Homer: Iliad: Book VI: Hector Returns to Troy | Sabidius.com
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Ancient Greece

Homer: Iliad: Book VI: Hector Returns to Troy


Sabidius published on this blog a translation of the First Book of Homer’s Iliad on 12th March 2010, and the introduction to that is relevant here also with regard to its general comments about Homer. He now offers a translation of Book Six. This book is one of the most arresting of the twenty-two books, of which the “Iliad” is composed. It includes the meeting between Diomedes and Glaucus, which throws light on the ethics of warfare in the epic age, and line 208 contains the injunction “Ever to Excel”, a concise statement of the heroic ideal, from which comes the motto of St Andrews University, on which subject the reader is referred to the item published on this blog on 31st December 2011. Book Six is especially renowned also for the touching scene of the Trojan hero Hector’s final parting from his wife Andromache and his baby son Astyanax. Previously Hector appears only in his role as a war leader, but here we see him as a loving husband and father. The pathos of this scene, which is rightly regarded as one of the highlights of the whole poem, is rendered more poignant for the reader, because we know that Hector and Astyanax will die. It is an outstanding example of Homer’s ability to portray the intensity of the human predicament, when a man is confronted by competing loyalties. In this case, despite his love for his wife and son, and his knowledge that both he and Troy are doomed, Hector insists on returning to the fray because it is his duty to lead his men from the front of the battle-line.

Like much of Homer’s verse, this book includes a number of formulaic expressions. These apply in particular to the attributions attached to the individual heroes and characters, which often reflect more the requirements of the metre than the circumstances of the passages in which they are to be found. Thus Hector is “glorious” and “of the shining helmet”, Andromache is “white-armed”, and Diomedes is “good at the war-cry”. Formulaic expressions are also evident at the commencement and the end of set speeches, and on occasions whole passages are repeated. Thus lines 90-97 and lines 271-278 are almost identical, and from these passages lines 93-95 and 274-276 reappear in lines 308-310. In the same way lines 378-380 are almost immediately repeated in lines 383-385. With regard to the introduction to passages of speech, line 253 reappears in lines 406 and 485. In the text below the translations of these lines are highlighted by italic script.

As is his wont, Sabidius’ translation of this great book seeks to be as faithful as possible to the actual grammatical structure of Homer’s words. Thus the subjects and objects of verbs are maintained and not reversed, and, wherever possible subordinate clauses and participial and prepositional phrases are translated in close alignment with the text. Sentences are retained in accordance with their grammatical structure and not broken up for the sake of convenience. Where for the sake of clarity, or to avoid a rendering into English that would sound excessively clumsy, a degree of flexibility is deemed appropriate (e.g. where a participle is replaced by a relative or adverbial clause) the more literal translation is shown in parenthesis simultaneously. The purpose of this rigorous attempt to follow the structure of the original Greek text is to help any student translating the Greek him/herself to understand as quickly and as accurately as possible what the Greek words actually mean. The student can then judge for him/herself how far the use of more colloquial expressions in English may be appropriate, and at what point such freedom of expression departs from the true meaning of the original Greek.

The Ancient Greek text for this translation is taken from “Homer: Iliad VI”, edited by R.H. Jordan & J.A. Harrison, published by the Bristol Classical Press, 1985. This translation also utilises the sections into which the editors have usefully divided the text and makes use of the short section headings which this edition has usefully provided. These are shown in italics in the translation below. Sabidius has also taken account of the notes to Allen Rogers Benners’ “Selections from Homer’s Iliad”, Irvington Publishers Inc., New York, 1903.

Ll. 1-4. The fighting continues without the involvement of the gods.

The dread strife of Trojans and Achaeans was left (to them) alone; indeed, the battle surged this way and that way many times over the plain, with (them) aiming their bronze-tipped spears at each other between the streams of the Simois and the Xanthus.

Ll. 5-36. Ajax and other Achaean chiefs slay various Trojans.

Ajax, the son of Telamon, the bulwark of the Achaeans, first broke the Trojans’ battle-line and brought the light (of deliverance) to his companions, striking the man who was the best among the Thracians, Eussorus’ son, Acamas, both brave and tall. He first smote him on the crest of his horse-hair plumed helmet, and the bronze point stuck in his forehead, and so drove in through the bone within; and darkness covered his eyes.

