Book XIII

The Continuation of the Fourth Battle

Descent of Neptune in aid of the Greeks⁠—His exhortations addressed to the Chiefs⁠—The Trojans harangued by Hector, and the battle renewed with great fury⁠—Hector’s advance checked by the Ajaxes, who rally the Greeks⁠—Exploits of Meriones and Idomeneus⁠—Idomeneus forced to retire by Deïphobus and Aeneas⁠—The Trojans, hard pressed on their left, are rallied by Hector⁠—Reproof of Paris by Hector, and mutual defiance of Hector and Ajax.

When Jove had brought the Trojans and their chief,
Hector, beside the ships, he left them there
To toil and struggle and endure, while he
Turned his resplendent eyes upon the land
Of Thracian horsemen, and the Mysians, skilled
To combat hand to hand, and the famed tribe
Of long-lived Hippomulgi, reared on milk,
And the most just of men. On Troy no more
He turned those glorious eyes, for now he deemed
That none of all the gods would seek to aid
Either the Greeks or Trojans in the strife.

The monarch Neptune kept no idle watch;
For he in Thracian Samos, dark with woods,
Aloft upon the highest summit sat
O’erlooking thence the tumult of the war;
For thence could he behold the Idaean mount,
And Priam’s city, and the Grecian fleet.
There, coming from the ocean-deeps, he sat,
And pitied the Greek warriors put to rout
Before the Trojans, and was wroth with Jove.
Soon he descended from those rugged steeps,
And trod the earth with rapid strides; the hills
And forests quaked beneath the immortal feet
Of Neptune as he walked. Three strides he took,
And at the fourth reached Aegae, where he stopped,
And where his sumptuous palace-halls were built,
Deep down in ocean, golden, glittering, proof
Against decay of time. These when he reached,
He yoked his swift and brazen-footed steeds,
With manes of flowing gold, to draw his car,
And put on golden mail, and took his scourge,
Wrought of fine gold, and climbed the chariot-seat,
And rode upon the waves. The whales came forth
From their deep haunts, and frolicked round his way:
They knew their king. The waves rejoicing smoothed
A path, and rapidly the coursers flew;
Nor was the brazen axle wet below.
And thus they brought him to the Grecian fleet.

Deep in the sea there is a spacious cave,
Between the rugged Imbrus and the isle
Of Tenedos. There Neptune, he who shakes
The shores, held back his steeds, took off their yoke,
Gave them ambrosial food, and, binding next
Their feet with golden fetters which no power
Might break or loosen, so that they might wait
Their lord’s return, he sought the Grecian host.

Still did the Trojans, rushing on in crowds,
Like flames or like a tempest, follow close
Hector, the son of Priam; still their rage
Abated not; with stormy cries they came;
They hoped to seize the fleet and slay the Greeks
Beside it. But the power who swathes the earth
And shakes it, Neptune, coming from the deep,
Revived the valor of the Greeks. He took
The shape of Calchas and his powerful voice,
And thus to either Ajax, who yet stemmed
The battle with a resolute heart, he spake:⁠—

“O chieftains! Yours it is to save the host,
Recalling your old valor, with no thought
Of fatal flight. Elsewhere I feel no dread
Of what the daring sons of Troy may do
Who climb the wall in throngs; the well-greaved Greeks
Will meet them bravely. But where Hector leads,
Fierce as a flame, his squadrons, he who boasts
To be a son of sovereign Jove, I fear
Lest we should sorely suffer. May the gods
Strengthen your hearts to stand against the foe,
And flinch not, and exhort the rest to stand,
And drive him back, audacious as he is,
From the swift ships, though Jove should urge him on.”

Thus earth-surrounding Neptune said, and touched
Each hero with his sceptre, filled their hearts
With valor, gave new lightness to their limbs
And feet and hands, and then, as when a hawk
Shoots swiftly from some lofty precipice
And chases o’er the plain another bird,
So swiftly Neptune, shaker of the shores,
Darted from them away. Oileus’ son
Perceived the immortal presence first, and thus
At once to Telamonian Ajax spake:⁠—

“Some god, O Ajax, from the Olympian hill,
Wearing the augur’s form, hath bid us fight
Beside the ships; nor can it be the seer
Calchas, for well I marked his feet and legs
As he departed; easily by these
The gods are known. I feel a spirit roused
In my own bosom eager to engage
In the fierce strife; my very feet below,
And hands above, take part in the desire.”

And thus the son of Telamon replied:⁠—
“So also these strong hands that grasp the spear
Burn eagerly to wield it, and my heart
Is full of courage. I am hurried on
By both my feet, and vehemently long
To try alone the combat with this chief
Of boundless valor, Hector, Priam’s son.”

Thus they conferred, rejoicing as they felt
That ardor for the battle which the god
Had breathed into their hearts. Meantime he roused
The Achaians at the rear, who in their ships too
Sought respite, and whose limbs were faint with toil,
And their hearts sad to see the Trojan host
With tumult pouring o’er the lofty wall.
As they beheld, the tears came gushing forth
From underneath their lids; they little hoped
For rescue from destruction; but when came
The power that shakes the shores, he woke anew
The spirit of their valiant phalanxes.
Teucer he first addressed, and Leitus,
The hero Peneleus and Thoas next,
Deipyrus, Meriones expert
In battle, and Antilochus his peer,
And thus exhorted them with wingèd words:⁠—

