Now aloft by the side of
Zeus the gods sat in council,
conferring across Olympus' golden floor as noble Hebe
poured them rounds of nectar. They lifted golden beakers,
pledging each other warmly, gazing down on Troy ...
But abruptly Zeus was set on infuriating Hera,
courting her fire with cunning, mocking taunts: "So,
those two goddesses there are Menelaus' best defense,
Hera of Argos, Boeotian Athena, guard of armies.
Look at them—sitting apart, watching the dueling.
So they take their pleasure. But Aphrodite here
with her everlasting laughter always stands by Paris
and drives the deadly spirits from her man. Why,
just now she plucked him away, she saved his life
when he thought his end had come. Nevertheless-
clearly victory goes to Menelaus dear to Ares.
So now we plan how the war will all work out:
do we rouse the pain and grisly fighting once again
or hand down pacts of peace between both armies?
Ah if only it might prove well and good to all,
to every immortal god, men might still live on
in royal Priam's citadel. And Helen of Argos?
Menelaus just might lead her home again."
So he mocked
as Athena and Queen Hera muttered between themselves,
huddled together, plotting Troy's destruction.
True, Athena held her peace and said nothing .. .
smoldering at the Father, seized with wild resentment.
But Hera could hold the anger in her breast no longer,
suddenly bursting out, "Dread majesty, son of Cronus,
what are you saying? How can you think of making
all my labor worthless, all gone for nothing?
Mortal labor-the sweat I poured, my horses panting,
spent from launching Achaea's armies, heaping pains
on Priam and Priam's sons.
Do as you please—
but none of the deathless gods will ever praise you."
Rising in anger,
Zeus who drives the storm clouds
thundered, "Insatiable Heral How great are the pains
that Priam and Priam's sons have heaped on you
that you rage on, relentless, forever bent on razing
the well-built heights of Troy? Only if you could breach
their gates and their long walls and devour Priam
and Priam's sons and the Trojan armies raw-
then you just might cure your rage at last.
Well, do as you please. But in days to come
don't let this quarrel breed some towering clash
between us both, pitting you and me in conflict.
One more thing-take it to heart, I urge you.
Whenever I am bent on tearing down some city
filled with men you love-to please myself-
never attempt to thwart my fury, Hera,
give me my way. For 1, 1 gave you this,
all of my own free will but hardly willing. No,
of all the cities under the sun and starry skies,
wherever men who walk the earth have dwelled,
I honor sacred Ilium most with my immortal heart:
Priam and men of Priam who hurls the strong ash spear.
Never once did my altar lack its share of victims,
winecups tipped and the deep smoky savor. These,
these are the gifts we claim-they are our rights."
And Hera the
Queen, her eyes wide, answered,
"Excellent! The three cities that I love best of all
are Argos and Sparta, Mycenae with streets as broad as Troy's.
Raze them—whenever they stir the hatred in your heart.
My cities . . . I will never rise in their defense,
not against you—I'd never grudge your pleasure.
What if I did protest, forbid you to raze their walls?
What good would protest do? You are far stronger than I.
Still, you must not make my labor come to nothing.
I am a god too. My descent the same as yours-
crooked-minded Cronus fathered me as well,
the first of all his daughters, first both ways:
both by birth and since I am called your consort
and you in turn rule all the immortal gods.
So come, let us yield to each other now
on this one point, I to you and you to me,
and the other deathless powers will fall in line.
But quickly, order Athena down to battle now,
into the killing-ground of Trojans and Achaeans—
and see that the Trojans break the sworn truce first
and trample on the Argives in their triumph!"
The father of men
and gods complied at once.
He winged Athena on with a flight of orders: "Quickly!
Down you go to Troy's.and Achaea's armies now-
and see that the Trojans break the sworn truce first
and trample on the Argives in their triumph."
So he launched
Athena already poised for action.
Down the goddess swept from Olympus' craggy peaks
and dove like a star the son of Cronus flings,
Cronus with all his turning, twisting ways-
a sign to men at sea or a massive army marching,
blazing on with a stream of sparks showering in its wake.
Like a shooting star Athena flashed across the earth,
plunging down in the midst of both camped forces.
