Sheffield Classical Association
The study of Ancient Greek continues in Sheffield! Every week groups of eager students gather to practise their grammar and Syntax (!) and read Literature that has survived for thousands of years and is still vividly alive today. Names of authors such as Sophocles, Euripides and Herodotus are part of the common parlance when these groups meet. They form part of the Sheffield branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age). There follows below a translation by a member of one these study groups, Peter Pond. Peter and his colleagues were reading part of the Iliad of the poet Homer (Book 22), during which the Trojan Prince Hector meets the Greek hero Achilles in single combat outside the walls of Troy. If you want to find out what happens read on! Homer's influence was powerful in all aspects of Ancient Greek Literature and still resonates with us today. If you want to try some of the original Greek, click here or follow the link to the U3A above. We hope to publicise regular news of the Classical activities of the U3A ( and any other pockets of Classical resistance!)
1. And while, like fawns, the Trojans downward through the city fled,
2. And panted out their sweated breath, and drank and slaked their thirst,
3. Reclining on the handsome battlements, meanwhile, the Greeks
4. Were getting ever closer to the wall, on shoulders shields inclined.
5. But Fate destructive shackled Hector, making him stand fast
6. Down there before the mighty Scaean Gates of Ilion.
7. And now Apollo, known as Phoebus, to Achilles spoke:
8. "Achilles, why pursue me still upon your nimble feet,
9. When you’re susceptible to death, not I? Do you not see
10. That I'm a god, and yet you chase me on with so much fire.
11. To you, the fight with Trojans, now repulsed, seems quite forgot,
12. For they have citywards escaped, whilst you’re diverted here.
13. But you will kill me not, since I no subject am to Fate."
14. But then replied Achilles, swift of foot, so deeply vexed:
15. "You've thwarted me, you striker from afar, most dreaded god.