“Shame on you, Argive youths! I put my trust
In your tried valor to defend our fleet;
But if ye fear to face the perilous fight,
The day has risen which shall behold us fall
Vanquished before the Trojans. O ye gods!
These eyes have seen a marvel, a strange sight
And terrible, which I had never thought
Could be⁠—the Trojans close upon our ships,
They who, erewhile, were like the timid deer
That wander in the wood an easy prey
To jackals, pards, and wolves⁠—weak things, unapt
For combat, fleeing, but without an aim.
Such were the Trojans, who till now ne’er dared
Withstand the might and prowess of the Greeks
Even for an hour. But now, afar from Troy
They give us battle at the hollow ships,
All through our general’s fault, and through the sloth
Of the Greek warriors, who, displeased with him,
Fight not for their swift galleys, but are slain
Beside them. Yet although our sovereign chief,
Atrides Agamemnon, may have done
Foul wrong, dishonoring the swift-footed son
Of Peleus, still ye cannot without blame
Decline the combat. Let us then repair
The mischief done; the hearts of valiant men
Are soon appeased. And not without the loss
Of honor can your fiery courage sleep,
Since ye are known the bravest of the host.
I would not chide the weak, unwarlike man
For shrinking from the combat; but for you⁠—
I look on you with anger in my heart.
Weaklings! Ye soon will bring upon yourselves
Some sorer evil if ye loiter thus.
Let each of you bethink him of the shame
And infamy impending. Terrible
The struggle is before us. Hector storms
The ships, loud-shouting Hector; he has burst
The gate and broken the protecting bar.”

So Neptune spake, encouraging the Greeks.
While firmly stood the serried phalanxes
Round either Ajax, nor could Mars himself,
Nor Pallas, musterer of armèd hosts,
Reprove their order. There the flower of Greece
Waited the Trojans and their noble chief,
Spear beside spear, and shield by shield, so close
That buckler pressed on buckler, helm on helm,
And man on man. The plumes of horse-hair touched
Each other as they nodded on the crests
Of the bright helms, so close the warriors stood.
The lances quivered in the fearless hands
Of warriors eager to advance and strike
The enemy. But the men of Troy began
The assault; the fiery Hector was the first
To rush against the Greeks. As when a stone
Rolls from a cliff before a wintry flood
That sweeps it down the steep, when mighty rains
Have worn away the props that held it fast;
It rolls and bounds on high; the woods around
Crash, as it tears its unresisted way
Along the slope until it reach the plain,
And there, however urged, moves on no more;⁠—
So Hector, menacing to cut his way
Through tents and galleys to the very sea,
Slaying as he went forward, when he now
Met the firm phalanxes and pressed them close,
Stopped suddenly; the sons of Greece withstood
His onset and repulsed it, striking him
With swords and two-edged spears, and made the chief
Give way before the shock. He lifted up
His voice and shouted to the Trojans thus:⁠—

“Trojans and Lycians and Dardanians skilled
In fighting hand to hand, stand firm. Not long
Will the Greeks bide my onset, though drawn up
Square as a tower in close array. My spear,
I trust, will scatter them, if true it be
That Juno’s husband, Sovereign of the gods,
And Lord of thunders, prompts my arm today.”

He spake, and kindled in the breasts of all
Fresh courage. In the band Deïphobus
Marched proudly, Priam’s son, with his round shield
Before him, walking with a quick, light step
Behind its shelter. Then Meriones
Aimed at the chief his glittering spear; the point
Missed not; it struck the orb of bullock’s hide,
Yet did not pierce it, for the weapon broke
Just at the neck. Deïphobus held forth
His shield far from him, dreading to receive
A spear-thrust from the brave Meriones.
Vexed thus to lose the victory, and the spear
Snapped by the blow, Meriones fell back
Into the column of his friends, and passed
Hastily toward the camp and ships, to bring
A powerful spear that stood within his tent,
While others fought, and fearful was the din.

Then Teucer first, the son of Telamon,
Smote gallant Imbrius, son of Mentor, lord
Of many steeds. He, ere the Greeks had come
To Troy, dwelt at Pedaeum and espoused
Medesicasta, Priam’s spurious child.
But when the well-oared galleys of the Greeks
Mustered at Troy, he also came, and there
Was eminent among her chiefs, and dwelt
With Priam, and was honored as his son.
The son of Telamon beneath the ear
Pierced him with his long javelin, and drew forth
The weapon. Headlong to the earth he fell.
As on a mountain height, descried from far,
Hewn by a brazen axe, an ash is felled
And lays its tender sprays upon the ground,
Thus Imbrius fell, and round him in his fall
Clashed his bright armor. Teucer sprang in haste
To spoil the dead, but Hector hurled at him
His shining spear; the wary Teucer stepped
Aside, and just escaped the brazen blade.
It struck Amphiniachus, Cteatus’ son,
And Actor’s grandson; as he came to join
The battle, he was smitten in the breast,
And fell, his armor clashing round his limbs.
Then Hector flew in haste to tear away
From the large-souled Amphimachus the helm
That cased his temples. Ajax saw, and hurled
His glittering spear at Hector as he came:
It made no wound; for Hector stood equipped
All o’er in formidable brass. The spear
Struck on the bossy shield with such a shock
As forced him to recoil, and leave unspoiled
The bodies, which the Achaians dragged away.
For Stichius and Menestheus, chief among
The Athenians, bore the dead Amphimachus
To the Greek camp, while the two men of might,
The chieftains Ajax, lifted Imbrius up;
And as two lions, bearing off among
The close-grown shrubs a goat, which they have snatched
From sharp-toothed dogs, uplift it in their jaws
Above the ground, so the two warriors raised
The corpse of Imbrius, and stripped off the mail,
While, angered that Amphilochus was slain,
Oileus’ son struck from the tender neck
The head, and sent it far among the crowd,
Whirled like a ball, to fall at Hector’s feet.

