The funeral games for Patroklos

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from THE ILIAD of Homer

translated by Samuel Butler

revised by Timothy Power and Gregory Nagy

NOTE: Important Greek terms, in brackets, are defined in the glossary.


When they had thus raised a mound [sÍma] they were going away, but Achilles stayed the people and made them sit in assembly [agŰn]. He brought prizes from the ships - cauldrons, tripods, horses and mules, noble oxen, women with fair girdles, and swart iron.

[262] The first prize he offered was for the chariot races - a woman skilled in all useful arts, and a three-legged cauldron that had ears for handles, and would hold twenty-two measures. This was for the man who came in first. For the second there was a six-year old mare, unbroken, and in foal to a he-ass; the third was to have a goodly cauldron that had never yet been on the fire; it was still bright as when it left the maker, and would hold four measures. The fourth prize was two talents of gold, and the fifth a two-handled urn as yet unsoiled by smoke. Then he stood up and spoke among the Argives saying-

[272] "Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, these are the prizes that lie waiting the winners in the contest [agŰn] of the chariot races. At any other time I should carry off the first prize and take it to my own tent; you know how much my steeds are better in excellence [aretÍ] than all others - for they are immortal; Poseidon gave them to my father Peleus, who in his turn gave them to myself; but I shall hold aloof, I and my steeds that have lost the glory [kleos] of their brave and kind driver, who many a time has washed them in clear water and anointed their manes with oil. See how they stand weeping here, with their manes trailing on the ground in the extremity of their sorrow. But do you others set yourselves in order throughout the host, whosoever has confidence in his horses and in the strength of his chariot."

[287] Thus spoke the son of Peleus and the drivers of chariots bestirred themselves. First among them all uprose Eumelos, king of men, son of Admetos, a man excellent in horsemanship. Next to him rose mighty Diomedes son of Tydeus; he yoked the Trojan horses which he had taken from Aeneas, when Apollo bore him out of the fight. Next to him, yellow-haired Menelaos son of Atreus rose and yoked his fleet horses, Agamemnonís mare Aithe, and his own horse Podagros. The mare had been given to Agamemnon by Echepolos son of Anchises, that he might not have to follow him to Ilion, but might stay at home and take his ease; for Zeus had endowed him with great wealth and he lived in spacious Sicyon. This mare, all eager for the race, did Menelaos put under the yoke.

[301] Fourth in order Antilokhos, son to noble Nestor son of Neleus, made ready his horses. These were bred in Pylos, and his father came up to him to give him good advice of which, however, he stood in but little need. "Antilokhos," said Nestor, "you are young, but Zeus and Poseidon have loved you well, and have made you an excellent horseman. I need not therefore say much by way of instruction. You are skillful at wheeling your horses round the post, but the horses themselves are very slow, and it is this that will, I fear, mar your chances. The other drivers know less than you do, but their horses are fleeter; therefore, my dear son, see if you cannot hit upon some artifice [mÍtis] whereby you may insure that the prize shall not slip through your fingers. The woodsman does more by skill [mÍtis] than by brute force [biÍ]; by skill [mÍtis] the pilot guides his storm-tossed ship over the sea [pontos], and so by skill [mÍtis] one driver can beat another. If a man go wide in rounding this way and that, whereas a man of craft [kerdos] may have worse horses, but he will keep them well in hand when he sees the turning-post [terma];

[324] he knows the precise moment at which to pull the rein, and keeps his eye well on the man in front of him. I will give you this certain sign [sÍma] which cannot escape your notice. There is a stump of a dead tree-oak or pine as it may be - some six feet above the ground, and not yet rotted away by rain; it stands at the fork of the road; it has two white stones set one on each side, and there is a clear course all round it. It may have been a tomb [sÍma] of someone who died long ago, or it may have been used as a turning-post in days gone by; now, however, it has been fixed on by Achilles as the mark [terma] round which the chariots shall turn; hug it as close as you can, but as you stand in your chariot lean over a little to the left; urge on your right-hand horse with voice and lash, and give him a loose rein, but let the left-hand horse keep so close in, that the nave of your wheel shall almost graze the post; but mind the stone, or you will wound your horses and break your chariot in pieces, which would be sport for others but confusion for yourself. Therefore, my dear son, mind well what you are about, for if you can be first to round the post there is no chance of any one giving you the go-by later, not even though you had Adrastosí horse Arion behind you horse which is of divine race - or those of Laomedon, which are the noblest in this country."

