Reading for Lesson 6 : selections from 
 THE ILIAD of Homer
tanslated by Samuel Butler, revised by Timothy Power and Gregory Nagy



Greek terms,
in brackets, 
are defined in
 the glossary.


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Journal Iliad

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[1] Sing, goddess [Muse], the anger [mÍnis] of Peleus' son Achilles that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul [psukhÍ] did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a corpse did it yield a prey to dogs [5] and vultures, for so was the will of Zeus fulfilled. Begin from the day when the son of Atreus [Agamemnon], king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.

Which of the gods was it that made them quarrel? It was the son of Zeus and Leto [the god Apollo]; for he was angry [10] and sent a pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because his priest Chryses had been dishonored by the son of Atreus.

Now Chryses had come to the ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and he had brought with him a great ransom. Moreover he held in his hand the scepter of Apollo wreathed with a suppliantís wreath, [15] and he petitioned the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus [Agamemnon and Menelaus], who were their chiefs. "Sons of Atreus," he cried, "and all other Achaeans, may the gods who dwell on Olympus grant that you may sack the city of Priam [Troy], and to reach your homes in safety, [20] but free my daughter, and accept a ransom for her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Zeus."

On hearing this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered, but not so Agamemnon, [25] who spoke fiercely and drove him away: "Old man, let me not find you lingering around our ships, nor coming here again. Your scepter of the god and your wreath shall not profit you. I will not free her. She shall grow old [30] in my house at Argos far from her own home, busying herself with her loom and visiting my bed. So go, and do not provoke me, or it shall be the worse for you."

The old man was afraid, and he obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but he went by the shore of the sounding sea, [35] and he prayed apart to great Apollo whom lovely Leto had borne. "Hear me," he cried, "O god of the silver bow, you who protect Chryse and holy Cilla and rule Tenedos with your might! Hear me, O god of Sminthe! If I have ever decked your temple with garlands, [40] or burned for you fat thigh-bones of bulls or goats, grant my prayer! Let your arrows avenge these my tears upon the Danaans [Achaeans]!"

Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. Down he came furious from the heights of Olympus, [45] his bow and his quiver upon his shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the rage that trembled within him. He sat down away from the ships with a face as dark as night, and his silver bow rang death as he fired his arrows into their midst. [50] First he slew their mules and hounds, but then he aimed his shafts at the people themselves, and soon the pyres of the dead were burning all day long.

For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly. [55] He was moved by Hera [queen of gods, supporter of the Achaeans], for she saw the Achaeans in their death-throes, and she took compassion on them. When they were together, Achilles rose and spoke among them: "Son of Atreus, I think that we should now [60] turn roving home to escape destruction, for here we are being cut down by war and pestilence at the same time. Let us ask some priest or seer [mantis], or some reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Zeus) who can tell us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry. Let us ask someone who can say [65] whether it is punishment for some vow that we have broken, or for sacrifice that we have failed to offer, and whether he will accept the smoke of lambs or goats without blemish, so as to take away the plague from us."

With these words he sat down, and there then rose to speak Kalkhas son of Thestor, wisest of augurs, [70] who knew things past present and to come. He it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to Ilion [Troy], through the prophecy with which Phoebus Apollo had inspired him. With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them thus: "Achilles, loved of heaven, you ask me to tell you about the [75] anger [mÍnis] of great Apollo. I can do so, but consider first and swear that you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I know that I shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to whom all the Achaeans are in subjection. [80] A common man cannot stand against the anger of a king, who may swallow his displeasure now, but will yet nurse revenge till he has wreaked it. So tell me whether or not you will protect me."

And Achilles answered, [85] "Kalkhas, fear not, but speak as it is borne in upon you from heaven, for by Apollo, to whom you pray, and whose oracles you reveal to us, not a Danaan [Achaean] at our ships shall lay his hand upon you, while I yet live to look upon the face of the earth - [90] no, not though you name Agamemnon himself, who is by far the most powerful of the Achaeans."

The seer [mantis] spoke boldly: "The god is angry neither about vows nor sacrifices, but for his priestís sake, whom Agamemnon has dishonored, [95] not freeing the priest's daughter nor taking a ransom for her. That is why these evils are upon us, and the god will yet send others. He will not deliver the Danaans from this plague until Agamemnon has restored the girl without fee or ransom to her father, and a holy hecatomb [100 cattle for sacrifice] [100] also must be sent to Chryse. This is how we may perhaps appease the god."

With these words he sat down, and Agamemnon rose in anger. His heart was black with rage. His eyes flashed fire [105] as he scowled on Kalkhas and said, "Seer [mantis] of evil, you never yet prophesied smooth things concerning me. You love to foretell evil, never comfort nor success, so now you come among the Danaans saying [110] that Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a ransom for this girl, this daughter of Chryses. Well, I have set my heart on keeping her in my own house, for I like her even more than my wife Clytemnestra, whose peer she is in [115] form and feature, in understanding and accomplishments. Yes, I will give her up if I must, for I would have the people live, not die, but you must find me another prize in her place, or I alone among the Argives shall be without one. This is not right [120]. You see, all of you, that my prize is lost."

And Achilles answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond all humankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We have no warehouse from which to take one. [125] Everything we took from the cities has been awarded. We cannot disallow the awards that have been made already. So give this girl to the god, and if ever Zeus grants us to sack Troy we will repay you threefold and fourfold."

[130] Then Agamemnon said, "Achilles, brave though you are, you shall not get the better of me in matters of the mind [noos]. You shall not overrule me or persuade me. Are you going to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely under my loss and give up the girl at your bidding? [135] Let the Achaeans find me a prize in fair exchange to my liking, or I will come and take yours, or that of Ajax or Odysseus! I will make one of you sorry at my coming! [140] But of this we will take thought hereafter. For now, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her; let us put a hecatomb on board, and send Chryseis also. Let some chief man among us be in command, [145] either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are, that we may offer sacrifice and appease the anger of the god."

Achilles scowled at him and answered, "You are steeped in insolence and lust of gain. [150] With what heart can any of the Achaeans follow your orders, either on foray or in open fighting? I came to make war here not because the Trojans are responsible [aitioi] for any wrong committed against me. I have no quarrel with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my horses, [155] nor cut down my harvests on the fertile plains of Phthia [Achilles' homeland]; for between me and them there is a great space, both mountain and sounding sea. We have followed you, Sir Insolence! for your pleasure, not ours - to gain satisfaction [timÍ] from the Trojans for your shameless self and for Menelaos. [160] You forget this, and threaten to rob me of the prize for which I have toiled, and which the sons of the Achaeans have given me. Never when the Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive so good a prize as you do, [165] though my hands do most of the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the largest, and I, indeed, must go back to my ships, take what I can get and be thankful, when my work is done. Well, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better [170] for me to go home with my ships, for I will not stay here dishonored to gather gold and treasure for you."

Agamemnon answered, "Run away if you will, I will not beg you to stay. I have others here [175] who will do me honor, and above all Zeus, the lord of counsel. There is no leader here so hateful to me as you are, always quarrelsome and bad tempered. So what if you are brave? Was it not heaven that made you so? Go home, then, with your ships and comrades [180] to lord it over the Myrmidons. I care neither for you nor for your anger, so here's what I'll do: since Phoebus Apollo is taking Chryseis from me, I shall send her with my ship and my followers, but I shall come to your tent and [185] take your prize Briseis, that you may learn how much greater I am than you are, and that nobody else will dare to set himself up as equal or comparable with me."

The son of Peleus felt grief [akhos], and his heart within his shaggy chest was divided [190] whether to draw his sword, push the others aside, and kill the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and check his anger. While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing his mighty sword from its scabbard, Athena came down [200] from heaven (for Hera had sent her in the love she bore to them both), and seized the son of Peleus by his yellow hair, visible to him alone, for of the others no man could see her. Achilles turned in amazement, and by the fire that flashed from her eyes at once knew that she was [200] Athena. "Why are you here," said he, "daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus? To witness the pride [hubris] of Agamemnon, son of Atreus? Let me tell you - and it shall surely be - [205] he shall pay for this arrogance with his life."

And Athena said, "I come from heaven, if you will hear me, to bid you stay your anger. I come from Hera, who cares for both of you alike.  [210] Stop this brawling! Put away your sword! Assault him with words if you will, and your complaints will not be vain, for I tell you - and it shall surely be - that you shall hereafter receive gifts three times as splendid because of this present insult [hubris]. Hold, therefore, and obey."

[215] "Goddess," answered Achilles, "however angry a man may be, he must do as you two command him. This will be best, for the gods ever hear the prayers of him who has obeyed them." He stayed his hand on the silver hilt of his sword, [220] and thrust it back into the scabbard as Athena bade him. Then she went back to Olympus among the other gods [daimones], and to the house of aegis-bearing Zeus.

But the son of Peleus was still in a rage and again began railing at the son of Atreus. [225] "Wine-bibber," he cried, "with the face of a dog and the heart of a deer, you never dare to go out with the host in fight, nor yet with our chosen men in ambush. You shun it as you do death itself. Instead you go [230] robbing his prizes from any man who disagrees with you. You devour your people, for you are king over weaklings; otherwise, son of Atreus, henceforward you would insult no man. Therefore I say, and swear it with a great oath - nay, by this my scepter which shall sprout neither leaf nor shoot, [235] nor bud anew from the day on which it left its parent stem upon the mountains - for the axe stripped it of leaf and bark, and now the sons of the Achaeans bear it as judges and guardians of the decrees [themistes] of heaven - so surely and solemnly do I swear [240] that hereafter they shall look desperately for Achilles but shall not find him. In the day of your distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand of Hektor, you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your heart with rage for the hour when you offered insult to the best [aristos] of the Achaeans."

[245] With this the son of Peleus dashed his gold-bestudded scepter on the ground and took his seat, while the son of Atreus was beginning fiercely from his place upon the other side.

Then stood up smooth-tongued Nestor, the smooth speaker of Pylos, and the words fell from his lips sweeter than honey. [250] Two generations of men born and bred in Pylos had passed away under his rule, and he was now reigning over the third.

