THE BURNING OF THE DEAD; AND THE BATTLE OF THE PLAIN
 With feasting did the Greeks do honour to
Ajax, and when the feast was ended, Nestor,
the oldest and the most wise of the warriors,
gave counsel that at daybreak on the morrow
they should gather the bodies of their dead
and burn them on a great pyre.
But while the Greek chiefs in peace took
council together, they of Troy with fierce
and angry words disputed at a gate of their
'How can we hope to prosper in the fight
when our oath is broken? Let us then give
back to the Greeks fair Helen and all her
But Paris, in wrath, made reply:
 'Mad indeed thou art if thou dost think
I will do as thou sayest! The wealth of
Helen will I return with a willing heart, and
to it add more wealth of mine own. But
Helen my wife will I give back never!'
At dawn on the morrow did the Trojan
heralds come to the camp of Agamemnon
and gave to him the message.
'Thus saith Priam of Troy and all his
nobles, The wealth that Helen brought with
her to Troy will Paris return, and more
besides of his own, but the beautiful wife
of Menelaus he saith he will not give. But
grant to us a truce until we have buried our
dead, and then again will we fight until the
gods grant us victory.'
Then said Diomedes:
Let us take none of the treasures of
Helen nor of Paris, neither Helen herself,
for well we know that the days of Troy
are already numbered.'
In applause of the words of Diomedes the
Greek host shouted, and Agamemnon said
to the heralds:
I Thou hearest the answer of the Greeks.
 Yet we grant ye the truce, that ye may bury
The sun was rising from the sea and
chasing grey darkness from the fields of
Troyland when on the morrow Greeks and
Trojans met in peace, and tenderly, and with
hot tears falling, carried away the bodies of
the fallen and buried them in mighty pyres.
A deep ditch and a high wall did the
Greeks also make for themselves. And at
nightfall they feasted, and when some ships
from Lemnos came to the harbour, well
laden with wine, they bought a goodly
supply. Some of them paid the men of
Lemnos with bronze, and some with iron,
some with hides and kine, and some with
All night long they feasted, and in Troy
also did the Trojans feast. But in Olympus
did Zeus angrily plan the overthrow of the
men who seemed to fear him not, and the
noise of his thunderings filled the feasters
with dread of what was to come.
On the next day, when golden dawn was
spreading over the earth, Zeus held a council
 of the gods, and with a fearful doom did he
threaten the god or goddess who should dare
to aid either Greek or Trojan.
'We bow to thy will, great father Zeus,'
Athene made answer. 'Yet let us, I pray
thee, give counsel to the Greeks that they
may not all perish before the mightiness of
'So be it,' answered Zeus, smiling upon
her, for dear to the king of the gods was
Athene, his beautiful daughter.'
Then did Zeus, in his armour of gold,
mount upon his car. His fleet-footed horses,
bronze-shod, had flowing tails of gold, and
them he lashed with his golden whip so that
like lightning they flashed across space, be
tween earth and the starry heavens. High
up on Mount Ida did he rein them in, and in
thick mist upon the mountain-top he sat him
down and watched the Greeks and Trojans,
as though they were his playthings, fighting
far below on the plain.
Early that day did the two hosts meet, and
soon was the morning air filled with the cries
of pain and of rage, of defeat, and of victory,
 and the fair earth was streaming with the
blood of men, dead and dying.
When midday came, Zeus stretched out
from his throne on the mountain his golden
scales, and in them laid two weights of death,
one for the Greeks and the other for the men
of Troy. And the scale of the Greeks sank
down low, and as it sank, Zeus sent down a
blazing lightning flash so that the two armies
saw the great god and his scales, and fear
seized upon the Greeks.
The mightiest Greek no longer kept his
courage. Only Nestor, oldest of the warriors,
still had a dauntless heart. With an arrow
from his bow had Paris slain one of the
horses in Nestor's chariot, but from his
chariot did the old man leap down and with
his sword fiercely hewed at the traces. But
as he still hewed, through the throng Hector
furiously drove his chariot. Then had Nestor
indeed perished, but that Diomedes marked
what would befall.
With a great shout did he call to Odysseus:
'Whither fleest thou, like a coward,
Odys-  seus? Stand thy ground till we have saved
the old man from his mighty foe!'
So spake he, but Odysseus heard him not,
and hastened onward.
Alone then did Diomedes take his stand by
the side of Nestor.
'Younger warriors than myself beset thee
hard!' said Diomedes. 'Thou art feeble, thy
charioteer is a weakling, and thy horses
slow. Quickly mount my car, and see what
are the paces of any horses that I took from
Aeneas. Straight against Hector shall we
guide them, that he may know the power
of the spear of Diomedes.'
On the chariot of Diomedes did old Nestor
then mount; in his hands he took the reins,
and he lashed the horses. In furious gallop
they came to meet Hector, and Diomedes
hurled his spear. But the spear passed
Hector, and in the breast of his brave
charioteer was it buried, so that he fell to the
ground and there he died.
