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Book XIII

NOW when Jove had thus brought Hector and the Trojans to the
ships, he left them to their never-ending toil, and turned his
keen eyes away, looking elsewhither towards the horse-breeders of
Thrace, the Mysians, fighters at close quarters, the noble
Hippemolgi, who live on milk, and the Abians, justest of mankind.
He no longer turned so much as a glance towards Troy, for he did
not think that any of the immortals would go and help either
Trojans or Danaans.
But King Neptune had kept no blind look-out; he had been looking
admiringly on the battle from his seat on the topmost crests of
wooded Samothrace, whence he could see all Ida, with the city of
Priam and the ships of the Achaeans. He had come from under the
sea and taken his place here, for he pitied the Achaeans who were
being overcome by the Trojans; and he was furiously angry with
Jove.
Presently he came down from his post on the mountain top, and as
he strode swiftly onwards the high hills and the forest quaked
beneath the tread of his immortal feet. Three strides he took,
and with the fourth he reached his goal—Aegae, where is his
glittering golden palace, imperishable, in the depths of the sea.
When he got there, he yoked his fleet brazen-footed steeds with
their manes of gold all flying in the wind; he clothed himself in
raiment of gold, grasped his gold whip, and took his stand upon
his chariot. As he went his way over the waves the sea-monsters
left their lairs, for they knew their lord, and came gambolling
round him from every quarter of the deep, while the sea in her
gladness opened a path before his chariot. So lightly did the
horses fly that the bronze axle of the car was not even wet
beneath it; and thus his bounding steeds took him to the ships of
the Achaeans.
Now there is a certain huge cavern in the depths of the sea
midway between Tenedos and rocky Imbrus; here Neptune lord of the
earthquake stayed his horses, unyoked them, and set before them
their ambrosial forage. He hobbled their feet with hobbles of
gold which none could either unloose or break, so that they might
stay there in that place until their lord should return. This
done he went his way to the host of the Achaeans.
Now the Trojans followed Hector son of Priam in close array like
a storm-cloud or flame of fire, fighting with might and main and
raising the cry battle; for they deemed that they should take the
ships of the Achaeans and kill all their chiefest heroes then and
there. Meanwhile earth-encircling Neptune lord of the earthquake
cheered on the Argives, for he had come up out of the sea and had
assumed the form and voice of Calchas.
First he spoke to the two Ajaxes, who were doing their best
already, and said, "Ajaxes, you two can be the saving of the
Achaeans if you will put out all your strength and not let
yourselves be daunted. I am not afraid that the Trojans, who have
got over the wall in force, will be victorious in any other part,
for the Achaeans can hold all of them in check, but I much fear
that some evil will befall us here where furious Hector, who
boasts himself the son of great Jove himself, is leading them on
like a pillar of flame. May some god, then, put it into your
hearts to make a firm stand here, and to incite others to do the
like. In this case you will drive him from the ships even though
he be inspired by Jove himself."
As he spoke the earth-encircling lord of the earthquake struck
both of them with his sceptre and filled their hearts with
daring. He made their legs light and active, as also their hands
and their feet. Then, as the soaring falcon poises on the wing
high above some sheer rock, and presently swoops down to chase
some bird over the plain, even so did Neptune lord of the
earthquake wing his flight into the air and leave them. Of the
two, swift Ajax son of Oileus was the first to know who it was
that had been speaking with them, and said to Ajax son of
Telamon, "Ajax, this is one of the gods that dwell on Olympus,
who in the likeness of the prophet is bidding us fight hard by
our ships. It was not Calchas the seer and diviner of omens; I
knew him at once by his feet and knees as he turned away, for the
gods are soon recognised. Moreover I feel the lust of battle burn
more fiercely within me, while my hands and my feet under me are
more eager for the fray."
And Ajax son of Telamon answered, "I too feel my hands grasp my
spear more firmly; my strength is greater, and my feet more
nimble; I long, moreover, to meet furious Hector son of Priam,
even in single combat."
Thus did they converse, exulting in the hunger after battle with
which the god had filled them. Meanwhile the earth-encircler
roused the Achaeans, who were resting in the rear by the ships
overcome at once by hard fighting and by grief at seeing that the
Trojans had got over the wall in force. Tears began falling from
their eyes as they beheld them, for they made sure that they
should not escape destruction; but the lord of the earthquake
passed lightly about among them and urged their battalions to the
front.
First he went up to Teucer and Leitus, the hero Peneleos, and
Thoas and Deipyrus; Meriones also and Antilochus, valiant
warriors; all did he exhort. "Shame on you young Argives," he
cried, "it was on your prowess I relied for the saving of our
ships; if you fight not with might and main, this very day will
see us overcome by the Trojans. Of a truth my eyes behold a great
and terrible portent which I had never thought to see—the
Trojans at our ships—they, who were heretofore like
panic-stricken hinds, the prey of jackals and wolves in a forest,
with no strength but in flight for they cannot defend themselves.
