Homer: Iliad Book III: Truce and Duel | Sabidius.com
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Ancient Greece

Homer: Iliad Book III: Truce and Duel

Introduction.

Sabidius has previously translated Book I of the “Iliad” (20th March 2010) and Book VI (5th April 2012), and also on this blog is an extract from Book XVI (30th August 2010). Scanning, reading and then translating Homer’s verse is invariably a great pleasure, and this particular book is no exception. After the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon in Book I, and the celebrated catalogue of ships in Book II, in which the various Greek contingents are listed, accompanied by a thumb-nail sketch of their leaders, Book III involves a brief break in the action. A duel is arranged by Hector and Agamemnon to enable the principal characters in the feud between the Trojans and the Greeks, namely the seducer Paris and the wronged husband Menelaus, to fight a duel, with Helen as the prize. This duel should have brought the war to an early end, but in the event it solves nothing, because, when Menelaus is on the verge of killing Paris, the latter is secretly whisked away by his champion, the goddess Aphrodite. Highlights of the book are the scene known as the “Teichoskopia” (the View from the Wall), in which Helen identifies for the benefit of Priam, the King of Troy, the main leaders of the Greeks, namely Agamemnon, Odysseus and Ajax, and the evident conflict in the heart of Helen, who is torn between guilt concerning her adulterous conduct and her sexual attraction towards Paris.

As he has done with a number of his previous translations of Homer, Sabidius has put into italics sentences or sections which have been repeated almost word for word. In this book, there are the following formulaic repetitions: ll. 69-73 are repeated in ll. 90-94, ll. 73-75 in ll. 256-258, l. 262 in l. 312, l. 276 in l. 320, ll. 286-287 in ll. 459-460, and l. 347 in l. 356.

For further details about translating Homer, readers are recommended to look again at the introduction to Sabidius’ translation of Book VI, and also to his introduction to the translation of Book IX of the “Odyssey” (20th August 2011). When one has become used to the usages relating to the epic dialects (Aeolic and Old Ionic), and to the uncontracted forms of many words, Homer’s verse is not difficult to translate, although it does feature a large number of words, particularly verbs, that do not appear in the Attic Greek associated with Thucydides, Xenophon and Plato.

The text for this translation is “Homer: Iliad III”, edited with introduction, notes and vocabulary by J.T.Hooker, Bristol Classical Press, 1979. In his translation, Sabidius has followed the sub-divisions in this text and has utilised the short titles given to each sub-section. Apart from the excellent notes attached to Hooker’s text, Sabidius has made use of the notes to the texts of Homer’s “Iliad Books I-III”, edited by Thomas D. Seymour, Ginn and Company, Boston, 1891, and of “Selections from Homer’s Iliad”, edited by Allen Rogers Benner, Irvington Publishers Inc., New York, 1903. It is interesting how often these experts have different grammatical explanations or interpretations of Homer’s words.

Lines 1-14. The Greeks and Trojans advance to battle.

Now, when they were marshalled, each (contingent) with its own captain, the Trojans advance (lit.come on) with clamour and outcry like birds, just as the clamour of cranes rises below the sky (lit. in the sky, in front), and, when they thus escape the winter and its portentous rainfall, they fly with cries (lit. clamour) towards the currents of Ocean, bearing slaughter and death to Pygmy men; and so early in the morning they offer their destructive strife; but the others, the Achaeans, advance (lit. come on) in silence, breathing forth determination (lit. might), furiously eager in their hearts to assist one another.

As the South Wind sheds a mist upon the peaks of a mountain, (something) not at all welcome to shepherds, but better than night to a thief, and one sees (only) so far as one throws a stone, so then an eddying dust-cloud arose from under their feet as they advanced (lit. from under the feet of those advancing); and very quickly did they speed across (lit. traverse) the plain.

Lines 15-37. The challenge by Paris is accepted by Menelaus.

