Homer: Iliad: Book I: The Rage of Achilles | Sabidius.com
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Ancient Greece

Homer: Iliad: Book I: The Rage of Achilles


Following his translations of books 4 and 6 of Virgil’s “Aeneid”, Sabidius now offers a translation of the first book of the “Iliad”, Homer’s epic poem about the fall of Troy. Not only was the the “Iliad” the first poem in European literature, having almost certainly existed for centuries in oral form before being written down in the eighth century BCE, it is one of the most influential works of literature of all time and established the genre of epic poetry. For Greeks and later for Romans it was at the centre of their educational and cultural milieu, and provided an inexhaustible treasury of speech and action through which both their imagination and moral awareness were nourished. The First Book, in all its rousing language, tells of the damaging feud that broke out in the tenth year of the siege of Troy between King Agamemnon of Mycenae, the leader of the Greek expeditionary force and Achilles, the most celebrated warrior in his army. As in his earlier renderings of the “Aeneid”, Sabidius seeks to keep as closely as possible to the structure of the words used by Homer. The text used is that of J.A. Harrison and R.H. Jordan, Bristol Classical Press (1983), and follows too the sub-headings by which they conveniently divide the text itself. Although the Old Ionic dialect, in which Homer writes contains a number of words and word endings which are alien to Attic Greek, these are not a significant barrier to one’s appreciation of the beautiful hexameter rhythm in which the “Iliad” is cast.

Ll. 1-7. Sing, Muse, of the wrath of achilles and his quarrel with Agamemnon.

Sing, goddess, of the accursed wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus, which caused countless griefs to the Achaeans, and sent down prematurely to Hades many mighty souls of heroes and made them prey to all the dogs and birds of prey, and the decree of Zeus was accomplished, (starting) from the time that both the son of Atreus, lord of men, and godlike Achilles were at variance, quarrelling for the first time.

Ll. 8-21. Chryses, a priest of Apollo, seeks to ransom his daughter who was Agamemnon’s war prize.

Which of the gods brought together the two of them in strife so as to fight? The son of Leto and Zeus: for he, having been angered by the king, let loose a vile plague throughout the army, and the army was being destroyed, because the son of Atreus had dishonoured Chryses, his priest; for he had come to the swift ships of the Achaeans in order to ransom his daughter and bearing a ransom past counting, and holding in his hands the wreaths of Apollo the far-shooter upon his golden staff, and he entreated all the Achaeans, and especially the two sons of Atreus, the marshals of the army (thus): “Sons of Atreus and you other well-greaved Achaeans, may the gods having their home on Olympus, grant to you the destruction of the city of Priam, and to arrive home safely; but please set free to me my dear child, and accept this ransom, reverencing the son of Zeus, Apollo the far-shooter”.

Ll. 22-42. Agamemnon dismisses Chryses with threats. The priest asks Apollo to punish the Greeks.

Then all the other Achaeans shouted their agreement both to reverence the priest and to accept the splendid ransom; but it was not pleasing to the mind of Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, but he sent him on his way shamefully, and he laid a stern word on him: “May I not find you, old man, by our hollow ships, either lingering now or coming back again later, lest indeed your staff and the woollen bands of the god are not helpful to you; and I shall not release her; and (long) before that old age will reach her in our house in Argos, far from her native-land, working at the loom and sharing my bed; but go, do not provoke me, so that you may get away more safely.” Thus he spoke, and the old man was afraid and obeyed the advice; he went silently along the shore of the loud-roaring ocean; then going far away he prayed to lord Apollo, to whom lovely-haired Leto gave birth: “Hear me, lord of the silver bow, (you) who has protected Chryse and very sacred Cilla and rules with strength over Tenedos, (you who are called) Smintheus (i.e. Mouse-god), if ever I have built a shrine which is pleasing to you, or if ever I have burned for you fat thigh-flesh of bulls and goats, fulfil this prayer of mine; may the Danaans atone for my tears with your arrows”.

Ll. 43-67. Apollo’s arrows rain death. Achilles summons an assembly.

