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As he spoke Patroklos put on his 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 the son of Aiakos, richly inlaid and studded. 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. He grasped two redoubtable spears that suited his hands, but he did not take the spear of noble Achilles, so stout and strong,

for none other of the Achaeans could wield it, though Achilles could do so easily. This was the ashen spear from Mount Pelion, which Chiron had cut upon a mountain top and had given to Peleus, wherewith to deal out death among heroes. He bade Automedon yoke his horses with all speed, for he was the man whom he held in honor next after Achilles, and on whose support in battle he could rely most firmly. Automedon therefore yoked the fleet horses Xanthos and Balios, steeds that could fly like the wind: these were they whom the harpy Podarge bore to the west wind, as she was grazing in a meadow by the waters of the river Okeanos. In the side traces he set the noble horse Pedasos, whom Achilles had brought away with him when he sacked the city of Eetion, and who, mortal steed though he was, could take his place along with those that were immortal.

Meanwhile Achilles went about everywhere among the tents, and bade his Myrmidons put on their armor. Even as fierce ravening wolves that are feasting upon a horned stag which they have killed upon the mountains, and their jaws are red with blood - they go in a pack to lap water from the clear spring with their long thin tongues; and they reek of blood and slaughter; they know not what fear is, for it is hunger drives them - even so did the leaders and counselors of the Myrmidons gather round the good squire [therapôn] of the fleet descendant of Aiakos, and among them stood Achilles himself cheering on both men and horses.

Fifty ships had noble Achilles brought to Troy, and in each there was a crew of fifty oarsmen. Over these he set five leaders whom he could trust, while he was himself commander over them all. Menesthios of the gleaming corselet, son to the river Spercheios that streams from heaven, was leader of the first company. Fair Polydora daughter of Peleus bore him to ever-flowing Spercheios - a woman mated with a god - but he was called son of Boros son of Perieres, with whom his mother was living as his wedded wife, and who gave great wealth to gain her.

The second company was led by noble Eudoros, son to an unwedded woman. Polymele, daughter of Phylas, graceful in dancing [khoros], bore him; the mighty slayer of Argos was enamored of her as he saw her among the singing women at a dance [khoros] held in honor of Artemis the rushing huntress of the golden arrows; he therefore - Hermes, giver of all good - went with her into an upper chamber, and lay with her in secret, whereon she bore him a noble son Eudoros, singularly fleet of foot and in fight valiant. When Eileithuia goddess of the pains of child-birth brought him to the light of day, and he saw the face of the sun, mighty Echekles son of Aktor took the mother to wife, and gave great wealth to gain her, but her father Phylas brought the child up, and took care of him, doting as fondly upon him as though he were his own son. The third company was led by Peisandros son of Maimalos, the finest spearman among all the Myrmidons next to Achilles' own comrade Patroklos. The old horseman Phoenix was leader of the fourth company, and Alkimedon, noble son of Laerceus of the fifth.

When Achilles had chosen [krinô] his men and had stationed them all with their leaders, he charged them straitly saying, "Myrmidons, remember your threats against the Trojans while you were at the ships in the time of my anger, and you were all complaining of me. ‘Cruel son of Peleus,’ you would say, ‘your mother must have suckled you on gall, so ruthless are you. You keep us here at the ships against our will; if you are so relentless it were better we went home over the sea.’ Often have you gathered and thus chided with me. The hour is now come for those high feats of arms that you have so long been pining for, therefore keep high hearts each one of you to do battle with the Trojans."

With these words he put heart and soul into them all, and they serried their companies yet more closely when they heard the of their king. As the stones which a builder sets in the wall of some high house which is to give shelter from the winds - even so closely were the helmets and bossed shields set against one another. Shield pressed on shield, helm on helm, and man on man; so close were they that the horse-hair plumes on the gleaming ridges of their helmets touched each other as they bent their heads.

In front of them all two men put on their armor - Patroklos and Automedon - two men, with but one mind to lead the Myrmidons. Then Achilles went inside his tent and opened the lid of the strong chest which silver-footed Thetis had given him to take on board ship, and which she had filled with shirts, cloaks to keep out the cold, and good thick rugs. In this chest he had a cup of rare workmanship, from which no man but himself might drink, nor would he make offering from it to any other god save only to father Zeus. He took the cup from the chest and cleansed it with sulfur; this done he rinsed it clean water, and after he had washed his hands he drew wine. Then he stood in the middle of the court and prayed, looking towards heaven, and making his drink-offering of wine; nor was he unseen of Zeus whose joy is in thunder. "King Zeus," he cried, "lord of Dodona, god of the Pelasgi, you who dwell afar, you who hold wintry Dodona in your sway, where your seers the Selloi dwell around you with their feet unwashed and their couches made upon the ground - if you heard me when I prayed to you aforetime, and did me honor while you sent disaster on the Achaeans, grant me now the fulfillment of yet this further prayer. I shall stay here where my assembly [agôn] of ships are lying, but I shall send my comrade into battle at the head of many Myrmidons. Grant, O all-seeing Zeus, that victory may go with him; put your courage into his heart that Hektor may learn whether my squire [therapôn] is man enough to fight alone, or whether his might is only then so indomitable when I myself enter the turmoil of war. Afterwards when he has chased the fight and the cry of battle from the ships, grant that he may return unharmed, with his armor and his comrades, fighters in close combat."

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    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 3.330
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