With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them.  "Surely," he said, "a great sorrow [penthos] has befallen the Achaean land. [255] For surely Priam with his sons would rejoice, and the Trojans would be glad at heart if they could hear this quarrel between you two, who are so excellent in fight and counsel. I am older than either of you; therefore be guided by me. [260] I have been the friend of men even greater than you are, and they did not disregard my counsels. Never again will I see such men as Peirithoos and Dryas shepherd of his people, or as Kaineus, Exadios, godlike Polyphemus, [265] and Theseus son of Aegeus, peer of the immortals. These were the mightiest men ever born upon this earth: mightiest were they, and when they fought the fiercest tribes of mountain savages they utterly overthrew them. I came from distant Pylos, and went about among them, [270] for they would have me go with them, and I fought as it was in me to do. Not a man now living could withstand them, and yet they listened to my words, and were persuaded by them. So be it also with yourselves, for this is the better way. [275] Therefore, Agamemnon, though you are prestigious, do not take this girl away, for the sons of the Achaeans have already given her to Achilles. And you, Achilles, do not contend further with the king, for no man who by the grace of Zeus wields a scepter has as much  honor [timÍ] as Agamemnon. [280] You are strong, and have a goddess for your mother, but Agamemnon is more prestigious than you, for he has more people under him. Son of Atreus, check your anger, I implore you; end this quarrel with Achilles, who in the day of battle is a tower of strength to the Achaeans."

[285] And Agamemnon answered, "Old sir, all that you have said is true, but this man wants to become our lord and master: he must be lord of all, king of all, and leader of all, and this shall hardly be. [290] Granted that the gods have made him a great warrior, have they also given him the right to speak with insults?"

Achilles in turn said to him: "I would be a mean coward," he cried, "if I gave in to you in all things. [295] Order other people around, but not me, for I will obey no longer. Furthermore I say - and lay my saying to your heart - I shall fight neither you nor any man about this girl, for those that take were those also that gave. [300] But of all else that is at my ship you shall carry away nothing by force. If you try it, you will see what will happen: my spear will be red with your blood."

When they had quarreled thus angrily, [305] they rose, and broke up the assembly at the ships of the Achaeans.

The son of Peleus went back to his tents and ships with the son of Menoitios [Patroklos, Achilles' friend and charioteer] and his company, while Agamemnon drew a vessel into the water and chose a crew of twenty oarsmen.

[310] He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a hecatomb for the god. Odysseus led the expedition. He took the crew on board, and they sailed their ways over the sea. But the son of Atreus ordered the people to purify themselves; so they washed and cast their filth into the sea. [315] Then they offered hecatombs of bulls and goats without blemish on the sea-shore, and the smoke with the savor of their sacrifice rose curling up towards heaven. Thus did the whole host busy themselves.

But Agamemnon did not forget the threat that he had made Achilles, [320] and he called his trusty messengers and squires [therapontes] Talthybios and Eurybates. "Go," said he, "to the tent of Achilles, son of Peleus; take Briseis by the hand and bring her here. If he will not give her I will come [325] with others and take her - which will press him harder."

He gave them their orders and dismissed them. They went sorrowfully on their way by the seaside, until they came to the tents and ships of the Myrmidons. They found Achilles sitting by his tent and his ships, [330] and ill-pleased he was when he saw them. They stood afraid and respectful before him, and never a word did they speak, but he knew them and said, "Welcome, heralds, messengers of gods and men. [335] Come in! My quarrel is not with you but with Agamemnon who has sent you for the girl Briseis. Therefore, Patroklos, bring her and give her to them, but let them be witnesses by the blessed gods, by mortal men, [340] and by the fierceness of Agamemnonís anger, that if ever again there be need of me to save the people from ruin, they shall seek and they shall not find. Agamemnon is mad with rage. He has no forethought how the Achaeans will defend their ships in safety."

[345] Patroklos did as his dear comrade bid him. He brought Briseis from the tent and gave her over to the heralds, who took her with them to the ships of the Achaeans - and the woman was loath to go.

Then Achilles went all alone [350] by the side of the hoary sea [pontos], weeping and looking out at the boundless waste of waters. He raised his hands in prayer to his immortal mother, "Mother," he cried, "you bore me doomed to live but for a brief season. Surely Zeus, who thunders from Olympus, might have given honor [timÍ] in return. It is not so. [355] Agamemnon, son of Atreus, has done me dishonor. He has robbed me of my prize by force."

As he spoke he wept aloud, and his mother heard him where she was sitting in the depths of the sea hard by the Old One, her father. Forthwith she rose as a gray mist out of the waves, [360] sat down before him as he stood weeping, caressed him with her hand, and said, "My son, why are you weeping? What is it that gives you grief [penthos]? Do not keep it from my thinking [noos], but tell me, so that we may know it together."

Achilles drew a deep sigh and said, [365] "You know it. Why should I tell you what you know well already? We went to Thebe, the strong city of Eetion, sacked it, and took the spoils. The sons of the Achaeans shared it duly among themselves, and they chose lovely Chryseis as the prize of Agamemnon; [370] but Chryses, priest of Apollo, came to the ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and brought with him a great ransom. Moreover he bore in his hand the scepter of Apollo, wreathed with a suppliantís wreath, and he petitioned the Achaeans, [375] but most of all their chiefs, the two sons of Atreus. On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and drove him away. [380] So he went back in anger, and Apollo, who loved him dearly, heard his prayer. Then the god sent deadly arrows into the Argives, and the people died thick on one another, for the shafts hit everywhere among the wide host of the Achaeans. At last a seer [mantis] [385] in the fullness of his knowledge declared to us the oracles of Apollo, and I was myself first to say that we should appease him. Whereon the son of Atreus rose in anger, and threatened that which he has since done. The Achaeans are now taking the girl in a ship [390] to Chryse, and sending gifts of sacrifice to the god; but the heralds have just taken from my tent the daughter of Briseus, whom the Achaeans had awarded to me. Help me, therefore, if you are able. Go to Olympus, and if you have ever [395] done Zeus service in word or deed, beg his help. Often in my fatherís house have I heard you glory in that you alone of the immortals saved the son of Kronos from ruin, when the others, [400] with Hera, Poseidon, and Pallas Athena would have put him in chains. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to Olympus the hundred-handed one whom gods call Briareus, but men Aigaion, for he has more force [biÍ] even than his father; [405] when therefore he took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Kronos, the other gods were afraid, and did not chain him. Go, then, to him, remind him of all this, clasp his knees, and bid him give succor to the Trojans. Let the Achaeans be hemmed in at the sterns of their ships, and perish on the sea-shore, [410] that they may reap what joy they may of their king, and that Agamemnon may regret his derangement [atÍ] in offering insult to the best [aristos] of the Achaeans."

Thetis wept and answered, "My son, I grieve that I should have borne or suckled you. [415] I wish that you had lived your span free from all sorrow at your ships, for it is all too brief. Oh, that you should be at once short of life and also long of sorrow above your peers. Agonizing was the hour in which I bore you. [420] I will go to the snowy heights of Olympus, and tell this tale to Zeus, if he will hear our prayer. Meanwhile stay where you are with your ships, nurse your anger [mÍnis] against the Achaeans, and stay out of the fight. Zeus went yesterday to Okeanos, to a feast among the Ethiopians, and the other gods went with him. [425] He will return to Olympus twelve days from now. That is when I will go to his mansion paved with bronze and petition him. I do not doubt that I shall be able to persuade him."

On this she left him, still furious at the loss of her [430] that had been taken by force [biÍ] from him.

Meanwhile Odysseus reached Chryse with the hecatomb. When they had come inside the harbor they furled the sails and laid them in the shipís hold. They slackened the forestays, lowered the mast into its place, [435] and rowed the ship to the place where they would have her lie. There they cast out their mooring-stones and made fast the hawsers. They then got out upon the sea-shore and landed the hecatomb for Apollo. Chryseis also left the ship, [440] and Odysseus led her to the altar to deliver her into the hands of her father.

"Chryses," said he, "Great Agamemnon has sent me to bring you back your child, and to offer sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of the Danaans, that we may propitiate the god, [445] who has now brought sorrow upon the Argives."

So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her joyfully, and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the altar of the god. They washed their hands and took up the barley-meal to sprinkle over the victims, [450] while Chryses lifted up his hands and prayed aloud on their behalf. "Hear me," he cried, "O god of the silver bow, you who protect Chryse and holy Cilla, and rule Tenedos with your might. Even as you did hear me before when I prayed, and pressed hard upon the Achaeans, [455] so hear me yet again, and stop this fearful plague among the Danaans."

Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads of the victims and killed and flayed them. [460] They cut out the thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat. They set some pieces of raw meat on the top of them, and then Chryses laid them on the wood fire and poured wine over them, while the young men stood near him with five-pronged spits in their hands. When the thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats, [465] they cut the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits, roasted them till they were done, and drew them off. Then, when they had finished their work [ponos] and the feast was ready, they ate it, and everyone had a full share, so that all were satisfied.

As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, [470] pages filled the mixing-bowl with wine and water and served it round, after giving every man his drink-offering. Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song, hymning him and chanting the joyous paean, and the god took pleasure in their voices. [475]

When the sun went down, and it came on dark, they laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables of the ship, and when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared they again set sail for the host of the Achaeans. Apollo sent them a fair wind, [480] so they raised their mast and hoisted their white sails aloft. As the sail bellied with the wind the ship flew through the seething deep water, and the foam hissed against her bows as she sped onward. When they reached the wide-stretching host of the Achaeans, [485] they drew the vessel ashore, high and dry upon the sands, set her strong props beneath her, and they went their ways to their own tents and ships.

But Achilles stayed at his ships and nursed his anger [mÍnis]. [490] He did not go to the honorable assembly, and he did not go out to fight, but he gnawed at his own heart, and pined for battle and the war-cry.

Now after twelve days the immortal gods came back together to Olympus, [495] and Zeus led the way. Thetis remembered the charge her son had laid upon her, so she rose from under the sea and went, covered in mist, through the great sky with early morning to Olympus, where she found the mighty son of Kronos sitting all alone upon its topmost ridges.

