Part 7 out of 7
the tenth day the gods of heaven buried them, and she then bethought her
of meat, when she was wearied out with weeping tears. And somewhere now
among the cliffs, on the lonely mountains, even on Sipylos, where they
say are the couching-places of nymphs that dance around Acheloos, there
she, albeit a stone, broodeth still over her troubles from the gods. But
come let us too, noble father, take thought of meat, and afterward thou
shalt mourn over thy dear son as thou carriest him to Ilios; and many
tears shall be his due."
Thus spake fleet Achilles, and sprang up, and slew a pure white sheep,
and his comrades skinned and made it ready in seemly fashion, and
divided it cunningly and pierced it with spits, and roasted it carefully
and drew all off. And Automedon took bread and served it on a table in
fair baskets, while Achilles dealt out the flesh. And they stretched
forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them. But when
they had put off the desire of meat and drink, then Priam son of
Dardanos marvelled at Achilles to see how great he was and how goodly,
for he was like a god to look upon. And Achilles marvelled at Priam son
of Dardanos, beholding his noble aspect and hearkening to his words. But
when they had gazed their fill upon one another, then first spake the
old man, godlike Priam, to Achilles: "Now presently give me whereon to
lie, fosterling of Zeus, that of sweet sleep also we may now take our
fill at rest: for never yet have mine eyes closed beneath their lids
since at thy hands my son lost his life, but I continually mourn and
brood over countless griefs, grovelling in the courtyard-close amid the
mire. Now at last have I tasted bread and poured bright wine down my
throat, but till now I had tasted naught."
He said, and Achilles bade his comrades and handmaids to set a bedstead
beneath the portico, and to cast thereon fair shining rugs and spread
coverlets above and thereon to lay thick mantles to be a clothing over
all. And the maids went forth from the inner hail with torches in their
hands, and quickly spread two beds in haste. Then with bitter meaning
[in his reference to Agamemnon] said fleet-footed Achilles unto Priam:
"Lie thou without, dear sire, lest there come hither one of the
counsellors of the Achaians, such as ever take counsel with me by my
side, as custom is. If any of such should behold thee through the swift
black night, forthwith he might haply tell it to Agamemnon shepherd of
the host, and thus would there be delay in giving back the dead. But
come say this to me and tell it true, how many days' space thou art fain
to make funeral for noble Hector, so that for so long I may myself abide
and may keep back the host."
And the old man, godlike Priam, answered him, saying: "If thou art
verily willing that I accomplish noble Hector's funeral, by doing as
thou sayest, O Achilles, thou wilt do me grace. For thou knowest how we
are pent within the city, and wood from the mountain is far to fetch,
and the Trojans are much in fear. Nine days will we make moan for him in
our halls, and on the tenth we will hold funeral and the folk shall
feast, and on the eleventh we will make, a barrow over him, and on the
twelfth we will do battle if need be."
Then again spake the fleet noble Achilles unto him, saying: "All this, O
ancient Priam, shall be as thou biddest; for I will hold back the battle
even so long a time as thou tellest me."
Thus speaking he clasped the old man's right hand at the wrist, lest he
should be anywise afraid at heart. So they in the forepart of the house
laid them down, Priam and the herald, with wise thoughts at their
hearts, but Achilles slept in a recess of the firm-wrought hut, and
beside him lay fair-cheeked Briseis.
Now all other gods and warriors lords of chariots slumbered all night,
by soft sleep overcome. But not on the Helper Hermes did sleep take hold
as he sought within his heart how he should guide forth king Priam from
the ships unespied of the trusty sentinels. And he stood above his head
and spake a word to him: "Old sire, no thought then hast thou of any
evil, seeing thou yet sleepest among men that are thine enemies, for
that Achilles spared thee. Truly now hast thou won back thy dear son,
and at great price. But for thy life will thy sons thou hast left behind
be offering threefold ransom, if but Agamemnon Atreus' son be aware of
thee, and aware be all the Achaians."
Thus spake he, and the old man feared, and roused the herald. And Hermes
yoked the horses and mules for them, and himself drave them lightly
through the camp, and none was aware of them.
But when they came to the ford of the fair-flowing river, [even eddying
Xanthos, begotten of immortal Zeus,] then Hermes departed up to high
Olympus, and Morning of the saffron robe spread over all the earth. And
they with wail and moan drave the horses to the city, and the mules drew
the dead. Nor marked them any man or fair-girdled woman until Kassandra,
peer of golden Aphrodite, having gone up upon Pergamos, was aware of her
dear father as he stood in the car, and the herald that was crier to the
town. Then beheld she him that lay upon the bier behind the mules, and
thereat she wailed and cried aloud throughout all the town: "O men and
women of Troy, come ye hither and look upon Hector, if ever while he was
alive ye rejoiced when he came back from battle, since great joy was he
to the city and all the folk."
