There the Trojans, like a storm of wind or fire, were sweeping furiously on behind Hector , son of Priam, with scarcely a cry, thinking to take the ships, and slaughter the best of the Greeks beside them. But Poseidon, Earth-Shaker, who wraps the Earth about, emerging from the depths in the guise of Calchas , with tireless voice, roused the Argives. Elsewhere the bronze-greaved Greeks will stand fast, and I have little fear of the powerful arms of those Trojans who have swarmed across the wall, but I am deeply afraid that here evil may befall us, for that madman Hector leads them on like a blazing brand, he who boasts he is a scion of mighty Zeus.
Let a god only plant this one thought in your minds to stand fast and rally the rest, then you might drive him from the swift ships, for all his fury, even though the Olympian himself spurs him on. With that, the Earth-Shaker, who wraps the Earth about, touched them with his staff, making their limbs feel light; giving new strength to their feet and hands. Then, like a hawk in the air, poised high over some sheer rock face, that sweeps down over the plain chasing its winged quarry Poseidon Earth-Shaker vanished swiftly from their sight. The gods are plainly known. Now my heart is filled with fire for war and conflict, and my hands and feet feel new strength.
So they talked, savouring the joy of battle the god had put in their hearts, while Poseidon roused those Greeks recovering at the sterns of the ships. They were dropping from exhaustion, grieved at the sight of the Trojans swarming across the wall. They gazed at them with tear-filled eyes, seeing no hope of escape. But the Earth-Shaker passed lightly through the ranks, inspiring the best battalions.
You I trusted to save the ships. If you shirk the fight, then the day of Trojan victory has indeed arrived.
OVERCOMING ADVERSITY: A DRUNK'S REDEMPTION
What a wonderful sight it is, a shocking thing I never thought to see, Trojans among the ships, men no better than panic-stricken hinds in the woods, cowardly and lacking fight, a prey to panthers, wolves, and jackals. Even if the warrior son of Atreus, imperial Agamemnon , caused it, by offending swift-footed Achilles , it is not for us to shirk the fight. Let us atone for the fault, and quickly: good men seek amends. You, among the best of the army, do badly skulking here. I could forgive some weakling for hesitating to fight, but your indolence angers me. Such slackness will bring greater ruin.
Do you not fear shame and reproach, now true war is waged, and Hector of the loud war-cry, feeling his power, has shattered the barred gates and brings the fight to the ships? So Poseidon, who wraps the Earth around, roused the Greeks with his words, till the warriors crowded round the two Aiantes , a show of strength to deter Ares or Athene goader of armies. The pick of the brave stood there to await noble Hector and the Trojans, a hedge of spears, serried ranks of overlapping shields, helm touching helm, man beside man.
And the horse-hair crests of the gleaming helms brushed each other as they turned their heads, so close-packed were the men, while their spears, brandished boldly, crossed, and firm in purpose they yearned for the fight.
Now Hector lead the Trojans forward in close formation. The Greeks facing lunged at him with their double-edged spear-blades and swords, pushing him back till he staggered and gave ground. The Greeks though they form a wall will not hold me back for long. Now Meriones launched his gleaming spear, which hit that same round ox-hide shield but failed to penetrate. That warrior slipped back into the ranks, angry at his failure and the loss of his broken spear, and set off along the line of Greek huts and ships to fetch a long spear left in his hut. The rest fought on amidst the endless cries of battle.
Teucer , son of Telamon killed first, slaying Imbrius the spearman, son of Mentor breeder of horses. Imbrius lived in Pedaeum before the Danaans landed, married to Medesicaste , a natural daughter of Priam. Now Teucer, son of Telamon, pierced him beneath the ear with a thrust of his long lance which he then dragged free.
Imbrius fell like a tall ash-tree, a landmark topping some summit till the bronze axe brings it low and its soft leaves lie in the dust. He fell, and his bronze inlaid armour rang around him. Now Teucer rushed to strip the armour from him, but Hector sent a gleaming spear towards him in full flight. He fell with a thud and his armour clanged above him. Now Poseidon was heart-sore when his grandson Amphimachus fell in the dread encounter, and he passed along the huts and ships to rouse the Greeks while he planned sorrow for the Trojans.
There he met the famed spearman Idomeneus who had just left a warrior, lately come from the field, nursing a sword-cut across the knee. His comrades had brought him in, and Idomeneus was on his way to his hut, having left orders for the healers, before returning to the fight. We are all adept in war, and free of cowardly fear, and not one of us has panicked and fled the field.
