The Funeral of Patroclus

Preparations for the funeral of Patroclus hastened by his appearance to Achilles in a dream⁠—Wood brought from the forest for the funeral pile⁠—A funeral procession, with offerings of hair shorn from the heads of the chiefs and laid on the dead⁠—Sacrifice offered, and the twelve Trojan youths slain, and the pile kindled⁠—The funeral games, at which Achilles presides.

So mourned they in the city; but the Greeks,
When they had reached the fleet and Hellespont,
Dispersed, repairing each one to his ship,
Save that Achilles suffered not his band
Of Myrmidons to part in disarray.
And thus the chief enjoined his warrior friends:⁠—

“Myrmidons, gallant knights, my cherished friends!
Let us not yet unyoke our firm-paced steeds,
But bring them with the chariots, and bewail
Patroclus with the honors due the dead,
And, when we have indulged in grief, release
Our steeds and take our evening banquet here.”

He spake, and led by him the host broke forth
In lamentation. Thrice around the dead,
Weeping, they drave their steeds with stately manes,
While Thetis in their hearts awoke the sense
Of hopeless loss; their tears bedewed the sands,
And dropped upon their arms, so brave was he
For whom they sorrowed. Peleus’ son began
The mourning; on the breast of his dead friend
He placed his homicidal hands, and said:⁠—

“Hail thou, Patroclus, even amid the shades!
For now shall I perform what once I vowed:
That, dragging Hector hither, I will give
His corse to dogs, and they shall rend his flesh;
And at thy funeral pile there shall be slain
Twelve noble Trojan youths, to avenge thy death.”

So spake he, meditating outrages
To noble Hector’s corse, which he had flung
Beside the bier of Menoetiades,
Amid the dust. The Myrmidons unbraced
Their shining brazen armor, and unyoked
Their neighing steeds, and sat in thick array
Beside the ship of swift Aeacides,
While he set forth a sumptuous funeral feast.
Many a white ox, that day, beneath the axe
Fell to the earth, and many bleating goats
And sheep were slain, and many fattened swine,
White-toothed, were stretched to roast before the flame
Of Vulcan, and around the corse the earth
Floated with blood. Meantime the Grecian chiefs
To noble Agamemnon’s royal tent
Led the swift son of Peleus, though he went
Unwillingly, such anger for the death
Of his companion burned within his heart.
As soon as they had reached his tent, the king
Bade the clear-throated heralds o’er the fire
Place a huge tripod, that Pelides there
Might wash away the bloody stains he bore.
Yet would he not, and with an oath replied:⁠—

“No! By the greatest and the best of gods,
By Jupiter, I may not plunge my head
Into the bath before I lay my friend
Patroclus on the fire, and heap his mound,
And till my hair is shorn; for never more
In life will be so great a sorrow mine.
But now attend we to this mournful feast.
And with the morn, O king of men, command
That wood be brought, and all things duly done
Which may beseem a warrior who goes down
Into the lower darkness. Let the flames
Seize fiercely and consume him from our sight,
And leave the people to the tasks of war.”

He spake; they hearkened and obeyed, and all
Prepared with diligent hands the meal, and each
Sat down and took his portion of the feast.
And when their thirst and hunger were allayed,
Most to their tents betook them and to rest.
But Peleus’ son, lamenting bitterly,
Lay down among his Myrmidons, beside
The murmuring ocean, in the open space,
Where plashed the billows on the beach. And there,
When slumber, bringing respite from his cares,
Came softly and enfolded him⁠—for much
His shapely limbs were wearied with the chase
Of Hector round the windy Ilium’s walls⁠—
The soul of his poor friend Patroclus came,
Like him in all things⁠—stature, beautiful eyes,
And voice, and garments which he wore in life.
Beside his head the vision stood and spake:⁠—

“Achilles, sleepest thou, forgetting me?
Never of me unmindful in my life,
Thou dost neglect me dead. O, bury me
Quickly, and give me entrance through the gates
Of Hades; for the souls, the forms of those
Who live no more, repulse me, suffering not
That I should join their company beyond
The river, and I now must wander round
The spacious portals of the House of Death.
Give me thy hand, I pray; for never more
Shall I return to earth when once the fire
Shall have consumed me. Never shall we take
Counsel together, living, as we sit
Apart from our companions; the hard fate
Appointed me at birth hath drawn me down.
Thou too, O godlike man, wilt fall beneath
The ramparts of the noble sons of Troy.
Yet this I ask, and if thou wilt obey,
This I command thee⁠—not to let my bones
Be laid apart from thine. As we were reared
Under thy roof together, from the time
When first Menoetius brought thee, yet a boy,
From Opus, where I caused a sorrowful death;⁠—
For by my hand, when wrangling at the dice,
Another boy, son of Amphidamas,
Was slain without design⁠—and Peleus made
His halls my home, and reared me tenderly,
And made me thy companion;⁠—so at last
May one receptacle, the golden vase
Given by thy gracious mother, hold our bones.”

The swift Achilles answered: “O most loved
And honored, wherefore art thou come, and why
Dost thou command me thus? I shall fulfil
Obediently thy wish; yet draw thou near,
And let us give at least a brief embrace,
And so indulge our grief.” He said, and stretched
His longing arms to clasp the shade. In vain;
Away like smoke it went, with gibbering cry,
Down to the earth. Achilles sprang upright,
Astonished, clapped his hands, and sadly said:⁠—

“Surely there dwell within the realm below
Both soul and form, though bodiless. All night
Hath stood the spirit of my hapless friend
Patroclus near me, sad and sorrowful,
And asking many duties at my hands,
A marvellous semblance of the living man.”