Then, Diomedes, good in respect of his war-cry, slew Teuthras’ son, Axylus, who dwelt in well-built Arisbe, (a man) rich in substance, and (who) was popular with (all) men; for, living in a house by the road, he used to entertain everyone. But none of them then warded off baneful death from him, (by) going to meet (Diomedes) in front (of him), but he took away the life (of them) both, (the man) himself, and his squire Calesius, who was on that day the driver of his horses; and both of them went below the earth. Then, Euryalus slew Dresus and Opheltius, and went on after Aesepus and Pedasus, who at sometime the water-nymph Abarbarea bore to blameless Bucolion. Bucolion was the son of noble Laomedon, his eldest born, but his mother bore him in secret; (while) shepherding over his sheep, he joined in love-making and lay (with her), and she, having conceived, bore twin children. And the son of Mecisteus (i.e. Euryalus) undid their strength and shining limbs, and stripped the armour from their shoulders.

And Polypoetes, stauch in battle, slew Astyalus, and Odysseus slew Pidytes of Percote with his spear of bronze, and Teucer (slew) godlike Aretaon. And Antilochus, the son of Nestor, slew Ablerus with his shining spear, and the king of men, Agamemnon, (slew) Elatus; he dwelt in steep Pedasus by the banks of the swift-flowing Satnoeis. And the hero Leitus caught the fleeing Phylacus; and Eurypylus slew Melanthius.

Ll. 37-65. Agamemnon persuades Menelaus not to take Adrestus alive.

Then Menelaus, good in respect of his war-cry, took Adrestus alive; for his two horses, fleeing in terror over the plain, having become entangled in a tamarisk bough, and breaking the curved chariot at the top of the pole, themselves went on towards the city, to where indeed the rest were fleeing in terror, but he himself was thrown (lit. rolled) out of the chariot headlong upon his face in the dust beside a wheel. And Menelaus, the son of Atreus, stood beside him, bearing a spear with a long shaft; then Adrestus, grasping his knees, implored (him thus): “Take (me) alive, son of Atreus, and you shall receive a worthy ransom. In (the house) of my wealthy father lies much treasure, bronze and gold and laboriously wrought iron: of these things my father would bestow upon you a ransom past counting, if he were to find out that I am alive by the ships of the Achaeans.”

Thus he spake, and so he was beginning to persuade the heart in his (i.e. Menelaus’) breast, and indeed he was just on the point of giving him to his squire to lead (him) back to the swift ships of the Achaeans; but Agamemnon came running to meet (him), and spoke these words (to him) in a loud voice (lit. shouting): “O Menelaus, my dear fellow, why do you care thus for these men? Have such very good things been done to you in your home by the Trojans? Let not anyone of them escape utter destruction at (lit. and) our hands, not even any who is (lit. being) a boy-child whom a mother may bear in her womb, let not even he escape, but let all of Ilium perish utterly together unmourned and unmarked.

Speaking thus, the hero won over the mind of his brother, persuading (him) rightly; he (i.e. Menelaus) pushed the hero Adrestus away from him with his hand. And the lord Agamemnon stabbed him in his flank; he fell backwards, and the son of Atreus, planting (lit. stepping with) his heel on his chest, drew forth his ash-wood spear.

Ll. 66-118. Nestor urges on the Greeks. Helenus bids Aeneas and Hector rally the Trojans, and Hector to go into Troy and bid the women pray to Athene.

Then Nestor urged on the Argives, shouting loudly: “O my friends, Danaan warriors, squires of Ares, let no one remain behind, throwing himself upon the spoils, (but) let us kill men; then later (you may strip) the (spoils) also (as) you strip the dead bodies (all) over the plain.”

