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me, wherefore again are the flowing-haired Achaians flocking to the
ships and flying in rout over the plain? May the gods not have wrought
against me the grievous fears at my heart, even as my mother revealed
and told me that while I am yet alive the best man of the Myrmidons must
by deed of the men of Troy forsake the light of the sun. Surely now must
Menoitios' valiant son be dead - foolhardy! surely I bade him when he
should have beaten off the fire of the foe to come back to the ships nor
with Hector fight amain."

While thus he held debate in his heart and soul, there drew nigh unto
him noble Nestor's son, shedding hot tears, and spake his grievous
tidings: "Ay me, wise Peleus' son, very bitter tidings must thou hear,
such as I would had never been. Fallen is Patroklos, and they are
fighting around his body, naked, for his armour is held by Hector of the
glancing helm."

Thus spake he, and a black cloud of grief enwrapped Achilles, and with
both hands he took dark dust and poured it over his head and defiled his
comely face, and on his fragrant doublet black ashes fell. And himself
in the dust lay mighty and mightily fallen, and with his own hands tore
and marred his hair. And the handmaidens, whom Achilles and Patroklos
took captive, cried aloud in the grief of their hearts, and ran forth
around valiant Achilles, and all beat on their breasts with their hands,
and the knees of each of them were unstrung. And Antilochos on the other
side wailed and shed tears, holding Achilles' hands while he groaned in
his noble heart, for he feared lest he should cleave his throat with the
sword. Then terribly moaned Achilles; and his lady mother heard him as
she sate in the depths of the sea beside her ancient sire. And thereon
she uttered a cry, and the goddesses flocked around her, all the
daughters of Nereus that were in the deep of the sea. With these the
bright cave was filled, and they all beat together on their breasts, and
Thetis led the lament: "Listen, sister Nereids, that ye all hear and
know well what sorrows are in my heart. Ay me unhappy, ay me that bare
to my sorrow the first of men! For after I had borne a son noble and
strong, the chief of heroes, and he shot up like a young branch, then
when I had reared him as a plant in a very fruitful field I sent him in
beaked ships to Ilios to fight against the men of Troy; but never again
shall I welcome him back to his home, to the house of Peleus. And while
he yet liveth in my sight and beholdeth the light of the sun, he
sorroweth, neither can I help him any whit though I go unto him. But I
will go, that I may look upon my dear child, and learn what sorrow hath
come to him though he abide aloof from the war."

Thus spake she and left the cave; and the nymphs went with her weeping,
and around them the surge of the sea was sundered. And when they came to
deep-soiled Troy-land they went up upon the shore in order, where the
ships of the Myrmidons were drawn up thickly around fleet Achilles. And
as he groaned heavily his lady mother stood beside him, and with a
shrill cry clasped the bead of her child, and spake unto him winged
words of lamentation: "My child, why weepest thou? what sorrow hath come
to thy heart? Tell it forth, hide it not. One thing at least hath been
accomplished of Zeus according to the prayer thou madest, holding up to
him thy hands, that the sons of the Achaians should all be pent in at
the ships, through lack of thee, and should suffer hateful things."

Then groaning heavily spake unto her Achilles fleet of foot: "My mother,
that prayer truly hath the Olympian accomplished for me. But what
delight have I therein, since my dear comrade is dead, Patroklos, whom I
honoured above all my comrades as it were my very self! Him have I lost,
and Hector that slew him hath stripped from him the armour great and
fair, a wonder to behold, that the gods gave to Peleus a splendid gift,
on the day when they laid thee in the bed of a mortal man. Would thou
hadst abode among the deathless daughters of the sea, and Peleus had
wedded a mortal bride! But now, that thou mayest have sorrow a thousand
fold in thy heart for a dead son, never shalt thou welcome him back
home, since my soul biddeth me also live no longer nor abide among men,
if Hector be not first smitten by my spear and yield his life, and pay
for his slaughter of Patroklos, Menoitios' son."

Then answered unto him Thetis shedding tears: "Short-lived, I ween, must
thou be then, my child, by what thou sayest, for straightway after
Hector is death appointed unto thee."

