Book I

The Contention of Achilles and Agamemnon

The visit of Chryses, Priest of Apollo, to Agamemnon, asking the ransom of his daughter⁠—Refusal of Agamemnon⁠—A pestilence sent by Apollo upon the Greek army⁠—A Council called by Achilles⁠—The cause of the pestilence declared by the Seer Calchas⁠—Dispute between Agamemnon and Achilles, which ends with the taking away of Briseis from Achilles⁠—The daughter of Chryses restored to him⁠—Visit of Thetis to Jupiter, who promises to avenge Achilles⁠—Mutual chiding of Jupiter and Juno.

O Goddess! Sing the wrath of Peleus’ son,
Achilles; sing the deadly wrath that brought
Woes numberless upon the Greeks, and swept
To Hades many a valiant soul, and gave
Their limbs a prey to dogs and birds of air⁠—
For so had Jove appointed⁠—from the time
When the two chiefs, Atrides, king of men,
And great Achilles, parted first as foes.

Which of the gods put strife between the chiefs,
That they should thus contend? Latona’s son
And Jove’s. Incensed against the king, he bade
A deadly pestilence appear among
The army, and the men were perishing.
For Atreus’ son with insult had received
Chryses the priest, who to the Grecian fleet
Came to redeem his daughter, offering
Uncounted ransom. In his hand he bore
The fillets of Apollo, archer-god,
Upon the golden sceptre, and he sued
To all the Greeks, but chiefly to the sons
Of Atreus, the two leaders of the host:⁠—

“Ye sons of Atreus, and ye other chiefs,
Well-greaved Achaians, may the gods who dwell
Upon Olympus give you to o’erthrow
The city of Priam, and in safety reach
Your homes; but give me my beloved child,
And take her ransom, honoring him who sends
His arrows far, Apollo, son of Jove.”

Then all the other Greeks, applauding, bade
Revere the priest and take the liberal gifts
He offered, but the counsel did not please
Atrides Agamemnon; he dismissed
The priest with scorn, and added threatening words:⁠—

“Old man, let me not find thee loitering here,
Beside the roomy ships, or coming back
Hereafter, lest the fillet thou dost bear
And sceptre of thy god protect thee not.
This maiden I release not till old age
Shall overtake her in my Argive home,
Far from her native country, where her hand
Shall throw the shuttle and shall dress my couch.
Go, chafe me not, if thou wouldst safely go.”

He spake; the aged man in fear obeyed
The mandate, and in silence walked apart,
Along the many-sounding ocean-side,
And fervently he prayed the monarch-god,
Apollo, golden-haired Latona’s son:⁠—

“Hear me, thou bearer of the silver bow,
Who guardest Chrysa, and the holy isle
Of Cilia, and art lord in Tenedos,
O Smintheus! If I ever helped to deck
Thy glorious temple, if I ever burned
Upon thy altar the fat thighs of goats
And bullocks, grant my prayer, and let thy shafts
Avenge upon the Greeks the tears I shed.”

So spake he supplicating, and to him
Phoebus Apollo hearkened. Down he came,
Down from the summit of the Olympian mount,
Wrathful in heart; his shoulders bore the bow
And hollow quiver; there the arrows rang
Upon the shoulders of the angry god,
As on he moved. He came as comes the night,
And, seated from the ships aloof, sent forth
An arrow; terrible was heard the clang
Of that resplendent bow. At first he smote
The mules and the swift dogs, and then on man
He turned the deadly arrow. All around
Glared evermore the frequent funeral piles.
Nine days already had his shafts been showered
Among the host, and now, upon the tenth,
Achilles called the people of the camp
To council. Juno, of the snow-white arms,
Had moved his mind to this, for she beheld
With sorrow that the men were perishing.
And when the assembly met and now was full,
Stood swift Achilles in the midst and said:⁠—

“To me it seems, Atrides, that ’twere well,
Since now our aim is baffled, to return
Homeward, if death o’ertake us not; for war
And pestilence at once destroy the Greeks.
But let us first consult some seer or priest,
Or dream-interpreter⁠—for even dreams
Are sent by Jove⁠—and ask him by what cause
Phoebus Apollo has been angered thus;
If by neglected vows or hecatombs,
And whether savor of fat bulls and goats
May move the god to stay the pestilence.”