[349] When Nestor had made an end of counseling his son he sat down in his place, and fifth in order Meriones got ready his horses. They then all mounted their chariots and cast lots. - Achilles shook the helmet, and the lot of Antilokhos son of Nestor fell out first; next came that of King Eumelos, and after his, those of Menelaos son of Atreus and of Meriones. The last place fell to the lot of Diomedes son of Tydeus, who was the best man of them all. They took their places in line; Achilles showed them the turning-post round which they were to turn, some way off upon the plain; here he stationed his fatherís follower Phoenix as umpire, to note the running, and report truly.

[361] At the same instant they all of them lashed their horses, struck them with the reins, and shouted at them with all their might. They flew full speed over the plain away from the ships, the dust rose from under them as it were a cloud or whirlwind, and their manes were all flying in the wind. At one moment the chariots seemed to touch the ground, and then again they bounded into the air; the drivers stood erect, and their hearts beat fast and furious in their lust of victory. Each kept calling on his horses, and the horses scoured the plain amid the clouds of dust that they raised.

[373] It was when they were doing the last part of the course on their way back towards the sea that their pace was strained to the utmost and it was seen what each could do in striving [aretÍ] toward the prize. The horses of the descendant of Pheres now took the lead, and close behind them came the Trojan stallions of Diomedes. They seemed as if about to mount Eumelosí chariot, and he could feel their warm breath on his back and on his broad shoulders, for their heads were close to him as they flew over the course. Diomedes would have now passed him, or there would have been a dead heat, but Phoebus Apollo to spite him made him drop his whip. Tears of anger fell from his eyes as he saw the mares going on faster than ever, while his own horses lost ground through his having no whip. Athena saw the trick which Apollo had played the son of Tydeus, so she brought him his whip and put spirit into his horses; moreover she went after the son of Admetos in a rage and broke his yoke for him; the mares went one to one side the course, and the other to the other, and the pole was broken against the ground. Eumelos was thrown from his chariot close to the wheel; his elbows, mouth, and nostrils were all torn, and his forehead was bruised above his eyebrows; his eyes filled with tears and he could find no utterance. But the son of Tydeus turned his horses aside and shot far ahead, for Athena put fresh strength into them and covered Diomedes himself with glory.

[401] Menelaos son of Atreus came next behind him, but Antilokhos called to his fatherís horses. "On with you both," he cried, "and do your very utmost. I do not bid you try to beat the steeds of the son of Tydeus, for Athena has put running into them, and has covered Diomedes with glory; but you must overtake the horses of the son of Atreus and not be left behind, or Aethe who is so fleet will taunt you. Why, my good men, are you lagging? I tell you, and it shall surely be - Nestor will keep neither of you, but will put both of you to the sword, if we win any the worse a prize [athlon] through your carelessness, fly after them at your utmost speed; I will hit on a plan for passing them in a narrow part of the way, and it shall not fail me."

[417] They feared the rebuke of their master, and for a short space went quicker. Presently Antilokhos saw a narrow place where the road had sunk. The ground was broken, for the winterís rain had gathered and had worn the road so that the whole place was deepened. Menelaos was making towards it so as to get there first, for fear of a foul, but Antilokhos turned his horses out of the way, and followed him a little on one side. The son of Atreus was afraid and shouted out, "Antilokhos, you are driving recklessly; rein in your horses; the road is too narrow here, it will be wider soon, and you can pass me then; if you foul my chariot you may bring both of us to a mischief."

[429] But Antilokhos plied his whip, and drove faster, as though he had not heard him. They went side by side for about as far as a young man can hurl a disc from his shoulder when he is trying his strength, and then Menelaosí mares drew behind, for he left off driving for fear the horses should foul one another and upset the chariots; thus, while pressing on in quest of victory, they might both come headlong to the ground. Menelaos then upbraided Antilokhos and said, "There is no greater trickster living than you are; go, and bad luck go with you; the Achaeans say not well that you have understanding, and come what may you shall not bear away the prize [athlon] without sworn protest on my part."

[442] Then he called on his horses and said to them, "Keep your pace, and slacken not; the limbs of the other horses will weary sooner than yours, for they are neither of them young."

