Book XI

The Third Battle, and Exploits of Agamemnon

Renewal of the fight by Agamemnon⁠—His prowess⁠—Hector warned by Iris not to fight till Agamemnon is wounded⁠—Agamemnon disabled⁠—Hector makes great havoc till checked by Ulysses and Diomed⁠—Diomed wounded by Paris, and rescued by Ajax, who rallies the Greeks⁠—Machaon wounded⁠—Conversations of Nestor and Patroclus.

Now did the Morning from her couch beside
Renowned Tithonus rise, that she might bring
The light to gods and men, when Jupiter
To the swift galleys of the Grecian host
Sent baleful Strife, who bore in hand aloft
War’s ensigns. On the huge black ship that brought
Ulysses, in the centre of the fleet,
She stood, where she might shout to either side⁠—
To Telamonian Ajax in his tents
And to Achilles, who had ranged their ships
At each extreme of the Achaian camp,
Relying on their valor and strong arms.
Loud was the voice, and terrible, in which
She shouted from her station to the Greeks,
And into every heart it carried strength
And the resolve to combat manfully
And never yield. The battle now to them
Seemed more to be desired than the return
To their dear country in their roomy ships.
Atrides called aloud, exhorting them
To gird themselves for battle. Then he clad
Himself in glittering brass. First to his thighs
He bound the beautiful greaves with silver clasps,
Then fitted to his chest the breastplate given
By Cinyras, a pledge of kind intent;⁠—
For, when he heard in Cyprus that the Greeks
Were bound for Ilium in their ships, he sent
This gift, a homage to the king of men;⁠—
Ten were its bars of tawny bronze, and twelve
Were gold, and twenty tin; and on each side
Were three bronze serpents stretching toward the neck,
Curved like the colored bow which Saturn’s son
Sets in the clouds, a sign to men. He hung
His sword, all glittering with its golden studs,
About his shoulders. In a silver sheath
It nestled, which was slung on golden rings.
And then he took his shield, a mighty orb,
And nobly wrought and strong and beautiful,
Bound with ten brazen circles. On its disk
Were twenty bosses of white tin, and one
Of tawny bronze just in the midst, where glared
A Gorgon’s-head with angry eyes, round which
Were sculptured Fear and Flight. Along its band
Of silver twined a serpent wrought in bronze,
With three heads springing from one neck and formed
Into an orb. Upon his head he placed
A helmet rough with studs on every side,
And with four bosses, and a horse-hair plume
That nodded fearfully on high. He took
In hand two massive spears, brass-tipped and sharp,
That shone afar and sent their light to heaven,
Where Juno and Minerva made a sound
Like thunder in mid-sky, as honoring
The sovereign of Mycenae rich in gold.

Each chief gave orders to his charioteer
To stay his horses firmly by the trench,
While they rushed forth in arms. At once arose,
Ere yet the sun was up, a mighty din.
They marshalled by the trench the men on foot;
The horse came after, with short space between.
The son of Saturn sent among their ranks
Confusion, and dropped down upon the host
Dews tinged with blood, in sign that he that day
Would send to Hades many a valiant chief.

The Trojans, on their side, in the mid-plain
Drew up their squadrons on a hill, around
The mighty Hector, and Polydamas
The blameless, and Aeneas, who among
The sons of Troy was honored like a god,
And three sons of Antenor, who were named
Agenor and the noble Polybus
And the young Acamas of godlike bloom,
There Hector in the van uplifted bore
His broad round shield. As some portentous star
Breaks from the clouds and shines, and then again
Enters their shadow, Hector thus appeared
Among the foremost, issuing his commands,
Then sought the hindmost. All in brass, he shone
Like lightnings of the Aegis-bearer, Jove.

As when two lines of reapers, face to face,
In some rich landlord’s field of barley or wheat
Move on, and fast the severed handfuls fall,
So, springing on each other, they of Troy
And they of Argos smote each other down,
And neither thought of ignominious flight.
They met each other man to man; they rushed
Like wolves to combat. Cruel Strife looked on
Rejoicing; she alone of all the gods
Was present in the battle; all the rest,
Far off, sat quiet in their palaces,
The glorious mansions built for them along
The summits of Olympus. Yet they all
Blamed Saturn’s son that he should honor thus
The Trojans. The All-Father heeded not
Their murmurings, but, seated by himself
Apart, exulting in his sovereignty,
Looked on the city of Troy, the ships of Greece,
The gleam of arms, the slayers, and the slain.