He spake, and took again his seat; and next
Rose Calchas, son of Thestor, and the chief
Of augurs, one to whom were known things past
And present and to come. He, through the art
Of divination, which Apollo gave,
Had guided Iliumward the ships of Greece.
With words well ordered courteously he spake:⁠—

“Achilles, loved of Jove, thou biddest me
Explain the wrath of Phoebus, monarch-god,
Who sends afar his arrows. Willingly
Will I make known the cause; but covenant thou,
And swear to stand prepared, by word and hand,
To bring me succor. For my mind misgives
That he who rules the Argives, and to whom
The Achaian race are subject, will be wroth.
A sovereign is too strong for humbler men,
And though he keep his choler down awhile,
It rankles, till he sate it, in his heart.
And now consider: wilt thou hold me safe?”

Achilles, the swift-footed, answered thus:⁠—
“Fear nothing, but speak boldly out whate’er
Thou knowest, and declare the will of Heaven.
For by Apollo, dear to Jove, whom thou,
Calchas, dost pray to, when thou givest forth
The sacred oracles to men of Greece,
No man, while yet I live, and see the light
Of day, shall lay a violent hand on thee
Among our roomy ships; no man of all
The Grecian armies, though thou name the name
Of Agamemnon, whose high boast it is
To stand in power and rank above them all.”

Encouraged thus, the blameless seer went on:⁠—
“ ’Tis not neglected vows or hecatombs
That move him, but the insult shown his priest,
Whom Agamemnon spurned, when he refused
To set his daughter free, and to receive
Her ransom. Therefore sends the archer-god
These woes, and still will send them on the Greeks,
Nor ever will withdraw his heavy hand
From our destruction, till the dark-eyed maid
Freely, and without ransom, be restored
To her beloved father, and with her
A sacred hecatomb to Chrysa sent.
So may we haply pacify the god.”

Thus having said, the augur took his seat.
And then the hero-son of Atreus rose,
Wide-ruling Agamemnon, greatly chafed.
His gloomy heart was full of wrath, his eyes
Sparkled like fire; he fixed a menacing look
Full on the augur Calchas, and began:⁠—

“Prophet of evil! Never hadst thou yet
A cheerful word for me. To mark the signs
Of coming mischief is thy great delight.
Good dost thou ne’er foretell nor bring to pass.
And now thou pratest, in thine auguries,
Before the Greeks, how that the archer-god
Afflicts us thus, because I would not take
The costly ransom offered to redeem
The virgin child of Chryses. ’Twas my choice
To keep her with me, for I prize her more
Than Clytemnestra, bride of my young years,
And deem her not less nobly graced than she,
In form and feature, mind and pleasing arts.
Yet will I give her back, if that be best;
For gladly would I see my people saved
From this destruction. Let meet recompense,
Meantime, be ready, that I be not left,
Alone of all the Greeks, without my prize.
That were not seemly. All of you perceive
That now my share of spoil has passed from me.”

To him the great Achilles, swift of foot,
Replied: “Renowned Atrides, greediest
Of men, where wilt thou that our noble Greeks
Find other spoil for thee, since none is set
Apart, a common store? The trophies brought
From towns which we have sacked have all been shared
Among us, and we could not without shame
Bid every warrior bring his portion back.
Yield, then, the maiden to the god, and we,
The Achaians, freely will appoint for thee
Threefold and fourfold recompense, should Jove
Give up to sack this well-defended Troy.”

Then the king Agamemnon answered thus:⁠—
“Nay, use no craft, all valiant as thou art,
Godlike Achilles; thou hast not the power
To circumvent nor to persuade me thus.
Think’st thou that, while thou keepest safe thy prize,
I shall sit idly down, deprived of mine?
Thou bid’st me give the maiden back. ’Tis well,
If to my hands the noble Greeks shall bring
The worth of what I lose, and in a shape
That pleases me. Else will I come myself,
And seize and bear away thy prize, or that
Of Ajax or Ulysses, leaving him
From whom I take his share with cause for rage.
Another time we will confer of this.
Now come, and forth into the great salt sea
Launch a black ship, and muster on the deck
Men skilled to row, and put a hecatomb
On board, and let the fair-cheeked maid embark,
Chryseis. Send a prince to bear command⁠—
Ajax, Idomeneus, or the divine
Ulysses;⁠—or thyself, Pelides, thou
Most terrible of men, that with due rites
Thou soothe the anger of the archer-god.”

