The Iliad

by Homer

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BOOK 21 Battlefield

[1] But when they were now come to the ford of the fair-flowing river, even eddying Xanthus that immortal Zeus begat, there Achilles cleft them asunder, and the one part he drave to the plain toward the city, even where the Achaeans were fleeing in rout the day before, what time glorious Hector was raging--thitherward poured forth some in rout, and Hera spread before them a thick mist to hinder them; but the half of them were pent into the deep-flowing river with its silver eddies. Therein they flung themselves with a great din, and the sheer-falling streams resounded, and the banks round about rang loudly; and with noise of shouting swam they this way and that, whirled about in the eddies. And as when beneath the onrush of fire locusts take wing to flee unto a river, and the unwearied fire burneth them with its sudden oncoming, and they shrink down into the water; even so before Achilles was the sounding stream of deep-eddying Xanthus filled confusedly with chariots and with men.

[17] But the Zeus-begotten left there his spear upon the bank, leaning against the tamarisk bushes, and himself leapt in like a god with naught but his sword; and grim was the work he purposed in his heart, and turning him this way and that he smote and smote; and from them uprose hideous groaning as they were anchorage in their terror, for greedily doth he devour whatsoever one he catcheth; even so cowered the Trojans in the streams of the dread river beneath the steep banks. And he, when his hands grew weary of slaying, chose twelve youths alive from out the river as blood-price for dead Patroclus, son of Menoetius. These led he forth dazed like fawns, and bound their hands behind them with shapely thongs, which they themselves wore about their pliant tunics, and gave them to his comrades to lead to the hollow ships. Then himself he sprang back again, full eager to slay.

[34] There met he a son of Dardanian Priam fleeing forth from the river, even Lycaon, whom on a time he had himself taken and brought sore against his will, from his father's orchard being come forth in the night; he was cutting with the sharp bronze the young shoots of a wild fig-tree, to be the rims of a chariot; but upon him, an unlooked-for bane, came goodly Achilles. For that time had he sold him into well-built Lemnos, bearing him thither on his ships, and the son of Jason had given a price for him; but from thence a guest-friend had ransomed him—and a great price he gave—even Eetion of Imbros, and had sent him unto goodly Arisbe; whence he had fled forth secretly and come to the house of his fathers. For eleven days' space had he joy amid his friends, being come forth from Lemnos; but on the twelfth a god cast him once more into the hands of Achilles, who was to send him to the house of Hades, loath though he was to go.

[49] When the swift-footed, goodly Achilles was ware of him, all unarmed, without helm or shield, nor had he a spear, but had thrown all these from him to the ground; for the sweat vexed him as he sought to flee from out the river, and weariness overmastered his knees beneath him; then, mightily moved, Achilles spake unto his own great-hearted spirit: "Now look you, verily a great marvel is this that mine eyes behold! In good sooth the great-hearted Trojans that I have slain will rise up again from beneath the murky darkness, seeing this man is thus come back and hath escaped the pitiless day of doom, albeit he was sold into sacred Lemnos; neither hath the deep of the grey sea stayed him, that holdeth back full many against their will. Nay, but come, of the point of our spear also shall he taste, that I may see and know in heart whether in like manner he will come back even from beneath, or whether the life-giving earth will hold him fast, she that holdeth even him that is strong."

