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The Iliad: Book 18 Analysis

Author: poem of Homer Type: poem Views: 3

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Thus then did they fight as it were a flaming fire. Meanwhile the

fleet runner Antilochus, who had been sent as messenger, reached

Achilles, and found him sitting by his tall ships and boding that

which was indeed too surely true. "Alas," said he to himself in the

heaviness of his heart, "why are the Achaeans again scouring the plain

and flocking towards the ships? Heaven grant the gods be not now

bringing that sorrow upon me of which my mother Thetis spoke, saying

that while I was yet alive the bravest of the Myrmidons should fall

before the Trojans, and see the light of the sun no longer. I fear the

brave son of Menoetius has fallen through his own daring and yet I

bade him return to the ships as soon as he had driven back those

that were bringing fire against them, and not join battle with


  As he was thus pondering, the son of Nestor came up to him and

told his sad tale, weeping bitterly the while. "Alas," he cried,

"son of noble Peleus, I bring you bad tidings, would indeed that

they were untrue. Patroclus has fallen, and a fight is raging about

his naked body- for Hector holds his armour."

  A dark cloud of grief fell upon Achilles as he listened. He filled

both hands with dust from off the ground, and poured it over his head,

disfiguring his comely face, and letting the refuse settle over his

shirt so fair and new. He flung himself down all huge and hugely at

full length, and tore his hair with his hands. The bondswomen whom

Achilles and Patroclus had taken captive screamed aloud for grief,

beating their breasts, and with their limbs failing them for sorrow.

Antilochus bent over him the while, weeping and holding both his hands

as he lay groaning for he feared that he might plunge a knife into his

own throat. Then Achilles gave a loud cry and his mother heard him

as she was sitting in the depths of the sea by the old man her father,

whereon she screamed, and all the goddesses daughters of Nereus that

dwelt at the bottom of the sea, came gathering round her. There were

Glauce, Thalia and Cymodoce, Nesaia, Speo, thoe and dark-eyed Halie,

Cymothoe, Actaea and Limnorea, Melite, Iaera, Amphithoe and Agave,

Doto and Proto, Pherusa and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome and

Callianeira, Doris, Panope, and the famous sea-nymph Galatea,

Nemertes, Apseudes and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianeira

and Ianassa, Maera, Oreithuia and Amatheia of the lovely locks, with

other Nereids who dwell in the depths of the sea. The crystal cave was

filled with their multitude and they all beat their breasts while

Thetis led them in their lament.

  "Listen," she cried, "sisters, daughters of Nereus, that you may

hear the burden of my sorrows. Alas, woe is me, woe in that I have

borne the most glorious of offspring. I bore him fair and strong, hero

among heroes, and he shot up as a sapling; I tended him as a plant

in a goodly garden, and sent him with his ships to Ilius to fight

the Trojans, but never shall I welcome him back to the house of

Peleus. So long as he lives to look upon the light of the sun he is in

heaviness, and though I go to him I cannot help him. Nevertheless I

will go, that I may see my dear son and learn what sorrow has befallen

him though he is still holding aloof from battle."

  She left the cave as she spoke, while the others followed weeping

after, and the waves opened a path before them. When they reached

the rich plain of Troy, they came up out of the sea in a long line

on to the sands, at the place where the ships of the Myrmidons were

drawn up in close order round the tents of Achilles. His mother went

up to him as he lay groaning; she laid her hand upon his head and

spoke piteously, saying, "My son, why are you thus weeping? What

sorrow has now befallen you? Tell me; hide it not from me. Surely Jove

has granted you the prayer you made him, when you lifted up your hands

and besought him that the Achaeans might all of them be pent up at

their ships, and rue it bitterly in that you were no longer with


  Achilles groaned and answered, "Mother, Olympian Jove has indeed

vouchsafed me the fulfilment of my prayer, but what boots it to me,

seeing that my dear comrade Patroclus has fallen- he whom I valued

more than all others, and loved as dearly as my own life? I have

lost him; aye, and Hector when he had killed him stripped the wondrous

armour, so glorious to behold, which the gods gave to Peleus when they

laid you in the couch of a mortal man. Would that you were still

dwelling among the immortal sea-nymphs, and that Peleus had taken to

himself some mortal bride. For now you shall have grief infinite by

reason of the death of that son whom you can never welcome home-

nay, I will not live nor go about among mankind unless Hector fall

by my spear, and thus pay me for having slain Patroclus son of


  Thetis wept and answered, "Then, my son, is your end near at hand-

for your own death awaits you full soon after that of Hector."

