Part 1 out of 8
Produced for PG by Jim Tinsley from scans
of the Longmans, Green & Co. 1898 edition made by Norm Wolcott,
edited from an anonymous transcription found in many places on
THE ILIAD OF HOMER
Rendered into English Prose for
the use of those who cannot
read the original
by Samuel Butler
The quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles--Achilles withdraws
from the war, and sends his mother Thetis to ask Jove to help
the Trojans--Scene between Jove and Juno on Olympus.
Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that
brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did
it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a
prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove
fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men,
and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.
And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was
the son of Jove and Leto; for he was angry with the king and sent
a pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because the son
of Atreus had dishonoured Chryses his priest. Now Chryses had
come to the ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and had
brought with him a great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the
sceptre of Apollo wreathed with a suppliant's wreath, and he
besought the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus,
who were their chiefs.
"Sons of Atreus," he cried, "and all other Achaeans, may the gods
who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to
reach your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a
ransom for her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove."
On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for
respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but
not so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly
away. "Old man," said he, "let me not find you tarrying about our
ships, nor yet coming hereafter. Your sceptre of the god and your
wreath shall profit you nothing. I will not free her. She shall
grow old in my house at Argos far from her own home, busying
herself with her loom and visiting my couch; so go, and do not
provoke me or it shall be the worse for you."
The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went
by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo
whom lovely Leto had borne. "Hear me," he cried, "O god of the
silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest
Tenedos with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have
ever decked your temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones
in fat of bulls or goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows
avenge these my tears upon the Danaans."
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He came down
furious from the summits of Olympus, with his bow and his quiver
upon his shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the
rage that trembled within him. He sat himself down away from the
ships with a face as dark as night, and his silver bow rang death
as he shot his arrow in the midst of them. First he smote their
mules and their hounds, but presently he aimed his shafts at the
people themselves, and all day long the pyres of the dead were
For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon
the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly--moved thereto by
Juno, who saw the Achaeans in their death-throes and had
compassion upon them. Then, when they were got together, he rose
and spoke among them.
"Son of Atreus," said he, "I deem that we should now turn roving
home if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by
war and pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or
some reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell
us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some
vow that we have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered,
and whether he will accept the savour of lambs and goats without
blemish, so as to take away the plague from us."
With these words he sat down, and Calchas son of Thestor, wisest
of augurs, who knew things past present and to come, rose to
speak. He it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to
Ilius, through the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had
inspired him. With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them
"Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger
of King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and
swear that you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I
know that I shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to
whom all the Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand
against the anger of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure
now, will yet nurse revenge till he has wreaked it. Consider,
therefore, whether or no you will protect me."
And Achilles answered, "Fear not, but speak as it is borne in
upon you from heaven, for by Apollo, Calchas, to whom you pray,
and whose oracles you reveal to us, not a Danaan at our ships
shall lay his hand upon you, while I yet live to look upon the
face of the earth--no, not though you name Agamemnon himself, who
is by far the foremost of the Achaeans."
Thereon the seer spoke boldly. "The god," he said, "is angry
neither about vow nor hecatomb, but for his priest's sake, whom
Agamemnon has dishonoured, in that he would not free his daughter
nor take a ransom for her; therefore has he sent these evils upon
us, and will yet send others. He will not deliver the Danaans
from this pestilence till Agamemnon has restored the girl without
fee or ransom to her father, and has sent a holy hecatomb to
Chryse. Thus we may perhaps appease him."
With these words he sat down, and Agamemnon rose in anger. His
heart was black with rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he
scowled on Calchas and said, "Seer of evil, you never yet
prophesied smooth things concerning me, but have ever loved to
foretell that which was evil. You have brought me neither comfort
nor performance; and now you come seeing among Danaans, and
saying that Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a
ransom for this girl, the daughter of Chryses. I have set my
heart on keeping her in my own house, for I love her better even
than my own wife Clytemnestra, whose peer she is alike in form
and feature, in understanding and accomplishments. Still I will
give her up if I must, for I would have the people live, not die;
but you must find me a prize instead, or I alone among the
Argives shall be without one. This is not well; for you behold,
all of you, that my prize is to go elsewhither."
And Achilles answered, "Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond
all mankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We
have no common store from which to take one. Those we took from
the cities have been awarded; we cannot disallow the awards that
have been made already. Give this girl, therefore, to the god,
and if ever Jove grants us to sack the city of Troy we will
requite you three and fourfold."
Then Agamemnon said, "Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall
not thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not
persuade me. Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely
under my loss and give up the girl at your bidding? Let the
Achaeans find me a prize in fair exchange to my liking, or I will
come and take your own, or that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to
whomsoever I may come shall rue my coming. But of this we will
take thought hereafter; for the present, let us draw a ship into
the sea, and find a crew for her expressly; let us put a hecatomb
on board, and let us send Chryseis also; further, let some chief
man among us be in command, either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or
yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are, that we may
offer sacrifice and appease the the anger of the god."
Achilles scowled at him and answered, "You are steeped in
insolence and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the
Achaeans do your bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I
came not warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have
no quarrel with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my
horses, nor cut down my harvests on the rich plains of Phthia;
for between me and them there is a great space, both mountain and
sounding sea. We have followed you, Sir Insolence! for your
pleasure, not ours--to gain satisfaction from the Trojans for
your shameless self and for Menelaus. You forget this, and
threaten to rob me of the prize for which I have toiled, and
which the sons of the Achaeans have given me. Never when the
Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive so good a
prize as you do, though it is my hands that do the better part of
the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the
largest, and I, forsooth, must go back to my ships, take what I
can get and be thankful, when my labour of fighting is done. Now,
therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better for
me to return home with my ships, for I will not stay here
dishonoured to gather gold and substance for you."
And Agamemnon answered, "Fly if you will, I shall make you no
prayers to stay you. I have others here who will do me honour,
and above all Jove, the lord of counsel. There is no king here so
hateful to me as you are, for you are ever quarrelsome and ill-
affected. What though you be brave? Was it not heaven that made
you so? Go home, then, with your ships and comrades to lord it
over the Myrmidons. I care neither for you nor for your anger;
and thus will I do: since Phoebus Apollo is taking Chryseis from
me, I shall send her with my ship and my followers, but I shall
come to your tent and take your own prize Briseis, that you may
learn how much stronger I am than you are, and that another may
fear to set himself up as equal or comparable with me."
The son of Peleus was furious, and his heart within his shaggy
breast was divided whether to draw his sword, push the others
aside, and kill the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and
check his anger. While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing
his mighty sword from its scabbard, Minerva came down from heaven
(for Juno had sent her in the love she bore to them both), and
seized the son of Peleus by his yellow hair, visible to him
alone, for of the others no man could see her. Achilles turned in
amaze, and by the fire that flashed from her eyes at once knew
that she was Minerva. "Why are you here," said he, "daughter of
aegis-bearing Jove? To see the pride of Agamemnon, son of Atreus?
Let me tell you--and it shall surely be--he shall pay for this
insolence with his life."
And Minerva said, "I come from heaven, if you will hear me, to
bid you stay your anger. Juno has sent me, who cares for both of
you alike. Cease, then, this brawling, and do not draw your
sword; rail at him if you will, and your railing will not be
vain, for I tell you--and it shall surely be--that you shall
hereafter receive gifts three times as splendid by reason of this
present insult. Hold, therefore, and obey."
"Goddess," answered Achilles, "however angry a man may be, he
must do as you two command him. This will be best, for the gods
ever hear the prayers of him who has obeyed them."
He stayed his hand on the silver hilt of his sword, and thrust it
back into the scabbard as Minerva bade him. Then she went back to
Olympus among the other gods, and to the house of aegis-bearing
But the son of Peleus again began railing at the son of Atreus,
for he was still in a rage. "Wine-bibber," he cried, "with the
face of a dog and the heart of a hind, you never dare to go out
with the host in fight, nor yet with our chosen men in ambuscade.
You shun this as you do death itself. You had rather go round and
rob his prizes from any man who contradicts you. You devour your
people, for you are king over a feeble folk; otherwise, son of
Atreus, henceforward you would insult no man. Therefore I say,
and swear it with a great oath--nay, by this my sceptre which
shalt sprout neither leaf nor shoot, nor bud anew from the day on
which it left its parent stem upon the mountains--for the axe
stripped it of leaf and bark, and now the sons of the Achaeans
bear it as judges and guardians of the decrees of heaven--so
surely and solemnly do I swear that hereafter they shall look
fondly for Achilles and shall not find him. In the day of your
distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand of
Hector, you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your
heart with rage for the hour when you offered insult to the
bravest of the Achaeans."
With this the son of Peleus dashed his gold-bestudded sceptre on
the ground and took his seat, while the son of Atreus was
beginning fiercely from his place upon the other side. Then
uprose smooth-tongued Nestor, the facile speaker of the Pylians,
and the words fell from his lips sweeter than honey. Two
generations of men born and bred in Pylos had passed away under
his rule, and he was now reigning over the third. With all
sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed them thus:--
"Of a truth," he said, "a great sorrow has befallen the Achaean
land. Surely Priam with his sons would rejoice, and the Trojans
be glad at heart if they could hear this quarrel between you two,
who are so excellent in fight and counsel. I am older than either
of you; therefore be guided by me. Moreover I have been the
familiar friend of men even greater than you are, and they did
not disregard my counsels. Never again can I behold such men as
Pirithous and Dryas shepherd of his people, or as Caeneus,
Exadius, godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus son of Aegeus, peer of
the immortals. These were the mightiest men ever born upon this
earth: mightiest were they, and when they fought the fiercest
tribes of mountain savages they utterly overthrew them. I came
from distant Pylos, and went about among them, for they would
have me come, and I fought as it was in me to do. Not a man now
living could withstand them, but they heard my words, and were
persuaded by them. So be it also with yourselves, for this is the
more excellent way. Therefore, Agamemnon, though you be strong,
take not this girl away, for the sons of the Achaeans have
already given her to Achilles; and you, Achilles, strive not
further with the king, for no man who by the grace of Jove wields
a sceptre has like honour with Agamemnon. You are strong, and
have a goddess for your mother; but Agamemnon is stronger than
you, for he has more people under him. Son of Atreus, check your
anger, I implore you; end this quarrel with Achilles, who in the
day of battle is a tower of strength to the Achaeans."
And Agamemnon answered, "Sir, all that you have said is true, but
this fellow must needs become our lord and master: he must be
lord of all, king of all, and captain of all, and this shall
hardly be. Granted that the gods have made him a great warrior,
have they also given him the right to speak with railing?"
Achilles interrupted him. "I should be a mean coward," he cried,
"were I to give in to you in all things. Order other people
about, not me, for I shall obey no longer. Furthermore I say--and
lay my saying to your heart--I shall fight neither you nor any
man about this girl, for those that take were those also that
gave. But of all else that is at my ship you shall carry away
nothing by force. Try, that others may see; if you do, my spear
shall be reddened with your blood."
