The Seventh Battle

Contest for the body of Patroclus, which is guarded by Menelaus⁠—Death of Euphorbus⁠—Retreat of Menelaus, and his return with Ajax, after which Hector is obliged to give way⁠—Hector reproved for this by Glaucus⁠—He puts on the armor of Patroclus, and renews the contest, driving back the Greeks⁠—Rally of the Greeks by Ajax⁠—Bravery of Aeneas⁠—Flight of Automedon with the horses and chariot of Patroclus⁠—The defenders of the body of Patroclus involved in darkness, which is dispelled at the prayer of Ajax⁠—A message sent to Achilles informing him of the death of Patroclus, whose body is rescued and borne off by Menelaus and Meriones.

The warlike Menelaus, Atreus’ son,
Beheld Patroclus fall by Trojan hands,
And came in glittering armor to the van
To guard the body of the slain. As walks
A heifer moaning round her new-born young,
So fair-haired Menelaus stalked around
The body of Patroclus, holding forth
His spear and great round shield, intent to slay
Whoever came against him. But the son
Of Panthoüs, mighty spearman, not the less
Intent to spoil the illustrious dead, drew near,
And spake to warlike Menelaus thus:⁠—

“Atrides Menelaus, reared by Jove,
And leader of thy host, give way and leave
The dead, and quit to me his bloody spoil;
For none of our brave Trojans and allies
Smote him in deadly combat with the spear,
Before me. Leave me therefore to receive
The glory due me from the sons of Troy,
Else will I smite thee too, and thou wilt lose
Thy precious life!” Indignant at the word,
The fair-haired Menelaus answered him:⁠—

“O Father Jove! Unseemly boasts are these!
For not the panther’s nor the lion’s might,
Nor that of the fierce forest-boar whose rage
Is heightened into fury, is as great
As that which these distinguished spearmen, sons
Of Panthoüs, utter with their lips. And yet
The horseman Hyperenor did not long
Enjoy his youth when he with insolent words
Assailed me, and withstood me⁠—when he said
That I was the most craven wretch who bore
Arms in the Grecian host. He never turned,
I think, his footsteps homeward to delight
His reverend parents and beloved wife;
And I, like his, will take thy life, if thou
Oppose me. Heed my counsel, and withdraw
Among the crowd, and so avoid my stroke
Before thou come to harm. He is a fool
Who only sees the mischiefs that are past.”

He said: Euphorbus, heeding not his words
Of warning, spake again: “Now is my time,
Jove-nurtured Menelaus, to avenge
My brother, slain by thee, and over whom
Thou utteredst such swelling words, whose wife
In her new bridal chamber thou hast made
A widow, and upon her parents brought
Mourning and endless sorrow. It may make
The sorrow less, should I into the hands
Of Panthoüs and the noble Phrontis give
Thy head and armor. Let us now delay
The strife no longer: it will show with whom
The valor dwells, and who is moved by fear.”

He spake, and smote his enemy’s round shield,
But pierced it not; the stubborn metal turned
The weapon’s point. Then Menelaus, son
Of Atreus, with a prayer to Jupiter,
Struck, as Euphorbus made a backward step,
His throat, and drave the weapon with strong hand
Through the soft neck. He fell with clashing arms.
His locks, which were like those the Graces wear,
And ringlets, bound with gold and silver bands,
Were drenched with blood. As when some husbandman
Rears in a lonely and well-watered spot
An olive-tree with widely spreading boughs,
Beautiful with fresh shoots, and putting forth
White blossoms, gently waved by every wind,
A sudden blast descends with mighty sweep
And tears it from its bed, and lays it prone
Upon the earth⁠—so lay Euphorbus, skilled
To wield the spear and son of Panthoüs, slain
And spoiled by Menelaus, Atreus’ son.
As when a lion of the mountain wilds,
Fearless and strong, bears from the browsing herd
The fairest of the kine, and breaks her neck
With his strong teeth, and, tearing her, devours
The bloody entrails, while a clamorous throng
Of dogs and herdsmen, with incessant cries,
Gather around him, yet approach him not,
Withheld by fear, so of the warriors round so
The gallant Menelaus none could find
The courage to encounter him; and then
Atrides easily had borne away
The sumptuous armor worn by Panthoüs’ son,
If envious Apollo had not moved
Hector to meet him. Putting on the form
Of Mentes, chief of the Ciconian band,
He said to him aloud, with wingèd words:⁠—

“Hector, thou art pursuing what thy feet
Will never overtake, the steeds which draw
The chariot of Achilles. Hard it were
For mortal man to tame them or to guide,
Save for Achilles, goddess-born. Meanwhile
Hath warlike Menelaus, Atreus’ son,
Guarding the slain Patroclus, overthrown
Euphorbus, bravest of the Trojan host,
A son of Panthoüs; he will fight no more.”

