Hektor And Andromache (from Book VI)

The Iliad
from Book VI

Hektor And Adromache

Hektôr rushed out of the palace
down the same boulevard as he’d come in on.
He traversed the great city
and approached the Skaian Gates
through which he intended to pass
                                                 out onto the plain,
but his bounteous wife came running to meet him—
Andromachê, daughter of great-hearted Ëëtion—
Ëëtion, who dwelled under woody Mt. Plakos,
                                                          in Thêbê-Under-Plakos,
                                                               Lord of the Kilikian people.
His daughter was held in marriage
                            by bronze-helmeted Hektôr,
and now she came up to him,
her maidservant with her;
at the maid’s breast the tender, innocent child
                                                    of Hektôr, whom he loved,
like a beautiful star.  401
Hektôr called him Skamandrios,
but everyone else—Astyanax, the city’s Lord Protector—
for no one else but Hektôr
                           protected Ilion.
And he smiled in silence when he saw his child.
Andromachê stood along side, weeping profusely,
                                                            her tears flowing freely,
and she took Hektôr’s hand and spoke to him saying:  407

“O daimoniac person,
        your very strength will destroy you.
You have no pity for your innocent boy,
                                        nor for unhappy me,
and soon I shall be your widow
when all the Achaians set upon you and kill you.
It were better for me to go down beneath the earth
                                                  once you are lost to me.
There’ll be no comfort then,
when you have met your fate, but misery only.
I have no father, no queenly mother.
My father, divine Achilles slew
when he sacked high-gated Thebe,
                         well-peopled city of the Kilikians. 415
He killed Êêtion, though out of reverence,
he burnt him fully armed—not stripping his armor—
in his richly fashioned battle-gear
and heaped a grave-mound upon him
and around it grew an elm tree
that mountain nymphs had planted
daughters of Zeus aegis-holder.
And I had seven brothers in the halls—
they entered the House of Hades all on one day—
divine Achilles slew them all
among their shambling cows
and white lambs. 424
And he brought my mother,
                              the queen beneath woody Plakos,
to this place with the rest of the booty
and soon set her free
upon receiving a boundless ransom,
and Artemis, careful of arrows,
slew her in the halls of her father.
O Hektôr—
you are father and mother and brother to me
as well as flourishing husband 430.
Have pity on me;
remain up here on the battlements,
don’t make your child an orphan and your woman a widow.
Station the army by the fig tree
where the citadel’s most vulnerable to scaling
                                          and the rampart to assault.  434
Three times did the best Achaian fighters
                                                      make an attack there—
famous Idomenêus and the two Aiantês
and the sons of Atreus and the brave son of Tydeus— 437
either because some seer
                     knew this well and told them
or because their own spirit
                           urged them and led them to it.” 438

Great Hektôr with helmet flashing said to her:

“All these things, O my woman, trouble me also,
but even more do I fear
shame before the Trojans
and before the Trojans’ wives with their long-trailing robes,
if, like a coward, I malinger apart from the battle,
nor would my spirit allow it,
because I have ever-studied to be valiant
and to fight with the first of the Trojans,
striving to win great fame
                         for my father and myself.
For I know this very well in my heart and my spirit:
the day will come when Holy Ilion will perish
with Priam of the long ash spear and the people of Priam.
But no such grief as must come in time hereafter to the Trojans
either Hekabe’s or Lord Priam’s or my brothers,
                                             who are many and proud—
all who shall fall in the dust
             at the hands of hostile foemen—
no such grief can move me
                       as my grief for you
when some bronze-chitoned Achaian
                                leads you off weeping
and takes your day of liberty away. 455
And in Argos will you work the loom for another
and carry water for Messeïs or Hypereiê
very much against your will
for the force of strong necessity shall be laid upon you.
And someone well might say as he sees you weeping:  459

“‘This is the wife of Hektôr
who was the best at war
                among the horse-taming Trojans
when they fought over Ilion.’ 461

“So, at that time might they say.
And fresh grief will be yours again
because you have no man such as I am
to ward off the grievous day.
But let me die
                    and heaped earth cover me over
before I hear of your cries
                    and your being dragged away.” 465

So saying, glorious Hektôr reached for his boy,
but the child started to cry
and shrank back to the bosom of his well-girdled nurse
in a fright at the sight of his own dear father,
terrified by the bronze weaponry
and the horse-hair plume  as he saw it
bobbing uncannily on the top of the gleaming helmet. 470
And his father and queenly mother laughed out loud,
and glorious Hektôr took off the helmet
and put it all aglitter on the ground
and he kissed his dear son
and fondled him in his arms
and spoke in prayer to Zeus and the other gods:  475

“Zeus and you other deities,
grant that my child become
pre-eminent among the Trojans just as I am,
noble and mighty,
and that he rule
strong over Ilion,
and that some warrior might say of him
                                   as he comes out of battle,
‘He is far better than his sire.’
And may he bring back
the bloody battle-gear of the foeman he has slain,
and the heart of his mother be made happy.”

So saying, he put his boy
into the arms of his dear wife,
and she took him to her fragrant breast
                                 half weeping, half laughing,
and her husband was moved
and stroked her with his hand
and said to her:

“Dear woman, do not grieve for me too much in your heart.
No man shall send me to Hades
                                   if it is not my fate.
And as far as that fate is concerned,
I say there’s not a man
                     once he’s been born,
whether he’s noble or craven,
that ever escapes it.
So return to the palace
and concern yourself with your tasks at loom and distaff.
Command your handmaids to do their work
and war shall be a care to all the men
                                             that dwell in Ilion—
                                                       but particularly to me.” 493

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