Now when they were indeed come near, advancing (as they were) against one another, godlike Alexander (i.e. Paris) stood forth as a champion in front of the Trojans, bearing on his shoulders a leopard-skin and his curved bow and his sword; on the other hand, brandishing two spears tipped (lit. helmeted) with bronze, he kept on challenging all the best of the Argives to fight (with him) hand-to-hand in dread combat.

But when Menelaus, dear to Ares, became aware of him advancing in front of the assembled throng with long strides (lit. striding with long steps), he rejoices like a lion coming by chance upon a large carcase, finding either a horned deer or a wild goat, (when he is) starving. For he devours (it) eagerly, even if swift dogs and strong young men may harry him. So Menelaus was glad, seeing godlike Alexander with his own eyes; for he supposed he had avenged himself on the wrong-doer; and forthwith he jumped in (lit. with) his armour from his chariot on to the ground.

But, when godlike Alexander was thus aware of him as he appeared (lit. appearing) among the champions, his heart was shattered (lit. he was shattered in respect of his own heart), and he shrank back into the company of his companions, avoiding death. And, just as when a man, seeing a snake in the glen of a mountain, shrinks back (in terror), and trembling takes hold of his knees (lit. limbs beneath [him]), and he withdraws back (again) and pallor seizes his cheeks (lit. seizes him in respect of his cheeks), thus did godlike Alexander, fearing the son of Atreus, sink back again into the throng of the courageous Trojans.

Lines 38-75. Under Hector’s reproaches, Paris undertakes to fight Menelaus for Helen.

But Hector, seeing him, chid (him) with shaming words:

“Evil Paris, most fair in respect of your appearance, mad for women, seducer (that you are), would that you were unborn or (lit. and) had perished unmarried. I should prefer (lit. wish) even this, and it would have been far better than for you to be such a disgrace and an object of others’ suspicion. In truth, methinks the long-haired Achaeans (lit. the Achaeans wearing their hair long in respect of their heads) are rejoicing, thinking that a prince is our champion because he has a fair form (lit. a fair form [is] upon [him]), but there is no strength in his heart nor any courage. Indeed, (was it) being such a man as this that, sailing over the open sea in your sea-going ships, assembling your trusty comrades (and) mixing with alien people, you brought back a comely woman from a distant land, the daughter of spear-wielding men, but to your father and your city and your people a great bane, on the one hand a delight to your foes but on the other hand a humiliation to yourself? Would you not indeed stand against Menelaus, beloved of Ares? You would learn what sort of a man (he is whose) ripe young (lit. strong) bride you have (to wife); your lyre and the gifts of Aphrodite, both your locks and your appearance, would not avail you, whenever you are mingled with (lit. in) the dust. But the Trojans (are) very cowardly; indeed, you would (else) by now have been clothed in a stone tunic on account of the very great evils you have wrought.

And in turn godlike Alexander addressed him (thus):

“Hector, since you have chided me duly (lit. according to my due) and not unfairly (lit. beyond my due), (your heart is like an unyielding axe, which is driven through the trunk of a tree by a man, who then shapes a ship’s timber with his skill, and it increases the man’s force; so in your breast there is an undaunted heart (lit. mind), do not reproach me with the lovely gifts of golden Aphrodite. (For,) I would have you know, the glorious gifts of the gods are not to be cast off as worthless; whatever things (they may be) they give (them to us) of their own accord, and no one could take (them) by his own will. But now, if you want me to go to war and fight, bid the rest of the Trojans and all the Achaeans to sit down, but bring me and Menelaus, beloved of Ares, together in the midst (of the two armies) to fight for (lit. about) Helen and all of her treasure; then whichever of us two shall gain the victory and be the better man, let him, taking absolutely all of her treasure, lead (it) and the woman to his home. But (you), the rest (of the Trojans), cutting (the throats of the animals as witnesses to) friendship and trustworthy oaths, may you continue to dwell in fertile Troy, but those (the Achaeans), let them go back to Argos, rich in horses, and Achaea of the beautiful women.”

Lines 76-120. Hector proposes a duel to the Greeks and Menelaus agrees; Priam is summoned to preside at the oath-taking.

