Then Hektor said, "Ajax, heaven has granted you stature and strength, and judgment; and in wielding the spear you excel all others of the Achaeans. Let us for this day cease fighting; hereafter we will fight anew till a daimôn decides between us, and give victory to one or to the other; night is now falling, and the behests of night may not be well gainsaid. Gladden, then, the hearts of the Achaeans at your ships, and more especially those of your own followers and clansmen, while I, in the great city of King Priam, bring comfort to the Trojans and their women, who vie with one another in their prayers directed at me. Let us, moreover, exchange presents that it may be said among the Achaeans and Trojans, ‘They fought with might and main, but were reconciled and parted in friendship.’
On this he gave Ajax a silver-studded sword with its sheath and leathern Balearic, and in return Ajax gave him a belt dyed with purple. Thus they parted, the one going to the host of the Achaeans, and the other to that of the Trojans, who rejoiced when they saw their hero come to them safe and unharmed from the strong hands of mighty Ajax. They led him, therefore, to the city as one that had been saved beyond their hopes. On the other side the Achaeans brought Ajax elated with victory to Agamemnon.
When they reached the quarters of the son of Atreus, Agamemnon sacrificed for them a five-year-old bull in honor of Zeus the son of Kronos. They flayed the carcass, made it ready, and divided it into joints; these they cut carefully up into smaller pieces, putting them on the spits, roasting them sufficiently, and then drawing them off. When they had done all this and had prepared the feast, they ate it, and every man had his full and equal share, so that all were satisfied, and King Agamemnon gave Ajax some slices cut lengthwise down the loin, as a mark of special honor. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, old Nestor whose counsel was ever truest began to speak; with all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed them thus:
"Son of Atreus, and other chieftains, inasmuch as many of the Achaeans are now dead, whose blood Ares has shed by the banks of the Skamandros, and their psukhai have gone down to the house of Hades, it will be well when morning comes that we should cease fighting; we will then wheel our dead together with oxen and mules and burn them not far from the ships, that when we sail hence we may take the bones of our comrades home to their children. Hard by the funeral pyre we will build a barrow that shall be raised from the plain for all in common; near this let us set about building a high wall, to shelter ourselves and our ships, and let it have well-made gates that there may be a way through them for our chariots. Close outside we will dig a deep trench all round it to keep off both horse and foot, that the Trojan chieftains may not bear hard upon us."
Thus he spoke, and the princes shouted in approval. Meanwhile the Trojans held a council, angry and full of discord, on the acropolis by the gates of King Priam's palace; and wise Antenor spoke. "Hear me he said, "Trojans, Dardanians, and allies, that I may speak even as I am minded. Let us give up Argive Helen and her wealth to the sons of Atreus, for we are now fighting in violation of our solemn covenants, and shall not prosper till we have done as I say."
He then sat down and Alexander husband of lovely Helen rose to speak. "Antenor," said he, "your words are not to my liking; you can find a better saying than this if you will; if, however, you have spoken in good earnest, then indeed has heaven robbed you of your reason. I will speak plainly, and hereby notify to the Trojans that I will not give up the woman; but the wealth that I brought home with her from Argos
I will restore, and will add yet further of my own."
On this, when Paris
had spoken and taken his seat, Priam of the race of Dardanos
, peer of gods in council, rose and with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: "Hear me, Trojans, Dardanians, and allies, that I may speak even as I am minded. Get your suppers now as hitherto throughout the city, but keep your watches and be wakeful. At daybreak let Idaios go to the ships, and tell Agamemnon and Menelaos sons of Atreus the saying of Alexander through whom this quarrel has come about; and let him also be instant with them that they now cease fighting till we burn our dead; hereafter we will fight anew, till a daimôn decides between us and give victory to one or to the other."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. They took supper in their companies and at daybreak Idaios went his way to the ships. He found the Danaans, squires [therapontes] of Ares, in council at the stern of Agamemnon's ship, and took his place in the midst of them. "Son of Atreus," he said, "and princes of the Achaean host, Priam and the other noble Trojans have sent me to tell you the saying of Alexander through whom this quarrel has come about, if so be that you may find it acceptable. All the treasure he took with him in his ships to Troy
- would that he had sooner perished - he will restore, and will add yet further of his own, but he will not give up the wedded wife of Menelaos, though the Trojans would have him do so. Priam bade me inquire further if you will cease fighting till we burn our dead;