Book IV

The Breaking of the Truce, and the First Battle

A council of the gods, who decide that the war shall go on⁠—Minerva sent down to cause the breaking of the truce⁠—Pandarus persuaded by her to aim an arrow at Menelaus, who is wounded by it, and healed by Machaon⁠—Exhortations of Agamemnon addressed to the Greek chiefs⁠—A furious battle, and great slaughter on both sides.

Meantime the immortal gods with Jupiter
Upon his golden pavement sat and held
A council. Hebe, honored of them all,
Ministered nectar, and from cups of gold
They pledged each other, looking down on Troy.
When, purposely to kindle Juno’s mood
To anger, Saturn’s son, with biting words
That well betrayed his covert meaning, spake:⁠—

“Two goddesses⁠—the Argive Juno one,
The other Pallas, her invincible friend⁠—
Take part with Menelaus, yet they sit
Aloof, content with looking on, while still
Venus, the laughter-loving one, protects
Her Paris, ever near him, warding off
The stroke of fate. Just now she rescued him
When he was near his death. The victory
Belongs to Menelaus, loved of Mars.
Now let us all consider what shall be
The issue⁠—whether we allow the war,
With all its waste of life, to be renewed,
Or cause the warring nations to sit down
In amity. If haply it shall be
The pleasure and the will of all the gods,
Let Priam’s city keep its dwellers still,
And Menelaus lead his Helen home.”

He spake, but Juno and Minerva sat,
And with closed lips repined, for secretly
They plotted evil for the Trojan race.
Minerva held her peace in bitterness
Of heart and sore displeased with Father Jove.
But Juno could not curb her wrath, and spake:⁠—

“What words, austere Saturnius, hast thou said!
Wilt thou then render vain the toils I bear,
And all my sweat? My very steeds even now
Are weary with the mustering of the host
That threaten woe to Priam and his sons.
Yet do thy will; but be at least assured
That all the other gods approve it not.”

The cloud-compelling Jupiter replied
In anger: “Pestilent one! What grievous wrong
Hath Priam done to thee, or Priam’s sons,
That thou shouldst persevere to overthrow
His noble city? Shouldst thou through the gates
Of Ilium make thy way, and there devour,
Within the ramparts, Priam and his sons
And all the men of Troy alive, thy rage
Haply might be appeased. Do as thou wilt,
So that this difference breed no lasting strife
Between us. Yet I tell thee this⁠—and thou
Bear what I say in mind: In time to come,
Should I design to level in the dust
Some city where men dear to thee are born,
Seek not to thwart my vengeance, but submit.
For now I fully yield me to thy wish,
Though with unwilling mind. Wherever dwell
The race of humankind beneath the sun
And starry heaven, of all their cities Troy
Has been by me most honored⁠—sacred Troy⁠—
And Priam, and the people who obey
Priam, the wielder of the ashen spear;
For there my altars never lacked their rites⁠—
Feasts, incense, and libations duly paid.”

Then Juno, the majestic, with large eyes,
Rejoined: “The cities most beloved by me
Are three⁠—Mycenae, with her spacious streets,
Argos, and Sparta. Raze them to the ground,
If they be hateful to thee. I shall ne’er
Contend to save them, nor repine to see
Their fall; for, earnestly as I might seek
To rescue them from ruin, all my aid
Would not avail, so much the mightier thou.
Yet doth it ill become thee thus to make
My efforts vain. I am a goddess, sprung
From the same stock with thee; I am the child
Of crafty Saturn, and am twice revered⁠—
Both for my birth and that I am the spouse
Of thee who rulest over all the gods.
Now let us each yield somewhat⁠—I to thee
And thou to me; the other deathless gods
Will follow us. Let Pallas be despatched
To that dread battle-field on which are ranged
The Trojans and Achaians, and stir up
The Trojan warriors first to lift their hands
Against the elated Greeks and break the league,”

She ended, and the Father of the gods
And mortals instantly complied, and called
Minerva, and in wingèd accents said:⁠—
“Haste to the battle-field, and there, among
The Trojan and Achaian armies, cause
The Trojan warriors first to lift their hands
Against the elated Greeks and break the league.”