Thus he spoke, and then Hector rejoiced greatly, hearing these words, and so, going into the midst (of the armies), he kept back the battalions of the Trojans, taking hold of his spear by the middle; and they all were seated. But the long-haired Achaeans (lit. the Achaeans wearing their hair long in respect of their heads) began to shoot at him, (and) aiming both with arrows and with stones they tried to hit (him); but Agamemnon, the king of men, shouted loudly: “Hold on, (you) Argives, do not shoot (any more) (you) youths of the Achaeans: for Hector of the flashing helmet is set to say some words (to us).”

Thus he spoke, and they abstained from battle and became eagerly silent; then Hector spoke out between both armies: “Hear from me, Trojans and (you) well-greaved Achaeans, the proposition of Alexander, on account of whom this dispute arose. He proposes that the other Trojans and all the Achaeans should lay aside their fine armour upon the bounteous earth, and that he himself and Menelaus, dear to Ares, should fight alone in the midst (of us) for (lit. about) Helen and all of her treasure. Then, whichever of the two men shall gain the victory and be the better man, let him, taking absolutely all of her treasure, lead (it) and the woman to his home. But, (as to) the rest (of us), let us cut (the throats of the animals as witnesses to) friendship and trustworthy oaths.”

Thus he spoke, and so they all became hushed in silence; then among them spoke Menelaus, good at the war-cry, as well: “Listen to me now also; for grief has come especially to me. I think that Argives and Trojans should now be separated, since you have suffered many ills on account of my quarrel and because of Alexander’s beginning (of it); and to whichever of us death and fate have been prepared, let him lie dead, but may the rest of you be parted speedily. But bring two lambs, one a white male, and the other a black female for both Earth and Sun; and we shall bring another for Zeus. And fetch (here) mighty (lit. the might of) Priam, so that he himself may cut (the throats of the victims as witnesses to) the oaths, as his sons are arrogant and faithless, lest anyone by his transgression should spoil the oaths of Zeus. The hearts of younger men are ever unstable: but, in whatever an old man takes part, he looks forwards and backwards at the same time, so that by far the best things happen for (lit. amongst) both sides.

Thus he spoke, and both the Achaeans and the Trojans were glad, hoping to free themselves from woeful war. And so they kept their chariots in ranks and stepped forth themselves, and stripped off their (suits of) armour; these they laid upon the ground close to one another, and (only) a little ground was around (each suit of armour); and Hector sent two heralds quickly to the city both to bring the lambs and to summon Priam; moreover, the lord Agamemnon sent forth Talthybius to go to the hollow ships, and bade him to bring a lamb; and so he did not disobey godlike Agamemnon.

Lines 121-160. Iris visits Troy and tells Helen of the impending duel; Helen goes out and arouses the admiration of the old men.

But Iris went (as) a messenger to white-armed Helen, appearing in the likeness of her husband’s sister, the wife of Antenor’s son, whom Antenor’s son, the lord Helicaon, had (as his wife), Laodice, the comeliest (lit. the best in respect of her appearance) of the daughters of Priam. And she found her (i.e. Helen) in her chamber; she was weaving a great web, a purple double-folded (cloak), and she was weaving therein many battles of the horse-taming Trojans and the bronze-coated Achaeans, which for her sake they had endured at the hands (lit. by the hand-palms) of Ares. And swift-footed Iris (lit. Iris swift in respect of her feet), standing nearby, addressed (her thus): “Come hither, dear lady, so that you may see the wondrous deeds both of the horse-taming Trojans and of the bronze-coated Achaeans; those who formerly waged (lit. brought) lamentable warfare against each another on the plain, being intent upon deadly battle, are now resting (lit. sitting) in silence, and the fighting has ceased, (with them) leaning upon their shields, and their long spears are stuck beside (them). But Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with their long spears concerning you; and to him, whoever it is, gaining the victory, you will be called his dear wife.”