Terror gripped the fighters looking on,
stallion-breaking Trojans, Argive men-at-arms.
One would glance at a comrade, groaning, "What next-
battle again, more pain and grisly fighting?
Or pacts between both armies? Peace from Zeus,
the great steward on high who rules our mortal wars?"
As Achaeans and
Trojans wondered what was coming,
Athena merged in the Trojan columns like a fighter,
like Antenor's son the rugged spearman Laodocus,
hunting for Pandarus, hoping to find the archer.
Find him she did, Lycaon's skilled, fearless son,
standing by, flanked by the bands of shielded men
who'd trooped with him from Aesepus' dark rapids.
Athena halted beside him, let her challenge fly:
"Here's glory, son of Lycaon-let me tempt you,
you with your archer's skill! Have you the daring
to wing an arrow at Menelaus? Just think what thanks,
what fame you'd win in the eyes of all the Trojans,
Prince Paris most of all. The first among all,
you'd bear off shining, priceless gifts from him.
Just let him see Menelaus, Atreus' fighting son
brought down by your shaft and hoisted onto his pyre,
mourned with grief and tears! Come, up with you,
whip an arrow at this invincible Menelaus-now!
But swear to Apollo, Wolf-god, glorious Archer,
you'll slaughter splendid victims, newborn lambs
when you march home to Zelea's sacred city."
So Athena fired the
fool's heart inside him.
Then and there he unstrapped his polished bow,
the horn of a wild goat he'd shot in the chest
one day as the springy ibex clambered down a cliff.
Lurking there under cover, he hit it in the heart
and the fine kill went sprawling down the rocks.
The horns on its head ran sixteen hands in length
and a bowyer good with goat-horn worked them up,
fitted, clasped them tight, sanded them smooth
and set the golden notch-rings at the tips.
Superb equipment-bending it back hard
the archer strung his bow ...
propping an end against the ground as cohorts
braced their shields in a tight wedge to hide him,
fearing bands of Argives might just leap to their feet
before he could hit Menelaus, Atreus' fighting son.
He flipped the lid of his quiver, plucked an arrow
fletched and never shot, a shaft of black pain.
Quickly notching the sharp arrow on the string
he swore to Apollo, Wolf-god, glorious Archer,
he'd slaughter splendid victims, newborn lambs
when he marched home to Zelea's sacred city.
Squeezing the nock and string together, drawing
the gut back to his nipple, iron head to the handgrip
till he flexed the great weapon back in a half-circle curve-
the bow sprang! the string sang out, arrow shot away
razor-sharp and raging to whip through Argive ranks!
Menelaus, the blessed deathless gods did not forget you,
Zeus's daughter the queen of fighters first of all.
She reared before you, skewed the tearing shaft,
flicking it off your skin as quick as a mother
flicks a fly from her baby sleeping softly.
Athena's own hand deflected it down the belt
where the gold buckles clasp and breastplates overlap.
The shaft pierced the tight belt's twisted thongs,
piercing the blazoned plates, piercing the guard
he wore to shield his loins and block the spears,
his best defense-the shaft pierced even this,
the tip of the weapon grazing the man's flesh,
and dark blood came spurting from the wound.
Picture a woman
dyeing ivory blood red ...
a Carian or Maeonian staining a horse's cheekpiece,
and it's stored away in a vault and troops of riders
long to sport the ornament, true, but there it lies
as a king's splendor, kept and prized twice over-
his team's adornment, his driver's pride and glory.
So now, Menelaus, the fresh blood went staining down
your sturdy thighs, your shins and well-turned ankles.
The lord of men
Agamemnon shuddered, frightened
to see the dark blood gushing from the wound.
And veteran Menelaus cringed himself but saw
the lashing-cords and barbs outside the gash
and his courage flooded back inside his chest.
Nevertheless, King Agamemnon, groaning heavily,
grasped Menelaus' hand and spoke out for the men
as friends around him groaned as well: "Dear brother-
that truce I sealed in blood was death for you,
setting you out alone ...
exposed before our lines to fight the Trojans-
Look how the men of Troy have laid you low,
trampling down our solemn, binding truce!