He spake, and moved the hearts of all to grief
And lamentation. Rosy-fingered Morn
Dawned on them as around the hapless dead
They stood and wept. Then Agamemnon sent
In haste from all the tents the mules and men
To gather wood, and summoned to the task
Meriones, himself a gallant chief,
Attendant on the brave Idomeneus.
These went with woodmen’s axes and with ropes
Well twisted, and before them went the mules.
O’er steep, o’er glen, by straight, by winding ways,
They journeyed till they reached the woodland wilds
Of Ida fresh with springs, and quickly felled
With the keen steel the towering oaks that came
Crashing to earth. Then, splitting the great trunk.
They bound them on the mules, that beat the earth
With hasty footsteps through the tangled wood,
Impatient for the plain. Each woodcutter
Shouldered a tree, for so Meriones,
Companion of the brave Idomeneus,
Commanded, and at last they laid them down
In order on the shore, where Peleus’ son
Planned that a mighty sepulchre should rise
Both for his friend Patroclus and himself.

So brought they to the spot vast heaps of wood,
And sat them down, a numerous crowd. But then
Achilles bade his valiant Myrmidons
Put on their brazen mail and yoke their steeds.
At once they rose, and put their harness on,
And they who fought from chariots climbed their seats
With those who reined the steeds. These led the van,
And after them a cloud of men on foot
By thousands followed. In the midst was borne
Patroclus by his comrades. Cutting off
Their hair, they strewed it, covering the dead.
Behind the corpse, Achilles in his hands
Sustained the head, and wept, for on that day
He gave to Hades his most cherished friend.
Now when they reached the spot which Pelcus’ son
Had chosen, they laid down the dead, and piled
The wood around him, while the swift of foot,
The great Achilles, bent on other thoughts,
Standing apart, cut off his amber hair,
Which for the river Sperchius he had long
Nourished to ample growth, and, sighing, turned
His eyes upon the dark-blue sea, and said:⁠—

“Sperchius, in vain my father made a vow
That I, returning to my native shore,
Should bring my hair, an offering to thee,
And slay a consecrated hecatomb,
And burn a sacrifice of fifty rams,
Beside the springs where in a sacred field
Thy fragrant altar stands. Such was the vow
Made by the aged man, yet hast thou not
Fulfilled his wish. And now, since I no more
Shall see my native land, the land I love,
Let the slain hero bear these locks away.”

He spake, and in his dear companion’s hands
He placed the hair, and all around were moved
To deeper grief; the setting sun had left
The host lamenting, had not Peleus’ son
Addressed Atrides, standing at his side:⁠—

“Atrides, thou whose word the Greeks obey
Most readily, all mourning has an end.
Dismiss the people from the pyre to take
Their evening meal, while we with whom it rests
To pay these mournful duties to the dead
Will close the rites; but let the chiefs remain.”

This when the monarch Agamemnon heard,
Instantly he dismissed to their good ships
The people. They who had the dead in charge
Remained, and heaped the wood, and built a pyre
A hundred feet each way from side to side.
With sorrowful hearts they raised and laid the corse
Upon the summit. Then they flayed and dressed
Before it many fatlings of the flock,
And oxen with curved feet and crooked horns.
From these magnanimous Achilles took
The fat, and covered with it carefully
The dead from head to foot. Beside the bier,
And leaning toward it, jars of honey and oil
He placed, and flung, with many a deep-drawn sigh,
Twelve high-necked steeds upon the pile. Nine hounds
There were, which from the table of the prince
Were daily fed; of these Achilles struck
The heads from two, and laid them on the wood,
And after these, and last, twelve gallant sons
Of the brave Trojans, butchered by the sword;
For he was bent on evil. To the pile
He put the iron violence of fire,
And, wailing, called by name the friend he loved:⁠—

“Rejoice, Patroclus, even in the land
Of souls. Lo! I perform the vow I made;
Twelve gallant sons of the brave men of Troy
The fire consumes with thee. For Hector’s corse,
The flames shall not devour it, but the dogs.”

Such was his threat; but Hector was not made
The prey of dogs, for Venus, born to Jove,
Drave off by night and day the ravenous tribe,
And with a rosy and ambrosial oil
Anointed him, that he might not be torn
When dragged along the earth. Above the spot
And all around it, where the body lay,
Phoebus Apollo drew a veil of clouds
Reaching from heaven, that on his limbs the flesh
And sinews might not stiffen in the sun.

The flame seized not upon the funeral pile
Of the dead chief. Pelides, swift of foot,
Bethought him of another rite. He stood
Apart, and offered vows to the two winds,
Boreas and Zephyr. Promising to bring
Fair offerings to their shrines, and pouring out
Libations from a golden cup, he prayed
That they would haste and wrap the pile in flames,
And burn the dead to ashes. At his prayer
Fleet Iris on a message to the Winds
Took instant wing. They sat within the halls
Of murmuring Zephyr, at a solemn feast.
There Iris lighted on the threshold-stone.
As soon as they beheld her, each arose
And bade her sit beside him. She refused
To seat her at the banquet, and replied:⁠—

“Not now; for I again must take my way
Over the ocean currents to the land
Where dwell the Ethiopians, who adore
The gods with hecatombs, to take my share
Of sacrifice. Achilles supplicates,
With promise of munificent offerings,
Boreas and sounding Zephyrus to come
And blow the funeral structure into flames
On which, bewailed by all the Grecian host,
Patroclus lies, and waits to be consumed.”

So spake she, and departed. Suddenly
Arose the Winds with tumult, driving on
The clouds before them. Soon they reached the deep;
Beneath the violence of their sounding breath
The billows heaved. They swept the fertile fields
Of Troas, and descended on the pyre,
And mightily it blazed with fearful roar.
All night they howled and tossed the flames. All night
Stood swift Achilles, holding in his hand
A double beaker; from a golden jar
He dipped the wine, and poured it forth, and steeped
The earth around, and called upon the soul
Of his unhappy friend. As one laments
A newly married son upon whose corse
The flames are feeding, and whose death has made
His parents wretched, so did Peleus’ son,
Burning the body of his comrade, mourn,
As round the pyre he moved with frequent sighs.