16. Just now you turned me from the wall: else many more would then
17. Have ground their teeth with earth before they made their way to Troy.
18. And mighty glory have you robbed of me, and rescued folk -
19. No danger to yourself, since retribution none you fear.
20. But I would make you pay, if only I had got the power."
21. These words declaimed, toward the town he went, with lofty thoughts,
22. And starting like a much-prized horse with chariot in tow
23. Who deftly runs across the plains as he pulls at his charge:
24. So onward thus Achilles went, he swift of foot and limb.
25. And aged Priam was the first on him his eyes to fix
26. As o’er the plain he swept, with brightness shining as the star
27. Which rises in the fading summer days, whose showy rays
28. Outshine the multitude of stars at twilight of the eve,
29. Which they do Sirius call - Orion's dog, his name,
30. Though brightest of them all, but yet, the harbinger of doom,
31. Which brings the deepest fevers on afflicted mortal men -
32. Thus shone the bronze about his chest as he ran on his way.
33. And loudly groaned the agèd man, as raising both his hands
34. He struck his head, and groaned aloud again with many cries
35. Of prayer for his dear son, who there, before the Scaean Gates,
36. Had stopped stock still and faced Achilles to engage in fight.
37. The old man, stretching out his hands, began his piteous speech:
38. "O Hector, hear me, much loved child, against this man stand not,
39. Alone, and parted from the rest, thus hasten on your fate,
40. To be struck down by Peleus' son, since he the stronger far,
41. Unflinching. Would the gods had loved him just as much as I:
42. Then soon would dogs and vultures feast upon him lying there:
43. And then would bitter anguish freely leave my deepest gut.
44. But he has left me stripped of sons, so many and so good,
45. Destroying them, or selling them away in far-flung isles.
46. And now two boys there are, Polydoros and Lykaön,
47. Whom I see not amongst the Trojans thronging into Troy,
48. Those two whom bore Laöthoë, the lady of the house.
49. But if they do yet live within the troops, then truly shall
50. We strive to set them free with bronze and gold, for such we have,
51. Since famed and ancient Altes many gifts his daughter dowered.
52. But if they are already dead and gone to Hades’ halls,
53. It pains my soul, their mother's too, of those who gave them life.
54. And to our people also pain, though one more fleeting, say
55. Than would be should Achilles overwhelm and you should die.
56. Come then inside the city walls, my child, and safely guard
57. The Trojans and their womenfolk. Do not great glory give
58. To Peleus’ son, whilst you yourself are stripped of life so dear.
59. Take pity on me, wretched as I am, yet sadly conscious still,
60. Whom Father, son of Kronos, on my threshold of old age,
61. Will cause to waste away in pain, beholding many ills,
62. Beholding sons destroyed and daughters roughly dragged away,
63. And bedrooms plundered and laid waste, and children yet to speak
64. Upon the ground there dashed in awful acts of frightful war,
65. And wives of sons being dragged away by deadly Grecian hands.
66. And then the last of all, beside my frontal doors, will dogs
67. Me tear apart, as someone striking down or throwing forth
68. His sharpened bronze has robbed the life from out my dying limbs,
69. Those very dogs once raised at home the table side to guard,
70. They too will drink my blood, their senses maddened in their rage,
71. As I within the courtyard lie: but all seems fitting to the young,
72. When killed in battle, by sharp bronze and slain, upon the ground
73. To lie; well, all is well for him who's dead, or so it seems.
74. But when the head has long turned grey and so the beard too,
75. Then dogs bring shame upon the private parts of agèd men.
76. Most piteous fate is such for wretched mortals thus to meet.”
77. And so the old man spoke, and clutching in his hands his greying hairs
78. He tore them wholly from his head, but Hector's heart moved not.
79. There too, his mother on his other side, bewailing, shedding tears,
80. With one hand draws aside her top, in other holds her pap,
81. And shedding tears for him, declaims these wingèd words:
82. "O Hector, child, do look on this, and pity do me give,
83. If ever I gave breast to you to soothe away your cares;
84. Remember this, dear child, and do not face this dreadful man
85. But stay within these walls, and go not forth this man to meet,
86. Unflinching. Should he kill you, then no longer could I tend
87. Your bed of death and mourn, dear child of mine whom I did bear,
88. Nor could your wife, of many gifts; far from us then instead,
89. Beside the Argive warriors’ ships, swift dogs would wolf you down.”
90. And thus both wept as they addressed their dear, beloved son,
91. With suppliant cries: yet could they not the will of Hector turn,
92. As he pressed ever closer on, toward the mighty Peleion.
93. And then, as mountain snake beside his lair, awaiting man,
94. Aglut with evil drugs, and deadly awful venom laced,
95. Encoiled his yawning hole beside, his eyes malignant fixed,
96. Just so did Hector, ire unquenched, no ground prepared to yield,
97. His glittering round-shield close upon the jutting tower wall.
98. And so, sore vext, he mused within his own great-hearted soul:
99. "Ah me, if I should now inside the gates and walls have stayed,
100. Then first would be Poulydamas to lay on me reproach;
101. He often urged me lead the Trojans back inside the town,
102. On that accursèd night when godlike Peleion did stir,
103. But I did heed him not: yet better far had I so done.
104. But since my people I have ruined by my reckless deeds,
105. In shame I face the men of Troy and wives of trailing robes,
106. If someone else, a lesser man than I, will say of me:
107. 'Relying on his own strength Hector has his folk destroyed.'