While yet ’twas morn, and still the holy light
Of day was brightening, fast the weapons smote
On either side, and fast the people fell;
But at the hour when on the mountain-slope
The wood cutter makes ready his repast,
Weary with felling lofty trees, and glad
To rest, and eager for the grateful meal,
The Greeks, encouraging each other, charged
And broke the serried phalanxes of Troy.
First Agamemnon, springing forward, slew
The shepherd of his people and their chief,
Bienor, and his trusty comrade next⁠—
The charioteer Oileus, who had leaped
Down from his chariot to confront the king.
Him Agamemnon with his trenchant spear
Smote in the forehead as he came. The helm
Of massive brass was vain to stay the blow:
The weapon pierced it and the bone, and stained
The brain with blood; it felled him rushing on.
The monarch stripped the slain, and, leaving them
With their white bosoms bare, went on to slay
Isus and Antiphus, King Priam’s sons⁠—
One born in wedlock, one of baser birth⁠—
Both in one chariot. Isus held the reins
While Antiphus, the high-born brother, fought.
These had Achilles once on Ida’s height
Made prisoners, as they fed their flocks; he bound
Their limbs with osier bands, but gave them up
For ransom to the Trojans. Now the king
Of men, Atrides Agamemnon, pierced
Isus above the nipple with his spear,
And with his falchion smiting Antiphus
Beside the ear, he hurled him from his car.
Then hastening up, and stripping from the dead
Their shining mail, he knew them; he had seen
Both at the ships to which the fleet of foot,
Achilles, brought them bound from Ida’s side.
As when a lion comes upon the haunt
Of a swift hind, to make an easy prey
Of her young fawns, and, with his powerful teeth
Seizing them, takes their tender lives; while she,
Though nigh, can bring no aid but yields herself
To mortal fear, and, to escape his rage,
Flies swiftly through the wood of close-grown oaks,
With sweaty sides⁠—thus none of all the host
Of Trojans could avert from Priam’s sons
Their fate, but fled in terror from the Greeks.
Next on Pisander and Hippolochus
Atrides rushed⁠—brave warriors both, and sons
Of brave Antimachus, the chief who took
Gold and rich gifts from Paris, and refused
To let the Trojans render Helen back
To fair-haired Menelaus. His two sons,
Both in one car, and reining their fleet steeds,
Atrides intercepted; they let fall
The embroidered reins, dismayed, as, lion-like,
Forward he came; and, cowering, thus they prayed:⁠—

“Take us alive, Atrides, and accept
A worthy ransom, for Antimachus
Keeps in his halls large treasures⁠—brass and gold.
And well-wrought steel; and he will send, from these,
Large ransom, hearing we are at the fleet
Alive.” So prayed they with bland words, and met
Harsh answer: “Since ye call Antimachus
Your father, who in Trojan council once
Proposed that Menelaus, whom we sent
A legate with Ulysses the divine,
Should not return to Greece, but suffer death,
Your blood must answer for your father’s guilt.”

So spake the king, and, striking with his spear
Pisander’s breast, he dashed him from the car.
Prone on the ground he lay. Hippolochus
Leaped down and met the sword. Atrides lopped
His hands and drave the weapon through his neck,
And sent the head to roll among the crowd.
And then he left the dead, and rushed to where
The ranks were in disorder; with him went
His-well-armed Greeks; there they who fought on foot
Slaughtered the flying foot; the horsemen there
Clove horsemen down: the coursers’ trampling feet
Raised the thick dust to shadow all the plain;
While Agamemnon cheered the Achaians on,
And chased and slew the foe. As when a fire
Seizes a thick-grown forest, and the wind
Drives it along in eddies, while the trunks
Fall with the boughs amid devouring flames,
So fell the flying Trojans by the hand
Of Agamemnon. Many high-maned steeds
Dragged noisily their empty cars among
The ranks of battle, never more to bear
Their charioteers, who lay upon the earth
The vulture’s feast, a sorrow to their wives.

But Jove beyond the encountering arms, the dust,
The carnage, and the bloodshed and the din
Bore Hector, while Atrides in pursuit
Was loudly cheering the Achaians on.
Meantime the Trojans fled across the plain
Toward the wild fig-tree growing near the tomb
Of ancient Ilus, son of Dardanus⁠—
Eager to reach the town; and still the son
Of Atreus followed, shouting, and with hands
Blood-stained and dust-begrimed. And when they reached
The Scaean portals and the beechen tree,
They halted, waiting for the rear, like beeves
Chased panting by a lion who has come
At midnight on them, and has put the herd
To flight, and one of them to certain death⁠—
Whose neck he breaks with his strong teeth and then
Devours the entrails, lapping up the blood.
Thus did Atrides Agamemnon chase
The Trojans; still he slew the hindmost; still
They fled before him. Many by his hand
Fell from their chariots prone, for terrible
Beyond all others with the spear was he.
But when he now was near the city-wall,
The Father of immortals and of men
Came down from the high heaven, and took his seat
On many-fountained Ida. In his grasp
He held a thunderbolt, and this command
He gave to Iris of the golden wings:⁠—

“Haste, Iris fleet of wing, and bear my words
To Hector:⁠—While he sees the king of men,
Atrides, in the van and dealing death
Among the ranks of warriors, let him still
Give way, encouraging his men to hold
Unflinching battle with the enemy.
But when Atrides, wounded by a spear
Or arrow, shall ascend his chariot, then
Will I nerve Hector’s arm with strength to slay
Until he come to the good ships of Greece,
And the sun set, and hallowed night come down.”

He spake; and she, whose feet are like the wind
In swiftness, heeded the command, and flew
From Ida’s summit to the sacred town
Of Troy, and found the noble Hector, son
Of warlike Priam, standing mid the steeds
And the strong chariots, and, approaching, said:⁠—

“O Hector, son of Priam, and like Jove
In council! Jove the All-Father bids me say,
As long as thou shalt see the king of men,
Atrides, in the van, and dealing death
Among the ranks of warriors, thou shalt still
Give way, encouraging thy men to hold
Unflinching battle with the enemy;
But when Atrides, wounded by a spear
Or arrow, shall ascend his chariot, then
Will Jove endue thy arm with strength to slay
Until thou come to the good ships of Greece,
And the sun set, and hallowed night come down.”

So the fleet Iris spake, and went her way;
While Hector, leaping from his car in arms,
And wielding his sharp spears, went everywhere
Among the Trojan ranks, exhorting them
To combat, and renewed the stubborn fight.
They rallied and stood firm against the Greeks.
The Greeks, in turn, made strong their phalanxes.
The battle raged again, as front to front
They stood, while Agamemnon eagerly
Pressed forward, proud to lead the van in fight.

