The Iliad online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad → online text (page 1 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Sandra Stewart and Jim



The execution of this version of the ILIAD has been entrusted to the
three Translators in the following three parts:

Books I. - IX. . . . . W. Leaf.
" X. - XVI. . . . . A. Lang.
" XVII. - XXIV. . . . . E. Myers.

Each Translator is therefore responsible for his own portion; but
the whole has been revised by all three Translators, and the
rendering of passages or phrases recurring in more than one portion
has been determined after deliberation in common. Even in these,
however, a certain elasticity has been deemed desirable.

On a few doubtful points, though very rarely, the opinion of two of
the translators has had to be adopted to the suppression of that
held by the third. Thus, for instance, the Translator of Books
X. - XVI. Would have preferred "c" and "us" to "k" and "os" in the
spelling of all proper names.

The text followed has been that of La Roche (Leipzig, 1873), except
where the adoption of a different reading has been specified in a
footnote. Where the balance of evidence, external and internal, has
seemed to the Translator to be against the genuineness of the
passage, such passage has been enclosed in brackets [].

The Translator of Books X. - XVI. Has to thank Mr. R.W. Raper,
Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, for his valuable aid in revising
the proof-sheets of these Books.


In the present Edition the translation has been carefully revised
throughout, and numerous minor corrections have been made. The Notes
at the end of the volume have been, with a few exceptions, omitted;
one of the Translators hopes to publish very shortly a Companion to
the Iliad for English readers, which will deal fully with most of
the points therein referred to.

The use of square brackets has in this edition been restricted to
passages where there is external evidence, such as absence from the
best MSS., for believing in interpolation. One or two departures
from this Rule are noticed in footnotes.

November 1891

The reader will perhaps also be helped by the following list of the
Greek and Latin names of the gods and goddesses who play important
parts in the narrative. When the Greek names are new to him, the
corresponding Latin names may be more familiar.

Greek Latin
- - - - - -
Zeus. Jupiter.
Hera. Juno.
(Pallas) Athene. Minerva.
Aphrodite. Venus.
Poseidon. Neptune.
Ares. Mars.
Hephaestus. Vulcan.

The sacred soil of Ilios is rent
With shaft and pit; foiled waters wander slow
Through plains where Simois and Scamander went
To war with gods and heroes long ago.
Not yet to dark Cassandra lying low
In rich Mycenae do the Fates relent;
The bones of Agamemnon are a show,
And ruined is his royal monument.
The dust and awful treasures of the dead
Hath learning scattered wide; but vainly thee,
Homer, she meteth with her Lesbian lead,
And strives to rend thy songs, too blind is she
To know the crown on thine immortal head
Of indivisible supremacy. A.L.

Athwart the sunrise of our western day
The form of great Achilles, high and clear,
Stands forth in arms, wielding the Pelian spear.
The sanguine tides of that immortal fray,
Swept on by gods, around him surge and sway,
Wherethrough the helms of many a warrior peer,
Strong men and swift, their tossing plumes uprear.
But stronger, swifter, goodlier he than they,
More awful, more divine. Yet mark anigh;
Some fiery pang hath rent his soul within,
Some hovering shade his brows encompasseth.
What gifts hath Fate for all his chivalry?
Even such as hearts heroic oftenest win;
Honour, a friend, anguish, untimely death. E.M.



How Agamemnon and Achilles fell out at the siege of Troy;
and Achilles withdrew himself from battle, and won from Zeus
a pledge that his wrong should be avenged on Agamemnon and
the Achaians.

Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles Peleus' son, the ruinous wrath that
brought on the Achaians woes innumerable, and hurled down into Hades
many strong souls of heroes, and gave their bodies to be a prey to dogs
and all winged fowls; and so the counsel of Zeus wrought out its
accomplishment from the day when first strife parted Atreides king of
men and noble Achilles.

