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Book XVIII

THUS then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the
fleet runner Antilochus, 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," said he 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 Menoetius has fallen
through his own daring and yet I bade him return to the ships as
soon as he had driven back those that were bringing fire against
them, and not join battle with Hector."
As he was thus 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. Patroclus has fallen, and a fight is raging
about his naked body—for Hector holds his armour."
A dark cloud of grief 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. The bondswomen whom Achilles and Patroclus had taken
captive screamed aloud for grief, beating their breasts, and with
their limbs failing them for sorrow. Antilochus 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 and 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 Glauce, Thalia and Cymodoce, Nesaia, Speo, Thoe and
dark-eyed Halie, Cymothoe, Actaea and Limnorea, Melite, Iaera,
Amphithoe and Agave, Doto and Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene,
Dexamene, Amphinome and Callianeira, Doris, Panope, and the
famous sea-nymph Galatea, Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa.
There were also Clymene, Ianeira and Ianassa, Maera, 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.
"Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may
hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe in that I
have borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and
strong, 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
Ilius 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 has befallen him though he is still holding
aloof from battle."
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 rich 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 has now befallen you? Tell me;
hide it not from me. Surely Jove 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."
Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Jove has indeed
vouchsafed me the fulfilment of my prayer, but what boots it to
me, seeing that my dear comrade Patroclus has fallen—he whom I
valued more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life?
I have lost him; aye, and Hector when he had killed him stripped
the wondrous armour, 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 infinite by reason of the death of that son whom
you can never welcome home—nay, I will not live nor go about
among mankind unless Hector fall by my spear, and thus pay me for
having slain Patroclus son of Menoetius."
Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at
hand—for your own death awaits you full soon after that of
Hector."
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 Patroclus nor to my other comrades
of whom so many have been slain by mighty Hector; I stay here by
my ships a bootless burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have
no peer among the Achaeans, though in council there are better
than I. 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 Hector who has slain him whom I loved so dearly, and will
then abide my doom when it may please Jove and the other gods to
send it. Even Hercules, the best beloved of Jove—even he could
not escape the hand of death, but fate and Juno's 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, 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."
Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said
is true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but
your armour is in the hands of the Trojans; Hector bears it in
triumph upon his own shoulders. Full well I know that his vaunt
shall not be lasting, for his end is close at hand; go not,
however, into the press of battle till you see me return hither;
to-morrow at break of day I shall be here, and will bring you
goodly armour from King Vulcan."
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 Vulcan on
high Olympus, and ask him to provide my son with a suit of
splendid armour."
When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves,
while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the
armour for her son.
Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and
meanwhile the Achaeans were flying with loud cries before
murderous Hector till they reached the ships and the Hellespont,
and they could not draw the body of Mars's servant Patroclus out
of reach of the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hector
son of Priam with his host and horsemen had again caught up to
him like the flame of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hector
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 valour 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 carcase, even so could not the two
Ajaxes scare Hector son of Priam from the body of Patroclus.
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 Jove and of the
other gods, for Juno sent her, and when she had got close to him
she said, "Up, son of Peleus, mightiest of all mankind; rescue
Patroclus about whom this fearful fight is now raging by the
ships. Men are killing one another, the Danaans in defence of the
dead body, while the Trojans are trying to hale it away, and take
it to windy Ilius: Hector 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 Patroclus may become meat for the dogs of Troy.
Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of outrage."
And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you
to me?"
Iris answered, "It was Juno the royal spouse of Jove, but the son
of Saturn does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of
the immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."
Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into
the battle? They have my armour. My mother forbade me to arm till
I should see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armour
from Vulcan; 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
Patroclus."
Iris said, "We know that your armour 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."
Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Jove
arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled 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 succour 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.
There did he stand and shout aloud. Minerva 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 Aeacus, 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 grey-eyed goddess had kindled above the
head of the great son of Peleus.
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 Patroclus 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.
Then Juno sent the busy sun, loth though he was, into the waters
of Oceanus; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and
turmoil of war.
Now the Trojans when they had come out of the fight, unyoked
their horses and gathered in assembly before preparing their
supper. They kept their feet, nor would any dare to sit down, for
fear had fallen upon them all because Achilles had shown himself
after having held aloof so long from battle. Polydamas son of
Panthous was first to speak, a man of judgement, who alone among
them could look both before and after. He was comrade to Hector,
and they had been born upon the same night; with all sincerity
and goodwill, therefore, he addressed them thus:—
"Look to it well, my friends; I would urge you to go back now to
your city and not wait here by the ships till morning, for we are
far from our walls. So long as this man was at enmity with
Agamemnon the Achaeans were easier to deal with, and I would have
gladly camped by the ships in the hope of taking them; but now I
go in great fear of the fleet son of Peleus; he is so daring that
he will never bide here on the plain whereon the Trojans and
Achaeans fight with equal valour, but he will try to storm our
city and carry off our women. Do then as I say, and let us
retreat. For this is what will happen. The darkness of night will
for a time stay the son of Peleus, but if he find us here in the
morning when he sallies forth in full armour, we shall have
knowledge of him in good earnest. Glad indeed will he be who can
escape and get back to Ilius, and many a Trojan will become meat
for dogs and vultures may I never live to hear it. If we do as I
say, little though we may like it, we shall have strength in
counsel during the night, and the great gates with the doors that
close them will protect the city. At dawn we can arm and take our
stand on the walls; he will then rue it if he sallies from the
ships to fight us. He will go back when he has given his horses
their fill of being driven all whithers under our walls, and will
be in no mind to try and force his way into the city. Neither
will he ever sack it, dogs shall devour him ere he do so."
