Classics
Bulfinch Mythol.
The Odyssey
The Iliad
Argonautica
Hesiod-Theogony
Iliad I
Iliad II
Iliad III
Iliad IV
Iliad V
Iliad VI
Iliad VII
Iliad VIII
Iliad IX
Iliad X
Iliad XI
Iliad XII
Iliad XIII
Iliad XIV
Iliad XV
Iliad XVI
Iliad XVII
Iliad XVIII
Iliad XIX
Iliad XX
Iliad XXI
Iliad XXII
Iliad XXIII
Iliad XXIV

Site Search



greece
athens airport
casino
bet
greek news
tavli sto internet
livescore
news now

Olympians Titans Other Gods Myths Online Books

  The Iliad

By Homer

Translated by Samuel Butler

BOOK XXIII

  THUS did they make their moan throughout the city, while the
Achaeans when they reached the Hellespont went back every man to his
own ship. But Achilles would not let the Myrmidons go, and spoke to
his brave comrades saying, "Myrmidons, famed horsemen and my own
trusted friends, not yet, forsooth, let us unyoke, but with horse
and chariot draw near to the body and mourn Patroclus, in due honour
to the dead. When we have had full comfort of lamentation we will
unyoke our horses and take supper all of us here."
  On this they all joined in a cry of wailing and Achilles led them in
their lament. Thrice did they drive their chariots all sorrowing round
the body, and Thetis stirred within them a still deeper yearning.
The sands of the seashore and the men's armour were wet with their
weeping, so great a minister of fear was he whom they had lost.
Chief in all their mourning was the son of Peleus: he laid his
bloodstained hand on the breast of his friend. "Fare well," he
cried, "Patroclus, even in the house of Hades. I will now do all
that I erewhile promised you; I will drag Hector hither and let dogs
devour him raw; twelve noble sons of Trojans will I also slay before
your pyre to avenge you."
  As he spoke he treated the body of noble Hector with contumely,
laying it at full length in the dust beside the bier of Patroclus. The
others then put off every man his armour, took the horses from their
chariots, and seated themselves in great multitude by the ship of
the fleet descendant of Aeacus, who thereon feasted them with an
abundant funeral banquet. Many a goodly ox, with many a sheep and
bleating goat did they butcher and cut up; many a tusked boar
moreover, fat and well-fed, did they singe and set to roast in the
flames of Vulcan; and rivulets of blood flowed all round the place
where the body was lying.
  Then the princes of the Achaeans took the son of Peleus to
Agamemnon, but hardly could they persuade him to come with them, so
wroth was he for the death of his comrade. As soon as they reached
Agamemnon's tent they told the serving-men to set a large tripod
over the fire in case they might persuade the son of Peleus 'to wash
the clotted gore from this body, but he denied them sternly, and swore
it with a solemn oath, saying, "Nay, by King Jove, first and mightiest
of all gods, it is not meet that water should touch my body, till I
have laid Patroclus on the flames, have built him a barrow, and shaved
my head- for so long as I live no such second sorrow shall ever draw
nigh me. Now, therefore, let us do all that this sad festival demands,
but at break of day, King Agamemnon, bid your men bring wood, and
provide all else that the dead may duly take into the realm of
darkness; the fire shall thus burn him out of our sight the sooner,
and the people shall turn again to their own labours."
  Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. They made haste
to prepare the meal, they ate, and every man had his full share so
that all were satisfied. As soon as they had had had enough to eat and
drink, the others went to their rest each in his own tent, but the son
of Peleus lay grieving among his Myrmidons by the shore of the
sounding sea, in an open place where the waves came surging in one
after another. Here a very deep slumber took hold upon him and eased
the burden of his sorrows, for his limbs were weary with chasing
Hector round windy Ilius. Presently the sad spirit of Patroclus drew
near him, like what he had been in stature, voice, and the light of
his beaming eyes, clad, too, as he had been clad in life. The spirit
hovered over his head and said-
  "You sleep, Achilles, and have forgotten me; you loved me living,
but now that I am dead you think for me no further. Bury me with all
speed that I may pass the gates of Hades; the ghosts, vain shadows
of men that can labour no more, drive me away from them; they will not
yet suffer me to join those that are beyond the river, and I wander
all desolate by the wide gates of the house of Hades. Give me now your
hand I pray you, for when you have once given me my dues of fire,
never shall I again come forth out of the house of Hades. Nevermore
shall we sit apart and take sweet counsel among the living; the
cruel fate which was my birth-right has yawned its wide jaws around
me- nay, you too Achilles, peer of gods, are doomed to die beneath the
wall of the noble Trojans.
  "One prayer more will I make you, if you will grant it; let not my
bones be laid apart from yours, Achilles, but with them; even as we
were brought up together in your own home, what time Menoetius brought
me to you as a child from Opoeis because by a sad spite I had killed
the son of Amphidamas- not of set purpose, but in childish quarrel
over the dice. The knight Peleus took me into his house, entreated
me kindly, and named me to be your squire; therefore let our bones lie
in but a single urn, the two-handled golden vase given to you by
your mother."
  And Achilles answered, "Why, true heart, are you come hither to
lay these charges upon me? will of my own self do all as you have
bidden me. Draw closer to me, let us once more throw our arms around
one another, and find sad comfort in the sharing of our sorrows."
