The Second Battle

A council of the gods⁠—Jupiter forbids them to take part with either side⁠—Minerva permitted to advise the Greeks⁠—Beginning of the second battle⁠—The fate of the two armies weighed in the scales by Jupiter⁠—Nestor rescued by Diomed⁠—Exploits of Diomed and of Hector⁠—Neptune denies the request of Juno to aid the Greeks⁠—Teucer wounded by Hector⁠—Juno and Minerva restrained by Jupiter from going to the aid of the Greeks, who are driven within their entrenchments⁠—The Trojans pass the night before the Greek camp, and kindle fires around it.

Now morn in saffron robes had shed her light
O’er all the earth, when Jove the Thunderer
Summoned the gods to council on the heights
Of many-peaked Olympus. He addressed
The assembly, and all listened as he spake:⁠—

“Hear, all ye gods and all ye goddesses!
While I declare the thought within my breast.
Let none of either sex presume to break
The law I give, but cheerfully obey,
That my design may sooner be fulfilled.
Whoever, stealing from the rest, shall seek
To aid the Grecian cause, or that of Troy,
Back to Olympus, scourged and in disgrace,
Shall he be brought, or I will seize and hurl
The offender down to rayless Tartarus,
Deep, deep in the great gulf below the earth,
With iron gates and threshold forged of brass,
As far beneath the shades as earth from heaven.
Then shall he learn how greatly I surpass
All other gods in power. Try if ye will,
Ye gods, that all may know: suspend from heaven
A golden chain; let all the immortal host
Cling to it from below: ye could not draw,
Strive as ye might, the all-disposing Jove
From heaven to earth. And yet, if I should choose
To draw it upward to me, I should lift,
With it and you, the earth itself and sea
Together, and I then would bind the chain
Around the summit of the Olympian mount,
And they should hang aloft. So far my power
Surpasses all the power of gods and men.”

He spake; and all the great assembly, hushed
In silence, wondered at his threatening words,
Until at length the blue-eyed Pallas said:⁠—

“Our Father, son of Saturn, mightiest as
Among the potentates, we know thy power
Is not to be withstood, yet are we moved
With pity for the warlike Greeks, who bear
An evil fate and waste away in war.
If such be thy command, we shall refrain
From mingling in the combat, yet will aid
The Greeks with counsel which may be their guide,
Lest by thy wrath they perish utterly.”

The Cloud-compeller Jove replied, and smiled:⁠—
“Tritonia, daughter dear, be comforted.
I spake not in the anger of my heart,
And I have naught but kind intents for thee.”

He spake, and to his chariot yoked the steeds,
Fleet, brazen-footed, and with flowing manes
Of gold, and put his golden armor on,
And took the golden scourge, divinely wrought,
And, mounting, touched the coursers with the lash
To urge them onward. Not unwillingly
Flew they between the earth and starry heaven,
Until he came to Ida, moist with springs
And nurse of savage beasts, and to the height
Of Gargarus, where lay his sacred field,
And where his fragrant altar fumed. He checked
Their course, and there the Father of the gods
And men released them from the yoke and caused
A cloud to gather round them. Then he sat,
Exulting in the fullness of his might,
Upon the summit, whence his eye beheld
The towers of Ilium and the ships of Greece.

Now in their tents the long-haired Greeks had shared
A hasty meal, and girded on their arms.
The Trojans, also, in their city armed
Themselves for war, as eager for the fight,
Though fewer; for a hard necessity
Forced them to combat for their little ones
And wives. They set the city-portals wide,
And forth the people issued, foot and horse
Together, and a mighty din arose.
And now, when host met host, their shields and spears
Were mingled in disorder; men of might
Encountered, cased in mail, and bucklers clashed
Their bosses; loud the clamor: cries of pain
And boastful shouts arose from those who fell
And those who slew, and earth was drenched with blood.

While yet ’twas morning, and the holy light
Of day grew bright, the men of both the hosts
Were smitten and were slain; but when the sun
Stood high in middle heaven, the All-Father took
His golden scales, and in them laid the fates
Which bring the sleep of death⁠—the fate of those
Who tamed the Trojan steeds, and those who warred
For Greece in brazen armor. By the midst
He held the balance, and, behold, the fate
Of Greece in that day’s fight sank down until
It touched the nourishing earth, while that of Troy
Rose and flew upward toward the spacious heaven.
With that the Godhead thundered terribly
From Ida’s height, and sent his lightnings down
Among the Achaian army. They beheld
In mute amazement and grew pale with fear.

