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Translation by Ian Johnston

Book Six
Hector and Andromache

[The battle continues; Menelaus captures Adrestus; Agamemnon refuses ransom; Helenus gives advice to Hector; Glaucus and Diomedes prepare to fight; Glaucus tells the story of Bellerophon; Glaucus and Diomedes exchange armour in friendship; Hector goes to Troy, talks with his mother; Hector talks to Paris and Helen; Hector goes home, talks to his housekeeper;  Hector meets Andromache and Astyanax; Hector prays for his son's future; Paris rejoins Hector at the gates]


Now the grim war between Trojans and Achaeans
was left to run its course.  The battle raged,
this way and that, across the entire plain,
as the men hurled bronze-tipped spears at one another,
between the Simoeis and Xanthus rivers.

Ajax, son of Telamon, Achaea's tower of strength, 
was the first to break through ranks of Trojans, 
punching out some breathing room for his companions.  
He hit Acamas, son of Eussorus, a strong, brave soldier,
best of the Thracians.  Ajax's spear struck him first,                             
10
on the peak of his horse-plumed helmet. The sharp bronze 
drove right into his forehead—dead in the centre—                                     
[10]
straight through bone into the brain. Darkness fell on his eyes.

Diomedes, expert in war cries, killed Axylus, 
son of Teuthranus, a rich man from well-built Arisbe.
People really loved him, for he lived beside a road, 
welcomed all passers-by into his home.  
But not one of those men he'd entertained now stood 
in front of him, protecting him from wretched death.
Diomedes took the lives of two men—Axylus,                                     
20
and his attendant Calesius, his charioteer.
So both men went down into the underworld.

Euryalus killed Dresus, Opheltius,                                                                 [20]
then charged after Aesepus and Pedasus,
whom the naiad nymph Abararea bore 
to noble Boucolion, son of high-born Laomedon, 
his eldest son. His mother bore Pedasus secretly.
Bucolion had had sex with the nymph
while tending to his flock.  She became pregnant,
then gave birth to twin sons.  Euryalus,                                                
30
son of Mecistus, slaughtered both of them,
destroying their strength, their splendid bodies.
Then he stripped the armour from their shoulders.

Next, fierce warrior Polypoetes killed Astyalus.  
With his bronze spear Odysseus killed Pidytes, from Percote.                      
[30]
Teucer slaughtered lord Aretaon. Antilochus, 
son of Nestor, with his glittering spear killed Ableros.
And Agamemnon, king of men, killed Elatus,
who lived in high Pedasus, beside the banks
of the fair-flowing river Satnious.                                                          
40
Heroic Leitus killed Phylacus, as he was fleeing.
And Eurypylus then butchered Melanthus.                                            

Menelaus, skilled in war cries, captured Adrestus alive.  
His horses had panicked, bolting across the plain,
run headlong into a tamarisk bush, snapping the pole
on the curved chariot, right at the very end.                                                  
[40]
The horses charged off to the city, where others,
panic stricken, were headed, too.  Adrestus
rolled out of the chariot beside the wheel, 
face down in the dirt. Menelaus, son of Atreus,                                     
50
stood there beside him, holding his long-shadowed spear.                         
Adrestus clutched Menelaus by the knees, begging:

"Take me alive, son of Atreus—you'll get
good ransom.  My father is a wealthy man,
owns lots of things—bronze, silver, well-worked iron.
So he'll give you a magnificent ransom,
if he learns I'm alive by the Achaean ships."                                       
[50]

Adrestus pleaded. Menelaus' heart in his chest was moved.
He was about to hand Adrestus over to his attendant, 
to take back captive to the fast Achaean ships.                                     
60
But then Agamemnon came running up to him,
sharply criticizing Menelaus:

"Menelaus, you soft-hearted man,
why are you sparing men's lives like this?
In your own home, Trojans treated you
exceptionally well, did they not?
So don't let any one of them evade
terrible destruction at our hands—
not even the young child still carried                               
in his mother's belly.  Let no one escape.                                    
70
Let everyone in Troy be slaughtered,
without pity, without leaving any trace."                                             
[60]

With these words, by this appeal to justice,
he changed his brother's mind.  So Menelaus
shoved warrior Adrestus away from him.  
Mighty Agamemnon then speared him in the side.  
Adrestus fell onto his back.  The son of Atreus, 
placing his heel on his chest, pulled the ash spear out.