So saying, Jupiter to Pallas gave
The charge she wished already. She in haste
Shot from the Olympian summits, like a star
Sent by the crafty Saturn’s son to warn
The seamen or some mighty host in arms⁠—
A radiant meteor scattering sparkles round.
So came and lighted Pallas on the earth
Amidst the armies. All who saw were seized
With wonder⁠—Trojan knights and well-armed Greeks;
And many a one addressed his comrade thus:⁠—

“Sure we shall have the wasting war again,
And stubborn combats; or, it may be, Jove,
The arbiter of wars among mankind,
Decrees that the two nations dwell in peace.”

So Greeks and Trojans said. The goddess went
Among the Trojan multitude disguised;
She seemed Laodocus, Antenor’s son,
A valiant warrior, seeking through the ranks
For godlike Pandarus. At length she found
Lycaon’s gallant and illustrious son,
Standing with bucklered warriors ranged around,
Who followed him from where Aesepus flows;
And, standing near, she spake these wingèd words:⁠—

“Son of Lycaon! Wilt thou hear my words,
Brave as thou art? Then wilt thou aim a shaft
At Menelaus; thus wilt thou have earned
Great thanks and praise from all the men of Troy,
And chiefly from Prince Paris, who will fill,
Foremost of all, thy hands with lavish gifts,
When he shall look on Menelaus slain⁠—
The warlike son of Atreus⁠—by thy hand,
And laid upon his lofty funeral pile.
Aim now at Menelaus the renowned
An arrow, while thou offerest a vow
To Lycian Phoebus, mighty with the bow,
That thou wilt bring to him a hecatomb
Of firstling lambs, when thou again shalt come
Within thine own Zeleia’s sacred walls.”

So spake Minerva, and her words o’ercame
The weak one’s purpose. He uncovered straight
His polished bow, made of the elastic horns
Of a wild goat, which, from his lurking-place,
As once it left its cavern lair, he smote,
And pierced its breast, and stretched it on the rock.
Full sixteen palms in length the horns had grown
From the goat’s forehead. These an artisan
Had smoothed, and, aptly fitting each to each,
Polished the whole and tipped the work with gold.
To bend that bow, the warrior lowered it
And pressed an end against the earth. His friends
Held up, meanwhile, their shields before his face,
Lest the brave sons of Greece should lift their spears
Against him ere the champion of their host,
The warlike Menelaus, should have felt
The arrow. Then the Lycian drew aside
The cover from his quiver, taking out
A well-fledged arrow that had never flown⁠—
A cause of future sorrows. On the string
He laid that fatal arrow, while he made
To Lycian Phoebus, mighty with the bow,
A vow to sacrifice before his shrine
A noble hecatomb of firstling lambs
When he should come again to his abode
Within his own Zeleia’s sacred walls.
Grasping the bowstring and the arrow’s notch,
He drew them back, and forced the string to meet
His breast, the arrow-head to meet the bow,
Till the bow formed a circle. Then it twanged.
The cord gave out a shrilly sound; the shaft
Leaped forth in eager haste to reach the host.

Yet, Menelaus, then the blessed gods,
The deathless ones, forgot thee not; and first,
Jove’s daughter, gatherer of spoil, who stood
Before thee, turned aside the deadly shaft.
As when a mother, while her child is wrapped
In a sweet slumber, scares away the fly,
So Pallas turned the weapon from thy breast,
And guided it to where the golden clasps
Made fast the belt, and where the corselet’s mail
Was doubled. There the bitter arrow struck
The belt, and through its close contexture passed,
And fixed within the well-wrought corselet stood,
Yet reached the plated quilt which next his skin
The hero wore⁠—his surest guard against
The weapon’s force⁠—and broke through that alike;
And there the arrow gashed the part below,
And the dark blood came gushing from the wound.
As when some Carian or Maeonian dame
Tinges with purple the white ivory,
To form a trapping for the cheeks of steeds⁠—
And many a horseman covets it, yet still
It lies within her chamber, to become
The ornament of some great monarch’s steed
And make its rider proud⁠—thy shapely thighs,
Thy legs, and thy fair ankles thus were stained,
O Menelaus! with thy purple blood.

