The Illiad: The Sixth Battle; the Acts and Death of Patroclus.

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The Sixth Battle; the Acts and Death of Patroclus.

Patroclus (in pursuance of the request of Nestor in the eleventh book) entreats Achilles to suffer him to go to the assistance of the Greeks with Achilles' troops and armour. He agrees to it, but at the same time charges him to content himself with rescuing the fleet, without farther pursuit of the enemy. The armour, horses, soldiers, and officers of Achilles are described. Achilles offers a libation for the success of his friend, after which Patroclus leads the Myrmidons to battle. The Trojans, at the sight of Patroclus in Achilles' armour, taking him for that hero, are cast into the utmost consternation: he beats them off from the vessels, Hector himself flies, Sarpedon is killed, though Jupiter was averse to his fate. Several other particulars of the battle are described; in the heat of which, Patroclus, neglecting the orders of Achilles, pursues the foe to the walls of Troy; where Apollo repulses and disarms him, Euphorbus wounds him, and Hector kills him: which concludes the book.

Thus round the well-mann'd ship they wag'd the war:
Meanwhile by Peleus' son Patroclus stood,
Weeping hot tears; as some dark-water'd fount
Pours o'er a craggy rock its gloomy stream;
Achilles, swift of foot, with pity saw,
And to his friend these winged words address'd:
"Why weeps Patroclus, like an infant girl,
That prays her mother, by whose side she runs,
To take her up; and, clinging to her gown,
Impedes her way, and still with tearful eyes
Looks in her face, until she take her up?
Ev'n as that girl, Patroclus, such art thou,
Shedding soft tears: hast thou some tidings brought
Touching the gen'ral weal, or me alone?
Or have some evil news from Phthia come,
Known but to thee? Menoetius, Actor's son,
Yet surely lives; and 'mid his Myrmidons
Lives aged Peleus, son of AEacus:
Their deaths indeed might well demand our tears:
Or weep'st thou for the Greeks, who round their ships
By death their former insolence repay?
Speak out, that I may know thy cause of grief."
To whom, with bitter groans, Patroclus thus:
"O son of Peleus, noblest of the Greeks,
Achilles, be not wroth! such weight of woe
The Grecian camp oppresses; in their ships
They who were late their bravest and their best,
Sore wounded all by spear or arrow lie;
The valiant son of Tydeus, Diomed,
Pierc'd by a shaft, Ulysses by a spear,
And Agamemnon's self; Eurypylus
By a sharp arrow through the thigh transfix'd;
For these, the large resources of their art
The leeches ply, and on their wounds attend;
While thou, Achilles, still remain'st unmov'd.
Oh, be it never mine to nurse such hate
As thou retain'st, inflexibly severe!
Who e'er may hope in future days by thee
To profit, if thou now forbear to save
The Greeks from shame and loss? Unfeeling man!
Sure Peleus, horseman brave, was ne'er thy sire,
Nor Thetis bore thee; from the cold grey sea
And craggy rocks thou hadst thy birth; so hard
And stubborn is thy soul. But if the fear
Of evil prophesied thyself restrain,
Or message by thy Goddess-mother brought
From Jove, yet send me forth with all thy force
Of Myrmidons, to be the saving light
Of Greece; and let me to the battle bear
Thy glitt'ring arms, if so the men of Troy,
Scar'd by thy likeness, may forsake the field,
And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece,
Toil-worn; for little pause has yet been theirs.
Fresh and unwearied, we may drive with ease
To their own city, from our ships and tents,
The Trojans, worn and battle-wearied men."
Thus pray'd he, all unwisely; for the pray'r
He utter'd, to himself was fraught with death;
To whom, much griev'd, Achilles, swift of foot:
"Heav'n-born Patroclus, oh, what words are these!
Of prophecy I reck not, though I know;
Nor message hath my mother brought from Jove;
But it afflicts my soul; when one I see
That basely robs his equal of his prize,
His lawful prize, by highest valour won;
Such grief is mine, such wrong have I sustain'd.
Her, whom the sons of Greece on me bestow'd,
Prize of my spear, the well-wall'd city storm'd,
The mighty Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
Hath borne by force away, as from the hands
Of some dishonour'd, houseless vagabond.
But let the past be past; I never meant
My wrath should have no end; yet had not thought
My anger to abate, till my own ships
Should hear the war-cry, and the battle bear,
But go, and in my well-known armour clad,
Lead forth the valiant Myrmidons to war,
Since the dark cloud of Trojans circles round
The ships in force; and on the shingly beach,
Pent up in narrow limits, lie the Greeks;
And all the city hath pour'd its numbers forth
In hope undoubting; for they see no more
My helm among them flashing; else in flight
Their dead would choke the streams, if but to me
Great Agamemnon bore a kindly mind:
But round the camp the battle now is wag'd.
No more the hands of valiant Diomed,
The Greeks protecting, hurl his fiery spear;
Nor hear I now, from his detested lips,
The shout of Agamemnon; all around
Is heard the warrior-slayer Hector's voice,
Cheering his Trojans; with triumphant cries
They, from the vanquish'd Greeks, hold all the plain.
Nathless do thou, Patroclus, in defence
Fall boldly on, lest they with blazing fire
Our ships destroy, and hinder our retreat.
But hear, and ponder well the end of all
I have to say, and so for me obtain
Honour and glory in the eyes of Greece;
And that the beauteous maiden to my arms
They may restore, with costly gifts to boot.