Thus speaking, the goddess put into her heart a sweet longing for her former husband, her city and her parents (i.e. Tyndareus and Leda); and straightway, covering herself with a white linen (veil), she hastened from her chamber, shedding round tears, not alone, (as) at least two handmaids followed her at the same time as well, Aethra, the daughter of Pittheus, and ox-eyed Clymene; and soon then they came to the place where the Scaean gates were.

Now the elders of the people were sitting also at the Scaean gates around Priam, (namely) Panthous and Thymoetes, Lampus and Clytius and Hicetaon, the scion of Ares, and Ucalegon and Antenor, both wise men, (these men) having ceased from battle because of old age, but excellent speakers, like cicadas, which sitting upon a tree in a wood send forth their lily-like voice. Such then (were they) the leaders of the Trojans (who) sat upon the wall. And when they saw Helen coming to the wall, they spoke winged words softly to one another: “It is no cause for blame that the Trojans and the well-greaved Achaeans should suffer griefs for a long time for such a woman as this; with regard to her countenance she is terribly like the immortal goddesses; but even so, although she is (lit. being) such a one, let her depart in the ships, and not be left behind (as) a bane to us and to our children.”

Lines 161-170. The Teichoskopia, or View from the Wall: Priam asks Helen to identify the Greek heroes.

So then they spoke, but Priam summoned Helen with his voice: “Come hither, and sit (lit. coming hither, sit) beside me, dear child, so that you may see your former husband, your kinsmen and your friends (to me you are not to blame in any way, at this time to my mind the gods are to blame), and so that you can tell me the name of this mighty man, whoever is this valiant and tall Achaean man. In truth, I’ll have you know, there are others taller even by a head, but I have not yet seen with my own eyes so handsome a man, nor (one) so majestic; for he is like a warrior king.”

Lines 171-202. Helen identifies Agamemnon and Odysseus.

Then Helen, radiant among women, answered him with these words: “Dear father-in-law, you are in my eyes revered and dread; would that evil death had been my choice (lit. had pleased me), when I followed your son hither, leaving my bridal-chamber, my kinsfolk (i.e. her brothers Castor and Polydeuces especially), my beloved daughter (i.e. Hermione) and my lovely companions. But this (i.e. her death) did not come about; for that (reason) I pine away (lit. melt) weeping. But I shall tell you that thing which you enquire and ask of me: yonder man (is) the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, both a noble king and a mighty spearman; on the other hand he was the brother-in -law of myself, bitch (that I am), if such he ever was.”

Thus she spoke, and the old man wondered at him, and said: “O blessed son of Atreus, child of fortune, god-favoured (one), many indeed then are the sons of the Achaeans (who are) subject to you. Once before now I also travelled to Phrygia, rich in vines, where I saw very many Phrygian warriors with swift horses, the people of Otreus and godlike Mygdon, who were at that time encamped beside the banks of the Sangarius. For I too, being their ally, was numbered among them on that day when the Amazons came, a match for men (indeed); but not even they were so many as these bright-eyed Achaeans.”

Then, seeing Odysseus next, the old man enquired: “Come (now and) tell me also of yonder man, dear child, whoever is he; (he is) smaller by a head than Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but, to look upon, broader of shoulder and of chest. His armour lies upon the bounteous earth, but he himself approaches the ranks of warriors like a ram; I for my part liken him to a fleecy ram that paces through a great flock of white ewes.”

Then, Helen, sprung from Zeus, answered him (thus): “This again (is) Laertes’ son, the wily Odysseus, who was reared in the land of Ithaca, even though it is (lit. being) rocky, (and) knowing (as he does) all manner of tricks and cunning plans.”

Lines 203-224. Antenor recalls the embassy of Odysseus and Menelaus to Troy.