[64] So pondered he, and abode; but the other drew nigh him, dazed, eager to touch his knees, and exceeding fain of heart was he to escape from evil death and black fate. Then goodly Achilles lifted on high his long spear, eager to smite him, but Lycaon stooped and ran thereunder, and clasped his knees; and the spear passed over his back and was stayed in the ground, albeit fain to glut itself with the flesh of man. Then Lycaon besought him, with the one hand clasping his knees while with the other he held the sharp spear, and would not let it go; and he spake and addressed him with winged words: "I beseech thee by thy knees, Achilles, and do thou respect me and have pity; in thine eyes, O thou nurtured of Zeus, am I even as a sacred suppliant, for at thy table first did I eat of the grain of Demeter on the day when thou didst take me captive in the well-ordered orchard, and didst lead me afar from father and from friends, and sell me into sacred Lemnos; and I fetched thee the price of an hundred oxen. Lo, now have I bought my freedom by paying thrice as much, and this is my twelfth morn since I came to Ilios, after many sufferings; and now again has deadly fate put me in thy hands; surely it must be that I am hated of father Zeus, seeing he hath given me unto thee again;and to a brief span of life did my mother bear me, even Laothoe, daughter of the old man Altes,—Altes that is lord over the war-loving Leleges, holding steep Pedasus on the Satnioeis. His daughter Priam had to wife, and therewithal many another, and of her we twain were born, and thou wilt butcher us both. Him thou didst lay low amid the foremost foot-men, even godlike Polydorus, when thou hadst smitten him with a cast of thy sharp spear, and now even here shall evil come upon me; for I deem not that I shall escape thy hands, seeing a god hath brought me nigh thee. Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart: slay me not; since I am not sprung from the same womb as Hector, who slew thy comrade the kindly and valiant."

[97] So spake to him the glorious son of Priam with words of entreaty, but all ungentle was the voice he heard: "Fool, tender not ransom to me, neither make harangue. Until Patroclus met his day of fate, even till then was it more pleasing to me to spare the Trojans, and full many I took alive and sold oversea; but now is there not one that shall escape death, whomsoever before the walls of Ilios God shall deliver into my hands—aye, not one among all the Trojans, and least of all among the sons of Priam. Nay, friend, do thou too die; why lamentest thou thus? Patroclus also died, who was better far than thou. And seest thou not what manner of man am I, how comely and how tall? A good man was my father, and a goddess the mother that bare me; yet over me too hang death and mighty fate. There shall come a dawn or eve or mid-day, when my life too shall some man take in battle, whether he smite me with cast of the spear, or with an arrow from the string."

[114] So spake he, and the other's knees were loosened where he was and his heart was melted. The spear he let go, but crouched with both hands outstretched. But Achilles drew his sharp sword and smote him upon the collar-bone beside the neck, and all the two-edged sword sank in; and prone upon the earth he lay outstretched, and the dark blood flowed forth and wetted the ground. Him then Achilles seized by the foot and flung into the river to go his way, and vaunting over him he spake winged words: "Lie there now among the fishes that shall lick the blood from thy wound, nor reck aught of thee, neither shall thy mother lay thee on a bier and make lament; nay, eddying Scamander shall bear thee into the broad gulf of the sea. Many a fish as he leapeth amid the waves, shall dart up beneath the black ripple to eat the white fat of Lycaon. So perish ye, till we be come to the city of sacred Ilios, ye in flight, and I making havoc in your rear. Not even the fair-flowing river with his silver eddies shall aught avail you, albeit to him, I ween, ye have long time been wont to sacrifice bulls full many, and to cast single-hooved horses while yet they lived. into his eddies. Howbeit even so shall ye perish by an evil fate till ye have all paid the price for the slaying of Patroclus and for the woe of the Achaeans, whom by the swift ships ye slew while I tarried afar."

[136] So spake he, and the river waxed the more wroth at heart, and pondered in mind how he should stay goodly Achilles from his labour and ward off ruin from the Trojans. Meanwhile the son of Peleus bearing his far-shadowing spear leapt, eager to slay him, upon Asteropaeus, son of Pelegon, that was begotten of wide-flowing Axius and Periboea, eldest of the daughters of Acessamenus; for with her lay the deep-eddying River. Upon him rushed Achilles, and Asteropaeus stood forth from the river to face him, holding two spears; and courage was set in his heart by Xanthus, being wroth because of the youths slain in battle, of whom Achilles was making havoc along the stream and had no pity. But when they were come near, as they advanced one against the other, then finst unto Asteropaeus spake swift-footed, goodly Achilles: "Who among men art thou, and from whence, that thou darest come forth against me? Unhappy are they whose children face my might."