  Then said Achilles in his great grief, "I would die here and now, in

that I could not save my comrade. He has fallen far from home, and

in his hour of need my hand was not there to help him. What is there

for me? Return to my own land I shall not, and I have brought no

saving neither to Patroclus nor to my other comrades of whom so many

have been slain by mighty Hector; I stay here by my ships a bootless

burden upon the earth, I, who in fight have no peer among the

Achaeans, though in council there are better than I. Therefore, perish

strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a

righteous man will harden his heart- which rises up in the soul of a

man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of

honey. Even so has Agamemnon angered me. And yet- so be it, for it

is over; I will force my soul into subjection as I needs must; I

will go; I will pursue Hector who has slain him whom I loved so

dearly, and will then abide my doom when it may please Jove and the

other gods to send it. Even Hercules, the best beloved of Jove- even

he could not escape the hand of death, but fate and Juno's fierce

anger laid him low, as I too shall lie when I am dead if a like doom

awaits me. Till then I will win fame, and will bid Trojan and

Dardanian women wring tears from their tender cheeks with both their

hands in the grievousness of their great sorrow; thus shall they

know that he who has held aloof so long will hold aloof no longer.

Hold me not back, therefore, in the love you bear me, for you shall

not move me."

  Then silver-footed Thetis answered, "My son, what you have said is

true. It is well to save your comrades from destruction, but your

armour is in the hands of the Trojans; Hector bears it in triumph upon

his own shoulders. Full well I know that his vaunt shall not be

lasting, for his end is close at hand; go not, however, into the press

of battle till you see me return hither; to-morrow at break of day I

shall be here, and will bring you goodly armour from King Vulcan."

  On this she left her brave son, and as she turned away she said to

the sea-nymphs her sisters, "Dive into the bosom of the sea and go

to the house of the old sea-god my father. Tell him everything; as for

me, I will go to the cunning workman Vulcan on high Olympus, and ask

him to provide my son with a suit of splendid armour."

  When she had so said, they dived forthwith beneath the waves,

while silver-footed Thetis went her way that she might bring the

armour for her son.

  Thus, then, did her feet bear the goddess to Olympus, and

meanwhile the Achaeans were flying with loud cries before murderous

Hector till they reached the ships and the Hellespont, and they

could not draw the body of Mars's servant Patroclus out of reach of

the weapons that were showered upon him, for Hector son of Priam

with his host and horsemen had again caught up to him like the flame

of a fiery furnace; thrice did brave Hector seize him by the feet,

striving with might and main to draw him away and calling loudly on

the Trojans, and thrice did the two Ajaxes, clothed in valour as

with a garment, beat him from off the body; but all undaunted he would

now charge into the thick of the fight, and now again he would stand

still and cry aloud, but he would give no ground. As upland

shepherds that cannot chase some famished lion from a carcase, even so

could not the two Ajaxes scare Hector son of Priam from the body of


  And now he would even have dragged it off and have won

imperishable glory, had not Iris fleet as the wind, winged her way

as messenger from Olympus to the son of Peleus and bidden him arm. She

came secretly without the knowledge of Jove and of the other gods, for

Juno sent her, and when she had got close to him she said, "Up, son of

Peleus, mightiest of all mankind; rescue Patroclus about whom this

fearful fight is now raging by the ships. Men are killing one another,

the Danaans in defence of the dead body, while the Trojans are

trying to hale it away, and take it to wind Ilius: Hector is the

most furious of them all; he is for cutting the head from the body and

fixing it on the stakes of the wall. Up, then, and bide here no

longer; shrink from the thought that Patroclus may become meat for the

dogs of Troy. Shame on you, should his body suffer any kind of


  And Achilles said, "Iris, which of the gods was it that sent you

to me?"

  Iris answered, "It was Juno the royal spouse of Jove, but the son of

Saturn does not know of my coming, nor yet does any other of the

immortals who dwell on the snowy summits of Olympus."

  Then fleet Achilles answered her saying, "How can I go up into the

battle? They have my armour. My mother forbade me to arm till I should

see her come, for she promised to bring me goodly armour from

Vulcan; I know no man whose arms I can put on, save only the shield of

Ajax son of Telamon, and he surely must be fighting in the front

rank and wielding his spear about the body of dead Patroclus."