Meantime was Neptune moved with grief to see
His grandson perish in that desperate fray,
And passed among the Achaian tents and ships
Encouraging the men, and planning woes
For Ilium. There he met Idomeneus,
Expert to wield the spear, as he returned
From caring for a comrade who had left
The battle, wounded in the knee, and whom
His friends had carried in. Idomeneus
Had called the surgeons to his aid, and now
Was hastening to the field, intent to bear
His part in battle. Him the monarch god
Of ocean thus addressed, but first he took
The voice of Thoas, King Andraemon’s son,
Whose father ruled the Aetolians through the bounds
Of Pleuron, and in lofty Calydon,
And like a god was honored in the land.

“O counsellor of Crete, Idomeneus!
Where are the threats which late the sons of Greece
Uttered against the Trojans?” Promptly came
The Cretan leader’s answer: “No man here,
O Thoas, seems blameworthy, for we all
Are skilled in war, nor does unmanly fear
Hold any back; nor from the difficult strife
Does sloth detain one warrior. So it is
Doubtless that it seems good to Saturn’s son,
The All-disposer, that the Greeks, afar
From Argos, should ingloriously fall
And perish. Thoas, thou wert ever brave,
And didst exhort the laggards. Cease not now
To combat, cease not to exhort the rest.”

And Neptune, he who shakes the earth, rejoined:⁠—
“Idomeneus, whoever keeps aloof
From battle, willingly, today, may he
Never return from Troy, but be the prey
Of dogs. Take thou thy arms and come with me,
For we must quit ourselves like men, and strive
To aid our cause, although we be but two.
Great is the strength of feeble arms combined,
And we can combat even with the brave.”

So speaking, Neptune turned to share the toils
Of war. Idomeneus, who now had reached
His princely tent, put on his glorious mail,
And seized two spears, and flew upon his way,
Like lightning grasped by Saturn’s son and flung
Quivering above Olympus’ gleaming peak,
A sign to mortals, dazzled by the blaze,
So glittered, as he ran, his brazen mail.
His fellow-warrior, good Meriones,
Met him beside the tent, for he had come
To fetch a brazen javelin thence, and thus
The stout Idomeneus addressed his friend:⁠—

“O son of Molus, swift Meriones,
Dearest of all my comrades! Why hast thou
Thus left the battle-field? Hast thou a wound⁠—
A weapon’s point that galls thee? Dost thou bring
A message to me? Think not that I sit
Within my tent an idler: I must fight.”

Discreetly did Meriones reply:⁠—
“Idomeneus, whose sovereign counsels rule
The well-armed Cretans, I am come to seek
A spear if one be left within thy tents.
I broke the one I bore, in hurling it
Against the shield of fierce Deïphobus.”

The Cretan chief, Idomeneus, rejoined:⁠—
“If spears thou seek, there stand within my tent
Twenty and one against the shining walls.
I took them from slain Trojans. ’Tis my wont
Never to fight at distance from the foe,
And therefore have I spears, and bossy shields,
And helms, and body-mail of polished brass.”

Then spake in turn discreet Meriones:⁠—
“Within my tent are also many spoils
Won from the Trojans, and in my black ship;
But they are far away. I do not think
That I forget what valor is. I fight
Among the foremost in the glorious strife
Where’er the battle calls me. Other men
Among the well-armed Greeks may not have seen
What I perform, but thou must know me well.”

Idomeneus, the Cretan leader, spake:⁠—
“I know thy courage well. What need hast thou
To speak as thou hast done? If all of us,
The bravest of the Greeks, were set apart
To form an ambush;⁠—for an ambush tries
And shows men’s valor; there the craven, there
The brave, is known; the coward’s color comes
And goes; his spirit is not calm within
His bosom, so that he can rest awhile
And tremble not; he shifts his place; he sits
On both his feet; his heart beats audibly
Within his breast; his teeth at thought of death
Chatter; the brave man’s color changes not,
Nor when with other warriors he sits down
In ambush is he troubled, but he longs
To rise and mingle in the desperate fray;⁠—
For thee, in such an ambush, none could blame
Thy courage or thy skill. If there the foe
Should wound thee from afar, or smite thee near,
The weapon would not strike thy neck behind,
Or pierce thy back, but enter at thy breast
Or stomach, as thou wert advancing fast
Among the foremost. But enough of this.
Come! Stand we here no longer, idiot-like,
Lest someone chide us sharply. Hasten thou,
And bring a sturdy javelin from the tent.”

He spake. Meriones, like Mars in port
And swiftness, hastened to the tent and brought
A brazen spear, and joined Idomeneus,
Eager for battle. As the god of war,
The man-destroyer, comes into the field,
With Terror, his strong-limbed and dauntless son,
Following and striking fear into the heart
Of the most resolute warrior, when from Thrace
They issue armed against the Ephyri,
Or else against the Phlegyans large of soul,
And hearken not to both the hosts, but give
To one the victory; so Meriones
Advanced to battle with Idomeneus,
Leaders of heroes both, and both equipped
In glittering helms. And first Meriones
Spake and addressed his fellow-warrior thus:⁠—

“Son of Deucalion, at which point wilt thou
Enter the throng? Upon the army’s right,
Its centre, or its left? The long haired Greeks
Seem most to need our aid upon the left.”

