Homer: The Iliad

Book XXI

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply.


BkXXI:1-33 Achilles reaches the Scamander

Driving the Trojans to the ford of the noble River, the eddying Xanthus begot of immortal Zeus, Achilles there cut their force in two. Some he drove towards the city, over the plain where the Greeks had been routed the day before by glorious Hector’s valour. They poured across it in flight, while Hera spread a dense fog there to thwart them.

Battle at the River

‘Battle at the River’ - Crispijn van de Passe (I), 1613

The rest were forced into the deep pools of the river with its silvery currents, flinging themselves into the echoing water, splashing through the falls, as the banks resounded. This way and that they swam, shouting, whirled about in the flow. Like a swarm of locusts fleeing before the sudden remorseless onset of raging fire, that fly to a river and cluster in its shallows, so the echoing pools of swirling Xanthus were filled with a confusion of men and horses at the onset of Achilles.

There the warrior, beloved of Zeus, left his spear against a tamarisk bush, and leapt in, like a demon, with only his sword, striking right and left, murder in his heart. Hideous groans rose from the dying men, and the water was red with their blood. The Trojans cowered in the pools of that terrible stream, under the overhanging banks, like swarms of fish fleeing a huge dolphin that greedily devours all it catches and filling the coves in some sheltered bay or harbour. When his arms were weary of the slaughter, Achilles dragged twelve youths alive from the water, as a blood price for Patroclus, son of Menoetius. He drove them like dazed fawns to the bank, tied their hands behind them with the pliant straps of their own fine tunics, and left it to his men to take them to the ships. Then he turned back again, eager for the kill.

BkXXI:34-135 The death of Lycaon

Achilles now encountered Lycaon, a son of Priam, escaping from the river. He had met the man before in a night sortie, taking him captive in his father’s orchard, where he had been trimming the young shoots from a wild fig tree with his keen knife to make chariot rails. Noble Achilles had descended on him like a lightning bolt from the dark sky, bundled him aboard ship, and sold him at Lemnos, Jason’s son being the purchaser. He was ransomed from Lemnos, at a heavy price, by a friend Eëtion of Imbros, who sent him to sacred Arisbe, but he had slipped away secretly, and returned to Troy, his ancestral home, though he had no more than eleven days to enjoy the company of his friends. For on the twelfth the gods drove him yet again into the hands of Achilles who was now to send him to the House of Hades, loath though he was to go.

Fleet-footed Achilles found him defenceless, without helmet, shield, or spear, all of which he had dropped in his weariness, his knees giving way beneath him, sweat pouring from him, as he struggled from the river. Achilles mused on this with wonder, communing with his proud heart: ‘Well now, marvels will never cease! If this man can return, perhaps I’ll see every brave Trojan I’ve killed rise again from the darkness, escaping the merciless day of death, as this man has escaped from sacred Lemnos, despite those great stretches of grey sea, that put paid to many a longing. Here then, let him taste the point of my spear, so I can discover whether he’ll return from the underworld, or be thwarted by the fertile earth, that holds even the mighty.’

So he mused and waited, while Lycaon came to him, eager to clasp Achilles’ knees, and cheat vile death and dark destiny. Noble Achilles raised his long spear, ready to strike him down, but Lycaon stooped beneath the shaft, stumbled in and clasped the warrior’s knees, so the spear, though eager to glut itself on human flesh, slid over his back, and fixed itself in the ground. Then clasping Achilles’ knee with one hand, and clinging relentlessly to the sharp-bladed shaft with the other, words of supplication poured from him: ‘Achilles, at your knees I beg for your acknowledgement and mercy. I come as a known suppliant to you, Beloved of Zeus, for I first ate bread at your table the day you took me captive in the orchard, and took me far from parents and friends, to sell me in sacred Lemnos. I brought you the price of a hundred oxen. Then I was ransomed, for three times as much, and this is the twelfth day since I came home to Ilium after all my suffering, only for mortal fate to place me once more in your hands. Father Zeus must surely hate me, to do so to me again. I am the son, doomed to a brief span it seems, of Laothoe, daughter of old Altes, king of the warlike Leleges, who holds lofty Pedasus above the Satnioeis. Priam wed his daughter, and she bore two sons, both fated to fall into your hands. Godlike Polydorus you killed in the front line, striking him with a throw of your sharp spear, and now evil comes to me, since I, whom a god brings to your feet, seem fated to be your victim. Yet it is one more reason not to kill me, since you now know I am not from the womb that bore Hector, who slew your great and gentle friend.’ So the highborn son of Priam pleaded with Achilles, but harsh was the reply.

‘Fool, do not talk to me of ransom, make me no speeches! Before the day of fate overtook Patroclus, I had a mind to spare you Trojans. Many I took alive, selling them far away. Now not one shall keep his life, of all the gods send to my hands before Troy not one solitary Trojan, and least of all the sons of Priam. You too, my friend, must die: why so sad? Patroclus, a far better man, has died. Or look at me, how big and fine I am, my father’s a great man, and a goddess bore me, yet death and remorseless fate await me too, either at sunrise, evening or high noon, some man in battle will strike me with his spear, or pierce me with an arrow from his bow.’

So he spoke, and Lycaon’s heart failed him, his knees likewise, and letting go the spear he sank to the ground his arms outstretched. But Achilles, drawing his keen sword, struck him on the neck and collarbone, the double-edged blade biting through, so he fell headlong in the dust, and the black blood ran out and soaked the earth. Then Achilles seized him by the heel and hurled him to the river to be washed away, taunting him with winged words: ‘Lie with the fish: they’ll suck the blood from your wounds, they’ll care not a jot for you, nor will your mother lay you on a bier to mourn, but swirling Scamander will wash you to the deep sea’s maw. Many a fish will dart among the waves, rising beneath the dark surface to eat Lycaon’s white flesh. Death to you, Trojans, till I reach sacred Troy: you run in front, I’ll cut you down behind. Nor will the fine river, its whirling silver, save you, though you’ve sacrificed to Scamander these many years, slaughtering bulls and hurling living horses into his stream. You too must die, and meet dark fate, till you have paid for Patroclus and the Greeks, killed near the swift ships, while I was gone.’

BkXXI:136-199 The death of Asteropaeus

The River-god was angered further by his words, and pondered how to end great Achilles’ exploits, and save the Trojans from ruin. Meanwhile that son of Peleus leapt with his long-shadowed spear on Asteropaeus, Pelegon’s son, eager to slay him. Pelegon was the son of Periboea, Acessamenus’ eldest daughter, and the broad deep-swirling River Axius, for the River-God had lain with her. As Achilles ran at him, Asteropaeus emerged from the stream to face him, a spear in each hand, and Xanthus filled his heart with courage, angered at the youths that Achilles, devoid of pity, was slaughtering in his depths. As they advanced to meet each other, noble Achilles, the fleet of foot, questioned him: ‘Who are you and where do you hail from, who dare to come against me? Sad are those whose sons encounter my prowess.’

‘Proud son of Peleus,’ Pelegon’s noble son replied, ‘since you ask, I come from fertile far-off Paeonia, and reached Ilium eleven days ago, leading the long-speared Paeonians, but my descent is from broad-flowing Axius, the loveliest stream on the face of the earth, who begot the famous spearman Pelegon, whom they say was my father. Now, noble Achilles let us fight!’

Asteropaeus spoke defiantly, as noble Achilles raised his shaft of Pelian ash, and hurled his own two spears both together, being skilled with either hand. His one spear struck Achilles’ shield but failed to pierce it, blunted by the layer of gold in the god’s gift, while the other struck Achilles’ right forearm a glancing blow so the black blood flowed, though the spear, despite its eagerness to slake itself in the flesh, flew over him and fixed itself in the ground. Achilles in turn, eager to kill him, hurled his true ash spear at Asteropaeus, but missed his mark, hitting the overhanging bank, driving the ash spear in to half its length. Drawing his sharp sword from its sheath by his side, the son of Peleus ran towards his man, who was trying to drag Achilles’ ash spear from the wall with his strong hand. Three times it quivered in his eager grasp, three times he failed. A fourth time he wrestled to bend Peleus’ ash spear and break it, but before he could do so, Achilles reached him and struck him with his sword. It took him in the belly by the navel, his guts spilled out on the ground, and as he lay gasping for breath darkness shrouded his eyes. Achilles set a foot on his chest and stripped him of his armour, in triumph: ‘Lie there, and learn how hard it is to fight a scion of almighty Zeus, child of a river-god though you may be. If you are born of a wide-flowing river, well I am of mighty Zeus’ lineage. The king of the thronging Myrmidons is my father, Peleus, the son of Aeacus, as Aeacus was the son of Zeus. And as Zeus is a greater god than the gods of the sea-bound rivers, so is his offspring greater than a river’s child. Now a great river washes your feet, but cannot save you, for none can fight a scion of Zeus. Not even Achelous vies with him or the mighty and deep-flowing Ocean, source of the rivers and the sea, the springs and the deep wells: even he fears Zeus’ lightning, when dread thunder crashes from the sky.’

