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Pages of Iliad (Rapsodies 13 to 18)

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Iliad (Rapsodies 13 to 18)   

than this, for my mother bore me with nothing of the coward about
me. From the moment when you set our men fighting about the ships we
have been staying here and doing battle with the Danaans. Our comrades
about whom you ask me are dead; Deiphobus and King Helenus alone
have left the field, wounded both of them in the hand, but the son
of Saturn saved them alive. Now, therefore, lead on where you would
have us go, and we will follow with right goodwill; you shall not find
us fail you in so far as our strength holds out, but no man can do
more than in him lies, no matter how willing he may be."
With these words he satisfied his brother, and the two went
towards the part of the battle where the fight was thickest, about
Cebriones, brave Polydamas, Phalces, Orthaeus, godlike Polyphetes,
Palmys, Ascanius, and Morys son of Hippotion, who had come from
fertile Ascania on the preceding day to relieve other troops. Then
Jove urged them on to fight. They flew forth like the blasts of some
fierce wind that strike earth in the van of a thunderstorm- they
buffet the salt sea into an uproar; many and mighty are the great
waves that come crashing in one after the other upon the shore with
their arching heads all crested with foam- even so did rank behind
rank of Trojans arrayed in gleaming armour follow their leaders
onward. The way was led by Hector son of Priam, peer of murderous
Mars, with his round shield before him- his shield of ox-hides covered
with plates of bronze- and his gleaming helmet upon his temples. He
kept stepping forward under cover of his shield in every direction,
making trial of the ranks to see if they would give way be him, but he
could not daunt the courage of the Achaeans. Ajax was the first to
stride out and challenge him. "Sir," he cried, "draw near; why do
you think thus vainly to dismay the Argives? We Achaeans are excellent
soldiers, but the scourge of Jove has fallen heavily upon us. Your
heart, forsooth, is set on destroying our ships, but we too have bands
that can keep you at bay, and your own fair town shall be sooner taken
and sacked by ourselves. The time is near when you shall pray Jove and
all the gods in your flight, that your steeds may be swifter than
hawks as they raise the dust on the plain and bear you back to your
As he was thus speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand, and
the host of the Achaeans shouted, for they took heart at the omen. But
Hector answered, "Ajax, braggart and false of tongue, would that I
were as sure of being son for evermore to aegis-bearing Jove, with
Queen Juno for my mother, and of being held in like honour with
Minerva and Apollo, as I am that this day is big with the
destruction of the Achaeans; and you shall fall among them if you dare
abide my spear; it shall rend your fair body and bid you glut our
hounds and birds of prey with your fat and your flesh, as you fall
by the ships of the Achaeans."
With these words he led the way and the others followed after with a
cry that rent the air, while the host shouted behind them. The Argives
on their part raised a shout likewise, nor did they forget their
prowess, but stood firm against the onslaught of the Trojan
chieftains, and the cry from both the hosts rose up to heaven and to
the brightness of Jove's presence.


NESTOR was sitting over his wine, but the cry of battle did not
escape him, and he said to the son of Aesculapius, "What, noble
Machaon, is the meaning of all this? The shouts of men fighting by our
ships grow stronger and stronger; stay here, therefore, and sit over
your wine, while fair Hecamede heats you a bath and washes the clotted
blood from off you. I will go at once to the look-out station and
see what it is all about."
As he spoke he took up the shield of his son Thrasymedes that was
lying in his tent, all gleaming with bronze, for Thrasymedes had taken
his father's shield; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod spear, and

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