DICTYS CRETENSIS 3
 

DICTYS CRETENSIS INDEX

LETTER

PREFACE

BOOK 1 Antehomerica

BOOK 2 Antehomerica & "Iliad"

BOOK 3 "The Iliad"

BOOK 4 Posthomerica

BOOK 5 Posthomerica

BOOK 6 The Returns

DICTYS CRETENSIS BOOK 3 TRANS. BY R. M. FRAZER

[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.

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