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Thus spake he, and fleet-footed noble Achilles smiled, pleased with
Antilochos, for he was his dear comrade; and spake in answer to him
winged words: "Antilochos, if thou wouldst have me give Eumelos some
other thing beside from out my house, that also will I do. I will give
unto him a breast-plate that I took from Asteropaios, of bronze, whereon
a casting of bright tin is overlaid, and of great worth will it be to
him." He said, and bade his dear comrade Automedon bring it from the
hut, and he went and brought it. [Then he placed it in Eumelos' hands,
and he received it gladly.]

But Menelaos also arose among them, sore at heart, angered exceedingly
against Antilochos; and the herald set the staff in his hand, and called
for silence among the Argives; then spake among them that godlike man:
"Antilochos, who once wert wise, what thing is this thou hast done? Thou
hast shamed my skill and made my horses fail, thrusting thine own in
front that are far worse. Come now, ye chiefs and counsellors of the
Argives, give judgment between us both, and favour neither: lest some
one of the mail-clad Achalans say at any time: 'By constraining
Antilochos through false words hath Menelaos gone off with the mare, for
his horses were far worse, howbeit he hath advantage in rank and power.'
Nay, I myself will bring the issue about, and I deem that none other of
the Danaans shall reproach me, for the trial shall be just. Antilochos,
fosterling of Zeus, come thou hither and as it is ordained stand up
before thy horses and chariot and take in thy hand the pliant lash
wherewith thou dravest erst, and touching thy horses swear by the
Enfolder and Shaker of the earth that not wilfully didst thou hinder
my chariot by guile."

Then answered him wise Antilochos: "Bear with me now, for far younger am
I than thou, king Menelaos, and thou art before me and my better. Thou
knowest how a young man's transgressions come about, for his mind is
hastier and his counsel shallow. So let thy heart suffer me, and I will
of myself give to thee the mare I have taken. Yea, if thou shouldst ask
some other greater thing from my house, I were fain to give it thee
straightway, rather than fall for ever from my place in thy heart, O
fosterling of Zeus, and become a sinner against the gods."

Thus spake great-hearted Nestor's son, and brought the mare and put her
in the hand of Menelaos. And his heart was gladdened as when the dew
cometh upon the ears of ripening harvest-corn, what time the fields are
bristling. So gladdened was thy soul, Menelaos, within thy heart. And he
spake unto Antilochos and uttered winged words: "Antilochos, now will I
of myself put away mine anger against thee, since no wise formerly wert
thou flighty or light-minded, howbeit now thy reason was overcome of
youthfulness. Another time be loth to outwit better men. Not easily
should another of the Achaians have persuaded me, but thou hast suffered
and toiled greatly, and thy brave father and brother, for my sake:
therefore will I hearken to thy prayer, and will even give unto thee the
mare, though she is mine, that these also may know that my heart was
never overweening or implacable."

He said, and gave the mare to Noemon Antilochos' comrade to lead away,
and then took the shining caldron. And Meriones took up the two talents
of gold in the fourth place, as he had come in. So the fifth prize was
left unclaimed, a two-handled cup; to Nester gave Achilles this,
bearing it to him through the concourse of Argives, and stood by him and
said: "Lo now for thee too, old man, be this a treasure, a memorial of
Patroklos' burying; for no more shalt thou behold him among the Argives.
Now give I thee this prize unwon, for not in boxing shalt thou strive,
neither wrestle, nor enter on the javelin match, nor race with thy feet;
for grim old age already weigheth on thee."

Thus saying he placed it in his hand, and Nestor received it gladly, and
spake unto him winged words: "Ay, truly all this, my son, thou hast
meetly said; for no longer are my limbs, friend, firm, nor my feet, nor
do my arms at all swing lightly from my shoulders either side. Would
that my youth were such and my force so firm as when the Epeians were
burying lord Amarynkes at Buprasion, and his sons held the king's
funeral games. Then was no man found like me, neither of the Epeians nor
of the Pylians themselves or the great-hearted Aitolians. In boxing I
overcame Klytomedes, son of Enops, and in wrestling Ankaios of Pleuron,
who stood up against me, and in the foot-race I outran Iphiklos, a right
good man, and with the spear outthrew Phyleus and Polydoros; only in the
chariot-race the two sons of Aktor beat me [by crowding their horses in
front of me, jealous for victory, because the chief prizes were left at
home.] Now they were twins - one ever held the reins, the reins he ever
held, the other called on the horses with the lash. Thus was I once, but
now let younger men join in such feats; I must bend to grievous age, but
then was I of mark among heroes. But come hold funeral for thy comrade
too with with games. This gift do I accept with gladness, and my heart
rejoiceth that thou rememberest ever my friendship to thee - (nor forget
I thee) - and the honour wherewith it is meet that I be honoured among
the Achaians. And may the gods for this grant thee due grace."