Now when the star that ushers in the day
Appeared, and after it the morning, clad
In saffron robes, had overspread the sea,
The pyre sank wasted, and the flames arose
No longer, and the Winds, departing, flew
Homeward across the Thracian sea, which tossed
And roared with swollen billows as they went.
And now Pelides from the pyre apart
Weary lay down, and gentle slumber soon
Came stealing over him. Meantime the Greeks
Gathered round Agamemnon, and the stir
And bustle of their coming woke the chief,
Who sat upright and thus addressed his friends:⁠—

“Atrides, and all ye who lead the hosts
Of Greece! Our task is, first to quench the pyre
With dark red wine where’er the flames have spread,
And next to gather, with discerning care,
The bones of Menoetiades. And these
May well be known; for in the middle space
He lay, and round about him, and apart
Upon the border, were the rest consumed⁠—
The bodies of the captives and the steeds.
Be his enclosed within a golden vase,
And wrapped around with caul, a double fold,
Till I too pass into the realm of Death.
And be a tomb not over-spacious reared,
But of becoming size, which afterward
Ye whom we leave behind in our good ships,
When we are gone, will build more broad and high.”

So spake the swift Pelides, and the chiefs
Complied; and first they quenched with dark red wine
The pyre, where’er the flames had spread, and where
Lay the deep ashes; then, with many tears,
Gathered the white bones of their gentle friend,
And laid them in a golden vase, wrapped round
With caul, a double fold. Within the tents
They placed them softly, wrapped in delicate lawn,
Then drew a circle for the sepulchre,
And, laying its foundations to enclose
The pyre, they heaped the earth, and, having reared
A mound, withdrew. Achilles yet detained
The multitude, and made them all sit down,
A vast assembly. From the ships he brought
The prizes⁠—cauldrons, tripods, steeds, and mules,
Oxen in sturdy pairs, and graceful maids,
And shining steel. Then for the swiftest steeds
A princely prize he offered first⁠—a maid
Of peerless form, and skilled in household arts,
And a two-handled tripod of a size
For two-and-twenty measures. He gave out
The second prize⁠—a mare unbroken yet,
Of six years old, and pregnant with a mule.
For the third winner in the race he staked
A cauldron that had never felt the fire,
Holding four measures, beautiful, and yet
Untarnished. For the fourth, he offered gold,
Two talents. For the fifth, and last, remained
A double vessel never touched by fire.
He rose and stood, and thus addressed the Greeks:⁠—

“Atrides, and ye other well-armed Greeks,
These prizes lie within the chariot-course,
And wait the charioteers. Were but these games
In honor of another, then would I
Contend, and win and carry to my tent
The first among these prizes. For my steeds,
Ye know, surpass the rest in speed, since they
Are of immortal birth, by Neptune given
To Peleus, and by him in turn bestowed
On me his son. But I and they will keep
Aloof; they miss their skilful charioteer,
Who washed in limpid water from the fount
Their manes, and moistened them with softening oil.
And now they mourn their friend, and sadly stand
With drooping heads and manes that touch the ground.
Let such of you as trust in their swift steeds
And their strong cars prepare to join the games.”

Pelides spake: the abler charioteers
Arose, and, first of all, the king of men,
Eumelus, eminent in horsemanship,
The dear son of Admetus. Then arose
The valiant son of Tydeus, Diomed,
And led beneath the yoke the Trojan steeds
Won from Aeneas when Apollo saved
That chief from death. The son of Atreus next,
The noble Menelaus, yellow-haired,
Brought two swift coursers underneath the yoke,
King Agamemnon’s Aethè, and with her
His own Podargus. Echepolus once,
Anchises’ son, sent Aethè as a gift
To Agamemnon, that he might be free
From following with the army to the heights
Of Ilium, and enjoy the ease he loved;
For Jove had given him wealth, and he abode
On Sicyon’s plains. Now, eager for the race,
She took the yoke. Antilochus, the fourth,
The gallant son of the magnanimous king,
Neleian Nestor, harnessed next his steeds
With stately manes. Swift coursers that were foaled
At Pylus drew his chariot. To his side as
His father came and stood, and spake and gave
Wise counsels, though the youth himself was wise:⁠—

“Antilochus, I cannot doubt that Jove
And Neptune both have loved thee, teaching thee,
Young as thou art, all feats of horsemanship.
Small is the need to instruct thee. Thou dost know
Well how to turn the goal, and yet thy steeds
Are slow, and ill for thee may be the event.
Their steeds are swift, yet have they never learned
To govern them with greater skill than thou.
Now then, dear son, bethink thee heedfully
Of all precautions, lest thou miss the prize.
By skill the woodman, rather than by strength,
Brings down the oak; by skill the pilot guides
His wind-tossed galley over the dark sea;
And thus by skill the charioteer o’ercomes
His rival. He who trusts too much his steeds
And chariot lets them veer from side to side
Along the course, nor keeps a steady rein
Straight on, while one expert in horsemanship,
Though drawn by slower horses, carefully
Observes the goal, and closely passes it,
Nor fails to know how soon to turn his course,
Drawing the leathern reins, and steadily
Keeps on, and watches him who goes before.
Now must I show the goal which, easily
Discerned, will not escape thine eye. It stands
An ell above the ground, a sapless post,
Of oak or larch⁠—a wood of slow decay
By rain, and at its foot on either side
Lies a white stone; there narrow is the way,
But level is the race-course all around.
The monument it is of one long dead,
Or haply it has been in former days
A goal, as the swift-footed Peleus’ son
Has now appointed it. Approach it near,
Driving thy chariot close upon its foot,
Then in thy seat lean gently to the left
And cheer the right-hand horse, and ply the lash,
And give him a loose rein, yet firmly keep
The left-hand courser close beside the goal⁠—
So close that the wheel’s nave may seem to touch
The summit of the post; yet strike thou not
The stone beside it, lest thou lame thy steeds
And break the chariot, to thy own disgrace
And laughter of the others. My dear son,
Be on thy guard; for if thou pass the goal
Before the rest, no man in the pursuit
Can overtake or pass thee, though he drave
The noble courser of Adrastus, named
Arion the swift-footed, which a god
Bade spring to life, or those of matchless speed
Reared here in Ilium by Laomedon.”