BkXXI:200-297 Achilles is opposed by the Scamander

With this, Achilles plucked his bronze-tipped spear from the bank, and left the corpse of Asteropaeus lying on the sand, in shallow water, where the eels and fish were already at work, nibbling the kidneys and devouring the fat, and went after the Paeonian charioteers, still huddled by the swirling river, having seen their champion die in combat at the hands and sword of the son of Peleus. There he killed Thersilochus, Mydon, Astypylus, Mnesus, Thrasius, Aenius and Ophelestes, and more too would have died if the eddying River had not taken on human form, and called to him angrily from the deep current: ‘Achilles, you are more than a man in strength and in dark deeds too, and the gods always defend you. If Zeus wants you to kill every last Trojan, then at least drive them from my stream, and do your grim work in the plain. My lovely channels are choked with the dead, and how can I send my waters down to the glittering sea, if you go on with your ruthless slaughter, fouling them with corpses? Prince among men, cease now, you appal me.’

Fleet-footed Achilles replied: ‘Scamander, child of Zeus, as you have said so indeed it will be, for I shall not leave off killing Trojans till I have penned them in their city, and tested Hector in close combat, to see which of us shall die.’ With this, he rushed at the Trojans in godlike fury.

Now, the deep-swirling River called out to Apollo: ‘Lord of the Silver Bow, Zeus’s child, is this how you execute your Father’s plans? He told you to stand by the Trojans’ side and be their salvation till dusk darkened the fertile earth.’

Even as he spoke, Achilles, the great spearman, leapt from the bank into the heart of the stream. Xanthus stirred the waters to fury, and rushed on him in spate, bellowing like a bull, sweeping up the host of dead that choked his river-bed, and hurling them on shore. But the living he protected with his dark waters, concealing them among the wide deep pools. The raging current rose against Achilles, beating his shield down and driving him back, so he could barely stand. He clutched at a fine tall elm, but it tore away at the roots, pulling down the bank and collapsing into the flood, sinking deep and damming the whole river. Now Achilles sprang for the shore, and set off running swiftly over the plain, gripped by fear. The River-god came on, as a dark wall of water, meaning to end Achilles’ slaughter and save the Trojans from ruin. The son of Peleus, racing off, had a spear-throw’s start as he swooped away like a black eagle, that mighty raptor, strongest and swiftest of winged creatures, while the bronze armour clanged at his chest as he swerved and fled from the arching wave that followed him with its angry roar. Like a stream of water a farmer channels from a shadowy spring, through his beds and plots, mattock in hand, clearing all obstructions, that sweeping along the stones beneath slips swiftly along the slope with a murmur, running faster than its guide, so the River constantly overtook fleet-footed Achilles, fast though he ran, for the gods are greater than men.

Whenever noble Achilles tried to make a stand, and see if it was the will of all the heavenly gods to drive him off, each time a mighty billow of the heaven-fed River would beat at his shoulders, and he would spring away with a leap, his heart racing, while the violent flood broke over his weary knees, and washed away the earth under his feet. Then the son of Peleus shouted aloud, looking up to the skies, with a bitter cry: ‘Father Zeus, why won’t some god take pity on me in my plight and rescue me from the River? Then shall I suffer whatever fate is mine. My mother, of all the immortals, is most to blame, fooling me with false prophecies, saying I would fall to Apollo’s swift dart under the walls of Troy. I wish now Hector, their champion, had killed me, fine man would have slain fine warrior. Now it seems I’m to meet a wretched fate, trapped in this great river like some lad driving the pigs who gets swept away by the torrent as he fords a wintry crossing.’

In a moment, Poseidon and Athene responded to his cry, and rushed to his side. Taking human form, they grasped his arms and reassured him. Poseidon, Earth-Shaker, then spoke: ‘Courage, Achilles, have no fear, I, Poseidon, and Pallas Athene, are here with Zeus’ blessing to help you. It is not your fate to be drowned by any river. Xanthus will soon subside, as you will see. But here is some good advice, if you’ll but listen. Go on, indeed, with your grim work till you pen whatever is left of the Trojan army inside the great walls of Troy, but when you have killed Hector, then return to the ships: this glory we grant you.’

