The Iliad

by Homer

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

BOOK 8 Battlefield

[1] Now Dawn the saffron-robed was spreading over the face of all the earth, and Zeus that hurleth the thunderbolt made a gathering of the gods upon the topmost peak of many-ridged Olympus, and himself addressed their gathering; and all the gods gave ear: "Hearken unto me, all ye gods and goddesses, that I may speak what the heart in my breast biddeth me. Let not any goddess nor yet any god essay this thing, to thwart my word, but do ye all alike assent thereto, that with all speed I may bring these deeds to pass. Whomsoever I shall mark minded apart from the gods to go and bear aid either to Trojans or Danaans, smitten in no seemly wise shall he come back to Olympus, or I shall take and hurl him into murky Tartarus, far, far away, where is the deepest gulf beneath the earth, the gates whereof are of iron and the threshold of bronze, as far beneath Hades as heaven is above earth: then shall ye know how far the mightiest am I of all gods. Nay, come, make trial, ye gods, that ye all may know. Make ye fast from heaven a chain of gold, and lay ye hold thereof, all ye gods and all goddesses; yet could ye not drag to earth from out of heaven Zeus the counsellor most high, not though ye laboured sore. But whenso I were minded to draw of a ready heart, then with earth itself should I draw you and with sea withal; and the rope should I thereafter bind about a peak of Olympus and all those things should hang in space. By so much am I above gods and above men."

[27] So spake he, and they all became hushed in silence, marvelling at his words; for full masterfully did he address their gathering. But at length there spake among them the goddess, flashing-eyed Athene: "Father of us all, thou son of Cronos, high above all lords, well know we of ourselves that thy might is unyielding, yet even so have we pity for the Danaan spearmen who now shall perish and fulfill an evil fate. Yet verily will we refrain us from battle, even as thou dost bid; howbeit counsel will we offer to the Argives which shall be for their profit, that they perish not all by reason of thy wrath."

[38] Then with a smile spake to her Zeus the cloud-gatherer: "Be of good cheer, Tritogeneia, dear child. In no wise do I speak with full purpose of heart, but am minded to be kindly to thee."

[41] So saying, he let harness beneath his car his bronze-hooved horses, swift of flight, with flowing manes of gold; and with gold he clad himself about his body, and grasped the well-wrought whip of gold, and stepped upon his car and touched the horses with the lash to start them; and nothing loath the pair sped onward midway between earth and starry heaven. To Ida he fared, the many-fountained, mother of wild beasts, even to Gargarus, where is his demesne and his fragrant altar. There did the father of men and gods stay his horses, and loose them from the car, and shed thick mist upon them; and himself sat amid the mountain peaks exulting in his glory, looking upon the city of the Trojans and the ships of the Achaeans.

[53] But the long-haired Achaeans took their meal hastily throughout the huts, and as they rose up therefrom arrayed them in armour; and in like manner, the Trojans, on their side, armed themselves throughout the city; fewer they were, but even so were they eager to contend in battle through utter need, for their children's sake and their wives'. And all the gates were opened, and the host hasted forth, footmen alike and charioteers; and a great din arose.

[60] But when they were met together and come into one place, then clashed they their shields and spears, and the fury of bronze-mailed warriors; and the bossed shields closed each with each, and a great din arose. Then were heard alike the sound of groaning and the cry of triumph of the slayers and the slain, and the earth flowed with blood. Now as long as it was morn and the sacred day was waxing, so long the missiles of either side struck home, and the folk kept falling. But when the sun had reached mid heaven, then verily the Father lifted on high his golden scales, and set therein two fates of grievous death, one for the horse-taming Trojans, and one for the brazen-coated Achaeans; then he grasped the balance by the midst and raised it, and down sank the day of doom of the Achaeans. So the Achaeans' fates settled down upon the bounteous earth and those of the Trojans were raised aloft toward wide heaven. Then himself he thundered aloud from Ida, and sent a blazing flash amid the host of the Achaeans; and at sight thereof they were seized with wonder, and pale fear gat hold of all.