Hitherto the Trojans dared not for one moment face the attack of
the Achaeans, but now they have sallied far from their city and
are fighting at our very ships through the cowardice of our
leader and the disaffection of the people themselves, who in
their discontent care not to fight in defence of the ships but
are being slaughtered near them. True, King Agamemnon son of
Atreus is the cause of our disaster by having insulted the son of
Peleus, still this is no reason why we should leave off fighting.
Let us be quick to heal, for the hearts of the brave heal
quickly. You do ill to be thus remiss, you, who are the finest
soldiers in our whole army. I blame no man for keeping out of
battle if he is a weakling, but I am indignant with such men as
you are. My good friends, matters will soon become even worse
through this slackness; think, each one of you, of his own honour
and credit, for the hazard of the fight is extreme. Great Hector
is now fighting at our ships; he has broken through the gates and
the strong bolt that held them."
Thus did the earth-encircler address the Achaeans and urge them
on. Thereon round the two Ajaxes there gathered strong bands of
men, of whom not even Mars nor Minerva, marshaller of hosts could
make light if they went among them, for they were the picked men
of all those who were now awaiting the onset of Hector and the
Trojans. They made a living fence, spear to spear, shield to
shield, buckler to buckler, helmet to helmet, and man to man. The
horse-hair crests on their gleaming helmets touched one another
as they nodded forward, so closely serried were they; the spears
they brandished in their strong hands were interlaced, and their
hearts were set on battle.
The Trojans advanced in a dense body, with Hector at their head
pressing right on as a rock that comes thundering down the side
of some mountain from whose brow the winter torrents have torn
it; the foundations of the dull thing have been loosened by
floods of rain, and as it bounds headlong on its way it sets the
whole forest in an uproar; it swerves neither to right nor left
till it reaches level ground, but then for all its fury it can go
no further—even so easily did Hector for a while seem as though
he would career through the tents and ships of the Achaeans till
he had reached the sea in his murderous course; but the closely
serried battalions stayed him when he reached them, for the sons
of the Achaeans thrust at him with swords and spears pointed at
both ends, and drove him from them so that he staggered and gave
ground; thereon he shouted to the Trojans, "Trojans, Lycians, and
Dardanians, fighters in close combat, stand firm: the Achaeans
have set themselves as a wall against me, but they will not check
me for long; they will give ground before me if the mightiest of
the gods, the thundering spouse of Juno, has indeed inspired my
onset."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. Deiphobus
son of Priam went about among them intent on deeds of daring with
his round shield before him, under cover of which he strode
quickly forward. Meriones took aim at him with a spear, nor did
he fail to hit the broad orb of ox-hide; but he was far from
piercing it for the spear broke in two pieces long ere he could
do so; moreover Deiphobus had seen it coming and had held his
shield well away from him. Meriones drew back under cover of his
comrades, angry alike at having failed to vanquish Deiphobus, and
having broken his spear. He turned therefore towards the ships
and tents to fetch a spear which he had left behind in his tent.
The others continued fighting, and the cry of battle rose up into
the heavens. Teucer son of Telamon was the first to kill his man,
to wit, the warrior Imbrius, son of Mentor, rich in horses.
Until the Achaeans came he had lived in Pedaeum, and had married
Medesicaste, a bastard daughter of Priam; but on the arrival of
the Danaan fleet he had gone back to Ilius, and was a great man
among the Trojans, dwelling near Priam himself, who gave him like
honour with his own sons. The son of Telamon now struck him under
the ear with a spear which he then drew back again, and Imbrius
fell headlong as an ash-tree when it is felled on the crest of
some high mountain beacon, and its delicate green foliage comes
toppling down to the ground. Thus did he fall with his
bronze-dight armour ringing harshly round him, and Teucer sprang
forward with intent to strip him of his armour; but as he was
doing so, Hector took aim at him with a spear. Teucer saw the
spear coming and swerved aside, whereon it hit Amphimachus, son
of Cteatus son of Actor, in the chest as he was coming into
battle, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily
to the ground. Hector sprang forward to take Amphimachus's helmet
from off his temples, and in a moment Ajax threw a spear at him,
but did not wound him, for he was encased all over in his
terrible armour; nevertheless the spear struck the boss of his
shield with such force as to drive him back from the two corpses,
which the Achaeans then drew off. Stichius and Menestheus,
captains of the Athenians, bore away Amphimachus to the host of
the Achaeans, while the two brave and impetuous Ajaxes did the
like by Imbrius. As two lions snatch a goat from the hounds that
have it in their fangs, and bear it through thick brushwood high
above the ground in their jaws, thus did the Ajaxes bear aloft
the body of Imbrius, and strip it of its armour. Then the son of
Oileus severed the head from the neck in revenge for the death of
Amphimachus, and sent it whirling over the crowd as though it had
been a ball, till it fell in the dust at Hector's feet.