[152] Then spake unto him the glorious son of Pelegon: "Great-souled son of Peleus, wherefore enquirest thou of my lineage? I come from deep-soiled Paeonia, a land afar, leading the Paeonians with their long spears, and this is now my eleventh morn, since I came to Ilios. But my lineage is from wide-flowing Axius--Axius, the water whereof flows the fairest over the face of the earth—who begat Pelegon famed for his spear, and he, men say, was my father. Now let us do battle, glorious Achilles."

[161] So spake he threatening, but goodly Achilles raised on high the spear of Pelian ash; howbeit the warrior Asteropaeus hurled with both spears at once, for he was one that could use both hands alike. With the one spear he smote the shield, but it brake not through, for the gold stayed it, the gift of the god and with the other he smote the right forearm of Achilles a grazing blow, and the black blood gushed forth; but the spear-point passed above him and fixed itself in the earth, fain to glut itself with flesh. Then Achilles in his turn hurled at Asteropaeus his straight-flying spear of ash, eager to slay him but missed the man and struck the high bank and up to half its length he fixed in the bank the spear of ash. But the son of Peleus, drawing his sharp sword from beside his thigh, leapt upon him furiously, and the other availed not to draw in his stout hand the ashen spear of Achilles forth from out the bank. Thrice he made it quiver in his eagerness to draw it, and thrice he gave up his effort; but the fourth time his heart was fain to bend and break the ashen spear of the son of Aeacus; howbeit ere that might be Achilles drew nigh and robbed him of life with his sword. In the belly he smote him beside the navel, and forth upon the ground gushed all his bowels, and darkness enfolded his eyes as he lay gasping.

[182] And Achilles leapt upon his breast and despoiled him of his arms, and exulted saying: "Lie as thou art! Hard is it to strive with the children of the mighty son of Cronos, albeit for one begotten of a River. Thou verily declarest that thy birth is from the wide-flowing River, whereas I avow me to be of the lineage of great Zeus. The father that begat me is one that is lord among the many Myrmidons, even Peleus, son of Aeacus; and Aeacus was begotten of Zeus. Wherefore as Zeus is mightier than rivers that murmur seaward, so mightier too is the seed of Zeus than the seed of a river. For lo, hard beside thee is a great River, if so be he can avail thee aught; but it may not be that one should fight with Zeus the son of Cronos. With him doth not even king Achelous vie, nor the great might of deep-flowing Ocean, from whom all rivers flow and every sea, and all the springs and deep wells; howbeit even he hath fear of the lightning of great Zeus, and his dread thunder, whenso it crasheth from heaven."

[200] He spake, and drew forth from the bank his spear of bronze, and left Asteropaeus where he was, when he had robbed him of his life, lying in the sands; and the dark water wetted him. With him then the eels and fishes dealt, plucking and tearing the fat about his kidneys; but Achilles went his way after the Paeonians, lords of chariots, who were still huddled in rout along the eddying river, when they saw their best man mightily vanquished in the fierce conflict beneath the hands and sword of the son of Peleus. There slew he Thersilochus and Mydon and Astypylus and Mnesus and Thrasius and Aenius and Ophelestes; and yet more of the Paeonians would swift Achilles have slain, had not the deep-eddying River waxed wroth and called to him in the semblance of a man, sending forth a voice from out the deep eddy: "O Achilles, beyond men art thou in might, and beyond men doest deeds of evil; for ever do the very gods give thee aid. If so be the son of Cronos hath granted thee to slay all the men of Troy, forth out of my stream at least do thou drive them, and work thy direful work on the plain. Lo, full are my lovely streams with dead men, nor can I anywise avail to pour my waters forth into the bright sea, being choked with dead, while thou ever slayest ruthlessly. Nay, come, let be; amazement holds me, thou leader of hosts."

[222] Then swift-footed Achilles answered him, saying: "Thus shall it be, Scamander, nurtured of Zeus, even as thou biddest. Howbeit the proud Trojan will I not cease to slay until I have pent them in their city, and have made trial of Hector, man to man, whether he shall slay me or I him."

[227] So saying he leapt upon the Trojans like a god. Then unto Apollo spake the deep-eddying River: "Out upon it, thou lord of the silver bow, child of Zeus, thou verily hast not kept the commandment of the son of Cronos, who straitly charged thee to stand by the side of the Trojans and to succour them, until the late-setting star of even shall have come forth and darkened the deep-soiled earth."

