus has fate robbed thee, also, of thy good son. But he is dead;
therefore lament no more. Thou canst not bring him back to life. Who can
do aught against the all-powerful gods?”

“Bid me not sit,” sobbed the old man. “I will lie here until thou hast
given me back my only beloved son, that my tears may fall upon him. But
take the gifts and enjoy them in peace when thou returnest to thy native
land, because thou sendest me away filled with gratitude and love.”

At these words Achilles frowned and said: “Do not agitate me further,
old man! Arise, for I have already determined to give thee back thy son.
Do not insult me with fears and mistrust!”

Silently the old man obeyed this earnest behest and rising seated
himself. Meanwhile the hero, mighty as a lion, arose and went out,
followed by his two friends. Before the tent they unyoked the horses and
conducted the herald inside. They then took the valuable gifts out of
the hamper, except two soft garments, in which they were to wrap the
body of Hector. Then, unseen by the father, Achilles caused two female
slaves to wash the body and to cleanse, arrange, and anoint the hair.
Next the servants wrapped the body in the fine robes and Achilles
himself lifted it onto the chariot and laid it on a bier prepared for
it. Then he stood still a moment and said: “Do not be angry with me,
Patroclus, if thou shouldst learn, perchance, in Hades’ dwelling, that I
have returned Hector’s body to his unhappy father. Look, he brings me a
not unworthy ransom and a share of it shall be consecrated to thee.”

He reëntered the tent and seated himself opposite his two guests. “Now
thou canst rest content, old man,” he said. “Thy son is ransomed and
lies on thy chariot wrapped in fine garments. Now let us partake of food
and comfort our hearts. Even Niobe did not forget to eat, although her
heart was torn by bitter sorrow when Artemis had slain her six blooming
daughters in one day and Apollo her six splendid sons. So let us feast.
Thou canst mourn for thy son at home, for he is doubtless worthy of thy

With these words Achilles got up quickly, fetched a sheep and killed it.
His companions cut up the meat and roasted it carefully on spits. Then
they sat down at table, Automedon passed bread in a basket, but Achilles
himself served the meat, and they all ate and drank their fill. The old
man admired and wondered at the splendid proportions of the great hero,
his godlike mien, and his bold and fiery glance. But Achilles too was
amazed at heart when he noted the awe-inspiring, majestic demeanor and
the dignified countenance of the king and heard his words of wisdom.
When they had finished eating, Priam said: “Now, godlike host, take me
to a place, I beg thee, where we may refresh ourselves with slumber; for
I have not closed my eyes since my son sank down among the dead, and
this is the first food and drink that have passed my lips.”

Achilles commanded his comrades to prepare a couch for Priam and his
companion in the porch. The maids brought soft cushions and warm
blankets, arranged them all, and lighted the strangers out with their
torches. Achilles accompanied the king to the door and pressed his hand
at parting. A few hours’ sleep sufficed for the old man. Then he arose
to awaken Achilles, for he was anxious to start before daybreak.

“Restless old man,” said Achilles kindly, “depart then. But first tell
me something. How soon dost thou intend to bury thy son? For until then
I will keep the peace and restrain my people from battle.”

“O Achilles,” answered the old man, much moved, “if thou wilt grant us
this favor, give us nine days to mourn the dead and prepare for his
burial. On the tenth day we will burn him, on the eleventh erect the
grave mound, and on the twelfth, if it must be, we will resume the war.”

“Let this, too, be as thou desirest,” replied Achilles. “I will hold the
army in check for as long as thou hast demanded.”

He clasped the old man’s wrist to assure him of good faith, then
accompanied the chariot as far as the gate in the wall, taking care that
none of the Achaians should harm the old man. Priam drove once more
through the well-known fields, past the ford of the flowing Scamander,
where yesterday the friendly youth had appeared. And now, just as he was
watering his horses there, the sun rose. Cassandra, Priam’s favorite
daughter, who had been standing on the watch tower since dawn awaiting
the return of her father with beating heart, recognized the travellers.
She waited until she could discern all plainly, even the covered body of
her brother on the chariot. Then she ran down the stairs to the palace,
calling her mother and sisters loudly. “Only look, they are coming!
Hasten, Trojans, to look upon the body of Hector, if ye have ever
rejoiced over him alive as he returned from the battlefield. For he was
the pride of the city and of all the people!”

All who heard her voice hurried forth, men and women, all hearts filled
with boundless sorrow. But first of all came the old mother and
Andromache. They went out to meet the chariot and stopped it at the city
gate with loud cries. Mother and wife threw themselves on the body and
wet it with their tears, tore their hair, touched his head, and lifted
up the cloths to look upon his wounds. The crowd gathered, weeping,
about them. But the king cried: “Stand back and let the horses pass! Ye
may weep your fill when I have carried him into the house.”

They all stood aside and the king entered the city, the crowd following
him to the palace. When the corpse was lifted from the chariot the
universal lament began afresh. Singers were brought to chant the hymn of
mourning and round about the women sobbed, especially Andromache, the
beautiful princess. She held the dead man’s head in her hands and
moaned: “Beloved, thou hast lost thy life, but the widow, alas, is left
behind and thy young son. How shall he grow to manhood? For before that
Troy will fall, as thou art dead, who didst defend the walls, the women,
and lisping children. Soon they will be carried away to bondage, myself
among them. And thou, my dear son, wilt go hence to endure ignominy with
thy mother, if indeed some cruel Achaian entering the conquered city
does not seize thee by thy tender neck and hurl thee down from the tiles
into the streets below. Thy valiant father hath slain many Achaians;
therefore the people mourn. O Hector, what unspeakable sorrow thou hast
caused thy parents, but I am unhappy above all others! Dying, thou
couldst not give me thy hand nor speak words of wisdom which I might
have cherished.” Thus she spake, weeping, fathomless sorrow in her

The old mother also could not be torn from her beloved son. First she
caressed his head, then the cold hands, as though she hoped to call him
back to life. Helen too lamented over the dead. “Hector dearest,” she
cried, “thou didst love me more than any of my husband’s brothers. What
insults I have suffered since the hero brought me to Troy! Thou alone
hadst never an unkind word for me. Yea often, when thy mother or one of
my sisters-in-law or even their husbands heaped abuse upon me, thou
didst mollify the angry ones and make peace. How thy friendly
encouragement comforted me! Ah, I shall never hear that dear voice
again, and I have no longer a friend in this house, where all turn from
me with loathing.”

Thus she lamented, and all the women mourned with her. But the venerable
Priam now raised his commanding voice and spake. “Ye Trojans, fetch wood
into the city and go without fear that the Danæans are lying in wait for
you. For Peleus’ son promised with a sacred vow not to raise his hand
against us until the twelfth day.”

Quickly they yoked oxen and horses to the carts, and on the tenth day,
when golden Eos arose, the people all assembled for the funeral
obsequies of Hector. With loud lamentations they carried out the corpse
and laid it on the high scaffolding, which they set on fire. When the
pyre had burnt itself out, they quenched the gleaming embers with red
wine. His brothers and the comrades of the hero gathered together the
white bones out of the ashes and deposited them in a golden urn, which
was placed in the grave and gigantic blocks of stone heaped upon it. The
grave mound was raised above it and sentinels were stationed about the
place so that the Greeks should not surprise and attack them. After this
all the people returned into the city and the solemn funeral feast was
held in Priam’s palace. Thus the Trojans paid honor to the body of great

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