Book XV

The Fifth Battle at the Ships

The anger of Jupiter on awaking appeased by Juno’s denial that she had instigated Neptune to aid the Greeks⁠—Iris despatched to recall Neptune from the field⁠—Mars, enraged at the death of his son Ascalaphus and arming to aid the Trojans, is restrained by Minerva⁠—Hector healed by Apollo⁠—His return to the field⁠—The Greeks driven back to the ships by the Trojans, who attempt to set the fleet on fire⁠—Defence of the ships by Ajax.

Now when the Trojans in their flight had crossed
Rampart and trench, and many had been slain
By the pursuing Greeks, they made a halt
Beside their chariots, in despair and pale
With terror. Meanwhile Jupiter awoke,
On Ida’s height, from slumber by the side
Of Juno, goddess of the golden throne.
At once he rose and saw the Trojan host
Routed, and, following close upon their flight,
The Argive warriors putting them to rout,
Aided by Neptune, sovereign of the sea,
And Hector lying on the field among
His fellow-warriors, breathing painfully,
Vomiting blood, and senseless, for the arm
That smote was not the feeblest of the Greeks.
The Father of immortals and of men
Beheld and pitied him, and terribly
Frowned upon Juno, and bespake her thus:⁠—

“O evil minded Juno, full of guile!
Thy arts have made the noble Hector leave
The combat, and have forced his troops to flee.
I know not whether’t were not well that thou
Shouldst taste the fruit of thy pernicious wiles,
Chastised by me with stripes. Dost thou forget
When thou didst swing suspended, and I tied
Two anvils to thy feet, and bound a chain
Of gold that none could break around thy wrists?
Then didst thou hang in air amid the clouds,
And all the gods of high Olympus saw
With pity. They stood near, but none of them
Were able to release thee. Whoso came
Within my reach I seized, and hurled him o’er
Heaven’s threshold, and he fell upon the earth
Scarce breathing. Yet the passion of my wrath,
Caused by the wrongs of godlike Hercules,
Was not to be so calmed; for craftily
Hadst thou called up the violent northern blast,
To chase him far across the barren deep,
And drive him from his course to populous Cos.
I rescued him at length, and brought him back
To Argos famed for steeds, though after long
And many hardships. I remind thee now
Of this, that thou mayst see of what avail
Hereafter thy dissembled love and all
Thy cunning strategies will be to thee.”

He spake, and Juno, large-eyed and august,
Shuddered, and answered Jove with wingèd words:⁠—

“Be witness, Earth, and the great Heavens above,
And waters of the Styx that glide beneath⁠—
That dreadful oath which most the blessed gods
Revere⁠—be witness, too, that sacred head
Of thine, and our own nuptial couch, by which
I would not rashly swear at any time,
That not by my persuasion Neptune went⁠—
The shaker of the shores⁠—to harass Troy
And Hector, and to aid the cause of Greece.
He went self-counselled; he had seen the Greeks
Pressed grievously beside their fleet, and took
Compassion on them. Yet would I advise
That he obey thy word, and take his place
Where thou, the Cloud compeller, bid’st him go.”

She ended, and the Father of the gods
And mortals smiled, and said, in wingèd words:⁠—

“Large-eyed, imperial Juno, wouldst thou sit
In council with the immortals, and assist
My purposes, then Neptune, though at heart
He were averse, would yet conform his will
To mine and thine. If thou dost truly speak,
And from thy heart, go now to where the gods
Assemble, summon Iris, and with her
The archer-god Apollo. Give in charge
To Iris that she hasten to the host
Of the mailed Greeks, and bid king Neptune leave,
The battle for his palace. Let the god
Phoebus, preparing Hector for the fight,
Breathe strength into his frame, that so he lose
The sense of pain which bows his spirit now,
And he shall force the Greeks again to flee
In craven fear. Then shall their flying host
Fall back upon the galleys of the son
Of Peleus, who shall send into the fight
His friend Patroclus. Him the mighty spear
Of Hector shall o’erthrow before the walls
Of Ilium, after many a Trojan youth
Shall by his hand have fallen, and with them
My noble son, Sarpedon. Roused to rage,
Then shall the great Achilles take the life
Of Hector. Be it from this time my care
That all the assaults of Trojans in the fleet
Be beaten back, till by Minerva’s aid
The Greeks possess the lofty town of Troy.
Still am I angry, nor will I allow
One of the ever-living gods to aid
The Greeks, until the prayer of Peleus’ son
Shall fully be accomplished, as my word
And nod were given, when Thetis clasped my knees,
Entreating me to honor, signally,
Her son, Achilles, spoiler of walled towns.”

He spake; the white-armed goddess willingly
Obeyed him, and from Ida’s summit flew
To high Olympus. As the thought of man
Flies rapidly, when, having travelled far,
He thinks, “Here would I be, I would be there,”
And flits from place to place, so swiftly flew
Imperial Juno to the Olympian mount,
And there she found the ever-living gods
Assembled in the halls of Jupiter.
These, as they saw her, starting from their seats,
Reached forth their cups to greet her. All the rest
She overlooked, and took the beaker held
By blooming Themis, who in haste had run
To meet her, and in wingèd accents said:⁠—

“Why comest thou, O Juno! with the look
Of one o’ercome with fear. Hath Saturn’s son,
Thy lord, disquieted thy soul with threats?”