  Iris said, 'We know that your armour has been taken, but go as you

are; go to the deep trench and show yourelf before the Trojans, that

they may fear you and cease fighting. Thus will the fainting sons of

the Achaeans gain some brief breathing-time, which in battle may

hardly be."

  Iris left him when she had so spoken. But Achilles dear to Jove

arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled aegis round his strong

shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which

she kindled a glow of gleaming fire. As the smoke that goes up into

heaven from some city that is being beleaguered on an island far out

at sea- all day long do men sally from the city and fight their

hardest, and at the going down of the sun the line of beacon-fires

blazes forth, flaring high for those that dwell near them to behold,

if so be that they may come with their ships and succour them- even so

did the light flare from the head of Achilles, as he stood by the

trench, going beyond the wall- but he aid not join the Achaeans for he

heeded the charge which his mother laid upon him.

  There did he stand and shout aloud. Minerva also raised her voice

from afar, and spread terror unspeakable among the Trojans. Ringing as

the note of a trumpet that sounds alarm then the foe is at the gates

of a city, even so brazen was the voice of the son of Aeacus, and when

the Trojans heard its clarion tones they were dismayed; the horses

turned back with their chariots for they boded mischief, and their

drivers were awe-struck by the steady flame which the grey-eyed

goddess had kindled above the head of the great son of Peleus.

  Thrice did Achilles raise his loud cry as he stood by the trench,

and thrice were the Trojans and their brave allies thrown into

confusion; whereon twelve of their noblest champions fell beneath

the wheels of their chariots and perished by their own spears. The

Achaeans to their great joy then drew Patroclus out of reach of the

weapons, and laid him on a litter: his comrades stood mourning round

him, and among them fleet Achilles who wept bitterly as he saw his

true comrade lying dead upon his bier. He had sent him out with horses

and chariots into battle, but his return he was not to welcome.

  Then Juno sent the busy sun, loth though he was, into the waters

of Oceanus; so he set, and the Achaeans had rest from the tug and

turmoil of war.

  Now the Trojans when they had come out of the fight, unyoked their

horses and gathered in assembly before preparing their supper. They

kept their feet, nor would any dare to sit down, for fear had fallen

upon them all because Achilles had shown himself after having held

aloof so long from battle. Polydamas son of Panthous was first to

speak, a man of judgement, who alone among them could look both before

and after. He was comrade to Hector, and they had been born upon the

same night; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed

them thus:-

  "Look to it well, my friends; I would urge you to go back now to

your city and not wait here by the ships till morning, for we are

far from our walls. So long as this man was at enmity with Agamemnon

the Achaeans were easier to deal with, and I would have gladly

camped by the ships in the hope of taking them; but now I go in

great fear of the fleet son of Peleus; he is so daring that he will

never bide here on the plain whereon the Trojans and Achaeans fight

with equal valour, but he will try to storm our city and carry off our

women. Do then as I say, and let us retreat. For this is what will

happen. The darkness of night will for a time stay the son of

Peleus, but if he find us here in the morning when he sallies forth in

full armour, we shall have knowledge of him in good earnest. Glad

indeed will he be who can escape and get back to Ilius, and many a

Trojan will become meat for dogs and vultures may I never live to hear

it. If we do as I say, little though we may like it, we shall have

strength in counsel during the night, and the great gates with the

doors that close them will protect the city. At dawn we can arm and

take our stand on the walls; he will then rue it if he sallies from

the ships to fight us. He will go back when he has given his horses

their fill of being driven all whithers under our walls, and will be

in no mind to try and force his way into the city. Neither will he

ever sack it, dogs shall devour him ere he do so."

  Hector looked fiercely at him and answered, "Polydamas, your words

are not to my liking in that you bid us go back and be pent within the

city. Have you not had enough of being cooped up behind walls? In

the old-days the city of Priam was famous the whole world over for its

wealth of gold and bronze, but our treasures are wasted out of our

houses, and much goods have been sold away to Phrygia and fair Meonia,

for the hand of Jove has been laid heavily upon us. Now, therefore,

that the son of scheming Saturn has vouchsafed me to win glory here

and to hem the Achaeans in at their ships, prate no more in this

fool's wise among the people. You will have no man with you; it

shall not be; do all of you as I now say;- take your suppers in your

companies throughout the host, and keep your watches and be wakeful

every man of you. If any Trojan is uneasy about his possessions, let

him gather them and give them out among the people. Better let

these, rather than the Achaeans, have them. At daybreak we will arm

and fight about the ships; granted that Achilles has again come

forward to defend them, let it be as he will, but it shall go hard

with him. I shall not shun him, but will fight him, to fall or

conquer. The god of war deals out like measure to all, and the

slayer may yet be slain."

  Thus spoke Hector; and the Trojans, fools that they were, shouted in

applause, for Pallas Minerva had robbed them of their understanding.

They gave ear to Hector with his evil counsel, but the wise words of

Polydamas no man would heed. They took their supper throughout the

host, and meanwhile through the whole night the Achaeans mourned

Patroclus, and the son of Peleus led them in their lament. He laid his

murderous hands upon the breast of his comrade, groaning again and

again as a bearded lion when a man who was chasing deer has robbed him

of his young in some dense forest; when the lion comes back he is

furious, and searches dingle and dell to track the hunter if he can

find him, for he is mad with rage- even so with many a sigh did

Achilles speak among the Myrmidons saying, "Alas! vain were the

words with which I cheered the hero Menoetius in his own house; I said

that I would bring his brave son back again to Opoeis after he had

sacked Ilius and taken his share of the spoils- but Jove does not give

all men their heart's desire. The same soil shall be reddened here

at Troy by the blood of us both, for I too shall never be welcomed

home by the old knight Peleus, nor by my mother Thetis, but even in

this place shall the earth cover me. Nevertheless, O Patroclus, now

that I am left behind you, I will not bury you, till I have brought

hither the head and armour of mighty Hector who has slain you.

Twelve noble sons of Trojans will I behead before your bier to

avenge you; till I have done so you shall lie as you are by the ships,

and fair women of Troy and Dardanus, whom we have taken with spear and

strength of arm when we sacked men's goodly cities, shall weep over

you both night and day."

  Then Achilles told his men to set a large tripod upon the fire

that they might wash the clotted gore from off Patroclus. Thereon they

set a tripod full of bath water on to a clear fire: they threw

sticks on to it to make it blaze, and the water became hot as the

flame played about the belly of the tripod. When the water in the

cauldron was boiling they washed the body, anointed it with oil, and

closed its wounds with ointment that had been kept nine years. Then

they laid it on a bier and covered it with a linen cloth from head

to foot, and over this they laid a fair white robe. Thus all night

long did the Myrmidons gather round Achilles to mourn Patroclus.

  Then Jove said to Juno his sister-wife, "So, Queen Juno, you have

gained your end, and have roused fleet Achilles. One would think

that the Achaeans were of your own flesh and blood."

  And Juno answered, "Dread son of Saturn, why should you say this

thing? May not a man though he be only mortal and knows less than we

do, do what he can for another person? And shall not I- foremost of

all goddesses both by descent and as wife to you who reign in

heaven- devise evil for the Trojans if I am angry with them?"

  Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Thetis came to the house of

Vulcan, imperishable, star-bespangled, fairest of the abodes in

heaven, a house of bronze wrought by the lame god's own hands. She

found him busy with his bellows, sweating and hard at work, for he was

making twenty tripods that were to stand by the wall of his house, and

he set wheels of gold under them all that they might go of their own

selves to the assemblies of the gods, and come back again- marvels

indeed to see. They were finished all but the ears of cunning

workmanship which yet remained to be fixed to them: these he was now

fixing, and he was hammering at the rivets. While he was thus at

work silver-footed Thetis came to the house. Charis, of graceful

head-dress, wife to the far-famed lame god, came towards her as soon

as she saw her, and took her hand in her own, saying, "Why have you

come to our house, Thetis, honoured and ever welcome- for you do not

visit us often? Come inside and let me set refreshment before you."

  The goddess led the way as she spoke, and bade Thetis sit on a

richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also

under her feet. Then she called Vulcan and said, "Vulcan, come here,

Thetis wants you"; and the far-famed lame god answered, "Then it is

indeed an august and honoured goddess who has come here; she it was

that took care of me when I was suffering from the heavy fall which

I had through my cruel mother's anger- for she would have got rid of

me because I was lame. It would have gone hardly with me had not

Eurynome, daughter of the ever-encircling waters of Oceanus, and

Thetis, taken me to their bosom. Nine years did I stay with them,

and many beautiful works in bronze, brooches, spiral armlets, cups,

and chains, did I make for them in their cave, with the roaring waters

of Oceanus foaming as they rushed ever past it; and no one knew,

neither of gods nor men, save only Thetis and Eurynome who took care

of me. If, then, Thetis has come to my house I must make her due

requital for having saved me; entertain her, therefore, with all

hospitality, while I put by my bellows and all my tools."