Who among the gods set the twain at strife and variance? Apollo, the son
of Leto and of Zeus; for he in anger at the king sent a sore plague upon
the host, so that the folk began to perish, because Atreides had done
dishonour to Chryses the priest. For the priest had come to the
Achaians' fleet ships to win his daughter's freedom, and brought a
ransom beyond telling; and bare in his hands the fillet of Apollo the
Far-darter upon a golden staff; and made his prayer unto all the
Achaians, and most of all to the two sons of Atreus, orderers of the
host; "Ye sons of Atreus and all ye well-greaved Achaians, now may the
gods that dwell in the mansions of Olympus grant you to lay waste the
city of Priam, and to fare happily homeward; only set ye my dear child
free, and accept the ransom in reverence to the son of Zeus, far-darting

Then all the other Achaians cried assent, to reverence the priest and
accept his goodly ransom; yet the thing pleased not the heart of
Agamemnon son of Atreus, but he roughly sent him away, and laid stern
charge upon him, saying: "Let me not find thee, old man, amid the hollow
ships, whether tarrying now or returning again hereafter, lest the staff
and fillet of the god avail thee naught. And her will I not set free;
nay, ere that shall old age come on her in our house, in Argos, far from
her native land, where she shall ply the loom and serve my couch. But
depart, provoke me not, that thou mayest the rather go in peace."

So said he, and the old man was afraid and obeyed his word, and fared
silently along the shore of the loud-sounding sea. Then went that aged
man apart and prayed aloud to king Apollo, whom Leto of the fair locks
bare: "Hear me, god of the silver bow, that standest over Chryse and
holy Killa, and rulest Tenedos with might, O Smintheus! If ever I built
a temple gracious in thine eyes, or if ever I burnt to thee fat flesh of
thighs of bulls or goats, fulfil thou this my desire; let the Danaans
pay by thine arrows for my tears."

So spake he in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him, and came down from
the peaks of Olympus wroth at heart, bearing on his shoulders his bow
and covered quiver. And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders in wrath,
as the god moved; and he descended like to night. Then he sate him aloof
from the ships, and let an arrow fly; and there was heard a dread
clanging of the silver bow. First did the assail the mules and fleet
dogs, but afterward, aiming at the men his piercing dart, he smote; and
the pyres of the dead burnt continually in multitude.

Now for nine days ranged the god's shafts through the host; but on the
tenth Achilles summoned the folk to assembly, for in his mind did
goddess Hera of white arms put the thought, because she had pity on the
Danaans when she beheld them perishing. Now when they had gathered and
were met in assembly, then Achilles fleet of foot stood up and spake
among them: "Son of Atreus, now deem I that we shall return wandering
home again - if verily we might escape death - if war at once and
pestilence must indeed ravage the Achaians. But come, let us now inquire
of some soothsayer or priest, yea, or an interpreter of dreams - seeing
that a dream too is of Zeus - who shall say wherefore Phoebus Apollo is
so wroth, whether he blame us by reason of vow or hecatomb; if perchance
he would accept the savour of lambs or unblemished goats, and so would
take away the pestilence from us."

So spake he and sate him down; and there stood up before them Kalchas
son of Thestor, most excellent far of augurs, who knew both things that
were and that should be and that had been before, and guided the ships
of the Achaians to Ilios by his soothsaying that Phoebus Apollo bestowed
on him. He of good intent made harangue and spake amid them: "Achilles,
dear to Zeus, thou biddest me tell the wrath of Apollo, the king that
smiteth afar. Therefore will I speak; but do thou make covenant with me,
and swear that verily with all thy heart thou wilt aid me both by word
and deed. For of a truth I deem that I shall provoke one that ruleth all
the Argives with might, and whom the Achaians obey. For a king is more
of might when he is wroth with a meaner man; even though for the one day
he swallow his anger, yet doth he still keep his displeasure thereafter
in his breast till he accomplish it. Consider thou, then, if thou wilt
hold me safe."

And Achilles fleet of foot made answer and spake to him: "Yea, be of
good courage, speak whatever soothsaying thou knowest; for by Apollo
dear to Zeus, him by whose worship thou, O Kalchas, declarest thy
soothsaying to the Danaans, not even if thou mean Agamemnon, that now
avoweth him to be greatest far of the Achaians."

Then was the noble seer of good courage, and spake: "Neither by reason
of a vow is he displeased, nor for any hecatomb, but for his priest's
sake to whom Agamemnon did despite, and set not his daughter free and
accepted not the ransom; therefore hath the Far-darter brought woes upon
us, yea, and will bring. Nor will he ever remove the loathly pestilence
from the Danaans till we have given the bright-eyed damsel to her
father, unbought, unransomed, and carried a holy hecatomb to Chryse;
then might we propitiate him to our prayer."