Then spoke Idomeneus, in turn, the prince
Of Cretans: “At the centre of the fleet
Are others who will guard it. Posted there
Are either Ajax and the most expert
Of Grecian archers, Teucer, not less skilled
In standing fight, and amply will they task
The arm of Hector, Priam’s son, though bent
On desperate conflict, and though passing fierce.
With all his fierceness, he will find it hard
To quell their prowess, never yet o’ercome,
And fire the ships, unless Saturnian Jove
Himself should cast on them the flaming torch.
Nor yet will Telamonian Ajax yield
To any man of mortal birth, or reared
Upon the grains of Ceres, or whom brass
Or ponderous stones can wound. He would not own
The warlike son of Peleus mightier
Than he in standing fight, although in speed
He vies not with him. Lead us then to join
The army’s left, that we may learn at once
Whether our fate in battle shall confer
Glory on other men, or theirs on us.”

So spake the chief. Meriones, the peer
Of Mars in swiftness, hastened till he joined
The army where his comrade bade. The foe
Beheld Idomeneus, who like a flame
Swept on with his companion all in arms
Gloriously wrought; they raised from rank to rank
The battle-cry, and met him as he came,
And hand to hand, before the galleys’ sterns
Was waged the combat. As when storms arise,
Blown up by piping winds, when dust lies loose
Along the roads, a spreading cloud of dust
Fills the wide air, so came the battle on
Between the bands that struggled eagerly
To slay each other. All along the line
The murderous conflict bristled with long spears
That tore the flesh; the brazen splendor, shot
From gleaming helmets and from burnished mail
And shining bucklers, all in narrow space
Dazzled the eyes. Brave-hearted would he be,
The man who, gazing on it, could have seen
The furious strife rejoicing or unmoved.

Meantime the potent sons of Saturn each
Favored a different side, and planned new toils
For all the warriors, Jupiter had willed
That Hector and the Trojans should prevail,
Yet had he not decreed the Achaian host
To perish before Troy; he only sought
To honor Thetis and her large-souled son.
But Neptune, mingling with the Greeks, aroused
Their martial spirit. From the hoary deep
He came unmarked, for deeply was he grieved
To see the Greeks give way before the host
Of Troy, and he was wroth with Jupiter.
Both gods were of one race, and owed their birth
To the same parents; but the elder-born
Was Jupiter, and wiser. For that cause
Not openly did Neptune aid the Greeks,
But, as by stealth, disguised in human form,
Moved through their army and encouraged them
To combat. Thus it was the potent twain
Each drew, with equal hand, the net of strife
And fearful havoc, which no power could break
Or loosen, stretched o’er both the warring hosts,
And laying many a warrior low in death.
And now, although his brows were strewn with gray.
Idomeneus, encouraging the Greeks,
Rushed on the Trojans, and revived the fight.
He slew Orthryoneus, who just before,
Drawn by the rumor of the war, had left
Cabesus, and now made a lover’s suit
For Priam’s fairest daughter. Without dower
He sought to wed Cassandra, promising
A vast exploit⁠—to drive the Greeks from Troy,
In spite of all their valor. The old king
Consented that the maiden should be his;
And now he fought, and trusted to fulfil
His promise. But Idomeneus took aim,
And cast his glittering javelin at the youth.
It struck him marching proudly on, nor stopped
The weapon at the brazen mail, but pierced
The stomach. With a clash the warrior fell,
And thus the victor boasted over him:⁠—

“Orthryoneus, I deem thee worthy of praise
Beyond all other men, if thou perform
What thou hast undertaken⁠—to defend
Dardanian Priam, who has promised thee
His daughter. We would make a compact too,
And will perform it⁠—to bestow on thee
A spouse, the fairest daughter of the house
Of Atreus’ son, and we will send for her
To Argos, if thou join us, and lay waste
The well built Ilium. Now, then, follow me,
And at the ships which brought us we will treat
Of marriage, and will make no niggard terms.”

So spake Idomeneus, and dragged the slain
Through the sharp conflict by the foot. He met
Asius, who walked before his car, and came
To avenge his friend. The attending charioteer
Behind him reined the steeds, that they should breathe
Over the shoulders of their lord, who sought
To smite Idomeneus. The Greek was first
To strike; he plunged the spear into his throat
Below the chin, and drave the weapon through.
The Trojan fell to earth as falls an oak,
Poplar, or stately pine, which woodmen fell
With their sharp axes on the mountain-side,
To form a galley’s beam. So there he lay
Stretched out before his coursers and his car,
And gnashed his teeth, and clenched the bloody dust.
The charioteer, amazed, and losing power
Of action, dared not turn the horses back
To bear him from the foe. Antilochus
The warlike cast his spear, and in the midst
Transfixed him. Little did the brazen mail
Avail to stay the blade, which cleft its way
Into the stomach. With a sudden gasp
He toppled from the sumptuous chariot-seat,
And large-souled Nestor’s son, Antilochus,
Drave with the chariot to the well-armed Greeks.
Deïphobus, who sorrowed for the fate
Of Asius, drawing near Idomeneus,
Hurled at him his bright spear. The Greek beheld,
As face to face they stood, and scaped the stroke,
Covered by his round shield, two-handled, strong,
With bullocks’ hides and glittering brass. With this
He hid himself, close couched within, and turned
The brazen point aside. The buckler rang
Shrilly; the weapon glanced away, yet flew
Not vainly from the Trojan’s powerful hand:
It struck Hypsenor, son of Hippasus,
The shepherd of the people, on the side
Where lies the liver, just below the breast.
His knees gave way; he fell; Deïphobus
Thus shouted o’er the dead his empty boast:⁠—

“Not unavenged lies Asius, and no doubt,
In journeying to the massy gates and wall
Of Hades, will rejoice that I have sent
A soul to be companion of his way.”

