Dictys Cretensis - Δίκτυς ὁ Κρής

An incredible cache of ancient Greek papyri were discovered in the early 1900’s in the remains of mummified crocodiles worshipped by ancient Egyptians.  Tens of thousands of these papyri were brought back to U.C. Berkeley in the 1930’s where they remained until a recent effort to catalogue, conserve, and digitally image the collection dating back to the 2nd century BC. Fragments from Homer, Demosthenes and a lost play of Sophocles have been identified.

Among the vast amount of text, there is a fragment of “Dictys of Crete” – the Greek original of a later Latin narrative that largely disseminated the myths surrounding the Trojan War and circulated throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.  
Dictys Cretensis, author of a pseudo-chronicle of the Trojan War. Dictys was supposed to have accompanied the Cretan leader Idomeneus from Knossos to the siege of Troy and to have written a pro-Greek account of the Trojan War. Δίκτυς called Cretensis. This work (Ephemeris Belli Troiani), according to the account that has come down to us, was discovered in the reign of Nero, in a tomb near Cnossus, which was laid open by an earthquake. It was asserted to have been written in Phœnician on bark, and translated into Greek by one Eupraxides or Eupraxis. We have a pretended Latin version by one C. Septimius, who probably lived in the time of the emperor Diocletian. The work of Septimius contains the first five books, with an abridgment of the remainder. This work is a part of the fictitious literature that sprang up in the first century of the Christian era, and, though worthless except as a literary curiosity, it was an important source of the romances of the Middle Ages. (See Dares). Good editions are those of Dederich (Bonn, 1832-37), and Meister (Leipzig, 1872). See Dunger, Dictys-Septimius: über die ursprüngliche Abfassung und die Quellen der Ephemeris (Dresden, 1878); and Gudeman in Classical Studies in Honour of Henry Drisler (N. Y. 1894).

An elaborate frame story presented in the prologue to the Latin text details how the manuscript of this work, written in Phoenician characters on tablets of limewood or tree bark, survived: it was said to have been enclosed in a leaden box and buried with its author, according to his wishes.

    "There it remained undisturbed for ages, when in the thirteenth year of Nero's reign, the sepulchre was burst open by a terrible earthquake, the coffer was exposed to view, and observed by some shepherds, who, having ascertained that it did not, as they had at first hoped, contain a treasure, conveyed it to their master Eupraxis (or Eupraxides), who in his turn presented it to Rutilius Rufus, the Roman governor of the province, by whom both Eupraxis and the casket were despatched to the emperor. Nero, upon learning that the letters were Phoenician, summoned to his presence men skilled in that language, by whom the contents were explained. The whole having been translated into Greek, was deposited in one of the public libraries, and Eupraxis was dismissed loaded with rewards." (Smith, Dictionary).

The author having returned to Crete in his old age, gave orders with his dying breath that his book should be buried in the same grave with himself, and accordingly the MS. was enclosed in a chest of tin, and deposited in his tomb. There it remained undisturbed for ages, when in the thirteenth year of Nero's reign, the sepulchre was burst open by a terrible earthquake, the coffer was exposed to view, and observed by some shepherds, who, having ascertained that it did not, as they had at first hoped, contain a treasure, conveyed it to their master Eupraxis (or Eupraxides), who in his turn presented it to Rutilius Rufus, the Roman governor of the province, by whom both Eupraxis and the casket were despatched to the emperor. Nero, upon learning that the letters were Phoenician, summoned to his presence men skilled in that language, by whom the contents were explained. The whole having been translated into Greek, was deposited in one of the public libraries, and Eupraxis was dismissed loaded with rewards.

Dictys' "Journal of the Trojan War" is a prose work in six books, which purports to be a first hand account of the Trojan War by Dictys, a functionary of the Cretan King Idomeneus.

Εφημερίδα του τρωικού πολέμου / Ιστορία για την άλωση της Τροίας

Η δημοσιογραφία είναι ένα αρκετά παλαιό επάγγελμα και αυτό λίγοι το γνωρίζουν. Αν ανατρέξουμε στα βάθη των αιώνων στην αρχαία Ελλάδα και σε συγκεκριμένη ανακάλυψη η οποία έγινε τον πρώτο αιώνα μ.Χ. , βρισκόμαστε μπροστά στον Δίκτυ τον Κνώσσιο – τον πρώτο δημοσιογράφο. Περίπου το 1.300 π.Χ. στον Τρωικό πόλεμο οι Κνωσσίτες Κρήτες έλαβαν μέρος με τον τότε βασιλιά Ιδομενέα (γιος του Δευκαλίωνα και εγγονός του Μίνωα). Μαζί με τον Ιδομενέα πήγε και κάποιος με το όνομα Δίκτυς. Αυτός ο Δίκτυς λοιπόν εφηύρε την δημοσιογραφία και με ένα βιβλίο το οποίο ονόμασε “Εφημερίς Τρωικού πολέμου” κατέγραφε τα γεγονότα ανά ημέρα. Τότε λοιπόν δημιουργήθηκε η πρώτη Εφημερίδα (εκ του εφήμερον δηλαδή γεγονότα που άρχισαν και τελείωσαν μέσα στην ημέρα) και ο Δίκτυς ουσιαστικά ήταν ο πρώτος δημοσιογράφος και πολεμικός ανταποκριτής. Ο Δίκτυς αγαπούσε τόσο το έργο του αυτό, που ζήτησε να ταφεί μαζί με αυτόν και το βιβλίο του. Χάθηκαν τα ίχνη μέσα στους αιώνες μέχρι που τον 1ο αιώνα μ.Χ. ένας σεισμός στην Κνωσσό έγινε η αιτία να βρεθεί ο τάφος του και φυσικά το βιβλίο “Εφημερίς Τρωικού πολέμου”. Η Εφημερίδα του Τρωικού Πολέμου του Δίκτυ του Κρητικού και η Ιστορία για την Άλωση της Τροίας του Δάρητος του Φρυγός είναι δύο χρονικά των τρωικών συμβάντων. Αρχίζουν με την αρπαγή της Ελένης και τελειώνουν με τον θάνατο του Οδυσσέα, καλύπτουν δηλαδή όχι μόνο τα γεγονότα της Ιλιάδας και της Οδύσσειας, αλλά ολόκληρου του τρωικού κύκλου. Σύμφωνα με την παράδοση τα χρονικά γράφτηκαν αρχαία ελληνικά, η Εφημερίδα ίσως τον 1ο μ.Χ. και η Ιστορία πολύ αργότερα. Όμως χάθηκαν τα πρωτότυπά του και ότι διαθέτουμε είναι η λατινική τους μετάφραση.


Dictys Cretensis. De bello Trojano et Dares Phrygius de excidio Trojae

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Lucius Septimius sends greetings to Quintus Aradius Rufinus.
Dictys of Crete originally wrote his Journal of the Trojan War in the Phoenician alphabet, which Cadmus and Agenor1 had spread throughout Greece. Dictys had served in the War with Idomeneus.
After many centuries the tomb of Dictys at Cnossos (formerly the seat of the Cretan king) collapsed with age.2 Then shepherds, wandering near the ruins, stumbled upon a little box skilfully enclosed in tin. Thinking it was treasure, they soon broke it open, but brought to light, instead of gold or some other kind of wealth, books written on linden tablets. Their hopes thus frustrated, they took their find to Praxis,3 the owner of that place. Praxis had the books transliterated into the Attic alphabet (the language was Greek)4 and presented them to the Roman Emperor Nero.5 Nero rewarded him richly.
When these little books had by chance come into my hands, I, as a student of true history, was seized with the desire of making a free translation into Latin; I felt I had no special talent but wanted only to occupy my leisure time. I have preserved without abridgment the first five volumes which deal with the happenings of the War, but have reduced into one volume the others6 which are concerned with the Return of the Greeks. Thus, my Rufinus, I have sent them to you. Favor my work as it deserves, and in reading Dictys . . .
1. The Preface names only Cadmus. Dictys 5.17 names Cadmus and Danaus; here we must suppose that the author of the Letter has forgotten his own translation.
2. In the Preface an earthquake lays open the tomb.
3. Praxis is the Eupraxides of the Preface.
4. In the Preface the language is Phoenician instead of Greek.
5. In the Preface Eupraxides gives the books to Rutilius Rufus, the governor of Crete, and Rufus sees that they get to Nero.
6. The manuscripts, all of which give the number of abridged books as five, have been corrected to agree with the reports of Eudokia and Suidas that the total number of books was nine. See Preface, note 3.

Dictys, a native of Crete from the city of Cnossos and a contemporary of the Atridae,1 knew the Phoenician language and alphabet, which Cadmus brought to Achaea.2 He accompanied the leaders Idomeneus and Meriones with the army that went against Troy. (Idomeneus and Meriones were the sons of Deucalion and Molus respectively.) They chose him to write down a history of this campaign. Accordingly, writing on linden tablets and using the Phoenician alphabet, he composed nine volumes3 about the whole war.
Time passed. In the thirteenth year of Nero’s reign an earthquake struck at Cnossos and, in the course of its devastation, laid open the tomb of Dictys in such a way that people, as they passed, could see the little box. And so shepherds who had seen it as they passed stole it from the tomb, thinking it was treasure. But when they opened it and found the linden tablets inscribed with characters unknown to them, they took this find to their master. Their master, whose name was Eupraxides, recognized the characters, and presented the books to Rutilius Rufus, who was at that time governor of the island. Since Rufus, when the books had been presented to him, thought they contained certain mysteries, he, along with Eupraxides himself, carried them to Nero.4
Nero, having received the tablets and having noticed that they were written in the Phoenician alphabet, ordered his Phoenician philologists to come and decipher whatever was written. When this had been done, since he realized that these were the records of an ancient man who had been at Troy, he had them translated into Greek; thus a more accurate text of the Trojan War was made known to all. Then he bestowed gifts and Roman citizenship upon Eupraxides, and sent him home.
The Greek Library, according to Nero’s command, acquired this history that Dictys had written, the contents of which the following text sets forth in order.
1. The Atridae are Agamemnon and Menelaus, who, however in Dictys, are not the real sons of Atreus, but of Plisthenes. See Dictys 1.1.
2. Achaea is the Roman province of Greece.
3. The manuscripts, all of which give the total number of books as six, have been corrected to agree with the reports of Eudokia and Suidas. See Letter, note 6.
4. This sentence might also be translated: “Rufus . . . sent them to Nero along with Eupraxides himself.”
BOOK 1 Antehomerica
[1] All the kings who were great-grandsons of Minos, the son of Jupiter, and who ruled over Greece, came to Crete to divide the wealth of Atreus. Atreus, the son of Minos,1 when making his last will and testament, had left all his gold and silver, and even his herds, to them; for they were his grandsons, the sons of his daughters. Everything was to be equally divided among them, excepting only the rule of his cities and lands. This he bequeathed to Idomeneus, the son of Deucalion, and Meriones, the son of Molus.
Among those who came to Crete were Palamedes and Oeax, the sons of Clymene and Nauplius.
Also Menelaus and his older brother Agamemnon, the sons of Aerope and Plisthenes,2 came to get their share. (They had a sister, Anaxibia, who at that time was married to Nestor.) People often thought that their father was Atreus, because when their real father, Plisthenes, died young without having made a name for himself, Atreus, pitying their plight, had taken them in and brought them up like princes.
In the division of Atreus’ property everyone, as befitted his rank, acquired a handsome inheritance.
[2] All the descendants of Europa (she was worshiped on Crete with the most elaborate ritual), on learning that the heirs of Atreus had landed, hastened to give them a friendly welcome. Escorting them to the temple, they entertained them lavishly with elegant banquets, offering, in accordance with their ancient customs, many sacrificial victims. Thus, day after day, the kings of Greece delighted in this entertainment. They were, however, even more impressed by the temple of Europa itself, so magnificent was the beauty of this structure, so rich its embellishments. Examining all its marvellous features, they called to mind how Europa’s father, Phoenix, and the noble matrons, had brought across form Sidon this thing and that.
[3] During the same time the home of Menelaus at Sparta welcomed Alexander the Phrygian,3 the son of Priam, who had come with Aeneas and other of his relatives. Alexander, taking advantage of Menelaus’ absence, committed a very foul crime. Falling desperately in love with Helen, the most beautiful woman in Greece, he carried her off, along with much wealth, and also Aethra and Clymene, being Menelaus’ relatives, attended on Helen.
A report of this crime came to Crete;4 but rumor, as commonly happens, spread over the island, making what Alexander had done seem worse than it was. People were even saying that King Menelaus’ home had been taken by storm and that his kingdom was conquered.
[4] On hearing this news, Menelaus was deeply upset by the abduction of his wife, but he was even more disturbed by the fact that the relatives we mentioned above had wronged him.5
Palamedes noticed that the king, being distraught with wrath and righteous indignation, had lost all power of reason. Accordingly, he rigged the ships and brought them to shore equipped with all their gear. Loading as much of Menelaus’ inheritance as time under the circumstances allowed, and briefly but appropriately offering his sympathy, he made the king go abroad. And thus, the winds blowing as they desired, they came to Sparta within a few days.
Agamemnon, Nestor, and all the rulers of Greece who were descendants of Pelops,6 having heard the news, had already gathered together at Sparta. On learning of Menelaus’ arrival, they all assembled together. First, through the barbarity of the deed demanded immediate vengeance, they decided to send envoys to Troy. Palamedes, Ulysses, and Menelaus were chosen to go, and instructed to complain of the crime and demand the return of Helen and the things that had been carried off.7
[5] These, on coming to Troy within a few days, did not find Alexander at home; for when he had sailed from Sparta, hastily and taking no thought of the weather, the winds had forced him to Cyprus. After obtaining some ships, he had then gone on to Phoenicia, where the king of the Sidonians received him kindly. But he treacherously slaughtered the king at night and, venting again that criminal lust he had shown at Sparta, pillaged the palace. He shamelessly ordered his men to seize everything the purpose of which was to show the royal magnificence, and carry it off to the ships. The Sidonians, however, who escaped the general destruction, raised a huge tumult, bewailing the fate of their ruler. All of their people rushed to the palace, and then, arming themselves as best they were able, rushed to the ships; for Alexander had already seized whatever he wanted and now as hastening to sail. A raging battle arose, and very many men fell on both sides. While the Sidonians fought fiercely in the cause of their murdered king, the Trojans strove with all their might to keep the booty they had gained. Two of their ships were fired; but finally, after a terrible struggle, they freed the others. And thus, having broken the strength of their foe, they escaped.
[6] Meanwhile, at Troy, one of the envoys, Palamedes (he was known as a skilful adviser and diplomat), prevailed upon Priam to let him speak at a meeting of the council. First, he made his complaint, describing the criminal way Alexander had broken the ties of mutual friendship. Next, he warned of the horrible conflict that Greece and Troy might have because of this act, citing, among other examples, the feud between Ilus and Pelops,8 who for similar reasons had come to the point of committing their countries to war. And then, comparing the hazards of war with the blessings of peace, he said that he knew that most of the Trojans hated this barbarous crime; all would abandon those who were guilty, and the guilty would have to pay for their impious acts.
Palamedes wanted to finish his speech, but Priam interrupted and said: “I beseech you, Palamedes, to go more slowly. It seems unfair to attack a man who is absent, who, if he were present, might refute the criminal charges you are bringing against him.” Thus Priam ordered Palamedes to defer his complaint until Alexander arrived. He had noticed everyone who was present in the council being moved by Palamedes’ speech; though they were silent, nevertheless they showed by their faces that they were condemning the things Alexander had done. Palamedes was making his points with marvellous eloquence, and there was a certain indescribable force in the moving tone of his speech.
Then the council broke up for that day. The envoys went home with Antenor, happy to be his guests. He was a gracious host and a man who, more than anyone else, loved the good and the true.
[7] Several days having passed, Alexander came with the companions we mentioned above, and also with Helen. Upon his arrival, all the people showed their disgust at what he had done: some cursed the evil precedent he had set; others bewailed the injustice Menelaus had suffered. And finally, disgusted and angry, they raised a revolt.
Priam, alarmed by this turn of events, called together his sons and asked what course they advised. They answered unanimously that, no matter what happened, Helen should not be returned. They saw, no doubt, that if this were done, they would lose all the great wealth with which she had come. Furthermore, they had fallen in love with the beautiful women who had come with Helen and had already set their hearts on marrying this or that one. Being barbarians in language and morals, and impatient of weighing their actions or asking advice, they were driven astray by greed for booty and lust.
[8] Leaving his sons, Priam called together the elders. After reporting what his sons had decided, he asked each member to give his advice. This was the custom. But before anyone could state his opinion, the princes suddenly broke into the council and – never before had this happened – threatened all of the members: they had better not find anyone opposing their will.
Meanwhile all of the people were cursing and crying out against the crime Alexander had committed and against many other similar acts. This caused Alexander, who was reckless because of his lust, to surround himself with his brothers in arms and make an attack on the crowd; for he feared that something might happen to him at the hands of the people. Many were killed, but finally the slaughter was stopped by those who had been in the council, the nobles led by Antenor. Thus the people returned to their homes, their numbers not undiminished, frustrated as to their goals and held in contempt.
[9] On the following day King Priam, at the insistence of Hecuba, went to Helen. Greeting her kindly, he urged her to feel well disposed and asked who she was and what was her family.
She answered that she was Alexander’s relative and more closely akin to Priam and Hecuba than to the son of Plisthenes. She went through the whole list of her ancestors. Danaus and Agenor were her progenitors, respectively, of Priam’s line and of hers.9 The daughter of Danaus was Hesione,10 who had given birth to Electra by Atlas; Electra had given birth to Dardanus by Jupiter; and from Dardanus was descended Tros and, in order of succession, the other kings of Troy. As for Agenor, he had begotten Taygete; and she had given birth to Lacedaemon by Jupiter; Lacedaemon had begotten Amyclas, and he had begotten Argalus, the father of Oebalus; it was well known that Oebalus was the father of Tyndareus, and he, it seemed, was her father. She also recited the relation of her mother’s family with Hecuba, for the son of Agenor, Phoenix, was the ancestor both of Leda and of Hecuba’s father, Dymas.
After revealing her whole genealogy, she burst into tears and begged him not to return her. Now that the Trojans had made her welcome, and she had put her trust in them, they must not prove faithless. Everything Alexander had taken from Menelaus’ home belonged to her; nothing else had been taken.
It was by no means clear whey she preferred to look after her interests in this way. Was it because of her immodest love for Alexander, or because of her fear of the punishment her husband would exact for desertion?
[10] When Hecuba was informed of Helen’s attitude and of the relation between their families, she embraced her and did everything she could to prevent her being returned. But by this time Priam and most of the princes were saying that they could no longer put off the envoys or resist the will of the people. (Deiphobus was the only one who sided with Hecuba, for his judgment, like Alexander’s, had been corrupted by his lust for Helen.) Hecuba, however, persisted to intercede on Helen’s behalf and accosted Priam and all of her sons who were present. They found it impossible to pull her from Helen’s embrace and, therefore, finally decided to do as she wished. Thus by her influence as mother and wife she compromised the good of her country.
On the next day Menelaus, accompanied by the other envoys, came into the assembly. He demanded the return of his wife and the things Alexander had taken.
Then Priam, standing in the midst of the princes and calling for silence, said that Helen (who had come into public view for this purpose) should have the right to decide. When he asked her, “Do you want to go home?” her answer, so they reported, was “No.” She had not sailed, she said, unwillingly, for her marriage to Menelaus did not suit her. And so the princes left the assembly, exulting, with Helen.
[11] When they had gone, Ulysses, though he knew that nothing he said would make any difference, argued for argument’s sake. He reviewed everything Alexander had done and swore that the Greeks would soon be avenging these crimes. Next, Menelaus, full of wrath and scowling blackly, broke up the meeting with threats of destruction.
When Priam’s sons were told what had happened, they secretly swore to kidnap the envoys. They believed, quite rightly, that the envoys, having failed to accomplish their mission, would return to Greece and demand a full-scale war against Troy. Antenor, however, whose pious character we mentioned above, thwarted this plot. Going to Priam, he complained about the conspiracy: Priam’s sons were not plotting against the envoys but against himself, and this he would not endure. Soon afterwards he informed the envoys. Thus every precaution was taken; he gave them a guard and, at the first opportunity, sent them home unharmed.
[12] While this was happening at Troy, news of the abduction spread throughout Greece. All the descendants of Pelops foregathered and bound themselves with mutual oaths. If Helen was not returned along with the things Alexander had taken, they swore to make war against Priam.
The envoys, having returned to Sparta, told about Helen’s decision and described the hostile words and deeds of Priam and his sons against them. But they praised Antenor in the highest terms for the good faith he had shown. The members of the Greek council, having heard this report, decided to make preparations for war in their different regions and kingdoms. They chose Argos which was the realm of Diomedes, as a good place to meet and make plans for the war.
[13] When the time seemed best, Ajax the son of Telamon, who was known for his bravery no less than his hugeness, was the first to arrive, accompanied by Teucer, his brother. Soon afterwards Idomeneus and Meriones came, who were the closest of friends.
(I followed along with these. As to what happened earlier at Troy, I have tried to make my report as accurate as possible, Ulysses being my source. The account that follows, based as it is on my own observations, will meet, I hope, the highest critical standards.)
Also Nestor came to Argos, accompanied by Antilochus and Thrasymedes, his sons by Anaxibia. Then Peneleus came with his cousins Clonius and Arcesilaus; and these were followed by two other leaders of the Boeotians, Prothoenor and Leitus. Schdius and Epistrophus came from Phocis; Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, from Orchomenus. Then Diores and Meges, the sons of Phyleus, came; then Thoas, the son of Andraemon; Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, from Ormenion; and then Leonteus.
[14] Next Achilles arrived, the son of Peleus and Thetis. (Thetis, so they say, was the daughter of Chiron.) Achilles was in the first years of his manhood, a noble youth and handsome. So great was his zeal for war that he was already known as the bravest champion alive. Nevertheless, it must be admitted, his character showed a certain ill-advised forcefulness, a certain savage impatience. He was accompanied by Patroclus, his close friend, and Phoenix, his guardian and teacher.
Then there were Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules; and after him, Phidippus and Antiphus, the grandsons of Hercules, wearing beautiful armor. After them came Protesilaus, the son of Iphiclus, with his brother Podarces. And Eumelus of Pherae was there. (Eumelus’ father, Admetus, had once prolonged his life by having his wife die for him.)11 Podalirius and Machaon came from Tricca; they, being sons of Aesculapius, had been summoned to serve as physicians. Then Philoctetes came, the son of Poeas, carrying the marvellous bow and arrows of Hercules, whom he had formerly served. (As reward for his service, Hercules, when departing to be with the gods, had given these weapons to him.)12 Then the handsome Nireus came. Menestheus came from Athens; Ajax, the son of Oileus, from Locris; Amphilochus, the son of Amphiaraus, and Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus, from Argos, and with them was Euryalus, the son of Mecisteus; Thersander, the son of Polynices, came from Aetolia; and, last of all, Demophoon and Acamas. These were all the descendants of Pelops. They were followed by a great number of others, coming from various regions, some being retainers of kings, and others rulers themselves. It seems quite useless, however, to give a list of their names.
[15] When all had assembled at Argos, Diomedes supplied their needs and made them at home. Agamemnon distributed a great amount of gold he had brought from Mycenae, and thus increased their yearning for war. Then they decided unanimously to seal their alliance as follows:
Calchas the prophet, the son of Thestor, having ordered a hog brought into their midst, cut it in half and set the parts towards east and west. Then he commanded them all to draw their swords and pass through the victim. Thus, smearing their blades with the blood of the hog, and completing the other rites as required, they bound themselves to war against Priam. They swore to fight on until Troy and Priam’s whole kingdom was utterly destroyed. After taking this oath and purifying themselves with ablutions, they sacrificed many victims to Mars and Concord, seeking the aid of these gods.
[16] Then they decided to appoint a commander-in-chief. Accordingly, in the temple of the Argive Juno, everyone, having received a ballot, wrote (in Phoenician letters) the name of the man he thought would make the best leader. Agamemnon was chosen and thus, with the hearty approval of each and every one, he took upon himself the command of the forces. He deserved this position for two reasons: first, he was the brother of the man for whose sake they were fighting; and second, he was considered the wealthiest and most powerful king in Greece. Then they appointed Achilles, Ajax, and Phoenix to be the leaders in charge of the fleet; and gave Palamedes, Diomedes, and Ulysses joint command of the army-in-camp, that is, the routine duties of the day and the watches of the night. Having made these arrangements, the Greeks departed to their different kingdoms to get ready their forces and equipment for war.
Zeal for war inflamed all Greece during the following period. Within two years everything was ready; weapons for defense and offense, and horses and ships. The men had accelerated their work, some acting with natural zest, others to rival the glory their comrades were gaining. They felt, understandably enough, that their most important task was the construction of a great naval force; the many thousands of soldiers, when once they had been gathered from everywhere, must not be delayed for want of a fleet.
[17] Thus at the end of two years all the kings had equipped ships varying in number with the wealth and power of their kingdoms,13 and had sent them on to Aulis in Boeotia; this was the place they had chosen. Agamemnon assembled a fleet of 100 ships from Mycenae, in addition to 60 others from the various cities under his power; he put Agapenor in charge. Nestor equipped a fleet of 90 ships. Menelaus had 60 ships from all Lacedaemon; Menestheus 40 from Athens; Elephenor 40 from Euboea; Ajax, the son of Telamon, 12 from Salamis; Diomedes 80 from Argos; Ascalaphus and Ialmenus 30 from Orchomenus; Ajax, the son of Oileus, 40; Arcesilaus, Prothoenor, Peneleus, Leitus, and Clonius 50 from all of Boeotia; Schedius and Epistrophus 50 from Phocis; Thalpius and Diores, along with Amphimachus and Polyxenus, 40 from Elis and the other cities of this region; Thoas 40 from Aetolia; Meges 40 from Dulichium and the islands of the Echidnades; Idomeneus and Meriones 80 from all Crete; Ulysses 12 from Ithaca; Prothous 40 from Magnesia; Tlepolemus 9 from Rhodes and the other islands about; Eumelus 11 from Pherae; Achilles 50 from Pelasgian Argos; Nireus 3 from Syme; Podarces and Protesilaus 40 from Phylaca and the other places they controlled; Podalirus and Machaon 30; Philoctetes 7 from Methona and other cities; Eurypylus 40 from Ormenion; Guneus 22 from Perrhaebia; Leonteus and Polypoetes 40 from their regions; Phidippus and Antiphus 30 from the islands of Cos and Crapathus; Thersander (the son of Polynices, as we mentioned above) 50 from Thebes; Calchas 20 from Acarnania; Mopsus 20 from Colophon; and Epeus 30 from the islands of the Cyclades.
