The Iliad

by Homer

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BOOK 3 Duel Paris & Menelaus

[1] Now when they were marshalled, the several companies with their captains, the Trojans came on with clamour and with a cry like birds, even as the clamour of cranes ariseth before the face of heaven, when they flee from wintry storms and measureless rain, and with clamour fly toward the streams of Ocean, bearing slaughter and death to Pigmy men, and in the early dawn they offer evil battle. But the Achaeans came on in silence, breathing fury, eager at heart to bear aid each man to his fellow.

[10] Even as when the South Wind sheddeth a mist over the peaks of a mountain, a mist that the shepherd loveth not, but that to the robber is better than night, and a man can see only so far as he casteth a stone; even in such wise rose the dense dust-cloud from beneath their feet as they went; and full swiftly did they speed across the plain.

[15] Now when they were come near, as they advanced one host against the other, among the Trojans there stood forth as champion godlike Alexander, bearing upon his shoulders a panther skin and his curved bow, and his sword; and brandishing two spears tipped with bronze he challenged all the best of Argives to fight with him face to face in dread combat.

[21] But when Menelaus, dear to Ares, was ware of him as he came forth before the throng with long strides, then even as a lion is glad when he lighteth on a great carcase, having found a horned stag or a wild goat when he is hungry; for greedily doth he devour it, even though swift dogs and lusty youths set upon him: even so was Menelaus glad when his eyes beheld godlike Alexander; for he thought that he had gotten him vengeance on the sinner. And forthwith he leapt in his armour from his chariot to the ground.

[30] But when godlike Alexander was ware of him as he appeared among the champions, his heart was smitten, and back he shrank into the throng of his comrades, avoiding fate. And even as a man at sight of a snake in the glades of a mountain starteth back, and trembling seizeth his limbs beneath him, and he withdraweth back again and pallor layeth hold of his cheeks; even so did godlike Alexander, seized with fear of Atreus' son, shrink back into the throng of the lordly Trojans.'

[38] But Hector saw him, and chid him with words of shame: "Evil Paris, most fair to look upon, thou that art mad after women, thou beguiler, would that thou hadst ne'er been born and hadst died unwed. Aye, of that were I fain, and it had been better far than that thou shouldest thus be a reproach, and that men should look upon thee in scorn. Verily, methinks, will the long-haired Achaeans laugh aloud, deeming that a prince is our champion because a comely form is his, while there is no strength in his heart nor any valour. Was it in such strength as this that thou didst sail over the main in thy seafaring ships, when thou hadst gathered thy trusty comrades, and, coming to an alien folk, didst bring back a comely woman from a distant land, even a daughter of warriors who wield the spear, but to thy father and city and all the people a grievous bane—to thy foes a joy, but to thine own self a hanging down of the head? Wilt thou indeed not abide Menelaus, dear to Ares? Thou wouldest learn what manner of warrior he is whose lovely wife thou hast. Then will thy lyre help thee not, neither the gifts of Aphrodite, thy locks and thy comeliness, when thou shalt lie low in the dust. Nay, verily, the Trojans are utter cowards: else wouldest thou ere this have donned a coat of stone by reason of all the evil thou hast wrought."

[58] And to him did godlike Alexander make answer, saying: "Hector, seeing that thou dost chide me duly, and not beyond what is due—ever is thy heart unyielding, even as an axe that is driven through a beam by the hand of man that skilfully shapeth a ship's timber, and it maketh the force of his blow to wax; even so is the heart in thy breast undaunted—cast not in my teeth the lovely gifts of golden Aphrodite. Not to be flung aside, look you, are the glorious gifts of the gods, even all that of themselves they give, whereas by his own will could no man win them. But now, if thou wilt have me war and do battle, make the other Trojans to sit down and all the Achaeans, but set ye me in the midst and Menelaus, dear to Ares, to do battle for Helen and all her possessions. And whichsoever of us twain shall win, and prove him the better man, let him duly take all the wealth and the woman, and bear them to his home. But for you others, do ye swear friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice. So should ye dwell in deep-soiled Troyland, and let them return to Argos, pasture-land of horses, and to Achaea, the land of fair women."