Neleian Nestor spake, and, having thus
Given all the needful cautions, took his seat
In his own place. Meriones, the fifth,
Harnessed his steeds with stately manes, and all
Mounted their chariots. Lots were cast; the son
Of Peleus shook the helmet, and the lot
Of Nestor’s son, Antilochus, leaped forth;
And next the lot of King Eumelus came;
And Menelaus, mighty with the spear,
Had the third lot; Meriones was next;
And to the bravest of them all, the son
Of Tydeus, fell the final lot and place.
They stood in order, while Achilles showed
The goal far off upon the level plain,
And near it, as the umpire of the race,
He placed the godlike Phoenix, who had been
His father’s armor-bearer, to observe
With judging eye, and bring a true report.

All raised at once the lash above their steeds,
And smote them with the reins, and cheered them on
With vehement cries. Across the plain they swept,
Far from the fleet; beneath them rose the dust,
A cloud, a tempest, and their tossing manes
Were lifted by the wind. And now the cars
Touched earth, and now were flung into the air.
Erect the drivers stood, with beating hearts,
Eager for victory, each encouraging
His steeds, that flew beneath the shroud of dust.

But when they turned their course, and swiftly ran
Back to the hoary deep to close the course,
Well did the skill of every chief appear.
They put their horses to the utmost speed,
And then did the quick-footed steeds that drew
Eumelus bear him on beyond the rest.
But with his Trojan coursers Diomed
Came next, so near it seemed that they would mount
The car before them, and upon the back.
And ample shoulders of Eumelus smote
Their steaming breath; for as they ran their heads
Leaned over him. And then would Diomed
Have passed him by, or would at least have made
The victory doubtful, had not Phoebus struck,
In his displeasure, from the hero’s hand
The shining scourge. It fell, and to his eyes
Started indignant tears; for now he saw
The others gaining on him, while the speed
Of his own steeds, which feared the lash no more,
Was slackened. Yet Apollo’s stratagem
Was not unseen by Pallas, who o’ertook
The shepherd of the people, and restored
The scourge he dropped, and put into his steeds
New spirit. In her anger she approached
Eumelus, snapped his yoke, and caused his mares
To start asunder from the track; the pole
Was dashed into the ground, and from the seat
The chief was flung beside the wheel, his mouth,
Elbows, and nostrils torn, his forehead bruised.
Grief filled his eyes with tears and choked his voice,
While Diomed drave by his firm-paced steeds,
Outstripping all the rest; for Pallas nerved
Their limbs with vigor, and bestowed on him
Abundant glory. After him the son
Of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaus, came,
While Nestor’s son cheered on his father’s steeds:⁠—

“On, on! Press onward with your utmost speed!
Not that I bid you strive against the steeds
Of warlike Diomed, for Pallas gives
Swiftness to them and glory to the man
Who holds the reins; but let us overtake
The horses of Atrides, nor submit
To be thus distanced, lest the victory
Of the mare Aethè cover you with shame.
Fleet as ye are, why linger? This at least
I tell you, and my words will be fulfilled:
Look not for kindly care at Nestor’s hands,
That shepherd of the people, but for death
With the sharp steel, if through your fault we take
A meaner prize. Then onward and away,
With all your strength, for this is my design⁠—
To pass by Menelaus where the way
Is narrow, and he cannot thwart my plan.”

He spake, and they who feared their master’s threat
Mended their speed awhile. The warlike son
Of Nestor saw just then the narrow pass
Within the hollow way, a furrow ploughed
By winter floods, which there had torn the course
And deepened it. Atrides, to avoid
The clash of wheels, drave thither; thither too
Antilochus⁠—who turned his firm-paced steeds
A little from the track in which they ran⁠—
Followed him close. Atrides saw with fear,
And shouted to Antilochus aloud:⁠—

“Antilochus, thou drivest rashly; rein
Thy horses in. The way is narrow here,
But soon will broaden, and thou then canst pass.
Beware lest with thy chariot-wheels thou dash
Against my own, and harm befall us both.”

He spake; but all the more Antilochus
Urged on his coursers with the lash, as if
He had not heard. As far as flies a quoit
Thrown from the shoulder of a vigorous youth
Who tries his strength, so far they ran abreast.
The horses of Atrides then fell back;
He slacked the reins; for much he feared the steeds
Would dash against each other in the way,
And overturn the sumptuous cars, and fling
The charioteers contending for the prize
Upon the dusty track. With angry words
The fair-haired Menelaus chided thus:⁠—

“Antilochus, there is no man so prone
As thou to mischief, and we greatly err,
We Greeks, who call thee wise. Go now, and yet
Thou shalt not take the prize without an oath.”

Again he spake, encouraging his steeds:
“Check not your speed, nor sorrowfully stand:
Their feet and knees will fail with weariness
Before your own; they are no longer young.”