Then neither dared Idomeneus remain,
Nor Agamemnon, on the ground, nor stayed
The chieftains Ajax, ministers of Mars.
Gerenian Nestor, guardian of the Greeks,
Alone was left behind, and he remained
Unwillingly. A steed of those that drew
His car was sorely wounded by a shaft
Which Alexander, fair-haired Helen’s spouse,
Sent from his bow. It pierced the forehead where
The mane begins, and where a wound is death.
The arrow pierced him to the brain; he reared
And whirled in torture with the wound, and scared
His fellow-coursers. While the aged man
Hastened to sever with his sword the thongs
That bound him to the car, the rapid steeds
Of Hector bore their valiant master on
With the pursuing crowd. The aged chief
Had perished then, if gallant Diomed
Had not perceived his plight. He lifted up
His voice, and, shouting to Ulysses, said:⁠—

“High-born Ulysses, man of subtle shifts,
Son of Laertes, whither dost thou flee?
Why like a coward turn thy back? Beware,
Lest there some weapon smite thee. Stay and guard
This aged warrior from his furious foe.”

So spake he; but the much-enduring man,
Ulysses, heard not the reproof, and passed
Rapidly toward the hollow ships of Greece.
Tydides, single-handed, made his way
Among the foremost warriors, till he stood
Before the horses of the aged son
Of Neleus, and in wingèd accents said:⁠—

“The younger warriors press thee sore, old chief!
Thy strength gives way; the weariness of age
Is on thee; thy attendant is not strong;
Thy steeds are slow. Mount, then, my car, and see
What Trojan horses are; how rapidly
They turn to right and left, and chase and flee.
I took them from the terror of the field,
Aeneas. To our servants leave thine own,
While we with these assault the Trojan knights,
And teach even Hector that the spear I wield
Can make as furious havoc as his own.”

He spake; and Nestor, the Gerenian knight,
Complied. The two attendants, valiant men⁠—
Sthenelus and the good Eurymedon⁠—
Took charge of Nestor’s steeds. The chieftains climbed
The car of Diomed, and Nestor took
Into his hand the embroidered reins and lashed
The horses with the scourge. They quickly came
To Hector. As the Trojan hastened on,
The son of Tydeus hurled a spear; it missed,
But spared not Eniopeus, him who held
The reins, the hero’s charioteer, and son
Of brave Thebaeus. In the breast between
The paps it smote him; from the car he fell,
And the swift horses started back; his soul
And strength passed from him. Hector bitterly
Grieved for his death, yet left him where he fell,
And sought another fitting charioteer.
Nor had the fiery coursers long to wait
A guide, for valiant Archeptolemus,
The son of Iphitus, was near at hand.
And him he caused to mount the chariot drawn
By his fleet steeds, and gave his hand the reins.

Then great had been the slaughter; fearful deeds
Had then been done; the Trojans had been scared
Into their town like lambs into the fold⁠—
Had not the Father of the immortal gods
And mortal men beheld, and from on high
Terribly thundered, sending to the earth
A bolt of fire. He flung it down before
The car of Diomed; and fiercely glared
The blazing sulphur; both the frightened steeds
Cowered trembling by the chariot. Nestor’s hand
Let fall the embroidered reins; his spirit sank
With fear, and thus he said to Diomed:⁠—

“Tydides, turn thy firm-paced steeds, and flee.
Dost thou not see that victory from Jove
Attends thee not? Today doth Saturn’s son
Award the glory to the Trojan chief.
Hereafter he will make it ours, if such
Be his good pleasure. No man, though he be
The mightiest among men, can thwart the will
Of Jupiter, with whom abides all power.”

The great in battle, Diomed, replied:⁠—
“Truly, O ancient man, thou speakest well;
But this it is that grieves me to the heart⁠—
That Hector to the Trojan host will say,
‘I put to flight Tydides, and he sought
Shelter among his ships.’ Thus will he boast
Hereafter; may earth open then for me!”

