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Title: Achilles

Author: Karl Friedrich Becker

Translator: George P. Upton

Release date: June 23, 2020 [eBook #62453]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by D A Alexander, Stephen Hutcheson, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
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Life Stories for Young People


Translated, and abridged from the German of
Carl Friedrich Becker

Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc.




A. C. McClurg & Co.

Published September, 1912



Translator’s Preface

In tracing the career of Achilles in connection with the Trojan war, that inimitable classic story-teller, Carl Friedrich Becker, follows the lines of Homer’s Iliad. He gives the reader a graphic picture of the stirring events in the ten years’ siege maintained by the Greeks, under the leadership of Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ, in their finally successful effort to redress the injury done to Menelaus, king of Sparta, whose wife, Helen, was carried off by Paris. The striking points in this thrilling narrative are the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles; the exploits of Hector, noblest character of them all; the human impersonations of the gods, who take part in the strife—some on one side, some on the other; the death of Patroclus; the final reconciliation of Achilles and Agamemnon and the former’s tremendous exploits; the death of Hector, and the touching interview with the aged Priam, who seeks to recover his body.


The ultimate fate of Achilles and the fall of the city are not told, nor the wretched end of Agamemnon, who, according to Æschylus, was killed by Clytemnestra, the queen, upon his return. Hector is one of the most conspicuous figures in this great drama and appears only second to Achilles among all the warriors. The exciting Trojan war story has never been told more graphically or interestingly in modern prose than in Becker’s version. In adapting it to the series of “Life Stories” the translator has been obliged to abridge the original work somewhat, but the parts omitted do not interfere with the flow of the story.

G. P. U.

Chicago, May, 1912.



Chapter Page
I The Greeks March Against Troy—Agamemnon Quarrels with Achilles 11
II Thetis Promises to Aid the Angry Achilles and Begs Jupiter’s Assistance—Juno is Angry—Agamemnon and the Other Princes Summon the Greeks to Battle 21
III Meeting of the Armies—Menelaus and Paris—Agamemnon Leads the Greeks into Battle 28
IV Continuation of the Battle—The Gods Take Part 38
V The Greeks are Successful—Hector Hastens to the City—Glaucus and Diomedes, Hector and Andromache 46
VI Hector and Ajax in Single Combat—A Truce—Another Battle at the Ships 53
VII Agamemnon Advises Flight—Council of the Princes—A Deputation is Sent to Achilles 63
VIII Agamemnon in Battle—Many of the Greeks are Wounded 71
IX Agamemnon Consoled—The Gods Take Part in the Strife and the Trojans are Driven Back 82
X Jupiter’s Message to Poseidon—The Battle for the Ships 90
XI Patroclus Hastens into Battle and Scatters the Trojans—Hector and Patroclus 97
XII The Fight for Patroclus’ Body—Achilles Mourns His Fallen Friend—Thetis and Vulcan—The Shield of Achilles 104
XIII Achilles and Agamemnon Become Reconciled—Achilles Goes into Battle 115
XIV Achilles in Battle—His Fight on the River Scamander 120
XV Hector and Achilles—Hector’s Death 131
XVI Priam and Achilles—Hector’s Burial in Troy 139


Death of HectorFrontispiece
Rescue of Paris by Aphrodite34
Thetis Consoling Achilles110


Chapter I
The Greeks March against Troy—Agamemnon Quarrels with Achilles

Troy was a small portion of that section of Asia Minor which was later called Phrygia. Its northern coast touched the entrance to the Hellespont. It was very densely populated and had, besides many little plantations, villages, and settlements of farmers or herdsmen, a large city with a strong wall, towers, and gates. Homer never called the city Troy, but always Ilios or Ilium. The surroundings he calls Troy and the inhabitants Trojans, after an ancestor named Tros, who was said to have founded the city. He describes them as a bold, enterprising people, who lived in a high degree of comfort and practised many arts of which the Europeans of that time were ignorant.


The Achaians, as Homer calls the inhabitants of Greece, and the Trojans, engaged in mutual depredations upon each other’s property,—until at last the long-standing national hatred broke out violently through the fault of the Trojans. Alexandros, or Paris, one of the sons of the old Trojan king, Priam, sailed across to Europe and paid a visit to King Menelaus, ruler over several cities in Sparta. He was hospitably received and entertained for many days, but repaid his good host with most shameless ingratitude. He persuaded the queen, the beautiful Helen, to forget her duty and flee with him. Menelaus sought revenge and called upon his brother Agamemnon, ruler over Mycenæ, old Nestor of Pylos, Ulysses of Ithaca, and many other valiant princes to ally themselves with him. A number of young lords who had long been wishing to take part in some glorious enterprise, like the expedition of the Argonauts, of which their fathers had so much to tell, offered their services with innumerable followers.

News of the mighty campaign which was being arranged spread throughout Greece, causing great rejoicing. Everyone looked upon it as a great opportunity and an event in which it would be shameful not to take part. A whole year passed in preparing the equipments. In the meanwhile Nestor and Ulysses travelled about everywhere to persuade the princes of Greece and its neighboring islands, who had hesitated hitherto, not to miss their share in the honors and spoils which so brilliant a campaign was sure to afford. For the object was nothing less than the destruction of the celebrated city of Troy, and the booty which was to be expected from such a rich people was incalculable. They had excellent success on this recruiting expedition, calling upon Peleus, father of Achilles in Thessalia, King Idomeneus in Crete, old Telamon in Salamis, and others.


The harbor of Aulis in Bœotia was selected for the place of meeting and at the appointed time more than one thousand ships assembled, with men from all parts of Greece. They agreed to offer the command to Agamemnon, one of the foremost among the princes, partly because he had brought the largest following and partly because he and his brother had organized the campaign. He was, besides, a clever and honorable man and a brave warrior, although considerably inferior in physical strength to Achilles, the invincible.

All was ready for departure, but the ships waited in vain for a favorable wind. It was supposed that some god was delaying the voyage and that he must be propitiated by an offering, so the priest Calchas was commanded to consult the oracle. After observing the usual signs he announced that Agamemnon had slain a sacred animal in the chase, thereby offending Artemis, who now demanded a human sacrifice in the shape of Agamemnon’s eldest daughter, Iphigenia. She was accordingly brought to the altar, but Artemis relented at the moment when the fatal stroke was about to be given, removed the trembling maiden in a dense cloud, and put an animal in her place. When Iphigenia awoke from her swoon, she found herself in the temple of Artemis in Taurus, where she served for a long time as priestess.


The same day, after this sacrifice, a favorable wind swelled the sails and the impatient heroes boarded their ships. In a few days the fleet arrived at Troy. On the way they had stopped to plunder a few cities on the islands of Scyros and Lesbos, had killed the men, and taken the women on board as slaves. After landing they proceeded in the same manner in the country about Troy. At the end of the war the godlike Achilles boasted that he alone with his Myrmidons had conquered twelve rich cities by sea and eleven by land in the Trojan territory. The booty which each skirmishing party brought in to camp was divided and the chief always received the best of everything. The inhabitants of the capital were safe behind their walls, and as the Greek forces were seldom united, the Trojans were often able, by a sudden sortie, to repulse the attacking parties which ventured too near the gates. This desultory warfare continued for several years, until many of the Achaians began to long for home. But they were ashamed to depart thus, without having accomplished their object. The leaders concentrated their men and began the siege in earnest.

The Trojans now took measures for more careful defence and sent to the neighboring peoples to demand their aid. Many princes responded to the call with their followers, until they had formed an alliance equal in strength to the Achaians. In the tenth year of the siege fortune seemed to have turned her back on the Greeks, for besides the hardships of war, they had to contend with a pestilence, and finally were nearly destroyed by the Trojans, while their two mightiest chiefs, Agamemnon and Achilles, were quarrelling.


Agamemnon had plundered a city and had taken Chryseïs, daughter of a priest of Apollo, for his slave. In the same way Achilles had become possessed of a maid named Briseïs, to whom he became so attached that he wished to keep her always with him. After a time the priest appeared in the Greek camp with rich presents to ransom his daughter, but Agamemnon did not wish to give up the maiden and returned a harsh answer. The Greeks urged him to release the maid out of respect for the priest and for fear of Apollo’s wrath, but the obstinate man refused to listen to reason and bade the father depart on pain of chastisement. With loud lamentations the old man retired to the seacoast and prayed to Apollo. The legend tells us that Apollo at once left Olympus, seated himself at some distance from the ships, and began to shoot his arrows into the Greek camp. Whatever was struck died a sudden death by the plague. First the donkeys and dogs and then the men fell victims. The pestilence raged for nine days, during which the funeral pyres burned incessantly.


This filled the leaders with great apprehension, so that on the tenth day Achilles summoned a folk assembly and advised the people to call upon the seer Calchas to discover what fault of the army had brought this woe upon them and by means of what sacrifice the god might be appeased. Calchas hesitated, but at length answered that he knew the reason, but feared to give it until the bravest among the heroes had sworn to protect him in case a man of great power among the Achaians should be angry at his decree. Then Achilles stood up and made a public vow to protect him, even though the man he meant were Agamemnon, mightiest of the Greeks. “Very well, then,” replied Calchas, “I will declare the truth. Yes, it is Agamemnon with whom Apollo is angry, for he has dishonored his priest and has refused to restore his daughter to him. Therefore hath he sent this punishment upon us and we cannot escape it until the maiden shall be returned freely to her father and a rich sacrifice has been offered to the god upon his holy altar.”

Agamemnon, trembling with rage, cried: “Miserable seer, must I do penance for the people’s sins? The maiden is wise and well trained in feminine tasks. I prize her above my spouse, Clytemnestra, and must I give her up? Let it be so; take her! I will bear even more than this for the people’s good. But I tell you, ye must provide another gift in her place, for she was my share of the booty.”

“Avaricious, insatiable man,” answered Achilles, “what dost thou demand? I knew not that we had treasures in reserve. Therefore be patient until the gods aid us to conquer rich Troy. Then thou mayst replace thy treasure many times over.”


Although this speech was just, the angry man imagined that it was intended in mockery and he cried: “Not so, Achilles; strong and brave as thou art, thou shalt not intimidate me! Dost thou expect to keep thy spoils and the others theirs, while mine is taken from me? I tell thee, if I receive no compensation, I will myself take it from thy tent or those of Ulysses or of Ajax, or wherever I please, and let him whom I despoil avenge himself. Take now the maiden, put her aboard the ship, together with the sacrificial steer, and row her to Chryse, where her father lives, that the god may no longer be angry with us.”

This speech infuriated Achilles and he cried angrily: “What! Thou wouldst take away my prize? Did we march against the Trojans for our own sakes? Not I, indeed! They never injured me, nor ever robbed me of a horse or cow, nor pillaged my newly sown fields. I was well protected by wooded hills and the broad sea and never thought of Troy in my Phthian home. It was solely on thy account, thou selfish, shameless man, that I came hither to avenge thine and thy brother’s sullied honor. And this hast thou so speedily forgotten and threatenest even to take away the spoils which the Achaians have unanimously accorded me and which I have honestly earned? Have I not hitherto borne the chief burden of the war? Who has fought as much as I? Let him appear! And when have I received prizes like thine? Thou hast always taken the best of everything, while I have contented myself with little. Very well! Thou mayest fight alone! I return to Phthia!”


“Fly, if thy heart bids thee!” flashed forth Agamemnon in anger. “Truly I shall not beg thee to remain. There are other warriors here through whom Jupiter will help me to achieve honor. Thou hast been obnoxious to me from the beginning. Thou hast ever loved quarrelling and strife and hast never kept peace. Thy strength hath been given thee by the gods and thou dost pride thyself altogether too much upon it. Thou mayest sail away with all thy followers and rule peacefully over thy Myrmidons. Thy wrath is nothing to me. But I tell thee, that as Phœbus Apollo has taken Chryse’s daughter from me, I shall take from thee the rosy daughter of Briseïs, thy prize, so that thou mayest learn how much more powerful I am than thou, and that no other in future shall dare to defy me as thou hast done.”

In a rage Achilles drew his shining sword from its scabbard to cut down Agamemnon. Suddenly, unseen by all the rest, the goddess Athena stood behind him and whispered to him not to draw his sword against the king, but that he might scold as much as he pleased. “Thy word I must obey, oh goddess,” answered Achilles, “though anger fills my heart. The gods attend those who follow their counsel.” With these words he returned his sword to its scabbard, but turning to Agamemnon he cried: “Thou miserable drunkard, with the look of a dog and the courage of a hare! Never hast thou dared to risk a decisive battle or to lie in ambush with the other nobles; but it is more comfortable to take away his prize from the single man who opposes thee. I swear that thou shalt never again see me raise my arm against the Trojans, though all thy Achaians should perish and thou shouldst beseech me on thy knees to save thee.”


Thus he spake, and dashing his sceptre upon the ground, sat down in silence. Agamemnon was preparing to answer this passionate speech when up rose old Nestor, reverenced like a father by everyone for his age, wisdom, and experience. When it was seen that he wished to speak all were quiet. Even Agamemnon bridled his anger, and the well-meaning old man began: “Dear friends, what are you about! What an unhappy fate do ye bring upon us all! How Priam, his sons, and the whole Trojan people will rejoice when they hear that the foremost Achaians are quarrelling. Listen to me, for ye are all much younger than I. However much power the Achaians have given thee, Agamemnon, do not abuse it. Let Achilles keep the prize with which the Achaians have rewarded him. And thou, Achilles, do not defy the king, for never has Jupiter crowned a king with such honor as this one. Though thou art stronger than he and boastest thyself of divine ancestry, he is the more powerful and all the people obey him.”

“Truly, honorable father,” answered Agamemnon, “thou hast spoken worthily. But this man is unreasonable; he wishes to be above all others, to rule all, to make laws for all.”


Achilles interrupted him. “Indeed I should be a coward did I submit to all thy insults. I will keep the vow I have sworn. One thing I will say—if the Achaians wish the maiden they have given me, they may have her. But woe to thee if thou layest hands upon my other spoils.”

Agamemnon insisted on taking the maiden, and he had the power to carry out his threats. Wisdom counselled Achilles to surrender what he was not strong enough to hold. He withdrew from the quarrel with more dignity than his unjust enemy, and his threat of abandoning the war gave him ample satisfaction. The result proved his value. He had thus far been the only one able to vanquish Hector, Priam’s most valiant son; and now that he had withdrawn, it was the Trojans, day after day, who were the victors. It seemed as though a god had doomed the Greeks to destruction.

Agamemnon first sent Ulysses to conduct his slave and the appointed animals for the sacrifice to her father’s home. Next he called upon two heralds to fetch the beautiful Briseïs from Achilles’ tent. They obeyed his command in fear and trembling. But Achilles banished their fears, saying: “Come hither, ye sacred messengers and peace be with ye. For ye are not to blame, but he who sends ye. He shall have the maid. Go, Patroclus, and fetch her out. Ye are all witnesses before gods and men that I have sworn never to lift a hand again for Agamemnon against Troy.”

They received the maid from the hands of his friend, Patroclus, and she went reluctantly away with them, often glancing sorrowfully backward toward the tent of her former beloved master.


Chapter II
Thetis Promises to Aid the Angry Achilles and Begs Jupiter’s Assistance—Juno is Angry—Agamemnon and the Other Princes Summon the Greeks to Battle

Achilles gazed gloomily after the men, then arose quickly and seated himself far from his companions on the beach, looking moodily out over the dark waters. He bethought him of his mother, Thetis, who lived in the blue depths of the sea, spread out his arms, and prayed to her for aid. She heard him and hastened to appear. Floating over the sea like a cloud, she seated herself beside her weeping son and tenderly caressed him. “Dear son, why dost thou weep?” she asked. “What troubles thee? Speak! Conceal nothing from me.” With deep sighs he related what had happened to him, begging his mother to avenge his wrongs and to intercede for him with Jupiter.


It was early on the twelfth day since Achilles had retired from the fray when Thetis rose from the dark waves and ascended the heights of Olympus. She found the mighty Jupiter seated on the summit of the mountain, apart from the other gods, bowed herself before him, embraced his knees with her left hand, and caressed his chin with her right hand. “Father Jupiter,” she said coaxingly, “if thou lovest me, grant me a boon and show favor to my son, who has but a short life to live. Give him redress against Agamemnon and let the Trojans prevail, until the Achaians shall be obliged to recompense him with redoubled honors, for this base insult.”

The father of the gods and men began dejectedly: “Thou wilt involve me in strife and enmity with Juno. Even now she quarrels with me and says I am aiding the Trojans. Leave me quickly, that she may not see thee, and I will grant thy request with a nod.”

The goddess descended from the shining heights of Olympus into the depths of the sea, while Jupiter arose and went to his palace. When the gods saw him coming they all left their places and went respectfully to meet him. He approached the throne and seated himself. But his jealous consort had noticed Thetis and began straightway to pick a quarrel with him. “Yes, I saw the silver-footed Thetis at thy knee, saw thy nod, and saw her depart content. Doubtless thou art about to honor Achilles once more, castigate the Achaians, and protect the insolent Trojans.”

“Thou art continually spying upon me,” answered the ruler. “But it shall do thee no good—I do as I please. Therefore sit still and be silent, for shouldst thou arouse my anger, all the immortals together could not save thee from my powerful hands.”


Thus spake the Thunderer, and Juno was frightened. All the gods were sorry for her, especially Hephæstus, the artist god of fire; for she was his mother, and he had already learned that Jove’s threats often received terrible fulfilment. He began in his mother’s behalf: “It is intolerable that thou shouldst quarrel over mortals. I admonish thee, mother, to bear thyself acceptably, that our father may be content and our feast be undisturbed.” He took his goblet, and handing it to his mother, said: “Be patient, dear mother, even though grieved at heart, that I may not have to look upon thy punishment. Once before when he struck thee and I attempted to restrain him, he took me by the heel and cast me down into the air, so that I fell for a whole day before I struck the earth, and I have limped ever since.”

The mother smiled and took the cup, and Hephæstus filled the goblets of the other gods. Then Apollo with his muses broke forth in sweet song, and thus the day passed among the immortals in blissful contentment. When Helios had put out his flaming torch, each went to his dwelling to rest. Jove was the only one whom sleep fled. He meditated anxiously how he might favor Achilles by defeating the Greeks. He sent a deceptive dream to Agamemnon, telling him to prepare for battle and that it would be easy for him to conquer the city. As soon as he awoke, Agamemnon told the other princes of his dream. The assembly was called together. Agamemnon was uncertain whether he dared call upon the discontented army, and wishing first to feel his way, he began to talk of their return. “Here we have lain for ten years,” he said. “The ships are rotting, the anchor ropes are mouldering, and we have as yet accomplished nothing. Indeed the gods seem to be against us. Therefore my advice is that we quickly put to sea and sail for home before the Trojans do us a greater mischief. You all must see that we cannot take the city.”


He had scarcely ended when the whole company rushed exultantly away to the ships, for all were anxious to return to their homes. This was more than the king had expected and he looked on in despair, while the other brave leaders gnashed their teeth. They were powerless to stay the tumultuous rabble until Ulysses, hurrying forward with quick presence of mind, admonished leaders and men to return to the assembly. “Do not be in such a hurry,” he would say when he met one of the princes; “hear the end. Thou dost not know the king’s mind yet. He but wished to test us, and woe to thee if the mighty king’s wrath overtake thee.” Then he drove the people back, and they came with a roar like angry waves breaking on a rocky shore. They knew Ulysses’ warlike spirit and feared he might advise renewal of the struggle. Only respect for his great authority moved them to return.


When all the princes were seated and order had once more been restored, Ulysses was about to take up the sceptre. Suddenly Thersites pushed forward. He was despised by the whole army as a quarrelsome, insolent fellow, who seldom let an opportunity go by to insult the princes, not excepting Agamemnon himself, with mocking, rebellious words. He was the ugliest of all the Greeks, having a lame foot, a deformed shoulder, a pointed, bald head, and a cast in one eye.

“What wilt thou now, Atreus’ son?” he shrieked at Agamemnon. “I should have thought thou hadst collected enough money and valuable spoils to have satisfied thy avarice. Dost thou desire still more? Must the Achaians still sacrifice themselves to fill thy insatiable throat? Are ye not ashamed, ye princes, to suffer such a king to lead ye to destruction? But ye are women or ye would desert him and embark without him.”

“Silence, foolish babbler!” cried Ulysses. “If I ever again hear thee slander one of us so shamelessly, true as I live, I will tear thy clothes from thy body and whip thee out of the assembly so that the whole camp shall hear thy cries!” Thus spake the hero, beating him about the back and shoulders with the sceptre, so that he cowered down and then ran away crying out.