Thus he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him, and he came down from the peaks of Olympus with anger in his heart, the bow on his shoulders with its enclosing quiver and indeed arrows clattered on the shoulders of (him) in his anger, when (the god) himself moved (lit. he himself having moved). He came like night. He settled down at a distance from the ships, and he let loose an arrow: and a fearful twang arose from the silver bow. First, he attacked the mules and the swift running dogs, but then, having then sent sharp arrows at (the men) themselves, he kept hitting (them); and always there burned the crowded pyres of the dead. For nine days the arrows of the god sped throughout the army, (but) on the tenth day Achilles called the people to an assembly. For the white-armed goddess Hera had put (this) into his mind: for she was concerned for the Danaans when she saw them dying. So, when they had been called together and they were gathered together, swift-footed Achilles, standing up among them, spoke: “Son of Atreus, I think that we, having now been driven back, should return home again, supposing that we can escape death, if indeed both war and plague together are to ravage the Achaeans; but come, let us ask some prophet or priest, or even an interpreter of dreams, for dreams too are from Zeus, who may tell (us) why Phoebus Apollo has become so very angry (with us), whether indeed he finds fault with our prayer or our public sacrifice, if somehow, having accepted the savour of unblemished lambs and goats, he is willing to drive the plague away from us”.

Ll. 68-91. Calchas says he knows why Apollo is angry. Achilles guarantees his protection.

Then indeed, speaking thus, he sat down; then there stood up among us Calchas, son of Thestor, by far the best of augurs, who knew what is, what will be, and what was before, and he guided the ships of the Achaeans into Ilium through the art of divination, which Phoebus Apollo had granted to him; he addressed them with good will, and spoke (to them): “O Achilles, beloved of Zeus, you have asked me to tell you of the anger of Apollo the lord who shoots from afar; so then I shall speak. But you take heed and swear to me that you will readily protect me with words and in action. For I think that I shall anger a man who rules strongly over the Argives, and the Achaeans obey him. For a king (is) stronger whenever he may be angry with a lesser man; if indeed he may even repress his anger on the day itself, yet he keeps resentment afterwards within his breast until he can fulfil it; so you consider if you will protect me”. Then in answer the swift-footed Achilles spoke to him: “Be bold, and tell (us) freely the prophecy which you know; for I swear by Apollo, beloved of Zeus, while praying to whom you, Calchas, disclose your prophecies to the Danaans, no man among all the Danaans with me living and breathing upon the earth will lay heavy hands upon you by our hollow ships, not even if you speak of Agamemnon, who now claims to be by far the best of the Achaeans”.

Ll. 92-120. Calchas says that they must return Chryseis. Agamemnon rages and demands another prize in her place.

Then, the excellent seer took courage and spoke: “He faults neither our prayer nor our sacrifice, but for the sake of his priest who Agamemnon dishonoured, nor has he released his daughter and he did not accept the ransom; on this account the far-shooter has given (us) griefs and will give (us) still (more); nor will he drive the shameful plague from the Danaans until we give the bright-eyed girl back to her dear father without price and without ransom, and take a holy hecatomb to Chryse; then, after appeasing him, we might persuade him (to change his mind)”. Then indeed, he having spoken thus sat down, and there stood up among them the hero son of Atreus, wide-ruler Agamemnon, greatly distressed. His black mind was greatly filled all around with rage, and his eyes were like blazing fire. Threatening evil, he addressed Calchas especially: “Prophet of evil you have not yet said anything useful to me; always it is dear to your mind to prophesy evil things, and you have not yet spoken nor brought to fulfilment any good word. And now you declare, prophesying among the Danaans, that on account of this the far-shooter prepares griefs for them because I was not willing to accept the splendid ransom for the girl Chryseis, since I very much wish to keep her in my home; for indeed I do prefer (her) to Clytemnestra, my wedded wife, since she is not inferior to her in body or in stature nor in mind nor in any household tasks. But even so I am willing to give (her) back again, if that (is) better; I wish my people to be safe rather than to be destroyed. But you must immediately make ready a prize for me so that I am not alone among the Argives without a prize, since that it is not proper; for you all see this, the fact that my prize is going elsewhere”.

Ll.121-129. Achilles promises him compensation when Troy is captured.

Then swift-footed godlike Achilles answered him: “Most glorious son of Atreus, most covetous of all men, how shall the great-hearted Achaeans give you a gift? Nor do we know of any great common stores lying anywhere; but the things which we exacted from the cities, these things have been divided up, and it is not seemly that the army should collect these (things) up again and gather (them) together. But you must now return her to the god; however, we Achaeans will recompense (you) if ever at all Zeus grants (to us) that we shall sack the well-walled city of Troy”.

Ll. 130-147. Agamemnon says he will seize someone else’s prize. He arranges for Chryseis to be taken home.