Speaking thus, he aroused the strength and courage of each (man). Then would the Trojans, overcome by the Achaeans, have gone back again to Ilium due to their lack of spirit, if Helenus, the son of Priam, by far the best of augurs, standing beside Aeneas and Hector, had not said (to them): “(O) Aeneas and Hector, since the (war-)toil of the Trojans and Lycians rests upon you especially, because in every enterprise you are the best, both in battle and in counsel, make a stand here, and, going around everywhere, rally the army in front of the gates, before, in their flight, they fall into the arms (lit. hands) of their women once more, and become a source of joy to our enemies. But, whenever you have spurred on the battalions, we, remaining here, shall fight with the Danaans, although (we are) very tired; for necessity compels (us). But do you, Hector, go to the city, and speak then to your mother and mine. And she, gathering together the old women at the temple of bright-eyed Athene on the citadel (lit. highest point of the city), (and) opening the doors of the sacred house with the key, may she lay the robe, which seems to her to be the most beautiful and the most ample in her hall, and (which is) by far the most dear to herself, upon the knees of fair-haired Athene, and may she vow to her that she will sacrifice in her temple twelve heifers, unbroken yearlings, in the hope that she may have compassion on the city and the Trojans’ wives and infant children, and to see if she may keep away from sacred Ilium the son of Tydeus (i.e. Diomedes), that savage spearman, that mighty agent of panic-stricken flight, whom I declare to be the mightiest of the Achaeans. We did not even ever fear Achilles to such an extent, that leader of men, the very one whom they say is (born) of a goddess; but this man rages overmuch, nor can anyone match him in respect of his strength.

Thus he spake, and Hector did not disobey his brother at all. Forthwith he leapt from his chariot to the ground (together) with his armour, and brandishing his sharp spears he went throughout the host in every direction, and he kept rousing the dread din of battle. And they rallied and stood facing the Achaeans; and the Argives gave way and ceased from their slaughter, and they said (to themselves) that one of the immortals had come down from the starry heaven to help (lit. helping) the Trojans; thus they rallied. And Hector, shouting loudly, called out to the Trojans: “(O) high-spirited Trojans and far-famed allies, be men, my friends, and be mindful of impetuous valour, so that I may go to Ilium and tell the elders (who are) councillors and our wives to pray to the gods and to promise (them) hecatombs.”

So speaking thus, Hector of the shining helmet departed; and the black hide, (which) ran (around) the outer rim of the embossed shield covering (lit. around) (him), kept tapping him on his ankles and on his neck.

Ll. 119-143. Diomedes meets Glaucus and enquires about his lineage.

Then Glaucus, the son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus came together in the midst of both (armies), eager to do battle. And when, advancing against one another, they were close, Diomedes, good in respect of his war-cry, addressed the other first: “Who are you, (O) most valiant (one) among mortal men? For I have never seen you in battle that brings fame before this; but now you have surpassed all (others) in your courage, in that you have awaited my long-shafted spear. Only the children of wretched (men) oppose my strength. But, if in fact (as) one of the immortals you have come down from heaven, I shall not fight with the heavenly gods. Nay, for not even the mighty Lycurgus, the son of Dryas, survived for a long time, seeing that he strove with the heavenly gods, (he) who once chased the nurses of the raging Dionysus down over sacred Nysa; and they all let their wands fall to the ground together, having been struck by man-slaying Lycurgus’ ox-goad; and Dionysus, fleeing in terror, plunged beneath the wave of the sea, and Thetis received (him) in her bosom in a terrified state; for a mighty trembling gripped (him) due to the man’s shouting. Then, the gods, who live (lit. living) at their ease, were angry with him, and the son of Cronus (i.e. Jupiter) made him blind; nor did he survive long after that, since he was hateful to all the gods. And I do not wish to fight against the blessed gods. But, if you are one of those mortal men who eat of the fruit of the field, come nearer, so that you may come sooner to the end (which consists) of destruction.”

Ll. 144-211. Glaucus says he is son of Hippolochus, son of the famous Bellerophon, whose story he tells.