The white-armed goddess Juno answered her:⁠—
“Ask me not, heavenly Themis⁠—thou dost know
The cruel, arrogant temper that is his⁠—
But sit presiding at the common feast,
In this fair palace of the gods, and thou
And all in heaven shall hear what evils Jove
Has threatened. All, I think, will not rejoice
To hear the tidings, be they gods or men,
Though some contentedly are feasting now.”

Thus having said, imperial Juno took
Her place, and all the gods within the halls
Of Jupiter were grieved. The goddess smiled,
But only with the lips; her forehead wore
Above the jetty brows no sign of joy,
While thus she spake in anger to the rest:⁠—

“Vainly, and in our madness, do we strive
With Father Jove. We come and seek by craft
Or force to move his stubborn will; he sits
Apart, unyielding, unregarding, proud
Of the vast strength and power in which he stands
Above all other of the deathless gods.
Bear therefore patiently whatever ill
He sends to each. Already, as I learn,
Hath Mars his share of sorrow. In the war
Ascalaphus hath perished, whom he loved
Dearly, beyond all other men, and whom
The fiery god acknowledged as his son.”

As thus she spake, Mars smote his sinewy thighs
With his dropped hands, and sorrowfully said:⁠—

“Be not offended with me, ye who make
Your dwelling on Olympus, if I go
Down to the Achaian fleet, and there avenge
The slaughter of my son, though I be doomed
To fall before the thunderbolt of Jove,
And lie in blood and dust among the dead.”

He spake, and summoned Fear and Flight to yoke
His steeds, and put his glorious armor on.
Then greater and more terrible had been
The avenging wrath of Jupiter inflamed
Against the gods, if Pallas in her fear
For all the heavenly dwellers had not left
Her throne, and, rushing through the portals, snatched
The helmet from his head, and from his arm
The shield, and from his brawny hand the spear,
And laid the brazen weapon by, and thus
Rebuked the fiery temper of the god:⁠—

“Thou madman, thou art frantic, thou art lost!
Hast thou not ears to hear, nor any shame
Nor reason left? Hast thou not heard the words
Of white-armed Juno, who so lately left
Olympian Jupiter? Wouldst thou return
In pain and sorrow to the Olympian heights,
Driven back ingloriously, and made the cause
Of many miseries to all the gods?⁠—
For Jove would leave the Trojans and their foes,
The gallant Greeks, and turn on us, and bring
Ruin upon Olympus. He would seize
Guilty and guiltless in his rage alike.
Wherefore I counsel thee to lay aside
Resentment for the slaughter of thy son,
Since braver men and stronger have been slain,
And will be slain hereafter. Vain it were
To seek from death to save the race of man.”

She said, and, leading back the fiery Mars,
Seated him on his throne, while Juno called
Apollo forth, with Iris, messenger
Of heaven, and thus in wingèd accents spake:⁠—

“Jove calls you both to Ida. When ye reach
Its heights, and look upon his countenance,
Receive his sovereign mandate and obey.”

So spake imperial Juno, and withdrew
And took her seat again, while they in haste
Flew toward the mount of Ida, seamed with rills
And nurse of savage beasts. Upon the top
Of Gargarus they found the Thunderer,
The son of Saturn, sitting. In a cloud
Of fragrant haze he sat concealed; the twain
Entered and stood before the God of Storms,
Who saw them not displeased, so speedily
Had they obeyed his consort. First he turned
To Iris, and in wingèd accents said:⁠—

“Haste thee, swift Iris, and report my words
To royal Neptune, and report them right.
Bid him, withdrawing from the battle-field,
Repair to the assembly of the gods,
Or the great ocean. If he disobey,
Contemning my command, then bid him think
Maturely, whether, mighty though he be,
He can withstand when I put forth my power
Against him. Greater is my strength than his,
And elder-born am I. Yet in his pride
Of heart he dares to call himself my peer,
Though all the others look on me with awe.”

Thus spake the god, and Iris, whose swift feet
Are like the wind, obeyed, and downward plunged
From Ida’s height to sacred Troy. As when
Snow-flakes or icy hail are dropped to earth
From clouds before the north wind when it sweeps
The sky, so darted Iris to the ground,
And stood by mighty Neptune’s side, and said:⁠—

“O dark-haired shaker of the shores, I bring
A message from the Aegis-bearer, Jove,
That thou, withdrawing from the battle-field,
Repair to the assembly of the gods,
Or the great ocean. If thou disobey,
Contemning his command, then hear his threat:
He will come hither and put forth his power
Against thee, and he warns thee not to tempt
The strife; for greater is his power than thine,
And he is elder-born, though in thy pride
Of heart thou dost declare thyself the peer
Of him whom all the rest regard with awe.”