So said he and sate him down, and there stood up before them the hero
son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, sore displeased; and his dark
heart within him was greatly filled with anger, and his eyes were like
flashing fire. To Kalchas first spake he with look of ill: "Thou seer of
evil, never yet hast thou told me the thing that is pleasant. Evil is
ever the joy of thy heart to prophesy, but never yet didst thou tell any
good matter nor bring to pass. And now with soothsaying thou makest
harangue among the Danaans, how that the Far-darter bringeth woes upon
them because, forsooth, I would not take the goodly ransom of the damsel
Chryseis, seeing I am the rather fain to keep her own self within mine
house. Yea, I prefer her before Klytaimnestra my wedded wife; in no wise
is she lacking beside her, neither in favour nor stature, nor wit nor
skill. Yet for all this will I give her back, if that is better; rather
would I see my folk whole than perishing. Only make ye me ready a prize
of honour forthwith, lest I alone of all the Argives be disprized, which
thing beseemeth not; for ye all behold how my prize is departing from

To him then made answer fleet-footed goodly Achilles: "Most noble son of
Atreus, of all men most covetous, how shall the great-hearted Achaians
give thee a meed of honour? We know naught of any wealth of common
store, but what spoil soe'er we took from captured cities hath been
apportioned, and it beseemeth not to beg all this back from the folk.
Nay, yield thou the damsel to the god, and we Achaians will pay thee
back threefold and fourfold, if ever Zeus grant us to sack some
well-walled town of Troy-land."

To him lord Agamemnon made answer and said: "Not in this wise, strong as
thou art, O godlike Achilles, beguile thou me by craft; thou shalt not
outwit me nor persuade me. Dost thou wish, that thou mayest keep thy
meed of honour, for me to sit idle in bereavement, and biddest me give
her back? Nay, if the great-hearted Achaians will give me a meed suited
to my mind, that the recompense be equal - but if they give it not, then
I myself will go and take a meed of honour, thine be it or Aias', or
Odysseus' that I will take unto me; wroth shall he be to whomsoever I
come. But for this we will take counsel hereafter; now let us launch a
black ship on the great sea, and gather picked oarsmen, and set therein
a hecatomb, and embark Chryseis of the fair cheeks herself, and let one
of our counsellors be captain, Aias or Idomeneus or goodly Odysseus, or
thou, Peleides, most redoubtable of men, to do sacrifice for us and
propitiate the Far-darter."

Then Achilles fleet of foot looked at him scowling and said: "Ah me,
thou clothed in shamelessness, thou of crafty mind, how shall any
Achaian hearken to thy bidding with all his heart, be it to go a journey
or to fight the foe amain? Not by reason of the Trojan spearmen came I
hither to fight, for they have not wronged me; never did they harry mine
oxen nor my horses, nor ever waste my harvest in deep-soiled Phthia, the
nurse of men; seeing there lieth between us long space of shadowy
mountains and sounding sea; but thee, thou shameless one, followed we
hither to make thee glad, by earning recompense at the Trojans' hands
for Menelaos and for thee, thou dog-face! All this thou threatenest
thyself to take my meed of honour, wherefor I travailed much, and the
sons of the Achaians gave it me. Never win I meed like unto thine, when
the Achaians sack any populous citadel of Trojan men; my hands bear the
brunt of furious war, but when the apportioning cometh then is thy meed
far ampler, and I betake me to the ships with some small thing, yet my
own, when I have fought to weariness. Now will I depart to Phthia,
seeing it is far better to return home on my beaked ships; nor am I
minded here in dishonour to draw thee thy fill of riches and wealth."

Then Agamemnon king of men made answer to him "yea, flee, if thy soul be
set thereon. It is not I that beseech thee to tarry for my sake; I have
others by my side that shall do me honour, and above all Zeus, lord of
counsel. Most hateful art thou to me of all kings, fosterlings of Zeus;
thou ever lovest strife and wars and fightings. Though thou be very
strong, yet that I ween is a gift to thee of God. Go home with thy ships
and company and lord it among thy Myrmidons; I reck not aught of thee
nor care I for thine indignation; and all this shall be my threat to
thee: seeing Phoebus Apollo bereaveth me of Chryseis, her with my ship
and my company will I send back; and mine own self will I go to thy hut
and take Briseis of the fair cheeks, even that thy meed of honour, that
thou mayest well know how far greater I am than thou, and so shall
another hereafter abhor to match his words with mine and rival me to my