[78] Then had neither Idomeneus the heart to abide, nor Agamemnon, nor yet the Aiantes twain, squires of Ares; only Nestor of Gerenia abode, the warder of the Achaeans, and he nowise of his own will, but his horse was sore wounded, seeing goodly Alexander, lord of fair-haired Helen, had smitten him with an arrow upon the crown of the head where the foremost hairs of horses grow upon the skull, and where is the deadliest spot. So, stung with agony the horse leapt on high as the arrow sank into his brain, and he threw into confusion horses and car as he writhed upon the bronze. And while the old man sprang forth and with his sword was cutting away the traces, meanwhile the swift horses of Hector came on through the tumult, bearing a bold charioteer, even Hector. And now would the old man here have lost his life, had not Diomedes, good at the war-cry, been quick to see; and he shouted with a terrible shout, urging on Odysseus: "Zeus-born son of Laërtes, Odysseus of many wiles, whither fleest thou with thy back turned, like a coward in the throng? Let it not be that as thou fleest some man plant his spear in thy back. Nay, hold thy ground, that we may thrust back from old Nestor this wild warrior."

[97] So spake he, howbeit the much-enduring goodly Odysseus heard him not, but hasted by to the hollow ships of the Achaeans. But the son of Tydeus, alone though he was, mingled with the foremost fighters, and took his stand before the horses of the old man, Neleus' son, and spake and addressed him with winged words: "Old sir, of a surety young warriors press thee sore; whereas thy might is broken and grievous old age attends thee, and thy squire is a weakling and thy horses slow. Nay, come, mount upon my car, that thou mayest see of what sort are the horses of Tros, well skilled to course fleetly hither and thither over the plain whether in pursuit or in flight, even those that once I took from Aeneas, devisers of rout. Thy horses shall our two squires tend, but these twain shall thou and I drive straight against the horse-taming Trojans, that Hector too may know whether my spear also rageth in my hands."

[112] So spake he, and the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, failed not to hearken. So the mares of Nestor were tended by the two squires, valiant Sthenelus and Eurymedon the kindly; and the other twain mounted both upon the car of Diomedes. Nestor took in his hands the shining reins, and touched the horses with the lash, and speedily they drew nigh to Hector. Upon him then as he charged straight at them the son of Tydeus made a cast: him he missed, but his squire that drave the chariot, Eniopeus, son of Thebaeus, high of heart, even as he was holding the reins, he smote on the breast beside the nipple. So he fell from out the car, and the swift-footed horses swerved aside thereat; and there his spirit and his strength were undone. Then was the soul of Hector clouded with dread sorrow for his charioteer. Yet left he him to lie there, albeit he sorrowed for his comrade, and sought him a bold charioteer; nor did his horses twain long lack a master, for straightway he found Iphitus' son, bold Archeptolemus, and made him mount behind his swift-footed horses, and gave the reins into his hands.

[130] Then had ruin come and deeds beyond remedy been wrought, and they had been penned in Ilios like lambs, had not the father of men and gods been quick to see. He thundered terribly and let fly his white lightning-bolt, and down before the horses of Diomedes he hurled it to earth; and a terrible flame arose of burning sulphur, and the two horses, seized with terror, cowered beneath the car. Then from the hands of Nestor slipped the shining reins, and he waxed afraid at heart, and spake to Diomedes: "Son of Tydeus, come now, turn thou in flight thy single-hooved horses. Seest thou not that victory from Zeus waited not on thee? Now to yon man doth Zeus, the son of Cronos, vouchsafe glory for this day; hereafter shall he grant it also to us, if so be he will. But a man may in no wise thwart the purpose of Zeus, be he never so valiant; for in sooth he is mightier far."

[145] And in answer to him spake Diomedes, good at the war cry: "Yea, verily, old sir, all this hast thou spoken according to right. But herein dread grief cometh upon my heart and soul, for Hector will some day say, as he speaketh in the gathering of the Trojans: ‘Tydeus' son, driven in flight before me, betook him to the ships.’ So shall he some day boast—on that day let the wide earth gape for me."

[151] And in answer to him spake the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia: "Ah me, thou son of wise-hearted Tydeus, what a thing hast thou said! For though Hector shall call thee coward and weakling, yet will not the Trojans or the Dardanians hearken to him, nor the wives of the great-souled Trojans, bearers of the shield, they whose lusty husbands thou hast hurled in the dust."