The ships reliev'd, return forthwith; and though
The Thund'rer, Juno's Lord, should crown thine arms
With triumph, be not rash, apart from me,
In combat with the warlike sons of Troy;
(So should my name in less repute be held;)
Nor, in the keen excitement of the fight
And slaughter of the Trojans, lead thy troops
On tow'rd the city, lest thou find thyself
By some one of th' immortal Gods oppos'd;
For the far-darting Phoebus loves them well;
But when in safety thou hast plac'd the ships,
Delay not to return, and leave the rest
To battle on the plain: for would to Jove,
To Pallas and Apollo, that not one,
Or Greek or Trojan, might escape from death,
Save only thou and I; that so we two
Alone might raze the sacred tow'rs of Troy."
Such converse held they; while by hostile spears
Hard press'd, no longer Ajax might endure;
At once by Jove's high will and Trojan foes
O'ermaster'd; loud beneath repeated blows
Clatter'd around his brow the glitt'ring helm,
As on the well-wrought crest the weapons fell;
And his left arm grew faint, that long had borne
The burthen of his shield; yet nought avail'd
The press of spears to drive him from his post;
Lab'ring he drew his breath, his ev'ry limb
With sweat was reeking; breathing space was none;
Blow follow'd blow; and ills were heap'd on ill.
Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell,
How first the fire assail'd the Grecian ships.
Hector approach'd, and on the ashen spear
Of Ajax, close behind the head, let fall
His mighty sword; right through he clove the wood;
And in his hand the son of Telamon
The headless shaft held bootless; far away,
Loud ringing, fell to earth the brazen point.
Ajax, dismayed, perceived the hand of Heaven,
And knew that Jove the Thunderer had decreed
To thwart his hopes, and victory give to Troy.
Slow he retir'd; and to the vessel they
The blazing torch applied; high rose the flame
Unquenchable, and wrapp'd the poop in fire.
The son of Peleus saw, and with his palm
Smote on his thigh, and to Patroclus call'd:
"Up, nobly born Patroclus, car-borne chief!
Up, for I see above the ships ascend
The hostile fires; and lest they seize the ships,
And hinder our retreat, do thou in haste
Thine armour don, while I arouse the troops."
He said: his dazzling arms Patroclus donn'd:
First on his legs the well-wrought greaves he fix'd,
Fasten'd with silver clasps; his ample chest
The breastplate of Achilles, swift of foot,
Star-spangled, richly wrought, defended well;
Around his shoulders slung, his sword he bore,
Brass-bladed, silver-studded; next his shield
Weighty and strong; and on his firm-set head
A helm he wore, well-wrought, with horsehair plume
That nodded, fearful, o'er his brow; his hand
Grasp'd two stout spears, familiar to his hold.
One spear Achilles had, long, pond'rous, tough;
But this he touch'd not; none of all the Greeks,
None, save Achilles' self, that spear could poise;
The far-fam'd Pelian ash, which to his sire,
On Pelion's summit fell'd, to be the bane
Of mightiest chiefs, the Centaur Chiron gave.
Then to Automedon he gave command
To yoke the horses: him he honour'd most,
Next to Achilles' self; the trustiest he
In battle to await his chief's behest.
The flying steeds he harness'd to the car,
Xanthus and Balius, fleeter than the winds;
Whom, grazing in the marsh by ocean's stream,
Podarge, swift of foot, to Zephyr bore:
And by their side the matchless Pedasus,
Whom from the capture of Eetion's town
Achilles bore away; a mortal horse,
But with immortal coursers meet to vie.
Meantime Achilles, through their several tents,
Summon'd to arms the warlike Myrmidons.
They all, like rav'ning wolves, of courage high,
That on the mountain side have hunted down
An antler'd stag, and batten'd on his flesh:
Their chaps all dyed with blood, in troops they go,
With their lean tongues from some black-water'd fount
To lap the surface of the dark cool wave,
Their jaws with blood yet reeking, unsubdued
Their courage, and their bellies gorg'd with flesh;
So round Pelides' valiant follower throng'd
The chiefs and rulers of the Myrmidons.
Achilles in the midst to charioteers
And buckler'd warriors issued his commands.
Fifty swift ships Achilles, dear to Jove,
Led to the coast of Troy; and rang'd in each
Fifty brave comrades mann'd the rowers' seats.
O'er these five chiefs, on whom he most relied,
He plac'd, himself the Sov'reign Lord of all.
One band Menestheus led, with glancing mail,
Son of Sperchius, Heav'n-descended stream;
Him Peleus' daughter, Polydora fair,
A mortal in a God's embrace compress'd,
To stout Sperchius bore; but, by repute,
To Boras, Perieres' son, who her
In public, and with ample dow'r, espous'd.
The brave Eudorus led the second band,
Whom Phylas' daughter, Polymele fair,
To Hermes bore; the maid he saw, and lov'd,
Amid the virgins, mingling in the dance
Of golden-shafted Dian, Huntress-Queen;
He to her chamber access found, and gain'd
By stealth her bed; a valiant son she bore,
Eudorus, swift of foot, in battle strong.
But when her infant, by Lucina's aid,
Was brought to light, and saw the face of day,
Her to his home, with ample dow'r enrich'd,
Echecles, son of Actor, bore away;
While him the aged Phylas kept, and nurs'd
With tender care, and cherish'd?as his own.
The brave Peisander, son of Maemalus,
The third commanded; of the Myrmidons,
Next to Pelides' friend, the noblest spear.
The fourth, the aged warrior Phoenix led;
The fifth, Alcimedon, Laerces' son:
These in their order due Achilles first
Array'd, and next with stirring words address'd:
"Ye Myrmidons, forget not now the vaunts
Which, while my wrath endur'd, ye largely pour'd
Upon the Trojans; me ye freely blam'd;
'Ill-omen'd son of Peleus, sure in wrath
Thou wast conceiv'd, implacable, who here
In idleness enforc'd thy comrades keep'st!
'Twere better far our homeward way to take,
If such pernicious rancour fill thy soul!'