Neptune was exceedingly angry that his grandson Amphimachus
should have fallen; he therefore went to the tents and ships of
the Achaeans to urge the Danaans still further, and to devise
evil for the Trojans. Idomeneus met him, as he was taking leave
of a comrade, who had just come to him from the fight, wounded in
the knee. His fellow-soldiers bore him off the field, and
Idomeneus having given orders to the physicians went on to his
tent, for he was still thirsting for battle. Neptune spoke in the
likeness and with the voice of Thoas son of Andraemon who ruled
the Aetolians of all Pleuron and high Calydon, and was honoured
among his people as though he were a god. "Idomeneus," said he,
"lawgiver to the Cretans, what has now become of the threats with
which the sons of the Achaeans used to threaten the Trojans?"
And Idomeneus chief among the Cretans answered, "Thoas, no one,
so far as I know, is in fault, for we can all fight. None are
held back neither by fear nor slackness, but it seems to be the
will of almighty Jove that the Achaeans should perish
ingloriously here far from Argos: you, Thoas, have been always
staunch, and you keep others in heart if you see any fail in
duty; be not then remiss now, but exhort all to do their utmost."
To this Neptune lord of the earthquake made answer, "Idomeneus,
may he never return from Troy, but remain here for dogs to batten
upon, who is this day wilfully slack in fighting. Get your armour
and go, we must make all haste together if we may be of any use,
though we are only two. Even cowards gain courage from
companionship, and we two can hold our own with the bravest."
Therewith the god went back into the thick of the fight, and
Idomeneus when he had reached his tent donned his armour, grasped
his two spears, and sallied forth. As the lightning which the son
of Saturn brandishes from bright Olympus when he would show a
sign to mortals, and its gleam flashes far and wide—even so did
his armour gleam about him as he ran. Meriones his sturdy squire
met him while he was still near his tent (for he was going to
fetch his spear) and Idomeneus said:
"Meriones, fleet son of Molus, best of comrades, why have you
left the field? Are you wounded, and is the point of the weapon
hurting you? or have you been sent to fetch me? I want no
fetching; I had far rather fight than stay in my tent."
"Idomeneus," answered Meriones, "I come for a spear, if I can
find one in my tent; I have broken the one I had, in throwing it
at the shield of Deiphobus."
And Idomeneus captain of the Cretans answered, "You will find one
spear, or twenty if you so please, standing up against the end
wall of my tent. I have taken them from Trojans whom I have
killed, for I am not one to keep my enemy at arm's length;
therefore I have spears, bossed shields, helmets, and burnished
corslets."
Then Meriones said, "I too in my tent and at my ship have spoils
taken from the Trojans, but they are not at hand. I have been at
all times valorous, and wherever there has been hard fighting
have held my own among the foremost. There may be those among the
Achaeans who do not know how I fight, but you know it well enough
yourself."
Idomeneus answered, "I know you for a brave man: you need not
tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on
an ambush—and there is nothing like this for showing what a man
is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the
coward will change colour at every touch and turn; he is full of
fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then
on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one
can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will
not change colour nor be frightened on finding himself in ambush,
but is all the time longing to go into action—if the best men
were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of
your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or
smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your
neck nor back, but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly
as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks. But
let us no longer stay here talking like children, lest we be ill
spoken of; go, fetch your spear from the tent at once."
On this Meriones, peer of Mars, went to the tent and got himself
a spear of bronze. He then followed after Idomeneus, big with
great deeds of valour. As when baneful Mars sallies forth to
battle, and his son Panic so strong and dauntless goes with him,
to strike terror even into the heart of a hero—the pair have
gone from Thrace to arm themselves among the Ephyri or the brave
Phlegyans, but they will not listen to both the contending hosts,
and will give victory to one side or to the other—even so did
Meriones and Idomeneus, captains of men, go out to battle clad in
their bronze armour. Meriones was first to speak. "Son of
Deucalion," said he, "where would you have us begin fighting? On
the right wing of the host, in the centre, or on the left wing,
where I take it the Achaeans will be weakest?"
Idomeneus answered, "There are others to defend the centre—the
two Ajaxes and Teucer, who is the finest archer of all the
Achaeans, and is good also in a hand-to-hand fight. These will
give Hector son of Priam enough to do; fight as he may, he will
find it hard to vanquish their indomitable fury, and fire the
ships, unless the son of Saturn fling a firebrand upon them with
his own hand. Great Ajax son of Telamon will yield to no man who
is in mortal mould and eats the grain of Ceres, if bronze and
great stones can overthrow him. He would not yield even to
Achilles in hand-to-hand fight, and in fleetness of foot there is
none to beat him; let us turn therefore towards the left wing,
that we may know forthwith whether we are to give glory to some
other, or he to us."