[157] So spake he, and turned in flight his single-hooved horses, back through the tumult; and the Trojans and Hector with wondrous shouting poured forth upon them their missiles fraught with groanings. Over him then shouted aloud great Hector of the flashing helm: "Son of Tydeus, above all others were the Danaans with swift steeds wont to honour thee with a seat of honour and meats and full cups, but now will they scorn thee; thou art, it appeareth, no better than a woman. Begone, cowardly puppet; since through no flinching of mine shalt thou mount upon our walls, and carry away our women in thy ships; ere that will I deal thee thy doom."

[167] So spake he, and the son of Tydeus was divided in counsel whether he should not wheel his horses and fight him face to face. Thrice he wavered in heart and soul and thrice from the mountains of Ida Zeus the counsellor thundered, giving to the Trojans a sign and victory to turn the tide of battle. And Hector shouted aloud and called to the Trojans: "Ye Trojans and Lycians and Dardanians, that fight in close combat, be men, my friends, and bethink you of furious valour. I perceive that of a ready heart the son of Cronos hath given unto me victory and great glory, and to the Danaans woe. Fools they are, that contrived forsooth these walls, weak and of none account; these shall not withhold our might, and our horses shall lightly leap over the digged ditch. But when I be at length come amid the hollow ships, then see ye that consuming fire be not forgotten, that with fire I may burn the ships and furthermore slay the men, even the Argives beside their ships, distraught by reason of the smoke."

[184] So saying he shouted to his horses, and said: "Xanthus, and thou Podargus, and Aethon, and goodly Lampus, now pay me back your tending wherewith in abundance Andromache, daughter of great-hearted Eëtion, set before you honey-hearted wheat, and mingled wine for you to drink when your souls bade you, sooner than for me, that avow me to be her stalwart husband. Nay, haste ye in pursuit, that we may take the shield of Nestor, the fame whereof now reacheth unto heaven, that it is all of gold, the rods alike and the shield itself; and may take moreover from the shoulders of horse-taming Diomedes his breastplate richly-dight, which Hephaestus wrought with toil. Could we but take these twain, then might I hope to make the Achaeans this very night embark upon their swift ships."

[198] So spake he vauntingly, and queenly Hera had indignation thereat; she shook herself on her throne and made high Olympus to quake, and to the mighty god Poseidon she spake, saying: "Ah me, thou Shaker of Earth, wide of sway, not even hath the heart in thy breast pity of the Danaans that are perishing. Yet in thine honour do they bring to Helice and Aegae offerings many and gracious and hitherto thou didst wish them victory. For did we but will, all we that are aiders of the Danaans, to drive back the Trojans and to withhold Zeus whose voice is borne afar, then, in vexation of spirit, would he sit alone there upon Ida."

[208] Then, his heart sore troubled, the lord, the Shaker of Earth, spake to her: "Hera, reckless in speech, what a word hast thou spoken! It is not I that were fain to see us all at strife with Zeus, son of Cronos, for he verily is mightier far."

[212] On this wise spake they, one to the other; and now was all the space that the moat of the wall enclosed on the side of the ships filled alike with chariots and shield-bearing men huddled together: and huddled they were by Hector, Priam's son, the peer of swift Ares, now that Zeus vouchsafed him glory. And now would he have burned the shapely ships with blazing fire, had not queenly Hera put it in Agamemnon's mind himself to bestir him, and speedily rouse on the Achaeans. So he went his way along the huts and ships of the Achaeans, bearing his great purple cloak in his stout hand, and took his stand by Odysseus' black ship, huge of hull, that was in the midst so that a shout could reach to either end, both to the huts of Aias, son of Telamon, and to those of Achilles; for these had drawn up their shapely ships at the furthermost ends, trusting in their valour and in the strength of their hands. There uttered he a piercing shout, calling aloud to the Danaans: "Fie, ye Argives, base things of shame fair in semblance only. Whither are gone our boastings, when forsooth we declared that we were bravest, the boasts that when ye were in Lemnos ye uttered vaingloriously as ye ate abundant flesh of straight-horned kine and drank bowls brim full of wine, saying that each man would stand to face in battle an hundred, aye, two hundred Trojans! whereas now can we match not even one, this Hector, that soon will burn our ships with blazing fire. Father Zeus, was there ever ere now one among mighty kings whose soul thou didst blind with blindness such as this, and rob him of great glory? Yet of a surety do I deem that never in my benched ship did I pass by fair altar of thine on my ill-starred way hither, but upon all I burned the fat and the thighs of bulls, in my eagerness to lay waste well-walled Troy. Nay, Zeus, this desire fulfill thou me: ourselves at least do thou suffer to flee and escape, and permit not the Achaeans thus to be vanquished by the Trojans."