The heralds now commanded silence as Ulysses again stood up to speak. Turning to Agamemnon he said: “Oh son of Atreus, how badly have the Achaians kept faith with thee. They promised not to return home until we had conquered Troy, and now they act like children. I do not blame anyone for longing for his home after ten years of absence. But just because we have waited so long, it were a shame to return when we are so near the goal. For we must succeed or all the signs of the immortal Jove are a mockery. Did not Calchas tell us, back in Aulis, how it would be? Do ye not remember the sparrow’s nest in the beautiful maple tree near our altar? I can still see the spotted serpent gliding up its trunk and swallowing the eight young birds and catching the frightened mother bird at last by the wing. We were all alarmed at the omen, but Calchas interpreted the occurrence favorably. He said: ‘The war shall consume nine years, but in the tenth, Troy shall fall.’ Behold, friends, the prophecy is about to be fulfilled, and will ye now flee? Wait but a short time until we have taken the proud city of Priam, and then let us depart laden with rich booty and crowned with immortal glory.”

Old Nestor next arose to persuade those who still hesitated. “That is right,” he said. “Let reason speak to you. Shall our great plans go up in smoke and shall our sacred vows to Menelaus and his good brother, Agamemnon, be broken? Indeed no! Lead the Achaians into battle, great king, and most of them will, I hope, cheerfully follow thee. Let the men be gathered together by tribes, that each may fight for his own blood. Then thou shalt clearly see whether the gods protect the city or whether it is the cowardice and ignorance of our army which defeats us.”


“Well spoken!” cried Agamemnon. “We must not rest until the fortress is taken. Jove will surely aid us. His flashing lightnings as we left Aulis are the surest pledge of this. The city would already be ours had I ten men in my army as wise as thou art, O Nestor, and alas! had Achilles not left us—Achilles, whom I have wounded so sorely. But come! Let everyone prepare for the battle. Let us quickly refresh and strengthen ourselves and then advance upon the city in a body.”

With these words he dismissed the assembly and the people streamed back to the tents to arm themselves and take some food. The king invited all the chiefs to join him at breakfast in his tent. Nestor, Idomeneus, the two brave Ajaxes, Diomedes, and Ulysses were there, besides his brother Menelaus. They took a steer, strewing sacred barley upon it, and while they all stood about it in a circle, Agamemnon lifted up his voice and prayed to Jupiter for victory. Alas! he did not know that the god had turned against him.

The drivers harnessed their horses, the warriors donned helmet and shield and took up their lances, and the heralds lifted up their mighty voices above the din, to call the stragglers together. Company after company, they assembled like a swarm of migrating birds. Then the princes hastily mustered the ranks and arranged the races and tribes as Nestor had advised. But the king called to them in a loud voice to fight bravely, and when all was in readiness they swept forwards with a din and outcry, like a flock of screeching cranes.


Chapter III
Meeting of the Armies—Menelaus and Paris—Agamemnon Leads the Greeks into Battle

The Trojan nobles were holding a council of war before the palace when Iris, a messenger from Jupiter, appearing in the shape of Priam’s son Polites, joined them. He came from one of the watch towers and brought the news that an incalculable number of Achaians was approaching. Hastily the council broke up, each chief going to assemble his people, that they might be ready to meet the Greeks before they should reach the city wall. In their midst were many heroes, but distinguished amongst them all for invincible strength and heroic courage were Hector, son of Priam, several of his brothers, and also Æneas, a connection of the royal house.


Masses of men now poured out of the open city gates and ranged themselves in long lines of battle. The Achaians advanced ever nearer, but could not be distinguished for the tremendous dust which arose before them, enveloping them like a cloud. When they came to a standstill the leaders at last recognized one another. In front of the Trojans marched the godlike Paris, wearing a leopard skin, his bow slung over his shoulder, his sword on his thigh, and swinging two javelins in his right hand. With mocking words he challenged the bravest Achaians to combat. His arch-enemy, Menelaus, was the first to hear him and his heart swelled with anger, while he burned to meet the robber of his honor. He guided his chariot toward him, sprang hastily down, and ran to meet him, eager as a lion to spring upon its prey. The handsome youth was frightened at his appearance and fled, vanishing among the throng of Trojans.

His brother Hector saw his flight and was indignant at the sight. “Coward,” he cried, “would that thou hadst never been born or else hadst died ere ever thou didst learn to seduce women! Now thou hast made a laughing-stock of thyself before both armies. I can only wonder how thou hadst ever the courage to go to a foreign land and there to steal away a beautiful woman. The deed has been the undoing of us all and brought eternal shame upon thyself. Menelaus appears quite different to thee to-day, I suppose, from what he did then? Had he caught thee, thy lute and curled hair, thy slender shape, and the favor of Aphrodite had availed thee little. Were the Trojans not a cowardly rabble thou wouldst long ago have paid the penalty for all thou hast brought upon them.”


Paris answered: “Thou art right, brother. But forgive me. Wouldst thou see me fight, bid the others cease and let me challenge Menelaus to single combat before the people. Then let whichever is the victor take Helen, with all the other treasures, that the Trojans and Achaians may part in peace.”

These words pleased Hector and he advanced, holding out his lance before the Greeks and calling upon them to cease fighting. The arrows of the enemy fell about him like rain until Agamemnon spied him and cried loudly: “Stop, men! Do not shoot, for he wishes to speak to us.”

Hector called out: “Hear me now, Achaians and Trojans! Paris, my brother, the cause of all this trouble, would also make an end of it and challenges Menelaus to single combat. Whichever wins shall take both Helen and the treasure and the death of the vanquished shall end the war. Ye shall all return to your homes and we will swear a bond of friendship.”

Menelaus listened, well pleased, and stepped forth to accept the challenge, only stipulating that a solemn pledge should be taken with all the customary sacrifices and observances and that King Priam should himself be present at the combat. All this was willingly granted.


In the meanwhile Agamemnon and Hector sent for the lambs and goats for the sacrifice. Priam was seated upon the city wall near the Scæan gate with the elders who were no longer able to go into battle, and there the message was brought him by a herald. Helen also received the message, which she heard with pleasure, hoping in her heart that Menelaus might be the victor; for she had begun to long for her former husband, her native city, and old friends. She hastily wrapped herself in a silvery veil of linen and hurried away to the Scæan gate, accompanied by two female attendants. The aged men at the tower were entranced with her beauty and compared her to one of the immortal goddesses. Priam welcomed her kindly, saying: “Approach, my daughter. Sit here beside me, that thou mayest see all thy dear relatives and thy former husband. Do not weep. It is not thy fault. It is the immortal gods who have sent us this unhappy war. But tell me, who is that stately man who stands out amongst all the others, so noble and commanding in appearance?”

“How kind thou art, gracious father, and how unhappy am I!” answered Helen. “Would I had died ere I followed thy son hither. That stately hero of whom thou speakest is Agamemnon, the powerful king of Mycenæ. He was my brother-in-law. Alas! would that he were now.”

“So that is Agamemnon!” replied Priam slowly, observing him with admiration. “But tell me more. I see one who is not so tall, but with broad chest and mighty shoulders. He has laid his weapons upon the ground and goes among the soldiers, from one company to another, even as a ram musters the flock.”

“That is Ulysses, Laërtes’ son,” said Helen; “a good soldier and the wisest of them all in council.”


“That is true, and now I recognize him myself,” said Antenor. “He came with Menelaus into the city, as ambassador from the Achaians, to make terms for thee.”

“But look!” cried Priam. “There go two others, who appear to be powerful kings.”

“Truly they are valiant heroes,” answered Helen. “The first is Ajax of Salamis and the other Idomeneus, king of Crete. He often visited us and Menelaus entertained him gladly, for he is an excellent man.”

While this conversation was going on, there came a herald to the aged king to announce that the chariot was waiting to take him to the battlefield. On their arrival in the midst of the two armies, Agamemnon advanced to meet the king, surrounded by the other princes. Heralds went among the company, sprinkling the hands of each with water; for none might perform a sacred rite with unclean hands. Then Agamemnon drew a great knife from his belt and sheared the wool from the lambs’ heads and the heralds gave a piece of it to each prince. Then Agamemnon lifted up his hands and prayed: “Father Jupiter, glorious ruler, and thou, Helios, all-seeing sungod; ye Streams and Earth and ye Shades who punish those who swear falsely, be ye witnesses of our vows and of this solemn treaty. If Paris vanquish King Menelaus, he shall keep Helen and her treasures and we will return to our country. But if he fall in the fight, the Trojans shall give up the woman, together with all the treasure, and pay us besides a fair tribute in this and future years. And should they ever refuse to fulfil this vow, I shall renew the war and never stop until I have received full satisfaction.” All took the oath and the king cut the throats of the lambs and laid them down upon the ground. Then each took wine and poured the first drops upon the earth in honor of the gods, saying: “May Jupiter thus spill the blood of him who shall first break the sacred oath.”


“Worthy men,” said old Priam, with tears in his eyes, “grant me leave to return home that I may not look upon the combat. Let Jupiter decide. He knoweth best the right.” With these words he was lifted into his chariot and Antenor drove him swiftly to the palace.

Hector and Ulysses, the arbiters of the combat, now measured off the ground and put the lots in a helmet, one for Menelaus and one for Paris, in order to decide who should first cast his spear. Hector shook the helmet until one of the lots flew out. It was that of Paris. The bystanders at once retired to a distance and seated themselves in a circle. Paris, in shining armor and carrying a heavy javelin, advanced from one side and Menelaus from the other into the middle of the arena. They shook their weapons fiercely and Paris was the first to cast his javelin. But he struck only the edge of Menelaus’ shield; the point was bent and the spear fell harmless to the ground.


Menelaus cast his spear with such force that it pierced the shield and would have penetrated his heart had Paris not quickly sprung aside. But while he was gazing in dismay at the wreck of his shield, Menelaus sprang upon him with drawn sword and had cloven his head in twain had not the thick helmet shivered the brittle blade. For the third time he sprang at Paris and seized him by the helmet to throw him to the ground, but at the same moment the chin strap broke and Menelaus’ arm flew up and he found himself holding the empty helmet in his hand. Paris took the opportunity to rush away and take refuge among the Trojans, and when Menelaus turned to cast his spear a second time at him, he had already disappeared. It was the friendly goddess Aphrodite who had saved him.

While the Greeks were loudly acclaiming the victor, Jupiter put it into the heart of a Trojan to shoot an arrow at Menelaus. Pandarus was the man’s name and Athena herself had put the arrow into his hands just as Menelaus passed under the city wall. But the wound was not dangerous and was quickly dressed by Machaon with a salve which he always carried about him. The victorious cries of the Achaians now changed to cries of rage. All condemned the treacherous act and called down the vengeance of Jupiter upon the Trojan people.



Agamemnon assembled his cohorts once more and hastened among the ranks encouraging, threatening. Brave Idomeneus he found ready armed amongst his Cretans. Next he mustered the tribes under command of the two Ajaxes, which were ready to go into battle. The next company that he met were the Pylians, under the command of young princes whom old Nestor directed. The old man was even now going about among the men, restraining the horsemen and placing the weaker in the middle, with the more courageous and experienced at the front and on the sides, and giving much valuable advice to the young leaders. Well pleased, Agamemnon hurried on to the Athenians and Cephallenians, led by Menestheus and Ulysses. He found the two chieftains conversing unconcernedly together and called to them: “Is this the interest ye take in the war? All the rest are armed and ready and would ye be left behind? Ye are always foremost at the banquet and now ye look on while ten companies of Achaians enter the battlefield before ye.”

Ulysses answered, darkly frowning: “What words are these, oh ruler? When hast thou ever found us tardy in battle? When the fight begins we shall not be far away, and thou shalt see the father of Telemachus at the front amongst the Trojan horsemen. Those were empty words thou spakest!” Smiling at his anger Agamemnon answered: “Noble son of Laërtes, thou needest no advice nor blame from me, for we are of one mind. Let it be forgotten if I have spoken harshly.”

He hastened to the next company, where he found Diomedes and Sthenelus standing together in their chariot, the former with sad and disheartened mien. “What, son of Tydeus!” he said to him, “thou seemest disturbed and art trembling. Thy noble father knew no fear. What deeds that man accomplished! His son is less heroic in battle, though more ready of tongue.”


“Speak not falsely, Atride,” answered Sthenelus, as Diomedes bowed respectfully under the king’s reproaches. “We boast ourselves braver than our fathers, for they led many foot-soldiers and horsemen to Thebes and failed to take the city, while we stormed it with but few followers. Do not praise our fathers at our expense.”

“Silence, friend,” interrupted Diomedes. “I do not blame Agamemnon for inciting the Achaians to battle. The fame and gain will be his if the war is ended gloriously, and his the disgrace and ruin should the Achaians be put to flight.”

With these words he sprang from the chariot, so that his bronze harness rattled, and began to arm himself for the fight. Agamemnon passed on. While he was mustering the right wing, the left advanced to the attack. They moved slowly and silently forward, enveloped in a cloud of dust. At last Achaians and Trojans met; shield rang against shield, lance broke lance. Now loud shouts arose, and mingled with the battle cries were heard the groans of the wounded and dying being dragged away by their friends, that they might not be trampled upon or subjected to the cruelties of the enemy. Above the din of battle rose the commands of the chieftains and the cries of the soldiers. Swords hissed through the air, spears whistled, shields rang against one another.


Hector, seeing his companions give way, called to them: “Forward, Trojan horsemen! Come, do not leave the field to the Argives. They are made neither of iron nor stone that our spears should rebound from them, and Achilles, the great hero, no longer fights in their ranks.”

The Trojans took courage at this and renewed the battle. Diores, the Greek, was stretched senseless upon the ground by a heavy stone, and just as his conqueror, the Trojan Peirus, had given him the deathblow with his spear and was about to strip his victim, Thoas the Ætolian rushed upon him with his sword and he fell across the body of Diores. But Thoas was obliged to flee in turn, for the Trojans ran up to carry off Peirus, and he had to seek other booty. It had been a hot day and horse and rider were panting.


Chapter IV
Continuation of the Battle—The Gods Take Part

The sun stood high in the heavens and the battle continued to rage with the greatest bitterness. Hector and Æneas, Agamemnon, Ulysses, and the other great heroes raged about the broad battlefield like beasts of prey. Diomedes was especially favored by Athena on this great day and laid many warriors in the dust. Among the Trojans, two sons of the rich and pious priest of Vulcan, Dares, spurred forward from the swarm of warriors against him. One of them cast his spear at the hero, but missed the mark, which but served to enrage the warrior. He grimly cast back at the youth and pierced him through the heart. His brother turned and fled and Diomedes quickly seized the handsome steeds and commanded his men to conduct them to the ships.


One could not tell to which side Diomedes belonged, for he was always in the midst of the fight. He was at last espied by Pandarus, the same who had broken the oath by shooting at Menelaus. He approached Diomedes stealthily from behind and shot a sharp arrow into his right shoulder, so that blood stained his coat of mail. “Come, ye Trojans,” he cried, “I have wounded the most formidable of the Achaians.” But the arrow had not penetrated so deeply as he thought. Diomedes sought his charioteer Sthenelus. “Friend,” he said, “come quickly and pluck this arrow from my shoulder.” As it was withdrawn, blood spurted from the wound and the warrior prayed to Athena: “Hear me, goddess, and as thou hast ever been my protector in battle, oh aid me now and let me slay the man who hath wounded me and boasts that I shall not much longer see the light of day.”

The goddess heard him and stanched the blood. “Thou canst return to the fight,” she said. “I have endowed thee with the strength and courage of thy father and will distinguish thee to-day above all other Achaians. Only take care not to oppose the immortal gods in battle, but attack all others courageously. If Jupiter’s daughter Aphrodite should enter the field, thou mayest wound her with thy sharp spear.” The goddess disappeared and Diomedes flew back to the foremost ranks with renewed ardor. Behind him came his followers, ready to strip his victims of their armor and to carry away the captured horses and chariots. Æneas called upon Pandarus and said: “Where are to-day thy bow and never-failing arrows? Here is a chance to distinguish thyself. See, there is a man who has slain many, and none of our warriors can prevail against him.”


“That is Diomedes, son of Tydeus,” interrupted Pandarus; “he must be under the protection of a god. Already my arrow has wounded him so that blood spurted from the place, and in spite of this he is again in the field wielding his deadly lance. I dare not aim at him again, for it is unlucky to contend with the gods. Besides, I came on foot to Ilium and have no horses or chariot.”

“Come, friend, take mine and learn what Trojan horses are. Here, take the whip and reins, while I remain on foot and watch the fight.”

“Do thou guide the steeds thyself, Æneas, for they know thee; else might Diomedes take them captive and slay us too. I will meet him with the point of my sharp spear.”

Together they mounted the handsome chariot and dashed toward Diomedes, who was driving across the field with Sthenelus. “Look!” cried Sthenelus. “There come two heroes making for us. Let me turn back, for they seem bold warriors, and thou art weary with long fighting and thy painful wound.”

“Not so,” said Diomedes angrily. “It is not my custom thus to flee. I will await them here, and if one of them escape, the other shall be my prey. Do thou follow me, and if I should wound them both, seize thou the enemy’s steeds. I know them. They are magnificent horses of the famous breed which Jupiter once gave to King Thoas for his captured son Ganymede. Hasten, for the chariot is already upon us.”


He swung himself to the ground and at the same moment Pandarus’ arrow struck his shield, and though it made him stagger, he shook the shield in Pandarus’ face and cried: “Do not triumph too soon, but rather take care that thou thyself escape death!” Æneas turned his steeds in terror, but he could not save his friend; Diomedes’ spear had struck him down. As Æneas descended to bear away the body, he too was sorely wounded. Sthenelus meanwhile led away the beautiful steeds and they were taken to Diomedes’ tents.

Aphrodite now approached her fainting son and her merciful arms bore him off the field. “It must be a goddess who has rescued him,” said Diomedes to himself. “But it can be none other than Aphrodite, who appears so unwarlike. Good, I will overtake her and attain undying fame.” He hastened after the goddess, swung his spear, and wounded her in the wrist, so that her clear blood stained the earth. The goddess screamed and let the warrior slip from her arms, but he was again rescued by Phœbus Apollo, who covered him with a dark cloud.

Diomedes still pursued the goddess with loud cries. “Retire, daughter of Jupiter, and leave the battlefield to men. It is bad enough that thou causest women to bring such misery upon the nations. Woe to thee shouldst thou come near me in the fight!” The goddess was terrified and fled as fast as she could. Iris came to meet her and conducted her to the edge of the battlefield, where Mars, the god of war, sat gloating over his work. A cloud surrounded him and concealed him from mortal eyes. “Dear brother,” said Aphrodite, “lend me thy horses that I may quickly reach Olympus. Look! A mortal has wounded me.” Iris took the reins and the horses flew swiftly away through the air.


Meanwhile Diomedes was still on the field seeking Æneas, and not until he heard Apollo’s threatening voice, “Take heed, son of Tydeus, and give way, tremble and do not strive with the gods,” did he desist and remember Athena’s warning. Apollo carried Aphrodite’s son to his sacred temple on the heights of Pergamus. There he healed and strengthened him, and the hero soon reappeared among his followers, who were amazed at the miracle. He at once plunged into the fight and slew many brave youths among the Achaians.

Apollo had meanwhile complained to Mars of the defeat of the Trojans and of Diomedes’ insolence in daring to attack the gods. The god of war, who inclined first to one side, then to the other, was persuaded to take part in the battle himself, and this time to support the Trojans. Concealed in a cloud, he strode first before Hector, then before another Trojan, and wherever he went the aim never failed. Diomedes, however, had been endowed by his friend Athena with the power to recognize the gods when they appeared amongst men, so that he was terrified, as he was about to throw himself upon Hector, to see the war god striding before him. He started back, and hastening toward the other Greek warriors cried: “Take care, friends, give way and do not contend with the gods! For Hector hath ever a god at his side. Mars is with him now in the guise of a mortal.” Diomedes, in awe of Mars, retired from the field, although the battle still raged. Hector slew two of the bravest Greek warriors and captured their horses. Ajax of Salamis looked grimly on, but did not dare attack him; he preferred to pursue a weaker man, Amphius of Pæsus.


The battle had begun almost under the walls of Troy, but the Greeks had been forced back nearly to the ships, and they began to lose courage. Juno and Athena now determined to protect their favorites; for had they not promised Menelaus to avenge his wrongs? They signed Hebe to hitch the horses to the splendid chariot. Athena donned her breastplate, put on her golden helmet, and took up her mighty lance and the shield called ægis. It was decorated with golden tassels and in the midst was the head of Medusa, the mere sight of which turned men to stone. Thus armed, she mounted the shining chariot, and Juno, standing beside her, guided the steeds. The gates of heaven, guarded by the Horæ, opened of themselves and the goddesses stormed the heights of Olympus, where the father of the gods was sitting in solitude looking down upon the confusion. “Art thou not angered, Father Jupiter,” spake Juno, “that Mars is destroying the great and noble Achaian people? Wilt thou object if I force him from the field?”

