Homer - Iliad 16, lines 1-256

Song Rating: 8.53/10

Song lyrics:

So they fought on both sides for the sake of the strong-benched vessel.
Meanwhile Patroklos came to the shepherd of the people, Achilleus,
and stood by him and wept warm tears, like a spring dark-running
that down the face of a rock impa**able drips its dim water;
and swift-footed brilliant Achilleus looked on him in pity,
and spoke to him aloud and addressed him in winged words: Why then
are you crying like some poor little girl, Patroklos,
who runs after her mother and begs to be picked up and carried,
and clings to her dress, and holds her back when she tries to hurry,
and gazes tearfully into her face, until she is picked up?
You are like such a one, Patroklos, dropping these soft tears.
Could you have some news to tell, for me or the Myrmidons?
Have you, and nobody else, received some message from Phthia?
Yet they tell me Aktors son Menoitios lives still
and Aiakos son Peleus lives still among the Myrmidons.
If either of these died we should take it hard. Or is it
the Argives you arc mourning over, and how they are dying
against the hollow ships by reason of their own arrogance?
Tell me, do not hide it in your mind, and so we shall both know.

Then groaning heavily, Patroklos the rider, you answered:
Son of Peleus, far greatest of the Achaians, Achilleus,
do not be angry; such grief has fallen upon the Achaians.
For all those who were before the bravest in battle
are lying up among the ships with arrow or spear wounds.
The son of Tydeus, strong Diomedes, was hit by an arrow,
and Odysseus has a pike wound. and Agamemnon the spear-famed.
and Eurypylos has been wounded in the thigh with an arrow.
And over these the healers sk**ed in medicine are working
to cure their wounds. But you. Achilleus; who can do anything
with you? May no such anger take me as this that you cherish!
Cursed courage. What other man born hereafter shall be advantaged
unless you beat aside from the Argives this shameful destruction?
Pitiless: the rider Peleus was never your father
nor Thetis was your mother, but it was the gray sea that bore you
and the towering rocks, so sheer the heart in you is turned from us.
But if you are drawing back from some prophecy known in your own heart
and by Zeus will your honored mother has told you of something,
then send me out at least, let the rest of the Myrmidon people
follow me, and I may be a light given to the Danaans.
Give me your armor co wear on my shoulders into the fighting;
so perhaps the Trojans might think I am you. and give way
from their attack. and the fighting sons of the Achaians get wind
again after hard work. There is little breathing space in the fighting.
We unwearied might with a mere cry pile men wearied
back upon their city. and away from the ships and the shelters.

So he spoke supplicating in his great innocence; this was
his own d**h and evil destruction he was entreating.
But now. deeply troubled. swift-footed Achilleus answered him:
Ah, Patroklos. illustrious, what is this you are saying?
so I have not any prophecy in mind that I know of;
there is no word from Zeus my honored mother has told me.
but this thought comes as a bitter sorrow to my heart and my spirit
when a man tries to foul one who is his equal. to take back
a prize of honor. because he goes in greater authority.
This is a bitter thought to me; my desire has been dealt with
roughly. The girl the sons of the Achaians chose out for my honor.
and I won her with my own spear, and stormed a strong-fenced city.
is taken back out of my hands by powerful Agamemnon.
the son of Atreus. as if I were some dishonored vagabond.
Still. we will let all this be a thing of the past; and it was not
in my heart to be angry forever; and yet I have said
I would not give over my anger until that time came
when the fighting with all its clamor came up to my own ships.
So do you draw my glorious armor about your shoulders;
lead the Myrmidons whose delight is battle into the fighting.
if truly the black cloud of the Trojans has taken position
strongly about our ships. and the others. the Argives. are bent back
against the beach of the sea. holding only a narrow division
of land. and the whole city of the Trojans has descended upon them
boldly; because they do not see the face of my helmet
glaring close; or else they would run and cram full of dead men
the water-courses; if powerful Agamemnon treated me
kindly. Now the Argives fight for their very encampment.
For the spear rages not now in the hands of the son of Tydeus,
Diomedes, to beat destruction aside from the Danaans,
nor have I heard the voice of the son of Atreus crying
from his hated head; no. but the voice of murderous Hektor
calling to the Trojans crashes about my ears; with their war cry
they hold the entire plain as they beat the Achaians in batrle.
But even so, Patroklos, beat the bane aside from our ships; fall
upon them with all your strength; let them not with fires blazing
inflame our ships, and take away our desired homecoming.
But obey to the end this word I put upon your attention
so that you can win, for me, great honor and glory
in the sight of all the Danaans, so they will bring back to me
the lovely girl, and give me shining gifts in addition.
When you have driven them from the ships, come back; although later
the thunderous lord of Hera might grant you the winning of glory.
you must not set your mind on fighting the Trojans, whose delight
is in battle, without me. So you will diminish my honor.
You must not. in the pride and fury of fighting. go on
slaughtering the Trojans. and lead the way against Ilion.
for fear some one of the everlasting gods on Olympos
might crush you. Apollo who works from afar loves these people
dearly. You must turn back once you bring the light of salvation
to the ships, and let the others go on fighting in the flat land.
Father Zeus, Athene and Apollo, if only
not one of all the Trojans could escape destruction. not one
of the Argives, but you and I could emerge from the slaughter
so that we two alone could break Troys hallowed coronal.