So said he, and grief came upon Peleus' son, and his heart within his
shaggy breast was divided in counsel, whether to draw his keen blade
from his thigh and set the company aside and so slay Atreides, or to
assuage his anger and curb his soul. While yet he doubted thereof in
heart and soul, and was drawing his great sword from his sheath, Athene
came to him from heaven, sent forth of the white-armed goddess Hera,
whose heart loved both alike and had care for them. She stood behind
Peleus' son and caught him by his golden hair, to him only visible, and
of the rest no man beheld her. Then Achilles marvelled, and turned him
about, and straightway knew Pallas Athene; and terribly shone her eyes.
He spake to her winged words, and said: "Why now art thou come hither,
thou daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus? Is it to behold the insolence of
Agamemnon, son of Atreus. Yea, I will tell thee that I deem shall even
be brought to pass: by his own haughtinesses shall he soon lose his

Then the bright-eyed goddess Athene spake to him again: "I came from
heaven to stay thine anger, if perchance thou wilt hearken to me, being
sent forth if the white-armed goddess Hera, that loveth you twain alike
and careth for you. Go to now, cease from strife, and let not thine hand
draw the sword; yet with words indeed revile him, even as it shall come
to pass. For thus will I say to thee, and so it shall be fulfilled;
hereafter shall goodly gifts come to thee, yea in threefold measure, by
reason of this despite; hold thou thine hand, and hearken to us."

And Achilles fleet of foot made answer and said to her: "Goddess, needs
must a man observe the saying of you twain, even though he be very wroth
at heart; for so is the better way. Whosoever obeyeth the gods, to him
they gladly hearken."

He said, and stayed his heavy hand on the silver hilt, and thrust the
great Sword back into the sheath, and was not disobedient to the saying
of Athene; and she forthwith was departed to Olympus, to the other gods
in the palace of aegis-bearing Zeus.

Then Peleus' son spake again with bitter words to Atreus' son, and in no
wise ceased from anger: "Thou heavy with wine, thou with face of dog and
heart of deer, never didst thou take courage to arm for battle among thy
folk or to lay ambush with the princes of the Achaians; that to thee
were even as death. Far better booteth it, for sooth, to seize for
thyself the meed of honour of every man through the wide host of the
Achaians that speaketh contrary to thee. Folk-devouring king! seeing
thou rulest men of naught; else were this despite, thou son of Atreus,
thy last. But I will speak my word to thee, and swear a mighty oath
therewith: verily by this staff that shall no more put forth leaf or
twig, seeing it hath for ever left its trunk among the hills, neither
shall it grow green again, because the axe hath stripped it of leaves
and bark; and now the sons of the Achaians that exercise judgment bear
it in their hands, even they that by Zeus' command watch over the
traditions - so shall this be a mighty oath in thine eyes - verily shall
longing for Achilles come hereafter upon the sons of the Achaians one
and all; and then wilt thou in no wise avail to save them, for all thy
grief, when multitudes fall dying before manslaying Hector. Then shalt
thou tear thy heart within thee for anger that thou didst in no wise
honour the best of the Achaians."

So said Peleides and dashed to earth the staff studded with golden
nails, and himself sat down; and over against him Atreides waxed
furious. Then in their midst rose up Nestor, pleasant of speech, the
clear-voiced orator of the Pylians, he from whose tongue flowed
discourse sweeter than honey. Two generations of mortal men already had
he seen perish, that had been of old time born and nurtured with him in
goodly Pylos, and he was king among the third. He of good intent made
harangue to them and said: "Alas, of a truth sore lamentation cometh
upon the land of Achaia. Verily Priam would be glad and Priam's sons,
and all the Trojans would have great joy of heart, were they to hear all
this tale of strife between you twain that are chiefest of the Danaans
in counsel and chiefest in battle. Nay, hearken to me; ye are younger
both than I. Of old days held I converse with better men even than you,
and never did they make light of me. Yea, I never beheld such warriors,
nor shall behold, as were Peirithoos and Dryas shepherd of the host and
Kaineus and Exadios and godlike Polyphemos [and Theseus son of Aigeus,
like to the Immortals]. Mightiest of growth were they of all men upon
the earth; mightiest they were and with the mightiest fought they, even
the wild tribes of the Mountain caves, and destroyed them utterly. And
with these held I converse, being come from Pylos, from a distant land
afar; for of themselves they summoned me. So I played my part in fight;
and with them could none of men that are now on earth do battle. And
they laid to heart my counsels and hearkened to my voice. Even so
hearken ye also, for better is it to hearken. Neither do thou, though
thou art very great, seize from him his damsel, but leave her as she was
given at the first by the sons of the Achaians to be a meed of honour;
nor do thou, son of Peleus, think to strive with a king, might against
might; seeing that no common honour pertaineth to a sceptred king to
whom Zeus apportioneth glory. Though thou be strong, and a goddess
mother bare thee, yet his is the greater place, for he is king over
more. And thou, Atreides, abate thy fury; nay, it is even I that beseech
thee to let go thine anger with Achilles, who is made unto all the
Achaians a mighty bulwark of evil war."