Then the glorious son of Hippolochus addressed him in reply: “(O) great-souled son of Tydeus, why are you enquiring about my lineage? Just as (there is) a generation of leaves, so (there is one) of men also. The wind scatters some leaves on to the ground, but the forest as it flourishes (lit. flourishing) puts forth (others), as the season of spring comes on; so one generation of men flourishes and another passes away (lit. withers). But if you wish to learn this also, so that you may know my lineage well, and many men do know it, (I shall tell it now): “Ephyre is a city in the heart of horse-rearing Argos (i.e. the Peloponnese), and there dwelt Sisyphus, who was the craftiest of men, Sisyphus, the son of Aeolus; and he begat a son, Glaucus, and Glaucus begat peerless Bellerophon (lit. Bellerophontes). The gods bestowed beauty and a lovely manliness upon him; but Proetus plotted in his heart evil things against him, inasmuch as he drove (him) from the land of the Argives; for Zeus had subdued (the Argives) by his sceptre. Now the wife of Proetus, godlike Anteia, was (so) madly in love (with him) as to join (with him) in secret love-making; but she could not prevail upon him in any way, the wise Bellerophon being minded (only) of upright things. And she, telling lies, spoke to King Proetus (thus): “(O) Proetus, (either) you must die (yourself), or slay Bellerophon, who has been desiring to join in love-making (with me) against my will (lit. not being willing).” Thus she spoke, and wrath seized hold of the king, at hearing such a thing. He shrank from killing (him), for he dreaded this in his heart, but he sent him to Lycia and he gave (him) baneful tokens, engraving in a folded tablet many deadly (signs), and bade (him) show (these) to his father-in-law, so that he might slay (him). So he went to Lycia under the escort of the blameless gods. But when he arrived at Lycia and the flowing Xanthus, the king of broad Lycia readily honoured him; he entertained (him) for nine days, and sacrificed nine oxen (for him). But, when the tenth rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, then he questioned him and asked to see whatever token he was carrying from his son-in-law Proetus. But, when he had received the evil token of his son-in-law, he first bade him slay the raging Chimaera. She was of divine race and not (of the race) of men, a lion in front, and a serpent in her hind-quarters, and a goat in the middle, breathing forth the terrible might of blazing fire. And he slew her, obeying the signs of the gods; next he fought the renowned Solymi (i.e. the indigenous inhabitants of Lycia); he said that this (was) the mightiest battle between men he had (ever) plunged into. Thirdly, he once more slew the Amazons, (women who were) a match for men. And he (i.e. the king of Lycia) wove another cunning trick against him (as he was) returning; choosing the bravest men out of broad Lycia, he set an ambush; but they did not go home, any of them (lit. at all); for peerless Bellerophon slew (them) all. But, when he realised that he was the valiant offspring of a god, he kept him there, and gave him his own daughter (in marriage), and bestowed upon him a half of all his kingly honour; and the Lycians also cut out a demesne pre-eminent above (all) others, a fair (tract of land consisting) of a vineyard and ploughland, so that he could possess (it). And she bore three children to wise Bellerophon, Isander, and Hippolochus and Laodameia; Zeus the counsellor lay with Laodameia, and she bore godlike Sarpedon, the bronze-armoured (warrior). But when even he became hateful to all the gods, then indeed he wandered alone over the Aleian plain (i.e. a barren wasteland), devouring his own soul, and shunning the paths of men, and Ares, insatiable of war, slew his son Isander, (as he was) fighting the renowned Solymi, and, Artemis of the golden reins, in her wrath, slew Laodameia. But Hippolochus begat me, and I declare that I am his son (lit. [born] of him); and he sent me to Troy, and he enjoined upon me very many times that I should ever excel and be distinguished above (all) others, and not disgrace the stock of my forebears, who were by far the noblest (men) both in Ephyre and in broad Lycia. I avow that I am truly of this family and blood.

Ll. 212-236. Diomedes will not fight with Glaucus. The two swear friendship.

Thus he spake, and Diomedes, good in respect of his war-cry, rejoiced. He planted his spear in the bounteous earth, and with gentle (words) he spoke to the shepherd of the host: “Truly now you are a guest-friend to me from the old days of my father’s time; for godlike Oeneus once entertained peerless Bellerophon in his palace, keeping (him there) for twenty days. And they also gave to each other fair gifts of friendship; on the one hand, Oeneus gave a belt shining with crimson, and, on the other hand, Bellerophon (gave) a golden cup with two handles, and I left it behind in my hall (when) going (away). But I do not remember Tydeus, since he left me (when) I was still a young (child), (on the occasion) when the army of the Achaeans was destroyed at Thebes. Therefore, I am now a dear guest-friend to you in the middle of Argos, and you to me in Lycia, whenever I may come to their land. So let us avoid one another’s spears, even amid the throng (of battle); for there are many Trojans and renowned allies for me to kill, whomsoever a god may grant my feet to overtake, and there are many Achaeans for you to slay in turn, whomsoever you can. And let us exchange our armour with each other, so that these men too may know that we avow that we are now guest-friends from our fathers’ time.”

When the two of them had thus spoken, they both leapt down from their chariots (lit. horses), and clasped each other’s hands and pledged their faith. And there did Zeus, the son of Cronus, then take away his wits from Glaucus, inasmuch as he exchanged his armour with the son of Tydeus, golden for bronze, a hundred oxen’s worth for nine oxen’s worth.

