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Sons of Atreus, and other well-greaved Achaeans, to you may the gods who have homes upon1.20out of reverence for the son of Zeus, Apollo who strikes from afar. Then all the rest of the Achaeans shouted assent, to reverence the priest and accept the glorious ransom, yet the thing did not please the heart of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but he sent him away harshly, and laid upon him a stern command: 1.25
Olympusgrant that you sack the city of Priam, and return safe to your homes; but my dear child release to me, and accept the ransom
Let me not find you, old man, by the hollow ships, either tarrying now or coming back later, lest your staff and the wreath of the god not protect you. Her I will not set free. Sooner shall old age come upon her in our house, in1.30as she walks to and fro before the loom and serves my bed. But go, do not anger me, that you may return the safer.
Argos, far from her native land,
Hear me, god of the silver bow, who stand over1.40fulfill this prayer for me: let the Danaans pay for my tears by your arrows So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him. Down from the peaks of
Chryseand holy Cilla, and rule mightily over Tenedos, Sminthian god, [Note] if ever I roofed over a temple to your pleasing, or if ever I burned to you fat thigh-pieces of bulls and goats,
Son of Atreus, now I think we shall return home, beaten back again, should we even escape death,1.60if war and pestilence alike are to ravage the Achaeans. But come, let us ask some seer or priest, or some reader of dreams—for a dream too is from Zeus—who might say why Phoebus Apollo is so angry, whether he finds fault with a vow or a hecatomb; 1.65in hope that he may accept the savour of lambs and unblemished goats, and be willing to ward off the pestilence from us.
Achilles, dear to Zeus, you bid me declare the wrath of Apollo, the lord who strikes from afar.1.75Therefore I will speak; but take thought and swear that you will readily defend me with word and with might of hand; for I think I shall anger a man who rules mightily over all the Argives, and whom the Achaeans obey. For mightier is a king, when he is angry at a lesser man. 1.80Even if he swallows down his wrath for that day, yet afterwards he cherishes resentment in his heart till he brings it to fulfillment. Say then, if you will keep me safe. In answer to him spoke swift-footed Achilles:
Take heart, and speak out whatever oracle you know;1.85for by Apollo, dear to Zeus, to whom you, Calchas, pray when you reveal oracles to the Danaans, no one, while I live and have sight on the earth, shall lay heavy hands on you beside the hollow ships, no one of the whole host of the Danaans, 1.90not even if you name Agamemnon, who now claims to be far the best of the Achaeans.
It is not then because of a vow that he finds fault, nor because of a hecatomb, but because of the priest whom Agamemnon dishonoured, and did not release his daughter nor accept the ransom.1.95For this cause the god who strikes from afar has given woes and will still give them. He will not drive off from the Danaans the loathsome pestilence, until we give back to her dear father the bright-eyed maiden, unbought, unransomed, and lead a sacred hecatomb to
Prophet of evil, never yet have you spoken to me a pleasant thing; ever is evil dear to your heart to prophesy, but a word of good you have never yet spoken, nor brought to pass. And now among the Danaans you claim in prophecy that for this reason the god who strikes from afar brings woes upon them,1.110that I would not accept the glorious ransom for the girl, the daughter of Chryses, since I much prefer to keep her in my home. For certainly I prefer her to Clytemnestra, my wedded wife, since she is not inferior to her, either in form or in stature, or in mind, or in any handiwork. 1.115Yet even so will I give her back, if that is better; I would rather the people be safe than perish. But provide me with a prize of honour forthwith, lest I alone of the Argives be without one, since that would not be proper. For you all see this, that my prize goes elsewhere. 1.120 In answer to him spoke swift-footed brilliant Achilles:
Most glorious son of Atreus, most covetous of all, how shall the great-hearted Achaeans give you a prize? We know nothing of a hoard of wealth in common store, but whatever we took by pillage from the cities has been apportioned,1.125and it is not seemly to gather these things back from the army. But give back the girl to the god, and we Achaeans will recompense you three and fourfold, if ever Zeus grants us to sack the well-walled city of