He spake; the coursers, honoring his voice.
Ran with fresh speed, and soon were near to those
Of Nestor’s son. Meantime the assembled Greeks
Sat looking where the horses scoured the plain
And filled the air with dust. Idomeneus,
The lord of Crete, descried the coursers first,
For on a height he sat above the crowd.
He heard the chief encouraging his steeds,
And knew him, and he marked before the rest
A courser, chestnut-colored save a spot
Upon the middle of the forehead, white,
And round as the full moon. And then he stood
Upright, and from his place harangued the Greeks:⁠—

“O friends, the chiefs and leaders of the Greeks,
Am I the sole one that descries the steeds,
Or do ye also? Those who lead the race,
I think, are not the same, and with them comes
A different charioteer. The mares, which late
Were foremost, may have somewhere come to harm.
I saw them first to turn the goal, and now
I can no more discern them, though my sight
Sweeps the whole Trojan plain from side to side.
Either the charioteer has dropped the reins,
And could not duly round the goal, or else
Met with disaster at the turn, o’erthrown,
His chariot broken, and the affrighted mares
Darting, unmastered, madly from the way.
But rise: look forth yourselves. I cannot well
Discern, but think the charioteer is one
Who, born of an Aetolian stock, commands
Among the Argives⁠—valiant Diomed,
A son of Tydeus, tamer of wild steeds.”

And Ajax, swift of foot, Oileus’ son,
Answered with bitter words: “Idomeneus,
Why this perpetual prating? Far away
The mares with rapid hoofs are traversing
The plain, and thou art not the youngest here
Among the Argives, nor hast such sharp eyes
Beneath thy brows, yet must thou chatter still.
Among thy betters here it ill becomes
A man like thee to be so free of tongue.
The coursers of Eumelus, which at first
Outran the rest, are yet before them all,
And he is drawing near and holds the reins.”

The Cretan leader angrily rejoined:
“Ajax, thou railer, first in brawls, yet known
As in all else below the other Greeks,
A man of brutal mood, come, let us stake
A tripod or a cauldron, and appoint
As umpire Agamemnon, to decide
Which horses are the foremost in the race,
That when thou losest thou mayst be convinced.”

He spake: Oilean Ajax, swift of foot,
Started in anger from his seat, to cast
Reproaches back, and long and fierce had been
The quarrel if Achilles had not risen,
And said: “No longer let this strife go on,
Idomeneus and Ajax! Ill such words
Become you; ye would blame in other men
What now ye do. Sit then among the rest,
And watch the race; for soon the charioteers
Contending for the victory will be here,
And each of you⁠—for well ye know the steeds
Of the Greek chieftains⁠—for himself will see
Whose hold the second place, and whose are first.”

He spake: Tydides rapidly drew near,
Lashing the shoulders of his steeds, and they
Seemed in the air as, to complete the course,
They flew along, and flung the dust they trod
Back on the charioteer. All bright with tin
And gold, the car rolled after them; its tires
Made but a slender trace in the light dust,
So rapidly they ran. And now he stopped
Within the circle, while his steeds were steeped
In sweat, that fell in drops from neck and breast.
Then from his shining seat he leaped, and laid
His scourge against the yoke. Brave Sthenelus
Came forward, and at once received the prize
For Diomed, and bade his comrades lead
The maid away, and in their arms bear off
The tripod, while himself unyoked the steeds.

Next the Neleian chief, Antilochus,
Came with his coursers. More by fraud than speed
He distanced Menelaus, yet that chief
Drave his fleet horses near him. Just so far
As runs the wheel behind a steed that draws
His master swiftly o’er the plain, his tail
Touching the tire with its long hairs, and small
The space between them as the spacious plain
Is traversed, Menelaus just so far as
Was distanced by renowned Antilochus.
For though at first he fell as far behind
As a quoit’s cast, yet was he gaining ground
Rapidly, now that Agamemnon’s mare,
Aethè the stately-maned, increased her speed,
And Menelaus, had the race for both
Been longer, would have passed his rival by,
Nor left the victory doubtful. After him,
A spear’s throw distant, came Meriones,
The gallant comrade of Idomeneus,
Whose full-maned steeds were slower than the rest,
And he unskilled in contests such as these.
And last of all Eumelus came. He drew
His showy chariot after him, and drave
His steeds before him. Great Achilles saw
With pity, and from where he stood among
The Greeks addressed him thus with wingèd words:⁠—

“The ablest horseman brings his steeds the last,
But let us, as is just, confer on him
The second prize; Tydides takes the first.”

He spake, and all approved his words; and now
The mare, to please the Greeks, had been bestowed
Upon Eumelus, if Antilochus,
Son of magnanimous Nestor, had not risen
To plead for justice with Achilles thus:⁠—

“Achilles, I shall deem it grave offence
If thou fulfil thy word; for thou wilt take
My prize, because thou seest that this man’s car
And his fleet steeds have suffered injury,
Though he be skilful. Yet he should have prayed
To the good gods; then had he not been seen
Bringing his steeds the last. But if thou feel
Compassion for him, and if so thou please,
Large store of brass and gold is in thy tent,
And thine are cattle, and handmaidens thine,
And firm-paced steeds; hereafter give of these
A nobler largess, or bestow it now,
And hear the Greeks applaud thee. But this prize
I yield not; let the warrior who may claim
To take it try with me his strength of arm.”

He ceased: the noble son of Peleus smiled,
And, pleased to see Antilochus succeed⁠—
For he was a beloved friend⁠—he spake
These wingèd words: “Since, then, Antilochus,
Thou wilt that I bestow some recompense
Upon Eumelus from my store, I give
The brazen corselet which my arm in war
Took from Asteropaeus, edged around
With shining tin⁠—a gift of no mean price.”