When they had quarrelled thus angrily, they rose, and broke up
the assembly at the ships of the Achaeans. The son of Peleus went
back to his tents and ships with the son of Menoetius and his
company, while Agamemnon drew a vessel into the water and chose a
crew of twenty oarsmen. He escorted Chryseis on board and sent
moreover a hecatomb for the god. And Ulysses went as captain.
These, then, went on board and sailed their ways over the sea.
But the son of Atreus bade the people purify themselves; so they
purified themselves and cast their filth into the sea. Then they
offered hecatombs of bulls and goats without blemish on the
sea-shore, and the smoke with the savour of their sacrifice rose
curling up towards heaven.
Thus did they busy themselves throughout the host. But Agamemnon
did not forget the threat that he had made Achilles, and called
his trusty messengers and squires Talthybius and Eurybates. "Go,"
said he, "to the tent of Achilles, son of Peleus; take Briseis by
the hand and bring her hither; if he will not give her I shall
come with others and take her--which will press him harder."
He charged them straightly further and dismissed them, whereon
they went their way sorrowfully by the seaside, till they came to
the tents and ships of the Myrmidons. They found Achilles sitting
by his tent and his ships, and ill-pleased he was when he beheld
them. They stood fearfully and reverently before him, and never a
word did they speak, but he knew them and said, "Welcome,
heralds, messengers of gods and men; draw near; my quarrel is not
with you but with Agamemnon who has sent you for the girl
Briseis. Therefore, Patroclus, bring her and give her to them,
but let them be witnesses by the blessed gods, by mortal men, and
by the fierceness of Agamemnon's anger, that if ever again there
be need of me to save the people from ruin, they shall seek and
they shall not find. Agamemnon is mad with rage and knows not how
to look before and after that the Achaeans may fight by their
ships in safety."
Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him. He brought
Briseis from the tent and gave her over to the heralds, who took
her with them to the ships of the Achaeans--and the woman was
loth to go. Then Achilles went all alone by the side of the hoar
sea, weeping and looking out upon the boundless waste of waters.
He raised his hands in prayer to his immortal mother, "Mother,"
he cried, "you bore me doomed to live but for a little season;
surely Jove, who thunders from Olympus, might have made that
little glorious. It is not so. Agamemnon, son of Atreus, has done
me dishonour, and has robbed me of my prize by force."
As he spoke he wept aloud, and his mother heard him where she was
sitting in the depths of the sea hard by the old man her father.
Forthwith she rose as it were a grey mist out of the waves, sat
down before him as he stood weeping, caressed him with her hand,
and said, "My son, why are you weeping? What is it that grieves
you? Keep it not from me, but tell me, that we may know it
Achilles drew a deep sigh and said, "You know it; why tell you
what you know well already? We went to Thebe the strong city of
Eetion, sacked it, and brought hither the spoil. The sons of the
Achaeans shared it duly among themselves, and chose lovely
Chryseis as the meed of Agamemnon; but Chryses, priest of Apollo,
came to the ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and
brought with him a great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the
sceptre of Apollo, wreathed with a suppliant's wreath, and he
besought the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus who
were their chiefs.
"On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for
respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but
not so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly
away. So he went back in anger, and Apollo, who loved him dearly,
heard his prayer. Then the god sent a deadly dart upon the
Argives, and the people died thick on one another, for the arrows
went everywhither among the wide host of the Achaeans. At last a
seer in the fulness of his knowledge declared to us the oracles
of Apollo, and I was myself first to say that we should appease
him. Whereon the son of Atreus rose in anger, and threatened that
which he has since done. The Achaeans are now taking the girl in
a ship to Chryse, and sending gifts of sacrifice to the god; but
the heralds have just taken from my tent the daughter of Briseus,
whom the Achaeans had awarded to myself.
"Help your brave son, therefore, if you are able. Go to Olympus,
and if you have ever done him service in word or deed, implore
the aid of Jove. Ofttimes in my father's house have I heard you
glory in that you alone of the immortals saved the son of Saturn
from ruin, when the others, with Juno, Neptune, and Pallas
Minerva would have put him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who
delivered him by calling to Olympus the hundred-handed monster
whom gods call Briareus, but men Aegaeon, for he is stronger even
than his father; when therefore he took his seat all-glorious
beside the son of Saturn, the other gods were afraid, and did not
bind him. Go, then, to him, remind him of all this, clasp his
knees, and bid him give succour to the Trojans. Let the Achaeans
be hemmed in at the sterns of their ships, and perish on the
sea-shore, that they may reap what joy they may of their king,
and that Agamemnon may rue his blindness in offering insult to
the foremost of the Achaeans."
Thetis wept and answered, "My son, woe is me that I should have
borne or suckled you. Would indeed that you had lived your span
free from all sorrow at your ships, for it is all too brief;
alas, that you should be at once short of life and long of sorrow
above your peers: woe, therefore, was the hour in which I bore
you; nevertheless I will go to the snowy heights of Olympus, and
tell this tale to Jove, if he will hear our prayer: meanwhile
stay where you are with your ships, nurse your anger against the
Achaeans, and hold aloof from fight. For Jove went yesterday to
Oceanus, to a feast among the Ethiopians, and the other gods went
with him. He will return to Olympus twelve days hence; I will
then go to his mansion paved with bronze and will beseech him;
nor do I doubt that I shall be able to persuade him."
On this she left him, still furious at the loss of her that had
been taken from him. Meanwhile Ulysses reached Chryse with the
hecatomb. When they had come inside the harbour they furled the
sails and laid them in the ship's hold; they slackened the
forestays, lowered the mast into its place, and rowed the ship to
the place where they would have her lie; there they cast out
their mooring-stones and made fast the hawsers. They then got out
upon the sea-shore and landed the hecatomb for Apollo; Chryseis
also left the ship, and Ulysses led her to the altar to deliver
her into the hands of her father. "Chryses," said he, "King
Agamemnon has sent me to bring you back your child, and to offer
sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of the Danaans, that we may
propitiate the god, who has now brought sorrow upon the Argives."
So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her
gladly, and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the
altar of the god. They washed their hands and took up the
barley-meal to sprinkle over the victims, while Chryses lifted up
his hands and prayed aloud on their behalf. "Hear me," he cried,
"O god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla,
and rulest Tenedos with thy might. Even as thou didst hear me
aforetime when I prayed, and didst press hardly upon the
Achaeans, so hear me yet again, and stay this fearful pestilence
from the Danaans."
Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. When they had done
praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads
of the victims and killed and flayed them. They cut out the
thigh-bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, set some
pieces of raw meat on the top of them, and then Chryses laid them
on the wood fire and poured wine over them, while the young men
stood near him with five-pronged spits in their hands. When the
thigh-bones were burned and they had tasted the inward meats,
they cut the rest up small, put the pieces upon the spits,
roasted them till they were done, and drew them off: then, when
they had finished their work and the feast was ready, they ate
it, and every man had his full share, so that all were satisfied.
As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, pages filled the
mixing-bowl with wine and water and handed it round, after giving
every man his drink-offering.
Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song,
hymning him and chaunting the joyous paean, and the god took
pleasure in their voices; but when the sun went down, and it came
on dark, they laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables
of the ship, and when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared they again set sail for the host of the Achaeans. Apollo
sent them a fair wind, so they raised their mast and hoisted
their white sails aloft. As the sail bellied with the wind the
ship flew through the deep blue water, and the foam hissed
against her bows as she sped onward. When they reached the
wide-stretching host of the Achaeans, they drew the vessel
ashore, high and dry upon the sands, set her strong props beneath
her, and went their ways to their own tents and ships.
But Achilles abode at his ships and nursed his anger. He went not
to the honourable assembly, and sallied not forth to fight, but
gnawed at his own heart, pining for battle and the war-cry.
Now after twelve days the immortal gods came back in a body to
Olympus, and Jove led the way. Thetis was not unmindful of the
charge her son had laid upon her, so she rose from under the sea
and went through great heaven with early morning to Olympus,
where she found the mighty son of Saturn sitting all alone upon
its topmost ridges. She sat herself down before him, and with her
left hand seized his knees, while with her right she caught him
under the chin, and besought him, saying:--
"Father Jove, if I ever did you service in word or deed among the
immortals, hear my prayer, and do honour to my son, whose life is
to be cut short so early. King Agamemnon has dishonoured him by
taking his prize and keeping her. Honour him then yourself,
Olympian lord of counsel, and grant victory to the Trojans, till
the Achaeans give my son his due and load him with riches in
Jove sat for a while silent, and without a word, but Thetis still
kept firm hold of his knees, and besought him a second time.
"Incline your head," said she, "and promise me surely, or else
deny me--for you have nothing to fear--that I may learn how
greatly you disdain me."
At this Jove was much troubled and answered, "I shall have
trouble if you set me quarrelling with Juno, for she will provoke
me with her taunting speeches; even now she is always railing at
me before the other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the
Trojans. Go back now, lest she should find out. I will consider
the matter, and will bring it about as you wish. See, I incline
my head that you may believe me. This is the most solemn promise
that I can give to any god. I never recall my word, or deceive,
or fail to do what I say, when I have nodded my head."
As he spoke the son of Saturn bowed his dark brows, and the
ambrosial locks swayed on his immortal head, till vast Olympus
When the pair had thus laid their plans, they parted--Jove to his
house, while the goddess quitted the splendour of Olympus, and
plunged into the depths of the sea. The gods rose from their
seats, before the coming of their sire. Not one of them dared to
remain sitting, but all stood up as he came among them. There,
then, he took his seat. But Juno, when she saw him, knew that he
and the old merman's daughter, silver-footed Thetis, had been
hatching mischief, so she at once began to upbraid him.
"Trickster," she cried, "which of the gods have you been taking
into your counsels now? You are always settling matters in secret
behind my back, and have never yet told me, if you could help it,
one word of your intentions."
"Juno," replied the sire of gods and men, "you must not expect to
be informed of all my counsels. You are my wife, but you would
find it hard to understand them. When it is proper for you to
hear, there is no one, god or man, who will be told sooner, but
when I mean to keep a matter to myself, you must not pry nor ask
"Dread son of Saturn," answered Juno, "what are you talking
about? I? Pry and ask questions? Never. I let you have your own
way in everything. Still, I have a strong misgiving that the old
merman's daughter Thetis has been talking you over, for she was
with you and had hold of your knees this self-same morning. I
believe, therefore, that you have been promising her to give
glory to Achilles, and to kill much people at the ships of the
"Wife," said Jove, "I can do nothing but you suspect me and find
it out. You will take nothing by it, for I shall only dislike you
the more, and it will go harder with you. Granted that it is as
you say; I mean to have it so; sit down and hold your tongue as I
bid you for if I once begin to lay my hands about you, though all
heaven were on your side it would profit you nothing."
On this Juno was frightened, so she curbed her stubborn will and
sat down in silence. But the heavenly beings were disquieted
throughout the house of Jove, till the cunning workman Vulcan
began to try and pacify his mother Juno. "It will be
intolerable," said he, "if you two fall to wrangling and setting
heaven in an uproar about a pack of mortals. If such ill counsels
are to prevail, we shall have no pleasure at our banquet. Let me
then advise my mother--and she must herself know that it will be
better--to make friends with my dear father Jove, lest he again
scold her and disturb our feast. If the Olympian Thunderer wants
to hurl us all from our seats, he can do so, for he is far the
strongest, so give him fair words, and he will then soon be in a
good humour with us."