Poseidon and Athene rally Achilles

‘Poseidon and Athene rally Achilles’ - Workshop of Bernard Picart, 1710

BkXXI:298-382 Hephaestus blasts the River with fire

The gods, their message delivered, returned to join the other immortals, while Achilles, inspired by Poseidon’s words, advanced over the plain. The whole area was flooded, and the corpses and fine armour of a host of young men slain in battle were awash there. Leaping along through the water, he worked his way up-stream, Athene granting him such strength that the spreading river failed to halt him. Not that Xanthus’ power was less, for his wrath against Peleus’ son increased, and towering up in a surging crest, he called across to Simoïs: ‘Dear brother, let us unite to stop this man or he’ll waste great Priam’s city, and the Trojans will lose the war. Speed to my aid, fill your streams with water from your source, and raise a torrent, send down a mighty wave, with a clashing of logs and rocks, so we can thwart this savage who thinks himself equal to the gods and carries all before him. I say strength and beauty will help him not, nor his fine armour that will lie deep drowned in the mud. I will roll him in sand and pile a mountain of pebbles over his flesh. So deep the silt I’ll cover him with, no Greek will know where his bones are buried. He’ll not need a funeral mound when the Greeks perform their rites: here now is his tomb all prepared.’

So saying, he towered on high, and rushed at Achilles in a surge of rage, seething with foam and blood and corpses. And over the son of Peleus hung a great wave of the heaven-fed river, threatening to overwhelm him. Now Hera cried out, gripped by terror lest the broad deep-swirling stream should sweep Achilles away. Quickly she called to her dear son Hephaestus: ‘Up, my child, on your crooked feet! You we thought to match in this fight against whirling Xanthus. Be swift to save, and rouse your flames. I will hasten to stir the winds from the sea, a fierce Westerly gale and a sharp Southerly, to spread the fierce conflagration till the Trojan dead and their amour are utterly consumed. You must scorch the trees along Xanthus’ banks, and wall his course with flames. Don’t let him deter you with threats or tender speeches, nor must you mitigate your force, until I call you off with a cry: then, quench your restless fires.’

Hephaestus answered her with a wondrous blaze, that began by burning the host of dead that strewed the plain, the victims of Achilles, until the plain was dry and the streams abated, as a Northerly wind dries a newly-wet orchard at fruit-harvest, to the delight of him who must pick the crop. Soon the whole plain was bone dry, and the corpses consumed. Then Hephaestus turned his bright flame on the river itself. The elms, willows and tamarisks burned, the rushes and sedge and lotus leaves that grew densely along the winding streams, and the eels and fish thrashed about in the swirling pools, tormented by artful Hephaestus’ fiery blast. The mighty River himself was scalded, and cried out to the god: ‘Hephaestus, you’re a match for any immortal. I’ll not fight you while you’re wreathed in flame. Cease this battle, and let noble Achilles drive the Trojans from their city. What business of mine are war and conflict?’

So he spoke, his silver waters boiling and seething, fringed with fire. Like the melted lard of a fat hog, in a cauldron set on a fierce flame of dry kindling, that bubbles and seethes throughout, so his flood boiled and steamed. Lacking the will to flow onward, he sank back, troubled by artful Hephaestus’ fiery blast. He cried out to Hera, for mercy, in winged words: ‘Why does your son torment my stream above all others, Hera? Surely I am less guilty in your eyes than all the others who aid the Trojans? I will desist at your command, if he will also refrain. Moreover, I’ll swear this oath, never to try and save the Trojans from their day of doom, not even if all Troy is ablaze, wreathed in consuming fire, at the hands of the warlike Greeks.’

When the goddess, white-armed Hera, heard his cry, she called quickly to her dear son: ‘Enough, Hephaestus, my noble child. We must not harm an immortal for the sake of a mere man.’ Hephaestus responded to her words, and quenched his mighty conflagration, and the current began to flow again along its lovely channels.

BkXXI:383-525 The Immortals quarrel

Xanthus’ force was spent, Hera’s command had ended the conflict, though she was still resentful, but the other gods, torn in opposing directions by strong passions, were occupied in dire and momentous strife. They clashed with a mighty tumult, earth rang, and heaven echoed with sound like a trumpet blast. Zeus, on Olympus, heard the row, and he laughed to himself with joy, witnessing the immortals’ quarrel. Ares, the breaker of shields, bronze spear in hand, wasting not a moment, leapt at Athene and began the fight, with a shout of abuse: ‘Yet again, you gad-fly, you set the immortals at one another, you with your fiery impudence, and your boundless pride. Remember the time when you spurred Diomedes on to wound me, grasping the spear-shaft yourself, sending that blade straight towards me and tearing my sweet flesh. Now you’ll pay, I say, for all you’ve done.’

