His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast, And more compact, beneath their monarch's eye, Their ranks were form'd; as when the builder lays The closely-fitting stones, to form the wall Of some great house, and brave the winds of Heav'n; So close were fitted helm and bossy shield; Buckler on buckler press'd, and helm on helm, And man on man; the horsehair plumes above, That nodded, fearful, from the warriors' brows, Each other touch'd; so closely mass'd they stood. Before them all stood prominent in arms Two chiefs, Patroclus and Automedon, Both with one thought possess'd, to lead the fight In the fore-front of all the Myrmidons. Achilles then within his tent withdrew, And of a gorgeous coffer rais'd the lid, Well-wrought, by silver-footed Thetis plac'd On board his ship, and fill'd with rich attire, With store of wind-proof cloaks, and carpets soft. There lay a goblet, richly chas'd, whence none, But he alone, might drink the ruddy wine, Nor might libations thence to other Gods Be made, save only Jove: this brought he forth, And first with sulphur purified, and next Wash'd with pure water; then his hands he wash'd, And drew the ruddy wine; then standing forth Made in the centre of the court his pray'r, And as he pour'd the wine, look'd up to Heav'n, Not unbeheld of Jove, the lightning's Lord:
"Great King, Dodona's Lord, Pelasgian Jove, Who dwell'st on high, and rul'st with sov'reign sway Dodona's wintry heights; where dwell around Thy Sellian priests, men of unwashen feet, That on the bare ground sleep; thou once before Hast heard my pray'r, and me with honour crown'd, And on the Greeks inflicted all thy plagues; Hear yet again, and this my boon accord. I 'mid the throng of ships myself remain; But with a num'rous force of Myrmidons I send my comrade in my stead to fight: On him, all-seeing Jove, thy favour pour; Strengthen his heart, that Hector's self may learn If, e'en alone, my follower knows to fight, Or only then resistless pow'r displays, When I myself the toil of battle share. And from our vessels when the foe is driv'n, Grant that with all his arms and comrades true He may in safety to the ships return."
Thus pray'd he; Jove, the Lord of counsel, heard, And half his pray'r he granted, half denied: For from the ships the battle to repel He granted; but denied his safe return. His pray'rs and off'rings ended, to the tent Achilles turn'd again, and in the chest Replac'd the cup; then issuing forth, he stood Before the tent; for much he long'd to see The Greeks and Trojans join in battle strife. They who in arms round brave Patroclus stood Their line of battle form'd, with courage high To dash upon the Trojans; and as wasps That have their nest beside the public road, Which boys delight to vex and irritate In wanton play, but to the gen'ral harm; Them if some passing trav'ller unawares Disturb, with angry courage forth they rush In one continuous swarm, to guard their nest: E'en with such courage pour'd the Myrmidons Forth from the ships; then uproar wild arose, And loud Patroclus on his comrades call'd:
"Ye valiant Myrmidons, who boast yourselves Achilles' comrades, quit ye now like men; Your ancient valour prove; to Peleus' son, Of all the Greeks the noblest, so shall we, His faithful followers, highest honour give; And Agamemnon's haughty self shall mourn The slight on Grecia's bravest warrior cast."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast. Thick on the Trojan host their masses fell; While loud the fleet re-echoed to the sound Of Grecian cheers; but when the Trojans saw, Blazing in arms, Menoetius' godlike son, Himself, and follower; quail'd the spirits of all; Their firm-set ranks were shaken; for they deem'd Achilles had beside the ships exchang'd His wrath for friendship; and each sev'ral man Look'd round, to find his own escape from death.
Then first Patroclus aim'd his glitt'ring spear Amid the crowd, where thickest round the ships Of brave Protesilaus, raged the war; And struck Pyraechmes, who from Amydon, From the wide-flowing stream of Axius, led The horsehair-crested Paeons; him he struck Through the right shoulder; backwards in the dust Groaning, he fell; around him quail'd with fear His Paeons all, such terror in their ranks Patroclus threw, their bravest leader slain, The foremost in the fight; the crowd he drove Far from the ships, and quench'd the blazing fire. There lay the half-burnt ship; with shouts confus'd The Trojans fled; and from amid the ships Forth pour'd the Greeks; and loud the clamour rose.
As when around a lofty mountain's top The lightning's Lord dispels a mass of cloud, And ev'ry crag, and ev'ry jutting peak Is plainly seen, and ev'ry forest glade; And the deep vault of Heav'n is open'd wide; So when the Greeks had clear'd the ships of fire, They breath'd awhile; yet ceas'd not so the strife; For not in headlong panic from the ships The Trojans by the valiant Greeks were driv'n, But, though perforce retiring, still made head.
Then of the chiefs, as wider spread the fight, Each singled each; Menoetius' noble son First threw his pointed spear, and on the thigh Struck Areilochus, in act to turn; Right through the point was driv'n; the weighty spear Shatter'd the bone, and prone to earth he fell. The warlike Menelaus aim'd his spear Where Thoas' breast, unguarded by his shield, Was left expos'd; and slack'd his limbs in death. Phyleus' brave son, as rush'd Amphiclus on, Stood firm, with eye observant; then th' attack Preventing, through his thigh, high up, where lie The strongest muscles, smote; the weapon's point Sever'd the tendons; darkness clos'd his eyes. Of Nestor's sons, Antilochus, the first, Atymnius wounded, driving through his flank He brazen spear; prone on his face he fell. Then, burning to avenge his brother's death, Stood Maris o'er the corpse, and hand to hand Engaged Antilochus; but ere a blow Was struck, the godlike Thrasymedes drove Through his right shoulder, with unerring aim, His glitt'ring spear; the point his upper arm Tore from the muscles, shatt'ring all the bone: Thund'ring he fell, and darkness clos'd his eyes. So to the shades, by those two brethren's hands Subdued, Sarpedon's comrades brave were sent, The sons of Amisodarus, who rear'd The dread Chimaera, bane of mortal men. On Cleobulus, wounded in the press, Ajax Oileus sprang, and captive took, Alive; but sudden on his neck let fall His hilted sword, and quench'd the fire of life. The hot blood dyed the sword; the darkling shades Of death, and rig'rous fate, his eyes o'erspread. Then Peneleus and Lycon, hand to hand, Engag'd in combat; both had miss'd their aim, And bootless hurl'd their weapons; then with swords They met; first Lycon on the crested helm Dealt a fierce blow; but in his hand the blade Up to the hilt was shiver'd; then the sword Of Peneleus his neck, below the ear, Dissever'd; deeply in his throat the blade Was plung'd, and by the skin alone was stay'd; Down droop'd his head, his limbs relax'd in death. Meriones by speed of foot o'ertook, And, as his car he mounted, Acarnas Though the right shoulder pierc'd; down from the car He fell; the shades of death his eyes o'erspread. Full on the mouth of Erymas was thrust The weapon of Idomeneus; right through, The white bones crashing, pass'd the brazen spear Below the brain; his teeth were shatter'd all; With blood, which with convulsive sobs he blew From mouth and nostril, both his eyes were fill'd; And death's dark cloud encompass'd him around. Thus slew the Grecian leaders each his man.
As rav'ning wolves, that lambs or kids assail, Stray'd from their dams, by careless shepherds left Upon the mountain scatter'd; these they see, And tear at once their unresisting prey; So on the Trojans fell the Greeks; in rout Disastrous they, unmann'd by terror, fled. Great Ajax still, unwearied, long'd to hurl His spear at Hector of the brazen helm; But he, well skill'd in war, his shoulders broad Protected by his shield of tough bull's hide, Watch'd for the whizzing shafts, and jav'lins' whirr. Full well he knew the tide of battle turn'd, Yet held his ground, his trusty friends to save.
As from Olympus, o'er the clear blue sky Pour the dark clouds, when Jove the vault of Heav'n O'erspreads with storm and tempest, from the ships So pour'd with panic cries the flying host, And in disorder'd rout recross'd the trench. Then Hector's flying coursers bore him safe Far from the struggling masses, whom the ditch Detain'd perforce; there many a royal car With broken pole th' unharness'd horses left. On, shouting to the Greeks, Patroclus press'd The flying Trojans; they, with panic cries, Dispers'd, the roads encumber'd; high uprose The storms of dust, as from the tents and ships Back to the city stretch'd the flying steeds; And ever where the densest throng appear'd With furious threats Patroclus urg'd his course; His glowing axle trac'd by prostrate men Hurl'd from their cars, and chariots overthrown. Flew o'er the deep-sunk trench th' immortal steeds, The noble prize the Gods to Peleus gave, Still onward straining; for he long'd to reach, And hurl his spear at Hector; him meanwhile His flying steeds in safety bore away.
As in th' autumnal season, when the earth With weight of rain is saturate; when Jove Pours down his fiercest storms in wrath to men, Who in their courts unrighteous judgments pass, And justice yield to lawless violence, The wrath of Heav'n despising; ev'ry stream Is brimming o'er: the hills in gullies deep Are by the torrents seam'd, which, rushing down From the high mountains to the dark-blue sea, With groans and tumult urge their headlong course, Wasting the works of man; so urg'd their flight, So, as they fled, the Trojan horses groan'd. The foremost ranks cut off, back tow'rd the ships Patroclus drove them, baffling their attempts To gain the city; and in middle space Between the ships, the stream, and lofty wall, Dealt slaughter round him, and of many a chief The bitter penalty of death requir'd. Then Pronous with his glitt'ring spear he struck, Where by the shield his breast was left expos'd, And slack'd his limbs in death; thund'ring he fell. Next Thestor, son of OEnops, he assail'd; He on his polish'd car, down-crouching, sat, His mind by fear disorder'd; from his hands The reins had dropp'd; him, thrusting with the spear, Through the right cheek and through the teeth he smote, Then dragg'd him, by the weapon, o'er the rail. As when an angler on a prominent rock Drags from the sea to shore with hook and line A weighty fish; so him Patroclus dragg'd, Gaping, from off the car; and dash'd him down Upon his face; and life forsook his limbs. Next Eryalus, eager for the fray, On the mid forehead with a mighty stone He struck; beneath the pond'rous helmet's weight The skull was split in twain; prostrate he fell, By life-consuming death encompass'd round. Forthwith Amphoterus, and Erymas, Epaltes, Echius, and Tlepolemus, Son of Damastor, Pyris, Ipheus brave, Euippus, Polymelus, Argeas' son, In quick succession to the ground he brought. Sarpedon his ungirdled forces saw Promiscuous fall before Menoetius' son, And to the Lycians call'd in loud reproof: "Shame, Lycians! whither fly ye? why this haste? I will myself this chief confront, and learn Who this may be of bearing proud and high, Who on the Trojans grievous harm hath wrought, And many a warrior's limbs relax'd in death."
