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The Iliad
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Book XIV

NESTOR was sitting over his wine, but the cry of battle did not
escape him, and he said to the son of Aesculapius, "What, noble
Machaon, is the meaning of all this? The shouts of men fighting
by our ships grow stronger and stronger; stay here, therefore,
and sit over your wine, while fair Hecamede heats you a bath and
washes the clotted blood from off you. I will go at once to the
look-out station and see what it is all about."
As he spoke he took up the shield of his son Thrasymedes that was
lying in his tent, all gleaming with bronze, for Thrasymedes had
taken his father's shield; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod
spear, and as soon as he was outside saw the disastrous rout of
the Achaeans who, now that their wall was overthrown, were flying
pell-mell before the Trojans. As when there is a heavy swell upon
the sea, but the waves are dumb—they keep their eyes on the
watch for the quarter whence the fierce winds may spring upon
them, but they stay where they are and set neither this way nor
that, till some particular wind sweeps down from heaven to
determine them—even so did the old man ponder whether to make
for the crowd of Danaans, or go in search of Agamemnon. In the
end he deemed it best to go to the son of Atreus; but meanwhile
the hosts were fighting and killing one another, and the hard
bronze rattled on their bodies, as they thrust at one another
with their swords and spears.
The wounded kings, the son of Tydeus, Ulysses, and Agamemnon son
of Atreus, fell in Nestor as they were coming up from their
ships—for theirs were drawn up some way from where the fighting
was going on, being on the shore itself inasmuch as they had been
beached first, while the wall had been built behind the
hindermost. The stretch of the shore, wide though it was, did not
afford room for all the ships, and the host was cramped for
space, therefore they had placed the ships in rows one behind the
other, and had filled the whole opening of the bay between the
two points that formed it. The kings, leaning on their spears,
were coming out to survey the fight, being in great anxiety, and
when old Nestor met them they were filled with dismay. Then King
Agamemnon said to him, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the
Achaean name, why have you left the battle to come hither? I fear
that what dread Hector said will come true, when he vaunted among
the Trojans saying that he would not return to Ilius till he had
fired our ships and killed us; this is what he said, and now it
is all coming true. Alas! others of the Achaeans, like Achilles,
are in anger with me that they refuse to fight by the sterns of
our ships."
Then Nestor knight of Gerene, answered, "It is indeed as you say;
it is all coming true at this moment, and even Jove who thunders
from on high cannot prevent it. Fallen is the wall on which we
relied as an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet. The
Trojans are fighting stubbornly and without ceasing at the ships;
look where you may you cannot see from what quarter the rout of
the Achaeans is coming; they are being killed in a confused mass
and the battle-cry ascends to heaven; let us think, if counsel
can be of any use, what we had better do; but I do not advise our
going into battle ourselves, for a man cannot fight when he is
And King Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, if the Trojans are indeed
fighting at the rear of our ships, and neither the wall nor the
trench has served us—over which the Danaans toiled so hard, and
which they deemed would be an impregnable bulwark both for us and
our fleet—I see it must be the will of Jove that the Achaeans
should perish ingloriously here, far from Argos. I knew when Jove
was willing to defend us, and I know now that he is raising the
Trojans to like honour with the gods, while us, on the other
hand, he bas bound hand and foot. Now, therefore, let us all do
as I say; let us bring down the ships that are on the beach and
draw them into the water; let us make them fast to their
mooring-stones a little way out, against the fall of night—if
even by night the Trojans will desist from fighting; we may then
draw down the rest of the fleet. There is nothing wrong in flying
ruin even by night. It is better for a man that he should fly and
be saved than be caught and killed."
