The Iliad Book XXI

The Iliad
Book XXI

But when they came to the crossing point
of eddying Xanthos, fair-flowing river,
whom immortal Zeus had sired,
Achilles split the Trojans in two:
he sent half across the plain to the city,
to the spot where the Achaians
had panicked on the day before
when illustrious Hektor was raging
and the warriors,  running away, were streaming onward.
Hera spread fog before them in order to stop them.
And the other half were forced
                                         into the deep-flowing river,
                                                              eddying silver.
They threw themselves into it with great splashing.
The rushing waters resounded
and the banks gave out a great cry.
They swam about in the tumult
this way and that
whirling in the eddies.      12
And just as in front of the rush of a conflagration
locusts take to the air
and would flee to a river,
but the indefatigable fire
singes them all
with its sudden coming
and they cringe down into the water,
so before Achilles
the roaring stream of deep-swirling Xanthos
filled up with a chaos of chariots and men.   16
But Zeus-born Achilles
left his spear on the bank
leaning against some tamarisk bushes
and leapt like a daimon
but wielding his sword only
intending in his breast
merciless acts
as he spun men about and killed them,
and hideous noises went up from them
as they died by his blade
and the water turned red with blood.
And just as before a huge-mouthed dolphin
other fishes flee
and fill crannies in the harbor of good-anchorage in their terror,
for the dolphin devours whatever it catches;
just so did the Trojans cringe
in the streams of that terrible river
under its steep banks.
And Achilles,
when his hands tired of slaughter,          25
picked twelve youths alive
                                      out of the river
as blood price for the death of Patroklos, Menoitios' son.      28
He led them out of the water, bewildered like fauns,
and bound their hands
behind their backs
with the well-cut ropes
that they wore about their chitons;
and he gave them to his comrades
to lead back to the hollow ships,
and then he leapt forth once more
raging for slaughter.

Now he met up with a son of Dardanian Priam
fleeing out of the river--Lykaon.
It happened that once before
Achilles had taken him, unwilling, away
from his father's orchard
coming upon him by night
clipping young branches
with a sharp bronze blade
from a wild fig tree
for the rim of a chariot.
Brilliant Achilles came as an evil  unseen
                                                                         and fell upon him.
He sold him at well-fortified Lemnos,
having traveled him their in a ship.
The son of Iason paid a fair price for him;
but a former guest-friend of Lykaon
ransomed him
for a great sum--
Eëtion of Imbrios--
and he sent him to radiant Arisbê,
from which place he made his escape
and came back to his paternal home.     44
For eleven days he enjoyed his friends
having come forth out of Lemnos,
but on the twelfth day, once again,
some god cast him
into the hands of Achilles,
who this time was to convey him
down into Hades
though he had no wish to go there.
As soon as brilliant swift-footed Achilles
knew who he was,
standing there naked, unarmed,
without shield or helmet,
not wielding a javelin,
but that he had thrown all these things from him
onto the ground
because the sweat of bearing them
bothered him
as he fled the river
and fatigue had conquered his knees;
Achilles, disturbed, spoke to his own
great-hearted spirit:

"By god. I behold here a great marvel
                                                                        with my own eyes.
The great-hearted Trojans, whom I have slain,
will arise again
from misty gloom,
since this fellow comes here
escaping the pitiless day
in spite of having been sold at sacred Lemnos;
and the gray salt sea failed to hold him,
the sea that holds back many against their will.   59
But now let him taste the point of our javelin,
that I might see and know in my breast
whether he shall be liberated from beneath it
in this place also
or whether the earth
that shoots forth the living,
will hold him down--
she that holds down inside her
even the strong."      63

So he stayed there, pondering.
But Lykaon came up to him, stupefied,
anxious to touch his knees,
wishing in his heart
to escape from death
and evade black fate.        66
But brilliant Achilles
took up his long javelin
eager for slaughter.
Lykaon ran under the weapon,
stooped down,
and grabbed Achilles' knees,
so the spear flew over his back and stuck in the earth,
though the weapon wanted to sate itself
on the flesh of a man.
And he begged Achilles
grasping his knees with one hand
and gripped the sharp-barbed javelin with the other
and would not release it,
and uttered winged words to Achilles.     73