Meriones, peer of fleet Mars, then led the way till they came to
the part of the host which Idomeneus had named.
Now when the Trojans saw Idomeneus coming on like a flame of
fire, him and his squire clad in their richly wrought armour,
they shouted and made towards him all in a body, and a furious
hand-to-hand fight raged under the ships' sterns. Fierce as the
shrill winds that whistle upon a day when dust lies deep on the
roads, and the gusts raise it into a thick cloud—even such was
the fury of the combat, and might and main did they hack at each
other with spear and sword throughout the host. The field
bristled with the long and deadly spears which they bore.
Dazzling was the sheen of their gleaming helmets, their
fresh-burnished breastplates, and glittering shields as they
joined battle with one another. Iron indeed must be his courage
who could take pleasure in the sight of such a turmoil, and look
on it without being dismayed.
Thus did the two mighty sons of Saturn devise evil for mortal
heroes. Jove was minded to give victory to the Trojans and to
Hector, so as to do honour to fleet Achilles, nevertheless he did
not mean to utterly overthrow the Achaean host before Ilius, and
only wanted to glorify Thetis and her valiant son. Neptune on the
other hand went about among the Argives to incite them, having
come up from the grey sea in secret, for he was grieved at seeing
them vanquished by the Trojans, and was furiously angry with
Jove. Both were of the same race and country, but Jove was elder
born and knew more, therefore Neptune feared to defend the
Argives openly, but in the likeness of man, he kept on
encouraging them throughout their host. Thus, then, did these two
devise a knot of war and battle, that none could unloose or
break, and set both sides tugging at it, to the failing of men's
knees beneath them.
And now Idomeneus, though his hair was already flecked with grey,
called loud on the Danaans and spread panic among the Trojans as
he leaped in among them. He slew Othryoneus from Cabesus, a
sojourner, who had but lately come to take part in the war. He
sought Cassandra, the fairest of Priam's daughters, in marriage,
but offered no gifts of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to
wit, that he would drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly
from Troy; old King Priam had given his consent and promised her
to him, whereon he fought on the strength of the promises thus
made to him. Idomeneus aimed a spear, and hit him as he came
striding on. His cuirass of bronze did not protect him, and the
spear stuck in his belly, so that he fell heavily to the ground.
Then Idomeneus vaunted over him saying, "Othryoneus, there is no
one in the world whom I shall admire more than I do you, if you
indeed perform what you have promised Priam son of Dardanus in
return for his daughter. We too will make you an offer; we will
give you the loveliest daughter of the son of Atreus, and will
bring her from Argos for you to marry, if you will sack the
goodly city of Ilius in company with ourselves; so come along
with me, that we may make a covenant at the ships about the
marriage, and we will not be hard upon you about gifts of
wooing."
With this Idomeneus began dragging him by the foot through the
thick of the fight, but Asius came up to protect the body, on
foot, in front of his horses which his esquire drove so close
behind him that he could feel their breath upon his shoulder. He
was longing to strike down Idomeneus, but ere he could do so
Idomeneus smote him with his spear in the throat under the chin,
and the bronze point went clean through it. He fell as an oak, or
poplar, or pine which shipwrights have felled for ship's timber
upon the mountains with whetted axes—even thus did he lie full
length in front of his chariot and horses, grinding his teeth and
clutching at the bloodstained dust. His charioteer was struck
with panic and did not dare turn his horses round and escape:
thereupon Antilochus hit him in the middle of his body with a
spear; his cuirass of bronze did not protect him, and the spear
stuck in his belly. He fell gasping from his chariot and
Antilochus, great Nestor's son, drove his horses from the Trojans
to the Achaeans.
Deiphobus then came close up to Idomeneus to avenge Asius, and
took aim at him with a spear, but Idomeneus was on the look-out
and avoided it, for he was covered by the round shield he always
bore—a shield of oxhide and bronze with two arm-rods on the
inside. He crouched under cover of this, and the spear flew over
him, but the shield rang out as the spear grazed it, and the
weapon sped not in vain from the strong hand of Deiphobus, for it
struck Hypsenor son of Hippasus, shepherd of his people, in the
liver under the midriff, and his limbs failed beneath him.
Deiphobus vaunted over him and cried with a loud voice saying,
"Of a truth Asius has not fallen unavenged; he will be glad even
while passing into the house of Hades, strong warden of the gate,
that I have sent some one to escort him."
Thus did he vaunt, and the Argives were stung by his saying.
Noble Antilochus was more angry than any one, but grief did not
make him forget his friend and comrade. He ran up to him,
bestrode him, and covered him with his shield; then two of his
staunch comrades, Mecisteus son of Echius, and Alastor, stooped
down, and bore him away groaning heavily to the ships. But
Idomeneus ceased not his fury. He kept on striving continually
either to enshroud some Trojan in the darkness of death, or
himself to fall while warding off the evil day from the Achaeans.
