Iliad of Homer, The



Thetis, having brought Achilles his new armour, and promised to preserve the body of Patroclus from corruption, he is reconciled to Agamemnon, and being miraculously invigorated by Minerva, goes forth to battle, regardless of the prediction of his fate by his horse Xanthus.

Saffron-robed Morn was rising from the streams of ocean, that she might bear light to immortals and mortals; 619 but she (Thetis) came to the ships, bearing the gifts from the god. Her dear son she found lying upon Patroclus, bitterly lamenting, and his numerous companions were lamenting around him. But near to him stood the divine of goddesses, and hung upon his hand and spoke, and addressed him:

Footnote 619: (return)

"To resalute the world with sacred light

Leucothea waked, and with fresh dews embalm'd

The earth."--Par. Lost. xi. 132.

"My son, let us suffer him now to lie, grieved although we be, since first he has been laid low by the counsel of the gods: but do thou receive these distinguished arms from Vulcan, very beautiful, such as no man has ever worn upon his shoulders."

Having thus spoken, the goddess placed the armour before Achilles; and they, all curiously wrought, clashed aloud. Then tremor seized all the Myrmidons, nor did any one dare to look directly at them, but they fled in fear. But when Achilles saw them, the more rage entered him; and his eyes shone terribly beneath his eyelids, like a flame; and he was delighted, holding in his hands the splendid gifts of the god. But after he had delighted his mind, beholding these artificial works, he immediately addressed to his mother winged words:

"Mother mine, the god hath indeed given arms, such as are fit to be works of immortals, nor that a mortal man could make. Truly now will I arm myself; but I very much fear lest, in the meantime, the flies, having entered the gallant son of Menœtius, by his spear-inflicted wounds, create maggots, and pollute the corse, (for life in it is destroyed,) and all the parts of the body grow putrid."

But him the silver-footed goddess Thetis then answered:

"My child, let not these things be a care to thy mind. I will endeavour to drive away from him the fierce swarms, the flies which devour heroes slain in battle. For although he lie an entire year, his body shall always be uncorrupted, or even better. But do thou, having summoned the Grecian heroes to an assembly, having renounced thy wrath towards Agamemnon, the shepherd of the people, arm thyself quickly for war, and put on thy might."

Thus, therefore, having spoken, she infused into him the most daring courage, and then instilled into Patroclus, through the nostrils, ambrosia and ruby nectar, 620 that his body might be uncorrupted.

Footnote 620: (return) Milton, P.L. v. 633: "with angels' food, and rubied nectar flows."

But noble Achilles went along the shore of the sea, shouting fearfully, and aroused the Grecian heroes; so that even those who used formerly to remain in the assemblage of the ships, both those who were pilots, and who held the rudders of the ships, and the pursers [who] were at the ships, dispensers of food, even these then indeed went to the assembly, because Achilles appeared, for he had long abstained from the grievous battle. And two servants of Mars, the warlike son of Tydeus, and noble Ulysses, went limping, leaning upon a spear; for they still had painful wounds; and advancing, they sat in the front seats. But last came the king of men, Agamemnon, having a wound; for him also, in the sharp battle, Coon, son of Antenor, had wounded with his brazen spear. Then when all the Greeks were assembled, swift-footed Achilles, rising up amongst them, said:

"Son of Atreus, this would surely have been somewhat better for both thee and me, 621 when we two, grieved at heart, raged with soul-devouring contention for the sake of a girl. Would that Diana had slain her with an arrow in the ships on that day, when wasting, I took Lyrnessus; then indeed so many Greeks had not seized the mighty ground in their teeth under the hands of the enemy, I being continually enraged. This however was better for Hector and the Trojans, but I think the Greeks will long remember the contention of you and me. But let us leave these things as passed, although grieved, subduing from necessity the soul within our bosoms. And now I terminate my wrath, nor is it at all fit that I always obstinately be enraged; but come quickly, incite the long-haired Achæans to battle, in order that still I may make trial of the Trojans, going against them; if they wish to pass the night at the ships; but of them I think that any will very gladly bend the knee, whoever shall escape out of the destructive fight from my spear."