Say, Muses, dwellers of Olympus! Who
First of the Trojans or their brave allies
Encountered Atreus’ son? Iphidamas,
Son of Antenor, strong and daring, bred
On the rich soil of Thrace, the nurse of flocks.
His grandsire Cisseus, from whose loins the fair
Theano sprang, had reared him from a child
Within his palace; and, when he attained
Youth’s glorious prime, still kept him, giving him
His child to wife. He wedded her, but left
At once the bridal chamber when he heard
Of the Greek war on Ilium, and set sail
With twelve beaked galleys. These he afterward
Left at Percope⁠—marching on to Troy.
And he it was who came to meet the son
Of Atreus. As the heroes now drew near
Each other, Agamemnon missed his aim;
His thrust was parried. Then Iphidamas
Dealt him beneath the breastplate on the belt
A vigorous blow, and urged the spear with all
His strength of arm; yet through the plated belt
It could not pierce, for there it met a plate
Of silver, and its point was turned like lead.
With lion strength, Atrides seized and drew
The weapon toward him, plucked it from the hand
That held it, and let fall his falchion’s edge
Upon the Trojan’s neck and laid him dead.
Unhappy youth! He slept an iron sleep⁠—
Slain fighting for his country, far away
From the young virgin bride yet scarcely his,
For whom large marriage-gifts he made⁠—of beeves
A hundred⁠—and had promised from the flocks
That thronged his fields a thousand sheep and goats.
Atrides Agamemnon spoiled the slain,
And bore his glorious armor off among
The Argive host. Antenor’s elder son,
Illustrious Coön, saw, and bitter grief
For his slain brother dimmed his eyes. He stood
Aside, with his spear couched, while unaware
The noble Agamemnon passed, and pierced
The middle of the monarch’s arm below
The elbow; through the flesh the shining point
Passed to the other side. The king of men,
Atrides, shuddered, yet refrained not then
From combat; but with his wind-seasoned spear
He rushed on Coön, who, to drag away
His father’s son Iphidamas, had seized
The body by the feet, and called his friends,
The bravest, to his aid. Atrides thrust
His brazen spear below the bossy shield,
And slew him as he drew the corpse, and o’er
The dead Iphidamas struck off his head.
Thus were Antenor’s sons⁠—their doom fulfilled⁠—
Sent by Atrides to the realm of death.
And then he ranged among the enemy’s ranks
With wielded lance and sword and ponderous stones,
While yet the warm blood issued from his wound.
But when the wound grew dry, and ceased to flow
With blood, keen anguish seized his vigorous frame
As when a woman feels the piercing pangs
Of travail brought her by the Ilythian maids,
Daughters of Juno, who preside at births,
And walk the ministers of bitter pains⁠—
Such anguish seized on Agamemnon’s frame;
And, leaping to his chariot-seat, he bade
The guider of the steeds make haste to reach
The roomy ships, for he was overcome
With pain; but first he shouted to the Greeks:⁠—

“O friends, the chiefs and princes of the Greeks!
Yours is the duty to drive back the war
From our good ships, since all-disposing Jove
Forbids me, for this day, to lead the fight.”

He spake. The charioteer applied the lash,
And not unwillingly the long-maned steeds
Flew toward the hollow ships; upon their breasts
Gathered the foam; beneath their rapid feet
Arose the dust, as from the battle’s din
They bore the wounded warrior. Hector saw
The flight of Agamemnon, and aloud
Called to the Trojans and the Lycians thus:⁠—

“Trojan and Lycian warriors, and ye sons
Of Dardanus, who combat hand to hand,
Be men; be mindful of your fame in war.
Our mightiest foe withdraws; Saturnian Jove
Crowns me with glory. Urge your firm-paced steeds
On the brave Greeks, and win yet nobler fame.”

He spake. His words gave courage and new strength
To every heart. As when a hunter cheers
His white-toothed dogs against some lioness
Or wild boar from the forest, Hector thus,
The son of Priam, terrible as Mars
The slayer of men, cheered on the gallant sons
Of Troy against the Greeks. Himself, inspired
With fiery valor, rushed among the foes
In the mid-battle foremost, like a storm
That swoops from heaven, and on the dark-blue sea
Falls suddenly, and stirs it to its depths.

Who then was slain the first, and who the last,
By Hector, Priam’s son, whom Jove designed
To honor? First, Asaeus; Uolops, son
Of Clytis; and Autonoüs; and then
Opites and Opheltius; next to whom
Aesymnus, Agelaus, Orus fell,
And resolute Hipponous the last.
All these, the princes of the Greeks, he slew,
Then smote the common crowd. As when a gale
Blows from the west upon the mass of cloud
Piled up before the south-wind’s powerful breath,
And tears it with a mighty hurricane,
While the swol’n billows tumble, and their foam
Is flung on high before the furious blast,
So by the sword of Hector fell the heads
Of the Greek soldiery; and there had been
Ruin and ravage not to be repaired,
And the defeated Greeks had flung themselves
Into their ships, had not Ulysses then
Exhorted thus Tydides Diomed:⁠—

“Tydides! What has quenched within our hearts
Their fiery valor? Come, my friend, and take
Thy stand beside me: foul disgrace were ours
Should crested Hector make our fleet his prize.”

And thus the valiant Diomed replied:⁠—
“Most willingly I stand, and bear my part
In battle; but with little hope, for Jove,
The God of storms, awards the day to Troy.”