Thus spake he, and Peleides was gone down the full concourse of
Achaians, when he had hearkened to all the thanks of Neleus' son. Then
he ordained prizes of the violent boxing match; a sturdy mule he led
forth and tethered amid the assembly, a six-year mule unbroken, hardest
of all to break; and for the loser set a two-handled cup. Then he stood
up and spake a word among the Argives: "Son of Atreus and ye other
well-greaved Achaians, for these rewards we summon two men of the best
to lift up their hands to box amain. He to whom Apollo shall grant
endurance to the end, and all the Achaians acknowledge it, let him take
the sturdy mule and return with her to his hut; and the loser shall take
with him the two-handled-cup."

Thus spake he, and forthwith arose a man great and valiant and skilled
in boxing, Epeios son of Panopeus, and laid his hand on the sturdy mule
and said aloud: "Let one come nigh to bear off the two-handled cup; the
mule I say none other of the Achaians shall take for victory with his
fists, for I claim to be the best man here. Sufficeth it not that I fall
short of you in battle? Not possible is it that in all arts a man be
skilled. Thus proclaim I, and it shall be accomplished: I will utterly
bruise mine adversary's flesh and break his bones, so let his friends
abide together here to bear him forth when vanquished by my hands."

Thus spake he, and they all kept deep silence. And alone arose against
him Euryalos, a godlike man, son of king Mekisteus the son of Talaos,
Mekisteus, who came on a time to Thebes when Oedipus had fallen, to his
burial, and there he overcame all the sons of Kadmos. Thus Tydeides
famous with the spear made ready Euryalos for the fight, cheering him
with speech, and greatly desired for him victory. And first he cast
about him a girdle, and next gave him well-cut thongs of the hide of an
ox of the field. And the two boxers being girt went into the midst of
the ring, and both lifting up their stalwart hands fell to, and their
hands joined battle grievously. Then was there terrible grinding of
teeth, and sweat flowed from all their limbs. And noble Epeios came on,
and as the other spied for an opening, smote him on the cheek, nor could
he much more stand, for his limbs failed straightway under him. And as
when beneath the North Wind's ripple a fish leapeth on a tangle-covered
beach, and then the black wave hideth it, so leapt up Euryalos at that
blow. But great-hearted Epeios took him in his hands and set him
upright, and his dear comrades stood around him, and led him through the
ring with trailing feet, spitting out clotted blood, drooping his head
awry, and they set him down in his swoon among them and themselves went
forth and fetched the two-handled cup.

Then Peleus' son ordained straightway the prizes for a third contest,
offering them to the Danaans, for the grievous wrestling match: for the
winner a great tripod for standing on the fire, prized by the Achaians
among them at twelve oxens' worth; and for the loser he brought a woman
into the midst, skilled in manifold work, and they prized her at four
oxen. And he stood up and spake a word among the Argives: "Rise, ye who
will essay this match."

Thus said he, and there arose great Aias son of Telamon, and Odysseus of
many wiles stood up, the crafty-minded. And the twain being girt went
into the midst of the ring, and clasped each the other in his arms with
stalwart hands, like gable rafters of a lofty house which some famed
craftsman joineth, that he may baffle the wind's force. And their backs
creaked, gripped firmly under the vigorous hands, and sweat ran down in
streams, and frequent weals along their ribs and shoulders sprang up,
red with blood, while ever they strove amain for victory, to win the
wrought tripod. Neither could Odysseus trip Aias and bear him to the
ground, nor Aias him, for Odysseus' strength withheld him. But when they
began to irk the well-greaved Achaians, then said to Odysseus great
Aias, Telamon's son: "Heaven-sprung son of Laertes, Odysseus of many
wiles, or lift thou me, or I will thee, and the issue shall be with

Having thus said he lifted him, but Odysseus was not unmindful of his
craft. He smote deftly from behind the hollow of Aias' knee, and loosed
his limbs, and threw him down backward, and Odysseus fell upon his
chest, and the folk gazed and marvelled. Then in his turn much-enduring
noble Odysseus tried to lift, and moved him a little from the ground,
but lifted him not, so he crooked his knee within the other's, and both
fell on the ground nigh to each other, and were soiled with dust, And
now starting up again a third time would they have wrestled, had not
Achilles himself arisen and held them back: "No longer press each the
other, nor wear you out with pain. Victory is with both; take equal
prizes and depart, that other Achaians may contend."