[500] She sat down before him, and with her left arm seized his knees, while with her right hand she caught him under the chin, and petitioned him, saying: "Father Zeus, if I ever did you service in word or deed among the immortals, hear my prayer. [505] Do honor to my son, whose life is to be cut short so early. Great Agamemnon has dishonored him by taking his prize and keeping her. Honor him then yourself, Olympian lord of counsel, and grant victory to the Trojans, till the Achaeans [510] give my son his due and load him with riches in requital [timÍ]."

Zeus sat for a while silent, and without a word, but Thetis still kept firm hold of his knees, and besought him a second time. "Nod your head and promise me surely, [515] or else deny me that I may learn how much you disdain me, for you have nothing to fear."

At this Zeus was much troubled and answered, "I will have trouble if you set me quarreling with Hera, for she will provoke me with her taunting speeches. [520] Even now she is always scolding at me before the other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the Trojans. Go back now, so she will not find out. I will consider the matter, and I will bring it about as you wish. [525] See, I nod my head so that you believe me. This is the most solemn act that I can offer to any god. I never recall my word, or deceive, or fail to do what I say, when I have nodded my head."

As he spoke the son of Kronos bowed his dark brows, and the ambrosial locks swayed [530] on his immortal head, until vast Olympus shook. When the pair had thus laid their plans, they parted, Zeus to his mansion, while the goddess left the splendor of Olympus and plunged into the depths of the sea.

The gods rose from their seats, before the coming of their sire. Not one of them dared [535] to remain sitting, but all stood up as he came among them. There, then, he took his seat. But Hera, when she saw him, knew that he and silver-footed Thetis, the daughter of the Old One of the Sea, had been planning mischief, so she at once began to accuse him.

[540] "Trickster," she cried, "which of the gods have you been taking into your counsels now? You are always settling matters in secret behind my back, and have never yet told me, if you could help it, one word of your intentions."

[545] "Hera," replied the father of gods and men, "you must not expect to be informed of all my counsels. You would find it hard to understand them, even though you are my wife. When it is proper for you to hear, there is no one, god or man, who will be told sooner, but when I mean to keep a matter to myself, [550] you must not pry nor ask questions."

"Dread son of Kronos," answered Hera, "what are you talking about? I? Pry and ask questions? Never. I let you have your own way in everything. [555] Still, I have a strong misgiving that Thetis, daughter of the Old One of the Sea, has been talking you over, for she was with you and had hold of your knees this morning. I suppose that you have been promising her to give glory to Achilles, and to kill many people at the ships of the Achaeans."

[560] "Wife," said Zeus, "I can do nothing but you suspect me and find it out! You will take nothing by it, for I shall only dislike you the more, and it will go harder with you! Granted that it is as you say: I mean to have it so! [565] Sit down and hold your tongue as I bid you, for if I once begin to lay my hands on you, though all heaven were on your side it would not help you!"  On this Hera was frightened, so she curbed her stubborn will and sat down in silence.

[570] But the heavenly beings were disquieted throughout the house of Zeus, until the cunning workman Hephaistos began to try to pacify his mother Hera. "Mother, it will be intolerable if you two fall to wrangling [575] and setting heaven in an uproar about a pack of mortals. If such bad counsels are to prevail, we will have no pleasure at our banquet. Be advised, mother - and you yourself must know know that it will be better - to make friends with my dear father, Zeus, lest he again threaten you and disturb our feast. [580] If the Olympian Thunderer wants to hurl us all from our seats, he can do it, for he is far the strongest, so give him fair words, and he will then soon be in a good humor with us."

As he spoke, he took a double cup of nectar, [585] and placed it in his motherís hand. "Cheer up, my dear mother," said he, "and make the best of it. I love you dearly, and I should be very sorry to see you get a thrashing. However grieved I might be, I could not help you, for there is no standing against Zeus. [590] Once before when I was trying to help you, he caught me by the foot and flung me from the heavenly threshold. All day long from morning until evening I fell, until at sunset I landed in the island of Lemnos, and there I lay, with very little life left in me, till the Sintians came and helped me."

[595] Hera smiled at this, and as she smiled she took the cup from her sonís hands. Then Hephaistos drew sweet nectar from the mixing-bowl, and served it round among the gods, going from left to right; and the blessed gods laughed out a loud approval [600] as they saw him bustling about the heavenly mansion. Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun they feasted, and every one had his full share, so that all were satisfied. Apollo struck his lyre, and the Muses lifted up their sweet voices, taking turns.

[605] But when the sunís glorious light had faded, they went to bed, each of them in their own homes, which lame Hephaistos with his consummate skill had fashioned for them. So Zeus, the Olympian Lord of Thunder, went to bed [610], the same one in which he always slept, and he went to sleep, with Hera of the golden throne by his side.


[1] Now the other gods and the armed warriors on the plain slept soundly, but Zeus was wakeful, thinking how to do honor to Achilles and destroy many people at the ships of the Achaeans. [5] In the end he thought it would be best to send a lying dream to great Agamemnon, so he called one to him and said to it, "Lying Dream, go to the ships of the Achaeans, [10] into the tent of Agamemnon, and say to him word to word as I now bid you. Tell him to arm the Achaeans immediately, for he shall take Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods. [15] Hera has brought them to her own mind, and misery now falls to the Trojans."

The dream went when it had heard its message, and soon it reached the Achaean ships. It sought Agamemnon, son of Atreus, and found him in his tent, wrapped in a deep slumber. [20] It hovered over his head in the likeness of Nestor, son of Neleus, whom Agamemnon honored above all his councilors, and it said: "You are sleeping, son of Atreus! [25] One who has the welfare of his host and so much other care upon his shoulders should not sleep too much. Hear me at once, for I come as a messenger from Zeus. Though he is not near, yet he takes thought for you and pities you. He bids you arm the Achaeans immediately, for you will now take [30] Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods. Hera has brought them over to her own mind, and misery now falls to the Trojans at the hands of Zeus. Remember this. When you awake see that it does not escape you."

[35] The dream then left him, and he thought of things that were not to happen. He thought that on that same day he would take the city of Priam. He little knew what was in the mind of Zeus, that many more [40] hard-fought battles awaited the Danaans and Trojans.

He awoke suddenly, the divine message still ringing in his ears. He sat upright, and put on his soft shirt so fair and new, and over this his heavy cloak. He bound his sandals to his unsoiled feet, [45] and slung his silver-studded sword about his shoulders. Then he picked up the enduring scepter of his ancestors, and walked out to the ships of the bronze-armored Achaeans.

The goddess Dawn now made her way to vast Olympus to herald day to Zeus and the other immortals, [50] and Agamemnon sent the criers around to call the people into assembly. But first he summoned a meeting of the elders at the ship of Nestor, [55] and when they were assembled he laid a cunning counsel before them. "My friends," said he, "I have had a dream from heaven in the dead of night, and its face and figure looked like Nestorís. It hovered over my head and said, [60] ĎYou are sleeping, son of Atreus! One who has the welfare of his host and so much other care upon his shoulders should not sleep too much. Hear me at once, for I come as a messenger from Zeus. [65] Though he is not near, yet he takes thought for you and pities you. He bids you arm the Achaeans immediately, for you will now take Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods. Hera has brought them over to her own mind, and misery now falls to the Trojans at the hands of Zeus. [70] Remember this.í The dream then vanished and I awoke. Let us now, therefore, arm the sons of the Achaeans. But it will be the right thing [themis] that I should first test them, and to this end I will tell them to flee with their ships; [75] but do you others go about among the host and prevent their doing so."

He then sat down, and Nestor the king of Pylos with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: "My friends," said he, "princes and councilors of the Argives, [80] if any other man of the Achaeans had told us of this dream we should have declared it false, and would have had nothing to do with it. But he who has seen it is the foremost man among us. We must therefore set about getting the people under arms."

With this he led the way from the assembly, [85] and the other sceptered kings rose with him in obedience to the word of Agamemnon. The people pressed forward to hear. They swarmed like bees that sally from some hollow cave and flit in countless throngs among the spring flowers, [90] bunched in knots and clusters; even so did the mighty multitude pour from ships and tents to the assembly, and range themselves upon the wide-watered shore, while among them ran Wildfire Rumor, messenger of Zeus, urging them ever to the fore.

[95] They gathered in a pell-mell of mad confusion, and the earth groaned under the tramp of men as the people sought their places. Nine heralds went crying about among them to stay their tumult and bid them listen to the kings, until at last they were in their several places and ceased their clamor.

[100] Then great Agamemnon rose, holding his scepter. This was the work of Hephaistos, who gave it to Zeus the son of Kronos. Zeus gave it to Hermes, slayer of Argos, guide and guardian. Great Hermes gave it to Pelops, the mighty charioteer, and

[105] Pelops to Atreus, shepherd of his people. Atreus, when he died, left it to Thyestes, rich in flocks, and Thyestes in his turn left it to be borne by Agamemnon, that he might be lord of all Argos and of the isles. Leaning, then, on his scepter, he addressed the Argives.

[110] "My friends," he said, "warriors, squires [therapontes] of Ares, Zeus the son of Kronos has tied me down with atÍ. Cruel, he gave me his solemn promise that I should sack the city of Priam before returning, but he has played me false, and is now bidding me [115] go ingloriously back to Argos with the loss of many people. Such is the will of Zeus, who has laid many a proud city in the dust, as he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. It will be a sorry tale hereafter that an [120] Achaean host, at once so great and valiant, battled in vain against men fewer in number than themselves. Think that the Achaeans and Trojans have sworn to a solemn covenant, and that they have each been numbered - [125] the Trojans by the roll of their householders, and we by companies of ten; think further that each of our companies desired to have a Trojan householder to pour out their wine; we are so greatly more in number that full many a company would have to go without its cup-bearer. [130] But they have in the town allies from other places, and it is these that hinder me from being able to sack the rich city of Ilion. Nine of Zeus' years are gone; [135] the timbers of our ships have rotted; their tackling is sound no longer. Our wives and little ones at home look anxiously for our coming, but the work that we came hither to do has not been done. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say: [140] let us sail back to our own land, for we shall not take Troy."

