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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 38

'He made yet another picture—a dancing-place with youths and maidens dancing, their hands upon each others' hands. Beautiful dresses and wreaths of flowers the maidens had on, and the youths had daggers of gold hanging from their silver belts. A great company stood around those who were dancing, and amongst them there was a minstrel who played on the lyre.'

'Then all around the rim of the shield Hephaistos, the lame god, set an image of Ocean, whose stream goes round the world. Not long was he in making the shield and the other wonderful pieces of armour. As soon as the armour was ready Thetis put her hands upon it, and flying down from Olympus like a hawk, brought it to the feet of Achilles, her son.'

'And Achilles, when he saw the splendid armour that Hephaistos the lame god had made for him, rose up from where he lay and took the wonderfully-wrought piece in his hands. And he began to put the armour upon him, and none of the Myrmidons who were around could bear to look upon it, because it shone with such brightness and because it had all the marks of being the work of a god.'T

hen Achilles put his shining armour upon him and it fitted him as though it were wings; he put the wonderful shield before him and he took in his hands the great spear that Cheiron the Centaur had given to Peleus his father—that spear that no one else but Achilles could wield. He bade his charioteer harness the immortal horses Xanthos and Balios. Then as he mounted his chariot Achilles spoke to the horses. "Xanthos and Balios," he said, "this time bring the hero that goes with you back safely to the ships, and do not leave him dead on the plain as ye left the hero Patroklos."'

'Then Xanthos the immortal steed spoke, answering for himself and his comrade. "Achilles," he said, with his head bowed and his mane touching the ground, "Achilles, for this time we will bring thee safely back from the battle. But a day will come when we shall not bring thee back, when thou too shalt lie with the dead before the walls of Troy."'

'Then was Achilles troubled and he said, "Xanthos, my steed, why dost thou remind me by thy prophecies of what I know already—that my death too is appointed, and that I am to perish here, far from my father and my mother and my own land."'

'Then he drove his immortal horses into the battle. The Trojans were affrighted when they saw Achilles himself in the fight, blazing in the armour that Hephaistos had made for him. They went backward before his onset. And Achilles shouted to the captains of the Greeks, "No longer stand apart from the men of Troy, but go with me into the battle and let each man throw his whole soul into the fight."'


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