They filled their ships with large amounts of grain and other necessary goods. Agamemnon had of course ordered them to do this, that so huge a military force might not be harassed with lack of supplies.
[18] In addition to this huge armada, there were many horses and war chariots, their number being large, considering the lack of good pasture in Greece. The infantry, however, far outnumbered the cavalry. Also there were the many technical experts who were necessary to maintain and operate the ships.
During this time we were unable, either by bribery or by the influence of Phalis,14 the king of the Sidonians, to entice the Lycian Sarpedon to follow our alliance. Priam, by offering larger gifts (which afterwards were doubled), had already won his support for the Trojans.
It took five years for all the ships (which, as we have described above, were brought together from the various regions of Greece) to be equipped and readied. When, however, nothing except the soldier’s absence prevented us from sailing, all of our leaders, at the same time, as if at a given signal, came together at Aulis.
[19] While we were hastening to sail, Agamemnon (who, as we have said above, had been unanimously chosen commander-in-chief), having gone some way from the camp, noticed a she-goat grazing near a grove of Diana and, feeling no awe because of the place, struck it through with his spear. Soon afterwards, either because of heavenly wrath or atmospheric contamination, a plague began to attack us. Day after day it raged with greater and greater violence, destroying many thousands as it passed indiscriminately through herds and army, laying waste everything that stood in its way, there being no abatement, no end to death.
While our leaders were seeking some remedy, a certain woman,15 divinely inspired, revealed the reason for our affliction: the wrath of Diana; the goddess was exacting punishment from the army for the sacrilege of slaying the she-goat in which she especially delighted, nor would she relent until the perpetrator of this awful crime had made full atonement by sacrificing his oldest daughter. When this solution was brought to the army, all of our leaders approached Agamemnon. Begging and then threatening, they tried to make him offer the remedy quickly, but he obstinately and absolutely refused. And so they reviled him and finally stripped him of his command.
But in order that their huge army, being leaderless, might not become an undisciplined mob, they chose four men to share the command: Palamedes, Diomedes, Ajax the son of Telamon, and Idomeneus. And they divided their forces, according to the number of leaders, into four equal parts.
[20] Meanwhile the plague continued to rage until Ulysses unexpectedly provided the necessary remedy. No one knew of his plan. He pretended to return to his kingdom because of his anger at Agamemnon’s refusal, but went instead to Mycenae and took Clytemnestra a letter he had forged in the name of her husband. The gist of this letter was as follows: Achilles refused to sail for Troy until he had married their oldest daughter, Iphigenia, whom they had promised to him; therefore, she should send Iphigenia to Aulis, along with the dowry, as quickly as possible. In addition to bringing this letter, Ulysses said many things to strengthen Clytemnestra’s belief in its contents. Thus she, desiring both to recover her sister Helen and, even more, to marry her daughter to so famous a man, gladly entrusted Iphigenia to Ulysses. Within a few days he returned to the camp and appeared unexpectedly with the girl in the grove of Diana.
When Agamemnon knew what had happened, he wanted to flee, either because of his love for his daughter or because he wanted no part in so criminal a sacrifice. Nestor, however, learned of his plans and, in a long speech, by means of that art of persuasion in which he was more pleasing and effective than anyone else in Greece, prevailed upon him to stay.
[21] Ulysses, Menelaus, and Calchas were put in charge of the sacrifice; everyone else was kept at a distance. When they had begun to adorn the girl, suddenly, lo and behold, the day began to darken. Thunder roared and lightning flashed, earth and sea were shaken. Finally a whirlwind of dust made the darkness complete. Soon afterwards rain and hail poured down. This ghastly disturbance which showed no signs of abatement threw Menelaus and the other officiants into confusion; they were caught between their fear and perplexity. At first they were frightened by the sudden change in the weather and believed that this was the sign of some god, but then they were worried that the army might suffer some harm if they discontinued the sacrifice. While they were trying to solve their dilemma, they heard a voice from the grove saying that divinity spurned such an offering; the goddess had mercy upon the girl, and they must not touch her; as for Agamemnon, after his victory at Troy, his wife would see to his adequate punishment; they must sacrifice what they would see had been sent in the place of the girl. Then the winds and the lightning and all the storm’s fierceness began to diminish.
[22] While these things were happening, Achilles received a personal letter from Clytemnestra, and also a great deal of gold; she commended her daughter and all of her house to him. When he had read the letter, he realized the scheme of Ulysses and, dropping all other concerns, rushed to the grove, shouting for Menelaus and the other officiants to keep their hands off Iphigenia, or else he would kill them. He found them still in a state of shock; and when the weather had cleared, he freed the girl. But what was the thing, where was the thing that they had been ordered to sacrifice? This was perplexing them all when a marvellously beautiful deer appeared untrembling before the very altar. Accepting this deer as the victim which had been predicted and which was now divinely offered, they seized upon it and soon slew it. With the performance of this sacrifice, the force of the plague subsided, and the sky became bright as in summer. Then Achilles and the three officiants, acting in complete secrecy, entrusted the girl to the king of the Scythians, who was there at this time.16
[23] Our leaders were all delighted, for they saw that the force of the plague had abated and that the winds were good for sailing, the sea being calm as in summer. Going to Agamemnon and consoling him over his daughter’s death, they made him commander-in-chief once again. This greatly pleased the whole army, for all the soldiers loved Agamemnon, thinking that he would look after their interests no less than a father. Agamemnon showed no signs of knowing what had really happened to Iphigenia. Perhaps he knew. Or had he, having pondered the turns of human fortune, steeled himself to adversity? In either case, resuming his office, he invited the leaders to dinner that day.
Several days later, the weather being good for sailing, our leaders set the army in order; and thus we boarded the ships. We had stowed all sorts of costly supplies which the people who lived near Aulis had given us. Grain, wine, and other necessary foods were furnished by Anius and his daughters; the latter were known as Oenotropae (wine-growers) and priestesses of a holy religion.17 Thus we sailed from Aulis.
1. Atreus is apparently identified with Catreus, who was the son of Minos (Apollodorus 3.1.2).
2. Agamemnon and Menelaus are the sons of Plisthenes in Hesiod The Catalogues of Women (fragment 69, p. 203, ed. Evelyn-White).
3. Dictys always uses “Alexander” instead of “Paris.” “Phrygian” is a synonym for “Trojan.”
4. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 491, ed. Evelyn-White), Iris is the one who brings this news.
5. According to Malalas (Chronographia 5.118-119), Aethra persuaded Helen to yield to Alexander. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 491), Venus brings Helen and Alexander together.
6. Apparently Pelops was the great hero of the past from whom aristocratic families liked to claim descent, and often did so falsely.
7. This embassy appears before the Trojan council in Dictys 1.6 and before the Trojan assembly in Dictys 1.10 (middle)-11. It should be compared with the later, similar embassy in Dictys 2.20-26.
8. Ilus had led an army against Pelops and chased him out of Lydia. See Pausanias Description of Greece 2.2.24.
9. Danaus and Agenor were related as follows: Neptune was the father of Belus and Agenor by Libya, and Belus was the father of Danaus. See Apollod. 2.1.4.
10. The text, which reads “Plesione” here, has been corrected to “Hesione,” to agree with Dictys 4.22, where the same genealogy is given.
11. Admetus’ wife was Alcestis. See Euripides Alcestis.
12. See Sophocles Trachiniae.
13. Section 17, with a few exceptions, is based on Homer’s catalogue of ships in Iliad 2.494-795.
14. The text is corrupt here. This Phalis is probably to be equated with the Phalas of Dictys 4.4.
15. Perhaps Agamemnon had consulted the oracle of Apollo, and this woman is Apollo’s priestess, the Pythia.
16. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 495), Diana snatches Iphigenia away and carries her off to the land of the Taurians.
17. Anius was a king of Delos. For him and his daughters, see Ovid Metamorphoses 13.631-673.
BOOK 2 Antehomerica & "Iliad"
[1] The winds drove our whole fleet toward Mysia, and at a given signal we quickly guided all of the ships to shore, where, however, there were guards who opposed our men and prevented them from debarking. These guards had been stationed there by Telephus, who was at that time the ruler of Mysia, to protect his country from overseas enemies. They forbade us to come ashore, or even to touch land, until they had told their king who we were. When our men paid no heed to these orders and began, one by one, to debark, the guards relented not in the least but used full force to resist and obstruct us. Thereupon all of our leaders agreed that force must be met with force and, snatching up arms and rushing from the ships, angrily slew some of the guards; and put the others to flight, slaughtering any they happened to catch.
[2] The guards who were first to escape the Greeks went and told Telephus about the hostile horde which had attacked their country and which, having slain some of their number, now was holding the shore. And each of the guards, in proportion to his fear, embellished the story now with some additional incident.
On learning this news, Telephus, taking the men he had with him and those who were able to be gathered in the emergency, hastened to encounter the Greeks. When the two sides had drawn up their forces, a great battle ensued. They slaughtered each other at close quarters, the deaths of their comrades spurring them on to fight the more fiercely. It was in this battle that Thersander (the son of Polynices, as we mentioned above) attacked Telephus, and fell at his hands. Thersander had killed many of the Mysians, among whom was a doughty fighter, a favourite of Telephus, chosen by him as one of his generals because of his bravery, strength, and natural ability; these successes had gradually caused Thersander to become elated at the prospects of ultimate victory; and thus, daring to do greater deeds, he was killed. Thereupon Diomedes, remembering the friendship their fathers had started,1 shouldered Thersander’s bloody body and carried it off to be cremated and buried according to custom.
[3] Achilles and Ajax the son of Telamon, seeing that the war was resulting in heavy casualties for our side, divided the army between them and, exhorting their troops as the occasion demanded, attacked the enemy more fiercely, their strength apparently renewed. They themselves were in the front of the fighting, now pursuing those who were fleeing, now opposing, like a wall, those who attacked. Thus even then, by being the first or among the first to fight in every encounter, they had won for themselves both with our men and with the enemy, an illustrious reputation for bravery.
Meanwhile Teuthranius, having noticed that Ajax was winning great glory in battle, hastened to meet him, and there died fighting, felled by Ajax’ spear. Teuthranius was the son of Teuthras and Auge; and the half-brother of Telephus, for they had the same mother.2
Telephus, being deeply upset by the death of his brother and seeking for vengeance, attacked the enemy line. Having put to flight those who opposed him, he was doggedly pursuing Ulysses in a vineyard nearby when a vine tripped him up. Thereupon Achilles who, from some distance, had seen what had happened, hurled his spear and pierced the king’s left thigh. But Telephus rose quickly and, having drawn out the spear, escaped immediate destruction under cover of a group of his men who had come to the rescue.
[4] At the close of this day, both sides were exhausted, for the battle had raged without break, the leaders joined in fierce combat. The presence of Telephus had especially dampened our spirits, tired as we already were from sailing so far; for Telephus was a tall and powerful man whose deeds of valor rivalled those of his divine father, Hercules. Thus with the coming of night, all were glad to stop fighting. The Mysians returned to their homes, our men to the ships. Great was the number of those who were slain in this battle, but greater still was the number of those who were wounded: no one, or at least very few, escaped without injury.
On the next day both sides sent envoys to make a truce for burying the dead. Thus the bodies were collected, cremated, and buried.
[5] Meanwhile Tlepolemus and the brothers Antiphus and Phidippus (who were sons of Thessalus and grandsons of Hercules, as we mentioned above) learned that Telephus was the ruler of Mysia. Relying for protection on the fact of this kinship, they went and told him who they were, and with whom they had sailed. Finally, after a long conversation, they bitterly accused him of the hostile way he had opposed his own people, pointing out that Agamemnon and Menelaus, who had brought together their army, were descendants of Pelops and therefore not unrelated to him.3 Then they told him about Alexander’s crimes against Menelaus’ home and about the abduction of Helen. Telephus therefore, they concluded, should want to aid the Greeks because of his relationship with them, and especially in view of Alexander’s violation of the laws of guest-friendship; moreover, Telephus’ father, Hercules, had also aided the Greeks by those numerous labours the monuments of which existed throughout Greece.
Telephus, though terribly pained by his wound, answered their charges politely. What had happened, he said, was not his fault, but theirs. He had not know that they who had come were closest friends and cherished relatives. They should have sent ahead messengers to announce their arrival, and he would have gone and met them, bidden them welcome, and made them at home; they would have been his guests, and he would have sent them off with gifts when they thought they must go. As for the expedition against Priam, he refused to take part; he was prevented by the closest bonds of kinship, for his wife Astyoche, the mother of his son Eurypylus, was one of Priam’s daughters.
Then he quickly commanded that his people be told to stop preparing for war and freely granted our men the right to debark. Tlepolemus and the other envoys were put in the care of Eurypylus; and thus, their mission accomplished, they returned to the ships to tell Agamemnon and the other nobles about the peace and concord with Telephus.
[6] On learning this news, we gladly stopped preparing for war; and, in accordance with the will of the council, Achilles and Ajax went to Telephus. Seeing he was suffering great pain, they tried to console him and urged him to bear up bravely. Telephus, when his pain allowed him to speak, accused the Greeks of not even sending a messenger ahead to announce their arrival. Then he asked how many of our men were descendants of Pelops, and who these descendants were. Having been told, he insisted that these relatives should come and see him. Thereupon our men, having promised to do as he wished, returned and told the others what he desired.
Accordingly, all of the descendants of Pelops, with the exception of Agamemnon and Menelaus, came together and went to Telephus. He was very grateful and very delighted to see them and received them hospitably with many gifts. Moreover, he showed his kindness by sending grain and ample supplies to all our men who were left at the ships. Noticing, however, that Agamemnon and Menelaus were absent, he begged Ulysses to go and summon them. Upon their arrival, he and they exchanged gifts, as royal custom demanded; and they ordered Podalirius and Machaon, the sons of Aesculapius, to come and treat him. These latter hastened to discover a cure and to offer a suitable treatment for the wound.
[7] When we had been delayed from embarking for several days, and the sea, because of adverse winds, was becoming increasingly rough, we went to Telephus and asked what was the best time for sailing to Troy from Mysia. The beginning of spring, he said; no other time was good. Thereupon, by unanimous agreement, we returned to Boeotia and, having hauled up our ships, dispersed to spend the winter in our different kingdoms.
During this time of leisure, Agamemnon felt free to blame Menelaus for having betrayed Iphigenia,4 for he believed that he had advised this and was, so to speak, the cause of his grief.
[8] And during this time the Trojans learned of our hostile alliance from the barbarous Scythians, who bartered their goods with the people who lived up and down both sides of the Hellespont. Fear and sorrow prevailed throughout Troy. Everyone who had from the beginning disapproved of Alexander’s crime swore that Greece had been wronged and that all of the Trojans, because of the sins of a few, were going straight to destruction. To meet this threat to their country, Alexander and his wicked advisers sent men, carefully chosen from every group, to levy forces in the neighboring regions, and commanded them to return as quickly as possible with their mission accomplished. Thus the sons of Priam sped up preparations in order that, when the army was ready, they might set sail first and carry the entire war to Greece.
[9] Meanwhile Diomedes, having learned what was happening at Troy, quickly went thoughout Greece; he met with all of our leaders and told them the plan of the Trojans. We must, he urged, gather supplies and equipment and sail as soon as we could.
Thus we assembled at Argos; but there Agamemnon aroused the wrath of Achilles by refusing to sail. He was still crushed with grief because of the loss of his daughter. Finally, however, Ulysses revived his spirits and sense of purpose by letting him know what had really happened to Iphigenia.
Everyone was present at Argos, and no one neglected his military duty. But Ajax the son of Telamon, along with Achilles and Diomedes, had shown the greatest concern and zeal in preparing for war; and now these saw to the construction of extra ships with which to make beachheads on Trojan territory, building within ad few days fifty such vessels complete in all points.
Eight years had passed from the time we first began preparing for war, and now the ninth had begun.
[10] When nothing prevented our sailing, the ships being ready and the sea being calm, we hired Scythians to act as our guides.5 They had landed at Argos to barter goods.
At the same time Telephus hastened to sail to Argos to find relief for the wound he had received while fighting our men. Having suffered a long time and found no remedy, he had gone to the oracle of Apollo, and there been told to consult Achilels and the sons of Aesculapius. He reported the oracle to all or our leaders, who were wondering why he had come, and begged them – they were his friends – not to deny the predicted remedy. On hearing his plea, Achilles, Machaon, and Podalirius treated his wound, and thus soon proved the oracle true.
After we had made many sacrifices and besought the gods to aid our endeavors, we went to Aulis, taking the ships mentioned above.
And from there we hastened to sail. Telephus, being grateful because of his cure, offered himself as a guide. Thus we boarded the ships and, finding favourable winds, came to Troy several days later.
[11] Meanwhile the Lycian Sarpedon, the son of Xanthus and Laodamia, in answer to the summons which frequent messengers had made for Priam, had led a huge army to Troy. Having noticed from afar that our great armada was landing, he realized the situation and, alerting his forces, rushed to prevent our debarking. Soon afterwards the sons of Priam learned what was happening and, taking up arms, ran to the aid of Sarpedon. Thus we were fiercely attacked in every way. At first we could neither debark without being killed nor arm ourselves, the general confusion causing our every action to flounder. Finally, however, some, in spite of the terrible pressure, were able to arm and, banding together, fiercely counter-attacked. In this battle Protesilaus, whose ship had been first to land, fell among those who were fighting up front, struck by Aeneas’ weapon. Also two sons of Priam were killed. In fact, no one on either side completely escaped without injury.
[12] Achilles and Ajax the son of Telamon fought with great glory, their courage sustaining and increasing the confidence of our men. They struck fear into the enemy, some of whom, having dared to oppose them, soon were retreating, and all of whom finally were taking to flight. Thus we, being free for a time from enemy attack, were able to draw up our ships and set them safely in order.
Then we chose Achilles and Ajax the son of Telamon, since they were the bravest, to guard the ships and the army, stationing them at the ends of our camp to cover our flanks. When everyone was settled in place, Telephus departed for home. Our army was very grateful to him for having led us to Troy.
Soon afterwards Cycnus surprised us with a treacherous attack. He had heard of our coming, for his kingdom was not far off from Troy. His attack was made against those of our men who were preoccupied with the burial of Protesilaus. These, expecting no trouble, were caught unawares and forced to flee in utter disorder. But soon the rest of our men, those not entrusted with the burial, learned what was happening and came to the rescue. Among these was Achilles who encountered and slew Cycnus along with countless numbers of others; thus those who had fled were relieved.
[13] But frequent raids by the enemy caused heavy casualties to our side and deeply disturbed our leaders. Therefore, the first thing we decided to do was to attack the cities in the region near Troy with a part of our army and wreak general destruction. We began with the kingdom of Cycnus and plundered the country around it. When, however, we invaded and began to fire the capital, where it was said the sons of Cycnus were being reared, the people, that is, the Neandrienses, offered no resistance and begged us to forbear. Weeping, they prayed on bended knee, by all things human and divine, that their city be spared. They were not, they said, to be blamed for the wicked acts of their evil king; they had been innocent and, after his death, had sided with us. Thus they stirred us to pity and saved their city. We required, however, that they hand over the sons of the king, Cobis and Corianus, along with their sister Glauce. Then we gave the girl to Ajax, in addition to this regular share of the booty, a due reward for his valorous deeds. Soon afterwards the Neandrienses came to the camp and sued for peace; they promised to be our allies and to do whatever we ordered.
When this campaign had been finished, we stormed Cilla but refrained from touching Carene, though it was near. Thus we showed our gratitude for the faithful friendship of the Neandrienses, for they were lords in Carene.
[14] At the same time an oracle of the Pythian god was reported to us. We must, it said, choose Palamedes to offer a sacrifice to the Sminthian Apollo; we must all grant Palamedes this honor. Many of us were happy to obey this oracle, remembering the zeal and love Palamedes had shown throughout the army; but some of the leaders disliked him. Nevertheless, whatever our feelings, we did what was ordered and had Palamedes offer a hundred victims in behalf of all the army. Chryses, Apollo’s priest in this region, presided over the offering.
Meanwhile Alexander, having learned what was happening, gathered a force of armed men and came to prevent the sacrifice. But before he could reach the temple, the two Ajaxes killed a great number of his men and put him to flight.
Chryses (who, as we have said above, was the priest of Sminthian Apollo) feared harm from both armies and pretended to favour those from each side who approached him.
During the sacrifice, Philoctetes, who was standing in the temple near the altar, was suddenly bitten by a serpent. Everyone who saw what had happened raised a shout, and Ulysses rushed forward and slew the serpent. Soon afterwards we sent Philoctetes, with a few other men, to be cured of his poison on Lemnos, for the inhabitants of this island, which was sacred to Vulcan, claimed that their priests were wont to cure cases like his.
[15] During the same time Diomedes and Ulysses devised a plot to kill Palamedes.6 (It is characteristic of human nature to yield to resentments and envy; one does not easily allow oneself to be surpassed by a better.) Accordingly, these two, pretending to have found gold in a well, persuaded Palamedes – they wanted, they said, to share the treasure with him – to be the one to descend. He suspected nothing; and so, when no one else was nearby, they let him down by means of a rope, and then, picking up stones which were lying on around, they quickly stoned him to death. Thus Palamedes, the best of men and the army’s favourite, one whose counsel and courage had never failed, died in a way he ill deserved, treacherously slain by the most unworthy men. There were those who suspected Agamemnon of having shared in this plot, for Palamedes was very popular with the soldiers, most of whom wanted him as their king and openly said that he should be made commander-in-chief. After burning the body, a ceremony which was attended, like a public funeral, by all the Greeks, the ashes were placed in a golden urn.
[16] Meanwhile Achilles suspected that the states bordering on Troy were Trojan allies and, so to speak, a Trojan arsenal. Accordingly, taking some ships, he attacked Lesbos and easily took it by storm. Having slain Phorbas, the king of this island, who had committed many acts of hostility against us, he carried off Diomedea, Phorbas’ daughter, along with much booty. Then, as all of his soldiers demanded it, he attacked the wealthy cities of Scyros and Hierapolis with all of his forces; and these he utterly destroyed without any trouble in a few days. Wherever he went, the country was completely pacified and plundered, and everything was thrown into turmoil; anything that might be helpful to Troy was either overturned or destroyed. The other neighboring peoples, having learned what was happening, flocked to him in peace and promised him half of their crops if he, in return, would leave their fields unharmed. Thus he made treaties with these and exchanged pledges of peace.
After completing this campaign, Achilles returned to camp, a glorious victor bringing much booty. At the same time the king of the Scythians, having learned that our men had arrived, came and brought many gifts.
[17] But Achilles was by no means content with what he had already done. Therefore, he attacked the Cilicians and, within a few days, took Lyrnessos by storm. Having slain Eetion, the king of Lyrnessos, he filled his ships with much wealth and carried Astynome off, the daughter of Chryses and, at that time, Eetion’s wife.
Then Achilles hastened to storm Pedasos, a city of the Leleges. When Brises, the king of the Leleges, saw the fierceness of the siege, he realized that there was no way the enemy could be resisted or his own people sufficiently defended. Despairing of both flight and safety, he returned to his palace and, while everyone else was busy fighting, hanged himself. Soon afterwards the city was taken; many people were killed, and Hippodamia, the daughter of Brises, was carried off.
[18] During the same time, Ajax the son of Telamon made a sweeping attack against the Thracian Chersonese. When Polymestor, the king of this region, learned of Ajax’ prowess in war, he thought it was useless to fight and sought terms of surrender. First, he handed over Priam’s son, Polydorus. (Priam, acting in complete secrecy, had sent this son, soon after birth, across for Polymestor to raise.) Second, he gave gold and other such gifts, enough to satisfy his enemy’s demands. Third, he promised a year’s supply of grain for our entire army and filled the merchant ships Ajax had brought for this purpose. When, finally, he had denounced, with many curses, his treaty with Priam against us, his plea for peace was deemed acceptable.
After completing this campaign, Ajax turned toward the country of the Phrygians. He attacked them and slew their ruler Teuthras7 in single combat. Within a few days he had stormed and fired their city and carried off a great amount of booty, including Tecmessa, the daughter of Teuthras.
[19] Then Achilles and Ajax, coming from different directions, returned to camp at the same time, as if by plan. Having sacked many cities and laid waste to vast regions, they had won great renown for themselves. When the heralds had assembled all the soldiers and leaders, the two returning heroes entered the crowd – not together, but one at a time – and displayed, for everyone to see, the results of all their labors and pains. Seeing what they had brought, we shouted their praises, and crowned them, as they stood in our midst, with wreaths of olive.
In deciding how best to divide the booty, we followed the advice of Nestor and Idomeneus, the most judicious of men. First, from the booty that Achilles had brought, Astynome (the wife of Eetion and the daughter of Chryses, as we said above) was given, by unanimous decision to Agamemnon in view of his kingly office. As for Achilles, he kept Diomedea and also Hippodamia, the daughter of Brises. It would have been cruel to separate these girls, for they were of the same age and from similar backgrounds; furthermore, they had fallen at Achilles’ feet and begged him not to let them be parted. The rest of Achilles’ booty was distributed among the men according to merit.
Then Ajax had Ulysses and Diomedes bring in the booty he had won. Agamemnon was given as much gold and silver as his station demanded. As for Ajax himself, he was allowed to keep Tecmessa, the daughter of Teuthras, a fitting reward for his valorous deeds. The rest of his things were fairly divided, and the grain was apportioned throughout the army.
[20] When he had finished dividing the booty, Ajax told about the treaty he had made with Polymestor, and how Polydorus had been handed over to him. Thereupon we all agreed that Ulysses and Diomedes should go to Priam and, in return for surrendering Polydorus, recover Helen along with the things that had been carried off. While Ulysses and Diomedes were preparing to set out, Menelaus – this was his business – also joined in the mission. Thus these proceeded to Troy, with Polydorus’ fate resting in their hands.8
When the Trojans beheld our envoys and saw that they were men of great renown, they hastened to assemble their elders, that is, those who were wont to hold council. Priam, however, was kept at home by his sons.
At the meeting of the council Menelaus said that now he had come a second time, but for the same reason. He complained about all the wrongs to himself and his house, and especially bewailed the fact that Helen’s absence had made an orphan of his daughter.9 A former friend, he said, a former guest, had done him all these wrongs, and he had ill deserved such treatment. Seeing the depth of his sorrow, the Trojan leaders wept, and agreed with all he had said, as if they themselves shared in his wrongs.