It must be the will of almighty Zeus that we Greeks should die here far from Argos and unremembered. Yet you were always steady in battle, and rallied others when you saw them shirking. Do so now, Thoas: rouse every man.
Seize your weapons and follow me, we two must toil together and hope we can be of help. Even the worst of warriors fight better side by side, while we two are a match for the very best. With that Poseidon re-entered the conflict, a god among men, while Idomeneus made his way to his sturdy hut, donned his fine armour, seized a pair of spears and set forth swift as the lightning bolt Zeus grasps in his hand and hurls from gleaming Olympus, as an omen for humankind.
Are you wounded, feeling the hurt from some blade? Or am I summoned? I prefer to fight man to man, so I win spears and helms, bossed shields and gleaming breastplates. I too am not forgetful of glory, and stand in the front rank, where glory is won when battle is joined. Perhaps others of the bronze-clad Greeks are ignorant of my skill, but you I know have seen it for yourself. If we chose the finest men for an ambush, say, where bravery is most needed, no one could ignore your courage and strength.
An ambush soon separates brave men from cowards. The coward continually changes colour, anxiety stops him sitting still, he shifts his weight from side to side, his heart beats fast as he thinks of dying, and his teeth chatter together. But the brave man never changes colour, and taking his place is free of paralyzing fear, praying only to begin the fight at once. If you were struck by arrow or spear in the heat of battle, it would not be in the neck or back from behind: you would take it in your chest or belly, as you ran into the maul of men at the front.
But come now, we must not linger here chattering like children, and incur reproach. Go to my hut and get a sturdy spear. With this, Meriones, peer of swift Ares, retrieved a bronze spear from the hut, and followed Idomeneus, eager for battle. As Ares , killer of men, and Panic , his son, powerful and unconquerable, who follows him, routing the bravest warrior, arm themselves for war and set out from Thrace to join the Ephyri or the proud Phlegyans , and bring one or the other glory, turning a deaf ear to the other, so Meriones and Idomeneus, leaders of men, set out for battle, clad in gleaming bronze.
There I would think the long-haired Greeks are most at risk. They will give Hector , son of Priam, his fill of fighting, however keen he is, and mighty.
Panel 1: Antiquity
He will find it hard, despite his fury, to conquer their strength and dauntless arms, and set fire to the swift ships, unless Zeus himself tosses a blazing brand among them. He would even stand against Achilles , breaker of armies, face to face, though in fleetness of foot Achilles is unrivalled.
So, as you say, let us make for the left, and discover swiftly whether we shall win glory or grant it to another. Meriones, peer of swift Ares, then led the way, till they reached the ranks at the place Idomeneus pointed out. When the Trojans saw Idomeneus , fierce as flame, and his squire, both clad in ornate armour, they shouted to each other through the ranks, and attacked as one. The killing field bristled with long flesh-cutting spears, and eyes were dazzled by the flash of bronze from glittering helms, burnished breastplates, and gleaming shields, as the armies met.
A man would need a heart of steel to rejoice at the sight of such conflict and not be saddened.
This is a story that I could think about for days: We say that something eternal, God or the gods, cause violence because they control our fate, they appear to us as birds and as wisdom and lead us on our night-blind path of life, but they lead us erratically: Homer describes those motivations for violence so beautifully. But, ultimately I think that is all bullshit, and I think the bullshitness of it is there in this story, too. It is there in Achilles challenging Agamemnon. It is there in Achilles mourning Patroclus. Anyway, though, people are not violent because we were betrayed or because of supernatural trickery.
Our violence is ours; it is our choice and our responsibility. Life is barbarous and cruel around us, but that is its nature, and we can only shape ourselves through and around it. When we expect life to be gentle and obedient, we are usually doing nothing more than justifying our own cruelty. It is blood-poundingly, eye-achingly told. As my professor said, everyone should read this, and if you can read it in the sun, lying in a hammock after your graduation, all the better.
View all 18 comments. May 05, Alison rated it it was amazing. But now I know that the best way to keep insomnia at bay is to get out of bed, hitch up my chariot, tie the corpse of my mortal enemy to the back, and drive around for a few hours, dragging him, until I cheer up and can go back to sleep. The Iliad is unmatched, in my reading, for works that describe the bloody, ridiculous, selfish lengths people will go in order to feel better.
The Simpsons/Season 6
The Iliad suggests that even at its most glorious, war can be advocated only by people with the emotional lives of spoiled four-year-olds For more thoughts, see my post: View all 20 comments. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy Ilium by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. View all 4 comments.