Illustrious Neptune answered with disdain:⁠—
“In truth an arrogant speech; he seeks by force
To bar me from my purpose, who can claim
Rights equal to his own, though great his power.
We are three brothers⁠—Rhea brought us forth⁠—
The sons of Saturn⁠—Jupiter, and I,
And Pluto, regent of the realm below.
Three parts were made of all existing things,
And each of us received his heritage.
The lots were shaken; and to me it fell
To dwell forever in the hoary deep,
And Pluto took the gloomy realm of night,
And, lastly, Jupiter the ample heaven
And air and clouds. Yet doth the earth remain,
With high Olympus, common to us all.
Therefore I yield me not to do his will,
Great as he is; and let him be content
With his third part. He cannot frighten me
With gestures of his arm. Let him insult
With menaces the daughters and the sons
Of his own loves, and give them law, since they
Perforce must hear, and patiently submit.”

Then the fleet-footed Iris spake again:⁠—
“O dark-haired Neptune, shall I bear from thee
This harsh, defiant answer back to Jove,
Or shall it yet be changed? The prudent mind
Yields to the occasion, and thou knowest well
The Furies wait upon the elder-born.”

Then spake in turn the god who shakes the shores:⁠—
“O goddess Iris, thou hast wisely said.
An excellent thing it is when messengers
Know how to counsel well. But in my heart
And soul a wrathful sense of injury
Arises when he chides with insolent words
Me, who was equal with him in my lot,
And born to equal destinies. Yet now,
Although offended, I give way; but this
I tell thee, and ’tis from my heart⁠—if he,
In spite of me and Pallas, spoiler-queen,
And Juno, Mercury, and Vulcan, spare
The towers of Troy⁠—if he refuse to bring
Ruin on her, and glory on the Greeks,
Then let him know that hatred without end
Or intermission is between us two.”

As thus he spake, the shaker of the shores
Quitted the Grecian army, took his way
Seaward, and plunged into the deep. The host
Perceived their loss. Then Cloud-compelling Jove
Turned to Apollo and addressed him thus:⁠—

“Now go at once to Hector, mailed in brass,
Beloved Phoebus, for the god who shakes
The earth, departing to the ocean-deeps,
Avoids our wrath; else had the other gods,
Even they who far beneath the earth surround
Old Saturn, heard our quarrel. Well it is
For both of us that he, although enraged,
Braved not my arm, for otherwise the strife
Had not been ended without sweat. Now take
The fringèd aegis in thy hands, and shake
Its orb before the warrior Greeks, to fill
Their hearts with fear. I give, O archer-god,
Illustrious Hector to thy charge. Revive
The might that dwelt within him, till the Greeks
Reach, in their flight, the fleet and Hellespont;
Then shall it be my care, by word and deed,
To give them rest and respite from their toils.”

He spake: Apollo hearkened and obeyed
His father, darting down from Ida’s height
Like the fleet falcon, chaser of the dove,
And swiftest of the race of birds. He found
Hector, the warlike Priam’s noble son,
No longer on his bed. He sat upright;
The life was coming back; he knew again
His friends; the heavy breathing ceased; the sweat
Was stanched; the will of aegis-bearing Jove
Revived the warrior’s strength. The archer-god,
Phoebus, approached, and, standing by him, said:⁠—

“Why, Hector, son of Priam, dost thou sit
Languishing thus, apart from all the host?
Has aught of evil overtaken thee?”

And then the crested Hector feebly said:
“Who mayst thou be, O kindest of the gods,
That thus dost question me? Hast thou not heard
That the great warrior Ajax, with a stone,
Smote me upon the breast, and made me leave
The battle-field, where I o’ertook and slew
His comrades by the galleys of the Greeks?
I thought to be this day among the dead
In Pluto’s mansion; even now it seemed
That I was breathing my dear life away.”

Then spake again Apollo, archer-god:⁠—
“Take courage, for the son of Saturn sends
From Ida’s summit one who will attend
And aid thee⁠—Phoebus of the golden sword,
Long practised to defend thy Troy and thee.
Rise now, encouraging thy numerous host
Of charioteers to press with their swift steeds
Straight toward the roomy galleys of the Greeks,
I go before to smooth for them the way,
And turn the Achaian bands, and make them flee.”

He spake, and into the great ruler’s breast
Breathed strength and courage. As a stabled horse,
Fed at his crib with barley, breaks the thong
That fastened him, and, issuing, scours the plain
Where he was wont in some smooth-flowing stream
To bathe his sides⁠—he holds his head aloft
Proudly, and o’er his shoulders streams the mane⁠—
Consciously beautiful, he darts away
On nimble knees, that bear him to the fields
He knows so well, and pastures of the mares;⁠—
So after he had hearkened to the god
Moved the swift feet of Hector, and he flew
To cheer his horsemen on. As peasant men
Rush with their dogs in chase of horned stag
Or mountain goat, whose refuge is among
Thickets and lofty rocks, nor can they take
Their prey, for at their clamor there appears
A maned lion in the way, and turns
The chasers back, although in hot pursuit⁠—
Thus did the Greeks embattled close pursue
The men of Ilium, striking with their swords
And two-edged spears; but when at length they saw
Hector among the ranks of armèd men,
Their hearts were troubled, and their courage sank.