Thus spake the god, and disappeared among
The warring squadrons. Bitter was the grief
That seized the heart of Hector as he looked
Along the ranks and saw the Greek bear off
The sumptuous arms, and saw the Trojan lie
Weltering in blood. At once he made his way
To the front rank, all armed in glittering brass,
And with loud shouts. As terrible he came
As Vulcan’s inextinguishable fires.
The son of Atreus heard that mighty shout,
And thus to his great soul lamenting said:⁠—
“If I abandon these rich spoils and leave
Patroclus, who has perished in my cause,
I fear the Greeks will look upon the act
With indignation. If, through dread of shame,
I fight alone with Hector and his men,
I fear to be o’erwhelmed by multitudes,
For crested Hector leads the whole array
Of Trojans hither. Yet why question thus?
For when a warrior ventures to assault
One whom a god protects, a bitter doom
Is his. Then none of all the Greeks should blame
If I give way to Hector, whom a god
Hath sent against me. Yet could I but hear
The voice of mighty Ajax, we would both
Return, and even against a god renew
The combat, that we haply might restore
Patroclus to Achilles, Peleus’ son.
Such in this choice of evils were the least.”

As thus he mused, the men of Troy came on,
With Hector at their head. The Greek gave way
And left the slain. As when a lion, driven
With pikes and clamor from the herdsman’s stalls
By men and dogs, unwillingly retreats,
His valiant heart still raging in his breast,
So did the fair-haired Menelaus leave
Patroclus. When he reached the Grecian ranks,
He turned and stood and looked about to find
The mighty Ajax, son of Telamon,
And him he soon beheld on the left edge
Of battle, rallying there and heartening
His men; for Phoebus from above had sent
A panic fear among them. To him then
The son of Atreus went in haste and said:⁠—

“Ajax, my friend, come hither where we fight
Around Patroclus. Let us strive at least
To bring Achilles back the hero’s corpse,
Though stripped; for crested Hector hath his arms.”

He spake; the courage of the warlike son
Of Telamon was kindled by his words.
To the front rank he hastened, and with him
Went fair-haired Menelaus. Hector there
Had spoiled Patroclus of his glorious arms,
And now was dragging him apart to hew
The head away with his keen sword, and give
The body to the dogs of Troy. Just then
Came Ajax, bearing, like a tower, his shield,
And Hector mingled with the Trojan ranks,
And leaped into his car; but first he gave
His friends the glittering spoil to bear away
To Troy⁠—a glory to the conqueror;
While Ajax, over Menoetiades
Holding his ample shield, stood firm as stands
A lion o’er his whelps, when, as he comes
Leading them through the wood, the hunters rush
Upon him, and his look is terrible
As his knit eyebrows cover his fierce eyes.
So Ajax moved around the hero’s corpse,
While warlike Menelaus by his side,
The son of Atreus, stood in bitter grief.

Then with a look of anger, Glaucus spake⁠—
Son of Hippolochus, and chief among
The Lycians⁠—thus to Hector: “Though thy form,
Hector, be noble, yet in prowess thou
Art wanting, and thy fame in feats of war
Is not deserved, since thou dost fly the foe.
Think whether thou alone, with others born
In Troy, canst save the city and the state.
For henceforth will no Lycian fight for Troy
Against the Greeks; this conflict without end
Has never earned them thanks. Inglorious chief!
How wilt thou be the shield of humbler men,
If thou canst leave Sarpedon, who has been
Thy comrade and thy guest, to be the prey
And spoil of the Greek warriors? While he lived,
Great was the aid he brought thy cause and thee,
And now thou dost not seek to drive away
The dogs from his neglected corpse. For this,
If any of the Lycians heed my words,
They will go home, and imminent will be
The ruin of thy city. If that firm
And resolute valor lived in Trojan hearts
Which they should cherish who in the defence
Of their own country bear the toils and face
The dangers of the field, we might this hour
Drag off the slain Patroclus into Troy.
And should we bear him from the thick of fight
To the great city of Priam, soon the Greeks
Would let us ransom the rich armor worn
By our Sarpedon, and bring back his corpse;
For he lies slain who was the bosom friend
Of the most valiant chieftain at the fleet
Of Greece and leader of her bravest men.
But thou, when great-souled Ajax fixed his eye
Upon thee, didst not venture to remain
And fight with him; he is more brave than thou.”

The crested Hector frowned and thus replied:⁠—
“Why, Glaucus, should a warrior such as thou
Utter such violent words? My friend, I deemed
That thou wert wise above all other men
Of fertile Lycia, but I now must blame
Thy judgment when thou say’st I shrink to meet
The mighty Ajax. I do neither dread
The battle’s fury nor the rush of steeds;
But all prevailing are the purposes
Of aegis-bearing Jove, who makes the brave
To flee, and takes from him the victory,
And then again impels him to the fight.
Come then, my friend, stand by me; see if I
Skulk this time from the conflict, as thou say’st,
Or tame the courage of whatever Greek,
The bravest, who defends Patroclus slain.”