As he spoke, he took a double cup of nectar, and placed it in his
mother's hand. "Cheer up, my dear mother," said he, "and make the
best of it. I love you dearly, and should be very sorry to see
you get a thrashing; however grieved I might be, I could not help,
for there is no standing against Jove. Once before when I was
trying to help you, he caught me by the foot and flung me from
the heavenly threshold. All day long from morn till eve, was I
falling, till at sunset I came to ground in the island of Lemnos,
and there I lay, with very little life left in me, till the
Sintians came and tended me."
Juno smiled at this, and as she smiled she took the cup from her
son's hands. Then Vulcan drew sweet nectar from the mixing-bowl,
and served it round among the gods, going from left to right; and
the blessed gods laughed out a loud applause as they saw him
bustling about the heavenly mansion.
Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun they
feasted, and every one had his full share, so that all were
satisfied. Apollo struck his lyre, and the Muses lifted up their
sweet voices, calling and answering one another. But when the
sun's glorious light had faded, they went home to bed, each in
his own abode, which lame Vulcan with his consummate skill had
fashioned for them. So Jove, the Olympian Lord of Thunder, hied
him to the bed in which he always slept; and when he had got on
to it he went to sleep, with Juno of the golden throne by his
Jove sends a lying dream to Agamemnon, who thereon calls the
chiefs in assembly, and proposes to sound the mind of his
army--In the end they march to fight--Catalogue of the
Achaean and Trojan forces.
Now the other gods and the armed warriors on the plain slept
soundly, but Jove was wakeful, for he was thinking how to do
honour to Achilles, and destroyed much people at the ships of the
Achaeans. In the end he deemed it would be best to send a lying
dream to King Agamemnon; so he called one to him and said to it,
"Lying Dream, go to the ships of the Achaeans, into the tent of
Agamemnon, and say to him word for word as I now bid you. Tell
him to get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for he shall take
Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods; Juno
has brought them to her own mind, and woe betides the Trojans."
The dream went when it had heard its message, and soon reached
the ships of the Achaeans. It sought Agamemnon son of Atreus and
found him in his tent, wrapped in a profound slumber. It hovered
over his head in the likeness of Nestor, son of Neleus, whom
Agamemnon honoured above all his councillors, and said:--
"You are sleeping, son of Atreus; one who has the welfare of his
host and so much other care upon his shoulders should dock his
sleep. Hear me at once, for I come as a messenger from Jove, who,
though he be not near, yet takes thought for you and pities you.
He bids you get the Achaeans instantly under arms, for you shall
take Troy. There are no longer divided counsels among the gods;
Juno has brought them over to her own mind, and woe betides the
Trojans at the hands of Jove. Remember this, and when you wake
see that it does not escape you."
The dream then left him, and he thought of things that were,
surely not to be accomplished. He thought that on that same day
he was to take the city of Priam, but he little knew what was in
the mind of Jove, who had many another hard-fought fight in store
alike for Danaans and Trojans. Then presently he woke, with the
divine message still ringing in his ears; so he sat upright, and
put on his soft shirt so fair and new, and over this his heavy
cloak. He bound his sandals on to his comely feet, and slung his
silver-studded sword about his shoulders; then he took the
imperishable staff of his father, and sallied forth to the ships
of the Achaeans.
The goddess Dawn now wended her way to vast Olympus that she
might herald day to Jove and to the other immortals, and
Agamemnon sent the criers round to call the people in assembly;
so they called them and the people gathered thereon. But first he
summoned a meeting of the elders at the ship of Nestor king of
Pylos, and when they were assembled he laid a cunning counsel
"My friends," said he, "I have had a dream from heaven in the
dead of night, and its face and figure resembled none but
Nestor's. It hovered over my head and said, 'You are sleeping,
son of Atreus; one who has the welfare of his host and so much
other care upon his shoulders should dock his sleep. Hear me at
once, for I am a messenger from Jove, who, though he be not near,
yet takes thought for you and pities you. He bids you get the
Achaeans instantly under arms, for you shall take Troy. There are
no longer divided counsels among the gods; Juno has brought them
over to her own mind, and woe betides the Trojans at the hands of
Jove. Remember this.' The dream then vanished and I awoke. Let us
now, therefore, arm the sons of the Achaeans. But it will be well
that I should first sound them, and to this end I will tell them
to fly with their ships; but do you others go about among the
host and prevent their doing so."
He then sat down, and Nestor the prince of Pylos with all
sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: "My friends," said
he, "princes and councillors of the Argives, if any other man of
the Achaeans had told us of this dream we should have declared it
false, and would have had nothing to do with it. But he who has
seen it is the foremost man among us; we must therefore set about
getting the people under arms."
With this he led the way from the assembly, and the other
sceptred kings rose with him in obedience to the word of
Agamemnon; but the people pressed forward to hear. They swarmed
like bees that sally from some hollow cave and flit in countless
throng among the spring flowers, bunched in knots and clusters;
even so did the mighty multitude pour from ships and tents to the
assembly, and range themselves upon the wide-watered shore, while
among them ran Wildfire Rumour, messenger of Jove, urging them
ever to the fore. Thus they gathered in a pell-mell of mad
confusion, and the earth groaned under the tramp of men as the
people sought their places. Nine heralds went crying about among
them to stay their tumult and bid them listen to the kings, till
at last they were got into their several places and ceased their
clamour. Then King Agamemnon rose, holding his sceptre. This was
the work of Vulcan, who gave it to Jove the son of Saturn. Jove
gave it to Mercury, slayer of Argus, guide and guardian. King
Mercury gave it to Pelops, the mighty charioteer, and Pelops to
Atreus, shepherd of his people. Atreus, when he died, left it to
Thyestes, rich in flocks, and Thyestes in his turn left it to be
borne by Agamemnon, that he might be lord of all Argos and of the
isles. Leaning, then, on his sceptre, he addressed the Argives.
"My friends," he said, "heroes, servants of Mars, the hand of
heaven has been laid heavily upon me. Cruel Jove gave me his
solemn promise that I should sack the city of Priam before
returning, but he has played me false, and is now bidding me go
ingloriously back to Argos with the loss of much people. Such is
the will of Jove, who has laid many a proud city in the dust, as
he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. It will be a
sorry tale hereafter that an Achaean host, at once so great and
valiant, battled in vain against men fewer in number than
themselves; but as yet the end is not in sight. Think that the
Achaeans and Trojans have sworn to a solemn covenant, and that
they have each been numbered--the Trojans by the roll of their
householders, and we by companies of ten; think further that each
of our companies desired to have a Trojan householder to pour out
their wine; we are so greatly more in number that full many a
company would have to go without its cup-bearer. But they have in
the town allies from other places, and it is these that hinder me
from being able to sack the rich city of Ilius. Nine of Jove's
years are gone; the timbers of our ships have rotted; their
tackling is sound no longer. Our wives and little ones at home
look anxiously for our coming, but the work that we came hither
to do has not been done. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say:
let us sail back to our own land, for we shall not take Troy."
With these words he moved the hearts of the multitude, so many of
them as knew not the cunning counsel of Agamemnon. They surged to
and fro like the waves of the Icarian Sea, when the east and
south winds break from heaven's clouds to lash them; or as when
the west wind sweeps over a field of corn and the ears bow
beneath the blast, even so were they swayed as they flew with
loud cries towards the ships, and the dust from under their feet
rose heavenward. They cheered each other on to draw the ships
into the sea; they cleared the channels in front of them; they
began taking away the stays from underneath them, and the welkin
rang with their glad cries, so eager were they to return.
Then surely the Argives would have returned after a fashion that
was not fated. But Juno said to Minerva, "Alas, daughter of
aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable, shall the Argives fly home to
their own land over the broad sea, and leave Priam and the
Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, for whose sake so many
of the Achaeans have died at Troy, far from their homes? Go about
at once among the host, and speak fairly to them, man by man,
that they draw not their ships into the sea."
Minerva was not slack to do her bidding. Down she darted from the
topmost summits of Olympus, and in a moment she was at the ships
of the Achaeans. There she found Ulysses, peer of Jove in
counsel, standing alone. He had not as yet laid a hand upon his
ship, for he was grieved and sorry; so she went close up to him
and said, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, are you going to fling
yourselves into your ships and be off home to your own land in
this way? Will you leave Priam and the Trojans the glory of still
keeping Helen, for whose sake so many of the Achaeans have died
at Troy, far from their homes? Go about at once among the host,
and speak fairly to them, man by man, that they draw not their
ships into the sea."
Ulysses knew the voice as that of the goddess: he flung his cloak
from him and set off to run. His servant Eurybates, a man of
Ithaca, who waited on him, took charge of the cloak, whereon
Ulysses went straight up to Agamemnon and received from him his
ancestral, imperishable staff. With this he went about among the
ships of the Achaeans.
Whenever he met a king or chieftain, he stood by him and spoke
him fairly. "Sir," said he, "this flight is cowardly and
unworthy. Stand to your post, and bid your people also keep their
places. You do not yet know the full mind of Agamemnon; he was
sounding us, and ere long will visit the Achaeans with his
displeasure. We were not all of us at the council to hear what he
then said; see to it lest he be angry and do us a mischief; for
the pride of kings is great, and the hand of Jove is with them."
But when he came across any common man who was making a noise, he
struck him with his staff and rebuked him, saying, "Sirrah, hold
your peace, and listen to better men than yourself. You are a
coward and no soldier; you are nobody either in fight or council;
we cannot all be kings; it is not well that there should be many
masters; one man must be supreme--one king to whom the son of
scheming Saturn has given the sceptre of sovereignty over you
Thus masterfully did he go about among the host, and the people
hurried back to the council from their tents and ships with a
sound as the thunder of surf when it comes crashing down upon the
shore, and all the sea is in an uproar.
The rest now took their seats and kept to their own several
places, but Thersites still went on wagging his unbridled
tongue--a man of many words, and those unseemly; a monger of
sedition, a railer against all who were in authority, who cared
not what he said, so that he might set the Achaeans in a laugh.
He was the ugliest man of all those that came before
Troy--bandy-legged, lame of one foot, with his two shoulders
rounded and hunched over his chest. His head ran up to a point,
but there was little hair on the top of it. Achilles and Ulysses
hated him worst of all, for it was with them that he was most
wont to wrangle; now, however, with a shrill squeaky voice he
began heaping his abuse on Agamemnon. The Achaeans were angry and
disgusted, yet none the less he kept on brawling and bawling at
the son of Atreus.
"Agamemnon," he cried, "what ails you now, and what more do you
want? Your tents are filled with bronze and with fair women, for
whenever we take a town we give you the pick of them. Would you
have yet more gold, which some Trojan is to give you as a ransom
for his son, when I or another Achaean has taken him prisoner? or
is it some young girl to hide and lie with? It is not well that
you, the ruler of the Achaeans, should bring them into such
misery. Weakling cowards, women rather than men, let us sail
home, and leave this fellow here at Troy to stew in his own meeds
of honour, and discover whether we were of any service to him or
no. Achilles is a much better man than he is, and see how he has
treated him--robbing him of his prize and keeping it himself.