Achilles the swift-footed, with stern look,
Thus answered: “Ha, thou mailed in impudence
And bent on lucre! Who of all the Greeks
Can willingly obey thee, on the march,
Or bravely battling with the enemy?
I came not to this war because of wrong
Done to me by the valiant sons of Troy.
No feud had I with them; they never took
My beeves or horses, nor, in Phthia’s realm,
Deep-soiled and populous, spoiled my harvest fields.
For many a shadowy mount between us lies,
And waters of the wide-resounding sea.
Man unabashed! We follow thee that thou
Mayst glory in avenging upon Troy
The grudge of Menelaus and thy own,
Thou shameless one! And yet thou hast for this
Nor thanks nor care. Thou threatenest now to take
From me the prize for which I bore long toils
In battle; and the Greeks decreed it mine.
I never take an equal share with thee
Of booty when the Grecian host has sacked
Some populous Trojan town. My hands perform
The harder labors of the field in all
The tumult of the fight; but when the spoil
Is shared, the largest share of all is thine,
While I, content with little, seek my ships,
Weary with combat. I shall now go home
To Phthia; better were it to return
With my beaked ships; but here, where I am held
In little honor, thou wilt fail, I think,
To gather, in large measure, spoil and wealth.”

Him answered Agamemnon, king of men:⁠—
“Desert, then, if thou wilt; I ask thee not
To stay for me; there will be others left
To do me honor yet, and, best of all,
The all-providing Jove is with me still.
Thee I detest the most of all the men
Ordained by him to govern; thy delight
Is in contention, war, and bloody frays.
If thou art brave, some deity, no doubt,
Hath thus endowed thee. Hence, then, to thy home,
With all thy ships and men! There domineer
Over thy Myrmidons; I heed thee not,
Nor care I for thy fury. Thus, in turn,
I threaten thee; since Phoebus takes away
Chryseis, I will send her in my ship
And with my friends, and, coming to thy tent,
Will bear away the fair-cheeked maid, thy prize,
Briseis, that thou learn how far I stand
Above thee, and that other chiefs may fear
To measure strength with me, and brave my power.”

The rage of Peleus’ son, as thus he spake,
Grew fiercer; in that shaggy breast his heart
Took counsel, whether from his thigh to draw
The trenchant sword, and, thrusting back the rest,
Smite down Atrides, or subdue his wrath
And master his own spirit. While he thus
Debated with himself, and half unsheathed
The ponderous blade, Pallas Athene came,
Sent from on high by Juno, the white-armèd,
Who loved both warriors and made both her care.
She came behind him, seen by him alone,
And plucked his yellow hair. The hero turned
In wonder, and at once he knew the look
Of Pallas and the awful-gleaming eye,
And thus accosted her with wingèd words:⁠—
“Why com’st thou hither, daughter of the god
Who bears the aegis? Art thou here to see
The insolence of Agamemnon, son
Of Atreus? Let me tell thee what I deem
Will be the event. That man may lose his life,
And quickly too, for arrogance like this.”

Then thus the goddess, blue-eyed Pallas, spake:⁠—
“I came from heaven to pacify thy wrath,
If thou wilt heed my counsel. I am sent
By Juno the white-armed, to whom ye both
Are dear, who ever watches o’er you both.
Refrain from violence; let not thy hand
Unsheathe the sword, but utter with thy tongue
Reproaches, as occasion may arise,
For I declare what time shall bring to pass;
Threefold amends shall yet be offered thee,
In gifts of princely cost, for this day’s wrong.
Now calm thy angry spirit, and obey.”

Achilles, the swift-footed, answered thus:⁠—
“O goddess, be the word thou bring’st obeyed,
However fierce my anger; for to him
Who hearkens to the gods, the gods give ear.”