He spake, and pierced Thymbraeus with his spear
Through the left breast, and dashed him from his car.
Meanwhile Ulysses struck Molion down,
The prince’s stately comrade. These they left
Never to fight again, and made their way
Through the thick squadrons, carrying, as they went,
Confusion with them. As two fearless boars
Rush on the hounds, so, mingling in the war,
They bore the foe before them, and the Greeks
Welcomed a respite from the havoc made
By noble Hector. Next they seized a car
Which bore two chiefs, the bravest of their host⁠—
Sons of Percosian Merops, who was skilled
Beyond all men in portents. He enjoined
His sons to keep aloof from murderous war.
Yet did they not obey him, for the fate
That doomed the twain to death impelled them on;
And Diomed, the mighty with the spear,
Spoiled them of life, and bore their armor off,
A glittering prize. Meantime Ulysses slew
Hippodamus, and next Hypirochus.
The son of Saturn looked from Ida’s height,
And bade the battle rage on either side
With equal fury: both the encountering hosts
Slew and were slain. Tydides with his spear
Smote on the hip the chief Agastrophus,
The son of Paeon, thoughtless wretch, whose steeds
Were not at hand for flight; his charioteer
Held them at distance, while their master rushed
Among the foremost warriors till he fell.
Hector perceived his fall, as through the files
He looked, and straightway hastened to the spot
With shouts; and after him came rapidly
The phalanxes of Trojans. Diomed,
The great in battle, shuddered as he saw,
And thus addressed Ulysses, who was near:⁠—

“Lo! The destroyer, furious Hector, comes!
Let us stand firm, and face and drive him back.”

He said, and cast his brandished lance, nor missed
The mark: it smote the helm on Hector’s head.
The brass glanced from the brass; it could not pierce
To the fair skin; the high and threefold helm⁠—
A gift from Phoebus⁠—turned the point aside.
The chief fell back, and, mingling with the throng,
Dropped on one knee, and yet upheld himself
With one broad palm upon the ground, while night
Darkened his eyes. The son of Tydeus sprang
To seize his spear, which now stood fixed in earth
Among the foremost warriors. In that time
Did Hector breathe again, and, having leaped
Into his chariot, he avoided death,
By mingling with the crowd; while, spear in hand,
Brave Diomed pursued him, shouting thus:⁠—

“This time, thou cur, hast thou escaped thy doom,
Though it was nigh thee. Phoebus rescues thee⁠—
The god to whom thou dost address thy prayers⁠—
Whene’er thou venturest mid the clash of spears.
Yet will I surely slay thee when we meet,
If any god be on my side; and now
I go to strike where’er I find a foe.”

He spake, and struck the son of Paeon down,
Skilful to wield the spear. But now the spouse
Of fair-haired Helen⁠—Alexander⁠—stood
Leaning against a pillar by the tomb
Of the Dardanian Ilus, who had been
An elder of the people; and he bent
His bow against the monarch Diomed,
Who at that moment knelt to strip the slain
Of the rich breastplate, and the shield that hung
Upon his shoulders, and the massive casque.
The Trojan drew the bow’s elastic horn,
And sent an arrow that not vainly flew,
But, striking the right foot, pierced through, and reached
The ground beneath. Then Paris, with a laugh,
Sprang from his ambush, shouting boastfully:⁠—

“Lo, thou art smitten! Not in vain my shaft
Has flown; and would that it had pierced thy groin
And slain thee! Then the Trojans had obtained
Reprieve from slaughter⁠—they who dread thee now
As bleating goats a lion.” Undismayed,
The valiant Diomed made answer thus:⁠—

“Archer and railer! Proud of thy smart bow,
And ogler of the women! Wouldst thou make
Trial of valor hand to hand with me,
Thy bow should not avail thee, nor thy sheaf
Of many arrows. Thou dost idly boast
That thou hast hit my foot. I heed it not.
It is as if a woman or a child
Had struck me. Lightly falls the weapon-stroke
Of an unwarlike weakling. ’Tis not so
With me, for when one feels my weapon’s touch,
It passes through him, and he dies; his wife
Tears with her hands her cheeks; his little ones
Are orphans; earth is crimsoned with his blood;
And flocking round his carcass in decay,
More numerous than women, are the birds.”

He spake. Ulysses, mighty with the spear,
Came near and stood before him while he sat
Concealed, and drew the arrow from his foot.
Keen was the agony that suddenly
Shot through his frame: he leaped into his car,
And bade his charioteer make haste to reach
The roomy ships: the pain had reached his heart.
Ulysses, the great spearman, now was left
Alone, no Greek remaining by his side;
For fear had seized them all. With inward grief
The hero thus addressed his mighty soul:⁠—

“What will become of me? A great disgrace
Will overtake me if I flee in fear
Before this multitude; and worse will be
My fate if I am taken here alone,
While Jove has driven away the other Greeks
In terror. Why these questions, since I know
That cowards skulk from combat, while the brave,
Wounded or wounding others, keeps his ground?”

While thus he reasoned with himself, the ranks
Of Trojans armed with bucklers came and closed
Around their dreaded enemy. As when
A troop of vigorous dogs and youths assail
From every side a wild boar issuing forth
From a deep thicket, whetting the white tusks
Within his crooked jaws; they press around,
And hear his gnashings, yet beware to come
Too nigh the terrible animal⁠—so rushed
The Trojans round Ulysses, the beloved
Of Jupiter. Then first the hero smote
Deïopites on the shoulder-blade,
And next struck Thoön down, and Ennomus,
And in the navel pierced Chersidamas
With his sharp spear, below the bossy shield,
When leaping from his chariot. In the dust
He fell, and grasped the earth with dying hands.
Ulysses left them there, and with his spear
He wounded Charops, son of Hippasus,
And brother of brave Socus. Socus saw,
And hastened to his aid, and, standing near,
The godlike chief bespake Ulysses thus:⁠—

“Renowned Ulysses! of whose arts and toils
There is no end, thou either shalt today
Boast to have slain two sons of Hippasus,
Brave as they are, and stripped them of their arms,
Or, smitten by my javelin, lose thy life.”