108. So will they say: but better far for me that I should go
109. And face Achilles now, and either then return, him slain,
110. Or fall destroyed by him, full glorious in the city's sight.
111. Or if, again, I lay my shield aside, its boss on show,
112. Beside my helmet strong, and prop my spear against the wall,
113. And sally forth alone to face the noble Peleion
114. And promise to return to him their Helen and her goods,
115. Plus all those things which Alexander once in hollowed ships
116. Brought back to Troy - the things which started all this conflict off -
117. To let the sons of Atreus take away, and also for the Greeks
118. To subdivide the rest which in the city was concealed;
119. And then the Trojan elders I shall bind to take an oath
120. That they would nothing hide away, but all would yield entire,
121. Of all that's stored within our much belovèd citadel -
122. But why do I debate these many things within my heart?
123. Or should I meet him as I am, and he no mercy show,
124. And give me no respect, and slay me there, quite naked so,
125. As if I were a girl, with all my armour cast aside.
126. For now there is no way in which I could converse with him
127. As under sheltering oak or rock as one unmarried maid
128. Does to another of her kind so chat and prattle on.
129. Much better now without delay to bring the battle on;
130. And let us know which one the Gods will grant their wish.”
131. And so he pondered waiting, as Achilles closer drew
132. Like Ares Warlike, fighter of the waving plumèd helm,
133. From his right shoulder brandishing the Pelian spear of ash
134. Most dread; and round him shone his bronze just like a beam
135. Exuding from a blazing fire or distant rising sun.
136. But Hector taking sight of him did tremble. Nor could he
137. Remain unmoved, but fled the gates straightway, in fear and dread.
138. While Peleus' son, full trusting in his lightning feet, rushed on.
139. As when a falcon in the hills, full-fledged and swift of flight,
140. With effort none and ease doth swoop upon the trembling dove,
141. Which tries to flee from underneath, whilst shrieking loudly doth
142. The hawk repeatedly assail, so keen to catch her prey.
143. Just so Achilles flew straight on with eagerness, and Hector flew
144. In fear beneath the Trojan wall, his nimble limbs engaged.
145. Beyond the lofty watching tower and fig tree shaped by wind,
146. So drove they onward down the wagon-way below the wall,
147. And thus arrived upon the fairly-flowing river where
148. The waters spring in tandem from the whirling Scamander.
149. The one doth flow with water warm, and billows smoke around
150. Arising from it just as if from burning fire set free.
151. The other e’en in summer time is flowing forth like hail,
152. Or frozen snow, or ice as if from water chilling formed.
153. And there, close to them lay the washing troughs so broad,
154. Of stone so beautifully wrought, where once their shining clothes,
155. The Trojan wives and daughters beautiful, once washed,
156. In time of peace, before the coming of the sons of Greeks.
157. They ran the wall beside, the one in flight, the other in pursuit.
158. Great was the man that fled, but better far the man that chased,
159. So fast indeed, since neither festal beast nor ox-hide prize
160. Their goal, such prizes as awarded winners of the sprint,
161. But for the life of Hector, horses’ tamer, did they run.
162. As when around the turning posts, the round-hooved champion steeds
163. Do gallop on with speed, as great the prize which lies await,
164. A tripod or a woman, at a dead man's funeral games,
165. So thrice these pair did Priam's city swirl around and round,
166. Upon their swiftly-moving feet, whilst all the gods looked on.
167. The first to speak was Zeus, the father of both gods and men:
168. "Alas, alas, so dear the man pursued around the wall
169. On whom my eyes now gaze; my heart for Hector now doth grieve,
170. This man who burned so many offerings of oxen's thighs for me
171. Upon the peaks of many-folded Ida, and again at other times
172. At highmost places in the town; and now the godly Peleion
173. On his swift feet pursues him round and round the town of Priam.
174. But come, ye gods, consider ye and deeply meditate
175. If we should save him from his death or rather let him fall,
176. As good as he may be, and be o’erwhelmed by Peleus' son."
177. And then in turn did speak Athene of the blue-grey eyes:
178. "What say you, Father of the lightning bright and dark’ning clouds?