[76] So spake he, and Hector rejoiced greatly when he heard his words; and he went into the midst, and kept back the battalions of the Trojans with his spear grasped by the middle; and they all sate them down. But the long-haired Achaeans sought the while to aim their arrows at him, and to smite him, and to cast at him with stones. But aloud shouted Agamemnon, king of men: "Hold, ye Argives, shoot no more, ye youths of the Achaeans; for Hector of the flashing helm makes as though he would say somewhat."

[84] So spake he, and they stayed them from battle, and became silent forthwith. And Hector spake between the two hosts: "Hear from me, ye Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans, the words of Alexander, for whose sake strife hath been set afoot. The other Trojans and all the Achaeans he biddeth to lay aside their goodly battle-gear upon the bounteous earth, and himself in the midst and Menelaus, dear to Ares, to do battle for Helen and all her possessions. And whichsoever of the twain shall win, and prove him the better man, let him duly take all the wealth and the woman, and bear them to his home; but for us others, let us swear friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice."

[95] So spake he, and they all became hushed in silence; and among them spake Menelaus, good at the war-cry: "Hearken ye now also unto me, for upon my heart above all others hath sorrow come; my mind is that Argives and Trojans now be parted, seeing ye have suffered many woes because of my quarrel and Alexander's beginning thereof. And for whichsoever of us twain death and fate are appointed, let him lie dead; but be ye others parted with all speed. Bring ye two lambs, a white ram and a black ewe, for Earth and Sun, and for Zeus we will bring another; and fetch ye hither the mighty Priam, that he may himself swear an oath with sacrifice, seeing that his sons are over-weening and faithless; lest any by presumptuous act should do violence to the oaths of Zeus. Ever unstable are the hearts of the young; but in whatsoever an old man taketh part, he looketh both before and after, that the issue may be far the best for either side."

[111] So spake he, and the Achaeans and Trojans waxed glad, deeming that they had won rest from woeful war. So they stayed their chariots in the ranks, and themselves stepped forth, and did off their battle-gear. This they laid upon the ground, each hard by each, and there was but little space between. And Hector sent to the city heralds twain with all speed to fetch the lambs and to summon Priam. And Talthybius did lord Agamemnon send forth to the hollow ships, and bade him bring a lamb; and he failed not to hearken to goodly Agamemnon.

[121] But Iris went as a messenger to white-armed Helen, in the likeness of her husband's sister, the wife of Antenor's son, even her that lord Helicaon, Antenor's son, had to wife, Laodice, the comeliest of the daughters of Priam. She found Helen in the hall, where she was weaving a great purple web of double fold, and thereon was broidering many battles of the horse-taming Trojans and the brazen-coated Achaeans, that for her sake they had endured at the hands of Ares. Close to her side then came Iris, swift of foot, and spake to her, saying: "Come hither, dear lady, that thou mayest behold the wondrous doings of the horse-taming Trojans and the brazen-coated Achaeans. They that of old were wont to wage tearful war against one another on the plain, their hearts set on deadly battle, even they abide now in silence, and the battle has ceased, and they lean upon their shields, and beside them their long spears are fixed. But Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with their long spears for thee; and whoso shall conquer, his dear wife shalt thou be called."

[139] So spake the goddess, and put into her heart sweet longing for her former lord and her city and parents; and straightway she veiled herself with shining linen, and went forth from her chamber, letting fall round tears, not alone, for with her followed two handmaids as well, Aethra, daughter of Pittheus, and ox-eyed Clymene; and with speed they came to the place where were the Scaean gates.

