- Art Gallery -

 

.

After glorious Hector had talked with Paris, 
he and his brother hurried through the gates,

Translation by Ian Johnston

Book Eight
 The Trojans Have Success

[Council on Olympus; Zeus decides to favour the Trojans, leaves for Ida, and holds up the golden scales; Diomedes comes to Nestor's help; Diomedes confronts Hector; Zeus stops Diomedes with a lightning bolt; Hera tries to get Poseidon to plot against Zeus; Agamemnon's speech to rally the troops; Zeus sends an omen to encourage the Argives; the Argives rally; Teucer's success against the Trojans; Hector wounds Teucer, drives him from the battle; Hera and Athena set out to help the Achaeans; Zeus sends Iris to stop them; Hector's speech to his troops the night before the big battle; Trojans sacrifice to the gods]


As Dawn first spread her yellow robe across the earth,
thunder-loving Zeus summoned an assembly of the gods
on the highest crest of many-ridged Olympus.
Zeus himself addressed them.  The other deities,
those ranked below him, listened carefully.

"Hear me, all you gods and goddesses,
I'll speak what the spirit in my chest prompts.
And let no female god, no male one either, 
seek to thwart my plan. Let's get agreement
from all of you to end this matter quickly.                                    10        [10]
If I see any of you breaking ranks of gods,                                
keen to assist the Trojans or Danaans,
that god I'll beat up ignominiously
and send back to Olympus.  Or I'll seize him
and pitch him into black Tartarus, way down,
into the deepest pit below the earth,
where the gates are iron, the threshold bronze,
as far below Hades as heaven lies 
above the earth. Then he'll acknowledge 
just how strong I am, the strongest of all gods.                             20
Come on, try itthen everyone will know. 
Take a golden chord, hang it from heaven. 
Let gods and goddesses, all together,                                                     [20]
grab hold of one end of it and pull.
You'd not drag Zeus, most high counsellor,
down from heaven to the ground, never, 
no matter how hard you tried to do it.  
But when I wished to pull in earnest, 
I'd yank up the earth itself, the sea as well.  
I'd loop that chord round some Olympian peak                           30
and hang it in mid-airthe whole of it.  
That's how much stronger I am than gods and men."               

Zeus finished. All the gods were speechless, shocked
at what Zeus had said, at the power of his tone. 
At last Athena, the bright-eyed goddess, spoke up:                                         [30]

"Son of Cronos, you're the father of us all,
highest ruling power. We know your strength too well.
It's invincible. Still, we're sorry for the troops,
Danaan spearmen dying, suffering a dreadful fate.                
But we'll stand apart from battle, as you wish,                             40
although we'll give the Argives our advice,
help them, to prevent destruction of them all,                         
just to answer your displeasure."

Cloud-gatherer Zeus, smiling at Athena, said:

"My dear child born of Trito, have no fears. 
I wasn't speaking all that seriously.
I want to treat you in a friendly way."                                                    [40]

Zeus harnessed his two horses, swift-flying animals,
with bronze hooves and flowing golden manes.  
He encased his body all in gold, took up his whip,                                 50     
a gold one, finely crafted, then climbed in his chariot 
and lashed the horses onward. They flew off eagerly.              
Midway between the earth and starry heaven,  
Zeus came to Mount Ida with its many springs,
mother of wild beasts.  He reached Gargaros,
site of his grove and temple, fragrant with sacrifice. 
There, the father of gods and men reined in  his horses,  
untied them from the chariot, and hid them in thick cloud.                             [50]
Then he sat on the mountain peak, proud and splendid,
gazing down on the Trojan city, the Achaean ships.                               60  

Long-haired Achaeans gulped a quick meal by their huts.
Then they armed themselves. On the other side, in the city,                
Trojans, too, prepared to fight, fewer in number,
but eager to battle in the killing zone, a grim necessity,
for wives and children. They threw open all the gates. 
The army streamed out, foot soldiers and charioteers,
making a huge din.  As the two groups moved out                                           [60]
to the same spot, they crashed together, smashing shields
and spears, the battle frenzy of bronze-armed warriors. 
Embossed shields collided against each other,                                       70
a tremendous noise. Screams of pain and triumph,
came from soldiersthose killing, those being killed.                        
The earth was saturated with their blood.