Thus ye reproach'd me oft! Lo! now ye have
The great occasion which your souls desir'd!
Then on, and with brave hearts the Trojans meet!"
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast,
And more compact, beneath their monarch's eye,
Their ranks were form'd; as when the builder lays
The closely-fitting stones, to form the wall
Of some great house, and brave the winds of Heav'n;
So close were fitted helm and bossy shield;
Buckler on buckler press'd, and helm on helm,
And man on man; the horsehair plumes above,
That nodded, fearful, from the warriors' brows,
Each other touch'd; so closely mass'd they stood.
Before them all stood prominent in arms
Two chiefs, Patroclus and Automedon,
Both with one thought possess'd, to lead the fight
In the fore-front of all the Myrmidons.
Achilles then within his tent withdrew,
And of a gorgeous coffer rais'd the lid,
Well-wrought, by silver-footed Thetis plac'd
On board his ship, and fill'd with rich attire,
With store of wind-proof cloaks, and carpets soft.
There lay a goblet, richly chas'd, whence none,
But he alone, might drink the ruddy wine,
Nor might libations thence to other Gods
Be made, save only Jove: this brought he forth,
And first with sulphur purified, and next
Wash'd with pure water; then his hands he wash'd,
And drew the ruddy wine; then standing forth
Made in the centre of the court his pray'r,
And as he pour'd the wine, look'd up to Heav'n,
Not unbeheld of Jove, the lightning's Lord:
"Great King, Dodona's Lord, Pelasgian Jove,
Who dwell'st on high, and rul'st with sov'reign sway
Dodona's wintry heights; where dwell around
Thy Sellian priests, men of unwashen feet,
That on the bare ground sleep; thou once before
Hast heard my pray'r, and me with honour crown'd,
And on the Greeks inflicted all thy plagues;
Hear yet again, and this my boon accord.
I 'mid the throng of ships myself remain;
But with a num'rous force of Myrmidons
I send my comrade in my stead to fight:
On him, all-seeing Jove, thy favour pour;
Strengthen his heart, that Hector's self may learn
If, e'en alone, my follower knows to fight,
Or only then resistless pow'r displays,
When I myself the toil of battle share.
And from our vessels when the foe is driv'n,
Grant that with all his arms and comrades true
He may in safety to the ships return."
Thus pray'd he; Jove, the Lord of counsel, heard,
And half his pray'r he granted, half denied:
For from the ships the battle to repel
He granted; but denied his safe return.
His pray'rs and off'rings ended, to the tent
Achilles turn'd again, and in the chest
Replac'd the cup; then issuing forth, he stood
Before the tent; for much he long'd to see
The Greeks and Trojans join in battle strife.
They who in arms round brave Patroclus stood
Their line of battle form'd, with courage high
To dash upon the Trojans; and as wasps
That have their nest beside the public road,
Which boys delight to vex and irritate
In wanton play, but to the gen'ral harm;
Them if some passing trav'ller unawares
Disturb, with angry courage forth they rush
In one continuous swarm, to guard their nest:
E'en with such courage pour'd the Myrmidons
Forth from the ships; then uproar wild arose,
And loud Patroclus on his comrades call'd:
"Ye valiant Myrmidons, who boast yourselves
Achilles' comrades, quit ye now like men;
Your ancient valour prove; to Peleus' son,
Of all the Greeks the noblest, so shall we,
His faithful followers, highest honour give;
And Agamemnon's haughty self shall mourn
The slight on Grecia's bravest warrior cast."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast.
Thick on the Trojan host their masses fell;
While loud the fleet re-echoed to the sound
Of Grecian cheers; but when the Trojans saw,
Blazing in arms, Menoetius' godlike son,
Himself, and follower; quail'd the spirits of all;
Their firm-set ranks were shaken; for they deem'd
Achilles had beside the ships exchang'd
His wrath for friendship; and each sev'ral man
Look'd round, to find his own escape from death.
Then first Patroclus aim'd his glitt'ring spear
Amid the crowd, where thickest round the ships
Of brave Protesilaus, raged the war;
And struck Pyraechmes, who from Amydon,
From the wide-flowing stream of Axius, led
The horsehair-crested Paeons; him he struck
Through the right shoulder; backwards in the dust
Groaning, he fell; around him quail'd with fear
His Paeons all, such terror in their ranks
Patroclus threw, their bravest leader slain,
The foremost in the fight; the crowd he drove
Far from the ships, and quench'd the blazing fire.
There lay the half-burnt ship; with shouts confus'd
The Trojans fled; and from amid the ships
Forth pour'd the Greeks; and loud the clamour rose.
As when around a lofty mountain's top
The lightning's Lord dispels a mass of cloud,
And ev'ry crag, and ev'ry jutting peak
Is plainly seen, and ev'ry forest glade;
And the deep vault of Heav'n is open'd wide;
So when the Greeks had clear'd the ships of fire,
They breath'd awhile; yet ceas'd not so the strife;
For not in headlong panic from the ships
The Trojans by the valiant Greeks were driv'n,
But, though perforce retiring, still made head.
Then of the chiefs, as wider spread the fight,
Each singled each; Menoetius' noble son
First threw his pointed spear, and on the thigh
Struck Areilochus, in act to turn;
Right through the point was driv'n; the weighty spear
Shatter'd the bone, and prone to earth he fell.
The warlike Menelaus aim'd his spear
Where Thoas' breast, unguarded by his shield,
Was left expos'd; and slack'd his limbs in death.
Phyleus' brave son, as rush'd Amphiclus on,
Stood firm, with eye observant; then th' attack
Preventing, through his thigh, high up, where lie
The strongest muscles, smote; the weapon's point
Sever'd the tendons; darkness clos'd his eyes.
Of Nestor's sons, Antilochus, the first,
Atymnius wounded, driving through his flank
He brazen spear; prone on his face he fell.