With that the murderous war-god lashed out with his long spear, striking her tasselled aegis, that dread aegis that resists even Zeus’s lightning, and she stepped back. Then, in her powerful hand, she grasped a great black jagged stone that men had raised, on the plain, in former times to mark a field boundary. She struck the angry Ares on the neck, and knocked him down, with a clash of armour, and he lay stretched out over an acre of ground, his hair in the dust, Pallas Athene laughed in triumph: ‘You have still not learnt to know my strength: it’s greater than yours, you fool, if you try and match it with mine. That’s how you’ll shake off the Furies your mother invoked against you, plotting trouble, since you angered her by siding with the insolent Trojans against her Greeks.’

So saying, she turned away her bright gaze, as Aphrodite, Zeus’ daughter, took his arm and led him from the field, recovering his breath with a groan. But white-armed Hera saw, and called to Athene: ‘Aegis-bearing Atrytone, child of Zeus, that gad-fly is helping Ares, the mortals’ bane, through the ranks and away from the battle. After her: quickly!’

Eagerly, Athene sped away in pursuit, at her words, and rushing at Aphrodite struck her a heavy blow on the chest. Aphrodite collapsed, without a murmur. There lay Ares and Aphrodite on the dark earth, while Athene triumphed over them: ‘May all the rest who help the Trojans meet the same fate! If they are all as brave and resolute as Aphrodite here, Ares’ defender against me, the war will soon be over and populous Troy a ruin.’

The white-armed goddess, Hera, smiled at this, but Poseidon Earth-Shaker turned to Apollo, saying: ‘Phoebus, why are you holding off? It can’t be right to leave it to the others. Shame on us if we scurry back to Olympus, to Zeus’ bronze threshold, without fighting! You, the younger, should attack me first, given I am older and more experienced. Ah, what a empty-witted fool you are! Have you forgotten what we two suffered here at Troy, when by Zeus’ command we served proud Laomedon for a year? The wages were set, and how that king ordered us around! I built a fine wide wall round the Trojan city, to render it impregnable, while you, Apollo, were herdsman of their sleek shambling cattle, on the wooded spurs of many-ridged Ida. But when the bright season brought an end to our term, that rogue Laomedon cheated us of payment, threatening to bind our hands and feet and sell us into some distant isle. He even talked of lopping our ears off with his knife! So we went away with anger in our hearts, robbed of the wages he had promised. Now you show favour to his race, instead of seeing to it along with us that the haughty Trojans, their wives and children face utter ruin.’

‘Earth-Shaker,’ replied Lord Apollo, the Far-Striker, ‘you would hardly call me wise if I fought with you for the sake of these wretched mortals, now full of life, eating the earth’s fruit, now fading away and falling like the leaves. Let us cease arguing now, let them fight their own battles.’ Then he turned away, ashamed to quarrel with his own uncle. But now his sister Artemis, Queen of the Creatures, Goddess of the Wild, reviled him with harsh rebukes: ‘So you are off now, Far-Striker, yielding all to Poseidon, handing him victory without a struggle! What’s the sense, you fool, in carrying a bow as useless as the wind? Don’t let me hear you boast again in our Father’s house, as you did before among us immortals, that you’d fight Poseidon hand to hand!’

Apollo, the Far-Striker, did not deign to answer, but Hera, revered as Zeus’ wife, rebuked the Lady of the Bow angrily: ‘You want to fight with me now, do you, bold and shameless as you are? I am no mean opponent, I tell you, if you seek a challenge, even though you wield the bow, and Zeus made you a lioness where women are concerned, letting you kill them as you wish. You’ll find it better sport, though, to slaughter deer and other prey in the mountains, than take on someone fiercer than yourself. But if that’s your idea, to vie with me in strength, then let this teach you who is stronger.’

So saying, she seized the other’s wrists in her left hand, snatched Artemis’ bow and quiver from her shoulders and, laughing all the while, boxed her on the ears with the weapons as she writhed, scattering the winged arrows. Artemis fled weeping from her, like a dove, flying from a falcon, which finds a cleft or hollow in the cliffs so cheating fate. She took her tears with her, but left the bow and arrows where they lay. Then the Messenger God, Hermes, Slayer of Argus, called across to her mother: ‘Don’t worry! I’ll not fight you Leto! It looks like hard work trading blows with a consort of Zeus the Cloud-Gatherer. Go boast to your heart’s content to the immortals of how your great strength bettered me.’