Ulysses looked fiercely at him and said, "Son of Atreus, what are
you talking about? Wretch, you should have commanded some other
and baser army, and not been ruler over us to whom Jove has
allotted a life of hard fighting from youth to old age, till we
every one of us perish. Is it thus that you would quit the city
of Troy, to win which we have suffered so much hardship? Hold
your peace, lest some other of the Achaeans hear you say what no
man who knows how to give good counsel, no king over so great a
host as that of the Argives should ever have let fall from his
lips. I despise your judgement utterly for what you have been
saying. Would you, then, have us draw down our ships into the
water while the battle is raging, and thus play further into the
hands of the conquering Trojans? It would be ruin; the Achaeans
will not go on fighting when they see the ships being drawn into
the water, but will cease attacking and keep turning their eyes
towards them; your counsel, therefore, sir captain, would be our
Agamemnon answered, "Ulysses, your rebuke has stung me to the
heart. I am not, however, ordering the Achaeans to draw their
ships into the sea whether they will or no. Someone, it may be,
old or young, can offer us better counsel which I shall rejoice
to hear."
Then said Diomed, "Such an one is at hand; he is not far to seek,
if you will listen to me and not resent my speaking though I am
younger than any of you. I am by lineage son to a noble sire,
Tydeus, who lies buried at Thebes. For Portheus had three noble
sons, two of whom, Agrius and Melas, abode in Pleuron and rocky
Calydon. The third was the knight Oeneus, my father's father, and
he was the most valiant of them all. Oeneus remained in his own
country, but my father (as Jove and the other gods ordained it)
migrated to Argos. He married into the family of Adrastus, and
his house was one of great abundance, for he had large estates of
rich corn-growing land, with much orchard ground as well, and he
had many sheep; moreover he excelled all the Argives in the use
of the spear. You must yourselves have heard whether these things
are true or no; therefore when I say well despise not my words as
though I were a coward or of ignoble birth. I say, then, let us
go to the fight as we needs must, wounded though we be. When
there, we may keep out of the battle and beyond the range of the
spears lest we get fresh wounds in addition to what we have
already, but we can spur on others, who have been indulging their
spleen and holding aloof from battle hitherto."
Thus did he speak; whereon they did even as he had said and set
out, King Agamemnon leading the way.
Meanwhile Neptune had kept no blind look-out, and came up to them
in the semblance of an old man. He took Agamemnon's right hand in
his own and said, "Son of Atreus, I take it Achilles is glad now
that he sees the Achaeans routed and slain, for he is utterly
without remorse—may he come to a bad end and heaven confound
him. As for yourself, the blessed gods are not yet so bitterly
angry with you but that the princes and counsellors of the
Trojans shall again raise the dust upon the plain, and you shall
see them flying from the ships and tents towards their city."
With this he raised a mighty cry of battle, and sped forward to
the plain. The voice that came from his deep chest was as that of
nine or ten thousand men when they are shouting in the thick of a
fight, and it put fresh courage into the hearts of the Achaeans
to wage war and do battle without ceasing.
Juno of the golden throne looked down as she stood upon a peak of
Olympus and her heart was gladdened at the sight of him who was
at once her brother and her brother-in-law, hurrying hither and
thither amid the fighting. Then she turned her eyes to Jove as he
sat on the topmost crests of many-fountained Ida, and loathed
him. She set herself to think how she might hoodwink him, and in
the end she deemed that it would be best for her to go to Ida and
array herself in rich attire, in the hope that Jove might become
enamoured of her, and wish to embrace her. While he was thus
engaged a sweet and careless sleep might be made to steal over
his eyes and senses.
She went, therefore, to the room which her son Vulcan had made
her, and the doors of which he had cunningly fastened by means of
a secret key so that no other god could open them. Here she
entered and closed the doors behind her. She cleansed all the
dirt from her fair body with ambrosia, then she anointed herself
with olive oil, ambrosial, very soft, and scented specially for
herself—if it were so much as shaken in the bronze-floored house
of Jove, the scent pervaded the universe of heaven and earth.