Then, burning to avenge his brother's death,
Stood Maris o'er the corpse, and hand to hand
Engaged Antilochus; but ere a blow
Was struck, the godlike Thrasymedes drove
Through his right shoulder, with unerring aim,
His glitt'ring spear; the point his upper arm
Tore from the muscles, shatt'ring all the bone:
Thund'ring he fell, and darkness clos'd his eyes.
So to the shades, by those two brethren's hands
Subdued, Sarpedon's comrades brave were sent,
The sons of Amisodarus, who rear'd
The dread Chimaera, bane of mortal men.
On Cleobulus, wounded in the press,
Ajax Oileus sprang, and captive took,
Alive; but sudden on his neck let fall
His hilted sword, and quench'd the fire of life.
The hot blood dyed the sword; the darkling shades
Of death, and rig'rous fate, his eyes o'erspread.
Then Peneleus and Lycon, hand to hand,
Engag'd in combat; both had miss'd their aim,
And bootless hurl'd their weapons; then with swords
They met; first Lycon on the crested helm
Dealt a fierce blow; but in his hand the blade
Up to the hilt was shiver'd; then the sword
Of Peneleus his neck, below the ear,
Dissever'd; deeply in his throat the blade
Was plung'd, and by the skin alone was stay'd;
Down droop'd his head, his limbs relax'd in death.
Meriones by speed of foot o'ertook,
And, as his car he mounted, Acarnas
Though the right shoulder pierc'd; down from the car
He fell; the shades of death his eyes o'erspread.
Full on the mouth of Erymas was thrust
The weapon of Idomeneus; right through,
The white bones crashing, pass'd the brazen spear
Below the brain; his teeth were shatter'd all;
With blood, which with convulsive sobs he blew
From mouth and nostril, both his eyes were fill'd;
And death's dark cloud encompass'd him around.
Thus slew the Grecian leaders each his man.
As rav'ning wolves, that lambs or kids assail,
Stray'd from their dams, by careless shepherds left
Upon the mountain scatter'd; these they see,
And tear at once their unresisting prey;
So on the Trojans fell the Greeks; in rout
Disastrous they, unmann'd by terror, fled.
Great Ajax still, unwearied, long'd to hurl
His spear at Hector of the brazen helm;
But he, well skill'd in war, his shoulders broad
Protected by his shield of tough bull's hide,
Watch'd for the whizzing shafts, and jav'lins' whirr.
Full well he knew the tide of battle turn'd,
Yet held his ground, his trusty friends to save.
As from Olympus, o'er the clear blue sky
Pour the dark clouds, when Jove the vault of Heav'n
O'erspreads with storm and tempest, from the ships
So pour'd with panic cries the flying host,
And in disorder'd rout recross'd the trench.
Then Hector's flying coursers bore him safe
Far from the struggling masses, whom the ditch
Detain'd perforce; there many a royal car
With broken pole th' unharness'd horses left.
On, shouting to the Greeks, Patroclus press'd
The flying Trojans; they, with panic cries,
Dispers'd, the roads encumber'd; high uprose
The storms of dust, as from the tents and ships
Back to the city stretch'd the flying steeds;
And ever where the densest throng appear'd
With furious threats Patroclus urg'd his course;
His glowing axle trac'd by prostrate men
Hurl'd from their cars, and chariots overthrown.
Flew o'er the deep-sunk trench th' immortal steeds,
The noble prize the Gods to Peleus gave,
Still onward straining; for he long'd to reach,
And hurl his spear at Hector; him meanwhile
His flying steeds in safety bore away.
As in th' autumnal season, when the earth
With weight of rain is saturate; when Jove
Pours down his fiercest storms in wrath to men,
Who in their courts unrighteous judgments pass,
And justice yield to lawless violence,
The wrath of Heav'n despising; ev'ry stream
Is brimming o'er: the hills in gullies deep
Are by the torrents seam'd, which, rushing down
From the high mountains to the dark-blue sea,
With groans and tumult urge their headlong course,
Wasting the works of man; so urg'd their flight,
So, as they fled, the Trojan horses groan'd.
The foremost ranks cut off, back tow'rd the ships
Patroclus drove them, baffling their attempts
To gain the city; and in middle space
Between the ships, the stream, and lofty wall,
Dealt slaughter round him, and of many a chief
The bitter penalty of death requir'd.
Then Pronous with his glitt'ring spear he struck,
Where by the shield his breast was left expos'd,
And slack'd his limbs in death; thund'ring he fell.
Next Thestor, son of OEnops, he assail'd;
He on his polish'd car, down-crouching, sat,
His mind by fear disorder'd; from his hands
The reins had dropp'd; him, thrusting with the spear,
Through the right cheek and through the teeth he smote,
Then dragg'd him, by the weapon, o'er the rail.
As when an angler on a prominent rock
Drags from the sea to shore with hook and line
A weighty fish; so him Patroclus dragg'd,
Gaping, from off the car; and dash'd him down
Upon his face; and life forsook his limbs.
Next Eryalus, eager for the fray,
On the mid forehead with a mighty stone
He struck; beneath the pond'rous helmet's weight
The skull was split in twain; prostrate he fell,
By life-consuming death encompass'd round.
Forthwith Amphoterus, and Erymas,
Epaltes, Echius, and Tlepolemus,
Son of Damastor, Pyris, Ipheus brave,
Euippus, Polymelus, Argeas' son,
In quick succession to the ground he brought.
Sarpedon his ungirdled forces saw
Promiscuous fall before Menoetius' son,
And to the Lycians call'd in loud reproof:
"Shame, Lycians! whither fly ye? why this haste?
I will myself this chief confront, and learn
Who this may be of bearing proud and high,
Who on the Trojans grievous harm hath wrought,
And many a warrior's limbs relax'd in death."