He spake; and at his boast the Greeks were moved
With anger⁠—most of all Antilochus
The warlike; yet he left not to the foe
His slain companion, but made haste to hold
His shield above him. His beloved friends,
Mecisteus, son of Echius, and the prince
Alastor, lifted up, with many a groan,
The corpse, and bore it to the roomy ships.

Meantime the valor of Idomeneus
Remitted not; he vehemently longed
To cover many a Trojan with the night
Of death, or fall himself with clashing arms,
In warring to defend the ships of Greece.
The brave Alcathoüs, the beloved son
Of Aesyetus, whom Anchises made
His son-in-law⁠—for he had given to him
Hippodameia, eldest-born of all
His daughters, whom her parents, while she dwelt
With them, loved dearly, fair and wise beyond
All other maidens of her age, and skilled
In household arts; so that the noblest prince
Of the broad Trojan kingdom made her his;⁠—
Him, by the weapon of Idomeneus,
Did Neptune bring to death. The sparkling eyes
Grew dim, and stiffened were the shapely limbs,
For neither could he flee nor turn aside;
But as he stood before him, column-like,
Or like a towering tree, Idomeneus
Transfixed him in the bosom with his spear
The brazen coat of mail gave way, which oft
Had saved him, breaking with a sharp, shrill sound
Before the severing blade. He fell to earth
With noise; the spear stood planted in his heart,
And as he panted quivered through its length,
Yet soon its murderous force was spent and still.
And then the victor boasted thus aloud:⁠—

“Deïphobus, does this appear to thee
A fair return, when three are slain for one,
Or hast thou boasted idly? Yet do thou,
Vain as thou art, stand forth and face me here,
And I will teach thee of what race I am⁠—
An offshoot of the stock of Jove, whose son
Was Minos, guardian of our Crete, and he
Was father of the good Deucalion.
Deucalion’s son am I, and I am king
O’er many men in the broad isle of Crete.
My galleys brought me thence to be the dread
Of thee, thy father, and the men of Troy.”

He spake. Deïphobus, irresolute,
Stood doubting whether to retreat and bring
Some other of the heroic sons of Troy
To aid him, or to try the fight alone.
As thus he mused, it seemed most wise to seek
Aeneas. Him he found withdrawn among
The rear of the army, for he was displeased
With noble Priam, who had paid his worth
With light esteem. Deïphobus approached,
And thus with wingèd words accosted him:⁠—

“Aeneas, counsellor of Troy, if thou
Hadst ever a regard to him who was
Thy sister’s husband, it becomes thee now
To avenge him. Follow me, and help avenge
Alcathoüs, guardian of thy tender years,
Slain by the spear of famed Idomeneus.”

He spake; and at his words Aeneas felt
His courage rise. Impatient for the fight,
He went to meet Idomeneus; yet fear
Fell not upon the Greek as if he were
A puny boy: he stood and kept his ground.
As, when a mountain boar, unterrified,
Waits in the wilderness the hunter-crew,
That come with mighty din, his bristly back
Rises, his eyes shoot fire, he whets his tusks,
And fiercely keeps both dogs and men at bay⁠—
So did Idomeneus, expert to wield
The spear, await Aeneas hastening on
With fury. Not a backward step he made,
But called upon his warrior-friends aloud,
Looking at Aphareus, Ascalaphus,
Deipyrus, Meriones, and last
Antilochus, all skilled in arts of war,
And thus exhorted them with wingèd words:⁠—

“Haste hither, O my friends, and bring me aid.
I stand alone, in dread of the approach
Of swift Aeneas, who comes fiercely on,
Powerful to slay, and in his prime of youth,
The highest vigor of the human frame.
Yet, were our years the same, that chief or I
Would quickly triumph at the other’s cost.”

He spake, and all with one accord draw near
And stood by him, with shields obliquely held
Upon their shoulders. On the other side
Aeneas cheered his comrades on. He fixed
His look on Paris, and Deïphobus,
And nobly born Agenor, who, like him,
Were leaders of the Trojans. After these
The soldiers followed, as the thronging flock
Follow the ram that leads them to the fount
From pasture, and the shepherd’s heart is pleased.
So was Aeneas glad at heart to see
The multitude of warriors following him.

Then mingled they in battle hand to hand
Around Alcathoüs, with their ponderous spears,
And fearfully upon their bosoms rang
The brass, as through the struggling crowd they aimed
Their weapons at each other. Two brave men,
Aeneas and Idomeneus, the peers
Of Mars, conspicuous o’er their fellows, strove
With cruel brass to rend each other’s limbs.
And first Aeneas cast his spear to smite
Idomeneus, who saw it as it came,
And shunned it. Plunging in the earth beyond,
It stood and quivered; it had left in vain
The Trojan’s powerful hand. Idomeneus
Next smote Oenomaüs: the spear brake through
His hollow corselet at the waist; it pierced
And drank the entrails: down amid the dust
He fell, and grasped the earth with dying hand.
Idomeneus plucked forth the massy spear,
But, pressed by hostile weapons, ventured not
To strip the sumptuous armor from the dead;
Since now no more the sinews of his feet
Were firm to bear him rushing to retake
His spear, or start aside from hostile spears.
Wherefore in standing fight he warded off
The evil hour, nor trusted to his feet
To bear him fleetly from the field. He moved
Slowly away, and now Deïphobus,
Who long had hated him and bitterly,
Aimed at him his bright spear; it missed its mark,
And struck Ascalaphus, the son of Mars.
The weapon cleft the shoulder of the Greek,
Who fell amid the dust, and clenched the earth.

