Homer: The Iliad
There was no sweet
sleep for Zeus, though the other gods and
the warriors, those lords of the chariot, slept all night long, since he was
wondering how to honour Achilles and bring death
to the Achaeans beside their ships. And the plan he thought seemed best was to
send a false dream to Agamemnon. So he
spoke, summoning one with his winged words: ‘Go, evil dream, to the Achaean
long-ships, and when you reach Agamemnon’s hut speak exactly as I wish. Say he
must arm his long-haired Achaeans swiftly, for here is his chance to take the
broad-paved city of Troy. Say we immortals
who dwell on
So he commanded, and the dream came
swiftly to the Achaean long-ships, to Agamemnon, son of Atreus, resting in his
hut, lost in ambrosial slumber. It stood
there by his head, in the guise of Nestor,
son of Neleus, the king’s most trusted friend, and in Nestors’ form the dream
from heaven spoke: ‘Do you sleep, now, son of warlike Atreus, the horse-tamer?
A man of counsel, charged with an army, on whom responsibility so rests, should
not sleep! Listen closely now, I come as Zeus’ messenger, who cares for you,
far off though he may be, and feels compassion. He would have you arm your
long-haired Greeks speedily, for the broad-paved city of
With this the dream departed, leaving the king to ponder as he woke on things that would not happen, the belief – fool that he was – that he might take Priam’s city that very day. He little knew what Zeus had planned, the pain and sorrow he would bring to Greeks and Trojans in the mighty conflict. When he woke, the divine voice was still ringing in his ears. Seated on the bed, he donned his soft tunic, fresh and bright, and spreading his great cloak round him, bound fine sandals on his shining feet, and slung his silver-studded sword from his shoulder; then he took up his imperishable ancestral staff, and set off along the line of ships among the bronze-greaved Achaeans.
Now, as the goddess of
the dawn reached high
But first the king convened a council
of brave elders by Nestor’s ship, and
when they were met laid out a subtle plan, saying: ‘Listen, in ambrosial night a
dream from heaven came to me, my friends, resembling noble Nestor in stature,
looks and build. It stood by my head, and spoke, saying: “Do you sleep, now,
son of warlike Atreus, the horse-tamer? A man of counsel, charged with an army,
on whom responsibility so rests should not sleep! Listen closely now, I come as
Zeus’ messenger, who cares for you, far off though he may be, and feels
compassion. He would have you arm your long-haired Greeks with speed, for the
broad-paved city of
With this, he sat, and Nestor, king of sandy Pylos, rose to his feet. Benign of purpose, he addressed the gathering: ‘My friends, leaders, rulers of the Argives, if it was not the best of the Achaeans who had told us of this dream, we might think it a lie and ignore it, but rather let us find a way to rouse the Achaeans to arms.’
So saying, he led them from the
council, the other sceptred kings following their shepherd, while the troops massed
from all sides. Like swarms of bees, endlessly renewed, issuing from some
hollow rock, pouring in dense clouds to left and right through all the flowers of
spring, so from the ships and huts on the level sands, the many tribes marched
in companies to the assembly. And Rumour, Zeus’ messenger, drove them on like
wildfire, till all were gathered. Now the meeting-place was in turmoil, the
ground shook beneath as they were seated, while through the din nine heralds
shouted to subdue them, quiet them, and grant silence to their god-given kings.
With difficulty the men were seated in their places, and settled there in
quiet. Then Agamemnon rose, holding a sceptre Hephaestus himself had laboured over.