Then fell Alcathous son of noble Aesyetes; he was son-in-law to
Anchises, having married his eldest daughter Hippodameia, who was
the darling of her father and mother, and excelled all her
generation in beauty, accomplishments, and understanding,
wherefore the bravest man in all Troy had taken her to wife—him
did Neptune lay low by the hand of Idomeneus, blinding his bright
eyes and binding his strong limbs in fetters so that he could
neither go back nor to one side, but stood stock still like
pillar or lofty tree when Idomeneus struck him with a spear in
the middle of his chest. The coat of mail that had hitherto
protected his body was now broken, and rang harshly as the spear
tore through it. He fell heavily to the ground, and the spear
stuck in his heart, which still beat, and made the butt-end of
the spear quiver till dread Mars put an end to his life.
Idomeneus vaunted over him and cried with a loud voice saying,
"Deiphobus, since you are in a mood to vaunt, shall we cry quits
now that we have killed three men to your one? Nay, sir, stand in
fight with me yourself, that you may learn what manner of
Jove-begotten man am I that have come hither. Jove first begot
Minos, chief ruler in Crete, and Minos in his turn begot a son,
noble Deucalion. Deucalion begot me to be a ruler over many men
in Crete, and my ships have now brought me hither, to be the bane
of yourself, your father, and the Trojans."
Thus did he speak, and Deiphobus was in two minds, whether to go
back and fetch some other Trojan to help him, or to take up the
challenge single-handed. In the end, he deemed it best to go and
fetch Aeneas, whom he found standing in the rear, for he had long
been aggrieved with Priam because in spite of his brave deeds he
did not give him his due share of honour. Deiphobus went up to
him and said, "Aeneas, prince among the Trojans, if you know any
ties of kinship, help me now to defend the body of your sister's
husband; come with me to the rescue of Alcathous, who being
husband to your sister brought you up when you were a child in
his house, and now Idomeneus has slain him."
With these words he moved the heart of Aeneas, and he went in
pursuit of Idomeneus, big with great deeds of valour; but
Idomeneus was not to be thus daunted as though he were a mere
child; he held his ground as a wild boar at bay upon the
mountains, who abides the coming of a great crowd of men in some
lonely place—the bristles stand upright on his back, his eyes
flash fire, and he whets his tusks in his eagerness to defend
himself against hounds and men—even so did famed Idomeneus hold
his ground and budge not at the coming of Aeneas. He cried aloud
to his comrades looking towards Ascalaphus, Aphareus, Deipyrus,
Meriones, and Antilochus, all of them brave soldiers—"Hither my
friends," he cried, "and leave me not single-handed—I go in
great fear by fleet Aeneas, who is coming against me, and is a
redoubtable dispenser of death battle. Moreover he is in the
flower of youth when a man's strength is greatest; if I was of
the same age as he is and in my present mind, either he or I
should soon bear away the prize of victory."
On this, all of them as one man stood near him, shield on
shoulder. Aeneas on the other side called to his comrades,
looking towards Deiphobus, Paris, and Agenor, who were leaders of
the Trojans along with himself, and the people followed them as
sheep follow the ram when they go down to drink after they have
been feeding, and the heart of the shepherd is glad—even so was
the heart of Aeneas gladdened when he saw his people follow him.
Then they fought furiously in close combat about the body of
Alcathous, wielding their long spears; and the bronze armour
about their bodies rang fearfully as they took aim at one another
in the press of the fight, while the two heroes Aeneas and
Idomeneus, peers of Mars, outvied everyone in their desire to
hack at each other with sword and spear. Aeneas took aim first,
but Idomeneus was on the lookout and avoided the spear, so that
it sped from Aeneas' strong hand in vain, and fell quivering in
the ground. Idomeneus meanwhile smote Oenomaus in the middle of
his belly, and broke the plate of his corslet, whereon his bowels
came gushing out and he clutched the earth in the palms of his
hands as he fell sprawling in the dust. Idomeneus drew his spear
out of the body, but could not strip him of the rest of his
armour for the rain of darts that were showered upon him:
moreover his strength was now beginning to fail him so that he
could no longer charge, and could neither spring forward to
recover his own weapon nor swerve aside to avoid one that was
aimed at him; therefore, though he still defended himself in
hand-to-hand fight, his heavy feet could not bear him swiftly out
of the battle. Deiphobus aimed a spear at him as he was
retreating slowly from the field, for his bitterness against him
was as fierce as ever, but again he missed him, and hit
Ascalaphus, the son of Mars; the spear went through his shoulder,
and he clutched the earth in the palms of his hands as he fell
sprawling in the dust.
