Then again keen battle was set afoot beside the ships. Thou wouldst have deemed that all unwearied and unworn they faced one another in war, so furiously did they fight. And in their fighting they were minded thus: The Achaeans
verily deemed that they should never escape from out the peril, but should perish, while for the Trojans, the heart in each man's breast hoped that they should fire the ships and slay the Achaean warriors. Such were their thoughts as they stood, each host against the other. But Hector laid hold of the stern of a seafaring ship,
a fair ship, swift upon the brine, that had borne Protesilaus to Troy, but brought him not back again to his native land. About his ship Achaeans and Trojans were slaying one another in close combat, nor did they longer hold aloof and thus endure the flight of arrows and darts,
but standing man against man in oneness of heart, they fought with sharp battle-axes and hatchets, and with great swords and two-edged spears. And many goodly blades, bound with dark thongs at the hilt, fell to the ground, some from the hands and some from the shoulders
of the warriors as they fought; and the black earth flowed with blood. But Hector, when he had grasped the ship by the stern, would not loose his hold, but kept the ensign1
in his hands, and called to the Trojans:“Bring fire, and therewithal raise ye the war-cry all with one voice; now hath Zeus vouchsafed us a day that is recompense for all—
to take the ships that came hither in despite of the gods, and brought us many woes, by reason of the cowardice of the elders, who, when I was eager to fight at the sterns of the ships, kept me back, and withheld the host. But if Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, then dulled our wits,
now of himself he urgeth and giveth command.”
So spake he, and they leapt the more upon the Argives. But Aias no longer abode, for he was sore beset with darts, but, ever foreboding death, gave ground a little along the bridge2
of seven feet in height, and left the deck of the shapely ship.
There stood he on the watch, and with his spear he ever warded from the ship whosoever of the Trojans sought to bring unwearied fire; and ever with terrible cries he called to the Danaans:“Friends, Danaan warriors, squires of Ares, be men, my friends, and bethink you of furious might.
Do we haply deem that there are other helpers at our backs, or some stronger wall to ward off ruin from men? In no wise is there hard at hand a city fenced with walls, whereby we might defend ourselves, having a host to turn the tide of battle; nay, it is in the plain of the mail-clad Trojans
that we are set, with naught to support us but the sea, and far from our native land. Therefore in the might of our hands is the light of deliverance, and not in slackness in fight.”
He spake, and kept driving furiously at the foe with his sharp spear. And whoso of the Trojans would rush upon the hollow ships with blazing fire, doing pleasure to Hector at his bidding,
for him would Aias wait, and wound him with a thrust of his long spear; and twelve men did he wound in close fight in front of the ships.