When Agamemnon, king of men, beheld
The dark blood flowing from his brother’s wound,
He shuddered. Menelaus, great in war,
Felt the like horror; yet, when he perceived
That still the arrow, neck and barb, remained
Without the mail, the courage rose again
That filled his bosom. Agamemnon, then,
The monarch, sighing deeply, took the hand
Of Menelaus⁠—while his comrades round
Like him lamented⁠—sighing as he spake:⁠—

“Dear brother, when I sent thee forth alone
To combat with the Trojans for the Greeks,
I ratified a treaty for thy death,
Since now the Trojans smite and under foot
Trample the league. Yet not in vain shall be
The treaty, nor the blood of lambs, nor wine
Poured to the gods, nor right hands firmly pledged;
For though it please not now Olympian Jove
To make the treaty good, he will in time
Cause it to be fulfilled, and they shall pay
Dearly with their own heads and with their wives
And children for this wrong. And this I know
In my undoubting mind⁠—a day will come
When sacred Troy and Priam and the race
Governed by Priam, mighty with the spear,
Shall perish all. Saturnian Jove, who sits
On high, a dweller of the upper air,
Shall shake his dreadful aegis in the sight
Of all, indignant at this treachery.
Such the event will be; but I shall grieve
Bitterly, Menelaus, if thou die,
Thy term of life cut short. I shall go back
To my dear Argos with a brand of shame
Upon me. For the Greeks will soon again
Bethink them of their country; we shall then
Leave Argive Helen to remain the boast
Of Priam and the Trojans⁠—while thy bones
Shall moulder, mingling with the earth of Troy⁠—
Our great design abandoned. Then shall say
Some haughty Trojan, leaping on the tomb
Of Menelaus: ‘So in time to come
May Agamemnon wreak his wrath, as here
He wreaked it, whither he had vainly led
An army, and now hastens to his home
And his own land, with ships that bear no spoil,
And the brave Menelaus left behind.’
So shall some Trojan say; but, ere that time,
May the earth open to receive my bones!”

The fair-haired Menelaus cheerfully
Replied: “Grieve not, nor be the Greeks alarmed
For me, since this sharp arrow has not found
A vital part, but, ere it reached so far,
The embroidered belt, the quilt beneath, and plate
Wrought by the armorer’s cunning, broke its force.”

King Agamemnon took the word and said:⁠—
“Dear Menelaus! Would that it were so,
Yet the physician must explore thy wound,
And with his balsams soothe the bitter pain.”
Then turning to Talthybius, he addressed
The sacred herald: “Hasten with all speed,
Talthybius; call Machaon, warrior-son
Of Aesculapius, that much-honored leech,
And bring him to the Achaian general,
The warlike Menelaus, whom some hand
Of Trojan or of Lycian, skilled to bend
The bow, hath wounded with his shaft⁠—a deed
For him to exult in, but a grief to us.”

He spake; nor failed the herald to obey,
But hastened at the word and passed among
The squadrons of Achaia, mailed in brass,
In search of great Machaon. Him he found
As midst the valiant ranks of bucklered men
He stood⁠—the troops who followed him to war
From Triccae, nurse of steeds. Then, drawing near,
The herald spake to him in wingèd words:⁠—

“O son of Aesculapius, come in haste.
King Agamemnon calls thee to the aid
Of warlike Menelaus, whom some hand
Of Trojan or of Lycian, skilled to bend
The bow, hath wounded with his shaft⁠—a deed
For him to exult in, but a grief to us.”

Machaon’s heart was touched, and forth they went
Through the great throng, the army of the Greeks.
And when they came where Atreus’ warlike son
Was wounded, they perceived the godlike man
Standing amid a circle of the chiefs,
The bravest of the Achaians, who at once
Had gathered round. Without delay he drew
The arrow from the fairly-fitted belt.
The barbs were bent in drawing. Then he loosed
The embroidered belt, the quilted vest beneath,
And plate⁠—the armorer’s work⁠—and carefully
O’erlooked the wound where fell the bitter shaft,
Cleansed it from blood, and sprinkled over it
With skill the soothing balsams which of yore
The friendly Chiron to his father gave.

While round the warlike Menelaus thus
The chiefs were busy, all the Trojans moved
Into array of battle; they put on
Their armor, and were eager for the fight.
Then wouldst thou not have seen, hadst thou been there,
King Agamemnon slumbering, or in fear,
And skulking from the combat, but alert,
Preparing for the glorious tasks of war.
His horses, and his chariot bright with brass,
He left, and bade Eurymedon, his groom,
The son of Ptolemy Piraides,
Hold them apart still panting, yet with charge
To keep them near their master, till the hour
When he should need them, weary with the toil
Of such a vast command. Meantime he went
On foot among his files of soldiery,
And whomsoe’er he found with fiery steeds
Hasting to battle, thus he cheered them on:⁠—

“O Argives! Let not your hot courage cool,
For Father Jove will never take the part
Of treachery. Whosoe’er have been the first
To break the league, upon their lifeless limbs
Shall vultures feast; and doubt not we shall bear
Away in our good ships the wives they love
And their young children, when we take their town.”

But whomsoe’er he saw that kept afar
From the dread field, he angrily rebuked:⁠—

“O Argives! Who with arrows only fight,
Base as ye are, have ye no sense of shame?
Why stand ye stupefied, like fawns, that, tired
With coursing the wide pastures, stop at last,
Their strength exhausted! Thus ye stand amazed,
Nor think of combat. Wait ye for the hour
When to your ships, with their fair-sculptured prows,
Moored on the borders of the hoary deep,
The Trojans come, that haply ye may see
If the great hand of Jove will shield you then?”

Thus Agamemnon, as supreme in power,
Threaded the warrior-files, until he came
Where stood the Cretans. All in arms they stood
Around Idomeneus, the great in war.
Like a wild boar in strength, he led the van,
And, in the rear, Meriones urged on
His phalanxes. The king of men rejoiced,
And blandly thus bespake Idomeneus:⁠—

“Idomeneus! I honor thee above
The other knights of Greece, as well in war
As in all other labors, and no less
In banquets, when the Achaian nobles charge
Their goblets with the dark-red mingled wine
In sign of honor. All the other Greeks
Drink by a certain measure, but thy cup
Stands ever full, like mine, that thou mayst drink
When thou desirest. Hasten to the war
With all the valor thou dost glory in.”

The Cretan chief, Idomeneus, replied:⁠—
“Atrides, I remain thy true ally,
As I have pledged my faith. But thou exhort
The other long-haired Greeks, and bid them rush
To combat, since the Trojans break their oath.
For woe and death must be the lot of those
Who broke the peace they vowed so solemnly.”

He spake. The son of Atreus, glad at heart,
Passed on among the squadrons, till he came
To where the warriors Ajax formed their ranks
For battle, with a cloud of infantry.
As when some goatherd from the hill-top sees
A cloud that traverses the deep before
A strong west wind⁠—beholding it afar,
Pitch-black it seems, and bringing o’er the waves
A whirlwind with it; he is seized with fear,
And drives his flock to shelter in a cave⁠—
So with the warriors Ajax to the war
Moved, dense and dark, the phalanxes of youths
Trained for the combat, and their serried files
Bristling with spears and shields. The king of men
Saw with delight, and spake these wingèd words:⁠—

“O warriors Ajax, leaders of the Greeks
In brazen armor, I enjoin you not
To rouse the courage of your soldiery.
Such word would ill become me, for yourselves
Have made your followers eager to engage
In manful combat. Would to Jupiter,
To Pallas, and Apollo, that there dwelt
In every bosom such a soul as yours!
Then would the city of King Priam fall
At once, o’erthrown and levelled by our hands.”

Thus having said, he left them and went on
To others. There he found the smooth of speech,
Nestor, the Pylian orator, employed
In marshalling his squadrons. Near to him
Alastor and the large-limbed Pelagon,
Chromius, and Haemon, prince among his tribe,
And Bias, shepherd of the people, stood.
The cavalry with steeds and cars he placed
In front. A vast and valiant multitude
Of infantry he stationed in the rear,
To be the bulwark of the war. Between
He made the faint of spirit take their place,
That, though unwillingly, they might be forced
To combat with the rest. And first he gave
His orders to the horsemen, bidding them
To keep their coursers reined, nor let them range
At random through the tumult of the crowd:⁠—

“And let no man, too vain of horsemanship,
And trusting in his valor, dare advance
Beyond the rest to attack the men of Troy,
Nor let him fall behind the rest, to make
Our ranks the weaker. Whoso from his car
Can reach an enemy’s, let him stand and strike
With his long spear, for ’tis the shrewder way.
By rules like these, which their brave hearts obeyed,
The men of yore laid level towns and towers.”