He spake, and, shouting, cheered the Trojans on:
“Trojans and Lycians and Dardanians, trained
To combat hand to hand, let it be seen,
My friends, that ye are men, and still retain
Your ancient valor; while I buckle on
The glorious armor of the illustrious son
Of Peleus, taken from Patroclus slain.”

So spake the crested Hector, and withdrew
From the fierce conflict, and with rapid steps
O’ertook his comrades as they bore away
Townward the glorious arms of Peleus’ son.
There from that deadly strife apart he stood,
And changed his coat of mail. He gave his own
To his companions, to be carried thence
To sacred Ilium, and he buckled on
The immortal armor of Achilles, son
Of Peleus, which the gods of heaven bestowed
Upon his father, who in his old age
Consigned them to Achilles; but the son
Was never in that armor to grow old.

And when the Cloud-compeller Jove beheld
Hector apart, accoutred in the arms
Of Peleus’ godlike son, he shook his head,
And to himself he said: “Unhappy man!
Death even now is near to thee, and yet
Is not in all thy thoughts. Thou puttest on
The heavenly armor of the terrible chief,
Before whom others tremble; thou hast slain
His friend, the brave and gentle, and hast stripped,
To do him shame, the armor from his limbs.
Yet will I for the moment give to thee
Fresh triumphs, since Andromache shall ne’er
Receive, when thou returnest from the field,
The armor of Pelides from thy hands.”

The son of Saturn spake, and gave the nod
With his dark brows. Well did that coat of mail
Suit Hector’s form. Meantime the god of war
In all his fierceness entered Hector’s breast:
Fresh vigor filled and nerved his frame; he went
Along the ranks of his renowned allies
With shouts; that glittering armor made him seem
The large-souled son of Peleus. To them all
He spake in turn, encouraging their hearts⁠—
To Mesthles, Glaucus, and Thersilochus,
Medon, Deisenor, and Hippothoüs,
Asteropaeus, Phorcys, Chromius,
And Ennomus the Augur; these the chief
Exhorted to the fight with wingèd words:⁠—

“Hear me, ye mighty throng of our allies,
Dwellers of nations round us! Not to make
Our army vast in numbers did I send
To summon you, each from his native town,
But that your willing valor might defend
The wives and children of the sons of Troy
From the assailing Greeks. I therefore give
Most freely of our substance in large gifts
And banquets, that ye all may be content;
And now let some of you move boldly on
To do or die, which is the chance of war.
To him who from the field will drag and bring
The slain Patroclus to the Trojan knights,
Compelling Ajax to give way⁠—to him
I yield up half the spoil; the other half
I keep, and let his glory equal mine.”

He spake, and all that mighty multitude
With lifted lances threw themselves against
The Grecian ranks. They hoped to bear away
The dead from Ajax, son of Telamon.
Ah, idle hope! that hero o’er the dead
Took many a Trojan’s life. Then Ajax thus
To Menelaus, great in battle, spake:⁠—

“O friend, O Menelaus, reared by Jove,
No longer now I hope our safe return
From battle. Not the greatest of my fears
Is for Patroclus, whom the dogs of Troy
And birds of prey full quickly will devour,
But for my life and thine. That cloud of war,
Hector, o’ershadows all, and over us
Impends the doom of death. Yet let us call
Our mighty men, if they perchance may hear.”

He spake, and Menelaus, great in war,
Obeyed his wish and shouted to the Greeks:⁠—

“O friends, the princes and the chiefs of Greece,
Who at the public feasts with Atreus’ sons⁠—
King Agamemnon and his brother chief⁠—
Drink wine⁠—who each command a host, and hold
Your honors and your state from Jove⁠—my eyes
Cannot discern you in the thick of fight;
But some of you, who cannot bear to leave
Patroclus to the dogs of Troy, draw near!”

He spake; Oilean Ajax, swift of foot,
Heard and came forward, hastening through the fight;
And after him Idomeneus, who brought
Meriones, his armor-bearer, fierce
As the man-slayer Mars. But who could tell
The names of all the other Greeks that sprang
To mingle in the strife? The Trojans made
The first assault, and Hector led them on.