Grim Mars of awful voice did not yet know that his son had
fallen, for he was sitting on the summits of Olympus under the
golden clouds, by command of Jove, where the other gods were also
sitting, forbidden to take part in the battle. Meanwhile men
fought furiously about the body. Deiphobus tore the helmet from
off his head, but Meriones sprang upon him, and struck him on the
arm with a spear so that the visored helmet fell from his hand
and came ringing down upon the ground. Thereon Meriones sprang
upon him like a vulture, drew the spear from his shoulder, and
fell back under cover of his men. Then Polites, own brother of
Deiphobus passed his arms around his waist, and bore him away
from the battle till he got to his horses that were standing in
the rear of the fight with the chariot and their driver. These
took him towards the city groaning and in great pain, with the
blood flowing from his arm.
The others still fought on, and the battle-cry rose to heaven
without ceasing. Aeneas sprang on Aphareus son of Caletor, and
struck him with a spear in his throat which was turned towards
him; his head fell on one side, his helmet and shield came down
along with him, and death, life's foe, was shed around him.
Antilochus spied his chance, flew forward towards Thoon, and
wounded him as he was turning round. He laid open the vein that
runs all the way up the back to the neck; he cut this vein clean
away throughout its whole course, and Thoon fell in the dust face
upwards, stretching out his hands imploringly towards his
comrades. Antilochus sprang upon him and stripped the armour from
his shoulders, glaring round him fearfully as he did so. The
Trojans came about him on every side and struck his broad and
gleaming shield, but could not wound his body, for Neptune stood
guard over the son of Nestor, though the darts fell thickly round
him. He was never clear of the foe, but was always in the thick
of the fight; his spear was never idle; he poised and aimed it in
every direction, so eager was he to hit someone from a distance
or to fight him hand to hand.
As he was thus aiming among the crowd, he was seen by Adamas, son
of Asius, who rushed towards him and struck him with a spear in
the middle of his shield, but Neptune made its point without
effect, for he grudged him the life of Antilochus. One half,
therefore, of the spear stuck fast like a charred stake in
Antilochus's shield, while the other lay on the ground. Adamas
then sought shelter under cover of his men, but Meriones followed
after and hit him with a spear midway between the private parts
and the navel, where a wound is particualrly painful to wretched
mortals. There did Meriones transfix him, and he writhed
convulsively about the spear as some bull whom mountain herdsmen
have bound with ropes of withes and are taking away perforce.
Even so did he move convulsively for a while, but not for very
long, till Meriones came up and drew the spear out of his body,
and his eyes were veiled in darkness.
Helenus then struck Deipyrus with a great Thracian sword, hitting
him on the temple in close combat and tearing the helmet from his
head; the helmet fell to the ground, and one of those who were
fighting on the Achaean side took charge of it as it rolled at
his feet, but the eyes of Deipyrus were closed in the darkness of
death.
On this Menelaus was grieved, and made menacingly towards
Helenus, brandishing his spear; but Helenus drew his bow, and the
two attacked one another at one and the same moment, the one with
his spear, and the other with his bow and arrow. The son of Priam
hit the breastplate of Menelaus's corslet, but the arrow glanced
from off it. As black beans or pulse come pattering down on to a
threshing-floor from the broad winnowing-shovel, blown by shrill
winds and shaken by the shovel—even so did the arrow glance off
and recoil from the shield of Menelaus, who in his turn wounded
the hand with which Helenus carried his bow; the spear went right
through his hand and stuck in the bow itself, so that to his life
he retreated under cover of his men, with his hand dragging by
his side—for the spear weighed it down till Agenor drew it out
and bound the hand carefully up in a woollen sling which his
esquire had with him.
Pisander then made straight at Menelaus—his evil destiny luring
him on to his doom, for he was to fall in fight with you, O
Menelaus. When the two were hard by one another the spear of the
son of Atreus turned aside and he missed his aim; Pisander then
struck the shield of brave Menelaus but could not pierce it, for
the shield stayed the spear and broke the shaft; nevertheless he
was glad and made sure of victory; forthwith, however, the son of
Atreus drew his sword and sprang upon him. Pisander then seized
the bronze battle-axe, with its long and polished handle of olive
wood that hung by his side under his shield, and the two made at
one another. Pisander struck the peak of Menelaus's crested
helmet just under the crest itself, and Menelaus hit Pisander as
he was coming towards him, on the forehead, just at the rise of
his nose; the bones cracked and his two gore-bedrabbled eyes fell
by his feet in the dust. He fell backwards to the ground, and
Menelaus set his heel upon him, stripped him of his armour, and
vaunted over him saying, "Even thus shall you Trojans leave the
ships of the Achaeans, proud and insatiate of battle though you
be, nor shall you lack any of the disgrace and shame which you
have heaped upon myself. Cowardly she-wolves that you are, you
feared not the anger of dread Jove, avenger of violated
hospitality, who will one day destroy your city; you stole my
wedded wife and wickedly carried off much treasure when you were
her guest, and now you would fling fire upon our ships, and kill
our heroes. A day will come when, rage as you may, you shall be
stayed. O father Jove, you, who they say art above all, both gods
and men, in wisdom, and from whom all things that befall us do
proceed, how can you thus favour the Trojans—men so proud and
overweening, that they are never tired of fighting? All things
pall after a while—sleep, love, sweet song, and stately dance—
still these are things of which a man would surely have his fill
rather than of battle, whereas it is of battle that the Trojans
are insatiate."