The aged man, long versed in tasks of war,
Counselled them thus. King Agamemnon heard,
Delighted, and in wingèd words he said:⁠—

“O aged man, would that thy knees were firm
As is thy purpose, and thy strength as great!
But age, the common fate of all, has worn
Thy frame: would that some others had thy age,
And thou wert of the number of our youths!”

Then answered Nestor, the Gerenian knight:⁠—
“O son of Atreus, I myself could wish
That I were now as when of yore I struck
The high-born Ereuthalion down. The gods
Bestow not all their gifts on man at once.
If I were then a youth, old age in turn
Is creeping o’er me. Still I keep among
The knights, and counsel and admonish them⁠—
The office of the aged. Younger men,
They who can trust their strength, must wield the spear.”

He spake. The son of Atreus passed him by,
Pleased with his words, and, moving onward, came
Where⁠—with the Athenians, ever prompt to raise
The war-cry, grouped around him⁠—stood the knight
Menestheus, son of Peteus. Near to these
Was wise Ulysses, with his sturdy band
Of Cephalonians. None of these had heard
The clamor of the battle, for the hosts
Of Trojan knights and Greeks had just begun
To move, and there they waited for the advance
Of other squadrons marching on to charge
The Trojans and begin the war anew.
The king of men, Atrides, was displeased,
And spake, and chid them thus with wingèd words:⁠—

“O son of Peteus, foster-child of Jove,
And thou, the man of craft and evil wiles!
Why stand ye here aloof, irresolute,
And wait for others? Ye should be the first
To meet the foe and stem the battle’s rage.
I bid you first to banquets which the Greeks
Give to their leaders, where ye feast at will
On roasted meats and bowls of pleasant wine.
Now, ere ye move, ye willingly would see
Ten Grecian squadrons join the deadly strife.”

The man of many arts, Ulysses, spake,
And frowned: “O Atreus’ son! What words are those
Which pass thy lips? How canst thou say that we
Avoid the battle? Ever when the Greeks
Seek bloody conflict with the Trojan knights,
Thou, if thou wilt, and if thou givest heed
To things like these, shalt with thine eyes behold
The father of Telemachus engaged
In combat with the foremost knights that form
The Trojan van. Thou utterest empty words.”

King Agamemnon, when he saw the chief
Offended, changed his tone, and, smiling, said:⁠—

“Son of Laertes, nobly-born and wise
Ulysses! It is not for me to chide
Nor to exhort thee, for thy heart, I know,
Counsels thee kindly toward me, and thy thought
Agrees with mine. We will discuss all this
Hereafter. If just now too harsh a word
Was uttered, may the immortals make it vain!”

So saying, he departed, and went on
To others. By his steeds and by his car,
That shone with fastenings of brass, he found
The son of Tydeus, large-souled Diomed,
And Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus,
Standing beside him. Looking at them both,
King Agamemnon to Tydides spake
In wingèd words, and thus reproved the chief:⁠—

“O son of Tydeus, that undaunted knight!
What is there to appall thee? Why look through
The spaces that divide the warlike ranks?
Not thus did Tydeus feel the touch of fear,
But ever foremost of his warriors fought.
So they declare who saw his deeds, for I
Was never with him, nor have ever seen
The hero. Yet they say that he excelled
All others. Certain is it that he once
Entered Mycenae as a friendly guest,
With no array of soldiery, but came
With godlike Polynices. ’Twas the time
When warrior-bands were gathered to besiege
The sacred walls of Thebes, and earnestly
They prayed that from Mycenae they might lead
Renowned auxiliars to the war, and we
Would willingly have given the aid they asked⁠—
For we approved the prayer⁠—but Jove, with signs
Of angry omen, changed our purposes.
The chiefs departed, journeying on to where
Asopus flows through reeds and grass, and thence
The Achaians sent an embassy to Thebes
By Tydeus. There he met the many sons
Of Cadmus at the banquets in the hall
Of valiant Eteocles. Though alone
Among so many, and a stranger guest,
The hero feared them not, but challenged them
To vie with him in games; and easily
He won the victory, such aid was given
By Pallas. Then the sons of Cadmus, skilled
In horsemanship, were wroth, and privily
Sent fifty armed youths to lie in wait
For his return. Two leaders had the band⁠—
Maion, the son of Harmon, like a god
In form, and Lycophontes, brave in war,
Son of Autophonos. A bloody death
Did Tydeus give the youths. He slew them all
Save Maion, whom he suffered to return,
Obedient to an omen from the gods.
Such was Aetolian Tydeus; but his son,
A better speaker, is less brave in war.”