Not yet the clamorous Mars, of passionate mood,
Had heard that in the fray his son was slain;
But on the summit of the Olympian mount
He sat, o’ercanopied by golden clouds,
Restrained from combat by the will of Jove,
With other gods, forbidden, like himself,
To aid the combatants. Meantime around
Ascalaphus the combat hand to hand
Still raged. Deïphobus had torn away
The slain man’s shining helm, when suddenly
Meriones sprang forward, spear in hand,
And smote him on the arm; the wounded limb
Let fall the helm, resounding as it fell,
And with a vulture’s leap Meriones
Rushed toward him, plucking out from the torn flesh
The spear, and falling back among the crowd.
Polites, brother of the wounded, threw
Both arms around his waist, and bore him off
From the loud din of conflict, till he reached
His swift-paced steeds, that waited in the rear
Of battle, with their chariot nobly wrought
And charioteer. These took him back to Troy,
Heavily groaning and in pain, the blood
Yet gushing from the newly wounded limb.

Still fought the other warriors, and the noise
Of a perpetual tumult filled the air.
Aeneas, rushing upon Aphareus,
Caletor’s son, who turned to face him, thrust
A sharp spear through his throat. With drooping head,
And carrying shield and helmet to the ground,
He fell, and rendered up his soul in death.
Antilochus, as Thoön turned away,
Attacked and smote him, cutting off the vein
That passes through the body to the neck.
This he divided sheer; the warrior fell
Backward, and lay in dust, with hands outstretched
To his beloved friends. Antilochus
Flew to the slain, and from his shoulders stripped
The armor, casting cautious glances round;
While toward him pressed the Trojans on all sides,
Striking the fair broad buckler with their darts,
Yet could not even score with pointed brass
The tender skin of Nestor’s son; for still
Neptune, the shaker of the sea-coast, kept
Watch o’er him while the weapons round him showered.
Yet he withdrew not from his foes, but moved
Among the crowd, nor idle was his spear,
But wielded right and left, and still he watched
With resolute mind the time to strike the foe
At distance, or assault him near at hand.

The son of Asius, Adamas, beheld
The hero meditating thus, and struck,
In close attack, the middle of his shield
With a sharp brazen spear. The dark-haired god
Who rules the deep denied to Adamas
The life he sought, and weakened the hard stroke.
Part of the Trojan’s weapon, like a stake
Hardened by fire, stood fixed within the shield,
Part lay on earth, and he who cast it slunk
Among his comrades to avoid his fate.
Meriones, pursuing with his spear,
Smote him between the navel and the groin,
Where deadliest are the wounds in battle given
To man’s unhappy race. He planted there
The cruel blade, and Adamas, who fell,
Writhed panting round it, as a bullock bound
By cowherds on the mountain with strong cords
Pants as they lead him off against his will.
So wounded, Adamas drew heavy breath,
And yet not long. The brave Meriones,
Approaching, plucked the weapon forth, and night
Came o’er the eyes of Adamas. At hand
Stood Helenus, and struck Deipyrus
Upon the temple with his ponderous sword,
Of Thracian make, and cut the three-coned helm
Away, and dashed it to the ground; it rolled
Between a Grecian warrior’s feet, who stooped
And took it up, while o’er its owner’s eyes
The darkness gathered. Grieved at this, the son
Of Atreus, Menelaus great in war,
Rushed forward, threatening royal Helenus.
He brandished his sharp spear; the Trojan drew
His bow; advancing, one to hurl a lance,
And one to send an arrow. Priam’s son
Let fly a shaft at Menelaus’ breast.
The bitter missile from the hollow mail
Glanced off. As when from the broad winnowing-fan
On some wide threshing-floor the swarthy beans,
Or vetches, bound before the whistling wind
And winnower’s force, so, bounding from the mail
Of gallant Menelaus, flew afar
The bitter shaft. Then Menelaus, great
In battle, smote the hand of Helenus
That held the polished bow; the brazen spear
Passed through the hand, and reached the bow, and there
Stood fixed, while Helenus, avoiding death,
Drew back among his comrades, with his hand
Held low, and trailing still the ashen stem.
Magnanimous Agenor from the wound
Drew forth the blade, and wrapped the hand in wool,
Carefully twisted, taken from a sling
Carried by an attendant of the chief.

To meet the glorious Menelaus sprang
Pisander, led by his unhappy fate
To perish, Menelaus! by thy hand
In that fierce conflict. When the two were near,
Advancing toward each other, Atreus’ son
Took aim amiss; his spear flew far aside.
Pisander smote the buckler on the arm
Of mighty Menelaus, yet drave not
The weapon through. The broad shield stopped its force,
And broke it at the neck; yet hoped he still
For victory, and exulted. Then the son
Of Atreus drew his silver-studded sword
And sprang upon his foe, who from beneath
His buckler took a brazen battle-axe,
With a long stem of polished olive-wood.
Both struck at once. Pisander hewed away,
Below the crest, the plumèd helmet-cone
Of Atreus’ son, who smote, above the nose,
Pisander’s forehead, crashing through the bones.
Both bleeding eyes dropped to the ground amid
The dust; he fell; he writhed; the conqueror,
Advancing, set his heel upon his breast,
And stripped the armor off, and, boasting, said:⁠—