At this, Leto gathered the curved bow and the scattered arrows from the dust, and went off carrying her daughter’s weapons. Meanwhile the archer maiden herself had reached Olympus, and run to Zeus’ house with its bronze threshold, and now sat sobbing in her Father’s lap, her scented robes all a-quiver. The son of Cronos drew his daughter to him, laughing: ‘Which of the Heavenly Ones seems to have ill-used you unfairly, dear child, thinking perhaps you were up to mischief?’ ‘Father,’ the Huntress of the Echoing Chase, she of the Lovely Crown, replied: ‘it was your own wife, white-armed Hera, who hit me: she it was who set us all quarrelling.’

As they spoke, the immortals returned to Olympus, some angry some in triumph, to sit beside their Father, Lord of the Storm Clouds, all except Apollo who entered the sacred citadel, Ilium, anxious lest the Greeks should exceed their fate and breach its well-built walls that day. For Achilles was still slaughtering men and horses alike. As the wrath of the gods sends smoke to the sky from many a burning city, bringing toil and woe, so did Achilles bring toil and woe to many a Trojan.

BkXXI:526-611 Apollo saves Agenor

Now old King Priam stood on the battlements Poseidon built, and saw great Achilles driving the Trojans before him in headlong rout, with none to aid them. Groaning, he descended from the wall, calling aloud to the gatekeepers: ‘Hold the gates wide open till the army are inside, Achilles is hard on their heels, and there will be sad slaughter. Once they are safe within, close the wooden doors lest that savage storms the city.’

They unbarred the gates and flung them wide to bring deliverance, while Apollo went to meet Achilles and save Troy from ruin. The Trojans fled for the city wall, dry-mouthed and drowned in dust from the plain, as the fierce spearman, that son of Peleus, ran them down, like a man possessed, eager to win glory.

And the Greeks would indeed have captured Troy of the lofty gates if Phoebus Apollo had not roused Antenor’s son, great Agenor, the strong and peerless warrior. He filled his heart with courage, and stood by his side, to defend him from death’s mighty hand. The god leaned on the sacred oak, veiled in dense mist. There Agenor halted at the sight of Achilles, sacker of cities, and waited, his mind dark with misgivings, murmuring anxiously to himself: ‘Alas, if I fled before him like a coward, along with all the rest, he would simple overtake me and kill me. I could leave these men to be chased before him, and run from the wall towards the Ilean Plain, until I reach the foothills and gullies of Mount Ida, then hide there in the woods. Then after washing the sweat from my body in the river, I could return to Troy in the cool of evening. But why dream of that? He would see me turn towards the plain and with his swift feet chase me down. That would indeed be certain death, since he is too strong for any man. Nothing for it then: but to meet him here before the city. His flesh too can be pierced by the blade. He is mortal they say, so has only the one life, even if Zeus, son of Cronos, grants him brief glory.’

With this, he crouched low, awaiting Achilles, his great heart eager for the fight. As a leopardess lopes from dense brush to face the hunt, fearless and bold despite the hounds’ baying, and even though struck and wounded by spear or javelin, still leaps at her foe and slashes at him or is slain, so noble Agenor, son of great Antenor, was determined not to flee without tackling Achilles. He held his round shield before him, and aiming his spear at Achilles, shouted aloud: ‘No doubt you hoped to sack the proud city of Troy this very day, Prince Achilles. A foolish thought, for many are the sorrows yet to be borne by you Greeks on her account. Many are we and mighty, who guard Ilium for our parents, wives and sons. It is you will meet your doom here, bold and impressive as you are.’

With that he hurled the keen spear from his strong hand, striking Achilles on the shin below the knee, the blade clashing against the new greave worked with tin. But the god’s gift held and the bronze blade failing to pierce it, rebounded. The son of Peleus, in turn, attacked godlike Agenor, but Apollo refused him glory, snatching up Agenor, veiling him in dense mist, and setting him down quietly, away from the fight. The god then cunningly led Achilles away from the Trojans. Disguising himself as Agenor, the Far-Striker appeared again in front of Achilles who started swiftly in pursuit. Subtly the god deceived him, as they ran over the fertile plain, veering towards the river, the whirling Scamander, keeping a little ahead so Achilles always hoped to overtake him. And while they ran, the mass of fleeing Trojans reached the city, overjoyed. Not daring to linger outside the walls to find out who had survived and who had died, those whose speed of foot had saved them poured through the gates, and filled the streets.