He had given it to Zeus, son of Cronos, and he in turn to Hermes, slayer of Argus. Hermes presented
it to Pelops, driver of horses, and he to Atreus, shepherd of the people: on his death it
was left to Thyestes, rich in flocks,
and Thyestes bequeathed it to Agamemnon to hold, as lord of
Leaning on his
sceptre, Agamemnon addressed the Argives:
‘My friends; warriors of
He spoke, and stirred the hearts in
their breasts, all of that host who had not been in Council. And the whole
Assembly was stirred, like long rollers in the Icarian
Then the Argives would
have sailed for home evading their destiny, had not Hera passed the word to Athene: ‘See, Atrytone,
daughter of Zeus the aegis-bearer! Shall the Argives run, like this, for their
native land, over the sea’s broad back? And Argive Helen, for whom so many Greeks have died,
far from their home at
The goddess, bright-eyed Athene, heard
her and willingly obeyed. Down from the heights of
At the sound of her voice he knew the goddess, and casting off his cloak for his Ithacan squire, Eurybates, to gather, he set off at a run. To Agamemnon he went, Atreides, and borrowed from him the imperishable sceptre, symbol of his house, and, grasping it, went among the ships of the bronze-greaved Greeks.
When he came upon men
of birth or rank, he would try to halt them with gentle words, saying: ‘It
would be wrong to threaten you, sir, like some common coward, but be seated and
make your followers do the same. You cannot see clear into Agamemnon’s mind; he is testing us, but soon
he will blast the sons of
But when he came upon some common soldier shouting, he drove him back with the sceptre and rebuked him: ‘Sit, man, and hear the words of better men than you; you are weak and lack courage, worthless in war or counsel. All cannot play the king, and a host of leaders is no wise thing. Let us have but the one leader, the one true king, to whom Zeus, the son of Cronos of wily counsel, gave sceptre and command, to rule his people wisely.’
So with his lordly ways he brought the ranks to heel, and they flocked back from their huts and ships to the Assembly, noisily, like a wave of the roaring sea when it thunders on the beach while the depths resound.
While the others were
seated and packed in close, the endlessly talkative Thersites alone let his tongue run on,
his mind filled with a store of unruly words, baiting the leaders wildly and
recklessly, aiming to raise a laugh among the men. He was the ugliest of all who
had come to
So Thersites railed at Agamemnon,
leader of men, but noble Odysseus was soon at his side, and rage in his look,
lashed him with harsh words: ‘Take care what you say, Thersites, so eloquent,
so reckless, take care when you challenge princes, alone. None baser than you
followed the Atreidae to
So saying, Odysseus, struck with his staff at Thersites’ back and shoulders, and the man cowered and shed a huge tear, as a bloody weal was raised behind by the golden staff. Then terrified, and in pain, he sat, helplessly wiping the tear from his eye. Then the Achaeans, despite their discontent, mocked him ruthlessly. ‘There,’ cried one to his neighbour, ‘Odysseus is ever a one for fine deeds, clever in counsel, and strategy, but this is surely the best thing he’s done for us Greeks, in shutting this scurrilous babbler’s mouth. I think Thersites’ proud spirit will shrink from ever again abusing kings with his foul words.’
Such was the general
verdict and now Odysseus, sacker of cities,
arose, staff in hand, and by his side, disguised as a herald, bright-eyed Athene stood, calling the Assembly to order, so
the nearest and farthest ranks of the Greeks might hear Odysseus’ words and
counsel. He, with their interests at heart, began his speech: ‘King Agamemnon, son of Atreus, it seems the Greeks
intend to make you an object of contempt to all mortal men, breaking the oath
they swore to you when they sailed from Argos, the horse-pasture, that they
would only sail home again when Troy had been destroyed. They wail like
children or widowed wives with their longing to return. Of course there is toil
enough here to make a man disheartened. Doesn’t a sailor in his benched ship
fret, when the winter gales and roaring seas keep him from wife and home for
even a month; while we are still held here after nine long years? Small blame
then to you Achaeans, impatient by your beaked ships, yet how shameful it would
be after this to return empty-handed! My friends endure a little longer, so we
may know the truth of Calchas’ prophecy.
You all have it in mind; you were witness to it, all you whom death has spared.