[245] So spake he, and the Father had pity on him as he wept, and vouchsafed him that his folk should be saved and not perish. Forthwith he sent an eagle, surest of omens among winged birds, holding in his talons a fawn, the young of a swift hind. Beside the fair altar of Zeus he let fall the fawn, even where the Achaeans were wont to offer sacrifice to Zeus from whom all omens come. So they, when they saw that it was from Zeus that the bird was come, leapt the more upon the Trojans and bethought them of battle.

[253] Then might no man of the Danaans, for all they were so many, vaunt that he before the son of Tydeus guided his swift horses to drive them forth across the trench and to fight man to man; nay he was first by far to slay a mailed warrior of the Trojans, even Agelaus, Phradraon's son. He in sooth had turned his horses to flee, but as he wheeled about Diomedes fixed his spear in his back between the shoulders, and drave it through his breast; so he fell from out the car, and upon him his armour clanged.

[261] And after him came the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaus, and after them the Aiantes, clothed in furious valour, and after them Idomeneus and Idomeneus' comrade, Meriones, peer of Enyalius, slayer of men, and after them Eurypylus, the glorious son of Euaemon; and Teucer came as the ninth, stretching his back-bent bow, and took his stand beneath the shield of Aias, son of Telamon. Then would Aias move his shield aside from over him, and the warrior would spy his chance; and when he had shot his bolt and had smitten one in the throng, then would that man fall where he was and give up his life, and Teucer would hie him back, and as a child beneath his mother, so betake him for shelter to Aias; and Aias would ever hide him with his shining shield.

[273] Whom first then of the Trojans did peerless Teucer slay? Orsilochus first and Ormenus and Ophelestes and Daetor and Chromius and godlike Lycophontes and Amopaon, Polyaemon's son, and Melanippus. All these, one after another, he brought down to the bounteous earth. And at sight of him Agamemnon, king of men, waxed glad, as with his mighty bow he made havoc of the battalions of the Trojans; and he came and stood by his side and spake to him, saying: "Teucer, beloved, son of Telamon, captain of hosts, shoot on in this wise, if so be thou mayest prove a light of deliverance to the Danaans and a glory to thy father Telamon, who reared thee when thou wast a babe, and for all thou wast a bastard cherished thee in his own house; him, far away though he be, do thou bring to honour. Moreover, I will declare to thee as it verily shall be brought to pass. If Zeus that beareth the aegis, and Athene shall vouchsafe me to lay waste the well-built citadel of Ilios, in thy hand first after mine own self will I place a meed of honour, either a tripod or two horses with their car, or a woman that shall go up into thy bed."

[292] Then in answer to him spake peerless Teucer: "Most glorious son of Atreus, why urgest thou me on, that of myself am eager? Verily I forbear not so far as might is in me, but from the time when we drave them toward Ilios, even from that moment I lie in wait with my bow and slay the men. Eight long-barbed arrows have I now let fly, and all are lodged in the flesh of youths swift in battle; only this mad dog can I not smite."

[300] He spake, and shot another arrow from the string straight against Hector; and his heart was fain to smite him. Howbeit him he missed, but peerless Gorgythion he smote in the breast with his arrow, Priam's valiant son, that a mother wedded from Aesyme had born, even fair Castianeira, in form like to the goddesses. And he bowed his head to one side like a poppy that in a garden is laden with its fruit and the rains of spring; so bowed he to one side his head, laden with his helmet.

[309] And Teucer shot another arrow from the string straight against Hector, and his heart was fain to smite him. Howbeit he missed him once again, for Apollo made his dart to swerve, but Archeptolemus, the bold charioteer of Hector, as he hasted into battle he smote on the breast beside the nipple. So he fell from out the car, and the swift-footed horses swerved aside thereat; and there his spirit and his strength were undone. Then was the soul of Hector clouded with dread sorrow for his charioteer. Yet left he him to lie there, though he sorrowed for his comrade, and bade Cebriones, his own brother, that was nigh at hand, take the reins of the horses; and he heard and failed not to hearken. And himself Hector leapt to the ground from his gleaming car crying a terrible cry, and seizing a stone in his hand made right at Teucer, and his heart bade him smite him. Now Teucer had drawn forth from the quiver a bitter arrow, and laid it upon the string, but even as he was drawing it back Hector of the flashing helm smote him beside the shoulder where the collar-bone parts the neck and the breast, where is the deadliest spot; even there as he aimed eagerly against him he smote him with the jagged stone, and he brake the bow-string; but his hand grew numb at the wrist, and he sank upon his knees and thus abode, and the bow fell from his hand. Howbeit Aias was not unmindful of his brother's fall, but ran and bestrode him and flung before him his shield as a cover. Then two trusty comrades stooped beneath him, even Mecisteus, son of Echius, and goodly Alastor, and bare him, groaning heavily, to the hollow ships.