Jupiter answered: “To work! Set Pallas Athena upon him. She will soon discomfit him.”


Overjoyed at the permission, Juno turned the horses and in an instant they had descended to the field before Troy. They paused where the Simois flows into the Scamander and enveloped chariot and steeds in a thick cloud. Then they hastened to the side of Tydeus’ son, and in Stentor’s shape and with his brazen voice Juno cried out: “Shame upon ye, people of Argos, so glorious to look upon and so faint-hearted. When Achilles was among you, the Trojans scarce ventured from the gates, but now that the only man among you is gone, they push you back to the ships.”

Athena approached Diomedes where he stood beside his chariot, cooling the wound which Pandarus had inflicted. He was just beginning to feel the pain of it and could scarcely move his arm. He loosened the leather straps and pressed out the blood. “Shame upon you, son of Tydeus,” said the goddess reproachfully. “Thou art not as thy noble father. He was more eager for the fray and slew countless men of Cadmus’ race before Thebes. Thou knowest that I never leave thy side. Speak, how can fear have dominion over thee?”

“Goddess,” answered the hero, “for I recognize thy voice, neither sloth nor fear restrain me, but I remember thy command. I plunged into the thick of the fight and piled corpse on corpse, until I saw Mars, the terrible, who fights in the front ranks of the Trojans. I gave way before him and warned the others; for who shall fight against the gods?”


The goddess answered: “Diomedes, beloved of my soul, henceforth fear neither Mars nor any of the immortals, for I am beside thee. Turn thy prancing horses upon Mars and wound him boldly at close range, the unstable one.”

She then took Sthenelus’ place in the chariot, wearing the helm of Aides, which rendered her invisible even to Mars. She guided the chariot straight towards him. When Mars saw Diomedes approaching he turned towards him, and leaning over, was about to plunge his spear into his body, but Athena turned it aside, and now Diomedes gave him such a thrust in the side that a mortal would certainly have succumbed. He withdrew the shaft and Mars fled, howling like ten thousand men. Both Achaians and Trojans were terrified at the din and Diomedes was amazed at his own deed and saw with astonishment the god rise up into the sky. There he showed the painful wound to Jupiter and complained loudly of Athena.

But the father of the gods answered grimly: “Spare me thy whining! I despise thee above all the gods. Thou hast always loved quarrels and bickerings and art as stubborn and contentious as thy mother, Juno. But I cannot see my son suffer.” With these words he commanded Pæon, the physician of Olympus, to heal him. He placed a cooling balm upon the wound and Mars was healed, for he was immortal. Then Juno bathed him and clothed him with soft garments. As soon as the murderous Mars had been driven from the field the goddesses returned to the dwellings of the Olympian gods.


Chapter V
The Greeks are Successful—Hector Hastens to the City—Glaucus and Diomedes, Hector and Andromache

The day was declining, but once more the Achaians pressed forward with renewed courage, knowing that Mars was no longer on the field. The Trojans gave way before them, and soon they were near enough to see again the elders and the women upon the city walls. Hector and Æneas did their best to spur the soldiers to resistance, but without avail. Then Helenus, one of Priam’s sons, who had the gift of prophecy, spake unto Hector: “Dear brother, do thou and Æneas try once more to encourage the people. Then go and leave the battle to us. Hasten into the city. Tell our mother quickly to summon the noble women of the city to Athena’s sacred temple and there to lay her most costly garment in the lap of the goddess. Furthermore she shall promise to sacrifice twelve yearling calves upon Athena’s altar, if she will repulse that terrible warrior, Tydeus’ son.”


Hector carried out his brother’s bidding and while he was away the Achaians regained the supremacy. Nestor went busily about admonishing them not to waste any time in collecting booty, but only to kill, kill, kill. Afterward, he said, there would be plenty of time to strip the accoutrements from the slain. Diomedes the insatiable, panting still for fresh conquests, espied a man among the Trojans whom he had never seen before, but who appeared by his rich armor, his stature, and commanding mien to be one of the leaders. When they had approached each other within a spear’s cast, they both reined in their steeds and Diomedes cried out to the enemy: “Who art thou, excellent sir? I have not seen thee before, although thou seemest to be a practised warrior. Art thou some god? Then would I not contend with thee, for such rashness hath ever brought misfortune to a mortal. But if thou art a man like myself, advance, that thou mayest quickly meet thy doom.”


It was Glaucus, Hippolochus’ son, who answered: “Oh son of Tydeus, dost thou ask who I am? The children of men are like the leaves of the forest, blown about by the winds and budding anew when Spring approaches. One flourishes and another fades. My race is a glorious one. It sprang from the Argive land and my ancestors ruled the city of Ephyra. Anolus was the founder of my family; Sisyphus, his son, was that wise king whose son was Glaucus; his son in turn the glorious Bellerophon, endowed by the gods with superhuman beauty and strength. Who has not heard of his heroic deeds? He slew Chimæra, the creature with a lion’s head, a dragon’s tail, and body of a goat—a savage, ravening monster. Next he conquered the king’s hostile neighbors, gaining every battle. The king gave him his beautiful daughter and half of his kingdom. His two sons were Isander and Hippolochus, who is my father. He sent me hither to Troy and admonished me to excel all others and never to disgrace my ancestors.”

Diomedes planted his spear in the sand, crying joyfully: “Then thou art my friend for old times’ sake. My grandfather Œneus entertained the glorious Bellerophon in his house for twenty days, and on his departure they exchanged gifts in token of friendship. Œneus’ gift was a purple girdle and Bellerophon’s a golden goblet, which I have in my possession and often admire. Therefore thou shalt be my guest in Argos and I thine, if I should ever visit Lycia. So let us avoid each other in the battle. There remain enough Trojans for me and enough Achaians for thee to kill. But as a pledge of the agreement let us exchange armor that it may be seen that we are friends of old standing.” They descended from their chariots, shook hands cordially, and took off their armor. Glaucus got the worst of the bargain, for his breastplate and shield were of gold, while those of Diomedes were only of brass. However, he gave them up gladly. They then renewed their vows of friendship and drove rapidly away in opposite directions.


When Hector reached the Scæan gate he was surrounded by Trojan women inquiring for their sons, brothers, and husbands, but he could not stay to comfort them and hastened away to his father’s palace, where he sought out his venerable mother, Hecuba. “Dear son,” she began, “why hast thou deserted the battlefield to come hither? The cruel Achaians are pressing us hard. But tarry until I bring thee good wine, that thou mayest make an offering to the gods and then refresh thyself; for wine giveth strength to a weary man.”

“Not so, mother,” answered Hector. “Befouled as I am, how can I sacrifice to the gods? Not for this did I come hither, but to bring thee a message from Helenus.” Then he repeated his brother’s instructions and Hecuba hastened to obey them.

Hector meanwhile made his way to the handsome palace of Paris, where he found his brother turning over and examining his weapons. Helen sat by the fireside among her maidens, occupied with domestic tasks. “Strange man!” said Hector. “I cannot understand thy conduct. The people are melting away before the walls and this bloody battle is chiefly on thine account. Thou wert always bitter against the slothful and hast ever encouraged others to fight. Come, let us go, before the city is fired by the enemy.”

“Gladly will I follow thee, brother,” answered Paris. “Thy reproaches are just. I have been brooding upon my misfortune, but my wife has just persuaded me to return to the field, and I am ready. Tarry a while until I have put on my armor or else go and I will follow thee.”


“Dear Hector,” spake gracious Helen sadly, “how it grieves me to see you all engaged in this cruel war, for the sake of a contemptible woman like myself. O that I had been destroyed at birth or had been flung into the sea! Or, if the gods have destined me to such misfortune, would at least that I had fallen into the hands of a brave man, who would take the disgrace and reproaches of his family to heart and could wipe out his shame by heroic deeds. But Paris is not a man. Enter and be seated, Hector, for thou has toiled most arduously in my behalf and suffered most for thy brother’s crime.”

“Thy gracious invitation I may not accept,” answered Hector, “for my heart urges me to return to aid the Trojans. I beg thee persuade Paris to overtake me before I leave the city. Now I must go to my own house to see my wife once more and little son; for who knoweth whether I shall ever return?”

He did not find his spouse at home, but on the tower at the Scæan gate, where she was following the fate of the Trojans. As he neared the gate she came to meet him, the modest, sensible Andromache, and behind her came the nurse with the little boy. His loving wife took him tenderly by the hand and wept over him. “Thy courage will surely be thy death,” she said. “Take pity on thy miserable wife and infant son, for the Achaians will surely kill thee, and then I had best sink into the earth; for what would remain for me? I am alone. Hector, thou art father and mother and brother to me, my precious husband. Take pity on me and remain in the tower. Do not make me a widow and thy son an orphan.”


Hector answered: “Dearly beloved, I am troubled also at thy fate, but I could not face the Trojan people if I shunned danger like a coward. True, I foresee the day when sacred Ilium will fall, bringing disaster upon the king and all the people, and thy fate touches me more nearly than that of father, mother, or brothers. Thou mayest be carried away to slavery in Argos to labor for a cruel mistress. Rather would I be in the grave than see thee in misery.”

Sadly the hero stretched out his arms to his boy, but the child hid his face in the nurse’s bosom, terrified at the helmet with its fluttering plumes. Smiling, the father took it off and laid it on the ground, and now the boy went to him willingly. He kissed the child tenderly, and turning his eyes heavenward prayed fervently; “Jupiter and ye other gods, grant that my boy may be a leader among the Trojans like his father and powerful in Ilium, that sometime it may be said: ‘He is much greater than his father.’ May his mother rejoice in him.”


As he placed the child in its mother’s arms, she smiled through her tears. “Poor wife,” he said, caressing her, “do not grieve too much. I shall not be sent to Hades unless it is my fate—no one can escape his destiny, be he high or low. Do thou attend to thine affairs at home and keep thy maidens busily at work. Men are made for war, and I most of all.” He picked up his helmet and hurried away. Andromache went also, but often turned to gaze after her dear husband.

Paris overtook his brother at the gate. “Do not be angry, brother, at my tardiness,” he said. “My good fellow,” answered Hector, “thou art a brave warrior, but often indifferent. I cannot bear the scornful gossip of the people who are enduring so much for thy sake. But we will talk of this another time—perhaps when we shall make a thankoffering for the defeat of the Achaians.” Thus speaking they hastened towards the battlefield.


Chapter VI
Hector and Ajax in Single Combat—A Truce—Another Battle at the Ships

To the weary Trojans the appearance of the two heroes was as welcome as a long-desired breeze after a calm at sea to a sailor, and they soon made their presence felt. Pierced by Paris’ arrow, the excellent Menestheus fell and Hector slew the valiant Eïoneus. Many another who had believed Hector far away met death at his hands.

Then came his brother Helenus, the seer, and bade him summon a warrior from among the Achaians to come forth and fight with him in single combat. The gods had revealed to him that the day of Hector’s doom was not yet come. Immediately the hero ran to the front, and requesting a truce cried out: “Hear me, ye Trojans and Achaians! Jupiter hath brought to naught our agreement, and our quarrel has not been settled as we hoped. Let us now arrange a second combat. Send your most valiant warrior forth to fight with me. If he slay me, let him take my costly armor, but my body he shall send to Ilium, that my bones may be burned and the ashes preserved. Should the gods grant that I slay him, then I will hang his armor in the temple of Phœbus Apollo. But ye may raise a fitting monument on the shore, so that when his grandchild sails the Hellespont and passes the high promontory he may say: ‘That is the mighty monument to the brave hero whom Hector slew in the final combat.’”


For a while all was quiet in the Greek camp. Each was waiting for the other to offer himself, for it was a hazardous undertaking. At last Menelaus arose, overcome by a rising feeling of shame, and cried angrily to the other princes: “Ha! ye who can boast so well at home and on the battlefield are women, where is your courage now? It would indeed be our everlasting shame if none of the Achaians dared match himself with Hector. Sit still, ye cowards! I will gird myself for the fight. The victory lies in the hands of the immortal gods.”

He began to put on his armor, but the other kings, and even his brother, restrained him. “Stay, my brother,” said Agamemnon; “do not be in a hurry to take up the challenge. Some other valiant Achaian will doubtless come forward.” Menelaus reluctantly obeyed, and now old Nestor began to reproach the faint-hearted warriors. “Your hearts have no courage and your bones no marrow,” he said. “If I were like myself of old, when I slew the hero Ereuthalion, Hector should soon find his man.”


Abashed at Nestor’s well-merited rebuke, nine men arose and came forward. Agamemnon himself was among them and the two Ajaxes; the others were Diomedes, Ulysses, Idomeneus, and his charioteer Meriones, Eurypylus, and Thoas. It was proposed that they draw lots, and it fell to the elder Ajax, who was proud of the honor that had come to him. “I trust that Jupiter will give me the victory, for I am not unskilful and fear not the foeman; but pray for me that Jupiter may give me success,” he said.

Ajax now rushed forward to meet the waiting Hector. Truly he was no mean adversary, being a man of powerful build. His armor was impenetrable and it was this fact alone which now saved him from certain death. His shield was composed of seven layers of cowhide with an iron covering; helmet and breastplate were equally strong. According to the custom of the time, the combat did not begin at once and in silence, but the warriors first paused to taunt and revile each other.

Ajax cried out: “Now thou canst see, Hector, that there are still men among the Achaians who are not afraid to accept thy challenge, even though Achilles is not with us. I am but one of many. Come, let us to work!”

“Thinkest thou to anger me by thy defiance, son of Telamon?” answered Hector. “Do not deceive thyself. I know how to hurl the spear and turn the shield so that no bolt can touch me. My deeds bear witness to my words. Beware, valiant hero, I shall not attack thee with craft, but openly.”


At the same moment he hurled the great spear with all his might, and it pierced six of the leathern layers of Ajax’s shield before its power was spent. Ajax quickly aimed his own at Hector’s breast. Hector’s shield was not strong enough to withstand the blow; however, by a quick turn of his body, he prevented the point from entering his flesh. Both men now withdrew their spears from the shields and threw themselves upon each other. But Hector’s well-aimed blow only blunted the point of his lance and Ajax’s spear slipped on the smooth surface of Hector’s shield, wounding him slightly in the neck. Then Hector turned hastily to pick up a stone, which he hurled with all his might at Ajax’s head, but the hero warded it off with his shield. Ajax then picked up a much larger stone, which he threw, breaking Hector’s shield and wounding his knee. No doubt Hector would have attacked him once more had the Greeks themselves not interfered, sending forward a herald who separated the heroes, saying: “Warriors, it is enough. Ye are good fighters and beloved of Jupiter; that we have all seen. But night is falling and the darkness bids us cease our strife.”

“Very well, friend,” said Ajax. “Bid Hector lay down his arms, for he began the fight. When he is ready to stop, I also am willing.”

Then Hector said calmly: “Ajax, thou hast borne thyself manfully and some god hath lent thee strength and skill. Let us now rest and renew the fight another time, until death shall claim one of us. Go thou to feast with thy people, while I return to Priam’s city. But before we part let us exchange gifts that future generations may say, ‘Behold, they fought a bitter fight, then parted in friendship.’”


Thereupon he presented Ajax with his finely-chased sword with its graceful scabbard and Ajax gave him his purple belt. Thus they parted, each side welcoming his man with cries of triumphant joy. Agamemnon entertained the chieftains in his tent as usual and to-day he set the largest and choicest pieces before Ajax. When the meal was ended Nestor began: “Listen to my advice, chieftains. Let us pause to-morrow long enough to bury our dead. We will burn the bodies that each may gather the ashes of his friends to bear them home to his people. But here we will erect a great monument to mark the place where the brave warriors have fallen. I have also another proposal to make. What think ye if we should hastily construct a deep moat and a bulwark with a great gateway around our camp? Then we should be as safe in our tents as in a walled city.” The counsel of the old man was received with universal approval and Agamemnon determined to set to work at once.

The Trojan princes too were holding council to decide what they should do to force the Achaians to retire. Antenor, the wise, urged the return of Helen, but none would consent, not even Priam and Hector, to force Paris to give up his beloved wife. “I will gladly return the treasure which we took from Menelaus,” he said, “and give him plentifully of mine own, if that will propitiate the Achaians. But never will I give up Helen.”


“For the present let us be on our guard,” answered King Priam, “and to-morrow let Idæus go down and give Paris’ message to the Achaians and ask if they are not inclined to an armistice, until we have burned the dead and paid them funeral honors.”

Early the next morning Idæus went forth on his errand. He entered Agamemnon’s tent and delivered his message. The Greeks welcomed the proposal for a truce, but Paris’ offer was rejected with disdain. “Let no one take Paris’ property,” roared Diomedes. “We no longer fight for Paris’ wealth, nor even for Helen. Even though he should send her back, Troy shall fall, and truly the end is not far off!” Agamemnon and the other chieftains all signified their approval and the herald took the message back to the city.

Meanwhile the greater part of the Achaians were engaged in digging a moat and building a wall about the camp. The outcome showed that this precaution had not been unnecessary, for as soon as the battle was renewed the Achaians began to lose ground. Jupiter forbade the gods to take sides, and driving the celestial steeds himself, he descended from Olympus to Mount Ida, from whence he could observe the battlefield. The slaughter had begun early in the morning and already many Trojans had fallen, and still more Achaians, for the Trojans fought desperately.


A little past noon a threatening storm gathered on Mount Ida and the people recognized the presence of the father of the gods, for he alone had power over the flashing lightning. It was soon apparent whom he favored, for suddenly a terrible thunderbolt with blinding flashes struck the foremost ranks of the Achaians, so that all were panic-stricken and none dared remain on the field against the will of Jupiter. All fled to the ships, pale with terror. Nestor was about to follow, when an arrow from Paris’ bow laid one of his horses low, and if Diomedes had not come to his rescue, he would certainly have fallen a prey to the pursuing Trojans. Filled with renewed courage at the thunderbolts of Jove, which they took for favorable omens, they were like dogs on the track of the frightened flock. Hector called loudly upon his people to attack the wall and gave orders that firebrands be brought from the city to fire the ships. But the Trojans were dubious about attacking the Greeks within their fortifications. They were not well prepared for such an undertaking.

The Greeks now stood behind the wall, huddled close to the ships. The terrible thunderstorm had passed over and the sun shone once more. Agamemnon boarded a ship, where he might be seen and heard by all. The warriors were silent while he cried: “Shame upon you, sons of Argos, who in Lemnos boasted that ye would each fight one hundred Trojans! Now ye flee like frightened deer before a single man. Already Hector threatens to burn the ships. No wonder! It is your cowardice which makes him bold. Oh, father Jupiter, hast thou ever cursed a king as thou hast me? And yet how many fat cattle have I not offered up? On the way hither I did not pass by a single one of thy sacred temples where I did not stop to burn fat haunches in thine honor. Thou hast doubtless determined to destroy us here.”


Full of pity, the father of gods and men looked down upon him and made a sign that he would save the Danæans. He sent an eagle bearing a young deer in its beak, which it dropped as it flew high above the Greek camp, so that it fell palpitating before the altar of Jupiter on the ships. As soon as the Greeks saw this favorable sign, they pressed forward with fresh zeal into the Trojan lines. The heroes were like ravening wolves. Teucer of Salamis, who was skilful with the bow, remained beside his brother Ajax, who covered him with his shield whenever he was in danger. Every arrow hit its mark. Agamemnon looked on with delight, and clapping the youth on the shoulder, he cried: “Well done, my dear fellow! Thus shalt thou bring joy and glory to thy father in his old age. If the gods grant me the victory over Troy thy reward shall not fail—whether it be a tripod, a pair of horses and a chariot, or a beautiful slave girl.”

Soon afterward Hector’s chariot came galloping up. Teucer quickly set an arrow to his bow and aimed at the hero, but the missile went astray and Hector did not see the youth. Teucer shot another arrow, which pierced the charioteer’s breast. Hector sprang down, and just as Teucer was taking aim for the third time, a rock from Hector’s hand struck his breast and he sank on his knees. Ajax covered him with his shield until soldiers came up and carried the wounded youth away to his tent.


Juno and Athena, gazing sadly at the unfortunate outcome of the battle, ventured in their resentment to disobey the command of the father of the gods and go to the rescue of the hard-pressed Achaians. But Jupiter espied them and sent the gold-winged Iris to warn them to turn back or he would strike them with a thunderbolt that would shatter their chariot and teach them not to resist father and husband. Pouting, they obeyed, and in a rage arrived at Olympus and seated themselves in the great hall. Soon afterwards the mountain trembled at the tread of Jupiter, who entered the hall and seated himself on his golden throne with dark looks at his wife and daughter, whose glances were fixed defiantly on the ground.