Achilles takes it meekly and shows no fight; if he did, son of
Atreus, you would never again insult him."
Thus railed Thersites, but Ulysses at once went up to him and
rebuked him sternly. "Check your glib tongue, Thersites," said
be, "and babble not a word further. Chide not with princes when
you have none to back you. There is no viler creature come before
Troy with the sons of Atreus. Drop this chatter about kings, and
neither revile them nor keep harping about going home. We do not
yet know how things are going to be, nor whether the Achaeans are
to return with good success or evil. How dare you gibe at
Agamemnon because the Danaans have awarded him so many prizes? I
tell you, therefore--and it shall surely be--that if I again
catch you talking such nonsense, I will either forfeit my own
head and be no more called father of Telemachus, or I will take
you, strip you stark naked, and whip you out of the assembly till
you go blubbering back to the ships."
On this he beat him with his staff about the back and shoulders
till he dropped and fell a-weeping. The golden sceptre raised a
bloody weal on his back, so he sat down frightened and in pain,
looking foolish as he wiped the tears from his eyes. The people
were sorry for him, yet they laughed heartily, and one would turn
to his neighbour saying, "Ulysses has done many a good thing ere
now in fight and council, but he never did the Argives a better
turn than when he stopped this fellow's mouth from prating
further. He will give the kings no more of his insolence."
Thus said the people. Then Ulysses rose, sceptre in hand, and
Minerva in the likeness of a herald bade the people be still,
that those who were far off might hear him and consider his
council. He therefore with all sincerity and goodwill addressed
"King Agamemnon, the Achaeans are for making you a by-word among
all mankind. They forget the promise they made you when they set
out from Argos, that you should not return till you had sacked
the town of Troy, and, like children or widowed women, they
murmur and would set off homeward. True it is that they have had
toil enough to be disheartened. A man chafes at having to stay
away from his wife even for a single month, when he is on
shipboard, at the mercy of wind and sea, but it is now nine long
years that we have been kept here; I cannot, therefore, blame the
Achaeans if they turn restive; still we shall be shamed if we go
home empty after so long a stay--therefore, my friends, be
patient yet a little longer that we may learn whether the
prophesyings of Calchas were false or true.
"All who have not since perished must remember as though it were
yesterday or the day before, how the ships of the Achaeans were
detained in Aulis when we were on our way hither to make war on
Priam and the Trojans. We were ranged round about a fountain
offering hecatombs to the gods upon their holy altars, and there
was a fine plane-tree from beneath which there welled a stream of
pure water. Then we saw a prodigy; for Jove sent a fearful
serpent out of the ground, with blood-red stains upon its back,
and it darted from under the altar on to the plane-tree. Now
there was a brood of young sparrows, quite small, upon the
topmost bough, peeping out from under the leaves, eight in all,
and their mother that hatched them made nine. The serpent ate the
poor cheeping things, while the old bird flew about lamenting her
little ones; but the serpent threw his coils about her and caught
her by the wing as she was screaming. Then, when he had eaten
both the sparrow and her young, the god who had sent him made him
become a sign; for the son of scheming Saturn turned him into
stone, and we stood there wondering at that which had come to
pass. Seeing, then, that such a fearful portent had broken in
upon our hecatombs, Calchas forthwith declared to us the oracles
of heaven. 'Why, Achaeans,' said he, 'are you thus speechless?
Jove has sent us this sign, long in coming, and long ere it be
fulfilled, though its fame shall last for ever. As the serpent
ate the eight fledglings and the sparrow that hatched them, which
makes nine, so shall we fight nine years at Troy, but in the
tenth shall take the town.' This was what he said, and now it is
all coming true. Stay here, therefore, all of you, till we take
the city of Priam."
On this the Argives raised a shout, till the ships rang again
with the uproar. Nestor, knight of Gerene, then addressed them.
"Shame on you," he cried, "to stay talking here like children,
when you should fight like men. Where are our covenants now, and
where the oaths that we have taken? Shall our counsels be flung
into the fire, with our drink-offerings and the right hands of
fellowship wherein we have put our trust? We waste our time in
words, and for all our talking here shall be no further forward.
Stand, therefore, son of Atreus, by your own steadfast purpose;
lead the Argives on to battle, and leave this handful of men to
rot, who scheme, and scheme in vain, to get back to Argos ere
they have learned whether Jove be true or a liar. For the mighty
son of Saturn surely promised that we should succeed, when we
Argives set sail to bring death and destruction upon the Trojans.
He showed us favourable signs by flashing his lightning on our
right hands; therefore let none make haste to go till he has
first lain with the wife of some Trojan, and avenged the toil and
sorrow that he has suffered for the sake of Helen. Nevertheless,
if any man is in such haste to be at home again, let him lay his
hand to his ship that he may meet his doom in the sight of all.
But, O king, consider and give ear to my counsel, for the word
that I say may not be neglected lightly. Divide your men,
Agamemnon, into their several tribes and clans, that clans and
tribes may stand by and help one another. If you do this, and if
the Achaeans obey you, you will find out who, both chiefs and
peoples, are brave, and who are cowards; for they will vie
against the other. Thus you shall also learn whether it is
through the counsel of heaven or the cowardice of man that you
shall fail to take the town."
And Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, you have again outdone the sons
of the Achaeans in counsel. Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and
Apollo, that I had among them ten more such councillors, for the
city of King Priam would then soon fall beneath our hands, and we
should sack it. But the son of Saturn afflicts me with bootless
wranglings and strife. Achilles and I are quarrelling about this
girl, in which matter I was the first to offend; if we can be of
one mind again, the Trojans will not stave off destruction for a
day. Now, therefore, get your morning meal, that our hosts join
in fight. Whet well your spears; see well to the ordering of your
shields; give good feeds to your horses, and look your chariots
carefully over, that we may do battle the livelong day; for we
shall have no rest, not for a moment, till night falls to part
us. The bands that bear your shields shall be wet with the sweat
upon your shoulders, your hands shall weary upon your spears,
your horses shall steam in front of your chariots, and if I see
any man shirking the fight, or trying to keep out of it at the
ships, there shall be no help for him, but he shall be a prey to
dogs and vultures."
Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans roared applause. As when the
waves run high before the blast of the south wind and break on
some lofty headland, dashing against it and buffeting it without
ceasing, as the storms from every quarter drive them, even so did
the Achaeans rise and hurry in all directions to their ships.
There they lighted their fires at their tents and got dinner,
offering sacrifice every man to one or other of the gods, and
praying each one of them that he might live to come out of the
fight. Agamemnon, king of men, sacrificed a fat five-year-old
bull to the mighty son of Saturn, and invited the princes and
elders of his host. First he asked Nestor and King Idomeneus,
then the two Ajaxes and the son of Tydeus, and sixthly Ulysses,
peer of gods in counsel; but Menelaus came of his own accord, for
he knew how busy his brother then was. They stood round the bull
with the barley-meal in their hands, and Agamemnon prayed,
saying, "Jove, most glorious, supreme, that dwellest in heaven,
and ridest upon the storm-cloud, grant that the sun may not go
down, nor the night fall, till the palace of Priam is laid low,
and its gates are consumed with fire. Grant that my sword may
pierce the shirt of Hector about his heart, and that full many of
his comrades may bite the dust as they fall dying round him."
Thus he prayed, but the son of Saturn would not fulfil his
prayer. He accepted the sacrifice, yet none the less increased
their toil continually. When they had done praying and sprinkling
the barley-meal upon the victim, they drew back its head, killed
it, and then flayed it. They cut out the thigh-bones, wrapped
them round in two layers of fat, and set pieces of raw meat on
the top of them. These they burned upon the split logs of
firewood, but they spitted the inward meats, and held them in the
flames to cook. When the thigh-bones were burned, and they had
tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small, put the
pieces upon spits, roasted them till they were done, and drew
them off; then, when they had finished their work and the feast
was ready, they ate it, and every man had his full share, so that
all were satisfied. As soon as they had had enough to eat and
drink, Nestor, knight of Gerene, began to speak. "King
Agamemnon," said he, "let us not stay talking here, nor be slack
in the work that heaven has put into our hands. Let the heralds
summon the people to gather at their several ships; we will then
go about among the host, that we may begin fighting at once."
Thus did he speak, and Agamemnon heeded his words. He at once
sent the criers round to call the people in assembly. So they
called them, and the people gathered thereon. The chiefs about
the son of Atreus chose their men and marshalled them, while
Minerva went among them holding her priceless aegis that knows
neither age nor death. From it there waved a hundred tassels of
pure gold, all deftly woven, and each one of them worth a hundred
oxen. With this she darted furiously everywhere among the hosts
of the Achaeans, urging them forward, and putting courage into
the heart of each, so that he might fight and do battle without
ceasing. Thus war became sweeter in their eyes even than
returning home in their ships. As when some great forest fire is
raging upon a mountain top and its light is seen afar, even so as
they marched the gleam of their armour flashed up into the
firmament of heaven.
They were like great flocks of geese, or cranes, or swans on the
plain about the waters of Cayster, that wing their way hither and
thither, glorying in the pride of flight, and crying as they
settle till the fen is alive with their screaming. Even thus did
their tribes pour from ships and tents on to the plain of the
Scamander, and the ground rang as brass under the feet of men and
horses. They stood as thick upon the flower-bespangled field as
leaves that bloom in summer.
As countless swarms of flies buzz around a herdsman's homestead
in the time of spring when the pails are drenched with milk, even
so did the Achaeans swarm on to the plain to charge the Trojans
and destroy them.
The chiefs disposed their men this way and that before the fight
began, drafting them out as easily as goatherds draft their
flocks when they have got mixed while feeding; and among them
went King Agamemnon, with a head and face like Jove the lord of
thunder, a waist like Mars, and a chest like that of Neptune. As
some great bull that lords it over the herds upon the plain, even
so did Jove make the son of Atreus stand peerless among the
multitude of heroes.
And now, O Muses, dwellers in the mansions of Olympus, tell me--
for you are goddesses and are in all places so that you see all
things, while we know nothing but by report--who were the chiefs
and princes of the Danaans? As for the common soldiers, they were
so that I could not name every single one of them though I had
ten tongues, and though my voice failed not and my heart were of
bronze within me, unless you, O Olympian Muses, daughters of
aegis-bearing Jove, were to recount them to me. Nevertheless, I
will tell the captains of the ships and all the fleet together.
Peneleos, Leitus, Arcesilaus, Prothoenor, and Clonius were
captains of the Boeotians. These were they that dwelt in Hyria
and rocky Aulis, and who held Schoenus, Scolus, and the highlands
of Eteonus, with Thespeia, Graia, and the fair city of
Mycalessus. They also held Harma, Eilesium, and Erythrae; and
they had Eleon, Hyle, and Peteon; Ocalea and the strong fortress
of Medeon; Copae, Eutresis, and Thisbe the haunt of doves;
Coronea, and the pastures of Haliartus; Plataea and Glisas; the
fortress of Thebes the less; holy Onchestus with its famous grove
of Neptune; Arne rich in vineyards; Midea, sacred Nisa, and
Anthedon upon the sea. From these there came fifty ships, and in
each there were a hundred and twenty young men of the Boeotians.
Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Mars, led the people that dwelt
in Aspledon and Orchomenus the realm of Minyas. Astyoche a noble
maiden bore them in the house of Actor son of Azeus; for she had
gone with Mars secretly into an upper chamber, and he had lain
with her. With these there came thirty ships.
The Phoceans were led by Schedius and Epistrophus, sons of mighty
Iphitus the son of Naubolus. These were they that held
Cyparissus, rocky Pytho, holy Crisa, Daulis, and Panopeus; they
also that dwelt in Anemorea and Hyampolis, and about the waters
of the river Cephissus, and Lilaea by the springs of the
Cephissus; with their chieftains came forty ships, and they
marshalled the forces of the Phoceans, which were stationed next
to the Boeotians, on their left.
Ajax, the fleet son of Oileus, commanded the Locrians. He was not
so great, nor nearly so great, as Ajax the son of Telamon. He was
a little man, and his breastplate was made of linen, but in use
of the spear he excelled all the Hellenes and the Achaeans.
These dwelt in Cynus, Opous, Calliarus, Bessa, Scarphe, fair
Augeae, Tarphe, and Thronium about the river Boagrius. With him
there came forty ships of the Locrians who dwell beyond Euboea.
The fierce Abantes held Euboea with its cities, Chalcis, Eretria,
Histiaea rich in vines, Cerinthus upon the sea, and the
rock-perched town of Dium; with them were also the men of
Carystus and Styra; Elephenor of the race of Mars was in command
of these; he was son of Chalcodon, and chief over all the
Abantes. With him they came, fleet of foot and wearing their hair
long behind, brave warriors, who would ever strive to tear open
the corslets of their foes with their long ashen spears. Of these
there came fifty ships.
And they that held the strong city of Athens, the people of great
Erechtheus, who was born of the soil itself, but Jove's daughter,
Minerva, fostered him, and established him at Athens in her own
rich sanctuary. There, year by year, the Athenian youths worship
him with sacrifices of bulls and rams. These were commanded by
Menestheus, son of Peteos. No man living could equal him in the
marshalling of chariots and foot soldiers. Nestor could alone
rival him, for he was older. With him there came fifty ships.
Ajax brought twelve ships from Salamis, and stationed them
alongside those of the Athenians.
The men of Argos, again, and those who held the walls of Tiryns,
with Hermione, and Asine upon the gulf; Troezene, Eionae, and the
vineyard lands of Epidaurus; the Achaean youths, moreover, who
came from Aegina and Mases; these were led by Diomed of the loud
battle-cry, and Sthenelus son of famed Capaneus. With them in
command was Euryalus, son of king Mecisteus, son of Talaus; but
Diomed was chief over them all. With these there came eighty
Those who held the strong city of Mycenae, rich Corinth and
Cleonae; Orneae, Araethyrea, and Licyon, where Adrastus reigned
of old; Hyperesia, high Gonoessa, and Pellene; Aegium and all the
coast-land round about Helice; these sent a hundred ships under
the command of King Agamemnon, son of Atreus. His force was far
both finest and most numerous, and in their midst was the king
himself, all glorious in his armour of gleaming bronze--foremost
among the heroes, for he was the greatest king, and had most men
And those that dwelt in Lacedaemon, lying low among the hills,
Pharis, Sparta, with Messe the haunt of doves; Bryseae, Augeae,
Amyclae, and Helos upon the sea; Laas, moreover, and Oetylus;
these were led by Menelaus of the loud battle-cry, brother to
Agamemnon, and of them there were sixty ships, drawn up apart
from the others. Among them went Menelaus himself, strong in
zeal, urging his men to fight; for he longed to avenge the toil
and sorrow that he had suffered for the sake of Helen.
The men of Pylos and Arene, and Thryum where is the ford of the
river Alpheus; strong Aipy, Cyparisseis, and Amphigenea; Pteleum,
Helos, and Dorium, where the Muses met Thamyris, and stilled his
minstrelsy for ever. He was returning from Oechalia, where
Eurytus lived and reigned, and boasted that he would surpass even
the Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Jove, if they should sing
against him; whereon they were angry, and maimed him. They robbed
him of his divine power of song, and thenceforth he could strike
the lyre no more. These were commanded by Nestor, knight of
Gerene, and with him there came ninety ships.
And those that held Arcadia, under the high mountain of Cyllene,
near the tomb of Aepytus, where the people fight hand to hand;
the men of Pheneus also, and Orchomenus rich in flocks; of
Rhipae, Stratie, and bleak Enispe; of Tegea and fair Mantinea; of
Stymphelus and Parrhasia; of these King Agapenor son of Ancaeus
was commander, and they had sixty ships. Many Arcadians, good
soldiers, came in each one of them, but Agamemnon found them the
ships in which to cross the sea, for they were not a people that
occupied their business upon the waters.
The men, moreover, of Buprasium and of Elis, so much of it as is
enclosed between Hyrmine, Myrsinus upon the sea-shore, the rock
Olene and Alesium. These had four leaders, and each of them had
ten ships, with many Epeans on board. Their captains were
Amphimachus and Thalpius--the one, son of Cteatus, and the other,
of Eurytus--both of the race of Actor. The two others were
Diores, son of Amarynces, and Polyxenus, son of King Agasthenes,
son of Augeas.
And those of Dulichium with the sacred Echinean islands, who
dwelt beyond the sea off Elis; these were led by Meges, peer of
Mars, and the son of valiant Phyleus, dear to Jove, who
quarrelled with his father, and went to settle in Dulichium. With
him there came forty ships.
Ulysses led the brave Cephallenians, who held Ithaca, Neritum
with its forests, Crocylea, rugged Aegilips, Samos and Zacynthus,
with the mainland also that was over against the islands. These
were led by Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel, and with him there
came twelve ships.
Thoas, son of Andraemon, commanded the Aetolians, who dwelt in
Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis by the sea, and rocky Calydon,
for the great king Oeneus had now no sons living, and was himself
dead, as was also golden-haired Meleager, who had been set over
the Aetolians to be their king. And with Thoas there came forty
The famous spearsman Idomeneus led the Cretans, who held Cnossus,
and the well-walled city of Gortys; Lyctus also, Miletus and
Lycastus that lies upon the chalk; the populous towns of Phaestus
and Rhytium, with the other peoples that dwelt in the hundred
cities of Crete. All these were led by Idomeneus, and by
Meriones, peer of murderous Mars. And with these there came
Tlepolemus, son of Hercules, a man both brave and large of
stature, brought nine ships of lordly warriors from Rhodes. These
dwelt in Rhodes which is divided among the three cities of
Lindus, Ielysus, and Cameirus, that lies upon the chalk. These
were commanded by Tlepolemus, son of Hercules by Astyochea, whom
he had carried off from Ephyra, on the river Selleis, after
sacking many cities of valiant warriors. When Tlepolemus grew up,
he killed his father's uncle Licymnius, who had been a famous
warrior in his time, but was then grown old. On this he built
himself a fleet, gathered a great following, and fled beyond the
sea, for he was menaced by the other sons and grandsons of
Hercules. After a voyage, during which he suffered great
hardship, he came to Rhodes, where the people divided into three
communities, according to their tribes, and were dearly loved by
Jove, the lord of gods and men; wherefore the son of Saturn
showered down great riches upon them.
And Nireus brought three ships from Syme--Nireus, who was the
handsomest man that came up under Ilius of all the Danaans after
the son of Peleus--but he was a man of no substance, and had but
a small following.
And those that held Nisyrus, Crapathus, and Casus, with Cos, the
city of Eurypylus, and the Calydnian islands, these were
commanded by Pheidippus and Antiphus, two sons of King Thessalus
the son of Hercules. And with them there came thirty ships.
Those again who held Pelasgic Argos, Alos, Alope, and Trachis;
and those of Phthia and Hellas the land of fair women, who were
called Myrmidons, Hellenes, and Achaeans; these had fifty ships,
over which Achilles was in command. But they now took no part in
the war, inasmuch as there was no one to marshal them; for
Achilles stayed by his ships, furious about the loss of the girl
Briseis, whom he had taken from Lyrnessus at his own great peril,
when he had sacked Lyrnessus and Thebe, and had overthrown Mynes
and Epistrophus, sons of king Evenor, son of Selepus. For her
sake Achilles was still grieving, but ere long he was again to
And those that held Phylace and the flowery meadows of Pyrasus,
sanctuary of Ceres; Iton, the mother of sheep; Antrum upon the
sea, and Pteleum that lies upon the grass lands. Of these brave
Protesilaus had been captain while he was yet alive, but he was
now lying under the earth. He had left a wife behind him in
Phylace to tear her cheeks in sorrow, and his house was only half
finished, for he was slain by a Dardanian warrior while leaping
foremost of the Achaeans upon the soil of Troy. Still, though his
people mourned their chieftain, they were not without a leader,
for Podarces, of the race of Mars, marshalled them; he was son of
Iphiclus, rich in sheep, who was the son of Phylacus, and he was
own brother to Protesilaus, only younger, Protesilaus being at
once the elder and the more valiant. So the people were not
without a leader, though they mourned him whom they had lost.
With him there came forty ships.
And those that held Pherae by the Boebean lake, with Boebe,
Glaphyrae, and the populous city of Iolcus, these with their
eleven ships were led by Eumelus, son of Admetus, whom Alcestis
bore to him, loveliest of the daughters of Pelias.
And those that held Methone and Thaumacia, with Meliboea and
rugged Olizon, these were led by the skilful archer Philoctetes,
and they had seven ships, each with fifty oarsmen all of them
good archers; but Philoctetes was lying in great pain in the
Island of Lemnos, where the sons of the Achaeans left him, for he
had been bitten by a poisonous water snake. There he lay sick and
sorry, and full soon did the Argives come to miss him. But his
people, though they felt his loss were not leaderless, for Medon,
the bastard son of Oileus by Rhene, set them in array.
Those, again, of Tricca and the stony region of Ithome, and they
that held Oechalia, the city of Oechalian Eurytus, these were
commanded by the two sons of Aesculapius, skilled in the art of
healing, Podalirius and Machaon. And with them there came thirty
The men, moreover, of Ormenius, and by the fountain of Hypereia,
with those that held Asterius, and the white crests of Titanus,
these were led by Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, and with them
there came forty ships.
Those that held Argissa and Gyrtone, Orthe, Elone, and the white
city of Oloosson, of these brave Polypoetes was leader. He was
son of Pirithous, who was son of Jove himself, for Hippodameia
bore him to Pirithous on the day when he took his revenge on the
shaggy mountain savages and drove them from Mt. Pelion to the
Aithices. But Polypoetes was not sole in command, for with him
was Leonteus, of the race of Mars, who was son of Coronus, the
son of Caeneus. And with these there came forty ships.
Guneus brought two and twenty ships from Cyphus, and he was
followed by the Enienes and the valiant Peraebi, who dwelt about
wintry Dodona, and held the lands round the lovely river
Titaresius, which sends its waters into the Peneus. They do not
mingle with the silver eddies of the Peneus, but flow on the top
of them like oil; for the Titaresius is a branch of dread Orcus
and of the river Styx.