He said, and from his car, accoutred, sprang;
Patroclus saw, and he too leap'd to earth.
As on a lofty rock, with angry screams,
Hook-beak'd, with talons curv'd, two vultures fight;
So with loud shouts these two to battle rush'd.
The son of Saturn pitying saw, and thus
To Juno spoke, his sister and his wife:
"Woe, woe! that fate decrees my best-belov'd,
Sarpedon, by Patroclus' hand to fall;
E'en now conflicting thoughts my soul divide,
To bear him from the fatal strife unhurt,
And set him down on Lycia's fertile plains,
Or leave him by Patroclus' hand to fall."
Whom, answer'd thus the stag-ey'd Queen of Heav'n:
"What words, dread son of Saturn, dost thou speak?
Wouldst thou a mortal man from death withdraw
Long since by fate decreed? Do what thou wilt;
Yet cannot we, the rest, applaud thine act.
This too I say, and turn it in thy mind:
If to his home Sarpedon thou restore
Alive, bethink thee, will not other Gods
Their sons too from the stubborn fight withdraw?
For in the field around the walls of Troy
Are many sons of Gods, in all of whom
This act of thine will angry feelings rouse.
But if thou love him, and thy soul deplore
His coming doom, yet in the stubborn fight
Leave him beneath Patroclus' hand to fall:
Then, when his spirit hath fled, the charge assign
To Death and gentle Sleep, that in their arms
They bear him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains:
There shall his brethren and his friends perform
His fun'ral rites, and mound and column raise,
The fitting tribute to the mighty dead."
Thus she; the Sire of Gods and men complied:
But to the ground some drops of blood let fall,
In honour of his son, whom fate decreed,
Far from his country, on the fertile plains
Of Troy to perish by Patroclus' hand.
As near the champions drew, Patroclus first
His weapon hurl'd, and Thrasymedes brave,
The faithful follower of Sarpedon, struck
Below the waist, and slack'd his limbs in death.
Thrown in his turn, Sarpedon's glitt'ring spear
Flew wide; and Pedasus, the gallant horse,
Through the right shoulder wounded; with a scream
He fell, and in the dust breath'd forth his life,
As, shrieking loud, his noble spirit fled.
This way and that his two companions swerv'd;
Creak'd the strong yoke, and tangled were the reins,
As in the dust the prostrate courser lay.
Automedon the means of safety saw;
And drawing from beside his brawny thigh
His keen-edg'd sword, with no uncertain blow
Cut loose the fallen horse; again set straight,
The two, extended, stretch'd the tightened rein.
Again in mortal strife the warriors clos'd:
Once more Sarpedon hurl'd his glitt'ring spear
In vain; above Patroclus' shoulder flew
The point, innocuous; from his hand in turn
The spear not vainly thrown, Sarpedon struck
Where lies the diaphragm, below the heart.
He fell; as falls an oak, or poplar tall,
Or lofty pine, which on the mountain top
For some proud ship the woodman's axe hath hewn:
So he, with death-cry sharp, before his car
Extended lay, and clutch'd the blood-stain'd soil.
As when a lion on the herd has sprung,
And, 'mid the heifers seiz'd, the lordly bull
Lies bellowing, crush'd between the lion's jaws;
So by Patroclus slain, the Lycian chief,
Undaunted still, his faithful comrade call'd:
"Good Glaucus, warrior tried, behoves thee now
Thy spearmanship to prove, and warlike might.
Welcome the fray; put forth thine utmost speed;
Call on the Lycian chiefs, on ev'ry side,
To press around, and for Sarpedon fight;
Thou too thine arms for my protection wield;
For I to thee, through all thy future days,
Shall be a ceaseless scandal and reproach,
If me, thus slain before the Grecian ships,
The Greeks be suffer'd of my arms to spoil:
But stand thou fast, and others' courage raise."
Thus as he spoke, the shades of death o'erspread
His eyes and nostrils; then with foot firm-set
Upon his chest, Patroclus from the corpse
Drew, by main force, the fast-adhering spear;
The life forth issuing with the weapon's point.
Loos'd from the royal car, the snorting steeds,
Eager for flight, the Myrmidons detain'd.
Deep-grieving, Glaucus heard his voice: and chafed
His spirit within him, that he lacked the power
To aid his comrade; with his hand he grasp'd
His wounded arm, in torture from the shaft
By Teucer shot, to save the Greeks from death,
As on he pressed to scale the lofty wall:
Then to Apollo thus address'd his pray'r:
"Hear me, great King, who, as on Lycia's plains,
Art here in Troy; and hear'st in ev'ry place
Their voice who suffer, as I suffer now.
A grievous wound I bear, and sharpest pangs
My arm assail, nor may the blood he stanch'd:
The pain weighs down my shoulder; and my hand
Hath lost its pow'r to fight, or grasp my spear.
Sarpedon, bravest of the brave, is slain,
The son of Jove; yet Jove preserv'd him not.
But thou, O King, this grievous wound relieve;
Assuage the pain, and give me strength to urge
My Lycian comrades to maintain the war,
And fight myself to guard the noble dead."
Thus as he pray'd, his pray'r Apollo heard,
Assuag'd his pains, and from the grievous wound
Stanch' d the dark blood, and fill'd his soul with strength.
Glaucus within himself perceiv'd, and knew,
Rejoicing, that the God had heard his pray'r.
The Lycian leaders first on ev'ry side
He urg'd to hasten for their King to fight:
Then 'mid the Trojans went with lofty step,
And first to Panthous' son, Polydamas,
To brave Agenor and AEneas next;
Then Hector of the brazen helm himself
Approaching, thus with winged words address'd:
"Hector, forgett'st thou quite thy brave allies,
Who freely in thy cause pour forth their lives,
Far from their home and friends? but they from thee
No aid receive; Sarpedon lies in death,
The leader of the buckler'd Lycian bands,
Whose justice and whose pow'r were Lycia's shield;
Him by Patroclus' hand hath Mars subdued.