Then, in answer, lord Agamemnon spoke to him: “Do not deceive me thus in your mind, godlike Achilles, brave though you are, since you will not outwit nor persuade me. Or do you wish, so that you can keep your prize, that I should sit like this without a prize, (since) you tell me to give her back? (No), but if the great-hearted Achaeans will give (me) a prize, suiting it to my wishes, in order that it may be equivalent to (the one I shall lose), (well, then, that’s all right!) But, if they will not give (it), I, myself, shall come and take for myself either your prize, or that of Ajax, or that of Odysseus, and, having taken (it), I shall carry (it) off. And, whomever I come to, he will be angry. But, to be sure, we shall also consider these (things) again later. But come now, let us launch a black ship into the holy sea, and in (it) let us gather rowers, and let us put in (the ship) a hecatomb, and let us take on board the fair-cheeked daughter of Chryses herself; and let some man of counsellor status be her captain, whether Ajax, or Idomeneus, or godlike Odysseus, or you, son of Peleus, most terrible of all men, so that, offering sacrifice, you may appease the one who smites from afar on our behalf”.

Ll.148-171. Achilles taunts Agamemnon for his greed and threatens to return home.

Then, swift-footed Achilles, glancing (at him) with a scowl, addressed him: “Ah me! you crafty-minded one, clothed in impudence, how is anyone of the Achaeans to obey your words willingly, either to go on a journey, or to fight men with all his strength? For I have not come here in order to fight the spearmen of the Trojans, since they are in no way guilty as far as I am concerned; for they have not yet ever driven away my cattle nor yet my horses, nor have they ever ravaged the crops in very fertile Phthia, nurse of men, since there are very many things between (us), both shady mountains and the sounding sea; but we followed after you, O you great shameless one, in order that you might be glad, winning recompense from the Trojans for Menelaus and for yourself, (you) dog-face; you do not show regard for these things at all, nor do you concern yourself about them; and you yourself even threaten to take away my prize, for which I laboured hard, and (which) the sons of the Achaeans gave me. Whenever the Achaeans sack a well-peopled town of the Trojans, I do not have a prize ever equal to yours; no, but my hands perform the greater (part) of the furious fighting; but, whenever an apportionment is arrived at, your prize is by far the bigger, and, when I have become weary fighting, I go to my ships holding a (prize that is) small but nonetheless dear. Now, I shall go to Phthia, since it is certainly better by far to go homewards with my beaked ships, nor do I intend, while I am being dishonoured here, to amass riches and wealth for you.”

Ll.172-187. Agamemnon replies angrily. He will take Briseis, Achilles’ war prize.

Then, Agamemnon, lord of men, addressed him: “Flee far away, if your mind has been agitated, nor do I beg you to remain on account of me; with me still (are) others who will honour me, especially the all-wise Zeus. Of the kings nurtured by Zeus, you are the most hateful to me. For strife (is) always dear to you, and wars and battles. If you are very strong, doubtless a god gave this to you. Going home with your ships and your companions, lord it over your Myrmidons, I do not care about (you) nor do I heed (you) in your wrath. But I shall threaten you thus: since Phoebus Apollo takes away from me the daughter of Chryses, I will send her back with my ship and my companions, but I, myself, shall come to your hut and lead away the fair-cheeked Briseis, your prize, so that you will know how much stronger I am than you, and another too may shrink from speaking to me as an equal, and matching himself openly (with me)”.

Ll.188-222. Athene appears and stops Achilles from killing Agamemnon.

Thus he spoke. And distress arose for the son of Peleus, and within his shaggy breast his heart pondered (the choice) between two (alternative) options, whether he, having drawn his sharp sword from his thigh, should disperse those assembled and kill the son of Atreus, or whether he should stay his anger and check his heart. While he was pondering this within his mind and within his heart, and he was drawing his great sword from its sheath, Athene came (down) from heaven. For the white-armed goddess Hera had sent (her), as she both loved and cared for both men in her heart alike. She stood behind (him), and, visible to him alone, she caught the son of Peleus by his yellow hair; and of the rest no one beheld (her). Achilles was astonished and turned around, and knew Pallas Athene immediately. And her eyes flashed terribly; speaking winged words, he addressed her: “Why have you come again, child of aegis-bearing Zeus? Is it in order that you may see the insolence of Agamemnon, son of Atreus? But I shall tell you something which I think will be accomplished: someday soon he will lose his life through his great conceit.”. Then, the bright-eyed goddess Athene said to him again: “I have come from heaven in order to stop your fury, if indeed you will obey (me); the white-armed goddess Hera sent me forth, both loving and caring for both of you equally in her heart. Come then, cease from your strife, nor draw your sword with your hand. But then reproach (him) with words (by telling him) how it will certainly be. For I will speak out thus, and this thing will indeed be accomplished. And some day glorious gifts, three times as many, will be present for you on account of this insolence; but you restrain yourself and obey us”. Answering, swift-footed Achilles spoke to her: “It is necessary, goddess, that (I) observe the word of the two of you, even though (I) am very angry at heart; for (it is) better so. Whoever obeys the gods, they listen to him especially.” He spoke, and checked his heavy hand on the silver hilt and pushed his great sword back into the scabbard, nor did he disobey the word of Athene; but she had gone to Olympus, to the house of aegis-bearing Zeus to join the other gods.