With this she anointed her delicate skin, and then she plaited
the fair ambrosial locks that flowed in a stream of golden
tresses from her immortal head. She put on the wondrous robe
which Minerva had worked for her with consummate art, and had
embroidered with manifold devices; she fastened it about her
bosom with golden clasps, and she girded herself with a girdle
that had a hundred tassels: then she fastened her earrings, three
brilliant pendants that glistened most beautifully, through the
pierced lobes of her ears, and threw a lovely new veil over her
head. She bound her sandals on to her feet, and when she had
arrayed herself perfectly to her satisfaction, she left her room
and called Venus to come aside and speak to her. "My dear child,"
said she, "will you do what I am going to ask of you, or will
refuse me because you are angry at my being on the Danaan side,
while you are on the Trojan?"
Jove's daughter Venus answered, "Juno, august queen of goddesses,
daughter of mighty Saturn, say what you want, and I will do it
for you at once, if I can, and if it can be done at all."
Then Juno told her a lying tale and said, "I want you to endow me
with some of those fascinating charms, the spells of which bring
all things mortal and immortal to your feet. I am going to the
world's end to visit Oceanus (from whom all we gods proceed) and
mother Tethys: they received me in their house, took care of me,
and brought me up, having taken me over from Rhaea when Jove
imprisoned great Saturn in the depths that are under earth and
sea. I must go and see them that I may make peace between them;
they have been quarrelling, and are so angry that they have not
slept with one another this long while; if I can bring them round
and restore them to one another's embraces, they will be grateful
to me and love me for ever afterwards."
Thereon laughter-loving Venus said, "I cannot and must not refuse
you, for you sleep in the arms of Jove who is our king."
As she spoke she loosed from her bosom the curiously embroidered
girdle into which all her charms had been wrought—love, desire,
and that sweet flattery which steals the judgement even of the
most prudent. She gave the girdle to Juno and said, "Take this
girdle wherein all my charms reside and lay it in your bosom. If
you will wear it I promise you that your errand, be it what it
may, will not be bootless."
When she heard this Juno smiled, and still smiling she laid the
girdle in her bosom.
Venus now went back into the house of Jove, while Juno darted
down from the summits of Olympus. She passed over Pieria and fair
Emathia, and went on and on till she came to the snowy ranges of
the Thracian horsemen, over whose topmost crests she sped without
ever setting foot to ground. When she came to Athos she went on
over the, waves of the sea till she reached Lemnos, the city of
noble Thoas. There she met Sleep, own brother to Death, and
caught him by the hand, saying, "Sleep, you who lord it alike
over mortals and immortals, if you ever did me a service in times
past, do one for me now, and I shall be grateful to you ever
after. Close Jove's keen eyes for me in slumber while I hold him
clasped in my embrace, and I will give you a beautiful golden
seat, that can never fall to pieces; my clubfooted son Vulcan
shall make it for you, and he shall give it a footstool for you
to rest your fair feet upon when you are at table."
Then Sleep answered, "Juno, great queen of goddesses, daughter of
mighty Saturn, I would lull any other of the gods to sleep
without compunction, not even excepting the waters of Oceanus
from whom all of them proceed, but I dare not go near Jove, nor
send him to sleep unless he bids me. I have had one lesson
already through doing what you asked me, on the day when Jove's
mighty son Hercules set sail from Ilius after having sacked the
city of the Trojans. At your bidding I suffused my sweet self
over the mind of aegis-bearing Jove, and laid him to rest;
meanwhile you hatched a plot against Hercules, and set the blasts
of the angry winds beating upon the sea, till you took him to the
goodly city of Cos, away from all his friends. Jove was furious
when he awoke, and began hurling the gods about all over the
house; he was looking more particularly for myself, and would
have flung me down through space into the sea where I should
never have been heard of any more, had not Night who cows both
men and gods protected me. I fled to her and Jove left off
looking for me in spite of his being so angry, for he did not
dare do anything to displease Night. And now you are again asking
me to do something on which I cannot venture."
And Juno said, "Sleep, why do you take such notions as those into
your head? Do you think Jove will be as anxious to help the
Trojans, as he was about his own son? Come, I will marry you to
one of the youngest of the Graces, and she shall be your own—
Pasithea, whom you have always wanted to marry."