Ll. 237-262. Hector comes to Troy where he find Hecuba. She gives him wine.

But, when Hector came to the Scaean gate and the oak-tree, the wives and daughters of the Trojans came running (all) around him, enquiring about their their sons and brothers and kinsmen and husbands; but he bade (them) offer prayers to the gods, all (of them) in turn; but sorrows were in store for (lit. attached to) many (of them).

But, when he came to the very beautiful palace of Priam, built with polished porticoes, – and in it there were fifty bed-chambers of polished stone, built close by each other; and therein the sons of Priam used to sleep beside their wedded wives; and for his daughters, facing (them) on the opposite side within the courtyard there were twelve roofed bed-chambers of polished stone, built close by each other; therein the sons-in-law of Priam used to sleep beside their chaste wives – there his generous mother came to meet him, leading Laodice, the best of her daughters in appearance; and she (i.e. Hecuba) clasped him by the (lit. clung fast to his) hand, and she spoke words to him and called him by name: “My child, why ever have you, having left the spirited battle, come (here)? Certainly the hateful sons of the Achaeans, fighting right up to (lit. around) the city, are indeed pressing (us) sorely (lit. very much), but your heart has sent you, coming here, to hold up your hands to Zeus from the citadel (lit. the highest point of the city). But stay, until I can bring you honey-sweet wine, so that you can pour a libation to father Zeus and to the other immortals, and then you may refresh yourself too, whenever you drink (it). For in the case of a weary man, even as you are exhausted defending your compatriots, wine greatly increases his strength.”

Ll. 263-285. Hector will not drink. He tells his mother to pray to Athene.

Then mighty Hector of the shining helmet answered her (thus): “Do not bring me honey-sweet wine, queenly mother, lest you deprive me of my strength, and I forget my valour; and I am ashamed to pour a libation of sparkling wine to Zeus with unwashed hands; nor is it in any way possible (for anyone) to offer prayers to the son of Cronus (i.e. Zeus), (who is) shrouded in black clouds, (when he is) defiled with blood and gore. But do you go to the temple of Athene, driver of the spoil, with burnt-offerings, having gathered together the aged women; and whichever robe is to you the most beautiful and the most ample in your hall and by far the most dear to yourself, lay that one upon the knees of fair-haired Athene, and vow to her to sacrifice in her temple twelve heifers, unbroken yearlings, in the hope that she may have compassion upon the city and the wives and infant children of the Trojans, (and) to see if she may keep away from sacred Troy the son of Tydeus, that savage spearman, that mighty agent of panic-stricken flight. But do you go the to the temple of Athene, driver of the spoil, and I shall go after Paris in order to summon (him), in the hope that he may be disposed to hearken to (me) speaking; I wish that the earth would straightway open up for him; for the Olympian (i.e. Zeus) has reared him (as) a great bane to the Trojans and to great-hearted Priam and his sons. If I were to see him going down into (the house) of Hades, I would say that my heart had forgotten its distress.

Ll. 286-311. Hecabe prays to Athene in the temple of the Goddess.

Thus he spake, and she, going to the hall, called her handmaidens; and they gathered together the aged women throughout the city. But she herself went down into the fragrant (store-)room, where were her robes, richly embroidered, the work of Sidonian women, whom godlike Alexander (i.e. Paris) had himself brought from Sidon, (when) sailing over the wide sea, on the very journey on which he brought back high-born Helen. Lifting up one of these, Hecuba bore (it as) a gift for Athene, (the one) which was the fairest in its gay-coloured patterns, and the amplest, and it shone like a star; and it lay underneath (all) the others (lit. lowest of all). And she went on her way (lit. to go), and the many old women hurried after (her).

Now when they reached the temple of Athene on the citadel (lit. the highest point of the city), fair-cheeked Theano, the daughter of Cisseus (and) the wife of Antenor, tamer of horses, opened the doors for them; for the Trojans had made her the priestess of Athene. Then, with a loud cry, they all raised their hands to Athene; and the fair-cheeked Theano, lifting up the robe, laid (it) upon the knees of fair-haired Athene, and, with vows, prayed (thus) to the daughter of great Zeus: “Lady Athene, protector of our city, glorious among goddesses, break now the spear of Diomedes, and grant also that he may fall headlong in front of the Scaean gates, so that we may now straightway sacrifice to you in your temple twelve heifers, unbroken yearlings, in the hope that you may have compassion upon the city, and the wives and infant children of the Trojans.” Thus she spake in prayer, but Pallas Athene nodded upwards (in dissent).