Do not thus, mighty though you are, godlike Achilles, seek to deceive me with your wit; for you will not get by me nor persuade me. Are you willing, so that your yourself may keep your prize, for me to sit here idly in want, while you order me to give her back? No, if the great-hearted Achaeans give me a prize,1.135suiting it to my mind, so that it will be worth just as much—but if they do not, I myself will come and take your prize, or that of Aias, or that of Odysseus I will seize and bear away. Angry will he be, to whomever I come. But these things we will consider hereafter. 1.140Let us now drag a black ship to the shining sea, and quickly gather suitable rowers into it, and place on board a hecatomb, and embark on it the fair-cheeked daughter of Chryses herself. Let one prudent man be its commander, either Aias, or Idomeneus, or brilliant Odysseus, 1.145or you, son of Peleus, of all men most extreme, so that on our behalf you may propitiate the god who strikes from afar by offering sacrifice. Glaring from beneath his brows spoke to him swift-footed Achilles:
Ah me, clothed in shamelessness, thinking of profit, how shall any man of the Achaeans obey your words with a ready heart1.150either to go on a journey or to fight against men with force? It was not on account of the Trojan spearmen that I came here to fight, since they have done no wrong to me. Never have they driven off my cattle or my horses, nor ever in deep-soiled
Flee then, if your heart urges you; I do not beg you to remain for my sake. With me are others who will honour me, and above all Zeus, the lord of counsel.1.175Most hateful to me are you of all the kings that Zeus nurtures, for always strife is dear to you, and wars and battles. If you are very strong, it was a god, I think, who gave you this gift. Go home with your ships and your companions and lord it over the Myrmidons; for you I care not, 1.180nor take heed of your wrath. But I will threaten you thus: as Phoebus Apollo takes from me the daughter of Chryses, her with my ship and my companions I will send back, but I will myself come to your tent and take the fair-cheeked Briseis, your prize, so that you will understand 1.185how much mightier I am than you, and another may shrink from declaring himself my equal and likening himself to me to my face. So he spoke. Grief came upon the son of Peleus, and within his shaggy breast his heart was divided, whether he should draw his sharp sword from beside his thigh, 1.190and break up the assembly, and slay the son of Atreus, or stay his anger and curb his spirit. While he pondered this in mind and heart, and was drawing from its sheath his great sword, Athene came from heaven. The white-armed goddess Hera had sent her forth, 1.195for in her heart she loved and cared for both men alike. She stood behind him, and seized the son of Peleus by his fair hair, appearing to him alone. No one of the others saw her. Achilles was seized with wonder, and turned around, and immediately recognized Pallas Athene. Terribly her eyes shone. 1.200Then he addressed her with winged words, and said:
Why now, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, have you come? Is it so that you might see the arrogance of Agamemnon, son of Atreus? One thing I will tell you, and I think this will be brought to pass: through his own excessive pride shall he presently lose his life.1.205
I have come from heaven to stay your anger, if you will obey, The goddess white-armed Hera sent me forth, for in her heart she loves and cares for both of you. But come, cease from strife, and do not grasp the sword with your hand.1.210With words indeed taunt him, telling him how it shall be. [Note] For thus will I speak, and this thing shall truly be brought to pass. Hereafter three times as many glorious gifts shall be yours on account of this arrogance. But refrain, and obey us. In answer to her spoke swift-footed Achilles: 1.215
It is necessary, goddess, to observe the words of you two, however angered a man be in his heart, for is it better so. Whoever obeys the gods, to him do they gladly give ear.He spoke, and stayed his heavy hand on the silver hilt, and back into its sheath thrust the great sword, and did not disobey 1.220the word of Athene. She returned to
Heavy with wine, with the face of a dog but the heart of a deer,1.225never have you had courage to arm for battle along with your people, or go forth to an ambush with the chiefs of the Achaeans. That seems to you even as death. Indeed it is far better throughout the wide camp of the Achaeans to deprive of his prize whoever speaks contrary to you. 1.230People-devouring king, since you rule over nobodies; else, son of Atreus, this would be your last piece of insolence. But I will speak out to you, and will swear thereto a mighty oath: by this staff, that shall never more put forth leaves or shoots since first it left its stump among the mountains, 1.235nor shall it again grow green, for the bronze has stripped it on all sides of leaves and bark, and now the sons of the Achaeans carry it in their hands when they act as judges, those who guard the ordinances that come from Zeus; and this shall be for you a mighty oath. Surely some day a longing for Achilles will come upon the sons of the Achaeans 1.240one and all, and on that day you will not be able to help them at all, for all your grief, when many shall fall dying before man-slaying Hector. But you will gnaw the heart within you, in anger that you did no honour to the best of the Achaeans.