"I grasp your knees and implore you, O Achilles;
honor me; have pity upon me;
I claim the right of a suppliant before you,
you who were nurtured by Zeus,
for I ate Demeter's grain in your presence
on that day in the well-ordered orchard,
when you took me captive
and led me far away from my friends and my father
and sold me at Lemnos
and fetched the price of a hecatomb in exchange for me.
Now have I gained my freedom,
paying twice that amount,
and this is but the twelfth dawn
since I came to Ilion
having suffered much.
And now again has a ruinous destiny
put me in your hands.
I must be hateful to father Zeus,
who gives me to you again.
My mother Laothoê, daughter of old man Altes,
bore me  to a short life only.
Altes is lord
over the war-loving Leleges,
who hold steep Pedasos on the Satnioeis.
Priam possessed his daughter (among many others).
Polydoros and I were born to her;
and now you'd cut the throat of both of us.   89
You vanquished godlike Polydoros
among the frontmost soldiers
with a cast of your sharp javelin;
and now in this place
shall an evil end come upon me,    92
for I do not think that I shall escape your hands,
since some god has brought me here.
But I'll say another thing to you
and do cast it into your breast.
Don't kill me,
for I'm not
                            from the same belly as Hektor,
who slew your comrade, mighty and kind." 96

So spoke the illustrious son of Priam
beseeching him with words,
but the voice he heard in answer was implacable. 

"You're a fool to offer me ransom and proffer an argument.
Before Patroklos succumbed to his fatal day,
it was more pleasing to me to spare the Trojans.
I took many alive and sold them as slaves.
But now there is not one who shall flee death,
whom the gods put into my hands in front of Ilion,
not one of all the Trojans--
assuredly not one of the sons of Priam.
Thus, my friend, do you die.
Why lament it in this manner?
Patroklos died,
and he was far far better a man than your are.
Do you not see how handsome and tall I am?
I am of a noble father,
a goddess was the mother
                                                  that brought me into being;
but death and indomitable destiny pertain
                                                                                         even to me.   110
A dawn or evening or midday's sure to come
when in the midst of battle,
                             someone will take my life,
either by the cast of a javelin
or an arrow released from a bow-string."  113

So he spoke, and the knees of Lykaon were loosed and his heart sank.
He let go of the spear and collapsed with both arms extended.
Achilles drew his sharp sword
and struck him under the neck beside the clavicle,
and all the double-edged blade
sank into him
and he lay there prone on the earth
and his black blood flowed out of him
and poured down onto the ground.  119
And Achilles grabbed him by the foot
and threw him into the river
to be carried away
and vaunted over him with winged words:

"Now lie down with the fishes,
who'll lick the blood from your wound,
and they won't give a hoot about your obsequies;
and your mother shan't place you on a litter
and make lament for you;
but the swirling Skamander shall conduct you
                                                                 to the broad breast of the sea,
where some fish
as he leaps among the waves
will shoot up beneath a black ripple
to nibble at the white fat of "Lykaon."
So, O Trojans, do keep on dying
till we reach the citadel of Ilion--
you who are running away,
I who, from behind, am effecting your slaughter.
Nor will that river of yours
fair-flowing with eddies of silver
                                                              be able to save you,
though no doubt you've slaughtered for him
a multitude of bulls before now
and thrown live horses with uncloven hooves
                                                                                       into his eddies.
Nonetheless you shall perish
through a terrible destiny
until you have paid recompense for the death of Patroklos
and the sufferings of the Achaians
whom you killed along the swift ships while I was away."  135

So he spoke,
and the river grew angry in his heart
and took thought how to stop bright Achilles
                                                                              in his deadly work
and ward off ruin from the Trojans.

Meanwhile the son of Peleus,
holding his javelin that casts a long shadow,
jumped Asteropaios,  Pelagon's son,
eager to kill him.
Wide-flowing Axios had sired him upon Periboia,
eldest daughter of Akessamenoios,
for the deep swirling river lay in love with her. 143
Achilles rushed him.
Asteropaios faced him from out of the river
                                                                                 holding two spears.
Xanthos put force in his breast,
since he was enraged
because of the slain young men
whom Achilles was ripping apart
down by the water
and showing no mercy.  147
But when the men were close to one another,
brilliant Achilles, swift afoot, was first to speak:

"Who are you among men and from where do you come,
that you dare to come against me?
Unhappy  are they whose sons oppose my power." 151

The illustrious son of Pelegon
said to him in turn:

"Great-hearted son of Peleus,
why do you inquire of my lineage?
I come from fertile Paionia far away,
leading the Paionian warriors with their long spears.
This is the eleventh dawn since I came to Ilion.
My lineage is that of the wide-flowing Axios,
and from the Axios flows
the most beautiful waters on earth. 158
Axios sired Pelegon, famed for his javelin,
and he, they say, sired me.
And now let us do battle,
illustrious Achilles." 161

So he spoke
and gestured menacingly,
and radiant Achilles
lifted the spear
of Pelean ash.