Ll. 312-341. Hector reproaches Paris for avoiding the battle. Paris says he will go at once.

But Hector had gone to the beautiful palace of Alexander, which he had himself built with men who were at that time the best craftsmen in fertile Troy; they had made him a bed-chamber and hall and courtyard near to (those) of Priam and Hector on the citadel (lit. the highest point of the city). There entered Hector, dear to Zeus, and in his hand he held a spear eleven cubits long; and the bronze point at the end of his spear was gleaming , and around (it) ran a golden ring. He found him in his bed-chamber, busy with (lit.attending to) his very beautiful arms, his shield and his breast-plate, and handling his curved bow; and Argive Helen sat among her attendant women and supervised her handmaidens’ wondrous work. And seeing him, Hector reproached him with these shaming words: “My dear fellow, (it is) not good that you have stored up this anger in your heart. The people are perishing, fighting around the city and its steep wall; but this war-cry and this war blazes around this city on account of you; and you would quarrel with (any) other (man) too. whomsoever you might, perchance, see shrinking from the hateful battle. But, up (you get), lest the city soon be burned by consuming fire.”

And godlike Alexander addressed him (thus) in reply: “Hector, since you are chiding me rightly (lit. according to my deserts) and not unfairly (lit. beyond my deserts), therefore I shall speak to you; but do you take heed and hearken unto me. Not so much due to anger or indignation at the Trojans did I in fact sit in my chamber, but I was disposed to give way to anguish (i.e. because he had been defeated in battle by Menelaus). Even now my wife, seeking to persuade me with gentle words, has urged (me) to the battle; and thus it seems to me myself also that it would be better; victory comes to men in turn (lit. alternates between men). But, come now, wait awhile, let me don the armour of war; or go (ahead), and I shall come after (you), and I think that I shall catch (you) up.”

Ll. 342-368. Helen bemoans her ruinous life and speaks slightingly of Paris. Hector will not stay to talk with her.

Thus he spake, and Hector of the shining helmet did not speak to him at all; but Helen addressed him (thus) with gentle words: “(O) my brother-in-law, mischievous (and) horrid bitch (that I am), would that, on that day when my mother first bore me, a dreadful blast of wind had borne (lit. had gone bearing) me onward to (some) mountain or to a wave of the loud-resounding sea, where that billow could have swept me away before these deeds had come to pass. But, since the gods decreed these evils thus, then would that I had been the wife of a better man, who could be aware of the indignation and the repeated (lit. many) reproaches of his (fellow-)men. But this man will have (lit. to this man there will be) no senses, either now or in the future; therefore I deem that he will reap the fruits (of his folly). But, come now, enter, my brother-in-law, and sit on this chair, since trouble has especially encompassed you in your heart, on account of myself, bitch (that I am), and on account of the madness of Alexander, upon whom Zeus has placed an evil fate, so that hereafter we may become renowned in song to men yet to be.”

Then, mighty Hector of the shining helmet answered her (thus): “Do not bid me to sit down, Helen, even if you love (me); nor will you persuade me; for already my heart is eager to bring help to the Trojans, who have a great longing for me in my absence. But do you rouse this man, and let him hasten also himself, so that he may catch up with me (while) I am (lit. being) (yet) within the city. For I shall go to my home also, so that I may behold its inmates, both my dear wife and my infant son; for I know not whether I shall return home again (lit. I shall come again returning home) to them once more, or whether even now the gods will overcome me through the hands of the Achaeans.”

Ll. 369-389. Hector looks for his wife Andromache in their house, but she has gone to the town wall with her child.

So speaking, Hector of the shining helmet departed. And then he came speedily to his well-appointed house, but he did not find white-armed Andromache in his palace, but in fact she, (together) with her child, had taken her stand on the tower, weeping and wailing. So Hector, when he did not find his peerless wife within, going to the threshold (of the women’s quarters), stood (there) and spoke (thus) to the serving-women: “Come now, maids, (and) tell me the truth; in which direction has white-armed Andromache gone from our hall? Which way is she going, either to (the house) of one of her sisters-in-law or to (the house) of one of the well-dressed wives of my brothers, or to (the temple) of Athene, where indeed the rest of the fair-tressed Trojan women are seeking to appease the dread goddess?”