Then, in turn, the wise Antenor spoke to her in answer: “O lady, this word you have spoken (is) indeed very true; for godlike Odysseus came here also once before, with Menelaus, dear to Ares, (as) an envoy on account of you; and I received and welcomed them in my hall, and I came to know (lit. learned) the stature of them both and their cunning devices. But when indeed they mingled with (lit. were mixed among) the Trojans (who had been) gathered together, when they were (lit. with them) both standing, Menelaus overtopped (him) with (lit. in respect of) his broad shoulders, but with them both being seated Odysseus was the more majestic; but when they began to weave their words and plans before everyone, then in truth Menelaus spoke fluently, a few (words) indeed, but very clearly, since (he was) not wordy nor rambling, even if he was the younger (lit. the later by birth). But, indeed, whenever the wily Odysseus sprang up, he would stand (there) and would keep looking down, fixing his eyes on the ground, and he would move (lit. distribute) the (speaker’s) staff neither backwards nor forwards, but would hold (it) stiffly like an ignorant man; you would have thought he was some surly (fellow) and utterly stupid. But, whenever he produced (lit. sent out) his great voice from his chest, and words like wintry snowflakes, no other mortal man could have vied with Odysseus; then did we not marvel so (much as before), when we saw (lit. seeing) Odysseus’ manner (lit. appearance).

Lines 225-244. Helen identifies Ajax and Idomeneus, but cannot see her brothers.

Next the old man, seeing Ajax, enquired for the third time (thus): “So who (is) this other Achaean warrior, both valiant and tall, outstanding among the Argives in respect of both his head and his shoulders.”

Then long-robed Helen, radiant among women, answered (him): “This is mighty Ajax, the bulwark of the Achaeans; and Idomeneus is standing on the other side (of him), like a god among the Cretans, and the leaders of the Cretans are gathered around him. Menelaus, dear to Ares, often received him as a guest in our house, when he came from Crete. And now I see all the rest of the bright-eyed Achaeans, whom I could recognise (lit. well know) and tell their names; but I cannot see two of the marshals of the host, Castor, tamer of horses, and Polydeuces, the good boxer (lit. good with the fist), my own brothers, whom one mother bore along with me. Either they did not follow (the host) from lovely Lacedaemon, or they followed (it) hither in their sea-going ships, but are not willing to enter the battle of warriors, fearing the shameful deeds and reproaches which belong to me (lit. which are mine).”

Thus she spoke, but the life-giving earth already held them fast there in Lacedaemon, in their own native land.

Lines 245-259. Heralds call upon Priam to participate in the oath.

Then the heralds bore through the city the trustworthy (pledges of) the oaths of the gods, two lambs and heart-warming wine, the fruit of the earth, in a goat-skin bottle; and the herald Idaeus bore a gleaming mixing-bowl and golden cups; and coming up to stand beside the old man, he roused (him) with these words: “Arise, son of Laomedon, the chieftains of both the horse-rearing Trojans and the bronze-coated Achaeans are summoning (you) to go down to the plain, so that you may cut (the throats of the animals as witnesses to) trustworthy oaths. Moreover, Alexander and Menelaus, dear to Ares, will do battle with their long spears about the woman; and whichever (of the two) shall gain the victory, let the woman and her treasure follow (him); but (we) the rest (of the Trojans), cutting (the throats of the animals as witnesses to) friendship and trustworthy oaths, may we continue to dwell in fertile Troy, but those (the Achaeans) will depart to Argos, rich in horses, and to Achaea of the beautiful women.”

Lines 259-302. Priam and Agamemnon swear that Helen shall belong to the victor in the duel.

Thus he spoke, and the old man shuddered but bade his attendants yoke the horses, and they speedily obeyed. And then Priam mounted up (into his chariot) and drew back the reins tightly; and beside him Antenor mounted the very beautiful chariot; then the two of them guided (lit. held [on course]) their swift horses through the Scaean (gates) to the plain.