As at the mouth of some great river, swol’n
By rains from Jove, the mighty ocean-wave
Meets it with roaring, and the cliffs around
Rebellow, while the surges toss without,
With such a clamor came the Trojans on,
While round Patroclus closed, with one accord,
The Greeks, protected by their brazen shields,
And o’er their shining helmets Saturn’s son
Poured darkness. For when Menoetiades
Yet lived, attendant upon Peleus’ son,
Jove looked on him with no unkind regard,
And now he would not that his corse should feed
The enemy’s dogs, and therefore moved his friends
To rescue him. At first the Trojans drave
The dark-eyed Greeks before them; back they fell
And left the dead; yet, fiercely as they came,
The Trojans slew no man, but dragged away
The dead. A moment, and no more, the Greeks
Fell back; for Ajax quickly rallied them⁠—
Ajax, who, next to Peleus’ valiant son,
Excelled them all in form and feats of war;
He through the foremost warriors brake, as strong
As a wild bear that on the mountain’s side
Breaks through the shrubs, and scatters with a bound
A band of youths and dogs. The illustrious son
Of honored Telamon thus put to rout
The Trojan phalanxes environing
Patroclus, in the hope to bear him thence
Townward with glory. There Hippothoüs, son
Of Lethus the Pelasgian, having bound
A thong about the sinewy ankle, toiled
To drag away the slain man by the foot
From that fierce strife⁠—a grateful spectacle
To Hector and the Trojans. Yet on him
A vengeance which no friendly arm could ward
Fell suddenly. The son of Telamon
Rushed through the crowd, and in close combat smote
His helmet’s brazen cheek. That plumèd helm
Was cleft by the huge spear and vigorous hand,
And where the weapon struck Hippothoüs,
Mingled with blood the brain gushed forth; the life
Forsook his limbs; he dropped from nerveless hands
The foot of brave Patroclus, and beside
The corpse fell headlong⁠—far from the rich fields
Of his Larissa, never to repay
With gentle cares in their old age the love
Of his dear parents; for his life was short,
Slain by the spear of Ajax, large of soul.

Then Hector aimed again his shining spear
At Ajax, who perceived it as it came,
And just avoided it. The weapon struck
Schedius, the valiant son of Iphitus,
And bravest of the Phocians, whose abode
Was Panopeus the famous, where he ruled
O’er many men. Beneath the collar-bone
It pierced him, and passed through; the brazen point
Came out upon the shoulder; to the ground
He fell, his armor clashing with his fall.
Then Ajax smote the valiant Phorcys, son
Of Phoenops, in the navel. Through the mail
The brazen weapon broke, and roughly tore
The entrails. In the dust he fell, and clenched
The earth with dying hands. The foremost ranks,
Led by illustrious Hector, at the sight
Yielded the ground; the Greeks with fearful shouts
Dragged off the bodies of Hippothoüs
And Phorcys, and despoiled them of their arms.

Then would the Trojans have been put to flight
Before the warlike Greeks, and, craven like,
Gone up to Troy, and great had been the fame
Gained by the might and courage of the Greeks,
Beyond what Jupiter designed to give,
Had not Apollo brought Aeneas forth
By putting on the form of Periphas,
The herald and the son of Epytus,
Who in that office as a prudent friend
And counsellor had served, till he grew old,
The father of Aeneas. In his shape
Thus spake Apollo, son of Jupiter:⁠—

“Aeneas, ye might even hold the towers
Of lofty Ilium safe against a god,
Were ye to act as some whom I have seen⁠—
Valiant, and confident in their own might
And multitude of dauntless followers.
And now Jove favors us and offers us
The victory o’er the Greeks, and yet ye flee
In abject terror, and refuse to fight.”

He spake; Aeneas, looking at him, knew
The archer-god, and with a mighty voice
Called out to Hector: “Hector! Thou and all
Who lead the troops of Troy, and our allies,
Great shame it were if we were put to rout
Before the warlike Greeks, and beaten back
To Troy like cowards. Standing by my side,
One of the gods already hath declared
That Jupiter, All-wise, is our ally
In battle. Let us therefore boldly fall
Upon the Greeks, nor suffer them to bear
Patroclus unmolested to their fleet.”

He spake, and, springing to the foremost ranks
Stood firm; the Trojans also turned and faced
The Achaians. Then Aeneas with his spear
Struck down Leocritus, the gallant friend
Of Lycomedes and Arisbas’ son.
The warlike Lycomedes saw his fall
With grief, and came and cast his shining spear
At Apisaon, son of Hippasus,
A shepherd of the people. Underneath
The midriff, through the liver went the spear,
And he fell lifeless. He had come to Troy
From rich Pseonia, and was great in war,
Next to Asteropaeus. As he saw
His comrade fall, Asteropaeus, moved
By grief, advanced to combat with the Greeks,
But could not; for the group that stood around
Patroclus showed a fence of shields, and held
Their spears before them. Ajax moved among
The warriors, charging them that none should leave
The corpse, and none should step beyond the rest
To strike the foe, but stay to guard the dead,
And combat hand to hand. Such was the charge
Of mighty Ajax. All the earth around
Was steeped with blood, and many a corpse was heaped
On corpse of Trojans and their brave allies,
And of the Greeks, for even on their side
The strife was not unbloody, though of Greeks
There perished fewer; each was on the watch
To ward the battle’s dangers from the rest.