Thoas, Andrannon’s son, the bravest far
Among the Aetolians, skilled to cast the spear
And combat hand to hand, addressed the Greeks.
In council few excelled him, when the youths
Assembled for debate. With prudent speech
Thoas bespake his fellow-warriors thus:⁠—
“Gods! What a marvel do mine eyes behold;
Hector has risen from death! We fully thought,
Each one of us, that, smitten by the hand
Of Telamonian Ajax, he had died.
Some god hath rescued and restored to strength
This Hector who hath slain, and yet will slay,
I fear, so many Greeks. He comes not thus
Leading the charge without the aid of Jove,
The God of Thunders. Now let all of us
Follow this counsel: bid the multitude
Retreat upon the ships, and let the rest,
Who boast ourselves the bravest of the host,
Stand firm and breast his onset, and so break
Its fury with our lifted spears. I think,
With all his rage, he will be slow to fling
Himself into a band of armèd Greeks.”

He spake; they hearkened and at once complied;
The Ajaxes, the Prince Idomeneus,
Teucer, Meriones, and Meges, peer
Of Mars, assembled all the chiefs, and ranked
Their files to encounter Hector and his band
Of Trojans, while the multitude fell back
To the Greek galleys. Then, in close array,
The Trojan host moved forward. Hector led
The van in rapid march. Before him walked
Phoebus, the terrible aegis in his hands
Dazzlingly bright within its shaggy fringe,
By Vulcan forged, the great artificer,
And given to Jupiter, with which to rout
Armies of men. With this in hand he led
The assailants on. The Achaians kept their ground
In serried ranks, and a sharp yell arose
From Greeks and Trojans. Arrows from the string
Flew through the air, and spears from valiant hands.
Some pierced the breasts of warrior-youths, but more
Fell half-way ere they reached their aim, and plunged
Into the ground, still hungering for their prey.
As long as Phoebus held the aegis still,
The weapons reached and wounded equally
Both armies, and in both the people fell;
But ever when the god looked face to face
On the Greek knights, and shook the orb, and gave
A mighty shout, he made their hearts to sink
Within their bosoms, and their courage fled.
As when two beasts of prey at dead of night
Suddenly, while their keeper is away,
Scatter a herd of beeves or flock of sheep,
So the disheartened Greeks were put to rout
For Phoebus sent among them fear, and gave
Victory to Hector and the men of Troy.

Then, as the lines were broken, man slew man.
First Stichius fell by Hector’s hand, and next
Arcesilaus; one was chief among
The mailed Boeotians, one the trusty friend
Of brave Menestheus. Medon fell before
Aeneas, and with him Iasus died.
Medon was great Otleus’ base-born son,
And Ajax was his brother, and he dwelt
In Phylacè, an exile, for his hand
Had slain the brother of his father’s wife,
The step-dame Eriopis, late espoused.
Iasus was appointed to command
The warriors sent from Athens, and he claimed
His birth from Sphelus, son of Bucolus.
Mecistes fell before Polydamas.
Polites struck down Echius in the van,
And Clonius died by great Agenor’s hand;
And Paris, when Deiochus had turned
To flee, among the foremost combatants,
Smote him upon the shoulder from behind,
And drave the brazen weapon through his heart.

Then, while the Trojans stripped the dead, the Greeks
Fled every way, and, falling as they ran
Into the trench and on the stakes, were driven
Back o’er the rampart. Hector lifted up
His mighty voice, and bade the Trojans leave
The bloody spoil and hasten to the ships.
“And whomsoever I shall find apart
In any place, at distance from the ships,
There will I slay him. None of all his kin,
Women or men, shall build his funeral pile,
But dogs shall tear his limbs in sight of Troy.”

He spake; and on the shoulders of his steeds
He laid the lash, and urged them toward the foe,
And cheered the Trojans on. They joined their shouts
To his, and charged with all their steeds and cars;
And fearful was the din. Apollo marched
Before them, treading down with mighty feet
The banks of the deep ditch, and casting them
Back to the middle, till a causey rose,
Broad, and of length like that to which a spear
Reaches when thrown by one who tries his strength.
O’er this the Trojans poured into the camp
By squadrons, with Apollo still in front,
Holding the marvellous aegis. He with ease
O’erthrew the rampart. As a boy at play
Among the sea-shore sands in childish sport
Scatters with feet and hands the little mounds
He reared, thus didst thou cause the mighty work,
O archer Phoebus, which the Greeks had reared
With so much toil, to crumble. Thou didst fill
Their hearts with eager thoughts of flight, till, hemmed
Between the assailants and their ships, they stopped
And bade each other stand, and raised their hands
To all the gods, and offered vows aloud.
Gerenian Nestor, guardian of the Greeks,
With arms extended toward the starry skies,
Prayed earnestly: “O Father Jove, if e’er
In fruitful Argos there were burned to thee
The thighs of fattened oxen or of sheep,
By one who asked a safe return to Greece,
And thou didst promise it, remember him,
God of Olympus, and avert from us
The day of evil. Suffer not the Greeks
To perish, slaughtered by the sons of Troy.”