[446] The horses feared the rebuke of their master, and went faster, so that they were soon nearly up with the others.

[448] Meanwhile the Achaeans from their seats were watching how the horses went, as they scoured the plain amid clouds of their own dust. Idomeneus leader of the Cretans was first to make out the running, for he was not in the thick of the crowd, but stood on the most commanding part of the ground. The driver was a long way off from the assembly [agŰn], but Idomeneus could hear him shouting, and could see the foremost horse quite plainly - a chestnut with a round white mark [sÍma], like the moon, on its forehead. He stood up and said among the Argives, "My friends, princes and counselors of the Argives, can you see the running as well as I can? There seems to be another pair in front now, and another driver; those that led off at the start must have been disabled out on the plain. I saw them at first making their way round the turning-post, but now, though I search the plain of Troy, I cannot find them. Perhaps the reins fell from the driverís hand so that he lost command of his horses at the turning-post, and could not turn it. I suppose he must have been thrown out there, and broken his chariot, while his mares have left the course and gone off wildly in a panic. Come up and see for yourselves, I cannot make out for certain, but the driver seems an Aetolian by descent, ruler over the Argives, brave Diomedes the son of Tydeus."

[473] Ajax the son of Oileus took him up rudely and said, "Idomeneus, why should you be in such a hurry to tell us all about it, when the mares are still so far out upon the plain? You are none of the youngest, nor your eyes none of the sharpest, but you are always laying down the law.

[478] You have no right to do so, for there are better men here than you are. Eumelosí horses are in front now, as they always have been, and he is on the chariot holding the reins."

[482] The leader of the Cretans was angry, and answered, "Ajax, you are an excellent railer, but you have no judgment [noos], and are wanting in much else as well, for you have a vile temper. I will wager you a tripod or cauldron, and Agamemnon son of Atreus shall decide whose horses are first. You will then know to your cost."

[488] Ajax son of Oileus was for making him an angry answer, and there would have been yet further brawling between them, had not Achilles risen in his place and said, "Cease your railing Ajax and Idomeneus; it is not you would be scandalized if you saw any one else do the like: sit down in the assembly [agŰn] and keep your eyes on the horses; they are speeding towards the winning-post and will be here directly. You will then both of you know whose horses are first, and whose come after."

[500] As he was speaking, the son of Tydeus came driving in, plying his whip lustily from his shoulder, and his horses stepping high as they flew over the course. The sand and grit rained thick on the driver, and the chariot inlaid with gold and tin ran close behind his fleet horses. There was little trace of wheel-marks in the fine dust, and the horses came flying in at their utmost speed. Diomedes stayed them in the middle of the assembly [agŰn], and the sweat from their manes and chests fell in streams on to the ground. Forthwith he sprang from his goodly chariot, and leaned his whip against his horsesí yoke; brave Sthenelos now lost no time, but at once brought on the prize [athlon], and gave the woman and the ear-handled cauldron to his comrades to take away. Then he unyoked the horses.

[514] Next after him came in Antilokhos of the race of Neleus, who had passed Menelaos by craft [kerdos] and not by the fleetness of his horses; but even so Menelaos came in as close behind him as the wheel is to the horse that draws both the chariot and its master. The end hairs of a horseís tail touch the tire of the wheel, and there is never much space between wheel and horse when the chariot is going; Menelaos was no further than this behind Antilokhos, though at first he had been a full discís throw behind him. He had soon caught him up again, for Agamemnonís mare Aethe kept pulling stronger and stronger, so that if the course had been longer he would have passed him, and there would not even have been a dead heat. Idomeneusí brave squire [therapŰn] Meriones was about a spearís cast behind Menelaos. His horses were slowest of all in the contest [agŰn], and he was the worst driver. Last of them all came the son of Admetos, dragging his chariot and driving his horses on in front. When Achilles saw him he was sorry, and stood up among the Argives saying, "The best man is coming in last. Let us give him a prize for it is reasonable. He shall have the second, but the first must go to the son of Tydeus."