179. Since mortal man is he, and long ago his fate foretold,
180. Would you desire that he be freed from this discordant death?
181. Then do it. Even though the rest of us may not agree."
182. But Zeus the gatherer of clouds then gave her this reply
183. "O Triton’s daughter, my dear child, be of good heart, for not
184. In anger did I mean to speak, but kindly wish to be.
185. Let it be done whichever way your mind decides. Hold back no more."
186. Athene being keen before, these words encouraged her;
187. And leaping up, she swiftly down Olympus’ peaks did go.
188. Meanwhile Achilles swiftly drove in Hector's hot pursuit
189. As when a dog doth hunt the mountains through, a fawn
190. Which startled from its lair, through glens and into hollow combes,
191. And though the fawn may slip from view, and cower under bush,
192. Yet still the dog doth sniff and races on, until he strikes.
193. Just so did Hector not escape the speedy Peleion.
194. As many times as he pressed on toward the Dardan Gates,
195. To dart and shelter underneath their well-built bastions,
196. That somehow those above might shelter him by throwing darts.
197. So many times Achilles overtook and turned him back
198. On to the plain. Whilst Hector ever onwards to the city flew.
199. As in a dream, the chaser cannot catch the man who flees.
200. No more the fleer can escape than can the chaser catch,
201. The one cannot by speed the other grab nor he get clear.
202. How then could Hector from his deadly fate have thus escaped
203. Had not Apollo each last moment just in time allowed,
204. And close at hand, supplied him strength and made his legs more swift.
205. Achilles godlike then did shake his head toward his men
206. And would not let them launch at Hector sharpened spears
207. Lest someone should his glory steal, and he but second come.
208. But when the fourth time they had reached unto the fountain heads,
209. And father Zeus at last stretched out his golden weighing scales,
210. And placing on each side twin lots of death the leveller,
211. On this side Hector’s, tamer of the horse, on that of Peleus' son,
212. Then fulcrum held: and Hector’s day of fate weighed down,
213. Down into Hades dragged, Apollo’s light deserting him.
214. And so to Peleus' son Athene grey-eyed goddess came,
215. And standing by him close, did utter forth these wingèd words:
216. "Now, shall we as I wished, O shining Peleion, beloved of Zeus,
217. Now bring great glory to the fleet of the Achaean folk
218. Once slaying Hector here, despite his lust for war unslaked.
219. No way is there for him to longer stay without our reach,
220. Not e'en if Phoebus, striker from afar, should feign much pain
221. By rolling round before our aegis-wearing father Zeus.
222. But take a rest and catch your breath, whilst I shall run ahead
223. And him persuade to stand and then oppose you face to face."
224. And so Athene spoke, and he was swayed, and, spirit raised,
225. He stopped, and stood at ease beside his bronze-tipped ashen spear.
226. And then Athene left him there, and god-like Hector reached,
227. And with his form and tireless voice, Deiphobus did simulate.
228. Beside him standing close, addressed she then these wingèd words:
229. "Oh, honoured one, how truly hard has swift Achilles pressed,
230. Pursuing you upon swift feet around our Priam’s town.
231. But come, let us stand firm, and, staying thus, now ward him off."
232. And then great Hector of the shining helm said in reply:
233. "Deiphobus, of brothers all, far dearest have you been
234. Of those begotten sons of Priam and dear Hecabe,
235. And so am I now all the more inclined your words to heed,
236. For you have dared to join me, when you first did see me leave
237. The safety of the battlements, as others stayed inside."
238. Addressing him, Athene of the blue-grey eyes replied:
239. "Oh, honoured one, ‘tis true how very much our parents both
