Thus were the two sides minded. Then Hektor seized the stern of the good ship that had brought Protesilaos to Troy
, but never bore him back to his native land. Round this ship there raged a close hand-to-hand fight between Danaans and Trojans. They did not fight at a distance with bows and javelins, but with one mind hacked at one another in close combat with their mighty swords and spears pointed at both ends; they fought moreover with keen battle-axes and with hatchets. Many a good stout blade hilted and scabbarded with iron, fell from hand or shoulder as they fought, and the earth ran red with blood. Hektor, when he had seized the ship, would not loose his hold but held on to its curved stern and shouted to the Trojans, "Bring fire, and raise the battle-cry all of you with a single voice. Now has Zeus granted us a day that will pay us for all the rest; this day we shall take the ships which came hither against heaven's will, and which have caused us such infinite suffering through the cowardice of our councilors, who when I would have done battle at the ships held me back and forbade the host to follow me; if Zeus did then indeed warp our judgments, himself now commands me and cheers me on."
As he spoke thus the Trojans sprang yet more fiercely on the Achaeans, and Ajax no longer held his ground, for he was overcome by the darts that were flung at him, and made sure that he was doomed. Therefore he left the raised deck at the stern, and stepped back on to the seven-foot bench of the oarsmen. Here he stood on the look-out, and with his spear held back Trojan whom he saw bringing fire to the ships. All the time he kept on shouting at the top of his voice and exhorting the Danaans. "My friends," he cried, "Danaan heroes, squires [therapontes] of Ares, be men my friends, and fight with might and with main. Can we hope to find helpers hereafter, or a wall to shield us more surely than the one we have? There is no strong city within reach, whence we may draw fresh population [dêmos] to turn the scales in our favor. We are on the plain of the armed Trojans with the sea [pontos] behind us, and far from our own country. Our salvation, therefore, is in the might of our hands and in hard fighting."
As he spoke he wielded his spear with still greater fury, and when any Trojan made towards the ships with fire to win favor [kharis] with Hektor, he would be on the look-out for him, and drive at him with his long spear. Twelve men did he thus kill in hand-to-hand fight before the ships.