Then mightily moved spake unto her Achilles fleet of foot: "Straightway
may I die, since I might not succour my comrade at his slaying. He hath
fallen afar from his country and lacked my help in his sore need. Now
therefore, since I go not back to my dear native land, neither have at
all been succour to Patroklos nor to all my other comrades that have
been slain by noble Hector, but I sit beside my ships a profitless
burden of the earth, I that in war am such an one as is none else of the
mail-clad Achaians, though in council are others better - may strife
perish utterly among gods and men, and wrath that stirreth even a wise
man to be vexed, wrath that far sweeter than trickling honey waxeth like
smoke in the breasts of men, even as I was wroth even now against
Agamemnon king of men. But bygones will we let be, for all our pain,
curbing the heart in our breasts under necessity. Now go I forth, that I
may light on the destroyer of him I loved, on Hector: then will I accept
my death whensoever Zeus willeth to accomplish it and the other immortal
gods. For not even the mighty Herakles escaped death, albeit most dear
to Kronian Zeus the king, but Fate overcame him and Hera's cruel wrath.
So also shall I, if my fate hath been fashioned likewise, lie low when I
am dead. But now let me win high renown, let me set some Trojan woman,
some deep-bosomed daughter of Dardanos, staunching with both hands the
tears upon her tender cheeks and wailing bitterly; yea, let them know
that I am come back, though I tarried long from the war. Hold not me
then from the battle in thy love, for thou shalt not prevail with me."

Then Thetis the silver-footed goddess answered him, saying: "Yea verily,
my child, no blame is in this, that thou ward sheer destruction from thy
comrades in their distress. But thy fair glittering armour of bronze is
held among the Trojans. Hector of the glancing helm beareth it on his
shoulders in triumph, yet not for long, I ween, shall he glory therein,
for death is hard anigh him. But thou, go not yet down into the mellay
of war until thou see me with thine eyes come hither. In the morning
will I return, at the coming up of the sun, bearing fair armour from the
king Hephaistos."

Thus spake she and turned to go from her son, and as she turned she
spake among her sisters of the sea: "Ye now go down within the wide
bosom of the deep, to visit the Ancient One of the Sea and our father's
house, and tell him all. I am going to high Olympus to Hephaistos of
noble skill, if haply he will give unto my son noble armour shining

Thus spake she, and they forthwith went down beneath the surge of the
sea. And the silver-footed goddess Thetis went on to Olympus that she
might bring noble armour to her son.

So her unto Olympus her feet bore. But the Achaians with terrible cries
were fleeing before man-slaying Hector till they came to the ships and
to the Hellespont. Nor might the well-greaved Achaians drag the corpse
of Patroklos Achilles' squire out of the darts, for now again overtook
him the host and the horses of Troy, and Hector son of Priam, in might
as it were a flame of fire. Thrice did glorious Hector seize him from
behind by the feet, resolved to drag him away, and mightily called upon
the men of Troy. Thrice did the two Aiantes, clothed on with impetuous
might, beat him off from the dead man, but he nathless, trusting in his
might, anon would charge into the press, anon would stand and cry aloud,
but he gave ground never a whit. As when shepherds in the field avail
nowise to chase a fiery lion in fierce hunger away from a carcase, so
availed not the two warrior Aiantes to scare Hector son of Priam from
the dead. And now would he have won the body and gained renown
unspeakable, had not fleet wind-footed Iris come speeding from Olympus
with a message to the son of Peleus to array him, unknown of Zeus and
the other gods, for Hera sent her. And she stood anigh and spake to him
winged words: "Rouse thee, son of Peleus, of all men most redoubtable!
Succour Patroklos, for whose body is terrible battle afoot before the
ships. There slay they one another, these guarding the dead corpse,
while the men of Troy are fierce to hale him unto windy Ilios, and
chiefliest noble Hector is fain to drag him, and his heart biddeth him
fix the head on the stakes of the wall when he hath sundered it from the
tender neck. But arise, lie thus no longer! let awe enter thy heart to
forbid that Patroklos become the sport of dogs of Troy. Thine were the
shame if he go down mangled amid the dead."

Then answered her fleet-footed noble Achilles: "Goddess Iris, what god
sent thee a messenger unto me?"

And to him again spake wind-footed fleet Iris: "It was Hera that sent
me, the wise wife of Zeus, nor knoweth the high-throned son of Kronos
nor any other of the Immortals that on snowy Olympus have their

And Achilles fleet of foot made answer to her and said: "And how may I
go into the fray? The Trojans hold my arms; and my dear mother bade me
forbear to array me until I behold her with my eyes returned, for she
promised to bring fair armour from Hephaistos. Other man know I none
whose noble armour I might put on, save it were the shield of Aias
Telamon's son. But himself, I ween, is in the forefront of the press,
dealing death with his spear around Patroklos dead."