  He opened his arms towards him as he spoke and would have clasped
him in them, but there was nothing, and the spirit vanished as a
vapour, gibbering and whining into the earth. Achilles sprang to his
feet, smote his two hands, and made lamentation saying, "Of a truth
even in the house of Hades there are ghosts and phantoms that have
no life in them; all night long the sad spirit of Patroclus has
hovered over head making piteous moan, telling me what I am to do
for him, and looking wondrously like himself."
  Thus did he speak and his words set them all weeping and mourning
about the poor dumb dead, till rosy-fingered morn appeared. Then
King Agamemnon sent men and mules from all parts of the camp, to bring
wood, and Meriones, squire to Idomeneus, was in charge over them. They
went out with woodmen's axes and strong ropes in their hands, and
before them went the mules. Up hill and down dale did they go, by
straight ways and crooked, and when they reached the heights of
many-fountained Ida, they laid their axes to the roots of many a
tall branching oak that came thundering down as they felled it. They
split the trees and bound them behind the mules, which then wended
their way as they best could through the thick brushwood on to the
plain. All who had been cutting wood bore logs, for so Meriones squire
to Idomeneus had bidden them, and they threw them down in a line
upon the seashore at the place where Achilles would make a mighty
monument for Patroclus and for himself.
  When they had thrown down their great logs of wood over the whole
ground, they stayed all of them where they were, but Achilles
ordered his brave Myrmidons to gird on their armour, and to yoke
each man his horses; they therefore rose, girded on their armour and
mounted each his chariot- they and their charioteers with them. The
chariots went before, and they that were on foot followed as a cloud
in their tens of thousands after. In the midst of them his comrades
bore Patroclus and covered him with the locks of their hair which they
cut off and threw upon his body. Last came Achilles with his head
bowed for sorrow, so noble a comrade was he taking to the house of
Hades.
  When they came to the place of which Achilles had told them they
laid the body down and built up the wood. Achilles then bethought
him of another matter. He went a space away from the pyre, and cut off
the yellow lock which he had let grow for the river Spercheius. He
looked all sorrowfully out upon the dark sea, and said, "Spercheius,
in vain did my father Peleus vow to you that when I returned home to
my loved native land I should cut off this lock and offer you a holy
hecatomb; fifty she-goats was I to sacrifice to you there at your
springs, where is your grove and your altar fragrant with
burnt-offerings. Thus did my father vow, but you have not fulfilled
his prayer; now, therefore, that I shall see my home no more, I give
this lock as a keepsake to the hero Patroclus."
  As he spoke he placed the lock in the hands of his dear comrade, and
all who stood by were filled with yearning and lamentation. The sun
would have gone down upon their mourning had not Achilles presently
said to Agamemnon, "Son of Atreus, for it is to you that the people
will give ear, there is a time to mourn and a time to cease from
mourning; bid the people now leave the pyre and set about getting
their dinners: we, to whom the dead is dearest, will see to what is
wanted here, and let the other princes also stay by me."
  When King Agamemnon heard this he dismissed the people to their
ships, but those who were about the dead heaped up wood and built a
pyre a hundred feet this way and that; then they laid the dead all
sorrowfully upon the top of it. They flayed and dressed many fat sheep
and oxen before the pyre, and Achilles took fat from all of them and
wrapped the body therein from head to foot, heaping the flayed
carcases all round it. Against the bier he leaned two-handled jars
of honey and unguents; four proud horses did he then cast upon the
pyre, groaning the while he did so. The dead hero had had
house-dogs; two of them did Achilles slay and threw upon the pyre;
he also put twelve brave sons of noble Trojans to the sword and laid
them with the rest, for he was full of bitterness and fury. Then he
committed all to the resistless and devouring might of the fire; he
groaned aloud and callid on his dead comrade by name. "Fare well,"
he cried, "Patroclus, even in the house of Hades; I am now doing all
that I have promised you. Twelve brave sons of noble Trojans shall the
flames consume along with yourself, but dogs, not fire, shall devour
the flesh of Hector son of Priam."
  Thus did he vaunt, but the dogs came not about the body of Hector,
for Jove's daughter Venus kept them off him night and day, and
anointed him with ambrosial oil of roses that his flesh might not be
torn when Achilles was dragging him about. Phoebus Apollo moreover
sent a dark cloud from heaven to earth, which gave shade to the
whole place where Hector lay, that the heat of the sun might not parch
his body.
  Now the pyre about dead Patroclus would not kindle. Achilles
therefore bethought him of another matter; he went apart and prayed to
the two winds Boreas and Zephyrus vowing them goodly offerings. He
made them many drink-offerings from the golden cup and besought them
to come and help him that the wood might make haste to kindle and
the dead bodies be consumed. Fleet Iris heard him praying and
started off to fetch the winds. They were holding high feast in the
house of boisterous Zephyrus when Iris came running up to the stone
threshold of the house and stood there, but as soon as they set eyes
on her they all came towards her and each of them called her to him,
but Iris would not sit down. "I cannot stay," she said, "I must go
back to the streams of Oceanus and the land of the Ethiopians who
are offering hecatombs to the immortals, and I would have my share;
but Achilles prays that Boreas and shrill Zephyrus will come to him,
and he vows them goodly offerings; he would have you blow upon the
pyre of Patroclus for whom all the Achaeans are lamenting."