[233] He spake, and Achilles, famed for his spear, sprang from the bank and leapt into his midst; but the River rushed upon him with surging flood, and roused all his streams tumultuously, and swept along the many dead that lay thick within his bed, slain by Achilles; these lie cast forth to the land, bellowing the while like a bull, and the living he saved under his fair streams, hiding them in eddies deep and wide. In terrible wise about Achilles towered the tumultuous wave, and the stream as it beat upon his shield thrust him backward, nor might he avail to stand firm upon his feet. Then grasped he an elm, shapely and tall, but it fell uprooted and tore away all the bank, and stretched over the fair streams with its thick branches, and dammed the River himself, falling all within him; but Achilles, springing forth from the eddy hasted to fly with swift feet over the plain, for he was seized with fear. Howbeit the great god ceased not, but rushed upon him with dark-crested wave, that he might stay goodly Achilles from his labour, and ward off ruin from the Trojans. But the son of Peleus rushed back as far as a spear-cast with the swoop of a black eagle, the mighty hunter, that is alike the strongest and swiftest of winged things; like him he darted, and upon his breast the bronze rang terribly, while he swerved from beneath the flood and fled ever onward, and the River followed after, flowing with a mighty roar. As when a man that guideth its flow leadeth from a dusky spring a stream of water amid his plants and garden-lots a mattock in his hands and cleareth away the dams from the channe l-- and as it floweth all the pebbles beneath are swept along therewith, and it glideth swiftly onward with murmuring sound down a sloping place and outstrippeth even him that guideth it;—even thus did the flood of the River ever overtake Achilles for all he was fleet of foot; for the gods are mightier than men. And oft as swift-footed, goodly Achilles strove to make stand against him and to learn if all the immortals that hold broad heaven were driving him in rout, so often would the great flood of the heaven-fed River beat upon his shoulders from above; and he would spring on high with his feet in vexation of spirit, and the River was ever tiring his knees with its violent flow beneath, and was snatching away the ground from under his feet.

[272] Then the son of Peleus uttered a bitter cry, with a look at the broad heaven: "Father Zeus, how is it that no one of the gods taketh it upon him in my pitiless plight to save me from out the River! thereafter let come upon me what may. None other of the heavenly gods do I blame so much, but only my dear mother, that beguiled me with false words, saying that beneath the wall of the mail-clad Trojans I should perish by the swift missiles of Apollo. Would that Hector had slain me, the best of the men bred here; then had a brave man been the slayer, and a brave man had he slain. But now by a miserable death was it appointed me to be cut off, pent in the great river, like a swine-herd boy whom a torrent sweepeth away as he maketh essay to cross it in winter."

[284] So spake he, and forthwith Poseidon and Pallas Athene drew nigh and stood by his side, being likened in form to mortal men, and they clasped his hand in theirs and pledged him in words. And among them Poseidon, the Shaker of Earth, was first to speak: "Son of Peleus, tremble not thou overmuch, neither be anywise afraid, such helpers twain are we from the gods—and Zeus approveth thereof—even I and Pallas Athene. Therefore is it not thy doom to be vanquished by a river; nay, he shall soon give respite, and thou of thyself shalt know it. But we will give thee wise counsel, if so be thou wilt hearken. Make not thine hands to cease from evil battle until within the famed walls of Ilios thou hast pent the Trojan host, whosoever escapeth. But for thyself, when thou hast bereft Hector of life, come thou back to the ships; lo, we grant thee to win glory."