With these words he moved the hearts of the multitude, so many of them as knew not the cunning counsel of Agamemnon. They surged to and fro like the waves [145] of the Ikarian Sea [pontos], when the east and south winds break from heavenís clouds to lash them; or as when the west wind sweeps over a field of grain and the ears bow beneath the blast, even so were they swayed as they flew with loud cries[150] towards the ships, and the dust from under their feet rose heavenward. They cheered each other on to draw the ships into the sea; they cleared the channels in front of them; they began taking away the stays from underneath them, and the welkin rang with their glad cries, so eager were they to return.

[155] Then surely the Argives would have had a return [nostos] in a way that was not fated, had not Hera spoken to Athena. "Alas, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, unweariable, shall the Argives flee home to their own land over the broad sea, [160] and leave Priam and the Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, for whose sake so many of the Achaeans have died at Troy, far from their homes? Go about at once among the host, and speak fairly to them, man by man, [165] that they will not put their ships to sea."

Athena was not slack to do her bidding. Down she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus, and in a moment she was at the ships of the Achaeans. There she found Odysseus, peer of Zeus in counsel, [170] standing alone. He had not as yet laid a hand upon his ship, for he felt grief [akhos] and was sorry, so she went close up to him and spoke.  "Odysseus, noble son of Laertes, [175] are you going to fling yourselves into your ships and be off home to your own land in this way? Will you leave Priam and the Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, for whose sake so many of the Achaeans have died at Troy, far from their homes? Go about at once among the host, [180] and speak fairly to them, man by man, that they will not put their ships to sea."

Odysseus knew the voice as that of the goddess. He flung his cloak from him and set off to run. His squire Eurybates, a man of Ithaca who waited on him, took charge of the cloak, [185] whereon Odysseus went straight up to Agamemnon and received from him his ancestral, imperishable staff. With this he went about among the ships of the Achaeans. Whenever he met a king or chieftain, he stood by him and spoke him fairly.

[190] "Sir," said he, "this flight is cowardly and unworthy. Stand to your post, and bid your people also keep their places. You do not yet know the full mind [noos] of Agamemnon; he was testing us, and before long he will visit the Achaeans with his displeasure. We were not all of us at the council to hear what he then said; [195] see to it lest he be angry and do us a mischief; for the power [timÍ] of kings is great, and the hand of Zeus is with them."

But when he came across some man from some city [dÍmos] who was complaining, he struck him with his staff and rebuked him, saying, [200] "What kind of daimŰn has possessed you? Hold your peace, and listen to better men than yourself. You are a coward and no warrior; you are nobody either in fight or council; we cannot all be kings; it is not well that there should be many masters; one man must be supreme - [205] one king to whom the son of scheming Kronos has given the scepter and divine laws to rule over you all."

Thus masterfully did he go about among the host, and the people hurried back to the council from their tents and ships with a sound as the thunder of surf when it comes crashing down upon the shore, [210] and all the sea [pontos] is in an uproar.

The rest now took their seats and kept to their own several places, but Thersites still went on wagging his unbridled tongue. He was a man of many words, and those unseemly, a monger of sedition, a railer against all who were in authority [kosmos]. He cared not what he said, [215] so that he might set the Achaeans in a laugh. He was the ugliest man of all those that came before Troy - bandy-legged, lame of one foot, with his two shoulders rounded and hunched over his chest. His head ran up to a point, with little hair on the top of it.

[220] Achilles and Odysseus hated him worst of all, for it was with them that he most often wrangled; now, however, with a shrill squeaky voice he began heaping his abuse on Agamemnon. The Achaeans were angry and disgusted, yet none the less he kept on brawling and bawling at the son of Atreus. [225] "Agamemnon," he cried, "what ails you now, and what more do you want? Your tents are filled with bronze and with fair women, for whenever we take a town we give you the pick of them. Would you have yet more gold, [230] which some Trojan is to give you as a ransom for his son, when I or another Achaean has taken him prisoner? or is it some young girl to hide and lie with? It is not well that you, the ruler of the Achaeans, should bring them into such misery. [235] Weakling cowards, women rather than men, let us sail home, and leave this man here at Troy to stew in his own prizes of honor, and discover whether we were of any service to him or not. Achilles is a much better man than he is, and see how he has treated him - [240] robbing him of his prize and keeping it himself. Achilles takes it meekly and shows no fight; if he did, son of Atreus, you would never again insult him."

Thus railed Thersites, but Odysseus at once went up to him [245] and rebuked him sternly. "Check your glib tongue, Thersites," said he, "and babble not a word further. Chide not with princes when you have none to back you. There is no viler creature come before Troy with the sons of Atreus. [250] Drop this chatter about kings, and neither revile them nor keep harping about homecoming [nostos]. We do not yet know how things are going to be, nor whether the Achaeans are to return with good success or evil. How dare you gibe at Agamemnon [255] because the Danaans have awarded him so many prizes? I tell you, - and it shall surely be - that if I again catch you talking such nonsense, I will either forfeit my own head [260] and be no more called father of Telemakhos, or I will take you, strip away from you all respect [aidŰs], and whip you out of the assembly till you go blubbering back to the ships."

[265] On this he beat him with his staff about the back and shoulders till he dropped and fell a-weeping. The golden scepter raised a bloody weal on his back, so he sat down frightened and in pain, looking foolish as he wiped the tears from his eyes.

[270] The people were sorry for him, yet they laughed heartily, and one would turn to his neighbor saying, "Odysseus has done many a good thing ere now in fight and council, but he never did the Argives a better turn [275] than when he stopped this manís mouth from prating further. He will give the kings no more of his insolence." Thus said the people.

Then Odysseus rose, scepter in hand, and Athena [280] in the likeness of a herald bade the people be still, that those who were far off might hear him and consider his council. He therefore with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: - "King Agamemnon, the Achaeans are for [285] making you a by-word among all humankind. They forget the promise they made you when they set out from Argos, that you should not return till you had sacked the town of Troy, and, like children or widowed women, [290] they murmur and would set off homeward. True it is that they have had toil [ponos] enough to be disheartened. A man chafes at having to stay away from his wife even for a single month, when he is on shipboard, at the mercy of wind and sea, [295] but it is now nine long years that we have been kept here; I cannot, therefore, blame the Achaeans if they turn restive; still we shall be shamed if we go home empty after so long a stay - therefore, my friends, be patient yet a little longer that we may learn [300] whether the prophesyings of Kalkhas were false or true.

"All who have not since perished must remember as though it were yesterday or the day before, how the ships of the Achaeans were detained in Aulis when we were on our way hither to make war on Priam and the Trojans. [305] We were ranged round about a fountain offering hecatombs to the gods upon their holy altars, and there was a fine plane-tree from beneath which there welled a stream of pure water. Then we saw a sign [sÍma]; for Zeus sent a fearful serpent out of the ground, with blood-red stains upon its back, [310] and it darted from under the altar on to the plane-tree. Now there was a brood of young sparrows, quite small, upon the topmost bough, peeping out from under the leaves, eight in all, and their mother that hatched them made nine. The serpent ate the poor cheeping things, [315] while the old bird flew about lamenting her little ones; but the serpent threw his coils about her and caught her by the wing as she was screaming. Then, when he had eaten both the sparrow and her young, the god who had sent him made him become a sign; for the son of scheming Kronos turned him into stone, [320] and we stood there wondering at that which had come to pass. Seeing, then, that such a fearful portent had broken in upon our hecatombs, Kalkhas forthwith declared to us the oracles of heaven. ĎWhy, Achaeans,í said he, Ďare you thus speechless? Zeus has sent us this sign, [325] long in coming, and long ere it be fulfilled, though its fame [kleos] shall last for ever. As the serpent ate the eight fledglings and the sparrow that hatched them, which makes nine, so shall we fight nine years at Troy, but in the tenth shall take the town.í [330] This was what he said, and now it is all coming true. Stay here, therefore, all of you, till we take the city of Priam."

On this the Argives raised a shout, till the ships rang again with the uproar. [335] Nestor, horseman of Gerene, then addressed them. "Shame on you," he cried, "to stay talking here like children, when you should fight like men. Where are our covenants now, and where the oaths that we have taken? [340] Shall our counsels be flung into the fire, with our drink-offerings and the right hands of fellowship wherein we have put our trust? We waste our time in words, and for all our talking here shall be no further forward. Stand, therefore, son of Atreus, by your own steadfast purpose; [345] lead the Argives on to battle, and leave this handful of men to rot, who scheme, and scheme in vain, to get back to Argos ere they have learned whether Zeus be true or a liar. [350] For the mighty son of Kronos surely promised that we should succeed, when we Argives set sail to bring death and destruction upon the Trojans. He showed us favorable signs [sÍmata] by flashing his lightning on our right hands; therefore let none make haste to go [355] till he has first lain with the wife of some Trojan, and avenged the toil and sorrow that he has suffered for the sake of Helen. Nevertheless, if any man is in such haste to be at home again, let him lay his hand to his ship that he may meet his doom in the sight of all. [360] But, O king, consider and give ear to my counsel, for the word that I say may not be neglected lightly. Divide [krinŰ] your men, Agamemnon, into their several tribes and clans, that clans and tribes may stand by and help one another. If you do this, and if the Achaeans obey you, [365] you will find out who, both chiefs and peoples, are brave, and who are cowards; for they will vie against the other. Thus you shall also learn whether it is through the counsel of heaven or the cowardice of man that you shall fail to take the town."

And Agamemnon answered, [370] "Nestor, you have again outdone the sons of the Achaeans in counsel. Would, by Father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, that I had among them ten more such councilors, for the city of King Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we should sack it. [375] But the son of Kronos afflicts me with useless wranglings and strife. Achilles and I are quarreling about this girl, in which matter I was the first to offend; if we can be of one mind again, [380] the Trojans will not stave off destruction for a day. Now, therefore, get your morning meal, that our hosts join in fight. Whet well your spears; see well to the ordering of your shields; give good feeds to your horses, and look your chariots carefully over, [385] that we may do battle the livelong day; for we shall have no rest, not for a moment, till night falls to part us. The bands that bear your shields shall be wet with the sweat upon your shoulders, your hands shall weary upon your spears, [390] your horses shall steam in front of your chariots, and if I see any man shirking the fight, or trying to keep out of it at the ships, there shall be no help for him, but he shall be a prey to dogs and vultures."

Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans roared approval. As when the waves run high [395] before the blast of the south wind and break on some lofty headland, dashing against it and buffeting it without ceasing, as the storms from every quarter drive them, even so did the Achaeans rise and hurry in all directions to their ships. There they lighted their fires at their tents and got dinner, [400] offering sacrifice every man to one or other of the gods, and praying each one of them that he might live to come out of the fight. Agamemnon, king of men, sacrificed a fat five-year-old bull to the mighty son of Kronos, and invited the princes and elders of his host.

[405] First he asked Nestor and King Idomeneus, then the two Ajaxes and the son of Tydeus, and sixthly Odysseus, peer of gods in counsel; but Menelaos came of his own accord, for he knew how busy his brother then was.

[410] They stood round the bull with the barley-meal in their hands, and Agamemnon prayed, saying, "Zeus, most glorious, supreme, you who dwell in heaven, and ride upon the storm-cloud, grant that the sun may not go down, nor the night fall, till the palace of Priam is laid low, [415] and its gates are consumed with fire. Grant that my sword may pierce the shirt of Hektor about his heart, and that full many of his comrades may bite the dust as they fall dying round him." Thus he prayed, but the son of Kronos would not fulfill his prayer. [420] He accepted the sacrifice, yet none the less increased their toil [ponos] continually.

When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley-meal upon the victim, they drew back its head, killed it, and then flayed it. They cut out the thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set pieces of raw meat on the top of them. [425] These they burned upon the split logs of firewood, but they spitted the inward meats, and held them in the flames to cook. When the thigh-bones were burned, and they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small, put the pieces upon spits, roasted them till they were done, and drew them off; [430] then, when they had finished their work [ponos] and the feast was ready, they ate it, and every man had his full share, so that all were satisfied.

As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Nestor, horseman of Gerene, began to speak. "King Agamemnon," said he, [435] "let us not stay talking here, nor be slack in the work that heaven has put into our hands. Let the heralds summon the people to gather at their several ships; we will then go about among the host, [440] that we may begin fighting at once." Thus did he speak, and Agamemnon heeded his words. He at once sent the criers round to call the people in assembly. So they called them, and the people gathered thereon.

[445] The chiefs about the son of Atreus chose their men and marshaled [krinŰ] them, while Athena went among them holding her priceless aegis that knows neither age nor death. From it there waved a hundred tassels of pure gold, all deftly woven, and each one of them worth a hundred oxen.

[450] With this she darted furiously everywhere among the hosts of the Achaeans, urging them forward, and putting courage into the heart of each, so that he might fight and do battle without ceasing. Thus war became sweeter in their eyes even than returning home in their ships.

[455] As when some great forest fire is raging upon a mountain top and its light is seen afar, even so as they marched the gleam of their armor flashed up into the firmament of heaven. They were like great flocks [460] of geese, or cranes, or swans on the plain about the waters of Cayster, that wing their way hither and thither, glorying in the pride of flight, and crying as they settle till the fen is alive with their screaming. Even thus did their tribes pour from ships and tents [465] on to the plain of the Skamandros, and the ground rang as brass under the feet of men and horses. They stood as thick upon the flower-bespangled field as leaves that bloom in season [hŰra]. As countless swarms of flies [470] buzz around a herdsmanís homestead in the season [hŰra] of spring when the pails are drenched with milk, even so did the Achaeans swarm on to the plain to charge the Trojans and destroy them.

The chiefs disposed their men this way and that before the fight began, drafting them out [475] as easily as goatherds draft their flocks when they have got mixed while feeding; and among them went King Agamemnon, with a head and face like Zeus the lord of thunder, a waist like Ares, and a chest like that of Poseidon. [480] As some great bull that lords it over the herds upon the plain, even so did Zeus make the son of Atreus stand peerless among the multitude of heroes . . .

{In the rest of Scroll II, Homer next catalogues the chiefs and princes of the Danaans, and then he catalogues the Trojans and their allies.

The war drags on for many bloody days and scrolls of text, while Achilles broods in his tent and refuses to join the fray. Finally Achilles' great friend and charioteer Patroklos gets permission from Achilles to don Achilles' armor and go into battle to drive the Trojans away from the endangered Achaean ships. In this fight, Patroklos is slain by Apollo and Hektor. Hektor then takes Achilles' armor from Patroklos' body and puts it on himself. Word of Patroklos' death reaches Achilles in scroll 18.}


[1] Meanwhile the fleet runner Antilokhos, who had been sent as messenger, reached Achilles, and found him sitting by his tall ships and boding that which was indeed too surely true.

"Alas," he said to himself in the heaviness of his heart, "why are the Achaeans again scouring the plain and flocking towards the ships? Heaven grant the gods be not now bringing that sorrow upon me of which my mother Thetis spoke, saying that while I was yet alive the bravest of the Myrmidons should fall before the Trojans, and see the light of the sun no longer. I fear the brave son of Menoitios [Patroklos] has fallen through his own daring and yet I ordered him return to the ships as soon as he had driven back those that were bringing fire against them, and not join battle with Hektor."

[15] As he was pondering, the son of Nestor came up to him and told his sad tale, weeping bitterly the while. "Alas," he cried, "son of noble Peleus, I bring you bad tidings! Would indeed that they were untrue. Patroklos has fallen, and a fight is raging over his naked body - for Hektor holds his armor."

[22] A dark cloud of grief [akhos] fell upon Achilles as he listened. He filled both hands with dust from off the ground, and poured it over his head, disfiguring his comely face, and letting the refuse settle over his shirt so fair and new. He flung himself down all huge and hugely at full length, and tore his hair with his hands.

[28] The bondswomen whom Achilles and Patroklos had taken captive screamed aloud for grief, beating their breasts, and with their limbs failing them for sorrow. Antilokhos bent over him the while, weeping and holding both his hands as he lay groaning for he feared that he might plunge a knife into his own throat. Then Achilles gave a loud cry.

His mother heard him as she was sitting in the depths of the sea by the old man her father, whereon she screamed, and all the goddesses daughters of Nereus that dwelt at the bottom of the sea, came gathering round her. There were Glauke, Thalia and Kymodoke, Nesaia, Speo, Thoe, and dark-eyed Halie, Kymothoe, Aktaia and Limnorea, Melite, Iaira, Amphithoe and Agaue, Doto and Proto, Pherousa and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome and Kallianeira, Doris, Panope, and the famous sea-nymph Galatea, Nemertes, Apseudes and Kallianassa. There were also Klymene, Ianeira and Ianassa, Maira, Oreithuia and Amatheia of the lovely locks, with other Nereids who dwell in the depths of the sea. The crystal cave was filled with their multitude and they all beat their breasts while Thetis led them in their lament.

[52] "Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe that I have borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and strong, a champion among champions. He shot up as a sapling; I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden, and sent him with his ships to Ilion to fight the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun he is in heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him. Nevertheless I will go, that I may see my dear son and learn what sorrow [penthos] has befallen him though he is still holding aloof from battle."

[65] She left the cave as she spoke, while the others followed weeping after, and the waves opened a path before them. When they reached the fertile plain of Troy, they came up out of the sea in a long line on to the sands, at the place where the ships of the Myrmidons were drawn up in close order round the tents of Achilles. His mother went up to him as he lay groaning; she laid her hand upon his head and spoke piteously, saying, "My son, why are you thus weeping? What sorrow [penthos] has now befallen you? Tell me; hide it not from me. Surely Zeus has granted you the prayer you made him, when you lifted up your hands and besought him that the Achaeans might all of them be pent up at their ships, and rue it bitterly in that you were no longer with them."

[78] Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Zeus has indeed granted me the fulfillment of my prayer, but what boots it to me, seeing that my dear comrade Patroklos has fallen - he whom I valued more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life? I have lost him; aye, and Hektor when he had killed him stripped the wondrous armor, so glorious to behold, which the gods gave to Peleus when they laid you in the couch of a mortal man. Would that you were still dwelling among the immortal sea-nymphs, and that Peleus had taken to himself some mortal bride. For now you shall have grief [penthos] infinite by reason of the death of that son whom you can never welcome home- nay, I will not live nor go about among humankind unless Hektor fall by my spear, and thus pay me for having slain Patroklos son of Menoitios."

[94] Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at hand- for your own death awaits you soon after Hektor dies."

[97] Then said Achilles in his great grief, "I would die here and now, in that I could not save my comrade. He has fallen far from home, and in his hour of need my hand was not there to help him. What is there for me? Return to my own land I shall not, and I have brought no saving neither to Patroklos nor to my other comrades of whom so many have been slain by mighty Hektor. I stay here by my ships a useless burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have no peer among the Achaeans, though in council there are better than I.

[107] "Therefore, perish strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a righteous man will harden his heart - which rises up in the soul of a man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of honey. Even so has Agamemnon angered me. And yet - so be it, for it is over; I will force my soul into subjection as I needs must; I will go; I will pursue Hektor who has slain him whom I loved so dearly, and will then abide my doom when it may please Zeus and the other gods to send it. Even Herakles, the best beloved of Zeus - even he could not escape the hand of death, but fate and Heraís fierce anger laid him low, as I too shall lie when I am dead if a like doom awaits me. Till then I will win fame [kleos], and will bid Trojan and Dardanian women wring tears from their tender cheeks with both their hands in the grievousness of their great sorrow; thus shall they know that he who has held aloof so long will hold aloof no longer. Hold me not back, therefore, in the love you bear me, for you shall not move me."

[127] Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said is true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but your armor is in the hands of the Trojans. Hektor bears it in triumph upon his own shoulders. Full well I know that his boasts shall not be lasting, for his end is close at hand. Yet go not into the press of battle till you see me return here; tomorrow at break of day I shall be here, and will bring you goodly armor from King Hephaistos."

[138] On this she left her brave son, and as she turned away she said to the sea-nymphs her sisters, "Dive into the bosom of the sea and go to the house of the old sea-god my father. Tell him everything; as for me, I will go to the cunning workman Hephaistos on high Olympus, and ask him to provide my son with a suit of splendid armor."

[145] When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves, while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the armor for her son.