Then did they fight like fire. You could not say
The sun was safe, nor yet the moon, so thick
A darkness gathered over the brave men
Around the corpse of Menoetiades.
The other Trojans and the well-armed Greeks
Fought freely under the clear sky; the sun
Shed o’er them his full brightness; not a cloud
Shadowed the earth, or rested on the hills.
From time to time they paused, and warily
They shunned each other’s cruel darts, and kept
Far from each other, while in the mid-war
Struggled the combatants in darkness, galled
By the remorseless weapons of their foes.
Yet Thrasymedes and Antilochus,
Two famous Grecian warriors, had not learned
That excellent Patroclus was no more,
But thought that, still alive, he led the war
Against the Trojans, fighting in the van.
They watched the flight and slaughter of the Greeks,
And fought apart, for Nestor so enjoined,
Who sent them to the battle from the fleet.

But they who held the middle space around
The friend of swift Aeacides, maintained
A desperate strife all day; the knees, the thighs,
The feet, the hands, the eyes of those who fought
Were faint with weariness and foul with sweat.
As when an ample ox-hide, steeped in fat,
Is given to workmen to be stretched, they stand
Around it in a circle, pulling it,
Till forth the moisture issues, and the oil
Enters the skin, and by that constant strain
From many hands the hide is duly stretched,
So in small space the warriors drew the dead
Hither and thither; they of Ilium strove
To drag it to the city, they of Greece
To bear it to the fleet. The tumult then
Was terrible, and neither Mars himself,
The musterer of hosts, nor Pallas, roused
To her intensest wrath, had they been near
The struggle, would have seen it with disdain.
Such deadly strife of steeds and men was held
O’er slain Patroclus by the will of Jove.

The great Achilles knew not yet the fate
Of his Patroclus, for the warriors fought
Far from the fleet, beside the wall of Troy.
He never thought of him as one whose death
Was near, but trusted that, when once he reached
The Trojan wall, he would return alive;
Nor ever deemed he that without his aid,
Or even with it, would Patroclus sack
The city. This was what he oft had heard
From Thetis, who disclosed to him apart
The counsel of Almighty Jupiter.
Yet had his mother never once revealed
The present evil⁠—that the one whom most
He loved of all his friends should perish thus.

Still round the dead they fought with their keen spears,
And slew each other. Then of the mailed Greeks
Someone would say: “O friends, it were disgrace
Should we fall back upon our roomy ships.
First let the dark earth swallow us; for this
Were better than to let the Trojan knights
Drag off the dead in triumph to their town.”

And some among the large-souled sons of Troy
Would say: “O friends, though all of us should fall
Beside this corpse, let no one turn and flee.”
Thus they, encouraging each other, spake,
And thus the fight went on. The iron din
Rose through the waste air to the brazen heaven.

Meantime aloof from battle stood the steeds
Of Peleus’ son, and sorrowed when they knew
That he who guided them lay stretched in dust
By Hector’s slaughtering hand. Automedon,
The brave son of Diores, often tried
The lash, and gentle words as oft, and oft
Shouted forth threats; yet neither would they move
Toward the broad Hellespont, where lay the fleet,
Nor toward the Greeks in combat, but remained
Motionless as a funeral column, reared
To mark a man’s or woman’s tomb. So stood
The coursers yoked to that magnificent car,
With drooping heads, and tears that from their lids
Flowed hot, for sorrow at the loss of him
Who was their charioteer, and their fair manes,
Sweeping the yoke below, were foul with dust.
The son of Saturn saw their grief, and shook
His head in pity, saying to himself:⁠—

“Why did the gods bestow you, luckless pair,
On Peleus⁠—on a king of mortal birth⁠—
You who shall never feel old age or death?
Was it that ye might share with human-kind
Their sorrows? for the race of mortal men
Of all that breathe and move upon the earth
Is the most wretched. Yet of this be sure⁠—
That ye shall never in that sumptuous car
Bear Hector. Is it not enough that he
Should wear that armor, uttering idle boasts?
And now will I infuse into your limbs
Spirit and strength, that ye may safely bear
Automedon across the battle-field
To where the roomy galleys lie. I yet
Must give more glory to the men of Troy,
And they must slay until they come again
To the good ships of Greece⁠—until the sun
Goes down and sacred darkness covers all.”

So spake the god, and breathed into the steeds
New life and vigor. From their manes they shook
The dust, and flew with that swift car among
The Greeks and Trojans. With the Trojan throng,
Automedon, though mourning his slain friend,
Maintained the fight; he rushed upon their ranks,
A vulture pouncing on a flock of geese.
Swiftly he passed from out the Trojan throng;
Swiftly again he charged their phalanxes
In fierce pursuit. Yet slew he none of those
Whom he pursued; he could not guide at once
The steeds and cast the spear, when seated thus
Alone within that sacred car. At last
A friend, the valorous Alcimedon,
Laërces’ son, of Aemon’s line, beheld
His plight, and, standing near his chariot, said:⁠—

“What god, Automedon, hath prompted thee
To these mad acts, and stolen thy better sense,
Fighting alone among the foremost ranks
Of Trojan warriors, thy companion slain,
And Hector in the field, who boastfully
Stalks in the armor of Aeacides?”