He spake, and smote the Grecian’s orbèd shield.
The swift spear, passing through the shining disk,
And fixed in the rich breastplate, tore the skin
From all his side; yet Pallas suffered not
The blade to reach the inner parts. At once
The chief perceived that Socus had not given
A mortal wound, and, falling back a step,
Thus spake: “Unhappy youth, thy doom will soon
O’ertake thee. Though thou forcest me to pause
From combat with the Trojans, I declare,
This day thou sufferest the black doom of death.
Thou, smitten by my spear, shalt bring to me
Increase of glory, and shalt yield thy soul
To the grim horseman Pluto.” Thus he spake,
While Socus turned to flee; and as he turned,
Ulysses with the spear transfixed his back,
And drave the weapon through his breast: he fell,
With armor clashing, to the earth, while thus
The great Ulysses gloried over him:⁠—

“O Socus! son of warlike Hippasus
The horseman! Death has overtaken thee,
And thou couldst not escape. Unhappy one!
Now thou art dead thy father will not come
To close thy eyes, nor she, the honored one
Who gave thee birth; but birds of prey shall flap
Their heavy wings above thee, and shall tear
Thy flesh, while I in dying shall receive
Due funeral honors from the noble Greeks.”

He spake, and from his wounded side drew forth,
And from his bossy shield, the ponderous spear
Which warlike Socus threw. A gush of blood
Followed, and torturing pain. Now, when they saw
Ulysses bleed, the gallant sons of Troy
Called to each other, rushing in a crowd
To where he stood. Retreating as they came,
He shouted to his comrades. Thrice he raised
His voice as loud as human lungs could shout;
Thrice warlike Menelaus heard the cry,
And spake at once to Ajax at his side:⁠—

“Most noble Ajax, son of Telamon,
Prince of thy people! To my ear is brought
The cry of that unconquerable man,
Ulysses, seemingly as if the foe
Had hemmed him round alone, and pressed him sore
In combat. Break we through the crowd, and bring
Succor, lest harm befall him, though so brave⁠—
Fighting among the Trojans thus alone⁠—
And lest the Greeks should lose their mighty chief.”

He spake, and led the way; his godlike friend
Followed. They found Ulysses, dear to Jove⁠—
The Trojans thronging round him like a troop
Of ravening jackals round an antlered stag
Which one who hunts upon the mountain-side
Hath stricken with an arrow from his bow:
By flight the stag escapes, while yet the blood
Is warm and easily the limbs are moved;
But when at last the shaft hath quelled his strength,
The hungry jackals in the forest shade
Among the hills attack him, till by chance
The dreaded lion comes; alarmed, they flee,
And he devours the prey. So in that hour,
Many and brave, the sons of Troy pursued
Ulysses, skilled in war and wiles; while he
Wielded the spear and warded off the day
Of death. Then Ajax, coming near him, stood,
With his tall buckler, like a tower of strength
Beside him, and the Trojans fled in fear
On all sides. Warlike Menelaus took
Ulysses by the hand, and led him forth
From the thronged spot, while his attendant brought
The chariot near him. Ajax sprang upon
The Trojans, slaying Doryclus, a son
Of Priam basely born. Then Pandorus
He wounded; next he struck Lysander down,
Pyrasus and Pylartes. As a stream,
Swol’n to a torrent by the showers of Jove
Sweeps down, from hill to plain, dry oaks and pines,
And pours into the sea a muddy flood,
So mighty Ajax routed and pursued
The Trojans o’er the plain, and cut his way
Through steeds and warriors. Hector knew not this.
He fought where, on the battle’s left, beside
The Xanthus, fastest fell the slain, and round
Great Nestor and the brave Idomeneus
Arose a mighty tumult. In that throng
Did Hector mingle with his spear and steeds,
Performing feats of valor, and laid waste
The ranks of youthful warriors. Yet the Greeks
Would not have yielded ground, if Paris, spouse
Of fair-haired Helen, had not forced the chief
Machaon, fighting gallantly, to pause;
For with an arrow triple-barbed he pierced
The chiefs right shoulder, and the valiant Greeks
Feared lest the battle turn and he be slain.
And thus Idomeneus to Nestor said:⁠—

“Neleian Nestor, glory of the Greeks,
Haste, mount thy chariot; let Machaon take
A place beside thee; urge thy firm-paced steeds
Rapidly toward the fleet; a leech like him,
Who cuts the arrow from the wound and soothes
The pain with balms, is worth a host to us.”

He spake; and the Gerenian knight obeyed,
And climbed the car in haste. Machaon, son
Of Aesculapius the peerless leech,
Mounted beside him; Nestor lashed the steeds,
And toward the roomy ships, which well they knew,
And longed to reach, they flew with eager speed.

Meantime Cebriones, who had his seat
By Hector in the chariot, saw the ranks
Of Troy disordered, and addressed the chief:⁠—

“While we, O Hector, here are mid the Greeks
Just in the skirts of the tumultuous fray,
The other Trojans, men and steeds, are thrown
Into confusion where the warriors throng,
For Telamonian Ajax puts their ranks
To rout; I know him well by that broad shield
Borne on his shoulders. Thither let us drive
Our steeds and chariot, where in desperate strife
Meet horse and foot and hew each other down,
And a perpetual clamor fills the air.”