He ceased, and sent his friend Automedon
To bring it from the tent. He went and brought
The corselet, and Eumelus joyfully
Received it from Achilles. Then arose,
Among them Menelaus, ill at ease,
And angry with Antilochus. He took
The sceptre from a herald’s hand, who hushed
The crowd to silence, and the hero spake:⁠—

“Antilochus, who wert till now discreet,
What hast thou done? Thou hast disgraced my skill
And wronged my steeds by thrusting in thine own,
Which were less fleet, before them. Now, ye chiefs
And leaders of the Achaians, judge between
This man and me, and judge impartially,
Lest that some warrior of the Greeks should say
That Menelaus, having overcome
Antilochus by falsehood, led away
The mare a prize; for his were slower steeds,
But he the mightier man in feats of arms.
Nay, I myself will judge; and none of all
The Greeks will censure me, for what I do
Will be but just. Antilochus, step forth,
Illustrious as thou art, and in due form,
Standing before thy horses and thy car,
And taking in thy hand the pliant scourge
Which thou just now hast wielded, touch thy steeds,
And swear by Neptune, whose embrace surrounds
The earth, that thou hast wittingly employed
No stratagem to break my chariot’s speed.”

And thus discreet Antilochus replied:
“Have patience with me: I am younger far
Than thou, King Menelaus; thou art both
My elder and my better. Thou dost know
The faults to which the young are ever prone;
The will is quick to act, the judgment weak.
Bear with me then. The mare which I received
I cheerfully make over to thy hands.
And if thou wilt yet more of what I have,
I give it willingly and instantly,
Rather, O loved of Jove, than lose a place
In thy good-will, and sin against the gods.”

The son of large-souled Nestor, speaking thus,
Led forth the mare, and gave her to the hand
Of Menelaus, o’er whose spirit came
A gladness. As upon a field of wheat
Bristling with ears gathers the freshening dew,
So was his spirit gladdened in his breast,
And he bespake the youth with wingèd words:⁠—

“Antilochus, now shall my anger cease,
For hitherto thou hast not shown thyself
Foolish or fickle, though the heat of youth
Just now hath led thee wrong. In time to come,
Beware to practise stealthy arts on men
Of higher rank than thou. No other Greek
Would easily have made his peace with me.
But thou hast suffered much, and much hast done⁠—
Thou, and thy worthy father, and his son,
Thy brother⁠—for my sake. I therefore yield
To thy petition; yet I give to thee
The mare, though mine she be, that these who stand
Around us may perceive that I am not
Of unforgiving or unyielding mood.”

He spake, and to Noëmon gave the mare⁠—
Noëmon, comrade of Antilochus⁠—
To lead her thence, while for himself he took
The shining cauldron. Then Meriones,
Fourth in the race, received the prize of gold⁠—
Two talents. But the fifth prize and the last,
The double goblet, still was left unclaimed;
And this Achilles carried through the crowd
Of Greeks, and placed in Nestor’s hands, and said:⁠—

“Receive thou this, O ancient man, to keep
In memory of the funeral honors paid
Patroclus, whom thou never more shalt see
Among the Greeks. I give this prize, which thou
Hast not contended for, since thou wilt wield
No more the cestus, nor wilt wrestle more,
Nor hurl the javelin at the mark, nor join
The foot-race; age lies heavy on thy limbs.”

He spake, and gave the prize, which Nestor took,
Well pleased, and thus with wingèd words replied:⁠—

“Son, thou hast spoken rightly, for these limbs
Are strong no longer; neither feet nor hands
Move on each side with vigor as of yore.
Would I were but as young, with strength as great,
As when the Epeians in Buprasium laid
King Amarynceus in the sepulchre,
And funeral games were offered by his sons!
Then of the Epeians there was none like me.
Nor of the Pylian youths, nor yet among
The brave Aetolians. In the boxing-match
I took the prize from Clytomedes, son
Of Enops, and in wrestling overcame
Ancaeus the Pleuronian, who rose up
Against me. In the foot-race I outstripped,
Fleet as he was, Iphiclus, and beyond
Phyleus and Polydore I threw the spear.
Only the sons of Actor won the race
Against me with their chariot, and they won
Through force of numbers. Much they envied me,
And feared lest I should bear away the prize;
For largest in that contest of the steeds
Was the reward, and they were two⁠—one held,
Steadily held, the reins, the other swung
The lash. Such was I once. Now feats like these
Belong to other, younger men, and I,
Though eminent among the heroes once,
Must do as sad old age admonishes.
Go thou, and honor thy friend’s funeral
With games. Thy gift I willingly accept,
Rejoicing that thy thoughts revert to one
Who loves thee, and that thou forgettest not
To pay the honor due to me among
The Greeks. The gods will give thee thy reward.”

He ceased. The son of Peleus, having heard
This praise from Nestor, left him, and passed through
The mighty concourse of the Greeks. He laid
Before them prizes for the difficult strife
Between the boxers. To the middle space
He led a mule, and bound him, six years old
And strong for toil, unbroken and most hard
To break, while to the vanquished he assigned
A goblet. Rising, he addressed the host:⁠—

“Ye sons of Atreus and ye well-armed Greeks,
We call for two of the most skilled to strive
For these, by striking with the lifted fist;
And he to whom Apollo shall decree
The victory, acknowledged by you all,
Shall have this sturdy mule to lead away.
The vanquished takes this goblet as his meed.”

He spake. A warrior strong and huge of limb,
Skilled in the cestus, named Epeius, son
Of Panopeus, rose at the word, and laid
His hand upon the sturdy mule, and said:⁠—

“Let him appear whose lot will be to take
The goblet. No man of the Grecian host
Will get the mule by overcoming me
In combat with the cestus⁠—so I deem.
In that I claim to be the best man here.
And should it not suffice that in the war
Others surpass me? All cannot excel
In everything alike. I promise this,
And shall fulfil my word⁠—that I will crush
His body, and will break his bones. His friend
Should all remain upon the ground to bear
Their comrade off when beaten by my hand.”