In early morning, as that sacred day grew stronger,
weapons hurled by both sides grimly took their toll
men kept on dying. But when the sun was at its height,
Father Zeus set up his golden balance, placed on it
two fatal destinies, one for horse-taming Trojans,                                            [70]
one for bronze-armed Achaeans.  Gripping the scales,
he raised them by the centre.  One scale sank down,                              80 
the one holding the Achaeans' fate that day
it moved down to the all-nourishing earth,                                        
while the Trojans' fate rose up toward wide heaven.
From mount Ida, Zeus sent out a loud thunder clap
and hurled a lighting bolt down on Achaean troops.
Seeing that, men were astounded.  Pale fear gripped them all.
At that, Idomeneus did not dare to stand his ground,
nor did Agamemnon, nor the two men named Ajax,
companions of the war god Ares.  Only Nestor,                                               [80]
the Geranian, guardian of Achaeans,                                                      90 
kept his place, but not because he wanted to.
One of his horses had been hurt, hit by an arrow
on its head, right on top, that spot where on a horse
hairs begin to grow out from the skull, a deadly spot.
The arrow had been loosed by Alexander,
lovely Helen's mate.  The beast reared up in agony,
as the arrow pierced its brain. Skewered by the shaft,
the beast's convulsions confused the other horses.  
While old Nestor with his sword was hacking feverishly 
to cut the traces holding the animal in place,                                         100
Hector's fast horses came through the fighting men,                                        [90]
bearing Hector with them and their bold charioteer.                                     
Nestor would have died right there, if Diomedes, 
skilled in war cries, hadn't seen him right away.  
He let out a loud shout to Odysseus, urging him
to come to Nestor's help.

                                    "Noble Odysseus, Laertes' son,
you resourceful man, why move away,
turning your back on all these flying weapons,
like a coward?  Watch someone doesn't spear you 
right in the back as you run off. Come on,                                   110
let's save old man Nestor from wild Hector."

Diomedes' words missed godlike steadfast Odysseus,                 
who moved off to the Achaeans' hollow ships.
Diomedes, though left alone, charged straight ahead,
back into the fight.  He made a stand right there,                                            [100]
in front of old Nestor's chariot, calling out to Nestor,
son of Neleus—his words had wings.

                                                   "Old man, in this fight
these young men are pressing you too hard.  
Your strength is waning. Old age weighs you down.  
Your attendant's weak, your horses slow.                                    120
So come on, climb up here into my chariot.  
You'll see how these Trojan horses do,                                
experts in moving to and fro across the plain,
in pursuit or flight.  I took them from Aeneas.
These horses would fill any man with terror.
So turn your team over to subordinates.  
With my two let's charge against the Trojans.                                         [110]
Let Hector see how my hand wields a spear."

Geranian horseman Nestor followed this suggestion.
At once, the two strong officers, Sthelenus                                            130
and noble Eurymedon, took Nestor's horses.
The two men climbed up in Diomedes' chariot.                                 
Nestor grabbed the shining reins, lashed on the horses.
Quickly they closed in on Hector.  Then he, in turn, 
eager to fight, charged them impetuously.
The son of Tydeus threw his spear at Hector.
He missed, but struck Hector's companion charioteer,
Eniopeus, son of proud Thebaios, in the chest,                                                [120]
right by the nipple, as Eniopeus held the reins.
He tumbled from the chariot.  The swift horses swerved.                      140
Then strength and spirit left him as he lay there.
Savage grief for his charioteer then seized Hector,                                      
but he left him lying there, for all the pain he felt
for his companion.  He went to find a substitute,
a second driver full of courage.  Before long,
those horses had another charioteer,
for Hector soon ran into Arkheptolemos,                                               
son of Iphitos, and placed him in the chariot
behind swift horses, then handed him the reins.