[21] Next, Ulysses stood up in their midst and made a speech of this sort: “Trojan lords, I believe that you know well enough that the Greeks are not accustomed to begin anything rashly or without proper consideration. From earliest times they have planned and labored that praise rather than blame should attend whatever they do. Let me, without going into details, review that previous occasion when I had dealings with you. As soon as Alexander had attacked and insulted the Greeks, we did not yield to temptation and hasten to arms. This, to be sure, is the usual way for fired-up feelings to seek relief. Instead, as you remember, our council sent us, along with Menelaus, as envoys to seek the recovery of Helen. But we got nothing from Priam and his princes, nothing but haughty, threatening words and hidden treacheries. Therefore, with the failure of our mission, it was to be expected, I think, that we should take up arms and obtain by force what we had been unable to get by friendly means. Thus we have assembled an army with many excellent and famous leaders. But not even so have we determined on war. Rather, following our usual custom and showing our usual moderation, we have come again to implore you in the same cause. Trojans, the rest is in your hands. We will not think less of you for correcting your previously ill-advised actions. Consider only what is wise, and make a sound decision.
[22] “I beg you, by the immortal gods, to ponder what will happen if you make a wrong decision. The effect will be a disaster which will spread, like a plague, throughout the world. After this, when anyone is entering into an important negotiation, will he not, remembering Alexander’s crime, find manifold reason for being suspicious and fearing deceit? Friend will fear friend. Who will open his house even to his own brother? Who will not fear a guest or relative as if he were an enemy? Finally, if you make a wrong decision – and certainly I hope you will not – you will destroy every basis for agreement and mutual understanding between barbarians and Greeks. Therefore, Trojan leaders, do what is good and right, be truly friendly and just. Send the Greeks home with everything that was stolen from them. Do not wait until our two kingdoms, in spite of their friendship, actually come to hostilities.
“By Hercules, when I think of your plight, I have pity for you. Though you yourselves are innocent and free from fault, nevertheless you must bow to the lusts of a few; and thus the crime of one man will cause you all to be punished. Surely you must know that the Greeks have attacked the cities nearby that are friendly to you and are planning, day after day, to make new attacks. Our success is shown by Polydorus’ capture. We will give Polydorus to Priam unharmed when Helen, at long last, is returned with everything that was stolen. If this does not happen, there must be immediate war, continuous war, until one side is completely victorious. Either all the Greek leaders, any of whom could cause your city’s destruction, must die or, as I hope, Troy must be captured and fired, and you must become an example of punished impiety for our descendants. I beg you, therefore, I implore you, have foresight, while matters are still in your hands.”
[23] When Ulysses had finished speaking, there was a long silence. Everyone, as often happens, was waiting for someone else to speak, someone better than himself. Finally this silence was broken by Panthus, who said in a loud voice: “Ulysses you are addressing people who are unable to do as they please. We are unable to remedy this situation.”
And next Antenor said: “Since we are wise and prudent men, we grant you everything you say; and if we had the power, we would advise accordingly. But, as you see, others with whom personal greed counts more than the common welfare are in control of our state.”
Then Antenor ordered the leaders of the foreign forces to be introduced: those who had come because of their treaties with Priam, and those who were hired mercenaries.
When these had been introduced, Ulysses made a second speech. They were all, he said, the wickedest men. They were no different from Alexander, who was the worst of criminals, for they had deserted the good and the true to follow him. Each of them knew that if they approved of this terrible crime they would be setting an evil example which, being disseminated especially through the peoples nearby, would serve as a model for similar or even more sorrowful acts.
Then each of the elders silently pondered how terrible might be the results of this horrible crime. Being moved to disgust and shrinking from their own evil example, they went on record, voting in their usual way, that Menelaus had suffered injustice. Only Antimachus, opposing everyone else, voted in Alexander’s behalf. Thereupon they chose two men to go and tell Priam about all that had happened. And these reported, along with the other things they were ordered, also about Polydorus.
[24] When Priam heard this report, he collapsed, utterly dumbfounded, in the presence of all. Soon, however, he got to his feet; those who were standing around helped to revive him. He wanted to go to the council, but the princes made him remain while they themselves went off.
Shortly before they burst into the council, Antimachus had been hurling reproaches against the Greeks. They had shown real effrontery, he said, and the Trojans should detain Menelaus until Polydorus was returned and treat Menelaus exactly as Polydorus was treated.
Everyone was silent to this suggestion with the exception of Antenor, who, using all the powers at his command, tried to prevent the council from such a course. He and Antimachus argued hotly, and finally their passions led them to blows. Then all the others who were present proclaimed Antimachus an unruly, seditious person, and drove him from the council.
[25] As soon as Priam’s sons arrived, Panthus begged Hector (who was believed to be the best of the princes in counsel as well as in courage) to return Helen peacefully, now that the envoys had come to regain her. Alexander, he said, had had time enough to satisfy whatever love he had had for Helen. The Greek kings, they should remember, were in their country and had recently sacked cities which were friendly to Troy. Furthermore, these Greek successes had caused Polymestor willingly to commit the horrible crime of giving the Greeks Polydorus. The Trojans should learn from this example and fear that the neighboring regions might enter into similar schemes and plot the destruction of Troy. Such an attack would catch the Trojans completely off guard; bonds of faith would be broken; treachery would reign everywhere; former pacts would be dashed. Therefore, they in the council should see things as they really were and delay the envoys no longer, but give Helen up. This act of good will would bring about a stronger and closer bond of friendship between the Greeks and the Trojans.
On hearing this, Hector was saddened and wept, remembering his brother’s crime. Nevertheless, he thought that Helen should by no means be given up, for she was a suppliant at his home; good faith intervened, and they must keep her. If, however, the envoys would enumerate the various articles that had been carried off with Helen, all of these things, he thought, should be returned. And, to take Helen’s place, Cassandra or Polyxena, whichever seemed best to the envoys, should be given in marriage to Menelaus along with a handsome dowry.
[26] Menelaus was terribly angered at this and answered as follows: “By Hercules, I am being treated in an excellent manner if I, who have been robbed of my wife, am forced to marry again according to the will of my enemies.”
Then Aeneas replied: “You will not even be granted this favour since I and the other relatives and friends who advise Alexander strongly oppose it. Fortunately there are, and always will be, those who safeguard the house and kingdom of Priam. The loss of Polydorus does not leave Priam bereft of children, for he still ahs many other such sons.
“Do you think that abductions, like that of Helen, should be allowed only thos those who hail from Greece? The Greeks of Crete, as you know, successfully abducted Europa from Sidon and Ganymede from our kingdom. Medea is another example. She, as surely you know, was abducted from Colchis and carried off to Iolchus. And finally, not to omit your very first of abductions, Io was stolen from Sidon and taken to Argos.
“Up to this time we have merely been bandying words. Now, however, unless you flee our land within a reasonable time, and take your fleet, soon, very soon, you will be tasting Trojan valor and courage. Troy ahs more than enough young men who are ready for battle, and every day new allies are coming.”
When Aeneas had finished this speech, Ulysses said calmly: “Then, by Hercules, there is no need for you to put off hostilities any longer. Give the signal for war and, as you were the first to commit injustice, be also the first to begin the battle. Only provoke us and we will follow suit.”
After this exchange of taunts the envoys left the council and departed from Troy.
As soon as the Trojan people learned how Aeneas had answered the envoys, they raised a huge tumult. Aeneas, they thought, was without a doubt a diplomat of the very worst sort; he was the reason why Priam’s kingdom was hated and Priam’s whole house was headed for ruin.
[27] The envoys, having returned to camp, told all our leaders what the Trojans had said and done to oppose them. Thereupon we determined to kill Polydorus within view of the wall where all the Trojans could easily see what was done. Delaying no further, we led him into the center and stoned him to death in payment for his brother’s impiety, while most of the enemy watched from the walls. Then we sent a herald to tell the Trojans to come and get the body for burial. Idaeus came and, with the help of some slaves of the king, took Polydorus, mangled and torn by the stones, back to his mother, Hecuba.
Meanwhile Ajax the son of Telamon, in order to keep the enemy riled, attacked the regions nearby that were friendly to Troy. He captured Pitya and Zelia, notoriously wealthy cities, and, not being content with these, laid waste Gargarum, Arisba, Gergitha, Scepsis, and Larissa with marvellous swiftness. Then, having learned from the inhabitants that there were many herds of all sorts being grazed on Mount Ida, since all of his soldiers demanded it, he quickly attacked the mountain and, after killing the herdsmen, drove a large number of cattle away. Then no one opposed him; everyone fled wherever he went; and so, when the time seemed right, he returned to camp, laden with booty.
[28] At the same time Chryses (who was the priest of the Sminthian Apollo, as we have said above), having learned that his daughter, Astynome, was with Agamemnon, came to the ships, trusting in the power of his awesome religion.10 He brought with him a statue of the god and certain ornaments of the temple, hoping thereby the ore easily to remind the kings of the god, and inspire them with awe. Praying for the release of his daughter, he offered gifts of gold and silver, countless ransom. We must, he implored, honor the presence of the god: Apollo was there, begging us in his behalf. Furthermore, because he had recently officiated at our sacrifice, he had incurred the enmity of Alexander and his brothers, who were daily plotting against him.
On hearing his plea, we all thought that the girl should be returned. Nor should we accept any ransom. We owed this to Chryses, not only because of his personal faithfulness to us but, what mattered more, because of his office as priest of Apollo. Having seen many evidences of Apollo’s power and having learned of his popularity in the region nearby, we had made up our minds to serve this god devoutly.
[29] When Agamemnon saw what was happening, he proceeded to take a stand opposite to that of everyone else. Scowling blackly and threatening death, he ordered the priest not to return. Accordingly, the old man departed, terrified and fearing for his life, his mission a failure.
When our assembly broke up, our leaders approached Agamemnon, one at a time, and taunted him with his manifold wickedness. Because of his love for a captive girl, he had treated his men, that is, themselves, with contempt and, what seemed a thing most shameful, had scorned a very powerful god.
When all had reviled him, they went away, thinking how he had shared in the plot by which Diomedes and Ulysses had treacherously slain Palamedes, the army’s favourite. Achilles openly, in everyone’s presence, abused both Agamemnon and Menelaus.
[30] Chryses, after Agamemnon had sent him away unjustly, returned to his home. And several days later a terrible plague invaded our army. Whether this was due to the wrath of Apollo, as everyone thought, or to some other cause, was uncertain. The disease attacked the cattle first and then, as it gradually gained momentum, spread among the men, a great number of whom suffered unspeakable deaths, their bodies slowly wasting away. Except for our leaders (the kings), none of whom died or was even attacked, the plague knew no bounds, and every day saw more men dying. Accordingly, our leaders, each of whom was afraid for himself, foregathered, and ordered Calchas (we have told about his knowledge of the future) to proclaim the cause of this terrible evil.
Although he admitted that he was able to do as they wished, he said that he was by no means free to speak out, for fear he would incur a most powerful king’s displeasure. Thereupon Achilles forced all of our kings to swear that they would not be offended, no matter what Calchas might say.
Thus Calchas, feeling that everyone was favourably disposed, announced that the wrath of Apollo was the cause of the plague. Apollo, he said, was angry because of the unjust way we had treated his priest and was therefore exacting punishment from our army. When Achilles asked what we must do to bring an end to the plague, the prophet said: “Restore the girl!”
[31] Then Agamemnon, though he foresaw what was going to happen, said nothing but withdrew from the council and commanded everyone in his contingent prepare for war. Achilles, on noticing this, being stirred to wrath and likewise vexed by the horrible way our men were dying, ordered that the bodies of everyone whom the plague had destroyed be collected and thrown out in the assembly for all to see. This was a sight which quickly moved all our leaders and men to desert Agamemnon unless he repented. Agamemnon, however, when he heard about this, obstinately held to his first decision and refused to yield in the least. It is uncertain whether his inflexibility was due to his naturally stubborn characters or to his love for the captive girl.
[32] The Trojans, looking from their walls, saw the many pyres of our dead burning continuously. They also were informed that those of us who were left were growing weak as the plague proceeded to rage. Accordingly, exhorting each other and taking up arms, they rushed from the gates along with their allies and made an attack. Their forces were arranged in the plain in two divisions: Hector was leading the Trojans, Sarpedon the allies.
When we saw them ready for attack, we armed ourselves and, forming an unbroken line of defense, drew up our forces to meet them. Achilles and Antilochus led our right wing; Ajax the son of Telamon and Diomedes led the left; and the other Ajax and Idomeneus, my leader, led the center.
Then the two armies, drawn up in this way, advanced to attack. As soon as they had come within striking distance, everyone raised the war cry and joined in the battle. The conflict lasted some time, and the casualties on both sides were heavy. Hector and Sarpedon were the outstanding leaders among the barbarians; Diomedes and Menelaus shone among the Greeks. Finally night brought an end to the battle and rest to the armies. Then both sides, withdrawing, cremated and buried their dead.
[33] Now the Greeks were on the point of making Achilles commander-in-chief, for he was the one, so we thought, who seemed most troubled by our misfortunes. And this caused Agamemnon to fear he might lose his glorious position.
Speaking in the council, he said that he was deeply concerned for the welfare of the army and that Astynome, without any further delay, should be returned to her father, especially if thus we would rid ourselves of the plague. He asked only to be given Hippodamia, the bond-maid of Achilles, to take the place of the prize he was losing.
Although everyone thought his request was mean and dishonorable, nevertheless we were moved to grant it. As for Achilles, to whom Hippodamia had been given because of his many marvellous deeds, he showed no signs of his feelings; so great was the love and concern for our army in the heart of this excellent youth.
Thus Agamemnon was flouting everyone’s wishes, but since no one openly opposed him, he thought that he had our unanimous approval. Accordingly, he ordered attendants to fetch Hippodamia; and they were prompt to obey.
At the same time we had Diomedes and Ulysses take Astynome, along with a great number of sacrificial victims, across to the shrine of Apollo. When these had completed the sacrifice, the force of the plague gradually seemed to abate. People were no longer becoming ill, and those who were already inflicted seemed to improve, as if their prayers had been divinely answered. Thus within a short time our entire army regained its usual strength and vigor.
During this period we also sent Philoctetes’ share of the booty across to Lemnos, where he was. This was the booty which Ajax and Achilles had won and which we had divided equally.
[34] Achilles, having (as we have described) been treated unjustly, stayed away from our councils. He hated Agamemnon especially; and now his love for the rest of the Greeks was also dead, since they had been silent when he had been robbed of Hippodamia, the reward which his many victories and many brave deeds had earned him. He refused to see any of the leaders who came to visit. Nor would he forgive any of his friends for having deserted him when they might have defended him against Agamemnon’s outrageous action. He preferred to stay in his hut with only Patroclus, his closest friend, and Phoenix, his wise teacher, and Automedon, his charioteer.
[35] Meanwhile, at Troy, the allies and mercenaries who had come to help the Trojans began to mutiny. They were probably motivated either by boredom from spending a long time there to no purpose or by longing for those they had left behind in their homelands. Hector, noticing this, felt forced to call his troops to arms; they must be ready to follow whenever he signalled. Then, having been informed that the time looked favourable and that his men were in arms, he ordered them all to go forth, he himself taking command and leading the way.
This seems a good place to list the kings of the allied forces (those who were bound to the Trojans by treaties) and also of the mercenary forces (those who, coming from various regions, were serving Priam’s sons for pay).11 The first to rush from the gates was Pandarus, the son of Lycaon, from Lycia; then Hippothous and Pylaeus, the sons of Lethus,12 from Pelasgian Larissa; then Acamas and Pirus13 from Thrace; then Euphemus, the son of Troezenus, who led the Ciconians; Pylaemenes, the boasting Paphlagonian, whose father was Melius; Odius and Epistrophus, the sons of Minuus, who led the Alizonians; Sarpedon, the son of Xanthus, who led the Lycians, from Solymum; Nastes and Amphimachus, the sons of Nomion, from Caria; Antiphus and Mesthles, the sons of Talaemenes, from Maeonia; Glaucus, the son of Hippolochus, from Lycia, whom Sarpedon had summoned to share the command because he surpassed all other Lycians in counsel and arms; Phorcys and Ascanius from Phrygia; Chromius and Ennomus, who were Mygdonians, from Mysia; Pyraechmes, the son of Axius, from Paeonia; Amphius and Adrastus, the sons of Merops, from Adrestia; Asius, the son of Hyrtacus, from Sestos; and then the other Asius, the son of Dymas and the brother of Hecuba, from Phrygia. Many men followed each of the leaders we have listed; their different customs and different languages caused them to fight in disorder and turmoil.
[36] When our men saw what was happening, we proceeded onto the plain and drew up our forces in battle array. Menestheus, the Athenian, who was in charge of our deployment, set us in order, according to our different clans and regions. Only Achilles and his Myrmidons stayed behind. Achilles continued to be angry with Agamemnon for unjustly depriving him of Hippodamia; also the fact that Agamemnon had not invited him to dinner along with the other leaders seemed insulting to him.14 When our army had been drawn up, we were facing the full force of the enemy for the first time. But neither side dared to begin; both held their ground for a while and then retreated at signals given as if by common consent.
[37] Having returned to the ships, we put down our arms and prepared to enjoy our dinners as usual. We were relaxing, fearing no trouble, when Achilles tried to catch us off guard. There were, however, guards who got wind of his plans and told Ulysses. And Ulysses, running around to all the leaders, exhorted and warned them, shouting that Achilles was going to attack. They must, he said, be ready; they must be armed. A great commotion arose, with everyone rushing to arms and striving to save himself. Thus Achilles’ plot was disclosed, and he, being foiled, returned to his hut, despairing of any success against our alerted army.
Then our leaders, fearing that this sudden commotion might cause the Trojans to make a new attack, increased the number of the advanced guard. The two Ajaxes, Diomedes, and Ulysses were sent forth. They took up positions where they thought – quite rightly, as it happened – that the enemy would be most likely to come.
Hector, desiring to learn the reason for the uproar in the camp of the Greeks,15 had persuaded Dolon, the son of Eumedes, with promises of a huge a reward, to go and spy. While Dolon, trying to fulfil his mission, was eagerly gathering information, he fell into Diomedes’ hands. Diomedes and also Ulysses, who were guarding the area near the ships, made him tell whatever he knew. Then they killed him.
[38] Several days passed without any outbreak of hostilities. Then Greeks and Trojans prepared to lead their armies onto the plain between Troy and the ships. When everything seemed ready for battle, both sides, in full force, cautiously advanced. At given signals the front lines clashed in dense formation. The Greeks fought in good battle order, everyone following the commands of the leader in charge of his division. The barbarians, however, rushed on without any order or discipline. Nevertheless, many on both sides fell in this battle. There was no retreating; everyone attacked and strove to rival the valor of the heroes fighting around him. Among the barbarian leaders who were seriously wounded and forced to withdraw from the battle were Aeneas, Sarpedon, Glaucus, Helenus, Euphorbus, and Polydamas. Among those on our side who were similarly afflicted were Ulysses, Meriones, and Eumelus.
[39] Menelaus happened to catch sight of Alexander and rushed, with all his might, to meet him. Alexander, however, not daring to stay where he was, soon took to flight and escaped. But Hector, having noticed this from a distance, ran forward, along with Deiphobus, and caused Alexander to halt. They reproached him bitterly and finally persuaded him to go out between the battle lines and, when everyone else had grown quiet, challenge Menelaus to single combat.
Thus these brought Alexander back into battle; and he (apparently this was the way to make a challenge) went out in front of the Trojan line. Menelaus, noticing this from a distance, felt that at long last he was being given an opportunity to attack the man he most hated. Right here and now, he thought, Alexander is going to pay with his life for all his crimes. And so he rushed against him again. Signals were given, and everybody on both sides drew back as they saw these two rushing head-on, armed and eager to fight.
[40] Soon the two fighters, taking full strides, had advanced to where they could use their spears. Alexander, hoping to get the start and wound Menelaus, was the first to make a cast. His spear, however, struck against Menelaus’ shield, and thus was deflected. Then Menelaus, throwing with all his might, met, alas, with the same result – his spear stuck in the earth; Alexander had been on his guard and dodged the blow. But soon they were armed with new spears, and the fight was on again. Finally, Alexander fell, wounded in the thigh; and Menelaus, hoping to take complete vengeance and win greatest glory, rushed forward to kill him. But Pandarus, committing an act of the blackest treachery by shooting his bow from a hidden spot, wounded Menelaus and caused him to halt. This stirred our men to wrath, and they raised a huge cry, feeling cheated because the Trojans had ended the fight in this treacherous way, especially this fight between the two men who had cause the whole war. During this general confusion, a group of barbarians rushed in and saved Alexander from danger.
[41] At the same time, Pandarus was taking advantage of our irresolution. Standing at a distance, he was finding many of our men with his arrows. He continued his slaughtering until Diomedes, stirred by this barbarous action, advanced upon him and cut him down at close quarters. Thus Pandarus, who had killed many men in violation of the treaty (that is, the agreement according to which Menelaus and Alexander should fight), paid with his life for his heinous method of fighting. His body was carried from the battle and duly cremated by Priam’s sons; the ashes were given to his companions to take to Lycia for burial in his native soil.
Meanwhile the two armies had given the signal for battle and joined combat. They fought until sundown with all their might, but neither side could claim a victory. With the coming of night, the commander-in-chief withdrew their forces a short distance and posted sufficient guards along the facing battle lines.
They kept their men fully armed in these positions and waited for an opportunity to make a successful attack. But this opportunity never came, for winter began to set in, soaking the battlefield with frequent rains. The barbarians retreated within their walls, and our men, left with no enemy to fight, returned to the ships and took up winter duties. Dividing the portion of the plain that was unfit for battle into two parts, they cultivated the soil and grew whatever crops the time of year permitted.
During the same period, Ajax, the son of Telamon, with a force consisting of his own men and some from the army of Achilles, made an attack against Phrygia, capturing cities and causing general destruction. Within a few days, he returned to camp, victorious laden with booty.
[42] Just before his arrival, the barbarians made a sneak attack upon our men, who were relaxing in winter quarters and suspected no hostilities. Hector, the instigator of this rash expedition, was chosen as leader. At daybreak, after calling all of his men to arms, he led them through the gates, with orders to move at double-time straight for the ships, and fall upon us. Our forces which were scattered hither and yon, were caught off guard. The flight of those who were attacked first increased the confusion of the others and made it difficult for them to arm. A great slaughter ensued. As soon as our men in the center gave way, Hector was at the ship, raging with firebrands and setting fire to the prows. None of us dared to oppose him. Our unforeseen plight frightened us almost to death, and we begged Achilles for help; but even now he refused. How suddenly and radically the spirit had changed in us and our enemies!
[43] But when Ajax the son of Telamon returned and learned where Hector was at the ships, he presented himself at this spot, dressed in his marvellous armor. There hew as, streaming with sweat, his great bulk pressing against the enemy, as he drove them away from the ships and thrust them outside the rampart. The more they retreated, the more he pressed his attack.
Hector, however, stood his ground – too bold for his own good, for Ajax struck him with a huge rock and sent him sprawling. Then, from every direction, a large number of Trojans rushed up and, crowding around, rescued Hector out of the battle and carried him into the city, a hero half dead, his expedition a failure.
Ajax, being thus deprived of honor and glory, was all the more savage. Accompanied by Diomedes, Idomeneus, and the other Ajax, he pursued the Trojans, who fled pell-mell in terror. He was using his spear to hit those in the distance, his shield to crush those he met at close quarters. No on in that part of the battlefield escaped without wounds. Glaucus, the son of Hippolochus, Sarpedon, and Asteropaeus tried to stem their fearful route but, after briefly resisting, soon gave way, seriously wounded. The loss of these leaders caused the barbarians to lose all hope and, breaking ranks, they rushed for the gates in confusion. The passageway, however, was too narrow for the great number of men who tried to enter; they stumbled and fell, like a landslide, over each other. Ajax and the Greeks we just mentioned were soon upon them, and great numbers of barbarians, being terrified and confused, were cut down and killed. Among those who were slain were the sons of Priam, Antiphus and Polites, Pammon and Mestor, and the son of Troezenus, Euphemus, the Ciconians’ glorious leader.
[44] Thus the arrival of Ajax caused the fortunes of war to change; the Trojans, until then victorious, lost their leaders, and were forced to pay for their ill-considered aggression. When evening came and the signal was given for retreat, our men returned to the ships, rejoicing in victory.
Then Agamemnon gave a dinner in honor of Ajax, at which time he praised this hero most highly and gave him beautiful gifts. Our other leaders, too, praised the courage of Ajax. No one was silent. They told of his valorous deeds, how he had captured and plundered many Phrygian cities, and how he had fought with Hector at the very ships, a battle to be remembered, and freed the ships from fire. There was no one who doubted that at that time, because of his many excellent and glorious deeds, all of our hopes for a successful campaign rested with him.
Within a short time Epeus repaired the two ships that had caught fire; only their prows had been destroyed.
Then the Greeks free to relax without fear, thinking that the Trojans, in view of the attack that had recently failed, would refrain from another attempt.
[45] During this time Rhesus, the son of Eion, arrived with a large army of Thracians; he had had some dealings with Priam who had promised him pay for his aid. On the day of his arrival, he waited until nightfall on the peninsula which adjoined his kingdom in Thrace. Then, about the time of the second watch, he advanced onto the Trojan plain, spread out his tents, and set up camp.
Diomedes and Ulysses, who were guarding this sector, having noticed the commotion from afar, thought that Priam was sending some Trojan on a reconnaissance mission. Accordingly, they seized their arms and, moving stealthily and looking all around as they went, soon arrived at the spot. There they discovered the Thracian guards, who, being wearied by their long journey, had fallen asleep. After killing these, they entered Rhesus’ tent and slew the king himself. They were, however, afraid to press their luck any further, and so returned to the ships, taking along Rhesus’ chariot and richly caparisoned horses. Then, having gone to their huts, they slept for the rest of the night.
At daybreak they went to all of our leaders and told about their successful adventure. The consensus was that the death of Rhesus would anger the Thracians and that they would make an attack. Therefore, everyone was ordered to stand by his arms and be ready for battle.
[46] We had not long to wait, for the Thracians, when they awoke, discovered that their king had been foully slain within his tent and saw the tell-tale traces the stolen chariot had left. Immediately, undisciplined and disorganized bands of men began rushing toward the ships. As soon as our men caught sight of the Thracians, they advanced, following their leader’s commands, in a solid front. The two Ajaxes led the way; they were the first to meet and slay the enemy. Then our other leaders, in their various positions, cut down those who opposed them. Sometimes several of them united their strength to break the power of the attacking bands, and thus they slaughtered them, scattered and leaderless; no one survived.
As soon as these attackers had been wiped out, our men, obeying the signal to advance, hastened to the Thracian tents. The only Thracians still alive were those who had been left to guard the camp. When these saw our men advancing, they were terrified and, abandoning everything, fled to the walls for safety. It was really pathetic. Our men moved in from all sides and seized the armor, horses, and royal wealth that fate had kindly left us.
[47] Thereupon, with Rhesus and his Thracians completely destroyed, our forces returned to the ships, victoriously laden with booty. Meanwhile the Trojans were frightened, as they watched from their battlements, but to no avail for their ally, and stayed within their walls. Their spirits broken by recent reverses, they sent us envoys begging for peace. And thus a treaty was made which both sides, making due sacrifice, swore to uphold.