He said, and from his car, accoutred, sprang; Patroclus saw, and he too leap'd to earth. As on a lofty rock, with angry screams, Hook-beak'd, with talons curv'd, two vultures fight; So with loud shouts these two to battle rush'd. The son of Saturn pitying saw, and thus To Juno spoke, his sister and his wife:
"Woe, woe! that fate decrees my best-belov'd, Sarpedon, by Patroclus' hand to fall; E'en now conflicting thoughts my soul divide, To bear him from the fatal strife unhurt, And set him down on Lycia's fertile plains, Or leave him by Patroclus' hand to fall."
Whom, answer'd thus the stag-ey'd Queen of Heav'n: "What words, dread son of Saturn, dost thou speak? Wouldst thou a mortal man from death withdraw Long since by fate decreed? Do what thou wilt; Yet cannot we, the rest, applaud thine act. This too I say, and turn it in thy mind: If to his home Sarpedon thou restore Alive, bethink thee, will not other Gods Their sons too from the stubborn fight withdraw? For in the field around the walls of Troy Are many sons of Gods, in all of whom This act of thine will angry feelings rouse. But if thou love him, and thy soul deplore His coming doom, yet in the stubborn fight Leave him beneath Patroclus' hand to fall: Then, when his spirit hath fled, the charge assign To Death and gentle Sleep, that in their arms They bear him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains: There shall his brethren and his friends perform His fun'ral rites, and mound and column raise, The fitting tribute to the mighty dead."
Thus she; the Sire of Gods and men complied: But to the ground some drops of blood let fall, In honour of his son, whom fate decreed, Far from his country, on the fertile plains Of Troy to perish by Patroclus' hand. As near the champions drew, Patroclus first His weapon hurl'd, and Thrasymedes brave, The faithful follower of Sarpedon, struck Below the waist, and slack'd his limbs in death. Thrown in his turn, Sarpedon's glitt'ring spear Flew wide; and Pedasus, the gallant horse, Through the right shoulder wounded; with a scream He fell, and in the dust breath'd forth his life, As, shrieking loud, his noble spirit fled. This way and that his two companions swerv'd; Creak'd the strong yoke, and tangled were the reins, As in the dust the prostrate courser lay. Automedon the means of safety saw; And drawing from beside his brawny thigh His keen-edg'd sword, with no uncertain blow Cut loose the fallen horse; again set straight, The two, extended, stretch'd the tightened rein. Again in mortal strife the warriors clos'd: Once more Sarpedon hurl'd his glitt'ring spear In vain; above Patroclus' shoulder flew The point, innocuous; from his hand in turn The spear not vainly thrown, Sarpedon struck Where lies the diaphragm, below the heart. He fell; as falls an oak, or poplar tall, Or lofty pine, which on the mountain top For some proud ship the woodman's axe hath hewn: So he, with death-cry sharp, before his car Extended lay, and clutch'd the blood-stain'd soil. As when a lion on the herd has sprung, And, 'mid the heifers seiz'd, the lordly bull Lies bellowing, crush'd between the lion's jaws; So by Patroclus slain, the Lycian chief, Undaunted still, his faithful comrade call'd: "Good Glaucus, warrior tried, behoves thee now Thy spearmanship to prove, and warlike might. Welcome the fray; put forth thine utmost speed; Call on the Lycian chiefs, on ev'ry side, To press around, and for Sarpedon fight; Thou too thine arms for my protection wield; For I to thee, through all thy future days, Shall be a ceaseless scandal and reproach, If me, thus slain before the Grecian ships, The Greeks be suffer'd of my arms to spoil: But stand thou fast, and others' courage raise."
Thus as he spoke, the shades of death o'erspread His eyes and nostrils; then with foot firm-set Upon his chest, Patroclus from the corpse Drew, by main force, the fast-adhering spear; The life forth issuing with the weapon's point. Loos'd from the royal car, the snorting steeds, Eager for flight, the Myrmidons detain'd. Deep-grieving, Glaucus heard his voice: and chafed His spirit within him, that he lacked the power To aid his comrade; with his hand he grasp'd His wounded arm, in torture from the shaft By Teucer shot, to save the Greeks from death, As on he pressed to scale the lofty wall: Then to Apollo thus address'd his pray'r:
"Hear me, great King, who, as on Lycia's plains, Art here in Troy; and hear'st in ev'ry place Their voice who suffer, as I suffer now. A grievous wound I bear, and sharpest pangs My arm assail, nor may the blood he stanch'd: The pain weighs down my shoulder; and my hand Hath lost its pow'r to fight, or grasp my spear. Sarpedon, bravest of the brave, is slain, The son of Jove; yet Jove preserv'd him not. But thou, O King, this grievous wound relieve; Assuage the pain, and give me strength to urge My Lycian comrades to maintain the war, And fight myself to guard the noble dead."
Thus as he pray'd, his pray'r Apollo heard, Assuag'd his pains, and from the grievous wound Stanch' d the dark blood, and fill'd his soul with strength. Glaucus within himself perceiv'd, and knew, Rejoicing, that the God had heard his pray'r. The Lycian leaders first on ev'ry side He urg'd to hasten for their King to fight: Then 'mid the Trojans went with lofty step, And first to Panthous' son, Polydamas, To brave Agenor and AEneas next; Then Hector of the brazen helm himself Approaching, thus with winged words address'd:
"Hector, forgett'st thou quite thy brave allies, Who freely in thy cause pour forth their lives, Far from their home and friends? but they from thee No aid receive; Sarpedon lies in death, The leader of the buckler'd Lycian bands, Whose justice and whose pow'r were Lycia's shield; Him by Patroclus' hand hath Mars subdued. But, friends, stand by me now! with just revenge Inspir'd, determine that the Myrmidons Shall not, how griev'd soe'er for all the Greeks Who by our spears beside the ships have fall'n, Our dead dishonour, and his arms obtain."
He said; and through the Trojans thrill'd the sense Of grief intolerable, unrestrain'd; For he, though stranger-born, was of the State A mighty pillar; and his followers A num'rous host; and he himself in fight Among the foremost; so, against the Greeks, With fiery zeal they rush'd, by Hector led, Griev'd for Sarpedon's loss; on th' other side Patroclus' manly heart the Greeks arous'd, And to th' Ajaces first, themselves inflamed With warlike zeal, he thus address'd his speech:
"Ye sons of Ajax, now is come the time Your former fame to rival, or surpass: The man hath fall'n, who first o'erleap'd our wall, Sarpedon; now remains, that, having slain, We should his corpse dishonour, and his arms Strip off; and should some comrade dare attempt His rescue, him too with our spears subdue."
He said; and they, with martial ardour fir'd, Rush'd to the conflict. When on either side The reinforc'd battalions were array'd, Trojans and Lycians, Myrmidons and Greeks Around the dead in sternest combat met, With fearful shouts; and loud their armour rang. Then, to enhance the horror of the strife Around his son, with darkness Jove o'erspread The stubborn fight: the Trojans first drove back The keen-ey'd Greeks; for first a warrior fell, Not of the meanest 'mid the Myrmidons, Epegeus, son of valiant Agacles; Who in Budaeum's thriving state bore rule Erewhile; but flying for a kinsman slain, To Peleus and the silver-footed Queen He came a suppliant; with Achilles thence To Ilium sent, to join the war of Troy. Him, as he stretch'd his hand to seize the dead, Full on the forehead with a massive stone Great Hector smote; within the pond'rous helm The skull was split in twain; prone on the corpse He fell, by life-destroying death subdued. Griev'd was Patroclus for his comrade slain; Forward he darted, as a swift-wing'd hawk, That swoops amid the starlings and the daws; So swift didst thou, Patroclus, car-borne chief, Upon the Trojans and the Lycians spring, Thy soul with anger for thy comrade fill'd. A pond'rous stone he hurl'd at Sthenelas, Son of Ithaemenes; the mighty mass Fell on his neck, and all the muscles crush'd. Back drew great Hector and the chiefs of Troy; Far as a jav'lin's flight, in sportive strife, Or in the deadly battle, hurl'd by one His utmost strength exerting; back so far The Trojans drew, so far the Greeks pursued. Glaucus, the leader of the Lycian spears, First turning, slew the mighty Bathycles, The son of Chalcon; he in Hellas dwelt, In wealth surpassing all the Myrmidons. Him, as he gain'd upon him in pursuit, Quick turning, Glaucus through the breast transfix'd; Thund'ring he fell; deep grief possess'd the Greeks At loss of one so valiant; fiercely joy'd The Trojans, and around him crowded thick; Nor of their wonted valour were the Greeks Oblivious, but still onward held their course. Then slew Meriones a crested chief, The bold Laogonus, Onetor's son; Onetor, of Idaean Jove the priest, And by the people as a God rever'd. Below the ear he struck him; from his limbs The spirit fled, and darkness veil'd his eyes.
Then at Meriones AEneas threw His brazen spear, in hopes beneath his shield To find a spot unguarded; he beheld, And downward stooping, shunn'd the brazen death; Behind him far, deep in the soil infix'd, The weapon stood; there Mars its impulse stay'd; So, bootless hurl'd, though by no feeble hand, AEneas' spear stood quiv'ring in the ground; Then thus in wrath he cried: "Meriones, Had it but struck thee, nimble as thou art, My spear had brought thy dancing to a close."
To whom the spearman skill'd, Meriones: "Brave as thou art, AEneas, 'tis too much For thee to hope the might of all to quell, Who dare confront thee; thou art mortal too! And if my aim be true, and should my spear But strike thee fair, all valiant as thou art, And confident, yet me thy fall shall crown With triumph, and thy soul to Hades send."
He said; and him Menoetius' noble son Address'd with grave rebuke: "Meriones, Brave warrior, why thus waste the time in words? Trust me, good friend, 'tis not by vaunting speech, Unseconded by deeds, that we may hope To scare away the Trojans from the slain: Hands are for battle, words for council meet; Boots it not now to wrangle, but to fight."