[298] When the twain had thus spoken, they departed to the immortals, but he went on toward the plain, or mightily did the bidding of the gods arouse him; and the whole plain was filled with a flood of water, and many goodly arms and corpses of youths slain in battle were floating there. But on high leapt his knees, as he rushed straight on against the flood, nor might the wide-flowing River stay him; for Athene put in him great strength. Nor yet would Scamander abate his fury, but was even more wroth against the son of Peleus, and raising himself on high he made the surge of his flood into a crest, and he called with a shout to Simois: "Dear brother, the might of this man let us stay, though it need the two of us, seeing presently he will lay waste the great city of king Priam, neither will the Trojans abide him in battle. Nay, bear thou aid with speed, and fill thy streams with water from thy springs, and arouse all thy torrents; raise thou a great wave, and stir thou a mighty din of tree-trunks and stones, that we may check this fierce man that now prevaileth, and is minded to vie even with the gods. For I deem that his strength shall naught avail him, neither anywise his comeliness, nor yet that goodly armour, which, I ween, deep beneath the mere shall lie covered over with slime; and himself will I enwrap in sands and shed over him great store of shingle past all measuring; nor shall the Achaeans know where to gather his bones, with such a depth of silt shall I enshroud him. Even here shall be his sepulchre, nor shall he have need of a heaped-up mound, when the Achaeans make his funeral."

[324] He spake, and rushed tumultuously upon Achilles, raging on high and seething with foam and blood and dead men. And the dark flood of the heaven-fed River rose towering above him, and was at point to overwhelm the son of Peleus. But Hera called aloud, seized with fear for Achilles, lest the great deep-eddying River should sweep him away. And forthwith she spake unto Hephaestus, her dear son: "Rouse thee, Crook-foot, my child! for it was against thee that we deemed eddying Xanthus to be matched in fight. Nay, bear thou aid with speed, and put forth thy flames unstintedly. But I will hasten and rouse from the sea a fierce blast of the West Wind and the white South, that shall utterly consume the dead Trojans and their battle gear, ever driving on the evil flame; and do thou along the banks of Xanthus burn up his trees, and beset him about with fire, nor let him anywise turn thee back with soft words or with threatenings; neither stay thou thy fury, save only when I call to thee with a shout; then do thou stay thy unwearied fire."

[342] So spake she, and Hephaestus made ready wondrous-blazing fire. First on the plain was the fire kindled, and burned the dead, the many dead that lay thick therein, slain by Achilles; and all the plain was parched, and the bright water was stayed. And as when in harvest-time the North Wind quickly parcheth again a freshly-watered orchard, and glad is he that tilleth it; so was the whole plain parched, and the dead he utterly consumed; and then against the River he turned his gleaming flame. Burned were the elms and the willows and the tamarisks, burned the lotus and the rushes and the galingale, that round the fair streams of the river grew abundantly; tormented were the eels and the fishes in the eddies, and in the fair streams they plunged this way and that, sore distressed by the blast of Hephaestus of many wiles. Burned too was the mighty River, and he spake and addressed the god: "Hephaestus, there is none of the gods that can vie with thee, nor will I fight thee, ablaze with fire as thou art. Cease thou from strife,, and as touching the Trojans, let goodly Achilles forthwith drive them forth from out their city; what part have I in strife or in bearing aid?"

[361] So spake he, burning the while with fire, and his fair streams were seething. And as a cauldron boileth within, when the fierce flame setteth upon it, while it melteth the lard of a fatted hog, and it bubbleth in every part, and dry faggots are set thereunder; so burned in fire his fair streams, and the water boiled; nor had he any mind to flow further onward, but was stayed; for the blast of the might of wise-hearted Hephaestus distressed him. Then with instant prayer he spake winged words unto Hera: "Hera, wherefore hath thy son beset my stream to afflict it beyond all others? I verily am not so much at fault in thine eyes, as are all those others that are helpers of the Trojans. Howbeit I will refrain me, if so thou biddest, and let him also refrain. And I will furthermore swear this oath, never to ward off from the Trojans the day of evil, nay, not when all Troy shall burn with the burning of consuming fire, and the warlike sons of the Achaeans shall be the burners thereof."

[377] But when the goddess, white-armed Hera, heard this plea, forthwith she spake unto Hephaestus, her dear son: "Hephaestus, withhold thee, my glorious son; it is nowise seemly thus to smite an immortal god for mortals' sake."

[380] So spake she, and Hephaestus quenched his wondrous-blazing fire, and once more in the fair river-bed the flood rushed down.