And Nestor, the Gerenian knight, rejoined:⁠—
“What, son of warlike Tydeus, hast thou said?
Though Hector call thee faint of heart and weak,
The Trojans and Dardanians, and the wives
Of the stout-hearted Trojans armed with shields,
Whose husbands in their youthful prime thy hand
Hath laid in dust, will not believe his words.”

Thus having said, he turned the firm-paced steeds
Rearward, and mingled with the flying crowd.
And now the Trojans and their leader gave
A mighty cry, and poured on them a storm
Of deadly darts, and crested Hector raised
His thundering voice and shouted after them:⁠—

“O son of Tydeus! The swift-riding Greeks
Have honored thee beyond all other men,
At banquets, with high place and delicate meats
And flowing cups. They will despise thee now,
For thou art like a woman. Timorous girl!
Take thyself hence, and never think that I
Shall yield to thee, that thou mayst climb our towers
And bear away our women in thy ships;
For I shall give thee first the doom of death.”

He spake; and Diomed, in doubtful mood,
Questioned his spirit whether he should turn
His steeds and fight with Hector. Thrice the thought
Arose within his mind, and thrice on high
Uttered the all-forecasting Jupiter
His thunder from the Idaean mount, a sign
Of victory changing to the Trojan side.
Then Hector to the Trojans called aloud:⁠—

“Trojans and Lycians all, and ye who close
In deadly fight, the sons of Dardanus!
Acquit yourselves like men, my friends; recall
Your fiery valor now, for I perceive
The son of Saturn doth award to me
Victory and vast renown, and to the Greeks
Destruction. Fools! who built this slender wall
Which we contemn, which cannot stand before
The strength I bring; our steeds can overleap
The trench they digged. When I shall reach their fleet,
Remember the consuming power of fire,
That I may give their vessels to the flames,
And hew the Achaians down beside their prows,
While they are wrapped in the bewildering smoke.”

He spake; and then he cheered his coursers thus:⁠—
“Xanthus, Podargus, Lampus nobly bred,
And Aethon, now repay the generous care,
The pleasant grain which my Andromache,
Daughter of great Eëtion, largely gives.
She mingles wine that ye may drink at will
Ere yet she ministers to me, who boast
To be her youthful husband. Let us now
Pursue with fiery haste, that we may seize
The shield of Nestor, the great fame of which
Has reached to heaven⁠—an orb of massive gold
Even to the handles. Let us from the limbs
Of Diomed, the tamer of fleet steeds,
Strip off the glorious mail that Vulcan forged:
This done, our hope may be that all the Greeks
Will climb their galleys and depart tonight.”

So boasted he; but queenly Juno’s ire
Was kindled, and she shuddered on her throne
Till great Olympus trembled. Thus she spake
To Neptune, mighty ruler of the deep:⁠—

“Earth-shaker! Thou who rulest far and wide!
Is there no pity for the perishing Greeks
Within that breast of thine? They bring to thee
At Helicè and Aegae costly gifts
And many, wherefore thy desire should be
That they may win the victory. If the gods
Who favor the Achaians should combine
To drive the Trojans back, and hold in check
High-thundering Jupiter, the God would sit
In sullen grief on Ida’s top alone.”

Earth-shaking Neptune answered in disdain:⁠—
“O Juno, rash in speech! What words are these?
Think not that I can wish to join the gods
In conflict with the monarch Jupiter,
The son of Saturn, mightier than we all.”

So held they colloquy. Meanwhile the space
Betwixt the galleys and the trench and wall
Was crowded close with steeds and shielded men;
For Hector, son of Priam, terrible
As Mars the lightning-footed, drave them on
Before him. Jove decreed him such renown.
And now would he have given that noble fleet
To the consuming flame, if Juno, queen
Of heaven, had not beheld, and moved the heart
Of Agamemnon to exhort the Greeks
That they should turn and combat. With quick steps
He passed beside the fleet, among the tents,
Bearing in his strong hand his purple robe,
And climbed the huge black galley which had brought
Ulysses to the war⁠—for in the midst
It lay, and thence the king might send his voice
To either side, as far as to the tents
Of Ajax and Achilles, who had moored
Their galleys at the different extremes
Of the long camp, confiding in their might
Of arm and their own valor. Thence he called,
With loud, clear utterance, to the Achaian host:⁠—