So spake he supplicating. Jupiter
The All-disposer thundered as he heard
The old man’s prayer. The Trojans by that voice
Of aegis-bearing Jove were moved to press
The Greeks more resolutely, and were filled
With fiercer valor. As a mighty wave
On the great ocean, driven before a gale
Such as rolls up the hugest billow, sweeps
O’er the ship’s side, so swept the Trojan host
With dreadful tumult o’er the wall. They drave
Their steeds into the camp, and there they fought
Beside the galley-sterns, and hand to hand,
With two-edged spears⁠—they from their cars, the Greeks
From their black ships on high with long-stemmed poles
Which lay upon the decks, prepared for fight
At sea, and strongly joined to blades of brass.

Patroclus, while the Greeks and Trojans fought
Around the wall, at distance from the fleet
Sat with the brave Eurypylus in his tent,
Amusing him with pleasant talk, and dressed
His wound with balms that calmed the bitter pain.
But when he saw the Trojans bursting in
Over the wall, and heard the din, and saw
The Achaians put to rout, he gave a cry
Of sudden grief, and with his open hands
Smote both his thighs, and sorrowfully said:⁠—

“Eurypylus, I cannot stay with thee,
Much as thou needest me, for desperate grows
The struggle. Now let thine attendant take
The charge of thee. I hasten to persuade
Achilles to the field. Who knows but I,
With Jove’s good help, may change his purpose yet?
For potent are the counsels of a friend.”

The hero spake, and instantly his feet
Bore him away. Meanwhile the Achaian host
Firmly withstood the onset of their foes.
And yet, though greater was their multitude,
They could not drive the Trojans from the fleet,
Nor could the Trojans break, with all their power,
The serried lines, and reach the tents and ships.
As when a plumb-line, in the skilful hands
Of shipwright well instructed in his art
By Pallas, squares the beam that builds a barque,
So even was the fortune of the fray.

While some beside one galley waged the war,
And others round another, Hector came
To encounter Ajax the renowned, and both
Fought for one ship. The Trojan could not drive
The Greek away, and burn his ship with fire,
Nor the Greek drive the Trojan, for a god
Had brought him thither. Then did Ajax smite
Caletor, son of Clytius, with his spear
Upon the breast, as he was bringing fire
To burn the ship; he dropped the torch, and fell,
With clashing armor. Hector, as he saw
His kinsman lying slain amid the dust
By the black galley, raised his voice, and thus
Called to the Lycians and the men of Troy:⁠—

“Hear, men of Troy and Lycia, and ye sons
Of Dardanus, who combat hand to hand,
Stand firm, and never yield this narrow ground.
Rescue the son of Clytius, who has fallen
Before the ships, nor let the Achaians make
His arms their spoil.” The hero spake, and aimed
His shining spear at Ajax, whom it missed,
But smote Lycophron, Master’s son, who served
Ajax, and dwelt with him, for he had left
His native land, Cythera, having slain
One of the gallant Cytherean race.
Him Hector smote upon the head beneath
The ear with his keen weapon, as he stood
Near Ajax; from the galley’s stern he fell
Headlong upon the ground, with lifeless limbs.
Then to his brother Teucer Ajax spake:⁠—

“Dear Teucer, see, our faithful friend is gone,
The son of Mastor, from Cythera’s isle,
Whom we had learned to honor equally
With our own parents in our palaces.
He falls before the great-souled Hector’s hand.
Where, then, are now thy shafts that carry death,
And where the bow that Phoebus gave to thee?”

He spake, and Teucer, hearkening, came in haste,
With his bent bow, and quiver full of shafts,
And, standing near him, sent his arrows forth
Among the Trojan warriors. There he smote
Clitus, Pisenor’s eminent son, the friend
Of the renowned Polydamas, who claimed
His birth from Panthoüs. Clitus held the reins,
Guiding the coursers of Polydamas
Where most the crowded Grecian phalanxes
Wavered and broke, that so he might support
Hector and his companions. Soon he met,
Brave as he was, disaster which no hand
Had power to avert: the bitter arrow struck
His neck behind, and from the chariot-seat
He fell to earth; the startled steeds sprang back;
The empty chariot rattled. This the king
Polydamas perceived, and came to meet
His steeds, and gave them to Astinous,
The son of Protiaon, charging him
To keep them ever near, and in his sight,
While he, returning, mingled with the throng
That struggled in the van. Then Teucer aimed
Another shaft at Hector mailed in brass,
Which, had it reached him fighting gallantly,
Had made him leave the battle, for his life
Had ended there. The act was not unseen
By All-disposing Jupiter, whose power
Protected Hector, and denied the Greek
The glory hoped for; for he snapped in twain
The firmly twisted cord as Teucer drew
That perfect bow; the brazen arrow flew
Aside; the warrior’s hands let fall the bow,
And, shuddering, he bespake his brother thus:⁠—

“Now woe is me! Some deity, no doubt,
Brings all our plans to nought. ’Tis he whose touch
Strikes from my hand the bow, and snaps in twain
The cord just twisted, which I bound myself
This morning to the bow, that it might bear
The frequent arrow bounding toward the foe.”