Then his busy house-keeper spoke these words to him in reply: “Hector, since you have bade (us) tell you the very truth, she is not going at all to (the house) of one of her sisters-in-law, or to (the house) of one of the well-dressed wives of your brothers, or to (the temple) of Athene, where indeed the rest of the fair-tressed Trojan women are seeking to appease the dread goddess, but she has gone to the great tower of Ilium, because she has heard that the Trojans are sorely pressed, and that there is great strength among the Achaeans. So she is gone to the wall in haste like one distraught; and together (with her) the nurse is carrying the child.

Ll. 390-465. Hector meets Andromache. She begs him to stay away from the battle, lest she be made a widow and the baby an orphan.

So spoke the house-keeping woman, and he, Hector, sped away from his palace through the well-built streets along the same road again. When, passing through the great city, he reached the Scaean gate, (the way) by which he would go forth to the plain, there his well-dowered wife came to meet (him), Andromache, the daughter of great-hearted Eetion, Eetion, who dwelt by wooded Placus, in Thebe under Placus, ruling over the men of Cilicia; it was he indeed whose daughter was married to (lit. was had [to wife] by) bronze-armoured Hector. Then she met him, and, together with herself, a maidservant, bearing at her bosom the tender child, an infant only, the beloved son of Hector, like to a fair star, whom Hector used to call Scamandrius, but other (men) Astyanax (i.e. Lord of the City); for Hector alone defended Ilium. And Andromache stood close by him shedding tears. And she clasped him by the (lit. clung fast to his) hand, and spoke words (to him) and called him by name: “My dear husband, this might of yours will destroy you, nor do you have any pity on your infant child and my hapless self, who will soon be your widow; for soon will the Achaeans, all rushing upon (you), slay you; but it would be better for me, if I were to lose (lit. losing) you, to go down to the grave (lit. to go under the ground); for there will not be any other comfort yet left (for me), when you have met your fate, but (only) woes; nor do I have (lit. nor is there to me) a father and a queenly mother. For verily godlike Achilles slew my father, and utterly destroyed the well-populated city of the Cilicians, Thebe of the lofty gates, and he slew Eetion, but he did not strip him, for he dreaded (to do) that in his heart, but he burned him (together) with his richly-wrought armour, and he heaped up a funeral mound thereon; and the mountain nymphs, the daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus, planted elm-trees all around. And the seven brothers, whom I had (lit. who were to me) in our house, went into (the house) of Hades on one (and the same) day; for swift-footed godlike Achilles slew (them) all, while tending (lit. in charge of) their cattle with a shambling gait and their white(-fleeced) sheep. And my mother, who was queen beneath wooded Placus, when he (i.e. Achilles) had brought her here, together with the rest of the enslaved captives (lit. her possessions), he freed her again, (after) taking a ransom past counting, but Artemis, the shooter of arrows, struck (her down) in her father’s palace. But, Hector, you are my father and my queenly mother and my brother, and you (are) my stalwart husband; but come now, have pity (on us), and remain on the tower, lest you make your child an orphan and your wife a widow; and position your army by the fig-tree, where the city is most easy to scale and the wall has become most vulnerable; for three times at this point have their bravest (men) approaching made an attempt (at assault), led by (lit. [gathered] around) the two Aiantes and glorious Idomeneus and led by (lit. [gathered] around) the sons of Atreus and the valiant son of Tydeus; either someone, doubtless with a good knowledge of oracles, told them, or their own spirit then urged them on and bade (them to make the attempt).”

Then mighty Hector of the shining helmet spoke to her in reply: “All these things are indeed of concern to me also, (O) wife; but I should feel very greatly ashamed before the Trojans and the wives of the Trojans, with their trailing robes, if I were to skulk like a coward far from the battle; nor would my heart urge me (to do this), since I have learned always to be valiant, and to fight with the foremost Trojans, winning great glory both for my father and my own (glory) for (me), myself. For I know this well in my heart: the day will come (lit. there will be a day) when sacred Ilium, and Priam, and the people of Priam of the ashen-spear, shall be destroyed. But no sorrow for Trojans in the future, neither for Hecuba herself, nor for king Priam nor for my brothers, who (though) many and brave, will fall in the dust beneath their foemen, concerns me so much as (my sorrow) for you (concerns me), when some (man) amongst the bronze-clad Achaeans shall lead you away in tears, taking away your freedom (lit. day of freedom). Then, when you are (lit. being) in Argos, you shall ply the loom at the orders of another (woman), and you shall carry water from (the spring) of Messeis or of Hypereia, much against your will; and some day some (man), beholding (you) shedding tears, may say: ‘Behold (lit. and [this is]) the wife of Hector, who was always the best at fighting amongst the horse-taming Trojans, (in the days) when they fought around Ilium.’ So shall someone someday say, and you will have (lit. there will be to you) fresh grief once more, because of your lack of a man such (as me) to ward off your bondage (lit. day of bondage). But let heaped up earth cover me after I have (lit. having) died, before I have any knowledge of your cries and of you being carried off.”