And thus Automedon, Diores’ son,
Made answer: “Who is there among the Greeks
Able like thee, Alcimedon, to rein
And curb the spirit of immortal steeds?
None were there save Patroclus while he lived,
Wise as a god in council. Death and fate
Now hold him. To thy hand I give the lash
And shining reins, while I descend and fight.”

He spake, and into his swift chariot sprang
Alcimedon, and took the lash and reins.
Automedon leaped down. As Hector saw,
He thus bespake Aeneas at his side:⁠—

“Aeneas, leader of the men of Troy,
Equipped in brazen armor, I have seen
Those coursers of the swift Aeacides
Driven through the battle by unwarlike hands,
And ’tis my hope, if thou wilt give thine aid,
To seize them. They who guide them will not dare
To stand and face us when we make the charge.”

He spake; Anchises’ valiant son complied,
And, sheltered by their shields of tough ox-hide,
Well dried and firm, and strong with plates of brass,
The twain went forward. With them at their side
Went Chromius and Aretus, nobly formed,
In hope to lead away the high-necked steeds,
Their guardians slain. Vain dreamers! They were doomed
Not without bloody penance to return
From that encounter with Automedon,
Who prayed to Father Jove, and whose faint heart
Was strengthened and made bold. And thus the chief
Said to his faithful friend Alcimedon:⁠—

“Keep not the steeds thou guidest far from me,
Alcimedon, but let them ever breathe
Upon my shoulders. Hector, Priam’s son,
I think, will not give over this assault
Before he either slays us, and ascends
The car to which these steeds with flowing manes
Are yoked, and puts to flight the phalanxes
Of Argive warriors, or himself is slain.”

He spake, and called to both the Ajaxes
And Menelaus: “Ye who lead the Greeks,”
He said, and named the chieftains, “give in charge
The dead to your best warriors, to surround
And guard the corpse, and drive away the foe;
But hasten to avert the evil day
From us who are alive. For even now
Hector comes rushing through the deadly fight,
And brings Aeneas; these are the most brave
Of all the Trojan army. On the knees
Of the great gods the issue rests. I too
Will cast the spear, and leave the rest to Jove.”

He spake, and lifting his huge spear he smote
The round shield of Aretus. There the blade
Stopped not, but, entering, pierced him through the belt.
As, when a vigorous youth with a keen axe
Strikes a wild bull behind the horns, and there
Severs the sinews, forward leaps the beast
And falls⁠—Aretus, springing forward thus,
Fell headlong. In the Trojan’s entrails still
Quivered the spear, and life forsook his limbs.

Then Hector aimed, to smite Automedon,
His shining spear. The Greek beheld and stooped,
And shunned the brazen weapon. Down it came,
And plunged into the earth, and stood, its stem
Still shaken with the blow, and spent its force.
Now would the twain have turned, and hand to hand
Fought with their swords, when suddenly came up
The warriors Ajax, hastening, at the call
Of their companion, through the crowd, and stayed
The combat. Hector and Aeneas then,
And Chromius, of the godlike form, withdrew
Through caution, leaving on the battle-field
Aretus lying mangled. The fierce chief
Automedon despoiled the dead, and spake
Boastfully: “Somewhat lighter on my heart
Lies now my grief for Menoetiades,
Though I have slain a man of meaner note.”

As thus he spake, he threw the bloody spoils
Into his chariot, mounting to the seat,
His feet and hands all crimson with the blood,
As when a lion has devoured an ox.
Then round Patroclus raged the strife again,
Murderous and sad to see; for Pallas there
Inflamed the strife, sent down from heaven by Jove,
To rouse the courage of the Greeks, since such
Was now his will. As when the god displays
To men a purple rainbow in the skies,
A sign of war or of a bitter storm,
Which drives the laborer from his task, and makes
The cattle droop, so, in a purple cloud
Concealed, she went among the Greeks, and filled
Their hearts with valor. Taking first the form
Of Phoenix, and his clear, unwearied voice,
She spake in stirring words to Atreus’ son,
The gallant Menelaus, standing near:
“Shame and dishonor will it be to thee,
O Menelaus, if, beneath the walls
Of Troy, the hungry dogs should tear the corpse
Of him who was in life the faithful friend
Of great Achilles. Fight thou therefore on
Bravely, and bid the other Greeks be brave.”

And Menelaus, great in war, rejoined:
“O Phoenix, aged father, who wert born
In days long past, would but Minerva give
The needed strength, and ward from me the stroke
Of weapons, then would I stand by and guard
Patroclus, for his death hath filled my heart
With grief. But Hector’s rage is like the rage
Of fire; he ceases not to slay; for Jove
Gives to his spear the glory of the day.”

