The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 32

'But whoever brought fire near the ship was stricken by strong Aias who stood there with a long pike in his hands. Now all this time Patroklos sat in the hut of Eurypylos, the wounded man he had succoured, cheering him with discourse and laying healing herbs on his wounds. But when he saw fire being brought to the ships he rose up and said, "Eurypylos, no longer may I stay here although great is your need of attendance. I must get aid for our warriors." Straightway he ran from the hut and came to where Achilles was.'

'"If thy heart, Achilles," he said, "is still hard against the Greeks, and if thou wilt not come to their aid, let me go into the fight and let me take with me thy company of Myrmidons. And O Achilles, grant me another thing. Let me wear thine armour and thy helmet so that the Trojans will believe for a while that Achilles has come back into the battle. Then would they flee before me and our warriors would be given a breathing-time."'

'Said Achilles, "I have declared that I shall not cease from my wrath until the Trojans come to my own ships. But thou, Patroklos, dear friend, may'st go into the battle. All thou hast asked shall be freely given to thee—my Myrmidons to lead and my armour to wear, and even my chariot and my immortal horses. Drive the Trojans from the ships. But when thou hast driven them from the ships, return to this hut. Do not go near the City. Return, I bid thee, Patroklos, when the Trojans are no longer around the ships, and leave it to others to battle on the plain."'

'Then Patroklos put on the armour that Zeus had given to Achilles' father, Peleus. Round his shoulders he cast the sword of bronze with its studs of silver, and upon his head he put the helmet with its high horse-hair crest—the terrible helmet of Achilles. Then Achilles bade the charioteer yoke the horses to the chariot—the horses, Xanthos and Balios, that were also gifts from the gods. And while all this was being done Achilles went amongst the Myrmidons, making them ready for the battle and bidding them remember all the threats they had uttered against the Trojans in the time when they had been kept from the fight.'

'Then he went back to his hut and opening the chest that his mother, Thetis, had given him he took from it a four-handled cup—a cup that no one drank out of but Achilles himself. Then pouring wine into this cup and holding it towards Heaven, Achilles prayed to Zeus, the greatest of the gods:

"My comrade I send to the war, O far-seeing Zeus:

May'st strengthen his heart, O Zeus, that all triumph be his:
But when from the ships he hath driven the spear of our foes,
Out of the turmoil of battle may he to me return
Scathless, with arms and his comrades who fight hand to hand."