At that point irrevocable disaster might have struck                              150        [130]
the people all penned up in Troy like sheep,
if the father of gods and men hadn't kept sharp watch.                     
Sounding a dreadful thunder clap, he loosed his lightning,
a dazzling fiery bolt which hit the ground
immediately in front of Diomedes' horses.
A dreadful flash came from the blazing sulphur.
In terror, both horses reared up in their harnesses.                          
Nestor let the shining reins drop from his hands.
Feeling the fear in his chest, he cried:

                                                    "Son of Tydeus, 
wheel your sure-footed horses round. Go back.                           160
Don't you see Zeus is not protecting you?                                             [140]
Today the son of Cronos grants Hector glory.                              
Tomorrow he'll give victory to us,
if that's his will. No man stops Zeus' plans, 
no one, not even the most mighty warrior.
For Zeus' force is more powerful by far."

Diomedes, expert in war cries, then replied:                                        

"Everything you say, old man, is true enough.
But this brings fearful pain into my heart and chest. 
For Hector then will speak out in Troy.                                       170
He'll say, 'The son of Tydeus, in fear of me,
scurried off, back to his ships.' That's what he'll boast.                 
Then let the wide earth open up for me."                                               [150]

Geranian horseman Nestor answered Diomedes:

"Son of fiery-hearted Tydeus, why talk like that?
Even if he slanders you and calls you coward, 
he'll not convince the the Trojans or Dardanians, 
or Trojan wives, married partners of brave men
you've thrown into the dirt, still in their prime."

With these words he turned the sure-footed horses back,                      180  
fleeing through the battle zone.  Hector and the Trojans,
with a shout, threw volleys of lethal weapons at them.                          
Hector with his glittering helmet then yelled out: 

                                                       "Son of Tydeus,                               [160]
fast-riding Danaans at their banquets
have awarded you a place of honour,                                     
with lots of meat, a wine cup always full.
Now, they're ashamed of you.  You've turned out
no better than a woman.  Run off then,
you coward girl.  I'll not back away,
let you climb our walls, or take our women.                                190
Before that happens, I'll send you to your death."

At Hector's words, the son of Tydeus was torn two ways,                    
debating whether to wheel the horses round and fight,
face Hector man to man.  Three times he thought it through                           [170]
in his mind and heart, and three times counsellor Zeus
pealed thunder from Mount Ida, signalling to  Trojans 
that  victory now would shift to them.  Then Hector, 
with a great shout, cried out to his Trojan warriors:

"You Trojans, Lycians, and Dardanians
soldiers who fight in the killing zone                                        200
my friends, be men.  Summon your warlike spirit.
I see the son of Cronos grants us victory,    
great glory, too, a disaster for Danaans.
What fools they were to build this feeble wall,
a puny hazardit will not check me,
my warlike spirit.  As for the trench they dug,
my horses will jump over that with ease.
When I reach their hollow ships, don't forget the fire,                            [180]
which wipes out everything, so I may burn their fleet,
slaughter them, those Argives by their ships,                               210
as they suffocate, choking on the smoke."

With these words, Hector urged his horses on:                               

"Xanthos, and you Podargos, Aithos,
noble Lampos!  Now's the time to pay me back
for all my care, for all the sweet grain you've had
from Andromache, great Eëtion's daughter,
for the wine she's mixed for you to drink,
whenever you desired.  She took care of you,
even before me, her own fine husband.                                                  [190]
Come on then, go after them with speed,                                     220
so we may capture Nestor's shield, whose fame
extends right up to heaven
it's all gold
the shield itself, cross braces, too.
From horse-taming Diomedes' shoulders 
we'll strip the decorated body armour,
a work created by Hephaestus.
I think if we could capture these two things, 
Achaeans would climb aboard their ships tonight."