[335] Then once again the Olympian aroused might in the hearts of the Trojans; and they thrust the Achaeans straight toward the deep ditch; and amid the foremost went Hector exulting in his might. And even as a hound pursueth with swift feet after a wild boar or a lion, and snatcheth at him from behind either at flank or buttock, and watcheth for him as he wheeleth; even so Hector pressed upon the long-haired Achaeans, ever slaying the hindmost; and they were driven in rout. But when in their flight they had passed through stakes and trench, and many had been vanquished beneath the hands of the Trojans, then beside their ships they halted and abode, calling one upon the other, and lifting up their hands to all the gods they made fervent prayer each man of them. But Hector wheeled this way and that his fair-maned horses, and his eyes were as the eyes of the Gorgon or of Ares, bane of mortals.

[350] Now at sight of them the goddess, white-armed Hera, had pity; and forthwith spake winged words to Athene: "Out upon it, thou child of Zeus that beareth the aegis, shall not we twain any more take thought of the Danaans that are perishing, even for this last time? Now will they fill up the measure of evil doom and perish before the onset of one single man, even of Hector, Priam's son, who now rageth past all bearing, and lo, hath wrought evils manifold."

[357] Then spake unto her the goddess, flashing-eyed Athene: "Yea, verily, fain were I that this fellow lose strength and life, slain beneath the hands of the Argives in his own native land; howbeit mine own father rageth with evil mind, cruel that he is, ever froward, a thwarter of my purposes; neither hath he any memory of this, that full often I saved his son when he was fordone by reason of Eurystheus' tasks. For verily he would make lament toward heaven and from heaven would Zeus send me forth to succour him. Had I but known all this in wisdom of my heart when Eurystheus sent him forth to the house of Hades the Warder, to bring from out of Erebus the hound of loathed Hades, then had he not escaped the sheer-falling waters of Styx. Howbeit now Zeus hateth me, and hath brought to fulfillment the counsels of Thetis, that kissed his knees and with her hand clasped his chin, beseeching him to show honour to Achilles, sacker of cities. Verily the day shall come when he shall again call me his flashing-eyed darling. But now make thou ready for us twain our single-hooved horses, the while I enter into the palace of Zeus, that beareth the aegis, and array me in armour for battle, to the end that I may see whether Priam's son, Hector of the flashing helm, will rejoice when we twain appear to view along the dykes of battle. Nay of a surety many a one of the Trojans shall glut the dogs and birds with his fat and flesh, when he is fallen at the ships of the Achaeans."

[381] So spake she, and the goddess, white-armed Hera, failed not to hearken. She then went to and fro harnessing the horses of golden frontlets, even Hera, the queenly goddess, daughter of great Cronos; but Athene, daughter of Zeus that beareth the aegis, let fall upon her father's floor her soft robe, richly broidered, that herself had wrought and her hands had fashioned, and put on her the tunic of Zeus the cloud-gatherer, and arrayed her in armour for tearful war. Then she stepped upon the flaming car and grasped her spear, heavy and huge and strong, wherewith she vanquisheth the ranks of men, of warriors with whom she is wroth, she the daughter of the mighty sire. And Hera swiftly touched the horses with the lash, and self-bidden groaned upon their hinges the gates of heaven, which the Hours had in their keeping, to whom are entrusted great heaven and Olympus, whether to throw open the thick cloud or shut it to. There through the gate they drave their horses patient of the goad.