The warrior Asteropaios
cast both spears at once,
for he was ambidextrous.
With one he struck the shield
but failed to puncture it--
the gold layer, a gift of the god,
stopped it.
With the other he grazed his forearm
and the black blood gushed
and the javelin flew on above him
and stuck in the ground
though it hungered for flesh.

Achilles hurled his ash javelin
built to fire straight to the mark
but missed him
and struck the high embankment--
half of the shaft of it
stuck in the bank.     172
The son of Peleus
drew the sharp sword from his thigh piece
and jumped upon him in fury.

Asteropaios was unable to pull out
the ash of Achilles
with his stout hands. 175
Three times he set it quivering,
eager to draw it from the earth;
three times his strength gave out.
The fourth time he wanted
to bend and break
the ashen spear of Achilles, Aiakos' descendant,
but before he could do it,
Achilles drew near
and took his life with his sword.
He struck him in the gut at the navel,
and all his innards gushed onto the ground,
and darkness covered his eyes as he gasped his last.

Achilles fell on his breast, stripped his battle gear, and exulted, saying:   183

"Ha! Just lie there then. It is difficult to contend
with the children of the mighty son of Kronos--
even for one whose lineage stems from a river.
You were just declaring yourself
born from a long-flowing river;
but I say my lineage is from great Zeus himself.
The man that sired me was lord over many Myrmidons:
he was Peleus, Aiakos' son.
Zeus sired Aiakos,
and Zeus is stronger than any
                                                          river babbling seaward ;
and the issue of Zeus is stronger than a river's issue.
There, right next to you now,
a big river flows,
if he can be of some use to you!
But one cannot do battle against Zeus, son of Kronos.
Not even King Acheloos could contend with him,
nor the enormous force of deep-flowing Okeanos
from which all rivers flow and every sea
and all deep wells and springs.
Even Okeanos fears the uncanny
lightning bolt of mighty Zeus
                                                           and his thunder
whenever it crashes out of heaven."  198

Thus Achilles;
and he yanked his bronze spear from the embankment
and once he'd taken his life,
he let Asteropaios
lie where he was in the sand
and the black water soaked him
and the eels and fish went at him
ripping at his kidneys and devouring them.  204

Now Achilles went after
the horse-chariot masters: the Paionians
who were cringing in disarray along the eddying river
for they saw the best warrior among them
vanquished in furious combat
by the hand and mighty sword of Peleus' son.
Achilles slew Thersilochos and Mydôn,
Astyplylos, Mnêsos, Thasios, Ainios, and Ophelestês.  210

And now swift Achilles would have slain more Paionians yet,
if the deep-eddying river had not grown angry
and sent forth a voice from an eddy
that was like the voice of a man:  213

"Achilles, you are mighty in excess of what is human,
and inhuman indeed is the iniquity you are committing.
Forever do the gods
                                come to your aid.
It is as if the son of Kronos has granted
that you should slay all the Trojans,
for you drive them out of my water
and work your baleful deeds up on the plain.
My lovely waters are full of the dead.
I 'm unable to send forth my currents
                                                                               to the shining sea
for they're strangled by corpses,
you slaughter men ruthlessly.
So come, let it be.
Confused amazement takes hold of me, O leader of men." 221

Swift-footed Achilles responded:

"We'll let matters stand, O Skamander, fostered by Zeus,
                                                                just as you'ld have them;
though I  shall not cease killing
                                                          high-handed Trojans
until I've shut them into their city
and tested Hektor man to man
and either he has vanquished me or I him."