So speaking, on the silver hilt he stayed
His strong right hand, and back into its sheath
Thrust his good sword, obeying. She, meantime,
Returned to heaven, where aegis-bearing Jove
Dwells with the other gods. And now again
Pelides, with opprobrious words, bespake
The son of Atreus, venting thus his wrath:⁠—

“Wine-bibber, with the forehead of a dog
And a deer’s heart! Thou never yet hast dared
To arm thyself for battle with the rest,
Nor join the other chiefs prepared to lie
In ambush⁠—such thy craven fear of death.
Better it suits thee, midst the mighty host
Of Greeks, to rob some warrior of his prize
Who dares withstand thee. King thou art, and yet
Devourer of thy people. Thou dost rule
A spiritless race, else this day’s insolence,
Atrides, were thy last. And now I say,
And bind my saying with a mighty oath:
By this my sceptre, which can never bear
A leaf or twig, since first it left its stem
Among the mountains⁠—for the steel has pared
Its boughs and bark away, to sprout no more⁠—
And now the Achaian judges bear it⁠—they
Who guard the laws received from Jupiter,
Such is my oath⁠—the time shall come when all
The Greeks shall long to see Achilles back,
While multitudes are perishing by the hand
Of Hector, the man-queller; thou, meanwhile,
Though thou lament, shalt have no power to help,
And thou shalt rage against thyself to think
That thou hast scorned the bravest of the Greeks.

As thus he spake, Pelides to the ground
Flung the gold-studded wand, and took his seat.
Fiercely Atrides raged; but now uprose
Nestor, the master of persuasive speech,
The clear-toned Pylian orator, whose tongue
Dropped words more sweet than honey. He had seen
Two generations that grew up and lived
With him on sacred Pylos pass away,
And now he ruled the third. With prudent words
He thus addressed the assembly of the chiefs:⁠—

“Ye gods! What new misfortunes threaten Greece!
How Priam would exult and Priam’s sons,
And how would all the Trojan race rejoice,
Were they to know how furiously ye strive⁠—
Ye who in council and in fight surpass
The other Greeks. Now hearken to my words⁠—
Ye who are younger than myself⁠—for I
Have lived with braver men than you, and yet
They held me not in light esteem. Such men
I never saw, nor shall I see again⁠—
Men like Pirithoüs and like Druas, lord
Of nations, Caeneus and Exadius,
And the great Polypheme, and Theseus, son
Of Aegeus, likest to the immortal gods.
Strongest of all the earth-born race they fought⁠—
The strongest with the strongest of their time⁠—
With Centaurs, the wild dwellers of the hills,
And fearfully destroyed them. With these men
Did I hold converse, coming to their camp
From Pylos in a distant land. They sent
To bid me join the war, and by their side
I fought my best, but no man living now
On the wide earth would dare to fight with them.
Great as they were, they listened to my words
And took my counsel. Hearken also ye,
And let my words persuade you for the best.
Thou, powerful as thou art, take not from him
The maiden; suffer him to keep the prize
Decreed him by the sons of Greece; and thou,
Pelides, strive no longer with the king,
Since never Jove on sceptred prince bestowed
Like eminence to his. Though braver thou,
And goddess-born, yet hath he greater power
And wider sway. Atrides, calm thy wrath⁠—
’Tis I who ask⁠—against the chief who stands
The bulwark of the Greeks in this fierce war.”

To him the sovereign Agamemnon said:⁠—
“The things which thou hast uttered, aged chief,
Are fitly spoken; but this man would stand
Above all others; he aspires to be
The master, over all to domineer,
And to direct in all things; yet, I think,
There may be one who will not suffer this.
For if by favor of the immortal gods
He was made brave, have they for such a cause
Given him the liberty of insolent speech?”

Hereat the great Achilles, breaking in,
Answered: “Yea, well might I deserve the name
Of coward and of wretch, should I submit
In all things to thy bidding. Such commands
Lay thou on others, not on me; nor think
I shall obey thee longer. This I say⁠—
And bear it well in mind⁠—I shall not lift
My hand to keep the maiden whom ye gave
And now take from me; but whatever else
May be on board that swift black ship of mine,
Beware thou carry not away the least
Without my leave. Come, make the trial now,
That these may see thy black blood bathe my spear.