Thus spake he, and they were fain to hear and to obey, and wiped the
dust from them and put their doublets on.

Then straightway the son of Peleus set forth other prizes for fleetness
of foot; a mixing-bowl of silver, chased; six measures it held, and in
beauty it was far the best in all the earth, for artificers of Sidon
wrought it cunningly, and men of the Phoenicians brought it over the
misty sea, and landed it in harbour, and gave it a gift to Thoas; and
Euneos son of Jason gave it to the hero Patroklos a ransom for Lykaon
Priam's son. Now this cup did Achilles set forth as a prize in honour of
his friend, for whoso should be fleetest in speed of foot. For the
second he set an ox great and very fat, and for the last prize half a
talent of gold. And he stood up and spake a word among the Argives:
"Rise, ye who will essay this match."

Thus spake he, and straightway arose fleet Aias Oileus' son, and
Odysseus of many wiles, and after them Nestor's son Antilochos, for he
was best of all the youth in the foot-race. Then they stood side by
side, and Achilles showed to them the goal. Right eager was the running
from the start, but Oileus' son forthwith shot to the front, and close
behind him came noble Odysseus, as close as is a weaving-rod to a
fair-girdled woman's breast when she pulleth it deftly with her hands,
drawing the spool along the warp, and holdeth the rod nigh her breast -
so close ran Odysseus behind Aias and trod in his footsteps or ever the
dust had settled there, and on his head fell the breath of noble
Odysseus as he ran ever lightly on, and all the Achaians applauded his
struggle for the victory and called on him as he laboured hard. But when
they were running the last part of the course, forthwith Odysseus prayed
in his soul to bright-eyed Athene: "Hearken, goddess, come thou a good
helper of my feet."

Thus prayed he, and Pallas Athene hearkened to him, and made his limbs
feel light, both feet and hands. But when they, were now nigh darting on
the prize, then Aias slipped as he ran, for Athene marred his race,
where filth was strewn from the slaughter of loud-bellowing oxen that
fleet Achilles slew in honour of Patroklos: and Aias' mouth and nostrils
were filled with that filth of oxen. So much-enduring noble Odysseus, as
he came in first, took up the mixing-bowl, and famous Aias took the ox.
And he stood holding in his hand the horn of the ox of the field,
sputtering away the filth, and spake among the Argives: "Out on it, it
was the goddess who marred my running, she who from of old like a mother
standeth by Odysseus' side and helpeth him."

So spake he, but they all laughed pleasantly to behold him. Then
Antilochos smiling bore off the last prize, and spake his word among the
Argives: "Friends, ye will all bear me witness when I say that even
herein also the immortals favour elder men. For Aias is a little older
than I, but Odysseus of an earlier generation and earlier race of men. A
green old age is his, they say, and hard were it for any Achaian to
rival him in speed, save only Achilles."

Thus spake he, and gave honour to the fleet son of Peleus. And Achilles
answered him and said: "Antilochos, not unheeded shall thy praise be
given; a half-talent of gold I will give thee over and above." He said,
and set it in his hands, and Antilochos received it gladly.

Then Peleus' son brought and set in the ring a far-shadowing spear and a
chaldron that knew not the fire, an ox's worth, embossed with flowers;
and men that were casters of the javelin arose up. There rose Atreus'
son wide-ruling Agamemnon, and Meriones, Idomeneus' brave squire. And
swift-footed noble Achilles spake among them: "Son of Atreus, for that
we know how far thou excellest all, and how far the first thou art in
the might of thy throw, take thou this prize with thee to the hollow
ships, and to the hero Meriones let us give the spear, if thou art
willing in thy heart: thus I at least advise."

Thus spake he, nor disregarded him Agamemnon king of men. So to Meriones
he gave the spear of bronze, but to the herald Talthybios the hero gave
the goodliest prize.


How the body of Hector was ransomed, and of his funeral.