[148] Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and meanwhile the Achaeans were fleeing with loud cries before murderous Hektor till they reached the ships and the Hellespont, and they could not draw the body of Aresí squire [therapŰn] Patroklos out of reach of the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hektor son of Priam with his host and horsemen had again caught up to him like the flame of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hektor seize him by the feet, striving with might and main to draw him away and calling loudly on the Trojans, and thrice did the two Ajaxes, clothed in valor as with a garment, beat him from off the body; but all undaunted he would now charge into the thick of the fight, and now again he would stand still and cry aloud, but he would give no ground. As upland shepherds that cannot chase some famished lion from a carcass, even so could not the two Ajaxes scare Hektor son of Priam from the body of Patroklos.

[165] And now he would even have dragged it off and have won imperishable glory, had not Iris fleet as the wind, winged her way as messenger from Olympus to the son of Peleus and bidden him arm. She came secretly without the knowledge of Zeus and of the other gods, for Hera sent her, and when she had got close to him she said, "Up, son of Peleus, mightiest of all humankind; rescue Patroklos about whom this fearful fight is now raging by the ships. Men are killing one another, the Danaans in defense of the dead body, while the Trojans are trying to hale it away, and take it to windy Ilion: Hektor is the most furious of them all; he is for cutting the head from the body and fixing it on the stakes of the wall. Up, then, and bide here no longer; shrink from the thought that Patroklos may become meat for the dogs of Troy. Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of outrage."

[181] And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you to me?"

[183] Iris answered, "It was Hera the royal spouse of Zeus, but the son of Kronos does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of the immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."

[187] Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into the battle? They have my armor. My mother forbade me to arm till I should see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armor from Hephaistos; I know no man whose arms I can put on, save only the shield of Ajax son of Telamon, and he surely must be fighting in the front rank and wielding his spear about the body of dead Patroklos."

[196] Iris said, ĎWe know that your armor has been taken, but go as you are; go to the deep trench and show yourself before the Trojans, that they may fear you and cease fighting. Thus will the fainting sons of the Achaeans gain some brief breathing-time, which in battle may hardly be."

[202] Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Zeus arose, and Athena flung her tasseled aegis round his strong shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which she kindled a glow of gleaming fire. As the smoke that goes up into heaven from some city that is being beleaguered on an island far out at sea - all day long do men sally from the city and fight their hardest, and at the going down of the sun the line of beacon-fires blazes forth, flaring high for those that dwell near them to behold, if so be that they may come with their ships and succor them - even so did the light flare from the head of Achilles, as he stood by the trench, going beyond the wall - but he aid not join the Achaeans for he heeded the charge which his mother laid upon him.

[217] There did he stand and shout aloud. Athena also raised her voice from afar, and spread terror unspeakable among the Trojans. Ringing as the note of a trumpet that sounds alarm then the foe is at the gates of a city, even so brazen was the voice of the son of Aiakos, and when the Trojans heard its clarion tones they were dismayed; the horses turned back with their chariots for they boded mischief, and their drivers were awe-struck by the steady flame which the gray-eyed goddess had kindled above the head of the great son of Peleus.

[229] Thrice did Achilles raise his loud cry as he stood by the trench, and thrice were the Trojans and their brave allies thrown into confusion; whereon twelve of their noblest champions fell beneath the wheels of their chariots and perished by their own spears. The Achaeans to their great joy then drew Patroklos out of reach of the weapons, and laid him on a litter: his comrades stood mourning round him, and among them fleet Achilles who wept bitterly as he saw his true comrade lying dead upon his bier. He had sent him out with horses and chariots into battle, but his return he was not to welcome.

[239] Then Hera sent the busy sun, loath though he was, into the waters of Okeanos; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and turmoil of war . . .

[368] Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of Hephaistos, imperishable [aphthitos], star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame godís own hands. She found him busy with his bellows, sweating and hard at work, for he was making twenty tripods that were to stand by the wall of his house, and he set wheels of gold under them all that they might go of their own selves to the assemblies [agŰn] of the gods, and come back again - marvels indeed to see. They were finished all but the ears of cunning workmanship which yet remained to be fixed to them: these he was now fixing, and he was hammering at the rivets. While he was thus at work silver-footed Thetis came to the house. Kharis, of graceful head-dress, wife to the far-famed lame god, came towards her as soon as she saw her, and took her hand in her own, saying, "Why have you come to our house, Thetis, honored and ever welcome - for you do not visit us often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."

[388] The goddess led the way as she spoke, and bade Thetis sit on a richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also under her feet. Then she called Hephaistos and said, "Hephaistos, come here, Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god answered, "Then it is indeed an august and honored goddess who has come here; she it was that took care of me when I was suffering from the heavy fall which I had through my cruel motherís anger - for she would have got rid of me because I was lame. It would have gone hardly with me had not Eurynome, daughter of the ever-encircling waters of Okeanos, and Thetis, taken me to their bosom. Nine years did I stay with them, and many beautiful works in bronze, brooches, spiral armlets, cups, and chains, did I make for them in their cave, with the roaring waters of Okeanos foaming as they rushed ever past it; and no one knew, neither of gods nor men, save only Thetis and Eurynome who took care of me. If, then, Thetis has come to my house I must make her due requital for having saved me; entertain her, therefore, with all hospitality, while I put by my bellows and all my tools."

[410] On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs plying lustily under him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and washed his face and hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the door. There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like real young women, with sense and reason [noos], voice also and strength, and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as the king bade them, while he drew near to Thetis, seated her upon a goodly seat, and took her hand in his own, saying, "Why have you come to our house, Thetis honored and ever welcome - for you do not visit us often? Say what you want, and I will do it for you at once if I can, and if it can be done at all."

[428] Thetis wept and answered, "Hephaistos, is there another goddess in Olympus whom the son of Kronos has been pleased to try with so much affliction as he has me? Me alone of the marine goddesses did he make subject to a mortal husband, Peleus son of Aiakos, and sorely against my will did I submit to the embraces of one who was but mortal, and who now stays at home worn out with age. Neither is this all. Heaven granted me a son, hero among heroes, and he shot up as a sapling. I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden and sent him with his ships to Ilion to fight the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun, he is in heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him; King Agamemnon has made him give up the maiden whom the sons of the Achaeans had awarded him, and he wastes with sorrow [akhos] for her sake. Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at their shipsí sterns and would not let them come forth; the elders, therefore, of the Argives besought Achilles and offered him great treasure, whereon he refused to bring deliverance to them himself, but put his own armor on Patroklos and sent him into the fight with many people after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates and would have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo granted glory to Hektor and slain the valiant son of Menoitios after he had done the Trojans much evil. Therefore I am suppliant at your knees if haply you may be pleased to provide my son, whose end is near at hand, with helmet and shield, with goodly greaves fitted with ankle-clasps, and with a breastplate, for he lost his own when his true comrade fell at the hands of the Trojans, and he now lies stretched on earth in the bitterness of his soul."

[462] And Hephaistos answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about this matter; would that I could hide him from deathís sight when his hour is come, so surely as I can find him armor that shall amaze the eyes of all who behold it."

[468] When he had so said he left her and went to his bellows, turning them towards the fire and bidding them do their office. Twenty bellows blew upon the melting-pots, and they blew blasts of every kind, some fierce to help him when he had need of them, and others less strong as Hephaistos willed it in the course of his work. He threw tough copper into the fire, and tin, with silver and gold; he set his great anvil on its block, and with one hand grasped his mighty hammer while he took the tongs in the other.

[478] First he shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers; and the baldric was made of silver. He made the shield in five thicknesses, and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it.

[483] He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea; the moon also at her full and the untiring sun, with all the signs that glorify the face of heaven - the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear, which men also call the Wain and which turns round ever in one place, facing. Orion, and alone never dips into the stream of Okeanos.

[490] He wrought also two cities, fair to see and busy with the hum of men. In the one were weddings and wedding-feasts, and they were going about the city with brides whom they were escorting by torchlight from their chambers. Loud rose the cry of Hymen, and the youths danced to the music of flute and lyre, while the women stood each at her house door to see them.

[497] Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a quarrel [neikos], and two men were wrangling about the blood-price for a man who had died, the one claiming to the dÍmos that he had the right to pay off the damages in full, and the other refusing to accept anything. Each was seeking a limit [peirar], in the presence of an arbitrator [histŰr], and the people took sides, each man backing the side that he had taken;

[502] but the heralds kept them back, and the elders sat on their seats of stone in a solemn circle, holding the staves which the heralds had put into their hands. Then they rose and each in his turn gave judgment [dikÍ], and there were two measures of gold laid down, to be given to him whose judgment [dikÍ] should be deemed the fairest.

[509] About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming armor, and they were divided whether to sack it, or to spare it and accept the half of what it contained. But the men of the city would not yet consent, and armed themselves for a surprise; their wives and little children kept guard upon the walls, and with them were the men who were past fighting through age; but the others sallied forth with Ares and Pallas Athena at their head - both of them wrought in gold and clad in golden raiment, great and fair with their armor as befitting gods, while they that followed were smaller. When they reached the place where they would lay their ambush, it was on a riverbed to which live stock of all kinds would come from far and near to water; here, then, they lay concealed, clad in full armor. Some way off them there were two scouts who were on the look-out for the coming of sheep or cattle, which presently came, followed by two shepherds who were playing on their pipes, and had not so much as a thought of danger. When those who were in ambush saw this, they cut off the flocks and herds and killed the shepherds. Meanwhile the besiegers, when they heard much noise among the cattle as they sat in council, sprang to their horses, and made with all speed towards them; when they reached them they set battle in array by the banks of the river, and the hosts aimed their bronze-shod spears at one another. With them were Strife and Riot, and fell Fate who was dragging three men after her, one with a fresh wound, and the other unwounded, while the third was dead, and she was dragging him along by his heel: and her robe was bedrabbled in menís blood. They went in and out with one another and fought as though they were living people hauling away one anotherís dead.

[541] He wrought also a fair fallow field, large and thrice ploughed already. Many men were working at the plough within it, turning their oxen to and fro, furrow after furrow. Each time that they turned on reaching the headland a man would come up to them and give them a cup of wine, and they would go back to their furrows looking forward to the time when they should again reach the headland. The part that they had ploughed was dark behind them, so that the field, though it was of gold, still looked as if it were being ploughed - very curious to behold.