He said, and led the way; him follow'd straight The godlike chief; forthwith, as loudly rings, Amid the mountain forest's deep recess, The woodman's axe, and far is heard the sound; So from the wide-spread earth their clamour rose, As brazen arms, and shields, and tough bull's-hide Encounter'd swords and double-pointed spears. Nor might the sharpest sight Sarpedon know, From head to foot with wounds and blood and dust Disfigur'd; thickly round the dead they swarm'd. As when at spring-tide in the cattle-sheds Around the milk-cans swarm the buzzing flies, While the warm milk is frothing in the pail; So swarm'd they round the dead; nor Jove the while Turn'd from the stubborn fight his piercing glance; But still look'd down with gaze intent, and mus'd Upon Patroclus' coming fate, in doubt, If he too there beside Sarpedon slain, Should perish by illustrious Hector's hand, Spoil'd of his arms; or yet be spared awhile To swell the labours of the battle-field. He judg'd it best at length, that once again The gallant follower of Peleus' son Should tow'rd the town with fearful slaughter drive The Trojans, and their brazen-helmed chief. First Hector's soul with panic fear he fill'd; Mounting his car, he fled, and urg'd to flight The Trojans; for he saw the scales of Jove. Then nor the valiant Lycians held their ground; All fled in terror, as they saw their King Pierc'd through the heart, amid a pile of dead; For o'er his body many a warrior fell, When Saturn's son the conflict fierce inflam'd. Then from Sarpedon's breast they stripp'd his arms, Of brass refulgent; these Menoetius' son Sent by his comrades to the ships of Greece.
To Phoebus then the Cloud-compeller thus: "Hie thee, good Phoebus, from amid the spears Withdraw Sarpedon, and from all his wounds Cleanse the dark gore; then bear him far away, And lave his body in the flowing stream; Then with divine ambrosia all his limbs Anointing, clothe him in immortal robes. To two swift bearers give him then in charge, To Sleep and Death, twin brothers, in their arms To bear him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains: There shall his brethren and his friends perform His fun'ral rites, and mound and column raise, The fitting tribute to the mighty dead."
He said; obedient to his father's words, Down to the battle-field Apollo sped From Ida's height; and from amid the spears Withdrawn, he bore Sarpedon far away, And lav'd his body in the flowing stream; Then with divine ambrosia all his limbs Anointing, cloth'd him in immortal robes; To two swift bearers gave him then in charge, To Sleep and Death, twin brothers; in their arms They bore him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains.
Then to Automedon Patroclus gave His orders, and the flying foe pursued. Oh much deceiv'd, insensate! had he now But borne in mind the words of Peleus' son, He might have 'scap'd the bitter doom of death. But still Jove's will the will of man o'errules: Who strikes with panic, and of vict'ry robs The bravest; and anon excites to war; Who now Patroclus' breast with fury fill'd. Whom then, Patroclus, first, whom slew'st thou last, When summon'd by the Gods to meet thy doom? Adrastus, and Autonous, Perimus The son of Meges, and Echeclus next; Epistor, Melanippus, Elasus, And Mulius, and Pylartes; these he slew; The others all in flight their safety found.
Then had the Greeks the lofty-gated town Of Priam captur'd by Patroclus' hand, So forward and so fierce he bore his spear; But on the well-built tow'r Apollo stood, On his destruction bent, and Troy's defence The jutting angle of the lofty wall Patroclus thrice assail'd; his onset thrice Apollo, with his own immortal hands Repelling, backward thrust his glitt'ring shield. But when again, with more than mortal force He made his fourth attempt, with awful mien And threat'ning voice the Far-destroyer spoke:
"Back, Heav'n-born chief, Patroclus! not to thee Hath fate decreed the triumph to destroy The warlike Trojans' city; no, nor yet To great Achilles, mightier far than thou."
Thus as he spoke, Patroclus backward stepp'd, Shrinking before the Far-destroyer's wrath. Still Hector kept before the Scaean gates His coursers; doubtful, if again to dare The battle-throng, or summon all the host To seek the friendly shelter of the wall. Thus as he mus'd, beside him Phoebus stood, In likeness of a warrior stout and brave, Brother of Hecuba, the uncle thence Of noble Hector, Asius, Dymas' son; Who dwelt in Phrygia, by Saugarius' stream; His form assuming, thus Apollo spoke: "Hector, why shrink'st thou from the battle thus? It ill beseems thee! Would to Heav'n that I So far thy greater were, as thou art mine; Then sorely shouldst thou rue this abstinence. But, forward thou! against Patroclus urge Thy fiery steeds, so haply by his death Apollo thee with endless fame may crown."
This said, the God rejoin'd the strife of men; And noble Hector bade Cebriones Drive 'mid the fight his car; before him mov'd Apollo, scatt'ring terror 'mid the Greeks, And lustre adding to the arms of Troy. All others Hector pass'd unnotic'd by, Nor stay'd to slay; Patroclus was the mark At which his coursers' clatt'ring hoofs he drove. On th' other side, Patroclus from his car Leap'd to the ground: his left hand held his spear; And in the right a pond'rous mass he bore Of rugged stone, that fill'd his ample grasp: The stone he hurl'd; not far it miss'd its mark, Nor bootless flew; but Hector's charioteer It struck, Cebriones, a bastard son Of royal Priam, as the reins he held. Full on his temples fell the jagged mass, Drove both his eyebrows in, and crush'd the bone; Before him in the dust his eyeballs fell; And, like a diver, from the well-wrought car Headlong he plung'd; and life forsook his limbs. O'er whom Patroclus thus with bitter jest: "Heav'n! what agility! how deftly thrown That somersault! if only in the sea Such feats he wrought, with him might few compete, Diving for oysters, if with such a plunge He left his boat, how rough soe'er the waves, As from his car he plunges to the ground: Troy can, it seems, accomplish'd tumblers boast."
Thus saying, on Cebriones he sprang, As springs a lion, through the breast transfix'd, In act the sheepfold to despoil, and dies The victim of his courage; so didst thou Upon Cebriones, Patroclus, spring. Down from his car too Hector leap'd to earth. So, o'er Cebriones, oppos'd they stood; As on the mountain, o'er a slaughter'd stag, Both hunger-pinch'd, two lions fiercely fight, So o'er Cebriones two mighty chiefs, Menoetius' son and noble Hector, strove, Each in the other bent to plunge his spear. The head, with grasp unyielding, Hector held; Patroclus seiz'd the foot; and, crowding round, Trojans and Greeks in stubborn conflict clos'd. As when, encount'ring in some mountain-glen, Eurus and Notus shake the forest deep, Of oak, or ash, or slender cornel-tree, Whose tap'ring branches are together thrown, With fearful din, and crash of broke a boughs; So mix'd confus'dly, Greeks and Trojans fought, No thought of flight by either entertain'd. Thick o'er Cebriones the jav'lins flew, And feather'd arrows, bounding from the string; And pond'rous stones that on the bucklers rang, As round the dead they fought; amid the dust That eddying rose, his art forgotten all, A mighty warrior, mightily he lay. While in mid Heav'n the sun pursued his course, Thick flew the shafts, and fast the people fell On either side; but when declining day Brought on the hour that sees the loosen'd steers, The Greeks were stronger far; and from the darts And Trojan battle-cry Cebriones They drew, and from his breast his armour stripp'd. Fiercely Patroclus on the Trojans fell: Thrice he assail'd them, terrible as Mars, With fearful shouts; and thrice nine foes he slew: But when again, with more than mortal force His fourth assault he made, thy term of life, Patroclus, then approach'd its final close; For Phoebus' awful self encounter'd thee, Amid the battle-throng, of thee unseen, For thickest darkness shrouded all his form: He stood behind, and with extended palm Dealt on Patroclus' neck and shoulders broad A mighty buffet; dizzy swam his eyes, And from his head Apollo snatch'd the helm; Clank'd, as it roll'd beneath the horses' feet, The visor'd helm; the horsehair plume with blood And dust polluted; never till that day Was that proud helmet so with dust defil'd, That wont to deck a godlike chief, and guard Achilles' noble head, and graceful brow: Now by the will of Jove to Hector giv'n. Now death was near at hand; and in his grasp His spear was shiver'd, pond'rous, long, and tough, Brass-pointed; with its belt, the ample shield Fell from his shoulders; and Apollo's hand, The royal son of Jove, his corslet loos'd. Then was his mind bewilder'd; and his limbs Gave way beneath him; all aghast he stood: Him, from behind, a Dardan, Panthous' son, Euphorbus, peerless 'mid the Trojan youth, To hurl the spear, to run, to drive the car, Approaching close, between the shoulders stabb'd; He, train'd to warfare, from his car, ere this A score of Greeks had from their chariots hurl'd: Such was the man who thee, Patroclus, first Wounded, but not subdued; the ashen spear He, in all haste, withdrew; nor dar'd confront Patroclus, though disarm'd, in deadly strife.
Back to his comrades' shelt'ring ranks retir'd, From certain death, Patroclus: by the stroke Of Phoebus vanquish'd, and Euphorbus' spear: But Hector, when Patroclus from the fight He saw retreating, wounded, through the ranks Advancing, smote him through the flank; right through The brazen spear was driv'n; thund'ring he fell; And deeply mourn'd his fall the Grecian host.
As when a lion hath in fight o'erborne A tusked boar, when on the mountain top They two have met, in all their pride of strength, Both parch'd with thirst, around a scanty spring; And vanquish'd by the lion's force, the boar Hath yielded, gasping; so Menoetius' son, Great deeds achiev'd, at length beneath the spear Of noble Hector yielded up his life; Who o'er the vanquish'd, thus exulting, spoke: "Patroclus, but of late thou mad'st thy boast To raze our city walls, and in your ships To bear away to your far-distant land, Their days of freedom lost, our Trojan dames: Fool that thou wast! nor knew'st, in their defence, That Hector's flying coursers scour'd the plain; From them, the bravest of the Trojans, I Avert the day of doom; while on our shores Thy flesh shall glut the carrion birds of Troy. Poor wretch! though brave he be, yet Peleus' son Avail'd thee nought, when, hanging back himself, With sage advice he sent thee forth to fight: 'Come not to me, Patroclus, car-borne chief, Nor to the ships return, until thou bear The warrior-slayer Hector's bloody spoils, Torn from his body;' such were, I suppose, His counsels; thou, poor fool, becam'st his dupe." To whom Patroclus thus in accents faint:
"Hector, thou boastest loudly now, that Jove, With Phoebus join'd, hath thee with vict'ry crown'd: They wrought my death, who stripp'd me of my arms. Had I to deal with twenty such as thee, They all should perish, vanquish'd by my spear: Me fate hath slain, and Phoebus; and, of men, Euphorbus; thou wast but the third to strike. This too I say, and bear it in thy mind; Not long shalt thou survive me; death e'en now And final doom hangs o'er thee, by the hand Of great Achilles, Peleus' matchless son."