Then the assembly was broken up, and the tribes were scattered to betake
them each to their own swift ships. The rest bethought them of supper
and sweet sleep to have joy thereof; but Achilles wept, remembering his
dear comrade, nor did sleep that conquereth all take hold on him, but he
kept turning him to this side and to that, yearning for Patroklos'
manhood and excellent valour, and all the toils he achieved with him and
the woes he bare, cleaving the battles of men and the grievous waves. As
he thought thereon be shed big tears, now lying on his side, now on his
back, now on his face; and then anon he would arise upon his feet and
roam wildly beside the beach of the salt sea. Nor would he be unaware of
the Dawn when she arose over the sea and shores. But when he had yoked
the swift steeds to his car he would bind Hector behind his chariot to
drag him withal; and having thrice drawn him round the barrow of the
dead son of Menoitios he rested again in his hut, and left Hector lying
stretched on his face in the dust. But Apollo kept away all defacement
from his flesh, for he had pity on him even in death, and covered him
all with his golden aegis, that Achilles might not tear him when he
dragged him.

Thus Achilles in his anger entreated noble Hector shamefully; but the
blessed gods when they beheld him pitied him, and urged the
clear-sighted slayer of Argus to steal the corpse away. So to all the
others seemed it good, yet not to Hera or Poseidon or the bright-eyed
Maiden, but they continued as when at the beginning sacred Ilios became
hateful to them, and Priam and his people, by reason of the sin of
Alexandros in that he contemned those goddesses when they came to his
steading, and preferred her who brought him deadly lustfulness. But when
the twelfth morn from that day arose, then spake among the Immortals
Phoebus Apollo: "Hard of heart are ye, O gods, and cruel Hath Hector
never burnt for you thigh-bones of unblemished bulls and goats? Now have
ye not taken heart to rescue even his corpse for his wife to look upon
and his mother and his child and his father Priam and his people, who
speedily would burn him in the fire and make his funeral. But fell
Achilles, O gods, ye are fain to abet, whose mind is nowise just nor the
purpose in his breast to be turned away, but he is cruelly minded as a
lion that in great strength and at the bidding of his proud heart goeth
forth against men's flocks to make his meal; even thus Achilles hath
cast out pity, neither hath he shame, that doth both harm and profit men
greatly. It must be that many a man lose even some dearer one than was
this, a brother of the same womb born or perchance a son; yet bringeth
he his wailing and lamentation to an end, for an enduring soul have the
Fates given unto men. But Achilles after bereaving noble Hector of his
life bindeth him behind his horses and draggeth him around the tomb of
his dear comrade: not, verily, is that more honourable or better for
him. Let him take heed lest we wax wroth with him, good man though he
be, for in his fury he is entreating shamefully the senseless clay."

Then in anger spake unto him white-armed Hera: "Even thus mightest thou
speak, O Lord of the silver bow, if ye are to give equal honour to
Achilles and to Hector. Hector is but a mortal and was suckled at a
woman's breast, but Achilles is child of a goddess whom I myself bred up
and reared and gave to a man to be his wife, even to Peleus who was
dearest of all men to the Immortals' heart. And all ye gods came to her
bridal, and thou among them wert feasting with thy lyre, O lover of ill
company, faithless ever."

Then to her in answer spake Zeus who gathereth the clouds: "Hera, be not
wroth utterly with the gods: for these men's honour is not to be the
same, yet Hector also was dearest to the gods of all mortals that are in
Ilios. So was he to me at least, for nowise failed he in the gifts I
loved. Never did my altar lack seemly feast, drink-offering and the
steam of sacrifice, even the honour that falleth to our due. But verily
we will say no more of stealing away brave Hector, for it cannot be
hidden from Achilles, for his mother abideth ever nigh to him night and
day. But I were fain that some one of the gods would call Thetis to come
near to me, that I may speak unto her a wise word, so that Achilles may
take gifts from Priam and give Hector back." Thus spake he, and
airy-footed Iris sped forth upon the errand and between Samothrace and
rocky Imbros leapt into the black sea, and the waters closed above her
with a noise. And she sped to the bottom like a weight of lead that
mounted on horn of a field-ox goeth down bearing death to ravenous
fishes. And she found Thetis in a hollow cave; about her sat gathered
other goddesses of the seas and she in their midst was wailing for the
fate of her noble son who must perish in deep-soiled Troy, far from his
native land. And standing near, fleet-footed Iris spake to her: "Rise,
Thetis; Zeus of immortal counsels calleth thee."

And to her made answer Thetis the silver-footed goddess: "Wherefore
biddeth me that mighty god? I shrink from mingling among the Immortals,
for I have countless woes at heart. Yet go I, nor shall his word be in
vain, whatsoever he saith."