240. My knees in turn did grasp and beg, with friends of mine around,
241. That I should stay. For all were quite o'ercome with trembling fear.
242. But deep within my heart I felt distressed with anxious grief.
243. Well let us now straightway prepare for fight, and let no spear
244. Be spared, so we can see if he, Achilles, will indeed
245. Destroy us both and bear our bloodied spoils of war away
246. Their hollow ships unto, or else beneath your spear be tamed.”
247. And thus by words and cunning guile, Athene led him on.
248. And when indeed they both came close, the one the other 'gainst,
249. The first to speak was mighty Hector, he of shining helm:
250. "O son of Peleus, longer still shall I not flee in fear,
251. Though thrice around the great and wondrous town of Priam I ran,
252. Afeared to stay against your charge. But now I’m roused with vim
253. To stand and counter you: now either take or taken be.
254. Come now, and take an oath before the gods: for best are they
255. To stand as witness and vouchsafe whatever we agree.
256. For I shall not dishonour you, o violent one, should Zeus
257. Grant me the strength, that I may take your life away.
258. But when I've stripped your armour well-renowned, Achilles, then
259. Your body will I give unto the Greeks: and so say you in turn."
260. But then upon him gazing grimly said Achilles, swift of foot,
261. "O Hector, speak not me of trysts, your deeds recalled.
262. For so do men and lions live without agreements sworn,
263. And neither wolves nor sheep in friendly spirit do combine,
264. But harbour one another hateful thoughts without remit,
265. Just so, no bond of friendship lies between us two, nor will
266. There be between us oaths, until the one of us has been laid low
267. To glut the taste for blood of Ares, warrior of the bull-hide shield.
268. Recall your inner strength - for now's your hour of greatest need
269. Your mastery of spear and all the valour of the warrior show.
270. No longer shall there be escape - Athene of the Spear
271. Will with my lance soon strike you down. And now, you'll recompense
272. For all the woes of comrades killed in anger with your lance."
273. So saying, he did raise himself and launched his shadow-casting spear.
274. For his part, glorious Hector, watching him face on, avoided it,
275. And crouching, still, alert, the bronze-tipped lance flew harmless past,
276. And in the ground was lodged: until Athene grasped and pulled it up
277. And gave it back to Peleus’ son, unseen by Hector, shepherd of his folk.
278. But now did Hector speak these words to Peleus' noble son:
279. "You've missed the mark, God-like Achilles, never was it that
280. You knew my fate from Zeus, but merely that you thought it so.
281. And you got smart in speech and full of crafty make-believe
282. To make me by your spell forget my strength and valour brave.
283. But you shall not my back implant with spear as flight I take
284. But drive straight at my chest as I take heart against your charge,
285. If so the gods permit: but now do you beware my spear
286. Of bronze: I would that it were housed full length within your flesh.
287. Indeed, much lighter would the battle be for all the Trojan men
288. With you laid on your back, to rot: for you their worst affliction are."
289. And thus he spoke, and raised his shadow–casting lance, and launched
290. And struck Achilles' shield plumb at its heart, and missed it not.
291. But from the shield his spear was flung far back: and Hector was enraged
292. Because his swift projectile had in vain his hand let loose.
293. So there he stood, his heart downcast, his ash-hewn spear now lost.
294. And crying loud, he called Deïphobus, white-shielded one,
295. And begged him for his lengthy spear, but he was nowhere near.
296. And Hector grasping well that it was so, then spoke out loud:
297. "Alas, alas, indeed the gods have summoned me forthwith to death.
