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Leto then gathered up Artemis' bow and arrows that had fallen about amid the whirling dust, and when she had got them she made all haste after her daughter. Artemis had now reached Zeus' bronze-floored mansion on Olympus, and sat herself down with many tears on the knees of her father, while her ambrosial raiment was quivering all about her. The son of Kronos drew her towards him, and laughing pleasantly the while began to question her saying, "Which of the heavenly beings, my dear child, has been treating you in this cruel manner, as though you had been misconducting yourself in the face of everybody?" and the fair-crowned goddess of the chase answered, "It was your wife Hera, father, who has been beating me; it is always her doing when there is any quarreling among the immortals."

Thus did they converse, and meanwhile Phoebus Apollo entered the strong city of Ilion, for he was uneasy lest the wall should not hold out and the Danaans should take the city then and there, before its hour had come; but the rest of the ever-living gods went back, some angry and some triumphant to Olympus, where they took their seats beside Zeus lord of the storm cloud, while Achilles still kept on dealing out death alike on the Trojans and on their As when the smoke from some burning city ascends to heaven when the anger [mênis] of the gods has kindled it - there is then toil [ponos] for all, and sorrow for not a few - even so did Achilles bring toil [ponos] and sorrow on the Trojans.

Old King Priam stood on a high tower of the wall looking down on huge Achilles as the Trojans fled panic-stricken before him, and there was none to help them. Presently he came down from off the tower and with many a groan went along the wall to give orders to the brave warders of the gate. "Keep the gates," said he, "wide open till the people come fleeing into the city, for Achilles is hard by and is driving them in rout before him. I see we are in great peril. As soon as our people are inside and in safety, close the strong gates for I fear lest that terrible man should come bounding inside along with the others."

As he spoke they drew back the bolts and opened the gates, and when these were opened there was a haven of refuge for the Trojans. Apollo then came full speed out of the city to meet them and protect them. Right for the city and the high wall, parched with thirst and grimy with dust, still they hurried on, with Achilles wielding his spear furiously behind them. For he was as one possessed, and was thirsting after glory.

Then had the sons of the Achaeans taken the lofty gates of Troy if Apollo had not spurred on Agenor, valiant and noble son to Antenor. He put courage into his heart, and stood by his side to guard him, leaning against a beech tree and shrouded in thick darkness. When Agenor saw Achilles he stood still and his heart was clouded with care. "Alas," said he to himself in his dismay, "if I flee before mighty Achilles, and go where all the others are being driven in rout, he will none the less catch me and kill me for a coward. How would it be were I to let Achilles drive the others before him, and then flee from the wall to the plain that is behind Ilion

till I reach the spurs of Ida and can hide in the underwood that is thereon? I could then wash the sweat from off me in the river and in the evening return to Ilion. But why commune with myself in this way? Like enough he would see me as I am hurrying from the city over the plain, and would speed after me till he had caught me - I should stand no chance against him, for he is mightiest of all humankind. What, then, if I go out and meet him in front of the city? His flesh too, I take it, can be pierced by pointed bronze. Life [psukhê] is the same in one and all, and men say that he is but mortal despite the triumph that Zeus son of Kronos grants him."

So saying he stood on his guard and awaited Achilles, for he was now fain to fight him. As a leopardess that bounds from out a thick covert to attack a hunter - she knows no fear and is not dismayed by the baying of the hounds; even though the man be too quick for her and wound her either with thrust or spear, still, though the spear has pierced her she will not give in till she has either caught him in her grip or been killed outright - even so did noble Agenor son of Antenor refuse to flee till he had made trial of Achilles, and took aim at him with his spear, holding his round shield before him and crying with a loud voice. "Of a truth," said he, "noble Achilles, you deem that you shall this day sack the city of the proud Trojans. Fool, there will be trouble enough yet before it, for there is many a brave man of us still inside who will stand in front of our dear parents with our wives and children, to defend Ilion. Here therefore, huge and mighty warrior though you be, here shall you cue.

As he spoke his strong hand hurled his javelin from him, and the spear struck Achilles on the leg beneath the knee; the greave of newly wrought tin rang loudly, but the spear recoiled from the body of him whom it had struck, and did not pierce it, for the gods gift stayed it. Achilles in his turn attacked noble Agenor, but Apollo would not grant him glory,

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 652
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 9.429
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