Thus having said the noble goddess took to her a dark-hued robe, no
blacker raiment was there found than that. Then she went forth, and
wind-footed swift Iris led the way before her, and around them the surge
of the sea was sundered. And when they had come forth upon the shore
they sped up to heaven, and found the far-seeing son of Kronos, and
round him sat gathered all the other blessed gods that are for ever.
Then she sat down beside father Zeus, and Athene gave her place. And
Hera set a fair golden cup in her hand and cheered her with words, and
Thetis drank, and gave back the cup. Then began speech to them the
father of gods and men: "Thou art come to Olympus, divine Thetis, in thy
sorrow, with violent grief at thy heart; I know it of myself.
Nevertheless will I tell thee wherefore I called thee hither. Nine days
hath dispute arisen among the Immortals concerning the corpse of Hector
and Achilles waster of cities. Fain are they to send clear-sighted
Hermes to steal the body away, but now hear what glory I accord herein
to Achilles, that I may keep through times to come thy honour and good
will. Go with all speed to the host and bear to thy son my bidding. Say
to him that the gods are displeased at him, and that I above all
Immortals am wroth, because with furious heart be holdeth Hector at the
beaked ships and hath not given him back, if haply he may fear me and
give Hector back. But I will send Iris to great-hearted Priam to bid him
go to the ships of the Achaians to ransom his dear son, and carry gifts
to Achilles that may gladden his heart."

Thus spake he, and Thetis the silver-footed goddess was not disobedient
to his word, and sped darting upon her way down from the peaks of
Olympus. And she came to her son's hut; there found she him making
grievous moan, and his dear comrades round were swiftly making ready and
furnishing their early meal, and a sheep great and fleecy was being
sacrificed in the hut. Then his lady-mother sate her down close beside
him, and stroked him with her hand and spake to him by his name: "My
child, how long with lamentation and woe wilt thou devour thine heart,
taking thought of neither food nor rest? good were even a woman's
embrace, for not long shalt thou be left alive to me; already death and
forceful fate are standing nigh thee. But hearken forthwith unto me, for
I am the messenger of Zeus to thee. He saith that the gods are
displeased at thee, and that himself above all Immortals is wroth,
because with furious heart thou holdest Hector at the beaked ships and
hast not given him back. But come restore him, and take ransom for the

Then to her in answer spake fleet-footed Achilles: "So be it: whoso
bringeth ransom let him take back the dead, if verily with heart's
intent the Olympian biddeth it himself."

So they in the assembly of the ships, mother and son, spake to each
other many winged words. But the son of Kronos thus bade Iris go to holy
Ilios: "Go forth, fleet Iris, leave the abode of Olympus and bear my
message within Ilios to great-hearted Priam that he go to the ships of
the Achaians and ransom his dear son and carry gifts to Achilles that
may gladden his heart; let him go alone, and no other man of the Trojans
go with him. Only let some elder herald attend on him to guide the mules
and smooth-wheeled waggon and carry back to the city the dead man whom
noble Achilles slew. Let not death be in his thought nor any fear; such
guide will we give unto him, even the slyer of Argus who shall lead him
until his leading bring him to Achilles. And when he shall have led him
within the hut, neither shall Achilles himself slay him nor suffer any
other herein, for not senseless is he or unforeseeing or wicked, but
with all courtesy he will spare a suppliant man."

Thus spake he, and airy-footed Iris sped forth upon the errand. And she
came to the house of Priam, and found therein crying and moan. His
children sitting around their father within the court were bedewing
their raiment with their tears, and the old man in their midst was close
wrapped all over in his cloak; and on his head and neck was much mire
that he had gathered in his hands as he grovelled upon the earth. And
his daughters and his sons' wives were wailing throughout the house,
bethinking them of all those valiant men who had lost their lives at the
hands of the Argives and were lying low. And the messenger of Zeus stood
beside Priam and spake softly unto him, and trembling came upon his
limbs: "Be of good cheer in thy heart, O Priam son of Dardanos, and be
not dismayed for anything, for no evil come I hither to forebode to
thee, but with good will. I am the messenger of Zeus to thee, who,
though he be afar off, hath great care and pity for thee. The Olympian
biddeth thee ransom noble Hector and carry gifts to Achilles that may
gladden his heart: go thou alone, let none other of the Trojans go with
thee. Only let some elder herald attend on thee to guide the mules and

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad → online text (page 29 of 31)