Ll. 223-244. Achilles increases his taunts.

The son of Peleus again addressed the son of Atreus with insulting words, and he had not yet ceased from his anger: “Drunkard, having the eyes of a dog and the heart of a deer, you have never had the courage in your heart to arm yourself for war together with your people, nor to go with the chiefs of the Achaeans into ambush: that would seem to you to involve (the risk) of death. Throughout the broad camp of the Achaeans, it is certainly better to take away prizes from whoever speaks up against you. People-devouring king (that you are), (you can only do this,) because you rule over worthless people; for (otherwise), son of Atreus, you would now be acting outrageously for the last time. But I shall speak out to you, and in addition I shall swear a great oath: truly by this staff, it will not ever produce leaves and shoots, since it first left its stump in the mountains, nor will it (ever) sprout again, for the bronze (knife) has stripped it of its leaves and bark on all sides; now indeed the sons of the Achaeans carry it in their hands (when they act as) judges, and they guard the decrees (that come) from Zeus; and this oath will be a mighty one for you. Certainly a longing for Achilles will one day come upon all the sons of the Achaeans; then, though in distress, you will not be able to help (them), when many shall fall dying at the hands of murderous Hector; but you will rend your heart within (you) in anger, because you did not honour in any way the best of the Achaeans”.

Ll. 245-284. Old Nestor from Pylos tries to heal the quarrel.

So the son of Peleus spoke, and he hurled the staff studded with golden nails to the ground, and sat down himself; and, on the other side, the son of Atreus continued to rage; then there sprang up before them the sweet-speaking Nestor, the clear-toned orator speaker of the men of Pylos, from whose tongue flowed a voice sweeter than honey. Within his lifetime two generations of articulate men, who were previously born and bred together with him in sacred Pylos, had now passed away, and he was ruling among the third; in good faith he spoke to them and addressed (the assembly): “For shame, great grief is surely reaching the Achaean land. Priam and the sons of Priam would indeed rejoice, and the other Trojans would be greatly pleased at heart, if they were to learn all this about you two quarrelling, (you) who (are) superior to the (other) Danaans both at counsel, and in war. But hearken (unto me): you are both younger than me. For I once associated with even better men than you, and they did not ever despise me. For I have never since seen such men, nor am I likely to do so, (men) such as Peirithous and Dryas, shepherd of his people, and Caeneus and Exadius and godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus, the son of Aegeus, image of the immortals. They were the mightiest of men reared upon the earth; they were the mightiest and they fought with the mightiest mountain-bred wild beasts, and utterly destroyed (them). I associated with these men, coming from Pylos, from afar from a distant land; for they themselves summoned (me); and I fought on my own account; not one of those who are now mortals upon the earth could fight with them; and they took heed of my counsels and obeyed my word. But you too should obey (me), since (it is) better to listen. You, though being great, do not take the girl away from him, but let (her remain), as the sons of the Achaeans first gave (her to him) as a prize; nor should you, son of Peleus, be willing to quarrel with the king face to face, since a sceptre-bearing king to whom Zeus has given glory never shares equal honour (with other men). While you may be strong, and a goddess mother may have given birth to you, yet he is the stronger since he rules over more people. Son of Atreus, I beg (you) to restrain your fury against Achilles, who is a great bulwark for all the Achaeans in this evil war”.

Ll. 285-303. The quarrel continues. Achilles will yield Briseis but nothing else.

Then, in answer, lord Agamemnon addressed him: “Yes, you said all these things, old man, in accordance with what is right. But this man wishes to be superior to all others, he wishes to have power over all, to rule over all, and to dictate to all, in which matters I think (there is) someone (who) will not obey (him). If the immortal gods did make him a warrior, so do his insults rush forward (like so many warriors) for him to utter?” Interrupting, godlike Achilles addressed him: “Surely I should be called cowardly and worthless, if I should give way to you in everything, whatever you may say. Give these orders to others but do not give orders to me, for I think I shall not obey you any longer. And I shall tell you another thing, and you should consider (this) in your mind; I shall not fight hand to hand for the sake of the girl either with you or with any other man, since you have taken (her) from me after giving (her to me); but of the other things which are mine by my swift black ship, you will not take up and bear off any of those things, against my will. But come now, just try (it), so that these men (here) will know (what will happen): your dark blood will straightway flow around my spear”.

