And forth from its stand he drew his father's spear, heavy and huge and strong, that none other of the Achaeans could wield, but Achilles alone was skilled to wield it,
even the Pelian spear of ash that Cheiron had given to his dear father from the peak of Pelion, to be for the slaying of warriors. And Automedon and Alcinous set them busily to yoke the horses, and about them they set the fair breast-straps, and cast bits within their jaws, and drew the reins
behind to the jointed car. And Automedon grasped in his hand the bright lash, that fitted it well, and leapt upon the car; and behind him stepped Achilles harnessed for fight, gleaming in his armour like the bright Hyperion. Then terribly he called aloud to the horses of his father:
“Xanthus and Balius, ye far-famed children of Podarge, in some other wise bethink you to bring your charioteer back safe to the host of the Danaans, when we have had our fill of war, and leave ye not him there dead, as ye did Patroclus.”
Then from beneath the yoke spake to him the horse Xanthus, of the swift-glancing feet;
on a sudden he bowed his head, and all his mane streamed from beneath the yoke-pad beside the yoke, and touched the ground; and the goddess, white-armed Hera, gave him speech:1
“Aye verily, yet for this time will we save thee, mighty Achilles, albeit the day of doom is nigh thee, nor shall we be the cause thereof,
but a mighty god and overpowering Fate. For it was not through sloth or slackness of ours that the Trojans availed to strip the harness from the shoulders of Patroclus, but one, far the best of gods, even he that fair-haired Leto bare, slew him amid the foremost fighters and gave glory to Hector.
But for us twain, we could run swift as the blast of the West Wind, which, men say, is of all winds the fleetest; nay, it is thine own self that art fated to be slain in fight by a god and a mortal.”
When he had thus spoken, the Erinyes checked his voice. Then, his heart mightily stirred, spake to him swift-footed Achilles:
“Xanthus, why dost thou prophesy my death? Thou needest not at all. Well know I even of myself that it is my fate to perish here, far from my father dear, and my mother; howbeit even so will I not cease, until I have driven the Trojans to surfeit of war.”
He spake, and with a cry drave amid the foremost his single-hooved horses.