Then, rising from that strife of words, the twain
Dissolved the assembly at the Grecian fleet.
Pelides to his tents and well manned ships
Went with Patroclus and his warrior friends,
While Agamemnon bade upon the sea
Launch a swift barque with twenty chosen men
To ply the oar, and put a hecatomb
Upon it for the god. He thither led
The fair-cheeked maid Chryseis; the command
He gave to wise Ulysses; forth they went,
Leader and crew, upon their watery path.
Meanwhile, he bade the camp be purified;
And straight the warriors purified the camp,
And, casting the pollutions to the waves,
They burned to Phoebus chosen hecatombs
Of bulls and goats beside the barren main,
From which the savor rose in smoke to heaven.

So was the host employed. But not the less
Did Agamemnon persevere to urge
His quarrel with Pelides; and he thus
Addressed Talthybius and Eurybates.
His heralds and his faithful ministers:⁠—

“Go ye to where Achilles holds his tent,
And take the fair Briseis by the hand,
And bring her hither. If he yield her not,
I shall come forth to claim her with a band
Of warriors, and it shall be worse for him.”

He spake, and sent them forth with added words
Of menace. With unwilling steps they went
Beside the barren deep, until they reached
The tents and vessels of the Myrmidons,
And found Achilles seated by his tent
And his black ship; their coming pleased him not.
They, moved by fear and reverence of the king,
Stopped, and bespake him not, nor signified
Their errand; he perceived their thought and said:⁠—

“Hail, heralds, messengers of Jove and men!
Draw near; I blame you not. I only blame
Atrides, who hath sent you for the maid.
Noble Patroclus! Bring the damsel forth,
And let them lead her hence. My witnesses
Are ye, before the blessed deities,
And mortal men, and this remorseless king,
If ever he shall need me to avert
The doom of utter ruin from his host.
Most sure it is, he madly yields himself
To fatal counsels, thoughtless of the past
And of the future, nor forecasting how
The Greeks may fight, unvanquished, by their fleet.”

He spake. Meantime Patroclus had obeyed
The word of his beloved friend. He brought
The fair-cheeked maid Briseis from the tent,
And she was led away. The messengers
Returned to where their barques were moored, and she
Unwillingly went with them. Then in tears
Achilles, from his friends withdrawing, sat
Beside the hoary ocean-marge, and gazed
On the black deep beyond, and stretched his hands,
And prayed to his dear mother, earnestly:⁠—

“Mother! Since thou didst bring me forth to dwell
Brief space on earth, Olympian Jupiter,
Who thunders in the highest, should have filled
That space with honors, but he grants them not.
Wide-ruling Agamemnon takes and holds
The prize I won, and thus dishonors me.”

Thus, shedding tears, he spake. His mother heard,
Sitting within the ocean deeps, beside
Her aged father. Swiftly from the waves
Of the gray deep emerging like a cloud,
She sat before him as he wept, and smoothed
His brow with her soft hand, and kindly said:⁠—

“My child, why weepest thou? What grief is this?
Speak, and hide nothing, so that both may know.”

Achilles, swift of foot, sighed heavily,
And said: “Thou know’st already. Why relate
These things to thee, who art apprised of all?