Footnote 621: (return) I.e. it would have been better for us to have been friends, as we now are, than enemies. The construction is interrupted, to suit the agitation of the speaker.

Thus he spoke; but the well-greaved Greeks rejoiced, the magnanimous son of Peleus renouncing his wrath. But them, the king of men, Agamemnon, also addressed out of the same place, from his seat, nor advancing into the midst:

"O friends! heroes of the Greeks, servants of Mars, it is becoming indeed that ye should hearken to me, thus rising, nor is it convenient that thou shouldst interrupt; for [it is] difficult, even for one being skilled. 622 But in a great uproar of men, how can any one hear or speak? but he is interrupted, although being a clear-toned orator. I indeed will direct myself to the son of Peleus; but do ye, the other Greeks, understand, and carefully learn my meaning. Often already have the Greeks spoken this saying to me, and have rebuked me; but I am not to blame, 623 but Jove, and Fate, and Erinnys, roaming amid the shades, who, during the assembly, cast into my mind a sad injury, on that day, when I myself took away the reward of Achilles. But what could I do? for the deity accomplishes all things; pernicious Até, the venerable daughter of Jove, who injures all. Her feet are tender, for she does not approach the ground, but she walks over the heads of men, injuring mankind, and one at least 624 [she] fetters. For at one time she injured even Jove, who, they say, is the most powerful of men and gods; but him Juno, being a female, deceived by her guile on that day when Alemene was about to bring forth mighty Hercules in well-walled Thebes. He indeed, boasting, had said among all the gods:

"Hear me, 625 all ye gods and all ye goddesses, whilst I speak those things which the mind within my bosom urges. This day Ilithyia, presiding over births, shall bring into the light a certain man, who shall be ruler over all his neighbours,--[one] of those men of the blood of my race!"

Footnote 622: (return) I.e. even a good speaker can do nothing without a fair hearing.
Footnote 623: (return) Cf. iii. 164. Seneca, (Ed. 1019) "Fati ista culpa est." Cf. Duport. p. 106. Æsch. Choeph. 910: Ἡ μοῖρα τούτων, ὧ τέκνον, παραιτία.
Footnote 624: (return) "A delicate censure of Achilles."--Oxford Transl.
Footnote 625: (return) Cf. Pindar, Ol. iii. 50-105, and Il. v. iii. I have followed Heyne's construing, supplying τινα.

But him the august Juno addressed, devising guile: "Thou shalt lie, nor shalt thou insure accomplishment to thy speech. But come, swear a firm oath to me, O Olympian! that he shall indeed be ruler over all his neighbours, who shall this day fall between the feet of a woman, among those men, who are of the blood of thy family."

Thus she spoke, but Jove perceived not her crafty design, but he swore the mighty oath, and afterwards was much befooled. 626 Then Juno springing forth, quitted the top of Olympus, and came speedily to Achaean Argos, where she knew the noble spouse of Sthenelus, the son of Perseus. And she, indeed, was pregnant of her beloved son; and the seventh month was at hand; and she brought him into light, being deficient the number of months; but kept back the delivery of Alemene, and restrained the Ilithyiæ; and herself bearing the message, addressed Jove, the son of Saturn:

Footnote 626: (return) Injured, vexed by his infatuation. Juno was thinking of Eurystheus but Jove of Hercules.

"Father Jove, hurler of the red lightning, I will put a certain matter in thy mind. A noble man is now born, who shall rule the Argives, Eurystheus, the son of Perseus, thy offspring; nor is it unbecoming that he should govern the Argives."

"Thus she spoke; but sharp grief smote him in his deep mind; and immediately he seized Até by her head of shining curls, enraged in his mind, and swore a powerful oath, that Até, who injures all, should never again return to Olympus and the starry heaven.

"Thus saying, he cast her from the starry heaven, whirling her round in his hand, but she quickly reached the works of men. On her account he always groaned, 627 when he beheld his beloved son suffering unworthy toil under the labours of 628 Eurystheus.

