The Iliad of Homer (Butler)/Book 14

BOOK XIV

Agamemnon proposes that the achæans should sail home, and is rebuked by Ulysses-Juno beguiles Jupiter-Hector is wounded.

Nestor was sitting over his wine, but the cry of the battle did not escape him, and he said to the son of Æsculapius, "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 Hecamedé heats you a bath a washes the clotted blood from off you. I will go at once to the look-out station and see what it is all about."

9As 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 as soon as he was outside saw the disastrous rout of the Achæans who, now that their wall was overthrown, were flying pellmell before the Trojans. As when there is a heavy swell upon the sea, but the waves are dumb-they keep their eyes on the watch for the quarter whence the fierce winds may spring upon them, but they stay where they are and set neither this way nor that, till some particular wind seeps down from heaven to determine them-even so did the old man ponder whether to make for the crowd of Danaans, or go in search of Agamemnon. In the end he deemed it best to go to the son of Atreus; but meanwhile the hosts were fighting and killing one another, and the hard bronze rattled on their bodies, as they thrust at o one another with their swords and spears.

27The wounded kings, the son of Tydeus, Ulysses, and 28Agamemnon son of Atreus, fell in with Nestor as they 28 were coming up from their ships — for theirs were drawn up some way from where the fighting was going on, being on the shore itself inasmuch as they had been beached first, while the wall had been built behind the hindermost. The stretch of the shore, wide though it was, did not afford room for all the ships, and the host was cramped for space, therefore they had placed the ships in rows one behind the other, and had filled the whole opening of the bay be- tween the two , points that formed it. The kings, leaning on their spears, were coming out to survey the fight, being in great anxiety, and when old Nestor met them they were filled with dismay. Then King Agamemnon said to him, " Nestor son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, why have you left the battle to come hither? I fear that what dread Hector said will come true, when he vaunted among the Trojans saying that he would not return to Ilius till he had fired our ships and killed us ; this is what he said, and now it is all coming true. Alas ! others of the Achæans, like Achilles, are in anger with me that they refuse to fight by the sterns of our ships."

52Then Nestor knight of Gerene answered, " It is indeed as you say ; it is all coming true at this moment, and even Jove who thunders from on high cannot prevent it. Fallen is the wall on which we relied as an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet. The Trojans are fighting stubbornly and without ceasing at the ships ; look where you may you cannot see from what quarter the rout of the Achæans is coming ; they are being killed in a confused mass and the battle-cry ascends to heaven; let us think, if counsel can be of any use, what we had, better do ; but I do not advise our going into battle ourselves, for a man cannot fight when he is wounded."

64And King Agamemnon answered, " Nestor, if the Trojans are indeed fighting at the rear of our ships, and neither the wall nor the trench has served us — over which the Danaans toiled so hard, and which they67 68deemed would be an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet — I see it must be the will of Jove that the Achæans should perish ingloriously here, far from Argos. I knew when Jove was willing to defend us, and I know now that he is raising the Trojans to like honour with the gods, while us, on the other hand, he has bound hand and foot. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say ; let us bring down the ships that are on the beach and draw them into the water; let us make them fast to their mooring-stones a little way out, against the fall of night — if even by night the Trojans will desist from fighting ; we may then draw down the rest of the fleet. There is nothing wrong in flying ruin even by night. It is better for a man that he should fly and be saved than be caught and killed."

82Ulysses looked fiercely at him and said, " Son of Atreus, what are you talking about ? Wretch, you should have commanded some other and baser army, and not been ruler over us to whom Jove has allotted a life of hard fighting from youth to old age, till we every one of us perish. Is it thus that you would quit the city of Troy, to win which we have suffered so much hardship ? Hold your peace, lest some other of the Achæans hear you say what no man who knows how to give good counsel, no king over so great a host as that of the Argives should ever have let fall from his lips. I despise your judgement utterly for what you have been saying. Would you, then, have us draw down our ships into the water while the battle is raging, and thus play further into the hands of the conquering Trojans ? It would be ruin ; the Achæans will not go on fighting when they see the ships being drawn into the water, but will cease attacking and keep turning their eyes towards them ; your counsel, therefore. Sir captain, would be our destruction."

103Agamemnon answered, " Ulysses, your rebuke has stung me to the heart. I am not, however, ordering the Achæans to draw their ships into the sea whether they will or no. Some one, it may be, old or young, can offer us better counsel which I shall rejoice to hear."

