The Events of the Iliad (page 613)

Chapter 16, The Trojan War

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Homer, Iliad Book 9

[1] Thus kept the Trojans watch, but the Achaeans were holden of wondrous Panic, the handmaid of numbing fear and with grief intolerable were all the noblest stricken. Even as two winds stir up the teeming deep, [5] the North Wind and the West Wind that blow from Thrace, coming suddenly, and forthwith the dark wave reareth itself in crests and casteth much tangle out along the sea; even so were the hearts of the Achaeans rent within their breasts. But the son of Atreus, stricken to the heart with sore grief, [10] went this way and that, bidding the clear-voiced heralds summon every man by name to the place of gathering, but not to shout aloud; and himself he toiled amid the foremost. So they sat in the place of gathering, sore troubled, and Agamemnon stood up weeping even as a fountain of dark water [15] that down over the face of a beetling cliff poureth its dusky stream; even so with deep groaning spake he amid the Argives, saying:“My friends, leaders and rulers of the Argives, great Zeus, son of Cronos, hath ensnared me in grievous blindness of heart, cruel god! seeing that of old he promised me, and bowed his head thereto, [20] that not until I had sacked well-walled Ilios should I get me home; but now hath he planned cruel deceit, and biddeth me return inglorious to Argos, when I have lost much people. So, I ween, must be the good pleasure of Zeus supreme in might, who hath laid low the heads of many cities, [25] yea, and shall lay low; for his power is above all. Nay, come, even as I shall bid let us all obey: let us flee with our ships to our dear native land; for no more is there hope that we shall take broad-wayed Troy.” So spake he, and they all became hushed in silence. [30] Long time were they silent in their grief, the sons of the Achaeans, but at length there spake among them Diomedes, good at the war-cry:“Son of Atreus, with thee first will I contend in thy folly, where it is meet, O king, even in the place of gathering: and be not thou anywise wroth thereat. My valour didst thou revile at the first amid the Danaans, [35] and saidst that I was no man of war but a weakling; and all this know the Achaeans both young and old. But as for thee, the son of crooked-counselling Cronos hath endowed thee in divided wise: with the sceptre hath he granted thee to be honoured above all, but valour he gave thee not, wherein is the greatest might. [40] Strange king, dost thou indeed deem that the sons of the Achaeans are thus unwarlike and weaklings as thou sayest? Nay, if thine own heart is eager to return, get thee gone; before thee lies the way, and thy ships stand beside the sea, all the many ships that followed thee from Mycenae. [45] Howbeit the other long-haired Achaeans will abide here until we have laid waste Troy. Nay, let them also flee in their ships to their dear native land; yet will we twain, Sthenelus and I, fight on, until we win the goal of Ilios; for with the aid of heaven are we come.”  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad Book 10

[1] Now beside their ships all the other chieftains of the host of the Achaeans were slumbering the whole night through, overcome of soft sleep, but Agamemnon, son of Atreus, shepherd of the host, was not holden of sweet sleep, so many things debated he in mind. [5] Even as when the lord of fair-haired Hera lighteneth, what time he maketh ready either a mighty rain unspeakable or hail or snow, when the snow-flakes sprinkle the fields, or haply the wide mouth of bitter war; even so often did Agamemnon groan from the deep of his breast, [10] and his heart trembled within him. So often as he gazed toward the Trojan plain, he marvelled at the many fires that burned before the face of Ilios, and at the sound of flutes and pipes, and the din of men; but whensoever he looked toward the ships and the host of the Achaeans, [15] then many were the hairs that he pulled from his head by the very roots in appeal to Zeus that is above, and in his noble heart he groaned mightily. And this plan seemed to his mind the best, to go first of all to Nestor, son of Neleus, if so be he might contrive with him some goodly device [20] that should be for the warding off of evil from the Danaan host. So he sate him up and did on his tunic about his breast, and beneath his shining feet bound his fair sandals, and thereafter clad him in the tawny skin of a lion, fiery and great, a skin that reached his feet; and he grasped his spear. [25] And even in like manner was Menelaus holden of trembling fear—for on his eyelids too sleep settled not down—lest aught should befall the Argives who for his sake had come to Troy over the wide waters of the sea, pondering in their hearts fierce war. With a leopard’s skin first he covered his broad shoulders, a dappled fell, [30] and lifted up and set upon his head a helmet of bronze, and grasped a spear in his stout hand. Then he went his way to rouse his brother, that ruled mightily over all the Argives, and was honoured of the folk even as a god. Him he found putting about his shoulders his fair armour [35] by the stern of his ship, and welcome was he to him as he came. To him first spake Menelaus, good at the war-cry:“Wherefore, my brother, art thou thus arming? Wilt thou be rousing some man of thy comrades to spy upon the Trojans? Nay, sorely am I afraid lest none should undertake for thee this task, [40] to go forth alone and spy upon the foemen, through the immortal night; right hardy of heart must that man be.”  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad Book 11