Ll. 304-317. A ship is launched and Chryseis is put on board. Agamemnon sacrifices to Apollo.

When the two of them, having contended with violent words, stood up, they broke up the assembly by the ships of the Achaeans. The son of Peleus went to his huts and his well-balanced ships together with the son of Menoetius and his companions; the son of Atreus pulled forward a fast ship to the sea, and he chose twenty oarsmen and he put on board a hecatomb for the god, and, bringing the fair-cheeked Chryseis, he placed her on board; wily Odysseus went on board as captain. Then, they embarked and set sail over the watery ways, but the son of Atreus ordered the army to purify (itself); and they purified (themselves) and cast the defilement into the sea, and they offered to Apollo unblemished hecatombs of bulls and goats by the shore of the restless sea; the savour reached the sky, whirling around in the smoke.

Ll. 318-356. Agamemnon’s messengers take Briseis away. Achilles complains to his mother, the sea-goddess Thetis.

So the men busied themselves with matters connected with the camp; nor would Agamemnon give up the quarrel which he first threatened against Achilles, but he addressed Talthybius and Eurybates who were his heralds and ready attendants: “Go to the hut of Achilles, son of Peleus: take by the hand the fair-cheeked Briseis, and lead (her here); if he will not give (her to you), I shall come with more men, and take (her) myself; that will be even worse for him”. Thus speaking he sent them forth, and he laid a stern command upon (them). The two of them went reluctantly along the shore of the barren sea, and came to the huts and the ships of the Myrmidons. They found him sitting by his hut and his black ship. Nor, when he saw the two of them, did Achilles rejoice. The two of them, terrified and respecting the king, stood, neither did they say anything at all to him, nor did they ask (any questions); but he knew (their purpose) in his mind and (so) he addressed (them): “Welcome, heralds, messengers of Zeus and of men also, come nearer. You are not at all worthy of blame to me, but Agamemnon (is), (he) who has sent you two forth for the sake of the girl Briseis. But come, heaven-sprung Patroclus, lead out the girl and give (her) to them to take; let these two themselves be witnesses before the blessed gods and before mortal men, and before him too, that heartless king, if ever need of me shall arise once more to ward off shameful destruction from the rest (of the army). For he rages with a destructive mind, and he does he know at all (how) to look forward and backward at the same time, so that his Achaeans might fight in safety by their ships”. Thus he spoke, and Patroclus obeyed his dear companion and led the fair-cheeked Briseis from the hut, and he gave (her to the heralds) to take; and the two of them went back past the ships of the Achaeans. The woman went along with them with reluctance. But Achilles burst into tears, and at once withdrew apart from his companions, and sat down on the shore of the grey sea, looking out over the boundless deep; he prayed to his dear mother for a long time, stretching out his hands: “Mother, since you bore me, although I am doomed to a very short span of life, Olympian Zeus, thundering on high, should surely have conferred some honour upon me; now he has shown me not even a little honour: for the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon has dishonoured me; for he has taken, and holds, my prize, which he has seized himself “.

Ll. 357-412. Thetis hears his complaint. He urges her to persuade Zeus to help the Trojans.