109Then said Diomed, " Such an one is at hand ; he is not far to seek, if you will listen to me and not resent my speaking though I am younger than any of you. I am by lineage son to a noble sire, Tydeus, who lies buried at Thebes. Eor Portheus had three noble sons, two of whom, Agrius and Melas, abode in Pleuron and rocky Calydon. The third was the knight CEneus, my father's father, and he was the most valiant of them all. QSneus remained in his own country, but my father (as Jove and the other gods ordained it) migrated to Argos. He married into the family of Adrastus, and his house was one of great abundance, for he had large estates of rich corn-growing land, with much orchard ground as well, and he had many sheep ; moreover he excelled all the Argives in the use of the spear. You must yourselves have heard whether these things are true or no ; therefore when I say well despise not my words as though I were a coward or of ignoble birth. I say, then, let us go to the fight as we needs must, wounded though we be. When there, we may keep out of the battle and beyond the range of the spears lest we get fresh wounds in addition to what we have already, but we can spur on others, who have been indulging their spleen and holding aloof from battle hitherto."

133Thus did he speak; whereon they did even as he had said and set out, King Agamemnon leading the way.

135Meanwhile Neptune had kept no blind look-out, and came up to them in the semblance of an old man. He took Agamemnon's right hand in his own and said, " Son of Atreus, I take it Achilles is glad now that he sees the Achseans routed and slain, for he is utterly without remorse — may he come to a bad end and heaven confound him. As for yourself, the blessed gods are not yet so bitterly angry with you but that the princes and counsellors of the Trojans shall again raise the dust upon the plain, and you shall see them flying from the ships and tents towards their city." 146 147With this he raised a mighty cry of battle, and sped forward to the plain. The voice that came from his deep chest was as that of nine or ten thousand men when they are shouting in the thick of a fight, and it put fresh courage into the hearts of the Achseans to wage war and do battle without ceasing.

153Juno of the golden throne looked down as she stood upon a peak of Olympus and her heart was gladdened at the sight of him who was at once her brother and her brother-in-law, hurrying hither and thither amid the fighting. Then she turned her eyes to Jove as he sat on the topmost crests of many-fountained Ida, and loathed him. She set herself to think how she might hoodwink him, and in the end she deemed that it would be best for her to go to Ida and array herseK in rich attire, in the hope that Jove might become enamoured of her, and wish to embrace her. While he was thus engaged a sweet and careless sleep might be made to steal over his eyes and senses.

166She went, therefore, to the room which her son Vulcan had made her, and the doors of which he had cunningly fastened by means of a secret key so that no other god could open them. Here she entered and closed the doors behind her. She cleansed all the dirt from her fair body with ambrosia, then she anointed herself [with olive oil, ambrosial, very soft, and scented specially for herself — if it were so much as shaken in the bronze-floored house of Jove, the scent pervaded the universe of heaven and earth. With this she anointed her delicate skin, and then she plaited the fair ambrosial locks that flowed in a stream of golden tresses from her immortal head. She put on the wondrous robe which Minerva had worked for her with consummate art, and had embroidered with manifold devices ; she fastened it about her bosom with golden clasps, and she girded herself with a girdle that had a hundred tassels: then she fastened her earrings, three brilliant

183 pendants that glistened most beautifully, through the 184pierced lobes of her ears, and threw a lovely new veil over her head. She bound her sandals on to her feet, and when she had arrayed herself perfectly to her satisfaction, she left her room and called Venus to come aside and speak to her. " My dear child," said she, " will you do what I am going to ask of you, or will you refuse me because you are angry at my being on the Danaan side, while you are on the Trojan 1 "

193Jove's daughter Venus answered, " Juno, august queen of goddesses, daughter of mighty Saturn, say what you want, and I will do it for you at once, if I can, and if it can be done at all."

197Then Juno told her a lying tale and said, " I want you to endow me with some of those fascinating charms, the spells of which bring all things mortal and immortal to your feet. I am going to the world's end to visit Oceanus (from whom all we gods proceed) and mother Tethys : they received me in their house, took care of me, and brought me up, having taken me over from Rhsea when Jove imprisoned great Saturn in the depths that are under earth and sea. I must go and see them that I may make peace between them; they have been quarrelling, and are so angry that they have not slept with one another this long while ; if I can bring them round and restore them to one another's embraces, they will be grateful to me and love me for ever afterwards."

211Thereon laughter-loving Venus said, " I cannot and must not refuse you, for you sleep in the arms of Jove who is our king.

214As she spoke she loosed from her bosom the curiously embroidered girdle into which all her charms had been wrought — love, desire, and that sweet flattery which steals the judgement even of the most prudent. She gave the girdle to Juno and said, " Take this girdle wherein all my charms reside and lay it in your bosom. If you will wear it I promise you that your errand, be it what it may, will not be bootless."221 222"When she heard this Juno smiled, and still smiling she laid the girdle in her bosom.