"So I also, when the great crest-tossing Hector was thus 629 destroying the Greeks at the sterns of the ships, was not able to forget the wrong which I had formerly foolishly committed. But since I have suffered harm, and Jove has taken away my reason, I am willing again to appease thee, and to give infinite presents. But arise to the battle, and incite the other people, and I myself [will pledge myself] to furnish all the presents, as many as noble Ulysses yesterday, going to thee, promised in thy tents. Yet, if thou wilt, wait a little, although hastening to battle, and my servants, taking the presents from my ship, shall bring them, that thou mayest see that I will present [thee] with appeasing offerings."

But him swift-footed Achilles answering, addressed; "Most glorious son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, whether thou wilt furnish gifts, as is meet, or keep them with thee, [will be seen]; but now let us very quickly be mindful of the contest; for it is not fitting to waste time in idle talk, 630 nor to delay; as a mighty work is yet undone. But as some one may again behold Achilles among the front ranks, destroying the phalanxes of the Trojans with his brazen spear, so also let some one of you, keeping this in mind, fight with [his] man."

Footnote 627: (return) On the servitude of Hercules, see Grote, vol. i. p. 128.
Footnote 628: (return) I.e. imposed by.
Footnote 629: (return) "The parallel implied here is of the havoc occasioned by Hector, and the laborious tasks imposed by Eurystheus. Such appears to be the force of the particle."--Kennedy.
Footnote 630: (return) Hesych.; Κλοτοπεύειν· παραλογίζεσθαι...... οτραγγύεσθαι.

But him Ulysses, of many wiles, answering, addressed: "Not thus, brave as thou art, O godlike Achilles, urge on the sons of the Greeks, fasting, towards Ilium, about to fight with the Trojans; for the conflict will not be for a short time only, when once the phalanxes of men shall mingle, and a god breathe might into both. But command the Greeks to be fed at the ships with food and wine, for this is might and vigour. For a man, unrefreshed by food, would not be able to fight against [the enemy] all day to the setting sun; for although he might desire in his mind to fight, yet his limbs gradually grow languid, and thirst and hunger come upon him, and his knees fail him as he goes. The man, on the other hand, who is satiated with wine and food, fights all day with hostile men, the heart within his breast is daring, nor are his limbs at all fatigued before that all retire from battle. But come, dismiss the people, and order a repast to be made ready; and let the king of men, Agamemnon, bring the gifts into the midst of the assembly, that all the Greeks may see them with their eyes, and thou mayest be delighted in thy mind. Let him, moreover, swear an oath to thee, standing up among the Greeks, that he has never ascended her bed, nor has been mingled with her, as is the custom, O king, of men and wives; and to thee thyself, also, let the soul within thy breast be placid. Then let him next conciliate thee by a rich banquet within his tents, that thou mayest not have aught wanting of redress. And for the future, O son of Atreus, thou wilt be more just towards another; for it is by no means unworthy that a king should appease a man, when he 631 may first have given offence."

Footnote 631: (return) Understand βασιλεύς.

But him the king of men, Agamemnon, in return addressed:

"I rejoice, O son of Laërtes, having heard thy speech, for with propriety hast thou gone through and enumerated all things. These things I am willing to swear, and my mind orders me, in presence of a god, nor will I perjure myself. But let Achilles remain here, at least for a little while, though hastening to battle, and do all ye others remain assembled, until they bring the gifts from my tent, and we strike faithful leagues. To thyself, however, [O Ulysses], I give this charge, and order thee, selecting the principal youths of all the Greeks, to bear from my ship the gifts, as many as we yesterday promised that we should give to Achilles, and to lead [hither] the women. But let Talthybius also quickly prepare for me through the wide army of the Greeks, a boar to sacrifice to Jove and the sun."

Him answering, swift-footed Achilles then addressed:

"Most glorious son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, at some other time ought they rather to attend to these things, when any cessation of battle hereafter be, and so much ardour be not in my bosom: but at present those lie mangled, whom Hector, son of Priam, subdued, when Jove gave him the glory: but ye urge [them] to food! Now indeed I should excite the sons of the Greeks to fight, fasting, but with the setting sun, to prepare a large supper, after we have revenged our disgrace. Before that neither drink nor food shall pass down my throat, my companion being slain, who lies in my tent, torn with the sharp brass, turned towards the vestibule, whilst his comrades mourn around these things are not a care to my mind, but slaughter and bloodshed, and the dreadful groans of heroes."