Thus he spoke, shedding tears, and his revered mother heard him, (while) sitting beside her old father in the depths of the sea; quickly she rose up from the grey sea like a mist and sat down before him, as he wept, (and) she stroked him a little with her hand, and she spoke these words (to him) and called him by name: “My child, why do you weep? and what grief has come to your heart? Speak out, do not hide it in your mind, so that we both may know (what it is)”. Then, swift-footed Achilles, groaning heavily, addressed her: “You know (it). Why indeed should I tell these things to you who knows all? We went to Thebes, the sacred city of Eetion, and we sacked it and brought back everything here. And the sons of the Achaeans divided things up properly amongst themselves, and they took out the fair-cheeked Chryseis for the son of Atreus. But Chryses, the priest of Apollo the far-shooter, came here to the swift ships of the bronze-clad Achaeans in order to free his daughter and bearing a ransom past counting, (and) holding in his hands the wreaths of Apollo the far-shooter upon his golden staff, and he entreated all the Achaeans, and especially the two sons of Atreus, the marshals of the army. Then, all the other Achaeans shouted their agreement both to show reverence to the priest and to accept the splendid ransom; but it was not pleasing to the mind of Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, but he sent (him) shamefully on his way, and laid a stern word upon (him). Then, the old man went back in anger; and Apollo heard him praying, since he was very dear to him, and he sent a deadly shaft against the Argives: indeed the people began to die in quick succession, and the arrows of the god ranged everywhere throughout the wide camp of the Achaeans. The seer in full knowledge declared to us the prophecies of the far-shooter. Straightway, I was the first to urge the appeasement of the god; but then anger seized the son of Atreus, and, standing up at once, he issued a threat, which indeed has (now) been accomplished. The flashing-eyed Achaeans are escorting her with a swift ship to Chryse, and are taking gifts for its lord; but just now heralds went from my hut leading away the daughter of Briseus, whom the sons of the Achaeans gave to me. But you, if you can, protect your noble son, (by) going to Olympus to entreat Zeus, if ever you have pleased at all the heart of Zeus either by word or also by deed. For often I have heard you in the palace of my father boasting, when you said that you alone among the immortals warded off shameful ruin from the son of Cronus, shrouded in black clouds (as he is), at the time when other Olympians were willing to bind him fast, even Hera and Poseidon and Pallas Athene. But you, goddess, having come, released him from his bonds, having quickly called the hundred-handed one to high Olympus, (he) whom the gods call Briareus, but all men Aegaeon; for he, in turn is mightier in strength than his own father (i.e. Poseidon); he took his seat beside the son of Cronos exulting in his glory; and the other gods shrank from him, nor did they bind (Zeus). Now having reminded him of these things, sit beside (him) and clasp his knees, (asking) if somehow he might be willing to bring help to the Trojans, and to hem in the Achaeans by the sterns (of their ships) and around the sea, while they are being slain, so that all may enjoy their king, (such as he is), and the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, may even recognise his folly in that he did not honour the best of the Achaeans”.

Ll. 413-427. Thetis tells her son to abstain from fighting. She will go to see Zeus.

Then, Thetis, letting fall a tear, answered him (thus): “Ah me, child, why did I rear you, having borne you into such trouble? Would that you could just sit by the ships without a tear and unharmed, since your life-span (runs) for a very short time, and certainly not for a very long time; but as it is you have come to be, at the same time, both short-lived and wretched far beyond all (other) men; to such an evil fate did I bear you in our palace. In order to tell this story of yours to Zeus, (the one) who delights in thunder, I am going myself to snow-capped Olympus, (to see) if he will listen (to me). But you, now sitting by your swift ships, must rage against the Achaeans, and withdraw completely from the war; for Zeus went yesterday to Oceanus about a feast with the blameless Ethiopians, and all the gods followed along with (him); but after twelve days he will come back to Olympus, and then, let me tell you, I shall go to the palace of Zeus with its bronze threshold, and I shall beseech him and I think I shall persuade him”.

Ll. 428-456. The ship, with Odysseus as captain, takes Chryseis home.

Having spoken thus, she went away and left him there, angry at heart because of the well-girded woman (i.e. Briseis) seized by force against his will; meanwhile, Odysseus was coming to Chryse, bringing the holy hecatomb. When they had arrived within the very deep harbour, they unfurled the sails and put (them) in the black ship, and they brought down the mast to the mast-crutch, letting (it) down quickly by (slackening) the forestays, and they rowed it forward with oars to the anchorage. They brought out the mooring stones, and tied the stern-cables fast to (the shore); and they themselves disembarked at the sea shore, and they brought forth the hecatomb for Apollo the far-shooter, and Chryseis disembarked from the sea-faring ship. Then, the wily Odysseus, leading her to the altar, placed her in the arms of her dear father, and said to him: “O Chryses, Agamemnon, lord of men, has sent me forth to bring your daughter to you, and to sacrifice a holy hecatomb to Phoebus on behalf of the Danaans so that we can appease the lord (god) who has now brought (such) grievous troubles upon the Argives”. So saying, he placed (her) in his arms, and he joyfully received his dear child; they quickly set up the holy hecatomb to the god around the well-built altar, and then washed their hands and took up the coarsely-ground barley grains for sprinkling (on the victims). Chryses, lifting up his arms among them, prayed in a loud voice: “Hear me, (lord) of the silver bow, who has protected Chryse and holy Cilla and rules mightily over Tenedos; just as you surely heard me once before, when I prayed (to you), and you honoured me and punished mightily the army of the Achaeans, so now too bring to pass this further desire of mine, and ward off now this shameful pestilence from the Danaans”.