But, friends, stand by me now! with just revenge
Inspir'd, determine that the Myrmidons
Shall not, how griev'd soe'er for all the Greeks
Who by our spears beside the ships have fall'n,
Our dead dishonour, and his arms obtain."
He said; and through the Trojans thrill'd the sense
Of grief intolerable, unrestrain'd;
For he, though stranger-born, was of the State
A mighty pillar; and his followers
A num'rous host; and he himself in fight
Among the foremost; so, against the Greeks,
With fiery zeal they rush'd, by Hector led,
Griev'd for Sarpedon's loss; on th' other side
Patroclus' manly heart the Greeks arous'd,
And to th' Ajaces first, themselves inflamed
With warlike zeal, he thus address'd his speech:
"Ye sons of Ajax, now is come the time
Your former fame to rival, or surpass:
The man hath fall'n, who first o'erleap'd our wall,
Sarpedon; now remains, that, having slain,
We should his corpse dishonour, and his arms
Strip off; and should some comrade dare attempt
His rescue, him too with our spears subdue."
He said; and they, with martial ardour fir'd,
Rush'd to the conflict. When on either side
The reinforc'd battalions were array'd,
Trojans and Lycians, Myrmidons and Greeks
Around the dead in sternest combat met,
With fearful shouts; and loud their armour rang.
Then, to enhance the horror of the strife
Around his son, with darkness Jove o'erspread
The stubborn fight: the Trojans first drove back
The keen-ey'd Greeks; for first a warrior fell,
Not of the meanest 'mid the Myrmidons,
Epegeus, son of valiant Agacles;
Who in Budaeum's thriving state bore rule
Erewhile; but flying for a kinsman slain,
To Peleus and the silver-footed Queen
He came a suppliant; with Achilles thence
To Ilium sent, to join the war of Troy.
Him, as he stretch'd his hand to seize the dead,
Full on the forehead with a massive stone
Great Hector smote; within the pond'rous helm
The skull was split in twain; prone on the corpse
He fell, by life-destroying death subdued.
Griev'd was Patroclus for his comrade slain;
Forward he darted, as a swift-wing'd hawk,
That swoops amid the starlings and the daws;
So swift didst thou, Patroclus, car-borne chief,
Upon the Trojans and the Lycians spring,
Thy soul with anger for thy comrade fill'd.
A pond'rous stone he hurl'd at Sthenelas,
Son of Ithaemenes; the mighty mass
Fell on his neck, and all the muscles crush'd.
Back drew great Hector and the chiefs of Troy;
Far as a jav'lin's flight, in sportive strife,
Or in the deadly battle, hurl'd by one
His utmost strength exerting; back so far
The Trojans drew, so far the Greeks pursued.
Glaucus, the leader of the Lycian spears,
First turning, slew the mighty Bathycles,
The son of Chalcon; he in Hellas dwelt,
In wealth surpassing all the Myrmidons.
Him, as he gain'd upon him in pursuit,
Quick turning, Glaucus through the breast transfix'd;
Thund'ring he fell; deep grief possess'd the Greeks
At loss of one so valiant; fiercely joy'd
The Trojans, and around him crowded thick;
Nor of their wonted valour were the Greeks
Oblivious, but still onward held their course.
Then slew Meriones a crested chief,
The bold Laogonus, Onetor's son;
Onetor, of Idaean Jove the priest,
And by the people as a God rever'd.
Below the ear he struck him; from his limbs
The spirit fled, and darkness veil'd his eyes.
Then at Meriones AEneas threw
His brazen spear, in hopes beneath his shield
To find a spot unguarded; he beheld,
And downward stooping, shunn'd the brazen death;
Behind him far, deep in the soil infix'd,
The weapon stood; there Mars its impulse stay'd;
So, bootless hurl'd, though by no feeble hand,
AEneas' spear stood quiv'ring in the ground;
Then thus in wrath he cried: "Meriones,
Had it but struck thee, nimble as thou art,
My spear had brought thy dancing to a close."
To whom the spearman skill'd, Meriones:
"Brave as thou art, AEneas, 'tis too much
For thee to hope the might of all to quell,
Who dare confront thee; thou art mortal too!
And if my aim be true, and should my spear
But strike thee fair, all valiant as thou art,
And confident, yet me thy fall shall crown
With triumph, and thy soul to Hades send."
He said; and him Menoetius' noble son
Address'd with grave rebuke: "Meriones,
Brave warrior, why thus waste the time in words?
Trust me, good friend, 'tis not by vaunting speech,
Unseconded by deeds, that we may hope
To scare away the Trojans from the slain:
Hands are for battle, words for council meet;
Boots it not now to wrangle, but to fight."
He said, and led the way; him follow'd straight
The godlike chief; forthwith, as loudly rings,
Amid the mountain forest's deep recess,
The woodman's axe, and far is heard the sound;
So from the wide-spread earth their clamour rose,
As brazen arms, and shields, and tough bull's-hide
Encounter'd swords and double-pointed spears.
Nor might the sharpest sight Sarpedon know,
From head to foot with wounds and blood and dust
Disfigur'd; thickly round the dead they swarm'd.
As when at spring-tide in the cattle-sheds
Around the milk-cans swarm the buzzing flies,
While the warm milk is frothing in the pail;
So swarm'd they round the dead; nor Jove the while
Turn'd from the stubborn fight his piercing glance;
But still look'd down with gaze intent, and mus'd
Upon Patroclus' coming fate, in doubt,
If he too there beside Sarpedon slain,
Should perish by illustrious Hector's hand,
Spoil'd of his arms; or yet be spared awhile
To swell the labours of the battle-field.