It seems but yesterday when our ships gathered at Aulis,
presaging woe for Priam and the Trojans, and we offered sacrifice to the
immortals on their holy altar beside the spring: from under a fine plane tree
that glittering water flowed. Then the portent: a fearsome serpent with
blood-red scales on its back, that Zeus himself had sent to seek the light,
slid from under the altar and sped to the tree. On the highest branch, cowering
beneath the leaves, were a sparrow’s nestlings, eight in all, and their mother there
too making nine. The snake caught and ate the nestlings as they cried
piteously, while the mother fluttered round calling for her children, then he
uncoiled and caught her by the wing as she screeched by. But when he had eaten
them all, the god transformed him in the light; the son of Cronos of the
The Greeks acclaimed
these words from godlike Odysseus, and the ships around echoed loudly at their
praise. Then Nestor, the Gerenian charioteer cried: ‘Now! You gather
here like foolish lads who care not a jot for war. What has become of all our
oaths and compacts? So much for the plans and stratagems of warriors, the
offerings of pure wine, the clasped hands pledging trust. Here we are, bandying
words in vain, and after it all we have solved nothing. Son of Atreus, hold
firm to your purpose, and lead the Argives in mighty combat. As for those few
who scheme behind our backs to run for
Now, my prince, listen and take good advice from me; what I say should not be ignored. Sort the men by tribes and clans, Agamemnon, so clan helps clan, and tribe aids tribe. Do this, and if the troops adhere to it, you’ll see which men, which leaders are cowards, and which are brave; since each clan fights then on its own behalf. And you will know whether it is heaven’s will that Troy remains untaken, or whether it is due to some men’s cowardice or lack of skill in war.’
‘Once more, my venerable lord, you
surpass the sons of
Off to your food now, all of you, before the battle. Sharpen your spears and have your shields ready, feed the swift horses, and prepare your chariots, then think on war so we may wage the hateful fight all day long. There will be not a moment’s rest till night parts the furious armies. The straps of his broad shield will be wet with sweat about many a man’s chest, his arm will weary of the spear, his horse will lather straining at the shining chariot, and whomever I see hanging back beside the beaked ships, far from the fight, shall not escape the dogs and carrion birds.’
At this, the Argives roared aloud, with a roar like the thunder of waves on a tall headland, when a southerly drives the sea against some jutting cape, that is never left unscathed whichever wind blows. They rose, and scattered quickly among the ships, lit fires in the huts and ate their meal. And each made sacrifice to the immortal gods, to whichever god they chose, praying they might escape death in the tumult of war. Agamemnon, their leader, himself sacrificed a fat five-year old ox to almighty Zeus, inviting the elders, the chiefs of the Achaeans, to attend. Nestor, first, and King Idomeneus, then Ajax and his namesake, and Diomedes son of Tydeus, and Odysseus, sixth, Zeus’ equal in counsel. Menelaus of the loud war-cry had no need of summons, for he knew his brother’s thoughts in the matter. They stood around the victim, and took up the sacred barley, and Agamemnon prayed: ‘Sky-dwelling Zeus, great and glorious lord of the thunder clouds, let the sun not set nor darkness fall before I have razed Priam’s smoke-blackened halls, torching his gates with greedy fire, ripping Hector’s tunic from his breast with the shredding bronze, toppling a host of his comrades round him, headlong in the dust to bite the earth.’ So he prayed, but Zeus would not yet grant his wish; accepting the offering, but prolonging the toils of war.
When they had offered their petition and scattered grains of barley, they drew back the victims’ heads, slit their throats and flayed them. Then they cut slices from the thighs, wrapped them in layers of fat, and laid raw meat on top. These they burned on billets of wood stripped of leaves, then spitted the innards and held them over the Hephaestean flames. When the thighs were burnt and they had tasted the inner meat, they carved the rest in small pieces, skewered and roasted them through, then drew them from the spits. Their work done and the meal prepared, they feasted and enjoyed the shared banquet, and when they had quenched immediate hunger and thirst, Nestor of Gerenia spoke up, saying: ‘Agamemnon, leader of men, glorious son of Atreus, let us stay here no longer, nor delay the work the god directs us to. Come, let the heralds of the bronze-greaved Achaeans make their rounds of the ships and gather the men together, and let us as generals inspect the whole army, so as to swiftly rouse the spirit of Ares in them.’
