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Ajax and Menelaos noted how Zeus had turned the scale in favor of the Trojans, and Ajax was first to speak. "Alas," said he, "even a fool may see that father Zeus is helping the Trojans. All their weapons strike home; no matter whether it be a brave man or a coward that hurls them, Zeus speeds all alike, whereas ours fall each one of them without effect. What, then, will be best both as regards rescuing the body, and our return to the joy of our friends who will be grieving as they look hitherwards; for they will make sure that nothing can now check the terrible hands of Hektor, and that he will fling himself upon our ships. I wish that some one would go and tell the son of Peleus at once, for I do not think he can have yet heard the sad news that the dearest of his friends has fallen. But I can see not a man among the Achaeans to send, for they and their chariots are alike hidden in darkness. O father Zeus, lift this cloud from over the sons of the Achaeans; make heaven serene, and let us see; if you will that we perish, let us fall at any rate by daylight."

Father Zeus heard him and had compassion upon his tears. Forthwith he chased away the cloud of darkness, so that the sun shone out and all the fighting was revealed. Ajax then said to Menelaos, "Look, Menelaos, and if Antilokhos son of Nestor be still living, send him at once to tell Achilles that by far the dearest to him of all his comrades has fallen."

Menelaos heeded his words and went his way as a lion from a stockyard - the lion is tired of attacking the men and hounds, who keep watch the whole night through and will not let him feast on the fat of their herd. In his lust of meat he makes straight at them but in vain, for darts from strong hands assail him, and burning brands which daunt him for all his hunger, so in the morning he slinks sulkily away - even so did Menelaos sorely against his will leave Patroklos, in great fear lest the Achaeans should be driven back in rout and let him fall into the hands of the foe. He charged Meriones and the two Ajaxes straitly saying, "Ajaxes and Meriones, leaders of the Argives, now indeed remember how good Patroklos was; he was ever courteous while alive, bear it in mind now that he is dead."

With this Menelaos left them, looking round him as keenly as an eagle, whose sight they say is keener than that of any other bird - however high he may be in the heavens, not a hare that runs can escape him by crouching under bush or thicket, for he will swoop down upon it and make an end of it - even so, O Menelaos, did your keen eyes range round the mighty host of your followers to see if you could find the son of Nestor still alive. Presently Menelaos saw him on the extreme left of the battle cheering on his men and exhorting them to fight boldly. Menelaos went up to him and said, "Antilokhos, come here and listen to sad news, which I would indeed were untrue. You must see with your own eyes that heaven is heaping calamity upon the Danaans, and giving victory to the Trojans. Patroklos has fallen, who was the bravest of the Achaeans, and sorely will the Danaans miss him. Run instantly to the ships and tell Achilles, that he may come to rescue the body and bear it to the ships. As for the armor, Hektor already has it."

Antilokhos was struck with horror. For a long time he was speechless; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no utterance, but he did as Menelaos had said, and set off running as soon as he had given his armor to a comrade, Laodokos, who was wheeling his horses round, close beside him.

Thus, then, did he run weeping from the field, to carry the bad news to Achilles son of Peleus. Nor were you, O Menelaos, minded to succor his harassed comrades, when Antilokhos had left the Pylians - and greatly did they miss him - but he sent them noble Thrasymedes, and himself went back to Patroklos. He came running up to the two Ajaxes and said, "I have sent Antilokhos to the ships to tell Achilles, but rage against Hektor as he may, he cannot come, for he cannot fight without armor. What then will be our best plan both as regards rescuing the dead, and our own escape from death amid the battle-cries of the Trojans?"

Ajax answered, "Menelaos, you have said well: do you, then, and Meriones stoop down, raise the body, and bear it out of the fray [ponos], while we two behind you keep off Hektor and the Trojans, one in heart as in name, and long used to fighting side by side with one another."

On this Menelaos and Meriones took the dead man in their arms and lifted him high aloft with a great effort. The Trojan host raised a hue and cry behind them when they saw the Achaeans bearing the body away, and flew after them like hounds attacking a wounded boar at the loo of a band of young huntsmen. For a while the hounds fly at him as though they would tear him in pieces, but now and again he turns on them in a fury, scaring and scattering them in all directions - even so did the Trojans for a while charge in a body, striking with sword and with spears pointed at both the ends, but when the two Ajaxes faced them and stood at bay, they would turn pale and no man dared press on to fight further about the dead.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 15.546
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 23.323
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
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