“Why are ye so sad?” he began mockingly. “Ye did not remain long on the battlefield, meseems. Your lovely limbs trembled ere ever ye saw the fray. Truly ye would never have returned to the glorious home of the gods had my thunderbolt struck you. My power is far beyond that of the other gods. Even should they all come to measure their strength against mine, and if I stood at heaven’s gate and let down a chain to earth and all Olympus hung to the chain, ye could not pull me down. If I but raised my hand ye would all fly up. Even the earth and sea I would draw up, and if I should wind the chain around the peaked top of Olympus, the whole globe would dangle in space.”


Meanwhile night had fallen, which put a stop to further strife. Hector retired to the middle of the field and gave orders that the whole army should remain in camp lighting watchfires everywhere, so that the Greeks might not board their ships unseen and steal away. The old men and boys were to watch the city gates to guard against surprise.


Chapter VII
Agamemnon Advises Flight—Council of the Princes—A Deputation is Sent to Achilles

Fear and unrest prevailed in the camp by the ships, and even Agamemnon was no longer confident. He quietly called the chieftains to a council of war. “Friends,” he said, “I perceive that Jupiter is not inclined to fulfil the promise of his omens and no longer desires that I take Troy and lead ye home laden with booty. He has already destroyed many of us and our misery grows greater day by day. Surely he is but making sport of us. Therefore let us launch our ships and return home, saving at least those of us who are left.”

For a while the princes were silent. Then Diomedes sprang up and spake: “Do not be angry, O King, if I disagree with thee. It seems to me thou art faint-hearted, for none of us has given up hope. Truly the gods do not give everything to one man, and Jupiter has made thee a powerful king; but valor, the flower of manly virtues, he has denied thee. If thou art so anxious to return, very good; then go. The way is open and the ships are ready. But the rest of us will remain until we have destroyed Priam’s fortress. And if all others should flee, I would remain with my friend Sthenelus, for it is the gods who have brought us hither.”


All the warriors applauded this, and when Nestor had praised Diomedes’ words, there was no further talk of retreat. The venerable man now counselled that the walls should be carefully guarded and that watchfires should be lighted everywhere. He signed to Agamemnon to invite the friends into his tent, offer them refreshment, learn each one’s opinion, and to follow the best.

Nestor was the first to speak. “Great Atride,” he began, “if thou wilt consider when it was the gods began to compass our ruin, thou wilt admit that our misfortunes began on the day when thou didst unjustly insult and abuse, to our great sorrow, that most valiant man whom even the immortals have honored. We were all displeased and thou knowest how I tried to dissuade thee. I think that even now we had better seek to conciliate the angry man with flattering words and gifts.”


“Honored Nestor,” answered Agamemnon, “I will not deny that I was in the wrong. It is true a single man, if chosen by the gods, is equal in might to an army. But having offended I will gladly make amends and offer him every atonement. I will give him rich gifts and he shall have, besides, the maiden over whom we quarrelled. How glad I would have been to return her as soon as my rage had cooled. If Jupiter will but grant me the good fortune to destroy Priam’s mighty fortress, Achilles’ vessel shall be heaped up with gold and silver and he may select twenty Trojan women for himself, the fairest after Helen. And when we return to Argos I will refuse him none of my daughters, should he wish to become my son-in-law, and will present him with seven of my most populous cities as a wedding gift. Thus will I honor him if he be willing to forget.”

To this Nestor answered: “Son of Atreus, thou dost offer princely gifts which might well propitiate the proudest. Let us send messengers to him. Let them be Ulysses and Ajax and the venerable Phœnix, whom his father Peleus sent hither as his companion and friend. Let the heralds, Hodius and Eurybates, accompany them.”

The encampment of the Myrmidons was on the seashore and they found Achilles in his tent, apart from the others, playing the harp and singing of heroic deeds. His good friend and comrade, Patroclus, sat opposite him listening. Ajax and Ulysses entered first and Achilles immediately put down his harp and came towards them. Patroclus also arose to welcome his old comrades.

“Ye are heartily welcome, old friends,” began Achilles, “for I am not angry with you. Sit on these cushions and, Patroclus, bring a tankard and mix the wine, for we have honored guests here.”


After they had eaten and poured out a libation to the gods, Ulysses took the goblet and drank to Achilles with a hearty handclasp. “Greeting to thee, Pelide,” he began. “It is not food and drink we crave. But we are troubled that thou art not on the battlefield. The Trojans have pushed forward to the ships and nothing stops them. Jupiter has sent fiery tokens to encourage them and the invincible Hector is hard upon us with murder in his eye. Already he has threatened to burn the ships. Even at night he does not retire, but encamps on the open field and the whole plain is illumined by his campfires. No doubt he is now eagerly awaiting daybreak to destroy us, for he fears neither gods nor men.

“Hear what Agamemnon offers thee—gifts so costly that they would suffice to make any man rich and powerful. Ten pounds of gold will he give thee, and seven new tripods, with twenty polished basins, besides twelve magnificent horses and seven Lesbian slave women accompanying Briseïs’ daughter. And when we shall have conquered Priam’s city, thou shalt heap thy ship with gold and bronze and take twenty of Troy’s fairest women for thyself. And when we return to blessed Argos thou shalt be his son-in-law and he will honor thee as his own son. But if thy hatred of Atreus’ son is so great that thou canst not forgive him, then consider the dire need of the Achaian people, who are ready to pay thee honor like a god. Truly thou shalt earn great glory.”


Achilles answered him: “Noble son of Laërtes, let me open my heart to thee frankly. Neither Agamemnon nor any other Greek can move me to fight again for this ungrateful people. The coward and the hero enjoy equal reputation among you. Why should I risk my life for others? As the swallow feeds its young with the morsels which it denies itself, thus I have spent my sweat and blood these many days for the ungrateful Achaian people; have watched through many a restless night, fought brave men, burning their houses and stealing away their women and children. I have destroyed twelve populous cities in Troy by sea and eleven by land and always delivered the spoils up to Agamemnon. He remained quietly at the ships and took my plunder gladly, keeping always the greater part for himself. Although each chieftain received a princely gift, he took mine from me—the lovely woman who was dear to me as a spouse.

“Why did we accompany him hither? Was it not for the sake of beauteous Helen? Do we not love our women even as he? Let him leave me in peace and take counsel with thee, Ulysses, and with the other chieftains. For Hector shall never again meet me in battle. To-morrow I shall launch my ships, make offerings to the gods, and if thou wilt take notice, friend, thou shalt see my ships at dawn, floating upon the Hellespont. If Neptune favors me I may reach my native Phthia on the third day. There I have riches enough, so that I shall not need the gifts of the haughty king. No, should he offer me twenty times as much, and even a city like unto the Egyptian Thebes, which, it is said, has one hundred gates out of each of which issue two hundred men with horses and chariots in time of war, even then he could not persuade me until he had atoned for his insult.


“Let him find another husband, who is nobler and more powerful than I, for his daughter. Should I reach home safely, my father will choose me a noble consort, for there are many beautiful Achaian maidens who are not wanting in rich dowries. I long for Phthia and already I foretaste the joys of reigning over my father’s good subjects and enjoying a life of plentiful ease by the side of a gentle spouse. Life is worth more than all Agamemnon’s treasures, and once lost can never be regained.

“Dost know what fate my goddess mother hath revealed to me? Either I die young upon the battlefield and my name shall be imperishable upon earth, or I shall live to a great age without renown. Let it be as I have said, and if ye would have a word of advice from me, it is this: ‘Sail away before Hector burns your ships, for ye will never conquer Troy.’ Go, friends, and take this message to the Greeks. But, Phœnix, stay and return with me to our native land, if so it pleaseth thee; for I would not compel thee.”


They were all silent until the gray-haired Phœnix began to speak. “If thou hast determined to return, noble Achilles, how can I part from thee, my son, for thy father confided thee to my care? Thy splendid deeds have made me proud and happy; but now, forgive me, godlike Achilles, now thy obstinate and unreasonable behavior grieves me. Calm thy rage. A gentle disposition well becomes the hero, and even the anger of the gods can be placated. How often have we seen them appeased by sacrifices and penitential prayers. Yea, woe unto him who listens not to repentant supplication and who hardens his heart against the enemy who is ready to make atonement. Behold what gifts Agamemnon offers to win thee. What is the wrong thou hast suffered in comparison with this great honor? The ancient heroes of whom our fathers tell certainly were subject to fits of anger, but they also allowed themselves to be conciliated.”

“Phœnix, honored sire,” answered Achilles, “do not disturb my soul with lamentations; rather as my friend shouldst thou hate him who hath wronged me. But now repose thyself. As soon as dawn appears we will take counsel whether to go or stay.” With a secret sign he bade Patroclus prepare a soft couch for Phœnix.

Hastily Ajax arose, saying: “Let us be going, for we can scarce expect to persuade this hard-hearted man, and our friends are awaiting us anxiously. Cruel man, to cause all thy friends to suffer for one. How oft have anger and revenge for a murdered brother been forgotten when the murderer has offered gifts and tokens of repentance. But thou hast a stony and implacable heart in thy bosom, and all this on account of a girl. Oh be persuaded! We have come here as thy old friends.”


“Ajax, godlike son of Telamon,” answered Achilles, “thou hast read my soul. But my heart is full of bitterness when I think of the man who treated me so vilely before the Argives. Go and bear him the message. I will not take up arms until the firebrands of the Trojans fall upon my own ships. Terrible as he is, I think Hector will not venture near my tents.” Perceiving that their eloquence was unavailing, the ambassadors returned to Agamemnon’s tent. Phœnix, however, remained with Achilles.

The Greek princes were much cast down at the answer to their mission. Only Diomedes was able to keep up their courage by his unshakable confidence. “Atreus’ son,” he cried, “would thou hadst never implored help of the Pelide or offered him rich presents. He was proud enough before. Let him go or come; he will take up his lance as soon as his heart speaks. But do thou, King Agamemnon, as soon as Eos’ rosy fingers paint the sky, array thine horsemen and thy cohorts in front of the ships and place thyself at the front. Let us now to rest, for it is late and to-morrow we fight for our lives.”

All agreed. The goblets were filled once more, a libation poured out to the gods, and then they separated, each one going to his own tent.


Chapter VIII
Agamemnon in Battle—Many of the Greeks are Wounded

Morning had scarcely dawned when Agamemnon called all to arms, appearing in the foremost ranks clad in his most splendid armor and determined to fight more heroically this day than ever before. The great mass of foot-soldiers pressed forward in long lines shouting their battle cries, the war chariots containing the leaders following after them.

At last the two armies met and whole ranks of men fell like grain before the reaper’s scythe. For some hours each side held its own, but toward noon the Achaians broke through the enemy’s lines and forced them back. As soon as the ranks were broken and bodies of men began to scatter in little groups over the plain, the charioteers had room for action and dashed forward to terrorize the foot-soldiers.


Agamemnon was among the foremost, hurling his deadly lance continually at the Trojan princes. Two young and beautiful sons of Priam, both in one chariot, fell before him, and he took their accoutrements and horses. Next two sons of Antimachus came his way and received no quarter at his hands. He stood with bloody arm uplifted, swinging his lance, ready to strike down any who approached him. The Trojans fled in multitudes at the sound of his lionlike voice, and amid the wild confusion one could see frightened horses, with empty chariots trailing behind them, galloping back toward the city. Agamemnon and the other chieftains were relentlessly pursuing the flying Trojans, and as a lion following a herd of cattle will fasten his cruel claws into the necks of those which fall behind, thus the Achaians struck down many a fleeing warrior.

It was now Hector’s care to stop the rout and bring order into the ranks once more at the city gates. He implored, he admonished, he scolded and threatened, and thus drove them back again after a brief rest. Shamed by his words, the young princes sought out the most dangerous antagonists to show their valor. Iphidamas, son of Antenor, was even anxious to contend with Agamemnon himself, who, however, saw him coming and was the first to cast his lance. But the youth dodged the missile and ran quickly at him with his own spear and would surely have run him through had the brazen coat not bent the point of the weapon and broken the force of the blow. Agamemnon seized hold of the youth’s lance with his powerful left hand and forced both him and it down, while, with a sudden blow of his sword, he cut off the youth’s head. A servant soon stripped him and carried off the armor.


Koon, Antenor’s second son, who had seen his brother’s fall, called some of his companions together to avenge him. They approached Agamemnon unobserved and Koon cast his spear, which struck the hero’s arm, wounding him so that the warm blood spurted forth. The youth was triumphant, for although Agamemnon did not fall, he saw him stagger backward. He wished to make use of this moment to carry off his brother’s body, but as he was bending over it, Agamemnon’s spear entered his side, and before he could recover himself Agamemnon had sprung upon him and cut off his head. The hero then turned away and attacked another body of the enemy, slaying many. As long as the warm blood continued to gush out he did not notice his wound, but when it began to dry, he could no longer endure the pain and was obliged to retire from the field. He mounted his chariot, admonishing the Achaians once more to fight bravely, and then drove rapidly away to his tent to have his wound dressed.

His departure revived the sinking courage of the Trojans. Hector pressed forward and the Achaians, abandoned by their courageous leader, turned to flee, as the Trojans had done before. The young princes sought to measure their strength against Hector, but only paid for their temerity with their lives. Seeing this, Ulysses’ heart burned with rage. He called Diomedes and said: “Son of Tydeus, let us fight together against that terrible man. It would be a shame should plumed Hector take our great ships from us.”


“Gladly will I tarry here,” answered his friend surlily; “but much good will it do us, for Jove, the Thunderer, does not intend the victory for us, but for the Trojans.” However, they set forth together and plunged amongst the swarms of soldiers like two raging lions, driving them backward, as waves are whipped by the wind. Hector saw this from afar and quick as a flash he bore down upon them in his chariot, sprang to earth, and met the heroes on foot.

“Look,” cried Diomedes to Ulysses when he saw him; “there cometh our destruction. But let us stand firm, we will not flee.”

They stood awaiting him with their lances in position, and at the moment when Hector emerged from the crowd Diomedes’ spear struck his helmet with such force that he was thrown stunned to the ground. But the weapon had not wounded him, for his iron helmet was not broken, and before Diomedes had time to rush upon him with his sword, Hector had jumped up and plunged back into the crowd. Ulysses’ lance had missed the mark, and before the two had recovered their weapons Hector was safely on his chariot. Diomedes stamped his foot with rage. He now set upon the enemy more murderously than ever, and as he drove them back and was nearing the tomb of the old Trojan King Ilus, he was met by Paris, who stayed his mad impetuosity. Hiding behind a pillar of the tomb, he let fly one of his never-failing arrows, which struck Diomedes, pinning his foot to the ground. He saw the hero falter and stand still and sprang from his hiding place crying in triumph: “Ha! it was a good shot. But how gladly would I have pierced a vital part and taken thy life!”


“Miserable coward!” roared Diomedes. “Hadst thou met me in the open thy bow and arrow had helped thee little. And now thou boastest as though thou hadst conquered me, and it is but a scratch. It is as though a mosquito had stung me. Woe unto thee when I catch thee!” However, the wound was troublesome enough, for he could not stand on his foot, and Paris would perhaps have ventured to shoot a second arrow, if Ulysses had not come up in the nick of time. He placed himself in front of his friend and covered him with his shield, while Diomedes sat on the ground and drew the arrow out of his foot, which caused him sharp pain. He then called for his charioteer and drove back to the ships, his heart full of bitterness.


Ulysses remained behind alone, for his companions had retreated in terror, and now he found himself suddenly surrounded by the Trojans. He could not escape and resolved to sell his life dearly with the blood of his enemies. He met their attack like a wild boar at bay, and so savage was his onslaught that the enemy, surprised, stood still and none dared come near him. But when he had stabbed Charops, the noble son of Hippasus, his brother Socus, full of grief and anger, stepped boldly forward to avenge him, crying: “Murderous Ulysses, either thou shalt boast that thou hast slain both of Hippasus’ sons or thou shalt die by my hand!” With this he threw himself upon Ulysses with his spear and did actually pierce the shield and coat of mail, tearing the flesh and causing him to start back. But when Ulysses felt that the wound was not mortal, he quickly hurled his own lance, crying: “Miserable man, thou too art destined to fall this day by my hand!” Socus shrieked aloud, for the weapon had pierced clean through his breast.

On the other side of the battlefield the fighting was equally fierce. Hector and Paris were busy with spear and bow. Paris wounded the venerable Machaon, a good soldier and much prized for his surgical skill, for he had saved many lives. Therefore his friends were anxious about him and Nestor lifted him into his chariot and drove quickly away with him to camp. There they dismounted to refresh themselves in the cool breeze from the sea and to dry their damp clothing. Then they entered Nestor’s tent, where he bound up his friend’s wound and gave him food. While they were eating Patroclus entered the tent. Achilles had sent him to inquire who the wounded man was whom he had seen brought in by Nestor’s chariot. For Achilles was accustomed, when the Greeks were fighting, to station himself on the high deck of his vessel to watch the fray, not without regrets that he was condemned to idleness; often his hand would grasp his sword involuntarily. His joy over the overthrow of the Achaians was the sweetest revenge he had for his wounded pride.


“Ah, here is Patroclus,” cried Nestor. “Enter, friend, and sit down with us. I have not seen thee for a long time.”

“Do not press me, venerable sir,” answered Patroclus. “I may not remain, for I must take the tidings to Achilles for which he has sent me, and now that I have seen Machaon I must away. Thou well knowest how impatient he is.”

But Nestor continued: “We thought that Achilles was no longer interested in our fate. And hast thou, his friend and companion, no influence with him? Canst thou not win him with persuasive words and tame his proud heart? That was what thy good father expected.” Patroclus was moved by his words, and promising to do what he could, took his leave.

Once more the Achaians were obliged to take refuge behind the walls of the camp. Hector, followed by the victorious Trojans, drove all before him. When the greater part of the Achaians had reached the shelter of the gate, Hector gave orders that all the charioteers should leave their chariots and lead their bands on foot across the moat, for he was determined to climb or tear down the flimsy walls. Hector was successful, although there was a fearful struggle at the wall. The Achaians defended their last stand with desperate courage, while the Trojans were just as determined to accomplish their purpose of driving the enemy from their coasts and burning their ships that day.


Thus far Jupiter seemed to aid the Trojans, for a terrible gale arose which blinded the eyes of the Achaians with dust, though they still fought manfully on and Hector was not able to accomplish his purpose. Two Lycian youths, Sarpedon and Glaucus, met outside the wall, resolved to shed glory upon their people by their bravery and enterprise. They sought to break down the wall at a spot defended by Menestheus, and their first onslaught was so savage that the Greek looked about him for help. He sent a messenger to Ajax and Teucer to come quickly to his aid, and they came running up with spear and bow. Ajax threw a stone which killed Sarpedon’s attendant, who was already on top of the wall. Next Glaucus climbed up, but received Teucer’s arrow in his arm, which incapacitated him for further fighting. He got down very quietly, so that the Achaians should not observe his misfortune, pausing to cast one more spear, which did its deadly work. Then he drove back to the city.


At last Sarpedon succeeded in making the first breach in the top of the breastworks, and under repeated blows the rest followed. This made the wall so low at this place that the soldiers could shoot over it, and here the hottest fighting now took place. It was impossible to move Sarpedon from his position. After a long struggle Hector came up, saw the breach, and cried joyfully: “Forward, ye Trojan horsemen, break through the Argives’ wall and cast burning brands into the ships!” He raised a mighty stone in both arms, and although it was so heavy that two of the strongest men could not have lifted it or even have loaded it on a wagon with crowbars, Hector bore it as easily as a shepherd might carry a bundle of shorn wool, and with feet planted firmly wide apart, he hurled it with such force against the gateway that the bolts cracked, the hinges gave way, and the gate flew wide open. He sprang triumphantly into the intrenchments, followed by the shouting Trojans. The frightened Achaians hurried away to defend their ships. The cries and confusion were indescribable. The Achaians were in despair. Nothing remained for them but to save their ships, and placing themselves in front of them in long rows with lances set, they thus awaited the final onset of the Trojans.

Each now forgot his own distress and all worked together, and soon a solid chain of armed men surrounded the ships like a wall. Hector himself, like a mighty rock which falls from the mountain top and plunges from ledge to ledge until it rests upon the plain, could get no farther, but was obliged to pause before the wall of lances. He tried to encourage his men by promising them great rewards. Now they believed that the last decisive moment had come and that before night it would be seen whether the gods had determined on the destruction of the Achaians or of Troy. But Jupiter was but favoring the Trojans in order to please Achilles and his mother, Thetis. Fate had already decreed that Troy was to fall, and even the gods could not change this decision, for they too were subject to the laws of iron necessity. As soon as Agamemnon had been sufficiently punished and Achilles could be persuaded to join the ranks of fighting Achaians, the destruction of the mighty city was to be expected.