Then Nestor addressed the Argives, shouting:

                                                       "My friends, 
Danaan heroes, comrades of Ares,                                               
80
let no one lag behind to pick up loot, 
seeking to reach our ships holding all you can.
Let's kill the enemy instead.  Later,
with the corpses on the plain, you'll have time                                    
[70]
to strip the bodies of the men we've killed."

With this Nestor stirred each man's strength and spirit.
Then Achaeans, filled with love of war, would once more
have beaten Trojans, broken by cowardice,
back in flight to Troy,  if Helenus, son of Priam, 
by far the best at reading omens, hadn't spoken out.                             
90  
Standing beside Hector and Aeneas, Helenus said:

"Aeneas, Hector, among Trojans and Lycians, 
the main weight falls particularly on you, 
for you are, in all attacks, the best at fighting
and at strategy.  Make a stand right here.                                                   
[80]
Rally the men right by the city gates.
Move around throughout the entire army,
before men run and fall into their women's arms,
something that would make our enemies rejoice.
Then, once you've restored the spirits                                         
100
in all our ranks, we'll stand right here, 
we'll fight Danaans, no matter how hard pressed.  
For then we'll have no other option.                    
And you, Hector, go into the city.                                 
Speak to our mother, yours and mine.
Tell her to assemble the old women
at the temple of bright-eyed Athena,
on the city heights.  She should take the key,
open the doors of the sacred building,
then place in the lap of the goddess there,                                  
110      [90]
fair-haired Athena, the garment she thinks
loveliest, the greatest in the palace,
the one she likes far above the others.                             
Tell her to promise Athena she'll give                           
twelve heifers in a temple sacrifice,
yearlings, as yet untouched by any goad,
if she will pity Troy, pity the wives
and Trojan children, if she will keep
Tydeus' son away from sacred Ilion,
that fierce spearman, powerful fighter,                                 
         120
who makes men afraid—in my opinion,
the mightiest of all Achaeans.
We didn't fear Achilles, chief of men,                                 
like this, although they say a goddess                                                  
[100]
was his mother.  But this man's fighting rage
has no equal.  We can't match his power."

Helenus spoke.  Hector was convinced by his advice.
At once he jumped down from his chariot to the ground, 
clutching his weapons.  Brandishing two sharp spears, 
he moved through all the army, urging men to fight,                            
130
rousing their spirits for the harsh reality of war.
So men wheeled round, and faced Achaean soldiers.
Argives then drew back and stopped the slaughter,
thinking that one of the immortal gods had come,
descending from starry heaven to help the Trojans, 
enabling them to turn themselves around and fight.
Hector then gave orders to the Trojans, shouting out:                                   
[110]

"You proud Trojans, wide-renowned allies,
friends, be men, summon up your fighting strength,
while I go to Troy in person, to instruct                                     
140
the old men of the council and our wives                             
to pray to the gods and promise sacrifice."

With these words, Hector of the shining helmet moved off.  
As he went, black leather running round the outer edge
on his studded shield struck his neck and ankles.

Then Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, and Diomedes 
moved out together between the armies, keen to fight.                                 
[120]
When they'd come to close quarters, facing each other, 
Diomedes, expert in war cries, was the first to speak:

"Who are you, my dear man, among mortal men?                        150
For I've never clapped eyes on you before,
in those fights where men win glory.
But now you've stepped out well beyond the ranks,
showing more courage here than anyone,
standing up to my long-shadowed spear.  
Men who face me end up with grieving parents.
If you're one of the immortal gods
come down from heaven, I won't fight you.                            
Even mighty Lycurgus, son of Dryas,                                                  
[130]
did not live long, once he started battling                                   
160
heavenly gods.  He was the one who chased
attendants of the frenzied Dionysus,
forcing them across sacred Nysa.
They all threw their holy wands onto the ground,
as murderous Lycurgus with his ox whip
kept beating them.  Even Dionysus,
terrified, jumped in the ocean waves.
Thetis embraced him, as he shook with fear,                         
intimidated by Lycurgus' threats.
He angered the gods, who live without a care,                           
170
so the son of Cronos blinded him. 
He didn't live much longer, not once he'd made
all the deathless gods displeased with him.                                          
[140]
So I don't want to battle sacred gods.
But if you're a mortal man, someone
who eats earth's fruit, move in closer,
so you can meet your death more quickly."                        