But they will never go for nothing, the oaths,
the blood of the lambs, the unmixed wine we poured,
the firm clasp of the right hand we trusted.
even if Zeus's wrath does not strike home at once,
he'll strike in his own good time with greater fury.
Transgressors will pay the price, a tremendous price,
with their own heads, their wives and all their children.
Yes, for in my heart and soul I know this well:
the day will come when sacred Troy must die,
Ptfam must die and all his people with him,
Priam who hurls the strong ash spear!
The son of Cronus,
Zeus, throned aloft in the heavens where he lives,
Zeus himself will brandish over their heads
his black storm-shield, enraged at their deceit.
Nothing can stop it now. All this will come to pass.
But I will suffer terrible grief for you, Menelaus,
if you die now, if you fill out your destiny now-
and I go back to parching Argos in disgrace.
For the men will turn their minds toward home at once,
and we must leave Priam and all the men of Troy
a trophy to glory over, Helen, queen of Argos ...
But the plowland here will rot your bones, my brother,
as you lie dead in Troy, your mission left unfinished.
Then some Trojan will glory, swaggering, arrogant,
leaping down on the grave of famous Menelaus:
'Let Agamemnon wreak his anger so on all his foesl
Just as he led his armies here for nothing, failure.
Now home he's gone to the dear land of his fathers,
his warships empty, leaving behind the hero Menelaus
moldering in his wake!'
So some Trojan will trumpet—
let the great earth gape and take me down that day!"
But the red-haired
Menelaus tried to calm him:
"Courage. Don't alarm the men, not for a moment.
The point's not lodged in a mortal spot, you see?
My glittering war-belt stopped the shot in front,
my loin-piece and the plated guard below it,
gear the bronzesmiths hammered out for me."
Agamemnon took his lead:
"Pray god you're right, dear brother Menelaus!
But the wound-a healer will treat it, apply drugs
and put a stop to the black waves of pain."
Agamemnon turned to
the sacred herald:
"Quick, Talthybius. Call Machaon here,
the son of Asclepius, that unfailing healer,
to see to Menelaus, Atreus' fighting son.
An archer's hit him, a good hand at the bow,
some Trojan or some Lycian-all glory to him,
a heavy blow to us."
The herald obeyed at once.
He ran through ranks of Achaeans armed in bronze,
searching for brave Machaon. Find him he did,
standing by, flanked by the bands of shielded men
who'd trooped with him from the stallion-land of Tricca.
He halted beside him there and let his message fly:
"Quickly, son of Asclepius, King Agamemnon calls!
Now see to Menelaus, Achaea's fighting captain.
An archer's hit him, a good hand at the bow,
some Trojan or some Lycian-all glory to him,
a heavy blow to us!"
So the herald shouted,
stirring Machaon's spirit. Back the two men ran
through crowds of troops in Achaea's vast encampment.
And gaining the place where red-haired Menelaus
nursed his wound and a growing ring of warlords
pressed around him, striding into their midst
the godsent healer reached the captain's side
and quickly drew the shaft from his buckled belt-
he pulled it clear, the sharp barbs broke back.
He loosed the glittering belt and slipped it off
and the loin-piece and the plated guard below it,
gear the bronzesmiths made. When he saw the wound
where the tearing arrow hit, he sucked out the blood
and deftly applied the healing salves that Chiron,
friend of Asclepius, gave his father long ago.
And all the
while they worked over Menelaus
whose cry could marshal armies, on the Trojans came,
columns armed for assault, and again the Argives
donned their gear and roused their lust for war.
hour. You would not find him asleep,
not cringing a moment, hanging back from the struggle-
he pressed for battle now where men win glory.
He left his team and burnished bronze car
with an aide, Eurymedon, Ptolemaeus PiraIdes' son
reining off to the side his snorting pair of stallions.
He gave him strict orders to keep them close at hand
for the time his knees might buckle with fatigue
from bringing crowds of soldiers into line.
Then out he went on foot to range the ranks.
The charioteers he spotted, fast with teams,
he'd halt beside and spur them on: "My Argives,
never relax your nerve, your fighting strength!