He judg'd it best at length, that once again
The gallant follower of Peleus' son
Should tow'rd the town with fearful slaughter drive
The Trojans, and their brazen-helmed chief.
First Hector's soul with panic fear he fill'd;
Mounting his car, he fled, and urg'd to flight
The Trojans; for he saw the scales of Jove.
Then nor the valiant Lycians held their ground;
All fled in terror, as they saw their King
Pierc'd through the heart, amid a pile of dead;
For o'er his body many a warrior fell,
When Saturn's son the conflict fierce inflam'd.
Then from Sarpedon's breast they stripp'd his arms,
Of brass refulgent; these Menoetius' son
Sent by his comrades to the ships of Greece.
To Phoebus then the Cloud-compeller thus:
"Hie thee, good Phoebus, from amid the spears
Withdraw Sarpedon, and from all his wounds
Cleanse the dark gore; then bear him far away,
And lave his body in the flowing stream;
Then with divine ambrosia all his limbs
Anointing, clothe him in immortal robes.
To two swift bearers give him then in charge,
To Sleep and Death, twin brothers, in their arms
To bear him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains:
There shall his brethren and his friends perform
His fun'ral rites, and mound and column raise,
The fitting tribute to the mighty dead."
He said; obedient to his father's words,
Down to the battle-field Apollo sped
From Ida's height; and from amid the spears
Withdrawn, he bore Sarpedon far away,
And lav'd his body in the flowing stream;
Then with divine ambrosia all his limbs
Anointing, cloth'd him in immortal robes;
To two swift bearers gave him then in charge,
To Sleep and Death, twin brothers; in their arms
They bore him safe to Lycia's wide-spread plains.
Then to Automedon Patroclus gave
His orders, and the flying foe pursued.
Oh much deceiv'd, insensate! had he now
But borne in mind the words of Peleus' son,
He might have 'scap'd the bitter doom of death.
But still Jove's will the will of man o'errules:
Who strikes with panic, and of vict'ry robs
The bravest; and anon excites to war;
Who now Patroclus' breast with fury fill'd.
Whom then, Patroclus, first, whom slew'st thou last,
When summon'd by the Gods to meet thy doom?
Adrastus, and Autonous, Perimus
The son of Meges, and Echeclus next;
Epistor, Melanippus, Elasus,
And Mulius, and Pylartes; these he slew;
The others all in flight their safety found.
Then had the Greeks the lofty-gated town
Of Priam captur'd by Patroclus' hand,
So forward and so fierce he bore his spear;
But on the well-built tow'r Apollo stood,
On his destruction bent, and Troy's defence
The jutting angle of the lofty wall
Patroclus thrice assail'd; his onset thrice
Apollo, with his own immortal hands
Repelling, backward thrust his glitt'ring shield.
But when again, with more than mortal force
He made his fourth attempt, with awful mien
And threat'ning voice the Far-destroyer spoke:
"Back, Heav'n-born chief, Patroclus! not to thee
Hath fate decreed the triumph to destroy
The warlike Trojans' city; no, nor yet
To great Achilles, mightier far than thou."
Thus as he spoke, Patroclus backward stepp'd,
Shrinking before the Far-destroyer's wrath.
Still Hector kept before the Scaean gates
His coursers; doubtful, if again to dare
The battle-throng, or summon all the host
To seek the friendly shelter of the wall.
Thus as he mus'd, beside him Phoebus stood,
In likeness of a warrior stout and brave,
Brother of Hecuba, the uncle thence
Of noble Hector, Asius, Dymas' son;
Who dwelt in Phrygia, by Saugarius' stream;
His form assuming, thus Apollo spoke:
"Hector, why shrink'st thou from the battle thus?
It ill beseems thee! Would to Heav'n that I
So far thy greater were, as thou art mine;
Then sorely shouldst thou rue this abstinence.
But, forward thou! against Patroclus urge
Thy fiery steeds, so haply by his death
Apollo thee with endless fame may crown."
This said, the God rejoin'd the strife of men;
And noble Hector bade Cebriones
Drive 'mid the fight his car; before him mov'd
Apollo, scatt'ring terror 'mid the Greeks,
And lustre adding to the arms of Troy.
All others Hector pass'd unnotic'd by,
Nor stay'd to slay; Patroclus was the mark
At which his coursers' clatt'ring hoofs he drove.
On th' other side, Patroclus from his car
Leap'd to the ground: his left hand held his spear;
And in the right a pond'rous mass he bore
Of rugged stone, that fill'd his ample grasp:
The stone he hurl'd; not far it miss'd its mark,
Nor bootless flew; but Hector's charioteer
It struck, Cebriones, a bastard son
Of royal Priam, as the reins he held.
Full on his temples fell the jagged mass,
Drove both his eyebrows in, and crush'd the bone;
Before him in the dust his eyeballs fell;
And, like a diver, from the well-wrought car
Headlong he plung'd; and life forsook his limbs.
O'er whom Patroclus thus with bitter jest:
"Heav'n! what agility! how deftly thrown
That somersault! if only in the sea
Such feats he wrought, with him might few compete,
Diving for oysters, if with such a plunge
He left his boat, how rough soe'er the waves,
As from his car he plunges to the ground:
Troy can, it seems, accomplish'd tumblers boast."
Thus saying, on Cebriones he sprang,
As springs a lion, through the breast transfix'd,
In act the sheepfold to despoil, and dies
The victim of his courage; so didst thou
Upon Cebriones, Patroclus, spring.
Down from his car too Hector leap'd to earth.
