Automedon, valiant son of Diores, lashed them again and again; many a time did he speak kindly to them, and many a time did he upbraid them, but they would neither go back to the ships by the waters of the broad Hellespont
, nor yet into battle among the Achaeans; they stood with their chariot stock still, as a pillar set over the tomb of some dead man or woman, and bowed their heads to the ground. Hot tears fell from their eyes as they mourned the loss of their charioteer, and their noble manes drooped all wet from under the yokestraps on either side the yoke.
The son of Kronos saw them and took pity upon their sorrow. He wagged his head, and muttered to himself, saying, "Poor things, why did we give you to King Peleus who is a mortal, while you are yourselves ageless and immortal? Was it that you might share the sorrows that befall humankind? for of all creatures that live and move upon the earth there is none so pitiable as he is - still, Hektor son of Priam shall drive neither you nor your chariot. I will not have it. It is enough that he should have the armor over which he vaunts so vainly. Furthermore I will give you strength of heart and limb to bear Automedon safely to the ships from battle, for I shall let the Trojans triumph still further, and go on killing till they reach the ships; whereon night shall fall and darkness overshadow the land."
As he spoke he breathed heart and strength into the horses so that they shook the dust from out of their manes, and bore their chariot swiftly into the fight that raged between Trojans and Achaeans. Behind them fought Automedon full of sorrow for his comrade, as a vulture amid a flock of geese. In and out, and here and there, full speed he dashed amid the throng of the Trojans, but for all the fury of his pursuit he killed no man, for he could not wield his spear and keep his horses in hand when alone in the chariot; at last, however, a comrade, Alkimedon, son of Laerkes son of Haimon caught sight of him and came up behind his chariot. "Automedon," said he, "what god has put this folly into your heart and robbed you of your right mind, that you fight the Trojans in the front rank single-handed? He who was your comrade is slain, and Hektor plumes himself on being armed in the armor of the descendant of Aiakos."
Automedon son of Diores answered, "Alkimedon, there is no one else who can control and guide the immortal steeds so well as you can, save only Patroklos - while he was alive - peer of gods in counsel. Take then the whip and reins, while I go down from the car and fight.
Alkimedon sprang on to the chariot, and caught up the whip and reins, while Automedon leaped from off the car. When Hektor saw him he said to Aeneas who was near him, "Aeneas, counselor of the mail-clad Trojans, I see the steeds of the fleet son of Aiakos come into battle with weak hands to drive them. I am sure, if you think well, that we might take them; they will not dare face us if we both attack them." The valiant son of Anchises was of the same mind, and the pair went right on, with their shoulders covered under shields of tough dry ox-hide, overlaid with much bronze. Chromios and Aretos went also with them, and their hearts beat high with hope that they might kill the men and capture the horses - fools that they were, for they were not to return scatheless from their meeting with Automedon, who prayed to father Zeus and was forthwith filled with courage and strength abounding. He turned to his trusty comrade Alkimedon and said, "Alkimedon, keep your horses so close up that I may feel their breath upon my back; I doubt that we shall not stay Hektor son of Priam till he has killed us and mounted behind the horses; he will then either spread panic among the ranks of the Achaeans, or himself be killed among the foremost."
On this he cried out to the two Ajaxes and Menelaos, "Ajaxes leaders of the Argives, and Menelaos, give the dead body over to them that are best able to defend it, and come to the rescue of us living; for Hektor and Aeneas who are the two best men among the Trojans, are pressing us hard in the full tide of war. Nevertheless the issue lies on the lap of heaven, I will therefore hurl my spear and leave the rest to Zeus."
He poised and hurled as he spoke, whereon the spear struck the round shield of Aretos, and went right through it for the shield stayed it not, so that it was driven through his belt into the lower part of his belly. As when some sturdy youth, axe in hand, deals his blow behind the horns of an ox and severs the tendons at the back of its neck so that it springs forward and then drops, even so did Aretos give one bound and then fall on his back the spear quivering in his body till it made an end of him. Hektor then aimed a spear at Automedon but he saw it coming and stooped forward to avoid it, so that it flew past him and the point stuck in the ground, while the butt-end went on quivering till Ares robbed it of its force. They would then have fought hand to hand with swords had not the two Ajaxes forced their way through the crowd when they heard their comrade calling, and parted them for all their fury - for Hektor, Aeneas, and Chromios were afraid and drew back, leaving Aretos to lie there struck to the heart. Automedon, peer of fleet Ares, then stripped him of his armor and vaunted over him saying, "I have done little to assuage my sorrow [akhos] for the son of Menoitios, for the man I have killed is not so good as he was."
As he spoke he took the blood-stained spoils and laid them upon his chariot; then he mounted the car with his hands and feet all steeped in gore as a lion that has been gorging upon a bull.