Then lord Agamemnon answered and said: "Yea verily, old man, all this
thou sayest is according unto right. But this fellow would be above all
others, he would be lord of all and king among all and captain to all;
wherein I deem none will hearken to him. Though the immortal gods made
him a spearman, do they therefore put revilings in his mouth for him to

Then goodly Achilles brake in on him and answered: "Yea, for I should be
called coward and man of naught, if I yield to thee in every matter,
howsoe'er thou bid. To others give now thine orders, not to me [play
master; for thee I deem that I shall no more obey]. This, moreover, will
I say to thee, and do thou lay it to thy heart. Know that not by
violence will I strive for the damsel's sake, neither with thee nor any
other; ye gave and ye have taken away. But of all else that is mine
beside my fleet black ship, thereof shalt thou not take anything or bear
it away against my will. Yea, go to now, make trial, that all these may
see; forthwith thy dark blood shall gush about my spear."

Now when the twain had thus finished the battle of violent words, they
stood up and dissolved the assembly beside the Achaian ships. Peleides
went his way to his huts and trim ships with Menoitios' son [Patroklos]
and his company; and Atreides launched a fleet ship on the sea, and
picked twenty oarsmen therefor, and embarked the hecatomb for the god,
and brought Chryseis of the fair cheeks and set her therein; and
Odysseus of many devices went to be their captain.

So these embarked and sailed over the wet ways; and Atreides bade the
folk purify themselves. So they purified themselves, and cast the
defilements into the sea and did sacrifice to Apollo, even unblemished
hecatombs of bulls and goats, along the shore of the unvintaged sea; and
the sweet savour arose to heaven eddying amid the smoke.

Thus were they busied throughout the host; but Agamemnon ceased not from
the strife wherewith he threatened Achilles at the first; he spake to
Talthybios and Eurybates that were his heralds and nimble squires: "Go
ye to the tent of Achilles Peleus' son, and take Briseis of the fair
cheeks by the hand and lead her hither; and if he give her not, then
will I myself go, and more with me, and seize her; and that will be yet
more grievous for him."

So saying he sent them forth, and laid stern charge upon them.
Unwillingly went they along the beach of the unvintaged sea, and came to
the huts and ships of the Myrmidons. Him found they sitting beside his
hut and black ship; nor when he saw them was Achilles glad. So they in
dread and reverence of the king stood, and spake to him no word, nor
questioned him. But he knew in his heart, and spake to them: "All hail,
ye heralds, messengers of Zeus and men, come near; ye are not guilty in
my sight, but Agamemnon that sent you for the sake of the damsel
Briseis. Go now, heaven-sprung Patroklos, bring forth the damsel, and
give them her to lead away. Moreover, let the twain themselves be my
witnesses before the face of the blessed gods and mortal men, yea and of
him, that king untoward, against the day when there cometh need of me
hereafter to save them all from shameful wreck. Of a truth he raveth
with baleful mind, and hath not knowledge to look before and after, that
so his Achaians might battle in safety beside their ships."

So said he, and Patroklos hearkened to his dear comrade, and led forth
from the hut Briseis of the fair cheeks, and gave them her to lead away.
So these twain took their way back along the Achaians' ships, and with
them went the woman all unwilling. Then Achilles wept anon, and sat him
down apart, aloof from his comrades on the beach of the grey sea, gazing
across the boundless main; he stretched forth his hands and prayed
instantly to his dear mother: "Mother, seeing thou didst of a truth bear
me to so brief span of life, honour at the least ought the Olympian to
have granted me, even Zeus that thundereth on high; but now doth he not
honour me, no, not one whit. Verily Atreus' son, wide-ruling Agamemnon,
hath done me dishonour; for he hath taken away my meed of honour and

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad → online text (page 1 of 31)