224Venus now went back into the house of Jove, while Juno darted down from the summits of Olympus. She passed over Pieria and fair Bmathia, and went on and on till she came to the snowy ranges of the Thracian horsemen, over whose topmost crests she sped without ever setting foot to ground. When she came to Athos she went on over the waves of the sea till she reached Lemnos, the city of noble Thoas. There she met Sleep, own brother to Death, and caught him by the hand, saying, " Sleep, you who lord it alike over mortals and immortals, if you ever did me a service in times past, do one for me now, and I shall be grateful to you ever after. Close Jove's keen eyes for me in slumber while I hold him' clasped in my embrace, and I will give you a beautiful golden seat, that can never fall to pieces ; my club-footed son Vulcan shall make it for you, and he shall give it a footstool for you to rest your fair feet upon when you are at table."

242Then Sleep answered, " Juno, great queen of goddesses, daughter of mighty Saturn, I would lull any other of the gods to sleep without compunction, not even excepting the waters of Oceanus from whom all of them proceed, but I dare not go near Jove, nor send him to sleep unless he bids me. I have had one lesson already through doing what you asked me, on the day when Jove's mighty son Hercules set sail from Ilius after having sacked the city of the Trojans. At your bidding I suffused my sweet self over the mind of aegis-bearing Jove, and laid him to rest; meanwhile you hatched a plot against Hercules, and set the blasts of the angry winds beating upon the sea, till you took him to the goodly city of Cos away from all his friends. Jove was furious when he awoke, and began hurling the gods about all over the house; he was looking more particularly for myself, and would have flung me down through space into the sea where I should never have been heard

259of any more, had not Night who cows both men and gods 260protected me. I fled to her and Jove left off looking for me in spite of his being so angry, for he did not dare do anything to displease Night. And now you are again asking me to do something on which I cannot venture."

263And Juno said, " Sleep, why do you take such notions as those into your head ? Do you think Jove will be as anxious to help the Trojans, as he was about his own son 1 Come, I will marry you to one of the youngest of the Graces, and she shall be your own — Pasithea, whom you have always wanted to marry."

269Sleep was pleased when he heard this, and answered, "Then swear it to me by the dread waters of the river Styx ; lay one hand on the bounteous earth, and the other on the sheen of the sea, so that all the gods who dwell down below with Saturn may be our witnesses, and see that you really do give me one of the youngest of the

277Graces — Pasithea, whom I have always wanted to marry." Juno did as he had said. She swore, and invoked all the gods of the nether world, who are called Titans, to witness. When she had completed her oath, the two enshrouded themselves in a thick mist and sped lightly forward, leaving Lemnos and Imbrus behind them. Presently they reached many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, and Lectum where they left the sea to go on by land, and the tops of the trees of the forest soughed under the going of their feet. Here Sleep halted, and ere Jove caught sight of him he climbed a lofty pine-tree — the tallest that reared its head towards heaven on all Ida. He hid himself behind the branches and sat there in the semblance of the sweet-singing bird that haunts the mountains and is called Chalcis by the gods, but men call it Oymindis. Juno then went to Gargarus, the topmost peak of Ida, and Jove, driver of the clouds, set eyes upon her. As soon as he did so he became inflamed with the same passionate desire for her that he had felt when they had first enjoyed each other's embraces, and slept with one another without their dear parents knowing anything about it. He went up to her296 and said, "What do you want that you have come hither from Olympus — and that too with neither chariot nor horses to convey you?"

301Then Juno told him a lying tale and said, "I am going to the world's end, to visit Oceanus, from whom all we gods proceed, and mother Tethys; they received me into their house, took care of me, and brought me up. I must go and see them that I may make peace between them: they have been quarrelling, and are so angry that they have not slept with one another this long time. The horses that will take me over land and sea are stationed on the lowermost spurs of many-fountained Ida, and I have come here from Olympus on purpose to consult you. I was afraid you might be angry with me later on, if I went to the house of Oceanus without letting you know."

312And Jove said, " Juno, you can choose some other time for paying your visit to Oceanus — for the present let us devote ourselves to love and to the enjoyment of one another. Never yet have I been so overpowered by passion neither for goddess nor mortal woman as I am at this moment for yourself — not even when I was in love with the wife of Ixion who bore me Pirithoiis, peer of gods in counsel, nor yet with Danae the daintily-ancled daughter of Acrisius, who bore me the famed hero Perseus. Then there was the daughter of Phoenix, who bore me Minos and Rhadamanthus : there was Semele, and Alcmena in Thebes by whom I begot my lion-hearted son Hercules, while Semele became mother to Bacchus the comforter of mankind. There was queen Ceres again, and lovely Leto, and yourself — but with none of these was I ever so much enamoured as I now am with you."

329 Juno again answered him with a lying tale. "Most dread son of Saturn," she exclaimed, " what are you talking about? Would you have us enjoy one another here on the top of Mount Ida, where everything can be seen? What if one of the ever-living gods should see us335 sleeping together, and tell the others? It would be such a Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/253 Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/254 Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/255 Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/256 Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/257 Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/258