Thus as he spoke, the gloom of death his eyes O'erspread, and to the shades his spirit fled, Mourning his fate, his youth and strength cut off. To whom, though dead, the noble Hector thus: "Patroclus, why predict my coming fate? Or who can say but fair-hair'd Thetis' son, Achilles, by my spear may first be slain?"
He said, and planting firm his foot, withdrew The brazen spear, and backward drove the dead From off the weapon's point; then, spear in hand, Intent to slay, Automedon pursued, The godlike follower of AEacides: But him in safety bore th' immortal steeds, The noble prize the Gods to Peleus gave.
THE SEVENTH BATTLE, FOR THE BODY OF PATROCLUS.—THE ACTS OF MENELAUS.
Menelaus, upon the death of Patroclus, defends his body from the enemy; Euphorbus, who attempts it, is slain. Hector advancing, Menelaus retires; but soon returns with Ajax, and drives him off. This Glaucus objects to Hector as a flight, who thereupon puts on the armour he had won from Patroclus, and renews the battle. The Greeks give way, till Ajax rallies them: AEneas sustains the Trojans. AEneas and Hector attempt the chariot of Achilles, which is borne off by Automedon. The horses of Achilles deplore the loss of Patroclus; Jupiter covers his body with a thick darkness; the noble prayer of Ajax on that occasion. Menelaus sends Antilochus to Achilles, with the news of Patroclus's death: then returns to the fight, where, though attacked with the utmost fury, he and Meriones, assisted by the Ajaces, bear off the body to the ships.
The time is the evening of the eight-and-twentieth day. The scene lies in the fields before Troy.
Nor was Patroclus' fall, by Trojans slain, Of warlike Menelaus unobserv'd; Forward he sprang, in dazzling arms array'd, And round him mov'd, as round her new-dropp'd calf Her first, a heifer moves with plaintive moan: So round Patroclus Menelaus mov'd, His shield's broad orb and spear before him held, To all who might oppose him threat'ning death. Nor, on his side, was Panthous' noble son Unmindful of the slain; but, standing near, The warlike Menelaus thus address'd:
"Illustrious son of Atreus, Heav'n-born chief, Quit thou the dead; yield up the bloody spoils: For, of the Trojans and their fam'd Allies, Mine was the hand that in the stubborn fight First struck Patroclus; leave me then to wear Among the men of Troy my honours due, Lest by my spear thou lose thy cherish'd life."
To whom in anger Menelaus thus: "O Father Jove, how ill this vaunting tone Beseems this braggart! In their own esteem, "With Panthous' sons for courage none may vie; Nor pard, nor lion, nor the forest boar, Fiercest of beasts, and proudest of his strength. Yet nought avail'd to Hyperenor's might His youthful vigour, when he held me cheap, And my encounter dar'd; of all the Greeks He deem'd my prowess least; yet he, I ween, On his own feet return'd not, to rejoice His tender wife's and honour'd parents' sight. So shall thy pride be quell'd, if me thou dare Encounter; but I warn thee, while 'tis time, Ere ill betide thee, 'mid the gen'ral throng That thou withdraw, nor stand to me oppos'd. After th' event may e'en a fool be wise." He spoke in vain; Euphorbus thus replied:
"Now, Heav'n-born Menelaus, shalt thou pay The forfeit for my brother's life, o'er whom, Slain by thy hand, thou mak'st thy boasting speech. Thou in the chambers of her new-found home Hast made his bride a weeping widow; thou Hast fill'd with bitt'rest grief his parents' hearts: Some solace might those hapless mourners find, Could I thy head and armour in the hands Of Panthous and of honour'd Phrontis place; Nor uncontested shall the proof remain, Nor long deferr'd, of vict'ry or defeat."
He said, and struck the centre of the shield, But broke not through; against the stubborn brass The point was bent; then with a pray'r to Jove The son of Atreus in his turn advanc'd; And, backward as he stepp'd, below his throat Took aim, and pressing hard with stalwart hand Drove through the yielding neck the pond'rous spear: Thund'ring he fell, and loud his armour rang. Those locks, that with the Graces' hair might vie, Those tresses bright, with gold and silver bound, Were dabbled all with blood. As when a man Hath rear'd a fair and vig'rous olive plant, In some lone spot, by copious-gushing springs, And seen expanding, nurs'd by ev'ry breeze, Its whit'ning blossoms; till with sudden gust A sweeping hurricane of wind and rain Uproots it from its bed, and prostrate lays; So lay the youthful son of Panthous, slain By Atreus' son, and of his arms despoil'd. And as a lion, in the mountains bred, In pride of strength, amid the pasturing herd Seizes a heifer in his pow'rful jaws, The choicest; and, her neck first broken, rends, And, on her entrails gorging, laps the blood; Though with loud clamour dogs and herdsmen round Assail him from afar, yet ventures none To meet his rage, for fear is on them all; So none was there so bold, with dauntless breast The noble Menelaus' wrath to meet. Now had Atrides borne away with ease The spoils of Panthous' son; but Phoebus grudg'd His prize of vict'ry, and against him launch'd The might of Hector, terrible as Mars: To whom his winged words, in Mentes' form, Chief of the Cicones, he thus address'd:
"Hector, thy labour all is vain, pursuing Pelides' flying steeds; and hard are they For mortal man to harness, or control. Save for Achilles' self, the Goddess-born. The valiant Menelaus, Atreus' son, Defends meanwhile Patroclus; and e'en now Hath slain a noble Trojan, Panthous' son, Euphorbus, and his youthful vigour quell'd."
He said, and join'd again the strife of men: Hector's dark soul with bitter grief was fill'd; He look'd amid the ranks, and saw the two, One slain, the other stripping off his arms, The blood outpouring from the gaping wound. Forward he sprang, in dazzling arms array'd, Loud shouting, blazing like the quenchless flames Of Vulcan: Menelaus heard the shout, And, troubled, commun'd with his valiant heart:
"Oh, woe is me! for should I now the spoils Abandon, and Patroclus, who for me And in my cause lies slain, of any Greek Who saw me, I might well incur the blame: And yet if here alone I dare to fight With Hector and his Trojans, much I fear, Singly, to be by numbers overwhelm'd; For Hector all the Trojans hither brings. But wherefore entertain such thoughts, my soul? Who strives, against the will divine, with one Belov'd of Heav'n, a bitter doom must meet. Then none may blame me, though I should retreat From Hector, who with Heav'n's assistance wars. Yet could I hear brave Ajax' battle cry, We two, returning, would the encounter dare, E'en against Heav'n, if so for Peleus' son We might regain, and bear away the dead: Some solace of our loss might then be ours."
While in his mind and spirit thus he mus'd, By Hector led, the Trojan ranks advanc'd: Backward he mov'd, abandoning the dead; But turning oft, as when by men and dogs A bearded lion from the fold is driv'n With shouts and spears; yet grieves his mighty heart, And with reluctant step he quits the yard: So from Patroclus Menelaus mov'd; Yet when he reach'd his comrades' ranks, he turn'd, And look'd around, if haply he might find The mighty Ajax, son of Telamon. Him on the battle's farthest left he spied, Cheering his friends and urging to the fight, For sorely Phoebus had their courage tried; And hast'ning to his side, address'd him thus:
"Ajax, haste hither; to the rescue come Of slain Patroclus; if perchance we two May to Achilles, Peleus' son, restore His body: his naked body, for his arms Are prize to Hector of the glancing helm."
He said, and Ajax' spirit within him stirr'd; Forward he sprang, and with him Atreus' son. Hector was dragging now Patroclus' corpse, Stripped of its glitt'ring armour, and intent The head to sever with his sword, and give The mangled carcase to the dogs of Troy: But Ajax, with his tow'r-like shield, approach'd; Then Hector to his comrades' ranks withdrew, Rush'd to his car, and bade the Trojans bear The glitt'ring arms, his glorious prize, to Troy: While Ajax with his mighty shield o'erspread Menoetius' son; and stood, as for his cubs A lion stands, whom hunters, unaware, Have with his offspring met amid the woods. Proud in his strength he stands; and down are drawn, Cov'ring his eyes, the wrinkles of his brow: So o'er Patroclus mighty Ajax stood, And by his side, his heart with grief oppress'd, The warlike Menelaus, Atreus' son.
Then Glaucus, leader of the Lycian host, To Hector thus, with scornful glance, address'd His keen reproaches: "Hector, fair of form, How art thou wanting in the fight! thy fame, Coward and runaway, thou hast belied. Bethink thee now, if thou alone canst save The city, aided but by Trojans born; Henceforth no Lycian will go forth for Troy To fight with Greeks; since favour none we gain By unremitting toil against the foe. How can a meaner man expect thine aid, Who basely to the Greeks a prize and spoil Sarpedon leav'st, thy comrade and thy guest? Greatly he serv'd the city and thyself, While yet he liv'd; and now thou dar'st not save His body from the dogs! By my advice If Lycians will be rul'd, we take at once Our homeward way, and Troy may meet her doom. But if in Trojan bosoms there abode The daring, dauntless courage, meet for men Who in their country's cause against the foe Endure both toil and war, we soon should see Patroclus brought within the walls of Troy; Him from the battle could we bear away, And, lifeless, bring to royal Priam's town, Soon would the Greeks Sarpedon's arms release, And we to Ilium's heights himself might bear: For with his valiant comrades there lies slain The follower of the bravest chief of Greece. But thou before the mighty Ajax stood'st With downcast eyes, nor durst in manly fight Contend with one thy better far confess'd."
To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm, With stern regard, replied: "Why, Glaucus, speak, Brave as thou art, in this o'erbearing strain? Good friend, I heretofore have held thee wise O'er all who dwell in Lycia's fertile soil; But now I change, and hold thy judgment cheap, Who chargest me with flying from the might Of giant Ajax; never have I shrunk From the stern fight, and clatter of the cars; But all o'erruling is the mind of Jove, Who strikes with panic, and of vict'ry robs The bravest; and anon excites to war. Stand by me now, and see if through the day I prove myself the coward that thou say'st, Or suffer that a Greek, how brave soe'er, Shall rescue from my hands Patroclus' corpse."
He said, and loudly on the Trojans call'd: "Trojans and Lycians, and ye Dardans, fam'd In close encounter, quit ye now like men; Maintain awhile the stubborn fight, while I The splendid armour of Achilles don, My glorious prize from slain Patroclus torn."
So saying, Hector of the glancing helm, Withdrawing from the field, with rapid steps His comrades follow'd, and ere long o'ertook, Who tow'rd the town Achilles' armour bore; Then standing from the bloody fight aloof The armour he exchang'd; his own he bade The warlike Trojans to the city bear; While he, of Peleus' son, Achilles, donn'd The heav'nly armour, which th' immortal Gods Gave to his sire; he to his son convey'd; Yet in that armour grew not old that son.
Him when apart the Cloud-compeller saw Girt with the arms of Peleus' godlike son, He shook his head, and inly thus he mus'd: "Ah hapless! little deem'st thou of thy fate, Though now so nigh! Thou of the prime of men, The dread of all, hast donn'd th' immortal arms, Whose comrade, brave and good, thy hand hath slain; And sham'd him, stripping from his head and breast Helmet and cuirass; yet thy latest hours Will I with glory crown; since ne'er from thee, Eeturn'd from battle, shall Andromache Receive the spoils of Peleus' godlike son."
He said, and nodded with his shadowy brows; Then with the armour, fitted to his form By Jove himself, was Hector girt by Mars The fierce and terrible; with vig'rous strength His limbs were strung, as 'mid his brave allies He sprang, loud-shouting; glitt'ring in his arms, To all he seem'd Achilles' godlike self. To each and all in cheering tones he spoke, Mesthles and Glaucus and Thersilochus, Asteropaeus and Hippothous, Medon, Deisenor, Phoreys, Chromius, And Ennomus the seer: to all of these His winged words he cheeringly address'd:
"Hear me, ye countless tribes, that dwelling round Assist our cause! You from your sev'ral homes Not for display of numbers have I call'd, But that with willing hearts ye should defend Our wives and infants from the warlike Greeks: For this I drain my people's stores, for food And gifts for you, exalting your estate; Then, who will boldly onward, he may fall, Or safe escape, such is the chance of war; But who within our valiant Trojans' ranks Shall but the body of Patroclus bring, Despite the might of Ajax; half the spoils To him I give, the other half myself Retaining; and his praise shall equal mine."
He said; and onward, with uplifted spears, They march'd upon the Greeks; high rose their hopes From Ajax Telamon to snatch the dead; Vain hopes, which cost them many a life! Then thus To valiant Menelaus Ajax spoke;
"O Heav'n-born Menelaus, noble friend, For safe return I dare no longer hope: Not for Patroclus' corpse so much I fear, Which soon will glut the dogs and birds of Troy, As for my life and thine I tremble now: For, like a war-cloud, Hector's might I see O'ershadowing all around; now is our doom Apparent; but do thou for succour call On all the chiefs, if haply they may hear." Thus Ajax spoke: obedient to his word, On all the chiefs Atrides call'd aloud:
"O friends, the chiefs and councillors of Greece, All ye that banquet at the gen'ral cost With Atreus' sons, and o'er your sev'ral states Dominion hold; whose honour is of Jove; 'Twere hard to call by name each single man, So fierce the combat rages; but let each And all their aid afford, and deem, it shame Patroclus' corpse should glut the dogs of Troy."
He said: first heard Oileus' active son, And hast'ning through the fray, beside him stood. Next him Idomeneus, with whom there came, Valiant as Mars, his friend Meriones. But who can know or tell the names of all, Who, following, swell'd the battle of the Greeks? Onward the Trojans press'd, by Hector led: With such a sound, as when the ocean wave Meets on the beach th' outpouring of a stream, Swoll'n by the rains of Heav'n: the lofty cliffs Resound, and bellows the big sea without; With such a sound advanc'd the Trojan host: While round Patroclus, with one heart and mind, The Greeks a fence of brass-clad bucklers rais'd. O'er their bright helms the son of Saturn shed A veil of darkness; for Menoetius' son, Achilles' faithful friend, while yet he liv'd Jove hated not, nor would that now his corpse Should to the dogs of Troy remain a prey, But to the rescue all his comrades stirr'd. At first the Trojans drove the keen-ey'd Greeks; Leaving the corpse, they fled; nor with their spears The valiant Trojans reach'd a single Greek; But on the dead they seiz'd; yet not for long Endur'd their flight; them Ajax rallied soon, In form pre-eminent, and deeds of arms, O'er all the Greeks, save Peleus' matchless son. Onward he sprang, as springs a mountain boar, Which, turning in the forest glade to bay, Scatters with ease both dogs and stalwart youths; So Ajax scatter'd soon the Trojan ranks, That round Patroclus closing, hop'd to bear, With glory to themselves, his corpse to Troy. Hippothous, Pelasgian Lethus' son, Was dragging by the feet the noble dead, A leathern belt around his ancles bound, Seeking the favour of the men of Troy; But on himself he brought destruction down, Which none might turn aside; for from the crowd Outsprang the son of Telamon, and struck, In close encounter, on the brass-cheek'd helm; The plumed helm was shiver'd by the blow, Dealt by a weighty spear and stalwart hand; Gush'd from the wound the mingled blood and brain, His vital spirit quench'd; and on the ground Fell from his pow'rless grasp Patroclus' foot; While he himself lay stretch'd beside the dead, Far from his own Larissa's teeming soil: Not destin'd he his parents to repay Their early care; for short his term of life, By godlike Ajax' mighty spear subdu'd.
At Ajax Hector threw his glitt'ring spear: He saw, and narrowly the brazen death Escap'd; but Schedius, son of Iphitus, (The bravest of the Phocian chiefs, who dwelt In far-fam'd Panopeus, the mighty Lord Of num'rous hosts,) below the collar-bone It struck, and passing through, the brazen point Came forth again beneath his shoulder-blade: Thund'ring he fell, and loud his armour rang.
As Phorcys, son of Phaenops, kept his watch O'er slain Hippothous, him Ajax smote Below the waist; the weighty spear broke through The hollow breastplate, and th' intestines tore; Prone in the dust he fell, and clutch'd the ground. At this the Trojan chiefs and Hector's self 'Gan to give way; the Greeks, with joyful shouts, Seiz'd both the dead, and stripp'd their armour off. To Ilium now, before the warlike Greeks, O'ercome by panic, had the Trojans fled; And now had Greeks, despite the will of Jove, By their own strength and courage, won the day, Had not Apollo's self AEneas rous'd, In likeness of a herald, Periphas, The son of Epytus, now aged grown In service of AEneas' aged sire, A man of kindliest soul: his form assum'd Apollo, and AEneas thus address'd:
"AEneas, how, against the will of Heav'n, Could ye defend your city, as others now In their own strength and courage confident, Their numbers, and their troops' undaunted hearts, I see their cause maintaining; if when Jove Rather to us than them the vict'ry wills, With fear unspeakable ye shun the fight?"
He said: the presence of the Archer-God AEneas knew, and loud to Hector call'd: "Hector, and all ye other chiefs of Troy, And brave Allies, foul shame it were that we, O'ercome by panic, should to Ilium now In flight be driv'n before the warlike Greeks; And by my side, but now, some God there stood, And told how Jove, the sov'reign arbiter Of battle, on our side bestow'd his aid; On then! nor undisturbed allow the Greeks To bear Patroclus' body to their ships."
He said, and far before the ranks advanc'd; They rallying turn'd, and fac'd again the Greeks. Then first AEneas' spear the comrade brave Of Lycomedes struck, Laocritus, Son of Arisbas; Lycomedes saw With pitying eyes his gallant comrade's fall; And standing near, his glitt'ring spear he threw, And through the midriff Apisaon struck, His people's guardian chief, the valiant son Of Hippasus, and slack'd his limbs in death. He from Paeonia's fertile fields had come, O'er all his comrades eminent in fight, All save Asteropaeus, who with eyes Of pity saw his gallant comrade's fall, And forward sprang to battle with the Greeks; Yet could not force his way; for all around Patroclus rose a fence of serried shields, And spears projecting: such the orders giv'n By Ajax, and with earnest care enforc'd; That from around the dead should none retire, Nor any to the front advance alone Before his fellows; but their steady guard Maintain, and hand to hand the battle wage. So order'd Ajax; then with crimson blood The earth was wet; and hand to hand they fell, Trojans alike, and brave Allies, and Greeks; For neither these a bloodless fight sustain'd, Though fewer far their losses; for they stood Of mutual succour mindful, and support. Thus, furious as the rage of fire, they fought; Nor might ye deem the glorious sun himself Nor moon was safe; for darkest clouds of night O'erspread the warriors, who the battle wag'd Around the body of Menoetius' son: Elsewhere the Trojans and the well-greav'd Greeks Fought, undisturb'd, in the clear light of day; The sun's bright beams were shed abroad; no cloud Lay on the face of earth or mountain tops; They but by fits, at distant intervals, And far apart, each seeking to avoid The hostile missiles, fought; but in the midst The bravest all, in darkness and in strife Sore press'd, toil'd on beneath their armour's weight.
As yet no tidings of Patroclus' fall Had reach'd two valiant chiefs, Antilochus And Thrasymedes; but they deem'd him still Alive, and fighting in the foremost ranks. They, witnessing their comrades' flight and death, Fought on apart, by Nestor so enjoin'd, When from the ships he bade them join the fray. Great was meanwhile their labour, who sustain'd, Throughout the livelong day, that weary fight; Reek'd with continuous toil and sweat, the knees, And legs and feet, the arms, and eyes, of all Who round Achilles' faithful comrade fought. As when a chief his people bids to stretch A huge bull's hide, all drench'd and soak'd with grease; They in a circle rang'd, this way and that, Pull the tough hide, till ent'ring in, the grease Is all absorb'd; and dragg'd by num'rous hands The supple skin to th' utmost length is stretch'd; So these in narrow space this way and that The body dragg'd; and high the hopes of each To bear it off in triumph; to their ships The Greeks, to Troy the Trojans; fiercely rag'd The struggle; spirit-stirring Mars himself, Or Pallas to her utmost fury rous'd, Had not that struggle with contempt beheld: Such grievous labour o'er Patroclus' corpse Had Jove to horses and to men decreed.