[146] And they that were about Priam and Panthous and Thymoetes and Lampus and Clytius and Hicetaon, scion of Ares, and Ucalegon and Antenor, men of prudence both, sat as elders of the people at the Scaean gates. Because of old age had they now ceased from battle, but speakers they were full good, like unto cicalas that in a forest sit upon a tree and pour forth their lily-like voice; even in such wise sat the leaders of the Trojans upon the wall. Now when they saw Helen coming upon the wall, softly they spake winged words one to another: "Small blame that Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans should for such a woman long time suffer woes; wondrously like is she to the immortal goddesses to look upon. But even so, for all that she is such an one, let her depart upon the ships, neither be left here to be a bane to us and to our children after us."

[161] So they said, but Priam spake, and called Helen to him: "Come hither, dear child, and sit before me, that thou mayest see thy former lord and thy kinsfolk and thy people—thou art nowise to blame in my eyes; it is the gods, methinks, that are to blame, who roused against me the tearful war of the Achaeans—and that thou mayest tell me who is this huge warrior, this man of Achaea so valiant and so tall. Verily there be others that are even taller by a head, but so comely a man have mine eyes never yet beheld, neither one so royal: he is like unto one that is a king."

[171] And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying: "Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolk and my daughter, well-beloved, and the lovely companions of my girlhood. But that was not to be; wherefore I pine away with weeping. Howbeit this will I tell thee, whereof thou dost ask and enquire. Yon man is the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, that is both a noble king and a valiant spearman. And he was husband's brother to shameless me, as sure as ever such a one there was."

[181] So spake she, and the old man was seized with wonder, and said: "Ah, happy son of Atreus, child of fortune, blest of heaven; now see I that youths of the Achaeans full many are made subject unto thee. Ere now have I journeyed to the land of Phrygia, rich in vines, and there I saw in multitudes the Phrygian warriors, masters of glancing steeds, even the people of Otreus and godlike Mygdon, that were then encamped along the banks of Sangarius. For I, too, being their ally, was numbered among them on the day when the Amazons came, the peers of men. Howbeit not even they were as many as are the bright-eyed Achaeans."

[191] And next the old man saw Odysseus, and asked: "Come now, tell me also of yonder man, dear child, who he is. Shorter is he by a head than Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but broader of shoulder and of chest to look upon. His battle-gear lieth upon the bounteous earth, but himself he rangeth like the bell-wether of a herd through the ranks of warriors. Like a ram he seemeth to me, a ram of thick fleece, that paceth through a great flock of white ewes."

[199] To him made answer Helen, sprung from Zeus: "This again is Laertes' son, Odysseus of many wiles, that was reared in the land of Ithaca, rugged though it be, and he knoweth all manner of craft and cunning devices."

[203] Then to her again made answer Antenor, the wise: "Lady, this verily is a true word that thou hast spoken, for erstwhile on a time goodly Odysseus came hither also on an embassy concerning thee, together with Menelaus, dear to Ares; and it was I that gave them entertainment and welcomed them in my halls, and came to know the form and stature of them both and their cunning devices. Now when they mingled with the Trojans, as they were gathered together, when they stood Menelaus overtopped him with his broad shoulders; howbeit when the twain were seated Odysseus was the more royal. But when they began to weave the web of speech and of counsel in the presence of all, Menelaus in truth spake fluently, with few words, but very clearly, seeing he was not a man of lengthy speech nor of rambling, though verily in years he was the younger. But whenever Odysseus of many wiles arose, he would stand and look down with eyes fixed upon the ground, and his staff he would move neither backwards nor forwards, but would hold it stiff, in semblance like a man of no understanding; thou wouldest have deemed him a churlish man and naught but a fool. But whenso he uttered his great voice from his chest, and words like snowflakes on a winter's day, then could no mortal man beside vie with Odysseus; then did we not so marvel to behold Odysseus' aspect."

[225] And, thirdly, the old man saw Aias, and asked: "Who then is this other Achaean warrior, valiant and tall, towering above the Argives with his head and broad shoulders?"