298. I thought Deïphobus was there beside me bravely stayed,
299. But he's inside the city walls. Athene has deceived,
300. And now the evil death has come close by, no longer is it far.
301. There's no escape. Some time ago this must have pleased
302. Both Zeus, and Zeus's son, the striker from afar. For once
303. They gladly rescued me. But now my fate is to me come,
304. Let me at least not die without a fight, and glory none,
305. But rather do some mighty deed for future folk to hear."
306. And as he spoke these words, he straight unsheathed his sharpened sword,
307. Which hung low down beside his flank, both great and strong,
308. And drawing in upon himself, as eagle in the sky above, then swoops
309. Toward the plain, aye downwards through the clouds of Hadean gloom,
310. To snatch and hold the weak and feeble lamb or cowering hare,
311. Just so did Hector swoop, abrandishing his sword of blade so sharp.
312. Achilles in response did charge, with savage fury in his soul,
313. Before his chest the beauteous and elaborate shield
314. Had hidden him, and upward he did shake his glittering helm
315. With its four horns, and shimmered there its lovely golden manes
316. The which Hephaestos set so thickly in the helmet's crest.
317. And just as one star moves amongst the rest at darkening night,
318. So Hesperus, most beauteous star of all in heaven set,
319. Just so did shine the light from off the finely pointed spear
320. Thus brandished by Achilles’ hand, as Hector’s ill he wished,
321. His fine form scanning well, to see where best it might give way.
322. Whilst every other part of him the splendid brazen armour held -
323. That suit which he had stripped by force when he Patroclus slew -
324. But yet there showed, where neck and shoulders part the collar-bones,
325. At throat whereby most swiftly comes destruction of the soul
326. A spot where godlike Peleion thrust in his spear with fury great,
327. Straight through the tender piece of neck Achilles drove his point.
328. And yet the heavy bronze-tipped ash did not his windpipe cut,
329. In such a way that Hector still could make exchange of words.
330. But he dropped in the dust, and godlike Peleion over him did boast:
331. "Ah, Hector. Surely as you stripped Patroclus of his arms
332. You felt quite safe, and had no dread of me so far away.
333. You child, for far from him a better helpmate there remained,
334. Abandoned there, myself, amidst the hollow naval ships.
335. For I have sapped your strength. For you the hounds and carrion birds
336. Shall drag apart and eat, but him the Greeks shall properly inter.”
337. Then feebly moving, out spoke Hector of the shining helm:
338. "I beg you, by your life and strength and for your parents' sake,
339. Let not the hounds devour me by the ships of the Achaeans,
340. But take the bronze and gold so plentiful as recompense
341. Which father mine and mother who begat me will advance,
342. And send my body homeward back, so that the men of Troy
343. And Trojan wives may put my dying body to the flame."
344. And thus replied Achilles, swift of foot, with glaring eyes:
345. "You dog, implore me not by parents' names, or clutching knees.