But of Patroclus' fall no tidings yet Had reach'd Achilles; for the war was wag'd Far from the ships, beneath the walls of Troy; Nor look'd he of his death to hear, but deem'd That when the Trojans to their gates were driv'n, He would return in safety; for no hope Had he of taking by assault the town, With, or without, his aid; for oft apart His Goddess-mother had his doom, foretold, Revealing to her son the mind of Jove; Yet ne'er had warn'd him of such grief as this, Which now befell, his dearest comrade's loss.
Still round the dead they held their pointed spears, Fought hand to hand, and mutual slaughter dealt; And thus perchance some brass-clad Greek would say:
"O friends, 'twere shameful should we to the ships Ingloriously return; ere that should be, Let earth engulph us all; so better far Than let these Trojans to their city bear Our dead, and boast them of their triumph gain'd." On th' other hand some valiant Trojan thus Would shout: "O friends, tho' fate decreed that here We all should die, yet let not one give way."
Thus, cheering each his comrades, would they speak, And thus they fought; the iron clangour pierc'd The empty air, and brazen vault of Heav'n. But, from the fight withdrawn, Achilles' steeds Wept, as they heard how in the dust was laid Their charioteer, by Hector's murd'rous hand. Automedon, Diores' valiant son, Essay'd in vain to rouse them with the lash, In vain with honey'd words, in vain with threats; Nor to the ships would they return again By the broad Hellespont, nor join the fray; But as a column stands, which marks the tomb Of man or woman, so immovable Beneath the splendid car they stood, their heads Down-drooping to the ground, while scalding tears Dropp'd earthward from their eyelids, as they mourn'd Their charioteer; and o'er the yoke-band shed Down stream'd their ample manes, with dust defil'd. The son of Saturn pitying saw their grief, And sorrowing shook his head, as thus he mus'd:
"Ah, hapless horses! wherefore gave we you To royal Peleus, to a mortal man, You that from age and death are both exempt! Was it that you the miseries might share Of wretched mortals? for of all that breathe, And walk upon the earth, or creep, is nought More wretched than th' unhappy race of man. Yet shall not ye, nor shall your well-wrought car, By Hector, son of Priam, be controll'd; I will not suffer it; enough for him To hold, with vaunting boast, Achilles' arms; But to your limbs and spirits will I impart Such strength, that from the battle to the ships Ye shall in safety bear Automedon; For yet I will the Trojans shall prevail, And slay, until they reach the well-mann'd ships, Till sets the sun, and darkness shrouds the earth."
He said, and in their breasts fresh spirit infus'd; They, shaking from their manes the dust, the car Amid the Greeks and Trojans lightly bore. Then, as a vulture 'mid a flock of geese, Amid the battle rush'd Automedon, His horses' course directing, and their speed Exciting, though he mourn'd his comrade slain. Swiftly he fled from out the Trojan host; Swiftly again assail'd them in pursuit; Yet, speedy to pursue, he could not slay; Nor, in the car alone, had pow'r at once To guide the flying steeds, and hurl the spear. At length a comrade brave, Alcimedon, Laerces' son, beheld; behind the car He stood, and thus Automedon address'd: "Automedon, what God has fill'd thy mind With counsels vain, and thee of sense bereft? That with the Trojans, in the foremost ranks, Thou fain wouldst fight alone, thy comrade slain, While Hector proudly on his breast displays The glorious arms of great AEacides."
To whom Automedon, Diores' son: "Alcimedon, since none of all the Greeks May vie with thee, the mettle to control Of these immortal horses, save indeed, While yet he liv'd, Patroclus, godlike chief; But him stern death and fate have overta'en; Take thon the whip and shining reins, while I, Descending from the car, engage in fight."
He said; and, mounting on the war-car straight, Alcimedon the whip and reins assum'd; Down leap'd Automedon; great Hector saw, And thus address'd AEneas at his side:
"AEneas, prince and counsellor of Troy, I see, committed to unskilful hands, Achilles' horses on the battle-field: These we may hope to take, if such thy will; For they, methinks, will scarcely stand oppos'd, Or dare th' encounter of our joint assault."
He said; Anchises' valiant son complied; Forward they went, their shoulders cover'd o'er With stout bull's-hide, thick overlaid with brass. With them both Chromius and Aretus went;
And high their hopes were rais'd, the warriors both To slay, and make the strong-neck'd steeds their prize: Blind fools! nor destin'd scatheless to escape Automedon's encounter; he his pray'r To Jove address'd, and straight with added strength His soul was fill'd; and to Alcimedon, His trusty friend and comrade, thus he spoke:
"Alcimedon, do thou the horses keep Not far away, but breathing on my neck; For Hector's might will not, I deem, be stay'd, Ere us he slay, and mount Achilles' car, And carry terror 'mid the Grecian host, Or in the foremost ranks himself be slain."
Thus spoke Automedon, and loudly call'd On Menelaus and th' Ajaces both: "Ye two Ajaces, leaders of the host, And, Menelaus, with our bravest all, Ye on the dead alone your care bestow, To guard him, and stave off the hostile ranks; But haste, and us, the living, save from death; For Hector and AEneas hitherward, With weight o'erpow'ring, through the bloody press, The bravest of the Trojans, force their way: Yet is the issue in the hands of Heav'n; I hurl the spear, but Jove directs the blow."
He said, and, poising, hurl'd the pond'rous spear; Full on Aretus' broad-orb'd shield it struck; Nor stay'd the shield its course; the brazen point Drove through the belt, and in his body lodg'd. As with sharp axe in hand a stalwart man, Striking behind the horns a sturdy bull, Severs the neck; he, forward, plunging, falls; So forward first he sprang, then backwards fell: And quiv'ring, in his vitals deep infix'd, The sharp spear soon relax'd his limbs in death. Then at Automedon great Hector threw His glitt'ring spear; he saw, and forward stoop'd, And shunn'd the brazen death; behind him far Deep in the soil infix'd, with quiv'ring shaft The weapon stood; there Mars its impulse stay'd. And now with swords, and hand to hand, the fight Had been renew'd; but at their comrade's call The two Ajaces, pressing through the throng, Between the warriors interpos'd in haste. Before them Hector and AEneas both, And godlike Chromius, in alarm recoil'd; Pierc'd through the heart, Aretus there they left; And, terrible as Mars, Automedon Stripp'd off his arms, and thus exulting cried: "Of some small portion of its load of grief, For slain Patroclus, is my heart reliev'd, In slaying thee, all worthless as thou art."
Then, throwing on the car the bloody spoils, He mounted, hands and feet imbrued with blood, As 'twere a lion, fresh from his repast Upon the carcase of a slaughter'd bull.
Again around Patroclus' body rag'd The stubborn conflict, direful, sorrow-fraught: From Heav'n descending, Pallas stirr'd the strife, Sent by all-seeing Jove to stimulate The warlike Greeks; so changed was now his will. As o'er the face of Heav'n when Jove extends His bright-hued bow, a sign to mortal men Of war, or wintry storms, which bid surcease The rural works of man, and pinch the flocks; So Pallas, in a bright-hued cloud array'd, Pass'd through the ranks, and rous'd each sev'ral man. To noble Menelaus, Atreus' son, Who close beside her stood, the Goddess first, The form of Phoenix and his pow'rful voice Assuming, thus her stirring words address'd:
"On thee, O Menelaus, foul reproach Will fasten, if Achilles' faithful friend The dogs devour beneath the walls of Troy; Then hold thou firm, and all the host inspire."
To whom thus Menelaus, good in fight: "O Phoenix, aged warrior, honour'd sire, If Pallas would the needful pow'r impart, And o'er me spread her aegis, then would I Undaunted for Patroclus' rescue fight, For deeply by his death my heart is touch'd; But valiant Hector, with the strength of fire Still rages, and destruction deals around: For Jove is with him, and his triumph wills."
He said: the blue-ey'd Goddess heard with joy That, chief of all the Gods, her aid he sought. She gave fresh vigour to his arms and knees, And to his breast the boldness of the fly, Which, oft repell'd by man, renews th' assault Incessant, lur'd by taste of human blood; Such boldness in Atrides' manly breast Pallas inspir'd: beside Patroclus' corpse Again he stood, and pois'd his glitt'ring spear.
There was one Podes in the Trojan ranks, Son of Eetion, rich, of blameless life, Of all the people most to Hector dear, And at his table oft a welcome guest: Him, as he turn'd to fly, beneath the waist Atrides struck; right through the spear was driv'n; Thund'ring he fell; and Atreus' son the corpse Dragg'd from the Trojans 'mid the ranks of Greece.
Then close at Hector's side Apollo stood, Clad in the form of Phaenops, Asius' son, Who in Abydos dwelt; of all th' Allies Honour'd of Hector most, and best belov'd; Clad in his form, the Far-destroyer spoke:
"Hector, what other Greek will scare thee next? Who shrink'st from Menelaus, heretofore A warrior deem'd of no repute; but now, Alone, he robs our Trojans of their dead; And in the foremost ranks e'en now hath slain Podes, thine own good friend, Eetion's son."
He said; dark grief o'erclouded Hector's brow, As to the front in dazzling arms he sprang. Then Saturn's son his tassell'd aegis wav'd, All glitt'ring bright; and Ida's lofty head In clouds and darkness shrouded; then he bade His lightning flash, his volleying thunder roar, That shook the mountain; and with vict'ry crown'd The Trojan arms, and panic-struck the Greeks.
The first who turn'd to fly was Peneleus, Boeotian chief; him, facing still the foe, A spear had slightly on the shoulder struck, The bone just grazing: by Polydamas, Who close before him stood, the spear was thrown. Then Hector Leitus, Aloctryon's son, Thrust thro' the wrist, and quell'd his warlike might; Trembling, he look'd around, nor hop'd again The Trojans, spear in hand, to meet in fight; But, onward as he rush'd on Leitus, Idomeneus at Hector threw his spear: Full on his breast it struck; but near the head The sturdy shaft was on the breastplate snapp'd: Loud was the Trojans' shout; and he in turn Aim'd at Idomeneus, Deucalion's son, Upstanding on his car; his mark he miss'd, But Coeranus he struck, the charioteer And faithful follower of Meriones, Who with him came from Lyctus' thriving town: The chief had left on foot the well-trimm'd ships; And, had not Coeranus his car in haste Driv'n to the rescue, by his fall had giv'n A Trojan triumph; to his Lord he brought Safety, and rescue from unsparing death; But fell, himself, by Hector's murd'rous hand. Him Hector struck between the cheek and ear, Crashing the teeth, and cutting through the tongue. Headlong he fell to earth, and dropp'd the reins: These, stooping from the car, Meriones Caught up, and thus Idomeneus address'd:
"Ply now the lash, until thou reach the ships: Thyself must see how crush'd the strength of Greece."