[397] But when father Zeus saw them from Ida he waxed wondrous wroth, and sent forth golden-winged Iris to bear a message: "Up, go, swift Iris; turn them back and suffer them not to come face to face with me, seeing it will be in no happy wise that we shall join in combat. For thus will I speak and verily this thing shall be brought to pass. I will maim their swift horses beneath the chariot, and themselves will I hurl from out the car, and will break in pieces the chariot; nor in the space of ten circling years shall they heal them of the wounds wherewith the thunderbolt shall smite them; that she of the flashing eyes may know what it is to strive against her own father. But against Hera have I not so great indignation nor wrath, seeing she is ever wont to thwart me in whatsoe'er I have decreed."

[409] So spake he, and storm-footed Iris hasted to bear his message, and went forth from the mountains of Ida to high Olympus. And even at the entering-in of the gate of many-folded Olympus she met them and stayed them, and declared to them the saying of Zeus: "Whither are ye twain hastening? Why is it that the hearts are mad within your breasts? The son of Cronos suffereth not that ye give succour to the Argives. For on this wise he threateneth, even as he will bring it to pass: he will maim your swift horses beneath your chariot, and yourselves will he hurl from out the car, and will break in pieces the chariot; nor in the space of ten circling years shall ye heal you of the wounds wherewith the thunderbolt shall smite you; that thou mayest know, thou of the flashing eyes, what it is to strive against thine own father. But against Hera hath he not so great indignation nor wrath, seeing she is ever wont to thwart him in whatsoe'er he hath decreed. But most dread art thou, thou bold and shameless thing, if in good sooth thou wilt dare to raise thy mighty spear against Zeus."

[425] When she had thus spoken swift-footed Iris departed; but Hera spake to Athene, saying: "Out upon it, thou child of Zeus that beareth the aegis! I verily will no more suffer that we twain seek to wage war against Zeus for mortals' sake. Of them let one perish and another live, even as it may befall; and for him, let him take his own counsel in his heart and judge between Trojans and Danaans, as is meet."

[432] So spake she, and turned back her single-hooved horses. Then the Hours unyoked for them their fair-maned horses, and tethered them at their ambrosial mangers, and leaned the chariot against the bright entrance wall; and the goddesses sate them down upon golden thrones amid the other gods, with sore grief at heart.

[438] But father Zeus drave from Ida his well-wheeled chariot and his horses unto Olympus, and came to the session of the gods. And for him the famed Shaker of Earth both unyoked his horses and set the car upon a stand, and spread thereover a cloth; and Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, himself sat upon his throne of gold, and beneath his feet great Olympus quaked. Only Athene and Hera sat apart from Zeus, and spake no word to him nor made question. But he knew in his heart and spake, saying: "Why are ye thus grieved, Athene and Hera? Surely ye twain be not grown weary with making havoc of the Trojans in battle, wherein men win glory, seeing ye cherish against them wondrous hate! Come what will, seeing I have such might and hands irresistible, all the gods that are in Olympus could not turn me; and for you twain, trembling gat hold of your glorious limbs or ever ye had sight of war and the grim deeds of war. For thus will I speak, and verily this thing had been brought to pass: not upon your car, once ye were smitten by the thunderbolt, would ye have fared back to Olympus, where is the abode of the immortals."

[457] So spake he, and thereat murmured Athene and Hera, that sat by his side and were devising ills for the Trojans. Athene verily held her peace and said naught, wroth though she was with father Zeus, and fierce anger gat hold of her; howbeit Hera's breast contained not her anger, but she spake to him, saying: "Most dread son of Cronos, what a word hast thou said! Well know we of ourselves that thine is no weakling strength; yet even so have we pity for the Danaan spearmen who now shall perish and fulfill an evil fate. Yet verily will we refrain us from battle, if so thou biddest; howbeit counsel will we offer to the Argives which shall be for their profit, that they perish not all by reason of thy wrath."

[469] Then in answer spake to her Zeus the cloud-gatherer: "At dawn shalt thou behold, if so be thou wilt, O ox-eyed, queenly Hera, the most mighty son of Cronos making yet more grievous havoc of the great host of Argive spearmen; for dread Hector shall not refrain him from battle until the swift-footed son of Peleus be uprisen beside his ships on the day when at the sterns of the ships they shall be fighting in grimmest stress about Patroclus fallen; for thus it is ordained of heaven. But of thee I reck not in thine anger, no, not though thou shouldst go to the nethermost bounds of earth and sea, where abide Iapetus and Cronos, and have joy neither in the rays of Helios Hyperion nor in any breeze, but deep Tartarus is round about them. Though thou shouldst fare even thither in thy wanderings, yet reck I not of thy wrath, seeing there is naught more shameless than thou."