Of the Magnetes, Prothous son of Tenthredon was commander. They
were they that dwelt about the river Peneus and Mt. Pelion.
Prothous, fleet of foot, was their leader, and with him there
came forty ships.
Such were the chiefs and princes of the Danaans. Who, then, O
Muse, was the foremost, whether man or horse, among those that
followed after the sons of Atreus?
Of the horses, those of the son of Pheres were by far the finest.
They were driven by Eumelus, and were as fleet as birds. They
were of the same age and colour, and perfectly matched in height.
Apollo, of the silver bow, had bred them in Perea--both of them
mares, and terrible as Mars in battle. Of the men, Ajax, son of
Telamon, was much the foremost so long as Achilles' anger lasted,
for Achilles excelled him greatly and he had also better horses;
but Achilles was now holding aloof at his ships by reason of his
quarrel with Agamemnon, and his people passed their time upon the
sea shore, throwing discs or aiming with spears at a mark, and in
archery. Their horses stood each by his own chariot, champing
lotus and wild celery. The chariots were housed under cover, but
their owners, for lack of leadership, wandered hither and thither
about the host and went not forth to fight.
Thus marched the host like a consuming fire, and the earth
groaned beneath them when the lord of thunder is angry and lashes
the land about Typhoeus among the Arimi, where they say Typhoeus
lies. Even so did the earth groan beneath them as they sped over
And now Iris, fleet as the wind, was sent by Jove to tell the bad
news among the Trojans. They were gathered in assembly, old and
young, at Priam's gates, and Iris came close up to Priam,
speaking with the voice of Priam's son Polites, who, being fleet
of foot, was stationed as watchman for the Trojans on the tomb of
old Aesyetes, to look out for any sally of the Achaeans. In his
likeness Iris spoke, saying, "Old man, you talk idly, as in time
of peace, while war is at hand. I have been in many a battle, but
never yet saw such a host as is now advancing. They are crossing
the plain to attack the city as thick as leaves or as the sands
of the sea. Hector, I charge you above all others, do as I say.
There are many allies dispersed about the city of Priam from
distant places and speaking divers tongues. Therefore, let each
chief give orders to his own people, setting them severally in
array and leading them forth to battle."
Thus she spoke, but Hector knew that it was the goddess, and at
once broke up the assembly. The men flew to arms; all the gates
were opened, and the people thronged through them, horse and
foot, with the tramp as of a great multitude.
Now there is a high mound before the city, rising by itself upon
the plain. Men call it Batieia, but the gods know that it is the
tomb of lithe Myrine. Here the Trojans and their allies divided
Priam's son, great Hector of the gleaming helmet, commanded the
Trojans, and with him were arrayed by far the greater number and
most valiant of those who were longing for the fray.
The Dardanians were led by brave Aeneas, whom Venus bore to
Anchises, when she, goddess though she was, had lain with him
upon the mountain slopes of Ida. He was not alone, for with him
were the two sons of Antenor, Archilochus and Acamas, both
skilled in all the arts of war.
They that dwelt in Telea under the lowest spurs of Mt. Ida, men
of substance, who drink the limpid waters of the Aesepus, and are
of Trojan blood--these were led by Pandarus son of Lycaon, whom
Apollo had taught to use the bow.
They that held Adresteia and the land of Apaesus, with Pityeia,
and the high mountain of Tereia--these were led by Adrestus and
Amphius, whose breastplate was of linen. These were the sons of
Merops of Percote, who excelled in all kinds of divination. He
told them not to take part in the war, but they gave him no heed,
for fate lured them to destruction.
They that dwelt about Percote and Practius, with Sestos, Abydos,
and Arisbe--these were led by Asius, son of Hyrtacus, a brave
commander--Asius, the son of Hyrtacus, whom his powerful dark bay
steeds, of the breed that comes from the river Selleis, had
brought from Arisbe.
Hippothous led the tribes of Pelasgian spearsmen, who dwelt in
fertile Larissa--Hippothous, and Pylaeus of the race of Mars, two
sons of the Pelasgian Lethus, son of Teutamus.
Acamas and the warrior Peirous commanded the Thracians and those
that came from beyond the mighty stream of the Hellespont.
Euphemus, son of Troezenus, the son of Ceos, was captain of the
Pyraechmes led the Paeonian archers from distant Amydon, by the
broad waters of the river Axius, the fairest that flow upon the
The Paphlagonians were commanded by stout-hearted Pylaemanes from
Enetae, where the mules run wild in herds. These were they that
held Cytorus and the country round Sesamus, with the cities by
the river Parthenius, Cromna, Aegialus, and lofty Erithini.
Odius and Epistrophus were captains over the Halizoni from
distant Alybe, where there are mines of silver.
Chromis, and Ennomus the augur, led the Mysians, but his skill in
augury availed not to save him from destruction, for he fell by
the hand of the fleet descendant of Aeacus in the river, where he
slew others also of the Trojans.
Phorcys, again, and noble Ascanius led the Phrygians from the far
country of Ascania, and both were eager for the fray.
Mesthles and Antiphus commanded the Meonians, sons of Talaemenes,
born to him of the Gygaean lake. These led the Meonians, who
dwelt under Mt. Tmolus.
Nastes led the Carians, men of a strange speech. These held
Miletus and the wooded mountain of Phthires, with the water of
the river Maeander and the lofty crests of Mt. Mycale. These were
commanded by Nastes and Amphimachus, the brave sons of Nomion. He
came into the fight with gold about him, like a girl; fool that
he was, his gold was of no avail to save him, for he fell in the
river by the hand of the fleet descendant of Aeacus, and Achilles
bore away his gold.
Sarpedon and Glaucus led the Lycians from their distant land, by
the eddying waters of the Xanthus.
Alexandria, also called Paris, challenges Menelaus--Helen and
Priam view the Achaeans from the wall--The covenant--Paris
and Menelaus fight, and Paris is worsted--Venus carries him
off to save him--Scene between him and Helen.
When the companies were thus arrayed, each under its own captain,
the Trojans advanced as a flight of wild fowl or cranes that
scream overhead when rain and winter drive them over the flowing
waters of Oceanus to bring death and destruction on the Pygmies,
and they wrangle in the air as they fly; but the Achaeans marched
silently, in high heart, and minded to stand by one another.
As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the
mountain tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for
thieves, and a man can see no further than he can throw a stone,
even so rose the dust from under their feet as they made all
speed over the plain.
When they were close up with one another, Alexandrus came forward
as champion on the Trojan side. On his shoulders he bore the skin
of a panther, his bow, and his sword, and he brandished two
spears shod with bronze as a challenge to the bravest of the
Achaeans to meet him in single fight. Menelaus saw him thus
stride out before the ranks, and was glad as a hungry lion that
lights on the carcase of some goat or horned stag, and devours it
there and then, though dogs and youths set upon him. Even thus
was Menelaus glad when his eyes caught sight of Alexandrus, for
he deemed that now he should be revenged. He sprang, therefore,
from his chariot, clad in his suit of armour.
Alexandrus quailed as he saw Menelaus come forward, and shrank in
fear of his life under cover of his men. As one who starts back
affrighted, trembling and pale, when he comes suddenly upon a
serpent in some mountain glade, even so did Alexandrus plunge
into the throng of Trojan warriors, terror-stricken at the sight
of the son of Atreus.
Then Hector upbraided him. "Paris," said he, "evil-hearted Paris,
fair to see, but woman-mad, and false of tongue, would that you
had never been born, or that you had died unwed. Better so, than
live to be disgraced and looked askance at. Will not the Achaeans
mock at us and say that we have sent one to champion us who is
fair to see but who has neither wit nor courage? Did you not,
such as you are, get your following together and sail beyond the
seas? Did you not from your a far country carry off a lovely
woman wedded among a people of warriors--to bring sorrow upon
your father, your city, and your whole country, but joy to your
enemies, and hang-dog shamefacedness to yourself? And now can you
not dare face Menelaus and learn what manner of man he is whose
wife you have stolen? Where indeed would be your lyre and your
love-tricks, your comely locks and your fair favour, when you
were lying in the dust before him? The Trojans are a weak-kneed
people, or ere this you would have had a shirt of stones for the
wrongs you have done them."
And Alexandrus answered, "Hector, your rebuke is just. You are
hard as the axe which a shipwright wields at his work, and
cleaves the timber to his liking. As the axe in his hand, so keen
is the edge of your scorn. Still, taunt me not with the gifts
that golden Venus has given me; they are precious; let not a man
disdain them, for the gods give them where they are minded, and
none can have them for the asking. If you would have me do battle
with Menelaus, bid the Trojans and Achaeans take their seats,
while he and I fight in their midst for Helen and all her wealth.
Let him who shall be victorious and prove to be the better man
take the woman and all she has, to bear them to his home, but let
the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace whereby you Trojans
shall stay here in Troy, while the others go home to Argos and
the land of the Achaeans."
When Hector heard this he was glad, and went about among the
Trojan ranks holding his spear by the middle to keep them back,
and they all sat down at his bidding: but the Achaeans still
aimed at him with stones and arrows, till Agamemnon shouted to
them saying, "Hold, Argives, shoot not, sons of the Achaeans;
Hector desires to speak."
They ceased taking aim and were still, whereon Hector spoke.
"Hear from my mouth," said he, "Trojans and Achaeans, the saying
of Alexandrus, through whom this quarrel has come about. He bids
the Trojans and Achaeans lay their armour upon the ground, while
he and Menelaus fight in the midst of you for Helen and all her
wealth. Let him who shall be victorious and prove to be the
better man take the woman and all she has, to bear them to his
own home, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace."
Thus he spoke, and they all held their peace, till Menelaus of
the loud battle-cry addressed them. "And now," he said, "hear me
too, for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I deem that the
parting of Achaeans and Trojans is at hand, as well it may be,
seeing how much have suffered for my quarrel with Alexandrus and
the wrong he did me. Let him who shall die, die, and let the
others fight no more. Bring, then, two lambs, a white ram and a
black ewe, for Earth and Sun, and we will bring a third for Jove.
Moreover, you shall bid Priam come, that he may swear to the
covenant himself; for his sons are high-handed and ill to trust,
and the oaths of Jove must not be transgressed or taken in vain.
Young men's minds are light as air, but when an old man comes he
looks before and after, deeming that which shall be fairest upon
The Trojans and Achaeans were glad when they heard this, for they
thought that they should now have rest. They backed their
chariots toward the ranks, got out of them, and put off their
armour, laying it down upon the ground; and the hosts were near
to one another with a little space between them. Hector sent two
messengers to the city to bring the lambs and to bid Priam come,
while Agamemnon told Talthybius to fetch the other lamb from the
ships, and he did as Agamemnon had said.