Hector looked fiercely at him and answered, "Polydamas, your
words are not to my liking in that you bid us go back and be pent
within the city. Have you not had enough of being cooped up
behind walls? In the old-days the city of Priam was famous the
whole world over for its wealth of gold and bronze, but our
treasures are wasted out of our houses, and much goods have been
sold away to Phrygia and fair Meonia, for the hand of Jove has
been laid heavily upon us. Now, therefore, that the son of
scheming Saturn has vouchsafed me to win glory here and to hem
the Achaeans in at their ships, prate no more in this fool's wise
among the people. You will have no man with you; it shall not be;
do all of you as I now say;—take your suppers in your companies
throughout the host, and keep your watches and be wakeful every
man of you. If any Trojan is uneasy about his possessions, let
him gather them and give them out among the people. Better let
these, rather than the Achaeans, have them. At daybreak we will
arm and fight about the ships; granted that Achilles has again
come forward to defend them, let it be as he will, but it shall
go hard with him. I shall not shun him, but will fight him, to
fall or conquer. The god of war deals out like measure to all,
and the slayer may yet be slain."
Thus spoke Hector; and the Trojans, fools that they were, shouted
in applause, for Pallas Minerva had robbed them of their
understanding. They gave ear to Hector with his evil counsel, but
the wise words of Polydamas no man would heed. They took their
supper throughout the host, and meanwhile through the whole night
the Achaeans mourned Patroclus, and the son of Peleus led them in
their lament. He laid his murderous hands upon the breast of his
comrade, groaning again and again as a bearded lion when a man
who was chasing deer has robbed him of his young in some dense
forest; when the lion comes back he is furious, and searches
dingle and dell to track the hunter if he can find him, for he is
mad with rage—even so with many a sigh did Achilles speak among
the Myrmidons saying, "Alas! vain were the words with which I
cheered the hero Menoetius in his own house; I said that I would
bring his brave son back again to Opoeis after he had sacked
Ilius and taken his share of the spoils—but Jove does not give
all men their heart's desire. The same soil shall be reddened
here at Troy by the blood of us both, for I too shall never be
welcomed home by the old knight Peleus, nor by my mother Thetis,
but even in this place shall the earth cover me. Nevertheless, O
Patroclus, now that I am left behind you, I will not bury you,
till I have brought hither the head and armour of mighty Hector
who has slain you. Twelve noble sons of Trojans will I behead
before your bier to avenge you; till I have done so you shall lie
as you are by the ships, and fair women of Troy and Dardanus,
whom we have taken with spear and strength of arm when we sacked
men's goodly cities, shall weep over you both night and day."
Then Achilles told his men to set a large tripod upon the fire
that they might wash the clotted gore from off Patroclus. Thereon
they set a tripod full of bath water on to a clear fire: they
threw sticks on to it to make it blaze, and the water became hot
as the flame played about the belly of the tripod. When the water
in the cauldron was boiling they washed the body, anointed it
with oil, and closed its wounds with ointment that had been kept
nine years. Then they laid it on a bier and covered it with a
linen cloth from head to foot, and over this they laid a fair
white robe. Thus all night long did the Myrmidons gather round
Achilles to mourn Patroclus.
Then Jove said to Juno his sister-wife, "So, Queen Juno, you have
gained your end, and have roused fleet Achilles. One would think
that the Achaeans were of your own flesh and blood."
And Juno answered, "Dread son of Saturn, why should you say this
thing? May not a man though he be only mortal and knows less than
we do, do what he can for another person? And shall not I—
foremost of all goddesses both by descent and as wife to you who
reign in heaven—devise evil for the Trojans if I am angry with
them?"
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of
Vulcan, imperishable, star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in
heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame god's 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 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. Charis, 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, honoured and ever welcome—for you do not visit us
often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."
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 Vulcan and said, "Vulcan,
come here, Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god
answered, "Then it is indeed an august and honoured 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
mother's 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 Oceanus, 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 Oceanus 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."
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, 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 honoured 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."
Thetis wept and answered, "Vulcan, is there another goddess in
Olympus whom the son of Saturn 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 Aeacus,
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 vouchsafed 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 Ilius 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 for her sake.
Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at their ships' 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
armour on Patroclus and sent him into the fight with much people
after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates and would
have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo vouchsafed
glory to Hector and slain the valiant son of Menoetius 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 ancle-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."
And Vulcan answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about
this matter; would that I could hide him from death's sight when
his hour is come, so surely as I can find him armour that shall
amaze the eyes of all who behold it."
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 Vulcan 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.
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.
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
Oceanus.
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.
Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a
quarrel, and two men were wrangling about the blood-money for a
man who had been killed, the one saying before the people that he
had paid damages in full, and the other that he had not been
paid. Each was trying to make his own case good, and the people
took sides, each man backing the side that he had taken; but the
heralds kept them back, and the elders sate 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 judgement, and there were two talents laid down, to be given
to him whose judgement should be deemed the fairest.
About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming
armour, 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 Mars and Pallas Minerva at their head—
both of them wrought in gold and clad in golden raiment, great
and fair with their armour 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 armour. 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 men's blood. They went in and out with one another and fought
as though they were living people haling away one another's dead.
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.
He wrought also a field of harvest corn, 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
corn 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
labourers' dinner.
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 Linos-song with his clear boyish voice.
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 bull's 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 harm's way.
The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and a
large flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered
sheepfolds.
Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once
made in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths
and maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's
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 much people was gathered joyously about the green. 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.
All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty
stream of the river Oceanus.
Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he
made a breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made a
helmet, close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a
golden plume overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten
tin.
Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armour, 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 armour from the house of Vulcan.
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