[228] And to him made answer long-robed Helen, fair among women: "This is huge Aias, bulwark of the Achaeans. And Idomeneus over against him standeth amid the Cretans even as a god, and about him are gathered the captains of the Cretans. Full often was Menelaus, dear to Ares, wont to entertain him in our house, whenever he came from Crete. And now all the rest of the bright-eyed Achaeans do I see, whom I could well note, and tell their names; but two marshallers of the host can I not see, Castor, tamer of horses, and the goodly boxer, Polydeuces, even mine own brethren, whom the same mother bare. Either they followed not with the host from lovely Lacedaemon, or though they followed hither in their seafaring ships, they have now no heart to enter into the battle of warriors for fear of the words of shame and the many revilings that are mine."

[243] So said she; but they ere now were fast holden of the life-giving earth there in Lacedaemon, in their dear native land.

[245] Meanwhile the heralds were bearing through the city the offerings for the holy oaths of the gods, two lambs and, in a goat-skin bottle, wine that maketh glad the heart, the fruit of the earth. And the herald Idaeus bare a shining bowl and golden cups; and he came to the old king's side and roused him, saying: "Rise, thou son of Laomedon, the chieftains of the horse-taming Trojans, and of the brazen-coated Achaeans, summon thee to go down into the plain, that ye may swear oaths of faith with sacrifice. But Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with long spears for the woman's sake; and whichsoever of the twain shall conquer, him let woman and treasure follow; and we others, swearing friendship and oaths of faith with sacrifice, should then dwell in deep-soiled Troy, but they will depart to Argos, pastureland of horses, and Achaea, the land of fair women."

[259] So spake he, and the old man shuddered, yet bade his companions yoke the horses; and they speedily obeyed. Then Priam mounted and drew back the reins, and by his side Antenor mounted the beauteous car; and the twain drave the swift horses through the Scaean gates to the plain.

[264] But when they were now come to the Trojans and Achaeans, they stepped forth from the chariot upon the bounteous earth, and went into the midst of the Trojans and Achaeans. Straightway then rose up Agamemnon, king of men, and Odysseus of many wiles, and the lordly heralds brought together the offerings for the holy oaths of the gods, and mixed the wine in the bowl, and poured water over the hands of the kings. And the son of Atreus drew forth with his hand the knife that ever hung beside the great sheath of his sword, and cut hair from off the heads of the lambs; and the heralds portioned it out to the chieftans of the Trojans and Achaeans. Then in their midst Agamemnon lifted up his hands and prayed aloud: "Father Zeus, that rulest from Ida, most glorious, most great, and thou Sun, that beholdest all things and hearest all things, and ye rivers and thou earth, and ye that in the world below take vengeance on men that are done with life, whosoever hath sworn a false oath; be ye witnesses, and watch over the oaths of faith. If Alexander slay Menelaus, then let him keep Helen and all her treasure; and we will depart in our seafaring ships. But if so be fair-haired Menelaus shall slay Alexander, then let the Trojans give back Helen and all her treasure, and pay to the Argives in requital such recompense as beseemeth, even such as shall abide in the minds of men that are yet to be. Howbeit, if Priam and the sons of Priam be not minded to pay recompense unto me, when Alexander falleth, then will I fight on even thereafter, to get me recompense, and will abide here until I find an end of war."

[292] He spake, and cut the lambs' throats with the pitiless bronze; and laid them down upon the ground gasping and failing of breath, for the bronze had robbed them of their strength. Then they drew wine from the bowl into the cups, and poured it forth, and made prayer to the gods that are for ever. And thus would one of the Achaeans and Trojans say: "Zeus, most glorious, most great, and ye other immortal gods, which host soever of the twain shall be first to work harm in defiance of the oaths, may their brains be thus poured forth upon the ground even as this wine, theirs and their children's; and may their wives be made slaves to others."

[302] So spake they, but not yet was the son of Cronos to vouchsafe them fulfillment. Then in their midst spake Priam, Dardanus' son, saying: "Hearken to me, ye Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans. I verily will go my way back to windy Ilios, since I can in no wise bear to behold with mine eyes my dear son doing battle with Menelaus, dear to Ares. But this, I ween, Zeus knoweth, and the other immortal gods, for which of the twain the doom of death is ordained."