[550] He wrought also a field of harvest grain, and the reapers were reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Swathe after swathe fell to the ground in a straight line behind them, and the binders bound them in bands of twisted straw. There were three binders, and behind them there were boys who gathered the cut grain in armfuls and kept on bringing them to be bound: among them all the owner of the land stood by in silence and was glad. The servants were getting a meal ready under an oak, for they had sacrificed a great ox, and were busy cutting him up, while the women were making a porridge of much white barley for the laborersí dinner.

[561] He wrought also a vineyard, golden and fair to see, and the vines were loaded with grapes. The bunches overhead were black, but the vines were trained on poles of silver. He ran a ditch of dark metal all round it, and fenced it with a fence of tin; there was only one path to it, and by this the vintagers went when they would gather the vintage. Youths and maidens all blithe and full of glee, carried the luscious fruit in plaited baskets; and with them there went a boy who made sweet music with his lyre, and sang the Linus-song with his clear boyish voice.

[573] He wrought also a herd of horned cattle. He made the cows of gold and tin, and they lowed as they came full speed out of the yards to go and feed among the waving reeds that grow by the banks of the river. Along with the cattle there went four shepherds, all of them in gold, and their nine fleet dogs went with them. Two terrible lions had fastened on a bellowing bull that was with the foremost cows, and bellow as he might they haled him, while the dogs and men gave chase: the lions tore through the bullís thick hide and were gorging on his blood and bowels, but the herdsmen were afraid to do anything, and only hounded on their dogs; the dogs dared not fasten on the lions but stood by barking and keeping out of harmís way.

[587] The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and large flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered sheepfolds.

[590] Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made in Knossos for lovely Ariadne. Here was a dance [khoros] of youths and maidens, whom all would woo, all with their hands on one anotherís wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes they would go all in line with one another, and many people was gathered joyously about the place of dancing [khoros]. There was a bard also to sing to them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.

[607] All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty stream of the river Okeanos.

[609] Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he made a breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made helmet, close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a golden plume overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten tin.

[614] Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armor, he took it and set it before the mother of Achilles; whereon she darted like a falcon from the snowy summits of Olympus and bore away the gleaming armor from the house of Hephaistos. [617]



[1] Now when Dawn in robe of saffron was hastening from the streams of Okeanos, to bring light to mortals and immortals, Thetis reached the ships with the armor that the god had given her. She found her son fallen about the body of Patroklos and weeping bitterly. Many also of his followers were weeping round him, but when the goddess came among them she clasped his hand in her own, saying, "My son, grieve as we may we must let this man lie, for it is by heavenís will that he has fallen; now, therefore, accept from Hephaistos this rich and goodly armor, which no man has ever yet borne upon his shoulders."

[12] As she spoke she set the armor before Achilles, and it rang out bravely as she did so. The Myrmidons were struck with awe, and none dared look full at it, for they were afraid; but Achilles was roused to still greater fury, and his eyes gleamed with a fierce light, for he was glad when he handled the splendid present which the god had made him. Then, as soon as he had satisfied himself with looking at it, he said to his mother, "Mother, the god has given me armor, meet handiwork for an immortal and such as no living could have fashioned; I will now arm, but I much fear that flies will settle upon the son of Menoitios and breed worms about his wounds, so that his body, now he is dead, will be disfigured and the flesh will rot."

[28] Silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, be not disquieted about this matter. I will find means to protect him from the swarms of noisome flies that prey on the bodies of men who have been killed in battle. He may lie for a whole year, and his flesh shall still be as sound as ever, or even sounder. Call, therefore, the Achaean heroes in assembly; unsay your anger [mÍnis] against Agamemnon; arm at once, and fight with might and main." As she spoke she put strength and courage into his heart, and she then dropped ambrosia and red nectar into the wounds of Patroklos, that his body might suffer no change.

[40] Then Achilles went out upon the seashore, and with a loud cry called on the Achaean heroes. On this even those who as yet had stayed always at the assembly of [agŰn] of ships, the pilots and helmsmen, and even the stewards who were about the ships and served out rations, all came to the place of assembly because Achilles had shown himself after having held aloof so long from fighting. Two squires [therapontes] of Ares, Odysseus and the son of Tydeus, came limping, for their wounds still pained them; nevertheless they came, and took their seats in the front row of the assembly. Last of all came Agamemnon, king of men, he too wounded, for KoŲn son of Antenor had struck him with a spear in battle.

[54] When the Achaeans were got together Achilles rose and said, "Son of Atreus, surely it would have been better alike for both you and me, when we two were in such high anger about Briseis, surely it would have been better, had Artemisí arrow slain her at the ships on the day when I took her after having sacked Lyrnessos. For so, many an Achaean the less would have bitten dust before the foe in the days of my anger. It has been well for Hektor and the Trojans, but the Achaeans will long indeed remember our quarrel. Now, however, let it be, for it is over. If we have been angry, necessity has schooled our anger. I put it from me: I dare not nurse it forever; therefore, bid the Achaeans arm forthwith that I may go out against the Trojans, and learn whether they will be in a mind to sleep by the ships or no. Glad, I ween, will he be to rest his knees who may flee my spear when I wield it."

[74] Thus did he speak, and the Achaeans rejoiced in that he had put away his anger [mÍnis]. Then Agamemnon spoke, rising in his place, and not going into the middle of the assembly.

"Danaan heroes," said he, "squires [therapontes] of Ares, it is well to listen when a man stands up to speak, and it is not seemly to interrupt him, or it will go hard even with a practiced speaker. Who can either hear or speak in an uproar? Even the finest orator will be disconcerted by it. I will expound to the son of Peleus, and do you other Achaeans heed me and mark me well. Often have the Achaeans spoken to me of this matter and upbraided me, but it was not I who was responsible [aitios]: Zeus, and Fate [Moira], and Erinys that walks in darkness struck me with derangement [atÍ] when we were assembled on the day that I took from Achilles the prize that had been awarded to him. What could I do? All things are in the hand of heaven, and AtÍ, eldest of Zeusí daughters, shuts menís eyes to their destruction. She walks delicately, not on the solid earth, but hovers over the heads of men to make them stumble or to ensnare them.

[95] "Time was when she fooled Zeus himself, who they say is greatest whether of gods or men; for Hera, woman though she was, beguiled him on the day when Alkmene was to bring forth mighty Herakles in the fair city of Thebes. He told it out among the gods saying, ĎHear me all gods and goddesses, that I may speak even as I am minded; this day shall an Eileithuia, helper of women who are in labor, bring a man child into the world who shall be lord over all that dwell about him who are of my blood and lineage.í Then said Hera all crafty and full of guile, ĎYou will play false, and will not hold to the finality [telos] of your word. Swear me, O Olympian, swear me a great oath, that he who shall this day fall between the feet of a woman, shall be lord over all that dwell about him who are of your blood and lineage.í

[112] "Thus she spoke, and Zeus suspected her not, but swore the great oath, to his much ruing thereafter. For Hera darted down from the high summit of Olympus, and went in haste to Achaean Argos where she knew that the noble wife of Sthenelos son of Perseus then was. She being with child and in her seventh month, Hera brought the child to birth though there was a month still wanting, but she stayed the offspring of Alkmene, and kept back the Eileithuiai. Then she went to tell Zeus the son of Kronos, and said, ĎFather Zeus, lord of the lightning - I have a word for your ear. There is a fine child born this day, Eurystheus, son to Sthenelos the son of Perseus; he is of your lineage; it is well, therefore, that he should reign over the Argives.í

[125] "On this Zeus was stung to the very quick with grief [akhos], and in his rage he caught AtÍ by the hair, and swore a great oath that never should she again invade starry heaven and Olympus, for she was the bane of all. Then he whirled her round with a twist of his hand, and flung her down from heaven so that she fell on to the fields of mortal men; and he was ever angry with her when he saw his son groaning under the cruel labors [athloi] that Eurystheus laid upon him. Even so did I grieve when mighty Hektor was killing the Argives at their ships, and all the time I kept thinking of AtÍ who had so baned me. I was blind, and Zeus robbed me of my reason; I will now make atonement, and will add much treasure by way of amends. Go, therefore, into battle, you and your people with you. I will give you all that Odysseus offered you yesterday in your tents: or if it so please you, wait, though you would fain fight at once, and my squires [therapontes] shall bring the gifts from my ship, that you may see whether what I give you is enough."

[145] And Achilles answered, "Son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, you can give such gifts as you think proper, or you can withhold them: it is in your own hands. Let us now set battle in array; it is not well to tarry talking about trifles, for there is a deed which is as yet to do. Achilles shall again be seen fighting among the foremost, and laying low the ranks of the Trojans: bear this in mind each one of you when he is fighting."

[154] Then Odysseus said, "Achilles, godlike and brave, send not the Achaeans thus against Ilion to fight the Trojans fasting, for the battle will be no brief one, when it is once begun, and heaven has filled both sides with fury; bid them first take food both bread and wine by the ships, for in this there is strength and stay. No man can do battle the livelong day to the going down of the sun if he is without food; however much he may want to fight his strength will fail him before he knows it; hunger and thirst will find him out, and his limbs will grow weary under him. But a man can fight all day if he is full fed with meat and wine; his heart beats high, and his strength will stay till he has routed all his foes; therefore, send the people away and bid them prepare their meal; King Agamemnon will bring out the gifts in presence of the assembly, that all may see them and you may be satisfied. Moreover let him swear an oath before the Argives that he has never gone up into the couch of Briseis, nor has lain down with her, even though it is right [themis] for humans, both men and women, to do this; and do you, too, show yourself of a gracious mind; let Agamemnon entertain you in his tents with a feast of reconciliation, that so you may have had your dues in full. As for you, son of Atreus, treat people more righteously in future; it is no disgrace even to a king that he should make amends if he was wrong in the first instance."

[184] And King Agamemnon answered, "Son of Laertes, your words please me well, for throughout you have spoken wisely. I will swear as you would have me do; I do so of my own free will, neither shall I take the name of a daimŰn in vain. Let, then, Achilles wait, though he would fain fight at once, and do you others wait also, till the gifts come from my tent and we ratify the oath with sacrifice. Thus, then, do I charge you: choose [krinŰ] some noble young Achaeans to go with you, and bring from my tents the gifts that I promised yesterday to Achilles, and bring the women also; furthermore let Talthybios find me a boar from those that are with the host, and make it ready for sacrifice to Zeus and to the sun."