Meanwhile Iris went to Helen in the form of her sister-in-law,
wife of the son of Antenor, for Helicaon, son of Antenor, had
married Laodice, the fairest of Priam's daughters. She found her
in her own room, working at a great web of purple linen, on which
she was embroidering the battles between Trojans and Achaeans,
that Mars had made them fight for her sake. Iris then came close
up to her and said, "Come hither, child, and see the strange
doings of the Trojans and Achaeans. Till now they have been
warring upon the plain, mad with lust of battle, but now they
have left off fighting, and are leaning upon their shields,
sitting still with their spears planted beside them. Alexandrus
and Menelaus are going to fight about yourself, and you are to be
the wife of him who is the victor."
Thus spoke the goddess, and Helen's heart yearned after her
former husband, her city, and her parents. She threw a white
mantle over her head, and hurried from her room, weeping as she
went, not alone, but attended by two of her handmaids, Aethrae,
daughter of Pittheus, and Clymene. And straightway they were at
the Scaean gates.
The two sages, Ucalegon and Antenor, elders of the people, were
seated by the Scaean gates, with Priam, Panthous, Thymoetes,
Lampus, Clytius, and Hiketaon of the race of Mars. These were too
old to fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower
like cicales that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high
tree in a wood. When they saw Helen coming towards the tower,
they said softly to one another, "Small wonder that Trojans and
Achaeans should endure so much and so long, for the sake of a
woman so marvellously and divinely lovely. Still, fair though she
be, let them take her and go, or she will breed sorrow for us and
for our children after us."
But Priam bade her draw nigh. "My child," said he, "take your
seat in front of me that you may see your former husband, your
kinsmen and your friends. I lay no blame upon you, it is the
gods, not you who are to blame. It is they that have brought
about this terrible war with the Achaeans. Tell me, then, who is
yonder huge hero so great and goodly? I have seen men taller by a
head, but none so comely and so royal. Surely he must be a king."
"Sir," answered Helen, "father of my husband, dear and reverend
in my eyes, would that I had chosen death rather than to have
come here with your son, far from my bridal chamber, my friends,
my darling daughter, and all the companions of my girlhood. But
it was not to be, and my lot is one of tears and sorrow. As for
your question, the hero of whom you ask is Agamemnon, son of
Atreus, a good king and a brave soldier, brother-in-law as surely
as that he lives, to my abhorred and miserable self."
The old man marvelled at him and said, "Happy son of Atreus,
child of good fortune. I see that the Achaeans are subject to you
in great multitudes. When I was in Phrygia I saw much horsemen,
the people of Otreus and of Mygdon, who were camping upon the
banks of the river Sangarius; I was their ally, and with them
when the Amazons, peers of men, came up against them, but even
they were not so many as the Achaeans."
The old man next looked upon Ulysses; "Tell me," he said, "who is
that other, shorter by a head than Agamemnon, but broader across
the chest and shoulders? His armour is laid upon the ground, and
he stalks in front of the ranks as it were some great woolly ram
ordering his ewes."
And Helen answered, "He is Ulysses, a man of great craft, son of
Laertes. He was born in rugged Ithaca, and excels in all manner
of stratagems and subtle cunning."
On this Antenor said, "Madam, you have spoken truly. Ulysses once
came here as envoy about yourself, and Menelaus with him. I
received them in my own house, and therefore know both of them by
sight and conversation. When they stood up in presence of the
assembled Trojans, Menelaus was the broader shouldered, but when
both were seated Ulysses had the more royal presence. After a
time they delivered their message, and the speech of Menelaus ran
trippingly on the tongue; he did not say much, for he was a man
of few words, but he spoke very clearly and to the point, though
he was the younger man of the two; Ulysses, on the other hand,
when he rose to speak, was at first silent and kept his eyes
fixed upon the ground. There was no play nor graceful movement of
his sceptre; he kept it straight and stiff like a man unpractised
in oratory--one might have taken him for a mere churl or
simpleton; but when he raised his voice, and the words came
driving from his deep chest like winter snow before the wind,
then there was none to touch him, and no man thought further of
what he looked like."
Priam then caught sight of Ajax and asked, "Who is that great and
goodly warrior whose head and broad shoulders tower above the
rest of the Argives?"
"That," answered Helen, "is huge Ajax, bulwark of the Achaeans,
and on the other side of him, among the Cretans, stands Idomeneus
looking like a god, and with the captains of the Cretans round
him. Often did Menelaus receive him as a guest in our house when
he came visiting us from Crete. I see, moreover, many other
Achaeans whose names I could tell you, but there are two whom I
can nowhere find, Castor, breaker of horses, and Pollux the
mighty boxer; they are children of my mother, and own brothers to
myself. Either they have not left Lacedaemon, or else, though
they have brought their ships, they will not show themselves in
battle for the shame and disgrace that I have brought upon them."
She knew not that both these heroes were already lying under the
earth in their own land of Lacedaemon.
Meanwhile the heralds were bringing the holy oath-offerings
through the city--two lambs and a goatskin of wine, the gift of
earth; and Idaeus brought the mixing bowl and the cups of gold.
He went up to Priam and said, "Son of Laomedon, the princes of
the Trojans and Achaeans bid you come down on to the plain and
swear to a solemn covenant. Alexandrus and Menelaus are to fight
for Helen in single combat, that she and all her wealth may go
with him who is the victor. We are to swear to a solemn covenant
of peace whereby we others shall dwell here in Troy, while the
Achaeans return to Argos and the land of the Achaeans."
The old man trembled as he heard, but bade his followers yoke the
horses, and they made all haste to do so. He mounted the chariot,
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor took his seat beside
him; they then drove through the Scaean gates on to the plain.
When they reached the ranks of the Trojans and Achaeans they left
the chariot, and with measured pace advanced into the space
between the hosts.
Agamemnon and Ulysses both rose to meet them. The attendants
brought on the oath-offerings and mixed the wine in the
mixing-bowls; they poured water over the hands of the chieftains,
and the son of Atreus drew the dagger that hung by his sword, and
cut wool from the lambs' heads; this the men-servants gave about
among the Trojan and Achaean princes, and the son of Atreus
lifted up his hands in prayer. "Father Jove," he cried, "that
rulest in Ida, most glorious in power, and thou oh Sun, that
seest and givest ear to all things, Earth and Rivers, and ye who
in the realms below chastise the soul of him that has broken his
oath, witness these rites and guard them, that they be not vain.
If Alexandrus kills Menelaus, let him keep Helen and all her
wealth, while we sail home with our ships; but if Menelaus kills
Alexandrus, let the Trojans give back Helen and all that she has;
let them moreover pay such fine to the Achaeans as shall be
agreed upon, in testimony among those that shall be born
hereafter. And if Priam and his sons refuse such fine when
Alexandrus has fallen, then will I stay here and fight on till I
have got satisfaction."
As he spoke he drew his knife across the throats of the victims,
and laid them down gasping and dying upon the ground, for the
knife had reft them of their strength. Then they poured wine from
the mixing-bowl into the cups, and prayed to the everlasting
gods, saying, Trojans and Achaeans among one another, "Jove, most
great and glorious, and ye other everlasting gods, grant that the
brains of them who shall first sin against their oaths--of them
and their children--may be shed upon the ground even as this
wine, and let their wives become the slaves of strangers."
Thus they prayed, but not as yet would Jove grant them their
prayer. Then Priam, descendant of Dardanus, spoke, saying, "Hear
me, Trojans and Achaeans, I will now go back to the wind-beaten
city of Ilius: I dare not with my own eyes witness this fight
between my son and Menelaus, for Jove and the other immortals
alone know which shall fall."
On this he laid the two lambs on his chariot and took his seat.
He gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor sat beside him;
the two then went back to Ilius. Hector and Ulysses measured the
ground, and cast lots from a helmet of bronze to see which should
take aim first. Meanwhile the two hosts lifted up their hands and
prayed saying, "Father Jove, that rulest from Ida, most glorious
in power, grant that he who first brought about this war between
us may die, and enter the house of Hades, while we others remain
at peace and abide by our oaths."
Great Hector now turned his head aside while he shook the helmet,
and the lot of Paris flew out first. The others took their
several stations, each by his horses and the place where his arms
were lying, while Alexandrus, husband of lovely Helen, put on his
goodly armour. First he greaved his legs with greaves of good
make and fitted with ancle-clasps of silver; after this he donned
the cuirass of his brother Lycaon, and fitted it to his own body;
he hung his silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders,
and then his mighty shield. On his comely head he set his helmet,
well-wrought, with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly
above it, and he grasped a redoubtable spear that suited his
hands. In like fashion Menelaus also put on his armour.
When they had thus armed, each amid his own people, they strode
fierce of aspect into the open space, and both Trojans and
Achaeans were struck with awe as they beheld them. They stood
near one another on the measured ground, brandishing their
spears, and each furious against the other. Alexandrus aimed
first, and struck the round shield of the son of Atreus, but the
spear did not pierce it, for the shield turned its point.
Menelaus next took aim, praying to Father Jove as he did so.
"King Jove," he said, "grant me revenge on Alexandrus who has
wronged me; subdue him under my hand that in ages yet to come a
man may shrink from doing ill deeds in the house of his host."
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it at the shield of
Alexandrus. Through shield and cuirass it went, and tore the
shirt by his flank, but Alexandrus swerved aside, and thus saved
his life. Then the son of Atreus drew his sword, and drove at the
projecting part of his helmet, but the sword fell shivered in
three or four pieces from his hand, and he cried, looking towards
Heaven, "Father Jove, of all gods thou art the most despiteful; I
made sure of my revenge, but the sword has broken in my hand, my
spear has been hurled in vain, and I have not killed him."
With this he flew at Alexandrus, caught him by the horsehair
plume of his helmet, and began dragging him towards the Achaeans.
The strap of the helmet that went under his chin was choking him,
and Menelaus would have dragged him off to his own great glory
had not Jove's daughter Venus been quick to mark and to break the
strap of oxhide, so that the empty helmet came away in his hand.
This he flung to his comrades among the Achaeans, and was again
springing upon Alexandrus to run him through with a spear, but
Venus snatched him up in a moment (as a god can do), hid him
under a cloud of darkness, and conveyed him to his own
Then she went to call Helen, and found her on a high tower with
the Trojan women crowding round her. She took the form of an old
woman who used to dress wool for her when she was still in
Lacedaemon, and of whom she was very fond. Thus disguised she
plucked her by perfumed robe and said, "Come hither; Alexandrus
says you are to go to the house; he is on his bed in his own
room, radiant with beauty and dressed in gorgeous apparel. No one
would think he had just come from fighting, but rather that he
was going to a dance, or had done dancing and was sitting down."
With these words she moved the heart of Helen to anger. When she
marked the beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and
sparkling eyes, she marvelled at her and said, "Goddess, why do
you thus beguile me? Are you going to send me afield still
further to some man whom you have taken up in Phrygia or fair
Meonia? Menelaus has just vanquished Alexandrus, and is to take
my hateful self back with him. You are come here to betray me. Go
sit with Alexandrus yourself; henceforth be goddess no longer;
never let your feet carry you back to Olympus; worry about him
and look after him till he make you his wife, or, for the matter
of that, his slave--but me? I shall not go; I can garnish his bed
no longer; I should be a by-word among all the women of Troy.
Besides, I have trouble on my mind."
Venus was very angry, and said, "Bold hussy, do not provoke me;
if you do, I shall leave you to your fate and hate you as much as
I have loved you. I will stir up fierce hatred between Trojans
and Achaeans, and you shall come to a bad end."