  With this she left them, and the two winds rose with a cry that rent
the air and swept the clouds before them. They blew on and on until
they came to the sea, and the waves rose high beneath them, but when
they reached Troy they fell upon the pyre till the mighty flames
roared under the blast that they blew. All night long did they blow
hard and beat upon the fire, and all night long did Achilles grasp his
double cup, drawing wine from a mixing-bowl of gold, and calling
upon the spirit of dead Patroclus as he poured it upon the ground
until the earth was drenched. As a father mourns when he is burning
the bones of his bridegroom son whose death has wrung the hearts of
his parents, even so did Achilles mourn while burning the body of
his comrade, pacing round the bier with piteous groaning and
lamentation.
  At length as the Morning Star was beginning to Herald the light
which saffron-mantled Dawn was soon to suffuse over the sea, the
flames fell and the fire began to die. The winds then went home beyond
the Thracian sea, which roared and boiled as they swept over it. The
son of Peleus now turned away from the pyre and lay down, overcome
with toil, till he fell into a sweet slumber. Presently they who
were about the son of Atreus drew near in a body, and roused him
with the noise and tramp of their coming. He sat upright and said,
"Son of Atreus, and all other princes of the Achaeans, first pour
red wine everywhere upon the fire and quench it; let us then gather
the bones of Patroclus son of Menoetius, singling them out with
care; they are easily found, for they lie in the middle of the pyre,
while all else, both men and horses, has been thrown in a heap and
burned at the outer edge. We will lay the bones in a golden urn, in
two layers of fat, against the time when I shall myself go down into
the house of Hades. As for the barrow, labour not to raise a great one
now, but such as is reasonable. Afterwards, let those Achaeans who may
be left at the ships when I am gone, build it both broad and high."
  Thus he spoke and they obeyed the word of the son of Peleus. First
they poured red wine upon the thick layer of ashes and quenched the
fire. With many tears they singled out the whitened bones of their
loved comrade and laid them within a golden urn in two layers of
fat: they then covered the urn with a linen cloth and took it inside
the tent. They marked off the circle where the barrow should be,
made a foundation for it about the pyre, and forthwith heaped up the
earth. When they had thus raised a mound they were going away, but
Achilles stayed the people and made them sit in assembly. He brought
prizes from the ships-cauldrons, tripods, horses and mules, noble
oxen, women with fair girdles, and swart iron.
  The first prize he offered was for the chariot races- a woman
skilled in all useful arts, and a three-legged cauldron that had
ears for handles, and would hold twenty-two measures. This was for the
man who came in first. For the second there was a six-year old mare,
unbroken, and in foal to a he-ass; the third was to have a goodly
cauldron that had never yet been on the fire; it was still bright as
when it left the maker, and would hold four measures. The fourth prize
was two talents of gold, and the fifth a two-handled urn as yet
unsoiled by smoke. Then he stood up and spoke among the Argives
saying-
  "Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, these are the prizes that
lie waiting the winners of the chariot races. At any other time I
should carry off the first prize and take it to my own tent; you
know how far my steeds excel all others- for they are immortal;
Neptune gave them to my father Peleus, who in his turn gave them to
myself; but I shall hold aloof, I and my steeds that have lost their
brave and kind driver, who many a time has washed them in clear
water and anointed their manes with oil. See how they stand weeping
here, with their manes trailing on the ground in the extremity of
their sorrow. But do you others set yourselves in order throughout the
host, whosoever has confidence in his horses and in the strength of
his chariot."
  Thus spoke the son of Peleus and the drivers of chariots bestirred
themselves. First among them all uprose Eumelus, king of men, son of
Admetus, a man excellent in horsemanship. Next to him rose mighty
Diomed son of Tydeus; he yoked the Trojan horses which he had taken
from Aeneas, when Apollo bore him out of the fight. Next to him,
yellow-haired Menelaus son of Atreus rose and yoked his fleet
horses, Agamemnon's mare Aethe, and his own horse Podargus. The mare
had been given to Agamemnon by echepolus son of Anchises, that he
might not have to follow him to Ilius, but might stay at home and take
his ease; for Jove had endowed him with great wealth and he lived in
spacious Sicyon. This mare, all eager for the race, did Menelaus put
under the yoke.