Comrades, great grief has come upon the land of1.255rejoice, and the rest of the Trojans would be most glad at heart, were they to hear all this of you two quarrelling, you who are chief among the Danaans in counsel and chief in war. Listen to me, for you are both younger than I. In earlier times I moved among men more warlike than you, 1.260and never did they despise me. Such warriors have I never since seen, nor shall I see, as Peirithous was and Dryas, shepherd of the people, and Caeneus and Exadius and godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus, son of Aegeus, a man like the immortals. 1.265Mightiest were these of men reared upon the earth; mightiest were they, and with the mightiest they fought, the mountain-dwelling centaurs, and they destroyed them terribly. With these men I had fellowship, when I came from
Achaea. Truly would Priam and the sons of Priam
All these things, old man, to be sure, you have spoken as is right. But this man wishes to be above all others; over all he wishes to rule and over all to be king, and to all to give orders; in this, I think, there is someone who will not obey. If the gods who exist for ever made him a spearman,1.290do they therefore license him [Note] to keep uttering insults? Brilliant Achilles broke in upon him and replied:
Surely I would be called cowardly and of no account, if I am to yield to you in every matter that you say. On others lay these commands, but do not give orders to me,1.295for I do not think I shall obey you any longer. And another thing I will tell you, and take it to heart: with my hands I will not fight for the girl's sake either with you nor with any other, since you are taking away what you have given. But of all else that is mine by my swift black ship, 1.300nothing will you take or carry away against my will. Come, just try, so that these too may know: forthwith will your dark blood flow forth about my spear. So when the two had made an end of contending with violent words, they rose, and broke up the gathering beside the ships of the Achaeans. 1.305The son of Peleus went his way to his huts and his balanced ships together with the son of Menoetius, and with his men; but the son of Atreus launched a swift ship on the sea, and chose for it twenty rowers, and drove on board a hecatomb for the god, and brought the fair-cheeked daughter of Chryses and set her in the ship; 1.310and Odysseus of many wiles went on board to take command.
Go to the hut of Achilles, Peleus' son, and take by the hand the fair-cheeked Briseis, and lead her hither; and if he give her not, I will myself go with a larger company and take her; that will be even the worse for him.1.325 So saying he sent them forth, and laid upon them a stern command. Unwilling went the two along the shore of the barren sea, and came to the tents and the ships of the Myrmidons. Him they found sitting beside his tent and his black ship; and Achilles was not glad at sight of them. 1.330The two, seized with dread and in awe of the king, stood, and spoke no word to him, nor made question; but he knew in his heart, and spoke:
Hail, heralds, messengers of Zeus and men, draw near. It is not you who are guilty in my sight, but Agamemnon,1.335who sent you forth for the sake of the girl, Briseis. But come, Patroclus, sprung from Zeus, bring forth the girl, and give her to them to lead away. However, let these two themselves be witnesses before the blessed gods and mortal men, and before him, that ruthless king, if hereafter 1.340there shall be need of me to ward off shameful ruin from the host. Truly he rages with baneful mind, and knows not at all to look both before and after, that his Achaeans might wage war in safety beside their ships.
Mother, since you bore me, though to so brief a span of life, honour surely ought the Olympian to have given into my hands, Zeus who thunders on high; but now he has honoured me not a bit. Truly the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon1.355has dishonoured me: for he has taken and keeps my prize through his own arrogant act. So he spoke, weeping, and his lady mother heard him, as she sat in the depths of the sea beside the old man, her father. And speedily she came forth from the grey sea like a mist, and sat down before him, as he wept, 1.360and she stroked him with her hand, and spoke to him, and called him by name:
My child, why do you weep? What sorrow has come upon your heart? Speak out; hide it not in your mind, that we both may know.Then with heavy moaning spoke swift-footed Achilles to her:
You know. Why then should I tell the tale to you who knows all?1.365We went forth to Thebe, the sacred city of Eetion, and laid it waste, and brought here all the spoil. This the sons of the Achaeans divided properly among themselves, but for the son of Atreus they chose out the fair-cheeked daughter of Chryses. However, Chryses, priest of Apollo, who strikes from afar, 1.370came to the swift ships of the bronze-clad Achaeans, to free his daughter, bearing ransom past counting, and in his hands he held the wreaths of Apollo who strikes from afar, on a staff of gold, and he implored all the Achaeans, but most of all the two sons of Atreus, marshallers of the people. 1.375Then all the rest of the Achaeans shouted assent, to reverence the priest and accept the glorious ransom; yet the thing did not please the heart of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but he sent him away harshly, and laid upon him a stern command. So the old man went back again in anger; and Apollo 1.380heard his prayer, for he was very dear to him, and sent against the Argives an evil shaft. Then the people began to die thick and fast, and the shafts of the god ranged everywhere throughout the wide camp of the Achaeans. But to us the prophet with sure knowledge declared the oracles of the god who strikes from afar. 1.385
Ah me, my child, why did I rear you, cursed in my child-bearing? Would that it had been your lot to remain by your ships without tears and without grief,1.415since your span of life is brief and endures no long time; but now you are doomed to a speedy death and are laden with sorrow above all men; therefore to an evil fate I bore you in our halls. Yet in order to tell this your word to Zeus who delights in the thunderbolt I will myself go to snowy
Chryses, Agamemnon, king of men, sent me forth to bring to you your daughter, and to offer to Phoebus a holy hecatomb on the Danaans' behalf, that therewith we may propitiate the lord, who has now brought upon the Argives woeful lamentation.1.445 So saying he placed her in his arms, and he joyfully took his dear child; but they made haste to set in array for the god the holy hecatomb around the well-built altar, and then they washed their hands and took up the barley grains. Then Chryses lifted up his hands, and prayed aloud for them: 1.450
Hear me, god of the silver bow, who stands over1.455ward off now from the Danaans the loathly pestilence.