Father Zeus, I swear, will never defend the Trojans,
liars—they were the first to trample on their oaths.
So vultures will eat them raw, their firm young flesh,
and we, we'll drag their dear wives and helpless children
back to the beaked ships, once we've seized, their city!"
But any men he saw
retreating from hateful battle
he would lash with a sharp burst of rage: "You Argives-
glorious braggarts! Disgraces-have you no shame?
Just standing there, dumbstruck like fawns
done in from hightailing over some big meadow,
winded and teetering, heart inside them spent.
Standing there dazed, your fighting spirit dead-
what are you waiting for? You want these Trojans
to pin you against your high stems beached in the surf?
To see if Zeus will stretch his hands above your heads
and save your craven lives?"
So the commander
ranged Achaea's ranks and brought them into line.
Moving on through the crowds he found the Cretans
arming for combat now, ringing brave Idomeneus.
Strong as a boar he urged his frontline troops
as Meriones brought the rear battalions up.
King Agamemnon, thrilled to watch them work,
was quick to salute the chief and sing his praises:
"You are the one I prize, Idomeneus, more than all
our Argive fighters fast with chariot-teams-
whether in war or action of any sort
or feasts where the ranking Argive warlords
mix their bowls with the shining wine of kings.
What if the rest of all the long-haired Achaeans
drink their measure off? Your cup stands filled, always,
brimmed like mine when the will stirs you to drink-
so now drink deep of battle. Be that fighter
you claimed to be in all the years gone by."
The Cretan captain
Idomeneus answered warmly,
"Trust me, Atrides—count on me, your comrade,
staunch as I swore at first, that day I bowed my head.
Now fire up the rest of your long-haired Achaeans.
On with the fighting, quickly!
The Trojans broke our binding truce just now-
death and grief to the men of Troy hereafter!
They were the first to trample on our pact."
the son of Atreus strode on. Elated and making way
through crowds of troops he found the two called Ajax,
Great and Little, both captains armed for attack
with a cloud of infantry forming up behind them.
Think how a goatherd off on a mountain lookout
spots a storm cloud moving down the sea ...
bearing down beneath the rush of the West Wind
and miles away he sees it building black as pitch,
blacker, whipping the whitecaps, full hurricane fury-
the herdsman shudders to see it, drives his flocks to a cave-
so dense the battalions grouped behind the two Aeantes,
packed, massed with hardy fighters dear to the gods,
battalions black and bristling shields and spears,
fighters sweeping into the breaking storm of war.
And King Agamemnon, thrilled to see that sight,
sped them on with a rousing flight of praises:
"Ajax-Ajax! Chiefs of the Argives armed in bronze,
no orders for you-it's wrong to incite you two,
you lead your men to war in so much force.
Father Zeus, Athena, Apollo, if all my fighters
had such courage pounding inside their chests,
we'd bring King Priam's citadel crashing down
in an instant, sacked at our hands—annihilated."
He spun on his heels
and left them there in place,
heading for other ranks and came on Nestor next,
the clear speaker of Pylos posting troops,
readying them for action, combat units forming
under the lanky Pelagon, Alastor and Chromius,
Haemon and stocky Bias, skilled captain of armies.
Forward he ranged the charioteers with teams and cars,
backed by infantry close behind them, milling, brave men,
the defensive line of battle-that would be their role.
But the known cowards he drove amidst the center:
a man might cringe but he'd be forced to fight.
And first he gave his drivers strict commands
to rein their teams back hard and never panic,
no fouling them in the onslaught: "Let no man,
so sure of his horsemanship and soldier's prowess,
dare to fight it out alone with the Trojans,
exposed in front of his lines. No heroics now!
But give no ground-the charge will go to pieces.
And any charioteer who reaches Trojan chariots,
thrust your spear from your own car, don't throw it!
Better that way—it's tighter, stronger fighting.
So men before your time stormed walls and cities,
holding fast to that tactic, warring on with heart."
The old soldier
spurring his men with skills
from a lifetime spent campaigning, battles long ago.
And King Agamemnon, thrilled to see his efforts,
cheered him on with a flight of praise: "Old war-horse,
if only your knees could match the spirit in your chest
and your body's strength were planted firm as rock,
but the great leveler, age, has wom you down.