He spake; and with the whistling lash he struck
The long-maned steeds, and, as they felt the stroke,
Forward they flew with the swift car among
The Greeks and Trojans, trampling in their way
Corpses and shields. The axle underneath
Was steeped in blood; the rim of the chariot-seat
Was foul with the red drops which from their hoofs
The coursers sprinkled and the wheels threw up.
Then Hector strove, by rushing on the crowd,
To pierce it and break through it. To the Greeks
His coming brought destruction and dismay;
And well his spear was wielded. Through the ranks
Of other warriors with the spear he ranged,
With sword and ponderous stones; yet warily
He shunned the fight with Ajax Telamon.

Then Father Jove Almighty touched with fear
The heart of Ajax. All amazed he stood,
And cast his sevenfold buckler of bull’s-hide
Upon his back, and, terrified, withdrew.
Now casting glances like a beast of prey
From side to side, he turned to right and left,
And, slowly yielding, moved knee after knee.
As when the rustics with their hounds drive off
A hungry lion from their stalls of kine,
Whom, watching all the night, they suffer not
To make their herd a prey; but he, intent
On ravin, rushes forward, yet in vain;
For many a javelin flies from daring hands
Against him, many a blazing torch is swung,
At which, though fierce, he trembles, and at morn
Stalks off in sullen mood;⁠—so Ajax, sad
At heart, and fearing for the Grecian fleet,
Unwillingly fell back before the foe.
And as, when entering in a field, an ass
Slow-paced, whose flanks have broken many a shaft
To splinters, crops the harvest as it grows,
And boys attack him with their rods⁠—though small
Their strength⁠—but scarce, till he has browsed his fill,
Can drive him forth⁠—so did the gallant sons
Of Troy, and their allies from distant lands,
Continually pursue the mighty son
Of Telamon, and hurl their spears against
The centre of his shield. And now he wheeled,
As conscious of great valor, and repulsed
The crowding phalanxes; and now again
He turned to flee. And thus he kept the foe
From reaching the swift galleys, while he stood
Between the Greeks and Trojans, terrible
In wrath. The javelins hurled by daring hands
Against him⁠—some hung fixed in his broad shield;
And many, ere they came to his fair skin,
Fell midway⁠—eager though they were to pierce
The warrior’s side⁠—and plunged into the earth.

Eurypylus, Evaemon’s noble son,
Saw Ajax sorely pressed with many darts,
And came and stood beside him, taking aim
With his bright spear, and in the liver smote,
Beneath the midriff, Apisaon, son
Of Phausias, and a prince among his tribe.
His knees gave way, and down he sank in death.
But godlike Alexander, who beheld
The slayer stripping Apisaon’s corpse
Of armor, at that moment bent his bow,
And pierced Eurypylus in the right thigh.
The reed brake in the wound. He writhed with pain,
And mingled with his fellows in the ranks,
Avoiding death, yet shouting to the Greeks:⁠—

“O friends, the chiefs and leaders of the Greeks,
Rally and keep your ground; ward off the fate
Of death from Ajax, who is sorely pressed
With darts, and, much I fear, may not escape
Safe from this stormy conflict. Stand ye firm
Around the mighty son of Telamon.”

So spake the wounded warrior; while his friends
Rallied around him, with their shields inclined
Against their shoulders, and with lifted spears.
And Ajax came and joined them; then he turned,
And firmly faced the foe. The Greeks renewed
The combat with a rage like that of fire.

Now meantime the Neleian coursers, steeped
In sweat, were bearing Nestor and the prince
Machaon from the battle. On the prow
Of his great ship, Achilles, swift of foot,
Looked forth, and, gazing on the hard-fought fray
And the sad rout, beheld them. Then he called
His friend Patroclus, shouting from the ship.
Patroclus heard, within the tent, and came,
Glorious as Mars;⁠—yet with that day began
His woes. The gallant Menoetiades
Made answer thus: “Why callest thou my name,
Achilles, and what needest thou of me?”

And thus rejoined Achilles, swift of foot:⁠—
“Son of Menoetius, nobly born, and well
Beloved by me, the Greeks, I deem, will soon
Be at my knees, imploring aid; for now
A hard necessity besets their host.
But go, Patroclus, dear to Jove, and ask
Of Nestor who it is that he hath brought
Thus wounded from the field. Seen from behind,
His form was like Machaon⁠—wholly like
That son of Aesculapius; but the face
I saw not, as the rapid steeds flew by.”

He spake. Patroclus hearkened to his friend,
And hastened to the Grecian tents and ships.

Now when they reached the tent of Neleus’ son,
The warriors in the chariot set their feet
Upon the nourishing earth. Eurymedon,
The old man’s charioteer, took from the mares
Their harness; while the chieftains cooled themselves,
And dried their sweaty garments in the breeze,
Facing the border of the sea, and then,
Entering the tent of Nestor, sat them down
On couches. Hecamede, bright of hair,
Prepared for them a mingled draught; the maid,
A daughter of the great Arsinoüs, came
From Tenedos with Nestor, when the town
Was ravaged by Achilles, and the Greeks
Gave her to Nestor, chosen from the rest
For him, as wisest of their counsellors.
First she drew forth a table fairly wrought,
Of polished surface, and with steel-blue feet,
And on it placed a brazen tray which bore
A thirst-provoking onion, honeycomb,
And sacred meal of wheat. Near these she set
A noble beaker which the ancient chief
Had brought from home, embossed with studs of gold.
Four were its handles, and each handle showed
Two golden turtles feeding, while below
Two others formed the base. Another hand
Could scarce have raised that beaker from its place,
But Nestor lifted it with ease. The maid,
Fair as a goddess, mingled Pramnian wine,
And grated o’er it, with a rasp of brass,
A goat’s-milk cheese, and, sprinkling the white flour
Upon it, bade them drink. With this they quenched
Their parching thirst, and then amused the time
With pleasant talk. Patroclus to the door
Meantime, a godlike presence, came, and stood.
The old man, as he saw him, instantly
Rose from his princely seat and seized his hand,
And led him in and bade him sit; but he
Refused the proffered courtesy, and said:⁠—