He spake, and all were silent. Only rose
Euryalus, whose father was the king
Mecisteus of Talaion’s line, the same
Who went to Thebes and overcame, of old,
In all the funeral games of Oedipus,
The sons of Cadmus. To Euryalus
Came Diomed, the spearman, bidding him
Expect the victory which he greatly wished
His friend might gain. Around his waist he drew
A girdle, adding straps that from the hide
Of a wild bull were cut with dextrous care.
And, fully now arrayed, the twain stepped forth
Into the middle space, and both began
The combat. Lifting their strong arms, they brought
Their heavy hands together. Fearfully
Was heard the crash of jaws; from every limb
The sweat was streaming. As Euryalus
Looked round, his noble adversary sprang
And smote him on the cheek⁠—too rude a blow
To be withstood; his shapely limbs gave way
Beneath him. As upon the weedy shore,
When the fresh north wind stirs the water’s face,
A fish leaps forth to light, and then again
The dark wave covers it, so sprang and fell
The chief. Magnanimous Epeius gave
His hands and raised him up; his friends came round
And led him thence with dragging feet, and head
That drooped from side to side, while from his mouth
Came clotted blood. They placed him in the midst,
Unconscious still, and sent and took the cup.

Then, third in order, for the wrestling-match
The son of Peleus brought and showed the Greeks
Yet other prizes. To the conqueror
A tripod for the hearth, of ample size,
He offered; twice six oxen, as the Greeks
Esteemed it, were its price. And next he placed
In view a damsel for the vanquished, trained
In household arts; four beeves were deemed her price.

Then rose Achilles, and addressed the Greeks:
“Ye who would try your fortune in this strife,
Arise.” He spake, and mighty Ajax rose,
The son of Telamon, and after him
The wise Ulysses, trained to stratagems.
They, girding up their loins, came forth and stood
In the mid space, and there with vigorous arms
They clasped each other, locked like rafters framed
By some wise builder for the lofty roof
Of a great mansion proof against the winds.
Then their backs creaked beneath the powerful strain
Of their strong hands; the sweat ran down their limbs;
Large whelks upon their sides and shoulders rose,
Crimson with blood. Still eagerly they strove
For victory and the tripod. Yet in vain
Ulysses labored to supplant his foe,
And throw him to the ground, and equally
Did Ajax strive in vain, for with sheer strength
Ulysses foiled his efforts. When they saw
That the Greeks wearied of the spectacle,
The mighty Telamonian Ajax said:⁠—

“Son of Laertes, nobly born and trained
To wise expedients, lift me up, or I
Will lift up thee; and leave the rest to Jove.”

He spake, and raised Ulysses from the ground,
Who dealt, with ready stratagem, a blow
Upon the ham of Ajax, and the limb
Gave way; the hero fell upon his back,
And on his breast Ulysses, while the host
Stood wondering and amazed. Ulysses strove,
In turn, to lift his rival, but prevailed
Only to move him from his place; he caught
The knee of Ajax in his own, and both
Came to the ground together, soiled with dust.
They rose to wrestle still, but from his seat
Achilles started, and forbade them thus:⁠—

“Contend no longer, nor exhaust your strength
With struggling; there is victory for both,
And equal prizes. Now depart, and leave
The field of contest to the other Greeks.”

He spake: they listened and obeyed, and wiped
The dust away, and put their garments on.
And then the son of Peleus placed in sight
Prizes of swiftness⁠—a wrought silver cup
That held six measures, and in beauty far
Excelled all others known; the cunning hands
Of the Sidonian artisans had given
Its graceful shape, and over the dark sea
Men of Phoenicia brought it, with their wares,
To the Greek harbors; they bestowed it there
On Thoas. Afterward Euneüs, son
Of Jason, gave it to the hero-chief,
Patroclus, to redeem a captive friend,
Lycaon, Priam’s son. Achilles now
Brought it before the assembly as a prize,
For which, in honor of the friend he loved,
The swiftest runners of the host should strive.
Next, for the second in the race, he showed
A noble fatling ox; and for the last,
Gold, half a talent. Then he stood and said
To the Achaians: “Those who would contend
For these rewards, rise up.” And then arose
Oilean Ajax, fleet of foot; and next
Ulysses the sagacious; last upstood
Antilochus, the son of Nestor, known
As swiftest of the youths. In due array
They stood; Achilles showed the goal. At once
Forward they sprang. Oilean Ajax soon
Gained on the rest, but close behind him ran
The great Ulysses. As a shapely maid
Flinging the shuttle draws with careful hand
The thread that fills the warp, and so brings near
The shuttle to her bosom, just so near
To Ajax ran Ulysses, in the prints
Made by his rival’s feet, before the dust
Fell back upon them. As he ran, his breath
Smote on the head of Ajax. All the Greeks
Shouted applause to him, encouraging
His ardor for the victory; but when now
They neared the goal, Ulysses silently
Prayed thus to Pallas: “Goddess, hear my prayer,
And help these feet to win.” The goddess heard,
And lightened all his limbs, his feet, his hands;
And just as they were rushing on the prize,
Ajax, in running, slipped and fell⁠—the work
Of Pallas⁠—where in heaps the refuse lay
From entrails of the bellowing oxen slain
In honor of Patroclus by the hand
Of swift Achilles. Mouth and nostrils both
Were choked with filth. The much-enduring man
Ulysses, coming first, received the cup,
While Ajax took the ox, and as he stood
Holding the animal’s horn and spitting forth
The dirt, he said to those around: “ ’Tis plain
The goddess caused my feet to slide; she aids
Ulysses like a mother.” So he said,
And the Greeks laughed. And then Antilochus
Received the third reward, and with a smile
Said to the Greeks: “I tell you all, my friends,
What you must know already, that the gods
Honor the aged ever. Ajax stands
Somewhat in years above me, but this chief
Who takes the prize is of a former age
And earlier race of men; they call him old,
But hard it were for any Greek to vie
With him in swiftness, save Achilles here.”