At about the same time, Chryses (who was the priest of the Sminthian Apollo, as we have said above) came to the Greeks to thank them for returning his daughter, Astynome. Because of this kindness, and because he knew that his daughter had been properly treated, he was now bringing her back for Agamemnon to have.
The next event was the return of Philoctetes from Lemnos, along with those who had gone to take him his share of the booty. He was still rather sick and walked with difficulty.
[48] Then our leaders held a meeting of the council, at which Ajax the son of Telamon, having gone to the center, delivered a speech. He advised us to send suppliants to Achilles to beg him, on behalf of the officers and common soldiers, to give up his wrath and resume his position of honor among us. We should, he felt, act now, for now, in view of our recent victory and the favourable treaty we had made, we would be seeking him out, not because of our need, but merely to honor him as he deserved; we wanted him with us, simply because of his greatness. Furthermore, Ajax implored, Agamemnon should show his willingness to be reconciled with Achilles. In their present circumstances, fighting, as they were, this terrible war in a far-off country, everyone should think only of the common cause.
When he had finished speaking, all of our leaders agreed unanimously with what he had said and praised him to the skies. He was, they said, not only stronger but also more intelligent than anyone else.
Then Agamemnon told how he had already sent many suppliants to try to reconcile Achilles. There was nothing he would more desire. Accordingly, he asked Ajax (whose relationship with Achilles should add to his persuasiveness) and Ulysses to undertake this mission and go to Achilles in behalf of them all. Ajax and Ulysses promised to do what they could. And Diomedes offered to go along too.
[49] Thereupon Agamemnon ordered two attendants to bring a sacrificial victim. These brought the victim and held it above the ground while he, drawing his sword, cut it in half; the pieces fell to earth where all could see. This done, he walked through the middle, smearing his sword with blood. It was at this time that Patroclus, who had learned that the council was meeting, arrived. When Agamemnon had passed through the sacrifice, he swore that he had never violated Hippodamia; he had never been prone to lust or sensual pleasures; it was, rather, his inability to control his temper that had caused him countless troubles and brought him to this pass. Now he wanted to make the following offer: he would give Achilles one of his daughters to marry, whichever one he desired, besides a tenth of all his kingdom and fifty talents as dowry.
Those at the council, on hearing this, were amazed at his magnanimity. Patroclus was especially impressed by the offer of so much wealth, and he was also happy that Hippodamia had not been violated. Thus he returned to Achilles and told him all that had happened at the council.
[50] Achilles was pondering Agamemnon’s offer, trying to decide what he should do, when Ajax and the other leaders entered his hut. He received them hospitably and offered them seats.
Ajax, having taken the seat that was next to Achilles, began, when the time seemed right, to chide and admonish him. Since they were relatives, he could speak more freely than the others. He blamed Achilles for nursing his wrath when many of his friends and most of his relatives – they, his people, were in serious danger – were begging him to relent.
Ulysses was next to speak. First, he said that the gods were to blame for what had happened so far. Then he told about the meeting of the council, about the promises Agamemnon had made and the oath Agamemnon had taken. Finally, urging Achilles not to scorn the prayers of the Greeks and not to spurn such a marriage, he ended by listing all of the dowry that Agamemnon was offering.
[51] Then Achilles, in a long speech, began by expounding upon his deeds and accomplishments, reminding them of the many labors he had borne for the common good, of the cities he had stormed. While everyone else was relaxing, he had spent his days and nights anxiously and zealously committed to war, sparing neither himself nor his soldiers; and furthermore, he had allowed the booty he had carried off to be distributed among the entire army. In return for these services, he had received the unique honor of being deprived of his just reward. Only he had been treated with such contempt, such dishonour, for he had been robbed of Hippodamia, his prize, the symbol of his success. Agamemnon was not entirely to blame. What was even worse, all the other Greek leaders, forgetful of past kindnesses, had, by keeping silent, ignored the fact that he was being insulted.
When Achilles had finished speaking, Diomedes said: “What is past is past, and a wise man does not dwell upon it. Try as you may, you can not call it back.”
Meanwhile Phoenix and Patroclus were standing around Achilles in the position of suppliants, taking hold of his knees and, without restraint, kissing his hands and face, begging him to give up his wrath and return to his place of honor. Do this, they said, not so much for these representatives but, as is right, for all of the army.
[52] Finally Achilles yielded.16 He would do what they wanted. The sight of the representatives, the prayers of his closest friends, and the realization that the army was not to blame made him change his mind.
Then for the first time after his wrath, at the suggestion of Ajax, Achilles went to a meeting of the council. Agamemnon greeted him in a royal manner, and the other leaders were happy to welcome him back. On every side there was joy, unbounded joy. And then Agamemnon, taking Achilles by the hand, led him off, along with the other leaders, to dinner.
A little later, during the dinner, when they were enjoying themselves, Agamemnon commanded Patroclus to take Hippodamia to Achilles’ hut, and also the jewelry he had given to her. This was an order Patroclus was glad to obey.
During this winter, Greeks and Trojans mingled in the grove of the Thymbraean Apollo.17 They went freely, whether singly or in groups, without any fear of each other.
1. Diomedes’ father, Tydeus, had helped Polynices gather an army for the attack against Thebes. See Iliad 4.376-379.
2. Telephus, whose real father was Hercules, was, according to Apollod. 3.9.1, Teuthras’ adopted son. Compare Dares 16.
3. According to Euripides (Heracleidae 210-211), Hercules’ mother, Alcmene, was the daughter of Pelops.
4. According to Euripides (Iphigenia at Aulis 94-414), Menelaus persuaded Agamemnon to sacrifice Iphigenia, and prevented him from countermanding the letter by which she had been summoned to Aulis.
5. This section provides two different guides for the Greeks: the Scythians and Telephus. Furthermore, the part about Telephus seems inconsistent with earlier sections. Previously Telephus refused to help the Greeks because of his relationship with Priam (Dictys 2.5); and Machaon and Podalirius had already bound his wound (Dictys 2.6).
6. Dictys differs from all other accounts of how Palamedes was slain. For instance, in the Cypria (fragment 19, p. 505), Palamedes is drowned – he had gone out fishing – by Diomedes and Ulysses.
7. This Teuthras is not to be confused with the father of Teuthranius (Dictys 2.3).
8. This embassy (Dictys 2.20-26) is the one to which Homer refers: Ulysses makes the main speech (compare Iliad 3.204-224), and Antimachus urges that Menelaus should not be allowed to return to the Greek camp (compare Iliad 11.122-142). In the earlier embassy Palamedes mad the main speech. See Dictys 1.4 (end), 6, and 10 (middle)-11.
9. The daughter of Menelaus and Helen is Hermione (Dictys 6.4).
10. Sections 2.28-4.1 cover the events described in the Iliad.
11.This list is taken for the most part from Homer’s catalogue of Trojan allies in Iliad 2.824-877.
12. The text, which is corrupt here, has been emended to agree with Iliad 2.842-843.
13. There is a lacuna in the text between “Acamas” and “Pirus.”
14. According to Aristotle (Rhetoric 2.24), Achilles was terribly angry with the Greeks on Tenedos because he had not been invited to dinner.
15. According to Euripides (Rhesus 41-146), Hector sent Dolon to find out why the Greeks had lit their fires and gathered, in an uproar, around Agamemnon’s hut. Compare Iliad 10.
16. How different is this Achilles from the Achilles of Iliad 9!
17. The temple of the Thymbraean Apollo was located in a grove east of Troy where the Thymbrius River emptied into the Scamander. See Strabo Geography 13.1.35.
BOOK 3 "The Iliad"
[1] Both Greeks and Trojans kept the truce and refrained from hostilities throughout the whole winter. The Greeks took advantage of the break and spent all their time and energies preparing for battle. They would assemble in front of the rampart, under their various leaders, each in the contingent that practiced his specialty. One group would practice throwing the spear, using, as a rule, pikes of exactly the right weight and length, or else pointed stakes. Others would practice hurling the sling or shooting the bow. Among those excelling in archery were Ulysses, Teucer, Meriones, Epeus, and Menelaus; but Philoctetes was the best: he owned the bow of Hercules, and always hit the mark with amazing skill.
The Trojans and their allies were, in comparison with the Greeks, almost carefree. They feared no treachery, and therefore neglected their military duties, spending their time making frequent sacrifices to the Thymbraean Apollo.
At about the same time they were informed that almost all the cities of Asia had turned against Priam and were breaking off diplomatic relations with Troy. These cities blamed Priam for upholding Alexander’s cause: he was setting a bad example which would undermine the laws of friendship in their region. Also, they were well aware that the Greeks had won all their battles to date and had conquered many of the neighboring cities. Last but not least, they hated Priam’s sons and Priam’s kindom.
[2] One day, at Troy, when Hecuba was praying to Apollo, Achilles and a few of his men came to watch the religious ceremonies. Many other women were there besides Hecuba: her daughters-in-law, for instance, and the wives of the leading Trojans; some of these, in pure devotion to their queen, attended upon her, while others, pretending to be so devoted, had really come to pray for something for themselves. There were also the daughters of Hecuba, Polyxena and Cassandra, as yet unmarried. They were the priestesses of Minerva and Apollo. Their hair was dishevelled, their fillets strange and barbarous. Polyxena was the one who set them to these duties.
When Achilles by chance turned his gaze on Polyxena, he was struck by the beauty of the girl. The longer he remained there, the deeper his passion grew. Finding no relief, he returned to the ships and, after several days of increasing torment, sent for Automedon and laid bare his heart. Automedon, he finally begged, must go to Hector and plead his suit for the girl.
As for Hector, he, to be sure, would give him his sister to marry if he would betray the whole army to him.
[3] Accordingly, Achilles promised that he would bring the whole war to an end if Polyxena were given to him. Then Hector said that Achilles must either swear an oath to this betrayal or kill the sons of Plisthenes and Ajax; and that otherwise he was going to hear of no agreement.
Achilles, on hearing this, became terribly angry and shouted that, in the first battle, as soon as fighting was resumed, he was going to kill Hector. Then, his heart being wounded by his violent emotion, he wandered around, now here, now there; sometimes, nevertheless, he considered how far he should go in meeting Hector’s demands.
But when Automedon saw how violently he was disturbed and that, as the days went by, he was becoming more and more distraught with longing, and spending the nights outside his hut, he feared that Achilles might harm himself or the leaders mentioned above, and thus he revealed the whole matter to Patroclus and Ajax. These kept a careful watch on their friend, without letting no that they knew anything.
As it happened, in time Achilles came to his senses. Having summoned Agamemnon and Menelaus, he told them about his love for Polyxena and about his dealings with Hector. Then everyone tried to console him by pointing out that the girl would be his soon enough, for, before very long, force would succeed where entreaty had failed.
What they said seemed reasonable, since the fall of Troy was already imminent: all the cities of Asia had broken off diplomatic relations with Priam and had willingly offered their aid and alliance to us. Our leaders had answered politely: Our present forces were quite sufficient, and we had no need of auxiliaries; though, to be sure, we willingly accepted the friendship they offered, and their good will would be pleasing to us. This we said, no doubt, because their fait was not to be trusted, their courage was too little tested, and their sudden change of allegiance was probably made with guile.
[4] Winter came to an end, with the beginning of spring, both Greeks and Trojans were ready for war. They called their forces to arms and, giving the signal, led them onto the plain. When they had advanced, in formation, close enough to use their spears, they raised the war cry and joined in battle. The cavalry on both sides held the center and were therefore first to clash: the kings ascended their chariots and entered the fray, each beside the charioteer he had chosen to guide his horses.
Diomedes was in the van. Bearing down upon Pyraechmes, the king of the Paeonians, he slew him with a spear-thrust in the face. The retainers of Pyraechmes, men he had chosen because of their courage, banded together and tried to resist. But Diomedes, riding through their midst at full gallop, ran some of them down with his chariot and put the others to flight with his spear.
Then Idomeneus (Meriones was his charioteer) killed Acamas, the king of the Thracians. Thrusting him out of his chariot, he caught him, as he fell, on the tip of his spear.
When Hector, who was fighting in another part of the plain, heard that the Trojan horsemen in the center were fleeing, he ran to their rescue, leaving his command in the hands of worthy fighters, and taking along Glaucus, Deiphobus, and Polydamas. Without a doubt, the Trojans in the center would have been completely destroyed if Hector had not arrived and checked their flight. Now we were no longer able to mop them up, our offensive was dead; nevertheless, we held our ground and refused to retreat before Hector and the other recent arrivals.
[5] Soon new of this battle spread throughout the army, and the other leaders, having entrusted their positions to worthy subordinates, rushed toward the center. The battle lines, on both sides, were closed up, and the battle was renewed. Hector felt greatly encouraged, seeing that a large number of Trojans were present and thinking himself sufficiently safe. Then he urged on his men to fight with more daring, shouting in a loud voice and calling them each by name; and he himself entered the battle and wounded the two brave leaders of the Elians, Diores and Polyxenus.
As soon as Achilles saw Hector attacking like this, he came to the aid of the embattled Greeks, his spirit moved by the thought of how Hector had rejected his suit for Polyxena. He was forced, however, to stop in mid-course and slay Pylaemenes, the king of the Paphlagonians, who stood in his way. Pylaemenes, so they say, claimed to be related to Priam though Phineus, the son of Agenor, for Phineus’ daughter Olizone, on coming of age, had been married to Dardanus.1
[6] Then Achilles continued his raging drive against Hector, but Hector, who knew very well how hateful he was to Achilles, refused to stay where he was and, mounting his chariot, fled from the battle. Achilles pursued as far as the enemy lines and, throwing his spear, mortally wounded Hector’s charioteer, after Hector had abandoned his horses and escaped to another sector. Achilles was terribly vexed when he thought how the man he most hated had eluded his grasp. After extracting his spear from the charioteer, he raged all the more violently, slaying all who opposed him, trampling, as he advanced, over the daed.
The Trojans fled, terrified, until Helenus, who had found a distant hiding place from which to shoot his arrow, put an end to Achilles’ attack. Achilles was caught off guard. His hand was hit, and thus the great champion of the Greeks, he who had caused Hector to flee in fear, he who had slain many men and their leaders, was forced from the field, treacherously wounded.
[7] Meanwhile Agamemnon and the two Ajaxes, amidst their general slaughter of insignificant opponents, caught and slew many of Priam’s sons. Agamemnon slew Aesacus and Deiopites and also Archemachus, Laudocus, and Philenor. THe Ajazes – both the son of Oileus and the Telamonian Ajax – slew Mylius, Astynous, Doryclus, Hippothous, and Hippodamas.
In another part of the field Patroclus and Sarpedon the Lycian had withdrawn from their men and were trying to protect the flanks of their respective armies. Driving out beyond the battle lines, they challenged each other to fight in single combat. First, they threw their spears, but neither hit the mark. Then, leaping from their chariots and drawing their swords, they came face to face and fought for much of the day, exchanging blows fast and furious, but neither could wound the other. Finally, Patroclus, realizing that he must act with greater boldness, crouched behind the protection of his shield and came to close quarters. With his right hand he dealt Sarpedon a crippling blow along the back sinews of the leg and then, pressing his body against him – Sarpedon was faint and beginning to totter – pushed him over and finished him off as he fell.
[8] The Trojans, seeing what had happened, cried aloud and abandoned their battle formation, and, at a given signal, made a concerted attack against Patroclus. They felt, no doubt, that Sarpedon’s death was a general disaster for their side. Patroclus, however, had seen the enemy coming. Protected by his armor and holding a spear he had snatched from the ground, he resisted more boldly. He slew Gorgythion and drove of Deiphobus, Gorgythion’s brother, wounding him in the leg with his spear. Soon afterwards Ajax arrived and put the other Trojans to flight.
At about he same time Hector, who had also learned what was happening, came to the rescue. He rebuked the Trojan officers and stopped most of the men from retreating. He mad them turn and resume, for the time, their battle formation. Thus by his presence he restored the spirits of his people and caused the battle to be renewed. The battle lines clashed, both sides being inspired by marvelous leaders. Now these were attacking, now those. Wherever the lines seemed about to give way, reinforcements came up. Meanwhile both armies were losing great numbers of men, and victory was favoring neither. When evening came, after a long and increasingly wearisome day of intensive fighting, the soldiers on both sides were glad to depart from the battle.
[9] Then Troy was filled with cries of grief. All the Trojans, especially the women, were weeping and wailing around the body of Sarpedon. They felt that no other disaster, however bitter, could be compared with this, not even the deaths of Priam’s sons. They had believed in Sarpedon. They had hoped that he would protect them. But now their hopes were dashed.
The Greeks, for their part, returning to camp, immediately went to Achilles. After inquiring about his wound and learning, to their joy, that he was not suffering. They told him about the brave deeds of Patroclus. Then, before scattering to their different huts, they visited and inspected all the others who were wounded.
When Patroclus returned, Achilles praised him and urged that the memory of what he had done that day should spur him to fight more fiercely in future battles.
The Trojans and Greeks spent this night. When dawn arrived, they collected, cremated and buried their dead. Then, after some days, when the wounded were well, they readied their arms and drew up their forces for battle.
[10] The barbarians, in accordance with their utter lack of principles, began hostilities with a sneak attack. Pitched battles were not to their liking; nothing else than treachery and turmoil would do. They fell upon us like a landslide, hurling their javelins with barbarous war cries. Many of our men, being caught off guard and half-armed, were killed, including Arcesilaus, the Boeotian, and Schedius, the Crissaean, both of whom were the best of leaders. The number of the wounded, however, was even greater; among whom were Meges, the ruler o the Echinades, and Agapenor, ruler of Arcadia.
During this terrible conflict, Patroclus, seeing our side being beaten, hoped he could turn the tide of battle. Thus, having exhorted our men, he entered the fray and attacked the enemy fiercely, more fiercely than anyone ever. Euphorbus, however, found him with a javelin. And soon Hector rushed up and, straddling the fallen body, dealt it many piercing thrusts and then tried to drag it from the battle. No doubt, in keeping with his people’s total lack of human decency, Hector wanted to mock and mangle this victim in every way.
When Ajax, who was fighting in another part of the field, saw what was happening, he came up quickly; using his spear, he drove off Hector, who was already beginning to drag the body away. Meanwhile Menelaus and the other Ajax were pouncing upon Euphorbus and making him pay with is life for having been the cause of Patroclus’ death. When evening came and the battle was broken off, a great number of our men were dead, treacherously and barbarously slain.
[11] Now that the two armies had withdrawn, we were free to relax. Our leaders went to Achilles. He was showing every sign of unbearable grief, for his face was distorted with weeping as he lay stretched out on the ground or over the body. He stirred everyone’s heart. Even Ajax, who was standing by and trying to console him, broke down and wept. All of our leaders bewailed the death of Patroclus and, even more, the terrible way he had been mutilated; this was the first instance of such a shameful and inhuman act, a thing that the Greeks had never practiced before. Thus our leaders, with many prayers, consoling Achilles in every way, finally persuaded him to arise. Then, having washed the body of Patroclus, they covered it with a robe, being especially careful to hid the wounds, which to behold caused them to weep.
[12] When this had been done, Achilles exhorted the guards to keep careful watch in case the enemy should make an attack in their usual way, while we were detailed with the burial. Accordingly, the guards, each of whom was dedicated to his duty, armed themselves and spent the night keeping the watchfires burning brightly.
At daybreak, since we had decided to hold a public funeral, we chose five of the leaders, Ialmenus, Ascalaphus, Epeus, Meriones, and the other Ajax, to go to Mount Ida for wood. Then we built a huge pyre with the wood which they brought, in a place five spears long and five spears wide, which Ulysses and Diomedes had measured off. After the body had been arranged, we lit the fire. Patroclus was clothed in the most beautiful and costly garments; Hippodamia and Diomedea (he had loved her especially) had seen to this.
[13] After spending a few days catching up on their sleep, our leaders early one morning led forth our army onto the plain. We waited and waited, but the barbarians, looking from their walls and seeing us armed, would not come out and fight. Therefore, at sunset we returned to the ships.
The next day, however, had hardly begun when the Trojans armed themselves and rushed from their gates, hoping, as was their custom, to catch us off guard with a wild and sudden attack. But we were organized well enough to protect ourselves, and, therefore, their javelins, which they, as they came against our fortifications, hurled in great numbers with energy and spirit, usually failed of their mark. Towards the end of the day we noticed that they were showing signs of strain and losing some of their fierceness. Accordingly, those of our men who were facing their left flank went on the offensive and thus scattered and put them to flight. Soon afterwards the other flank, which was already wavering, was driven of without any trouble.
[14] Turning tail, most of them fled like shameless cowards; and we, pursuing and treading them down, slew great numbers; among whom were the rulers of Larissa, Pylaeus and Hippothous, and the ruler of Sestos, Asius, the son of Hyrtacus. On the same day, Diomedes took twelve captives; Ajax too forty. Two of the captives, Pisus and Evander, were sons of Priam. As for the casualties on our side in this battle, Guneus, the king of the Cyphians, was slain, and my leader, Idomeneus, was wounded.
When the Trojans had reached the safety of their walls and shut the gates, we were no longer able to pursue. Remembering the outrage that had been committed against the body of Patroclus, we stripped the enemy corpses of their armor and dumped them into the river. Then we gave all the captives to Achilles, one after the other, as we had captured them.
Achilles, having doused the ashes of Patroclus with wine, gathered the remains into an urn. He intended to carry them, whenever he went, to his native soil, or be buried with them, with his dearest friend, there in the self-same tomb if fate decreed his death. He ordered the captives we had given him, including the sons of Priam, to be led off to the pyre and slaughtered not far from the ashes, no doubt as a sacrifice to the departed spirit of Patroclus. Then he drew the bodies of the sons of he king to the dogs to be torn apart. He swore that he would spend his nights under the open sky until he had taken vengeance, blood for blood, on the man who was the cause of his unspeakable grief.
[15] After a few days news was suddenly brought that Hector and a few other men had set out to meet Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons.2 Why she was coming to Priam’s aid, whether for money or simply because of her love of war, was uncertain; her race, being naturally warlike, was always conquering the neighboring peoples and carrying the Amazon standards far and wide. Accordingly, Achilles chose a few faithful comrades and hastened to lay an ambush for the Trojans. He caught them off guard – they were trying to cross the river – and surrounded and slew them before they knew what had hit them. Hector and all those who were with him were killed; with the single exception of one of Priam’s sons, whom Achilles captured and, having cut off his hands, sent back to Troy to tell what had happened. Achilles was being driven to bestial acts, first by the slaughter of his most hated enemy, and then by his lasting grief of Patroclus. Having stripped Hector of armor, he tied the body, feet bound together, behind his chariot, then mounted and ordered Automedon, his charioteer, to give the horses free reign. And so he went galloping over the plain where he could be most easily seen dragging his enemy. A new and terrible kind of revenge.
[16] But at Troy, the Trojans, looking down from their walls, saw the armor of Hector, which Achilles had ordered the Greeks to carry within sight of the enemy. And the son of Priam whom Achilles had sent back told what had happened. Throughout the whole city there was weeping and wailing; in answer to which our men shouted insults. The noise was so loud that even the birds seemed to fall from the sky, dumbfounded, confused. All the gates of the city were closed. The kingdom, dressed in mourning, hid its face in woe. As often happens in such circumstances, the frenzied people would suddenly rush to one place and then, for no apparent reason, rush off again in all directions. Now there was shrieking everywhere; now an uncanny and total silence. Many of the Trojans were losing all hope. They thought that, with the coming of night, the Greeks, elated at the death of Hector, would make an attack against the walls and take the city by storm. Some of them believed that the army which Penthesilea had brought to aid Priam was now joined with Achilles; everything was adverse and hostile, all their power was broken and destroyed. They had no hope of safety, for Hector was dead. He alone had ever been an equal match for the countless hordes, for the many leaders of the enemy. His valor in battle was famed throughout the world and, nevertheless, it had not surpassed his wisdom.
[17] Meanwhile, among the Greeks, Achilles had brought the body of Hector back to the ships and shown it to everyone; the sorrow that we had recently felt for the death of Patroclus was replaced by exuberant joy over the slaughter of our formidable enemy. Since now there was nothing to fear from the Trojans, everyone was eager to hold games, as is customary at funerals, in honor of Patroclus.3 The other peoples, moreover, who had come to watch and not participate, stood ready in arms to meet any attack the enemy, though broken in strength, might make in the usual treacherous way. Then Achilles ordered prizes to be set for the victors, things that he deemed of highest value. When everything was ready, he took a position in the midst of the kings, a little higher than the rest, and urged them all to take their seats.
In the first contest, the four-horse chariot race, Eumelus was victor. No one could beat him. Diomedes won the prize in the two-horse chariot race. Menelaus came in second.
[18] Next was the contest in archery. Ulysses and Meriones erected two masts between which, tied to the tops, they stretched a very thin cord, from the middle of which they hung a dove attached to a string. This was the target. Then all the contestants took their turns. But only Ulysses and Meriones hit the mark. They were congratulated by everyone, except Philoctetes who boasted that he could do better: he would cut the string by which the dove was suspended. Our leaders marveled at the difficulty of what he was trying to do. Nevertheless, he, trusting in his skill more than in luck, made good his boast. The string was snapped and the dove fell to earth. A loud shout of approval arose from our men. Meriones and Ulysses received the prizes for this contest, but Achilles rewarded the exceptional feat of Philoctetes with a double prize.
[19] Ajax the son of Oileus won the long-distance race. Polypoetes came in second. Machaon won the double-lap race, Eurypylus the single-lap, Tlepolemus the high jump, and Antilochus the discus.
The prizes for wrestling went unrewarded. Ajax had almost beaten Ulysses, gripping him by the waist and throwing him down. But Ulysses, even while falling, had entangled the feet of his opponent and knocked him off balance. Thus both men were sprawled on the ground.
The same Ajax, the son of Telamon, carried off the palm in all of the boxing matches, including the fight with the cestus. Diomedes won the last contest, the race in full armor.
After Achilles had awarded the prizes, he gave gifts; first, the gift he thought was most valuable to Agamemnon; then to Nestor, to Idomeneus, to Podalirius and Machaon, and to all the other leaders in order of their merit; and finally, to the comrades of those who had fallen in battle, commanding them to take the gifts home, when time allowed, to the relatives of the deceased. By the time that he games were completed and the prizes awarded, it was already evening and everyone went to his hut.
[20] At daybreak Priam came to Achilles – a wretched sight, dressed in clothes of mourning, with suppliant face and suppliant hands, a king to whom grief had left no signs of royal majesty or former power and glory.4 With him came Andromache, no less wretched than himself, her features marred in every way. To aid he king in his request, she brought her sons, leading them before her, two little boys, Astyanax (some called him Scamandrius) and Laodamas. And Polyxena also came, supporting her father, as he tottered beneath the burden of his years and sorrows. Carts followed, filled with gold and silver and costly clothing. This is the picture of king and retinue that caused a sudden silence among the astonished Trojans watching from their walls.