He spake; and valiant Diomed, who heard
The king’s reproof with reverence, answered not.
Then spake the son of honored Capaneus:⁠—

“Atrides, speak not falsely, when thou know’st
The truth so well. Assuredly we claim
To be far braver than our fathers were.
We took seven-gated Thebes with fewer troops
Than theirs, when, trusting in the omens sent
From heaven, and in the aid of Jupiter, so
We led our men beneath the city walls
Sacred to Mars. Our fathers perished there
Through their own folly. Therefore never seek
To place them in the same degree with us.”

The brave Tydides with a frown replied:⁠—
“Nay, hold thy peace, my friend, and heed my words.
Of Agamemnon I will not complain⁠—
The shepherd of the people; it is his
To exhort the well-armed Greeks to gallant deeds.
Great glory will attend him if the Greeks
Shall overcome the Trojans, and shall take
The sacred Ilium; but his grief will be
Bitter if we shall fail and be destroyed.
Hence think we only of the furious charge!”

He spake, and from his chariot leaped to earth
All armed; the mail upon the monarch’s breast
Rang terribly as he marched swiftly on.
The boldest might have heard that sound with fear.

As when the ocean-billows, surge on surge,
Are pushed along to the resounding shore
Before the western wind, and first a wave
Uplifts itself, and then against the land
Dashes and roars, and round the headland peaks
Tosses on high and spouts its spray afar,
So moved the serried phalanxes of Greece
To battle, rank succeeding rank, each chief
Giving command to his own troops; the rest
Marched noiselessly: you might have thought no voice
Was in the breasts of all that mighty throng,
So silently they all obeyed their chiefs,
Their showy armor glittering as they moved
In firm array. But, as the numerous flock
Of some rich man, while the white milk is drawn
Within his sheepfold, hear the plaintive call
Of their own lambs, and bleat incessantly⁠—
Such clamors from the mighty Trojan host
Arose; nor was the war-cry one, nor one
The voice, but words of mingled languages,
For they were called from many different climes.
These Mars encouraged to the fight; but those
The blue-eyed Pallas. Terror too was there,
And Fright, and Strife that rages unappeased⁠—
Sister and comrade of man-slaying Mars⁠—
Who rises small at first, but grows, and lifts
Her head to heaven and walks upon the earth.
She, striding through the crowd and heightening
The mutual rancor, flung into the midst
Contention, source of bale to all alike.

And now, when met the armies in the field,
The ox-hide shields encountered, and the spears,
And might of warriors mailed in brass; then clashed
The bossy bucklers, and the battle-din
Was loud; then rose the mingled shouts and groans
Of those who slew and those who fell; the earth
Ran with their blood. As when the winter streams
Rush down the mountain-sides, and fill, below,
With their swift waters, poured from gushing springs,
Some hollow vale, the shepherd on the heights
Hears the far roar⁠—such was the mingled din
That rose from the great armies when they met.

Then first Antilochus, advancing, struck
The Trojan champion Echepolus down,
Son of Thalysius, fighting in the van.
He smote him on the helmet’s cone, where streamed
The horse-hair plume. The brazen javelin stood
Fixed in his forehead, piercing through the bone,
And darkness gathered o’er his eyes. He fell
As falls a tower before some stubborn siege.
Then Elephenor, son of Chalcodon,
Prince of the brave Abrantes, by the foot
Seized the slain chieftain, dragging him beyond
The reach of darts, to strip him of his arms;
Yet dropped him soon, for brave Agenor saw,
And, as he stooped to drag the body, hurled
His brazen spear and pierced the uncovered side
Seen underneath the shield. At once his limbs
Relaxed their hold, and straight the spirit fled.
Then furious was the struggle of the Greeks
And Trojans o’er the slain; they sprang like wolves
Upon each other, and man slaughtered man.