  Fourth in order Antilochus, son to noble Nestor son of Neleus,
made ready his horses. These were bred in Pylos, and his father came
up to him to give him good advice of which, however, he stood in but
little need. "Antilochus," said Nestor, "you are young, but Jove and
Neptune have loved you well, and have made you an excellent
horseman. I need not therefore say much by way of instruction. You are
skilful at wheeling your horses round the post, but the horses
themselves are very slow, and it is this that will, I fear, mar your
chances. The other drivers know less than you do, but their horses are
fleeter; therefore, my dear son, see if you cannot hit upon some
artifice whereby you may insure that the prize shall not slip
through your fingers. The woodman does more by skill than by brute
force; by skill the pilot guides his storm-tossed barque over the sea,
and so by skill one driver can beat another. If a man go wide in
rounding this way and that, whereas a man who knows what he is doing
may have worse horses, but he will keep them well in hand when he sees
the doubling-post; he knows the precise moment at which to pull the
rein, and keeps his eye well on the man in front of him. I will give
you this certain token which cannot escape your notice. There is a
stump of a dead tree-oak or pine as it may be- some six feet above the
ground, and not yet rotted away by rain; it stands at the fork of
the road; it has two white stones set one on each side, and there is a
clear course all round it. It may have been a monument to some one
long since dead, or it may have been used as a doubling-post in days
gone by; now, however, it has been fixed on by Achilles as the mark
round which the chariots shall turn; hug it as close as you can, but
as you stand in your chariot lean over a little to the left; urge on
your right-hand horse with voice and lash, and give him a loose
rein, but let the left-hand horse keep so close in, that the nave of
your wheel shall almost graze the post; but mind the stone, or you
will wound your horses and break your chariot in pieces, which would
be sport for others but confusion for yourself. Therefore, my dear
son, mind well what you are about, for if you can be first to round
the post there is no chance of any one giving you the goby later,
not even though you had Adrestus's horse Arion behind you horse
which is of divine race- or those of Laomedon, which are the noblest
in this country."
  When Nestor had made an end of counselling his son he sat down in
his place, and fifth in order Meriones got ready his horses. They then
all mounted their chariots and cast lots.- Achilles shook the
helmet, and the lot of Antilochus son of Nestor fell out first; next
came that of King Eumelus, and after his, those of Menelaus son of
Atreus and of Meriones. The last place fell to the lot of Diomed son
of Tydeus, who was the best man of them all. They took their places in
line; Achilles showed them the doubling-post round which they were
to turn, some way off upon the plain; here he stationed his father's
follower Phoenix as umpire, to note the running, and report truly.
  At the same instant they all of them lashed their horses, struck
them with the reins, and shouted at them with all their might. They
flew full speed over the plain away from the ships, the dust rose from
under them as it were a cloud or whirlwind, and their manes were all
flying in the wind. At one moment the chariots seemed to touch the
ground, and then again they bounded into the air; the drivers stood
erect, and their hearts beat fast and furious in their lust of
victory. Each kept calling on his horses, and the horses scoured the
plain amid the clouds of dust that they raised.
  It was when they were doing the last part of the course on their way
back towards the sea that their pace was strained to the utmost and it
was seen what each could do. The horses of the descendant of Pheres
now took the lead, and close behind them came the Trojan stallions
of Diomed. They seemed as if about to mount Eumelus's chariot, and
he could feel their warm breath on his back and on his broad
shoulders, for their heads were close to him as they flew over the
course. Diomed would have now passed him, or there would have been a
dead heat, but Phoebus Apollo to spite him made him drop his whip.
Tears of anger fell from his eyes as he saw the mares going on
faster than ever, while his own horses lost ground through his
having no whip. Minerva saw the trick which Apollo had played the
son of Tydeus, so she brought him his whip and put spirit into his
horses; moreover she went after the son of Admetus in a rage and broke
his yoke for him; the mares went one to one side the course, and the
other to the other, and the pole was broken against the ground.
Eumelus was thrown from his chariot close to the wheel; his elbows,
mouth, and nostrils were all torn, and his forehead was bruised
above his eyebrows; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no
utterance. But the son of Tydeus turned his horses aside and shot
far ahead, for Minerva put fresh strength into them and covered Diomed
himself with glory.
  Menelaus son of Atreus came next behind him, but Antilochus called
to his father's horses. "On with you both," he cried, "and do your
very utmost. I do not bid you try to beat the steeds of the son of
Tydeus, for Minerva has put running into them, and has covered
Diomed with glory; but you must overtake the horses of the son of
Atreus and not be left behind, or Aethe who is so fleet will taunt
you. Why, my good fellows, are you lagging? I tell you, and it shall
surely be- Nestor will keep neither of you, but will put both of you
to the sword, if we win any the worse a prize through your
carelessness, fly after them at your utmost speed; I will hit on a
plan for passing them in a narrow part of the way, and it shall not
fail me."
  They feared the rebuke of their master, and for a short space went
quicker. Presently Antilochus saw a narrow place where the road had
sunk. The ground was broken, for the winter's rain had gathered and
had worn the road so that the whole place was deepened. Menelaus was
making towards it so as to get there first, for fear of a foul, but
Antilochus turned his horses out of the way, and followed him a little
on one side. The son of Atreus was afraid and shouted out,
"Antilochus, you are driving recklessly; rein in your horses; the road
is too narrow here, it will be wider soon, and you can pass me then;
if you foul my chariot you may bring both of us to a mischief."
  But Antilochus plied his whip, and drove faster, as though he had
not heard him. They went side by side for about as far as a young
man can hurl a disc from his shoulder when he is trying his
strength, and then Menelaus's mares drew behind, for he left off
driving for fear the horses should foul one another and upset the
chariots; thus, while pressing on in quest of victory, they might both
come headlong to the ground. Menelaus then upbraided Antilochus and
said, "There is no greater trickster living than you are; go, and
bad luck go with you; the Achaeans say not well that you have
understanding, and come what may you shall not bear away the prize
without sworn protest on my part."
  Then he called on his horses and said to them, "Keep your pace,
and slacken not; the limbs of the other horses will weary sooner
than yours, for they are neither of them young."