As soon as the Achaians had intrenched themselves they grew bolder and began a fearless attack. Idomeneus charged the Trojans, followed by his brave Cretans. As the hurricane raises dark clouds of dust between the battle lines, thus the ironclad cohorts moved hurriedly forward and threw themselves on a party of the enemy. Idomeneus himself sought an antagonist among the princes, and now he chanced upon Othryoneus, who had just joined the Trojans with his squadron and had a reputation for great bravery. He had wooed Priam’s most beautiful daughter, not with the customary gifts, but instead had promised his aid in driving the Achaians out of Asia. Priam had given his word, and the young hero was just beginning the struggle for the lovely prize when Idomeneus’ spear put a sudden end to his life.


The battle raged fiercest on the right side of the camp where Hector was fighting. He was determined, in spite of the heroes who opposed him, to capture and burn the ships. All the fury of war was displayed on this spot—rage, despair, revenge, wild cries, fear, horror, and flight. The ground was slippery with the blood of the fallen; there was now no time to remove the corpses of the slain. The Trojans were the first to lose courage. Even Hector dared not keep his post where Ajax, Ulysses, and Idomeneus stood together like a wall, but sought out weaker adversaries and contented himself by answering the challenge of the two Ajaxes with insults and boasts.

“Why dost thou seek to frighten the common soldiers?” called the elder Ajax to him. “Drive us back if thou canst! Thou wouldst gladly take our ships, wouldst thou not? But I tell thee that thy proud Troy shall sooner sink into ashes than our fleet, and thou shalt sooner turn thy face homeward in flight than triumph over us.”

At this moment an eagle flew high over the heads of the Achaians toward the right and, delighted with the omen, they had confidence in Ajax’s words. But Hector answered him defiantly: “Miserable boaster, what foolishness is this! Would I were but as certainly a son of Jupiter as that to-day will bring destruction upon ye all. And woe to thee shouldst thou stand before my spear! It would tear thy delicate body and give thy blood to the dogs.” He then dashed away with his band to enter the battle at another point. All were intimidated where he appeared, and the battle cries of the Trojans surrounding him rose high into the air.


Chapter IX
Agamemnon Consoled—The Gods Take Part in the Strife and the Trojans are Driven Back

The Greek heroes who had been wounded on the morning of this unlucky day and had been obliged to retire from the fight had remained in their tents in great discouragement, caring for their wounds. Nestor still sat with Machaon, and after he had tended him and given him food and drink he arose restlessly and said to his wounded friend: “My dear fellow, let me go and see what our fortunes are. The shouts of the warriors seem louder at the wall.”

He took a shield and lance and went out. Alas, what a sight met his eyes! The wall was half demolished, the gateway shattered, the Trojans inside the intrenchments, and such wild confusion prevailed that one could not tell friend from foe. He sighed deeply and considered for a moment whether he should go down into the turmoil or seek Agamemnon in his tent. He chose the latter course. But as he turned in the direction of the kings’ ships, the wounded lords, Tydeus’ son Diomedes, Ulysses, and Agamemnon, came toward him with slow steps, leaning on their lances and sick with wounds.


“Nestor, Neleus’ son,” cried Agamemnon, “whence comest thou and why didst thou leave the field? Alas, I fear that all will come to pass as Hector has threatened; that the Trojans will not rest until our ships are burned and our people destroyed. The Achaians hate and curse me as Achilles hates me, for it is I who have led them into this misery. No doubt they are now deserting or sitting brooding beside the ships.”

“What has been, even Jupiter cannot change,” answered Nestor. “But let us consider what is still to be done.”

“Then let me tell thee what I think,” said Agamemnon. “As we are at the end of our resources, my advice is that as soon as it is dark we launch our ships and sail away while the Trojans are asleep. Let them call us cowards! It is better to escape thus than to be destroyed.”

“What words are these, O Atride,” said Ulysses, frowning. “Thou shouldst have led an army of deserters hither, instead of commanding men like us, who have been taught from early youth to support the hardships of war unto death. What? Dost thou really intend to save thyself by stealing away like a thief in the night? Hush! That no one else may hear such unbecoming words!”


Agamemnon answered him: “Ulysses, I feel thy stern rebuke deeply, and I would not have the Argives launch the ships against their will. If anyone can give better counsel, let us hear it.”

Now Diomedes began to speak. “It is not far to seek if thou wilt listen to me. I am indeed the youngest here, but as well born as any, and I think Jupiter hath given me courage and strength for manly deeds. My advice, then, is that we return to the battlefield, not to fight, for our wounds prevent that, but in order to encourage the others.”

This speech pleased all and they followed him straight to the place of combat. Just as they arrived there they were met by Poseidon in the figure of an elderly warrior, who grasped the right hand of the ruler and said: “Take courage, brave Atride, the immortal gods will not be angry with thee forever. Thou shalt surely see the day when the Trojans will retreat in defeat to their city and their heroes fall before our lance thrusts.”

With these words the old man returned to the fight and with encouraging words spurred on the hesitating soldiers to renewed effort. His voice resounded over the battlefield like the shouting of a thousand men and the Achaians obeyed it. The princes gazed after him in astonishment, for his kingly figure was unknown to them. They suspected that it was a god come to encourage them. Through hatred of the Trojans, Poseidon was secretly aiding the Achaians contrary to the express commands of Jupiter. But it would have gone hard with him if the son of Cronos, who was looking down on the battlefield from Mount Ida, had discovered him at once. Juno contrived a scheme to prevent this for a while at least. She went to Aphrodite and said coaxingly: “Wilt thou grant me a favor, or refuse it because thou art resentful of my aiding the Achaians, whilst thou art for the Trojans?”


Aphrodite graciously answered: “Mighty Juno, speak. What dost thou desire? If I can grant it I will do so.”

Then Juno said cunningly: “Give me thy magic girdle of love and longing, which inclines the hearts of gods and men to thee. I wish to visit old grandfather Oceanus, who has quarrelled with his spouse Thetis, and try if I may not reconcile them.”

“How could I refuse thee my help?” answered the goddess. “Here, take it, and mayest thou be successful.”

Smiling happily, Juno took the magic girdle and hastened to her chamber. She bathed her delicate body, anointed it with ambrosial oil, and arranged her hair in shining ringlets. She then put on the fine long robe which Athena had woven for her, closed it with golden clasps on her breast, and wound the magic girdle about her waist. Beautiful earrings, a shimmering veil, and golden sandals completed the splendid dress. Juno now hastened over the heights of Olympus and across the mountains and streams of earth to Lemnos, where she found Sleep, the brother of Death. He was indispensable to her in carrying out the trick she had planned, so she took him graciously by the hand and said: “Mighty Sleep, who tamest gods and men, if thou wouldst ever do me a service, do it now and I shall be forever grateful. My son Hephæstus shall fashion thee an indestructible seat, whose cushions are always soft, and it shall be shining with gold and have a comfortable footstool for thy feet.”


A smile like a ray of sunshine lit up the god’s face. Nothing could have tempted him more. Yawning he asked: “What dost thou want of me, honored goddess?”

“Come with me and put the father of the gods to sleep for a short time,” she said. “And to make it easier for thee, I will beguile him with sweet speeches.”

“Thou askest a hard thing,” answered Sleep. “Anyone else I would dare approach, even ever-flowing old Oceanus; but Jupiter, the Terrible, I cannot venture near unless he calls for me himself. Only remember how he raged the time I deceived him at thy behest, when thou didst pursue his dear son Hercules with storms, with intent to imprison him on the island of Kos. All Olympus trembled at his wrath, and I should have been lost had Night not protected me out of friendship.”

Juno replied: “Dost thou suppose the father of the gods cares as much for the Trojans as he did for his dear son? No indeed! As thy reward I promise thee for thy wife the fairest of the Graces, whom thou hast so long desired.”


“Then swear it,” cried Sleep, overjoyed, “that I may trust thee, and I will do thy bidding instantly.”

The goddess touched the earth with one hand and the sea with the other and swore by the River Styx and by the gods of the underworld. Then they both passed over the sea to Phrygia. Juno went straight up Ida, while Sleep, in the form of a nighthawk, slowly circled about the mountain top and hid himself in the branches of a tall pine tree.

When Jupiter saw his consort he was greatly astonished. His dear wife had never appeared so lovely to him before. She had Juno’s eyes, but Aphrodite’s soulful glance; Juno’s voice, but the words seemed to come from the heart of the goddess of love. The masterful, rebellious Juno, become gentle, kind, tender, and modest, so surprised him that he immediately forgot all his past grievances against her and gave himself up to the sweet delusion that this change would last forever. And now Juno became so confiding and affectionate that her lord forgot the Trojans and in looking at her his back was turned to them, so that he could not see his disobedient brother Poseidon. At last she made secret signs to the bird lurking in the pine branches to encompass the happy one with his outspread wings, and he was soon peacefully at rest. Sleep then flew quickly down to Poseidon to tell him that Jupiter was slumbering and that it was now time to aid the Achaians in earnest.


Then the sea god in the shape of an old warrior went up and down the ranks preaching courage. Under his leadership the people charged forward like a hurricane beating against a forest. Many men fell, most of them Trojans. Hector knew not that a god was opposing him, so he did not give way and still expected victory. But he soon met his doom. He had just cast his lance in vain at Ajax, and was about to pick up a stone, when Ajax quickly hurled a great piece of rock, which struck the hero under his shield and he fell back breathless. Shield and stone dropped from his hands and he tumbled over in the sand. Ajax and his friends were about to come up and strip him, but at this moment the bravest Trojan princes, Æneas, Polydamas, Agenor, and the valiant Lycians, Sarpedon and Glaucus, surrounded him, all covering him with their shields at once, until some of the servants lifted him on their shoulders and carried him to his chariot. When the chariot crossed the ford of the little River Scamander or Xanthus, the friends lifted down the moaning and still unconscious hero, laid him on the ground, and sprinkled him with water. He revived, opened his eyes, and wanted to arise, so they took hold of his arms and lifted him to a kneeling position. A stream of dark blood burst from his lips and he sank into unconsciousness again.


The news of Hector’s fall was greeted with loud rejoicing in the Achaian army. Their old courage returned and Poseidon’s presence worked wonders of heroism. The Trojans retreated farther and farther and few of the leaders fought alone. Victory now inclined toward the side of the Achaians, for Hector lay wounded on the banks of the Xanthus and the gods no longer fought for Troy. Thus the Trojans soon found themselves again near the city walls and even forced behind them.


Chapter X
Jupiter’s Message to Poseidon—The Battle for the Ships

Jupiter awoke and rubbed his eyes. His first glance sought the ships. How changed was the situation! “Ha, Juno,” he cried angrily, “this is thy work, deceitful, malicious woman! So that was the meaning of thy caresses, thy friendliness and sweet talk, false serpent. Of what use is it to chastise thee? Hast thou already forgotten thy punishment when thou didst send a storm to drive my son Hercules into imprisonment on Kos and I made thee swing on a chain twixt heaven and earth with an anvil fastened to each foot? Suppose that now I were to—”

“Heaven and Earth are my witnesses, and I will even swear it by the Styx, that Poseidon did not go into the battle at my behest,” said the affrighted goddess. “I do not know whether the Achaians have persuaded him to it or his own heart. Rather would I counsel him to go whithersoever thou commandest.”


The father of gods and men answered, smiling grimly: “If thou wert of my mind, regal Juno, Poseidon would certainly soon change his course. But now call Iris quickly and Apollo of the bow, that they may descend and command Poseidon to leave the battlefield and return to his palace.”

The lily-armed Juno willingly obeyed, though she still meditated mischief in her heart. She drove quickly to high Olympus, where she found the immortals in the banquet hall. Craftily she spoke to them. “It is useless to seek to change Jupiter’s decrees,” she said. “Little he cares for us, for he feels himself high above us all in strength and power. Only just now I saw Ascalaphus, the beloved son of mighty Mars, slain in battle.”

“Do not blame me, ye dwellers in Olympus, if I go to avenge the death of my son,” wailed Mars; “even though the bolt of the Thunderer strike me down.” He rushed from the hall and donned his shining armor, appearing greater and more terrible than ever.

Incalculable mischief would have followed if Athena, concerned for the rest of the gods, had not hurried after him and taken his helmet, shield, and lance from him by force. “Imbecile,” she cried, “wouldst thou destroy us all? Woe unto us if he should see thee, the terrible Jupiter! Thy son was but a mortal and other noble warriors have fallen; it is impossible to save them all from death.” With these words she forced her angry brother back to the throne and he obediently submitted to her warning.


Apollo and Iris flew quickly down to the green summit of Ida, where Jupiter sat enveloped in dark clouds. Iris he sent with a stern message to Poseidon and his beloved son Apollo to Hector to strengthen him with his divine breath. “Then lead him into the battle once more,” said Jupiter, “and aid him thyself to drive the Achaians on board their ships. Take the terrible ægis in thy hand and shake it, that their hearts may quake.”

Iris delivered her message to the sea god and he answered it defiantly. “Powerful as he is, I call that tyrannical. To combat my will—mine, who am his equal! For are not he and Pluto and I brothers, and were not the upper and under worlds divided equally between us? We cast lots; air fell to him and water to me, but earth and sky are free to us all, and he shall not stop me here. Let him rule his consort and his sons and daughters. What care I for his threats or commands!”

Then Iris said doubtfully: “What, dark-haired World-power! Shall I take Jupiter thy answer in just those words, or wilt thou not change thy mind? It is well to keep the peace and respect is always due the elder.”

“Iris, exquisite goddess,” answered the angry king, “thou speakest sensibly and with reason, but it was righteous anger overcame me, for no brother should rule another. Now that I come to think it over, I know I had best obey him. But tell him this—that if, contrary to the wishes of all the other gods, he protects Ilium’s fortress and gives not the victory to the Achaians, he may expect our eternal enmity.”


He spoke, left the battlefield, and plunged into the sea. Meanwhile Apollo had appeared to Hector, saying: “Be comforted, son of Priam, for Jupiter sends me to save thee. I am Phœbus Apollo, who hath so often protected thee and thine. Follow me, that we may scatter the Achaians.” Thus the god encouraged the shepherd of the people, and like a colt which has broken its halter and gallops after the other horses to the pasture, he hastened into the battle turmoil. The reappearance of the hero caused astonishment and consternation among the enemy, and as the invisible Apollo shook the shield of Jupiter, the mighty ægis, fear and horror took complete possession of the people, and turning they fled back to the ships. The battle raged fiercer than before, and many brave men fell there.

Then Hector called aloud: “The time has come, brave Trojans, to board the ships. Let all keep together. Let no one tarry to gather booty, and if one remains behind, he shall die by my own hand.” He urged his horses across the moat, and the others followed him with exultant cries. When they reached the ships they paused and prayed aloud to the gods for victory. A long roll of thunder presaged good fortune, and with redoubled courage they charged forward. Hector tried to board a vessel, but in vain. The Achaians, from the deck, thrust back everyone who made the attempt with their long oars, and where Hector fought there were always to be found gathered together the bravest warriors. The Trojans, with their double-edged lances, fought in their chariots, but the Achaians, from the high decks of their dark vessels, used long, ironbound oars.


While the battle raged between the wall and the ships Patroclus was sitting in Eurypylus’ tent nursing his wounded friend. But he dared not remain long, for fear of arousing Achilles’ anger. He felt that he must see how his friends were faring, and his heart urged him to persuade Achilles to come to the rescue of the Achaians at last. He left the tent and gazed with horror upon the dreadful battleground. He saw Hector rush forward with a flaming torch and try to fire a ship, but the Achaians turned aside the fatal missile. Ajax of Salamis stood upon the deck and thrust down with his lance all who bore a burning brand. Hector aimed his javelin at him, but it struck Lykophron, who stood beside him. Ajax then called upon Teucer: “Look, brother, our friend has fallen by Hector’s hand! Where is thy avenging arrow?”

Teucer hastily climbed up with his bow and with the first arrow struck Klitus from his chariot. He then selected a second and sharper arrow for Hector and, as he was quite near to him, would doubtless have pierced him had the cord of his bow not broken just as he was in the act of drawing it. “Woe is me!” he cried. “A god brings all our attempts to naught and must have broken this cord, a newly twisted one, which I put on this morning.”


Hector had seen the accident, accepted it as a favorable omen, and cheered on his men. “Let everyone fight with all his might, for the Olympian Jove is with us. And if ye fall it shall be a glorious death for the women and children of Troy, and surely the Trojans shall recompense ye as soon as the Achaians are driven away.”

Where Hector rushed in, the troops huddled together like a herd of sheep before a wolf. None dared defend himself, but bowed his head in terror, and trembling, received his deathblow with averted face. The hero’s fluttering plumes were like a lion’s mane and his eyes flashed fury under his dark brows. Fear and shame kept the Achaians together. They continually encouraged one another. Nestor particularly besought the people to make one last attempt.


Among the Achaian leaders the most notable courage was shown by the Telamonian Ajax. He ran from one ship to another to encourage the soldiers, who could scarcely be forced to make another stand. A Trojan brought Hector a torch, which he threw into the foremost of the deserted ships. The sight drove the Achaians to desperation. They all rushed forward to defend the ship and a horrible struggle took place. Battle axes, swords, and lances hissed through the air and much blood flowed. Hector clung to the ship and shouted: “Bring up the firebrands! Jupiter has given us the day and we shall certainly take the ships.” And “fire! fire!” echoed through the entire army, so that all the Achaians trembled. Ajax himself could make no headway, but standing on one of the ships, he threw lance after lance at everyone he saw approaching with fire. His voice was never silent, but rose continually above the din, calling to his people: “Friends, keep up your courage and show yourselves men! Is there any help but in yourselves or is there another wall behind you? Do ye know of other ships, if these are burned, to carry you over the sea? Your deliverance depends solely upon yourselves!”

Fruitless zeal! The rattling spears of the enemy drove them to flight more convincingly than the voice of the lone leader to the attack. Their strength was broken.


Chapter XI
Patroclus Hastens into Battle and Scatters the Trojans—Hector and Patroclus

Profoundly grieved at the sad fate of his comrades, Patroclus turned from the bloody spectacle and hurried to Achilles’ tent. Hot tears were rolling down his cheeks as he entered. Achilles, dismayed, forgot to rebuke him and inquired with concern: “Why dost thou weep, Patroclus? Speak, tell me all!”

Sighing deeply, Patroclus replied: “Son of Peleus, thou mighty hero of the Achaians, do not be angry with me if I tell thee that the Achaians are suffering too great misery. All over the field and at the ships their bravest warriors have fallen, and but few of the princes remain unharmed. Diomedes has been shot through the foot and Agamemnon through the arm; Ulysses is wounded in the side and Eurypylus received an arrow in his thigh. The deserted soldiers are panic-stricken and thou, obstinate one, wilt not take pity on them. Cruel man! Thou art so brave and yet thou wilt not raise thy hand to save thy despairing friends. May a god never be angry with me as thou art angry. Surely Peleus is not thy father nor a goddess thy mother. The dark sea depths or adamantine rocks must have brought thee forth, so unfeeling is thy heart. Or is it that thou obeyest some secret command of the gods and darest not take part in the battle? Then, at least, send me and give me thy Myrmidons that I may perchance drive back the Trojans from the ships. Lend me thy armor that the Trojans, deceived, may retreat and the Achaian warriors take fresh courage.”


“No behest of the gods restrains me,” replied Achilles, “nor is it my purpose to be angry forever. As soon as the Trojans approach my tents and ships, I shall gird on my sword and spear, and woe to him whom I shall meet! But until then, let Agamemnon bitterly repent his outrage and promise expiatory sacrifices to all the gods. But I shall not allow the Trojans the pleasure of destroying the ships. Therefore go, as thou desirest. Lead the Myrmidons into battle, for the danger is great. Diomedes no longer shakes his mighty spear and I do not hear the hated Agamemnon’s valiant battle cry; instead, Hector’s lionlike voice penetrates my tent, with the loud rejoicing of the Trojans. Take my resplendent armor, but listen well to what I say. Thou mayest drive the Trojans from the ships and back to the intrenchments, but pursue them no farther. Take care not to allow thyself to be enticed into an open battle, nor still less dare to storm Troy’s fortress without me, for mine must be the glory, that the Achaians may learn whom they have insulted.”