So saying Menelaus stripped the blood-stained armour from the
body of Pisander, and handed it over to his men; then he again
ranged himself among those who were in the front of the fight.
Harpalion son of King Pylaemenes then sprang upon him; he had
come to fight at Troy along with his father, but he did not go
home again. He struck the middle of Menelaus's shield with his
spear but could not pierce it, and to save his life drew back
under cover of his men, looking round him on every side lest he
should be wounded. But Meriones aimed a bronze-tipped arrow at
him as he was leaving the field, and hit him on the right
buttock; the arrow pierced the bone through and through, and
penetrated the bladder, so he sat down where he was and breathed
his last in the arms of his comrades, stretched like a worm upon
the ground and watering the earth with the blood that flowed from
his wound. The brave Paphlagonians tended him with all due care;
they raised him into his chariot, and bore him sadly off to the
city of Troy; his father went also with him weeping bitterly, but
there was no ransom that could bring his dead son to life again.
Paris was deeply grieved by the death of Harpalion, who was his
host when he went among the Paphlagonians; he aimed an arrow,
therefore, in order to avenge him. Now there was a certain man
named Euchenor, son of Polyidus the prophet, a brave man and
wealthy, whose home was in Corinth. This Euchenor had set sail
for Troy well knowing that it would be the death of him, for his
good old father Polyidus had often told him that he must either
stay at home and die of a terrible disease, or go with the
Achaeans and perish at the hands of the Trojans; he chose,
therefore, to avoid incurring the heavy fine the Achaeans would
have laid upon him, and at the same time to escape the pain and
suffering of disease. Paris now smote him on the jaw under his
ear, whereon the life went out of him and he was enshrouded in
the darkness of death.
Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. But Hector
had not yet heard, and did not know that the Argives were making
havoc of his men on the left wing of the battle, where the
Achaeans ere long would have triumphed over them, so vigorously
did Neptune cheer them on and help them. He therefore held on at
the point where he had first forced his way through the gates and
the wall, after breaking through the serried ranks of Danaan
warriors. It was here that the ships of Ajax and Protesilaus were
drawn up by the sea-shore; here the wall was at its lowest, and
the fight both of man and horse raged most fiercely. The
Boeotians and the Ionians with their long tunics, the Locrians,
the men of Phthia, and the famous force of the Epeans could
hardly stay Hector as he rushed on towards the ships, nor could
they drive him from them, for he was as a wall of fire. The
chosen men of the Athenians were in the van, led by Menestheus
son of Peteos, with whom were also Pheidas, Stichius, and
stalwart Bias; Meges son of Phyleus, Amphion, and Dracius
commanded the Epeans, while Medon and staunch Podarces led the
men of Phthia. Of these, Medon was bastard son to Oileus and
brother of Ajax, but he lived in Phylace away from his own
country, for he had killed the brother of his stepmother Eriopis,
the wife of Oileus; the other, Podarces, was the son of Iphiclus,
son of Phylacus. These two stood in the van of the Phthians, and
defended the ships along with the Boeotians.
Ajax son of Oileus, never for a moment left the side of Ajax, son
of Telamon, but as two swart oxen both strain their utmost at the
plough which they are drawing in a fallow field, and the sweat
steams upwards from about the roots of their horns—nothing but
the yoke divides them as they break up the ground till they reach
the end of the field—even so did the two Ajaxes stand shoulder
to shoulder by one another. Many and brave comrades followed the
son of Telamon, to relieve him of his shield when he was overcome
with sweat and toil, but the Locrians did not follow so close
after the son of Oileus, for they could not hold their own in a
hand-to-hand fight. They had no bronze helmets with plumes of
horse-hair, neither had they shields nor ashen spears, but they
had come to Troy armed with bows, and with slings of twisted wool
from which they showered their missiles to break the ranks of the
Trojans. The others, therefore, with their heavy armour bore the
brunt of the fight with the Trojans and with Hector, while the
Locrians shot from behind, under their cover; and thus the
Trojans began to lose heart, for the arrows threw them into
confusion.
