Great Hektor now turned his head aside while he shook the helmet, and the lot of Paris
flew out first. The others took their several stations, each by his horses and the place where his arms were lying, while Alexander, husband of lovely Helen, put on his goodly armor.
First he greaved his legs with greaves of good make and fitted with ankle-clasps of silver; after this he donned the cuirass of his brother Lykaon, and fitted it to his own body; he hung his silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then his mighty shield. On his comely head he set his helmet, well-wrought, with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it, and he grasped a redoubtable spear that suited his hands. In like fashion Menelaos also put on his armor.
When they had thus armed, each amid his own people, they strode fierce of aspect into the open space, and both Trojans and Achaeans were struck with awe as they beheld them. They stood near one another on the measured ground, brandishing their spears, and each furious against the other. Alexander aimed first, and struck the round shield of the son of Atreus, but the spear did not pierce it, for the shield turned its point. Menelaos next took aim, praying to Father Zeus as he did so. "King Zeus," he said, "grant me revenge on Alexander who has wronged me; subdue him under my hand that in ages yet to come a man may shrink from doing ill deeds in the house of his host."
He poised his spear as he spoke, and hurled it at the shield of Alexander. Through shield and cuirass it went, and tore the shirt by his flank, but Alexander swerved aside, and thus saved his life. Then the son of Atreus drew his sword, and drove at the projecting part of his helmet, but the sword fell shivered in three or four pieces from his hand, and he cried, looking towards Heaven, "Father Zeus, of all gods you are the most spiteful; I made sure of my revenge, but the sword has broken in my hand, my spear has been hurled in vain, and I have not killed him."
With this he flew at Alexander, caught him by the horsehair plume of his helmet, and began dragging him towards the Achaeans. The strap of the helmet that went under his chin was choking him, and Menelaos would have dragged him off to his own great glory had not Zeus' daughter Aphrodite been quick to mark and to break the strap of oxhide, so that the empty helmet came away in his hand. This he flung to his comrades among the Achaeans, and was again springing upon Alexander to run him through with a spear, but Aphrodite snatched him up in a moment (as a god can do), hid him under a cloud of darkness, and conveyed him to his own bedchamber.
Then she went to call Helen, and found her on a high tower with the Trojan women crowding round her. She took the form of an old woman who used to dress wool for her when she was still in Lacedaemon
, and of whom she was very fond. Thus disguised she plucked her by perfumed robe and said, "Come hither; Alexander says you are to go to the house; he is on his bed in his own room, radiant with beauty and dressed in gorgeous apparel. No one would think he had just come from fighting, but rather that he was going to a dance [khoros], or had done dancing [khoros] and was sitting down."
With these words she moved the heart of Helen to anger. When she marked the beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely bosom, and sparkling eyes, she marveled at her and said, "Goddess, why do you thus beguile me? Are you going to send me afield still further to some man whom you have taken up in Phrygia
or fair Meonia? Menelaos has just vanquished Alexander, and is to take my hateful self back with him. You are come here to betray me. Go sit with Alexander yourself; henceforth be goddess no longer; never let your feet carry you back to Olympus
; worry about him and look after him till he make you his wife, or, for the matter of that, his slave - but me? I shall not go; I can garnish his bed no longer; I should be a by-word among all the women of Troy
. Besides, I have trouble [akhos] on my mind."
Aphrodite was very angry, and said, "Bold hussy, do not provoke me; if you do, I shall leave you to your fate and hate you as much as I have loved you. I will stir up fierce hatred between Trojans and Achaeans, and you shall come to a bad end."