With these words he climbed to the upper deck of his ship to reconnoitre. And how horrified he was to see Protesilaus’ ship in flames, Hector still advancing, and the Achaians giving way. “Hurry, hurry, Patroclus!” he cried and smote his thigh with impatience. “The ships are already burning! Put on the armor quickly, while I gather the Myrmidons.” There were more than two thousand of them, splendid warriors of great strength and stature. At their leader’s call they assembled under arms. Achilles divided them into five companies, to each of which he gave a leader of proven courage and experience. Meanwhile Patroclus bade Automedon bring forth Achilles’ chariot and horses, with a second one for emergencies. Then he put on the shining armor, placed on his head the great helmet with its crest of waving horsehair, and took two lances, but not that of Achilles, for no other living mortal could wield that.

Thus armed he sprang into the chariot beside Automedon, who was waiting, whip in hand. Then Achilles went to the chest which his mother had given him, filled with cloths and warm garments, and took out of it a precious golden goblet from which he was accustomed to make sacrifice to the greatest of the gods alone. He dipped it in the sea, washed his hands, then filled the goblet with clear wine, and with it in his hands went to the door of his tent. “Father Jupiter, ruler of the world,” he prayed, while he poured the first drops on the ground in honor of the god, “hear me now as thou didst hear me when I was honored before the Achaians. Grant that my friend may return to me covered with glory, and fill his heart and the hearts of his companions with courage, that they may make an end of the Trojans at the ships, and that Hector may learn that Patroclus knows how to order the battle even if I am not with him.”


The appearance of Patroclus and his followers was like sunshine after a shower to the Achaians. The Trojans were frightened, for they thought that Achilles had come forth again, and even without him the advent of two thousand fresh warriors was matter enough for concern. When Achilles’ band made a dash for Protesilaus’ burning ship, not a Trojan stood his ground. The space about the ship was cleared by the Myrmidons and they quenched the fire which had already destroyed half of the ship. But the battle was by no means at an end. The leaders of the Trojans rallied their forces inside the intrenchments and put them in order once more. Patroclus did his friend credit; he was indefatigable and himself slew many of the boldest warriors. The other Achaian leaders joined him and new life and hope filled every breast.


The Trojans could no longer maintain their position inside the intrenchments. Hector was the first to reach the open plain with his chariot, but many another who tried to follow him was crushed in the throng. But the rout would not have been so general had Patroclus remembered Achilles’ instructions. But his success, the suddenness of the victory, and particularly his secret desire to kill Hector, misled the zealous man to pursue the fleeing enemy. He jumped from his chariot, which he instructed to have follow him, and hurried after his victims. Now he overthrew Pronous and took his armor; next he slew the charioteer Thestor and took his likewise. With a stone he crushed the head of Euryalus, who was about to attack him, and many others were struck down by his mighty arm. Not a Trojan was able to withstand Patroclus. The foolish man! Had he but remembered Achilles’ warning he might have escaped death; but Jupiter’s decree is mightier than man.

A few hours earlier the Trojans had broken down the enemy’s wall and now the Achaians were seeking to conquer the lofty walls of Troy’s fortress, and Patroclus himself was ambitious of being the first to enter the city. But Hector plucked up courage and commanded his charioteer to drive straight at the leader. As soon as he saw him coming, Patroclus left the wall and ran furiously to meet him, holding his lance in his left hand and in the right a stone which he had hastily picked up. This he threw with all his might at the two tall men in the chariot, and behold, it struck the good Kebriones, Priam’s son, and crushed his skull, so that his body fell abruptly across the chariot seat. Patroclus cried out maliciously: “See how hasty the man is! There are splendid divers among the Trojans. If he could but have tried his luck in the water, instead of in the sand, he would have caught plenty of oysters to satisfy his hunger.”


He sprang upon the wounded man to take his arms, but Hector jumped from his chariot and seized his brother’s head. Patroclus took his feet and the two men struggled for the body. A crowd of Trojans and Achaians came to their aid, and spears, shields, and naked swords rattled noisily against one another. The Trojans defended Hector as well as they could, but while he struggled for the body, none could get near him. However, a bold Trojan seized a favorable opportunity, and with a powerful blow of his sword, knocked off Patroclus’ helmet, cutting the strap of his shield at the same time, so that it fell to the earth. The hero started back and let go the corpse, but as he turned, Euphorbus stabbed him in the back. He tried to escape, but Hector laid him low with his heavy lance. The Achaians trembled, and even the most courageous of them lost their heads, and none dared interfere as Hector, bracing his foot against the body, drew out his spear, then stripped off the armor. It was now Hector’s turn to mock at the dying man and he cried: “Well, Patroclus, dost thou still expect to lay waste our city and carry off our women? One could see thou hadst great deeds in mind. No doubt Achilles bade thee not return without Hector’s bloody coat of mail. Now, poor man, thou liest here and givest me thy fine armor, but thee I give to the dogs and birds of prey for food.”


Faintly the dying man answered him: “It is a foolish boast, Hector. Thou camest, when I was defenseless and wounded, to rob me. In open conflict I could have slain twenty like thee, but a boy could have done what thou hast done. But vengeance is approaching and when it comes, think of me. The godlike Achilles still lives.”

“Spare me thy prophecies and die,” replied Hector. “Who knoweth but Achilles, like thee, may give up his soul at the point of my spear?” With these words he left the dying man and carried the splendid armor to a place of safety, then went back into the fray.


Chapter XII
The Fight for Patroclus’ Body—Achilles Mourns for His Fallen Friend—Thetis and Vulcan—Achilles’ Shield

Hector next roved about seeking to capture the splendid steeds of Achilles with which Patroclus had entered the field, but he could not come near them, for Patroclus’ charioteer, Automedon, was already far distant. Meanwhile the space about Patroclus’ body was deserted except for Menelaus, who stood guard beside it, covering it with his shield until some of his comrades should come up to bear it away to the ships. He was spied by Euphorbus, brother of that Hyperenor who had fallen by Menelaus’ hand the day before. He approached within a spear’s cast and called to him: “Son of Atreus, stand back from the dead! Thou shalt not give honorable burial to this destroyer who hath slain so many of us. Back, before I rob thee of thy sweet life!”


“Great Jupiter,” cried Menelaus, “did one ever hear such insolence! Only yesterday thy brother Hyperenor was equally bold, but I believe he has paid the penalty, for he can scarcely have returned to his dear wife and old father on his own feet. The same fate awaiteth thee, if thou approach nearer. I advise thee to escape while thou canst.”

“It is for my brother’s sake that I would fight with thee,” cried Euphorbus. “How delighted shall my father be when I bring him thy bloody armor in token of vengeance. But why do I waste time in talk? Let us try our skill.”

As he spoke he ran at Menelaus full tilt with his lance, but the point bent like lead against the shield and did not even scratch it. Then Menelaus ran him through with his own spear and the slender youth fell, as a tender sprout of olive is uprooted by the wind. His long waving hair was bathed in blood and he, who but a moment before had bounded among the ranks of warriors like a deer, lay unrecognizable. Menelaus was about to take his armor when he saw Hector at a distance, and not caring to face him he left Patroclus’ body and ran to fetch the elder Ajax, that together they might protect their friend from the thieving hands of the Trojans.


Then Glaucus spoke sullenly to Hector. “Thou art a great boaster, but never have I seen thee at the post of danger, nor attempting to defend or avenge any of thy comrades. The heroic Sarpedon, who sacrificed so much for thee, was left to his fate, and no one knoweth where he fell. Do the Lycians deserve this at thy hands? If thou art so ungrateful and no honor is paid a fallen hero, then mayest thou fight thy battles alone and I will take my Lycians home. If ye Trojans were men of courage and decision, ye would carry off the body of Patroclus to a place of safety. Doubtless the Achaians would then offer the body of Sarpedon and his weapons in exchange and even more. But thou fleest the battle like a coward, fearing Ajax, who is, indeed, quite another sort of man.”

Darkly Hector gazed at him and began: “Ah, my friend, I have always taken thee for a man of sense, but now hast thou spoken rashly. When did the enemy or the snorting of horses ever terrify me? No, I fear neither Ajax nor Diomedes nor any of the Achaian heroes, but rather the decree of Jove, who has apparently given victory into the hands of the enemy. What availeth the valor of a mortal against the god of gods? But if thou wilt observe my actions, take heed and see if I am as timid as thou hast said.”

Clad in Achilles’ magnificent armor he immediately assembled his men with loud battle cries. Calling all the princes together, he spoke to them. “Friends and allies, not to be in the midst of many men have I called ye to Troy, but that ye might aid me in time of danger to protect our wives and children. It is for this that our poor people are laboring to feed and sustain ye with their flocks and the fruits of their fields, and for this I am striving with sword and speech to encourage ye and spur ye on to the combat. Then let us fight to the death! And to him who bears the body of Patroclus into Troy I promise a rich recompense.”


All followed him, shouting, to the spot where Menelaus and Ajax stood shielding the body of Patroclus. Their hearts beat wildly when they saw the little band bearing down on them, and Menelaus ran as fast as he could to procure more help. “Come friends,” he cried, “there lies Patroclus, whom the Trojans would seize and carry away to become food for Trojan dogs. Do ye not feel the shame of it?”

The younger Ajax was the first to hear and respond; then came Idomeneus and Meriones, each with a band of followers. They arrived beside the corpse just as Hector and his men came up, and the shock of meeting was like the ocean tide at the mouth of some mighty river which empties into the sea, so terrible was the crash of shields and lances.

Then Automedon with Achilles’ steeds came dashing along, resolved himself to contend for the corpse. Hector saw him coming and cried, rejoicing, to Æneas: “There come Achilles’ splendid horses! Come, if thou wilt aid me, let us take them!” They ran toward the chariot, but Automedon, springing to the ground, called Ajax and Menelaus to his aid. Chromeus and Aretus joined Hector and Æneas and a fresh contest raged about the chariot. Hector aimed well and cast with mighty power, but Automedon dashed quickly aside and the spear flew far over him into the earth, where it quivered for a long time. Automedon was more fortunate, and although Hector dodged the blow, it struck Aretus, who stood behind him. Meanwhile evening was descending and Ajax was anxious to secure the body before night came on. But it was all the Achaians could do to hold back the enemy. Then Ajax said to Menelaus: “If only some good youth would hasten to the ships and take to Achilles the tidings of his friend’s death perhaps he would come himself to rescue the body from the enemy’s hands. Dost thou see Antilochus, Nestor’s son? I think he could reach camp quickest.” Menelaus hastened away to seek the youth, where he was fighting at the other side of the battlefield. He was horrified to learn of the hero’s death and tears filled his eyes; but he did not tarry and hurried away to Achilles.


Menelaus returned straightway to Ajax, saying: “I have sent him, but I doubt whether Achilles will come without his armor. So let us try once more to secure the body.”

“Thou art right,” answered Ajax. “Let us make another attempt, and if they retire but a little way, do thou and Meriones seize the corpse while the rest of us keep off the mighty Hector and the other Trojans.”

This strategy partially succeeded and Menelaus and Meriones were able to drag the body some distance away. Meanwhile Achilles had been impatiently awaiting his tardy friend. He ascended to his usual post, the high deck of his ship, and saw, approaching through the twilight and clouds of dust, dense crowds which looked like fleeing men. It seemed to him that he could hear Hector’s triumphant voice pursuing the Achaians. An uneasy premonition seized him and he was about to send out a messenger when young Antilochus appeared before him and spake, weeping: “Woe is me, son of Peleus, I bring thee sad tidings. Patroclus is slain, and our warriors are fighting desperately for his naked body, for Hector has taken his weapons.”


Achilles grew pale as death. He tore his hair with rage, beat his breast, and threw himself upon the ground, covering dress, face, and head with dust. His eyes flashed dangerously, his heart palpitated, and horrible groans escaped his half-open lips. His slaves gathered about him in affright; but when they learned the cause of his boundless sorrow, they all burst out weeping. Antilochus wept also and held the hero’s hands, fearing that the passionate man would harm himself. This terrible despair lasted a long time, but at last the overburdened heart found relief in tears and he broke out in loud lamentations.

His mother Thetis heard him and arose from the depths of the sea to seat herself beside her unhappy son. She pressed his head to her bosom and inquired tenderly: “Dear child, what is troubling thee now? Do not conceal anything from me. Speak! Hath Jupiter not fulfilled thy wish and given the victory to the Trojans?”


“What care I for the favor of Jupiter when Patroclus, whom I loved as myself, lies dead! Hector hath slain him and taken the armor, that splendid gift of my valiant father. For what a fate was I born! But, indeed, I will not live if I may not slay Hector and avenge the death of my friend.”

“Glorious son,” said his mother, weeping, “when thou hast slain him it will be thy doom; for thy death is decreed immediately after Hector’s.”

“Would that I were already dead,” answered Achilles gloomily, “as I was not permitted to save my friend. But I will avenge him and pay him such honor as no mortal has ever received before. Then let Jupiter do with me as he will. Death is the lot of all. Even great Hercules died, the best beloved of all Jupiter’s sons. But before Death takes me, many a Trojan woman shall lament that I have slain her son or young spouse. They shall all learn that my long rest is ended.”

“I shall not restrain thee,” answered the silver-footed Thetis, “for thy grief is righteous and thy resolution to honor the dead and save thy friends from destruction is commendable. But thou hast no weapons and I forbid thee to enter the turmoil of Mars until at dawn thou seest me returning with armor from the hand of the artist Vulcan.” She suddenly disappeared and ascended to Olympus to beg the weapons from the god.



Meanwhile the noise of the struggle grew louder as the fortunes of war drove the Achaians to flight. With loud cries the Trojans followed the body of Patroclus in the twilight, and although the two bearers hurried as fast as they could to get it to a place of safety, they were often in danger of losing it. Hector pursued them continually with his men and more than once had seized one of the dead man’s feet. The two Ajaxes had no thought of killing Hector, for his gigantic stature appalled them. They only held the corpse tighter, to keep it from being torn from them. Just as they were nearing the moat, they would have lost it, if a swift messenger had not summoned Achilles. “Help! help! Achilles!” he cried. “Hector will soon have taken the body of Patroclus. He threatens to cut off the head and put it on a pike and to throw the trunk to the Trojan dogs. What a disgrace if thy friend’s body be taken and misused!”

Like a maniac, without armor or weapons, Achilles rushed out, and in a voice like thunder rolling in the mountains, he roared out most terrible threats, so that both Trojans and Achaians were overcome by fear and Hector, terrified, let go the corpse and quickly retired with his followers, thinking Achilles was already on his track. Thus the two heroes brought the corpse safely into camp. Achilles gazed long upon his friend, speechless, with bowed head, clenched hands, and tears coursing down his cheeks. The Trojans now held council whether they should spend the night in the city or on the battlefield. Polydamas was anxious to retire, for he feared Achilles; but Hector insisted on remaining, for he held that it would be cowardly to allow the enemy to suspect that they were afraid. “Let Achilles come forth to-morrow,” he concluded; “he will do so at his own risk. I shall surely not fly before him. I long to meet him, and then Jupiter shall decide which one of us shall be covered with glory. Mars is a vacillating god, who oft destroys the destroyer.”


So they encamped on the field for the night. Youths brought forth animals from the city for the sacrifice, together with bread and wine, lit fires, and prepared the evening meal. The Achaians also, after supping, laid down to rest. But Achilles could not sleep. Kneeling beside his dead friend, he laid his hand on his cold breast and sobbed. Overcome with grief he cried: “Before the earth hides me, thou shalt be avenged, my Patroclus. I will lay Hector’s weapons at thy feet and Hector’s bloody head beside them. I will slay twelve Trojan youths in thine honor. Rest thou here in peace, for the morrow shall shed glory upon thee and me.”

Meanwhile Thetis had arrived in Olympus and went straightway to Vulcan’s dwelling. Late as it was, she heard him hammering in his workshop, for he was making twenty bronze tripods for the Olympians’ hall. He had fastened golden wheels to each foot, so that they could roll to the banquet of themselves. They were all finished except for the handles, and these he wished to complete that night. Aphrodite, the beautiful spouse of the lame fire god, was the first to spy the newcomer at the door. She took her hand, saying: “Welcome, dear friend, what bringeth thee so late from thy sea depths? Thou dost not often visit me.” She led her within and called her spouse.


He immediately left his anvil, washed his hands with a sponge, also his sooty face, neck, and powerful chest, threw on his cloak, and leaning on his golden staff, came limping to the door. He took the goddess’ hand and bade her welcome. “I always think of thee with gratitude,” he said; “for thou didst take me in when I was lamed and my mother would not tolerate me in heaven. Then I lived for a time in thy crystal palace under the sea and fashioned many a pretty piece of work—rings and clasps, pins and chains—until Juno took me into favor again and I left thy dwelling. Therefore, Aphrodite, see that thou entertain our guest worthily.”

When Thetis had partaken of the nectar and ambrosia which Aphrodite set before her, she began to recite all her son’s troubles, from Agamemnon’s injustice down to the fall of Patroclus. Then she begged the god to forge new armor for the unlucky Achilles, so that he might be ready to attack Hector in the morning. Aphrodite was displeased, for she feared for the Trojans, but the god paid no attention to her and promised to fulfil Thetis’ desire. He immediately returned to his workshop and began the work.


Before the night was two thirds past the most splendid suit of armor that ever a hero had possessed was completed. The shield especially was a work of art. In the middle the earth was represented with the sea and sky, sun, moon, and stars. There were also two cities; one at peace and the other in the throes of war. In one a wedding was being celebrated with music and dance and there were many pictures of peaceful labor in field and vineyard. The other city was in a state of siege, and one could plainly see the besiegers and the citizens defending themselves. Around the edge of the shield flowed the deep river Oceanus.


Chapter XIII
Achilles and Agamemnon Reconciled—Achilles Goes into Battle

Rosy-fingered Eos was mounting the eastern sky as Thetis arrived at her son’s tent with the rich suit of armor. She found him still stretched beside Patroclus’ body with the mourning women about him. Achilles accepted Vulcan’s wonderful work joyfully, and the sight of the weapons made his eyes flash with a dangerous light. When he had carefully examined and admired the artistic embellishments he said to Thetis: “Mother, these weapons are not the work of a mortal; some god has forged them. Come, I will arm myself, that the Trojans may tremble at the glorious sight.”


He then approached the tents and ships of the Achaians, calling to them loudly to come forth. They rejoiced to hear the thunder of that voice, which had been silent so long, and came hastening to the council place. Diomedes was limping painfully and leaning on his lance. Even Agamemnon and Ulysses, both weakened by painful wounds, came dragging themselves along with staves. When they were all seated in their places, Achilles took up the sceptre and spoke. “Son of Atreus, let us be reconciled, as we have long wished to be. I had rather the gods had slain the rosy maiden before ever a quarrel on her account had estranged us and my anger sent so many noble Achaians down to Hades. But let us forget the bitter past. I have moderated my anger, for a generous man should not be implacable, however much he has been wronged. And now let us hasten to lead our people to the combat, for the Trojans must not burn the ships to-day.”

He was interrupted by a loud shout of exultation. The tidings that he had relented and would join them in the battle was enough to fill all hearts with joy. In their excitement they did not care to hear more, and not until the thunderous tones of the heralds had commanded silence could Agamemnon’s answer be heard. “Jupiter alone knows,” said he, “how blind rage could have led me to commit such an injustice, from which my heart now recoils and which I have long bitterly repented. Thou hast already heard from Ulysses of the gifts which I offered thee in reparation, and even now, that thou comest of thyself, I will take nothing back. My servants shall deliver all to thee, if thou wilt but save the Achaians.”

Smiling, the warlike Achilles answered him: “I care not whether thou givest or retainest thy treasure. Let us think only of the war and lead the battalions without delay against the enemy, for there is much work to do and great deeds must be accomplished this day.”


Now Ulysses spoke up. “Not thus, excellent Achilles; we must not be hasty. Let the soldiers partake of food, for the battle will not be of a few hours’ duration only. Thou hast more endurance than all others, but none but thee can hold out through the long day’s work without food or drink. Let the people first break their fast, while Agamemnon sends for the promised gifts, that we may all look upon them. Then he shall feast thee in his tent, that thou mayest enjoy all the honor due thee; for even a king should propitiate the man whom he hath wronged.”

“I gladly follow thy wise counsel,” answered Agamemnon, “and if thou wilt, thou mayest go thyself to my ships, with six picked men, to fetch the promised gifts.”

“Son of Atreus,” interrupted Achilles, “never mind the gifts. Let us think only of the slain, who are calling to us to avenge them. And ye talk of eating and drinking and of rest! If I were in command the people should be led forth fasting and at night; after the day’s work they should feast twice over. For my part, not a drop shall pass my lips until I shall have avenged my friend. I have no thoughts, but of murder, bloodshed, and the death rattle of falling men.”


“Great son of Peleus,” suggested Ulysses, “though thou art no doubt stronger and braver than I, yet I think I can give thee good counsel, for I have lived longer and seen much. Take my advice this once. Thou canst conquer only with warriors who are rested, refreshed, and eager for the fight; but the hungry and thirsty soldier will follow thee half-heartedly and in the end be overcome by his own weakness.”