Soon our leaders were going to meet Priam, eager to discover why he was coming. When Priam saw them advancing, he fell on his face and threw dust, and whatever filth he could find, over his head. He begged them to pity his fortunes and plead his case with Achilles. His old age and ruined life evoked the sympathy of Nestor. Ulysses, however, cursed him, reminding him of how he had spoken against the envoys at Troy before the war had begun.
When Achilles learned of Priam’s arrival, he sent Automedon to summon the king. He himself waited, holding the urn that contained the bones of Patroclus.
[21] Accordingly, Priam, along with our leaders, entered the hut of Achilles. Then, clasping Achilles’ knees, he said: “You are not to blame for my misfortunes. It is one of the gods who, instead of pitying me, has brought the end of my life to ruin. Now I am overwhelmed and worn out with grief for my sons. They, confident in their youth and the resources of their kingdom, and always desiring to fulfil the desires of their hearts, have devised, contrary to their expectations, destruction both for themselves and for me. It is their maxim that old age should be despised by youth. Nevertheless, if my death will prevent those of my sons who are left from committing other crimes of this sort, I also offer myself, if thus it is pleasing, for capital punishment. Do as you wish. With one stroke take away my little life and all those tribulations which have made me a sorrowful wretch, a most miserable spectacle among men. Here I am. I ask no mercy. Take me captive, if you wish. Nothing remains of my former fortune; my kingdom fell when Hector died. But if I have already paid with my personal sorrows, with the blood of my sons, a sufficient penalty to all Greece for the ill-considered acts of my people, pity my age, consider the gods, remember piety. At least grant the petition of these young boys for the body, not the life, of their father, Hector. Remember your own father who is spending all of his waking hours thinking of you, wondering if you are safe. May all his prayers be answered. May he enjoy a good old age, one far different from mine.”
[22] While he was talking, his spirit was failing. Then, as he lost his power of speech, his legs gave way. Everyone who was present was pained at this very pitiable sight.
Then Andromache prostrated the small sons of Hector before Achilles. She herself was weeping; with a voice full of sorrow, she begged for permission only to look at the body of her husband.
During this pitiable scene, Phoenix was raising Priam and encouraging him to recover. When the king had revived somewhat, he spoke, while kneeling and pulling his hair with both hands: “Where is that righteous mercy for which the Greeks were famous? Is it denied to Priam alone?”
[23] Everyone was deeply moved. Achilles, however, said that Priam should have prevented his sons from their criminal acts in the beginning. By acquiescing, he had become their accomplice in treachery. Ten years ago he was not so old that they would have refused to listen to him. But, as it was, their greed, their lust for the property of others, had driven them to monstrous acts: they had carried off not only a woman but also the wealth of Atreus and Pelops. It was simple justice that they should receive their present punishments, or even worse. Until now, the Greeks had obeyed civilized rules of war and returned the bodies of their enemies for burial. But Hector had acted contrary to the laws of human nature when he dragged the body of Patroclus from the battle, with the evident intent of abusing and defiling it. Now the Trojans must bear their punishments in expiation of this crime. Thus, in future time, the Greeks and other peoples, remembering what had happened in this case, would keep the natural law. The Greeks had not left their homes and children and come to fight this bloody, toilsome war just for Helen’s sake, or Menelaus’. What they really wanted to decide was who would rule the world, themselves or the barbarians. Nevertheless, the abduction of a woman was cause enough for an invasion: those who are plundered grieve over their losses no less than the plunderers delight in their gains. So saying, Achilles called down curses upon Helen, swearing that when Troy was taken he would slay her in public, a fitting reward for her crime. He blamed her for his loss of native land and parents and, also, of the greatest consolation of his homesick heart, Patroclus.
[24] Then Achilles stood up and went out to consult with the leaders mentioned above. He was persuaded to follow their unanimous advice: he would accept the gifts that were being offered and hand over the body of Hector. When this had been decided, the leaders departed to their different huts, and he returned to his.
Upon his reentry, Polyxena fell at his feet and promised to be his willing slave if he would return the body. This sight, and also the thought of father and son, moved him to tears, in spite of all of his hatred for Priam and Troy because of Patroclus’ death. Thus he gave Polyxena his hand and helped her to rise; but first he showed his concern for Priam and commanded Phoenix to comfort him. When, however, Priam refused to be consoled and continued to lament, Achilles swore that Priam’s wishes would not be satisfied until he had changed into better clothes and dined with him. And so the king, fearing to refuse, lest he lost what seemed to have been granted, decided humbly to submit to the will of Achilles.
[25] After shaking the dust from his hair, he took a bath; and then he and his retinue went to dine with Achilles. When everyone had had enough to eat, their host spoke as follows: “Now, tell me, Priam, what was the real reason you thought Helen should be kept so long, even when your military efforts were failing and your troubles and tribulations were steadily mounting? Why did you not drive her out, like an ill-omened plague? You knew that she had betrayed her native land and parents and, what was most disgraceful, her god-like brothers.5 These brothers cursed her crime and refused even to join with us in this campaign, lest, to be sure, they should be responsible for obtaining her return. Why, when she had come to Troy to be a bane to everyone, why did you not throw her out? Why did you not drive her from your walls with curses? Why did the elders of Troy acquiesce when their sons were dying every day in battle? Could it be that they did not know that she alone was causing all those deaths? Is everyone in Troy so demonically infatuated that no one can be found to pity the failing fortunes of his country and try to save her with the death of Helen? For my part, I honor both your old age and your prayers. I shall return the body. Never shall I allow myself to be guilty of crimes I condemn in my enemies.”
[26] These words made Priam begin to weep again. He said that it had been the will of the gods for him to go to war. The gods were the authors of good and evil for every mortal; so long as he had been permitted to be happy, the might of none of his enemies had succeeded against him. He who had fathered fifty sons by different mothers had been considered the most blessed of all kings, until the birth of the youngest, Alexander. He had been unable to avoid the future, even though the gods had revealed the events that Alexander would cause. When Hecuba was pregnant, she had told him how she had dreamt of a torch in whose flames Mount Ida and then, as the fire continued, the shrines of the gods and finally the whole state had been consumed, excepting only the homes of Antenor and Anchises. The interpreters had said that this dream portended the fall of Troy. Accordingly, they had decided to kill the baby at birth. But Hecuba, with a woman’s tenderness toward her child, had given him secretly to shepherds to rear on Mount Ida. When he was grown, and they knew what had happened, he was so handsome that no one, not even his fiercest enemy, could bear to kill him. Then he had married Oenone. Soon, however, having been seized with a desire of seeing faraway regions and kingdoms, he had gone on that journey on which he carried off Helen; some god was urging him, driving him on. As for Helen, all the Trojans, including Priam himself, loved her. Not even the thought of the deaths of their sons and relatives could persuade them to reject her. Only Antenor, his wisest counselor in peace and war, was for this; Antenor, in the beginning, when Alexander returned from Greece, even disowned his own son, Glaucus, because he had gone along on that journey. Now Troy was being destroyed and he, the king, was near to death. In fact, he longed to die and give up the burden of being king. He was tortured only by the thought that when his country fell, Hecuba and his daughters would be enslaved. What masters, what shame, would they have to endure?
[27] When Priam had finished this speech, he ordered that everything be displayed which he had brought to ransom his son. Achilles commanded the gold and silver to be removed, and also the clothes he liked best. Having gathered together what was left, he gave it to Polyxena. Then he handed over the body to Priam. The king, whether desiring to show his gratitude for being able to hold the funeral, or hoping to insure the safety of his daughter if Troy should fall, fell at the knees of Achilles and begged him to take Polyxena and keep her for himself. The young man answered that she should return with her father; they would see about her at some other time and in some other place.
Thus Priam recovered the body of Hector and, mounting his chariot, returned to Troy along with the others.
1. For Phineus’ relationship with Priam, see Dictys 4.22.
2. Penthesilea does not arrive until Dictys 4.2.
3. Sections 17-19, which describe the funeral games in honor of Patroclus, should be compared with Iliad 23.
4. Sections 20-27, which describe the ransoming of Hector’s body, should be compared with Iliad 24.
5. Helen’s god-like brothers were Castor and Pollux. See Iliad 2.236-242.
BOOK 4 Posthomerica
[1] On learning that the king had accomplished his mission and returned unharmed along with the others, the Trojans praised the Greeks’ compassion. Priam, they had thought, would never obtain the body; the Greeks would feel justified in holding him prisoner since they, the Trojans, had refused to give Helen up.
When they saw Hector’s body, everyone, including the allies, ran forward. They were weeping and pulling their hair and scratching their faces. The city was ruled by despair. Hector, whose deeds in war and peace alike were known throughout the world, his fame being due to his righteous character no less than to his martial spirit, Hector was dead. They buried him close to the tomb of their former king Ilus;1 and, gathering around, on this side the women with Hecuba, on that the Trojan men and their allies, they raised the mournful dirge. For ten days from sunrise until sunset, the time of the truce, everyone, without ceasing, wailed for Hector, as was his due.
[2] During the funeral Penthesilae (whom we have mentioned above) arrived. She brought a huge army of Amazons and other neighbouring peoples. On being informed of Hector’s death, she was very upset and desired to go home. But Alexander gave her much gold and silver, and finally prevailed upon her to stay.
Several days later she drew up her forces and made an attack, without any help from the Trojans, so great was her trust in her people. She arranged the archers on the right flank, the foot soldiers on the left, and the cavalry, to which she herself belonged, in the center. Our men were drawn up to meet her, with Menelaus, Ulysses, Meriones, and Teucer against the archers, the two Ajaxes, Diomedes, Agamemnon, Tlepolemus, Ascalaphus, and Ialmenus against the foot soldiers, and Achilles, along with the others, against the cavalry. Thus the two armies, having drawn up their forces, joined battle. The queen slaughtered many, using her bow; as did Teucer for us. Meanwhile the Ajaxes were leading the foot soldiers; advancing with their shields before them and pushing back any who got in their way, they wreaked general havoc; no one, it seemed, could stop them from wiping the enemy out.
[3] Achilles found Penthesilae among the cavalry and, hurling his spear, hit the mark. Then – no trouble now that she was wounded – he seized her by the hair and pulled her off her horse. Her followers, seeing her fallen, became disheartened and took to flight. We pursued and cut down those who were unable to reach the gates before they closed; nevertheless, we abstained from touching the women because of their sex.
Then we returned, all of us victors, our enemies slain. Finding Penthesilea still half-alive, we marveled at her brazen boldness. Almost immediately a meeting was held to determine her fate, and it was decided to throw her, while still alive enough to have feeling, either into the river to drown or out for the dogs to tear apart, for she had transgressed the bounds of nature and her sex. Achilles favored just letting her die and then giving her burial. Diomedes, however, prevailed: going around, he asked everyone what to do and won a unanimous vote in favor of drowning. Accordingly, dragging her by the feet, he dumped her into the Scamander. It goes without saying that this was a very cruel and barbarous act. But thus the queen of the Amazons having lost the forces she had brought to aid Priam, died in a way that befitted her foolhardy character.
[4] On the following day, Memnon, the son of Tithonus and Aurora, arrived with a large army of Indians and Ethiopians, a truly remarkable army which consisted of thousands and thousands of men with various kinds of arms, and surpassed the hops and prayers even of Priam. All the country around and beyond Troy, as far as eye could see, was filled with men and horses, and glittered with the splendor of arms and standards. Memnon had led these forces to Troy by way of the Caucasus mountains.
At the same time he had sent another group of equal size by sea, with Phalas as their guide and leader. These others had landed on the island of Rhodes, which they soon discovered to be an ally of Greece. At first, fearing that when the purpose of their mission was known, their ships might be fired, they stayed in the harbor. Later, however, dividing their strength, they went to the wealthy cities of Camirus and Ialysus.
Soon the Rhodians were blaming Phalas for trying to aid Alexander, the same Alexander who had recently conquered Phalas’ country, Sidon.2 In order to stir up the army, they said that whoever defended this crime was in no way different from a barbarian; and they added many such things as would incense the common soldiers and make them take their side. Nor did they fail in their intent, for the Phoenicians, who composed a majority of Phalas’ army, whether influenced by the accusations of the Rhodians, or wishing to gain control of the wealth their ships were carrying, made an attack against Phalas and stoned him to death. Then, dividing their gold and whatever booty they had, they dispersed to the cities we mentioned above.
[5] Meanwhile the army that had come with Memnon had set up camp in a wide area (the walls of the city could not have easily contained so great a number of men), and everyone, each in his own particular group, was training for combat. These groups differed in their fighting methods and skills according to the regions from which they came. Their different kinds of weapons, their different kinds of shields and helmets, gave them a terrifying warlike appearance.
Then at dawn, after several days, when his soldiers were ready to fight, Memnon gave them the signal and led them to battle. And the Trojans, along with their allies, left the protection of their walls and also advanced. We, for our part, drew up our forces to meet them, being somewhat awed by the size of our unknown enemy. When they had come within a spear’s throw of our side, they fell upon us with a huge and dissonant clamor. It was like a landslide. Our men, standing together, were able to break their attack. But soon their lines were renewed and reformed, and weapons were flying this way and that, and many on both sides were dying. Nor was there any end in sight, so long as Memnon, accompanied by all of his bravest men, was attacking our center, riding in his chariot, and slaying or wounding whomever he met. Our casualties were mounting terribly, and our leaders conceded defeat; they felt that we were destined to lose and that our only hope was in flight. But night, the refuge of the oppressed, kept the enemy off. Otherwise, that day would have seen our ships destroyed by fire; so great was Memnon’s power and martial skill, so grievous our predicament.
[6] When the fighting had stopped, we, being broken in spirit and fearing the war’s final outcome, spent the night burying those we had lost in battle. Then we thought of a plan: one of our men should challenge Memnon to fight in single combat. Accordingly, we proceeded to choose a champion by lot. The lots of all were shaken, excepting only – as Agamemnon requested – Menelaus’, Ulysses’, and Idomeneus’; and Ajax, in answer to everyone’s prayers, was chosen. Then we ate and renewed out strength and spent the rest of the night in sleep.
At daybreak we armed, drew up our forces in order, and went out to battle. Memnon, no less alert, also advanced, and with him all the Trojans. When both of the armies were ready, the battle was joined. As might be expected, a great number of men fell dead on both sides, or withdrew mortally wounded. It was in this battle that Antilochus, the son of Nestor, ran into Memnon, and thus met his death.
When Ajax thought that the time was right, he went out between the lines and challenged the king. First, however, he called on Ulysses and Idomeneus to defend him in case any others attacked. Memnon, seeing Ajax advance, leaped from his chariot and met him on foot. Among both armies fear and hope were running high. Finally Ajax thrust his spear into the center of Memnon’s shield and, using all his weight and force, shoved it through and into Memnon’s side. The companions of Memnon, when they saw what had happened, rushed to his aid and tried to push Ajax away. But this interference on the part of the barbarians stirred Achilles to act; he entered the fray and drove his spear through Memnon’s throat, where the shield gave no protection.
[7] Memnon’s unexpected death, while breaking the enemy’s spirit, bolstered ours. Now the Ethiopians had turned and were fleeing; now our men were pursuing, wreaking great slaughter. Polydamas tried to renew the battle, but soon was surrounded and fell, hit in the groin by Ajax. And Glaucus, the son of Antenor, was killed; he was fighting Diomedes when Agamemnon struck him down with a spear. One might see Ethiopians and Trojans fleeing everywhere over the field in disorder, without leaders, crowding and rushing, hindering each other, falling where driverless horses were trampling them down. Our men, their spirits renewed, were attacking and slaughtering the enemy, scattering those who had been entangled and then picking them off with their spears. The field near the walls was flowing with blood; armor and corpses abounded wherever the enemy went. It was in this battle that Priam lost the following sons: Aretus and Echemmon were killed by Ulysses; Dryops, Bias, and Chorithan3 were killed by Idomeneus; Ilioneus and Philenor by Ajax the son of Oileus; Thyestes and Telestes by Diomedes; Antiphus, Agavus, Agathon, and Glaucus by the other Ajax; and Asteropaeus by Achilles. There was no end to the slaughter until our men were finally thoroughly sated, thoroughly tired.
[8] When we had returned to camp, the Trojans sent envoys to obtain permission to bury their dead. Thus the dead were gathered, each by his own, and cremated and buried according to ancient custom. Memnon, however, was cremated apart from the others; his remains were put in an urn and given to relatives to take to his native land.4
When we had duly washed the body of Antilochus, we handed it over to Nestor for proper burial and begged him to bear the adversities of war with courage. Then, finally, each of us spent much of the night honouring his dead with wine and funeral feasts, and praising both Ajax and Achilles in highest terms.
The Trojans, with the completion of their funerals, ended their grief over Memnon’s disaster. But now they were gripped by despair; they feared the war’s final outcome. The death of Sarpedon and, soon afterwards, the slaughter of Hector, had taken away their remaining hopes; and now what fortune had for the last time offered in the person of Memnon no longer remained. Thus, with so many adversities conspiring against them, their will to recover was utterly gone.
[9] After a few days the Greeks took up arms and, having gone onto the field, challenged the Trojans to come out and fight, if they dared. Alexander and his brothers, in answer to this challenge, set their army in order and led it forth. But before the battle lines could meet or spears be thrown, the barbarians broke formation and took to flight. We rushed upon them, from this side and that, slaughtering great numbers, or hurling them headlong into the river; they had no way to escape. And two of Priam’s sons were captured, Lycaon and Troilus, the throats of whom, when they had been brought forth into the center, were cut, by order of Achilles, who was angry with Priam for not having seen to that business they had discussed. The Trojans raised a cry of grief and, mourning loudly, bewailed the fact that Troilus had met so grievous ad death, for they remembered how young he was, who, being in the early years of his manhood, was the people’s favorite, their darling, not only because of his modesty and honesty, but more especially because of his handsome appearance.
[10] After a few days, the religious festival of the Thymbraean Apollo began; a truce was made and hostilities ceased. Then, while both armies were preoccupied with sacrificing, Priam found time to send Idaeus to Achilles with instructions concerning Polyxena. While, however, Achilles was examining these instructions, alone in the grove with Idaeus, word of this meeting was brought to the ships. Our men were angered, suspecting Achilles of being disloyal, for the rumor that he was a traitor had gradually grown and now was accepted as truth throughout the whole army. Therefore, in order to placate the fired-up emotions of the soldiers, Ajax, Diomedes and Ulysses went to the grove and stood in front of the temple, waiting for Achilles to leave. They likewise wanted to tell him what had happened at the ships and hoped to deter him from further secret dealings with Trojans.
[11] Meanwhile Alexander and Deiphobus, having formed a plot, approached Achilles, as if to confirm the agreement of Priam. In order to incur no suspicion, Alexander (he was wearing a dagger) stopped near the altar and faced away from our leader. Achilles was carrying no weapon, thinking there was nothing to fear in the temple of Apollo. Then Deiphobus, when the time seemed right, came up to Achilles and, with flattering congratulations for the terms he had made, embraced him and, hanging upon him, refused to let go until Alexander, with sword drawn, rushed forward and thrust two blows in the victim’s sides. When they saw that he was dying they departed in haste and returned to the city, their very important mission accomplished beyond their fondest hopes.
Ulysses, who had seen them leave, said: “Something is wrong. Why are these men so excited? Why are they frightened and rushing like this?” And thereupon he and the others entered the grove and, looking around, discovered Achilles stretched on the ground, already half-dead with the loss of much blood.
Then Ajax said: “We know for a fact that no one could have defeated you in a fairly fought contest but, as is clear, you are undone by your own ill-advised rashness.”
And Achilles, breathing his last, said: “Deiphobus and Alexander overpowered me. They came in the matter concerning Polyxena – deceitfully, treacherously.”
As he lay there dying, our leaders embraced him and kissed him farewell. Great was their grief. And when he was dead, Ajax shouldered the body and carried it out of the grove.
[12] The Trojans, having seen what had happened, rushed from their gates all together. Following their usual custom, they wanted, no doubt, to mangle the body and thus were eager to snatch it away and carry it to the city. But the Greeks were also alerted and, taking up arms, advanced to meet them. Soon after they had led forth all of their forces, both sides clashed in battle.
Ajax, having handed the body of Achilles to those who were with him, went on the attack and slew Asius (the son of Dymas and the brother of Hecuba) whom he encountered first. Then he cut down a great number of others, as they came, one by one within reach of his spear. Among these were Nastes and Amphimachus, the rulers of Caria.
And now our leaders, Ajax the son of Oileus and Sthenelus, joined together and killed and put great numbers to flight.
Finally this general destruction caused the Trojans to rush for their gates. They abandoned all hope of resisting and scattered and fled in utter disorder, believing that only their walls could protect them. Behind them the Greeks were pursuing, piling slaughter on slaughter.
[13] When the gates were closed and the slaughter had ended, the Greeks took Achilles back to the ships. All of our leaders bewailed the loss of this hero. Many of the soldiers, however, believing that Achilles had often tried to betray them, were grieved not in the least and refused to mourn as they should. Nevertheless, he had been their greatest military asset and now, by his death, all was lost. They had to admit that, for a man so outstanding in battle, he had met a dishonourable death, or at least an obscure one. Accordingly, they hastened to bring plenty of wood from Mount Ida and built a pyre in the place where that of Patroclus had been. Then, having put the body in place, they lit the fire, and thus performed the rites of the funeral. Ajax acted with special devotion, keeping watch for three continuous days until the remains were gathered together. He was grieved by the death of Achilles more than any one else, grieved almost beyond his powers of endurance. He had loved Achilles above all others and had served him with highest allegiance, for Achilles was not only his relative and closest friend but also, what especially mattered, the most courageous man there was.
[14] The Trojans, for their part, abounded in joy and thanksgiving, for the enemy whom they had feared the most was dead. They lavished praises on Alexander’s trickery; he had, to be sure, done by devious means what he would never have dared to do in combat.
Meanwhile a messenger arrived to tell Priam that Eurypylus, the son of Telephus, was arriving from Mysia. (The king had enticed him with many beautiful gifts, and had finally won his support by offering Cassandra in marriage. Among the other very beautiful things he had sent to him was a staff which, being made of gold, was talked of far and wide.) Eurypylus, the illustrious warrior, had come with his Mysian and Ceteian forces. The Trojans welcomed him joyously, for in him their every hope was revived.
[15] Meanwhile the Greeks placed the bones of Achilles in an urn with those of Patroclus and buried the urn at Sigeum.5 Then Ajax hired some Sigeans to build a tomb for Achilles; he was angry with the Greeks, for he thought that their grief was in no way equal to the loss of so great a hero.
When the tomb was almost finished, Pyrrhus arrived. He was called Neoptolemus and was the son of Achilles and Deidamia, the daughter of King Lycomedes. After being informed how his father had died, he reinforced the Myrmidons and bolstered their spirits; they were the bravest of men and famous in war. Then, leaving Phoenix in charge of this work, he went to the ships and there, at his father’s hut, found Hippodamia guarding the property.
Soon his arrival was known, and all the leaders convened. When they begged him to keep control of himself, he, answering calmly, said that he knew well enough that men must bravely endure whatever the gods caused to happen. Everyone’s life must come to an end; only the weak wanted old age, the strong shunned and despised it. Moreover, his grief was mitigated by the fact that Achilles had been killed neither in single combat nor in the blaze of war; Achilles could never have been beaten – it was unthinkable – by anyone, living or dead, with the single exception of Hercules. Though the time called for Achilles, under whose hands it was fitting that Troy should fall, nevertheless, he affirmed, they, with his help, would finish the task that his father had left uncompleted.
[16] After he had finished this speech, they decided to fight on the following day.
All of the leaders, when the time seemed right, went, as usual, to Agamemnon’s to dine. Among them were Ajax and Neoptolemus, and Diomedes, Ulysses, and Menelaus; these took places of equal honor at dinner. While they were eating, they praised the prowess of Achilles and told Neoptolemus about the numerous brave deeds of his father. Their words delighted him and moved him to say that he would strive, with might and main, to prove himself a worthy son. After the dinner was over, they left to spend the night in their huts.
At dawn the next day Neoptolemus, on leaving camp, was met by Diomedes and Ulysses. Having given them greeting, he asked if something was wrong. They answered that we should delay our attack a few days, until his soldiers recovered from their long journey by sea: their legs were still shaky, their feet were unsteady.
[17] And so, in accordance with this advice, our attack was delayed for two days. Then all our leaders and kings, having armed our men and set them in order, went out to battle. Neoptolemus commanded the center. With him were the Myrmidones and also Ajax (whom Neoptolemus, as befitted their close relationship, honored in place of his father).
The Trojans were very upset, for they saw that, while their own allies were daily defecting, a new contingent, led by an illustrious leader, had come to the aid of the Greeks. Nevertheless, they took up arms, as Eurypylus urged them to do. He, having gained the support of the princes, created a combined force consisting of his own men and those of the Trojans and, leading them out of the gate, deployed them for battle; he himself commanded the center. (Aeneas stayed behind in the city and, for the first time, refused to fight; he was a devoted worshiper of Apollo and detested the crime Alexander had committed against this god.)
When the signal for battle was given, the two sides clashed and fought with all their might; great numbers were slain. Eurypylus, chancing upon Peneleus, drove him back and pinned him with his spear; then he attacked Nireus even more savagely, and cut him down; and finally, having put to flight our men in front, he was fighting in the very midst of our forces. But Neoptolemus, on seeing this, drove up close and knocked Eurypylus out of his chariot; then he dismounted himself and, sword in hand, quickly finished Eurypylus off. Thereupon our men, as Neoptolemus ordered, carried the body out of the battle and back to the ships. When the barbarians – they had placed all their hopes in Eurypylus – saw this sight, they deserted the battle and fled for the walls, leaderless, without any definite order. And as they fled, great numbers were killed.
[18] Thus the enemy was put to flight, and the Greeks returned to the ships. Then, the council so willing, we cremated Eurypylus and sent his bones, in an urn, back to his father, for we remembered his father’s kindness and friendship.6 Also, there were separate funerals for Nireus and Peneleus; each was cremated by his own people.
On the next day Chryses reported to the Greeks that Priam’s son Helenus had fled from Troy because of Alexander’s crime and was now at the temple nearby. Accordingly, we sent Diomedes and Ulysses to fetch him. After these had promised him leave to spend the rest of his life somewhere in seclusion, he placed himself in their power.
When he had been brought to the ships, he made a long speech at a meeting of the council, in which he told his reason for leaving his parents and people: he feared not death but the gods, whose shrines Alexander had desecrated, a crime which neither Aeneas nor himself was able to bear. As for Aeneas, he, fearing our anger, had stayed behind with Antenor and old Anchises, his father. It was from an oracle of Anchises, Helenus said, that he had learned of Troy’s imminent fall, and thus had made up his mind to come to us as a suppliant.