[539] Thus did he speak and the others all of them applauded his saying, and were for doing as he had said, but Nestorís son Antilokhos stood up and claimed his rights from the son of Peleus. "Achilles," said he, "I shall take it much amiss if you do this thing; you would rob me of my prize [athlon], because you think Eumelosí chariot and horses were thrown out, and himself too, good man that he is. He should have prayed duly to the immortals; he would not have come in fast if he had done so. If you are sorry for him and so choose, you have much gold in your tents, with bronze, sheep, cattle, and horses. Take something from this store if you would have the Achaeans speak well of you, and give him a better prize [athlon] even than that which you have now offered; but I will not give up the mare, and he that will fight me for her, let him come on."

[555] Achilles smiled as he heard this, and was pleased with Antilokhos, who was one of his dearest comrades. So he said -

[558] "Antilokhos, if you would have me find Eumelos another prize, I will give him the bronze breastplate with a rim of tin running all round it which I took from Asteropaios. It will be worth much money to him."

[563] He bade his comrade Automedon bring the breastplate from his tent, and he did so. Achilles then gave it over to Eumelos, who received it gladly.

[566] But Menelaos got up in a rage, furiously angry with Antilokhos. An attendant placed his staff in his hands and bade the Argives keep silence: the hero then addressed them. "Antilokhos," said he, "what is this from you who have been so far blameless? You have shamed my excellence [aretÍ] and baulked my horses by flinging your own in front of them, though yours are much worse than mine are; therefore, O princes and counselors of the Argives, judge between us and show no favor, lest one of the Achaeans say, ĎMenelaos has got the mare through lying and corruption; his horses were far inferior to Antilokhosí, but he is superior in excellence [aretÍ] and force [biÍ].í Nay, I will determine the matter myself, and no man will blame me, for I shall do what is just. Come here, Antilokhos, and stand, as our custom [themis] is, whip in hand before your chariot and horses; lay your hand on your steeds, and swear by earth-encircling Poseidon that you did not purposely and guilefully get in the way of my horses."

[586] And Antilokhos answered, "Forgive me; I am much younger, King Menelaos, than you are; you stand higher than I do and are the better man of the two; you know how easily young men are betrayed into indiscretion; their tempers are more hasty and they have less judgment [noos]; make due allowances therefore, and bear with me; I will of my own accord give up the mare that I have won, and if you claim any further chattel from my own possessions, I would rather yield it to you, at once, than fall from your good graces henceforth, and do wrong in the eyes of daimones."

[596] The son of Nestor then took the mare and gave her over to Menelaos, whose anger was thus appeased; as when dew falls upon a field of ripening wheat, and the lands are bristling with the harvest - even so, O Menelaos, was your heart made glad within you. He turned to Antilokhos and said, "Now, Antilokhos, angry though I have been, I can give way to you of my own free will; you have never been headstrong nor ill-disposed hitherto, but this time your youth has got the better of your judgment [noos]; be careful how you outwit your betters in future; no one else could have brought me round so easily, but your good father, your brother, and yourself have all of you had infinite trouble on my behalf; I therefore yield to your entreaty, and will give up the mare to you, mine though it indeed be; the people will thus see that I am neither harsh nor vindictive."

[612] With this he gave the mare over to Antilokhosí comrade Noemon, and then took the cauldron. Meriones, who had come in fourth, carried off the two talents of gold, and the fifth prize [athlon], the two-handled urn, being unawarded, Achilles gave it to Nestor, going up to him in the assembly [agŰn] of Argives and saying, "Take this, my good old friend, as an heirloom and memorial of the funeral of Patroklos - for you shall see him no more among the Argives. I give you this prize [athlon] though you cannot win one; you can now neither wrestle nor fight, and cannot enter for the javelin-match nor foot-races, for the hand of age has been laid heavily upon you."

[624] So saying he gave the urn over to Nestor, who received it gladly and answered, "My son, all that you have said is true; there is no strength now in my legs and feet, nor can I hit out with my hands from either shoulder. Would that I were still young and strong as when the Epeans were burying King Amarynkeus in Bouprasion, and his sons offered prizes in his honor. There was then none that could vie with me neither of the Epeans nor the Pylians themselves nor the Aetolians. In boxing I overcame Klytomedes son of Enops, and in wrestling, Ankaios of Pleuron who had come forward against me. Iphiklos was a good runner,

[636] but I beat him, and threw farther with my spear than either Phyleus or Polydoros. In chariot-racing alone did the two sons of Aktor surpass me by crowding their horses in front of me, for they were angry at the way victory had gone, and at the greater part of the prizes remaining in the place in which they had been offered. They were twins, and the one kept on holding the reins, and holding the reins, while the other plied the whip. Such was I then, but now I must leave these matters to younger men; I must bow before the weight of years, but in those days I was eminent among heroes. And now, sir, go on with the funeral contests [athloi] in honor of your comrade: gladly do I accept this urn, and my heart rejoices that you do not forget me but are ever mindful of my goodwill towards you, and of the respect [timÍ] due to me from the Achaeans. For all which may the grace [kharis] of heaven be granted you in great abundance."