Chryseand holy Cilla, and rules mightily over Tenedos. As before you heard me when I prayed—to me you did honour, and mightily smote the host of the Achaeans—even so now fulfill me this my desire:
Father Zeus, if ever amid the immortals I gave you aid by word or deed, grant me this prayer: do honour to my son, who is doomed to a speedy death beyond all other men;1.505yet now Agamemnon, king of men, has dishonoured him, for he has taken and keeps his prize by his own arrogant act. But honour him, Olympian Zeus, lord of counsel; and give might to the Trojans, until the Achaeans do honour to my son, and magnify him with recompense. 1.510 So she spoke; but Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, spoke no word to her, but sat a long time in silence. Yet Thetis, even as she had clasped his knees, so held to him, clinging close, and questioned him again a second time:
Give me your infallible promise, and bow your head to it, or else deny me, for there is nothing to make you afraid; so that I may know well1.515how far I among all the gods am honoured the least. Then, greatly troubled, Zeus, the cloud-gatherer spoke to her:
Surely this will be sorry work, since you will set me on to engage in strife with Hera, when she shall anger me with taunting words. Even now she always upbraids me among the immortal gods,1.520and declares that I give aid to the Trojans in battle. But for the present, depart again, lest Hera note something; and I will take thought for these things to bring all to pass. Come, I will bow my head to you, that thou may be certain, for this from me is the surest token among the immortals; 1.525no word of mine may be recalled, nor is false, nor unfulfilled, to which I bow my head. The son of Cronos spoke, and bowed his dark brow in assent, and the ambrosial locks waved from the king's immortal head; and he made great
Who of the gods, crafty one, has now again taken counsel with you?1.540Always is it your pleasure to hold aloof from me, and to give judgments which you have pondered in secret, nor have you ever brought yourself with a ready heart to declare to me the matter which you devise. In answer to her spoke the father of men and gods:
Hera, do not hope to know all my words:1.545hard will they prove for you, though you are my wife. Whatever it is fitting for you to hear, this none other shall know before you, whether of gods or men; but what I wish to devise apart from the gods, of all this do not in any way inquire nor ask. 1.550 In answer to him spoke the ox-eyed lady Hera:
Most dread son of Cronos, what a word you have said! Truly, in the past I have not been accustomed to inquire nor ask you, but at your ease you devise all things whatever you wish. But now I have wondrous dread at heart, lest1.555silver-footed Thetis, daughter of the old man of the sea, have beguiled you; for at early dawn she sat by you and clasped your knees. To her, I think, you bowed your head in sure token that you will honour Achilles, and bring many to death beside the ships of the Achaeans. Then in answer to her spoke Zeus, the cloud-gatherer: 1.560
Strange one, [Note] you are always suspecting, and I do not escape you; yet you shall be able to accomplish nothing, but shall be even further from my heart; and that shall be the worse for you. If this thing is as you say, then it must be pleasing to me. Sit down in silence, and obey my word,1.565lest all the gods that are in
Surely this will be sorry work, that is no longer bearable, if you two are to wrangle thus for mortals' sakes, and set the gods in tumult; neither will there be any joy in the excellent feast,1.575since worse things prevail. And I give counsel to my mother, wise though she be herself, to do pleasure to our dear father Zeus, that the father upbraid her not again, and bring confusion upon our feast. What if the Olympian, the lord of the lightning, were minded 1.580to dash us from our seats! for he is mightiest far. But address him with gentle words; so shall the Olympian forthwith be gracious to us. So saying, he sprang up and placed in his dear mother's hand the double cup, and spoke to her: 1.585
Be patient, my mother, and endure for all your grief, lest, dear as you are to me, my eyes see you stricken, and then I shall in no way be able to succour you for all my sorrow; for a hard foe is the Olympian to meet in strife. On a time before this, when I was striving to save you,1.590he caught me by the foot and hurled me from the heavenly threshold; the whole day long I was carried headlong, and at sunset I fell in
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