He spake, and well was blue-eyed Pallas pleased
That first to her of all the deities
He prayed; and therefore did she nerve his chest
And knees with strength, and put into his heart
The daring of the fly, that, often driven
From man, returns and bites, and finds how sweet
Is human blood. Such resolute zeal she woke
In his stern soul, as quickly he approached
Patroclus, and sent forth his shining spear.
Among the Trojans was Eëtion’s son,
Podes, the rich and brave, whom Hector held
In highest honor, choosing him to be
Companion of his feasts. Him in the waist
The fair-haired Menelaus, as he fled,
Smote, driving home the weapon. With a clash
He fell to earth, and Menelaus drew
The slain away among the Grecian ranks.
Then came Apollo, putting on the form
Of Phaenops, son of Asius, whose abode
Was in Abydos, and whom Hector most
Esteemed of all his guests. The archer-god
Drew near to Hector, and bespake him thus:⁠—

“Hector, what other Greek will fear thee now,
Since thou dost shrink from Menelaus, deemed
Effeminate in war? Behold, he drags
Away a warrior from thy host; his hand
Hath slain thy faithful friend, Eëtion’s son,
Brave Podes, fighting in the foremost ranks.”

He spake: a cloud of sorrow overspread
The soul of Hector. Armed in glittering brass,
He went among the warriors in the van.
Then did the son of Saturn lift on high
His fringèd aegis, gleaming; with a cloud
He covered Ida, sent his lightnings down,
And thundered terribly, and made the mount
Shake to its base, and gave the victory
To Troy, and put to rout the Grecian host.

Peneleus of Bueotia led the fight.
A spear that lighted on the shoulder-tip,
As he came forward, wounded him. The blade,
Hurled by Polydamas in close assault,
Entered and grazed the bone. Then Hector pierced
The wrist of Leitus, Alectryon’s son,
And made him leave the combat. As he fled
He looked around in fear, nor hoped again
To wield the spear against the men of Troy.
As Hector followed Leitus, he met
The long spear of Idomeneus, which struck
His corselet near the pap; the weapon broke
Sheer at the socket, and the Trojans raised
A shout, while Hector at Idomeneus
Let fly his spear. It missed the chief, but smote
Coeranus, who from pleasant Lyctus came,
The friend and follower of Meriones.
For on that day Idomeneus had come
From his good ships on foot, and great had been
The triumph of the Trojans at his fall,
If Coeranus had not with his swift steeds
Passed near and bid him mount. ’Twas thus he came
To save Idomeneus from death, and yield
To the man-queller Hector his own life;
The javelin entered underneath the ear,
By the jaw-bone, where, forcing out the teeth,
It cleft the tongue in twain. He fell to earth,
And dropped the reins. Meriones stooped down
And took them from the dust in his own hands,
And thus bespake Idomeneus: “Ply well
The lash, until thy coursers reach the fleet,
For thou mayst clearly see that victory
Today is not upon the Grecian side.”

He spake: Idomeneus, fear-smitten, lashed
The long-maned steeds that hurried toward the fleet.
Nor now did Menelaus nor his friend,
The valiant Ajax, fail to see that Jove
Had changed the vantage to the side of Troy.
And thus the son of Telamon began:⁠—

“Alas! The feeblest mind can now perceive
That Father Jove is with the sons of Troy,
And gives to them the glory of the day.
Their weapons smite, whoever sends them forth,
Coward or brave, for Jove directs them all;
Ours fall to earth in vain. But let us now
Consult how best to bear the corpse away,
And how, returning, we may meet our friends
With joy; for they are grieved as they behold
Our plight, and fear that we may not withstand
The fiery onset and invincible arm
Of the man-queller Hector. Would there were
Some comrade who would bear to Peleus’ son
The tidings of the day! For he, I think,
Has not yet heard that his dear friend is slain.
None such can I behold of all the Greeks,
For they are shrouded all⁠—their steeds and they⁠—
In darkness. Father Jove, deliver us
From darkness; clear the heavens and give our eyes
Again to see. Destroy us if thou wilt,
But O destroy us in the light of day!”

He spake: the All-Father saw him shedding tears,
And pitied him, and bade the shadows flee,
And swept away the cloud. The sun looked forth,
And all the battle lay in light. Then thus
To warlike Menelaus Ajax said:⁠—

“O Menelaus, foster-child of Jove,
Look round and see if yet Antilochus,
The large-souled son of Nestor, is alive,
And bid him bear the tidings in all haste
To the great son of Peleus, that the one
Of all his friends whom most he loved is slain.”