Glaucus, fine son of Hippolochus, replied:

"Son of Tydeus, great-hearted Diomedes, 
why ask me about my ancestry?                                                  
180
Generations of men are like the leaves.  
In winter, winds blow them down to earth, 
but then, when spring season comes again, 
the budding wood grows more.  And so with men—
one generation grows, another dies away.  
But if you wish to learn about my family,                                             
[150]   
so you're familiar with my lineage,
well, many people know the details.
There is a city in a part of Argos, 
land where horses breed, a place called Ephyra.                         
190
There Sisyphus lived, craftiest man ever born, 
Sisyphus, Aeolus' son. He had a son,
Glaucus, father of handsome Bellerophon.
The gods made Bellerophon so beautiful
and gave him the best qualities of men.
But Proetus, in his heart, plotted against him,
driving him from Argos, being much stronger,
for Zeus had given royal power to Proetus.
Now, Proetus' wife, lady Antea,                                                          
[160]
desperate to have sex with Bellerophon,                               
       200
wanted him to lie with her in secret.                                    
But fiery Bellerophon refused,
for he possessed an honourable heart.    
So Antea made up lies, telling Proetus,
the king, 'You'll be murdered, Proetus, 
unless you assassinate Bellerophon, 
who wants to have sex with me against my will.'  
Proetus was overcome with anger
at what he'd heard, but he was reluctant
to kill Bellerophon—in his heart                                                 
210
he shrank from doing such an evil act.
He sent Bellerophon to Lycia,                                              
with a lethal message, coded symbols
inscribed on a folded tablet.  These told
many lies about Bellerophon.
Proetus told him to give the message
to his father-in-law, so he'd be killed.                                                  
[170]
Bellerophon went off to Lycia,
under safe conduct from the gods.
When in Lycia he reached the river Xanthus,                             
220
he was honoured fully by the Lycian king
,
with nine days of welcome entertainment,
nine sacrificial oxen. The tenth day, 
when rose-fingered Dawn appeared,
the Lycian king questioned Bellerophon, 
asking to see the message he had brought
from Proetus, his father-in-law.
Once he'd received the evil message
from his son-in-law, he told Bellerophon,
first of all, to kill the Chimera,                                                    
230
an invincible monster, inhuman,                                                          
[180]
but divine in origin. Its front part was a lion,
its rear end a snake, and in between a goat.
She breathed deadly rage, in searing fire.  
But Bellerophon killed the Chimera, 
putting his trust in omens from the gods.  
Next, he battled the Solymi, the worst fight,
they say, he ever had with mortal beings.
Then, third, he massacred the Amazons,
women who rival men.  The king planned                                  
240
one more devious evil trick against him, 
as he was returning from the Amazons,
setting Lycia's best men in ambush.  
But none of them came back again—
worthy Bellerophon killed them all.                                                     
[190]
The king then knew he must be born divine.
So he kept him with him there in Lycia,
gave him his daughter's hand in marriage, 
and half the honours in the entire kingdom.                                
The Lycians gave him an estate                                                  
250
far better than the rest, rich in vineyards
and wheat-growing land, for him to keep.
The king's daughter bore him three children—
Isander, Hippolochus, and Laodamia.
Counsellor Zeus then had sex with the girl.
She bore glorious Sarpedon, bronze-armed warrior.  
But then Bellerophon angered all the gods.                                           
[200]
He wandered alone on the Alean plain—
depressed in spirit, he roamed around, shunning all.                      
Ares, insatiable in war, then killed his son Isander,                    
260
while he was fighting the famous Solymi.
Artemis, goddess with the golden reins,
in anger killed the daughter of Bellerophon.
Hippolochus was my father.  I claim
my descent from him.  He sent me to Troy,
telling me repeatedly to strive always                                                
to excel, outdo all other warriors,
so I do not shame my father's family,
the finest men by far in Ephyra                                              
and wide Lycia.  That's my lineage,                                   
             270       [210]
the blood ancestry I claim as mine."