He said; and tow'rd the ships Idomeneus Urg'd his fleet steeds; for fear was on his soul. Nor did not Ajax and Atrides see How in the Trojans' favour Saturn's son The wav'ring scale of vict'ry turn'd; and thus Great Ajax Telamon his grief express'd:
"O Heav'n! the veriest child might plainly see That Jove the Trojans' triumph has decreed: Their weapons all, by whomsoever thrown, Or weak, or strong, attain their mark; for Jove Directs their course; while ours upon the plain Innocuous fall. But take we counsel now How from the fray to bear away our dead, And by our own return rejoice those friends Who look with sorrow on our plight, and deem That we, all pow'rless to resist the might Of Hector's arm, beside the ships must fall. Would that some comrade were at hand, to bear A message to Achilles; him, I ween, As yet the mournful tidings have not reach'd, That on the field his dearest friend lies dead. But such I see not; for a veil of cloud O'er men and horses all around is spread. O Father Jove, from, o'er the sons of Greece Remove this cloudy darkness; clear the sky, That we may see our fate, and die at least, If such thy will, in th' open light of day."
He said, and, pitying, Jove beheld his tears; The clouds he scatter'd, and the mist dispers'd; The sun shone forth, and all the field was clear; Then Ajax thus to Menelaus spoke:
"Now, Heav'n-born Menelaus, look around If haply 'mid the living thou mayst see Antilochus, the noble Nester's son; And bid him to Achilles bear in haste The tidings, that his dearest friend lies dead."
He said, nor did Atrides not comply; But slow as moves a lion from the fold, Which dogs and youths with ceaseless toil hath worn, Who all night long have kept their watch, to guard From his assault the choicest of the herd; He, hunger-pinch'd, hath oft th' attempt renew'd, But nought prevail'd; by spears on ev'ry side, And jav'lins met, wielded by stalwart hands, And blazing torches, which his courage daunt; Till with the morn he sullenly withdraws; So from Patroclus, with reluctant step Atrides mov'd; for much he fear'd the Greeks Might to the Trojans, panic-struck, the dead Abandon; and departing, he besought The two Ajaces and Meriones: "Ye two Ajaces, leaders of the Greeks, And thou, Meriones, remember now Our lost Patroclus' gentle courtesy, How kind and genial was his soul to all, While yet he liv'd—now sunk, alas! in death."
Thus saying, Menelaus took his way, Casting his glance around on ev'ry side, Like to an eagle, fam'd of sharpest sight Of all that fly beneath the vault of Heav'n; Whom, soaring in the clouds, the crouching hare Eludes not, though in leafiest covert hid; But swooping down, he rends her life away: So, Menelaus, through the ranks of war Thy piercing glances ev'ry way were turn'd, If Nestor's son, alive, thou mightst descry; Him on the field's extremest left he found, Cheering his friends, and urging to the fight; He stood beside him, and address'd him thus:
"Antilochus, come hither, godlike friend, And woful tidings hear, which would to Heav'n I had not to impart; thyself thou seest How Jove hath heap'd disaster on the Greeks, And vict'ry giv'n to Troy; but one has fallen, Our bravest, best! Patroclus lies in death; And deeply must the Greeks his loss deplore. But haste thee to the ships, to Peleus' son The tidings bear, if haply he may save The body of Patroclus from the foe; His naked body, for his arms are now The prize of Hector of the glancing helm."
He said; and at his words Antilochus Astounded stood; long time his tongue in vain For utt'rance strove; his eyes were fill'd with tears, His cheerful voice was mute; yet not the less To Menelaus' bidding gave his care: Swiftly he sped; but to Laodocus, His comrade brave, who waited with his car In close attendance, first consign'd his arms; Then from the field with active limbs he flew, Weeping, with mournful news, to Peleus' son. Nor, noble Menelaus, did thy heart Incline thee to remain, and aid thy friends, Where from their war-worn ranks the Pylian troops Deplor'd the absence of Antilochus; But these in godlike Thrasymedes' charge He left; and to Patroclus hast'ning back, Beside th' Ajaces stood, as thus he spoke: "Him to Achilles, to the ships, in haste I have despatch'd; yet fiercely as his wrath May burn tow'rd Hector, I can scarce expect His presence here; for how could he, unarm'd, With Trojans fight? But take we counsel now How from the field to bear away our dead, And 'scape ourselves from death by Trojan hands."
Whom answer'd thus great Ajax Telamon: "Illustrious Menelaus, all thy words Are just and true; then from amid the press, Thou and Meriones, take up in haste, And bear away the body; while behind We two, in heart united, as in name, Who side by side have still been wont to fight, Will Hector and his Trojans hold at bay."
He said; they, lifting in their arms the corpse, Uprais'd it high in air; then from behind Loud yell'd the Trojans, as they saw the Greeks Retiring with their dead; and on they rush'd, As dogs that in advance of hunter youths Pursue a wounded boar; awhile they run, Eager for blood; but when, in pride of strength, He turns upon them, backward they recoil, This way and that in fear of death dispers'd: So onward press'd awhile the Trojan crowd, With thrust of swords, and double-pointed spears; But ever as th' Ajaces turn'd to bay, Their colour chang'd to pale, not one so bold As, dashing on, to battle for the corpse. Thus they, with anxious care, from off the field Bore tow'rd the ships their dead; but on their track Came sweeping on the storm of battle, fierce, As, on a sudden breaking forth, the fire Seizes some populous city, and devours House after house amid the glare and blaze, While roar the flames before the gusty wind; So fiercely pressed upon the Greeks' retreat The clatt'ring tramp of steeds and armed men. But as the mules, with stubborn strength endued, That down the mountain through the trackless waste Drag some huge log, or timber for the ships; And spent with toil and sweat, still labour on Unflinching; so the Greeks with patient toil Bore on their dead; th' Ajaces in their rear Stemming the war, as stems the torrent's force Some wooded cliff, far stretching o'er the plain; Checking the mighty river's rushing stream, And flinging it aside upon the plain, Itself unbroken by the strength of flood: So firmly, in the rear, th' Ajaces stemm'd The Trojan force; yet these still onward press'd, And, 'mid their comrades proudly eminent, Two chiefs, AEneas, old Anchises' son, And glorious Hector, in the van were seen. Then, as a cloud of starlings or of daws Fly screaming, as they see the hawk approach, To lesser birds the messenger of death; So before Hector and AEneas fled, Screaming, forgetful of their warlike fame, The sons of Greece; and scatter'd here and there Around the ditch lay store of goodly arms, By Greeks abandon'd in their hasty flight. Yet still, unintermitted, rag'd the war.
THE GRIEF OF ACHILLES, AND NEW ARMOUR MADE HIM BY VULCAN.
The news of the death of Patroclus is brought to Achilles by Antilochus. Thetis hearing his lamentations, comes with all her sea- nymphs to comfort him. The speeches of the mother and son on this occasion. Iris appears to Achilles by command of Juno, and orders him to show himself at the head of the intrenchments. The sight of him turns the fortune of the day, and the body of Patroclus is carried off by the Greeks. The Trojans call a council, where Hector and Polydamas disagree in their opinions; but the advice of the former prevails, to remain encamped in the field. The grief of Achilles over the body of Patroclus.
Thetis goes to the palace of Vulcan, to obtain new arms for her son. The description of the wonderful works of Vulcan; and, lastly, that noble one of the shield of Achilles.
The latter part of the nine-and-twentieth day, and the night ensuing, take up this book. The scene is at Achilles' tent on the seashore, from whence it changes to the palace of Vulcan.
Thus, furious as the rage of fire, they fought. Meantime Antilochus to Peleus' son, Swift-footed messenger, his tidings bore. Him by the high-beak'd ships he found, his mind Th' event presaging, fill'd with anxious thoughts, As thus he commun'd with his mighty heart:
"Alas! what means it, that the long-hair'd Greeks, Chas'd from the plain, are thronging round the ships? Let me not now, ye Gods, endure the grief My mother once foretold, that I should live To see the bravest of the Myrmidons Cut off by Trojans from the light of day. Menoetius' noble son has surely fall'n; Foolhardy! yet I warn'd him, and besought, Soon as the ships from hostile fires were safe, Back to return, nor Hector's onset meet."
While in his mind and spirit thus he mus'd, Beside him stood the noble Nestor's son, And weeping, thus his mournful message gave:
"Alas! great son of Peleus, woful news, Which would to Heav'n I had not to impart, To thee I bring; Patroclus lies in death; And o'er his body now the war is wag'd; His naked body, for his arms are now The prize of Hector of the glancing helm."
He said; and darkest clouds of grief o'erspread Achilles' brow; with both his hands he seiz'd And pour'd upon his head the grimy dust, Marring his graceful visage; and defil'd With black'ning ashes all his costly robes. Stretch'd in the dust his lofty stature lay, As with his hands his flowing locks he tore; Loud was the wailing of the female band, Achilles' and Patroclus' prize of war, As round Achilles, rushing out of doors, Beating their breasts, with tott'ring limbs they press'd. In tears beside him stood Antilochus, And in his own Achilles' hand he held, Groaning in spirit, fearful lest for grief In his own bosom he should sheathe his sword. Loud were his moans; his Goddess-mother heard, Beside her aged father where she sat In the deep ocean caves; she heard, and wept: The Nereids all, in ocean's depths who dwell, Encircled her around; Cymodoce,  Nesaee, Spio, and Cymothoe, The stag-ey'd Halia, and Amphithoe, Actaea, Limnorea, Melite, Doris, and Galatea, Panope; There too were Oreithyia, Clymene, And Amathea with the golden hair, And all the denizens of ocean's depths. Fill'd was the glassy cave; in unison They beat their breasts, as Thetis led the wail:
"Give ear, my sister Nereids all, and learn How deep the grief that in my breast I bear. Me miserable! me, of noblest son Unhappiest mother! me, a son who bore, My brave, my beautiful, of heroes chief! Like a young tree he throve: I tended him, In a rich vineyard as the choicest plant; Till in the beaked ships I sent him forth To war with Troy; him ne'er shall I behold, Returning home, in aged Peleus' house. E'en while he lives, and sees the light of day, He lives in sorrow; nor, to soothe his grief, My presence can avail; yet will I go, That I may see my dearest child, and learn What grief hath reach'd him, from the war withdrawn."