Agamemnon, king of men, did not fail to follow his lead. At once, he ordered the clear-voiced heralds to summon the long-haired Greeks to battle. They cried their summons and the troops swiftly gathered. The heaven-born princes of the royal suite sped about, marshalling the army, and with them went bright-eyed Athene, wearing the priceless, ageless, deathless aegis, from which a hundred intricate golden tassels flutter, each worth a hundred head of oxen. Shining she passed through the ranks of the Greeks, urging them on; and every heart she inspired to fight and war on without cease. And suddenly battle was sweeter to them than sailing home in the hollow ships to their own native land.
As a raging fire lights the endless forest on a high mountain peak, and the glare is seen from afar, so, as they marched, the glittering light flashed from their gleaming bronze through the sky to heaven.
As the countless flocks of wild birds, the geese, the cranes, the long-necked swans, gathering by Cayster’s streams in the Asian fields, wheel, glorying in the power of their wings, and settle again with loud cries while the earth resounds, so clan after clan poured from the ships and huts on Scamander’s plain, and the ground hummed loud to the tread of men and horses, as they gathered, in the flowery river-meadows, innumerable as the leaves and the blossoms in their season.
Like the countless swarms of flies that buzz round the cowherd’s yard in spring, when the pails are full of milk, as numerous were the long-haired Greeks drawn up on the plain, ready to fight the men of Troy and utterly destroy them.
And as goatherds swiftly sort the mingled flocks, scattered about the pastures, so their leaders ordered the ranks before the battle, King Agamemnon there among them, with head and gaze like Zeus the Thunderer, with Ares’ waist and Poseidon’s chest. As a bull, pre-eminent among the grazing cattle, stands out as by far the finest, so Zeus made Agamemnon seem that day, first among many, chieftain among warriors.
Tell me now, Muses, who live on Olympus – since you are goddesses, ever present and all-knowing, while we hearing rumour know nothing ourselves for sure – tell me who were the leaders and lords of the Danaans. For I could not count or name the multitude who came to Troy, though I had ten tongues and a tireless voice, and lungs of bronze as well, if you Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus, brought them not to mind. Here let me tell of the captains, and their ships.
First the Boeotians, led by Peneleos, Leitus, Arcesilaus, Prothoenor and Clonius; they came from Hyrie and stony Aulis, from Schoenus, Scolus and high-ridged Eteonus; from Thespeia and Graea, and spacious Mycalessus; from the villages of Harma, Eilesium and Erythrae; from Eleon, Hyle, Peteon, Ocalea and Medeon’s stronghold; from Copae, Eutresis, and dove-haunted Thisbe; from Coroneia and grassy Haliartus, Plataea and Glisas, and the great citadel of Thebes; from sacred Onchestus, Poseidon’s bright grove; from vine-rich Arne, Mideia, holy Nisa and coastal Anthedon. They captained fifty ships, each with a hundred and twenty young men.
Next those from Aspledon and Minyan Orchomenos, led by Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Ares whom the fair maiden Astyoche bore to the mighty god, for he lay with her in secret, in her room in the house of Actor, son of Azeus. They brought thirty hollow ships.
Then the Phocians, led by Schedius and Epistrophus, sons of Iphitus, great-heart, Naubolus’ son, men who held Cyparissus and rocky Pytho, holy Crisa, Daulis and Panopeus; dwellers in Anemoreia and Hyampolis; those from Lilaea by the springs of noble Cephisus, and those who lived along its banks. Forty black ships were their fleet, and the leaders ranked their Phocians beside the Boeotians on the left, and prepared to fight.
The Locrians followed Oileus’ swift-footed son Ajax the Lesser: inferior to, and not to be compared with, Telamonian Ajax. He was short, wore a linen corslet, but was more skilful with the spear than any other Hellene or Achaean. His troops came from Cynus, Opoeis, Calliarus, Bessa, and Scarphe, beautiful Augeiae, Tarphe and Thronium and the banks of Boagrius. Forty black Locrian ships he led from the shores facing sacred Euboea.