But him much-scheming Ulysses answering, addressed:

"O Achilles, son of Peleus, by far the bravest of the Greeks, thou art superior indeed to me, and not a little more valiant with the spear, but I indeed excel thee much in prudence; because I was born before thee, and know more: wherefore let thy mind be restrained by my words. Soon is there a satiety of contest to the men, a most abundant crop of whom the brass pours upon the earth; but the harvest is very small, when Jove, who is the umpire of the battle of men, inclines his scales. It is by no means fit that the Greeks should lament the dead with the stomach, for in great numbers and one upon another are they every day falling; when therefore could any one respire from toil? But it is necessary to bury him, whosoever may die, having a patient mind, weeping for a day. 632 But as many as survive the hateful combat should be mindful of drinking and of food, in order that we may ever the more ceaselessly contend with our enemies, clad as to our bodies in impenetrable brass; nor let any of the troops lie by awaiting another exhortation. For evilly will that exhortation come upon him, whoever may be left at the ships of the Greeks; but advancing in a body, let us stir up the keen battle against the horse-breaking Trojans."

Footnote 632: (return) Libanius, Or. ix. in Julian.: Ὤ πολλὰ συγκινήσας ἐπὶ σαυτῷ δάκρυα, οὐκ ἐπ' ἤματι κατὰ τὸ ἔπος, ὀλοφυρμοι τυχῶν. See Duport, p. 111.

He said, and chose as his companions the sons of glorious Nestor, and Meges, son of Phyleus, Thoas, and Meriones, Lycomedes, son of Creon, and Melanippus; and they proceeded to go towards the tent of Agamemnon, son of Atreus. Immediately after the word was spoken, and the work was perfected. Seven tripods they bore from the tent, which he had promised him, and twenty splendid goblets, and twelve steeds; and straightway led forth seven blameless women, skilled in works, but the eighth was fair-cheeked Briseïs. But Ulysses, placing 633 ten whole talents of gold, led the way, and with him the other youths of the Greeks bore the presents, and placed them in the midst of the assembly; but Agamemnon rose up; and Talthybius, like unto a god in his voice, stood beside the shepherd of the people, holding a boar in his hands. Then the son of Atreus, drawing the knife with his hands, which always hung by the great scabbard of his sword, cutting off the forelock of the boar, prayed, lifting up his hands to Jove; but all the Greeks sat in silence in the same spot, listening in a becoming manner to the king. But praying, he spoke, looking towards the wide heaven:

Footnote 633: (return) I.e. in the scale, in order to be weighed.

"Now first let Jove be witness, the most supreme and best of gods, and Earth, and Sun, and ye Furies, who beneath the earth chastise men, whoever may swear a falsehood; never have I laid hands upon the maid Briseïs, needing her for the sake of the couch, or any other purpose; but inviolate has she remained in my tents. But if any of these things be false, may the gods inflict on me those very many distresses which they inflict when men sin in swearing."

He said, and cut the throat of the boar with the ruthless brass; which Talthybius, whirling round, cast into the mighty water of the hoary sea, as food for fishes. But Achilles, rising, said among the war-loving Greeks:

"O father Jove, certainly thou givest great calamities to men; for never could Atrides have so thoroughly aroused the indignation in my bosom, nor foolish, led away the girl, I being unwilling, but Jove for some intent wished death should happen to many Greeks. But now go to the repast, that we may join battle."

Thus then he spoke, and dissolved the assembly in haste. 634

Footnote 634: (return) So Od. viii. 38: Θοὴν ἀλεγύνετε δαῖτα, i.e. θοῶς. Virg. Æn. iv. 226: "Celeres defer mea dicta per auras," which Servius interprets, "celer, vel celeriter."