“Thus shall ye leave unharmed the fleet that brought
The knights of Greece, ye treaty-breaking sons
Of Ilium, never satisfied with war!
Yet lack ye not still other guilt and shame⁠—
Wrong done to me, ye dogs! Ye have not feared
The wrath of Hospitable Jove, who flings
The thunder, and will yet destroy your town,
With all its towers⁠—ye who, without a cause,
Bore off my youthful bride, and heaps of wealth,
When she had given you welcome as our guests.
And now ye seek to burn with fire the fleet
With which we cross the ocean, and to slay
The Grecian heroes. Ye shall yet be forced,
Eager for battle as ye are, to pause.
O Father Jupiter, who hast the praise
Of highest wisdom among gods and men!
All this is of thy ordering. How hast thou
Favored this arrogant crew of Troy, in love
With violence, who never have enough
Of war and all its many miseries!
All other things soon satisfy desire⁠—
Sleep, love, and song, and graceful dance, which most
Delight in more than warlike toils⁠—yet they
Of Troy are never satisfied with war.”
So spake the illustrious man, and, having stripped
The bloody armor from the dead, he gave
The spoil to his companions, and rejoined
The warriors in the van. Harpalion then,
A son of King Pytemenes, with whom
He left his home to join the war at Troy,
Assaulted him. He never saw again
His native land. Close to Atrides’ shield,
He struck it in the centre with his lance,
Yet could not drive the weapon through the brass,
And backward shrank, in fear of death, among
His comrades, looking round him lest some foe
Should wound him with the spear. Meriones
Let fly a brazen arrow after him,
Which, entering his right flank below the bone,
Passed through and cleft the bladder. Down he sank
Where the shaft struck him, breathing out his life
In the arms of his companions. Like a worm
He lay extended on the earth; his blood
Gushed forth, a purple stream, and steeped the soil.
The large-souled Paphlagonians came around,
And placed him in a chariot, sorrowing,
And bore him to the gates of sacred Troy.
The father followed weeping, but no hand
Was raised to avenge the slaughter of his son.

Yet deeply moved was Paris at his death,
For he had been Harpalion’s guest among
The Paphlagonians. Grieving for the slain,
He sent a brazen arrow from his bow.
Now there was one Euchenor, rich and brave,
The son of Polyidus, hoary seer;
His dwelling was in Corinth, and he came,
Forewarned and conscious of his fate, to Troy;
For often Polyidus, good old man,
Warned him that he within his palace halls
Should perish by a grievous malady,
Or else be slain by Trojan hands beside
The Grecian fleet. So, to escape at once
The censure of the Achaians and disease,
He came, lest he in after times might rue
His choice. And now between the jaw and ear
Did Paris smite him; from the warrior’s limbs
Life fled, and darkness gathered o’er his eyes.

And then they fought; like a devouring fire
That battle was; but Hector, dear to Jove,
Had not yet learned that on the left the Greeks
Made havoc of his men; for in that hour
The Greeks had almost made the victory theirs,
So greatly had the god who shakes the shores
Kindled their courage, and with his own arm
Brought timely aid. Still Hector, pressing on
Where first he leaped within the gates and wall,
Broke the close phalanxes of shielded Greeks.
There, ranged beside the hoary deep, the ships
Of Ajax and Protesilaüs lay.
The wall that guarded them was low, and there
Warriors and steeds in fiercest conflict met;
There the Boeotians, there in their long robes
The Iaonians, there the Locrians, there
The men of Phthia, and the Epeians famed
For valor, held back Hector, struggling on
To reach the ships, yet found they had no power
To drive the noble warrior from the ground,
For he was like a flame. The chosen men
Of Athens formed the van. Menestheus, son
Of Peteus, was their leader, after whom
Phidas and Stichius followed, and with them
The gallant Bias. Meges, Phyleus’ son,
With Dracius and Amphion, marshalled there
The Epeians; while the Phthian band were led
By Medon and Podarces, warlike chief.
And Medon was the great Oileus’ son,
And brother of the lesser Ajax, born
Without the tie of wedlock, and he dwelt
Far from his native land, in Phylacè;
For by his violent hand the brother died
Of Eryopis, whom Oileus made
His lawful spouse. Podarces was the son
Of Iphiclus, and dwelt in Phylacè.
These, at the head of Phthia’s valiant youth,
And cased in massive armor, fought beside
Boeotia’s warriors for the Grecian fleet.

But Ajax swift of foot, Oileus’ son,
From him of Telamon departed not as
Even for an instant. As when two black steers
Of equal vigor o’er a fallow draw
The strongly jointed plough, till near their horns
Streams the warm sweat; the polished yoke alone
Holds them asunder, as they move along
The furrow, and the share divides the soil
That lies between them;⁠—so the heroic twain
Kept near each other. Many men and brave
Followed to Troy the son of Telamon
As his companions, and, when weariness
Came o’er his sweaty limbs, relieved their chief
Of his broad buckler. But the Locrian host
Attended not Oileus’ great-souled son,
Nor could they ever venture to engage
In combat hand to hand. No brazen helms
Were theirs, with horse-hair plumes, no orbèd shields,
Nor ashen spears. They came with him to Troy,
Trusting in their good bows, and in their slings
Of twisted wool, from which they showered afar
Stones that dispersed the phalanxes of Troy.
The chieftains Ajax, warring in the van,
Clad in their shining armor, fought to check
The Trojans and their leader, brazen-mailed,
While in the rear the Locrians lurked unseen,
And sent their shafts, so that the men of Troy,
All order lost, were fain to cease from fight.

