Agamemnon then rose, and Talthybios whose voice was like that of a god came to him with the boar. The son of Atreus drew the knife which he wore by the scabbard of his mighty sword, and began by cutting off some bristles from the boar, lifting up his hands in prayer as he did so. The other Achaeans sat where they were all silent and orderly to hear the king, and Agamemnon looked into the vault of heaven and prayed saying, "I call Zeus the first and mightiest of all gods to witness, I call also Earth and Sun and the Erinyes who dwell below and take vengeance on him who shall swear falsely, that I have laid no hand upon the girl Briseis, neither to take her to my bed nor otherwise, but that she has remained in my tents inviolate. If I swear falsely may heaven visit me with all the penalties which it metes out to those who perjure themselves."
He cut the boar's throat as he spoke, whereon Talthybios whirled it round his head, and flung it into the wide sea to feed the fishes. Then Achilles also rose and said to the Argives, "Father Zeus, truly you give atê to men and bane them. The son of Atreus had not else stirred me to so fierce an anger, nor so stubbornly taken Briseis from me against my will. Surely Zeus must have counseled the destruction of many an Argive
. Go, now, and take your food that we may begin fighting."
On this he broke up the assembly, and every man went back to his own ship. The Myrmidons attended to the presents and took them away to the ship of Achilles. They placed them in his tents, while the stable-men [therapontes] drove the horses in among the others.
Briseis, fair as Aphrodite, when she saw the mangled body of Patroklos, flung herself upon it and cried aloud, tearing her breast, her neck, and her lovely face with both her hands. Beautiful as a goddess she wept and said, "Patroklos, dearest friend, when I went hence I left you living; I return, O prince, to find you dead; thus do fresh sorrows multiply upon me one after the other. I saw him to whom my father and mother married me, cut down before our city, and my three own dear brothers perished with him on the self-same day; but you, Patroklos, even when Achilles slew my husband and sacked the city of noble Mynes, told me that I was not to weep, for you said you would make Achilles marry me, and take me back with him to Phthia
, we should have a wedding feast among the Myrmidons. You were always kind to me and I shall never cease to grieve for you."
She wept as she spoke, and the women joined in her lament-making as though their tears were for Patroklos, but in truth each was weeping for her own sorrows. The elders of the Achaeans gathered round Achilles and prayed him to take food, but he groaned and would not do so. "I pray you," said he, "if any comrade will hear me, bid me neither eat nor drink, for I am in great heaviness, and will stay fasting even to the going down of the sun."
On this he sent the other princes away, save only the two sons of Atreus and Odysseus, Nestor, Idomeneus, and the horseman Phoenix, who stayed behind and tried to comfort him in the bitterness of his sorrow [akhos]: but he would not be comforted till he should have flung himself into the jaws of battle, and he fetched sigh on sigh, thinking ever of Patroklos. Then he said-
"Hapless and dearest comrade, you it was who would get a good dinner ready for me at once and without delay when the Achaeans were hastening to fight the Trojans; now, therefore, though I have meat and drink in my tents, yet will I fast for sorrow. Grief greater than this I could not know, not even though I were to hear of the death of my father, who is now in Phthia
weeping for the loss of me his son, who am here fighting the Trojans in a strange land [dêmos] for the accursed sake of Helen, nor yet though I should hear that my son is no more - he who is being brought up in Skyros
- if indeed Neoptolemos is still living. Till now I made sure that I alone was to fall here at Troy
away from Argos
, while you were to return to Phthia
, bring back my son with you in your own ship, and show him all my property, my bondsmen, and the greatness of my house - for Peleus must surely be either dead, or what little life remains to him is oppressed alike with the infirmities of age and ever present fear lest he should hear the sad tidings of my death."
He wept as he spoke, and the elders sighed in concert as each thought on what he had left at home behind him. The son of Kronos looked down with pity upon them, and said presently to Athena, "My child, you have quite deserted your hero; is he then gone so clean out of your recollection? There he sits by the ships all desolate for the loss of his dear comrade, and though the others are gone to their dinner he will neither eat nor drink. Go then and drop nectar and ambrosia into his breast, that he may know no hunger."