  The horses feared the rebuke of their master, and went faster, so
that they were soon nearly up with the others.
  Meanwhile the Achaeans from their seats were watching how the horses
went, as they scoured the plain amid clouds of their own dust.
Idomeneus captain of the Cretans was first to make out the running,
for he was not in the thick of the crowd, but stood on the most
commanding part of the ground. The driver was a long way off, but
Idomeneus could hear him shouting, and could see the foremost horse
quite plainly- a chestnut with a round white star, like the moon, on
its forehead. He stood up and said among the Argives, "My friends,
princes and counsellors of the Argives, can you see the running as
well as I can? There seems to be another pair in front now, and
another driver; those that led off at the start must have been
disabled out on the plain. I saw them at first making their way
round the doubling-post, but now, though I search the plain of Troy, I
cannot find them. Perhaps the reins fell from the driver's hand so
that he lost command of his horses at the doubling-post, and could not
turn it. I suppose he must have been thrown out there, and broken
his chariot, while his mares have left the course and gone off
wildly in a panic. Come up and see for yourselves, I cannot make out
for certain, but the driver seems an Aetolian by descent, ruler over
the Argives, brave Diomed the son of Tydeus."
  Ajax the son of Oileus took him up rudely and said, "Idomeneus,
why should you be in such a hurry to tell us all about it, when the
mares are still so far out upon the plain? You are none of the
youngest, nor your eyes none of the sharpest, but you are always
laying down the law. You have no right to do so, for there are
better men here than you are. Eumelus's horses are in front now, as
they always have been, and he is on the chariot holding the reins."
  The captain of the Cretans was angry, and answered, "Ajax you are an
excellent railer, but you have no judgement, and are wanting in much
else as well, for you have a vile temper. I will wager you a tripod or
cauldron, and Agamemnon son of Atreus shall decide whose horses are
first. You will then know to your cost."
  Ajax son of Oileus was for making him an angry answer, and there
would have been yet further brawling between them, had not Achilles
risen in his place and said, "Cease your railing Ajax and Idomeneus;
it is not you would be scandalised if you saw any one else do the
like: sit down and keep your eyes on the horses; they are speeding
towards the winning-post and will be bere directly. You will then both
of you know whose horses are first, and whose come after."
  As he was speaking, the son of Tydeus came driving in, plying his
whip lustily from his shoulder, and his horses stepping high as they
flew over the course. The sand and grit rained thick on the driver,
and the chariot inlaid with gold and tin ran close behind his fleet
horses. There was little trace of wheel-marks in the fine dust, and
the horses came flying in at their utmost speed. Diomed stayed them in
the middle of the crowd, and the sweat from their manes and chests
fell in streams on to the ground. Forthwith he sprang from his
goodly chariot, and leaned his whip against his horses' yoke; brave
Sthenelus now lost no time, but at once brought on the prize, and gave
the woman and the ear-handled cauldron to his comrades to take away.
Then he unyoked the horses.
  Next after him came in Antilochus of the race of Neleus, who had
passed Menelaus by a trick and not by the fleetness of his horses; but
even so Menelaus came in as close behind him as the wheel is to the
horse that draws both the chariot and its master. The end hairs of a
horse's tail touch the tyre of the wheel, and there is never much
space between wheel and horse when the chariot is going; Menelaus
was no further than this behind Antilochus, though at first he had
been a full disc's throw behind him. He had soon caught him up
again, for Agamemnon's mare Aethe kept pulling stronger and
stronger, so that if the course had been longer he would have passed
him, and there would not even have been a dead heat. Idomeneus's brave
squire Meriones was about a spear's cast behind Menelaus. His horses
were slowest of all, and he was the worst driver. Last of them all
came the son of Admetus, dragging his chariot and driving his horses
on in front. When Achilles saw him he was sorry, and stood up among
the Argives saying, "The best man is coming in last. Let us give him a
prize for it is reasonable. He shall have the second, but the first
must go to the son of Tydeus."
  Thus did he speak and the others all of them applauded his saying,
and were for doing as he had said, but Nestor's son Antilochus stood
up and claimed his rights from the son of Peleus. "Achilles," said he,
"I shall take it much amiss if you do this thing; you would rob me
of my prize, because you think Eumelus's chariot and horses were
thrown out, and himself too, good man that he is. He should have
prayed duly to the immortals; he would not have come in fast if he had
done so. If you are sorry for him and so choose, you have much gold in
your tents, with bronze, sheep, cattle and horses. Take something from
this store if you would have the Achaeans speak well of you, and
give him a better prize even than that which you have now offered; but
I will not give up the mare, and he that will fight me for her, let
him come on."
  Achilles smiled as he heard this, and was pleased with Antilochus,
who was one of his dearest comrades. So he said-
  "Antilochus, if you would have me find Eumelus another prize, I will
give him the bronze breastplate with a rim of tin running all round it
which I took from Asteropaeus. It will be worth much money to him."
  He bade his comrade Automedon bring the breastplate from his tent,
and he did so. Achilles then gave it over to Eumelus, who received
it gladly.