The Trojans would now have been driven in sorry plight from the
ships and tents back to windy Ilius, had not Polydamas presently
said to Hector, "Hector, there is no persuading you to take
advice. Because heaven has so richly endowed you with the arts of
war, you think that you must therefore excel others in counsel;
but you cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has
made one man an excellent soldier; of another it has made a
dancer or a singer and player on the lyre; while yet in another
Jove has implanted a wise understanding of which men reap fruit
to the saving of many, and he himself knows more about it than
any one; therefore I will say what I think will be best. The
fight has hemmed you in as with a circle of fire, and even now
that the Trojans are within the wall some of them stand aloof in
full armour, while others are fighting scattered and outnumbered
near the ships. Draw back, therefore, and call your chieftains
round you, that we may advise together whether to fall now upon
the ships in the hope that heaven may vouchsafe us victory, or to
beat a retreat while we can yet safely do so. I greatly fear that
the Achaeans will pay us their debt of yesterday in full, for
there is one abiding at their ships who is never weary of battle,
and who will not hold aloof much longer."
Thus spoke Polydamas, and his words pleased Hector well. He
sprang in full armour from his chariot and said, "Polydamas,
gather the chieftains here; I will go yonder into the fight, but
will return at once when I have given them their orders."
He then sped onward, towering like a snowy mountain, and with a
loud cry flew through the ranks of the Trojans and their allies.
When they heard his voice they all hastened to gather round
Polydamas, the excellent son of Panthous, but Hector kept on
among the foremost, looking everywhere to find Deiphobus and
prince Helenus, Adamas son of Asius, and Asius son of Hyrtacus;
living, indeed, and scatheless he could no longer find them, for
the two last were lying by the sterns of the Achaean ships, slain
by the Argives, while the others had been also stricken and
wounded by them; but upon the left wing of the dread battle he
found Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen, cheering his men and
urging them on to fight. He went up to him and upbraided him.
"Paris," said he, "evil-hearted Paris, fair to see but woman-mad
and false of tongue, where are Deiphobus and King Helenus? Where
are Adamas son of Asius, and Asius son of Hyrtacus? Where too is
Othryoneus? Ilius is undone and will now surely fall!"
Alexandrus answered, "Hector, why find fault when there is no one
to find fault with? I should hold aloof from battle on any day
rather than this, for my mother bore me with nothing of the
coward about me. From the moment when you set our men fighting
about the ships we have been staying here and doing battle with
the Danaans. Our comrades about whom you ask me are dead;
Deiphobus and King Helenus alone have left the field, wounded
both of them in the hand, but the son of Saturn saved them alive.
Now, therefore, lead on where you would have us go, and we will
follow with right goodwill; you shall not find us fail you in so
far as our strength holds out, but no man can do more than in him
lies, no matter how willing he may be."
With these words he satisfied his brother, and the two went
towards the part of the battle where the fight was thickest,
about Cebriones, brave Polydamas, Phalces, Orthaeus, godlike
Polyphetes, Palmys, Ascanius, and Morys son of Hippotion, who had
come from fertile Ascania on the preceding day to relieve other
troops. Then Jove urged them on to fight. They flew forth like
the blasts of some fierce wind that strike earth in the van of a
thunderstorm—they buffet the salt sea into an uproar; many and
mighty are the great waves that come crashing in one after the
other upon the shore with their arching heads all crested with
foam—even so did rank behind rank of Trojans arrayed in gleaming
armour follow their leaders onward. The way was led by Hector son
of Priam, peer of murderous Mars, with his round shield before
him—his shield of ox-hides covered with plates of bronze—and
his gleaming helmet upon his temples. He kept stepping forward
under cover of his shield in every direction, making trial of the
ranks to see if they would give way before him, but he could not
daunt the courage of the Achaeans. Ajax was the first to stride
out and challenge him. "Sir," he cried, "draw near; why do you
think thus vainly to dismay the Argives? We Achaeans are
excellent soldiers, but the scourge of Jove has fallen heavily
upon us. Your heart, forsooth, is set on destroying our ships,
but we too have hands that can keep you at bay, and your own fair
town shall be sooner taken and sacked by ourselves. The time is
near when you shall pray Jove and all the gods in your flight,
that your steeds may be swifter than hawks as they raise the dust
on the plain and bear you back to your city."
As he was thus speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand, and
the host of the Achaeans shouted, for they took heart at the
omen. But Hector answered, "Ajax, braggart and false of tongue,
would that I were as sure of being son for evermore to
aegis-bearing Jove, with Queen Juno for my mother, and of being
held in like honour with Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this
day is big with the destruction of the Achaeans; and you shall
fall among them if you dare abide my spear; it shall rend your
fair body and bid you glut our hounds and birds of prey with your
fat and your flesh, as you fall by the ships of the Achaeans."
With these words he led the way and the others followed after
with a cry that rent the air, while the host shouted behind them.
The Argives on their part raised a shout likewise, nor did they
forget their prowess, but stood firm against the onslaught of the
Trojan chieftains, and the cry from both the hosts rose up to
heaven and to the brightness of Jove's presence.
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