So Hector bragged.  That made queen Hera angry.
She shook with fury, sitting on her throne,                                             230
making high Olympus tremble.  Then she spoke out
to the great god Poseidon:

                                        "Alas, great Earthshaker,                               [200]
don't you feel any anguish in your heart,
as Danaans are destroyed?  After all, 
they bring you presents, many pleasing gifts,
to Helice and Aegae.  Don't you want victory for them?
Now, if all those of us who protect Danaans 
were to agree to drive the Trojans back, 
we'd leave wide-seeing Zeus up there by himself,
sulking where he sits alone on Ida"                                              240

Mighty Earthshaker Poseidon, very angry, 
answered Hera:

                                              "Hera, you fearless talker,       
What are you saying?  That's not what I want,
the rest of us to war on Zeus, son of Cronos.                                        [210]
For he is much more powerful than us."

As the two gods talked together in this way,
horses and shield-bearing troops were jammed together,
crammed into the space encircled by the ditch,
from ships to wall, pinned down there by Hector, Priam's son,
like swift Ares, now that Zeus was giving him the glory.                       250
And then he would've burned those well-balanced ships
with searing fire on the spot, if queen Hera                                
had not set a plan in Agamemnon's mind
to rouse Achaeans with all speed on his own.  
He strode through Achaean huts and ships,                                                     [220]
holding a huge purple cloak in his large fists.
He took up a position by Odysseus' ship,
a black vessel, broad in the beam, whose place,
in the middle of the row, allowed his voice 
to reach both ends of the line, from the huts of Ajax,                            260
son of Telamon, to those belonging to Achilles,
for these two men had placed their balanced ships                               
at either end, relying on their courage and strong hands.
Agamemnon, from that spot, then shouted out, 
making himself heard to all Danaans: 

"You Argives! What a shameful bunch of men!  
Splendid to look at, but a sour disgrace!
What's happened to our sworn oaths, when we claimed
we were the best, the bravest?  Idle boasters!
There in Lemnos, as you stuffed yourselves with meat                270      [230]
from straight-horned cattle and drank bowls of wine,
foaming to the brim, you talked of how you'd stand,               
each and every one of you, firm in battle
against a hundred or two hundred Trojans.
Now we're matched by Hector, just one man, 
who'll quickly set our ships alight with fire.
Father Zeus, have you ever so deluded
a high-minded king and stolen his glory?
While sailing well-decked ships to this disaster, 
I say I never overlooked your lovely altars.                                  280
On every one I burned fat and thighs of oxen
                                    [240]
I was so keen to conquer Troy, its well-made walls.                  
But Zeus, grant me now at least this prayer

let us get out of here alive, in safety.
Don't let Trojans kill Achaeans off like this."

As Agamemnon spoke, tears streaming down his face,
Father Zeus pitied him and nodded his assent
the army would be saved and not annihilated.
At once Zeus sent the surest of all bird omens,
an eagle, gripping in its talons a young fawn,                                         290 
child of some swift deer.  The eagle released the fawn,
dropping it right beside that splendid altar,                                                      [250]
where Achaeans sacrificed to all-knowing Zeus.
Seeing that Zeus had sent the bird, men resumed the fight,
attacking Trojans eagerly, their battle spirits roused.

Then none of those many Danaans there could claim
he was quicker with his horses than Diomedes, 
driving them ahead and charging through the ditch, 
to confront their enemies face to face and fight.  
Well ahead of all the rest, Diomedes killed his man,                              300
a well-armed Trojan, Agelaus, son of Phradmon.  
He'd turned his team around to get away.                                            
But once he showed his back, Diomedes speared him
between his shoulder blades, driving through his chest.
He fell from the chariot, armour rattling round him.                                        [260]
After Diomedes, the sons of Atreus came charging in,
Agamemnon and Menelaus, and after them
both Ajaxes
encased in war's ferocity,
followed by Idomeneus and his attendant,
Meriones, the equal of man-killing Ares.                                                310
Then came Eurypylus, brave son of Euaemon.
Ninth came Teucer, stretching his curved bow.                                
He stood under the shield of Ajax, son of Telamon.
As Ajax cautiously pulled his shield aside,
Teucer would peer out quickly, fire off an arrow,
hit someone in the crowd, dropping that soldier
right where he stood, ending his life
then he'd duck back,                            [270]
crouching down by Ajax, like a child beside its mother.
Ajax would then conceal him with his shining shield.
Who were the first Trojans skilful Teucer killed?                                   320
Orsilochos died first, then Ormenus, Ophelestes,
Daitor, Chromius, godlike Lycophontes,                                                          
Amopaon, son of Polyaimon, and Melanippus