Without awaiting Achilles’ answer, the leaders gave the soldiers the signal to break their fast. Ulysses quickly selected six good comrades and went to fetch the presents from Agamemnon’s ships and tents. He selected the basins, ewers, the horses and women, weighed out ten pounds of gold, and then summoned the fair Briseïs to follow him. On their return to the council place Agamemnon sent the gifts immediately to Achilles’ encampment.

In vain the noble Achaian heroes surrounded Achilles and begged him to join them at the banquet. He shook his head, saying: “Kind friends, do not trouble me, for I am very sorrowful and I shall fast until the sun sets.” The princes retired sadly to their tents to partake of food. Only Atreus’ sons and the noble Ulysses, Nestor, Idomeneus, and the gigantic Phœnix remained with him, trying to comfort the mourner. He sat brooding over his sorrow. “Dear, unhappy friend,” he said, “how oft hast thou brought me my breakfast and tended me while the others went forth to battle, and now thou liest here dead; but neither food nor drink can refresh me while I mourn for thee. I had always hoped that I alone should die in the Trojan land and that thou shouldst return to Phthia, to bring up my son, dear Neoptolemus. And now thou art gone before me.”


Thus he lamented, and all his friends mourned with him. Even Jupiter was touched by his deep sorrow and sent his daughter Athena down secretly to strengthen his heart with heavenly nectar, and thus the hero was able to appear in all his glory when the warriors gathered together. The lust of battle had dried the tears upon his eyelids.


Chapter XIV
Achilles in Battle—The Fight on the River

All Olympus was now interested in the combat of mortals since the godlike Achilles had taken up arms again. Many of the divinities promised him victory, but Jupiter was resolved that he should not yet destroy the splendid city of the Trojans, for fate had not decreed that it should fall by his hand. Therefore he commanded the other gods to stay the zeal of the Pelide should he rage too terribly. The Trojans were already armed and in the field and the swarms of Achaians flew to meet them like a heap of dry leaves driven before the wind. Achilles looked everywhere for Hector, but without discovering him. Instead, he espied two other chieftains, Æneas and Lykaon.


Æneas determined to face the hero. He commended his soul to his divine mother and pushed forward shouting fierce threats. Achilles ran toward him without hesitation and then stopping suddenly he called out: “How canst thou venture so far from thy men, Æneas? What is it impels thee to fight with me? Dost think perchance that if thou shouldst conquer me thou shalt become ruler of the Trojans? Priam has still plenty of sons! Did I not meet thee on Mount Ida, where father Jupiter himself was scarce able to save thee? Thou didst run like a deer, not daring to look behind thee. Thou hadst better fly now, if life is dear to thee, and take care not to get in my way a second time.”

“Son of Peleus,” answered Æneas, “do not hope to frighten me with words like a child. My race is as exalted as thine own, for I was fathered by Anchises of Dardanus’ family and Aphrodite is my mother. My family is old and powerful. But why do we gossip like women? Come, let us see whether it be Aphrodite or Thetis who shall mourn for her son to-day.”

He was the first to cast his spear, and Achilles held his shield before him at arm’s length, so that should it pierce the metal, it might not touch his body. But the swift-flying weapon glanced off harmlessly. Immediately he hurled his own powerful lance, but Æneas threw himself on the ground and covered himself. The mighty lance crashed through the edge of his shield and buried itself in the ground just behind the crouching man. He arose quickly, seized a great stone, and threw it at the head of Achilles, who was rushing upon him with drawn sword in a blind rage, forgetting to shield himself, so that had Vulcan’s helmet not been so strong, helmet and skull would doubtless have been crushed. Æneas was about to exult over his fall, but Achilles only staggered back a step and a god warned Æneas to escape. He therefore drew Achilles’ heavy spear from his shield, and throwing it down, fled into the crowd of Trojans.


When Achilles came to, he found himself on the ground, supporting himself on one arm, and alone. He was astonished and said to himself: “What miracle is this? Here lies my spear and my adversary is nowhere to be seen. But indeed Æneas must be beloved of the gods, for no one has ever vanquished me thus. But he did not venture to kill me in my swoon and is, no doubt, happy to have himself escaped. And now I must away to measure myself with other Trojans.” He first returned to his Myrmidons and cheered them with loud cries of “Forward, man to man! Let none hold back! I cannot alone conquer the whole Trojan army, even Mars himself could not do that. But my lance shall never rest.”

Among the Trojans the gallant Hector was going about encouraging his bands. “Do not fear, ye valiant Trojans, because the enemy has gained a single man to-day. Grim Achilles has certainly uttered great threats, but words are not deeds. Behold, I go forward to encounter him unafraid, though his hand were a bolt of lightning and his breast of bronze.”


Achilles had already broken into the ranks of the Trojans and slain a man here and there. He was like a hungry wolf hasting from one victim to another. His lance was constantly in flight. He pierced the noble Demoleon, then laid his charioteer Hippodamos in the dust, then drawing his spear from the body, he hurled it after Polydorus, Priam’s youngest son, whom his father had begged not to enter the fight. But the youth, considered the best runner in the army, was passionate and fiery and would not be restrained. Just as he was flying past, Achilles’ terrible spear struck him. He fell, groaning and holding his wounded side. Thus his brother Hector espied him and in a passion of grief he advanced upon Achilles, swinging his lance like flashing lightning.

Seeing him coming thus, Achilles cried: “Ah! there is he who killed my friend! Come, Hector, come, that thou mayest meet thy doom!” He had scarcely spoken when Hector stood before him and answered unabashed: “Do not hope to intimidate me with words, O Achilles! Even if thou art stronger than I, it rests with the gods to decide whether I shall not rob thee of thy life.”

He threw the lance with all his might, but it glanced off Achilles’ hard-polished shield. He turned about, frightened, and fled like the wind before the hero’s hissing spear. “Ah! truly Phœbus must be with thee,” cried Achilles. “Destruction was hard upon thee and thou hast escaped. But the next time I meet thee I shall send thee down to Hades.” He glanced about angrily for other adversaries.


See, now his chariot pursues a band of Trojans who prefer to flee all together rather than meet this single man. He pressed forward to one side, cutting them off from the rest of the army and driving them all into the river. There they paddled about like swimming poodles until Achilles, leaving his lance on the bank, sprang after them to stab those whom he could reach with his sword. Finally he drove twelve youths into the reeds and there bound their hands behind their backs with his armor straps. He then led them out and gave them into the hands of his charioteer to take back to the Myrmidons. They were destined for a cruel sacrifice to Patroclus.

Achilles turned again to the river and there he recognized with astonishment, among those who were trying in vain to clamber up the steep banks, a youth, son of Priam, named Lykaon, whom he had taken at the beginning of the war and sold for one hundred oxen into Lemnos. Some years later a rich Phrygian had purchased him, from whom he had but lately escaped, having returned only eleven days before to the house of his venerable father. “Ha! there is Lykaon!” cried Achilles in surprise. “How comes he here? This time he shall taste the tip of my spear and we shall see if he return from the underworld to cause me trouble again.” He went to fetch his spear and Lykaon swam as hard as he could to throw himself at his feet and beg for mercy.


“Fool!” thundered the terrible voice of the hero, “what do I want with ransom money? Before Patroclus fell I was inclined to show mercy and carried away many captives, but now not one who falls into my hands shall survive—least of all one of Priam’s sons. Die then, my friend! Thou criest out in vain. Patroclus, too, had to die, who was far mightier than thou. And seest thou not how great and powerful I am? My father was a noble king, a goddess is my mother, and yet my death and doom are drawing near and sooner or later I shall fall by the spear or arrow.”

The poor youth’s heart and knees trembled. He spread out his arms, shut his eyes, and thus received the death stroke. Then Achilles seized him by the feet and flung him far out into the river. “There! Swim among the fish,” he cried. “Many a one shall feed on Lykaon. Thus I shall pursue ye all, until ye have atoned for Patroclus’ death and the woe of the Achaians.”

But the river god who heard this blasphemy was angered. Asteropæus, son of Pelegon, was still standing in the water and Scamander breathed courage into him. He was practised in casting with both hands and Achilles saw him advancing with two raised spears. He shouted to him: “Who art thou, rash man? Unhappy are the parents of those who contend with me!”

“What wouldst thou know of me, great Pelide?” he answered. “I came from distant Pæonia with a gallant army but eleven days ago. Now let us fight, valiant Achilles.”


With these words he let fly both lances at once upon the hero. One of them rebounded harmlessly from the shield, the other brushed his left elbow and buried itself in the sand. And now Achilles swung his bloody staff, but missed aim also, and his lance struck the sandy bank on the other side of the river. Angrily he sprang into the water with drawn sword, and striding powerfully through the waves, he approached the unlucky Asteropæus, who was trying in vain to secure Achilles’ lance. Before he could do so the hero felled him, and he sank down unconscious.

“Ah,” he cried joyously, “thou couldst scarcely contend with a man of Jupiter’s divine race, although thy ancestor was a river god.”

Achilles drew his spear out of the earth and left the dying man gasping at the water’s edge. He threw himself next upon a troop of Pæonians and drove them into the stream. Those who would not go of their own accord he thrust down into a watery grave. Then from the depths of the stream he heard the voice of the river god: “O Achilles, thou art superhuman in thy fury and the gods are always with thee. But I warn thee, that if Jupiter hath given the Trojans into thy hand this day, murder where thou wilt, but do not pollute my waters, for my stream is already glutted with the dead, and even now I can scarce flow down into the holy sea. Therefore forbear!”

Achilles heard the warning unmoved and replied: “It shall be as thou sayest, divine Scamander, but I shall never stop destroying the Trojans until I have fought the last decisive battle with Hector.”


But when he chanced upon a fresh troop of the enemy, who were astray near the river, he forgot the river god’s decree, and when they all jumped into the stream to gain the opposite shore he plunged in after them. Then the invisible god arose in his might, determined to destroy him. He sent wave after wave breaking over him and drew him deeper and deeper down. Struggle as he might he could make no headway against the mighty stream on whose waves he rose and fell, almost losing his balance and being carried away. The bodies of the slain bore against him and he could scarcely hold them back with his shield. He struggled to the shore, but the angry god stirred up a foaming surf which threw him back again.

Almost exhausted he struggled forward once more and grasped a young elm whose branches hung over the stream; but just as he was about to swing himself up by it the roots gave way, so that it lay across the river like a bridge. Upon this the hero reached the bank, although he vainly hoped to escape the river god thus. Furiously Scamander followed him across the fallow fields with breaking waves. He also called to his aid the other streams who generally dash their waters from the mountain heights to destroy the farmer’s fields only in springtime. To the Simoïs, which joins him just before he flows into the sea, he cried: “Come, brother, and help me stem the power of this terrible man, else he will batter down the walls of Priam’s fortress to-day; for none can withstand him. Arise, friend, let thy floods loose; roll down rocks and stones with thundering waves upon him, that we may tame him. For I ween that neither his strength nor beauty nor his resplendent weapons shall save him. They shall be buried deep in mud, and him will I cover with sand and heap a monument of shells and pebbles over him so high that none shall ever find his bones.”


The hero was almost overcome and in his despair cried aloud: “Father Jupiter, not a single one of the gods will take pity on me, and I thought ye all loved me! But none has deceived me more than my divine mother, who promised me the glorious death of a hero before Troy. And now, alas, an ignoble end awaits me, and I shall be drowned as ignominiously as any swineherd in a mud puddle.”

Then from afar a solemn and consoling voice arose. “Be comforted, Peleus’ son, thou shalt not die in the waters. Keep up the struggle until the Trojans have fled the field. But when Hector is vanquished thou shalt return.”

This promise filled his heart with courage, for it was the voice of Poseidon, to whom all streams are subject. And now the waters quickly subsided and were drawn into the broad gulf of the sea. Then a south wind arose which sucked up the moisture from the ground and bore it away. The valiant hero soon stood upon firm ground again and hurried away as fast as he could to plunge into the fray. Fired by his example, his people followed him like a consuming flame fanned by the wind. All who could do so fled to the walls, most of them toward the gate. The venerable Priam sat upon the top of the wall, looking mournfully down upon the sad plight of his people. When the crush at the gate became intolerable he descended and called to the guards: “Friends, open the doors and let the men in, for they can no longer withstand the terrible Pelide. When all are inside, shut the gate and put up the bars, that the enemy may not enter also.”


In the confusion of flight, where none wished to be lost, Achilles and his band would doubtless have pushed in with them had not Apollo distracted his attention by the sight of Agenor. This bold youth stood concealed behind a beech tree turning over a thousand projects in his anxious mind. “What shall I do?” he said to himself. “I am too far behind to follow the others—he would take me in the back like a coward. If I try to creep along the wall and escape by way of the thickets of Ida, the bushes may hide me; then I could steal up to the gate at night and whisper to them softly to let me in. But what if he should discover me there? Then I should be lost indeed; for who is as strong as he? But his body is not invulnerable and he is a mortal like the others. Therefore I will try my skill with him, that I may save my life with honor.”

Meanwhile Achilles came running up and espied the man hidden behind the tree. Agenor stepped boldly forth and cried: “Madman, dost thou hope to destroy the fortress to-day? Nevermore! There are still plenty of brave men in the city, and all are fighting for parents, wives, and children. On the contrary, thy own sad fate may be upon thee to-day, thou ungovernable monster.”


With these words his flashing sword descended upon Achilles, and not without effect. He struck his shin, and only the impenetrable greaves fashioned by Vulcan prevented the leg from being shattered. Like a wounded boar Achilles pounced upon the youth, who fled through wheatfields and thickets along the river, leading his grim pursuer far away from the city; for he did not give up the chase until the youth was lost to sight. And this never would have occurred had the blow on his leg not sapped his strength. But Apollo had arranged it thus, so that for this time the Trojans should escape; for when he returned breathless he found them safe behind their walls.


Chapter XV
Hector and Achilles—Hector’s Death

The Achaians, their shields slung over their shoulders, were awaiting Achilles close under the walls of Troy. All the Trojans were within the city except Hector, who had remained outside, resolved to meet Achilles once more in combat; for he believed that he owed it to his fatherland and to his own honor, either to free his people from this dread enemy or to give up his own life for them. His old father looked gloomily down from the wall and signalled for him to come inside, but in vain.


Achilles returned from his pursuit of Agenor, his lance on his shoulder. At the sight old Priam beat his breast in consternation and he trembled, seeing his son without and alone. “Dear son,” he entreated, “do not face that cruel man, for he is stronger than thou. Alas, would that the gods hated him as I do and he would soon be food for the dogs! How many of my sons he has already murdered or sold to distant isles! And now, my Hector, thou on whom the Trojan people put their hopes, wilt thou also go to meet him? Come, take pity on me! Already hath Jupiter heaped endless misfortunes upon mine old age, and should he rob me of thee now, I already foresee the enemy breaking into our fortress, carrying off our women, murdering our children, and plundering our treasures. Woe is me! for I shall become food for mine own dogs in the courtyard. Alas, that would be the most lamentable of all destinies!”

But Hector could not be persuaded and remained steadfast at the gate, awaiting Achilles. “Woe is me if I should hide now behind walls and gates!” he said. “Then Polydamas could chide me with reason for sacrificing so many good friends to-day. I would not follow his advice and retire into the city, but presumed to contend with Achilles alone, and alas, I have not saved a single man from his fury and, I openly avow, have myself avoided him in fear, for he is truly terrible in his might. But now I must challenge fate boldly, that the women of Troy may not denounce me for leading the people to destruction and then fleeing like a coward. But how would it be if I should lay helmet and shield on the ground beside my lance and thus go to meet the hero and offer him a peaceful settlement? Offer him Helen and all their treasure, together with half of all the goods which the houses of the Trojan princes contain? But no! I cannot approach him a suppliant. It would be base and unworthy and he would strike me down unarmed like a weak woman. No! I will fight like a man. Be my fate what it may, I will conquer or die with honor.”


Achilles came up looking like Mars himself. When Hector saw him he trembled, and fled like a dove pursued by a hawk. Hector turned first to the left, then to the right, striving to tire out his pursuer; but in vain. Now they ran past the watch tower, now past the fig tree, and now by the hot springs, where were the stone basins of the washerwomen. His pursuer drove him clear round the great city, yea, even three times round the walls, and as often as Hector tried to slip through an open portal, Achilles would drive him out again into the open fields, keeping near the walls himself. But when they passed the place where the Achaians were resting on their spears awaiting the outcome, Achilles forbade anyone to cast a spear at Hector and rob him of the honor of the victory.

As they neared the hot springs for the fourth time, a man ran forward as though to offer Hector aid. It was Athena in the form of Hector’s brother Deïphobus, who called to him: “Brother, I saw thy danger and am come forth to help thee. Stop and await him boldly.”

“Beloved Deïphobus, how didst thou dare—”

“My soul was wrung and I could no longer look upon the grief of my father and mother.”


“So be it, I will fight,” said Hector, and made ready to meet the foe. “I will no longer flee before thee, O Pelide,” he cried to Achilles. “My heart bids me encounter thee, whether I conquer or fall. But let us first make a compact and swear to it before the all-seeing gods. Should Jupiter give me the victory, I will not misuse thee. Thy armor will I take and leave thy body to the Achaians, that they may give it burial. And thou shalt do the same to me.”

But with a furious look Achilles roared his answer. “No compacts, hated Hector! Does the lion make a compact with the cattle, or the wolf with the lambs? One of us must lie stretched upon the ground, that Mars may be satiated with his blood. I hope that thou mayest not escape me, and thus atone at once for all the woe thou hast inflicted on my people.”

Thus speaking, he sent his terrible spear flying through the air. But Hector, quickly sinking on one knee, avoided it and the iron missile passed over him. Fresh courage filled him, and springing up joyfully he cried: “Wide of the mark, godlike Achilles! Thou art a good talker and crafty, hoping I should lose strength and courage. Now protect thyself, for my spear shall not strike thee lightly!”


He hurled his lance with tremendous force and did not miss the mark, for the point struck the boss of the shield with a loud crash and would have pierced both shield and breast had the shield not been forged by Vulcan himself. But the lance rebounded like a ball thrown against a wall and Hector stood confounded, for he had but one spear. He quickly looked about for Deïphobus and called loudly for another spear, but there was no answer and his brother was nowhere to be seen. Then he was filled with foreboding. “Woe is me!” he cried. “Some cunning god in Deïphobus’ shape hath deceived me, and now, when I hoped he would save me, he has disappeared.” In desperation he seized his sword, rushing forward like a soaring eagle swooping down upon its prey. But Achilles had already picked up Hector’s spear, and, as they charged each other, the long spear reached its goal sooner than the short sword. Taken in the neck above his breastplate, the hope of Troy sank into the dust, while the cruel victor and all the Achaians loudly rejoiced.

“Ha!” cried Achilles as he drew forth his spear, “only yesterday thou wert so proudly triumphant, as thou didst invade our ships in Patroclus’ stolen harness, and to-day thou liest powerless before the walls of thy proud fortress. Surely thou didst little dream that the slain hero had left a powerful avenger. We shall pay him all the honors of a hero, while thou shalt make a shameful end among the dogs and birds of prey.”

Breathing painfully, Hector tried to speak. “I conjure thee by thy life and by thy parents, let me not be torn by Damæan dogs, but accept the bronze and valuable gold which my father and mother shall offer thee. Send my body to Ilios, that the men and women of Troy may pay me the last honors of the funeral pyre.” But Achilles shouted: “Silence and die, contemptible one!”


Dying, Hector answered: “Indeed I knew I should not move thee, for thou hast an iron heart. But think of me when the gods avenge me and thou sinkest into the dust felled by the shots of Phœbus Apollo.” And Death, the brother of Sleep, bore the hero’s soul down to Hades. Many warriors from the Greek army came up and looked with admiration upon the splendid form of the hero. And to one another they said: “It is wonderful how much gentler he is to look on now than there at our ships when he was leading the assault.”

Achilles arose among the people and spoke. “Friends, now that the gods have permitted me to subdue the man who has done us greater injury than any other, let us discover whether the Trojans will dare withstand us, without the support of their great hero. But what am I saying? My friend lies still unburied. Therefore let us chant the hymn of victory and take Hector with us as an expiatory offering for my friend.”

First the procession passed by the Scæan gate, that the Trojans standing there upon the walls might see it. There sat old Priam and his spouse Hecuba, without any warning of the outcome of the combat. What a horrible sight for the venerable father and loving mother! Their bravest son, the pride and hope of Troy, dragged at the wheels of the victor’s chariot! All Troy set up a despairing lament, as though the city were already in ruins and a prey to devouring flames. His mother, almost beside herself with grief, wrung her hands, and shrieking, pulled the veil from her head and tore her gray hair. And his father was scarcely to be restrained from going down to cut his son loose or die across his mutilated body. He called on those by name who stood about it; begged, implored, wept, and threw himself on the ground, strewing dust on his gray head. And all those who saw it wept with him.