346. I wish now only that my strength and fury drive me on
347. To cut away and eat your flesh, such things as you have done.
348. And may nobody keep the hounds away from off your head,
349. Not even if ten times or twenty times the ransom be
350. Brought hither and set down before, and other things be sworn,
351. Not even if the son of Dardanus should order there be brought
352. Of your own weight in gold. Nor shall the mother of your flesh
353. Lay down your corse upon the bier and thus your going grieve,
354. But hounds and carrion birds shall scatter wide your every part."
355. Then Hector of the glancing helm as he lay dying spoke:
356. "As I look in your eyes I know too well, there is no chance
357. Of swaying you. For both your heart and mind are hard as steel.
358. But yet consider now, lest I become a heavenly curse
359. Upon that day when Paris with Apollo’s help should bring
360. You down, as mighty as you are, within the Scaean Gates."
361. And thus e'en as he spoke, his dying end engulfed him,
362. His soul then freely fluttering from his limbs to Hades went,
363. His fate bemoaning, youth and manhood leaving far behind.
364. And him albeit dead addressed the godlike Peleion:
365. "So die. I shall receive my death whenever it should be the wish
366. Of Zeus and all the everlasting gods to make it so.”
367. Thus speaking, from the body he withdrew the spear of bronze
368. And laid it there aside, and stripped away the gory arms
369. His shoulders from. And round him ran the rest of the Achaeans.
370. And thus they gazed upon his stature and his wondrous looks,
371. Yet not a single one of those there drawn but did not stab.
372. But looking one upon the other, words like this they said
373. "See here, how much more soft is he to touch than when before
374. He set the sailing ships ablaze with burning brand of fire.”
375. And so each spoke, and standing close to him, home thrust their stab.
376. And when he’d stripped the armour off, Achilles swift of foot
377. Amongst the Greeks did stand, and thus addressed in wingèd words:
378. "My friends, who lead and counsel give unto the Argive men,
379. Because the gods have granted me the slaying of this man
380. Who wreaked such awful damage, such as noone else had done,
381. Let’s make our way into the town, and in full armour try
382. To ascertain, if so we can, the Trojans’ current mood.
383. To see if they will leave the city heights, now Hector’s felled,
384. Or have in mind to stay, though Hector does no longer live.
385. But why does my dear heart discuss at length these many things?
386. For there is one man dead, down by the ships, unwept, ungraved.
387. Patroclus. I forget him never shall, so long as I
388. Remain amongst the quick, and my dear legs retain their strength.
389. Though those in Hades should forget those folk who here have died,
390. If I myself were there, my much-loved friend I’d still recall.
391. But now, young men of the Achaeans, take up the victory song
392. And go back to the hollow ships, this body with us borne.
393. For us is honour great – for godlike Hector have we slain,
394. For whom the Trojans through their city gloried as a god."
395. This said, he now for godlike Hector schemed more shameful acts,
396. And piercing both his feet, the tendons and the heels between,
397. Where space is at the back, he pulled through thongs of ox-hide made,
398. And fixed them to his chariot floor, so that the head would drag,
399. Then climbed aboard, and took with him the well-famed panoply,
400. And whipped and drove, and both his steeds did eagerly run on.
401. And round the body rose a dusty wake, and down the hair
402. Blue-black did fall, and in a cloud of dust did lie that head
403. So handsome once. But now unto his malefactors Zeus
404. Had yielded him to be disgraced upon his native soil.
405. And thus his head entire was marred by dust: and now his mother
406. Tore her hair and threw her glistening veil away, far far
407. Away, and wailed exceeding loud when she did see her boy.
408. And his dear father made such piteous cry, whilst round him folk
409. Were fixed in grief and lamentation all the city through.
410. ‘twas very much as if the whole of Priam's Ilion
411. From top to bottom had been slowly eaten up by fire.
412. The folk could scarcely hold the aged man in his distress
413. From rushing madly outward through the Gates of Dardanos.
414. As in the mire he rolled around, he begged of all of them,
415. Addressing each and every one and calling him by name:
416. "My friends, desist, and let me free, just as you care for me,
417. To leave the town and make my way toward the Achaean ships.
418. I must beseech this man, as wild and wicked as he is,
419. Perhaps he will respect my age and thus compassion show
420. For I am old: as is his father now, as old as me,
421. That Peleus, who did once beget and raise him for a plague
422. Upon the Trojan men. For he of all has grieved me most.
423. So many of my boys has he cut down and brought to death.
424. But of them all I do not mourn as much in my distress
425. As I for Hector, whose sharp grief will take me down to Hell.
426. I wish that he had died within my arms, for thus we two
427. Myself and mother his, who in misfortune did him bear,
428. Would both have had our fill of mourning grief and floods of tears.”
429. And so he spoke and wept, and all the folk beside him grieved.
430. And Hecabe the Trojan women thus in mourning led:
431. "My child, I wretched am. How shall I live whilst suffering so,
