THE FIGHTING ON THE PLAIN
 The night passed, and grey dawn saw a
mighty fight begin.
Fiercely did the battle wax and wane, and
valiant deeds were done that day.
Mightily fought Agamemnon, but against
him fought the gods, and when the sun
blazed forth at noon, he and many another
Greek warrior, grievously wounded, were
forced to leave the field.
An arrow, from the bow of Paris, smote
Machaon, skilled physician of the Greeks,
and fear seized them lest he who healed
their wounds might himself perish.
Into his chariot did old Nestor take
Machaon, and right willingly his horses
galloped back to their stables by the share.
By the stern of his ship stood Achilles,
watching the battle from afar, and his dear
 friend and comrade, Patroclus, he sent
speeding to the tent of Nestor for tidings
of the battle and to ask the name of the
Scornfully spake Nestor:
'What matters it to Achilles which of the
sons of Greece lie wounded? Many chiefs
of the Greeks have shed their blood this day,
yet Achilles heedeth not. Hast thou
forgotten, Patroclus, that day when thy father
didst speak to thee of thyself and of Achilles?
"Of nobler birth than thou is Achilles," he
said, "and in might much greater. Yet he
is younger than thou, so see that thou counsel
him gently and wisely when there is need,
and he will obey thee." Even now, Patroclus,
thou mightest persuade Achilles to go forth
to battle. But if he will not go, then let him
lend thee his armour so that the men of Troy
may flee before thee, thinking that Achilles
goeth forth to war once more.'
So did Nestor rouse the heart of Patroclus,
and swiftly Patroclus returned to the ship of
Fiercer and ever more fierce grew the
 battle as the hours went by. Up to the
walls that the Greeks had built did the
Trojans press their furious way. Up the
battlements, spear in hand, they swarmed,
nor heeded the storm of stones that crashed
down upon them from above.
In front of the gates lay a stone so huge
that two strong men could not together have
lifted it and placed it on a wagon. With
one hand did mighty Hector, legs wide apart,
hurl it against the great double gates.
Before it, hinges burst, bars smashed, and
the gates crashed backwards. Then in leapt
Hector, his eyes flashing fire. None but the
gods could have withstood him, and on his
heels came the men of Troy. Before them
they swept the Greek host to their ships.
But down by the sea fought Ajax, and
round him the Greeks took their stand.
Mighty was the wall of living men that
sought to die for their honour and for their
own dear land.
Yet, like a great rock that the fierce
floods of winter tear from a mountain-side,
and that crashes through the forests and
 thunders down the valleys, destroying as
it goes, so did Hector press onward. Be-
hind him in heaps lay the slain, the moans
of the dying mingled with the din of battle,
and the dark night of death blinded the eyes
of many a mighty chief.
'Thinkest thou to spoil our ships!' called
Ajax to Hector. 'To the gods, and not to
the men of Troy do we owe our evil plight.
Yet ere long will Troy fall before us, and thou
thyself wilt pray to Zeus to make thy steeds
fleet as falcons as they bear thee in shameful
plight back to thy city, across the plain.'
To Ajax did Hector make answer:
'Blundering boaster art thou I Woe
cometh this day to the Greeks! And thou,
Ajax, if thou hast courage to meet my
spear, shalt be food for the birds and the
In his tent the heart of Agamemnon sank
within him, and those beside him did he
counsel that they should drag their ships
down to the sea and swiftly sail away.
'There is no shame in fleeing from ruin,'
 But Odysseus and Diomedes replied with
angry scorn to the coward words of their
'Let us go down to the battle, wounded
though we be,' said Diomedes.
So they set forth, and with them went
Agamemnon, and through the long day did
that mortal fight go on. Now would the
Trojans triumph, and again to the men of
Greece would come the victory.
At last, before a huge stone, hurled by
Ajax, did Hector fall. Like a mighty oak
smitten by lightning he fell, and the Trojans
bore him away, the black blood gushing from
Then pressed the men of Greece the more.
Back from the ships they drove the men of
But to Hector where he lay a-dying came
Apollo, and into his fainting body and heart
he breathed fresh strength and courage.
With strength as the strength of ten
Hector once again faced the foe, and before
him the Greeks fell back in dismay.
Patroclus in his tent, tending the wounds
 of a friend, marked how the Greeks fell back,
and he groaned aloud.
'To Achilles must I hasten,' he said.
'Who knows but that the time has come
when I may arouse him to join in the battle.'
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