Hector’s faithful wife, Andromache, was the last to learn the sad tidings, for she had been busy in her home attending to household duties among her women. And now, as twilight fell, she sent one of her maids to heat water in a tripod for the hero’s bath when he should return. From a distance arose a sound of loud lamentation and wailing of women. The wife trembled and sad foreboding filled her heart. “Follow me,” she cried to two of the maids. “My knees are trembling, for I fear the noble Achilles has cut off the valiant Hector from the city, for he is always before all others and fears no one.”


She rushed out, the servants following after her. There was nobody to be seen in the street; the cries came from the walls. The unhappy woman hastened thither. One look revealed the tragedy, and she sank down in a swoon. She lay for long as one dead, and at length, when consciousness returned, she began in a low, broken voice: “Hector! Alas, the unhappy people! Oh, that I had never been born! Now must thou go down to Hades and I remain here a widow, miserable and deserted. And thy young son—trouble and sorrow menace his future now that thou art gone—for others will seek to take his patrimony—and his childhood shall pass without a friend. For an orphaned child has no playmates; and when the other boys take their share of their fathers’ feast, none calls the orphan boy to divide with him. The child casts down his eyes ashamed and weeps silently. Then, hungry, he goes about among his father’s friends, pulls one by the coat, another by the cloak; and if one of them is kindly inclined, he will perhaps hold the goblet to his lips. But, alas, he does not give him his fill. The other boys, insolent and greedy, do not suffer him at their feasts, but push him away, crying: ‘Thy father doth not sit at our feasts.’ Then the child goes away and cries in his mother’s arms. O ye gods, my Astyanax! How gayly his father used to rock him on his knees! And now, robbed of a tender father, he shall suffer much—our Astyanax, as the Trojans call him.”

Thus mourned Andromache, and round about her wept and lamented the women of Troy.


Chapter XVI
Priam and Achilles—Hector’s Burial in Troy

It was after sundown when the assembled Achaians dispersed. Each returned to his own ship or tent to partake of the evening meal and then lay down to rest, well content. Only Achilles could not sleep for thinking of his lost friend. In vain he tossed to and fro on his bed; sweet slumber came not nigh him. Thus he mourned half the night, then suddenly arose, ran out into the darkness, and wandered up and down the shore, his heart full of sorrow. At last he went to Patroclus’ grave, then hastened back to yoke his horses to the chariot, to which he bound Hector’s corpse once more and dragged him thrice round the grave mound. After this he drove the horses back to the enclosure and threw himself again upon his couch.


Meanwhile the palace of old Priam had become a house of mourning. The afflicted father had taken no food nor drink since the death of his son, and the wailing of the wife and mother had so touched the people that they gathered about the house in crowds. Even the gods looked down pitifully on the unhappy family and Apollo appeared in dreams to Priam to strengthen his heart and encourage him to enter the Greek camp and plead for the body of his son. Jupiter commanded Hermes to accompany the old man, so that no enemy should hinder him or do him an injury by the way. Overjoyed at the divine vision, Priam forgot his complaints and went at once to the chamber where stood the chests in which he kept his treasures. He said to Hecuba, his mourning spouse: “I go to conciliate our terrible enemy with presents, and the god who has given me courage will protect me.”

Then the queen burst out weeping, saying reproachfully: “Unhappy man! Hast thou lost thy senses? How canst thou go alone to the ships and meet the man who has slain so many of thy valiant sons! Truly thy heart is made of iron! Ah! if he set eyes upon thee and seize thee, that false and terrible man will have neither mercy nor respect nor reverence for thine age. Oh, do not go! Let us mourn at a distance our lost son, whom the fates at his birth decreed should be vanquished far from his people. Remain with us, dear one, that thou mayest preserve thine own life.”

But the old man answered confidently: “I should not go if it were only a priest or seer who sent me, but I saw a god in my dream. He will not deceive me and my own heart impels me to go. Dost thou say the monster would kill me? Oh let him do so, if only he will strike me down upon the breast of my dear son!”


He opened the chest and took out the rich garments which he intended to take with him for a ransom—twelve splendid festal robes, twelve warm covers, and as many tunics and magnificent cloaks. Then from another chest he took ten talents of gold, four polished basins, and two tripods. Even the exquisite goblet presented by the Thracians when he visited them as ambassador from his father he did not withhold. For he did not begrudge giving even his greatest treasure to soften the hard heart of Achilles and ransom his beloved son.

When he had closed the box and turned around, he found himself surrounded by a crowd of idle people, who had come up to stare at the treasures which were to be offered for Hector’s ransom. Angrily he cried out: “Out with you! Away, ye idlers! Have ye not trouble enough at home, that ye come to look upon my sorrow? Only think what ye have lost in Hector! Without his support the Achaians will have an easier victory. Then it will be your turn to lament, but I shall doubtless then be dead!”

He drove them out of the courtyard, then called for his sons, reproving them. “Where are ye? Not one is at hand when I need ye! My best sons are dead, only the good-for-nothings remain. Pack these gifts quickly in the hampers, and when it grows dark, harness the horses and summon my old, experienced Idæus.”


Abashed, the sons obeyed all these commands and Hecuba began to prepare a strengthening draught for the travellers. Carrying a golden goblet in her right hand, she came out to the chariot, and placing herself in front of the steeds, she said to her husband: “Here, beloved, take this and pour out a libation to Jupiter and petition him for a safe return, as thou goest against my wishes. For I should never let thee go if I could prevent it. And even now I would counsel thee to consult the god and learn whether it is his will to protect thee. Should this prayer remain unanswered then I would say, Remain. For woe to him who goes into danger without divine support!”

The worthy man answered her: “I will obey thy behest. It is always well to lift up our hands to Jupiter.” He spake and called upon the stewardess for water, which she brought in a silver dish, sprinkling him with her right hand, while with the left she held a basin beneath. After this he received the wine cup from his spouse, poured out the first drops in honor of Jupiter, and prayed aloud with eyes raised to the sky: “Father Jupiter, almighty ruler, let me approach Achilles as a friend and find favor before him. Grant me a sign that thou wilt protect me, so that I may set out confident and comforted.” His wish was fulfilled, for soon afterward one of the eagles which nest high up in the clefts of Mount Ida flew past on his right hand. All who saw this rejoiced and the king and his companion mounted the chariot, full of confidence. His sons accompanied him to the city gates and, weeping, wished him luck.


Now the swift messenger of the gods descended from Olympus to the shores of the Hellespont and wandered along the road which Priam was to take. He had assumed the form of a Greek youth of noble race, whose appearance inspired confidence. Priam had arrived at the grave of Ilus, where the Scamander flows gently along, and there he had stopped to water his horses. Old Idæus saw the godlike youth coming along the river bank in the twilight and said fearfully to the king: “Look! son of Dardanus, there cometh a strange man. He will surely kill us both and make off with our goods. What shall we do? Shall we fly to the city or shall we get down and embrace his knees, begging for mercy?” Priam looked up and saw with dismay that the man was already close to the chariot. Sudden fear paralyzed his limbs, but when he saw the youth’s face close by and heard his friendly voice he was reassured.

“Greeting to thee, old man.” Thus the youth addressed him. “Whither goest thou so late when all other mortals are asleep? Dost thou not fear the Achaians, who are not far away? And neither thou, nor the old man thy companion, are fit to defend yourselves. But I will not harm thee, for thou art so like my dear father, noble king, that I am drawn to thee.”

“Fortune favors me,” cried the old man. “Now I see that Jupiter is with me, as he hath sent me such a noble guide through the dark night, of such remarkable stature and strength and of such wisdom. Truly thou hast fortunate parents.”


“Tell me, old man,” continued the stranger, “where art thou taking these goods? Art trying to carry thy greatest treasures to a place of safety before the destruction of Troy, or art thou flying secretly from the city for fear of the victorious enemy? For indeed thou hast lost thy chief treasure. As long as noble Hector lived, ye could battle on equal terms with the Achaians.” This warmed the old father’s heart. “Who art thou,” he asked, “who speakest so kindly of my poor son?”

“Who does not so?” answered the stranger. “How often I have seen him in the stress of battle driving the Argives in droves before him. We often stood and admired him from a distance when Achilles forbade us to join in the battle; for I am one of his companions and came hither in the same ship with him. My father is a noble Myrmidon called Polyctor. He has property and money, but is an old man like thyself. I am the youngest of seven brothers. When Achilles went to war we cast lots to see which should go with him, and the lot fell to me. I have been wandering about, thinking of the fate of Troy, for to-morrow the Achaians intend to assault the city. They are weary of the long truce and are anxious to end the war.”

“If thou art one of Achilles’ companions,” said Priam, “thou canst doubtless tell me whether my son’s body is still lying at the ships or whether the cruel man has already thrown it to the dogs.”


The stranger replied: “Not yet have dogs or birds of prey touched it, although it has lain there for twelve days and Achilles drags it round the grave of his friend every morning. Neither has decomposition touched it, and the beautiful limbs are still preserved in remarkable freshness. Seeing him, one would suppose he had but just died. Thus the gods watch over him even in death, for they always loved him.”

How happy the old man was at this news. “Oh child,” he cried, “how good it is for a man to pay honor to the gods with due offerings. My son never forgot that. He never failed to make sacrifice before he partook of food himself, and now in death he is receiving his reward. Oh what a happy father I am! Here, friend, take this handsome cup in remembrance of Priam. It was intended for Achilles, for I am going to him to ransom my Hector. But I have enough other gifts for him. Take it and guide me to his tent. Thou knowest the way.”

“Wilt thou tempt me, old man?” answered the stranger. “I will not yield to it. I cannot take a gift from thee without Achilles’ knowledge and rob him of it. No, I am too much in awe of him. Some harm might befall me. But I will accompany thee, notwithstanding, and no plunderer shall come nigh thee unpunished.”


With these words he swung himself on to the chariot and placed himself between the two old men, taking the whip and reins from the herald. The horses trotted along boldly and confidently through the fields and soon brought the travellers to the walls of the camp. From a distance they saw the servants busied with the remains of the evening meal, but the god waved his staff and they all sank into a deep slumber. Then he unbarred the gates, drove inside and in the direction of the enclosure in which the tents and ships of the Myrmidons stood. There he took leave of Priam and disappeared; but before he went he pointed out Achilles’ tent and encouraged the trembling old man. “Go boldly in,” said he, “and embrace his knees. The sight of thee will certainly move him, for his soul is filled with melancholy. Adjure him by his father and by his divine mother, whom he loves tenderly. Thou wilt certainly touch his heart if thou speak of her.”

Much comforted the king got down, leaving the chariots and the presents outside in the care of his old companion. His heart beat faster as he crossed the threshold of the tent, but after a moment of indecision he entered. He found Achilles still sitting at the table where he had supped. Beside him stood his two favorite companions, the excellent driver Automedon and the skilful spearsman Alkimos. The great hero was leaning on his elbows, sunk deep in moody thought, and was not aware of the entrance of the old man until he had fallen at his feet, clasped his knees, and kissed his hands—those horrible hands which had murdered so many of his sons. Achilles was amazed, for he had been taken completely by surprise. For a moment they gazed into each other’s faces, Achilles puzzled and agitated, Priam imploring and anxious. At length a flood of tears relieved the oppressed heart of the venerable man and in a trembling voice he uttered these beseeching words:


“Remember thy father, godlike Achilles, who languishes at home, old and helpless like myself. Ah, perhaps his neighbors are even now oppressing him and there is none to protect him. But he knows that he has a good and faithful son, even though far away, who will make an end of all his troubles when he returns. The old man is full of hope and every day he cherishes sweet thoughts of thee. But woe is me! I was the happiest of fathers. I had raised fifty sons, nineteen of them born of one mother. They were my pride and joy. Then ye came to invest my city and the unhappy war took one of them after the other until but few were left. But among them all, the best one still remained—he who had protected me and all of us thus far; but now he also is no more. Alas, I can no longer beg for his life, but we long to see the dead once more and pay him the honors due my son. At home sisters, wife, and mother mourn for him, and see, here lies his unhappy father at thy feet. Give him back to me. I have brought thee rich gifts. Fear the gods! Bethink thee and imagine thy old father kneeling thus to a younger man. But I suffer as no mortal ere has done before me and press my lips to the hand which slew my children.”


The heart of the invincible hero could not withstand these words and tears. He was deeply moved. The picture of his own gray-haired father rose before him and a sad longing for his embrace filled his heart. He wept aloud and bent gently down to raise the old man up, but Priam still clasped his knees tightly. Thus they both sobbed, each conscious of his own fate through the sorrow of the other. At last, when they had wept for some time, Achilles spoke. “In truth, unhappy man, thou hast been much afflicted. And yet thou hast dared to come alone and by night to the Achaian ships and to the man who has slain thy bravest sons. Thy heart is certainly strong and courageous. But come, forget thy sorrow and let me see no more of thy tears. Arise and sit here and let us calm ourselves. The gods have decreed that miserable mankind should live in sorrow, while they know naught of trouble. For many they have mixed the sad lots with the happy ones, but some receive only ill fortune, so that his whole life is a miserable failure and he is favored neither by gods nor men. Alas! neither is my father fortunate. Although the gods have bestowed worldly goods and power upon him, and although a goddess became his spouse, it is ordained that there shall be no heir to his kingdom; for alas! he shall never look upon me again, though his heart longs for me. I am not fated to return home a peaceful ruler, to enjoy a happy old age. Thus has fate robbed thee, also, of thy good son. But he is dead; therefore lament no more. Thou canst not bring him back to life. Who can do aught against the all-powerful gods?”


“Bid me not sit,” sobbed the old man. “I will lie here until thou hast given me back my only beloved son, that my tears may fall upon him. But take the gifts and enjoy them in peace when thou returnest to thy native land, because thou sendest me away filled with gratitude and love.”

At these words Achilles frowned and said: “Do not agitate me further, old man! Arise, for I have already determined to give thee back thy son. Do not insult me with fears and mistrust!”

Silently the old man obeyed this earnest behest and rising seated himself. Meanwhile the hero, mighty as a lion, arose and went out, followed by his two friends. Before the tent they unyoked the horses and conducted the herald inside. They then took the valuable gifts out of the hamper, except two soft garments, in which they were to wrap the body of Hector. Then, unseen by the father, Achilles caused two female slaves to wash the body and to cleanse, arrange, and anoint the hair. Next the servants wrapped the body in the fine robes and Achilles himself lifted it onto the chariot and laid it on a bier prepared for it. Then he stood still a moment and said: “Do not be angry with me, Patroclus, if thou shouldst learn, perchance, in Hades’ dwelling, that I have returned Hector’s body to his unhappy father. Look, he brings me a not unworthy ransom and a share of it shall be consecrated to thee.”


He reëntered the tent and seated himself opposite his two guests. “Now thou canst rest content, old man,” he said. “Thy son is ransomed and lies on thy chariot wrapped in fine garments. Now let us partake of food and comfort our hearts. Even Niobe did not forget to eat, although her heart was torn by bitter sorrow when Artemis had slain her six blooming daughters in one day and Apollo her six splendid sons. So let us feast. Thou canst mourn for thy son at home, for he is doubtless worthy of thy tears.”

With these words Achilles got up quickly, fetched a sheep and killed it. His companions cut up the meat and roasted it carefully on spits. Then they sat down at table, Automedon passed bread in a basket, but Achilles himself served the meat, and they all ate and drank their fill. The old man admired and wondered at the splendid proportions of the great hero, his godlike mien, and his bold and fiery glance. But Achilles too was amazed at heart when he noted the awe-inspiring, majestic demeanor and the dignified countenance of the king and heard his words of wisdom. When they had finished eating, Priam said: “Now, godlike host, take me to a place, I beg thee, where we may refresh ourselves with slumber; for I have not closed my eyes since my son sank down among the dead, and this is the first food and drink that have passed my lips.”

Achilles commanded his comrades to prepare a couch for Priam and his companion in the porch. The maids brought soft cushions and warm blankets, arranged them all, and lighted the strangers out with their torches. Achilles accompanied the king to the door and pressed his hand at parting. A few hours’ sleep sufficed for the old man. Then he arose to awaken Achilles, for he was anxious to start before daybreak.


“Restless old man,” said Achilles kindly, “depart then. But first tell me something. How soon dost thou intend to bury thy son? For until then I will keep the peace and restrain my people from battle.”

“O Achilles,” answered the old man, much moved, “if thou wilt grant us this favor, give us nine days to mourn the dead and prepare for his burial. On the tenth day we will burn him, on the eleventh erect the grave mound, and on the twelfth, if it must be, we will resume the war.”

“Let this, too, be as thou desirest,” replied Achilles. “I will hold the army in check for as long as thou hast demanded.”

He clasped the old man’s wrist to assure him of good faith, then accompanied the chariot as far as the gate in the wall, taking care that none of the Achaians should harm the old man. Priam drove once more through the well-known fields, past the ford of the flowing Scamander, where yesterday the friendly youth had appeared. And now, just as he was watering his horses there, the sun rose. Cassandra, Priam’s favorite daughter, who had been standing on the watch tower since dawn awaiting the return of her father with beating heart, recognized the travellers. She waited until she could discern all plainly, even the covered body of her brother on the chariot. Then she ran down the stairs to the palace, calling her mother and sisters loudly. “Only look, they are coming! Hasten, Trojans, to look upon the body of Hector, if ye have ever rejoiced over him alive as he returned from the battlefield. For he was the pride of the city and of all the people!”


All who heard her voice hurried forth, men and women, all hearts filled with boundless sorrow. But first of all came the old mother and Andromache. They went out to meet the chariot and stopped it at the city gate with loud cries. Mother and wife threw themselves on the body and wet it with their tears, tore their hair, touched his head, and lifted up the cloths to look upon his wounds. The crowd gathered, weeping, about them. But the king cried: “Stand back and let the horses pass! Ye may weep your fill when I have carried him into the house.”

They all stood aside and the king entered the city, the crowd following him to the palace. When the corpse was lifted from the chariot the universal lament began afresh. Singers were brought to chant the hymn of mourning and round about the women sobbed, especially Andromache, the beautiful princess. She held the dead man’s head in her hands and moaned: “Beloved, thou hast lost thy life, but the widow, alas, is left behind and thy young son. How shall he grow to manhood? For before that Troy will fall, as thou art dead, who didst defend the walls, the women, and lisping children. Soon they will be carried away to bondage, myself among them. And thou, my dear son, wilt go hence to endure ignominy with thy mother, if indeed some cruel Achaian entering the conquered city does not seize thee by thy tender neck and hurl thee down from the tiles into the streets below. Thy valiant father hath slain many Achaians; therefore the people mourn. O Hector, what unspeakable sorrow thou hast caused thy parents, but I am unhappy above all others! Dying, thou couldst not give me thy hand nor speak words of wisdom which I might have cherished.” Thus she spake, weeping, fathomless sorrow in her heart.


The old mother also could not be torn from her beloved son. First she caressed his head, then the cold hands, as though she hoped to call him back to life. Helen too lamented over the dead. “Hector dearest,” she cried, “thou didst love me more than any of my husband’s brothers. What insults I have suffered since the hero brought me to Troy! Thou alone hadst never an unkind word for me. Yea often, when thy mother or one of my sisters-in-law or even their husbands heaped abuse upon me, thou didst mollify the angry ones and make peace. How thy friendly encouragement comforted me! Ah, I shall never hear that dear voice again, and I have no longer a friend in this house, where all turn from me with loathing.”

Thus she lamented, and all the women mourned with her. But the venerable Priam now raised his commanding voice and spake. “Ye Trojans, fetch wood into the city and go without fear that the Danæans are lying in wait for you. For Peleus’ son promised with a sacred vow not to raise his hand against us until the twelfth day.”


Quickly they yoked oxen and horses to the carts, and on the tenth day, when golden Eos arose, the people all assembled for the funeral obsequies of Hector. With loud lamentations they carried out the corpse and laid it on the high scaffolding, which they set on fire. When the pyre had burnt itself out, they quenched the gleaming embers with red wine. His brothers and the comrades of the hero gathered together the white bones out of the ashes and deposited them in a golden urn, which was placed in the grave and gigantic blocks of stone heaped upon it. The grave mound was raised above it and sentinels were stationed about the place so that the Greeks should not surprise and attack them. After this all the people returned into the city and the solemn funeral feast was held in Priam’s palace. Thus the Trojans paid honor to the body of great Hector.



Translated from the German by

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