“To Thebé, to Eëtion’s sacred town,
We marched, and plundered it, and hither brought
The booty, which was fairly shared among
The sons of Greece, and Agamemnon took
The fair-cheeked maid Chryseis as his prize.
But Chryses, priest of Phoebus, to the fleet
Of the Achaian warriors, brazen-mailed,
Came, to redeem his daughter, offering
Ransom uncounted. In his hand he bore
The fillets of Apollo, archer-god,
Upon the golden sceptre, and he sued
To all the Greeks, but chiefly to the sons
Of Atreus, the two leaders of the host.
Then all the other chiefs, applauding, bade
Revere the priest and take the liberal gifts
He offered; but the counsel did not please
Atrides Agamemnon: he dismissed
The priest with scorn, and added threatening words.
The aged man indignantly withdrew;
And Phoebus⁠—for the priest was dear to him⁠—
Granted his prayer and sent among the Greeks
A deadly shaft. The people of the camp
Were perishing in heaps. His arrows flew
Among the Grecian army, far and wide.
A seer expert in oracles revealed
The will of Phoebus, and I was the first
To counsel that the god should be appeased.
But Agamemnon rose in sudden wrath,
Uttering a threat, which he has since fulfilled.
And now the dark-eyed Greeks are taking back
His child to Chryses, and with her they bear
Gifts to the monarch-god; while to my tent
Heralds have come, and borne away the maid
Briseis, given me by the sons of Greece.
But succor thou thy son, if thou hast power;
Ascend to heaven and bring thy prayer to Jove,
If e’er by word or act thou gav’st him aid.
For I remember, in my father’s halls
I often heard thee, glorying, tell how thou,
Alone of all the gods, didst interpose
To save the cloud-compeller, Saturn’s son,
From shameful overthrow, when all the rest
Who dwell upon Olympus had conspired
To bind him⁠—Juno, Neptune, and with them
Pallas Athene. Thou didst come and loose
His bonds, and call up to the Olympian heights
The hundred-handed, whom the immortal gods
Have named Briareus, but the sons of men
Aegeon, mightier than his sire in strength;
And he, rejoicing in the honor, took
His seat by Jove, and all the immortals shrank
Aghast before him, and let fall the chains.
Remind him of all this, and, sitting down,
Embrace his knees, and pray him to befriend
The Trojans, that the Greeks, hemmed in and slain
Beside their ships and by the shore, may learn
To glory in their king, and even he,
Wide-ruling Agamemnon, may perceive
How grievous was his folly when he dared
To treat with scorn the bravest of the Greeks.”

And Thetis answered, weeping as she spake:⁠—
“Alas, my son, why did I rear thee, born
To sorrow as thou wert? O would that thou
Unwronged, and with no cause for tears, couldst dwell
Beside thy ships, since thou must die so soon.
I brought thee forth in an unhappy hour,
Short-lived and wronged beyond all other men.
Yet will I climb the Olympian height among
Its snows and make my suit to Jupiter
The Thunderer, if haply he may yield
To my entreaties. Thou, meanwhile, abide
By thy swift ships, incensed against the Greeks,
And take no part in all their battles more.
But yesterday did Jove depart to hold
A banquet far in Ocean’s realm, among
The blameless Ethiopians, and with him
Went all the train of gods. Twelve days must pass
Ere he return to heaven, and I will then
Enter his brazen palace, clasp his knees,
And hope to move his purpose by my prayers.”

So saying, she departed, leaving him
In anger for the shapely damsel’s sake,
Whom forcibly they took away. Meantime
Ulysses, with the sacred hecatomb,
Arrived at Chrysa. Entering the deep port,
They folded up the sails and laid them down
In the black ship, and lowering the mast,
With all its shrouds, they brought it to its place,
Then to the shore they urged the barque with oars,
And cast the anchors and secured the prow
With fastenings. Next, they disembarked and stood
Upon the beach and placed the hecatomb
In sight of Phoebus, the great archer. Last,
Chryseis left the deck, and, leading her
Up to the altar, wise Ulysses gave
The maid to her dear father, speaking thus:⁠—

“O Chryses! Agamemnon, king of men,
Sends me in haste to bring this maid to thee
And offer up this hallowed hecatomb
To Phoebus, for the Greeks: that so the god,
Whose wrath afflicts us sore, may be appeased.

So speaking, to her father’s hands he gave
The maiden; joyfully the priest received
The child he loved. Then did the Greeks array
The noble hecatomb in order round
The sculptured altar, and with washen hands
They took the salted meal, while Chryses stood
And spread abroad his hands and prayed aloud:⁠—

“Hear me, thou bearer of the glittering bow,
Who guardest Chrysa and the pleasant isle
Of Cilia and art lord in Tenedos!
Already hast thou listened to my prayer
And honored me, and terribly hast scourged
The Achaian people. Hear me yet again,
And cause the plague that wastes the Greeks to cease.”