Ll. 457-474. The sacrificial feast. Apollo is praised in music and song.

So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him. Then, when they had prayed and thrown down the coarse-grained barley to be sprinkled (between the victim’s horns), they first drew back (the animals’ heads) and cut (their throats) and flayed (their skins), and cut out the thighs and covered (them) up with fat, making (the layer of meat) a double one, and placed raw meat on them. The old man (i.e. Chryses) burned (them) on logs of wood, and poured a libation of sparkling wine on top of (them); and beside him the young men held in their hands the five-pronged forks. Then, when the thigh pieces were burned up and they had tasted the entrails, they cut up the rest (of the meat) into pieces and pierced (these) on spits all around, and roasted (them) carefully and drew off all (the meat). But when they had ceased from their work and prepared the meal, they fed (themselves), nor did their hearts feel any lack of a sufficient feast. But, when they had satisfied their desire for food and drink, the young men filled the mixing bowls full up to the brim with wine. Indeed, they served everyone, pouring drops into the cups as a libation. All day long the young men of the Achaeans appeased the god with song, singing a lovely hymn, celebrating in song he who smites from afar; and he, listening, was delighted in his heart.

Ll. 475-487. The Greek ship returns and the crew disembark.

But when the sun sank down and darkness arrived, then they lay down to rest by the stern-cables of the ship; when rosy-fingered dawn, the child of the morning, showed her (face), then at that time they put out to sea in search of the broad camp of the Achaeans, (and) Apollo, who smites from afar, sent them a favouring breeze; they set up the mast and spread out the white sails, and the wind swelled out the middle of the sail and the dark waves roared loudly around the stem of the ship’s keel as it sped along. And she ran through the swell (of the waves) accomplishing her way. But, when they arrived at the broad camp of the Achaeans, they hauled the black ship on land, high up on the sand, and they set in line long props underneath (it), and they themselves dispersed among the huts and ships.

Ll. 488-492. Achilles nurses his anger.

But the heaven-sprung son of Peleus, swift-footed Achilles, was raging, as he sat beside his fast moving ships. Not ever did he go forth to the glory-winning assembly, nor ever to war, but his own heart wasted away, as he remained there, and longed for the war-cry and the battle.

Ll. 493-510. Thetis visits Zeus and asks that due honour be paid to Achilles.

But when the twelfth dawn came round from that (meeting), then it was that the ever living gods came to Olympus all together and Zeus was leading (them). And Thetis did not forget the request of her son but she arose from the swell of the sea, and early in the morning she went up to the great heaven and Olympus. There she found the wide-seeing son of Cronos sitting apart from the rest on the highest peak of many-ridged Olympus; and she sat down before him, and clasped his knees with her left(-hand), and, taking (him) by the chin with her right(-hand), she addressed the lord Zeus, the son of Cronos, in prayer: “Father Zeus, if ever I, among the immortals, have pleased you either by word or by deed, bring to pass this desire of mine; show honour to my son who is very short-lived beyond (all) others; yet now Agamemnon, lord of men, has dishonoured him; for, having taken his prize (i.e. Briseis) away (from him), he has seized it himself and is keeping it. But do you show him honour, all-wise Olympian Zeus; may you confer might upon the Trojans until such time as the Achaeans value my son and elevate him in honour.”

Ll. 511-530. Zeus hesitates, fearing a row with Hera, but finally nods assent.

Thus she spoke; but Zeus the cloud-gatherer did not speak to her at all, but sat silent for a long time; as Thetis grasped his knees, so she held on clinging tightly, and she asked (him) again a second time: “Promise me without fail and nod in assent, or deny (me), since no fear rests upon you, that I may know full well how far I am the most dishonoured god among (them) all”. Greatly worried, Zeus the cloud-gatherer addressed her: “Certainly (there will be) sorry work, in that you have compelled me to quarrel with Hera, whenever she provokes me with spiteful words. Even as it is, she is always abusing me among the immortal gods, and she says that I aid the Trojans in battle. But you must go away again now, lest Hera may perceive something; these things will be a care to me, until I shall accomplish (them). But come now, I shall nod my head, so that you may be confident; for this pledge from me (is) the greatest among the immortals; for no (pledge) of mine (shall be) taken back, or prove false, or (shall remain) unaccomplished, whenever I nod my head in assent (to it)”. The son of Cronos spoke and nodded his dark brows in agreement; and the divine locks of the lord (god) flowed downwards from his immortal head; and he made great Olympus shake.