Glaucus spoke. Diomedes, skilled at war cries, rejoiced.
He jabbed his spear into the life-giving earth,
then talked to that shepherd of his people as a friend:

"In that case, you're an old friend of my father.                       
For Oeneus once played host to Bellerophon,
that worthy man, for twenty days in his home.
The two of them exchanged fine presents.
Oeneus gave a shining purple belt,                                          
Bellerophon a gold two-handled cup
                                        280        [220]
I left it in my house when I came here.
I have no memory of Tydeus,
for he died while far away from me,
killed at Thebes with the Achaean army.
Now I'll be your kind host in middle Argos, 
you'll be mine in Lycia, when I visit you.
Let's make sure we avoid each other's spears, 
even in the thick of all the fighting.
For there are many famous Trojans and allies
for me to kill, any warrior the gods provide,                               
290
whom I can run after and catch on foot.  
For you there are many Argives to destroy,
all you can manage.  So let's exchange armour.                                    
[230]  
Then these men here will recognize                         
that we pay tribute to our father's bond as friends."

With these words, the two men jumped out of their chariots, 
clasped hands and pledged their mutual friendship.  
Then Zeus, son of Cronos, stole Glaucus' wits, 
for he gave Tydeus' son his golden armour,                                   
worth one hundred oxen, exchanging that                                            
300
for armour made of bronze, worth only nine.

Meanwhile, Hector reached the Scaean Gates and oak tree.
The Trojans' wives and daughters ran up round him, 
asking after children, brothers, relatives, and husbands.  
Addressing each of them in turn, he ordered them                                         
[240]
to pray to all the gods.  For many were to face great grief.
He came to Priam's splendid palace, with porticos
of polished stone.  It had fifty private bed rooms,
all of polished stone, built close to one another,                                 
where Priam's sons slept with the wives they married.                         
310
On the opposite side, within the courtyard,                                     
were twelve roofed rooms made of polished stone
for Priam's daughters, built near one another,
where Priam's sons-in-law slept with their married wives.                              
[250]
Here Hector's gracious mother, Hecuba, 
met him, as she was going to the palace, 
with Laodice, loveliest of all her daughters.  
Taking his hand, she spoke to Hector:

                                                          "My child, 
why have you left hard battle to come here?                
The sons of Achaea—may the gods curse them!—                    
320
press us hard, eager to fight around our city.
Your spirit has led you here to lift your hands
in prayers to Zeus from our city heights.
But wait. I can fetch some sweet wine for you,
so you can begin by pouring a libation
to father Zeus and other immortal gods.
Then you may enjoy some, too, if you'll drink.                                    
[260]
Wine restores strength well in a weary man,
and you've grown tired guarding your family."        

Great Hector of the shining helmet then replied:                                   330

"My dear mother, don't bring me some sweet wine,
for that will weaken me.  I'll lose my battle power.
And I'm ashamed to offer up to Zeus
libations of gleaming wine with unwashed hands.  
It's not at all appropriate for a man
spattered with blood and dirt to offer prayers 
to the son of Cronos, lord of the black clouds.  
But you must go to the temple of Athena, 
goddess of battle spoils, with burnt offerings.                        
First assemble the old women all together,                                 
340       [270]
then place in Athena's lap, that fair-haired goddess,
the garment you think is loveliest,
the very finest in the palace,
the one you like far better than the rest.                                   
Then you must promise Athena you'll give                           
twelve heifers in a temple sacrifice,
yearlings, as yet untouched by any goad,
if she will pity Troy, pity the wives, 
and Trojan children, if she will keep                                   
Tydeus' son away from sacred Ilion,                                           
350
that fierce spearman, powerful fighter,
who makes men afraid.  So now you must leave,
go straight to the temple of Athena, 
goddess of battle spoils.  I'll find Paris,
and call him back, if he'll to listen to me.                                             
[280]
If only the earth would open under him, 
swallow him up! Olympian Zeus raised him 
as trouble for the Trojans, for brave Priam,
for his children.  If I could see Paris die,                                  
heading down to Hades, then I could say                              
       360
my heart's sorrows were over and forgotten."