He spake, and Menelaus, great in war,
Complied, and hastened forth, as from a fold
A lion stalks away, that long has kept
In fear the hounds and herdsmen, who all night
Have watched to drive him from their well-fed beeves,
While, eager for his prey, he rushes oft
Against them, but in vain, for many a spear
Is hurled at him, and many a blazing brand,
Which, fierce for ravin as he is, he dreads,
Till sullenly at early morn he goes.
So from Patroclus went unwillingly
The valiant Menelaus, for he feared
Lest, panic-struck, the Greeks should leave his corpse
The enemy’s prey. Thus earnestly he prayed
The warriors Ajax and Meriones:⁠—

“Ye warriors Ajax, leaders of the Greeks!
And thou, Meriones! Let each of you
Bear well in mind how kindly was the mood
Of poor Patroclus; gentle in his life
Was he to all, and now is with the dead.”
The fair-haired Menelaus, speaking thus,
Withdrew. He looked around him as he went,
As looks an eagle, bird of sharpest sight⁠—
So men declare⁠—of all the fowls of air,
From which, though high in heaven, the nimble hare
Beneath the thicket is not hid; he stoops,
And takes the creature’s life. Thy piercing eyes,
O Menelaus, thus on every side
Were turned, in eager scrutiny, to find
Among the multitude of Greeks the son
Of Nestor living. Him he soon descried
Upon the battle’s left, where manfully
He cheered his fellows on. The fair-haired son
Of Atreus came and stood by him, and said:⁠—

“Stay, foster-child of Jove, Antilochus!
And listen to the sorrowful news I bring
Of what should ne’er have been. Thou must have well
Perceived, I think, that some divinity
Doth heap disaster on our host, and give
The victory to the Trojans. He is dead⁠—
Patroclus⁠—the most valiant of the Greeks,
And great their sorrow is. Now hasten thou
To the Greek galleys; let Achilles know
The tidings; he may haply bring the corpse,
Stripped as it is, unmangled to the fleet,
For crested Hector has the arms he wore.”

He spake, and at his words Antilochus
Was horror-struck; in grief too great for speech,
Tears filled his eyes, and his clear voice was choked.
Yet heeded he the mandate. Laying off
His arms, he gave them to his blameless friend,
Laodocus, who with his firm-paced steeds
Came toward him. Thus prepared he ran; his feet
Carried him swiftly from the battle-field
To bear the evil news to Peleus’ son.

Yet Menelaus, foster-child of Jove,
Thy spirit did not prompt thee to remain
And aid thy hard-pressed comrades at the spot
Whence thou didst send Antilochus, and where
The Pyleans longed to keep him. Yet he sent
The noble Thrasymedes to their aid,
While he returned to where Patroclus lay,
And stood beside the warriors there, and said:⁠—

“I sent to swift Achilles at the fleet
A messenger, yet think he will not come.
Though royal Hector’s deed hath roused his rage,
Unarmed he cannot meet the sons of Troy.
Consult we then how we may best convey
The body to the ships, and how ourselves
Escape the doom of death by Trojan hands.”

The mighty Ajax, son of Telamon,
Replied: “O Menelaus far-renowned,
Well hast thou spoken. Lift thou now the corse,
Thou and Meriones, and place yourselves
Beneath it, and convey it from the field.
We, following you, will combat with the sons
Of Troy and noble Hector⁠—we who, named
Alike and one in spirit, oft have borne
The fury of the battle side by side.”

He ended, and the warriors in their arms
Raised with main strength the body from the ground.
The Trojans, as they saw it borne away,
Shouted behind them, rushing on like hounds
That spring upon a wounded forest-boar
Before the hunter-youths now pressing close
Upon his flank, to tear him, then again,
Whene’er he turns upon them in his strength,
Retreating in dismay, and put to flight
Hither and thither. Thus, in hot pursuit
And close array, the Trojans following strook
With swords and two-edged spears; but when the twain
Turned and stood firm to meet them, every cheek
Grew pale, and not a single Trojan dared
Draw near the Greeks to combat for the corse.

Thus rapidly they bore away the dead
Toward their good galleys from the battle-field.
Onward with them the furious battle swept,
As spreads a fire that, kindled suddenly,
Seizes a city, and the dwellings sink
In the consuming blaze, and a strong wind
Roars through the flame. Such fearful din of steeds
And warriors followed the retreating Greeks.
As from a mountain summit strong-backed mules
Drag over the rough ways a ponderous beam
Or mast, till weary with the mighty strain
And streaming sweat, so they with resolute toil
Bore off the dead. Behind them as they went
Their two defenders kept the foe aloof.
As when a river-dike o’ergrown with trees
Crosses a plain, and holds the violent course
Of the swol’n stream in check, and, driving back
The waters, spreads them o’er the level fields,
Nor can their fury force a passage through⁠—
So did the warriors Ajax hold in check
The Trojans; yet they followed close, and two
More closely than the rest⁠—Aeneas, son
Of old Anchises, and the illustrious chief,
Hector. As when a company of daws
Or starlings, startled at a hawk’s approach,
The murderous enemy of the smaller birds,
Take wing with piercing cries, so, driven before
The might of Hector and Aeneas, fled
The Greeks with clamorous cries, and thought no more
Of combat. In the trench and near it lay
Many fair weapons, which the fugitive Greeks
Had dropped in haste, and still the war went on.