He spake, and thus replied the man of might,
The Telamonian Ajax: “Lay aside
Thy bow, my brother, and thy store of shafts,
Since, in displeasure with the Greeks, a god
Has made them useless. Haste to arm thy hand
With a long spear, and on thy shoulders lay
A buckler, and with these attack the foe,
And bid thy fellows stand. Let Trojans see
That, even though the day thus far be theirs,
They cannot lay their hands on our good ships
Without a mighty struggle. Let us all
Be mindful of our fame for gallant deeds.”

He spake, and Teucer went to place the bow
Within the tents, and on his shoulders hung
A fourfold shield, and placed on his grand brows
A stately helmet with a horse-hair crest
That nodded fearfully. He took in hand
A ponderous spear with brazen blade, and sprang
Forward with hasty steps, and stood beside
His brother Ajax. Hector, when he saw
That Teucer’s shafts had failed him, called aloud
Upon the men of Lycia and of Troy:⁠—

“Ye men of Troy and Lycia, and ye sons
Of Dardanus who combat hand to hand,
Acquit yourselves like men, my friends, and prove
Your fiery valor by these roomy ships;
For I have seen with mine own eyes the shafts
Of their chief warrior rendered impotent
By Jupiter. His hand is plainly seen
Among the sons of men; to some he gives
Glory above the rest; from some he takes
The glory, and withdraws from their defence.
He withers now the courage of the Greeks,
And succors us. Press closely round the fleet,
And combat. Whosoe’er among you all,
Wounded or beaten down, shall meet his death,
So let him die; ’tis no inglorious fate
To perish fighting in his country’s cause;
And he shall leave his wife and children safe,
His home and household store inviolate,
If now the Greeks depart to their own land.”

With words like these he filled their hearts anew
With strength and courage. On the other side
Ajax exhorted thus his warrior friends:⁠—

“Shame on you, Greeks! We perish here, unless
We rescue with strong arms our host and fleet.
Think ye that, should the crested Hector seize
Our galleys, ye may reach your homes on foot?
Hear ye not Hector’s voice, who, fiercely bent
To burn our ships with fire, is cheering on
His warriors? To no dance he summons them,
But to the battle. Nought is left for us,
And other counsel there is none, save this:
Close with the foe; let every hand put forth
Its strength; far better’t were to die at once,
Or make at once our safety sure, than thus
To waste away, in lingering fight, beside
Our ships, destroyed by weaker arms than ours.”

So spake the chief, and all who heard received
Courage and strength. Then Hector put to death
Schedius, the son of Perimedes, prince
Of the Phocaeans. Ajax also slew
Laodamas, Antenor’s honored son,
A chief of infantry. Polydamas
Struck down Cyllenian Otus, who had come,
The comrade of Phylides, at the head
Of the high-souled Epeians. Meges saw,
And rushed upon Polydamas, who sprang
Aside unharmed, for Phoebus suffered not
The son of Panthoüs thus to be o’erthrown,
Fighting among the foremost. But the spear
Of Meges wounded Croesmus in the breast;
He fell with clanging arms. The slayer stripped
The corpse; but Dolops, son of Lampus, skilled
To wield the spear, leaped on him in the act.
Lampus, the father, best of men, was son
Of king Laomedon, and eminent
For warlike prowess. Dolops struck the shield
Of Meges in the midst; the corselet stayed
The blade with its close jointed plates, and saved
The warrior’s life. That corselet Phyleus brought
From Ephyrè, beside the Selleis,
Given by his host, Euphetes, king of men,
For his defence in battle, and it now
Preserved his son from death. Then Meges smote
With his sharp spear the helm that Dolops wore,
And from its summit struck the horse-hair crest,
New-tinged with purple, and the cone entire
Fell midst the dust. While Meges, standing firm,
Fought thus, and hoped the victory, to his aid
Came warlike Menelaus, unobserved,
And, standing near, smote Dolops from behind,
Beneath the shoulder, and drave through the spear
Till it appeared beyond. The Trojan fell
Upon his face, and both the Greeks rushed on
To wrench the brazen armor from his limbs,
When Hector saw his fall and called aloud
Upon the kindred of the slain. He first
Rebuked the valiant Melanippus, son
Of Hicetaon, who but lately fed
His slow-paced beeves at Percote, while yet
The enemy was far from Troy; but when
The Achaians landed from their well-oared barques,
He came to Troy, and took an eminent place
Among the Trojans. Near to Priam’s halls
He had his dwelling, honored equally
With Priam’s sons. Him Hector thus rebuked:⁠—

“Why, Melanippus, are we loitering thus?
Grievest thou not to see thy kinsman slain?
And see’st thou not how eagerly the Greeks
Are spoiling Dolops of his arms? Come on
With me. No time is this for distant fight,
But either we must rout the Greeks, or they
Will level to the ground the lofty towers
Of Ilium, and will slay its citizens.”