Upon the men of Troy might defeat then
have come, but in his hands Zeus took a
thunderbolt, and right in front of the horses
 of Diomedes it burst in awful flames, making
the horses in desperate panic rear back-
'Zeus himself fighteth against thee,
Diomedes!' cried Nestor. 'Let us flee, for no
man is so great in might that he can fight
against the will of Zeus.'
'Thou speakest truth, old man,' said
Diomedes, 'yet sore grief it is to my heart to
think that some day the boast of Hector
may be, "To his ships fled Diomedes, driven
before me." May the earth swallow me up
on that day!'
'Hector may call thee coward,' said Nestor,
'yet no son of Troy will believe him, nor any
of the widows of these men whom thou hast
Then did Nestor wheel the horses and
flee, while thick the spears and darts from
the Trojan host followed him.
And above the din of battle rose the voice
'Behold the hero of the Greeks! Hero
no longer art thou! Begone, feeble girl!
 Furiously did Diomedes listen to his taunts,
and fain would he have turned back and
tried to slay him. But three times did Zeus
send peals of his thunder rolling down from
the mountain-top, and to the Trojans was it
a sign of victory, and fear did it send into the
hearts of the Greeks.
Then did Hector call on his men to
be of good courage, for with them fought
Zeus, the Thunderer. And to his horses he
'On, now, Bayard, and Whitefoot, and
Flame of Fire, and Brilliant! Forget not
how Andromache hath cared for and tended
you! Make haste that we may seize from
old Nestor his shield of gold, and strip
Diomedes of his gorgeous breastplate!'
Onward, then, dashed his chariot, while
the Trojans followed him, driving the Greeks
in headlong flight before them. Soon had
the Greek ships been burned and the long
war ended, had not Hera put it into the heart
of Agamemnon to arouse the Greeks and
force them on to battle.
'Shame on you, ye Greeks!' he cried.
 'What hath come of all your boasting?'
Then did he pray to Zeus that even now he
would grant the victory to the Greeks.
And his prayer was heard by Zeus, who
sent a portent in answer. For there came,
winging through the sky, an eagle with a
young fawn in its talons. By the altar of
Zeus did the eagle drop the fawn, and the
Greeks took the sign to mean the favour of
Zeus, and afresh they went to battle.
Then did gallant warrior slay warrior as
brave as himself, and hero fall before
Teucer, a mighty archer, sheltering under
the great shield of Ajax, sent one arrow
speeding after another, and each arrow
brought death. But against Hector in vain
did he drive his shafts, slaying, each time he
drew his bow, one standing near the man
whose life he longed to take.
One arrow smote the charioteer of Hector
in the breast, and from the chariot did he
fall dead. Full of rage and grief was Hector,
and from the car he leapt, with terrible shout,
and, with a jagged stone in his hand, rushed
 at Teucer. Even at that moment had Teucer
pulled his bowstring to let an arrow fly, but
on the collar bone Hector smote him. His
bowstring snapped, his arm grew numb, the
bow fell from his hand, and on his knees he
sank. But swiftly did Ajax stand astride
him, and with his shield he sheltered him
until two of his comrades bore him, groaning
in grievous pain, to the ships.
Once again did Zeus put courage in the
men of Troy so that they drove the Greeks
in rout before them.
Then did Hera and Athene mark their
plight, and pity them, and would have come
down from Olympus to their aid, had not
Zeus sent stern warning to them of the doom
that should be theirs were they to go against
'On the morrow,'said he, 'more evil things
shall thine eyes behold, for Hector will not
cease to slay until that day when fleet-footed
Achilles be roused to come and fight for the
Greeks where Patroclus the brave lies dead.
Such is the doom of heaven.'
Then did black night fall, and while the
 Trojans chafed at the darkness, the Greeks
rejoiced that rest had come to them at
Leaning on his bronze-pointed spear,
Hector spoke to the Trojans.
'Hearken to me!' he said. 'This day I
thought to destroy the Greeks and all their
hosts and return to our own windy Troy, but
Night hath come too soon. To Night, then,
must we yield, so let us take food, and give
fodder to our horses. All night long let us
burn fires lest in the darkness the Greeks
strive to make for the sea. And let the
heralds proclaim that boys and old men
must guard the battlements of Troy, and
each woman burn a great fire in her house
lest the Greeks send an ambush to enter the
city while we men are here. At dawn will
we fight by the ships, and we shall see
whether Diomedes will drive me back from
the shore to the walls of Troy, or if with my
spear I shall lay him low.'
So spake Hector, and the Trojans shouted
They unyoked their horses, and gave them
 fodder, and from the city they brought food
for the fires.
All night they sat by the battlefield, high
hopes in their hearts, and their watch-fires
burning. As when the moon shines clear
on a windless night, and all the crags and
glens and mountain-tops stand sharply out,
and wide and boundless is the sky, and all
the stars are seen; even so many were the
lights of the watch-fires that gleamed in the
plain before Troy. A thousand fires did
burn there, and in the red glow of each
blazing fire sat fifty men. Beside the
chariots stood the horses champing barley
and spelt, waiting for the coming of dawn.