This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Neoptolemus stood in the sight of all and prayed to the god, but they, armed with sharp swords, stabbed from their hiding-place at the son of Achilles, who had no armor on.  He gave ground （for he was not mortally wounded） and drew his sword and snatching down from its nail on the temple-wall armor that hung there, he took his stand upon the altar, a warrior terrible to look upon, and shouted this question to the sons of Delphi,  ‘ Why do you try to kill me on an errand of piety? For what reason am I being done to death?’ But though a throng stood near-by, none of his attackers made any reply but instead they pelted him with stones. He, battered by a thick snow-fall of missiles from all sides,  used his armor as defense and warded off their attack by holding out his shield now in one direction, now in another. His attackers made no progress, but all their missiles together, arrows, javelins, double-pointed ox-piercing spits snatched from the slaughter of victims, fell in front of his feet.  And you would have seen a pyrrhic dance in deadly earnest as the young man warded off the weapons. But when they encircled him and gave him no space to breathe, he left the hearth of the altar, where sacrifice is received, leaping his famous Trojan leap,  and charged at them. They, like doves that have seen a hawk, turned their backs and fled. And many fell, both from the wounds he gave them and from those they gave one another in the narrow gate-way. In those holy halls an unholy cry arose  and smote the rocky cliffs. The storm of their attack having passed, my master stood in the calm, the brilliance of his gleaming weapons about him, until from the inmost shrine some voice uttered a sound dreadful and chilling and roused the army, turning them toward battle. Then it was that the son of Achilles  fell, struck in his side with a sharp sword [by the Delphian who slew him], but many others fell too. When he collapsed to the ground, what man of them did not bring sword or rock and strike him? His whole fair  form was rent with terrible wounds. When he lay dead next to the altar, they hurled him out of the holy place fragrant with incense. We took him up in our arms with all speed and brought him back to you  to mourn him and to give him burial. This was the way the god who prophesies to others, who judges justice for all mankind, has treated Achilles' son when he offered amends. Like a base mortal, he remembered  old quarrels. How then can he wise?