He spake, and led the way; his godlike friend
Followed him, while the son of Telamon,
Ajax, exhorted thus the sons of Greece:⁠—

“Be men, my friends, and let a noble dread
Of shame possess your hearts, and jealously
Look to each other’s honor in the heat
Of battle; for to men who flee there comes
No glory, and that way no safety lies.”

He spake, and all were eager to drive back
The assaulting foe; they heeded well his words,
And drew around their barques a fence of mail,
While Jove urged on the Trojans. Then it was
That Menelaus, brave in battle, spake
To rouse the courage of Antilochus:⁠—

“Antilochus, there is no other Greek
Younger than thou, or fleeter; none so strong
For combat. Would that, springing on the foe,
Thou mightest strike some Trojan warrior down.”

So speaking, he drew back; but he had roused
The courage of his friend, who, springing forth
From midst the foremost combatants, took aim,
First looking keenly round, with his bright spear,
From which the Trojans shrank as they beheld
The hero cast it. Not in vain he threw
The weapon, for it struck upon the breast
Brave Melanippus, Hicetaon’s son;
Beneath the pap it smote him as he came.
He fell with ringing arms; Antilochus
Sprang toward him like a hound that springs to seize
A wounded fawn, which, leaping from its lair,
Is stretched disabled by the hunter’s dart.
So sprang the stout Antilochus on thee,
O Melanippus!⁠—sprang to spoil thy limbs
Of armor; but the noble Hector saw,
And, hastening through the thick of battle, came
Against him. Mighty as he was in war,
Yet ventured not Antilochus to wait
His coming; but as flees a savage beast,
Conscious of guilty deed, when, having slain
Herdsman or hound, that kept the pastured kine,
He steals away before a crowd of men,
So fled the son of Nestor. On his rear
The Trojans under Hector poured a storm
Of weapons, and the din was terrible.
Yet when he reached the serried ranks of Greece
He turned and stood. Meanwhile the Trojan host,
Like ravening lions, fiercely rushed against
The galleys, that the will of Jupiter
Might be fulfilled; for now he nerved their limbs
With vigor ever new, while he denied
Stout hearts and victory to the Greeks, and cheered
Their foes with hope. His purpose was to give
The victory to Hector, Priam’s son,
Till he should cast upon the beaked ships
The fierce, devouring fire, and bring to pass
The end for which the cruel Thetis prayed.

Therefore did Jove the All-disposer wait
Till from a burning galley he should see
The flames arise. Then must the Trojan host⁠—
Such was his will⁠—retreating from the fleet,
Yield to the Greeks the glory of the day.
For this he moved the already eager heart
Of Hector, son of Priam, to attack
The roomy ships. The hero was aroused
To fury fierce as Mars when brandishing
His spear, or as a desolating flame
That rages on a mountain-side among
The thickets of a close-grown wood. His lips
Were white with foam; his eyes from underneath
His frowning brows streamed fire; and as he fought,
Upon the hero’s temples fearfully
The helmet nodded. Jupiter himself
Sent aid from his high seat, and heaped on him
Honor and fame beyond the other chiefs⁠—
And they were many⁠—for his term of life
Was to be short. Minerva even now
Was planning to bring on its closing day,
Made fatal by the might of Peleus’ son.
And now he strove to break the Grecian ranks,
Assaulting where he saw the thickest crowd
And the best weapons; yet in vain he strove
With all his valor. Through the serried lines
He could not break; the Greeks in solid squares
Resisted, like a rock that huge and high
By the gray deep abides the buffetings
Of the shrill winds and swollen waves that beat
Against it. Firmly thus the Greeks withstood
The Trojan host, and fled not. In a blaze
Of armor, Hector, rushing toward their ranks,
Fell on them like a mighty billow raised
By the strong cloud-born winds, that flings itself
On a swift ship, and whelms it in its spray,
While fearfully among the cordage howls
The blast; the sailors tremble and are faint
With fear, as men who deem their death-hour nigh.
So the Greek warriors were dismayed at heart.

As when a hungry lion suddenly
Springs on a herd of kine that crop the grass
By hundreds in the broad moist meadow-grounds,
Beneath the eye of one who never learned
To guard his hornèd charge from beasts of prey,
But ever walks before them or behind,
While the grim spoiler bounds into the midst
And makes a prey of one, and all the rest
Are scattered in affright, so all the Greeks
Were scattered by the will of heaven before
Hector and Father Jove. Yet only one,
Young Periphoetes of Mycenae, fell,
The son of Copreus. Once his father went
An envoy from Eurystheus to the court
Of mighty Hercules. The son excelled
The father in all gifts of form and mind,
In speed, in war, in council eminent
Among the noblest of his land. His death
Brought Hector new renown; for as he turned,
Stepping by chance upon his buckler’s rim,
That reached the ground⁠—the buckler which had been
His fence against the enemy’s darts⁠—he fell
Backward, his helmet clashing fearfully
Around his temples. Hector saw, and came
In haste, and pierced his bosom with his spear,
Among his fellow-warriors, who with grief
Beheld, yet dared not aid him, such their awe
Of noble Hector. Now the Greeks retired
Among that row of galleys which were first
Drawn up the beach; the foe poured after them,
In hot pursuit; again the Greeks fell back,
Constrained, and left that foremost row behind,
And stood beside their tents in close array,
And not dispersed throughout the camp, for shame
And fear restrained them, and unceasingly
With shouts they bade each other bravely stand.
Chiefly Gerenian Nestor, wise to guide
The counsels of the Greeks, adjured them all,
And in their parents’ name, to keep their ground.