Ll. 531-567. Hera asks Zeus about the visit of Thetis. Zeus turns on her with threats of violence.

And so, having deliberated, the two parted; then she jumped down from bright Olympus into the deep sea, and Zeus went to his own house; all the gods rose together from their seats in the presence of their father; nor did any one (of them) dare to await his arrival, but they all rose up facing (him). And so he sat down there upon his throne; nor, having seen him, was Hera unaware that silver-footed Thetis, daughter of the old man of the sea (i.e. Nereus), had taken counsel together with him. Immediately, she spoke to Zeus, the son of Cronos, with bitter (words): “Which of the gods, you crafty one, has taken counsel with you? It is always pleasing to you, when you are far away from me, to consider and give judgment on secret (matters); nor have you ever brought yourself with any readiness to tell me whatever plan you have in mind.” Then, the father of men and of gods answered her (thus): “Hera, do not expect to know all of my words; although you are my wife, they will be hard for you (to understand); but whatever (is) suitable (for you) to hear, then no one else either among the gods or men will know of it before (you do); but what I may wish to plan far away from the gods, don’t you question (me) about, or inquire into, any of these things in any way”. Then, the ox-eyed queenly Hera answered him: “Most terrible son of Cronos, what kind of word have you spoken? Certainly I have neither questioned (you) nor made enquiries of you before, but (of course) you may consider quite undisturbed whatever things you wish. Now, I fear dreadfully in my heart that silver-footed Thetis, the daughter of the old man of the sea, may have beguiled you; for early in the morning she sat beside you and clasped your knees; I think that you nodded your head to her in definite (agreement) that you would bring honour to Achilles, and destroy many of the Achaeans by their ships”. Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, addressed her in answer: “My dear woman, you are always imagining (things), nor can I (ever) escape your notice; nevertheless, you will not be able to achieve anything, but you will be further from my heart; and that will be the worse for you. If this (matter) is as you say, it is likely to seem good to me. But sit still and listen, and obey my word, lest all the gods that there are in Olympus cannot defend you (against my) approach, when I lay my invincible hands upon you”.

Ll. 568-594. Hephaestus urges peace. He recalls how Zeus once hurled him from Olympus.

Thus he spoke, and ox-eyed queenly Hera was afraid, and sat down in silence, curbing her own heart; throughout the house of Zeus, the heavenly gods were troubled; Hephaestus, the famous craftsman, began to address them, bringing some comfort to his dear mother, the white-armed Hera: “Certainly this will be a grievous business, and it will be still more unbearable if the two of you are to quarrel in this way on account of mortals, and to keep up this wrangling among the gods; nor will there be any benefit in the goodly feast, since worse things prevail. I advise my mother, even though she knows (it) well herself, to bring kindness to our father Zeus, so that our father may not upbraid her again, and disturb our feast. For if if the Olympian sender of lightning wishes to drive (us) from our seats, (he can certainly do so); for he is by far the strongest. But you must address him with gentle words; then the Olympian will at once be kind to us.” Thus he spoke, and, springing up, he placed the two-handled cup in the hands of his mother, and he addressed her (thus): “Take courage, my mother, and, though distressed, endure, lest I may see you, though being dear (to me), being smitten before my eyes, and then I shall not be able to help you at all, despite my grief; for the Olympian is hard to match oneself against. For, previously on another occasion, when I had been eager to defend you, he seized (me) by the foot, and hurled me from the divine threshold; all day long I was carried (down), and, at the same time as the sun set, I fell in Lemnos, and there was little life still (left) in me; there Sintian men rescued me at once after my fall.”

Ll. 595-611. Hephaestus makes the gods laugh. They feast till sundown and then retire to bed.

Thus he spoke, and the white-armed goddess Hera smiled, and, smiling, she received the cup in her hand from her son; then, he poured wine for all the other gods from left to right, drawing sweet nectar from the bowl. And unceasing laughter arose among the blessed gods, as they saw Hephaestus shuffling through the palace. So then, they feasted all day (long) till the setting of the sun, nor did their hearts feel any lack of a sufficient feast, nor yet of the very beautiful lyre which Apollo held, nor of the Muses, who were singing with their beautiful voices, as they answered (one another) in turn. But, when the shining light of the sun set, they went, each to his (own) home to lie down, where the famous (god) Hephaestus, lame in both legs, had made with knowing skill a house for each (one of them); and Zeus, the Olympian sender of lightning, went to his bed, where he always lay down whenever sweet sleep came over him; there, he went up and slept, and beside him (lay) Hera of the golden throne.

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