At this Helen was frightened. She wrapped her mantle about her
and went in silence, following the goddess and unnoticed by the
When they came to the house of Alexandrus the maid-servants set
about their work, but Helen went into her own room, and the
laughter-loving goddess took a seat and set it for her facing
Alexandrus. On this Helen, daughter of aegis-bearing Jove, sat
down, and with eyes askance began to upbraid her husband.
"So you are come from the fight," said she; "would that you had
fallen rather by the hand of that brave man who was my husband.
You used to brag that you were a better man with hands and spear
than Menelaus. Go, then, and challenge him again--but I should
advise you not to do so, for if you are foolish enough to meet
him in single combat, you will soon fall by his spear."
And Paris answered, "Wife, do not vex me with your reproaches.
This time, with the help of Minerva, Menelaus has vanquished me;
another time I may myself be victor, for I too have gods that
will stand by me. Come, let us lie down together and make
friends. Never yet was I so passionately enamoured of you as at
this moment--not even when I first carried you off from
Lacedaemon and sailed away with you--not even when I had converse
with you upon the couch of love in the island of Cranae was I so
enthralled by desire of you as now." On this he led her towards
the bed, and his wife went with him.
Thus they laid themselves on the bed together; but the son of
Atreus strode among the throng, looking everywhere for
Alexandrus, and no man, neither of the Trojans nor of the allies,
could find him. If they had seen him they were in no mind to hide
him, for they all of them hated him as they did death itself.
Then Agamemnon, king of men, spoke, saying, "Hear me, Trojans,
Dardanians, and allies. The victory has been with Menelaus;
therefore give back Helen with all her wealth, and pay such fine
as shall be agreed upon, in testimony among them that shall be
Thus spoke the son of Atreus, and the Achaeans shouted in
A quarrel in Olympus--Minerva goes down and persuades Fandarus
to violate the oaths by wounding Menelaus with an arrow--
Agamemnon makes a speech and sends for Machaon--He then
goes about among his captains and upbraids Ulysses and
Sthenelus, who each of them retort fiercely--Diomed checks
Sthenelus, and the two hosts then engage, with great slaughter
on either side.
Now the gods were sitting with Jove in council upon the golden
floor while Hebe went round pouring out nectar for them to drink,
and as they pledged one another in their cups of gold they looked
down upon the town of Troy. The son of Saturn then began to tease
Juno, talking at her so as to provoke her. "Menelaus," said he,
"has two good friends among the goddesses, Juno of Argos, and
Minerva of Alalcomene, but they only sit still and look on, while
Venus keeps ever by Alexandrus' side to defend him in any danger;
indeed she has just rescued him when he made sure that it was all
over with him--for the victory really did lie with Menelaus. We
must consider what we shall do about all this; shall we set them
fighting anew or make peace between them? If you will agree to
this last Menelaus can take back Helen and the city of Priam may
remain still inhabited."
Minerva and Juno muttered their discontent as they sat side by
side hatching mischief for the Trojans. Minerva scowled at her
father, for she was in a furious passion with him, and said
nothing, but Juno could not contain herself. "Dread son of
Saturn," said she, "what, pray, is the meaning of all this? Is my
trouble, then, to go for nothing, and the sweat that I have
sweated, to say nothing of my horses, while getting the people
together against Priam and his children? Do as you will, but we
other gods shall not all of us approve your counsel."
Jove was angry and answered, "My dear, what harm have Priam and
his sons done you that you are so hotly bent on sacking the city
of Ilius? Will nothing do for you but you must within their walls
and eat Priam raw, with his sons and all the other Trojans to
boot? Have it your own way then; for I would not have this matter
become a bone of contention between us. I say further, and lay my
saying to your heart, if ever I want to sack a city belonging to
friends of yours, you must not try to stop me; you will have to
let me do it, for I am giving in to you sorely against my will.
Of all inhabited cities under the sun and stars of heaven, there
was none that I so much respected as Ilius with Priam and his
whole people. Equitable feasts were never wanting about my altar,
nor the savour of burning fat, which is honour due to ourselves."
"My own three favourite cities," answered Juno, "are Argos,
Sparta, and Mycenae. Sack them whenever you may be displeased
with them. I shall not defend them and I shall not care. Even if
I did, and tried to stay you, I should take nothing by it, for
you are much stronger than I am, but I will not have my own work
wasted. I too am a god and of the same race with yourself. I am
Saturn's eldest daughter, and am honourable not on this ground
only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king over the
gods. Let it be a case, then, of give-and-take between us, and
the rest of the gods will follow our lead. Tell Minerva to go and
take part in the fight at once, and let her contrive that the
Trojans shall be the first to break their oaths and set upon the
The sire of gods and men heeded her words, and said to Minerva,
"Go at once into the Trojan and Achaean hosts, and contrive that
the Trojans shall be the first to break their oaths and set upon
This was what Minerva was already eager to do, so down she darted
from the topmost summits of Olympus. She shot through the sky as
some brilliant meteor which the son of scheming Saturn has sent
as a sign to mariners or to some great army, and a fiery train of
light follows in its wake. The Trojans and Achaeans were struck
with awe as they beheld, and one would turn to his neighbour,
saying, "Either we shall again have war and din of combat, or
Jove the lord of battle will now make peace between us."
Thus did they converse. Then Minerva took the form of Laodocus,
son of Antenor, and went through the ranks of the Trojans to find
Pandarus, the redoubtable son of Lycaon. She found him standing
among the stalwart heroes who had followed him from the banks of
the Aesopus, so she went close up to him and said, "Brave son of
Lycaon, will you do as I tell you? If you dare send an arrow at
Menelaus you will win honour and thanks from all the Trojans, and
especially from prince Alexandrus--he would be the first to
requite you very handsomely if he could see Menelaus mount his
funeral pyre, slain by an arrow from your hand. Take your home
aim then, and pray to Lycian Apollo, the famous archer; vow that
when you get home to your strong city of Zelea you will offer a
hecatomb of firstling lambs in his honour."
His fool's heart was persuaded, and he took his bow from its
case. This bow was made from the horns of a wild ibex which he
had killed as it was bounding from a rock; he had stalked it, and
it had fallen as the arrow struck it to the heart. Its horns were
sixteen palms long, and a worker in horn had made them into a
bow, smoothing them well down, and giving them tips of gold. When
Pandarus had strung his bow he laid it carefully on the ground,
and his brave followers held their shields before him lest the
Achaeans should set upon him before he had shot Menelaus. Then he
opened the lid of his quiver and took out a winged arrow that had
not yet been shot, fraught with the pangs of death. He laid the
arrow on the string and prayed to Lycian Apollo, the famous
archer, vowing that when he got home to his strong city of Zelea
he would offer a hecatomb of firstling lambs in his honour. He
laid the notch of the arrow on the oxhide bowstring, and drew
both notch and string to his breast till the arrow-head was near
the bow; then when the bow was arched into a half-circle he let
fly, and the bow twanged, and the string sang as the arrow flew
gladly on over the heads of the throng.
But the blessed gods did not forget thee, O Menelaus, and Jove's
daughter, driver of the spoil, was the first to stand before thee
and ward off the piercing arrow. She turned it from his skin as a
mother whisks a fly from off her child when it is sleeping
sweetly; she guided it to the part where the golden buckles of
the belt that passed over his double cuirass were fastened, so
the arrow struck the belt that went tightly round him. It went
right through this and through the cuirass of cunning
workmanship; it also pierced the belt beneath it, which he wore
next his skin to keep out darts or arrows; it was this that
served him in the best stead, nevertheless the arrow went through
it and grazed the top of the skin, so that blood began flowing
from the wound.
As when some woman of Meonia or Caria strains purple dye on to a
piece of ivory that is to be the cheek-piece of a horse, and is
to be laid up in a treasure house--many a knight is fain to bear
it, but the king keeps it as an ornament of which both horse and
driver may be proud--even so, O Menelaus, were your shapely
thighs and your legs down to your fair ancles stained with blood.
When King Agamemnon saw the blood flowing from the wound he was
afraid, and so was brave Menelaus himself till he saw that the
barbs of the arrow and the thread that bound the arrow-head to
the shaft were still outside the wound. Then he took heart, but
Agamemnon heaved a deep sigh as he held Menelaus's hand in his
own, and his comrades made moan in concert. "Dear brother," he
cried, "I have been the death of you in pledging this covenant
and letting you come forward as our champion. The Trojans have
trampled on their oaths and have wounded you; nevertheless the
oath, the blood of lambs, the drink-offerings and the right hands
of fellowship in which we have put our trust shall not be vain.
If he that rules Olympus fulfil it not here and now, he will yet
fulfil it hereafter, and they shall pay dearly with their lives
and with their wives and children. The day will surely come when
mighty Ilius shall be laid low, with Priam and Priam's people,
when the son of Saturn from his high throne shall overshadow them
with his awful aegis in punishment of their present treachery.
This shall surely be; but how, Menelaus, shall I mourn you, if it
be your lot now to die? I should return to Argos as a by-word,
for the Achaeans will at once go home. We shall leave Priam and
the Trojans the glory of still keeping Helen, and the earth will
rot your bones as you lie here at Troy with your purpose not
fulfilled. Then shall some braggart Trojan leap upon your tomb
and say, 'Ever thus may Agamemnon wreak his vengeance; he brought
his army in vain; he is gone home to his own land with empty
ships, and has left Menelaus behind him.' Thus will one of them
say, and may the earth then swallow me."
But Menelaus reassured him and said, "Take heart, and do not
alarm the people; the arrow has not struck me in a mortal part,
for my outer belt of burnished metal first stayed it, and under
this my cuirass and the belt of mail which the bronze-smiths made
And Agamemnon answered, "I trust, dear Menelaus, that it may be
even so, but the surgeon shall examine your wound and lay herbs
upon it to relieve your pain."
He then said to Talthybius, "Talthybius, tell Machaon, son to the
great physician, Aesculapius, to come and see Menelaus
immediately. Some Trojan or Lycian archer has wounded him with an
arrow to our dismay, and to his own great glory."
Talthybius did as he was told, and went about the host trying to
find Machaon. Presently he found standing amid the brave warriors
who had followed him from Tricca; thereon he went up to him and
said, "Son of Aesculapius, King Agamemnon says you are to come
and see Menelaus immediately. Some Trojan or Lycian archer has
wounded him with an arrow to our dismay and to his own great
Thus did he speak, and Machaon was moved to go. They passed
through the spreading host of the Achaeans and went on till they
came to the place where Menelaus had been wounded and was lying
with the chieftains gathered in a circle round him. Machaon
passed into the middle of the ring and at once drew the arrow
from the belt, bending its barbs back through the force with
which he pulled it out. He undid the burnished belt, and beneath
this the cuirass and the belt of mail which the bronze-smiths had
made; then, when he had seen the wound, he wiped away the blood
and applied some soothing drugs which Chiron had given to
Aesculapius out of the good will he bore him.
While they were thus busy about Menelaus, the Trojans came
forward against them, for they had put on their armour, and now
renewed the fight.