Ll. 466-493. Hector kisses his son and prays to Zeus to make him a valiant warrior. He sends Andromache back to her house.

Thus speaking, glorious Hector reached out for his son; but the child shrank back, crying, into the breast of his well-girdled nurse, frightened at the sight of his own father, being scared at the bronze and his plume of horse-hair, perceiving (it) nodding grimly from the very top of his helmet. Then, both his father and his queenly mother laughed aloud. (And) straightway glorious Hector took the helmet from off his head and laid it all-gleaming on the ground, but then he kissed his beloved son and held (him) in his arms (lit. hands), and said in prayer to Zeus and the other gods: “((O) Zeus and (you) other gods, grant that this child of mine may become pre-eminent among the Trojans, even indeed as I (am), and thus notable for his strength, and that he may rule over Ilium in might; and some day may men (lit. some man) say of (him) as he returns (lit. returning) from war, ‘This (man) is far better than his father’; and, having slain his foeman, may he bear the blood-stained spoils, and may his mother rejoice in her heart.”

Speaking thus, he placed his child in the arms (lit. hands) of his dear wife; and she took him in her fragrant bosom, smiling through her tears; and her husband was moved to pity, seeing (her), and he caressed her with his hand, and spoke words to her and called her by name: “My dear wife, do not in any way grieve in your heart too much on my account; for no man can send me down to Hades before my time (lit. beyond my doom); and I declare that no one exists among men who has escaped (lit. having escaped) his fate, not a coward or a brave (man), when once (lit. from the first [moment]) he is born. But, going to your house, attend to your own tasks, both the loom and the distaff, and bid your handmaidens attend to their work; but war shall be of concern to all those men who have been born in Ilium, and especially to me.”

Ll. 494-502. Andromache and her women mourn for Hector as one already dead.

Speaking thus, glorious Hector took up his helmet with its horse-hair plume; and his dear wife walked homewards, looking backwards, (and) shedding big tears. And then she soon came to the well-inhabited house of man-slaying Hector and found therein her many maidservants, and among them all she aroused lamentation. They wept for Hector in his own house, (even though he was) still living; for they deemed that he should not come returning home from the battle, having escaped from the might and the hands of the Achaeans.

Ll. 502-529. Paris overtakes Hector and the two leave the town together.

Nor did Paris tarry in his lofty house, but when he had donned his glorious armour, skilfully wrought in bronze, then he rushed through the city, trusting in his swift feet. Just as when some stalled horse, well-fed at the manger, having broken his halter, gallops stamping over the plain, being accustomed to bathe (in the waters) of a fair-flowing stream, (and) exulting (as he goes); he holds his head up high and his flowing mane streams about his shoulders; and he confident in his own splendour, his knees lightly bear him in search of the haunts and pasture of mares; so Paris, the son of Priam, strode down from the heights of Pergamus (i.e. the citadel of Troy), all gleaming in his armour like the sun, laughing (as he came), and his swift feet bore him. Soon then he overtook godlike Hector, his brother, when he was about to turn from the place where he had conversed with his wife. Godlike Alexander addressed him first: “My brother, (by) my tarrying am I not surely much delaying you in your haste, nor did I come at the right time, as you bade (me)?”

Then in answer to him spake Hector of the shining helmet: “My dear brother, no man, who is in his right mind, would belittle your work in battle, since you are valiant; but you are willingly slack and you have not the will (to act); and my heart in its breast is grieved at this, when I hear reproaches concerning you from the Trojans, who have much trouble on account of you. But let us go our way; we shall make good these things in the future, if ever Zeus shall grant that we shall set up in our palaces the mixing-bowl (in honour) of freedom, when we have (lit. having) driven the well-greaved Achaeans out of Troy.”

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