If only some other fighter had your years
and you could march with the younger, fitter men!"
And Nestor the
seasoned charioteer replied,
"True, Atrides, if only I were the man I was,
years ago, when I cut down rugged Ereuthalion ...
but the gods won't give us all their gifts at once.
If I was a young man then, now old age dogs my steps.
Nevertheless, I'll still troop with the horsemen,
give them maneuvers, discipline and commands:
that is the right and pride of us old men.
The young spearmen will do the work with spears.
Younger than Nestor, the next generation up,
flush with their fresh strength."
So Nestor said
and Atrides ranged forward, glad at heart,
and came on Peteos' son the charioteer
Menestheus standing idle, and circling him
Athenian men who could raise the cry of battle.
And there beside them the great tactician Odysseus,
drawn up with his Cephallenians grouped around him,
bands of them, no mean fighters, watching, waiting.
The call to action had still not reached their ears
and the columns were only just now forming, moving out,
stallion-breaking Trojans and long lines of Achaeans.
So the Cephallenians held their ground there, poised .. .
when would some other Argive unit make its charge,
engage the Trojan front and open up in battle?
Spotting them now the lord of men Agamemnon
dressed them down with a winging burst of scorn:
"You there, Peteos' son, a king, dear to the gods!
And you, the captain of craft and cunning, shrewd with greed!
Why are you cowering here, skulking out of range?
Waiting for others 'to do your fighting for you?
You-it's your duty to stand in the front ranks
and take your share of the scorching blaze of battle.
First you are, when you hear of feasts from me,
when Achaeans set out banquets for the chiefs.
Then you're happy enough to down the roast meats
and cups of honeyed, mellow wine-all you can drink.
But now you'd gladly watch ten troops of Achaeans
beat you to this feast,
first to fight with the ruthless bronze before you!"
The great tactician
Odysseus gave him a dark glance
and shot back at once, "Now what's this, Atrides,
this talk that slips through your clenched teeth?
How can you say I hang back from the fighting
when Argive units spur the slashing god of war
against these Trojan horsemen? Just you watch,
if you'll take the time and care to taste some action,
watch Telemachus' loving father lock and fight
with enemy champions, stallion-breaking Trojans.
You and your bluster-you are talking nonsense!"
smiled broadly and took back his taunts at once:
"Royal son of Laertes, Odysseus, great tactician,
I must not bait you so beyond the limit . . .
must not give you orders. I know for a fact
the spirit in your heart is well-disposed
to me and all my efforts. We see eye-to-eye.
Come, we'll set these things to rights later-
if any offense has passed between us now.
May the gods make all our bluster come to nothing."
He left him there in
place, heading for other chiefs.
And he came on Tydeus' son, impetuous Diomedes
standing by in his bolted car behind his team
with Sthenelus flanked beside him, Capaneus' son.
And spotting Tydides there, field marshal Agamemnon
gave him a winging burst of scorn: "What's this?-
you, the son of Tydeus, that skilled breaker of horses?
Why cringing here? Gazing out on the passageways of battle!
That was never Tydeus' way, shy behind the lines
he'd grapple enemies, bolting ahead of comrades.
Or so they claim who watched him at his work.
I never met the man myself, never saw him,
but they say he had no equal. True enough,
he came to Mycenae once but not at war with us-
a guest, a friend, with the royal Polynices
raising troops that time they geared to attack
the holy walls of Thebes. They pressed us hard,
they begged us to give them battle-tested allies.
My kin were glad to oblige and grant them their requests-
till Zeus changed our minds with a flash of bad omens.
So off they went, getting some distance on their way
and reached the Asopus' grassy banks and reedbeds.
From that point the men sent Tydeus on ahead,
bearing their message. He marched out at once
and came on crowds, menacing bands of Thebans
feasting away in the halls of mighty Eteocles.
a total stranger, the horseman Tydeus had no fear,
alone in the midst of Theban hordes. Undaunted,
Tydeus challenged them all to tests of strength
and beat them all with ease, in each event,
Athena urged him on with so much winning force.