With that, he went after the Trojans like a daimon,
and the deep-swirling river said to Apollo:

"Dammit, child of Zeus, god of the silver bow,
you have not kept to the plan of the son of Kronos,
who, with particular vehemence,
bid you stand by the Trojans and protect them
till the late-setting sun has come
                                           and thrown shadows over the deep sod." 232

Thus the Skamander.
And Achilles, famed for his spear,
leapt from the banks and into the middle of the river;
but the river rushed him with surging swells
and set all its currents
                                       into a tumult
and shoved along the many corpses
that were stuffed within him
and whom Achilles had killed.
He tumbled them out of the water and onto the land  236
bellowing like a bull,
while securing the living
                                               under his beautiful streams
hiding them deep in great eddies.
Uncanny, the turbulent water
stood about Achilles, 240
and the flood pushed him back
as it beat on his shield;
nor did he stay fixed on his feet.
He grasped with his hand an elm tree,
                                                        well-grown and tall,
and it tore the river bank asunder
as it fell from its roots
and stretched its thick branches
across the fair water
and bridged the river himself
as it toppled into him entirely. 246

A terrified Achilles sprang out of the eddy
to fly across the plain;
nor did the great god
diminish his fury,
but he rushed with a black-crested wave
to stop Achilles
                        and ward off destruction from the Trojans. 250

The son of Peleus sprang back
                                                                 as far as a spear-cast
with the swoop of a black eagle--that hunter of beasts--
the swiftest and most mighty
                                                    of all winged things--
like such an eagle he darted,
and the bronze on his breast rattled frightfully
as he sank out of reach and escaped from under;
but the river now followed behind
                                                                   with a great roar.
And just as a man might conduct
                                                                 water away from a stream
through his plants and garden plot,
a matlock in his hands      259
removing the temporary impediments
he'd placed in the ditch
to break the flow of the water,
and as the stream rushes forwards again,
all the small stones at the bottom
are swept along with it,
and the murmuring rivulet runs rapidly onward
down a sloping bed
outstripping the man that conducted it;
so did the wave of the stream
remain ahead of Achilles
in spite of his swiftness,
for gods are stronger than men. 264
Each time divine, swift-footed Achilles
attempted to make a stand against the river god
and ascertain whether indeed
all the immortals that hold broad heaven
were putting him to rout--
that often did a great wave
                                            of the river that springs from the gods
beat against his shoulders from above,
and he'd leap up, his spirit aroused;
but now the river below
would work to exhaust his knees:
it snatched the very ground from under his feet
                                                                             with its over-mastering onrush.
The son of Peleus cried out with his eyes to broad heaven:  272

"O Father Zeus;
how is it that none of the gods takes pity on me
and makes it his business to save me from the river
and lets me thereafter suffer come what may?  274
I blame no other of the Olympians
                                                        than my dear mother,
who enthralled me with false words,
for she said that under the walls of armored Trojans
I would perish by the swift arrows of Apollo. 278
Would that Hektor had slain me,
for he is the best man bred here;
then would a noble hero have been smitten
and a noble hero done the smiting;
but now I am fated to be seized by a miserable death
submerged in a mighty river
like a swineherd boy
whom a current carries away
as he tries to forge it in winter." 283

So he spoke;
and Poseidon and Athena
were instantly standing beside him
in the form of two mortal warriors,
and taking him by the hand
reassured him knowingly.
Earth-shaker Poseidon was first to speak:

"Son of Peleus, do not tremble thus, do not fear.
We are two gods
come to help with Zeus's approval,
I and Pallas Athena. 290
It is not your fate to be vanquished by the river,
but respite shall soon come,
and you yourself will know it,
and we provide wise counsel, if you will heed it.
Do not allow your hands to cease from battle
until you have bound the Trojan host
within the famous walls of Ilion;
and pay no mind who escapes you.
We grant it to you to win glory."  297

When the two gods had thus spoken
they returned to the immortals;
and Achilles headed off toward the plain,
for the injunction of the gods had encouraged him mightily.
The plain was all flooded with water
and many pieces of handsome battle gear
and many corpses of slain youths
floated upon it;
but his knees leapt high as he charged
straight at the rushing water,
and the broad-flowing river
had not face to stop him,
for Athena had put
                                      great strength into him. 304
And yet the Skamander did not cease raging
but was ever more furious
at the son of Peleus
and raised a wave of his flood up into a crest
and called with  a cry to the Simoes:     307