[651] Thereon the son of Peleus, when he had listened to all the praise [ainos] of Nestor, went about among the concourse of the Achaeans, and presently offered prizes for skill in the painful art of boxing. He brought out a strong mule, and made it fast in the middle of the crowd [agŰn] - a she-mule never yet broken, but six years old - when it is hardest of all to break them: this was for the victor, and for the vanquished he offered a double cup. Then he stood up and said among the Argives, "Son of Atreus, and all other Achaeans, I invite our two champion boxers to lay about them lustily and compete for these prizes. He to whom Apollo grants the greater endurance, and whom the Achaeans acknowledge as victor, shall take the mule back with him to his own tent, while he that is vanquished shall have the double cup."

[664] As he spoke there stood up a champion both brave and great stature, a skillful boxer, Epeios, son of Panopeus. He laid his hand on the mule and said, "Let the man who is to have the cup come hither, for none but myself will take the mule. I am the best boxer of all here present, and none can beat me. Is it not enough that I should fall short of you in actual fighting? Still, no man can be good at everything. I tell you plainly, and it shall come true; if any man will box with me I will bruise his body and break his bones; therefore let his friends stay here in a body and be at hand to take him away when I have done with him."

[676] They all held their peace, and no man rose save Euryalos son of Mekisteus, who was son of Talaos. Mekisteus went once to Thebes after the fall of Oedipus, to attend his funeral, and he beat all the people of Cadmus. The son of Tydeus was Euryalosí second, cheering him on and hoping heartily that he would win. First he put a waistband round him and then he gave him some well-cut thongs of ox-hide; the two men being now girt went into the middle of the ring [agŰn], and immediately fell to; heavily indeed did they punish one another and lay about them with their brawny fists. One could hear the horrid crashing of their jaws, and they sweated from every pore of their skin. Presently Epeios came on and gave Euryalos a blow on the jaw as he was looking round; Euryalos could not keep his legs; they gave way under him in a moment and he sprang up with a bound, as a fish leaps into the air near some shore that is all bestrewn with sea-wrack, when Boreas furs the top of the waves, and then falls back into deep water. But noble Epeios caught hold of him and raised him up; his comrades also came round him and led him from the ring [agŰn], unsteady in his gait, his head hanging on one side, and spitting great clots of gore. They set him down in a swoon and then went to fetch the double cup.

[700] The son of Peleus now brought out the prizes for the third contest and showed them to the Argives. These were for the painful art of wrestling. For the winner there was a great tripod ready for setting upon the fire,

[703] and the Achaeans valued it among themselves at twelve oxen. For the loser he brought out a woman skilled in all manner of arts, and they valued her at four oxen. He rose and said among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest [athlon]."

[708] Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, and crafty Odysseus, full of craft [kerdos] rose also. The two girded themselves and went into the middle of the ring [agŰn]. They gripped each other in their strong hands like the rafters which some master-builder frames for the roof of a high house to keep the wind out. Their backbones cracked as they tugged at one another with their mighty arms - and sweat rained from them in torrents. Many a bloody weal sprang up on their sides and shoulders, but they kept on striving with might and main for victory and to win the tripod. Odysseus could not throw Ajax, nor Ajax him; Odysseus was too strong for him; but when the Achaeans began to tire of watching them, Ajax said to Odysseus, "Odysseus, noble son of Laertes, you shall either lift me, or I you, and let Zeus settle it between us."

[725] He lifted him from the ground as he spoke, but Odysseus did not forget his cunning. He hit Ajax in the hollow at back of his knee, so that he could not keep his feet, but fell on his back with Odysseus lying upon his chest, and all who saw it marveled. Then Odysseus in turn lifted Ajax and stirred him a little from the ground but could not lift him right off it, his knee sank under him, and the two fell side by side on the ground and were all begrimed with dust. They now sprang towards one another and were for wrestling yet a third time, but Achilles rose and stayed them. "Put not each other further," said he, "to such cruel suffering; the victory is with both alike, take each of you an equal prize, and let the other Achaeans now compete."

