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Tell me now, ye Muses, that have dwellings on Olympus, how fire was first flung upon the ships of the Achaeans. It was Hector that drew nigh to Aias [115] and smote his ashen spear with his great sword hard by the socket, at the base ot the point, and shore it clean away, so that Telamonian Aias brandished all vainly a pointless spear, and far from him the head of bronze fell ringing to the ground. And Aias knew in his noble heart, and shuddered [120] at the deeds of the gods, how that Zeus, who thundereth on high, brought utterly to naught the counsels of his battle, and would have victory for the Trojans. Then he gave ground from out the darts; and the Trojans cast upon the swift ship unwearied fire, and over her forthwith streamed a flame that might not be quenched. So then was the ship's stern wreathed about with fire, but Achilles [125] smote both his thighs and spake to Patroclus: “Up now, Zeus-born Patroclus, master of horsemen. Lo, I see by the ships the rush of consuming fire. Let it not be that they take the ships and there be no more escaping! Do on my armour with all haste, and I will gather the host.” [130] So spake he,and Patroclus arrayed him in gleaming bronze. The greaves first he set about his legs; beautiful they were, and fitted with silver ankle-pieces; next he did on about his chest the corselet of the swift-footed son of Aeacus, richly-wrought, and spangled with stars. [135] And about his shoulders he cast the silver-studded sword of bronze, and thereafter the shield, great and sturdy; and upon his mighty head he set the well-wrought helmet with horse-hair crest, and terribly did the plume nod from above; and he took two valorous spears, that fitted his grasp. [140] Only the spear of the peerless son of Aeacus he took not, the spear heavy and huge and strong; this none other of the Achaeans could wield, but Achilles alone was skilled to wield it, even the Pelian spear of ash, that Cheiron had given to his dear father from the peak of Pelion, to be for the slaying of warriors. [145] And the horses he bade Automedon yoke speedily, even him that he honoured most after Achilles, breaker of the ranks of men, and that in his eyes was faithful above all to abide his call in battle. At his bidding then Automedon led beneath the yoke the fleet horses, Xanthus and Balius, that flew swift as the winds, horses [150] that the Harpy Podarge conceived to the West Wind, as she grazed on the meadow beside the stream of Oceanus. And in the side-traces he set the goodly Pedasus that on a time Achilles had brought away, when he took the city of Eetion; and he, being but mortal, kept pace with immortal steeds.

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