Sleep was pleased when he heard this, and answered, "Then swear
it to me by the dread waters of the river Styx; lay one hand on
the bounteous earth, and the other on the sheen of the sea, so
that all the gods who dwell down below with Saturn may be our
witnesses, and see that you really do give me one of the youngest
of the Graces—Pasithea, whom I have always wanted to marry."
Juno did as he had said. She swore, and invoked all the gods of
the nether world, who are called Titans, to witness. When she had
completed her oath, the two enshrouded themselves in a thick mist
and sped lightly forward, leaving Lemnos and Imbrus behind them.
Presently they reached many-fountained Ida, mother of wild
beasts, and Lectum where they left the sea to go on by land, and
the tops of the trees of the forest soughed under the going of
their feet. Here Sleep halted, and ere Jove caught sight of him
he climbed a lofty pine-tree—the tallest that reared its head
towards heaven on all Ida. He hid himself behind the branches and
sat there in the semblance of the sweet-singing bird that haunts
the mountains and is called Chalcis by the gods, but men call it
Cymindis. Juno then went to Gargarus, the topmost peak of Ida,
and Jove, driver of the clouds, set eyes upon her. As soon as he
did so he became inflamed with the same passionate desire for her
that he had felt when they had first enjoyed each other's
embraces, and slept with one another without their dear parents
knowing anything about it. He went up to her and said, "What do
you want that you have come hither from Olympus—and that too
with neither chariot nor horses to convey you?"
Then Juno told him a lying tale and said, "I am going to the
world's end, to visit Oceanus, from whom all we gods proceed, and
mother Tethys; they received me into their house, took care of
me, and brought me up. I must go and see them that I may make
peace between them: they have been quarrelling, and are so angry
that they have not slept with one another this long time. The
horses that will take me over land and sea are stationed on the
lowermost spurs of many-fountained Ida, and I have come here from
Olympus on purpose to consult you. I was afraid you might be
angry with me later on, if I went to the house of Oceanus without
letting you know."
And Jove said, "Juno, you can choose some other time for paying
your visit to Oceanus—for the present let us devote ourselves to
love and to the enjoyment of one another. Never yet have I been
so overpowered by passion neither for goddess nor mortal woman as
I am at this moment for yourself—not even when I was in love
with the wife of Ixion who bore me Pirithous, peer of gods in
counsel, nor yet with Danae the daintily-ancled daughter of
Acrisius, who bore me the famed hero Perseus. Then there was the
daughter of Phoenix, who bore me Minos and Rhadamanthus: there
was Semele, and Alcmena in Thebes by whom I begot my lion-hearted
son Hercules, while Semele became mother to Bacchus the comforter
of mankind. There was queen Ceres again, and lovely Leto, and
yourself—but with none of these was I ever so much enamoured as
I now am with you."
Juno again answered him with a lying tale. "Most dread son of
Saturn," she exclaimed, "what are you talking about? Would you
have us enjoy one another here on the top of Mount Ida, where
everything can be seen? What if one of the ever-living gods
should see us sleeping together, and tell the others? It would be
such a scandal that when I had risen from your embraces I could
never show myself inside your house again; but if you are so
minded, there is a room which your son Vulcan has made me, and he
has given it good strong doors; if you would so have it, let us
go thither and lie down."
And Jove answered, "Juno, you need not be afraid that either god
or man will see you, for I will enshroud both of us in such a
dense golden cloud, that the very sun for all his bright piercing
beams shall not see through it."
With this the son of Saturn caught his wife in his embrace;
whereon the earth sprouted them a cushion of young grass, with
dew-bespangled lotus, crocus, and hyacinth, so soft and thick
that it raised them well above the ground. Here they laid
themselves down and overhead they were covered by a fair cloud of
gold, from which there fell glittering dew-drops.
