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Pages of Iliad (Rapsodies 13 to 18)

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Iliad (Rapsodies 13 to 18)   

Idomeneus answered, "There are others to defend the centre- the
two Ajaxes and Teucer, who is the finest archer of all the Achaeans,
and is good also in a hand-to-hand fight. These will give Hector son
of Priam enough to do; fight as he may, he will find it hard to
vanquish their indomitable fury, and fire the ships, unless the son of
Saturn fling a firebrand upon them with his own hand. Great Ajax son
of Telamon will yield to no man who is in mortal mould and eats the
grain of Ceres, if bronze and great stones can overthrow him. He would
not yield even to Achilles in hand-to-hand fight, and in fleetness
of foot there is none to beat him; let us turn therefore towards the
left wing, that we may know forthwith whether we are to give glory
to some other, or he to us."
Meriones, peer of fleet Mars, then led the way till they came to the
part of the host which Idomeneus had named.
Now when the Trojans saw Idomeneus coming on like a flame of fire,
him and his squire clad in their richly wrought armour, they shouted
and made towards him all in a body, and a furious hand-to-hand fight
raged under the ships' sterns. Fierce as the shrill winds that whistle
upon a day when dust lies deep on the roads, and the gusts raise it
into a thick cloud- even such was the fury of the combat, and might
and main did they hack at each other with spear and sword throughout
the host. The field bristled with the long and deadly spears which
they bore. Dazzling was the sheen of their gleaming helmets, their
fresh-burnished breastplates, and glittering shields as they joined
battle with one another. Iron indeed must be his courage who could
take pleasure in the sight of such a turmoil, and look on it without
being dismayed.
Thus did the two mighty sons of Saturn devise evil for mortal
heroes. Jove was minded to give victory to the Trojans and to
Hector, so as to do honour to fleet Achilles, nevertheless he did
not mean to utterly overthrow the Achaean host before Ilius, and
only wanted to glorify Thetis and her valiant son. Neptune on the
other hand went about among the Argives to incite them, having come up
from the grey sea in secret, for he was grieved at seeing them
vanquished by the Trojans, and was furiously angry with Jove. Both
were of the same race and country, but Jove was elder born and knew
more, therefore Neptune feared to defend the Argives openly, but in
the likeness of man, he kept on encouraging them throughout their
host. Thus, then, did these two devise a knot of war and battle,
that none could unloose or break, and set both sides tugging at it, to
the failing of men's knees beneath them.
And now Idomeneus, though his hair was already flecked with grey,
called loud on the Danaans and spread panic among the Trojans as he
leaped in among them. He slew Othryoneus from Cabesus, a sojourner,
who had but lately come to take part in the war. He sought Cassandra
the fairest of Priam's daughters in marriage, but offered no gifts
of wooing, for he promised a great thing, to wit, that he would
drive the sons of the Achaeans willy nilly from Troy; old King Priam
had given his consent and promised her to him, whereon he fought on
the strength of the promises thus made to him. Idomeneus aimed a
spear, and hit him as he came striding on. His cuirass of bronze did
not protect him, and the spear stuck in his belly, so that he fell
heavily to the ground. Then Idomeneus vaunted over him saying,
"Othryoneus, there is no one in the world whom I shall admire more
than I do you, if you indeed perform what you have promised Priam
son of Dardanus in return for his daughter. We too will make you an
offer; we will give you the loveliest daughter of the son of Atreus,
and will bring her from Argos for you to marry, if you will sack the
goodly city of Ilius in company with ourselves; so come along with me,
that we may make a covenant at the ships about the marriage, and we
will not be hard upon you about gifts of wooing."
With this Idomeneus began dragging him by the foot through the thick
of the fight, but Asius came up to protect the body, on foot, in front
of his horses which his esquire drove so close behind him that he

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