So spake he, supplicating, and to him
Phoebus Apollo hearkened. When the prayers
Were ended, and the salted meal was flung,
Backward they turned the necks of the fat beeves,
And cut their throats, and flayed the carcasses,
And hewed away the thighs, and covered them
With caul in double folds; and over this
They laid raw fragments of the other parts.
O’er all the aged priest poured dark red wine,
And burned them on dry wood. A band of youths
With five-pronged spits, beside him, thrust these through
The entrails, which they laid among the flames.
And when the thighs were all consumed, and next
The entrails tasted, all the rest was carved
Into small portions and transfixed with spits
And roasted with nice care and then withdrawn
From the hot coals. This task performed, they made
The banquet ready. All became its guests
And all were welcome to the equal feast.
And when their thirst and hunger were allayed,
Boys crowned the ample urns with wreaths, and served
The wine to all, and poured libations forth. Meantime the
Argive youths, that whole day long,
Sang to appease the god; they chanted forth
High anthems to the archer of the skies.
He listened to the strain, and his stern mood
Was softened. When, at length, the sun went down
And darkness fell, they gave themselves to sleep
Beside the fastenings of their ships, and when
Appeared the rosy-fingered Dawn, the child
Of Morning, they returned to the great host
Of the Achaians. Phoebus deigned to send
A favoring breeze; at once they reared the mast
And opened the white sails; the canvas swelled
Before the wind, and hoarsely round the keel
The dark waves murmured as the ship flew on.
So ran she, cutting through the sea her way.
But when they reached the great Achaian host,
They drew their vessel high upon the shore
Among the sands, and underneath its sides
They laid long beams to prop the keel, and straight
Dispersed themselves among the tents and ships.

The goddess-born Achilles, swift of foot,
Beside his ships still brooded o’er his wrath,
Nor came to council with the illustrious chiefs,
Nor to the war, but suffered idleness
To eat his heart away; for well he loved
Clamor and combat. But when now, at length,
The twelfth day came, the ever-living gods
Returned together to the Olympian mount
With Jove, their leader. Thetis kept in mind
Her son’s desire, and, with the early morn,
Emerging from the depths of ocean, climbed
To the great heaven and the high mount, and found
All-seeing Jove, who, from the rest apart,
Was seated on the loftiest pinnacle
Of many-peaked Olympus. She sat down
Before the son of Saturn, clasped his knees
With her left arm, and lifted up her right
In supplication to the Sovereign One:⁠—

“O Jupiter, my father, if among
The immortals I have ever given thee aid
By word or act, deny not my request.
Honor my son, whose life is doomed to end
So soon; for Agamemnon, king of men,
Hath done him shameful wrong: he takes from him
And keeps the prize he won in war. But thou,
Olympian Jupiter, supremely wise,
Honor him thou, and give the Trojan host
The victory, until the humbled Greeks
Heap large increase of honors on my son.”

She spake, but cloud-compelling Jupiter
Answered her not; in silence long he sat.
But Thetis, who had clasped his knees at first,
Clung to them still, and prayed him yet again:⁠—

“O promise me, and grant my suit; or else
Deny it⁠—for thou need’st not fear⁠—and I
Shall know how far below the other gods
Thou holdest me in honor.” As she spake,
The Cloud-compeller, sighing heavily,
Answered her thus: “Hard things dost thou require,
And thou wilt force me into new disputes
With Juno, who will anger me again
With contumelious words; forever thus,
In presence of the immortals, doth she seek
Cause of contention, charging that I aid
The Trojans in their battles. Now depart,
And let her not perceive thee. Leave the rest
To be by me accomplished; and that thou
Mayst be assured, behold, I give the nod;
For this, with me, the immortals know, portends
The highest certainty: no word of mine
Which once my nod confirms can be revoked,
Or prove untrue, or fail to be fulfilled.”

As thus he spake, the son of Saturn gave
The nod with his dark brows. The ambrosial curls
Upon the Sovereign One’s immortal head
Were shaken, and with them the mighty mount
Olympus trembled. Then they parted, she
Plunging from bright Olympus to the deep,
And Jove returning to his palace home;
Where all the gods, uprising from their thrones,
At sight of the Great Father, waited not
For his approach, but met him as he came.