“O friends, be men; so act that none may feel
Ashamed to meet the eyes of other men.
Think each one of his children and his wife,
His home, his parents, living yet or dead.
For them, the absent ones, I supplicate,
And bid you rally here, and scorn to fly.”

He spake, and his brave words to every heart
Carried new strength and courage. Pallas then
Lifted the heaven-sent cloud that veiled the fight,
And all things in the clear full light were seen
On either side, both where the galleys lay
And where the warriors struggled. They beheld
Hector the great in war, and all his host,
Both those who formed the rear and wielded not
Their arms, and those who combated in front
Beside the ships. And now it pleased no more
The soul of valiant Ajax to remain
In the thick squadrons with the other Greeks,
But, striding on the galley-decks, he bore
A sea-pike two and twenty cubits long,
Huge, and beset with iron nails. As when
One who is skilled to vault on running steeds
Chooses four horses from a numerous herd,
And on the highway to a populous town
Drives them, while men and women in a crowd
Behold his feats with wonder, as he leaps
Boldly, without a fall, from steed to steed,
And back again, and all the while they run,
So on the lofty decks of those good ships
From ship to ship flew Ajax, lifting up
His mighty voice⁠—a shout that reached to heaven⁠—
And bade the Greeks defend their fleet and tents.
Nor loitered Hector in those armèd throngs
Of Troy, but as a tawny eagle swoops
Upon a flock of birds that seek their food
Along a river’s border⁠—geese or cranes,
Or long-necked swans⁠—so Hector in hot haste
Sprang toward a galley with an azure prow,
While mightily the power of Jove impelled
The hero onward, and inflamed his train
With courage. Fiercely then around the ships
The struggle was renewed. Thou wouldst have said
No toils of war could tire those resolute arms,
So stubbornly they fought. In every mind
The thought was this: the Greeks were in despair
Of rescue, and believed their hour had come
To perish; every Trojan hoped to give
The fleet to flames, and slay the sons of Greece.
With thoughts like these the hostile warriors closed.

Then Hector laid his hand upon the stern
Of a stanch galley, beautiful and swift,
In which Protesilaüs came to Troy⁠—
It never bore him back. Around its keel
The Trojans and the Greeks fought hand to hand,
And slew each other. For no more they sent
The arrow or the javelin from afar,
Waiting to see the wound it gave, but each
With equal fury pressed upon his foe
With halberd and with trenchant battle-axe,
Huge sword and two-edged spear. Upon the ground
Had fallen many a fair black-hilted sword
With solid handles, some from slain men’s hands,
Some from lopped arms of warriors; the dark earth
Ran red with blood. But Hector, having laid
His hand upon the galley’s stern, held fast
To the carved point, and called upon his men:⁠—

“Bring fire, and press in throngs upon the foe;
For now doth Jove vouchsafe to us a day
Worth all the past⁠—a day on which we make
The ships our prey. Against the will of Heaven
They landed on our coast, and brought on us
Disasters many, through the coward fears
Of our own elders, who denied my wish
To combat at the galleys, and held back
The people. But if then the Thunderer
Darkened our minds, his spirit moves us now
In what we do, and we obey his will.”

He spake; and they with fiercer valor fell
Upon the Greeks. Even Ajax could no more
Withstand the charge, but, fearing to be slain,
Amid a storm of darts withdrew a space,
To where the seven-foot bench of rowers lay,
And left the galley’s stern. There, as he stood,
He watched the assailants keenly, and beat back
With thrusts of his long spear whoever brought
The firebrand. With terrific shouts he called
Upon the Greeks to combat manfully:⁠—

“O friends, Achaian heroes, ministers
Of Mars, be men, be mindful of your fame
For valor. Do ye dream that in your rear
Are succors waiting us, or firmer walls
That may protect us yet? Nay, no fenced town
Have we for refuge, flanked with towers from which
Fresh troops may take our place. Between the sea
And country of the well-armed Trojans lie
Our tents; our native land is far away;
And now our only hope of safety left
Is in our weapons: there is no retreat.”

He spake, and mightily with his sharp spear
Thrust at whoever of the men of Troy
At Hector’s bidding came with fire to burn
The galleys. On the blade of that long spear
The hero took them as they came, and slew
In close encounter twelve before the fleet.