[1] Now Dawn rose from her couch from beside lordly Tithonus, to bring light to immortals and to mortal men; and Zeus sent forth Strife unto the swift ships of the Achaeans, dread Strife, bearing in her hands a portent of war. [5] And she took her hand by Odysseus’ black ship, huge of hull, that was in the midst so that a shout could reach to either end, both to the huts of Aias, son of Telamon, and to those of Achilles; for these had drawn up their shapely ships at the furthermost ends, trusting in their valour and the strength of their hands. [10] There stood the goddess and uttered a great and terrible shout, a shrill cry of war, and in the heart of each man of the Achaeans she put great strength to war and to fight unceasingly. And to them forthwith war became sweeter than to return in their hollow ships to their dear native land. [15] But the son of Atreus shouted aloud, and bade the Argives array them for battle, and himself amid them did on the gleaming bronze. The greaves first he set about his legs; beautiful they were, and fitted with silver ankle-pieces; next he did on about his chest the corselet [20] that on a time Cinyras had given him for a guest-gift. For he heard afar in Cyprus the great rumour that the Achaeans were about to sail forth to Troy in their ships, wherefore he gave him the breastplate to do pleasure to the king. Thereon verily were ten bands of dark cyanus, [25] and twelve of gold, and twenty of tin; and serpents of cyanus writhed up toward the neck, three on either side, like rainbows that the son of Cronos hath set in the clouds, a portent for mortal men. And about his shoulders he flung his sword, whereon gleamed [30] studs of gold, while the scabbard about it was of silver, fitted with golden chains. And he took up his richly dight, valorous shield, that sheltered a man on both sides, a fair shield, and round about it were ten circles of bronze, and upon it twenty bosses of tin, [35] gleaming white, and in the midst of them was one of dark cyanus. And thereon was set as a crown1 the Gorgon, grim of aspect, glaring terribly, and about her were Terror and Rout. From the shield was hung a baldric of silver, and thereon writhed a serpent of cyanus, that had [40] three heads turned this way and that, growing forth from one neck. And upon his head he set his helmet with two horns and with bosses four, with horsehair crest, and terribly did the plume nod from above. And he took two mighty spears, tipped with bronze; keen they were, and far from him into heaven shone the bronze; [45] and thereat Athene and Hera thundered, doing honour to the king of Mycenae, rich in gold.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad Book 12

[1] So then amid the huts the valiant son of Menoetius was tending the wounded Eurypylus, but the others, Argives and Trojans, fought on in throngs, nor were the ditch of the Danaans and their wide wall above long to protect them, [5] the wall that they had builded as a defence for their ships and had drawn a trench about it—yet they gave not glorious hecatombs to the gods—that it might hold within its bounds their swift ships and abundant spoil, and keep all safe. Howbeit against the will of the immortal gods was it builded; wherefore for no long time did it abide unbroken. [10] As long as Hector yet lived, and Achilles yet cherished his wrath, and the city of king Priam was unsacked, even so long the great wall of the Achaeans likewise abode unbroken. But when all the bravest of the Trojans had died and many of the Argives—some were slain and some were left— [15] and the city of Priam was sacked in the tenth year, and the Argives had gone back in their ships to their dear native land, then verily did Poseidon and Apollo take counsel to sweep away the wall, bringing against it the might of all the rivers that flow forth from the mountains of Ida to the sea— [20] Rhesus and Heptaporus and Caresus and Rhodius, and Granicus and Aesepus, and goodly Scamander, and Simois, by the banks whereof many shields of bull’s-hide and many helms fell in the dust, and the race of men half-divine—of all these did Phoebus Apollo turn the mouths together, [25] and for nine days’ space he drave their flood against the wall; and Zeus rained ever continually, that the sooner he might whelm the wall in the salt sea. And the Shaker of Earth, bearing his trident in his hands, was himself the leader, and swept forth upon the waves all the foundations of beams and stones, that the Achaeans had laid with toil, [30] and made all smooth along the strong stream of the Hellespont, and again covered the great beach with sand, when he had swept away the wall; and the rivers he turned back to flow in the channel, where aforetime they had been wont to pour their fair streams of water.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad Book 13