Then had the Trojans from the ships and tents
Turned back, and fled, with fearful loss of life,
To lofty Ilium, if Polydamas
Had not accosted valiant Hector thus:⁠—

“Hector, thou hearkenest not to warning words.
Deem’st thou, because a god has given thee strength
Beyond all other men for feats of war,
That therefore thou art wiser than they all
In council? Think not for thyself to claim
All gifts at once. On one the god bestows
Prowess in war, upon another grace
In dance, upon another skill to touch
The harp and sing. In yet another, Jove
The Thunderer implants the prudent mind,
By which the many profit, and by which
Communities are saved; and well doth he
Who hath it know its worth. Now let me speak
What seems to me the wisest. Round thee flames
The encircling war; the valiant sons of Troy,
Since they have crossed the ramparts, stand aloof,
Armed as they are, or fight against large odds
Scattered among the galleys. Yield thou now
The ground, and, summoning the chiefs, decide
What plan to follow⁠—whether we shall storm
The well-oared galleys, should the God vouchsafe
The victory to us⁠—or else depart
In safety from the fleet. I greatly fear
The Achaians may repay to us the debt
Of yesterday. There yet is at the fleet
One who, I think, no longer will refrain
Wholly from battle.” Thus Polydamas
Spake, and the sage advice pleased Hector well,
Who, leaping from his chariot to the ground,
With all his weapons, said these wingèd words:⁠—

“Remain with all the bravest warriors here,
Polydamas, while I depart to give
The due commands, and instantly return.”

He spake, and with a shout he rushed away,
Seen from afar, like a snow-mountain’s peak,
And flew among the Trojans and allies,
Who crowded round the brave Polydamas,
The son of Panthoüs, at Hector’s call.
Among the foremost combatants he sought
Deïphobus, and mighty Helenus,
The king; he looked for Adamas, the son
Of Asius, and for Asius of the house
Of Hyrtacus. Some not unharmed he found,
Yet not o’ercome; while others lay in death
Beneath the galley sterns, where Grecian hands
Had slain them; others on the wall, struck down
By missiles, or in combat hand to hand.
There on the left of that disastrous fray
He met the noble Alexander, spouse
Of fair-haired Helen, as he cheered his men,
And rallied them to battle. Hector thus
Addressed his brother with reproachful words:⁠—

“Accursed Paris! Noble but in form,
Effeminate seducer! Where are now
Deïphobus, and mighty Helenus?
And Adamas, the son of Asius, where?
And Asius, son of Hyrtacus? and where
Orthryoneus? Now towering Ilium sinks
From her high summit, and thy fate is sure.”
And then the godlike Paris answered thus:⁠—

“Since it hath pleased thee, Hector, thus to cast
Reproach on me, though innocent, I may
Another day neglect the toils of war,
Although in truth my mother brought me forth
Not quite unapt for combat. Since the hour
When thou didst lead the battle to the ships
With thy companions, we have held our ground,
Here on this spot, contending with the Greeks.
Three chiefs for whom thou askest have been slain.
Deïphobus and mighty Helenus,
Both wounded in the hand by massive spears,
Have left the field; the son of Saturn saved
Their lives. Now lead us wheresoe’er thou wilt,
And we will follow thee with resolute hearts,
Nor deem that thou wilt find in us a lack
Of valor while our strength of arm remains.
The boldest cannot tight beyond his strength.”

With such persuasive words the warrior calmed
His brother’s anger, and they went where raged
The hottest conflict round Cebriones,
Phalces, Ortbasus, and the excellent
Polydamas, with Palmys at his side,
And Polyphoetes, godlike in his form,
And where Ascanius and Morys fought,
Sons of Hippotion. They the day before
Came marching from Ascania’s fertile fields,
Moved by the will of Jove to share the war.
All these swept on, as when a hurricane,
A thunder-gust, from Father Jupiter
Buffets the plain, and mingles with the deep,
In mighty uproar, and the billows rise
All over the resounding brine, and swell,
Whitening with foam, and chase each other on.
So moved the Trojans on, man after man,
In close array, all armed in glittering brass,
Following their generals. Hector, Priam’s son,
And peer of Mars in battle, led the van,
His round shield held before him, tough with hides
And overlaid with brass. Upon his brow
The gleaming helmet nodded as he moved.
On every side he tried the phalanxes,
If haply they might yield to his assault,
Made from beneath that buckler; but the Greeks
In spirit or in order wavered not.
And Ajax, striding forth, defied him thus:⁠—

“Draw nearer, friend! Think’st thou to frighten thus
The Greeks? We are not quite so inexpert
In war, although so cruelly chastised
By Jupiter. Thou thinkest in thy heart
That thou shalt make our ships thy spoil; but we
Have also our strong arms to drive thee back,
And far more soon the populous town of Troy,
Captured and sacked, shall fall by Grecian hands.
And now I warn thee that the hour is near
When, fleeing, thou shalt pray to Father Jove
And all the immortals, that thy long-maned steeds,
Bearing thee townward mid a cloud of dust
Along the plain, may be more swift than hawks.”

As thus he spake, an eagle, to the right,
High in the middle heaven, flew over him,
And, gladdened by the omen, all the Greeks
Shouted; but then illustrious Hector spake:⁠—

“Babbler and boaster, what wild words are these?
O Ajax! Would that I were but as sure
To be the child of aegis-bearing Jove,
Brought forth by Juno the august, and held
In honor everywhere like that which crowns
Apollo and Minerva, as I know
That to the Greeks this very day will bring
Destruction, and that thou shalt also lie
Slain with the others, if thou dare abide
The stroke of my long spear, which yet shall tear
Thy dainty flesh, and thou, with thy full limbs,
Shalt be the feast of Trojan dogs and birds,
Unburied by the galleys of the Greeks.”

So Hector spake, and led his warriors on.
They followed with a mighty shout; the rear
Sent up as loud a cry. On the other side
Shouted the Greeks, nor intermitted now
Their wonted valor, but stood firm to breast
The onset of the chosen men of Troy.
The mingled clamor of both hosts went up
To heaven, and to the shining seat of Jove.