And now upon his throne the Godhead took
His seat, but Juno knew⁠—for she had seen⁠—
That Thetis of the silver feet, and child
Of the gray Ancient of the Deep, had held
Close council with her consort. Therefore she
Bespake the son of Saturn harshly, thus:⁠—

“O crafty one, with whom, among the gods,
Plottest thou now? Thus hath it ever been
Thy pleasure to devise, apart from me,
Thy plans in secret; never willingly
Dost thou reveal to me thy purposes.”

Then thus replied the Father of the gods
And mortals: “Juno, do not think to know
All my designs, for thou wilt find the task
Too hard for thee, although thou be my spouse.
What fitting is to be revealed, no one
Of all the immortals or of men shall know
Sooner than thou; but when I form designs
Apart from all the gods, presume thou not
To question me or pry into my plans.”

Juno, the large-eyed and august, rejoined:⁠—
“What words, stern son of Saturn, hast thou said!
It never was my wont to question thee
Or pry into thy plans, and thou art left
To form them as thou wilt; yet now I fear
The silver-footed Thetis has contrived⁠—
That daughter of the Ancient of the Deep⁠—
To o’erpersuade thee, for, at early prime,
She sat before thee and embraced thy knees;
And thou hast promised her, I cannot doubt,
To give Achilles honor and to cause
Myriads of Greeks to perish by their fleet.”

Then Jove, the cloud-compeller, spake again:⁠—
“Harsh-tongued! thou ever dost suspect me thus,
Nor can I act unwatched; and yet all this
Profits thee nothing, for it only serves
To breed dislike, and is the worse for thee.
But were it as thou deemest, ’tis enough
That such has been my pleasure. Sit thou down
In silence, and obey, lest all the gods
Upon Olympus, when I come and lay
These potent hands on thee, protect thee not.”

He spake, and Juno, large-eyed and august,
O’erawed, and curbing her high spirit, sat
In silence; meanwhile all the gods of heaven
Within the halls of Jove were inly grieved.
But Vulcan, the renowned artificer,
Sought to console his mother in her grief⁠—
The white-armed Juno⁠—and thus interposed:⁠—

“Great will the evil be and hard to bear,
If, for the sake of mortals, ye are moved
To such contention and the assembled gods
Disturbed with discord. Even the pleasant feast
Will lose its flavor when embittered thus.
And let me warn my mother while I speak,
Wise as she is, that she defer to Jove,
Lest the All-Father angrily again
Reply, and spoil the banquet of the day.
The Thunderer of Olympus, if he choose
To make a wreck of all things, wields a power
Far greater than we all. Accost him thou
With gentle speeches, and the Lord of heaven
Will then regard us in a kindly mood.”

As thus he spake, he gave into the hands
Of his beloved mother the round cup
Of double form, and thus he spake again:⁠—

“Mother, be patient and submit, although
In sadness, lest these eyes behold thee yet
Beaten with stripes, and though I hold thee dear
And grieve for thee, I cannot bring thee help;
For hard it is to strive with Jupiter.
Already once, when I took part with thee,
He seized me by the foot and flung me o’er
The battlements of heaven. All day I fell,
And with the setting sun I struck the earth
In Lemnos. Little life was left in me,
What time the Sintians took me from the ground.”

He spake, and Juno, the white-shouldered, smiled,
And smiling took the cup her son had brought;
And next he poured to all the other gods
Sweet nectar from the jar, beginning first
With those at the right hand. As they beheld
Lame Vulcan laboring o’er the palace-floor,
An inextinguishable laughter broke
From all the blessed gods. So feasted they
All day till sunset. From that equal feast
None stood aloof, nor from the pleasant sound
Of harp, which Phoebus touched, nor from the voice
Of Muses singing sweetly in their turn.

But when the sun’s all-glorious light was down,
Each to his sleeping-place betook himself;
For Vulcan, the lame god, with marvellous art,
Had framed for each the chamber of his rest.

And Jupiter, the Olympian Thunderer,
Went also to his couch, where ’twas his wont,
When slumber overtook him, to recline.
And there, beside him, slept the white-armed queen
Juno, the mistress of the golden throne.