[310] So spake the godlike man, and let place the lambs in his chariot, and himself mounted, and drew back the reins, and by his side Antenor mounted the beauteous car; and the twain departed back to Ilios. But Hector, Priam's son, and goodly Odysseus first measured out a space, and thereafter took the lots and shook them in the bronze-wrought helmet, to know which of the twain should first let fly his spear of bronze. And the people made prayer and lifted their hands to the gods; and thus would one of the Achaeans and Trojans speak: "Father Zeus, that rulest from Ida, most glorious, most great, whichsoever of the twain it be that brought these troubles upon both peoples, grant that he may die and enter the house of Hades, whereas to us there may come friendship and oaths of faith."

[324] So spake they, and great Hector of the flashing helm shook the helmet, looking behind him the while; and straightway the lot of Paris leapt forth. Then the people sate them down in ranks, where were each man's high-stepping horses, and his inlaid armour was set. But goodly Alexander did on about his shoulders his beautiful armour, even he, the lord of fair-haired Helen. The greaves first he set about his legs; beautiful they were, and fitted with silver ankle-pieces; next he did on about his chest the corselet of his brother Lycaon, and fitted it to himself. And about his shoulders he cast his silver-studded sword of bronze, and thereafter his shield great and sturdy; and upon his mighty head he set a well-wrought helmet with horse-hair crest—and terribly did the plume nod from above—and he took a valorous spear, that fitted his grasp. And in the self-same manner warlike Menelaus did on his battle-gear.

[340] But when they had armed themselves on either side of the throng, they strode into the space between the Trojans and Achaeans, glaring terribly; and amazement came upon them that beheld, both the Trojans, tamers of horses, and the well-greaved Achaeans; and the twain took their stand near together in the measured space, brandishing their spears in wrath one at the other. First Alexander hurled his far-shadowing spear, and smote upon the son of Atreus' shield that was well balanced on every side ; howbeit the bronze brake not through but its point was turned in the stout shield. Next Atreus' son, Menelaus, rushed upon him with his spear, and made prayer to father Zeus: "Zeus, our king, grant that I may avenge me on him that was first to do me wrong, even on goodly Alexander, and subdue thou him beneath my hands; that many a one even of men yet to be may shudder to work evil to his host, that hath shown him friendship."

[355] He spoke, and poised his far-shadowing spear, and hurled it; and he smote upon the son of Priam's shield, that was well balanced upon every side. Through the bright shield went the mighty spear, and through the corselet, richly dight, did it force its way; and straight on beside his flank the spear shore through his tunic; but he bent aside and escaped black fate. Then the son of Atreus drew his silver-studded sword, and raising himself on high smote the horn of his helmet; but upon it his sword shattered in pieces three, aye, four, and fell from his hand. Then the son of Atreus uttered a bitter cry with a glance at the broad heaven: "Father Zeus, than thou is no other god more baleful. Verily I deemed that I had got me vengeance upon Alexander for his wickedness, but now is my sword broken in my hands, and forth from my grasp has my spear flown in vain, and I smote him not."

[369] So saying, he sprang upon him, and seized him by the helmet with thick crest of horse-hair, and whirling him about began to drag him towards the well-greaved Achaeans; and Paris was choked by the richly-broidered strap beneath his soft throat, that was drawn tight beneath his chin to hold his helm. And now would Menelaus have dragged him away, and won glory unspeakable, had not Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, been quick to see, and to his cost broken in twain the thong, cut from the hide of a slaughtered ox; and the empty helm came away in his strong hand. This he then tossed with a swing into the company of the well-greaved Achaeans, and his trusty comrades gathered it up; but himself he sprang back again, eager to slay his foe with spear of bronze.