“Nay, ’tis no time to sit: persuade me not,
Nursling of Jove; for he is to be feared,
And prone to wrath, who sent me to inquire
What wounded man is with thee; but I know⁠—
Now that I see Machaon sitting here,
The shepherd of the people. I must haste
Back to Achilles, bearing my report.
Thou knowest, ancient chief, how quick he is
To take offence and blame the innocent.”

Then Nestor, the Gerenian knight, rejoined:⁠—
“Why does Achilles pity thus the sons
Of Greece when wounded? Little can he know
What sorrow reigns throughout the Grecian host
While, smitten in the close or distant fight,
Our bravest lie disabled in their ships.
The valiant son of Tydeus⁠—Diomed⁠—
Is wounded⁠—wounded Agamemnon lies,
And the great wielder of the javelin,
Ulysses. By an arrow in the thigh
Eurypylus is smitten, and I now
Bring home this warrior with an arrow-wound.
Yet doth Achilles, valiant as he is,
Care nothing for the Greeks. Will he then wait
Till our swift galleys, moored upon the shore,
After a vain defence shall feed the flames
Lit by the enemy’s hand, and we be slain,
And perish, heaps on heaps? My strength is now
Not that which dwelt in these once active limbs.
Would I were strong and vigorous as of yore,
When strife arose between our men and those
Of Elis for our oxen driven away,
And, driving off their beeves in turn, I slew
The Elean chief, the brave Itymoneus,
Son of Hypirochus! For, as he sought
To save his herd, a javelin from my arm
Smote him the first among his band. He fell;
His rustic followers fled on every side;
And mighty was the spoil we took: of beeves
We drave off fifty herds, as many flocks
Of sheep, of swine as many, and of goats
An equal number, and of yellow steeds
Thrice fifty;⁠—these were mares, and by their sides
Ran many a colt. We drave them all within
Neleian Pylos in the night. Well pleased
Was Neleus, that so large a booty fell
To me, who entered on the war so young.
When morning brake, the heralds’ cry was heard
Summoning all the citizens to meet
To whom from fruitful Elis debts were due;
And then the princes of the Pyleans came,
And made division of the spoil. For much
The Epeians owed us: we were yet but few
In Pylos, and had suffered grievously.
The mighty Hercules in former years
Had made us feel his wrath, and of our men
Had slain the bravest: of the twelve who drew
Their birth from Neleus, I alone am left;
The others fell. The Epeians brazen-mailed
Saw this, delighted, and insulted us
And did us wrong. When now the spoil was shared
The old man for himself reserved a herd
Of oxen, and a numerous flock of sheep⁠—
Three hundred, with their shepherds⁠—for to him
Large debts were due in Elis. He had sent
Four horses once, of peerless speed, with cars,
To win a tripod, the appointed prize.
Augeias, king of men, detained them there,
And sent the grieving charioteer away.
My father, angered at the monarch’s words
And acts, took large amends, and gave the rest
To share among the people, that no one
Might leave the ground, defrauded of his right.
All this was justly done, and we performed
Due sacrifices to the gods, throughout
The city;⁠—when the third day came, and brought
The Epeians all at once, in all their strength⁠—
Both men on foot and prancing steeds. With these
Came the Molions twain, well armed, though young
And yet untrained to war. There is a town
Named Thryoëssa, on a lofty hill
Far off beside Alpheius, on the edge
Of sandy Pylos. They beleaguered this,
And sought to overthrow it. As they crossed
The plain, Minerva came, a messenger,
By night from Mount Olympus, bidding us
Put on our armor. Not unwillingly
The Pyleans mustered, but in eager haste
For battle. Yet did Neleus not consent
That I should arm myself⁠—he hid my steeds;
For still he deemed me inexpert in war.
Yet even then, although I fought on foot,
I won great honor even among the knights;
For so had Pallas favored me. A stream
Named Minyeius pours into the sea
Near to Arena, where the Pylean knights
Waited the coming of the holy morn,
While those who fought on foot came thronging
Thence, with our host complete, and all in arms,
We marched, and reached at noon the sacred stream at
Alpheius, where to Jove Omnipotent
We offered chosen victims, and a bull
To the river-god, another to the god
Of ocean, and a heifer yet unbroke
To blue-eyed Pallas. Then we banqueted,
In bands, throughout the army, and lay down
In armor by the river-side to sleep.
Meantime the brave Epeians stood around
The city, resolute to lay it waste.
But first was to be done a mighty work
Of war; for as the glorious sun appeared
Above the earth we dashed against the foe,
Praying to Jove and Pallas. When the fight
Between the Eleans and the Pylean host
Was just begun, I slew a youthful chief⁠—
Mulius⁠—and bore away his firm-paced steeds.
The fair-haired Agamedé, eldest-born
Of King Augeias’ daughters, was his spouse;
And well to her each healing herb was known
That springs from the great earth. As he drew near,
I smote him with my brazen lance: he fell
To earth: I sprang into his car, and stood
Among the foremost warriors; while, around,
The brave Epeians, as they saw him fall⁠—
The leader of their knights, their mightiest
In battle⁠—turned and, panic-stricken, fled,
Each his own way. I followed on their flight
Like a black tempest; fifty cars I took,
And from each car I dashed two warriors down,
Pierced by my spear. And now I should have slain
The young Molions also, Actor’s sons,
Had not their father, he who shakes the earth,
Enshrouded them in mist, and hidden them
From all pursuit. Then with victorious might
Did Jove endue our arms, while we pursued
The foe across a region strewn with shields⁠—
Slaying, and gathering spoil⁠—until our steeds
Came to Buprasium, rich in fields of wheat,
And to the Olenian rock, and to the hill
Alesium in Coloné. Pallas there
Stayed our pursuit, and bade our host return.
There slew I the last man, and left him there.
And then the Achaians, guiding their swift steeds
Homeward to Pylos from Euprasium, gave
Great thanks to Jupiter among the gods,
And Nestor among men. Such was I then
Among the heroes; but Achilles keeps
His valor for himself alone⁠—and yet
Bitterly must he grieve when he beholds
Our people perish. O my friend! How well
Menoetius charged thee when he sent thee forth,
From Phthia, to Atrides! We were both⁠—
The nobly born Ulysses and myself⁠—
Within the palace, and we clearly heard
What he commanded thee. For we had come
To Peleus’ stately dwelling, on our way
Gathering a host in fertile Greece, and saw
The great Menoetius there, and there we found
Achilles with thee. There the aged knight
Peleus was burning, in the palace-court,
A steer’s fat thighs to Jove the Thunderer,
And lifted up a golden cup and poured
Dark wine upon the blazing sacrifice.
And both of you were busy with the flesh
When we were at the threshold. As he saw
Our coming, in surprise Achilles sprang
Toward us, and took our hands and led us in,
Bade us be seated, and before us placed
The generous banquet due to stranger-guests.
Then, having feasted, I began discourse,
Exhorting you to join us. Both of you
At once consented, and your fathers gave
Their admonitions. Aged Peleus charged
His son Achilles to excel the rest
In valor, while Menoetius, in his turn,
The son of Actor, gave thee this command:⁠—