all these Teucer dropped one by one on fecund earth.
Watching him cause havoc with his bow in Trojan ranks,
Agamemnon, king of men, was overjoyed.
He went up, stood beside him, then spoke out:                                               [280]

"Teucer, son of Telamon, master of your people,
my dear comrade, keep on shooting as you're doing.
You'll be a saving light to the Danaans,                                       330
and to your father Telamon, who raised you,
took care of you, a bastard son, in his own home.                     
Though he's far off, cover him with glory now.
For I'll tell you something
and this will happen
if Athena and aegis-bearing Zeus permit me
to devastate that well-built city Ilion,
you'll be the first to take the prize of honour,
after me, of course
a tripod, two horses,                                             [290]
their chariot as well, or some woman
to climb up into your bed with you."                                           340

Skilful Teucer then replied to Agamemnon:

"Mighty son of Atreus, why urge me on?                              
I'm eager to continue shooting.
Since we first drove them back to Ilion,
I've not stopped fighting as hard as I know how, 
cutting men down with my bow and killing them.
I've fired off eight long-barbed arrows.  Each one
has buried itself deep inside a soldier's flesh,
some strong, swift warrior.  But this man,
Hector, I can't hit.  He's like some crazy dog."                            350 

With that, Teucer launched another arrow from his bowstring,                       [300]
directly facing Hector, eager to hit him.
The arrow missed, but struck handsome Gorgythion,
son of Priam, in the chest, a man whose mother,
lovely Castianeira, divinely beautiful,
went from Aisyme to become wife to Priam.
Just as the head on a garden poppy leans aslant,
loaded down with heavy seed and spring rain showers,
so Gorgythion's head sagged under his helmet's weight.
Teucer fired yet another arrow from his bowstring,                               360
straight at Hector, his spirit still keen to hit him.                                             [310]
Again he missed, for Apollo deflected it.
But the arrow did hit Archeptolemos,
Hector's bold driver, as he was coming to the fight.
It struck him in the chest, right by the nipple.
He fell from the chariot.  The fast horses swerved.
Then and there his strength and spirit abandoned him.
In his heart Hector felt sharp pain for his charioteer,
but he left him there, though grieving for his comrade.
He called out to his brother Cebriones,                                                 370
who was near by, to take up the chariot reins.
Cebriones heard him and willingly agreed.
Hector jumped down from his glittering chariot                                               [320]
with a fearful yell. Picking up a boulder 
lying on the ground, he went straight at Teucer, 
his heart aroused to hit him with it. At that moment,
Teucer had just taken a sharp arrow from his quiver,
set it on the bowstring, and was drawing back the bow,
once again desperately eager to hit Hector.
But Hector struck him with that jagged rock                                         380
right on the shoulder, where collar bones divide
neck from chest, an especially vulnerable spot.
The rock broke the bowstring and numbed his hands and wrists.
Teucer fell forward on his knees and stayed there,
letting his bow fall from his hand.  Seeing his brother down,
Ajax quickly hurried up and straddled Teucer,                                                 [330]
covering him with his shield. Two loyal attendants,
Mecisteus, son of Echios, and noble Alastor,
hoisted Teucer up
he was groaning heavily
then carried him back with them to the hollow ships.                           390 

Once more Olympian Zeus put force into the Trojans.
They drove Achaeans right back to their deep trench,
Hector at the front, proudly showing off his strength.
Just as some hunting dog in a swift-footed chase
gets a grip on a wild boar or lion from the back,
on the flank or rump, and watches the beast's every move,                              [340]
that's how Hector harried the long-haired Achaeans,
always killing off the stragglers as they fled.
By the time Achaeans had rushed through the stakes,
as they crossed the ditch, many had died at Trojan hands.                    400      
At last they halted by the ships and stayed there,
calling out to one another.  Raising their hands,
each man prayed fervently to all the gods.
Hector drove his fine-maned horses back and forth, 
his eyes glaring like a Gorgon or man-killing Ares.

