Now when they came to the ford of the full-flowing river Xanthos
, begotten of immortal Zeus, Achilles cut their forces in two: one half he chased over the plain towards the city by the same way that the Achaeans had taken when fleeing panic-stricken on the preceding day with Hektor in full triumph; this way did they flee pell-mell, and Hera sent down a thick mist in front of them to stay them. The other half were hemmed in by the deep silver-eddying stream, and fell into it with a great uproar. The waters resounded, and the banks rang again, as they swam hither and thither with loud cries amid the whirling eddies. As locusts flying to a river before the blast of a grass fire- the flame comes on and on till at last it overtakes them and they huddle into the water - even so was the eddying stream of Xanthos
filled with the uproar of men and horses, all struggling in confusion before Achilles.
Forthwith the hero left his spear upon the bank, leaning it against a tamarisk bush, and plunged into the river like a daimôn, armed with his sword only. Fell was his purpose as he hewed the Trojans down on every side. Their dying groans rose hideous as the sword smote them, and the river ran red with blood. As when fish flee scared before a huge dolphin, and fill every nook and corner of some fair haven - for he is sure to eat all he can catch - even so did the Trojans cower under the banks of the mighty river, and when Achilles' arms grew weary with killing them,
he drew twelve youths alive out of the water, to sacrifice in revenge for Patroklos son of Menoitios. He drew them out like dazed fawns, bound their hands behind them with the belts of their own shirts, and gave them over to his men to take back to the ships. Then he sprang into the river, thirsting for still further blood.
There he found Lykaon, son of Priam seed of Dardanos
, as he was escaping out of the water; he it was whom he had once taken prisoner when he was in his father's vineyard, having set upon him by night, as he was cutting young shoots from a wild fig-tree to make the wicker sides of a chariot. Achilles then caught him to his sorrow unawares, and sent him by sea to Lemnos
, where the son of Jason bought him. But a guest-friend, Eetion of Imbros, freed him with a great sum, and sent him to Arisbe, whence he had escaped and returned to his father's house. He had spent eleven days happily with his friends after he had come from Lemnos
, but on the twelfth heaven again delivered him into the hands of Achilles, who was to send him to the house of Hades sorely against his will. He was unarmed when Achilles caught sight of him, and had neither helmet nor shield; nor yet had he any spear, for he had thrown all his armor from him on to the bank, and was sweating with his struggles to get out of the river, so that his strength was now failing him.
Then Achilles said to himself in his surprise, "What marvel do I see here? If this man can come back alive after having been sold over into Lemnos
, I shall have the Trojans also whom I have slain rising from the world below. Could not even the waters of the gray sea [pontos] imprison him, as they do many another whether he will or no? This time let him taste my spear, that I may know for certain whether mother earth who can keep even a strong man down, will be able to hold him, or whether thence too he will return."
Thus did he pause and ponder. But Lykaon came up to him dazed and trying hard to embrace his knees, for he would fain live, not die. Achilles thrust at him with his spear, meaning to kill him, but Lykaon ran crouching up to him and caught his knees, whereby the spear passed over his back, and stuck in the ground, hungering though it was for blood. With one hand he caught Achilles' knees as he besought him, and with the other he clutched the spear and would not let it go. Then he said, "Achilles, have mercy upon me and spare me, for I am your suppliant. It was in your tents that I first broke bread on the day when you took me prisoner in the vineyard; after which you sold away to Lemnos
far from my father and my friends, and I brought you the price of a hundred oxen. I have paid three times as much to gain my freedom; it is but twelve days that I have come to Ilion
after much suffering, and now cruel fate has again thrown me into your hands. Surely father Zeus must hate me, that he has given me over to you a second time. Short of life indeed did my mother Laothoe bear me, daughter of aged Altes - of Altes who reigns over the warlike Leleges and holds steep Pedasos on the river Satnioeis. Priam married his daughter along with many other women and two sons were born of her, both of whom you will have slain. Your spear slew noble Polydoros as he was fighting in the front ranks, and now evil will here befall me, for I fear that I shall not escape you since a daimôn has delivered me over to you. Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart, spare me, for I am not of the same womb as Hektor who slew your brave and noble comrade."
With such words did the princely son of Priam beseech Achilles; but Achilles answered him sternly. "Idiot," said he, "talk not to me of ransom. Until Patroklos fell I preferred to give the Trojans quarter, and sold beyond the sea many of those whom I had taken alive; but now not a man shall live of those whom heaven delivers into my hands before the city of Ilion
and of all Trojans it shall fare hardest with the sons of Priam. Therefore, my friend, you too shall die. Why should you whine in this way? Patroklos fell, and he was a better man than you are. I too - see you not how I am great and goodly? I am son to a noble father, and have a goddess for my mother, but the hands of doom and death overshadow me all as surely. The day will come, either at dawn or dark, or at the noontide, when one shall take my life also in battle, either with his spear, or with an arrow sped from his bow."