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As he spoke the Trojans were plunged in extreme and ungovernable grief [penthos]; for Sarpedon, alien though he was, had been one of the main stays of their city, both as having many people with him, and himself the foremost among them all. Led by Hektor, who was infuriated by the fall of Sarpedon, they made instantly for the Danaans with all their might, while the undaunted spirit of Patroklos son of Menoitios cheered on the Achaeans. First he spoke to the two Ajaxes, men who needed no bidding. "Ajaxes," said he, "may it now please you to show yourselves the men you have always been, or even better- Sarpedon is fallen - he who was first to overleap the wall of the Achaeans; let us take the body and outrage it; let us strip the armor from his shoulders, and kill his comrades if they try to rescue his body."

He spoke to men who of themselves were full eager; both sides, therefore, the Trojans and Lycians on the one hand, and the Myrmidons and Achaeans on the other, strengthened their battalions, and fought desperately about the body of Sarpedon, shouting fiercely the while. Mighty was the din of their armor as they came together, and Zeus shed a thick darkness over the fight, to increase the ordeal [ponos] of the battle over the body of his son.

At first the Trojans made some headway against the Achaeans, for one of the best men among the Myrmidons was killed, Epeigeus, son of noble Agakles who had erewhile been king in the good city of Boudeion; but presently, having killed a valiant kinsman of his own, he took refuge with Peleus and Thetis, who sent him to Ilion the land of noble steeds to fight the Trojans under Achilles. Hektor now struck him on the head with a stone just as he had caught hold of the body,

and his brains inside his helmet were all battered in, so that he fell face foremost upon the body of Sarpedon, and there died. Patroklos was enraged with grief [akhos] over by the death of his comrade, and sped through the front ranks as swiftly as a hawk that swoops down on a flock of daws or starlings. Even so swiftly, O noble horseman Patroklos, did you make straight for the Lycians and Trojans to avenge your comrade. Forthwith he struck Sthenelaos the son of Ithaimenes on the neck with a stone, and broke the tendons that join it to the head and spine. On this Hektor and the front rank of his men gave ground. As far as a man can throw a javelin in competition [athlos] for some prize, or even in battle - so far did the Trojans now retreat before the Achaeans. Glaukos, leader of the Lycians, was the first to rally them, by killing Bathykles son of Khalkon who lived in Hellas and was supreme in wealth [olbos] among the Myrmidons. Glaukos turned round suddenly, just as Bathykles who was pursuing him was about to lay hold of him, and drove his spear right into the middle of his chest, whereon he fell heavily to the ground, and the fall of so good a man filled the Achaeans with dismay [akhos], while the Trojans were exultant, and came up in a body round the corpse. Nevertheless the Achaeans, mindful of their prowess, bore straight down upon them.

Meriones then killed a helmed warrior of the Trojans, Laogonos son of Onetor, who was priest of Zeus of Mount Ida, and was honored in the district [dêmos] as though he were a god. Meriones struck him under the jaw and ear, so that life went out of him and the darkness of death laid hold upon him. Aeneas then aimed a spear at Meriones, hoping to hit him under the shield as he was advancing, but Meriones saw it coming and stooped forward to avoid it, whereon the spear flew past him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on quivering till Ares robbed it of its force. The spear, therefore, sped from Aeneas' hand in vain and fell quivering to the ground. Aeneas was angry and said, "Meriones, you are a good dancer, but if I had hit you my spear would soon have made an end of you."

And Meriones answered, "Aeneas, for all your bravery, you will not be able to make an end of every one who comes against you. You are only a mortal like myself, and if I were to hit you in the middle of your shield with my spear, however strong and self-confident you may be, I should soon vanquish you, and you would yield your life-breath [psukhê] to Hades of the noble steeds."

On this the son of Menoitios rebuked him and said, "Meriones, hero though you be, you should not speak thus; taunting speeches, my good friend, will not make the Trojans draw away from the dead body; some of them must go under ground first; the outcome [telos] of battle is in the force of hands, while the outcome of deliberation is words; fight, therefore, and say nothing."

He led the way as he spoke and the hero went forward with him. As the sound of woodcutters in some forest glade upon the mountains- and the thud of their axes is heard afar - even such a din now rose from earth-clash of bronze armor and of good ox-hide shields, as men smote each other with their swords and spears pointed at both ends. A man had need of good eyesight now to know Sarpedon, so covered was he from head to foot with spears and blood and dust. Men swarmed about the body, as flies that buzz round the full milk-pails in the season [hôra] of spring when they are brimming with milk - even so did they gather round Sarpedon; nor did Zeus turn his keen eyes away for one moment from the fight, but kept looking at it all the time, for he was settling how best to kill Patroklos, and considering whether Hektor should be allowed to end him now in the fight round the body of Sarpedon, and strip him of his armor, or whether he should let him give yet further trouble [ponos] to the Trojans. In the end, he deemed it best that the brave squire [therapôn] of Achilles son of Peleus should drive Hektor and the Trojans back towards the city and take the lives of many. First, therefore, he made Hektor turn fainthearted, whereon he mounted his chariot and fled, bidding the other Trojans flee also,

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO DEMETER
    • Allen Rogers Benner, Selections from Homer's Iliad, app.3.36
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