So spake Hermes, and departed unto high Olympus; and Priam leapt from his chariot to the ground,
and left there Idaeus, who abode holding the horses and mules; but the old man went straight toward the house where Achilles, dear to Zeus, was wont to sit. Therein he found Achilles, but his comrades sat apart: two only, the warrior Automedon and Alcimus, scion of Ares,
waited busily upon him; and he was newly ceased from meat, even from eating and drinking, and the table yet stood by his side. Unseen of these great Priam entered in, and coming close to Achilles, clasped in his hands his knees, and kissed his hands, the terrible, man-slaying hands that had slain his many sons.
And as when sore blindness of heart cometh upon a man, that in his own country slayeth another and escapeth to a land of strangers, to the house of some man of substance, and wonder holdeth them that look upon him; even so was Achilles seized with wonder at sight of godlike Priam, and seized with wonder were the others likewise, and they glanced one at the other.
But Priam made entreaty, and spake to him, saying: “Remember thy father, O Achilles like to the gods, whose years are even as mine, on the grievous threshold of old age. Him full likely the dwellers that be round about are entreating evilly, neither is there any to ward from him ruin and bane.
Howbeit, while he heareth of thee as yet alive he hath joy at heart, and therewithal hopeth day by day that he shall see his dear son returning from Troy-land. But I—I am utterly unblest, seeing I begat sons the best in the broad land of Troy, yet of them I avow that not one is left.
Fifty I had, when the sons of the Achaeans came; nineteen were born to me of the self-same womb, and the others women of the palace bare. Of these, many as they were, furious Ares hath loosed the knees, and he that alone was left me, that by himself guarded the city and the men,
him thou slewest but now as he fought for his country, even Hector. For his sake am I now come to the ships of the Achaeans to win him back from thee, and I bear with me ransom past counting. Nay, have thou awe of the gods, Achilles, and take pity on me, remembering thine own father. Lo, I am more piteous far than he,
and have endured what no other mortal on the face of earth hath yet endured, to reach forth my hand to the face of him that hath slain my sons.”