[738] Thus did he speak and they did even as he had said, and put on their shirts again after wiping the dust from off their bodies.

[739] The son of Peleus then offered prizes for speed in running - a mixing-bowl beautifully wrought, of pure silver. It would hold six measures, and far exceeded all others in the whole world for beauty; it was the work of cunning artificers in Sidon, and had been brought into port by Phoenicians from beyond the sea [pontos], who had made a present of it to Thoas. Eueneus son of Jason had given it to Patroklos in ransom of Priamís son Lykaon, and Achilles now offered it as a prize [athlon] in honor of his comrade to him who should be the swiftest runner. For the second prize he offered a large ox, well fattened, while for the last there was to be half a talent of gold. He then rose and said among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who will essay this contest [athlon]."

[754] Forthwith uprose fleet Ajax son of Oileus, with cunning Odysseus, and Nestorís son Antilokhos, the fastest runner among all the youth of his time. They stood side by side and Achilles showed them the goal. The course was set out for them from the starting-post, and the son of Oileus took the lead at once, with Odysseus as close behind him as the shuttle is to a womanís bosom when she throws the woof across the warp and holds it close up to her; even so close behind him was Odysseus - treading in his footprints before the dust could settle there, and Ajax could feel his breath on the back of his head as he ran swiftly on. The Achaeans all shouted approval as they saw him straining his utmost, and cheered him as he shot past them; but when they were now nearing the end of the course Odysseus prayed inwardly to Athena. "Hear me," he cried, "and help my feet, O goddess." Thus did he pray, and Pallas Athena heard his prayer; she made his hands and his feet feel light, and when the runners were at the point of pouncing upon the prize [athlon], Ajax, through Athenaís spite slipped upon some offal that was lying there from the cattle which Achilles had slaughtered in honor of Patroklos, and his mouth and nostrils were all filled with cow dung.

[778] Odysseus therefore carried off the mixing-bowl, for he got before Ajax and came in first. But Ajax took the ox and stood with his hand on one of its horns, spitting the dung out of his mouth. Then he said to the Argives, "Alas, the goddess has spoiled my running; she watches over Odysseus and stands by him as though she were his own mother." Thus did he speak and they all of them laughed heartily.

[785] Antilokhos carried off the last prize [athlon] and smiled as he said to the bystanders, "You all see, my friends, that now too the gods have shown their respect for seniority. Ajax is somewhat older than I am, and as for Odysseus, he belongs to an earlier generation, but he is hale in spite of his years, and no man of the Achaeans can run against him save only Achilles."

[793] He said this to pay a compliment to the son of Peleus, and Achilles answered, "Antilokhos, you shall not have given me praise [ainos] to no purpose; I shall give you an additional half talent of gold." He then gave the half talent to Antilokhos, who received it gladly.

[798] Then the son of Peleus brought out to the assembly [agŰn] the spear, helmet, and shield that had been borne by Sarpedon, and were taken from him by Patroklos. He stood up and said among the Argives, "We bid two champions put on their armor, take their keen blades, and make trial of one another in the presence of the multitude; whichever of them can first wound the flesh of the other, cut through his armor, and draw blood, to him will I give this goodly Thracian sword inlaid with silver, which I took from Asteropaios, but the armor let both hold in partnership, and I will give each of them a hearty meal in my own tent."

[811] Forthwith uprose great Ajax the son of Telamon, as also mighty Diomedes son of Tydeus. When they had put on their armor each on his own side of the ring, they both went into the middle eager to engage, and with fire flashing from their eyes. The Achaeans marveled as they beheld them, and when the two were now close up with one another, thrice did they spring forward and thrice try to strike each other in close combat. [818] Ajax pierced Diomedesí round shield, but did not draw blood, for the cuirass beneath the shield protected him; thereon the son of Tydeus from over his huge shield kept aiming continually at Ajaxís neck with the point of his spear, and the Achaeans alarmed for his safety bade them leave off fighting and divide the prize between them. Achilles then gave the great sword to the son of Tydeus, with its scabbard, and the leathern belt with which to hang it.

