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But Hector, when he beheld great-souled Patroclus drawing back, smitten with the sharp bronze, [820] came nigh him through the ranks, and smote him with a thrust of his spear in the nethermost belly, and drave the bronze clean through; and he fell with a thud, and sorely grieved the host of the Achaeans. And as a lion overmastereth in fight an untiring boar, when the twain fight with high hearts on the peaks of a mountain [825] for a scant spring, wherefrom both are minded to drink: hard panteth the boar, yet the lion overcometh him by his might; even so from the valiant son of Menoetius, after he had slain many, did Hector, Priam's son, take life away, smiting him from close at hand with his spear. And vaunting over him he spake winged words: [830] “Patroclus, thou thoughtest, I ween, that thou wouldest sack our city, and from the women of Troy wouldest take the day of freedom, and bear them in thy ships to thy dear native land, thou fool. Nay, in front of them the swift horses of Hector stride forth to the fight, [835] and with the spear I myself am pre-eminent among the war-loving Trojans, even I that ward from them the day of doom; but for thee, vultures shall devour thee here. Ah, poor wretch, even Achilles, for all his valour, availed thee not, who, I ween, though himself abiding behind, laid strait command upon thee, as thou wentest forth: “Come not back, I charge thee, Patroclus, master of horsemen, [840] to the hollow ships, till thou hast cloven about the breast of man-slaying Hector the tunic red with his blood.” So, I ween, spake he to thee, and persuaded thy wits in thy witlessness.” Then, thy strength all spent, didst thou answer him, knight Patroclus: “For this time, Hector, boast thou mightily; for to thee have [845] Zeus, the son of Cronos, and Apollo, vouchsafed victory, they that subdued me full easily, for of themselves they took the harness from my shoulders. But if twenty such as thou had faced me, here would all have perished, slain by my spear. Nay, it was baneful Fate and the son of Leto that slew me, [850] and of men Euphorbus, while thou art the third in my slaying. And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart: verily thou shalt not thyself be long in life, but even now doth death stand hard by thee, and mighty fate, that thou be slain beneath the hands of Achilles, the peerless son of Aeacus.” [855] Even as he thus spake the end of death enfolded him; and his soul fleeting from his limbs was gone to Hades, bewailing her fate, leaving manliness and youth. And to him even in his death spake glorious Hector: “Patroclus, wherefore dost thou prophesy for me sheer destruction? [860] Who knows but that Achilles, the son of fair-tressed Thetis, may first be smitten by my spear, and lose his life?” So saying, he drew forth the spear of bronze from the wound, setting his foot upon the dead, and thrust him backward from the spear. And forthwith he was gone with his spear after Automedon, the god-like squire of the swift-footed son of Aeacus, [865] for he was fain to smite him; but his swift horses bare him away, the immortal horses that the gods gave as glorious gifts to Peleus.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 485
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