Then again spake unto him wind-footed fleet Iris: "Well are we also
aware that thy noble armour is held from thee. But go forth unto the
trench as thou art and show thyself to the men of Troy, if haply they
will shrink back and refrain them from battle, and the warlike sons of
the Achaians take breath."

Thus spake fleet-footed Iris and went her way. But Achilles dear to Zeus
arose, and around his strong shoulders Athene cast her tasselled aegis,
and around his head the bright goddess set a crown of a golden cloud,
and kindled therefrom a blazing flame. And as when a smoke issueth from
a city and riseth up into the upper air, from an island afar off that
foes beleaguer, while the others from their city fight all day in
hateful war, - but with the going down of the sun blaze out the
beacon-fires in line, and high aloft rusheth up the glare for dwellers
round about to behold, if haply they may come with ships to help in
need - thus from the head of Achilles soared that blaze toward the
heavens. And he went and stood beyond the wall beside the trench, yet
mingled not among the Achaians, for he minded the wise bidding of his
mother. There stood he and shouted aloud, and afar off Pallas Athene
uttered her voice, and spread terror unspeakable among the men of Troy.
Clear as the voice of a clarion when it soundeth by reason of
slaughterous foemen that beleaguer a city, so clear rang forth the voice
of Aiakides. And when they heard the brazen voice of Aiakides, the souls
of all of them were dismayed, and the horses of goodly manes were fain
to turn the chariots backward, for they boded anguish in their hearts,
And the charioteers were amazed when they saw the unwearying fire blaze
fierce on the head of the great-hearted son of Peleus, for the
bright-eyed goddess Athene made it blaze. Thrice from over the trench
shouted mightily noble Achilles, and thrice were the men of Troy
confounded and their proud allies. Yea there and then perished twelve
men of their best by their own chariot wheels and spears. But the
Achaians with joy drew Patroklos forth of the darts and laid him on a
litter, and his dear comrades stood around lamenting him; and among them
followed fleet-footed Achilles, shedding hot tears, for his true comrade
he saw lying on the bier, mangled by the keen bronze. Him sent he forth
with chariot and horses unto the battle, but home again welcomed never

Then Hera the ox-eyed queen sent down the unwearying Sun to be gone
unwillingly unto the streams of Ocean. So the Sun set, and the noble
Achaians made pause from the stress of battle and the hazardous war.

But the Achaians all night made moan in lamentation for Patroklos. And
first of them in the loud lamentation was the son of Peleus, laying upon
the breast of his comrade his man-slaying hands and moaning very sore,
even as a deep-bearded lion whose whelps some stag-hunter hath snatched
away out of a deep wood; and the lion coming afterward grieveth and
through many glens he rangeth on the track of the footsteps of the man,
if anywhere he might find him, for most bitter anger seizeth him; - thus
Achilles moaning heavily spake among the Myrmidons: "Ay me, vain verily
was the word I uttered on that day when I cheered the hero Menoitios in
his halls and said that I would bring back to Opoeis his son in glory
from the sack of Ilios with the share of spoil that should fall unto
him. Not all the purposes of men doth Zeus accomplish for them. It is
appointed that both of us redden the same earth with our blood here in
Troy-land, for neither shall the old knight Peleus welcome me back home
within his halls, nor my mother Thetis, but even here shall earth keep
hold on me. Yet now, O Patroklos, since I follow thee under earth, I
will not hold thy funeral till I have brought hither the armour and the
head of Hector, thy high-hearted slayer, and before thy pyre I will cut
the throats of twelve noble sons of the men of Troy, for mine anger thou
art slain. Till then beside the beaked ships shalt thou lie as thou art,
and around thee deep-bosomed women, Trojan and Dardanian, shall mourn
thee weeping night and day, even they whom we toiled to win by our
strength and, our long spears when we sacked rich cities of mortal men."