Hector spoke.  His mother went into the house,
calling her attendants, who brought together
the matrons from the city.  Then she went down
into the sweet-smelling room which stored their gowns, 
fine embroidered work of women from Sidonia, 
which godlike Paris brought with him from Sidon,                                         
[290]
when he sailed across the broad sea, on that voyage
where he carried off high-born Helen.  Hecuba took out                  
one of the gowns, the finest embroidery, the largest.                            
370 
Glittering like a star, it lay at the bottom of the chest.
Taking that as Athena's gift, she walked away. 
The old ladies followed her. At Athena's temple 
fair-cheeked Theano, daughter of Cisseus,
wife of horse-taming Antenor, let them in.
Trojans had appointed her Athena's priestess.                                                
[300]
All the women raised hands, as they prayed to Athena,
while Theano took that lovely robe and placed it
in Athena's lap, the goddess with the lovely hair,
then spoke out this prayer to great Zeus' daughter:                              
380 

"Blessed Athena, sacred goddess,                                           
defender of our city, break the spear                                    
of Diomedes.  Let him fall face down                                   
before the Scaean Gates.  If so, right now
we'll sacrifice twelve heifers in your temple,                        
beasts untouched by any goad, if you'll pity
our city, Trojans' wives, and children."                                                
[310]

The women prayed.  But Pallas Athena refused them.
As they made their plea to great Zeus' daughter,
Hector went to the fine house of Alexander.                                         
390                 
He'd built it himself with fertile Troy's best craftsmen.  
They'd made him a bedroom, apartment, and a yard,                            
close to Priam and Hector, on the city height. 
Hector, loved by Zeus, went in the house, holding his spear, 
eleven cubits long, bronze point glittering in front of him,                             
[320]
a gold band running round it.  He met Alexander,
busy in his room with his fine weapons—shield
and body armour—and polishing his curving bow.  
Argive Helen sat there, too, with ladies-in-waiting, 
directing her servants in their famous handicrafts.                                
400
Seeing Paris, Hector spoke some sharp words to him:

"Paris, you're a man who's just no use at all.                                                
It's quite wrong of you to nurse that anger
in your heart, while men are being destroyed,
fighting round the city, its steep walls.
It's because of you the sounds of warfare
catch fire round our city.  You would fight                           
any man you saw avoiding battle,                                                         
[330]
fleeing war's brutality.  So up with you,
or soon our city will be going up in smoke,                                 
410
fire destroying everything."                                            

                                        Godlike Alexander then replied:                     

"Hector, your rebuke is not unfair 
or without reason.  So I'll speak plainly. 
Listen and remember what I'm saying.
I'm not sitting here in my bedroom
out of anger or spite against the Trojans.                                      
I want to grieve.  Just now my wife urged me,
using gentle words, to rouse myself to fight.  
And personally I think that would be best.  
For victory shifts from one man to another.                               
420
So wait here while I put on battle armour.                                            
[340]
Or go and I'll come later.  I'll catch up with you."                        

Hector of the shining helmet did not reply.
Helen spoke to Hector with soothing words:

"Hector, you are my brother, 
and I'm a horrible, conniving bitch.  
I wish that on that day my mother bore me
some evil whirlwind had come, carried me away,
and swept me off, up into the mountains, 
or into waves of the tumbling, crashing sea.                               
430
Then I would have died before this happened.
But since gods have ordained these evil things,                  
I wish I'd been wife to a better man,                                                     
[350]
someone sensitive to others' insults, 
with feeling for his many shameful acts.
This husband of mine has no sense now
and won't acquire any in the future.  
I expect he'll get from that what he deserves.  
But come in, sit on this chair, my brother,                         
since this trouble really weighs upon your mind—                     
440
all because I was a bitchbecause of that
and Paris' folly, Zeus gives us evil fates,
so we may be subjects for men's songs
in generations yet to come."

Great Hector of the shining helmet answered Helen:

"Don't ask me to sit down, Helen.  You're kind,                                   [360]
but you won't persuade me.  For my heart's on fire
to help the Trojans, who miss me greatly when I'm gone.
But you must rouse Paris, and he, too, should hurry, 
so he can catch up with me inside the city.                                 450
I'm going home to visit my dear wife
and infant son, for I've no idea                                            
whether I'll be coming back to them again, 
or if the gods will kill me at Achaean hands."