“ ‘My son, Achilles is the nobler born,
But thou art elder. He surpasses thee
By far in warlike might, but thou must prompt
His mind with prudent counsels; thou must warn
And guide him; he will hearken to thy words
Meant for his good.’ The old man charged thee thus.
Thou hast forgotten it. Yet speak thou now
To Peleus’ warlike son; and haply he
May heed thy counsels. Thou perchance mayst bend
His will⁠—who knows?⁠—by thy persuasive words
For wholesome are the warnings of a friend.
Yet, if he shrink from some predicted doom,
Or if his goddess-mother have revealed
Aught of Jove’s counsels to him, then, at least
Let him send thee to war, and let his troop
Of Myrmidons go with thee, so that thou
Mayst carry succor to the Greeks. Yet more⁠—
Let him permit thee in the field to wear
His glorious armor, that the Trojan host,
Beholding thee so like to him, may shun
The combat, and the warlike sons of Greece,
Hard-pressed, may breathe again, and find at length
A respite from the conflict. Ye, who still
Are fresh and vigorous, shall assault and drive
Townward the weary foe from camp and fleet.”

He spake. The spirit of the youth took fire,
And instantly he hastened toward the ships
Of Peleus’ son. But when he came where lay
The galleys of Ulysses the divine,
Where was the assembly-place and judgment-seat,
And where the altars of the immortals stood,
Evaemon’s noble son, Eurypylus,
Met him as from the battle-field he came
Halting, and with an arrow in his thigh.
The sweat ran down his shoulders and his brow,
And the black blood was oozing from his wound,
Yet was his spirit untamed. The gallant youth,
Son of Menoetius, saw with grief, and said:⁠—

“Unhappy chiefs and princes of the Greeks!
Are ye then doomed to feast with your fair limbs
The famished dogs of Ilium, far away
From friends and country? Tell me, child of Jove,
Gallant Eurypylus, will yet the Greeks
Withstand the mighty Hector, or give way
And perish, overtaken by his spear?”

And thus the wise Eurypylus replied:⁠—
“Nursling of Jove, Patroclus! For the Greeks
There is no help, and all at their black ships
Must perish; for within them even now
All those who were our bravest warriors lie,
Wounded in close encounter, or from far,
By Trojan hands, whose strength with every hour
Becomes more terrible. Give now thine aid
And take me to my ship, and cut away
The arrow from my thigh, and from the part
Cleanse with warm water the dark blood, and shed
Soothing and healing balms upon the wound,
As taught thee by Achilles, who had learned
The art from Chiron, righteous in his day
Beyond all other Centaurs. Now the leech
Machaon lies, I think, among the tents,
Wounded, and needs the aid of others’ skill,
And Podalirius out upon the plain
Helps stem the onset of the Trojan host.”

Then spake the valiant Menoetiades:⁠—
“O brave Eurypylus! What yet will be
The end of this, and what are we to do?
Even now I bear a message on my way
From reverend Nestor, guardian of the Greeks,
To the great warrior, Peleus’ son; and yet
I must not leave thee in thine hour of need.”

He spake; and, lifting in his arms the prince,
He bore him to his tent. A servant spread,
Upon his entering, hides to form a couch;
And there Patroclus laid him down and cut
The rankling arrow from his thigh, and shed
Warm water on the wound to cleanse away
The purple blood, and last applied a root
Of bitter flavor to assuage the smart,
Bruising it first within his palms: the pangs
Ceased; the wound dried; the blood no longer flowed.