Climax of the Iliad; the battle between Akhilleus and Hektor

The Climax of the Iliad,
the battle between Akhilleus and Hektor


Homer's Iliad
Chapter IV
Lines 429-476

As down upon a shore of echoing surf
big waves may run under a freshening west wind,
looming first on the open sea, and riding
shoreward to fall on sand in foam and roar,
around all promontories crested surges
making a briny spume inshore- so now
formations of Danaans rose and moved
relentlessly toward combat. Every captain
called to his own. The troops were mainly silent;
you could not have believed so great a host
with warcries in its heart was coming on
in silence, docile to its officers-
and round about upon the soldiers shone
the figured armor buckled on for war.

The Trojans were not silent: like the flocks
that huddle countless in a rich man's pens,
waiting to yield white milk, and bleating loud
continually as they hear their own lambs cry,
just so the warcry of the Trojans rose
through all that army- not as a single note,
not in a single tongue, but mingled voices
of men from many countries.

This great army
Ares urged on; the other, grey-eyed Athena,
Terror, and Rout, and Hate, insatiable
sister-in-arms of man-destroying Ares-
frail at first, but growing, till she rears
her head through heaven as she walks the earth.
Once more she sowed ferocity, traversing
the ranks of men, redoubling groans and cries.

When the long lines met at the point of contact,
there was a shock of bull's hide, battering pikes,
and weight of men in bronze.

Bucklers with bosses
ground into one another. A great din rose,
in one same air elation and agony
of men destroying and destroyed, and earth
astream with blood.

In spring, snow-water torrents
risen and flowing down the mountainsides
hurl at a confluence their mighty waters
out of the gorges, filled by tributaries,
and far away upon the hills a shepard
hears the roar. So when these armies closed
there came a toiling clamor.

Antilokhos
was the first man to down a Trojan soldier,
a brave man in the front line, Ekhepolos
Thalysiades: he hit him on the ridge
that bore his crest, and driven in, the point
went through his forehelm and his forehead bone,
and darkness veiled his eyes. In the melee
he toppled like a tower. Then by the feet
the fallen man was seized by Elephenor
Khalkodontiades, chief of Abantes,
who tried to haul him out of range and strip him
quickly of arms. The trail was brief.
Seeing him tugging at the corpse, his flank
exposed beside the shield as he bent over,
Agenor with his spearshaft shod in bronze
hit him, and he crumpled. As he died
a bitter combat raged over his body
between the Trojan spearmen and Akhaians,
going for one another like wolves
whirling upon each other, man to man.

-Robert Fitzgerald translation
Mars Lording it over a Roman battle

Mars Lording it over a Roman Battle




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