But, when they came to the Trojans and the Achaeans, alighting from the chariot on to the bounteous earth, they strode into the midst of the Trojans and the Achaeans. Then straightway rose up Agamemnon, king of men, and the wily Odysseus (sprang) up; and the noble heralds brought together (the pledges) of the trustworthy oaths of the gods, and mingled the wine in the mixing bowl, and poured water over the king’s hands. Then, the son of Atreus, drawing forth with his hand the knife, which always hung (lit. was always suspended) beside his sword’s great scabbard, cut hair from the heads of the lambs; and then the heralds distributed (this) to the chieftains of the Trojans and the Achaeans. Then, in their midst, the son of Atreus, lifting up his hands, prayed loudly (thus): “Father Zeus, ruling from Ida, most glorious, most great, and (you) Sun, who observes all things and sees all things, and (you) rivers, and (you) earth, and (you two) (i.e. Hades and Persephone) that punish dead men below, such as may have sworn falsely; be you witnesses and watch over trustworthy oaths. If Alexander shall slay Menelaus, then let him keep Helen and all her treasure, and we shall depart in our sea-going ships; but if fair-haired Menelaus shall slay Alexander, then shall the Trojans give back Helen and all her treasure, and pay to the Argives whatever recompense as it seems fitting (to pay), even such as shall be remembered among men yet to come (lit. yet to be). But if Priam and the sons of Priam are not willing to pay me recompense, when Alexander falls (lit. with Alexander falling), then I for my part shall fight on for the sake of recompense, remaining here until I reach an end of the war.”

He spoke, and slit the throats of the lambs with the pitiless bronze; and then he laid them on the ground, gasping (and) failing of breath; for the bronze had taken away their strength. Then, drawing wine from the mixing-bowl into the cups, they poured (it) forth (on to the ground), and prayed to the ever-living gods; then one of the Achaeans and the Trojans spoke thus: “Zeus, most glorious, most great, and (you) other immortal gods, whichever of the two shall first break (lit. work harm against) the oaths, may their brains flow thus on to the ground like this wine, theirs and their children’s, and may their wives have intercourse with other men.”

Thus they spoke, but the son of Cronus (i.e. Zeus) had not yet granted them fulfilment.

Lines 303-323. Priam returns to Troy; Hector and Odysseus measure out a space for the duel.

Then, in the midst of them, Priam, the son of Dardanus spoke these words: “Hearken unto me, (you) Trojans and well-greaved Achaeans; in truth I shall be going back to windy Ilium, since I shall not ever endure to behold with my own eyes my dear son fighting with Menelaus, dear to Ares; Zeus, I suppose, knows this, and the other immortal gods (too), for which of the two the doom of death is fated.”

Thus spoke the godlike man, and he put the lambs in his chariot, and then mounted (it) himself and drew back the reins tightly; and beside him Antenor mounted the very beautiful chariot. So the two departed, going back to Troy; but Hector, Priam’s son, and the godlike Odysseus firstly measured out a space, and then, taking lots, they shook them in a helmet made of bronze (to see) which of the two should discharge his bronze(-tipped) spear first (lit. before [the other]). And the host prayed and raised their hands to the gods; then one of the Achaeans and the Trojans spoke thus: “Father Zeus, ruling from Ida, most glorious. most great, whichever of the two placed these troubles upon both peoples, grant that he, having perished, may go into the house of Hades, and that to us there may in turn be friendship and trustworthy oaths.

Lines 324-339. Paris and Menelaus arm themselves.

So they spoke thus, and great Hector of the flashing helmet shook (the lots), looking away (lit. backwards); and straightway the lot of Paris leapt out. Then the (armies) sat in rows (lit. in accordance with ranks), where each man’s high stepping horses and richly ornamented armour were placed; but he, the godlike Alexander, the husband of fair-tressed Helen, put fine armour about his shoulders. Firstly, he placed beautiful greaves, fitted with silver ankle-pieces, around his legs; next in turn, he donned around his chest a corselet belonging only to his brother Lycaon; and he fitted (it) to himself. And about his shoulders he slung his silver-studded sword of bronze, and then his great and massive shield; and upon his mighty head he placed a well-wrought helmet with a crest of horse-hair; and the crest nodded fearfully from above; then he took up his sturdy spear, which fitted his grasp (lit. hand-palm). And thus the warlike Menelaus donned his armour in like manner.