  But Menelaus got up in a rage, furiously angry with Antilochus. An
attendant placed his staff in his hands and bade the Argives keep
silence: the hero then addressed them. "Antilochus," said he, "what is
this from you who have been so far blameless? You have made me cut a
poor figure and baulked my horses by flinging your own in front of
them, though yours are much worse than mine are; therefore, O
princes and counsellors of the Argives, judge between us and show no
favour, lest one of the Achaeans say, 'Menelaus has got the mare
through lying and corruption; his horses were far inferior to
Antilochus's, but he has greater weight and influence.' Nay, I will
determine the matter myself, and no man will blame me, for I shall
do what is just. Come here, Antilochus, and stand, as our custom is,
whip in hand before your chariot and horses; lay your hand on your
steeds, and swear by earth-encircling Neptune that you did not
purposely and guilefully get in the way of my horses."
  And Antilochus answered, "Forgive me; I am much younger, King
Menelaus, than you are; you stand higher than I do and are the
better man of the two; you know how easily young men are betrayed into
indiscretion; their tempers are more hasty and they have less
judgement; make due allowances therefore, and bear with me; I will
of my own accord give up the mare that I have won, and if you claim
any further chattel from my own possessions, I would rather yield it
to you, at once, than fall from your good graces henceforth, and do
wrong in the sight of heaven."
  The son of Nestor then took the mare and gave her over to
Menelaus, whose anger was thus appeased; as when dew falls upon a
field of ripening corn, and the lands are bristling with the
harvest- even so, O Menelaus, was your heart made glad within you.
He turned to Antilochus and said, "Now, Antilochus, angry though I
have been, I can give way to you of my own free will; you have never
been headstrong nor ill-disposed hitherto, but this time your youth
has got the better of your judgement; be careful how you outwit your
betters in future; no one else could have brought me round so
easily, but your good father, your brother, and yourself have all of
you had infinite trouble on my behalf; I therefore yield to your
entreaty, and will give up the mare to you, mine though it indeed
be; the people will thus see that I am neither harsh nor vindictive."
  With this he gave the mare over to Antilochus's comrade Noemon,
and then took the cauldron. Meriones, who had come in fourth,
carried off the two talents of gold, and the fifth prize, the
two-handled urn, being unawarded, Achilles gave it to Nestor, going up
to him among the assembled Argives and saying, "Take this, my good old
friend, as an heirloom and memorial of the funeral of Patroclus- for
you shall see him no more among the Argives. I give you this prize
though you cannot win one; you can now neither wrestle nor fight,
and cannot enter for the javelin-match nor foot-races, for the hand of
age has been laid heavily upon you."
  So saying he gave the urn over to Nestor, who received it gladly and
answered, "My son, all that you have said is true; there is no
strength now in my legs and feet, nor can I hit out with my hands from
either shoulder. Would that I were still young and strong as when
the Epeans were burying King Amarynceus in Buprasium, and his sons
offered prizes in his honour. There was then none that could vie
with me neither of the Epeans nor the Pylians themselves nor the
Aetolians. In boxing I overcame Clytomedes son of Enops, and in
wrestling, Ancaeus of Pleuron who had come forward against me.
Iphiclus was a good runner, but I beat him, and threw farther with
my spear than either Phyleus or Polydorus. In chariot-racing alone did
the two sons of Actor surpass me by crowding their horses in front
of me, for they were angry at the way victory had gone, and at the
greater part of the prizes remaining in the place in which they had
been offered. They were twins, and the one kept on holding the
reins, and holding the reins, while the other plied the whip. Such was
I then, but now I must leave these matters to younger men; I must
bow before the weight of years, but in those days I was eminent
among heroes. And now, sir, go on with the funeral contests in
honour of your comrade: gladly do I accept this urn, and my heart
rejoices that you do not forget me but are ever mindful of my goodwill
towards you, and of the respect due to me from the Achaeans. For all
which may the grace of heaven be vouchsafed you in great abundance."
  Thereon the son of Peleus, when he had listened to all the thanks of
Nestor, went about among the concourse of the Achaeans, and
presently offered prizes for skill in the painful art of boxing. He
brought out a strong mule, and made it fast in the middle of the
crowd- a she-mule never yet broken, but six years old- when it is
hardest of all to break them: this was for the victor, and for the
vanquished he offered a double cup. Then he stood up and said among
the Argives, "Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, I invite our
two champion boxers to lay about them lustily and compete for these
prizes. He to whom Apollo vouchsafes the greater endurance, and whom
the Achaeans acknowledge as victor, shall take the mule back with
him to his own tent, while he that is vanquished shall have the double
cup."
  As he spoke there stood up a champion both brave and great
stature, a skilful boxer, Epeus, son of Panopeus. He laid his hand
on the mule and said, "Let the man who is to have the cup come hither,
for none but myself will take the mule. I am the best boxer of all
here present, and none can beat me. Is it not enough that I should
fall short of you in actual fighting? Still, no man can be good at
everything. I tell you plainly, and it shall come true; if any man
will box with me I will bruise his body and break his bones; therefore
let his friends stay here in a body and be at hand to take him away
when I have done with him."
