THE FIGHT BETWEEN HECTOR AND AJAX
 From Olympus did Athene mark with angry
heart how Greek after Greek fell dead before
the spears of Hector and of Paris.
Then did she plot with Apollo, her brother,
how best she might discomfit these men of
And into the heart of Hector did they put
the wish to make the Trojans and the Greeks
cease from battle, while he challenged the
bravest Greek of the host to meet him, man
to man, in deadly combat.
Then did Hector and Agamemnon make
the fighting cease, and with gladness did
Hector call upon the Greeks to send forth
their bravest champion that he might fight
with him, hand to hand.
'If I be slain,' said Hector, 'then let the
 victor despoil me of my armour, but give
back my body to my home. And if I slay
him who fights with me, then shall his armour
be mine. But his body the Greeks shall have,
that they may build for him a tomb in their
own land, near the sea, so that in the days to
come men may look at it as they sail past in
their ships and say, 'This is the tomb of a
inan that died in days of old, a champion
whom Hector slew.'
Silent stood the Greeks before him. For
they feared to meet him hand to hand, and
were ashamed to show their fear.
Then up sprang Menelaus, and with scorn
of the others he donned his armour.
'Shame on ye all!' he cried. 'I myself
will fight with Hector, and the gods will slay
that man whom they will to die.'
But Agamemnon would not have it that
his brother should fight.
'This is madness, Menelaus,' he said.
'Draw back, though it pains thee, for even
Achilles did dread to meet this man in battle,
and how much more mighty is Achilles than
 Then rose up nine chiefs of the Greeks, all
ready to fight with Hector, and lots were cast
to see which of these, the most valiant of the
host, should meet with the champion of the
men of Troy.
To Ajax the giant-like did the lot fall, and
glad was the heart of the hero that so it
In his shining bronze armour did Ajax
array him, and as he strode forward with a
smile on his stern face and his long spear
brandished in his hand, he looked as looks
Mars the terrible when he goes forth to
The Trojans trembled at the sight, and the
heart of Hector beat faster, as the giant, with
his great bronze shield, came towards him
with mighty strides.
'Achilles, the lion-hearted, sitteth by his
ships, yet shalt thou be shown, Hector, that
the Greeks have other warriors in their
ranks,' cried Ajax. 'But thou shalt begin
'Am I a woman or a feeble boy who knows
naught of fighting, Ajax?' answered Hector.
 'Well do I know the rules of the great
game of war. But I have no mind to smite
thee by cunning. Openly shall I smite thee,
if I smite at all.'
Thereat he hurled at Ajax his bronze-shod
spear. But on his mighty shield of seven-fold
hide, bronze-covered, Ajax caught the
blow, and only six folds of the shield were
Then did Ajax the giant hurl his spear,
and it passed through Hector's bright shield
and his corslet, and rent the doublet on his
thigh. But Hector swerved aside and so
escaped death. Then did each grip a fresh
spear, and, like angry lions, did they rush each
at the other. Again did Hector smite the
shield of Ajax with his spear, but the spear
point was bent back and unpierced was the
shield. And Ajax, with a mighty drive, sent
his spear through the shield of Hector, and
the point pierced his neck, so that the dark
blood gushed forth. But even then Hector
ceased not to fight. From the ground he
seized up a great jagged stone and hurled
it against the shield of Ajax, until the bronze
 rang again. A stone, greater by far, did
Ajax then hurl, and the shield of Hector
was crushed inwards, and Hector was borne
backwards, and fell, and had been slain, had
not Apollo, with invisible hands, raised him
up. Their swords they drew then, and would
have fought on, had not heralds rushed
between them and with their staves held them apart.
'Fight no more, dear sons,' said the herald
of Troy. 'Well do we see that ye both are
brave warriors, and well-beloved of Zeus.
But night falleth, and bids you cease the
'For Hector it is to speak, for he challenged
the bravest of the Greeks to battle. As he
wills, so shall I do.'
'The gods have given thee stature and
might and wisdom, Ajax,' said Hector, 'and
surely there is no greater fighter among the
Greeks than thou. Night falleth, so let us
cease from battle, and hereafter will we fight
again, and the gods shall grant one of us
the victory. But now let us exchange gifts,
 that Greeks and Trojans may say, "In fierce
strife did Ajax and Hector meet, but in
friendship they parted."'
So spoke Hector, and gave to Ajax his
silver-studded sword, with scabbard and
sword-belt; and to him did Ajax give his belt
bright with purple.
So parted the two heroes, and greatly did
the men of Troy and of Greece rejoice at the
safe return of their champions.
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