432. And now that you are dead, the one who through both night and day
433. Became our hope within the town, for all the Trojan men
434. And women too, the city through, a hope. To you they came
435. As to a god, since you were held by them in such esteem,
436. Whilst you still lived. But now both fate and death have on you closed."
437. And so she spoke in tears, but Hector's wife had not yet been
438. Informed, as trusted messenger had not yet come to give
439. Reports of how her Hector held his place outside the gates.
440. But she was weaving at the loom, within the lofty house,
441. A purple folding robe, in which she worked embroidered flowers.
442. She called out through the house her fair-haired maids to go and set
443. Upon the fire a cauldron great, so Hector then would find
444. Hot water waiting when he from the battle field returned.
445. Poor dear, she did not yet know how, far from the bathing room,
446. Grey-eyed Athene had destroyed him through Achilles' hands.
447. But then she heard the wailing cries arising from the tower.
448. Her legs spun round, and down her shuttle fell onto the ground.
449. And turning back she thence addressed her fair-haired household maids:
450. "Come with me, two of you, that I may see what has occurred,
451. I heard the voice of Hector's mother much revered, so that
452. My heart beat in my chest up to my mouth, whilst frozen are
453. My limbs below. What evil now has come to Priam's line.
454. May what I say not ever reach my ear; but woefully
455. Indeed I fear Achilles god-like has my Hector bold
456. Alone cut off, and driven from the city down on to the plain,
457. And there full stopped him in his grievous manliness,
458. Which always held him, since he never stayed within the crowd
459. But pushed himself in front, his prowess giving way to none."
460. And saying this, she headlong like a Maenad left the room,
461. With pounding heart: alongside with her went her handmaids too.
462. But when they reached the tower and throng of men assembled there,
463. She stood there on the wall and peered around, and saw him then
464. Being dragged along before the walls: the horses swiftly hauled
465. His body onwards to the hollow ships with honour none.
466. The gloomy night of Hades then her eyes did close quite shut,
467. And threw her falling back, and outward from her drove her breath.
468. And far away her glittering bindings flew from off her head,
469. Her diadem and headdress, plaited headband and its veil,
470. The very one which golden Aphrodite to her gave
471. The moment when her Hector of the glancing helm had led
472. Her from the house of Eëtion, when myriad gifts he gave.
473. Around her thronged her husband’s sisters dear and brothers' wives,
474. Who held her up between them, dazed as if she’d been destroyed.
475. But when she breathed once more, with mind and spirit now composed,
476. She spoke amongst the Trojan maids, as up her tears did well:
477. "In grief for you I, Hector, am. For both of us were born
478. A destiny to share, with you in Troy in Priam's house
479. And me down here in Thebes, beneath the wooded Plakos' slopes
480. Within the house of Eëtion, who reared me as a child,
481. Ill-fated he, dire-fated I. Oh that I’d ne’er been born.
482. Now you proceed to Hades' halls beneath the depths of earth.
483. Whilst me you have left here behind in sorrow and despair,
484. A widow in your halls; and still your son is but a babe,
485. Whom you and I brought forth, ill-fated ones. As, Hector, you
486. Can be no help to him since you are dead, nor he help you.
487. For even though the tearful Greek attack he did escape
488. For ever there will be for you both suffering and pain.
489. For other men will take his land and reapportion it.
490. This day has made your boy an orphan now, bereft of friends.
491. He now must bow his head to all, his cheeks made wet with tears,
492. In need, he'll make his way, a boy amongst his father's friends,
493. Here one man tugging by his cloak, another by his shirt,
494. And as they pity him, will let him from a goblet sip,
495. Enough his lips to touch, but not enough his palate reach.
496. But one with parents both alive will thrust him from the feast
497. With fists attacking and with words reproachful laying on:
498. ‘Begone, away. Your father shares not here our feast with us.’
499. And weeping goes the boy away to find his widowed dam,
500. Astyanax, who often once beside his father's knees
501. Had eaten only marrow or the meat of fattest sheep.
502. And then when sleep upon him came, and he was done with play,
503. He would himself lay down in bed within his nurse's arms,
504. His heart replete with gentle, soft and pleasing thoughts.
505. But now must he, bereft of father dear, now suffer much,
506. The City’s Lord as once the Trojans had this name bestowed,
507. For you alone did give the mighty walls and gates defence.
508. But now beside the curving ships, far from your parents both
509. The writhing worms will eat your corpse, when all the dogs have had
510. Their fill, whilst in your halls there is laid out for you your clothes,
511. Fine textured and so full of grace, made by the women's hands.
512. But all of these shall I set fire and burn up in the blazing fire
513. As being of no use to you, since you’ll not lie in them,
514. But as a tribute from the Trojans and their womenfolk."
515. Thus as she weeping spoke, the women in her mourning joined
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