previous next
Therefore, Achilles, give these daughters of Zeus due reverence [timê], just as every other person does whose mind [noos] they change. Were not the son of Atreus offering you gifts and promising others later - if he were still furious and implacable - I am not he that would bid you throw off your anger [mênis] and help the Achaeans, no matter how great their need; but he is giving much now, and more hereafter; he has sent his leading men to urge his suit, and has chosen [krinô] those who of all the Argives are most near-and-dear [philoi] to you; make not then their words and their coming to be of no effect. Your anger has been righteous so far. We have heard in song the glories [klea] of heroes of old time: how they quarreled when they were roused to fury, but still they could be won by gifts, and fair words could soothe them.

"I totally recall [memnêmai] this event of the past - it is not a new thing - and how it happened. You are all near and dear [philoi], and I will tell it in your presence. The Curetes and the Aetolians were fighting and killing one another round Calydon - the Aetolians defending the city and the Curetes trying to destroy it. For Artemis of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Oeneus had not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other gods had all been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Zeus alone he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it had escaped him, and this was a grievous derangement. Thereon the archer goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him - a savage wild boar with great white tusks that did much harm to his orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them to the ground. But Meleager son of Oeneus got huntsmen and hounds from many cities and killed it - for it was so monstrous that not a few were needed, and many a man did it stretch upon his funeral pyre. On this the goddess set the Curetes and the Aetolians fighting furiously about the head and skin of the boar. "So long as Meleager was in the field things went badly with the Curetes, and for all their numbers they could not hold their ground under the city walls; but in the course of time the anger weighed heavy on the thinking [noos] of Meleager : this can sometimes happen even to a sensible man.

He was incensed with his mother Althaia, and therefore stayed at home with his wedded wife fair Cleopatra, who was daughter of Marpessa daughter of Euenos, and of Ides the man then living. He it was who took his bow and faced King Apollo himself for fair Marpessa's sake; her father and mother then named her Halcyone, because her mother had mourned with the strains of the halcyon, bird of much grief [penthos], when Phoebus Apollo had carried her off. Meleager, then, stayed at home with Cleopatra, nursing the anger which he felt by reason of his mother's curses. His mother, grieving for the death of her brother, prayed the gods, and beat the earth with her hands, calling upon Hades and on awful Persephone; she went down upon her knees and her bosom was wet with tears as she prayed that they would kill her son - and Erinys that walks in darkness and knows no ruth heard her from Erebos.

"Then was heard the din of battle about the gates of Calydon, and the dull thump of the battering against their walls. Thereon the elders of the Aetolians besought Meleager; they sent the chiefest of their priests, and begged him to come out and help them, promising him a great reward. They bade him choose fifty plough-gates, the most fertile in the plain of Calydon, the one-half vineyard and the other open plough-land. The old warrior Oeneus implored him, standing at the threshold of his room and beating the doors in supplication. His sisters and his mother herself besought him sore, but he the more refused them; those of his comrades who were nearest and dearest to him also prayed him, but they could not move him till the foe was battering at the very doors of his chamber, and the Curetes had scaled the walls and were setting fire to the city. Then at last his sorrowing wife detailed the horrors that befall those whose city is taken; she reminded him how the men are slain, and the city is given over to the flames, while the women and children are carried into captivity;

when he heard all this, his heart was touched, and he donned his armor to go forth. Thus of his own inward motion he saved the city of the Aetolians; but they now gave him nothing of those rich rewards that they had offered earlier, and though he saved the city he took nothing by it. Be not then, my son, thus minded; let not heaven lure you into any such course. When the ships are burning it will be a harder matter to save them. Take the gifts, and go, for the Achaeans will then honor you as a god [daimôn]; whereas if you fight without taking them, you may beat the battle back, but you will not be held in like honor [timê]."

And Achilles answered, "Phoenix, old friend and foster-father, I have no need of such honor. I have honor [timê] from Zeus himself, which will abide with me at my ships while I have breath in my body, and my limbs are strong. I say further - and lay my saying to your heart - vex me no more with this weeping and lamentation, all to do a favor [kharis] for the son of Atreus. Love him so well, and you may lose the love I bear you. You ought to help me rather in troubling those that trouble me; be king as much as I am, and share like honor [timê] with myself; the others shall take my answer; stay here yourself and sleep comfortably in your bed; at daybreak we will consider whether to remain or go."

On this he nodded quietly to Patroklos as a sign that he was to prepare a bed for Phoenix, and that the others should take their leave [nostos]. Ajax son of Telamon then said, "Odysseus, noble son of Laertes, let us be gone, for I see that our journey is vain. We must now take our answer, unwelcome though it be, to the Danaans who are waiting to receive it. Achilles is savage and remorseless; he is cruel, and cares nothing for the affection [philotês] that his comrades lavished upon him more than on all the others. He is implacable - and yet if a man's brother or son has been slain he will accept a fine by way of amends from him that killed him, and the wrong-doer having paid in full remains in peace in his own district [dêmos]; but as for you, Achilles, the gods have put a wicked unforgiving spirit [thumos] in your breast, and this, all about one single girl,

whereas we now offer you the seven best we have, and much else into the bargain. Be then of a more gracious mind, respect the hospitality of your own roof. We are with you as messengers from the host of the Danaans, and would fain he held nearest and dearest to yourself of all the Achaeans."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Laertes (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: