Homeric Iliad, Scroll IX

1 Thus did the Trojans watch. But Panic, comrade of bloodstained Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achaeans and their princes were all of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from Thrace – the north and the northwest – spring up of a sudden and rouse the fury of the sea [pontos] – in a moment the dark waves rear up their heads and scatter their sea-wrack in all directions – even thus troubled were the hearts of the Achaeans. The son of Atreus in dismay
10 bade the heralds call the people to a council man by man, but not to cry the matter aloud; he made haste also himself to call them, and they sat sorry at heart in their assembly. Agamemnon shed tears as it were a running stream or cataract on the side of some sheer cliff; and thus, with many a heavy sigh he spoke to the Achaeans. “My friends,” said he, “princes and councilors! Of the Argives, Zeus son of Kronos has tied me down with derangement [atē] more than any one else. The cruel god gave me his solemn promise
20 that I should destroy the city of Troy before returning, but he has played me false, and is now bidding me go ingloriously back to Argos with the loss of much people. Such is the will of Zeus, who has laid many a proud city in the dust as he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say and sail back to our own country, for we shall not take Troy.” Thus he spoke, and the sons of the Achaeans
30 for a long while sat sorrowful there, but they all held their peace, till at last Diomedes of the loud battle-cry made answer saying, “Son of Atreus, I will chide your folly, as is my right [themis] in council. Be not then aggrieved that I should do so. In the first place you attacked me before all the Danaans and said that I was a coward and no warrior. The Argives young and old know that you did so. But the son of scheming Kronos endowed you by halves only. He gave you honor as the chief ruler over us, but valor, which is the highest both right and might he did not give you.
40 Sir, think you that the sons of the Achaeans are indeed as unwarlike and cowardly as you say they are? If your own mind is set upon going home – go – the way is open to you; the many ships that followed you from Mycenae stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay here till we have destroyed Troy. I tell you: though these too should turn homeward with their ships, Sthenelos and myself will still fight on till we reach the goal of Ilion, for the gods were with us when we came.”
50 The sons of the Achaeans shouted approval at the words of Diomedes, breaker of horses, and presently Nestor the charioteer rose to speak. “Son of Tydeus,” said he, “in war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light of what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end [telos] of the whole matter. You are still young – you might be the youngest of my own children – still you have spoken wisely and have counseled the chief of the Achaeans not without discretion;
60 nevertheless I am older than you and I will tell you everything; therefore let no man, not even King Agamemnon, disregard my saying, for he that foments civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw. “Now, however, let us obey the behests of night and get our suppers, but let the sentinels every man of them camp by the trench that is without the wall. I am giving these instructions to the young men; when they have been attended to, do you, son of Atreus, give your orders, for you are the most royal among us all.
70 Prepare a feast for your councilors; it is right and reasonable that you should do so; there is abundance of wine in your tents, which the ships of the Achaeans bring from Thrace daily. You have everything at your disposal wherewith to entertain guests, and you have many subjects. When many are got together, you can be guided by him whose counsel is wisest – and sorely do we need shrewd and prudent counsel, for the foe has lit his watchfires hard by our ships. Who can be other than dismayed? This night will either be the ruin of our army of warriors, or save it.” Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said.
80 The sentinels went out in their armor under command of Nestor’s son Thrasymedes, a chief of the army, and of the bold warriors Askalaphos and Ialmenos: there were also Meriones, Aphareus and Deipyros, and the son of Kreion, noble Lykomedes. There were seven chiefs of the sentinels, and with each there went a hundred youths armed with long spears: they took their places midway between the trench and the wall, and when they had done so they lit their fires and got every man his supper. The son of Atreus then bade many councilors of the Achaeans
90 to his quarters and prepared a great feast in their honor. They laid their hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon as they had enough to eat and drink, old Nestor, whose counsel was ever truest, was the first to lay his mind before them. He, therefore, with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus. “With yourself, most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, will I both begin my speech and end it, for you are king over many people. Zeus, moreover, has granted that you wield the scepter and uphold things that are right [themis], that you may take thought for your people under you;
100 therefore it behooves you above all others both to speak and to give ear, and to turn into action the counsel of another who is minded to speak wisely. All turns on you and on your commands, therefore I will say what I think will be best. No man will be of a truer mind [noos] than that which has been mine from the hour when you angered Achilles by taking the girl Brisēis from his tent against my judgment [noos]. I urged you not to do so, but you yielded to your own pride,
110 and dishonored a hero whom the gods themselves had honored – for you still hold the prize that had been awarded to him. Now, however, let us think how we may appease him, both with presents and fair speeches that may conciliate him.” And the lord of men, Agamemnon, answered, “You have reproved my derangement [atē pl.] justly. I was wrong. I own it. One whom the gods befriend is in himself a host, and Zeus has shown that he befriends this man by destroying much people of the Achaeans. I was blinded with passion and yielded to my lesser mind;
120 therefore I will make amends, and will give him great gifts by way of atonement. I will tell them in the presence of you all. I will give him seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of gold. I will give him twenty iron cauldrons and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes. Rich, indeed, both in land and gold is he that has as many prizes as my horses have won me. I will give him seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians, whom I chose for myself when he took Lesbos –
130 all of surpassing beauty. I will give him these, and with them her whom I took from him, the daughter of Brisēs; and I swear a great oath that I never went up into her couch, nor have been with her after the manner [themis] of men and women. “All these things will I give him now down, and if hereafter the gods grant that I destroy the city of Priam, let him come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load his ship with gold and bronze to his liking; furthermore let him take twenty Trojan women,
140 the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, he shall be my son-in-law and I will show him like honor with my own dear son Orestes, who is being nurtured in all abundance. I have three daughters, Khrysothemis, Laodike, and Iphianassa, let him take the one of his choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; I will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give him seven well established cities,
150 Kardamyle, Enope, and Hirē, where there is grass; holy Pherai and the rich meadows of Anthea; lovely Aeipeia also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasos, all near the sea, and on the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in cattle and sheep; they will honor him with gifts as though he were a god, and be obedient to his comfortable ordinances [themis pl.]. All this will I do if he will now forgo his anger. Let him then yield it is only Hadēs who is utterly ruthless and unyielding – and hence he is of all gods the one most hateful to humankind.
160 Moreover I am older and more royal than himself. Therefore, let him now obey me.” Then Nestor the charioteer of Gerenia answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon. The gifts you offer are no small ones, let us then send chosen messengers, who may go to the tent of Achilles son of Peleus without delay. Let those go whom I shall name. Let Phoenix, dear to Zeus, lead the way; let Ajax the great and radiant Odysseus follow,
170 and let the heralds Odios and Eurybates go with them. Now bring water for our hands, and bid all keep silence while we pray to Zeus the son of Kronos, if so be that he may have mercy upon us.” Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well. Men-servants poured water over the hands of the guests, while attendants filled the mixing-bowls with wine and water, and handed it round after giving every man his drink-offering; then, when they had made their offerings, and had drunk each as much as he was minded, the envoys set out from the tent of Agamemnon son of Atreus; and Nestor,
180 looking first to one and then to another, but most especially at Odysseus, was instructing them how they should prevail with the noble son of Peleus. They went their way by the shore of the sounding sea, and prayed earnestly to earth-encircling Poseidon that the high spirit of the descendant of Aiakos might incline favorably towards them. The two of them reached the shelters and the ships of the Myrmidons, 186 and they found Achilles diverting his heart [phrēn] as he was playing on a clear-sounding lyre [phorminx], 187 a beautiful one, of exquisite workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver. 188 It was part of the spoils that he had taken when he destroyed the city of Eëtion, 189 and he was now diverting his heart [thūmos] with it as he was singing [aeidein] the glories of men [klea andrōn].
190 Patroklos was the only other person there. He [= Patroklos] sat in silence, facing him [= Achilles], 191 and waiting for the Aeacid [= Achilles] to leave off singing [aeidein]. 192 Meanwhile the two of them came in – radiant Odysseus leading the way – 193 and stood before him. Achilles sprang up from his seat 194 with the lyre [phorminx] still in his hand, and Patroklos, when he saw the guests, rose also. Achilles then greeted them saying, “All hail and welcome – you must come upon some great matter, you, who for all my anger are still dearest to me of the Achaeans.” With this he led them forward,
200 and bade them sit on seats covered with purple rugs; then he said to Patroklos who was close by him, “Son of Menoitios, set a larger bowl upon the table, mix less water with the wine, and give every man his cup, for these are very dear friends, who are now under my roof.” Patroklos did as his comrade bade him; he set the chopping-block in front of the fire, and on it he laid the loin of a sheep, the loin also of a goat, and the chine of a fat hog. Automedon held the meat while radiant Achilles chopped it; he then sliced the pieces and put them on spits while
210 the son of Menoitios made the fire burn high. When the flame had died down, he spread the embers, laid the spits on top of them, lifting them up and setting them upon the spit-racks; and he sprinkled them with salt. When the meat was roasted, he set it on platters, and handed bread round the table in fair baskets, while Achilles dealt them their portions. Then Achilles took his seat facing the godlike Odysseus against the opposite wall, and bade his comrade Patroklos
220 offer sacrifice to the gods; so he cast the offerings into the fire, and they laid their hands upon the good things that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Ajax made a sign to Phoenix, and when he saw this, radiant Odysseus filled his cup with wine and pledged Achilles. “Hail,” said he, “Achilles, we have had no lack of good cheer, neither in the tent of Agamemnon, nor yet here; there has been plenty to eat and drink, but our thought turns upon no such matter. Beloved of Zeus, we are in the face of great disaster,
230 and without your help know not whether we shall save our fleet or lose it. The Trojans and their allies have camped hard by our ships and by the wall; they have lit watchfires throughout their army of warriors and deem that nothing can now prevent them from falling on our fleet. Zeus, moreover, has sent his signals [sēma pl.] on their right; Hector, in all his glory, rages like a madman; confident that Zeus son of Kronos is with him he fears neither god nor man, but a wolfish rage [lyssa] has entered him,
240 and he prays for the approach of day. He vows that he will hew the high sterns of our ships in pieces, set fire to their hulls, and make havoc of the Achaeans while they are dazed and smothered in smoke; I much fear that the gods will make good his boasting, and it will prove our lot to perish at Troy far from our home in Argos. Up, then! And late though it be, save the sons of the Achaeans who faint before the fury of the Trojans. You will repent bitterly [akhos] hereafter if you do not, for when
250 the harm is done there will be no curing it; consider before it be too late, and save the Danaans from destruction. “My good friend, when your father Peleus sent you from Phthia to Agamemnon, did he not charge you saying, ‘Son, Athena and Hera will make you strong if they choose, but check your high temper, for the better part is in goodwill. Eschew vain quarrelling, and the Achaeans old and young will respect you more for doing so.’ These were his words, but you have forgotten them. Even now,
260 however, be appeased, and put away your anger from you. Agamemnon will make you great amends if you will forgive him; listen, and I will tell you what he has said in his tent that he will give you. He will give you seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of gold; twenty iron cauldrons, and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes. Rich indeed both in land and gold is he who has as many prizes as these horses have won for Agamemnon.
270 Moreover he will give you seven excellent workwomen, Lesbians, whom he chose for himself, when you took Lesbos – all of surpassing beauty. He will give you these, and with them her whom he took from you, the daughter of Brisēs, and he will swear a great oath, he has never gone up into her couch nor been with her after the manner [themis] of men and women. All these things will he give you now down, and if hereafter the gods grant that he destroy the city of Priam, you can come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load your ship with
280 gold and bronze to your liking. You can take twenty Trojan women, the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, you shall be his son-in-law, and he will show you like honor with his own dear son Orestes, who is being nurtured in all abundance. Agamemnon has three daughters, Khrysothemis, Laodike, and Iphianassa; you may take the one of your choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; he will add such dower
290 to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give you seven well-established cities, Kardamyle, Enope, and Hirē where there is grass; holy Pherai and the rich meadows of Anthea; lovely Aipeia also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasos, all near the sea, and on the borders of sandy Pylos. The men that dwell there are rich in cattle and sheep; they will honor you with gifts as if you were a god, and be obedient to your comfortable ordinances [themis pl.]. All this will he do if you will now forgo your anger.
300 Moreover, though you hate both him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the rest of the Achaeans who are being hard pressed as the whole army of warriors; they will honor you as a god, and you will earn great glory at their hands. You might even kill Hector; he will come within your reach, for he has a wolfish rage [lyssa] and declares that not a Danaan whom the ships have brought can hold his own against him.” Swift-footed Achilles answered, “Resourceful Odysseus, noble son of Laertes, I should give you formal notice plainly
310 and in all fixity of purpose that there be no more of this cajoling, from whatsoever quarter it may come. As hateful [ekhthros] to me as the gates of Hadēs is one who says one thing while he hides another in his heart; therefore I will say what I mean. I will be appeased neither by Agamemnon son of Atreus nor by any other of the Danaans, for I see that I have no thanks [kharis] for all my fighting. He that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are held in equal honor [timē],
320 and death deals like measure to him who works and him who is idle. I have taken nothing by all my hardships – with my life [psukhē] ever in my hand; as a bird when she has found a morsel takes it to her nestlings, and herself fares hardly, even so many a long night have I been wakeful, and many a bloody battle have I waged by day against those who were fighting for their women. With my ships I have taken twelve cities, and eleven round about Troy have I stormed with my men by land;
330 I took great store of wealth from every one of them, but I gave all up to Agamemnon son of Atreus. He stayed where he was by his ships, yet of what came to him he gave little, and kept much himself. “Nevertheless he did distribute some prizes of honor among the chieftains and kings, and these have them still; from me alone of the Achaeans did he take the woman in whom I delighted – let him keep her and sleep with her. Why, pray, must the Argives fight the Trojans? What made the son of Atreus gather the army of warriors and bring them? Was it not for the sake of Helen?
340 Are the sons of Atreus the only men in the world who love their wives? Any man of common right feeling will love and cherish her who is his own, as I this woman, with my whole heart, though she was only the prize of my spear. Agamemnon has taken her from me; he has played me false;
I know him; let him tempt me no further, for he shall not move me. Let him look to you, Odysseus, and to the other princes to save his ships from burning. He has done much without me already. He has built a wall; he has dug a trench
350 deep and wide all round it, and he has planted it within with stakes; but even so he stays not the manslaughtering might of Hector. So long as I fought the Achaeans Hector did not let the battle range far from the city walls; he would come to the Scaean gates and to the oak tree, but no further. Once he stayed to meet me and hardly did he escape my onset: now, however, since I am in no mood to fight him, I will tomorrow offer sacrifice to Zeus and to all the gods; I will draw my ships into the water and then victual them duly; tomorrow morning, if you care to look, you will see
360 my ships on the Hellespont, and my men rowing out to sea with might and main. If Poseidon the shaker of the earth grants me a fair passage, in three days I shall be in generous Phthia. I have much there that I left behind me when I came here to my sorrow, and I shall bring back still further store of gold, of red copper, of fair women, and of iron, my share of the spoils that we have taken; but one prize, he who gave has insolently taken away. Tell him all as I now bid you,
370 and tell him in public that the Achaeans may hate him and beware of him should he think that he can yet dupe others for his effrontery never fails him. As for me, hound that he is, he dares not look me in the face. I will take no counsel with him, and will undertake nothing in common with him. He has wronged me and deceived me enough, he shall not cozen me further; let him go his own way, for Zeus of the counsels has robbed him of his reason. His presents are hateful [ekhthra] to me, and for him I care not a bit. He may offer me ten or even twenty times
380 what he has now done, or, more than that, all that he has in the world, both now and ever in the future. He may promise me the wealth of Orkhomenos or of Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the whole world, for it has a hundred gates through each of which two hundred men may drive at once with their chariots and horses; he may offer me gifts as many as the sands of the sea or the dust of the plain in multitude. But even so he shall not move me till I have been revenged in full for the bitter wrong he has done me. I will not marry his daughter; she may be fair as Aphrodite,
390 and skillful as owl-vision Athena, but I will have none of her: let another take her, who may be a good match for her and who rules a larger kingdom. If the gods spare me to return home, Peleus will find me a wife; there are Achaean women in Hellas and Phthia, daughters of kings that have cities under them; of these I can take whom I will and marry her. Many a time was I minded when at home in Phthia to woo and wed a woman who would make me a suitable wife,
400 and to enjoy the riches of my old father Peleus. 401 My life [psūkhē] is worth more to me than all the wealth 402 that was once possessed, so they say, by that well-situated citadel of Ilion, 403 back when it was still at peace, before the coming of the Achaeans, 404 or than all the treasure that is stored inside when you enter the stone threshold of the one who shoots, 405 Phoebus Apollo, at rocky Pytho [= Delphi]. 406 Cattle and sheep can be rustled in a raid, 407 and one can acquire both tripods and horses with their golden manes if he wants them, 408 but a man’s life [psūkhē] can never come back – it cannot be rustled in a raid 409 and thus taken back – once it has passed through the barriers of his teeth.
410 My mother Thetis, goddess with silver steps, tells me that 411 I carry the burden of two different fated ways [kēres] leading to the final moment [telos] of death. 412 If I stay here and fight at the walls of the city of the Trojans, then my safe homecoming [nostos] will be destroyed for me, but I will have a glory [kleos] that is imperishable [aphthiton]. 414 Whereas if I go back home, returning to the dear land of my forefathers, then it is my glory [kleos], genuine [esthlon] as it is, that will be destroyed for me, but my life force [aiōn] will then 416 last me a long time, and the final moment [telos] of death will not be swift in catching up with me. To the rest of you, then, I say, ‘Go home, for you will not take Ilion.’ Zeus of the wide brows
420 has held his hand over her to protect her, and her people have taken heart. Go, therefore, as in duty bound, and tell the princes of the Achaeans the message that I have sent them; tell them to find some other plan for the saving of their ships and people, for so long as my displeasure lasts the plan that they have now hit upon may not be. As for Phoenix, let him sleep here that he may sail with me in the morning if he so will. But I will not take him by force.”
430 They all held their peace, dismayed at the sternness with which he had denied them, till presently the old charioteer Phoenix in his great fear for the ships of the Achaeans, burst into tears and said, “Noble Achilles, if you are now minded to have a return [nostos], and in the fierceness of your anger will do nothing to save the ships from burning, how, my son, can I remain here without you? Your father Peleus bade me go with you when he sent you as a mere lad from Phthia to Agamemnon.
440 You knew nothing neither of war nor of the arts whereby men make their mark in council, and he sent me with you to train you in all excellence of speech and action. Therefore, my son, I will not stay here without you—no, not even if the gods themselves grant me the gift of stripping my years from off me, and making me young as I was when I first left Hellas the land of fair women. I was then fleeing the anger of my father Amyntor, son of Ormenos, who was furious with me in the matter of his concubine,
450 of whom he was enamored to the wronging of his wife my mother. My mother, therefore, prayed me without ceasing to lie with the woman myself, that so she hates my father, and in the course of time I yielded. But my father soon came to know, and cursed me bitterly, calling the dread Furies [Erinyes] to witness. He prayed that no son of mine might ever sit upon my knees – and the gods, Zeus of the world below and terrifying Persephone, fulfilled his curse. I took counsel to kill him, but some god stayed my rashness and bade me think
460 on men’s evil tongues and how I should be branded as the murderer of my father: nevertheless I could not bear to stay in my father’s house with him so bitter against me. My cousins and clansmen came about me, and pressed me sorely to remain; many a sheep and many an ox did they slaughter, and many a fat hog did they set down to roast before the fire; many a jar, too, did they broach of my father’s wine.
470 Nine whole nights did they set a guard over me taking turns to watch, and they kept a fire always burning, both in the cloister of the outer court and in the inner court at the doors of the room wherein I lay; but when the darkness of the tenth night came, I broke through the closed doors of my room, and climbed the wall of the outer court after passing quickly and unperceived through the men on guard and the women servants. I then fled through Hellas till I came to fertile Phthia, mother of sheep,
480 and to King Peleus, who made me welcome and treated me as a father treats an only son who will be heir to all his wealth. He made me rich and set me over much people, establishing me on the borders of Phthia where I was chief ruler over the Dolopians. “It was I, godlike Achilles, who had the making of you; I loved you with all my heart: for you would eat neither at home nor when you had gone out elsewhere, till I had first set you upon my knees, cut up the dainty morsel that you were to eat, and held the wine-cup to your lips.
490 Many a time have you slobbered your wine in baby helplessness over my shirt; I had infinite trouble with you, but I knew that the gods had granted me no offspring of my own, and I made a son of you, Achilles, that in my hour of need you might protect me. Now, therefore, I say battle with your pride and beat it; cherish not your anger for ever; the might [aretē] and majesty [timē] of the gods are more than ours,
510 but if he deny them and will not listen to them, they go to Zeus the son of Kronos and make an appeal to him that this man may presently fall into derangement [atē] – for him to regret bitterly hereafter. Therefore, Achilles, give these daughters of Zeus due reverence [timē], and bow before them as all men with good thinking [noos] will bow. Were not the son of Atreus offering you gifts and promising others later – if he were still furious and implacable – I am not he that would bid you throw off your anger [mēnis] and help the Achaeans, no matter how great their need; but he is giving much now, and more hereafter;
520 he has sent his chiefs to urge his suit, and has selected [krinein] those who of all the Argives are most acceptable to you; make not then their words and their coming to be of no effect. Your anger has been righteous so far. 524 This is how [houtōs] we [= I, Phoenix] learned it, the glories [klea] of men [andrōn] of an earlier time [prosthen], who were heroes [hērōes], whenever one of them was overcome by tempestuous anger. 526 They could be persuaded by way of gifts and could be swayed by words I totally recall [me-mnē-mai] how this was done – it happened a long time ago, it is not something new – recalling exactly how it was. I will tell it in your company – since you are all near and dear [philoi]. The Kouretes and the steadfast Aetolians were fighting
530 and killing one another round Calydon – the Aetolians defending the city and the Kouretes trying to destroy it. For Artemis of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Oineus had not offered her his harvest first fruits. The other gods had all been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Zeus alone he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it had escaped him, and this was a grievous sin. Then the archer goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him – a savage wild boar with great white tusks
540 that did much harm to his orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them to the ground. But Meleager son of Oineus got huntsmen and hounds from many cities and killed it – for it was so monstrous that not a few were needed, and many a man did it stretch upon the funeral pyre. Then the goddess set the Kouretes and the Aetolians fighting furiously about the head and skin of the boar.
550 So long as Meleagros, dear [philos] to Arēs, was fighting in the war, 551 things went badly for the Kouretes [of the city of Pleuron], and they could not put up a resistance [against the Aetolians] outside the city walls [of Pleuron, the city of the Kouretes], even though they [= the Kouretes] had a multitude of fighters. 553 But as soon as anger [kholos] entered Meleagros – the kind of anger that affects also others, 554 making their thinking [noos] swell to the point of bursting inside their chest even if at other times they have sound thoughts [phroneîn], 550 [then things changed:] he [= Meleagros] was angry [khōomenos] in his heart at his dear mother Althaea, 556 and he was lying around, next to his wife, whom he had courted and married in the proper way. She was the beautiful Kleopatra, whose mother was Marpessa, the one with the beautiful ankles, daughter of Euenos, 558 and whose father was Idēs, a man most powerful among those earthbound men who lived in those times. It was he [= Idēs] who had grabbed his bow and had stood up against the lord
560 Phoebus Apollo, and he [= Idēs] had done it for the sake of his bride [numphē], the one with the beautiful ankles [= Marpessa]. She [= Kleopatra] had been given a special name by the father and by the queen mother back then [when she was growing up] in the palace. They called her Alcyone, making that a second name for her, because her 563 mother [= Marpessa] was feeling the same pain [oitos] felt by the halcyon bird, known for her many sorrows [penthos]. She [= Marpessa] was crying because she had been seized and carried away by the one who has far-reaching power, Phoebus Apollo. So, right next to her [= Kleopatra], he [= Meleagros] lay down, nursing his anger [kholos] – an anger that brings pains [algea] to the heart [thūmos]. He was angry [kholoûsthai] about the curses [ārai] that had been made by his own mother. She [= Meleagros’s mother Althaea] had been praying to the gods, making many curses [ārâsthai] in her sorrow [akhos] over the killing of her brother [by her son Meleagros]. 568 Many times did she beat the earth, nourisher of many, with her hands, calling upon Hādēs and on terrifying Persephone.
570 She had gone down on her knees and was sitting there; her chest and her lap were wet with tears as she prayed that they [= the gods] should consign her son to death. And she was heard by a Fury [Erinys] that roams in the mist, a Fury heard her, from down below in Erebos – with a heart that cannot be assuaged. 573 And then it was that the din of battle rose up all around the gates [of the people of Calydon], and also the dull thump 574 of the battering against their walls. Now he [= Meleagros] was sought out by the elders 575 of the Aetolians [= the people of Calydon]; they were supplicating [lissesthai] him, and they came along with the best priests of the gods. 576 They were supplicating him [= Meleagros] to come out [from where he was lying down with his wife] and rescue them from harm, promising him a big gift. 577 They told him that, wherever the most fertile plain in the whole region of lovely Calydon may be, 578 at that place he could choose a most beautiful precinct [temenos] of land, 579 fifty acres, half of which would be a vineyard
580 while the other half would be a field open for plowing. 581 He was also supplicated many times by the old charioteer Oineus, 582 who was standing at the threshold of the chamber with the high ceiling 583 and beating at the locked double door, hoping to supplicate him by touching his knees. 584 Many times did his sisters and his mother the queen 585 supplicate [lissesthai] him. But all the more did he say “no!” Many times did his comrades [hetairoi] supplicate him, 586 those who were most cherished by him and were the most near and dear [philoi] of them all, 587 but, try as they might, they could not persuade the heart [thūmos] in his chest 588 – not until the moment when his chamber got a direct hit, and the walls of the high fortifications 589 were getting scaled by the Kouretes, who were starting to set fire to the great city [of Calydon].
590 Then at long last Meleagros was addressed by his wife, who wears her waistband so beautifully around her waist. 591 She was crying as she supplicated [lissesthai] him, telling everything in detail 592 – all the sorrowful things [kēdea] that happen to those mortals whose city is captured. 593 They kill the men. Fire turns the city to ashes. 594 They take away the children and the wives, who wear their waistbands so beautifully around their waists. 595 His heart was stirred when he heard what bad things will happen. 596 He got up and went off. Then he covered his body with shining armor. 597 And this is how [houtōs] he rescued the Aetolians from the evil day [of destruction. 598 He yielded to his heart [thūmos]. But they [= the Aetolians] no longer carried out the fulfillment [teleîn] of their offers of gifts – 599 those many pleasing [kharienta] things that they had offered. But, in any case, he protected them from the evil event.
600 As for you [= Achilles], don’t go on thinking [noeîn] in your mind [phrenes] the way you are thinking now. Don’t let a superhuman force [daimōn] do something to you 601 right here, turning you away, my near and dear one [philos]. It would be a worse prospect 602 to try to rescue the ships [of the Achaeans] if they are set on fire. So, since the gifts are waiting for you, 603 get going! For if you do that, the Achaeans will honor [tīnein] you – same as a god. 604 But if you have no gifts when you do go into the war, that destroyer of men, 605 you will no longer have honor [tīmē] the same way, even if you have succeeded in blocking the [enemy’s] forces of war. And Achilles of the swift feet answered, “Phoenix, old friend and father, I have no need of such honor. I have honor [timē] from Zeus himself, which will abide with me at my ships while I have breath
610 in my body, and my limbs are strong. I say further – and lay my saying to your heart – vex me no more with this weeping and lamentation, all for the gratification [kharis] of the great son of Atreus. Love him so well, and you may lose the love I bear you. You ought to help me rather in troubling those that trouble me; be king as much as I am, and share like honor [timē] with myself; the others shall take my answer; stay here yourself and sleep comfortably in your bed; at daybreak we will consider whether to remain or go.”
620 Then he nodded quietly to Patroklos as a sign that he was to prepare a bed for Phoenix, and that the others should make their return [nostos]. 622 And then Ajax stood up among them, 623 the godlike son of Telamon, and he said: 624 “Odysseus, descended from the gods, noble son of Laertes, 625 let’s just go, for I see that there is no fulfillment [teleutē] that will come from what we say [= the mūthos]. 626 No, on this expedition, there will be no action resulting from words. We must go and tell the news as soon as possible 627 to the Danaans, even though what we say [= themūthos] will not be good for those 628 who are waiting to receive it. As for Achilles, 629 a savage feeling [thūmos] does he have embedded in his chest, which holds within it that great heart of his.
