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When the companies were thus arrayed, each under its own leader, the Trojans advanced as a flight of wild fowl or cranes that scream overhead when rain and winter drive them over the flowing waters of Okeanos to bring death and destruction on the Pygmies, and they wrangle in the air as they fly; but the Achaeans marched silently, in high heart, and minded to stand by one another.

As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain.

When they were close up with one another, Alexander came forward as champion on the Trojan side. On his shoulders he bore the skin of a panther, his bow, and his sword, and he brandished two spears shod with bronze as a challenge to the bravest of the Achaeans to meet him in single fight. Menelaos saw him thus stride out before the ranks, and was glad as a hungry lion that lights on the carcass of some goat or horned stag, and devours it there and then, though dogs and youths set upon him. Even thus was Menelaos glad when his eyes caught sight of Alexander, for he deemed that now he should be revenged.

He sprang, therefore, from his chariot, clad in his suit of armor.

Alexander quailed as he saw Menelaos come forward, and shrank in fear of his life under cover of his men. As one who starts back affrighted, trembling and pale, when he comes suddenly upon a serpent in some mountain glade, even so did Alexander plunge into the throng of Trojan warriors, terror-stricken at the sight of the son Atreus.

Then Hektor upbraided him. "Paris," said he, "evil-hearted Paris, fair to see, but woman-mad, and false of tongue, would that you had never been born, or that you had died unwed. Better so, than live to be disgraced and looked askance at. Will not the Achaeans mock at us and say that we have sent one to champion us who is fair to see but who has neither wit nor force [biê]? Did you not, such as you are, get your following together and sail beyond the seas [pontos]? Did you not from your a far country carry off a lovely woman wedded among a people of warriors - to bring sorrow upon your father, your city, and your whole district [dêmos], but joy to your enemies, and hang-dog shamefacedness to yourself? And now can you not dare face Menelaos and learn what manner of man he is whose wife you have stolen? Where indeed would be your lyre and your love-tricks, your comely locks and your fair favor, when you were lying in the dust before him? The Trojans are a weak-kneed people, or ere this you would have had a shirt of stones for the wrongs you have done them."

And Alexander answered, "Hektor, your rebuke is just. You are hard as the axe which a shipwright wields at his work, and cleaves the timber to his liking. As the axe in his hand, so keen is the edge of your mind [noos]. Still, taunt me not with the gifts that golden Aphrodite has given me; they are precious; let not a man disdain them, for the gods give them where they are minded, and none can have them for the asking. If you would have me do battle with Menelaos, bid the Trojans and Achaeans take their seats, while he and I fight in their midst for Helen and all her wealth.

Let him who shall be victorious and prove to be the better man take the woman and all she has, to bear them to his home, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace whereby you Trojans shall stay here in Troy, while the others go home to Argos and the land of the Achaeans."

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load focus Notes (Allen Rogers Benner, 1903)
load focus Notes (Thomas D. Seymour, 1891)
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hide References (8 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (5):
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 12.86
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 4.433
    • Thomas D. Seymour, Commentary on Homer's Iliad, Books I-III, 1.605
    • Thomas D. Seymour, Commentary on Homer's Iliad, Books I-III, 2.126
    • Thomas D. Seymour, Commentary on Homer's Iliad, Books I-III, 2.127
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