But the Thebans rose in anger, lashed their teams
arld packed an ambush to meet him heading back-
full fifty fighters with two chiefs in the lead,
Hunter the son of Bloodlust, strong as the gods,
and Killerman's son, the gifted cutthroat Slaughter.
But Tydeus treated them all to a shameful fate,
finished them all but let one run for home,
heeding the gods' signs he let the hunter off.
Now there was a man, that Tydeus, that Aetolian.
But he bore a son who's not the half of him in battle-
better only in wrangling, wars of words!"
and steadfast Diomedes offered no reply ...
overawed by the king's majestic scorn.
But Capaneus' headstrong son lashed back in style:
"Don't lie, Atrides! You know the truth-say it!
We claim we are far, far greater than our fathers.
We are the ones who stormed the seven gates of Thebes,
heading a weaker force and facing stronger walls
but obeying the gods' signs and backed by Zeus.
Our fathers? Fools. Their own bravado killed them.
Don't tell me you rank our fathers with ourselves!"
Diomedes gave him a dark glance:
"Sit down, my friend, be quiet. Listen to me.
I don't blame Agamemnon, our commander in chief,
for goading his combat-ready Argives into battle.
The glory goes to him if the Argive fighters
lay the Trojans low and take their sacred city,
but immense grief is his if comrades die in droves.
Up now, rouse our fighting-fury!"
he sprang from his chariot fully armed and hit the ground.
A terrific din of bronze rang from the captain's chest,
striding toward attack. Fear would have gripped
the staunchest man and made his knees give way.
As a heavy surf
assaults some roaring coast,
piling breaker on breaker whipped by the West Wind,
and out on the open sea a crest first rears its head
then pounds down on the shore with hoarse, rumbling thunder
and in come more shouldering crests, arching up and breaking
against some rocky spit, exploding salt foam to the skies-
so wave on wave they came, Achaean battalions ceaseless,
surging on to war. Each captain ordered his men
and the ranks moved on in silence ...
You'd never think so many troops could march
holding their voices in their chests, all silence,
fearing their chiefs who called out clear commands,
and the burnished blazoned armor round their bodies flared,
the formations trampling on.
But not the Trojans, no
. . .
like flocks of sheep in a wealthy rancher's steadings,
thousands crowding to have their white milk drained,
bleating nonstop when they hear their crying lambs-
so the shouts rose up from the long Trojan lines
and not one cry, no common voice to bind them
all together, their tongues mixed and clashed,
their men hailed from so many far-flung countries.
Ares, drove them, fiery-eyed Athena drove the Argives,
and Terror and Rout and relentless Strife stormed too,
sister of manslaughtering Ares, Ares' comrade-in-arms-
Strife, only a slight thing when she first rears her head
but her head soon hits the sky as she strides across the earth.
Now Strife hurled down the leveler Hate amidst both sides,
wading into the onslaught, flooding men with pain.
At last the armies
clashed at one strategic point,
they slammed their shields together, pike scraped pike
with the grappling strength of fighters armed in bronze
and their round shields pounded, boss on welded boss,
and the sound of struggle roared and rocked the earth.
Screams of men and cries of triumph breaking in one breath,
fighters killing, fighters killed, and the ground streamed blood.
Wildly as two winter torrents raging down from the mountains,
swirling into a valley, hurl their great waters together,
flash floods from the wellsprings plunging down in a gorge
and miles away in the hills a shepherd hears the thunder-
so from the grinding armies broke the cries and crash of war.
Antilochus was the
first to kill a Trojan captain,
tough on the front lines, Thalysias' son Echepolus.
Antilochus thrust first, speared the horsehair helmet
right at the ridge, and the bronze spearpoint lodged
in the man's forehead, smashing through his skull
and the dark came whirling down across his eyes-
he toppled down like a tower in the rough assault.
As he fell the enormous Elephenor grabbed his feet,
Chalcodon's son, lord of the brave-hearted Abantes,
dragged him out from under the spears, rushing madly
to strip his gear but his rush was short-lived.
Just as he dragged that corpse the brave Agenor
spied his ribs, bared by his shield as he bent low-
Agenor stabbed with a bronze spear and loosed his limbs,
his life spirit left him and over his dead body now
the savage work went on, Achaeans and Trojans
mauling each other there like wolves, leaping,
hurtling into each other, man throttling man.
