Ajax son of Oileus never for a moment left the side of Ajax son of Telamon, but as two swart oxen both strain their utmost at the plough which they are drawing in a fallow field, and the sweat steams upwards from about the roots of their horns - nothing but the yoke divides them as they break up the ground till they reach the end of the field - even so did the two Ajaxes stand shoulder to shoulder by one another. Many and brave comrades followed the son of Telamon, to relieve him of his shield when he was overcome with sweat and toil, but the Locrians did not follow so close after the son of Oileus, for they could not hold their own in a hand-to-hand fight. They had no bronze helmets with plumes of horse-hair, neither had they shields nor ashen spears, but they had come to Troy
armed with bows, and with slings of twisted wool from which they showered their missiles to break the ranks of the Trojans. The others, therefore, with their heavy armor bore the brunt of the fight with the Trojans and with Hektor, while the Locrians shot from behind, under their cover; and thus the Trojans began to lose heart, for the arrows threw them into confusion.
The Trojans would now have been driven in sorry plight from the ships and tents back to windy Ilion
, had not Polydamas presently said to Hektor, "Hektor, there is no persuading you to take advice. Because heaven has so richly endowed you with the arts of war, you think that you must therefore excel others in counsel; but you cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has made one man an excellent warrior; of another it has made a dancer or a singer and player on the lyre; while yet in another Zeus has implanted a wise understanding [noos] of which men reap fruit to the saving of many, and he himself knows more about it than any one; therefore I will say what I think will be best. The fight has hemmed you in as with a circle of fire,
and even now that the Trojans are within the wall some of them stand aloof in full armor, while others are fighting scattered and outnumbered near the ships. Draw back, therefore, and call your chieftains round you, that we may advise together whether to fall now upon the ships in the hope that heaven may grant us victory, or to beat a retreat while we can yet safely do so. I greatly fear that the Achaeans will pay us their debt of yesterday in full, for there is one abiding at their ships who is never weary of battle, and who will not hold aloof much longer."
Thus spoke Polydamas, and his words pleased Hektor well. He sprang in full armor from his chariot and said, "Polydamas, gather the chieftains here; I will go yonder into the fight, but will return at once when I have given them their orders."
He then sped onward, towering like a snowy mountain, and with a loud cry flew through the ranks of the Trojans and their allies. When they heard his voice they all hastened to gather round Polydamas the excellent son of Panthoos, but Hektor kept on among the foremost, looking everywhere to find Deiphobos and prince Helenos, Adamas son of Asios, and Asios son of Hyrtakos; living, indeed, and scatheless he could no longer find them, for the two last were lying by the sterns of the Achaean ships, having lost their lives [psukhai] at the hands of the Argives, while the others had been also stricken and wounded by them; but upon the left wing of the dread battle he found Alexander, husband of lovely Helen, cheering his men and urging them on to fight. He went up to him and upbraided him. "Paris
," said he, "evil-hearted Paris
, fair to see but woman-mad and false of tongue, where are Deiphobos and King Helenos? Where are Adamas son of Asios, and Asios son of Hyrtakos? Where too is Othryoneus? Ilion
is undone and will now surely fall!"
Alexander answered, "Hektor, why find fault when there is no one to find fault with? I should hold aloof from battle on any day rather than this, for my mother bore me with nothing of the coward about me. From the moment when you set our men fighting about the ships we have been staying here and doing battle with the Danaans. Our comrades about whom you ask me are dead; Deiphobos and King Helenos alone have left the field, wounded both of them in the hand, but the son of Kronos saved them alive. Now, therefore, lead on where you would have us go, and we will follow with right goodwill; you shall not find us fail you in so far as our strength holds out, but no man can do more than in him lies, no matter how willing he may be."
With these words he satisfied his brother, and the two went towards the part of the battle where the fight was thickest, about Kebriones, brave Polydamas, Phalces, Orthaios, godlike Polyphetes, Palmys, Askanios, and Morys son of Hippotion, who had come from fertile Askania on the preceding day to relieve other troops. Then Zeus urged them on to fight. They flew forth like the blasts of some fierce wind that strike earth in the van of a thunderstorm - they buffet the salt sea into an uproar; many and mighty are the great waves that come crashing in one after the other upon the shore with their arching heads all crested with foam - even so did rank behind rank of Trojans arrayed in gleaming armor follow their leaders onward. The way was led by Hektor son of Priam, peer of murderous Ares, with his round shield before him - his shield of ox-hides covered with plates of bronze - and his gleaming helmet upon his temples. He kept stepping forward under cover of his shield in every direction, making trial of the ranks to see if they would give way be him, but he could not daunt the courage of the Achaeans. Ajax was the first to stride out and challenge him. "Sir," he cried, "draw near; why do you think thus vainly to dismay the Argives? We Achaeans are excellent warriors, but the scourge of Zeus has fallen heavily upon us. Your heart, indeed, is set on destroying our ships,
but we too have bands that can keep you at bay, and your own fair town shall be sooner taken and sacked by ourselves. The time is near when you shall pray Zeus and all the gods in your flight, that your steeds may be swifter than hawks as they raise the dust on the plain and bear you back to your city."