Thus spake noble Achilles, and bade his comrades set a great tripod on
the fire, that with all speed they might wash from Patroklos the bloody
gore. So they set a tripod of ablution on the burning fire, and poured
therein water and took wood and kindled it beneath; and the fire wrapped
the belly of the tripod, and the water grew hot. And when the water
boiled in the bright bronze, then washed they him and anointed with
olive oil, and filled his wounds with fresh ointment, and laid him on a
bier and covered him with soft cloth from head to foot, and thereover a
white robe. Then all night around Achilles fleet of foot the Myrmidons
made lament and moan for Patroklos.

Meanwhile Zeus spake unto Hera his sister and wife: "Thou hast
accomplished this, O Hera, ox-eyed queen, thou hast aroused Achilles
fleet of foot. Verily of thine own children must the flowing-haired
Achaians be."

Then answered unto him Hera the ox-eyed queen: "Most dread son of
Kronos, what is this word thou hast said? Truly even a man, I ween, is
to accomplish what he may for another man, albeit he is mortal and hath
not wisdom as we. How then was I who avow me the first of goddesses both
by birth and for that I am called thy wife, and thou art king among all
Immortals - how was I not in mine anger to devise evil against the men of

So debated they on this wise with one another. But Thetis of the silver
feet came unto the house of Hephaistos, imperishable, starlike, far seen
among the dwellings of Immortals, a house of bronze, wrought by the
crook-footed god himself. Him found she sweating in toil and busy about
his bellows, for he was forging tripods twenty in all to stand around
the wall of his stablished hall, and beneath the base of each he had set
golden wheels, that of their own motion they might enter the assembly of
the gods and again return unto his house, a marvel to look upon. Thus
much were they finished that not yet were away from the fire, and
gathered all his gear wherewith he worked into a silver chest; and with
a sponge he wiped his face and hands and sturdy neck and shaggy breast,
and did on his doublet, and took a stout staff and went forth limping;
but there were handmaidens of gold that moved to help their lord, the
semblances of living maids. In them is understanding at their hearts, in
them are voice and strength, and they have skill of the immortal gods.
These moved beneath their lord, and he gat him haltingly near to where
Thetis was, and set him on a bright seat, and clasped her hand in his
and spake and called her by her name: "Wherefore, long-robed Thetis,
comest thou to our house, honoured that thou art and dear? No frequent
comer art thou hitherto. Speak what thou hast at heart; my soul is fain
to accomplish it; if accomplish it I can, and if it be appointed for

Then answered unto him Thetis shedding tears: "Hephaistos, hath there
verily been any of all goddesses in Olympus that hath endured so many
grievous sorrows at heart as are the woes that Kronian Zeus hath laid
upon me above all others? He chose me from among the sisters of the sea
to enthrall me to a man, even Peleus Aiakos' son, and with a man I
endured wedlock sore against my will. Now lieth he in his halls forspent
with grievous age, but other griefs are mine. A son he gave me to bear
and nourish, the chief of heroes, and he shot up like a young branch.
Like a plant in a very fruitful field I reared him and sent him forth on
beaked ships to Ilios to fight against the men of Troy, but never again
shall I welcome him back to his home within the house of Peleus. And
while he yet liveth in my sight and beholdeth the light of the sun, he
sorroweth, neither can I help him any whit though I go unto him. The
maiden whom the sons of the Achaians chose out to be his prize, her hath
the lord Agamemnon taken back out of his hands. In grief for her wasted
he his heart, while the men of Troy were driving the Achaians on their
ships, nor suffered them to come forth. And the elders of the Argives
entreated him, and told over many noble gifts. Then albeit himself he
refused to ward destruction from them, he put his armour on Patroklos
and sent him to the war, and much people with him. All day they fought
around the Skaian gates and that same day had sacked the town, but that
when now Menoitios' valiant son had wrought much harm, Apollo slew him
in the forefront of the battle, and gave glory unto Hector. Therefore
now come I a suppliant unto thy knees, if haply thou be willing to give
my short-lived son shield and helmet, and goodly greaves fitted with
ankle-pieces, and cuirass. For the armour that he had erst, his trusty
comrade lost when he fell beneath the men of Troy; and my son lieth on
the earth with anguish in his soul."

Then made answer unto her the lame god of great renown: "Be of good
courage, let not these things trouble thy heart. Would that so might I
avail to hide him far from dolorous death, when dread fate cometh upon
him, as surely shall goodly armour be at his need, such as all men
afterward shall marvel at, whatsoever may behold."