So, o'er Cebriones, oppos'd they stood;
As on the mountain, o'er a slaughter'd stag,
Both hunger-pinch'd, two lions fiercely fight,
So o'er Cebriones two mighty chiefs,
Menoetius' son and noble Hector, strove,
Each in the other bent to plunge his spear.
The head, with grasp unyielding, Hector held;
Patroclus seiz'd the foot; and, crowding round,
Trojans and Greeks in stubborn conflict clos'd.
As when, encount'ring in some mountain-glen,
Eurus and Notus shake the forest deep,
Of oak, or ash, or slender cornel-tree,
Whose tap'ring branches are together thrown,
With fearful din, and crash of broke a boughs;
So mix'd confus'dly, Greeks and Trojans fought,
No thought of flight by either entertain'd.
Thick o'er Cebriones the jav'lins flew,
And feather'd arrows, bounding from the string;
And pond'rous stones that on the bucklers rang,
As round the dead they fought; amid the dust
That eddying rose, his art forgotten all,
A mighty warrior, mightily he lay.
While in mid Heav'n the sun pursued his course,
Thick flew the shafts, and fast the people fell
On either side; but when declining day
Brought on the hour that sees the loosen'd steers,
The Greeks were stronger far; and from the darts
And Trojan battle-cry Cebriones
They drew, and from his breast his armour stripp'd.
Fiercely Patroclus on the Trojans fell:
Thrice he assail'd them, terrible as Mars,
With fearful shouts; and thrice nine foes he slew:
But when again, with more than mortal force
His fourth assault he made, thy term of life,
Patroclus, then approach'd its final close;
For Phoebus' awful self encounter'd thee,
Amid the battle-throng, of thee unseen,
For thickest darkness shrouded all his form:
He stood behind, and with extended palm
Dealt on Patroclus' neck and shoulders broad
A mighty buffet; dizzy swam his eyes,
And from his head Apollo snatch'd the helm;
Clank'd, as it roll'd beneath the horses' feet,
The visor'd helm; the horsehair plume with blood
And dust polluted; never till that day
Was that proud helmet so with dust defil'd,
That wont to deck a godlike chief, and guard
Achilles' noble head, and graceful brow:
Now by the will of Jove to Hector giv'n.
Now death was near at hand; and in his grasp
His spear was shiver'd, pond'rous, long, and tough,
Brass-pointed; with its belt, the ample shield
Fell from his shoulders; and Apollo's hand,
The royal son of Jove, his corslet loos'd.
Then was his mind bewilder'd; and his limbs
Gave way beneath him; all aghast he stood:
Him, from behind, a Dardan, Panthous' son,
Euphorbus, peerless 'mid the Trojan youth,
To hurl the spear, to run, to drive the car,
Approaching close, between the shoulders stabb'd;
He, train'd to warfare, from his car, ere this
A score of Greeks had from their chariots hurl'd:
Such was the man who thee, Patroclus, first
Wounded, but not subdued; the ashen spear
He, in all haste, withdrew; nor dar'd confront
Patroclus, though disarm'd, in deadly strife.
Back to his comrades' shelt'ring ranks retir'd,
From certain death, Patroclus: by the stroke
Of Phoebus vanquish'd, and Euphorbus' spear:
But Hector, when Patroclus from the fight
He saw retreating, wounded, through the ranks
Advancing, smote him through the flank; right through
The brazen spear was driv'n; thund'ring he fell;
And deeply mourn'd his fall the Grecian host.
As when a lion hath in fight o'erborne
A tusked boar, when on the mountain top
They two have met, in all their pride of strength,
Both parch'd with thirst, around a scanty spring;
And vanquish'd by the lion's force, the boar
Hath yielded, gasping; so Menoetius' son,
Great deeds achiev'd, at length beneath the spear
Of noble Hector yielded up his life;
Who o'er the vanquish'd, thus exulting, spoke:
"Patroclus, but of late thou mad'st thy boast
To raze our city walls, and in your ships
To bear away to your far-distant land,
Their days of freedom lost, our Trojan dames:
Fool that thou wast! nor knew'st, in their defence,
That Hector's flying coursers scour'd the plain;
From them, the bravest of the Trojans, I
Avert the day of doom; while on our shores
Thy flesh shall glut the carrion birds of Troy.
Poor wretch! though brave he be, yet Peleus' son
Avail'd thee nought, when, hanging back himself,
With sage advice he sent thee forth to fight:
'Come not to me, Patroclus, car-borne chief,
Nor to the ships return, until thou bear
The warrior-slayer Hector's bloody spoils,
Torn from his body;' such were, I suppose,
His counsels; thou, poor fool, becam'st his dupe."
To whom Patroclus thus in accents faint:
"Hector, thou boastest loudly now, that Jove,
With Phoebus join'd, hath thee with vict'ry crown'd:
They wrought my death, who stripp'd me of my arms.
Had I to deal with twenty such as thee,
They all should perish, vanquish'd by my spear:
Me fate hath slain, and Phoebus; and, of men,
Euphorbus; thou wast but the third to strike.
This too I say, and bear it in thy mind;
Not long shalt thou survive me; death e'en now
And final doom hangs o'er thee, by the hand
Of great Achilles, Peleus' matchless son."
Thus as he spoke, the gloom of death his eyes
O'erspread, and to the shades his spirit fled,
Mourning his fate, his youth and strength cut off.
To whom, though dead, the noble Hector thus:
"Patroclus, why predict my coming fate?
Or who can say but fair-hair'd Thetis' son,
Achilles, by my spear may first be slain?"
He said, and planting firm his foot, withdrew
The brazen spear, and backward drove the dead
From off the weapon's point; then, spear in hand,
Intent to slay, Automedon pursued,
The godlike follower of AEacides:
But him in safety bore th' immortal steeds,
The noble prize the Gods to Peleus gave.
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