Then by the hand of Ajax Telamon
Fell Simoisius, in the bloom of youth,
Anthemion’s son. His mother once came down
From Ida, with her parents, to their flocks
Beside the Simoïs; there she brought him forth
Upon its banks, and gave her boy the name
Of Simoisius. Unrequited now
Was all the care with which his parents nursed
His early years, and short his term of life⁠—
Slain by the hand of Ajax, large of soul.
For, when he saw him coming, Ajax smote
Near the right pap the Trojan’s breast; the blade
Passed through, and out upon the further side.
He fell among the dust of earth, as falls
A poplar growing in the watery soil
Of some wide marsh⁠—a fair, smooth bole, with boughs
Only on high, which with his gleaming axe
Some artisan has felled to bend its trunk
Into the circle of some chariot-wheel;
Withering it lies upon the river’s bank.
So did the high-born Ajax spoil the corpse
Of Simoisius, Anthemion’s son.
But Antiphus, the son of Priam, clad
In shining armor, saw, and, taking aim,
Cast his sharp spear at Ajax through the crowd.
The weapon struck him not, but pierced the groin
Of one who was Ulysses’ faithful friend⁠—
Leucus⁠—as from the spot he dragged the dead;
He fell, the body dropping from his hold.
Ulysses, stung with fury at his fall,
Rushed to the van, arrayed in shining brass,
Drew near the foe, and, casting a quick glance
Around him, hurled his glittering spear. The host
Of Trojans, as it left his hand, shrank back
Upon each other. Not in vain it flew,
But struck Democoön, the spurious son
Of Priam, who, to join the war, had left
Abydos, where he tended the swift mares.
Ulysses, to revenge his comrade’s death,
Smote him upon the temple with his spear.
Through both the temples passed the brazen point,
And darkness gathered o’er his eyes; he fell,
His armor clashing round him with his fall.
Then did the foremost bands, and Hector’s self,
Fall back. The Argives shouted, dragging off
The slain, and rushing to the ground they won.
Then was Apollo angered, looking down
From Pergamus, and thus he called aloud:⁠—

“Rally, ye Trojans! Tamers of fleet steeds!
Yield not the battle to the Greeks. Their limbs
Are not of stone or iron, to withstand
The trenchant steel ye wield. Nor does the son
Of fair-haired Thetis now, Achilles, take
Part in the battle, but sits, brooding o’er
The choler that devours him, in his ships.”
Thus from the city spake the terrible god.
Meantime Tritonian Pallas, glorious child
Of Jupiter, went through the Grecian ranks
Where’er they wavered, and revived their zeal.

Diores, son of Amarynceus, then
Met his hard fate. The fragment of a rock
Was thrown by hand at his right leg, and struck
The ankle. Piroüs, son of Imbrasus,
Who came from Aenus, leading to the war
His Thracian soldiers, flung it; and it crushed
Tendons and bones, and down the warrior fell
In dust, and toward his comrades stretched his hands,
And gasped for breath. But he who gave the wound,
Piroüs, came up and pierced him with his spear.
Forth gushed the entrails, and the eyes grew dark.

But Piroüs by Aetolian Thoas fell,
Who met him with his spear and pierced his breast
Above the pap. The brazen weapon stood
Fixed in the lungs. Then Thoas came and plucked
The massive spear away, and drew his sword,
And thrusting through him the sharp blade, he took
His life away. Yet could he not despoil
The slain man of his armor, for around
His comrades thronged, the Thracians, with their tufts
Of streaming hair, and, wielding their long spears,
Drove him away. And he, though huge of limb,
And valiant and renowned, was forced to yield
To numbers pressing on him, and withdrew.
Thus near each other stretched upon the ground
Piroüs, the leader of the Thracian band,
And he who led the Epeans, brazen-mailed
Diores, lay with many others slain.

Then could no man, who near at hand beheld
The battle of that day, see cause of blame
In aught, although, unwounded and unbruised
By weapons, Pallas led him by the hand
In safety through the midst, and turned aside
The violence of javelins; for that day
Saw many a Trojan slain, and many a Greek,
Stretched side by side upon the bloody field.