From there came the fire-breathing Abantes, who held Euboea, out of Chalcis, Eretria, and Histiaea rich in vines, Cerinthus by the shore, and Dion’s high citadel, lords too of Carystus and Styra. Elephenor led them, scion of Ares, and son of Chalcodon: and his swift courageous Abantes, their hair worn long behind, were ready with outstretched spears of ash to tear the corslet from the enemy’s chest. Forty black ships were his.
came from their fine citadel in great-hearted Erechtheus’s kingdom. he, the child of
fruitful Earth; he whom Athene, Zeus’ daughter, nurtured. She gave him
From Argos, and Tiryns of the great walls, from Hermione and Asine that embrace a gulf of sea, from Troezen, Eionae, and vine-clad Epidaurus, there came those whom, with the Achaean youth of Aegina and Mases, Diomedes of the great war-cry led, and Sthenelus, son of famous Capaneus, and Euryalus, godlike fighter, son of King Mecisteus Talaus’ son, making three, but Diomedes of the great war-cry was over all. And eighty black ships brought them.
From the great citadel of Mycenae, from rich Corinth, from well-built Cleonae, Orneiae, sweet Araethyrea and Sicyon, where Adrastus first was king, from Hyperesia, steep Gonoessa and Pellene, from all round Aegium, all through Aegialus, and Helice’s broad lands came the followers of King Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, in a hundred ships. And they were the largest and the best contingent. Clad in gleaming bronze, a king in glory, he reigned over the armies, as the noblest leader of the greatest force.
From the hollow lands and valleys of Lacedaemon they came, from Pharis, Sparta, and dove-haunted Messe, from Bryseiae and lovely Augeiae, from Amyclae and the sea fort, Helos, from Laas, and Oetylus, in sixty ships commanded by Agamemnon’s brother, Menelaus of the loud-war-cry, and took up separate station. He strode among them, confident and ardent, urging his men to battle; none more eager to avenge the toil and sorrow Helen had caused.
From Pylos, and lovely Arene; from the ford of the Alpheius at Thryum, from well-built Aepy, from Cyparisseis, and Amphigeneia, Pteleos, Helos, and Dorium, where Thamyris the Thracian met the Muses, as he came from Eurytus’ house in Oechalia, and they put an end to all his singing: he who had boasted he would win his contest with those aegis-bearing daughters of Zeus, they blinding him in anger, robbing him of his sweet gift of song, so he forgot the cunning of his harp; in their fleet of ninety hollow ships the warriors came, led by Nestor the Gerenian charioteer.
From Arcadia, beneath Cyllene’s steep, by Aepytus’ tomb, where warriors train to fight hand to hand; from Pheneos and Orchomenus, rich in flocks, from Rhipe and Stratia and windswept Enispe; from Tegea and lovely Mantineia, Stymphalus and Parrhasia, led by prince Agapenor, Ancaeus’ son, they sailed in sixty ships, a fleet of battle-hardened warriors. For Agamemnon king of men had given them benched ships to cross the wine-dark wave, since the Arcadians knew nothing of the sea.
From Buprasium, from that tract of Elis which Hyrmine, Myrsinus by the shore, Olen’s Rock, and Alesium enclose, came the Epeians in four squadrons of ten ships. Their four leaders were Amphimachus son of Cteatus, Thalpius, son of Eurytus, these two of the House of Actor, third Amarynceus’ son, the brave Diores, and fourth godlike Polyxeinus, son of king Agasthenes, son of Augeias.
From Dulichium, from the holy isles of Echinae, that look towards Elis, came forty black ships led by warlike Meges, son of Phyleus, the Zeus-beloved horseman, who, quarrelling with his father, had settled in Dulichium long ago.