[382] But when the fury of Xanthus was quelled, the twain thereafter ceased, for Hera stayed them, albeit she was wroth; but upon the other gods fell strife heavy and grievous, and in diverse ways the spirit in their breasts was blown. Together then they clashed with a mighty din and the wide earth rang, and round about great heaven pealed as with a trumpet. And Zeus heard it where he sat upon Olympus, and the heart within him laughed aloud in joy as he beheld the gods joining in strife. Then no more held they long aloof, for Ares, piercer of shields, began the fray, and first leapt upon Athene, brazen spear in hand, and spake a word of reviling: "Wherefore now again, thou dog-fly, art thou making gods to clash with gods in strife, in the fierceness of thy daring, as thy proud spirit sets thee on? Rememberest thou not what time thou movedst Diomedes, Tydeus' son, to wound me, and thyself in the sight of all didst grasp the spear and let drive straight at me, and didst rend my fair flesh? Therefore shalt thou now methinks, pay the full price of all that thou hast wrought."

[400] So saying he smote upon her tasselled aegis—the awful aegis against which not even the lightning of Zeus can prevail—thereon blood-stained Ares smote with his long spear. But she gave ground, and seized with her stout hand a stone that lay upon the plain, black and jagged and great, that men of former days had set to be the boundary mark of a field. Therewith she smote furious Ares on the neck, and loosed his limbs. Over seven roods he stretched in his fall, and befouled his hair with dust, and about him his armour clanged. But Pallas Athene broke into a laugh, and vaunting over him she spake winged words: "Fool, not even yet hast thou learned how much mightier than thou I avow me to be, that thou matchest thy strength with mine. On this wise shalt thou satisfy to the full the Avengers invoked of thy mother, who in her wrath deviseth evil against thee, for that thou hast deserted the Achaeans and bearest aid to the overweening Trojans."

[415] When she had thus spoken, she turned from Ares her bright eyes. Him then the daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite, took by the hand, and sought to lead away, as he uttered many a moan, and hardly could he gather back to him his spirit. But when the goddess, white-armed Hera, was ware of her, forthwith she spake winged words to Athene: "Out upon it, thou child of Zeus that beareth the aegis, unwearied one, lo, there again the dog-fly is leading Ares, the bane of mortals, forth from the fury of war amid the throng; nay, have after her."

[423] So spake she, and Athene sped in pursuit, glad at heart, and rushing upon her she smote Aphrodite on the breast with her stout hand; and her knees were loosened where she stood, and her heart melted. So the twain lay upon the bounteous earth, and vaunting over them Athene spake winged words: "In such plight let all now be that are aiders of the Trojans when they fight against the mail-clad Argives, and on this wise bold and stalwart, even as Aphrodite came to bear aid to Ares, and braved my might. Then long ere this should we have ceased from war, having sacked Ilios, that well-peopled city."

[434] So spake she, and the goddess, white-armed Hera smiled thereat. But unto Apollo spake the lord Poseidon, the Shaker of Earth: "Phoebus, wherefore do we twain stand aloof? It beseemeth not, seeing others have begun. Nay, it were the more shameful, if without fighting we should fare back to Olympus, to the house of Zeus with threshold of bronze. Begin, since thou art the younger; it were not meet for me, seeing I am the elder-born and know the more. Fool, how witless is the heart thou hast! Neither rememberest thou all the woes that we twain alone of all the gods endured at Ilios, what time we came at the bidding of Zeus and served the lordly Laomedon for a year's space at a fixed wage, and he was our taskmaster and laid on us his commands. I verily built for the Trojans round about their city a wall, wide and exceeding fair, that the city might never be broken; and thou, Phoebus, didst herd the sleek kine of shambling gait amid the spurs of wooded Ida, the many-ridged. But when at length the glad seasons were bringing to its end the term of our hire, then did dread Laomedon defraud us twain of all hire, and send us away with a threatening word. He threatened that he would bind together our feet and our hands above, and would sell us into isles that lie afar. Aye, and he made as if he would lop off with the bronze the ears of us both. So we twain fared aback with angry hearts, wroth for the hire he promised but gave us not. It is to his folk now that thou showest favour, neither seekest thou with us that the overweening Trojans may perish miserably in utter ruin with their children and their honoured wives."