They indeed were separated, each to his own ship; but the magnanimous Myrmidons were occupied about the gifts, and, bearing them, went to the ship of godlike Achilles. These they laid up in the tents, and placed the women in seats; but the illustrious attendants drove the horses to the stud. But afterwards Briseïs, like unto golden Venus, when she beheld Patroclus lacerated with the sharp spear, throwing herself about him, wept aloud, and with her hands tore her breast and tender neck, and fair countenance. 635 Then the woman, like unto the goddesses, weeping, said:

"O Patroclus! most dear to my wretched soul, I left thee indeed alive, departing from my tent, but now returning, I find thee dead, O chieftain of the people! How in my case evil ever succeeds evil. The hero indeed to whom my father and venerable mother had given me, 636 I saw pierced with the sharp brass before the city; and three beloved brothers whom the same mother had brought forth to me, all drew on the destructive day. Nevertheless, thou didst not suffer me to weep, when swift Achilles slew my husband, and laid waste the city of divine Mynes, but thou saidst thou wouldst render me the wedded wife 637 of noble Achilles, lead me in the ships to Phthia, and prepare the nuptial feast amongst the Myrmidons. Therefore do I insatiably lament thee dead, being ever gentle."

Footnote 635: (return) On these ancient signs of lamentation cf. Virg. Æn. iv. 672; xii. 605; Silius, viii. 153; Tusc. Quæst. iii. 26. Æsch. Choeph. 22: ρέπει παρήϊς φοινίοις ἀμυγμοῖς. Eur. Hel. 1098: αρῇδι τ' ὄνυχα φόνιον ἐμβαλῶ χροός. Orest. 950: Τιθεῖσα λευκὸν ὄνυχα δίὰ παρηΐδων, αἱματηρὸν ἄταν. Artemidor. i. Ἐν τοῖς πένθεσι λάβωνται τὰς παρείας οἱ ἄνθρωποι. See Comm. on Petron. cxi.
Footnote 636: (return) The consent of both parents was necessary to a contract of marriage. See Feith, Antiq. Hom. ii. 13, 3.
Footnote 637: (return) She appears to have been, at present, only betrothed.

Thus she spoke, weeping; and the women lamented for Patroclus, as a pretext, but [really] each for her own ills. And around him (Achilles) were collected the elders of the Greeks, entreating him to take refreshment; but he, moaning, refused:

"I entreat [you], if any of my beloved companions would be obedient to me, bid me not satiate my heart with food or drink, since heavy grief hath invaded me; but I will wait entirely till the setting sun, and will endure."

So saying, he dismissed the other kings: but two sons of Atreus remained; and noble Ulysses, Nestor, Idomeneus, and the aged knight Phœnix, constantly endeavouring to delight him sorrowing; nor was he at all delighted, before he should enter the mouth 638] of bloody war. But remembering [Patroclus], he frequently heaved [a sigh], and said:

Footnote 638: (return) So Ennius, p. 128. Hessel.: "Belli ferratos posteis portasque refregit." Virg. Æn. i. 298: "Claudentur belli portæ." Stat. Theb. v. 136: "Movet ostia belli."

"Surely once, thou too, O unhappy one! dearest of my companions, wouldst thyself have set before me a plentiful feast, within my tent, speedily and diligently, when the Greeks hastened to make tearful war upon the horse-breaking Trojans. But now thou liest mangled; but my heart is without drink and food, though they are within, from regret for thee; for I could not suffer anything worse, not even if I were to hear of my father being dead, who now perhaps sheds the tender tear in Phthia from the want of such a son; while I, in a foreign people, wage war against the Trojans, for the sake of detested Helen: or him, my beloved son, who is nurtured for me at Scyros, if indeed he still lives, godlike Neoptolemus. For formerly the mind within my bosom hoped that I alone should perish here in Troy, far from steed-nourishing Argos, and that thou shouldst return to Phthia, that thou mightst lead back my son in thy black ship from Scyros, and mightst show him everything, my property, my servants, and my great, lofty-domed abode. For now I suppose that Peleus is either totally deceased, or that he, barely alive, suffers pain from hateful old age, and that he is continually expecting bad news respecting me, when he shall hear of my being dead."

Thus he spoke, weeping; and the elders also groaned, remembering, each of them, the things which they had left in their dwellings. But the son of Saturn felt compassion, seeing them weeping, and immediately to Minerva addressed winged words:

"O daughter mine, thou entirely now desertest thy valiant hero. Is Achilles then no longer at all a care to thee in thy mind? He himself is sitting before his lofty-beaked ships, bewailing his dear companion; while the others have gone to a banquet; but he is unrefreshed and unfed. Go, therefore, instil into his breast nectar and delightful ambrosia, that hunger may come not upon him."