630 What a wretched man he is! He cares nothing for the love [philotēs] of his comrades [hetairoi]. 631 With that love we honored him more than all the others over there by the ships. 632 He is pitiless. If a man’s brother or son has been killed, 633 that man will accept a blood-price [poinē] as compensation for the one who was killed, 634 and the one who caused the death, having paid a vast sum, can remain in the locale [dēmos], 635 while the other one’s heart and manly feeling [thūmos] are checked, 636 now that he has accepted the blood-price [poinē]. But for you, [Achilles,] a bad and relentless 637 feeling [thūmos] have the gods put into your chest, and this, all because of just one girl, 638 just one.” , whereas we now offer you the seven best we have, and much else into the bargain. Be then of a more gracious mind,
640 respect the hospitality of your own roof. We are with you as messengers from the army of the Danaans, and would be held nearest and dearest [philtatoi] to yourself of all the Achaeans.” “Ajax,” replied swift-footed Achilles, “noble son of Telamon, seed of Zeus, you have spoken much to my liking, but my blood boils when I think it all over, and remember how the son of Atreus treated me with contumely as though I were some vile tramp, and that too in the presence of the Argives. Go, then, and deliver your message;
650 say that I will have no concern with fighting till Hector the radiant, son of noble Priam, reaches the tents of the Myrmidons in his murderous course, and flings fire upon their ships. For all his lust of battle, I take it he will be held in check when he is at my own tent and ship.” Then they took every man his double cup, made their drink-offerings, and went back to the ships, Odysseus leading the way. But Patroklos told his men and the maid-servants to make ready a comfortable bed for Phoenix;
660 they therefore did so with sheepskins, a rug, and a sheet of fine linen. The old man then laid himself down and waited till divine Dawn came. But Achilles slept in an inner room, and beside him the daughter of Phorbas lovely Diomede, whom he had carried off from Lesbos. Patroklos lay on the other side of the room, and with him fair-waisted Iphis whom radiant Achilles had given him when he took Skyros the city of Enyeus. When the envoys reached the tents of the son of Atreus,
670 the Achaeans rose, pledged them in cups of gold, and began to question them. King Agamemnon was the first to do so. “Tell me, honored Odysseus,” said he, “will he save the ships from burning, or did be refuse, and is he still furious?” Long-suffering Odysseus answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, Achilles will not be calmed, but is more fiercely angry than ever, and spurns both you and your gifts.
680 He bids you take counsel with the Argives to save the ships and army of warriors as you best may; as for himself, he said that at daybreak he should draw his oarswept ships into the water. He said further that he should advise every one to sail home likewise, for that you will not reach the goal of Ilion. ‘Wide-seeing Zeus,’ he said, ‘has laid his hand over the city to protect it, and the people have taken heart.’ This is what he said, and the others who were with me can tell you the same story – Ajax and the two heralds, men, both of them, who may be trusted.
690 The old man Phoenix stayed where he was to sleep, for so Achilles would have it, that he might go home with him in the morning if he so would; but he will not take him by force.” The sons of the Achaeans all held their peace, sitting for a long time silent and dejected, by reason of the sternness with which Achilles had refused them, till presently Diomedes of the great war cry said, “Most noble son of Atreus, lordly king of men, Agamemnon, you ought not to have sued the blameless son of Peleus nor offered him gifts. He is proud enough as it is,
700 and you have encouraged him in his pride and further. Let him stay or go as he will. He will fight later when he is in the humor, and the gods put it in his mind to do so. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say; we have eaten and drunk our fill, let us then take our rest, for in rest there is both strength and stay. But when fair rosy-fingered morn appears, O son of Atreus, right away bring out your army of warriors and your horsemen in front of the ships, urging them on, and yourself fighting among the foremost.”
710 Thus he spoke, and the other chieftains approved, acclaiming the words of Diomedes, breaker of horses. They then made their drink-offerings and went every man to his own tent, where they laid down to rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.

Translated by Samuel Butler and revised by Soo-Young Kim, Kelly McCray, Gregory Nagy, and Timothy Power