Now as these two were talking thus to each other. meanwhile
the volleys were too much for Aias, who could hold no longer
his place. The will of Zeus beat him back, and the proud Trojans
with their spears, and around his temples the shining helmet
clashed horribly under the shower of strokes; he was hit constantly
on the strong-wrought cheek-pieces, and his left shoulder was tiring
from always holding up the big glittering shield; yet they could not
beat him out of his place, though they piled their missiles upon him.
His breath came ever hard and painful, the sweat ran pouring
down his body from every limb, he could find no means
to catch his breath, but evil was piled on evil about him.

Tell me now, you Muses who have your homes on Olympos,
how fire was first thrown upon the ships of the Achaians.
Hektor stood up close to Aias and hacked at the ash spear
with his great sword, striking behind the socket of the spearhead.
and slashed it clean away, so that Telamonian Aias
shook there in his hand a lopped spear, while far away from him
the bronze spearhead fell echoing to the ground; and Aias
knew in his blameless heart. and shivered for knowing it, how this
was gods work, how Zeus high-thundering cut across the intention
in all his battle, how he planned that the Trojans should conquer.
He drew away out of the missiles, and the Trojans threw weariless fire
on the fast ship, and suddenly the quenchless flame streamed over it.
So the fire was at work on the ships stern; but Achilleus
struck his hands against both his thighs. and called to Patroklos:
Rise up, illustrious Patroklos, rider of horses.
I see how the ravening fire goes roaring over our vessels.
They must not get our ships so we cannot run away in them.


Get on your armor; faster; I will muster our people.

He spoke, and Patroklos was helming himself in bronze that glittered.
First he placed along his legs the beautiful greaves, linked
with silver fastenings to hold the greaves at the ankles.
Afterward he girt on about his chest the corselet
starry and elaborate of swift-footed Aiakides.
Across his shoulders he slung the sword with the nails of silver.
a bronze sword, and above it the great shield. huge and heavy.
Over his mighty head he set the well-fashioned helmet
with the horse-hair crest, and the plumes nodded terribly above it.
He took up two powerful spears that fitted his hands grip.
only he did not take the spear of blameless Aiakides,
huge, heavy, thick, which no one else of all the Achaians
could handle, but Achilleus alone knew how to wield it;
the Pelian ash spear which Cheiron had brought to his father
from high on Pelion to be d**h for fighters. Patroklos
ordered Automedon rapidly to harness the horses.
a man he honored most, after Achilleus breaker of battles,
who stood most staunchly by him against the fury of fighting.
For him Automedon led the fast-running horses under
the yoke, Xanthos and Balios, who tore with the winds speed,
horses stormy Podarge once conceived of the west wind
and bore, as she grazed in the meadow beside the swirl of the Ocean.
In the traces beside these he put unfaulted Pedasos
whom Achilleus brought back once when he stormed Eetions city.
He, mortal as he was, ran beside the immortal horses.
But Achilleus went meanwhile to the Myrmidons, and arrayed them
all in their war gear along the shelters. And they. as wolves
who tear flesh raw, in whose hearts the battle fury is tireless,
who have brought down a great horned stag in the mountains, and then feed
on him, till the jowls of every wolf run blood, and then go
all in a pack to drink from a spring of dark-running water,
lapping with their lean tongues along the black edge of the surface
and belching up the clotted blood; in the heart of each one
is a spirit untremulous, but their bellies are full and groaning;
as such the lords of the Myrmidons and their men of counsel
around the brave henchman of swift-footed Aiakides
swarmed, and among them was standing warlike Achilleus
and urged on the fighting men with their shields, and the horses.