Lines 340-382. Menelaus has the better of Paris in the fight and is about to kill him, when Aphrodite intervenes and spirits Paris back to Troy.

But when they had armed themselves on either side of the throng, they strode into the midst of the Trojans and the Achaeans, glaring terribly (at each other); and amazement took hold of the onlookers, both the horse-taming Trojans and the well-greaved Achaeans. And they stood close at hand in the measured space, brandishing their spears in fury at each other. Then, Alexander despatched his long spear and it smote upon the son of Atreus’ round shield (lit. shield [which was] equal on all sides), but the bronze (spear) did not break through, but its point was bent back on the stout shield; and he, Atreus’ son, Menelaus, raised himself to hurl (lit. arose with) his spear, uttering a prayer to Father Zeus: “Lord Zeus, grant that I may take vengeance on (him) who, (though) unprovoked, did me wrong, (even) godlike Alexander, and may you subdue (him) beneath my hands, so that many a one, even among men of a later generation, may shudder to do evil to his host, who proffers (him) hospitality.”

And so, holding his long spear aloft, he despatched (it), and it smote upon the son of Priam’s round shield (lit. shield [which was] equal on all sides); the mighty spear went thorough the bright shield, and forced its way (lit. was thrust) through the richly ornamented corselet. And the spear cut through his tunic, straight on beside the flank of his body; but he twisted (lit. lent) aside and avoided black death. Then, the son of Atreus, drawing his silver-studded sword (and) raising (his arm) on high, struck the horn of his helmet. But around it, it broke into three or (lit. and) four pieces, and fell from his hand. Then, the son of Atreus, glancing at the broad heavens, cried out (thus): “Father Zeus, no (lit. not any) other god is more deadly than you; verily, I thought that I was avenging myself on Alexander on account of his wrong-doing (towards me); but now my sword is broken in my hands and my spear has flown fruitlessly from my grasp (lit. hand-palm), and I have not struck him.

He spoke, and, springing upon (him) he seized his helmet with the crest of horse-hair and twisting (him) about he began to drag (him) towards the well-greaved Achaeans; and the well-stitched thong beneath his soft throat, which had been stretched beneath his chin (as) a strap for his helmet, began to choke him. And now he would have dragged (him) away and won unspeakable glory, if Aphrodite, the daughter of Zeus, had not quickly noticed (what was happening), (she) who broke for him the thong (made of) an ox slain with force. And at the same time the helmet came away empty in his sturdy hand; whirling it, the warrior prince then tossed (it) amongst the well-greaved Achaeans, and his trusty comrades carried (it) off, but he sprung back (at him), eager to slay (him) with his bronze spear; but Aphrodite snatched him away very easily, as a goddess (may), and shrouded (him) in thick mist, and sat him down in his fragrant sweetly-scented chamber.

Lines 383-420. Aphrodite tells Helen to go to Paris; Helen at first resists, but is overborne by the anger of the goddess.

And straightway she went herself to summon Helen ; and she met with her on the high tower, and the Trojan women were around (her) in large numbers; and grasping with her hand her fragrant robe, she shook (lit. plucked) (it), and addressed her in the likeness of an ancient dame, a wool-worker, who used to comb fine wool for her (when she was) living in Lacedaemon, and she loved her particularly; appearing in the likeness of this woman, radiant Aphrodite addressed her (thus): “Come hither, Alexander is calling you to go back home. There (is) he in his chamber and on his carved bed, gleaming with beauty and in his (fair) raiment; nor would you think that he had come (there) having been fighting with a man, but that he was going to a dance, or that he was sitting there, having just now ceased from the dance.”

