Thus did they fight about the ship of Protesilaos. Then Patroklos drew near to Achilles with tears welling from his eyes, as from some spring whose crystal stream falls over the ledges of a high precipice. When Achilles saw him thus weeping he was sorry for him and said, "Why, Patroklos, do you stand there weeping like some silly child that comes running to her mother, and begs to be taken up and carried- she catches hold of her mother's dress to stay her though she is in a hurry, and looks tearfully up until her mother carries her - even such tears, Patroklos, are you now shedding. Have you anything to say to the Myrmidons or to myself? or have you had news from Phthia
which you alone know? They tell me Menoitios son of Aktor is still alive, as also Peleus son of Aiakos, among the Myrmidons - men whose loss we two should bitterly deplore; or are you grieving about the Argives and the way in which they are being killed at the ships, through their own high-handed doings? Do not hide in your mind [noos] anything from me but tell me that both of us may know about it."
Then, O horseman Patroklos, with a deep sigh you answered, "Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the Achaeans, do not be angry, but I feel grief [akhos] for the disaster that has now befallen the Argives. All those who have been their champions so far are lying at the ships, wounded by sword or spear. Brave Diomedes son of Tydeus has been hit with a spear, while famed Odysseus and Agamemnon have received sword-wounds;
Eurypylos again has been struck with an arrow in the thigh; skilled apothecaries are attending to these heroes, and healing them of their wounds; are you still, O Achilles, so inexorable? May it never be my lot to nurse such a passion as you have done, to the baning of your own good name. Who in future story will speak well of you unless you now save the Argives from ruin? You know no pity; horseman Peleus was not your father nor Thetis your mother, but the gray sea bore you and the sheer cliffs begot you, so cruel and remorseless are you in your thinking [noos]. If however you are kept back through knowledge of some oracle, or if your mother Thetis has told you something from the mouth of Zeus, at least send me and the Myrmidons with me, if I may bring deliverance to the Danaans. Let me moreover wear your armor; the Trojans may thus mistake me for you and quit the field, so that the hard-pressed sons of the Achaeans may have breathing time- which while they are fighting may hardly be. We who are fresh might soon drive tired men back from our ships and tents to their own city."
He knew not what he was asking, nor that he was suing for his own destruction. Achilles was deeply moved and answered, "What, noble Patroklos, are you saying? I know no prophesyings which I am heeding, nor has my mother told me anything from the mouth of Zeus, but I am cut to the very heart with grief [akhos] that one of my own rank should dare to rob me because he is more powerful than I am. This grief [akhos], after all that I have gone through, is more than I can endure. The girl whom the sons of the Achaeans chose for me, whom I won as the fruit of my spear on having sacked a city - her has King Agamemnon taken from me as though I were some common vagrant. Still, let bygones be bygones: no man may keep his anger for ever; I said I would not relent till battle and the cry of war had reached my own ships; nevertheless, now gird my armor about your shoulders, and lead the Myrmidons to battle, for the dark cloud of Trojans has burst furiously over our fleet;
the Argives are driven back on to the beach, cooped within a narrow space, and the whole people of Troy
has taken heart to sally out against them, because they see not the visor of my helmet gleaming near them. Had they seen this, there would not have been a creek nor grip that had not been filled with their dead as they fled back again. And so it would have been, if only King Agamemnon had dealt fairly by me. As it is the Trojans have beset our host. Diomedes son of Tydeus no longer wields his spear to defend the Danaans, neither have I heard the voice of the son of Atreus coming from his hated [ekhthrê] head, whereas that of murderous Hektor rings in my cars as he gives orders to the Trojans, who triumph over the Achaeans and fill the whole plain with their cry of battle. But even so, Patroklos, fall upon them and save the fleet, lest the Trojans fire it and deprive us of our safe homecoming [nostos]. Bring to fulfillment [telos] what I now order you to do, so that you may win me great honor [timê] from all the Danaans, and that they may restore the girl to me again and give me rich gifts into the bargain. When you have driven the Trojans from the ships, come back again. Though Hera's thundering husband should put triumph within your reach, do not fight the Trojans further in my absence, or you will rob me of glory that should be mine. And do not for lust of battle go on killing the Trojans nor lead the Achaeans on to Ilion
, lest one of the ever-living gods from Olympus
attack you - for Phoebus Apollo loves them well: return when you have freed the ships from peril, and let others wage war upon the plain. Would, by father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, that not a single man of all the Trojans might be left alive, nor yet of the Argives, but that we two might be alone left to tear aside the mantle that veils the brow of Troy
Thus did they converse. But Ajax could no longer hold his ground for the shower of darts that rained upon him; the will [noos] of Zeus and the javelins of the Trojans were too much for him; the helmet that gleamed about his temples rang with the continuous clatter of the missiles that kept pouring on to it and on to the cheek-pieces that protected his face. Moreover his left shoulder was tired with having held his shield so long, yet for all this, let fly at him as they would, they could not make him give ground. He could hardly draw his breath, the sweat rained from every pore of his body, he had not a moment's respite, and on all sides he was beset by danger upon danger.
And now, tell me, O Muses that hold your mansions on Olympus
, how fire was thrown upon the ships of the Achaeans. Hektor came close up and let drive with his great sword at the ashen spear of Ajax. He cut it clean in two just behind where the point was fastened on to the shaft of the spear. Ajax, therefore, had now nothing but a headless spear, while the bronze point flew some way off and came ringing down on to the ground. Ajax knew the hand of heaven in this, and was dismayed at seeing that Zeus had now left him utterly defenseless and was willing victory for the Trojans. Therefore he drew back, and the Trojans flung fire upon the ship which was at once wrapped in flame.
The fire was now flaring about the ship's stern, whereon Achilles smote his two thighs and said to Patroklos, "Up, noble horseman, for I see the glare of hostile fire at our fleet; up, lest they destroy our ships, and there be no way by which we may retreat. Gird on your armor at once while I call our people together."