[1] Now Zeus, when he had brought the Trojans and Hector to the ships, left the combatants there to have toil and woe unceasingly, but himself turned away his bright eyes, and looked afar, upon the land of the Thracian horsemen, [5] and of the Mysians that fight in close combat, and of the lordly Hippemolgi that drink the milk of mares, and of the Abii, the most righteous of men. To Troy he no longer in any wise turned his bright eyes, for he deemed not in his heart that any of the immortals would draw nigh to aid either Trojans or Danaans. [10] But the lord, the Shaker of Earth, kept no blind watch, for he sat marvelling at the war and the battle, high on the topmost peak of wooded Samothrace, for from thence all Ida was plain to see; and plain to see were the city of Priam, and the ships of the Achaeans. [15] There he sat, being come forth from the sea, and he had pity on the Achaeans that they were overcome by the Trojans, and against Zeus was he mightily wroth. Forthwith then he went down from the rugged mount, striding forth with swift footsteps, and the high mountains trembled and the woodland beneath the immortal feet of Poseidon as he went. [20] Thrice he strode in his course, and with the fourth stride he reached his goal, even Aegae, where was his famous palace builded in the depths of the mere, golden and gleaming, imperishable for ever. Thither came he, and let harness beneath his car his two bronze hooved horses, swift of flight, with flowing manes of gold; [25] and with gold he clad himself about his body, and grasped the well-wrought whip of gold, and stepped upon his car, and set out to drive over the waves. Then gambolled the sea-beasts beneath him on every side from out the deeps, for well they knew their lord, and in gladness the sea parted before him; [30] right swiftly sped they on, and the axle of bronze was not wetted beneath; and unto the ships of the Achaeans did the prancing steeds bear their lord.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Iliad Book 14

[1] And the cry of battle was not unmarked of Nestor, albeit at his wine, but he spake winged words to the son of Asclepius:“Bethink thee, goodly Machaon, how these things are to be; louder in sooth by the ships waxes the cry of lusty youths. [5] Howbeit do thou now sit where thou art and quaff the flaming wine, until fair-tressed Hecamede shall heat for thee a warm bath, and wash from thee the clotted blood, but I will go straightway to a place of outlook and see what is toward.” So spake he and took the well-wrought shield of his son, [10] horse-taming Thrasymedes, that was lying in the hut, all gleaming with bronze; but the son had the shield of his father. And he grasped a valorous spear, tipped with sharp bronze, and took his stand outside the hut, and forthwith saw a deed of shame, even the Achaeans in rout and the Trojans high of heart driving them; [15] and the wall of the Achaeans was broken down. And as when the great sea heaveth darkly with a soundless swell, and forebodeth the swift paths of the shrill winds, albeit but vaguely, nor do its waves roll forward to this side or to that until some settled gale cometh down from Zeus; [20] even so the old man pondered, his mind divided this way and that, whether he should haste into the throng of the Danaans of swift steeds, or go after Agamemnon, son of Atreus, shepherd of the host. And as he pondered, this thing seemed to him the better—to go after the son of Atreus. But the others meanwhile were fighting on and slaying one another, [25] and about their bodies rang the stubborn bronze, as they thrust one at the other with swords and two-edged spears.  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, January 2023

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