[484] So said he; howbeit white-armed Hera spake no word in answer. Then into Oceanus fell the bright light of the sun drawing black night over the face of the earth, the giver of grain. Sorely against the will of the Trojans sank the daylight, but over the Achaeans welcome, aye, thrice-prayed-for, came the darkness of night.

[489] Then did glorious Hector make a gathering of the Trojans, leading them apart from the ships beside the eddying river in an open space, where the ground shewed clear of dead. Forth from their chariots they stepped upon the ground, to hearken to the word that Hector dear to Zeus spake among them. In his hand he held a spear of eleven cubits, and before him blazed the spear-point of bronze, around which ran a ring of gold. Thereon he leaned, and spake his word among the Trojans: "Hearken to me, ye Trojans and Dardanians and allies: I deemed but now to make havoc of the ships and all the Achaeans, and so return back again to windy Ilios; but darkness came on ere that might be, the which above all else hath now saved the Argives and their ships upon the beach of the sea. So then for this present let us yield to black night and make ready our supper; loose ye from the cars your fair-maned horses, and cast fodder before them; and from the city bring ye oxen and goodly sheep with speed, and get you honey-hearted wine and bread from your houses, and furthermore gather abundant wood, that all night long until early dawn we may burn fires full many and the gleam thereof may reach to heaven, lest haply even by night the long-haired Achaeans make haste to take flight over the broad back of the sea.

[512] "Nay, verily, not without a struggle let them board their ships neither at their ease; but see ye that many a one of them has a missile to brood over even at home, being smitten either with an arrow or sharp-pointed spear as he leapt upon his ship; that so others may dread to bring tearful war against the horse-taming Trojans. And let heralds, dear to Zeus, make proclamation throughout the city that stripling boys and old men of hoary temples gather them round the city upon the battlement builded of the gods; and for the women folk, let them build each one a great fire in her halls; and let a diligent watch be kept, lest an ambush enter the city while the host is afield. Thus be it, great-hearted Trojans, even as I proclaim; of counsel, good and sound for this present, be this enough; but more will I proclaim at dawn amid the horse-taming Trojans. I pray in high hope to Zeus and the other gods to drive out from hence these dogs borne by the fates, whom the fates bare on their black ships. Howbeit for the night will we guard our own selves, but in the morning at the coming of dawn arrayed in our armour let us arouse sharp battle at the hollow ships. I shall know whether the son of Tydeus, mighty Diomedes, will thrust me back from the ships to the wall, or whether I shall slay him with the bronze and bear off his bloody spoils. Tomorrow shall he come to know his valour, whether he can abide the on-coming of my spear. Nay, amid the foremost, methinks, shall he lie smitten with a spear-thrust, and full many of his comrades round about him at the rising of to-morrow's sun. I would that mine own self I might be immortal and ageless all my days, and that I might be honoured even as Athene and Apollo, so surely as now this day bringeth evil upon the Argives."

[542] So Hector addressed their gathering, and thereat the Trojans shouted aloud. Their sweating horses they loosed from beneath the yoke, and tethered them with thongs, each man beside his own chariot; and from the city they brought oxen and goodly sheep with speed, and got them honey-hearted wine and bread from their houses, and furthermore gathered abundant wood; and to the immortals they offered hecatombs that bring fulfillment. And from the plain the winds bore the savour up into heaven—a sweet savour, but thereof the blessed gods partook not, neither were minded thereto; for utterly hated of them was sacred Ilios, and Priam, and the people of Priam with goodly spear of ash.

[553] These then with high hearts abode the whole night through along the dykes of war, and their fires burned in multitudes. Even as in heaven about the gleaming moon the stars shine clear, when the air is windless, and forth to view appear all mountain peaks and high headlands and glades, and from heaven breaketh open the infinite air, and all stars are seen, and the shepherd joyeth in his heart; even in such multitudes between the ships and the streams of Xanthus shone the fires that the Trojans kindled before the face of Ilios. A thousand fires were burning in the plain and by each sat fifty men in the glow of the blazing fire. And their horses, eating of white barley and spelt, stood beside the cars and waited for fair-throned Dawn.


Return to the The Iliad Summary Return to the Homer Library

© 2022