  They all held their peace, and no man rose save Euryalus son of
Mecisteus, who was son of Talaus. Mecisteus went once to Thebes
after the fall of Oedipus, to attend his funeral, and he beat all
the people of Cadmus. The son of Tydeus was Euryalus's second,
cheering him on and hoping heartily that he would win. First he put
a waistband round him and then he gave him some well-cut thongs of
ox-hide; the two men being now girt went into the middle of the
ring, and immediately fell to; heavily indeed did they punish one
another and lay about them with their brawny fists. One could hear the
horrid crashing of their jaws, and they sweated from every pore of
their skin. Presently Epeus came on and gave Euryalus a blow on the
jaw as he was looking round; Euryalus could not keep his legs; they
gave way under him in a moment and he sprang up with a bound, as a
fish leaps into the air near some shore that is all bestrewn with
sea-wrack, when Boreas furs the top of the waves, and then falls
back into deep water. But noble Epeus caught hold of him and raised
him up; his comrades also came round him and led him from the ring,
unsteady in his gait, his head hanging on one side, and spitting great
clots of gore. They set him down in a swoon and then went to fetch the
double cup.
  The son of Peleus now brought out the prizes for the third contest
and showed them to the Argives. These were for the painful art of
wrestling. For the winner there was a great tripod ready for setting
upon the fire, and the Achaeans valued it among themselves at twelve
oxen. For the loser he brought out a woman skilled in all manner of
arts, and they valued her at four oxen. He rose and said among the
Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest."
  Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, and crafty
Ulysses, full of wiles rose also. The two girded themselves and went
into the middle of the ring. They gripped each other in their strong
hands like the rafters which some master-builder frames for the roof
of a high house to keep the wind out. Their backbones cracked as
they tugged at one another with their mighty arms- and sweat rained
from them in torrents. Many a bloody weal sprang up on their sides and
shoulders, but they kept on striving with might and main for victory
and to win the tripod. Ulysses could not throw Ajax, nor Ajax him;
Ulysses was too strong for him; but when the Achaeans began to tire of
watching them, Ajax said to ulysses, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes,
you shall either lift me, or I you, and let Jove settle it between
us."
  He lifted him from the ground as he spoke, but Ulysses did not
forget his cunning. He hit Ajax in the hollow at back of his knee,
so that he could not keep his feet, but fell on his back with
Ulysses lying upon his chest, and all who saw it marvelled. Then
Ulysses in turn lifted Ajax and stirred him a little from the ground
but could not lift him right off it, his knee sank under him, and
the two fell side by side on the ground and were all begrimed with
dust. They now sprang towards one another and were for wrestling yet a
third time, but Achilles rose and stayed them. "Put not each other
further," said he, "to such cruel suffering; the victory is with
both alike, take each of you an equal prize, and let the other
Achaeans now compete."
  Thus did he speak and they did even as he had said, and put on their
shirts again after wiping the dust from off their bodies.
  The son of Peleus then offered prizes for speed in running- a
mixing-bowl beautifully wrought, of pure silver. It would hold six
measures, and far exceeded all others in the whole world for beauty;
it was the work of cunning artificers in Sidon, and had been brought
into port by Phoenicians from beyond the sea, who had made a present
of it to Thoas. Eueneus son of jason had given it to Patroclus in
ransom of Priam's son Lycaon, and Achilles now offered it as a prize
in honour of his comrade to him who should be the swiftest runner. For
the second prize he offered a large ox, well fattened, while for the
last there was to be half a talent of gold. He then rose and said
among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest."
  Forthwith uprose fleet Ajax son of Oileus, with cunning Ulysses, and
Nestor's son Antilochus, the fastest runner among all the youth of his
time. They stood side by side and Achilles showed them the goal. The
course was set out for them from the starting-post, and the son of
Oileus took the lead at once, with Ulysses as close behind him as
the shuttle is to a woman's bosom when she throws the woof across
the warp and holds it close up to her; even so close behind him was
Ulysses- treading in his footprints before the dust could settle
there, and Ajax could feel his breath on the back of his head as he
ran swiftly on. The Achaeans all shouted applause as they saw him
straining his utmost, and cheered him as he shot past them; but when
they were now nearing the end of the course Ulysses prayed inwardly to
Minerva. "Hear me," he cried, "and help my feet, O goddess." Thus
did he pray, and Pallas Minerva heard his prayer; she made his hands
and his feet feel light, and when the runners were at the point of
pouncing upon the prize, Ajax, through Minerva's spite slipped upon
some offal that was lying there from the cattle which Achilles had
slaughtered in honour of Patroclus, and his mouth and nostrils were
all filled with cow dung. Ulysses therefore carried off the
mixing-bowl, for he got before Ajax and came in first. But Ajax took
the ox and stood with his hand on one of its horns, spitting the
dung out of his mouth. Then he said to the Argives, "Alas, the goddess
has spoiled my running; she watches over Ulysses and stands by him
as though she were his own mother." Thus did he speak and they all
of them laughed heartily.
  Antilochus carried off the last prize and smiled as he said to the
bystanders, "You all see, my friends, that now too the gods have shown
their respect for seniority. Ajax is somewhat older than I am, and
as for Ulysses, he belongs to an earlier generation, but he is hale in
spite of his years, and no man of the Achaeans can run against him
save only Achilles."
  He said this to pay a compliment to the son of Peleus, and
Achilles answered, "Antilochus, you shall not have praised me to no
purpose; I shall give you an additional half talent of gold." He
then gave the half talent to Antilochus, who received it gladly.