From Ithaca and the windswept forest slopes of Neriton, Odysseus led the brave Cephallenians; from Crocyleia and rugged Aegilips; from Same and Zacynthus and the mainland opposite; Odysseus, Zeus’ peer in counsel. And twelve ships with crimson prows he mustered.
From Pleuron, Olenus, and Pylene, from Chalcis near the sea and rocky Calydon, Thoas, Andraemon’s son led the Aetolians. Brave Oeneus, his sons, and red-haired Meleager were no more, Thoas now had kingship over all, and forty black ships were his.
From Crete, of a hundred populous cities, Idomeneus the famous spearman, led men of Cnossos and walled Gortyn, of Lyctus, Miletus, chalky Lycastos, Phaestus and Rhytium. And he shared the leadership with Meriones, peer of Ares-Enyalius, slayer of men. And they captained eighty black ships.
From Rhodes, from its three cities of Lindos, Ialysus and chalky Cameirus, came nine shiploads of the noble
Rhodians, led by Tlepolemus,
tall and powerful, the son of Heracles.
Famed for his spearmanship, Tlepolemus; whom Astyocheia
bore to Heracles; she whom he’d brought from Ephyre from the River Selleïs, where he sacked a host of
cities held by warriors beloved of Zeus. Grown to manhood in the palace,
Tlepolemus killed Licymnius, his
father’s aged uncle, scion of Ares. Menaced by
the rest of Heracles’ sons and grandsons, he swiftly built a fleet, and
gathering a host of men, fled across the sea.
Next, from Syme, Nireus
led three fine ships, he the son of King Charopus
and Aglaia, and the handsomest man next to
peerless Achilles of all the Danaans at
And from Nisyrus, from Carpathus, Casus, Cos, Eurypylus’ stronghold, and the Calydnian Isles, came thirty hollow ships commanded by Pheidippus and Antiphus, Thessalus’ two sons, he himself the son of Heracles.
From Pelasgian Argos too they came, from Alos, Alope and Trachis, those who held Phthia, and Hellas, the land of lovely women; the Myrmidons were they, the Hellenes, and Achaeans; and Achilles commanded them and their fifty ships. Yet now bitter battle was far from their minds, lacking leadership in the war, since noble Achilles, the swift of foot, rested idle among the ships, filled with his wrath because of fair Briseis, whom he’d won by his exploits at Lyrnessus, razing it and storming Thebe’s wall, slaughtering Mynes and Epistrophus, bold spearmen, warrior sons of King Evenus, Selepus’ son. Achilles grieved for her now, and would not fight, though fated to do so before long.
From Phylace, and Pyrasus, Demeter’s flowery precinct; from Iton, mother of flocks, and Antron near the sea, from grassy Pteleos, warlike Protesilaus, led men while he lived, though now indeed the black earth had claimed him, slain by a Trojan warrior, first of the Achaeans to leap ashore. His wife, her face scratched, wailed in their half-built house in Phylace. Now Podarces, scion of Ares, son of Iphiclus, Phylacus’ son, rich in flocks, commanded them. He was younger brother to brave Protesilaus, a noble warrior, the elder and the better man. So the army had its leader though they mourned the leader lost. And forty ships Podarces commanded.
From Methone, Thaumacia, Meliboea, and rugged Olizon, seven ships, commanded by the mighty bowman Philoctetes, were manned by fifty oarsmen skilled in archery. Now, King Philoctetes lay in agony on holy Lemnos’ isle, where the Greeks had left him suffering a deadly water-snake’s foul venom. There he lay, in pain, yet destined before long to occupy the thoughts of the Argives by their ships. Though longing for him, his men were not leaderless, since Medon, the bastard son of Oïleus, commanded, whom Rhene had born to that sacker of cities.
From Argissa, and Gyrtone, Orthe and Elone, and Oloösson’s white city, came those led by Polypoetes, dauntless son of Peirithous, child of immortal Zeus, whom noble Hippodameia bore on the day when Peirithous wrought vengeance on the shaggy Centaurs, and drove them from Pelion to the land of the Aethices. Polypoetes shared command of a further forty ships with Leonteus, scion of Ares, the son of noble Coronus, Caeneus’ son.