Saying this, Hector of the shining helmet went away.                                                 
Soon afterwards he reached his well-built house.                                            [370]
He didn't find white-armed Andromache at home,
for she'd left with the infant child, going to the walls
with a well-dressed attendant, in tears, lamenting.  
When Hector didn't meet his fair wife in the house,                              460
he went and, standing in the doorway, asked his servant:

"Woman, tell me the truth.  Where's Andromache?                
At one of my sisters? With a well-dressed wife 
of one of my brothers?  Or is she at Athena's temple, 
where the other fine-haired Trojan women
are praying to that fearful goddess?"                                                    
[380]

His busy housekeeper then answered him:

"Hector, you asked me to tell the truth.
She didn't go to one of your sisters,
or one of your brothers' well-dressed wives,                         
        470
nor did she go to Athena's temple, 
where other fine-haired Trojan women
are praying to that fearful goddess. 

She went to Ilion's great tower,
for she'd heard Trojans were hard pressed,
the power of Achaeans was so great.
So she's hurrying off up to the walls,
like someone in a fit.  A nurse went, too,
carrying the child."

                                      Once the housekeeper spoke,                                   [390]
Hector left his home by the same route he'd come,                               
480
through the well-built city streets, across the great city, 
and reached the Scaean Gates, beyond which he'd go                      
out into the plain.  There his wife ran up to meet him,

Andromache, daughter of great-hearted Eëtion, 
who'd included a large dowry with her.  
Eëtion had lived below the forests on Mount Placus, 
in Thebe, king of Cilician people. She'd become
married wife to Hector of the shining helmet.
Now she met him there. With her came the nurse,
holding at her breast their happy infant child,                                       
490     [400]
well-loved son of Hector, like a beautiful star.
Hector had named him Scamandrius, but others                             
called him Astyanax, lord of the city,
because Hector was Troy's only guardian.  
Hector looked at his son in silence, with a smile.
Andromache stood close to him, weeping.
Taking Hector by the hand, she spoke to him.

"My dear husband, your warlike spirit                                
will be your death.  You've no compassion
for your infant child, for me, your sad wife,                                
500
who before long will be your widow.
For soon the Achaeans will attack you,                           
all together, cut you down.  As for me,                                                
[410]
it would be better, if I'm to lose you,
to be buried in the ground.  For then I'll have
no other comfort, once you meet your death,
except my sorrow.  I have no father,
no dear mother.  For lord Achilles killed                               
my father, when he wiped out Thebe,
city with high gates, slaying
Eëtion.                                             510
But he didn't strip his corpse
his heart
felt too much shame for that.  So he burned him                   
in his finely decorated armour,
raised a burial mound over the ashes.
Mountain nymphs, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus,                           
[420]
planted elm trees all around his body.
I had seven brothers in my home.
All went down to Hades in one day,                           
for swift-footed lord Achilles killed them all,
while they were guarding their shambling oxen,                          
520
their white shining sheep.  As for my mother,
who ruled wooded Thebe-under-Placus,                
he brought her here with his other spoils.
Then he released her for a massive ransom.
But archer goddess Artemis killed her
in her father's house.  So, Hector, you are now
my father, noble mother, brother,                                                        
[430]
my protecting husband.  So pity me.                                     
Stay here in this tower.  Don't orphan your child
and make your wife a widow. Place men by the fig tree,             
530
where the city is most vulnerable, 
the wall most easily scaled.  Three times                             
their best men have come there to attack,  
led by the two Ajaxes, the sons of Atreus,
famous Idomeneus, and Diomedes,
Tydeus' courageous son, incited to it
by someone well versed in prophecy                             
or by their own hearts' inclination."

Great Hector of the shining helmet answered her:                               

                                                                  "Wife,                                  [440]
all this concerns me, too.  But I'd be disgraced,                          
540
dreadfully shamed among Trojan men,
and Trojan women in their trailing gowns,                            
if I should, like a coward, slink away from war.