We were eager to know the contents of this oracle. Accordingly, Chryses, having nodded for us to keep silent, took Helenus aside and learned everything, which then he reported to us. Thus we were informed of the very time of Troy’s fall and how Aeneas and Antenor would help us. And we saw that this oracle was entirely consistent with what we remembered Calchas had already told us was going to happen.
[19] On the next day both armies went out to battle and many were killed on the Trojan side, their allies suffering the greatest losses. But as our men were attacking more vehemently and striving with all their might to end the war, our leaders, at a given signal, attacked those of the enemy and centered the battle around themselves.
Philoctetes advanced against Alexander and challenged him to fight, if he dared, a duel with the bow. Alexander agreed, and thus Ulysses and Deiphobus marked off a place for the contest. Alexander was the first to shoot and missed. Thereupon Philoctetes hit Alexander in the left hand, and then – he was howling with pain – struck his right eye, and then – he was trying to flee – pierced both his feet, and finally finished him off. Philoctetes’ arrows had once been Hercules’, and the Hydra’s lethal blood had stained their points.7
[20] The barbarians, seeing that their leader was dead, rushed and tried to snatch his body away. Philoctetes killed many of them, but they kept pressing on, and eventually got the body into the city. Ajax the son of Telamon pursued them as far as the gate, and there the slaughter was huge. Many were unable to enter; the crowd was frantic, with everyone shoving, everyone striving to get in first. Those who had entered went to the walls and hurled down rocks of every description, rolled down earth collected from everywhere, onto the shield of Ajax, hoping to drive him off. But our illustrious leader, shaking his shield whenever it grew too heavy, relented not in the least. And Philoctetes, shooting from a distance, killed many of those on the wall and drove the others away.
In other parts of the field the rest of our soldiers met with equal success. That day would have seen the walls of Troy destroyed, the city sacked, if the swift arrival of night had not restrained us. Thus we returned to the ships, rejoicing, our spirits tremendously buoyed because of the deeds Philoctetes had done. To him we gave our highest praise and showed our deepest gratitude.
At daybreak, Philoctetes, accompanied by the rest of our leaders, returned to the field. And the Trojans, even with the help of their walls, could scarcely protect themselves, so great was their terror.
[21] Meanwhile Neoptolemus, now that his father’s murder was avenged, began the mourning around Achilles’ mound. Along with Phoenix and the entire army of the Myrmidons, he cut off his hair and placed it on the tomb. Thus they stayed there all the night.
During the same time, the sons of Antimachus (whom we have mentioned above) came to Helenus as representatives of Priam. But he refused to do as they begged, that is, to return to his people; and so they departed. Halfway back to the city, they were encountered by Diomedes and the other Ajax, and thus were captured and brought to the ships. When they had told who they were and explaining their reason for coming, we, remembering how their father had spoken and plotted against our envoys,8 ordered the soldiers to take them and lead them out where the Trojans could see and stone them to death.
At Try, in a different direction, the relatives of Alexander, who were seeing to his burial, were carrying his body to Oenone. They say that Oenone – she had been married to him before his abduction of Helen – was so shocked by the sight of his body that she lost all power of speech, lost her spirit and, gradually being overwhelmed with grief, fell down dead. And thus a single tomb held her and him.
[22] All the Trojan nobles, since they saw the enemy raging more and more fiercely around their walls and knew that their own resources were failing, felt that further resistance was hopeless. Accordingly, they plotted sedition against the princes and Priam. Having summoned Aeneas and the sons of Antenor, they were planning to return Helen to Menelaus, along with the things that had been carried off. But Deiphobus, having heard of their plans, took Helen off and married her himself.
When Priam entered the council, Aeneas heaped insults upon him. Finally the king yielded to the will of the nobles and ordered Antenor to go the Greeks and seek and end to the war.
When Antenor signaled from the walls that the Trojans desired to negotiate, we granted permission. Thus he came to the ships, and we welcomed him gladly. Nestor, especially, told how faithful and kind he had been to the Greeks: his counsel and the aid of his sons had saved Menelaus from Trojan treachery. In return for what he had done, we promised to reward him richly when Troy was destroyed, and urged him to work with us – hew knew we were friends – against those he knew to be treacherous.
Then, in a long speech, Antenor told how the gods were always punishing Trojan rulers for ill-considered acts. Laomedon, he said, had lied to Hercules – a famous story – and thus his kingdom had been destroyed. Then, through the influence of Hesione, Priam, who was still young and had had no share in all that had happened, had come to power; thereafter, becoming evil and foolish, he had been accustomed to attack everyone; he had killed and committed personal injuries, being sparing of his own property while seeking that of another. Such was the example which spread, like the worst of plagues, to his sons, who abstained from nothing either sacred or profane.
Antenor said that he himself was a very different person from Priam, in spite of the fact that they both were related to the Greeks by the same line of descent.9 Hesione, the daughter of Danaus, was the mother of Electra, and Electra was the mother of Dardanus; Dardanus had married Olizone, the daughter of Phineus; their child was Erichthonius, who was the father of Tros; and Tros was the father of Ilus, Ganymede, and Cleomestra. Cleomestra was the mother of Assaracus, and Assaracus had begotten Capys, the father of Anchises. Ilus had begotten Tithonus and Laomedon, and Laomedon was the father of Hicetaon, Lampus, Thymoetes, Bucolion, and finally Priam. As for himself, he was the son of Cleomestra and Aesyetes. But Priam had disregarded every bond of kinship and had acted with especial insolence and hatred toward his own relations.
When he had finished this speech, he asked us to choose representatives for the purpose of talking with him about peace; as this was the reason the Trojan elders had sent him. Accordingly, we chose Agamemnon, Idomeneus, Ulysses, and Diomedes. Thereupon these plotted together, in secret, and decided, among other things, that Aeneas, contingent upon his remaining faithful, should share the spoils, nor should his house be harmed in any way; as for Antenor, half of Priam’s wealth should be given to him; and one of his sons, whomever he chose, should rule over Troy.
When they felt that their plans were complete, Antenor was sent back to Troy to make a report far different from what they had really decided. He was to say that the Greeks were preparing an offering, a gift, for Minerva, and that, providing they recovered Helen and received some gold, they were only too glad to abandon the war and return to their people. Thus Antenor went off to Troy, accompanied by Talthybius whose presence might help to produce an illusion of trust.
1. The tomb of Ilus is mentioned in Iliad 10.415 and 11.372.
2. See Dictys 1.5.
3. The spelling of this name is doubtful.
4. In the Aethiopis (fragment 1, p. 507, ed. Evelyn-White), Aurora obtains immortality for her son from Jupiter.
5. Sigeum was located at the mouth of the Scamander River. Strabo tells of a temple and a monument of Achilles in this area, and also of monuments of Patroclus and Antilochus. See his Geography 13.1.31-32.
6. See Dictys 2.10 and 12.
7. See Sophocles Philoctetes.
8. See Dictys 2.23.24. In the Iliad (11.122-162), Agamemnon slaughters the two sons of Antimachus because their father had opposed the return of Helen and had plotted the death of Menelaus.
9. See Dictys 1.9 and note 8 thereto.
BOOK 5 Posthomerica
[1] When the arrival of Antenor and Talthybius was known at Troy, all the Trojans and their allies rushed to meet them, desiring to learn what had happened among the Greeks. But Antenor postponed his report until the next day, and so they dispersed and went home.
Then, at a banquet, in the presence of Talthybius, Antenor advised his sons to consider nothing so important in life as their long-standing friendship with Greece and recalled, with evident admiration, the honor, good faith, and guilelessness of individual Greeks.
After the meal, they parted company. But at daybreak Antenor and Talthybius went to the meeting of the council. (The elders were already there, eager to find some end to their dreadful afflictions.) Aeneas was the next to arrive, and then Priam and the rest of the princes. At last Antenor, having been ordered to tell what he had heard from the Greeks, spoke as follows:
[2] “It is a sad thing, Trojan princes and Trojan allies, it is a sad thing for us to be at war with the Greeks, but it is an even sadder and more painful thing that for the sake of a woman we have made enemies of the closest friends, of those who, being descendants of Pelops, are joined to us even by ties of marriage.
“If I may briefly touch on the past evils we have suffered, when has our city ever found rest, once it was lost in this quagmire of sorrows? When have we ever been without tears? When have you allies ever seen your misfortunes decrease? When have our friends, parents, relatives, and sons not been dying in battle? And, to sum up the rest of our sorrows with a personal allusion, what suffering have I not endured in the case of Glaucus, my son? His death, however, was not so painful to me as the fact that he had accompanied Alexander in the abduction of Helen.
“But enough of the past. Let us, at least, look to the future with caution and wisdom. The Greeks are faithful and true; they are rich in kindness and pious in doing their duty. Priam is a witness to this, for, in the very heat of the battle, he reaped the fruit of their pity. The Greeks were not so rash as to declare war against us until we had treated their envoys – even their envoys! – with treachery and guile. It is my opinion that Priam and his sons were to blame in this matter, and also Antimachus, who has recently paid for his guilt with the loss of his sons. But the real blame for everything that has happened rests upon Helen, that woman whom not even the Greeks really want to recover. Why should we keep this woman on whose account no nation, no people, has ever been friendly or even non-hostile to us? Shall we not, rather, eagerly beg the Greeks to take her again? And shall we not offer complete compensation for all the ways we have harmed them? Shall we not be reconciled with such men at least in the future?
“For my own part, I am leaving; I am going away. I refuse to share in these crimes any longer. There was a time when it was pleasing to live in this city; until now we had allies and friends; our relatives were safe, our country unharmed. But now we have partially or totally lost all of these things. Who can deny it? I can no longer endure to remain with those whose work is all destined to ruin along with the fall of their country.
“Until now, it is true, we have found some way to bury our dead; the enemy granted this favor. But now the altars and shrines of the gods have been criminally desecrated with human blood. And thus, being unable to hold our dear ones’ funerals, we will suffer even more than when they died.
“At least prevent this from happening now. Our native land must be redeemed with gold and other ransom of this sort. There are many in our city who are rich; each must give whatever he can. We must offer the Greeks, in return for our lives, what they will have soon enough if they kill us. Let us give even the ornaments of our temples, if otherwise we cannot save our city.
“As for Priam, let only him keep all his wealth, let only him consider riches more important than his people, let him, the brooding miser, have even the things they carried off with Helen and see how best to use his country’s sorrows. Now our sins have found us out, and we are conquered.”
[3] He was weeping as he spoke these and other things, and everyone was mourning. Stretching their hands toward heaven, they showed their agreement, praying, individually and together, that Priam, in view of their many adversities, should bring an end to their miseries. And finally, with one voice, they shouted that their native land must be redeemed.
Then Priam, tearing his hair and weeping in a pitiable way, addressed them. Now, he said, he was not only hated by the gods but was even considered a public enemy by his own people. Formerly he had friends, relatives, and fellow citizens to comfort him in his misfortunes, but now none was to be found. He had wanted to begin negotiations when Alexander and Hector were living and not wait until now. No one, however, was able to remedy the past; they must plan for the present and put their hopes in the future. He offered all that he had for the redemption of Troy, and instructed Antenor to see to the matter. But now, since they hated him so, he was leaving their presence. Whatever they decided to do was agreeable to him.
[4] When the king had left, they decided that Antenor should return to the Greeks and learn what terms they wanted exactly; and that Aeneas, as he desired, should go along too. Thus the council broke up.
About midnight, Helen came to Antenor secretly. She suspected that they were about to return her to Menelaus and feared that she would be punished for having abandoned her home. Accordingly, she begged him to mention her, when he spoke among the Greeks, and plead in her behalf. Now that Alexander was dead, she hated all Troy, as they knew, and wanted to return to her people.
At daybreak, Antenor and Aeneas came to the ships and told us all about their city’s descision. Then they withdrew with those they had talked to before, to plan what action to take. It was during these discussions about Troy and their nation that they also told about Helen’s desires and asked forgiveness for her; and finally they agreed on how best to betray their city.
When they were ready, they returned to Troy, accompanied by Ulysses and Diomedes. Ajax also wanted to go, but Aeneas made him remain, arguing, no doubt, that the Trojans were afraid of him no less than they had been afraid of Achilles and, therefore, might take him by treachery.
The hopes of all Trojans were raised when they saw that our leaders had come. They thought this meant that war and conflict were going to end. A meeting of the council was quickly called and there, in the presence of our men, they decided, first of all, to exile Antimachus from all of Phrygia, for he, to be sure, was the cause of their terrible troubles. Then they began to discuss the terms of peace.
[5] During their discussions, a huge crash and much shouting suddenly arose from Pergamum, where Priam’s palace was located. Those in the council, being thrown into confusion, ran outside and, thinking that the princes, as usual, had done some treacherous deed, they rushed to the temple of Minerva. Soon afterwards, however, they learned, from those who came from the citadel, that the sons of Alexander, his children by Helen, had perished, crushed when the roof of their home had collapsed. The names of these sons were Bunomus,1 Corythus, and Idaeus.
The business of the council was thus deferred, and our leaders went off to Antenor’s, there to dine and spend the night. Moreover, they learned from Antenor about an oracle which once had informed the Trojans that Troy would fall in ruins, if the Palladium was carried outside the walls of the city. (The Palladium was an ancient statue in the temple of Minerva; it was made of wood, and had fallen from heaven and taken its place when Ilus was building the temple, and all but the roof was complete.)
Antenor agreed to help our men, just as they urged, in very way; he would do whatever they wanted. Nevertheless, he warned them that, at the meeting of the Trojan council, he would speak out boldly and openly oppose the demands the Greeks were making; in order, no doubt, to give the barbarians no grounds to suspect him.
Their plans being thus completed, at daybreak Antenor went, along with the Trojan nobles, to Priam; and our leaders returned to the ships.
[6] The sons of Alexander were buried with due ceremony. Three days later Idaeus came and summoned our leaders (those mentioned above). Panthus2 and the other Trojans who were known for their wisdom made long speeches in which they explained that their previous actions had been rash and ill-advised. They had been constrained, they said, to act according to the will of the princes, by whom they were hated and counted as naught. They had not taken up arms against Greece willingly, for those who must follow another’s command must look to his nod and try to obey it. Therefore, the Greeks should grant forgiveness and be willing to confer with those who had always been hoping for peace. Moreover, the Trojans had already suffered enough for their ill-advised acts.
After a long discussion of this point and that, finally the question of tribute was raised. Diomedes asked for five thousand talents of gold, and a like number of silver, besides one hundred thousand measures of wheat, for a period of ten years.
Then all the Trojans were silent, except for Antenor. He said that the Greeks were not acting like Greeks but barbarians. Since they demanded what was impossible, it was evident that they were planning for war under a pretext of peace. Moreover, Troy had never had as much gold and silver as Greece was demanding, not even before she had gone to the expense of hiring auxiliaries. If the Greeks persisted in these unscrupulous demands, the Trojans must shut their gates and burn the temples of their gods, and offer themselves and their country to one and the same destruction.
Diomedes answered: “We did not come from Argos to give special terms to Troy, but to fight you to the death. Therefore, if you are still desirous of war, the Greeks are ready, or if, as you say, you wish to burn your city, we will not prevent you. The Greeks, when treated unjustly, take vengeance. That is their way.”
Then Panthus asked for a day’s reprieve during which to ponder the Greek proposal. Thus our men went home with Antenor, and from there to the temple of Minerva.
[7] Meanwhile news of a remarkable portent was brought. It had occurred during the offering of sacrifices. Victims had been placed on the altars as usual. But he fire, having been lit, had not caught or burned in the usual way but had left the offering untouched.
This news startled the people, and they rushed to the temple of Apollo to prove for themselves whether or not it was true. When they had placed parts of entrails on the altar and lit the fire, suddenly everything was thrown into confusion; the entrails fell to the ground. Then, while everyone was struck with astonishment, an eagle, swift and screeching, dove down and caught up a piece of the entrails and, soaring off, carried it away to the sips and there let it fall.
The Trojans received this omen as a great and very clear sign portending their doom. Diomedes and Ulysses, however, pretended not to know what had happened and walked around in the public square, like sightseers, marveling at the wonderful buildings of Troy.
We at the ships, were also pondering the portent’s meaning. And Calchas told us to be of good cheer, for we would be masters of Troy in short order.
[8] When Hecuba learned of the portent, she went to placate the gods, especially Minerva and Apollo, with many gifts and rich sacrifices. But just as before, the fire refused to burn the victims and died out quickly.
Then Cassandra became divinely inspired and ordered the victims to be carried to Hector’s tomb. She said that the gods were angry and were rejecting their sacrifices because of the crime they had recently committed against the religion of Apollo. Thus, following her orders, they slew the bulls and took them to Hector’s pyre, where, when the fire was lit, the sacrifice was completely consumed. With the coming of evening, they returned to their homes.
During that night Antenor secretly went to the temple of Minerva and, threatening the priestess Theano3 with force and promising that she would be richly rewarded, begged her to give the Palladium to him. This she did; and thus he, being true to our men, carried it off to them. And they, having wrapped it up so that no one could tell what it was, sent it away in a cart to the hut of Ulysses through close and faithful friends.
With the coming of dawn, the Trojan council met. When our envoys had entered, Antenor, as though fearing the wrath of the Greeks, begged their forgiveness for having previously spoken so boldly against them in behalf of his native land.
Ulysses replied that he was not disturbed by this so much as by the fact that negotiations were being prolonged, especially when the favourable time for sailing was quickly passing.
After a long discussion, they finally agreed on a sum of two thousand talents of gold and two thousand of silver.
Then our envoys returned to the ships to make their report to our men. When our leaders had been assembled, they told them all that had been said and done, and how Antenor had carried the Palladium off. Thereupon, since all our leaders thought best, the rest of the soldiers were given the news.
[9] In view of these developments we decided unanimously to show our gratitude to Minerva by making a splendid offering to her. Helenus was summoned to tell us how to proceed. Using his prophetic powers (he had not been informed), he was able to give a detailed account of everything that had happened so far. And he also said that Troy was doomed now that the Palladium, the safeguard of Troy, had been carried away. We must, he said, offer a wooden horse to Minerva; this gift would prove fatal to Troy. The horse must be so large that the Trojans would have to breach their walls; Antenor would urge and advise them to do this. As Helenus was speaking, the thought of his father, Priam, and of his brothers who were still living caused him to burst into tears; his grief was so strong that he lost all control of himself and collapsed.
When he had come to his senses and was able to rise, Neoptolemus took him in charge. He had him guarded for fear he might somehow inform the enemy about what had happened. But Helenus, seeing himself under guard, told Neoptolemus there was nothing to worry about, for he would prove faithful and, after Troy’s fall, would live with Neoptolemus in Greece many years.
And so, following Helenus’ advice, we brought in a great deal of wood for building the horse. Epeus and Ajax the son of Oileus were in charge of this work.
[10] Meanwhile ten leaders were chosen to go to Troy and ratify the terms of the peace: Diomedes, Ulysses, Idomeneus, Ajax the son of Telamon, Nestor, Meriones, Thoas, Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Eumelus.
The Trojans, seeing our men in their public square, rejoiced, believing that now their afflictions would end. Individually and in groups, whenever they met them, they greeted them warmly and embraced them like loved ones.
Priam implored our leaders on behalf of Helenus and commended him to them with many prayers. Helenus, he said, was his dearest son, dearer because of his wisdom than all of the others.
When dinnertime came, the Trojans held a public banquet in honor of the Greeks and in celebration of the peace they were making. Antenor was host and graciously served every need of our men.
At daybreak all the elders convened in the temple of Minerva, and Antenor officially announced that ten envoys had been sent by the Greeks to ratify the terms of the peace. Thereupon the envoys were escorted into the council, and they and the elders shook hands. It was decided to ratify the peace on the following day. Sacred oaths must be sworn, for the purpose of which altars must be raised in the center of the plain where all could see.
When preparations had been made, Diomedes and Ulysses were first to sear. Calling on Highest Jupiter, Mother Earth, Sun, Moon, and Ocean to be their witnesses, they promised to abide by the agreements which they had made with Antenor. Then they walked through the center of the portions of the sacrificial victims. (Two victims had been brought, the portions of which had been laid out, half in an easterly direction and half in the direction of our ships.) Diomedes and Ulysses were followed by Antenor, who took the same oath. After ratifying the terms of the peace in this way, both sides returned to their people.
The barbarians heaped highest praises upon Antenor, reverencing him like a god whenever he approached. They believed that he alone was responsible for the treaty and peace with the Greeks.
Now everywhere, as both sides wished, war had ceased. Greeks felt free to go to Troy. Trojans came among the ships. And the Trojan allies – who were still alive – went home, taking advantage of the treaty and feeling thankful for peace, not even waiting to be paid for their hardships and troubles, fearing, no doubt, that the barbarians would somehow break the agreements.
[11] During this time, at the ships, Epeus, following Helenus’ advice, was directing the building of the wooden horse. It towered to an immense height. Wheels were put beneath its feet to make it easier to draw along. It was the greatest offering ever to be given to Minerva. Everyone said so.
At Troy, Antenor and Aeneas were making sure that the exact amount of gold and silver, in accordance with the terms of the peace, was carried to the temple of Minerva.
And we, having learned that the allies of the Trojans had left, were careful to keep the terms of the peace. There was no more killing and no more wounding, lest the barbarians suspect that we were breaking agreements.
When the wooden horse had been built, complete in all points, we drew it out to the walls. The Trojans were told to receive it religiously as a sacred offering to Minerva. They poured from their gates and joyously welcomed the horse. A sacrifice was made, and they drew it nearer the city. When, however, they saw that the horse was too large to pass through their gates, they decided, their enthusiasm blinding them to any objections, to tear down their walls. Thus they all joined in, and tore down their walls, those walls which had stood for centuries unharmed, and which, as tradition told, were the masterwork of Neptune and Apollo.4
When the work of demolition was almost complete, the Greeks purposely caused a delay. We said that the Trojans must pay the gold and silver they had promised before they could draw the horse into Troy. Thus there was an interval of time during which, the walls being half demolished, Ulysses hired all of the Trojan carpenters to help repair the ships.
When our fleet had thus been put in order, along with all of our sailing gear, and when the gold and silver had been paid, we ordered the Trojans to continue their work of destruction. As soon as a part of the walls was down, a crowd of joking men and women merrily hastened to draw the horse within their city.
[12] Meanwhile we, having stowed everything on the ships and having set fire to our huts, sailed off to Sigeum and there awaited the night.
When the Trojans, being worn out with carousing and feeling happy and secure because of the peace, had fallen asleep, we returned to the city, sailing through the dead silence, following the beacon that Sinon raised from his hidden position. Soon we had entered the walls and divided the city among us. At a given signal, we slaughtered whomever we found – in homes, on streets, in places sacred and profane. Some of the Trojans awoke, but these were cut down before they could reach for their arms or think of a way to escape. There was, in short, no end to death and slaughter. Parents and children were killed, while loved ones watched and lamented, and then the latter were killed – a pitiable sight. With equal dispatch, the buildings of the city were set on fire and destroyed; the only homes to be saved were those of Aeneas and Antenor, where guards had been posted. Priam, seeing what was happening, fled to the altar of Jupiter that stood in front of the palace. And many members of the royal family fled to other shrines of the gods; Cassandra, for instance, went to the temple of Minerva. All who fell into the hands of the enemy died cruelly, without anyone to avenge them.
At daybreak our forces came to the house where Helen was living with Deiphobus. He (as already described) had taken her to wife when Alexander had died. Now Menelaus tortured him to death, brutally cutting him to pieces, lopping off ears and arms and nose and so forth.
And Neoptolemus, with no respect for old age or the office of king, slaughtered Priam, both of whose hands were clutching the altar.
And Ajax the son of Oileus dragged off Cassandra from the temple of Minerva to be his captive.
[13] Thus we destroyed Troy and the Trojans. But still there were those who were seeking protection at the altars of gods. We decided unanimously to pull them away and kill them; so great was our lust for vengeance and our will to destroy the power o the Trojans. Accordingly, those who had escaped the slaughter of the previous night, those trembling sheep, were slaughtered. And, as is usual in war, we pillaged the temples and half-burned houses, and for many a day hunted down any of the enemy who might have escaped. Places were designated where objects of gold and of silver and costly garments were brought.
When we were sated with Trojan blood, and the city was burned to the ground, we divided the booty, in payment of our military service, beginning with the captive women and children. First of all, Helen was freely given to Menelaus; then Polyxena, at the request of Ulysses, was given to Neoptolemus, to sacrifice to Achilles; Cassandra was given to Agamemnon (he had been so moved by her beauty that, in spite of himself, he had openly said that he loved her); and Aethra and Clymene were given to Demophoon and Acamas. The other women were apportioned by lot, and thus Andromache fell to Neoptolemus (to honor whose greatness, we further allowed Andromache’s sons to accompany her); and Hecuba fell to Ulysses. After enslaving the women of royal birth, we allotted booty and captives to the rest of our men in proportion as they deserved.
[14] Heated contention arose at this time as to which of our leaders should have the Pallantium.5 Ajax the son of Telamon demanded it in payment for the booty his courage and zeal had brought to us all. There was almost no one who was willing to offend a man of such greatness, for we vividly remembered his deeds on offense and defense. Only Diomedes and Ulysses stood in his way; they based their claims to the Palladium on the fact that they had carried it off. But Ajax swore that Antenor, who had hoped thereby to win their friendship, had carried the Palladium off; and this, he said, had caused them no trouble and made no demands on their courage. Thereupon Diomedes modestly yielded to Ajax. But not so Ulysses, who contended, with all of his force, that he should have the Palladium.
Menelaus and Agamemnon favored the cause of Ulysses, for they remembered how Helen had been saved, just a little before, by his aid. When Troy had been taken, Ajax had been the first to propose that she should be killed because of the troubles and sufferings she had caused for so long a time. Many good men had assented. But Menelaus, still loving his wife, had gone the rounds, and plead for her life, and finally, through the intercession of Ulysses, had won her back unharmed.
And so we decided between Ajax and Ulysses, judging only their merits in this particular case. It made no difference which was the bravest. Yes, Ajax had performed many valorous deeds, and brought back grain from Thrace, but these were matters not pertinent here. Thus, in spite of the fact that we were surrounded by enemies and still threatened with war, the Palladium went to Ulysses.
[15] This decision caused our men to split into two factions: those who, remembering the brave deeds of Ajax, thought that no one was better than he; and those who favored Ulysses. Ajax was so angry that he lost control of himself and openly swore to kill those who had thwarted his claim. Accordingly, Ulysses, Agamemnon, and Menelaus increased their guard and kept careful watch for their personal safety. With the coming of night, as we departed, we all cursed and reviled the two kings, blaming them for letting the lust for a women endanger the army.