Thus she spoke, and aroused anger (lit. stirred the heart) in her breast: and when she noticed the very beautiful neck of the goddess, her lovely breasts, and her flashing eyes, then she was amazed, and spoke these words and addressed her (thus): “Strange goddess, why do you wish to deceive me in this way? Verily, you will lead me further to some place or other among the well-populated cities of Phrygia or of lovely Maeonia, if there too (is) someone among mortal men dear to you, since Menelaus, having defeated godlike Alexander, wishes to lead hateful me to his house; therefore you have now come here full of deceitful intention. (So) go and (lit. going) sit beside him, and renounce the ways of the gods, nor should you return any more to Olympus on your feet, but ever endure woe concerning that man and watch over him, until such time as he makes you his wife or his slave. But thither I shall not go (for it would be a shameful thing) in order to share (lit. prepare) that man’s bed; for all the Trojan women will blame me hereafter; and I have countless griefs in my heart.”

Then, roused to anger, radiant Aphrodite addressed her (thus): “Do not provoke me, (you) rash woman, lest, waxing wrathful, I desert you, and so hate you bitterly, as much as I have until now loved (you) furiously, and (lest) I devise grievous hatreds between (lit. in the midst of) both sides, Trojans and Danaans (alike), and you perish by (lit. in respect of) an evil fate.”

Thus she spoke, and Helen, born of Zeus, was afraid, and she went in silence, wrapped in (lit. held fast by) her bright shining mantle, and she escaped the notice of all the Trojan women; and her protecting goddess led the way.

Lines 421-447. Paris turns aside Helen’s reproaches and takes her to bed.

Now when they came to the very beautiful palace of Alexander, then the handmaids turned to their tasks at once, but she, queen among women, went to her high-roofed chamber. And then the goddess, laughter-loving Aphrodite, taking up a stool (lit. a chariot board) for her (and) carrying (it), put (it) down opposite Alexander; thereupon Helen, the daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, sat down, turning her eyes away (lit. back), and she upbraided her husband with these words: “You have come from the battle-field; oh would that you had perished there, conquered by the mighty warrior who was my former husband. Previously indeed you used to boast that you were stronger than Menelaus, dear to Ares, in the might of (lit. in your might and) your hand and spear; but go now to challenge Menelaus, dear to Ares, to do battle (with you) again man-to-man; but I, for my part, bid (you) to refrain, and not to do battle with fair-haired Menelaus face-to-face and to fight senselessly, lest perchance you may be swiftly vanquished by his spear.

Then, in reply (lit. answering), Paris addressed her with these words: “Do not deride my courage (lit. me in respect of my courage), woman, with these harsh reproaches; for Menelaus has defeated (me) now with (the help of) Athene, but I (shall conquer) him on another occasion (lit. in turn); for there are gods on our side too. But come, let us take our pleasure in love, going to bed together; for never (lit. not ever) yet has love encompassed my heart (lit. me in respect of my heart) so (completely), not even (at the time) when, having first snatched you away from lovely Lacedaemon, I set sail (with you) in my sea-going ships, and on the island of Cranae I had loving intercourse (with you) in bed (lit. I mingled [with you] in love and in bed), as I now desire you, and a sweet longing (for you) is taking hold of me.”

Thus he spoke, and, getting up (lit. going), he led the way to bed; and at the same time his wife followed (him).

Lines 448-461. Menelaus is furious at being balked of his vengeance, and Agamemnon demands that the Trojans yield up Helen.

So these two lay in their corded (lit. perforated) bed, but the son of Atreus paced up and down through the throng (of the Trojans) like a wild beast, in the hope that he might see godlike Alexander somewhere. But none (lit. not anyone) of the Trojans and their famous allies was able to point out Alexander to Menelaus, dear to Ares; for, if anyone could have seen (him), they would certainly not have hidden (him) out of love, for he was hateful to them all, like (lit. equal to) black death. Then, Agamemnon, the king of men, spoke among them too: “Hearken to me, (you) Trojans and Dardanians and allies; as victory is surely seen (to lie) with Menelaus, dear to Ares, do you therefore give up Argive Helen and her treasure together with her, and pay whatever recompense as seems fitting (to pay), even such as shall be remembered among men yet to come (lit. to be).

So spoke the son of Atreus, and the rest of the Achaeans applauded.

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