And Telamonian Ajax
struck Anthemion's son,
the hardy stripling Simoisius, still unwed ...
His mother had borne him along the Simois' banks
when she trailed her parents down the slopes of Ida
to tend their flocks, and so they called him Simoisius.
But never would he repay his loving parents now
for the gift of rearing-his life cut short so soon,
brought down by the spear of lionhearted Ajax.
At the first charge he slashed his right nipple,
clean through the shoulder went the brazen point
and down in the dust he fell like a lithe black poplar
shot up tall and strong in the spreading marshy flats,
the trunk trimmed but its head a shock of branches.
A chariot-maker fells it with shining iron ax
as timber to bend for handsome chariot wheels
and there it lies, seasoning by the river .. .
So lay Anthemion's son Simoisius, cut down
by the giant royal Ajax.
Antiphus hurled at him—
the son of Priam wearing a gleaming breastplate
let fly through the lines but his sharp spear missed
and he hit Leucus instead, Odysseus' loyal comrade,
gouging his groin as the man hauled off a corpse-
it dropped from his hands and Leucus sprawled across it.
Enraged at his friend's death Odysseus sprang in fury,
helmed in fiery bronze he plowed through the front
and charging the enemy, glaring left and right
he hurled his spear-a glinting brazen streak-
and the Trojans gave ground, scattering back,
panicking there before his whirling shaft-
a direct hit! Odysseus struck Democoon,
Priam's bastard son come down from Abydos,
Priam's racing-stables. Incensed for the dead
Odysseus speared him straight through one temple
and out the other punched the sharp bronze point
and the dark came swirling thick across his eyes-
down he crashed, armor clanging against his chest.
And the Trojan front shrank back, glorious Hector too
as the Argives yelled and dragged away the corpses,
pushing on, breakneck on. But lord god Apollo,
gazing down now from the heights of Pergamus,
rose in outrage, crying down at the Trojans,
"Up and at them, you stallion-breaking Trojans!
Never give up your lust for war against these Argives!
What are their bodies made of, rock or iron to block
your tearing bronze? Stab them, slash their fleshl
Achilles the son of lovely sleek-haired Thetis—
the man's not even fighting, no, he wallows
in all his heartsick fury by the ships!"
So he cried
from far on the city's heights, the awesome god Apollo.
But Zeus's daughter Athena spurred the Argives on-
Athena first in glory, third-born of the gods-
whenever she saw some slacker hanging back
as she hurtled through the onset.
Now Amarinceus' son
Diores—fate shackled Diores fast and a jagged rock
struck him against his right shin, beside the-ankle.
Pirous son of Imbrasus winged it hard and true,
the Thracian chief who had sailed across from Aenus ...
the ruthless rock striking the bones and tendons
crushed them to pulp-he landed flat on his back,
slamming the dust, both arms flung out to his comrades,
gasping out his life. Pirous who heaved the rock
came rushing in and speared him up the navel—
his bowels uncoiled, spilling loose on the ground
and the dark came swirling down across his eyes.
Aetolian Thoas speared him as he swerved and sprang away,
the lancehead piercing his chest above the nipple
plunged deep in his lung, and Thoas, running up,
wrenched the heavy spear from the man's chest,
drew his blade, ripped him across the belly,
took his life but he could not strip his armor.
Look, there were Pirous' cohorts bunched in a ring,
Thracians, topknots waving, clutching their long pikes
and rugged, strong and proud as the Trojan Thoas was,
they shoved him back-he gave ground, staggering, reeling.
And so the two lay stretched in the dust, side-by-side,
a lord of Thrace, a lord of Epeans armed in bronze
and a ruck of other soldiers died around them.
no man who waded into that work could scorn it any longer,
anyone still not speared or stabbed by tearing bronze
who whirled into the heart of all that slaughter—
not even if great Athena led him by the hand,
flicking away the weapons hailing down against him.
That day ranks of Trojans, ranks of Achaean fighters
sprawled there side-by-side, facedown in the dust.