At daybreak we found Ajax, out in the open, dead; upon closer investigation, we discovered that he had been killed with a sword. A great tumult arose among our leaders and men, and soon a full-grown rebellion was under way. We felt that just as Palamedes, our wisest counsellor in war and peace, had been treacherously slain, so now Ajax, our most distinguished commander, had met a similar end.
Agamemnon and Menelaus stayed in their huts, guarded by trusted companions, and avoided any possible violence.
Meanwhile Neoptolemus brought wood and cremated the body of Ajax; then he gathered the remains in a golden urn and had them buried in Rhoeteum.6 He also dedicated a monument in honor of Ajax, and this was quickly constructed.
If Ajax had died before Troy had been taken, certainly the cause of the enemy would have been greatly promoted. Who knows how the war might have ended?
Ulysses, knowing that he was hated by the army, feared personal violence, and fled across to Ismaros. He left the Palladium behind for Diomedes to have.
[16] After the departure of Ulysses, Hecuba, preferring death to enslavement, called down many curses and evil omens upon us, and we, being terribly provoked, stoned her to death. Her tomb which was raised at Abydos, was called Cynossema (The Tomb of the Bitch) because of her mad and shameless barking.
At the same time Cassandra, inspired by the god, predicted that Agamemnon would die, treacherously slaughtered by members of his household. Furthermore, she said, death and disaster awaited he rest of the Greeks, as they tried to return to their homelands.
Antenor begged us, in behalf of his people, to forget about vengeance and think of ourselves, for the time for sailing was passing. Having invited our leaders to dinner, he loaded them down with marvelous gifts.
Our leaders were urging Aeneas to sail along with us to Greece and promised to give him a kingdom as powerful as any they ruled.
Helenus was rewarded with the sons of Hector, whom Neoptolemus gave him, and with all the gold and silver which the rest of our leaders felt they should give him.
Then a meeting of the council was called, and we decided to hold a public funeral, to last for three days, in honor of Ajax. When the third day came to an end, all of our kings cut off their hair, which then they placed on the tomb.
From this time on, we began to revile Agamemnon and Menelaus, saying that they were not the sons of Atreus but of Plisthenes, and therefore ignoble. They, hoping that if they were gone our hatred would vanish, begged us to let them depart without harm. This we permitted; and so, like outcasts or exiles, they were the first to set sail.
We gave the sons of Ajax to Teucer. They were Aeantides and Eurysaces, whose mothers were Glauce and Tecmessa respectively.
[17] Winter was coming on fast and threatened to prevent us from sailing. Accordingly, we drew our ships down to the sea and fitted them out with oars and other equipment. Then we departed, each with the booty he had gained for all those years of fighting.
After our departure, Aeneas, who had been left behind at Troy, tried to drive Antenor out of the kingdom. Leaving the city, he approached all those who were inhabitants of Dardanum and the peninsula nearby, and begged them to help him. He was unsuccessful, however; and when he tried to return to Troy, Antenor, who had learned what was happening, refused him admittance. And so Aeneas was forced to set sail. Taking all of his patrimony, he departed from Troy and eventually arrived in the Adriatic Sea, after passing many barbarous peoples. Here he and those who were with him founded a city, which they called Corcyra Melaena (Black Corcyra).
When it was known at Troy that Antenor had gained control of the kingdom, all the survivors of the war, those who had escaped the slaughter of that fearful night, supported his rule. In practically no time his following had increased to immense proportions. Everyone loved him and trusted his wisdom. His closest friend was Oenideus, the king of the Cebrenians.
I, Dictys of Cnossos, the companion of Idomeneus, have written this account in the language (how many there are!) I best understand, using the Phoenician alphabet bequeathed to us by Cadmus and Danaus. No one should marvel that many different languages are spoken on this one island of mine, for such is the case all over Greece. Everything I have written about he war between the Greeks and the barbarians, in which I took a very active part, is based on first-hand knowledge. What I have told about Antenor and his kingdom was learned on inquiry from others.
Now it is time to relate the returns of our men.
1. The spelling of this name is doubtful.
2. Compare Panthus’ conciliatory remarks in Dictys 2.23 and 2.25.
3. Theano is mentioned in Iliad 5.70 as the wife of Antenor and in Iliad 6.302 as the priestess of Minerva.
4. See Iliad 7.452-453.
5. In other accounts the armor of Achilles is the object of contention.
6. Rhoeteum is north of Sigeum. Strabo tells of a tomb and temple of Ajax on the shore nearby. See his Geography 13.1.30.
BOOK 6 The Returns
[1] When the Greeks had loaded the ships with all the booty they had gained, and gone aboard themselves, they weighed anchor and set sail. Blessed with a favorable wind from the stern quarter, within a few days they reached the Aegean Sea. But then, as fate would have it, a furious storm arose, a sea of troubles for all of our men, and scattered our ships.
Shattering lightning bolts, which terrified the sailors and caused them to lose all control, completely destroyed the fleet of the Locrians, commanded by Ajax. Ajax and some of the others who, having escaped the wreckage, kept afloat by clinging to boards and flotsam, were dashed to death against the Choeradian crags of Euboea. The night had kept them from seeing; and Nauplius, knowing their plight and desiring to avenge the death of his son Palamedes, had raised a torch, to lure them there, as if to a harbour.
[2] At the same time Oeax, who was the son of Nauplius and the brother of Palamedes, on learning that the Greeks were returning home, went to Argos and reported, falsely, to Clytemnestra and Aegiale that Agamemnon and Diomedes were bringing back women they preferred to their wives; and he added those things by which their womanly hearts, by nature easily persuaded, might be the more incensed against their husbands. Thus they were prompted to arm themselves against their husbands’ arrivals. Accordingly, Aegiale, with the help of the citizens, prevented Diomedes from entering the city; and Clytemnestra had Aegisthus, with whom she was living in adultery, snare Agamemnon and slay him. Soon thereafter the adulterous pair were married, and Clytemnestra gave birth to a daughter, Erigone.
Meanwhile Talthybius saved Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, from the hands of Aegisthus, and turned him over to Idomeneus.
Idomeneus was then a resident of Corinth; to which city Diomedes and Teucer also came when driven away from their homes. Teucer had been prohibited from landing on Salamis by Telamon, his father, because, no doubt, he had not prevented his brother Ajax’ ignominious death.
Meanwhile the Athenians welcomed Menestheus along with Aethra, the daughter of Pittheus, and her daughter Clymene. Demophoon and Acamas, however, remained outside the city.
Most of those who had escaped death from dangers at sea or plots at home came to Corinth and there made plans to recover their kingdoms. They should, they thought, combine their forces and attack their kingdoms one at a time. This action, however, was vetoed by Nestor, who said that they should try persuasion first and not tear Greece apart with civil wars.
Soon after this, Diomedes learned that his grandfather, Oeneus, was being afflicted in every way by those who had gained control of Aetolia during his absence. Accordingly, he went to that region and killed the guilty usurpers. Those who favored his cause easily welcomed him back, for all Aetolia feared him.
When news of Diomedes’ success spread, all of the Greeks reinstated their kings, thinking that no one could match bravery or strength of those who had battled at Troy. And so we Cretans and our king Idomeneus returned to our native soil and were joyfully received by our people.
[3] When Orestes had grown to maturity, he begged Idomeneus to give him as many men as he could and let him sail from Crete to Athens. His request was granted, having gathered a number of those he thought sufficient, he went off to Athens and there invoked the aid of the Athenians against Aegisthus.
Then, having gone to the oracle, he received the response that he was destined to kill his mother and Aegisthus, and thus to recover his father’s kingdom.
Armed with this prophecy, he and his band went on to Strophius, the Phocian. Strophius willingly offered his aid, for he passionately hated Aegisthus. (Aegisthus had first married Strophius’ daughter, but then had rejected her and married Clytemnestra; and he had treacherously slain Agamemnon, the great king.)
Thus Orestes, having assembled a large army, marched on Mycenae. Clytemnestra was immediately slain, along with many others who dared to resist. Aegisthus was absent. But when news of his arrival was brought, he was ambushed and killed. Throughout Argos the people were forced to take sides and tried to choose where best their interest lay.
During the same time Menelaus landed on Crete and learned how Agamemnon had died and what was happening in Argos.
[4] When the Cretans heard of Helen’s arrival, many men and women from all over the island came together, desiring to see her for whose sake almost all of the world had gone to war.
Menelaus told his adventures. He had learned that Teucer, who had been banished from home, had founded a city on Cyprus called Salamis. He also reported the many wonders of Egypt. The serpents there, he said, had killed his pilot, Canopus; for whom he had built a magnificent tomb.
When the time seemed right, Menelaus sailed to Mycenae. There he laid many plots against Orestes, but the people prevented him from carrying out these plans. Orestes, it was decided unanimously, should go to Athens and there stand trial before the court of Areopagus. Thus Orestes plead his case, and the Areopagus acquitted him; this court was reputedly the most severe in all Greece.
This acquittal so grieved Orestes’ half-sister, Erigone, who was the daughter of Aegisthus, that she hanged herself. After the verdict and after Orestes had been purified by every means, according to the ancient ritual in use for parricides, Menestheus sent him home to Mycenae. And thereupon the people made him king.
Later Orestes and then Menelaus came to Crete at the invitation of Idomeneus. Orestes bitterly charged his uncle with plotting against him at a time when his positioned was already endangered by public strife. Finally, however, they were reconciled with each other by the intercession of Idomeneus and so departed to Lacedaemon. And then Menelaus, just as he had agreed to do, promised Hermione in marriage to Orestes.
[5] During the same time Ulysses, with two ships he had hired from the Phoenicians, landed on Crete.1 He had lost his fleet along with his comrades and all of his booty and had barely escaped with his life by using his wits. This disaster had been due to the power of Telamon, who no doubt hated Ulysses for being the cause of Ajax’ death.
When Idomeneus asked Ulysses how he had met such misfortunes, he told the story of his wanderings from the beginning. First they had landed at Ismaros, where they had fought, and gained much booty.
Then they had sailed to the country of the Lotus-Eaters, where they had met with a cruel fate.
Then they had gone to the island of Sicily, where the brothers Cyclops and Laestrygon had treated them with every indignity and where Polyphemus and Antiphates, who were the sons of the former, had killed many of them. Finally, however, Polyphemus – he was the king – had taken pity upon them and agreed to a truce. But then they had tried to carry off Polyphemus’ daughter Arene, who had fallen desperately in love with their comrade Alphenor. Polyphemus, however, had discovered their plans.
Thus, having been forcibly deprived of the girl, they were driven away – out through the island of Aeolus, on to the island of Circe, and then to the island of Calypso. It was well known how these queens, by using certain charms, enticed their guests to love them. Nevertheless, Ulysses escaped.
Then they had gone to that place where, having performed the requisite rites, they learned of the future from the shades of the dead. Then on past the rocks of the Sirens, whom he had cleverly eluded. And then, finally, he had lost most of his ships and men to Scylla and Charybdis, that savage, whirling pool that sucks down everything within its reach.
Then he and the survivors had come into the hands of Phoenician pirates, and these had mercifully saved them.
Thereupon our king Idomeneus did as Ulysses wished and gave him two ships and much booty and sent him off to Alcinous, the king of the Phaeacians.
[6] There they already knew of his fame and entertained him many days. Also they told him that Penelope was being wooed by thirty handsome suitors who had come from different regions – from Zacynthus, the Echidnades, Leucas, and Ithaca. Thereupon he prevailed upon Alcinous to sail with him, to avenge this insult to his marriage.
When they had come to Ithaca, Ulysses stayed concealed for a little while, until they could inform Telemachus of what they were planning. Then they proceeded to the palace and slew the suitors, who had been wined and dined to the full. When the people knew that Ulysses had come, they welcomed him back and showed that they favored his cause; and from them he learned everything that had happened at home. Ulysses repaid the faithful with gifts, the unfaithful with punishments. As for Penelope, her reputation for virtue is famous.
Soon afterwards, in answer to Ulysses’ hopes and prayers, Nausicaa, the daughter of Alcinous, was married to Telemachus. This was also the time when our leader Idomeneus died in Crete; and, according to the right of succession, the kingdom passed to Meriones. Laertes, three years after his son had returned, ended his life. Nausicaa and Telemachus had a son, to whom Ulysses gave the name Ptoliporthus (Sacker of Cities).
[7] While these things were happening on Ithaca, Neoptolemus was among the Molossians repairing his ships, which had been wrecked in a storm. There he had learned that Acastus had driven Peleus out of his kingdom in Thessaly. Accordingly, as he desired to avenge this wrong to his grandfather, he sent Chrysippus and Aratus to explore the situation; they were very reliable men, and no one in Thessaly knew them.
These learned from Assandrus, a follower of Peleus, everything that had happened and how Acastus had treacherously attacked Peleus. This Assandrus had eluded the tyranny of Acastus and sided with Peleus, with whom he ahd become so intimate that he was able to tell, among other things, about Peleus’ marriage with Thetis, Chiron’s daughter.
At that time many kings had been invited from everywhere to the wedding, which was at Chiron’s home. During the banquet they had praised the bride and offered her toasts as if to a goddess, saying that she was a Nereid and that Chiron was Nereus. In the same way they had called any of their number who excelled in dancing or singing Apollo or Bacchus, and had given the names of Muses to many of the women. Accordingly, from that time on, this banquet was known as “a banquet of the gods.”
[8] When Chrysippus and Aratus had learned what they wanted to know, they returned to Neoptolemus and made a full report.
Thereupon Neoptolemus, though the sea was rough and there were reasons enough to stay where he was, equipped his fleet and set sail. Having been much harassed on sea by a savage storm and having been driven to the shore of the Sepiades (so called because of their dangerous rocks), he lost almost all of his ships; he himself and those who were sailing with him barely escaped. There he found his grandfather, Peleus, who was hiding in a dark, secluded cave. The old man, while avoiding the treacherous plots of Acastus, was keeping a lookout for all who happened to sail there, hoping his grandson would come.
When Peleus had told Neoptolemus all that had befallen his house, the latter was beginning to decide on a plan of attack when by chance he learned that the sons of Acastus, Menalippus and Plisthenes, were coming to hunt near Peleus’ cave. Accordinly, he changed into the clothes of that region; and then, pretending to be an Iolchian, he presented himself to the sons of Acastus and asked permission to join in their sport. This being granted, soon afterwards he came upon Menalippus and Plisthenes – they were close together but separated some distance from the rest of their party – and slew them. Then he captured and slew their faithful slave, Cinyras, who had come in search of his masters; but not before he had learned that Acasus also was coming.
[9] Thereupon Neoptolemus changed into Phrygian clothes, so as to look like Mestor, the son of Priam, whom he had brought along as a captive.2 When, dressed in this guise, he met with Acastus, he claimed to be Mestor and said that Neoptolemus was wearied from sailing and was sleeping there in the cave.
Since Acastus desired to trap this most hated of enemies, he went straight to the cave. But Thetis was there and kept him from entering. (She, having learned what was happening, had come to be with Peleus.) She roundly berated Acastus for his crimes against the house of Achilles and against the laws of the gods. But then she used her influence to save him from Neoptolemus’ power, for she urged her grandson to refrain from further vengeance and slaughter.
Acastus, being grateful for his unexpected escape, willingly, right then and there, gave Neoptolemus complete control of the kingdom.
Then Neoptolemus, having gained control of the kingdom, went to the city with his grandfather, Peleus, and his grandmother, Thetis, and those of his men who had survived the voyage. All the citizens and all the people round about who were under his power welcomed him joyously and with a devotion which, as he was soon to pove, was not misplaced.
[10] Neoptolemus told me everything which I have written about him, when I attended his marriage to Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus. I also learned from him about the burial of Memnon’s remains.
Memnon’s bones came into the hands of those of his men who had stayed on Paphos. They had slain Pallas,3 under whose leadership they were sailing to Troy, and had taken the booty for themselves.
Then his sister Himera, or Hemera as some call her after her mother,4 came to Paphos, looking for the body of her brother. When she found the remains and learned what had happened to the booty, she wanted to recover both. Thereupon, through the influence of the Phoenicians, who composed a majority of Memnon’s soldiers there, she was given a choice: she could have either the booty of the bones, but not both. Accordingly, yielding to sisterly affection, she chose the latter; she took the urn and, setting sail, carried it off to Phoenicia.
When she had come to the part of the country called Phalliotis, she buried the urn. Then she suddenly vanished from sight. There were three explanations for her disappearance: either she had vanished at sunset along with her mother, Himera; or she had killed herself, overwhelmed with grieving over her brother; or the inhabitants of Phalliotis had killed her, desiring to steal whatever she had.
Neoptolemus is my source for what I have told about Memnon and his sister.
[11] The year after I returned to Crete, I went to the oracle of Apollo as a public representative, along with two others, in order to seek relief from a plague. For no apparent reason and all unexpectedly, a great horde of locusts had attacked our island and was destroying all of the crops in the fields. The response of the oracle, in answer to our many prayers and supplications, was that living creatures must die, divinely slain, before the crops of our island would grow and abound.
The people at Delphi prohibited us from sailing home at this time; the weather, they said, was unfavorable and dangerous. Nevertheless, Lycophron and Ixaeus – they were the two who had come along with me – refused to obey this injunction. Thus they sailed. When, however, they were half way to Crete, a bolt of lightning struck them dead. And then, just as the god had predicted, with the same bolt of lightning, the locusts departed, swallowed up by the sea, and the crops of our island began to increase.
[12] During the same time Neoptolemus, having consummated his marriage with Hermione, went to Delphi. He wanted to give thanks to Apollo for the fact that Alexander, who had murdered his father, had paid for his crime. Andromache was left behind at home, along with Laodamas, her only surviving son by Hector.5
Now Hermione, after the departure of her husband, was tortured by the thought of her captive rival, and summoned her father, Menelaus. Then, bitterly complaining about her poor treatment – how Neoptolemus preferred a captive woman to her – she urged Menelaus to kill Hector’s son. Andromache, however, having learned of this plot, saved her son and escaped with the aid of the people, who pitied her fate; furthermore, these heaped abuses upon Menelaus, and were barely prevented from killing him.
[13] Meanwhile Orestes arrived and learned all that was happening. Thereupon he urged Menelaus to carry out the plot, for he himself was planning to kill Neoptolemus when he returned. He hated Neoptolemus for having married Hermione; she had been promised to him. Accordingly, the first thing he did was to send some trusted scouts to Delphi to find out when Neoptolemus would come.
Menelaus, being thus apprised of Orestes’ plans, returned to Sparta, for he wanted no part in such a crime.
Then the scouts who had been sent to Delphi reported that Neoptolemus was not to be found in that place. And thus Orestes was forced to set out in search of his man.
When he returned – but not on the same day he had left – everyone believed that he had accomplished his purpose. Within a short time the popular story was that Neoptolemus was dead and that Orestes had treacherously slain him.
Then Orestes returned to Mycenae, taking Hermione with him. She had been promised to him.
Meanwhile Peleus and Thetis, having heard of their grandson’s death, set out to learn for themselves exactly how he had died. They discovered that he had been buried at Delphi (where then they performed his funeral rites according to custom), but that he had died in a place where Orestes had never been seen. This, however, the people refused to believe, so strong was their presumption of Orestes’ treachery.
Furthermore, Thetis, seeing that Hermione and Orestes were married, sent Andromache off to the Molossians. Andromache was pregnant by Neoptolemus, and Thetis feared that Orestes and Hermione might try to kill the baby.
[14] During the same time Ulysses had been frightened by frequent omens and nightmares. Accordingly, he summoned all those in his area who were skilled in interpreting dreams, and told them everything, but especially this dream he frequently had:6
A form, half human and half divine,7 and beautiful to behold, suddenly arose form the same place. As he passionately reached out his arms and tried to embrace it, he received a rebuke, in a human voice: such a union was wicked, a union between those of the same flesh and blood, one of whom was destined to die at the hands of the other. And while he pondered and wondered how this could be, a shaft, hurled by the apparition’s command, appeared to arise from the sea and, coming between them, caused them to part.
Everyone who was there interpreted this vision as fatal to him; and, furthermore, they begged him to beware of the treacherous acts of his son. Accordingly, Telemachus, because of his father’s suspicions, was sent to the island of Cephalenia, there to farm where trusted guards could watch him. Furthermore, Ulysses, by withdrawing into a region that was hidden and remote, strove to avoid what his dream had foretold.
[15] Meanwhile, however, Telegonus, whom Circe had borne to Ulysses and raised on the island of Aeaea, having grown to manhood, came to Ithaca in search of his father. He was carrying a spear, whose point was the bone of a sea bird, the turtle-dove, which was the symbol of Aeaea, where he was born. When he learned where Ulysses was living off in the country, he went to that place; but the guards there prohibited him entry. Persisting but always being resisted, he began to shout that this was disgraceful, a crime, to prevent a song from embracing his father. But the guards, not knowing that Ulysses had fathered a second son and believing that this was Telemachus who had come to murder the king, resisted ever more fiercely. And thus Telegonus, becoming more and more angry because of this increasingly vehement opposition, ended by killing or wounding many of the guards.
Ulysses, having learned what was happening, thought that this was a young man whom Telemachus had sent to harm him. Accordingly, he entered the fray and let fly with his spear, which he always carried for protection. Telegonus, however, parried the blow; and then, aiming to make a mortal wound and letting fly with his own remarkable weapon, he hit his father.
Ulysses, as he fell, was thankful for this sort of fate. It was all for the best, he thought; by dying at he hands of a foreigner he would prevent Telemachus, whom he dearly loved, from being guilty of parricide. Still breathing, he asked the young man who he was and where he was from and how he had dared to kill Ulysses, the son of Laertes, a man famous for virtues in war and peace.
And then Telegonus realized that this was his father whom he had slain. He wept in a very pitiable way and pulled his hair with both his hands, being terribly tortured because he had caused his father’s death. Then, as Ulysses had asked, he told him his name and the name of his mother and the name of the island where he was born; and he shoed him the point of the spear.
And so Ulysses knew that his recurring dream had been correctly interpreted; he had been fatally struck by one whom he had never suspected. And thus, within three days, he died, a man advanced in years, whose strength, however, was as yet unimpaired.
1. Sections 5 and 6 cover the events of the Odyssey.
2. According to Dictys 2.43 (end), Mestor was slain at Troy.
3. Compare Dictys 4.4, where Memnon’s forces slay their leader Phalas (not Pallas) and choose to stay on Rhodes (not Paphos).
4. Aurora (Dawn) is the mother of Himera (Longing)-Hemera (Day).
5. Compare Dictys 5.16, where Neoptolemus gives the sons of Hector to Helenus.
6. Compare the prophecy of Tiresias in Odyssey 11.134-137: “Death will come to you out of the sea. . . .”
7. Telegonus is the son of the mortal Ulysses and the immortal Circe.


Prefatory letter to Q. Aradius Rufinus allegedly by a Lucius Septimius says Dictys wrote (Greek) in
Phoenician letters; centuries later shepherds came upon his collapsed tomb and found no treasure, but
only books written on bark, which they brought to their master Praxis, who had them copied in Attic
alphabet and brought to Rome to be given to Emperor Nero. Septimius then translated the first five
books of Greek into five books of Latin and combined the remainder, Books 6-9 (on the return of the
Greeks from Troy), into the sixth book of the Latin version.
Prologue claims instead that the bark books were found by Cretan shepherds, brought to master
Eupraxides, who brought them to consular of island Rutilius Rufus. He sent them to Nero with
Eupraxides; Nero ordered them to be translated into Greek and rewarded Eupraxides with Roman
citizenship. (No mention of translation into Latin.)
Book 1: while descendants of Minos gathered in Crete to divide property of Atreus, Paris visits Sparta
and abducts Helen (1-3). Greek embassy goes to Troy, Trojan populace willing to give her back, but
prevented and intimidated by the royal princes; Helen says she prefers to stay; plot against embassy,
but Antenor makes sure they leave safely (4-11). Assembly of Greek heroes at Argos to swear
vengeance and choose Ag. as leader, then go home to prepare ships and arms (12-16). Takes two
years to assemble fleet at Aulis, five years to amass troops and arms and supplies (17-18).
Agamemnon kills deer in grove of Diana, pestilence follows, prophetess tells of demand for sacrifice.
Ag. refuses and Greeks remove him from office of chief leader. Ulixes takes it upon himself to go to
Mycenae and bring forged letter to Clyt.; brings Iph. to Aulis, sacrifice prepared, but terrible weather
omens, voice from grove tells them to sacrifice substitute provided, while Ag. will get his punishment
from Clyt. in future; Achilles seizes Iph., deer sacrificed. Achilles and others entrust Iph. to king of
Scythians. They restore office to Ag. and console him. Fleet sails from Aulis (19-23).
Book 2: Greeks attack Mysia by mistake for Troy, meeting resistance of shore guards; they report
attack to Telephus, who leads army and kills many Greeks until tripped up by a vine stump and hit by
Achilles’ spear (1-4). Two grandsons of Heracles in Greek army go to Telephus to explain who they
are, and peace is made; Telephus entertains all the chiefs who are descended from Pelops, gives them
gifts, they have his wound treated by sons of Asclepius (5-6). Greek army returns to Greece (7).
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Trojans planning an invasion of Greece, so Greek heroes reassemble and prepare to go to Troy with
more ships added for incursions on neighbors of Troy; now it is start of 9th year (8-9). Telephus still in
pain, comes to Argos for cure because of oracle. Cured, and leads them to Troy (10). Sarpedon arrives
in time to attack Greeks trying to come ashore, but Ajax and Achilles gain beachhead for Greeks.
Protesilaos dies, Telephus returns home (11-12). Attacks on some neighboring people. Oracle calls for
sacrifice to Apollo Zminthius, Palamedes leads, Philoctetes bitten by serpent, sent to Lemnos with a
few men to be taken care of (13-14). Diomedes and Ulixes treacherously kill Palamedes in a well,
some believed it was with consent of Agamemnon because soldiers in general liked him and wanted
him to replace Agamemnon (15). Achilles and Ajax attack nearby islands and peoples, bring back a
lot of booty to be shared out, including Polydorus; Astynome, daughter of Chryses and widow of
Eetion, given to Agamemnon; Achilles gets Hippodamia, daughter of Brises, and Diomedea (16-19).