Thus, then, did the sire of all things repose peacefully on the
crest of Ida, overcome at once by sleep and love, and he held his
spouse in his arms. Meanwhile Sleep made off to the ships of the
Achaeans, to tell earth-encircling Neptune, lord of the
earthquake. When he had found him he said, "Now, Neptune, you can
help the Danaans with a will, and give them victory though it be
only for a short time while Jove is still sleeping. I have sent
him into a sweet slumber, and Juno has beguiled him into going to
bed with her."
Sleep now departed and went his ways to and fro among mankind,
leaving Neptune more eager than ever to help the Danaans. He
darted forward among the first ranks and shouted saying,
"Argives, shall we let Hector son of Priam have the triumph of
taking our ships and covering himself with glory? This is what he
says that he shall now do, seeing that Achilles is still in
dudgeon at his ship; we shall get on very well without him if we
keep each other in heart and stand by one another. Now,
therefore, let us all do as I say. Let us each take the best and
largest shield we can lay hold of, put on our helmets, and sally
forth with our longest spears in our hands; I will lead you on,
and Hector son of Priam, rage as he may, will not dare to hold
out against us. If any good staunch soldier has only a small
shield, let him hand it over to a worse man, and take a larger
one for himself."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The son of
Tydeus, Ulysses, and Agamemnon, wounded though they were, set the
others in array, and went about everywhere effecting the
exchanges of armour; the most valiant took the best armour, and
gave the worse to the worse man. When they had donned their
bronze armour they marched on with Neptune at their head. In his
strong hand he grasped his terrible sword, keen of edge and
flashing like lightning; woe to him who comes across it in the
day of battle; all men quake for fear and keep away from it.
Hector on the other side set the Trojans in array. Thereon
Neptune and Hector waged fierce war on one another—Hector on the
Trojan and Neptune on the Argive side. Mighty was the uproar as
the two forces met; the sea came rolling in towards the ships and
tents of the Achaeans, but waves do not thunder on the shore more
loudly when driven before the blast of Boreas, nor do the flames
of a forest fire roar more fiercely when it is well alight upon
the mountains, nor does the wind bellow with ruder music as it
tears on through the tops of when it is blowing its hardest, than
the terrible shout which the Trojans and Achaeans raised as they
sprang upon one another.
Hector first aimed his spear at Ajax, who was turned full towards
him, nor did he miss his aim. The spear struck him where two
bands passed over his chest—the band of his shield and that of
his silver-studded sword—and these protected his body. Hector
was angry that his spear should have been hurled in vain, and
withdrew under cover of his men. As he was thus retreating, Ajax
son of Telamon, struck him with a stone, of which there were many
lying about under the men's feet as they fought—brought there to
give support to the ships' sides as they lay on the shore. Ajax
caught up one of them and struck Hector above the rim of his
shield close to his neck; the blow made him spin round like a top
and reel in all directions. As an oak falls headlong when
uprooted by the lightning flash of father Jove, and there is a
terrible smell of brimstone—no man can help being dismayed if he
is standing near it, for a thunderbolt is a very awful thing—
even so did Hector fall to earth and bite the dust. His spear
fell from his hand, but his shield and helmet were made fast
about his body, and his bronze armour rang about him.