Fifty were the fast-running ships wherein Achilleus
beloved of Zeus had led his men to Troy, and in each one
were fifty men, his companions in arms, at the rowing benches.
He had made five leaders among them, and to these entrusted
the command, while he in his great power was lord over all of them.
One battalion was led by Menesthios of the shining
corselet, son of Spercheios, the river swelled from the bright sky.
born of the daughter ofPeleus. Polydore the lovely.
to unremitting Spercheios. when a woman lay with an immortal;
but born in name to Perieres son, Boros, who married
Polydore formally, and gave gifts beyond count to win her.
The next battalion was led by warlike Eudoros, a maidens
child, born to one lovely in the dance. Polymele.
daughter of Phylas; whom strong Hermes Argeiphontes
loved, when he watched her with his eyes among the girls dancing
in the choir for clamorous Artemis of the golden distaff.
Presently Hermes the healer went up with her into her chamber
and lay secretly with her, and she bore him a son, the shining
Eudoros, a surpa**ing runner and a quick man in battle.
But after Eileithyia of the hard pains had brought out
the child into the light, and he looked on the suns shining.
Aktors son Echekles in the majesty of his great power
led her to his house, when he had given numberless gifts to win her,
and the old man Phylas took the child and brought him up kindly
and cared for him, in affection as if he had been his own son.
The leader of the third battalion was warlike Peisandros.
Maimalos son, who outshone all the rest of the Myrmidons
in spear-fighting, next to Peleian Achilleus henchman.
The fourth battalion was led by Phoinix, the aged horseman,
the fifth by Alkimedon, the blameless son of Laorkes.
But after Achilleus gave them their stations all in good order
beside their leaders, he laid his stern injunction upon them:
Myrmidons: not one of you can forget those mutterings,
those threats that beside the running ships you made at the Trojans
in all the time of my anger, and it was I you were blaming,
as: Hard son of Peleus! Your mother nursed you on gall. You have no
pity, to keep your companions here by the ships unwilling.
We should go back home again, then, in our seafaring vessels
now that this wretched anger has befallen your spirit:
Often you would gather in groups and so mutter against me,
and now is shown a great work of that fighting you longed for.
Then let each man take heart of strength to fight with the Trojans.

So he spoke, and stirred the spirit and strength in each man,
and their ranks, as they listened to the king, pulled closer together.
And as a man builds solid a wall with stones set close together
for the rampart of a high house keeping out the force of the winds, so
close together were the helms and shields ma**ive in the middle.
For shield leaned on shield, helmet on helmet, man against man,
and the horse-hair crests along the horns of the shining helmets
touched as they bent their heads. so dense were they formed on each other.
And before them all were two men in their armor, Patroklos
and Automedon, both of them in one single fury
to fight in front of the Myrmidons. But meanwhile Achilleus
went off into his shelter, and lifted the lid from a lovely
elaborately wrought chest, which Thetis the silver-footed
had put in his ship to carry. and filled it fairly with tunics
and mantles to hold the wind from a man. and with fleecy blankets.
Inside this lay a wrought goblet. nor did any other
man drink the shining wine from it nor did Achilleus
pour from it to any other god, but only Zeus father.
He took this now out of the chest, and cleaned it with sulfur
first, and afterward washed it out in bright-running water,
and washed his own hands, and poured shining wine into the goblet
and stood in his middle forecourt and prayed, and poured the wine.
looking into the sky, not unseen by Zeus who delights in the thunder:
High Zeus, lord of Dodona, Pelasgian.living afar off,
brooding over wintry Dodona, your prophets about you
living, the Selloi who sleep on the ground with feet unwashed. Hear me.
As one time before when I prayed to you, you listened
and did me honor, and smote strongly the host of the Achaians,
so one more time bring to pa** the wish that I pray for.
For see, I myself am staying where the ships are a**embled,
but I send out my companion and many Myrmidons with him
to fight. Let glory, Zeus of the wide brows, go forth with him.
Make brave the heart inside his breast, so that even Hektor
will find out whether our henchman knows how to fight his battles
by himself, or whether his hands rage invincible only
those times when I myself go into the grind of the war god.
But when he has beaten back from the ships their clamorous onset,
then let him come back to me and the running ships, unwounded,
with all his armor and with the companions who fight close beside him,

So he spoke in prayer, and Zeus of the counsels heard him,
The father granted him one prayer, and denied him the other.
That Patroklos should beat back the fighting a**ault on the vessels
he allowed, but refused to let him come back safe out of the fighting.
When Achilleus had poured the wine and prayed to Zeus father
he went back into the shelter, stowed the cup in the chest, and came out
to stand in front of the door, with the desire in his heart still
to watch the grim encounter of Achaians and Trojans.

Date of text publication: 16.01.2021 at 12:55