  On this the mighty monster hobbled off from his anvil, his thin legs

plying lustily under him. He set the bellows away from the fire, and

gathered his tools into a silver chest. Then he took a sponge and

washed his face and hands, his shaggy chest and brawny neck; he donned

his shirt, grasped his strong staff, and limped towards the door.

There were golden handmaids also who worked for him, and were like

real young women, with sense and reason, voice also and strength,

and all the learning of the immortals; these busied themselves as

the king bade them, while he drew near to Thetis, seated her upon a

goodly seat, and took her hand in his own, saying, "Why have you

come to our house, Thetis honoured and ever welcome- for you do not

visit us often? Say what you want, and I will do it for you at once if

I can, and if it can be done at all."

  Thetis wept and answered, "Vulcan, is there another goddess in

Olympus whom the son of Saturn has been pleased to try with so much

affliction as he has me? Me alone of the marine goddesses did he

make subject to a mortal husband, Peleus son of Aeacus, and sorely

against my will did I submit to the embraces of one who was but

mortal, and who now stays at home worn out with age. Neither is this

all. Heaven vouchsafed me a son, hero among heroes, and he shot up

as a sapling. I tended him as a plant in a goodly garden and sent

him with his ships to Ilius to fight the Trojans, but never shall I

welcome him back to the house of Peleus. So long as he lives to look

upon the light of the sun, he is in heaviness, and though I go to

him I cannot help him; King Agamemnon has made him give up the

maiden whom the sons of the Achaeans had awarded him, and he wastes

with sorrow for her sake. Then the Trojans hemmed the Achaeans in at

their ships' sterns and would not let them come forth; the elders,

therefore, of the Argives besought Achilles and offered him great

treasure, whereon he refused to bring deliverance to them himself, but

put his own armour on Patroclus and sent him into the fight with

much people after him. All day long they fought by the Scaean gates

and would have taken the city there and then, had not Apollo

vouchsafed glory to Hector and slain the valiant son of Menoetius

after he had done the Trojans much evil. Therefore I am suppliant at

your knees if haply you may be pleased to provide my son, whose end is

near at hand, with helmet and shield, with goodly greaves fitted

with ancle-clasps, and with a breastplate, for he lost his own when

his true comrade fell at the hands of the Trojans, and he now lies

stretched on earth in the bitterness of his soul."

  And Vulcan answered, "Take heart, and be no more disquieted about

this matter; would that I could hide him from death's sight when his

hour is come, so surely as I can find him armour that shall amaze

the eyes of all who behold it."

  When he had so said he left her and went to his bellows, turning

them towards the fire and bidding them do their office. Twenty bellows

blew upon the melting-pots, and they blew blasts of every kind, some

fierce to help him when he had need of them, and others less strong as

Vulcan willed it in the course of his work. He threw tough copper into

the fire, and tin, with silver and gold; he set his great anvil on its

block, and with one hand grasped his mighty hammer while he took the

tongs in the other.

  First he shaped the shield so great and strong, adorning it all over

and binding it round with a gleaming circuit in three layers; and

the baldric was made of silver. He made the shield in five

thicknesses, and with many a wonder did his cunning hand enrich it.

  He wrought the earth, the heavens, and the sea; the moon also at her

full and the untiring sun, with all the signs that glorify the face of

heaven- the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear, which men

also call the Wain and which turns round ever in one place, facing.

Orion, and alone never dips into the stream of Oceanus.

  He wrought also two cities, fair to see and busy with the hum of

men. In the one were weddings and wedding-feasts, and they were

going about the city with brides whom they were escorting by

torchlight from their chambers. Loud rose the cry of Hymen, and the

youths danced to the music of flute and lyre, while the women stood

each at her house door to see them.

  Meanwhile the people were gathered in assembly, for there was a

quarrel, and two men were wrangling about the blood-money for a man

who had been killed, the one saying before the people that he had paid

damages in full, and the other that he had not been paid. Each was

trying to make his own case good, and the people took sides, each

man backing the side that he had taken; but the heralds kept them

back, and the elders sate on their seats of stone in a solemn

circle, holding the staves which the heralds had put into their hands.