“O Greeks! Shame on ye! Cravens who excel
In form alone! Where now are all the boasts
Of your invincible valor⁠—the vain words
Ye uttered pompously when at the feast
In Lemnos sitting ye devoured the flesh
Of hornèd beeves, and drank from bowls of wine,
Flower-crowned, and bragged that each of you would be
A match for fivescore Trojans, or for twice
Fivescore? And now we all are not a match
For Hector singly, who will give our fleet
Soon to consuming flames. O Father Jove,
Was ever mighty monarch visited
By thee with such affliction, or so robbed
Of high renown! And yet in my good ship,
Bound to this luckless coast, I never passed
By thy fair altars that I did not burn
The fat and thighs of oxen, with a prayer
That I might sack the well-defended Troy.
Now be at least one wish of mine fulfilled⁠—
That we may yet escape and get us hence;
Nor let the Trojans thus destroy the Greeks.”

He spake, and wept. The All-Father, pitying him,
Consented that his people should escape
The threatened ruin. Instantly he sent
His eagle, bird of surest augury,
Which, bearing in his talons a young fawn,
The offspring of a nimble-footed roe,
Dropped it at the fair altar where the Greeks
Paid sacrifice to Panomphaean Jove.

And they, when they beheld, and knew that Jove
Had sent the bird, took courage, rallying,
And rushed against the Trojans. Then no chief
Of all the Greeks⁠—though many they⁠—could boast
That he before Tydides urged his steeds
To sudden speed and drave them o’er the trench,
And mingled in the combat. First of all
He struck down Agelaus, Phradmon’s son,
Armed as he was, who turned his car to fly,
And as he turned, Tydides with his spear
Transfixed his back between the shoulder-blades,
And drave the weapon through his breast. He fell
To earth, his armor clashing with his fall.
Then Agamemnon followed, and with him
His brother Menelaus; after these
The chieftains Ajax, fearful in their strength;
Idomeneus, and he who bore his arms⁠—
Meriones, like Mars in battle-field; as
Eurypylus, Evaemon’s glorious son;
And ninthly Teucer came, who bent his bow
Beneath the shield of Ajax Telamon⁠—
For Ajax moved his shield from side to side,
And thence the archer looked abroad, and aimed
His arrows thence. Whoever in the throng
Was struck fell lifeless. Teucer all the while,
As hides a child behind his mother’s robe,
Sheltered himself by Ajax, whose great shield
Concealed the chief from sight. What Trojan first
Did faithful Teucer slay? Orsilochus,
Daetor, and Ophelestes, Ormenus,
Chromius, and Lycophontes nobly born,
And Hamopaon, Polyremon’s son,
And Melanippus⁠—one by one the shafts
Of Teucer stretched them on their mother earth.
Then Agamemnon, king of men, rejoiced
As he beheld him, with his sturdy bow,
Breaking the serried phalanxes of Troy;
And came, and, standing near, bespake him thus:⁠—

“Beloved Teucer! Son of Telamon,
Prince of the people! Ever be thy shafts
Aimed thus, and thou shalt be the light and pride
Of Greece, and of thy father Telamon,
Who reared thee from a little child with care
In his own halls, though spurious was thy birth.
Go on to do him honor, though he now
Be far away. And here I say to thee⁠—
And I will keep my word⁠—if Jupiter
The Aegis-bearer and Minerva deign
To let me level the strong walls of Troy,
To thee will I assign the noblest prize
After my own⁠—a tripod, or two steeds
And chariot, or a wife to share thy bed.”

And thus the blameless Teucer made reply:⁠—
“Why, glorious son of Atreus, wouldst thou thus
Admonish me, while yet I do my best,
And pause not in the combat? From the time
When we began to drive the enemy back
To Ilium, I have smitten and have slain
Their warriors with my bow. Eight barbed shafts
I sent, and each has pierced some warlike youth;
But this fierce wolf-dog have I failed to strike.”

He spake, and sent another arrow forth
At Hector with an eager aim. It missed
Its mark, but struck Gorgythion down, the brave
And blameless son of Priam; through his breast
The arrow went. Fair Castianira brought
The warrior forth⁠—a dame from Aesyma,
Beautiful as a goddess. As within
A garden droops a poppy to the ground,
Bowed by its weight and by the rains of spring,
So drooped his head within the heavy casque.

