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So saying he smote the fair-maned horses with the shrill-sounding lash, and they, feeling the blow, fleetly bare the swift car amid the Trojans and Achaeans, trampling on the dead and on the shields, and with blood was all the axle [535] sprinkled beneath, and the rims round about the car, with the drops that smote upon them from the horses' hooves and from the tires. And Hector was eager to enter the throng of muen, to leap in and shatter it, and an evil din of war he sent among the Danaans, and scant rest did he give his spear.1 [540] Nay, he ranged among the ranks of the other warriors with spear and sword and with great stones; only he avoided battle with Aias, son of Telamon. Now father Zeus, throned on high, roused Aias to flight, [545] and he stood in a daze, and on his back he cast his sevenfold shield of bull's-hide, and with an anxious glance toward the throng he gave way, like a wild beast, ever turning him about and retreating slowly step by step. And even as a tawny lion is driven from the fold of the kine by dogs and country folk, [550] that suffer him not to seize the fattest of the herd, watching the whole night through, but he in his lust for flesh goeth straight on, yet accomplisheth naught thereby, for thick the darts fly to meet him, hurled by bold hands, and blazing brands withal, before which he quaileth, how eager soever he be, [555] and at dawn he departeth with sullen heart; so Aias then gave way before the Trojans sullen at heart, and sorely against his will, for exceedingly did he fear for the ships of the Achaeans. And as when an ass that passeth by a cornfield getteth the better of boys—a lazy ass about whose ribs many a cudgel is broken, [560] and he goeth in and wasteth the deep grain, and the boys beat him with cudgels, though their might is but puny, and hardly do they drive him forth when he hath had his fill of fodder; even so then did the Trojans, high of heart, and their allies, gathered from many lands, smite great Aias, son of Telamon, [565] with spears full upon his shield, and ever press upon him. And Aias would now be mindful of his furious valour, and wheeling upon them would hold back the battalions of the horse-taming Trojans, and now again he would turn him to flee. But he barred them all from making way to the swift ships, [570] and himself stood between Trojans and Achaeans, battling furiously. And the spears hurled by bold hands were some of them lodged in his great shield, as they sped onward, and many, ere ever they reached his white body, stood fixed midway in the earth, fain to glut themselves with flesh.

1 521.1

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    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 23.387
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