Seeing all this, white-armed Hera pitied the Achaeans.                                    [350]
She quickly spoke these winged words to Athena:

"Alas, child of aegis-bearing Zeus,
Achaeans are being massacred.  It's their last stand.
Aren't we concerned about them any more,                                 410
as their evil fate accomplishes its purpose?
They're being destroyed by one man's charging frenzy.
Hector, son of Priam, is on a rampage.
He can't be stopped.  He's already done great harm." 

Bright-eyed goddess Athena answered Hera:

"I wish Hector somehow would lose his strength
and die, killed in his own native land
at Argive hands.  But my father, too,
is in a rage, destruction on his mind.                                                      [360]
What a wretch he is, always in the way,                                       420 
wrecking my plans.  He does not remember
how many times I saved Hercules, his son,
worn down by work he got from Eurystheus.
If I'd had the foresight to anticipate
what Zeus is doing now when Eurystheus
sent Hercules down to the house of Hades,
the Gate Keeper, to fetch back from Erebus
Hades' dreadful hound, he'd never have escaped
the deep rushing waters of the river Styx.
Now Zeus dislikes me.  He's carrying out                                    430 
what Thetis wants.  She kissed his knee, cupped his chin,                     [370]
and begged him to grant due honour to Achilles,
destroyer of cities.  But the day will come
when Zeus calls me dear bright eyes once more.
Now harness your sure-footed horses for us,
while I go to aegis-bearing Zeus' home,
and arm myself with weapons for this battle,
so I may see whether this son of Priam,
this Hector of the shining helmet, is pleased
when we two show up in the battle lanes,                                    440
or whether some Trojan will make a meal
for dogs and birds with flesh and body fat,
as he falls there beside Achaean ships."                                                 [380]

Athena finished.  White-armed Hera agreed with her.
Then Hera, honoured goddess, great Cronos' daughter,
went off and started harnessing her horses
with their golden headpieces.  Meanwhile, Athena,
daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, threw her dress
down on the floor of her father's house, a soft robe,
richly embroidered, which she'd made with her own hands.                   450   
She pulled on the tunic of cloud-gatherer Zeus,
and armed herself with weapons for destructive war.
Then she stepped up into the flaming chariot,
grasping the huge thick strong spear she used to break                                     [390]
heroic warrior ranks which had provoked her,
making the daughter of a mighty father angry.
Hera immediately whipped the horses forward.
With a groan, the gates of heaven opened on their own,
those gates which the Seasons, custodians of Olympus
and great heaven, too, look after, pushing open                                     460 
the heavy cloud, then pushing it shut once more.
Through these gates the goddesses lashed on their horses.

Father Zeus noticed them from Ida.  In a huge rage,
he sent down gold-winged Iris with a message for them.

"Off with you, swift Iris. Turn them back again.
Don't permit them to come into my presence.
For if we come to blows, then we'll have trouble.                                  [400]
But I do say this
and it will surely happen
I'll cripple their fast horses in their traces,
throw them from the chariot, smash it in pieces.                         470
Ten revolving years won't be sufficient
to cure the wounds my lightning will inflict,
so that bright-eyed goddess knows just what it means
to fight against her father.  As for Hera,
I'm not so angry or upset with her,
for no matter what I say, she undermines it."