  Then the son of Peleus brought out the spear, helmet and shield that
had been borne by Sarpedon, and were taken from him by Patroclus. He
stood up and said among the Argives, "We bid two champions put on
their armour, take their keen blades, and make trial of one another in
the presence of the multitude; whichever of them can first wound the
flesh of the other, cut through his armour, and draw blood, to him
will I give this goodly Thracian sword inlaid with silver, which I
took from Asteropaeus, but the armour let both hold in partnership,
and I will give each of them a hearty meal in my own tent."
  Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, as also mighty
Diomed son of Tydeus. When they had put on their armour each on his
own side of the ring, they both went into the middle eager to
engage, and with fire flashing from their eyes. The Achaeans marvelled
as they beheld them, and when the two were now close up with one
another, thrice did they spring forward and thrice try to strike
each other in close combat. Ajax pierced Diomed's round shield, but
did not draw blood, for the cuirass beneath the shield protected
him; thereon the son of Tydeus from over his huge shield kept aiming
continually at Ajax's neck with the point of his spear, and the
Achaeans alarmed for his safety bade them leave off fighting and
divide the prize between them. Achilles then gave the great sword to
the son of Tydeus, with its scabbard, and the leathern belt with which
to hang it.
  Achilles next offered the massive iron quoit which mighty Eetion had
erewhile been used to hurl, until Achilles had slain him and carried
it off in his ships along with other spoils. He stood up and said
among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who would essay this contest.
He who wins it will have a store of iron that will last him five years
as they go rolling round, and if his fair fields lie far from a town
his shepherd or ploughman will not have to make a journey to buy iron,
for he will have a stock of it on his own premises."
  Then uprose the two mighty men Polypoetes and Leonteus, with Ajax
son of Telamon and noble Epeus. They stood up one after the other
and Epeus took the quoit, whirled it, and flung it from him, which set
all the Achaeans laughing. After him threw Leonteus of the race of
Mars. Ajax son of Telamon threw third, and sent the quoit beyond any
mark that had been made yet, but when mighty Polypoetes took the quoit
he hurled it as though it had been a stockman's stick which he sends
flying about among his cattle when he is driving them, so far did
his throw out-distance those of the others. All who saw it roared
applause, and his comrades carried the prize for him and set it on
board his ship.
  Achilles next offered a prize of iron for archery- ten
double-edged axes and ten with single eddies: he set up a ship's mast,
some way off upon the sands, and with a fine string tied a pigeon to
it by the foot; this was what they were to aim at. "Whoever," he said,
"can hit the pigeon shall have all the axes and take them away with
him; he who hits the string without hitting the bird will have taken a
worse aim and shall have the single-edged axes."
  Then uprose King Teucer, and Meriones the stalwart squire of
Idomeneus rose also, They cast lots in a bronze helmet and the lot
of Teucer fell first. He let fly with his arrow forthwith, but he
did not promise hecatombs of firstling lambs to King Apollo, and
missed his bird, for Apollo foiled his aim; but he hit the string with
which the bird was tied, near its foot; the arrow cut the string clean
through so that it hung down towards the ground, while the bird flew
up into the sky, and the Achaeans shouted applause. Meriones, who
had his arrow ready while Teucer was aiming, snatched the bow out of
his hand, and at once promised that he would sacrifice a hecatomb of
firstling lambs to Apollo lord of the bow; then espying the pigeon
high up under the clouds, he hit her in the middle of the wing as
she was circling upwards; the arrow went clean through the wing and
fixed itself in the ground at Meriones' feet, but the bird perched
on the ship's mast hanging her head and with all her feathers
drooping; the life went out of her, and she fell heavily from the
mast. Meriones, therefore, took all ten double-edged axes, while
Teucer bore off the single-edged ones to his ships.
  Then the son of Peleus brought in a spear and a cauldron that had
never been on the fire; it was worth an ox, and was chased with a
pattern of flowers; and those that throw the javelin stood up- to
wit the son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, and Meriones, stalwart
squire of Idomeneus. But Achilles spoke saying, "Son of Atreus, we
know how far you excel all others both in power and in throwing the
javelin; take the cauldron back with you to your ships, but if it so
please you, let us give the spear to Meriones; this at least is what I
should myself wish."
  King Agamemnon assented. So he gave the bronze spear to Meriones,
and handed the goodly cauldron to Talthybius his esquire.
 

The Iliad Table of Contents

[Home] [Olympians] [Titans] [Other Gods] [Myths] [Online Books]

Contact:  
Copyright 2000-2014, GreekMythology.comTM. 

For more general info on Greek Gods, Greek Goddesses, Greek Heroes, Greek Monsters and Greek Mythology Movies visit Greece.com Mythology.

All information in this site is free for personal use. You can freely use it for term papers, research papers, college essays, school essays. Commercial use, and use in other websites is prohibited.
If you have your own Greek Mythology stories, free research papers, college term papers, college essays, book reports, coursework, homework papers and you want to publish them in this site please contact us now at:

Griyego mitolohiya, 그리스 신화, 希腊神话, griekse mythologie, mythologie grecque, griechischen Mythologie, ギリシャ神話, Греческая мифология, mitología griega, ग्रीक पौराणिक कथाओं, الأساطير اليونانية, Grekisk mytologi