She said, and left the cave; with her they went, Weeping; before them parted th' ocean wave. But when they reach'd the fertile shore of Troy, In order due they landed on the beach, Where frequent, round Achilles swift of foot, Were moor'd the vessels of the Myrmidons. There, as he groan'd aloud, beside him stood His Goddess-mother; weeping, in her hands She held his head, while pitying thus she spoke:
"Why weeps my son? and what his cause of grief? Speak out, and nought conceal; for all thy pray'r Which with uplifted hands thou mad'st to Jove, He hath fulfill'd, that, flying to their ships, The routed sons of Greece should feel how much They need thine aid, and mourn their insult past."
To whom Achilles, deeply groaning, thus: "Mother, all this indeed hath Jove fulfill'd; Yet what avails it, since my dearest friend Is slain, Patroclus? whom I honour'd most Of all my comrades, lov'd him as my soul. Him have I lost: and Hector from his corpse Hath stripp'd those arms, those weighty, beauteous arms, A marvel to behold, which from the Gods Peleus receiv'd, a glorious gift, that day When they consign'd thee to a mortal's bed. How better were it, if thy lot had been Still 'mid the Ocean deities to dwell, And Peleus had espous'd a mortal bride! For now is bitter grief for thee in store, Mourning thy son; whom to his home return'd Thou never more shalt see; nor would I wish To live, and move amid my fellow-men, Unless that Hector, vanquish'd by my spear, May lose his forfeit life, and pay the price Of foul dishonour to Patroclus done."
To whom, her tears o'erflowing, Thetis thus: "E'en as thou sayst, my son, thy term is short; Nor long shall Hector's fate precede thine own."
Achilles, answ'ring, spoke in passionate grief: "Would I might die this hour, who fail'd to save My comrade slain! far from his native land He died, sore needing my protecting arm; And I, who ne'er again must see my home, Nor to Patroclus, nor the many Greeks Whom Hector's hand hath slain, have render'd aid; But idly here I sit, cumb'ring the ground: I, who amid the Greeks no equal own In fight; to others, in debate, I yield. Accurs'd of Gods and men be hateful strife And anger, which to violence provokes E'en temp'rate souls: though sweeter be its taste Than dropping honey, in the heart of man Swelling, like smoke; such anger in my soul Hath Agamemnon kindled, King of men. But pass we that; though still my heart be sore, Yet will I school my angry spirit down. In search of Hector now, of him who slew My friend, I go; prepar'd to meet my death, When Jove shall will it, and th' Immortals all. From death not e'en the might of Hercules, Though best belov'd of Saturn's son, could fly, By fate and Juno's bitter wrath subdued. I too, since such my doom, must lie in death; Yet, ere I die, immortal fame will win; And from their delicate cheeks, deep-bosom'd dames, Dardan and Trojan, bitter tears shall wipe, And groan in anguish; then shall all men know How long I have been absent from the field; Then, though thou love me, seek not from the war To stay my steps; for bootless were thy speech."
Whom answer'd thus the silver-footed Queen: "True are thy words, my son; and good it is, And commendable, from the stroke of death To save a worsted comrade; but thine arms, Thy brazen, flashing arms, the Trojans hold: Them Hector of the glancing helm himself Bears on his breast, exulting; yet not long Shall be his triumph, for his doom is nigh. But thou, engage not in the toils of war, Until thine eyes again behold me here; For with to-morrow's sun will I return With arms of heav'nly mould, by Vulcan wrought."
Thus saying, from her son she turn'd away, And turning, to her sister Nereids spoke: "Back to the spacious bosom of the deep Retire ye now; and to my father's house, The aged Ocean God, your tidings bear; While I to high Olympus speed, to crave At Vulcan's hand, the skill'd artificer, A boon of dazzling armour for my son."
She said; and they beneath the ocean wave Descended, while to high Olympus sped The silver-footed Goddess, thence in hope To bear the dazzling armour to her son. She to Olympus sped; the Greeks meanwhile Before the warrior-slayer Hector fled With wild, tumultuous uproar, till they reach'd Their vessels and the shore of Hellespont. Nor had the well-greav'd Greets Achilles' friend, Patroclus, from amid the fray withdrawn; For close upon him follow'd horse and man, And Hector, son of Priam, fierce as flame; Thrice noble Hector, seizing from behind, Sought by the feet to drag away the dead, Cheering his friends; thrice, clad in warlike might, The two Ajaces drove him from his prey. Yet, fearless in his strength, now rushing on He dash'd amid the fray; now, shouting loud, Stood firm; but backward not a step retir'd. As from a carcase herdsmen strive in vain To scare a tawny lion, hunger-pinch'd; E'en so th' Ajaces, mail-clad warriors, fail'd The son of Priam from the corpse to scare. And now the body had he borne away, With endless fame; but from Olympus' height Came storm-swift Iris down to Peleus' son, And bade him don his arms; by Juno sent, Unknown to Jove, and to th' Immortals all. She stood beside him, and address'd him thus:
"Up, son of Peleus! up, thou prince of men! Haste to Patroclus' rescue; whom, around, Before the ships, is wag'd a fearful war, With mutual slaughter; these the dead defending, And those to Ilium's breezy heights intent To bear the body; noble Hector chief, Who longs to sever from the tender neck, And fix upon the spikes, thy comrade's head. Up then! delay no longer; deem it shame Patroclus' corpse should glut the dogs of Troy, Dishon'ring thee, if aught dishonour him."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Say, heav'nly Iris, of th' immortal Gods Who bade thee seek me, and this message bring?"
To whom swift Iris thus: "To thee I come By Juno sent, th' imperial wife of Jove; Unknown to Saturn's son, and all the Gods Who on Olympus' snowy summit dwell."
To whom again Achilles, swift of foot: "How in the battle toil can I engage? My arms are with the Trojans; and to boot My mother warn'd me not to arm for fight, Till I again should see her; for she hop'd To bring me heav'nly arms by Vulcan wrought: Nor know I well whose armour I could wear, Save the broad shield of Ajax Telamon And he, methinks, amid the foremost ranks Ev'n now is fighting o'er Patroclus' corpse."
Whom answer'd storm-swift Iris: "Well we know Thy glorious arms are by the Trojans held; But go thou forth, and from above the ditch Appear before them; daunted at the sight, Haply the Trojans may forsake the field, And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece, Toil-worn; for little pause has yet been theirs."
Swift Iris said, and vanish'd; then uprose Achilles, dear to Jove; and Pallas threw Her tassell'd aegis o'er his shoulders broad; His head encircling with a coronet Of golden cloud, whence fiery flashes gleam'd. As from an island city up to Heav'n The smoke ascends, which hostile forces round Beleaguer, and all day with cruel war From its own state cut off; but when the sun Hath set, blaze frequent forth the beacon fires; High rise the flames, and to the dwellers round Their signal flash, if haply o'er the sea May come the needful aid; so brightly flash'd That fiery light around Achilles' head. He left the wall, and stood above the ditch, But from the Greeks apart, rememb'ring well His mother's prudent counsel; there he stood, And shouted loudly; Pallas join'd her voice, And fill'd with terror all the Trojan host. Clear as the trumpet's sound, which calls to arms Some town, encompass'd round with hostile bands, Rang out the voice of great AEacides. But when Achilles' voice of brass they heard, They quail'd in spirit; the sleek-skin'd steeds themselves, Conscious of coming ill, bore back the cars: Their charioteers, dismay'd, beheld the flame Which, kindled by the blue-ey'd Goddess, blaz'd Unquench'd around the head of Peleus' son. Thrice shouted from the ditch the godlike chief; Thrice terror struck both Trojans and Allies; And there and then beside their chariots fell Twelve of their bravest; while the Greeks, well pleas'd, Patroclus' body from the fray withdrew, And on a litter laid; around him stood His comrades mourning; with them, Peleus' son, Shedding hot tears, as on his friend he gaz'd, Laid on the bier, and pierc'd with deadly wounds: Him to the war with horses and with cars He sent; but ne'er to welcome his return. By stag-ey'd Juno sent, reluctant sank Th' unwearied sun beneath the ocean wave; The sun had set, and breath'd awhile the Greeks From the fierce labours of the balanc'd field; Nor less the Trojans, from the stubborn fight Retiring, from the chariots loos'd their steeds: But ere they shar'd the ev'ning meal, they met In council; all stood up; none dar'd to sit; For fear had fallen on all, when reappear'd Achilles, from the battle long withdrawn. First Panthous' son, the sage Polydamas, Address'd th' assembly; his sagacious mind Alone beheld the future and the past; The friend of Hector, born the selfsame night; One in debate, the other best in arms; Who thus with prudent speech began, and said:
"Be well advis'd, my friends! my counsel is That we regain the city, nor the morn Here in the plain, beside the ships, await, So far remov'd from our protecting walls. While fiercely burn'd 'gainst Atreus' godlike son That mighty warrior's wrath, 'twas easier far With th' other Greeks to deal; and I rejoic'd When by the ships we pass'd the night, in hopes We soon might call them ours; but now, I own Achilles, swift of foot, excites my fear. His proud, impetuous spirit will spurn the plain, Where Greeks and Trojans oft in warlike strife Their balanc'd strength exert; if he come forth, Our fight will be to guard our homes and wives. Gain we the city; trust me, so 'twere best. Now, for a while, ambrosial night detains The son of Peleus; but at early morn If issuing forth in arms he find us here, His prowess we shall know; and happy he Who, flying, shall in safety reach the walls Of sacred Troy; for many a Trojan slain Shall feed the vultures; Heav'n avert such fate! But if, though loth, ye will by me be rul'd, This night in council husband we our strength; While tow'rs, and lofty gates, and folding doors Close join'd, well-fitting, shall our city guard: Then issuing forth in arms at early morn Man we the tow'rs; so harder were his task If, from the ships advancing, round the wall He offer battle; bootless to return, His strong-neck'd horses worn with labour vain In coursing, purposeless, around the town. To force an entrance, or the town destroy, Is not his aim; and ere that end be gain'd, The dogs of Troy upon his flesh shall feed."