Then they rose and each in his turn gave judgement, and there were two

talents laid down, to be given to him whose judgement should be deemed

the fairest.

  About the other city there lay encamped two hosts in gleaming

armour, and they were divided whether to sack it, or to spare it and

accept the half of what it contained. But the men of the city would

not yet consent, and armed themselves for a surprise; their wives

and little children kept guard upon the walls, and with them were

the men who were past fighting through age; but the others sallied

forth with Mars and Pallas Minerva at their head- both of them wrought

in gold and clad in golden raiment, great and fair with their armour

as befitting gods, while they that followed were smaller. When they

reached the place where they would lay their ambush, it was on a

riverbed to which live stock of all kinds would come from far and near

to water; here, then, they lay concealed, clad in full armour. Some

way off them there were two scouts who were on the look-out for the

coming of sheep or cattle, which presently came, followed by two

shepherds who were playing on their pipes, and had not so much as a

thought of danger. When those who were in ambush saw this, they cut

off the flocks and herds and killed the shepherds. Meanwhile the

besiegers, when they heard much noise among the cattle as they sat

in council, sprang to their horses, and made with all speed towards

them; when they reached them they set battle in array by the banks

of the river, and the hosts aimed their bronze-shod spears at one

another. With them were Strife and Riot, and fell Fate who was

dragging three men after her, one with a fresh wound, and the other

unwounded, while the third was dead, and she was dragging him along by

his heel: and her robe was bedrabbled in men's blood. They went in and

out with one another and fought as though they were living people

haling away one another's dead.

  He wrought also a fair fallow field, large and thrice ploughed

already. Many men were working at the plough within it, turning

their oxen to and fro, furrow after furrow. Each time that they turned

on reaching the headland a man would come up to them and give them a

cup of wine, and they would go back to their furrows looking forward

to the time when they should again reach the headland. The part that

they had ploughed was dark behind them, so that the field, though it

was of gold, still looked as if it were being ploughed- very curious

to behold.

  He wrought also a field of harvest corn, and the reapers were

reaping with sharp sickles in their hands. Swathe after swathe fell to

the ground in a straight line behind them, and the binders bound

them in bands of twisted straw. There were three binders, and behind

them there were boys who gathered the cut corn in armfuls and kept

on bringing them to be bound: among them all the owner of the land

stood by in silence and was glad. The servants were getting a meal

ready under an oak, for they had sacrificed a great ox, and were

busy cutting him up, while the women were making a porridge of much

white barley for the labourers' dinner.

  He wrought also a vineyard, golden and fair to see, and the vines

were loaded with grapes. The bunches overhead were black, but the

vines were trained on poles of silver. He ran a ditch of dark metal

all round it, and fenced it with a fence of tin; there was only one

path to it, and by this the vintagers went when they would gather

the vintage. Youths and maidens all blithe and full of glee, carried

the luscious fruit in plaited baskets; and with them there went a

boy who made sweet music with his lyre, and sang the Linus-song with

his clear boyish voice.

  He wrought also a herd of homed cattle. He made the cows of gold and

tin, and they lowed as they came full speed out of the yards to go and

feed among the waving reeds that grow by the banks of the river. Along

with the cattle there went four shepherds, all of them in gold, and

their nine fleet dogs went with them. Two terrible lions had

fastened on a bellowing bull that was with the foremost cows, and

bellow as he might they haled him, while the dogs and men gave

chase: the lions tore through the bull's thick hide and were gorging

on his blood and bowels, but the herdsmen were afraid to do

anything, and only hounded on their dogs; the dogs dared not fasten on

the lions but stood by barking and keeping out of harm's way.

  The god wrought also a pasture in a fair mountain dell, and large

flock of sheep, with a homestead and huts, and sheltered sheepfolds.

  Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made

in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and

maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another's

wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well

woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with

garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by

silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with

merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and

making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes

they would go all in line with one another, and much people was

gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to

them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in

the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.

  All round the outermost rim of the shield he set the mighty stream

of the river Oceanus.

  Then when he had fashioned the shield so great and strong, he made a

breastplate also that shone brighter than fire. He made helmet,

close fitting to the brow, and richly worked, with a golden plume

overhanging it; and he made greaves also of beaten tin.

  Lastly, when the famed lame god had made all the armour, he took

it and set it before the mother of Achilles; whereon she darted like a

falcon from the snowy summits of Olympus and bore away the gleaming

armour from the house of Vulcan.

Translated by Samuel Butler


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