Thus saying he left her there and went unto his bellows and turned them
upon the fire and bade them work. And the bellows, twenty in all, blew
on the crucibles, sending deft blasts on every side, now to aid his
labour and now anon howsoever Hephaistos willed and the work went on.
And he threw bronze that weareth not into the fire, and tin and precious
gold and silver, and next he set on an anvil-stand a great anvil, and
took in his hand a sturdy hammer, and in the other he took the tongs.

First fashioned he a shield great and strong, adorning it all over, and
set thereto a shining rim, triple, bright-glancing, and therefrom a
silver baldric. Five were the folds of the shield itself; and therein
fashioned he much cunning work from his wise heart.

There wrought he the earth, and the heavens, and the sea, and the
unwearying sun, and the moon waxing to the full, and the signs every one
wherewith the heavens are crowned, Pleiads and Hyads and Orion's might,
and the Bear that men call also the Wain, her that turneth in her place
and watcheth Orion, and alone hath no part in the baths of Ocean.

Also he fashioned therein two fair cities of mortal men. In the one were
espousals and marriage feasts, and beneath the blaze of torches they
were leading the brides from their chambers through the city, and loud
arose the bridal song. And young men were whirling in the dance, and
among them flutes and viols sounded high; and women standing each at her
door were marvelling. But the folk were gathered in the assembly place;
for there a strife was arisen, two men striving about the blood-price of
a man slain; the one claimed to pay full atonement, expounding to the
people, but the other denied him and would take naught. And the folk
were cheering both, as they took part on either side. And heralds kept
order among the folk, while the elders on polished stones were sitting
in the sacred circle, and holding in their hands staves from the
loud-voiced heralds. Then before the people they rose up and gave
judgment each in turn. And in the midst lay two talents of gold, to be
given unto him who should plead among them most righteously.

But around the other city were two armies in siege with glittering arms.
And two counsels found favour among them, either to sack the town or to
share all with the townsfolk even whatsoever substance the fair city
held within. But the besieged were not yet yielding, but arming for an
ambushment. On the wall there stood to guard it their dear wives and
infant children, and with these the old men; but the rest went forth,
and their leaders were Ares and Pallas Athene, both wrought in gold, and
golden was the vesture they had on. Goodly and great were they in their
armour, even as gods, far seen around, and the folk at their feet were
smaller. And when they came where it seemed good to them to lay ambush,
in a river bed where there was a common watering-place of herds, there
they set them, clad in glittering bronze. And two scouts were posted by
them afar off to spy the coming of flocks and of oxen with crooked
horns. And presently came the cattle, and with them two herdsmen playing
on pipes, that took no thought of the guile. Then the others when they
beheld these ran upon them and quickly cut off the herds of oxen and
fair flocks of white sheep, and slew the shepherds withal. But the
besiegers, as they sat before the speech-places [from which the orators
spoke] and heard much din among the oxen, mounted forthwith behind their
high-stepping horses, and came up with speed. Then they arrayed their
battle and fought beside the river banks, and smote one another with
bronze-shod spears. And among them mingled Strife and Tumult, and fell
Death, grasping one man alive fresh-wounded, another without wound, and
dragging another dead through the mellay by the feet; and the raiment on
her shoulders was red with the blood of men. Like living mortals they
hurled together and fought, and haled the corpses each of the other's

Furthermore he set in the shield a soft fresh-ploughed field, rich tilth
and wide, the third time ploughed; and many ploughers therein drave
their yokes to and fro as they wheeled about. Whensoever they came to
the boundary of the field and turned, then would a man come to each and
give into his hands a goblet of sweet wine, while others would be
turning back along the furrows, fain to reach the boundary of the deep
tilth. And the field grew black behind and seemed as it were
a-ploughing, albeit of gold, for this was the great marvel of the work.

Furthermore he set therein the demesne-land of a king, where hinds were
reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Some armfuls along the swathe
were falling in rows to the earth, whilst others the sheaf-binders were
binding in twisted bands of straw. Three sheaf-binders stood over them,
while behind boys gathering corn and bearing it in their arms gave it
constantly to the binders; and among them the king in silence was
standing at the swathe with his staff, rejoicing in his heart. And
henchmen apart beneath an oak were making ready a feast, and preparing a
great ox they had sacrificed; while the women were strewing much white
barley to be a supper for the hinds.

Also he set therein a vineyard teeming plenteously with clusters,
wrought fair in gold; black were the grapes, but the vines hung

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad → online text (page 22 of 31)