And then did Teucer send another shaft
At Hector, eager still to smite. It missed
Its aim again, for Phoebus turned aside
The arrow, but it struck the charioteer
Of Hector, Archeptolemus the brave,
When rushing to the fight, and pierced his breast
Close to the nipple; from the car he fell,
The swift steeds started back, and from his limbs
The life and strength departed. A deep grief
For his slain charioteer came darkly o’er
The mind of Hector, yet, though sorrowing,
He left him where he fell, and straightway called
Cebriones, his brother, who was near,
To mount and take the reins. Cebriones
Heard and obeyed. Then from the shining car
Leaped Hector with a mighty cry, and seized
A ponderous stone, and, bent to crush him, ran
At Teucer, who had from his quiver drawn
One of his sharpest arrows, placing it
Upon the bowstring. As he drew the bow,
The strong-armed Hector hurled the jagged stone,
And smote him near the shoulder, where the neck
And breast are sundered by the collar bone⁠—
A fatal spot. The bowstring brake; the arm
Fell nerveless; on his knees the archer sank,
And dropped the bow. Then did not Ajax leave
His fallen brother to the foe, but walked
Around him, sheltering him beneath his shield,
Till two dear friends of his⁠—Menestheus, son
Of Echius, and Alastor nobly born⁠—
Approached, and took him up and carried him,
Heavily groaning, to the hollow ships.

Then did Olympian Jove again inspire
The Trojan host with valor, and they drave
The Achaians backward to the yawning trench.
Then Hector came, with fury in his eyes,
Among the foremost warriors. As a hound,
Sure of his own swift feet, attacks behind
The lion or wild boar, and tears his flank,
Yet warily observes him as he turns,
So Hector followed close the long-haired Greeks,
And ever slew the hindmost as they fled.
Yet now, when they in flight had crossed again
The trench and palisades, and many a one
Had died by Trojan hands, they made a halt
Before their ships, and bade each other stand,
And lifted up their hands and prayed aloud as
To all the gods; while Hector, urging on
His long-maned steeds, and with stern eyes that seemed
The eyes of Gorgon or of murderous Mars,
Hither and thither swept across the field.

The white-armed Juno saw, and, sorrowing,
Addressed Minerva with these wingèd words:⁠—
“Ah me! Thou daughter of the God who bears
The aegis, shall we not descend to aid
The perishing Greeks in their extremity?
A cruel doom is theirs, to fall, destroyed
By one man’s rage⁠—the terrible assault
Of Hector, son of Priam, who has made
Insufferable havoc in the field.”

And thus in turn the blue-eyed Pallas spake:⁠—
“That warrior long ere this had lost his life,
Slain by the Greeks on his paternal soil,
But that my father’s mind is warped by wrath.
Unjust to me and harsh, he thwarts my aims,
Forgetting all I did for Hercules,
His son⁠—how often, when Eurystheus set
A task too hard for him, I saved his life.
To heaven he raised his eyes and wept, and Jove
Despatched me instantly to succor him.
And yet if I, in my forecasting mind,
Had known all this when he was bid to bring
From strong-walled Erebus the dog of hell,
He had not safely crossed the gulf of Styx.
But now Jove hates me; now he grants the wish
Of Thetis, who hath kissed his knees and touched
His beard caressingly, and prayed that he
Would crown the overthrower of walled towns,
Achilles, with great honor. Well, the time
Will come when he shall call me yet again
His dear Minerva. Hasten now to yoke
For us thy firm-paced steeds, while in the halls
Of aegis-bearing Jupiter I brace
My armor on for war⁠—and I shall see
If Hector of the beamy helm, the son
Of Priam, will rejoice when we appear
Upon the field again. Assuredly
The men of Troy shall die, to feast the birds
Of prey and dogs beside the Grecian fleet.”

She ended, and the white-armed deity
Juno obeyed her. Juno the august,
The mighty Saturn’s daughter, hastily
Caparisoned the golden-bitted steeds.
Meanwhile, Minerva on the palace-floor
Of Jupiter let drop the gorgeous robe
Of many hues, which her own hands had wrought,
And, putting on the Cloud-compeller’s mail,
Stood armed for cruel war. And then she climbed
The glorious car, and took in hand the spear⁠—
Huge, heavy, strong⁠—with which she overthrows
The serried phalanxes of valiant men
Whene’er this daughter of the Almighty One
Is angered. Juno bore the lash, and urged
The coursers to their speed. The gates of heaven
Opened before them of their own accord⁠—
Gates guarded by the Hours, on whom the care
Of the great heaven and of Olympus rests,
To open or to close the wall of cloud.
Through these they guided their impatient steeds.