From Cyphus twenty-two ships sailed, commanded by Gouneus, and with him sailed those of the Enienes and the dauntless Perrhaebi whose homes encircled wintry Dodona, and who tilled the fields beside the fair Titaressus, that pours its swift stream into Peneius, not mixing with those silver currents, but flowing over them like oil, a branch of the river Styx, the dread flood by which oaths are sworn.
Such were the lords and leaders of the Greeks. But tell me, Muse, which were the finest horses and men of the Atreidae’s host?
Best by far of the horses were those of Admetus, Pheres’ son: horses swift as birds, which his own son Eumelus drove. Mares, alike in age, their coats were alike, and their backs true as a level. Apollo, lord of the silver bow, had reared them in Pereia, to send panic through the ranks of the enemy.
With Achilles consumed by anger, Telamonian Ajax, was the finest fighting man among the rest, though Achilles, Peleus’ peerless son, was mightier by far, he and his horses. But Achilles sulked among the beaked sea-going ships, nursing his quarrel with Agamemnon, king of men, while his men threw the discus and the javelin, and practiced archery on the shore, and their horses, un-harnessed, munched idly on cress and parsley from the marsh, the covered chariots housed in their masters’ huts. Longing for their warlike leader, his warriors roamed their camp, out of the fight.
The Greeks marched on, like a fire sweeping the earth, and the ground shook beneath them, as when Zeus the Thunderer in anger lashes the land of the Arimi, where they say Typhoeus has his bed. The earth echoed under their feet as they sped across the plain.
Meanwhile Iris, Zeus’ messenger, flew on the wind to the Trojans bearing the fateful news. The men were gathered, young and old, at Priam’s Gate, when swift-footed Iris spoke to them in the voice of Polites, Priam’s son, whom the Trojans, trusting in his speed, had posted as lookout on the heights of old Aesyetes’ mound, watching for the Greeks to sortie from their ships. Taking his likeness, swift Iris spoke to Priam.
‘Interminable speech is as dear to you, my lord, as it was in peacetime; but endless war is upon us. I have been a party to many battles, but never have I seen so large and strong an army, innumerable as leaves or grains of sand they whirl over the plain to besiege the city. I charge you, Hector, above all, to act. Priam has many allies in the city, and each speaks the language of their land. Let each leader give the word, and marshal his countrymen for battle.’
Hector knew the voice of the goddess, and immediately dismissed the assembly, in a rush to arm. They threw the gates wide, and out poured the army, infantry and chariots, with a mighty roar.
Beyond the city, far off in the plain, stands a steep mound with clear ground on every side, that men call Batieia (Thorn Hill), but immortals the grave of dancing Myrine. There the Trojans formed battle array.
Aeneas, Anchises’ noble son led the Dardanians. Aphrodite conceived him, the goddess bedding his mortal father among the spurs of Ida. And he shared command with Antenor’s two sons, Archelochus and Acamas, skilled in all kinds of warfare.
Amphius, in linen corslet, sons of
Percote, led those from
Adrasteia and the
And dauntless Pylaemenes commanded the Paphlagonians from the land of the Eneti, where they breed savage mules. They lived in Cytorus, and around Sesamus, and built their noble houses by the River Parthenius, in Cromna, Aegialus and high Erythini.
Phorcys and great Ascanius led the battle-thirsty Phrygians from distant Ascania, while Mesthles and Antiphus, the sons of Talaemenes, whose mother was the nymph of the Gygaean Lake, led the Maeonians whose cradle was the slopes of Mount Tmolus.
Nastes lead the Carians, who spoke a barbarous tongue, from Miletus, from the slopes of Phthires cloaked in leaves, from Maeander’s streams and Mycale’s high steeps: Nastes and Amphimachus, the noble sons of Nomion. And the latter came to fight decked like a girl with gold, though his gold could not save him from sad fate, slain in the river-bed by swift-footed Achilles, who providently stripped him of his riches.