[198] Then said Achilles, "Son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, see to these matters at some other season, when there is breathing time and when I am calmer. Would you have men eat while the bodies of those whom Hektor son of Priam slew are still lying mangled upon the plain? Let the sons of the Achaeans, say I, fight fasting and without food, till we have avenged them; afterwards at the going down of the sun let them eat their fill. As for me, Patroklos is lying dead in my tent, all hacked and hewn, with his feet to the door, and his comrades are mourning round him. Therefore I can take thought of nothing save only slaughter and blood and the rattle in the throat of the dying."

[215] Odysseus answered, "Achilles, son of Peleus, mightiest of all the Achaeans, in battle you are better than I, and that more than a little, but in counsel I am much before you, for I am older and of greater knowledge. Therefore be patient under my words. Fighting is a thing of which men soon surfeit, and when Zeus, who is wars steward, weighs the upshot, it may well prove that the straw which our sickles have reaped is far heavier than the grain. It may not be that the Achaeans should mourn the dead with their bellies; day by day men fall thick and threefold continually; when should we have respite from our sorrow [ponos]? Let us mourn our dead for a day and bury them out of sight and mind, but let those of us who are left eat and drink that we may arm and fight our foes more fiercely. In that hour let no man hold back, waiting for a second summons; such summons shall bode ill for him who is found lagging behind at our ships; let us rather sally as one man and loose the fury of war upon the Trojans."

[238] When he had thus spoken he took with him the sons of Nestor, with Meges son of Phyleus, Thoas, Meriones, Lykomedes son of Kreontes, and Melanippos, and went to the tent of Agamemnon son of Atreus. The word was not sooner said than the deed was done: they brought out the seven tripods which Agamemnon had promised, with the twenty metal cauldrons and the twelve horses; they also brought the women skilled in useful arts, seven in number, with Briseis, which made eight. Odysseus weighed out the ten talents of gold and then led the way back, while the young Achaeans brought the rest of the gifts, and laid them in the middle of the assembly.

[249] Agamemnon then rose, and Talthybios whose voice was like that of a god came to him with the boar. The son of Atreus drew the knife which he wore by the scabbard of his mighty sword, and began by cutting off some bristles from the boar, lifting up his hands in prayer as he did so. The other Achaeans sat where they were all silent and orderly to hear the king, and Agamemnon looked into the vault of heaven and prayed saying, "I call Zeus the first and mightiest of all gods to witness, I call also Earth and Sun and the Erinyes who dwell below and take vengeance on him who shall swear falsely, that I have laid no hand upon the girl Briseis, neither to take her to my bed nor otherwise, but that she has remained in my tents inviolate. If I swear falsely may heaven visit me with all the penalties which it metes out to those who perjure themselves."

[266] He cut the boarís throat as he spoke, whereon Talthybios whirled it round his head, and flung it into the wide sea to feed the fishes. Then Achilles also rose and said to the Argives, "Father Zeus, truly you give atÍ to men and bane them. The son of Atreus had not else stirred me to so fierce an anger, nor so stubbornly taken Briseis from me against my will. Surely Zeus must have counseled the destruction of many an Argive. Go, now, and take your food that we may begin fighting."

[276] On this he broke up the assembly, and every man went back to his own ship. The Myrmidons attended to the presents and took them away to the ship of Achilles. They placed them in his tents, while the stable-men [therapontes] drove the horses in among the others.

[282] Briseis, fair as Aphrodite, when she saw the mangled body of Patroklos, flung herself upon it and cried aloud, tearing her breast, her neck, and her lovely face with both her hands. Beautiful as a goddess she wept and said, "Patroklos, dearest friend, when I went hence I left you living; I return, O prince, to find you dead; thus do fresh sorrows multiply upon me one after the other. I saw him to whom my father and mother married me, cut down before our city, and my three own dear brothers perished with him on the self-same day; but you, Patroklos, even when Achilles slew my husband and sacked the city of noble Mynes, told me that I was not to weep, for you said you would make Achilles marry me, and take me back with him to Phthia, we should have a wedding feast among the Myrmidons. You were always kind to me, and I shall never cease to grieve for you."

[301] She wept as she spoke, and the women joined in her lament-making as though their tears were for Patroklos, but in truth each was weeping for her own sorrows. The elders of the Achaeans gathered round Achilles and prayed him to take food, but he groaned and would not do so.

"I pray you," said he, "if any comrade will hear me, bid me neither eat nor drink, for I am in great heaviness, and will stay fasting even to the going down of the sun."

[309] On this he sent the other princes away, except only the two sons of Atreus and Odysseus, Nestor, Idomeneus, and the horseman Phoenix, who stayed behind and tried to comfort him in the bitterness of his sorrow [akhos]: but he would not be comforted till he should have flung himself into the jaws of battle, and he fetched sigh on sigh, thinking ever of Patroklos.

Then he said, [315] "Hapless and dearest comrade, you it was who would get a good dinner ready for me at once and without delay when the Achaeans were hastening to fight the Trojans; now, therefore, though I have meat and drink in my tents, yet will I fast for sorrow. Grief greater than this I could not know, not even though I were to hear of the death of my father, who is now in Phthia weeping for the loss of me his son, who am here fighting the Trojans in a strange land [dÍmos] for the accursed sake of Helen, nor yet though I should hear that my son is no more -- he who is being brought up in Skyros -- if indeed Neoptolemos is still living. Till now I made sure that I alone was to fall here at Troy away from Argos, while you were to return to Phthia, bring back my son with you in your own ship, and show him all my property, my bondsmen, and the greatness of my house -- for Peleus must surely be either dead, or what little life remains to him is oppressed alike with the infirmities of age and ever present fear lest he should hear the sad tidings of my death."

[337] He wept as he spoke, and the elders sighed in concert as each thought on what he had left at home behind him. The son of Kronos [Zeus] looked down with pity upon them, and said presently to Athena, "My child, you have quite deserted your man; is he then gone so clean out of your recollection? There he sits by the ships all desolate for the loss of his dear comrade, and though the others are gone to their dinner he will neither eat nor drink. Go then and drop nectar and ambrosia into his breast, that he may know no hunger."

[349] With these words he urged Athena, who was already of the same mind. She darted down from heaven into the air like some falcon sailing on his broad wings and screaming. Meanwhile the Achaeans were arming throughout the host, and when Athena had dropped nectar and ambrosia into Achilles so that no cruel hunger should cause his limbs to fail him, she went back to the house of her mighty father. Thick as the chill snow-flakes shed from the hand of Zeus and borne on the keen blasts of the north wind, even so thick did the gleaming helmets, the bossed shields, the strongly plated breastplates, and the ashen spears stream from the ships. The sheen pierced the sky, the whole land was radiant with their flashing armor, and the sound of the tramp of their treading rose from under their feet. In the midst of them all Achilles put on his armor; he gnashed his teeth, his eyes gleamed like fire, for his grief [akhos] was greater than he could bear. Thus, then, full of fury against the Trojans, did he don the gift of the god, the armor that Hephaistos had made him.

[369] First he put on the goodly greaves fitted with ankle-clasps, and next he did on the breastplate about his chest. He slung the silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then took up the shield so great and strong that shone afar with a splendor as of the moon. As the light seen by sailors from out at sea [pontos], when men have lit a fire in their homestead high up among the mountains, but the sailors are carried out to sea [pontos] by wind and storm far from the haven where they would be - even so did the gleam of Achillesí wondrous shield strike up into the heavens. He lifted the redoubtable helmet, and set it upon his head, from whence it shone like a star, and the golden plumes which Hephaistos had set thick about the ridge of the helmet, waved all around it. Then Achilles made trial of himself in his armor to see whether it fitted him, so that his limbs could play freely under it, and it seemed to buoy him up as though it had been wings.

[387] He also drew his fatherís spear out of the spear-stand, a spear so great and heavy and strong that none of the Achaeans save only Achilles had strength to wield it; this was the spear of Pelian ash from the topmost ridges of Mount Pelion, which Chiron had once given to Peleus, fraught with the death of heroes. Automedon and Alkimos busied themselves with the harnessing of his horses; they made the bands fast about them, and put the bit in their mouths, drawing the reins back towards the chariot. Automedon, whip in hand, sprang up behind the horses, and after him Achilles mounted in full armor, resplendent as the sun-god Hyperion. Then with a loud voice he chided with his fatherís horses saying, "Xanthos and Balios, famed offspring of Podarge - this time when we have done fighting be sure and bring your driver safely back to the host of the Achaeans, and do not leave him dead on the plain as you did Patroklos."

[404] Then fleet Xanthos answered under the yoke -- for white-armed Hera had endowed him with human speech -- and he bowed his head till his mane touched the ground as it hung down from under the yoke-band. "Dread Achilles," said he, "we will indeed save you now, but the day of your death is near, and we will not be responsible [aitioi], for it will be heaven and stern fate that will destroy you. Neither was it through any sloth or slackness on our part that the Trojans stripped Patroklos of his armor; it was the mighty god whom lovely Leto bore [Apollo] that slew him as he fought among the foremost, and granted a triumph to Hektor. We two can fly as swiftly as Zephyros who they say is fleetest of all winds; nevertheless it is your doom to fall by the hand of a man and of a god."

[418] When he had thus spoken, the Erinyes stayed his speech, and Achilles answered him in great sadness, saying, "Why, O Xanthos, do you thus foretell my death? You need not do so, for I well know that I am to fall here, far from my dear father and mother; none the more, however, shall I stay my hand till I have given the Trojans their fill of fighting."

[424] So saying, with a loud cry he drove his horses to the front . . .

[Mad with grief, Achilles slays many Trojans and finally Hektor. He buries Patroklos and conducts funeral games in his honor. The gods become angry with Achilles for dishonoring Hektor's corpse, so they order Achilles to allow Priam to ransom the body. The poem ends with Priam's retrieval of his son's body from Achilles' tent. Achilles' anger then is over.]

English 225
Odyssey reading: page 5    Iliad reading: page 6 
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