Such praise he gave Pelides, fleet of foot,
Who answered: “Thy good word, Antilochus,
Shall not be vainly spoken. I will add
Yet half a talent to thy gold.” He said,
And gave the gold; Antilochus, well pleased,
Received it. Then Pelides brought a spear
Of ponderous length into the middle space,
And laid it down, and placed a buckler near
And helmet, which had been Sarpedon’s arms,
And which Patroclus won of him in war.
Then stood Achilles and addressed the Greeks:⁠—

“I call on two, the bravest of the host,
To arm themselves and take their spears in hand,
And in a contest for these weapons put
Each other to the proof. Whoever first
Shall wound his adversary, piercing through
The armor to the delicate skin beneath,
And draw the crimson blood, to him I give
This beautiful sword of Thrace, with silver studs,
Won from Asteropaeus. And let both
Bear off these arms, a common gift, and both
Shall sit and banquet nobly in my tent.”

He spake, and Telamonian Ajax rose,
The large of limb; Tydides Diomed,
The strong, rose also. When they had put on
Their arms apart from all the host, they came,
All eager for the combat, to the lists,
And fearful was their aspect. All the Greeks
Looked on with dread and wonder, and when now
Stood face to face the warriors, thrice they rushed
Against each other; thrice they dealt their blows.
Then Ajax thrust through Diomed’s round shield
His weapon, but it wounded not; the mail
Beyond it stopped the stroke. Tydides aimed
Over his adversary’s mighty shield
A blow to reach his neck. The Greeks, alarmed
For Ajax, shouted that the strife should cease,
And both divide the prize. Achilles heard,
But gave to Diomed the ponderous sword,
Its sheath, and the fair belt from which it hung.

Again Pelides placed before the host
A mass of iron, shapeless from the forge,
Which once the strong Eëtion used to hurl;
But swift Achilles, when he took his life,
Brought it with other booty in his ships
To Troas. Rising, he addressed the Greeks:⁠—

“Stand forth, whoever will contend for this,
And if broad fields and rich be his, this mass
Will last him many years. The man who tends
His flocks, or guides his plough, need not be sent
To town for iron; he will have it here.”

He spake, and warlike Polypoetes rose.
Uprose the strong Leonteus, who in form
Was like a god. The son of Telamon
Rose also, and Epeius nobly born;
Each took his place. Epeius seized the mass,
And sent it whirling. All the Achaians laughed.
The loved of Mars, Leonteus, flung it next,
And after him the son of Telamon,
The large-limbed Ajax, from his vigorous arm
Sent it beyond the mark of both. But when
The sturdy warrior Polypoetes took
The mass in hand, as far as o’er his beeves
A herdsman sends his whirling staff, so far
This cast outdid the rest. A shout arose;
The friends of sturdy Polypoetes took
The prize, and bore it to the hollow ships.

Achilles for the archers brought forth steel,
Tempered for arrow-heads⁠—ten axes, each
With double edge, and single axes ten⁠—
And from a galley’s azure prow took off
A mast, and reared it on the sands afar,
And, tying to its summit by the foot
A timorous dove, he bade them aim at her:
“Whoever strikes the bird shall bear away
The double axes to his tent; while he
Who hits the cord, but not the bird, shall take
The single axes, as the humbler prize.”

He ceased, and then arose the stalwart king,
Teucer; then also rose Meriones,
The valiant comrade of Idomeneus.
The lots were shaken in a brazen helm,
And Teucer’s lot was first. He straightway sent
A shaft with all his strength, but made no vow
Of a choice hecatomb of firstling lambs
To Phoebus, monarch-god. He missed the bird,
Such was the will of Phoebus, but he struck,
Close to her foot, the cord that made her fast.
The keen shaft severed it; the dove flew up
Into the heavens; the fillet dropped to earth
Amid the loud applauses of the Greeks.
And then Meriones made haste to take
The bow from Teucer’s hand. Long time he held
The arrow aimed, the while he made a vow
To Phoebus, the great archer, promising
A chosen hecatomb of firstling lambs;
Then, looking toward the dove, as high in air
She wheeled beneath the clouds, he pierced her breast
Beneath the wing; the shaft went through and fell,
Fixed in the ground, beside Meriones,
While the bird settled on the galley’s mast
With drooping head and open wings. The breath
Forsook her soon, and down from that high perch
She fell to earth. The people all looked on,
Admiring and amazed. Meriones
Took up the double axes as his prize,
While Teucer bore the others to the fleet.

And then Pelides brought into the midst
A ponderous spear, and laid a cauldron down
Which never felt the fire, inwrought with flowers,
Its price an ox. And then the spearmen rose.
Atrides Agamemnon, mighty king,
First rose, and after him Meriones,
The brave companion of Idomeneus;
And thus to both the swift Achilles said:⁠—

“O son of Atreus, for we know how far
Thou dost excel all others, and dost cast
The spear with passing strength and skill, bear thou
This prize, as victor, to the roomy ships,
And if it please thee, let us, as I wish,
Give to our brave Meriones the spear.”

He spake, and Agamemnon, king of men,
Complied, and gave Meriones in hand
The brazen spear, while to Talthybius,
The herald, he consigned the greater prize.