My heart will never prompt me to do that, 
for I have learned always to be brave, 
to fight alongside Trojans at the front, 
striving to win fame for father and myself.  
My heart and mind know well the day is coming
when sacred Ilion will be destroyed,
along with Priam of the fine ash spear,                                       
550
Priam's people.  But what pains me most
about these future sorrows is not so much                                            
[450]
the Trojans, Hecuba, or king Priam, 
or even my many noble brothers,
who'll fall down in the dust slaughtered
by their enemies.  My pain concerns you,                             
when one of the bronze-clad Achaeans
leads you off in tears, ends your days of freedom.
If then you come to Argos as a slave,
working the loom for some other woman,                                  
560
fetching water from Messeis or Hypereia,
against your will, forced by powerful fate, 
then someone seeing you as you weep
may well say: 'That woman is Hector's wife.
He was the finest warrior in battle                                                        
[460]
of all horse-taming Trojans in that war
when they fought for Troy.'  Someone will say that,
and it will bring still more grief to you,
to be without a man like that to save you
from days of servitude.  May I lie dead,                                      
570
hidden deep under a burial mound, 
before I hear about your screaming,                                      
as you are dragged away."                                                     

                                                        With these words,
glorious Hector stretched his hands out for his son.
The boy immediately shrank back against the breast
of the finely girdled nurse, crying out, terrified                                           
to see his own dear father, scared at the sight of bronze, 
the horse-hair plume nodding fearfully from his helmet top.                         
[470]
The child's loving father laughed, his noble mother, too.  
Glorious Hector pulled the glittering helmet off                                  
580
and set it on the ground.  Then he kissed his dear son,
holding him in his arms.  He prayed aloud to Zeus                       
and to the rest of the immortals.                                                     

                                 "Zeus, all you other gods, 
grant that this child, my son, may become, 
like me, pre-eminent among the Trojans, 
as strong and brave as me. Grant that he may rule
Troy with strength. May people someday say, 
as he returns from war, 'This man is far better 
than his father.'  May he carry back
bloody spoils from his slaughtered enemy,                                  
590        [480]
making his mother's heart rejoice."

He placed his son in the hands of his dear wife.                           
She embraced the child on her sweet breast, smiling
through her tears. Observing her, Hector felt compassion.
He took her hand, then spoke to her.

                                              "My dearest wife, 
don't let your heart be sad on my account.  
No man will throw me down to Hades 
before my destined time.  I tell you this—
no one escapes his fate, not the coward, 
nor the brave man, from the moment of his birth.                      
600
So you should go into the house, keep busy                                         
[490]
with your work, with weaving with your loom and wool,                   
telling your servants to set about their tasks.

War will be every man's concern, especially mine, 
of all those who live in Troy."

                                                   Having said these words, 
glorious Hector picked up his plumed helmet.
His beloved wife went home, often looking back
as she went, crying bitterly. She quickly reached 
the spacious home of Hector, killer of men.  
Inside she met her many servants and bid them all lament.                  
610
So they mourned for Hector in his own house,                                              
[500]
though he was still alive, for they thought he'd not come back
from battle, escape the battle fury of Achaean hands.

Paris did not wait long in his high-roofed home.      
Once he'd pulled on his famous armour, ornate bronze, 
he hurried off on foot quickly through the city.
Just as some stalled stallion, well fed in the barn, 
breaks his restraints, then gallops at top speed 
across the plain, going to bathe in a fair-flowing river,
something he does habitually, proud of his strength,                            
620
holding his head high, mane streaming on his shoulders,                               
[510]
legs taking him swiftly to the grazing mares

that's how Paris, son of Priam, hurried then, 

rushing down from the heights of Pergamus, 
gleaming like a ray of sunshine in his armour,
laughing with joy as his feet carried him so fast.  
He soon met his brother Hector, turning away
from where he'd been talking with his wife.
Godlike Paris was the first to speak:

"My dear brother, you're in a hurry.                                             630
I'm holding you back with my delay,
not coming here as quickly as you asked."                            

Hector of the shining helmet answered Paris:                                                 [520]

"Brother, no one could justly criticize
your work in battle, for you fight bravely.
But you deliberately hold back,
unwilling to fight.  It pains my heart,
when I hear shameful things about you
from Trojans, who suffer much distress
because of you.  But let's be on our way.                                   
640
We'll sort all this out later, if Zeus ever grants
we set up in place inside our homes                                    
bowls of wine to celebrate our freedom, 

in thanks to the eternal, heavenly gods, 
once we have driven away from Troy
all these well-armed Achaeans."


Translation by Ian Johnston, Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC.  This document is in the public domain and may be used by anyone without permission and without charge, provided the source is acknowledged. 

[Last modified on December 28, 2003]

[Note that the line numbers in square brackets refer to the Greek text]



     
     
     
     

				

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