The sons of the Achaeans came running with a loud cry towards
him, hoping to drag him away, and they showered their darts on
the Trojans, but none of them could wound him before he was
surrounded and covered by the princes Polydamas, Aeneas, Agenor,
Sarpedon captain of the Lycians, and noble Glaucus. Of the
others, too, there was not one who was unmindful of him, and they
held their round shields over him to cover him. His comrades then
lifted him off the ground and bore him away from the battle to
the place where his horses stood waiting for him at the rear of
the fight with their driver and the chariot; these then took him
towards the city groaning and in great pain. When they reached
the ford of the fair stream of Xanthus, begotten of Immortal
Jove, they took him from off his chariot and laid him down on the
ground; they poured water over him, and as they did so he
breathed again and opened his eyes. Then kneeling on his knees he
vomited blood, but soon fell back on to the ground, and his eyes
were again closed in darkness for he was still stunned by the
When the Argives saw Hector leaving the field, they took heart
and set upon the Trojans yet more furiously. Ajax fleet son of
Oileus began by springing on Satnius son of Enops, and wounding
him with his spear: a fair naiad nymph had borne him to Enops as
he was herding cattle by the banks of the river Satnioeis. The
son of Oileus came up to him and struck him in the flank so that
he fell, and a fierce fight between Trojans and Danaans raged
round his body. Polydamas son of Panthous drew near to avenge
him, and wounded Prothoenor son of Areilycus on the right
shoulder; the terrible spear went right through his shoulder, and
he clutched the earth as he fell in the dust. Polydamas vaunted
loudly over him saying, "Again I take it that the spear has not
sped in vain from the strong hand of the son of Panthous; an
Argive has caught it in his body, and it will serve him for a
staff as he goes down into the house of Hades."
The Argives were maddened by this boasting. Ajax son of Telamon
was more angry than any, for the man had fallen close beside him;
so he aimed at Polydamas as he was retreating, but Polydamas
saved himself by swerving aside and the spear struck Archelochus
son of Antenor, for heaven counselled his destruction; it struck
him where the head springs from the neck at the top joint of the
spine, and severed both the tendons at the back of the head. His
head, mouth, and nostrils reached the ground long before his legs
and knees could do so, and Ajax shouted to Polydamas saying,
"Think, Polydamas, and tell me truly whether this man is not as
well worth killing as Prothoenor was: he seems rich, and of rich
family, a brother, it may be, or son of the knight Antenor, for
he is very like him."
But he knew well who it was, and the Trojans were greatly
angered. Acamas then bestrode his brother's body and wounded
Promachus the Boeotian with his spear, for he was trying to drag
his brother's body away. Acamas vaunted loudly over him saying,
"Argive archers, braggarts that you are, toil and suffering shall
not be for us only, but some of you too shall fall here as well
as ourselves. See how Promachus now sleeps, vanquished by my
spear; payment for my brother's blood has not been long delayed;
a man, therefore, may well be thankful if he leaves a kinsman in
his house behind him to avenge his fall."
His taunts infuriated the Argives, and Peneleos was more enraged
than any of them. He sprang towards Acamas, but Acamas did not
stand his ground, and he killed Ilioneus son of the rich
flock-master Phorbas, whom Mercury had favoured and endowed with
greater wealth than any other of the Trojans. Ilioneus was his
only son, and Peneleos now wounded him in the eye under his
eyebrows, tearing the eye-ball from its socket: the spear went
right through the eye into the nape of the neck, and he fell,
stretching out both hands before him. Peneleos then drew his
sword and smote him on the neck, so that both head and helmet
came tumbling down to the ground with the spear still sticking in
the eye; he then held up the head, as though it had been a
poppy-head, and showed it to the Trojans, vaunting over them as
he did so. "Trojans," he cried, "bid the father and mother of
noble Ilioneus make moan for him in their house, for the wife
also of Promachus son of Alegenor will never be gladdened by the
coming of her dear husband—when we Argives return with our ships
from Troy."
As he spoke fear fell upon them, and every man looked round about
to see whither he might fly for safety.
Tell me now, O Muses that dwell on Olympus, who was the first of
the Argives to bear away blood-stained spoils after Neptune lord
of the earthquake had turned the fortune of war. Ajax son of
Telamon was first to wound Hyrtius son of Gyrtius, captain of the
staunch Mysians. Antilochus killed Phalces and Mermerus, while
Meriones slew Morys and Hippotion, Teucer also killed Prothoon
and Periphetes. The son of Atreus then wounded Hyperenor shepherd
of his people, in the flank, and the bronze point made his
entrails gush out as it tore in among them; on this his life came
hurrying out of him at the place where he had been wounded, and
his eyes were closed in darkness. Ajax son of Oileus killed more
than any other, for there was no man so fleet as he to pursue
flying foes when Jove had spread panic among them.
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