[381] But him Aphrodite snatched up, full easily as a goddess may, and shrouded him in thick mist, and set him down in his fragrant, vaulted chamber, and herself went to summon Helen. Her she found on the high wall, and round about her in throngs were the women of Troy. Then with her hand the goddess laid hold of her fragrant robe, and plucked it, and spake to her in the likeness of an ancient dame, a wool-comber, who had been wont to card the fair wool for her when she dwelt in Lacedaemon, and who was well loved of her; in her likeness fair Aphrodite spake: "Come hither; Alexander calleth thee to go to thy home. There is he in his chamber and on his inlaid couch, gleaming with beauty and fair raiment. Thou wouldest not deem that he had come thither from warring with a foe, but rather that he was going to the dance, or sat there as one that had but newly ceased from the dance."

[395] So spake she, and stirred Helen's heart in her breast; and when she marked the beauteous neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and her flashing eyes, then amazement seized her, and she spake, and addressed her, saying: "Strange goddess, why art thou minded to beguile me thus? Verily thou wilt lead me yet further on to one of the well-peopled cities of Phrygia or lovely Maeonia, if there too there be some one of mortal men who is dear to thee, seeing that now Menelaus hath conquered goodly Alexander, and is minded to lead hateful me to his home. It is for this cause that thou art now come hither with guileful thought. Go thou, and sit by his side, and depart from the way of the gods, neither let thy feet any more bear thee back to Olympus; but ever be thou troubled for him, and guard him, until he make thee his wife, or haply his slave. But thither will I not go—it were a shameful thing—to array that man's couch; all the women of Troy will blame me hereafter; and I have measureless griefs at heart."

[412] Then stirred to wrath fair Aphrodite spake to her: "Provoke me not, rash woman, lest I wax wroth and desert thee, and hate thee, even as now I love thee wondrously; and lest I devise grievous hatred between both, Trojans alike and Danaans; then wouldst thou perish of an evil fate."

[418] So spake she, and Helen, sprung from Zeus, was seized with fear; and she went, wrapping herself in her bright shining mantle, in silence; and she was unseen of the Trojan women; and the goddess led the way.

[421] Now when they were come to the beautiful palace of Alexander, the handmaids turned forthwith to their tasks, but she, the fair lady, went to the high-roofed chamber. And the goddess, laughter-loving Aphrodite, took for her a chair, and set it before the face of Alexander. Thereon Helen sate her down, the daughter of Zeus that beareth the aegis, with eyes turned askance; and she chid her lord, and said: "Thou hast come back from the war; would thou hadst perished there, vanquished by a valiant man that was my former lord. Verily it was thy boast aforetime that thou wast a better man than Menelaus, dear to Ares, in the might of thy hands and with thy spear. But go now, challenge Menelaus, dear to Ares, again to do battle with thee, man to man. But, nay, I of myself bid thee refrain, and not war amain against fair-haired Menelaus, nor fight with him in thy folly, lest haply thou be vanquished anon by his spear."

[437] Then Paris made answer, and spake to her, saying: "Chide not my heart, lady, with hard words of reviling. For this present hath Menelaus vanquished me with Athene's aid, but another time shall I vanquish him; on our side too there be gods. But come, let us take our joy, couched together in love; for never yet hath desire so encompassed my soul—nay, not when at the first I snatched thee from lovely Lacedaemon and sailed with thee on my seafaring ships, and on the isle of Cranae had dalliance with thee on the couch of love—as now I love thee, and sweet desire layeth hold of me."

[447] He spake, and led the way to the couch, and with him followed his wife. Thus the twain were couched upon the corded bed; but the son of Atreus ranged through the throng like a wild beast, if anywhere he might have sight of godlike Alexander. But none of the Trojans or their famed allies could then discover Alexander to Menelaus, dear to Ares. Not for love verily were they fain to hide him, could any have seen him, for he was hated of all even as black death.

[455] Then the king of men, Agamemnon, spake among them, saying: "Hearken to me, ye Trojans and Dardanians and allies. Victory is now of a surety seen to rest with Menelaus, dear to Ares; do ye therefore give up Argive Helen and the treasure with her, and pay ye in requital such recompense as beseemeth, even such as shall abide in the minds of men that are yet to be."

[461] So spake the son of Atreus, and all the Achaeans shouted assent.


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