From Ida Jupiter beheld, in wrath,
And summoned Iris of the golden wings,
And bade her do this errand: “Speed thee hence,
Fleet Iris! Turn them back; allow them not
Thus to defy me: it is not for them
To engage with me in war. I give my word⁠—
Nor shall it lack fulfilment⁠—I will make
The swift steeds lame that draw their car, and hurl
The riders down, and dash the car itself
To fragments. Ten long years shall wear away
Before they cease to suffer from the wounds
Made by the thunderbolt. Minerva thus
May learn the fate of those who strive with Jove.
With Juno I am less displeased, for she
Is ever bent to thwart my purposes.”

He spake; and Iris, with the tempest’s speed
Departing, bore the message from the heights
Of Ida to the great Olympus, where,
Among the foremost passes of the mount,
All seamed with hollow vales, she met and stayed
The pair, delivering thus the word of Jove:⁠—

“Now whither haste ye? What strange madness fires
Your breasts? The son of Saturn suffers not
That ye befriend the Greeks. He threatens thus⁠—
And will fulfil his threat⁠—that he will make
The coursers lame that draw your car, and hurl
The riders down, and dash the car itself
To fragments, and that ten long years must pass
Ere ye shall cease to suffer from the wounds
Made by the thunderbolt. So shalt thou learn,
O Pallas! what it is to strive with Jove.
With Juno is he less displeased, for she
Is ever bent to thwart his purposes;
But thou, he says, art guilty above all,
And shameless as a hound, if thou dare lift
Thy massive spear against thy father Jove.”

So spake fleet-footed Iris, and withdrew;
And thus again to Pallas Juno said:⁠—

“Child of the Aegis-bearer! Let us strive
With Jove no longer for the sake of men,
But let one perish and another live,
As chance may rule the hour, and let the God,
Communing with his secret mind, mete out
To Greeks and Trojans their just destiny.”

She spake, and turned the firm-paced coursers back,
The coursers with fair-flowing manes. The Hours
Unyoked them, bound them to the ambrosial stalls,
And leaned against the shining walls the car;
While Juno and Minerva went among
The other deities and took their place
Upon their golden seats, though sad at heart.
Then with his steeds, and in his bright-wheeled car,
Came Jove from Ida to the dwelling-place
Of gods upon Olympus. There did he
Who shakes the islands loose the steeds and bring
The chariot to its place, and o’er it spread
Its covering of lawn. The Thunderer
Seated himself upon his golden throne,
The great Olympus trembling as he stepped;
While Juno and Minerva sat apart
Together, nor saluted him, nor asked
Of aught; but he perceived their thoughts and said:⁠—

“Juno and Pallas! Why so sad? Not long
Ye toiled in glorious battle to destroy
The Trojans, whom ye hold in bitter hate:
This strength of mine, and this invincible arm
Not all the gods upon the Olympian mount
Can turn to flight, while your fair limbs were seized
With trembling ere ye entered on the shock
And havoc of the war. Now let me say⁠—
And well the event would have fulfilled my words⁠—
That, smitten with the thunder from my hand,
Your chariots never would have brought you back
To this Olympus and the abode of gods.”

He spake; while Pallas and the queen of heaven
Repined with close-pressed lips, and in their hearts
Devised new mischiefs for the Trojan race.
Silent Minerva sat, nor dared express as
The anger that she bore her father Jove;
But Juno could not curb her wrath, and spake:⁠—

“What words, austere Saturnius, hast thou said?
Thou art, we know, invincible in might;
Yet must we sorrow for the heroic Greeks,
Who, by a cruel fate, are perishing.
We stand aloof from war, if thou require;
Yet would we counsel the Achaian host,
Lest by thy wrath they perish utterly.”