Zeus spoke.  Then Iris, swift as a storm, rushed off,
taking his message.  She came down from Mount Ida                                       [410]
and made for high Olympus.  She met the goddesses
at the outer gate of many-ridged Olympus.                                            480
She stopped them and reported Zeus' message:

"Where are you rushing off?  Have you lost your wits?
The son of Cronos has forbidden anyone
to assist the Argives.  And he's made this threat

which he intends to carry out
he'll maim
your swift horses in their traces, throw you both
out of the chariot, smash it in pieces.
Ten revolving years won't be sufficient
to cure the wounds his lightning will inflict,
so that you'll understand, bright-eyed goddess,                            490
just what it means to fight against your father.                                       [420]
With Hera's he's not so angry or upset.
For no matter what he says, she undermines it.
But as for you, you shameless schemer,
are you daring to fight Zeus with one large spear?"

Having said this, swift-footed Iris went away.
Hera then said to Athena:

                                                  "What a mess,
child of aegis-bearing Zeus.  I'm not keen,
not now, that the two of us should take on Zeus
for the sake of mortal men.  Let some die                                    500
and others live, as chance will work it out.
Let Zeus judge between the Trojans and Achaeans,                              [430]
as his heart desires.  That's how it should be."

With these words, she turned her sure-footed horses back.
The Seasons unyoked the horses with the lovely manes,
led them to their heavenly stalls, and leaned the chariot
against the courtyard's luminescent inner wall.
The goddesses then sat down on their golden thrones,
among the other gods, with anger in their hearts.
Father Zeus drove his fine-wheeled chariot and horses                         510
from Ida to Olympus, to the place where gods
were all assembled.  The famous Earthshaker,
Poseidon, loosed his horses from their harness for him,                                   [440]
put the chariot on its stand, and covered it with cloth.
Then wide-seeing Zeus himself sat on his golden throne.
Underneath his feet great Olympus trembled.
Athena and Hera were sitting by themselves,
away from Zeus, not saying anything to him
or asking questions.  Knowing what was in their hearts, 
Zeus spoke: 

                                    "Why are you so irritated,                        520 
Hera and Athena?  Surely you're not tired
from those fights where men win glory, 
exhausted after killing off the Trojans,
for whom you feel such deadly hatred?
Be that as it may, such is my power,
the strength in my own hands, it's impossible                                        [450]
for all the Olympian gods combined
to turn me from my purposes.  As for you, 
you both were trembling in your shining limbs
even before you looked on any fight,                                           530
or witnessed first hand war's destructiveness.
But I'll tell you what would've taken place

neither of you would have come back to Olympus,
the immortals' home, riding in your chariot.
My lightning would have blasted both of you."

Zeus finished speaking.  Hera and Athena muttered,
sitting together, plotting trouble for the Trojans.
Athena sat in silence, not saying anything,
angry  with her father
consumed with rage.                                                   [460]
But Hera couldn't hold the fury in her chest.  She said:                          540

"Dread son of Cronos, what are you saying?
We know well enough how strong you are
invincible.  But nonetheless, we pity
Danaan spearmen who are being destroyed,
suffering a dreadful fate.  But we'll hold back,
refrain from fighting, if that's your order.
We'll provide useful advice to Argives,
so that they don't all die from your displeasure."

In response to Hera, cloud-gatherer Zeus then said:

"Ox-eyed queen Hera, if you're so inclined,                                 550      [470]
tomorrow morning you can witness
the exalted son of Cronos, as he kills
many Achaean spearmen in their army.
For warlike Hector won't stop fighting,
until beside the ships he stirs to action
swift Achilles, son of Peleus, on that day
they fight with bloody desperation
by the ships sterns—they'll be battling over
the body of Patroclus.  That's been decreed.
I don't care at all if this annoys you.                                            560
Even if you descend to the lowest place
beneath the earth and sea, where Iapetus
and Cronos live, where they get no pleasure
in any sunlight from Hyperion,                                                               [480]
or any breeze, in the depths of Tartarus
even if you went as far away as that
in your wandering, I'd still pay no attention
to your displeasure.  For you've no rival
when it comes to acting like a bitch."

Zeus spoke.  White-armed Hera didn't answer him.                              570

Now the sun's bright light sank down into the ocean,
dragging black night over fertile croplands.
The end of daylight made the Trojans sorrowful,
but Achaeans welcomed the arrival of black night,
something they'd been praying for constantly.