[461] Then spake unto him lord Apollo, that worketh afar: "Shaker of Earth, as nowise sound of mind wouldest thou count me, if I should war with thee for the sake of mortals, pitiful creatures, that like unto leaves are now full of flaming life, eating the fruit of the field, and now again pine away and perish. Nay, with speed let us cease from strife, and let them do battle by themselves."

[468] So saying he turned him back, for he had shame to deal in blows with his father's brother. But his sister railed at him hotly, even the queen of the wild beasts, Artemis of the wild wood, and spake a word of reviling: "Lo, thou fleest, thou god that workest afar, and to Poseidon hast thou utterly yielded the victory, and given him glory for naught! Fool, why bearest thou a bow thus worthless as wind? Let me no more hear thee in the halls of our father boasting as of old among the immortal gods that thou wouldest do battle in open combat with Poseidon."

[477] So spake she, but Apollo, that worketh afar, answered her not. Howbeit the revered wife of Zeus waxed wroth, and chid the archer queen with words of reviling: "How now art thou fain, thou bold and shameless thing, to stand forth against me? No easy foe I tell thee, am I, that thou shouldst vie with me in might, albeit thou bearest the bow, since it was against women that Zeus made thee a lion, and granted thee to slay whomsoever of them thou wilt. In good sooth it is better on the mountains to be slaying beasts and wild deer than to fight amain with those mightier than thou. Howbeit if thou wilt, learn thou of war, that thou mayest know full well how much mightier am I, seeing thou matchest thy strength with mine."

[489] Therewith she caught both the other's hands by the wrist with her left hand, and with her right took the bow and its gear from her shoulders, and with these self-same weapons, smiling the while, she beat her about the ears, as she turned this way and that; and the swift arrows fell from out the quiver. Then weeping the goddess fled from before her even as a dove that from before a falcon flieth into a hollow rock, a cleft—nor is it her lot to be taken; even so fled Artemis weeping, and left her bow and arrows where they lay. But unto Leto spake the messenger Argeiphontes: "Leto, it is not I that will anywise fight with thee; a hard thing were it to bandy blows with the wives of Zeus, the cloud-gatherer; nay, with a right ready heart boast thou among the immortal gods that thou didst vanquish me with thy great might."

[502] So spake he, and Leto gathered up the curved bow and the arrows that had fallen hither and thither amid the whirl of dust. She then, when she had taken her daughter's bow and arrows, went back; but the maiden came to Olympus, to the house of Zeus with threshold of bronze, and sat down weeping upon her father's knees, while about her the fragrant robe quivered; and her father, the son of Cronos, clasped her to him, and asked of her, laughing gently: "Who now of the sons of heaven, dear child, hath entreated thee thus wantonly as though thou wert working some evil before the face of all?"

[511] Then answered him the fair-crowned huntress of the echoing chase: "Thy wife it was that buffeted me, father, even white-armed Hera, from whom strife and contention have been made fast upon the immortals."

[514] On this wise spake they one to the other; but Phoebus Apollo entered into sacred Ilios, for he was troubled for the wall of the well-builded city, lest the Danaans beyond what was ordained should lay it waste on that day. But the other gods that are for ever went unto Olympus, some of them in wrath and some exulting greatly, and they sate them down beside the Father, the lord of the dark clouds. But Achilles was still slaying alike the Trojans themselves and their single-hooved horses. And as when smoke riseth and reacheth the wide heaven from a city that burneth, and the wrath of the gods driveth it on--it causeth toil to all and upon many doth it let loose woes—even so caused Achilles toil and woes for the Trojans.

[526] And the old man Priam stood upon the heaven-built wall, and was ware of monstrous Achilles, and how before him the Trojans were being driven in headlong rout; and help there was none. Then with a groan he gat him down to the ground from the wall, calling the while to the glorious keepers of the gate along the wall: "Wide open hold ye the gates with your hands until the folk shall come to the city in their rout, for lo, here at hand is Achilles, as he driveth them on; now methinks shall there be sorry work. But whenso they have found respite, being gathered within the wall, then close ye again the double doors, close fitted; for I am adread lest yon baneful man leap within the wall."