"Dear brother;
Achilles will soon lay waste
to the great city of Lord Priam,
nor will the Trojans
sustain the battle against him;
but do come swiftly to their aid
and fill your streams with water from your tributaries;
excite all your torrents;
raise a great wave;
raise a great tumult of tree trunks and stones
so that we might stop the wild man who prevails now
and thinks to contend
even with the gods.  315
For I say that his strength shall be of little use to him
nor his handsome form;
and his beautiful battle-gear
will lie at the bottom of the flood water covered with slime;   318
and I'll swirl sea-sand about him
and pour on shingles, too many to count,
and the Achaians won't know from what quarter to gather his bones
so deep shall I sink him. 321
And here shall be his grave-marker,
and they won't need to set up a barrow
when the Achaians come to perform his obsequies." 323

So spoke Skamander,
and came down on Achilles in a tumult,
rushing from above,
roaring with foam, blood, and corpses.
And a purple wave of the river
whose tributary is from the gods
stood raised above him,
poised about to take the son of Peleus;
but Hera cried aloud, terrified for Achilles,
that the great deep-swirling river would sweep him away;
and she said at once to her dear son Hephaistos:  330

""Bestir yourelf, O my little, crooked-footed one.
It was for battle with you
that we matched the swirling Xanthos.
Supply your assistance immediately, show your flame,
and I will go and elicit
an unmanageable blast
of the West Wind and the white South Wind
that from the sea will consume
the dead Trojans and their battle-gear
ever driving forth your ruinous flame,
while you, along the banks of the River Xanthos
burn his trees
and set fires all about him
and don't let him put you off,
either with threats or mollifying speeches.
Put an end to your fury
only when I call to you with a shout;
only at that point put to sleep your fire."   341

So she spoke.
Hephaistos prepared an amazing conflagration.
First he kindled fires on the plain
and burned the many corpses
of the men Achilles had slaughtered.
And the whole plain was dried up
and the shining flood abated.  345
And just as when at harvest time
the North wind, Boreas, dries up expeditiously
the freshly-watered orchard ground,
and he who has tilled it is happy;
so the whole plain was dried up now.
Hephasitos had burned the corpses
and now turned his gleaming fires against the river.
Burned were the elm trees, the tamarisk, the willows;
the lotos plants, the galingale, and all of the rushes
that flourished about
                                           the streams of the lovely river;
and the eels and fishes
                                           were tortured in the eddies,
leaping and tumbling
                                 this way and that
in the beautiful currents      354
tormented by the fires of blasts
                                                              of inventive Hephaistos.
And the mighty river burned
and said what he had to say
and addressed the deity:   356

"Hephaistos, none of the gods
                                                             can contend against you,
least of all shall I fight you as your fires blaze.
Suspend your animosity.
Let brilliant Achilles drive the Trojans from their city.
What business is it of mine
to contest it or bring them aid?"  360 

He spoke, burning with the fire,
his beautiful currents boiling away.
And just as a caldron boils within
as many flames fire up beneath it
melting the fat of a plump hog
and it bubbles up all over
and dry wood is set beneath it;
so his beautiful rivulets burned in the fire
and the water boiled.  365
And he wanted to flow no further but was halted,
for the fiery exhalations of  wise Hephaistos
tried him sorely,
and he prayed to Hera with winged words:  369

"Hera, why has your son
assaulted my streams
to vex them beyond all others?
I have done nothing blameworthy before you
as so many others have done who assist the Trojans.      371
And I shall stop, if you bid me,
but let him stop too!
And I shall make this oath,
never to avert the evil day from the Trojans,
not even when all Troy is burning
with the burning of devouring fire
and the warlike sons of the Achaians
have caused the conflagration." 376 

When Hera, white-armed goddess, heard this,
she said at once to Hephaistos her dear son:

"Hephaistos, my illustrious offspring, STOP!
It is not seemly to savage an immortal god
                                                                             in this manner
                                                      just for the sake of some mortals."
So she spoke;
and Hephaistos extinguished his amazingly blazing fire,
and the streams of the lovely river
flowed once again in their channel.
And when the fury of the Xanthos was quieted
the two combatants stopped,
for Hera stopped them,
though she raged on,
and strife befell the other gods
                                                   onerous and baleful
and the spirit-winds in their breasts
were blown in two directions.
The two parties clashed with a mighty noise;
the broad earth resounded;
great heaven trumpeted everywhere.
Zeus, as he sat on Olympos, heard it
and his heart laughed with joy
to witness the gods thus joined in contention.    390
No longer did they hold themselves aloof.
First shield-piercer Arês, bronze spear in hand,
                                                                                     jumped Athena
and spoke contemptuously to her:

"Why again, O Dog-Bug, do you drive the gods into enmity
as the wind-blast ferocity of your own great animus puts you to it?  395
Do you not remember when you stimulated
Tydeus' son Diomedes to attack me,
and you yourself, in sight of everyone,
took hold of his spear and sent it straight at me
and punctured my handsome flesh?
Now I think you will pay
                                for accomplishments such as that one!" 399

So saying,
      he struck her tasseled aegis, terrible object,
that even the thunderbolt of Zeus cannot vanquish.
Blood-stained Arês struck it with his long javelin.
Athena drew back, took a rock
in her muscular hand
that was lying on the ground,
                                             black, big, and jagged.
Men in former times
had set it to mark off a field. 405
She hit wild Arês in the neck and unsettled his knees.
Falling, he extended
                             seven pelethra,
                                                 his hair in the dust;
his battle-gear rattled;
Athena laughed,
and vaunting she spoke winged words: 409 

"You stupid infant;
You still have not learned
how much stronger than you
                                    I swear that I am--
that you compare your might to mine!
You'll suffer the Erinyes of your mother,
who in her rage devised misadventures for you,
because you deserted the Achaians
and gave aid to the arrogant Trojans."  415

So she spoke, and moved her eyes from Arês.
But the daughter of Zeus, Aphroditê
took his hand and led him away,
for he was groaning
                             again and again
and could barely pull himself together.
And as soon as Hera, the white-armed goddess,
realized what was up,
she spoke winged words to Athena:

"Dammit, O Atrytônê, daughter of Zeus, Aegis-holder;
That Dog-Bug's conducting
                                                   Arês, a plague to mortals,
out of the hostilities of battle through the throng--
let us have at her."    422

So she spoke;
and Athena leapt into action,
happy at heart and indeed rushing at her,
struck her with her stout hand
on the chest;
her knees collapsed where she stood and her dear heart sank. 425

The two, now--Aphroditê and Arês--
lay sprawled on the fertile earth,
and, exulting over them,
Athena pronounced winged words:

"Let all abettors of the Trojans
find themselves in such a plight
when they fight against the Achaians in their battle-gear,
                                                                                               bold and courageous,
just as Aphroditê
came as an ally to Arês
and opposed my force.
Otherwise, long before now,
we'd have stopped this war,
having sacked the well-built citadel of Ilion." 433

So she spoke;
and Hera, the white-armed goddess, smiled;
but the mighty earth-shaker said to Apollo:

""Phoibos; why do the two of us stay out of the fray?
It is not seemly, since the other gods have joined it.
Shame on us,
if we just go back to Olympos
                                                  and the palace of Zeus
                                                             with its floors of bronze
without engaging each other in battle.    438
You go first, since you are the younger.
It were not a pretty thing for me to do it
since I was born before you and know more things!      440
You might as well be an infant,
the way you possess a heart without intelligence.
You seem now not to remember
how we alone of the gods
suffered ills around Ilion
when Zeus forced us to serve Lord Laomedon
for a year
at a set wage.
Laomedon was our master and gave us commands.  445
And indeed I built a wall
                                             for the Trojans and their city,
                                                                                           broad and beautiful
so that it might be impregnable.
And you, Phoibos, herded
                                              sleek and shambling cattle
in the foothills and woods of Mount Ida
with its many cloves and glens;
but when the happy time
for the end of our contract came round,
a vehement Laomedon
robbed the two of us of our hire
and sent us packing
with menacing speech: 452
he threatened to bind our feet and our hands above them
and sell us as slaves
in distant islands   454
and lop off the ears of both of us
with a bronze blade.
So we went away
with smoldering hearts,
angry because of our wages
that he promised but failed to deliver.
And it is to Laomedon's people
that you now are showing favor
and do not make cause with us
to destroy the arrogant Trojans,
their children and their wives."  460

Lord Apollo, who shoots from afar, responded to him:

"Earth-shaker,
you would not count me of sound mind
if I made war against you
on account of pitiful mortals,
who now,  full of vitality,
flourish like the leaves
and eat the fruit of the fields;
but now again, lifeless, perish.
So let us stop quarreling.
Let them make war for themselves."   467

So saying, he changed his course,
remiss as he was to come to fisticuffs
                                                                  with his father's brother;
but his sister, wild goddess Artemis, mistress of beasts,
rebuked him roundly
and spoke to him abusively:

"You run away from Poseidon, do you?
You, who conducts his business at long range,
and hand him victory entirely,
and grant him empty honors?
Imbecile: Why do you carry a bow
if it is now to be as idle as the wind?
Ach! Let me not ever hear you again
boast in the halls of our father
as you boasted heretofore among the immortals
how you would do battle
                                             face to face against Poseidon!"   477

So she spoke; Apollo, who works at long range,
said nothing to her,
but the reverent spouse of Zeus bristled with rage
and rebuked the Archer Huntress with abusive speech:

"How do you have the effrontery, you shameless dog,
to take a stand against me?
In spite of the bow you carry,
it will prove troublesome for you to fight against me
                                                                                 and challenge my force
since Zeus made you a lion
                                                   amongst mortal females only
and granted you the capacity to slay
                                                                         whomever you wished.
But it is better to attack
wild mountain beasts and dear
than to do battle with your betters.   486
If you wish, do learn a bit about war
that you might know
how much mightier
I am than you are,
given that you would compare your power to mine."

Thus Hera.
And she seized the hands of Artemis   488
                                                                              by the wrist
and, with the right hand, stripped the bow from her shoulders
and laughing, beat her about the ears with her own battle-gear
as she turned and twisted in her grasp
and the swift shafts dumped to the ground.  492
And the goddess fled away weeping
just as a wild pigeon
flies to  a cleft
in a hollow rock
to flee a hawk,
if it's not its destiny to be taken,
so Artemis fled away weeping
and left her bow where it lay.  496
And the courier,  Argeiphontes, said to Leto:

"Leto, I will not fight with you.
It's bad luck
to bandy blows
with the wives of cloud-gathering Zeus.
It's just fine with me
                                             if you go about boasting
among the immortal gods
that you demolished me utterly
with your mighty might!"     501

So he spoke, and Leto
picked up her daughter's
                                                         curvèd bow
and the arrows that had fallen
every-which way
in the swirling dust,
and, having done so, departed.

But Artemis went to Olympos
and the bronze-floored palace of Zeus,
and the maiden took her seat
weeping at the knees of her father,
her robes of ambrosia
fluttering about her,
and the Son of Kronos, her father,
drew her to him,
and, laughing, sweetly asked her:

"Which of the immortals, dear child,
no doubt without provocation,
has mistreated you thus,
as if you'd committed some crime
                                                      right in front of their faces?"

And she in whose entourage
                                              uproar generally follows,
she of the handsome crown
said to him in turn:

"White-armed Hera, your wife, has struck me, O father,
she from whom Strife and Contention
have fastened themselves to the immortals."

Thus did they converse with one another.
But Phoibos Apollo entered holy Ilion,
for he was concerned about
the wall of the well-built city,
lest the Danaans sack it on that very day
in defiance of that which was fated.
The rest of the gods
                                     whose coming into being is perpetual
came to Olympos,
some of them raging,
some of them greatly exulting; 519
and down they sat by their father, the black cloud god.
But Achilles kept on killing
the Trojans themselves and their horses
                                                                              with hooves uncloven. 521
And just as when smoke going up from a burning city
                                                                                                     reaches broad heaven
and the wrath of the gods
blows the smoke onward
and it  causes troublesome labor for all the people
and miseries fall upon many,
so Achilles made work for the Trojans
and brought miseries upon them. 525

Old Man Priam
stood on the battlements the gods built,
and he was quite conscious
of the monstrous prodigy,  Achilles;
and the Trojans were being
                                                   driven away from him and fleeing,
and no assistance was forthcoming.
And Priam emitted a groan from
                                                                      the top of the wall
                                                                                                             growndward,
calling to the glorious keepers of the gates along the walls:   530

"Hold the gates wide open with your hands,
till the people reach the city in their flight;
for Achilles is close by driving them hither,
and I think that sorry business
                                                       soon shall befall us.
But once the army has come within the walls and caught its breath,
I fear that that terrible man
will leap inside the battlements." 536