Thus spake she, nor was man or woman left within the city, for upon all
came unendurable grief. And near the gates they met Priam bringing home
the dead. First bewailed him his dear wife and lady mother, as they cast
them on the fair-wheeled wain and touched his head; and around them
stood the throng and wept. So all day long unto the setting of the sun
they had lamented Hector in tears without the gate, had not the old man
spoken from the car among the folk: "Give me place for the mules to pass
through; hereafter ye shall have your fill of wailing, when I have
brought him unto his home."
Thus spake he, and they parted asunder and gave place to the wain. And
the others when they had brought him to the famous house, laid him on a
fretted bed, and set beside him minstrel leaders of the dirge, who
wailed a mournful lay, while the women made moan with them. And among
the women white-armed Andromache led the lamentation, while in her hands
she held the head of Hector slayer of men: "Husband, thou art gone young
from life, and leavest me a widow in thy halls. And the child is yet but
a little one, child of ill-fated parents, thee and me; nor methinks
shall he grow up to manhood, for ere then shall this city be utterly
destroyed. For thou art verily perished who didst watch over it, who
guardedst it and keptest safe its noble wives and infant little ones.
These soon shall be voyaging in the hollow ships, yea and I too with
them, and thou, my child, shalt either go with me unto a place where
thou shalt toil at unseemly tasks, labouring before the face of some
harsh lord, or else some Achaian will take thee by the arm and hurl thee
from the battlement, a grievous death, for that he is wroth because
Hector slew his brother or father or son, since full many of the
Achaians in Hector's hands have bitten the firm earth. For no light hand
had thy father in the grievous fray. Therefore the folk lament him
throughout the city, and woe unspeakable and mourning hast thou left to
thy parents, Hector, but with me chiefliest shall grievous pain abide.
For neither didst thou stretch thy hands to me from a bed in thy death,
neither didst speak to me some memorable word that I might have thought
on evermore as my tears fall night and day."
Thus spake she wailing, and the women joined their moan. And among them
Hekabe again led the loud lament: "Hector, of all my children far
dearest to my heart, verily while thou wert alive dear wert thou to the
gods, and even in thy doom of death have they had care for thee. For
other sons of mine whom he took captive would fleet Achilles sell beyond
the unvintaged sea unto Samos and Imbros and smoking Lemnos, but when
with keen-edged bronze he had bereft thee of thy life he was fain to
drag thee oft around the tomb of his comrade, even Patroklos whom thou
slewest, yet might he not raise him up thereby. But now all dewy and
fresh thou liest in our halls, like one on whom Apollo, lord of the
silver bow, hath descended and slain him with his gentle darts."
Thus spake she wailing, and stirred unending moan. Then thirdly Helen
led their sore lament: "Hector, of all my brethren of Troy far dearest
to my heart! Truly my lord is godlike Alexandros who brought me to
Troy-land--would I had died ere then. For this is now the twentieth year
since I went thence and am gone from my own native land, but never yet
heard I evil or despiteful word from thee; nay, if any other haply
upbraided me in the palace-halls, whether brother or sister of thine or
brother's fair-robed wife, or thy mother--but thy father is ever kind to
me as he were my own--then wouldst thou soothe such with words and
refrain them, by the gentleness of thy spirit and by thy gentle words.
Therefore bewail I thee with pain at heart, and my hapless self with
thee, for no more is any left in wide Troy-land to be my friend and kind
to me, but all men shudder at me."
Thus spake she wailing, and therewith the great multitude of the people
groaned. But the old man Priam spake a word among the folk: "Bring wood,
men of Troy, unto the city, and be not anywise afraid at heart of a
crafty ambush of the Achaians; for this message Achilles gave me when he
sent me from the black ships, that they should do us no hurt until the
twelfth morn arise."
Thus spake he, and they yoked oxen and mules to wains, and quickly then
they flocked before the city. So nine days they gathered great store of
wood. But when the tenth morn rose with light for men, then bare they
forth brave Hector, weeping tears, and on a lofty pyre they laid the
dead man, and thereon cast fire.
But when the daughter of Dawn, rosy-fingered Morning, shone forth, then
gathered the folk around glorious Hector's pyre. First quenched they
with bright wine all the burning, so far as the fire's strength went,
and then his brethren and comrades gathered his white bones lamenting,
and big tears flowed down their cheeks. And the bones they took and laid
in a golden urn, shrouding them in soft purple robes, and straightway
laid the urn in a hollow grave and piled thereon great close-set stones,
and heaped with speed a barrow, while watchers were set everywhere
around, lest the well-greaved Achaians should make onset before the
time. And when they had heaped the barrow they went back, and gathered
them together and feasted right well in noble feast at the palace of
Priam, Zeus-fostered king.
Thus held they funeral for Hector tamer of horses.