Then glorious Hector assembled all the Trojans
some distance from the ships, by the swirling river,                                         [490]
in open ground where there were no corpses in plain view.
Jumping from their chariots to the ground, warriors
listened to what Hector, loved by Zeus, would say.                              580
In his hand, he gripped a spear eighteen feet long,
its bronze point glittering there in front of them,
a golden ring around it.  Leaning on this spear,
Hector then addressed his Trojans:

                                         "Listen to me, 
you Trojans, Dardanians, you allies.
Just now I stated we'd go back to Troy today,
once we'd destroyed the ships and slaughtered
all Achaeans.  But darkness intervened.                                                 [500]
That's the only thing that spared the Argives
and saved their ships beached on the shore.  Come then,            590 
let's do what black night demandsprepare a meal.
So from your chariots take out of harness
those horses with their lovely manes, feed them,
then quickly bring here from the city
cattle and stout sheep.  Bring sweet wine as well,
and bread from your own homes.  Gather lots of wood,
so all night long, until first light of dawn,
we can burn many fires, lighting up the sky.
Some time in the night, long-haired Achaeans                                        [510]
may make their move to get away by sea.                                    600
We must not let them embark easily,
without a fight.  Let some of them be hit,
take something home they need to nurse with care
an arrow wound, a slash from some sharp spear 
as they jump in their shipsso someone else
will think twice about bringing wretched war
upon horse-taming Trojans.  Let the call go out
from heralds, whom Zeus loves, through all the city,
for growing boys and gray-haired men to camp
up on the city's walls, built by the gods.                                       610 
Let each grown  woman get ready a large fire                                        [520]
in her home.  Let all keep a sharp lookout,
to stop a group from entering our city
while the army is elsewhere.  Do all this,
you great-hearted Trojans, just as I've said.
That's all I have to order at this time.
I've more instructions for horse-taming Trojans
for tomorrow.  I hope and pray to Zeus,
to the other gods I'll drive away
these death-infected dogs, conducted here                                   620
in their black ships by mortal fates.  Right now,
let's watch out for ourselves tonight.  At dawn,
let's arm ourselves with weapons and re-ignite                                      [530]
this bitter warfare by the hollow ships.
Then I'll know if mighty Diomedes,
son of Tydeus, will repel me from the ships,
or whether with my bronze I'll slaughter him,
and take away the spoils all stained with blood.
Tomorrow he'll understand how good he is,
whether he can stand against my spear,                                        630
as it comes after him.  I think he'll fall.
He'll be among the first men speared to death,
with many of his comrades round him,
at tomorrow's sunrise.  I wish I were as sure
I were immortal, ageless for all time,
that I'd be worshipped as Athena is,                                                      [540]
and Apollo, too, as I am that this day
will bring destruction to the Argives."

Hector finished speaking.  Trojans gave a shout.
They untied their sweaty horses from their yokes,                                  640
tethered them with straps, each by its chariot.
From the city they soon brought cattle and stout sheep,
sweet wine and bread from home.  They gathered piles of wood
and then made perfect sacrificial offerings to the gods.
From the plain, the wind carried the sweet-smelling smoke
right up to heaven.  But the blessed gods weren't willing                                 [550]
to accept it, for sacred Ilion, and Priam,
and Priam's people, rich in sheep, did not please them.
So all night long men sat there in the battle lanes, 
with high expectations, burning many fires.                                            650
Just as those times when the stars shine bright in heaven,
clustered around the glowing moon, with no wind at all,
and every peak and jutting headland, every forest glade
is clearly visible, when every star shines out,
and the shepherd's heart rejoices
that's the way
the many Trojan fires looked, as they burned there
in front of Ilion, between the river Xanthus                                                      [560]
and the ships, a thousand fires burning on the plain.
By each sat fifty men in the glow of firelight.
Horses munched on wheat and barley, standing there                            660 
by their chariots, awaiting the regal splendour of the dawn.


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 March 7, 2004]

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

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