So he spoke.
They unfastened the bars and opened the gates
and the gates, once flung open,
fashioned deliverance.
And Apollo leapt forth to oppose Achilles
and ward off the ruin of the Trojans,
who were fleeing straight for the city and its high battlements,
their bodies covered with dust from the plain,
their throats raw with thirst.
And Achilles menaced them with his javelin,
battle-lust forever gripping his heart
and he raged to win glory. 543

The sons of the Achaians at this point
would have taken high-pyloned Troy
had Phoibos Apollo not stimulated Agênor, Antenor's son,
a strong and blameless warrior. 546
Apollo put courage into Agênor's heart,
and he himself stood by him
to ward off the heavy hands of death.
He leaned on an oak tree and kept himself hidden
                                                                                  under a thick mist.
When Agênor became cognizant of Achilles, sacker of cities,
he just stood there;
and his troubled heart
                                          pondered many things.
Disturbed indeed, he spoke to his great-hearted spirit:  552

"Ah me;
    If I flee before mighty Achilles
whither the others, panic-stricken, are being driven in rout,
he'll get me in the end all the same
                                                                       and cut my throat
because I lacked the spirit to offer defense.  555
Now suppose I abandon these men
to be driven before the son of Peleus, Achilles,
and flee away from the wall on my own feet
                                                                                             to the plain of Ilion
and come to the glens of Ida
and hide among the thickets,     559
and then, in the evening,
once I've bathed in the river
and cooled down my sweat,
then perhaps I might make
                                                    my way back to Ilion.
But why does my own heart
discuss such matters with me?
I hope that Achilles won't see me
turning away from the city toward the plain
                                                                                          and catch up to me.    563
For then I'll no longer
be able to evade death and destiny.
Achilles is too strong--beyond all men.     566
But what if, in front of the city,
I go forth to oppose him,
for even his flesh is vulnerable to sharp bronze,
and only one life is inside him,
and men say that he is mortal,
though Zeus, the son of Kronos, gives him glory."   570

So saying, he pulled himself together
and waited for Achilles,
and the valorous heart within him
stirred him to do battle and make war.   572
And just as a leopard
                                 comes out of deep woods
                                                                                to face a hunter,
neither being frightened in spirit
                                                                        nor running away
when she hears the barking of hounds
for even if the hunter strikes her
                                                      with spear-thrust or arrow
and she is  pierced by the javelin,
she does not abandon her courage
until either she has closed with him or is subdued.
So the son of noble Antenor, brilliant Agenor
was not disposed to flee
until he should challenge Achilles,    580
so he held his shield up in front of him,
his shield well-balanced on all ides,
took aim with his javelin and shouted mightily:     582

"I think you hope in your breast, O glorious Achilles,
to sack the city of the Trojans on this day--
Fool! Many are the miseries
that are yet to be effected on her behalf.     585
Within her are warriors, multitudinous and courageous
that before their dear parents  and wives and sons
will fight to guard Ilion.
It is you that in this place
shall give yourself to destiny,
even though you are
                                       so formidable a man of war,"  589

He spoke. And propelled the sharp missile from
                                                                                                  his heavy hand
and struck him on the shin below the knee.
He did not miss his mark
and the greave of freshly minted-tin
rang out terribly;
but the bronze leapt back when it struck
and failed to pierce him;
the gift of the god stopped it.  594
The son of Peleus
now set in turn
upon godlike Agenor,
but Apollo prevented his glory
and snatched Agenor away
and hid him in thick mist
and sent him out of the war
to go in peace. 598
And Apollo by magic ruse
kept the son of Peleus
away from the people,
for he took on the likeness of Agenor
and took his stand
in front of his feet
and Achilles rushed him
in pursuit of him. 601
And pursued him he did
across the wheat-bearing plain
turning him toward the deep-swirling river Skamander,
as Apollo ran ahead of Achilles by but a little.
By magic ruse did Apollo
keep him in thrall,
for Achilles kept hoping to overtake him.
Meanwhile the rest of the routed Trojans
came happily in a throng to the city
and  the city filled up
with  fleeing men
for they did not dare to wait for each other any longer
outside the wall and the city
to discern who had escaped
and who had been slain in battle
but happily poured into the city
whichever of them
          his feet and knees could save.     611

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