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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 28

'Then Hector sprang to the onslaught. Leaping into his chariot he led the Trojans on. Nine captains of the Greeks he slew in the first onset. Now their ranks would have been broken, and the Greeks would have fled back to their ships if Odysseus had not been on that wing of the battle with Diomedes, the great horseman. Odysseus cried out, "Come hither, Diomedes, or verily Hector will sweep us across the plain and bring the battle down to our ships."'

'Then these two forced themselves through the press of battle and held back the onset of Hector till the Greeks had their chance to rally. Hector spied them and swept in his chariot towards them. Diomedes lifted his great spear and flung it full at Hector. The bronze of the spear struck the bronze of his helmet, and bronze by bronze was turned. The blow told upon Hector. But he, springing from his chariot, stayed amongst the press of warriors, resting himself on his hands and knees. Darkness was before his eyes for a while, but he got breath again, and leaping back into his chariot drove away from that dangerous place.'

'Then Diomedes himself received a bitterer wound, for Paris, sheltering himself behind a pillar on the plain, let fly an arrow at him. It went clean through his right foot. Odysseus put his shield before his friend and comrade, and Diomedes was able to draw the arrow from his flesh. But Diomedes was fain to get back into his chariot and to command his charioteer to drive from the battle.'

'Now Odysseus was the only one of the captains who stayed on that side of the battle, and the ranks of the Trojans came on and hemmed him round. One warrior struck at the centre of his shield and through the shield the strong Trojan spear passed and wounded the flesh of Odysseus. He slew the warrior who had wounded him and he drew the spear from his flesh, but he had to give ground. But loudly as any man ever cried, Odysseus cried out to the other captains. And strong Aias heard him and drew near, bearing his famous shield that was like a tower. The Trojan warriors that were round him drew back at the coming of Aias and Odysseus went from the press of battle, and mounting his chariot drove away.'

'Where Aias fought the Trojans gave way, and on that side of the battle they were being driven back towards the City. But suddenly upon Aias there fell an unaccountable dread. He cast behind him his great shield, and he stood in a maze, like a wild bull, turning this way and that, and slowly retreating before those who pressed towards him. But now and again his valour would come back and he would stand steadily and, with his great shield, hold at bay the Trojans who were pressing towards the ships. Arrows fell thick upon his shield, confusing his mind. And Aias might have perished beneath the arrows if his comrades had not drawn him to where they stood with shields sloping for a shelter, and so saved him.'


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