And then the Cloud-compeller, answering, said:⁠—
“O Juno, large-eyed and august, if thou
Look forth tomorrow, thou shalt then behold
The all-powerful son of Saturn laying waste
With greater havoc still the mighty host
Of warlike Greeks. For Hector, great in war,
Shall pause not from the conflict, till he rouse
The swift-paced son of Peleus at the ships,
When, pent in narrow space, the armies fight
For slain Patroclus: such the will of fate.
As for thyself, I little heed thy rage:
Not even shouldst thou wander to the realm
Where earth and ocean end, where Saturn sits
Beside Iapetus, and neither light
Of overgoing suns nor breath of wind
Refreshes them, but gulfs of Tartarus
Surround them⁠—shouldst thou even thither bend
Thy way, I shall not heed thy rage, who art
Beyond all others shamelessly perverse.”

He ceased; but white-armed Juno answered not.
And now into the sea the sun’s bright light
Went down, and o’er the foodful earth was drawn
Night’s shadow. Most unwillingly the sons
Of Troy beheld the sunset. To the Greeks
Eagerly wished the welcome darkness came.

Then from the fleet illustrious Hector led
The Trojans, and beside the eddying stream,
In a clear space uncumbered by the slain,
Held council. There, alighting from their cars,
They listened to the words that Hector spake⁠—
Hector, beloved of Jove. He held a spear,
In length eleven cubits, with a blade
Of glittering brass, bound with a ring of gold.
On this he leaned, and spake these wingèd words:⁠—

“Hear me, ye Trojans, Dardans, and allies.
But now I thought that, having first destroyed
The Achaian host and fleet, we should return
This night to wind-swept Ilium. To their aid
The darkness comes, and saves the Greeks, and saves
Their galleys ranged along the ocean-side.
Obey we, then, the dark-browed night; prepare
Our meal; unyoke the steeds with flowing manes,
And set their food before them. Bring at once
Oxen and fatlings of the flock from town,
And from your dwellings bread and pleasant wine.
And let us gather store of wood, to feed
A multitude of blazing fires all night,
Till Morning, daughter of the Dawn, appear⁠—
Fires that shall light the sky, lest in the hours
Of darkness with their ships the long-haired Greeks
Attempt escape across the mighty deep.
And, that they may not climb their decks unharmed.
Let every foeman bear a wound to cure
At home⁠—an arrow-wound or gash of spear,
Given as he leaps on board. So other foes
Shall dread a conflict with the knights of Troy.
And let the heralds, dear to Jove, command
That all grown youths and hoary-headed men
Keep watch about the city in the towers
Built by the gods; and let the feebler sex
Kindle large fires upon their hearths at home;
And let the guard be strengthened, lest the foe
Should steal into the city while its sons
Are all abroad. Thus let it be till morn,
Brave Trojans! I but speak of what the time
Requires, and on the morrow I shall speak
Of what the Trojan knights have then to do.
My prayer to Jove and to the other gods,
And my hope is, that I may drive away
These curs, brought hither by an evil fate
In their black ships. All night will we keep watch,
And, arming, with the early morn renew
The desperate conflict at the hollow ships.
Then shall I see if valiant Diomed
Tydides has the power to make me leave
The Grecian galleys for the city-walls,
Or whether I shall slay him with my spear
And take his bloody spoils. Tomorrow’s sun
Will make his valor known, if he withstand
The assault of this my weapon. Yet I think
The sunrise will behold him slain among
The first, with many comrades lying round.
Would that I knew myself as certainly
Secure from death and the decays of age,
And to be held in honor like the gods
Apollo and Minerva, as I know
This day will bring misfortune to the Greeks!”

So Hector spake, and all the Trojan host
Applauded; from the yoke forthwith they looped
The sweaty steeds, and bound them to the cars
With halters; to the town they sent in haste
For oxen and the fatlings of the flock,
And to their homes for bread and pleasant wine,
And gathered fuel in large store. The winds
Bore up the fragrant fumes from earth to heaven.

So, high in hope, they sat the whole night through
In warlike lines, and many watch-fires blazed.
As when in heaven the stars look brightly forth
Round the clear-shining moon, while not a breeze
Stirs in the depths of air, and all the stars
Are seen, and gladness fills the shepherd’s heart,
So many fires in sight of Ilium blazed,
Lit by the sons of Troy, between the ships
And eddying Xanthus: on the plain there shone
A thousand; fifty warriors by each fire
Sat in its light. Their steeds beside the cars⁠—
Champing their oats and their white barley⁠—stood,
And waited for the golden morn to rise.