So saying, he urged on Minerva, who was before eager. But she, like unto a broad-winged, shrill-voiced harpy, leaped down from the heavens through the air. The Greeks, however, were then arming themselves throughout the camp, when she instilled into the bosom of Achilles nectar and delightful ambrosia, that unpleasant hunger might not come upon his limbs. Then she went to the solid mansion of her powerful sire, and they, apart, poured forth from the swift ships.

And as when thick snow-flakes fly down from Jove, beneath the force of the cold, air-clearing Boreas; so from the ships were borne out crowded helmets, shining brightly, and bossed shields, strong-cavitied corslets, and ashen spears. But the sheen reached to heaven, and all the earth around smiled beneath the splendour of the brass; and a trampling of the feet of men arose beneath. In the midst noble Achilles was armed, and there was a gnashing of his teeth, and his eyes shone like a blaze of fire; but intolerable grief entered his heart within him, and, enraged against the Trojans, he put on the gifts of the god, which Vulcan, toiling, had fabricated for him. First around his legs he placed the beautiful greaves, joined with silver clasps, next he put on the corslet round his breast, and suspended from his shoulders the brazen, silver-studded sword; then he seized the shield, large and solid, the sheen of which went to a great distance, as of the moon. 639 And as when from the sea the blaze of a burning fire shines to mariners, which is lit aloft amongst the mountains in a solitary place; but the storm bears them against their inclination away from their friends over the fishy deep; so from the shield of Achilles, beautiful and skilfully made, the brightness reached the sky. But raising it, he placed the strong helmet upon his head; and the helmet, crested with horse-hair, shone like a star; and the golden tufts which Vulcan had diffused thick around the cone were shaken. Then noble Achilles tried himself in his arms if they would fit him, and if his fair limbs would move freely in them; but they were like wings to him, and lifted up the shepherd of the people. And from its sheath he drew forth his paternal spear, heavy, great, and stout, which no other of the Greeks was able to brandish, but Achilles alone knew how to hurl it--a Pelian ash, which Chiron had cut for his father from the top of Pelion, to be a destruction to heroes. But Automedon and Alcimus, harnessing the steeds, yoked them; and beautiful collars were upon them. They put the bridles into their jaws, and drew back the reins towards the well-glued car, when Automedon, seizing the shining lash, fitted to his hand, leaped into the car; Achilles, armed for battle, mounted behind him, glittering in his armour like the shining sun; and terribly he gave command to the horses of his sire:

Footnote 639: (return) Milton, P. L. i. 284:

"........ his pond'rous shield

Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,

Behind him cast; the broad circumference

Hung on his shoulders like the moon."

"Xanthus, and Balius, illustrious offspring of Podarges, resolve now in a different manner to bring back your charioteer in safety to the body of the Greeks, after we are satiated with battle, nor leave him there dead, like Patroclus."

But from beneath the yoke, Xanthus, his swift-footed steed, addressed him, and immediately hung down his head, and his whole mane, drooping from the ring which was near the yoke, reached the ground. But the white-armed goddess Juno gave him the power of speech:

"Now, at least, we will bear thee safe, O impetuous Achilles: but the fatal day draws nigh to thee; nor are we to blame, but a mighty deity and violent destiny. For not by our laziness, or sloth, have the Trojans stripped the armour from the shoulders of Patroclus; but the bravest of the gods, whom fair-haired Latona brought forth, slew him among the front ranks, and gave glory to Hector. And [though] we can run even with the blast of Zephyrus, which they say is the most fleet, yet to thyself it is fated that thou shouldst be violently subdued by a god and a man."

Of him, having thus spoken, the Furies restrained the voice: but him swift-footed Achilles, greatly indignant, addressed:

"O Xanthus, why dost thou predict my death to me? For it is not at all necessary for thee. Well do I myself know that it is my fate to perish here, far away from my dear father and mother. Nevertheless I will not cease before the Trojans are abundantly satiated with war."

He spoke, and shouting amongst the front ranks, directed on his solid-hoofed steeds.

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