[537] So spake he, and they undid the gates and thrust back the bars; and the gates being flung wide wrought deliverance. But Apollo leapt forth to face Achilles, that so he might ward off ruin from the Trojans. And they, the while, were fleeing straight for the city and the high wall, parched with thirst, and begrimed with dust from the plain, while Achilles pressed upon them furiously with his spear; for fierce madness ever possessed his heart, and he was eager to win him glory.

[544] Then would the sons of the Achaeans have taken high-gated Troy, had not Phoebus Apollo aroused goodly Agenor, Antenor's son, a peerless warrior and a stalwart. In his heart he put courage, and himself stood by his side, that he might ward from him the heavy hands of death; against the oak he leaned, and he was enfolded in deep mist. So when Agenor was ware of Achilles, sacker of cities, he halted, and many things did his heart darkly ponder as he abode; and mightily moved he spake unto his own great-hearted spirit: "Ah, woe is me; if I flee before mighty Achilles, there where the rest are being driven in rout, even so shall he overtake and butcher me in my cowardice. But what if I leave these to be driven before Achilles, son of Peleus, and with my feet flee from the wall elsewhither, toward the Ilean plain, until I be come to the glens and the spurs of Ida, and hide me in the thickets? Then at even, when I have bathed me in the river and cooled me of my sweat, I might get me back to Ilios. But why doth my heart thus hold converse with me? Let it not be that he mark me as I turn away from the city toward the plain, and darting after me overtake me by his fleetness of foot. Then will it no more be possible to escape death and the fates, for exceeding mighty is he above all mortal men. What then if in front of the city I go forth to meet him? Even his flesh too, I ween, may be pierced with the sharp bronze, and in him is but one life, and mortal do men deem him to be; howbeit Zeus, son of Cronos, giveth him glory."

[571] So saying he gathered himself together to abide Achilles' oncoming, and within him his valiant heart was fain to war and to do battle. Even as a pard goeth forth from a deep thicket before the face of a huntsman, neither is anywise afraid at heart, nor fleeth when she heareth the baying of the hounds; for though the man be beforehand with her and smite her with thrust or with dart, yet even pierced through with the spear she ceaseth not from her fury until she grapple with him or be slain; even so lordly Antenor's son, goodly Agenor, refused to flee till he should make trial of Achilles, but held before him his shield that was well-balanced upon every side, and aimed at Achilles with his spear, and shouted aloud: "Verily, I ween, thou hopest in thy heart, glorious Achilles, on this day to sack the city of the lordly Trojans. Thou fool! in sooth many be the woes that shall yet be wrought because of her. Within her are we, many men and valiant, that in front of our dear parents and wives and sons guard Ilios; nay, it is thou that shalt here meet thy doom, for all thou art so dread and so bold a man of war."

[590] He spake, and hurled the sharp spear from his heavy hand, and smote him on the shin below the knee, and missed him not; and the greave of new-wrought tin rang terribly upon him; but back from him it smote leapt the bronze, and pierced not through, for the gift of the god stayed it. And the son of Peleus in his turn set upon godlike Agenor; howbeit Apollo suffered him not to win glory, but snatched away Agenor, and shrouded him in thick mist, and sent him forth from the war to go his way in peace. But Apollo by craft kept the son of Peleus away from the folk, for likened in all things to Agenor's self the god that worketh afar took his stand before his feet; and Achilles rushed upon him swiftly to pursue him. And while he pursued him over the wheat-bearing plain, turning him toward the river, deep-eddying Scamander, as he by but little outran him—for by craft did Apollo beguile him, that he ever hoped to overtake him in his running—meanwhile the rest of the Trojans that were fleeing in rout came crowding gladly toward the city, and the town was filled with the throng of them. Neither dared they longer to await one another outside the city and wall, and to know who perchance was escaped and who had been slain in the fight; but with eager haste they poured into the city, whomsoever of them his feet and knees might save.


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