Ulixes and Diomedes and Menelaus go to Troy to seek exchange of Polydorus for Helen; Trojan
elders agree the Greeks have justice on their side, urge Priam to act, but partisan of princes,
Antimachus, then cows elders, Antenor rallies resistance and Antimachus ejected (20-24). Hector
persuaded by elders to agree to return of property, and offer of Cassandra or Polyxena to Menelaus,
won’t send Helen because she is a suppliant of his house. Menelaus objects, Aeneas insults and
threatens him, and negotiations end. Common people criticize Aeneas for his role in causing ruin of
kingdom (25-26). Polydorus stoned to death in front of walls (27). Chryses comes to ask for
daughter’s release, offering ransom; Greeks willing, say ransom not necessary because they respect
Apollo. Agamemnon refuses and sends Chryses off with threats. Army resentful, Achilles speaks ill
of Atreids to all. A few days later, plague begins. Calchas persuaded with guarantees to reveal what
he knows. Agamemnon withdraws, Achilles stirs army against him. Trojans see weakness and attack,
many killed on both sides (28-32). Agamemnon fears losing leadership, so decides to give up
Astynome provided he gets Hippodamia from Achilles. Demand seemed outrageous to all, but it was
allowed to take place, with Achilles cooperating from love of army. Astynome returned to father and
plague lets up (33). Then Achilles resentful about what happened, hates Agamemnon, loses love of
the army, blames all for not defending him from injustice, withdraws (34). Trojan allies and
mercenaries frustrated by delays, ready to leave, so Hector prepares for an assault; catalogue of allies;
Greeks go out to battle, except Achilles and Myrmidons. Achilles still resentful, and now very angry
not to have been invited to dinner with other leaders. Armies face off and don’t fight, go back to
camps. Achilles plans to attack the Greeks, but Ulixes learns of it and it is forestalled. Extra guards
because they fear Hector will attack because he observes their turmoil. Diomedes and Ulixes capture
Trojan spy Dolon and kill him (35-38). Another day of battle, Menelaus spots Alexander and
challenges him, Hector and Deiphobus compel him to face Menelaus, who is close to killing him
when Pandarus shoots him with arrow; fighting ends because winter has arrived; some Greeks plant
crops, Ajax leads more attacks on Phrygia (39-41). One day Hector leads whole army out against
unsuspecting Greeks and manages to burn a couple of ships’ prows. Some supplicate Achilles in vain.
Ajax arrives and beats Trojans back from ships (42-44). Rhesus arrives at night with his forces;
Diomedes and Ulixes kill him and take horses; when Thracians find out next morning, they attack
Greeks but are easily slaughtered and their camp annihilated (45-46). Chryses comes to thank Greeks
for return of daughter, now offers her willingly to Agamemnon. Philoctetes returns from Lemnos, still
not wholly cured (47). Ajax proposes a new appeal to Achilles, Agamemnon agrees and offers gifts
and marriage with a daughter and swears that Hippodamia untouched by him. Patroclus arrives and
hears Agamemnon’s offer and excuse of being misled by anger; he reports to Achilles (48-49). Ajax,
Ulixes, and Diomedes visit Achilles; first two urge him to relent; he replies angrily and stubbornly.
Diomedes tells him to forget what is past, and Phoenix and Patroclus plead with him until he gives in.
So he rejoins the circle of leaders and Hippodamia is returned to him (50-52.)
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Book 3: During winter Greeks refurbish their military equipment and constantly practice their skills,
while Trojans and allies relax, supplicate Thymbraean Apollo with many offerings. News comes that
neighboring cities of Asia have given up on supporting Priam (1). Achilles visits Apollo shrine to
view the rites, Hecuba happens to be sacrificing with daughters and many others; Achilles sees and
falls in love with Polyxena. Message sent to Hector, he offers his sister if Achilles will betray the
Greek army (2). Achilles says he will settle the conflict, but Hector insists that Achilles either betray
whole army or kill Greek generals. Achilles is angered and swears he’ll kill Hector next time there is
a battle. His love is revealed to his friends and then to all Greeks, who encourage him by saying she
will be his when Troy falls (3). Spring brings first renewed battle; Hector pressing Greeks when
Achilles sees him and heads toward him, but Hector flees, Achilles wounded on hand by Helenus and
withdraws for day (4-6). Patroclus kills Sarpedon, Hector returns to battle, and evening ends this fight
(7-8). In next day’s battle, Trojans attack early, Patroclus presses back, stricken by Euphorbus, then
Hector stabs him many times, tries to take body away to mistreat, but Ajax prevents it (9-10).
Mourning and cremation of Patroclus (11-12). A few days of rest, then more battles, some Trojan
captives killed at Patroclus’ pyre (13-14). Achilles hears Hector is going to meet Penthesilea,
ambushes Hector and his small band, kills him, drags body before walls of Troy (15). Mourning in
Troy, Greeks hold games to honor Patroclus (16-19). Priam with Andromache and Polyxena and cart
of gold approaches Greek camp. Greek generals accompany him to meet Achilles. Pitiful plea by
Priam and by Andromache and her children (20-22). Achilles lectures Priam harshly. Generals advise
Achilles to accept ransom; Polyxena supplicates him, and this moves Achilles to give in. Insists that
Priam clean up and eat with him (23-24). Achilles asks why Trojans kept Helen despite all the losses.
Priam tells him it is all fated, tells story of Paris’ exposure and recognition. Achilles takes most of
ransom, but leaves some of the precious garments for the corpse. Priam offers him Polyxena, but
Achilles says they can discuss that at another time and place (25-27).
Book 4: Funeral of Hector (1). Penthesilea had decided to go back home when she heard of Hector’s
death, but Alexander bribed her to help Trojans. Her army engages Greeks in full battle before Troy,
without the Trojans; Penthesileia wounded by Achilles and her army destroyed; Greeks want to throw
her still alive into river to punish her transgression of natural condition of her sex. Achilles pleads that
she be given burial, but rest of Greeks insist on humiliating treatment (2-3). Arrival of Memnon with
land forces, while his naval force led by Phalas is opposed and destroyed at Rhodes. In a great battle
Memnon leads forces to victory, would have fired the Greek ships if night had not ended battle. On
next day Memnon is killed (first wounded by Ajax, finished off by Achilles) and many Trojans and
allies die (4-7). Truce for burials; funeral of Antilochus; Greeks very elated, full of praise for Ajax
and Achilles; Trojans very downcast, with little hope after deaths of Sarpedon, Hector, and Memnon
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Latin 4.8 end Greek, PTebt column 1, 1
Thus with so many reverses coming together at once, they [the
Trojans] had lost all thought of rising up again.
...not to these warlike spirit.
Latin 4.9 Greek, PTebt column 1, 1-18
But a few days later the Greeks, equipped in their arms, advanced
into the plain, challenging the Trojans to fight, if they dared.
Against them Alexander as leader together with his remaining
brothers arranges the troops and advances in opposition. But before
the lines clashed with each other and spears began to be thrown, the
barbarians abandon their battle lines and start a flight. A great
number of them were cut down or driven headlong into the river,
since their enemies pressed them on this side and on that side and
any path of escape was taken away on all sides. In addition Lycaon
and Troilus, sons of Priam, were captured; when they were brought
into the middle Achilles orders that they be executed, incensed that
no message had yet been sent to him by Priam concerning the
matters which he had discussed with him. When the Trojans
observed this, they raise a groan and bewail with mournful cries in a
pitiful manner the fate of Troilus, recalling his age, which was still
not quite mature: in his first years of youth he was growing up
beloved and admired by the populace for his modesty and honesty,
and especially for the beauty of his body.
After [not] many days [passed], the Greeks ar[ming themselves] ...
go out to the plain chal[lenging ...] In turn [Alexandros] led the
barbarians, since [Memnon] was no longer alive. And while the
[armies] were following [and had not yet] attacked each other, [the
barbarians having fled,] very many of them are [thrown] into [the
Scamander river,] and of the sons [of Priam Lycaon] and Troilus are
taken a[live]. When they are [immediately led forward] into the
midst of the A[chaeans], Achilles kills them because their father had
not [yet] sent [to him ... ] concerning [the matters he agreed on.
And] no small [grief came over] those in Ilium [at the death of
Troilus.] For he was still a youth and a noble ... all the ... [very little
legible for several lines] ... bodies
Latin 4.10 Greek, PTebt column 1, 18-30
Then, after a few days had passed, an annual rite of Thymbraean
Apollo arrived and a pause in the fighting was interposed by a truce.
Then with both armies attending the sacrifice, Priam, having found a
suitable occasion, sends Idaeus to Achilles with a message
concerning Polyxena. But while in the sacred grove Achilles with
Idaeus, separately from the others, considers the messages that had
been brought, the matter became known among the [Greek] ships,
and a suspicion arose about their leader being won over, and finally
indignation. For they had begun to consider true a rumor of betrayal
that previously had arisen throughout the army, but been treated
After a few [days] elapsed [the festival] of Apollo Thymbraeus
[arrives] and a t[ruce in the war comes about] and at the sacrifices
[...] Priam [send Idaeus] bearing [a message] concerning [Polyxena]
to Achilles. [When he deals privately with this man in the grove,] a
[great] uproar [arose among the Greeks in the belief that Achilles]
was betraying [the army.]
... much Alexander...
..having with ...
... Ajax with Diomedes [and Odysseus ...]
the report they awaited him ... [outside the gro]ve so that they could
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
with kind indulgence. For which reason, so that the agitated feelings
of the soldiers would be calmed, Ajax with Diomedes and Ulysses
go to the grove and they stay in front of the temple, waiting for
Achilles to come out, and [they do this] also so that they may report
to the young hero what is happening and in addition dissuade him
from thereafter treating secretly with the enemy in a conference.
exhort him? ...not to trust the barbarians.
Latin 4.11 Greek, PTebt column 1, 31-51
In the meantime, Alexander, having arranged an ambush with
Deiphobus, armed with a dagger, approaches Achilles as if he were
the confirmer of those things that Priam was promising, and soon
stands near the altar, turned away from the chief, so that he would
not sense the treachery of an enemy. Then when the time seemed
right, Deiphobus embraced the unarmed youth (fearing nothing
hostile because he was in the sacred precinct of Apollo) and kissed
and congratulated him on the agreement that he had made, nor did
he separate himself from him or let him go until Alexander,
wielding his sword and running forward against his enemy, pierced
him through both sides with a double blow. And when they
observed that he was undone by the wounds, they rush forth in the
opposite direction from the one they came, having accomplished a
deed so great and beyond everyone’s prayers, and they return into
the city. When Ulixes saw them, he said “It is not without purpose
that these men have suddenly sprung forth agitated and afraid.”
Then entering the grove and looking all around they notice Achilles
laid out on the ground drained of blood and already then half dead.
Then Ajax said, “It is after all confirmed and true that throughout
mortals no one can have existed who surpassed you in true valor,
but, as is obvious, your own ill-considered impetuousness has
betrayed you.” Then Achilles, still retaining his final breath, said,
“By trickery and ambush Deiphobus and Alexander have overcome
me because of Polyxena.” Then as he died the chiefs embraced him
with a great groan and kissing him made their final farewell. Then
Ajax carries him, now dead and raised on this shoulders, out of the
...Alexander arrives ...
...altar ...
... of Deiphobus, Achilles ...
several line illegible
...Achilles ...
... grove ...
... Odysseus said “no good thing these men ...”
...having attempted. [So], entering [the grove and] looking around
the [who]le place they see [Achilles lying inside] the fenced area of
the altar [covered with blood and still] breathing. To whom Ajax
said, [“It was true then that none] else of mortals could [kill you
since in warlike strength you surpass] all, but your own
impetuousness [has destroyed (you).” And he said, “Because of
Polyxen]a Alexander did this to me, [and Deiphobus, by treachery.”]
Embracing him [the leaders] gave [him their final] farewell. And
when he was dead ...
... carry on his shoulder ...
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Latin 4.12 Greek, PTebt column 1,52 - column 2, 63
When the Trojans perceived this, they all rush out of the gates
together eager to snatch Achilles and carry him off within the wall,
obviously desiring to mistreat his dead body in their accustomed
way. On the other side the Greeks, recognizing the situation, snatch
their arms and hasten to face them, and gradually all the forces are
led forth, and thus on both side in a short time the struggle grew
great. After entrusting his [Achilles’] body to those who were with
him, Ajax in outrage kills Asius, son of Dymas, brother of Hecuba,
the first man he runs into. Then he strikes a great many, as each one
comes in range of his weapon, among whom were found Nastes and
Amphimachus, rulers of Caria. And now the leaders Ajax son of
Oileus and Sthenelus join him and they lay flat many enemies and
force them into flight. Therefore the Trojans, when a great many of
their men had been killed, scattered in no discernible order and with
no hope left of resisting, and wandering, rush to the gates and
believe that there is no salvation anywhere except inside the walls.
For this reason a large number of men are cut down by our troops as
they pursue them.
[The Trojans, seeing this] ... the corpse ...
... in order to [mutilate]. But the Greeks, perceiving what happened,
take up their arms <went to help> those carrying Achilles, and they
joined together with each other. Ajax, entrusting the body to
Diomedes and his associates to protect, strikes first Asius son of
Dymas, brother of Hecuba, and after this Nastes and Amphimachus
rulers of the Carians. Ajax and Sthenelus stand next to him, killing
those in the front ranks. And with many [Trojan] allies having fled
in disorder and the barbarians also having been slain in the battle
and no longer being able to resist, they [the Greeks] purse them until
they got inside the walls.
Latin 4.13 Greek, PTebt column 2, 63-76
But when the gates were closed and the killing was stopped, the
Greeks carry Achilles to the ships. Then while all the chiefs were
mourning the fall of such a great man, a great many of the soldiers
hardly shared their grief, nor were they affected with sadness as the
event demanded, because it stuck in their minds that Achilles had
often entered into negotiations with the enemy about betraying the
army. Moreover, [they considered that] as a result of his death the
prime excellence of the army had been lost and the greatest portion
of its hope had been removed, since it had not been permitted to this
man, outstanding in warfare, to meet even a honorable death, or
simply to die otherwise than in obscurity. Therefore a large supply
of wood was quickly brought from Ida and they construct a pyre in
the same place where they had done so before for Patroclus. Then
they placed the body on it, set fire to it, and completed the due
rituals for the corpse, with Ajax in particular standing by it, who for
And when they returned to the tents, having brought the corpse of
Achilles, none of the common soldiers joined in the mourning for
the misfortune ... nor did they ... having suspected that ...
he had ... against him ...
... of the man ...
they bore Achilles out [to the spot?] to [which ] they [also] brought
Patroclus. And for three days ... throw? ...
and Ajax stayed beside the pyre and ... staying awake the whole
night for the entire span of days ...
... both a friend and (kinsman?) ...
... surpassing all the rest of the heroes in warlike valor.
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
three days without sleep did not cease from the toil before the
remains were gathered. For he alone of all was devastated by the
death of Achilles almost beyond what is proper for a male. He had
loved him more than the others and had honored him with the
utmost loyalty, both since he was a very dear friend and joined to
him by kinship, and especially since he by far surpassed the others
in valor.
Latin 4.14 Greek, PTebt column 2, 76-89
In contrast, among the Trojans rejoicing and congratulations had
overcome all at the killing of an enemy so much to be feared. And
they praise to high heaven the stratagem of Alexander, since in their
view he had accomplished by the ambush so much as he could not
even have dared in a battle. In the midst of this, a messenger comes
to Priam that Eurypylus, son of Telephus, is coming from Mysia,
whom the king had lured previously with many rewards and had
finally bound firmly to him with the offer of Cassandra as his
betrothed. But among the other very beautiful things he had sent to
him he had also added a certain vine made of gold, which was
famous throughout the nations for that reason. And Eurypylus,
renowned among many people for his valor and now accompanied
by Mysian and Ceteian legions, was received by the Trojans with
the greatest joy and had turned all the hopes of the barbarians in a
better direction.
There was great joy among the Trojans ... because Achilles had
fallen. For they had not expected ...
... nor surviving ...
the clever plan of Alexander ...
...not being able ...
Messengers come to Priam reporting that Eurypylus son of Telephus
is there. For before Hector fell Priam had summoned him, having
agreed even to [give] Cassandra [to him and having se]nt him the
golden vine ...
...for manly courage, and he arrives ... the Mysians and Ceteans.
They received(?) ...
... happy, having met with better hopes for the future, since Achilles
had been cast down.
Latin 4.15 Greek, PTebt column 2, 89-106
Meanwhile the Greeks buried at Sigeum the bones of Achilles,
enclosed in an urn, adding Patroclus’ bones to them. Ajax hires for
pay the inhabitants of that area also to build a tomb for Achilles,
now being disgusted with the Greeks because he did not observe in
them anything worthy of a grief commensurate with the loss of such
a great hero. At about the same time, Pyrrhus, whom they called
Neoptolemus, son of Achilles by Deidamia daughter of Lycomedes,
arrives and finds the tomb-mound already for the most part built up.
Then after inquiring about the manner of his father’s death, he
restores the spirit of the Myrmidons, a very forceful race and one
famed in warfare for skill at arms and courage. Making Phoenix the
And the Greeks gathered the bones of Achilles into a hydria and
bear them to bury in Sigeum, and with him Patroclus. .... Ajax the
common soldiers to no extent ... making ... for the dead Achilles.
And a contract is let by Ajax for a temple of Achilles, the people in
Sigeum having taken payment to construct it. And at the same time
Pyrrhus, whom they called Neoptolemus, arrived and finds the tomb
and temple under construction, and after asking all the details of
how his death occurred and arming the soldiers with him (these
were Myrmidons, a very warlike tribe), he leaves Phoenix as
overseer of the works. And going to his father’s ships and tent he
finds Hippodamia as guardian of Achilles property ...
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
overseer of the work to be done, he goes to the ships and tents of his
father. There he finds Hippodamia as guardian of the Achilles’
property. And immediately when his arrival is known all the chiefs
rush together to the same place, and they exhort him to keep his
feelings under control. Replying to them calmly he says that he too
is quite aware that all things that are done by divine will are to be
endured with a brave heart, nor is the privilege of living beyond
one’s fated time granted to anyone. For [he said] the condition of
old age is base and hateful to brave men, while it is desired by the
cowardly. Moreover, [he said,] his grief is lighter because of the fact
that Achilles was not killed in a fight nor in the light of war, and he
certainly never expected anyone mightier than Achilles to exist now
or in the past, with the sole exception of Hercules. Furthermore he
adds that Achilles was the only hero of that time worthy enough that
it would be proper for Troy to be destroyed by his hands;
nevertheless he does not reject the idea that what had been left
unfinished by his father be completed by himself and the leaders
then standing around him.
All the kings, seeing him, exhort him to bear (his grief) nobly. And
he to those who had consoled him in elaborate ways
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Book 4 cont’d
Plan to fight next day; banquet that evening of chiefs; Pyrrhus goes out next morning, but
Diomedes and Ulixes advise rest for troops, so two days of delay. Trojans reluctant to go
out to fight now that new strength added to Greeks, but Eurypylus insists. Aeneas stays in
city, disgusted at impiety of killing in Apollo’s shrine. Eurypylus successful for a while,
then killed by Neoptolemus. Trojans routed and flee into city. (16-17)
Latin 4.18 Greek, POxy
Therefore after the Greeks routed the enemy and returned to their
ships, by the decision of the council they cremate the bones of
Eurypylus, put them in an urn and send them back to his father,
because they were mindful of his help and friendship. Nireus and
Peneleus were cremated separated by their own comrades. On the
next day it is learned through Chryses that Helenus the son of Priam,
fleeing from the crime of Alexander, is staying with Chryses in the
temple. And soon when Diomedes and Ulixes had been sent for the
purpose, he surrendered himself, having appealed to them first to
grant him some part of the territory in which he could spend the rest
of his life far removed from the others. Then he was led to the ships,
where he met with the council. After saying much else, he says it
was not from fear of death that he was abandoning his fatherland
and parents, but because compelled by the turning away of the gods
(from Troy), the gods whose shrines neither he not Aeneas could
abide seeing violating by Alexander. Aeneas, fearing the wrath of
the Greeks, was spending his time with Antenor and his aged father.
When he (Helenus) had recognized from an oracle of Apollo the
evils that were impending for the Trojans, he hastened to them as a
suppliant of his own free will. Then when our people were eager to
learn the secret revelations, Chryses signifies with a nod that they
keep silent and he takes Helenus away with him. Informed of
everything by him, he (Chryses) reports it to the Greek just as he
heard it, and he adds in addition the time of Troy’s fall and the fact
that it will come about with Aeneas and Antenor as agents. Then
recalling what Calchas had foretold, they realize that all details are
the same and in agreement.
...on behalf of (concerning) Eurypylus ...
.. to the Trojans ...
... having performed the funeral, they send ...
And the [bone]s of Peneleus [and Nireus] are also [gather]ed from
the pyre for burial. On the next day, Chryses comes to the Greek
chiefs reporting that Helenus son of Priam is present in the temple
of Apollo, fleeing [because Alexander had committed im]piety
toward the god ..
...[they send] forth Diomedes and Odysseus [to ca]pture [him].
When they arrived, he turned himself over to them, [first] making
the request for a place where remaining ...
...of the chiefs it seemed (or was resolved), call[...
... parents ...
...[Alex]ander ...
... at Antenor’s house ...
...recognizing how gr[eat evils ...
...order ...
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Book 4 cont’d
On next day of battle Philoctetes kills Paris and Ajax slaughters Trojans running to get back into city;
city would have been taken that day if night had not fallen (19-20). Neoptolemus begins mourning at
tomb now that Paris dead; sons of Antimachus come to visit Helenus to appeal to him, but are
captured and killed; Paris’s funeral and death of Oenone from grief (21). Chief men of Troy take
counsel about resistance to Priam and sons; want to give Helen back now, but Deiphobus quickly
marries her; Antenor sent to negotiate with Greeks, makes private deal for himself and Aeneas to help
them and benefit after capture of city (22).
Book 5
Antenor returns to Troy with Talthybius, next day speaks to assembly with long accusation of Priam
and his family, urges satisfying Greek demands; Priam regretful and consents to their acting as they
please to save city (1-3). Helen appeals to Antenor to help her situation; Antenor returns to Greeks
with Aeneas, and they return with several Greek leaders to meet with Trojan senate (4). Meeting
interrupted by cries from palace; senate worried it is more trouble from princes, but hears that
children of Alexander and Helen had died in collapse of chamber. Meeting suspended, but Antenor
tells Greeks about the Palladium (5). Meeting resumed a few days later; huge reparations payment
demanded by Greeks; Antenor makes show of calling it too much; time given for consideration;
terrible omen for Trojans in failed sacrifices (6-7). Hecuba offers sacrifices, but same failure of fires;
Antenor steals Palladium and Greeks sneak it out of Troy; in renewed negotiations, lower reparations
agreed to (8). Helenus tells Greeks the end is near, since Palladium has been taken, and Greeks’ gift to
Minerva will be fatal; Greek leaders go to Troy and exchange oaths with Antenor; Greek and Trojans
mingle peacefully, Trojan allies all leave; reparations collected, wooden horse completed and rolled
up to city, then Trojans dismantle wall (9-11). Greeks burn tents, sail to Sigeum, at signal from Sinon
return, enter city, and slaughter, plunder, and burn. Menelaus kills Deiphobus, Neoptolemus kills
Priam at altar, Ajax minor grabs Cassandra from shrine. They decide to kill all those who managed to
take refuge at altars; royal women distributed to leaders (12-13). Argument over who should receive
Palladium: most favor Ajax for his great services to army, but Ulixes and Diomedes argue they should
have it because they obtained it; Atreids give it to Ulixes. Ajax threatens Greek leaders; next morning
is found dead, army inflamed against Atreids and Ulixes, so Ulixes leaves early, Diomedes gets
Palladium (14-15). Hecuba curses and insults Greeks until soldiers stone her, bury her at Abydus
(Cynossema); funeral of Ajax, then Atreids asked to be allowed to leave unharmed, and they leave
first. Rest of Greeks then leave, Aeneas stays at Troy and tries to gather forces to expel Antenor from
kingship, but plan discovered and he has to depart, settled in Black Corcyra; any surviving fugitives
return to Troy to live under Antenor. This is the account I, Dictys, wrote in Phoenician letters. (16-
Book 6
Returning fleet beset by storms in Aegean, esp. Locrian fleet, from which those who escape storm die
on the Choerades because of misleading light raised by Nauplius to avenge death of Palamedes (1).
Brother of Palamedes tells tales to Aegiale and Clytemnestra so that Aegiale persuades citizens to
prevent her husband Diomedes from entering city, Clyt. with her adulterer kills Agamemnon. Some
other resistance to returning warriors, but after Diomedes rescues his father from troubles in Aetolia,
most are accepted back in their cities and honored (2). Orestes gathers support from Idomeneus and
then Athens, gets oracle, and then gets help from Strophius. With large force goes to Mycenae, kills
Clyt. and ambushes returning Aegisthus. Meanwhile, Menelaus reaches Crete and hears about his
brother (3). Menelaus tells of wonders he saw in Egypt, goes to mainland and tries to oust Orestes but
prevented. Orestes tried and acquitted in Athens, purified, and returns home. Then reconciled to
Dictys of Crete: summary and partial translation by D. J. Mastronarde
Menelaus, who promises him Hermione (4). Ulixes arrives in Crete on Phoenician vessels: his whole
fleet lost because of violent action of Telamon, getting revenge over Ajax. Ulixes tells Idomeneus of
his wanderings. Sent on with gifts to Alcinous, where he learns that Penelope is beset by suitors. With
his son he attacks and kills suitors. Nausicaa marries Telemachus (5-6). Neoptolemus in Molossia
repairing his ships, hears of troubles of Peleus caused by Acastus, sends two friends to ally Assandrus
to get details (Assandrus tells these friends of marriage of Peleus and Thetis—rationalized version ).
Neopt. sails in a hurry, wrecks his fleet on Sepiades, finds grandfather hiding in cave. Kills sons of
Acastus who happen by, tricks Acastus when he arrives so that he rushes to cave and captured by
Thetis; but she persuades Neopt. to spare Acastus, who cedes them the kingdom (7-9). I heard this
story from Neopt. after he had married Hermione; he also told me of what happened about the
remains of Memnon (10). I visited Delphi about a plague in Crete. While I was there, Neopt. came to
thank Apollo for death of Alexander, killer of his father. Hermione with Menelaus tries to kill
Andromache and her sons, but the people save her, almost kill Menelaus. Orestes arrives and suggests
they attack Neopt. at Delphi; Menelaus refuses and goes home. Neopt. killed, people said it was done
by Orestes; Orestes takes Hermione. At Delphi Peleus and Thetis visit tomb, hear Orestes was not
seen at the time; people continue to believe Orestes did it; Thetis sends pregnant Andromache to
Molossia to protect her from Orestes and Hermione (11-13). Ulixes disturbed by dreams, interpreters
says danger from his son, so Telemachus sent to Cephalenia, Ulixes withdraws to a remote
stronghold. Telegonus comes to seek father, blocked from entry by guards, makes a clamor, kills
some guards. Ulixes thinks youth has been sent by Telemachus, so attacks, but is killed; recognition
before death (14-15).

Dictys of Crete by Peter Gainsford

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