[826] Achilles next offered the massive iron quoit which mighty Eetion had erewhile been used to hurl, until Achilles had slain him and carried it off in his ships along with other spoils. He stood up and said among the Argives, "Stand forward, you who would essay this contest [athlon]. He who wins it will have a store of iron that will last him five years as they go rolling round, and if his fair fields lie far from a town his shepherd or ploughman will not have to make a journey to buy iron, for he will have a stock of it on his own premises."

[836] Then uprose the two mighty men Polypoites and Leonteus, with Ajax son of Telamon and noble Epeios. They stood up one after the other and Epeios took the quoit, whirled it, and flung it from him, which set all the Achaeans laughing. After him threw Leonteus of the race of Ares. Ajax son of Telamon threw third, and sent the quoit beyond any mark [sÍma] that had been made yet, but when mighty Polypoites took the quoit he hurled it as though it had been a stockmanís stick which he sends flying about among his cattle when he is driving them, so far did his throw out-distance those of the others in the contest [agŰn]. All who saw it roared approval, and his comrades carried the prize [athlon] for him and set it on board his ship.

[850] Achilles next offered a prize of iron for archery - ten double-edged axes and ten with single eddies: he set up a shipís mast, some way off upon the sands, and with a fine string tied a pigeon to it by the foot; this was what they were to aim at.

[850] "Whoever," he said, "can hit the pigeon shall have all the axes and take them away with him; he who hits the string without hitting the bird will have taken a worse aim and shall have the single-edged axes."

[859] Then uprose King Teucer, and Meriones the stalwart squire [therapŰn] of Idomeneus rose also, They cast lots in a bronze helmet and the lot of Teucer fell first. He let fly with his arrow forthwith, but he did not promise hecatombs of firstling lambs to King Apollo, and missed his bird, for Apollo foiled his aim; but he hit the string with which the bird was tied, near its foot; the arrow cut the string clean through so that it hung down towards the ground, while the bird flew up into the sky, and the Achaeans shouted approval. Meriones, who had his arrow ready while Teucer was aiming, snatched the bow out of his hand, and at once promised that he would sacrifice a hecatomb of firstling lambs to Apollo lord of the bow; then espying the pigeon high up under the clouds, he hit her in the middle of the wing as she was circling upwards; the arrow went clean through the wing and fixed itself in the ground at Merionesí feet, but the bird perched on the shipís mast hanging her head and with all her feathers drooping; the life went out of her, and she fell heavily from the mast. Meriones, therefore, took all ten double-edged axes, while Teucer bore off the single-edged ones to his ships.

[884] Then the son of Peleus brought in to the contest [agŰn] a spear and a cauldron that had never been on the fire; it was worth an ox, and was chased with a pattern of flowers; and those that throw the javelin stood up - to wit the son of Atreus, king of men Agamemnon, and Meriones, stalwart squire of Idomeneus. But Achilles spoke saying, "Son of Atreus, we know how far you excel all others both in power and in throwing the javelin; take the cauldron as prize [athlon] back with you to your ships, but if it so please you, let us give the spear to Meriones; this at least is what I should myself wish."

[895] King Agamemnon assented. So he gave the bronze spear to Meriones, and handed the goodly cauldron as prize [athlon] to Talthybios his esquire.

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READINGS for Powers of Literature
(with Lesson numbers):

1. Genesis 1
Creation Story

1. Genesis 11
Babel Story

2. Odyssey 8
Odysseus' voyage 1

3. Iliad 1-2
Achilles' anger

4. Iliad 9
Mission to Achilles

4. Peleus & Thetis
ancient sources

5. Iliad 15 ff
Death of Patroklos

6. Iliad 20 ff
Burial of Hektor

7. Odyssey 13-18
Return of Odysseus

8. Odyssey 20-24
City of Dreams

9. Life of Alexander
the Homeric king

10. Origins of writing
ancient sources

11. Plato, Euthyphro
Socrates gets busted

12. Plato, Apology
Socrates on trial

13. Plato, Crito
Socrates in jail

14. Plato, Phaedo
Socrates in heaven

15. Luke, Acts
Paul does Christ

16. Saint Francis
gospel without text

17. Chretien, The Knight of the Cart
Sire Lance's genes

18. Virgil, Aeneid
Aeneas & Dido