Gateway to the Classics: The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church
The Iliad for Boys and Girls by  Alfred J. Church

The Great Deeds of Diomed

M ANY great deeds were done that day, and many chiefs showed themselves to be valiant men, but the greatest deeds were done by Diomed, and of all the chiefs there was not one who could be matched with him. No one could tell, so fierce was he, and so swiftly did he charge, in which host he was fighting, whether with the Greeks or with the sons of Troy. After a while the great archer Pandărus aimed an arrow at him, and hit him on the right shoulder. And when Pandărus saw that he had hit him, for the blood started out from the wound, he cried out in great joy: "On, men of Troy; I have wounded the bravest of the Greeks. He will soon either fall dead in his chariot, or grow so weak that he can fight no longer."

But Diomed was not to be conquered in this fashion. He leapt down from his chariot, and said to the man who drove the horses: "Come and draw this arrow out of the wound." And this the driver did, and when Diomed saw the blood spirt out from the wound he prayed to the goddess Athené: "O goddess, stand by me, as you did always stand by my father. And as for the man who has wounded me, let him come within a spear's cast of me, and he will never boast again." And Athené heard his prayer, and came and stood beside him, and took away the pain from his wound, and put new strength into his hands and feet. "Be bold, O Diomed, and fight against the men of Troy. As I stood by your father, so will I stand by you."

Then Diomed fought even more fiercely than before, just as a lion which a shepherd has wounded a little when he leaps into the fold, grows yet more savage, so it was with Diomed. And as he went to and fro through the battle, slaying all whom he met, Ænēas, who was the bravest of the Trojans after Hector, thought how he might best be stopped. So he passed through the army till he came to where Pandărus the archer stood. To him he said: "Where are your bow and arrows? Do you see this man how he is dealing death wherever he goes? Shoot an arrow at him; but first make your prayers to Zeus that you may not shoot in vain."

Pandărus answered: "This man is Diomed. I know his shield and his helmet; the horses too are his. Some god I am sure, stands by him and defends him. Only just now I sent an arrow at him, yes, and hit him in the shoulder. I thought that I had wounded him to the death, for I saw the blood spirt out; but I have not hurt him at all. And now I do not know what I can do, for I have no chariot here. Eleven chariots I have at home, and my father would have had me bring one of them with me. But I would not, for I was afraid that the horses would not have provender enough, being shut up in the city of Troy. So I came without a chariot, trusting to my bow, and lo! it has failed me these two times. Two of the chiefs I have hit, first Menelaüs and then this Diomed. Yes, I hit them, and I saw the red blood flow, but I have not harmed them. Surely if ever I get back to my home, I will break this useless bow."

Then Ænēas said to him: "Nay, my friend, do not talk this way. If you have no chariot, then come in mine, and see what horses we have in Troy. If Diomed should be too strong for us, still they will carry us safely back to Troy. Take the reins and the whip, and I will fight; or, if you would rather, do you fight and I will drive."

Pandărus said: "It is best that the horses should have the driver whom they know. If we should have to flee, they might stand still or turn aside, missing their master's voice."

Now Diomed was on foot, for he had not gone back to his chariot, and his charioteer was by his side. And the man said to him: "Look there; two mighty warriors, Pandărus and Ænēas, are coming against us. It would be well for us to go back to the chariot, that we may fight them on equal terms." But Diomed answered: "Do not talk of going back. I am not one of those who go back. As for my chariot, I do not want it. As I am, I will go against these men. Both of them, surely, shall not go back, even if one should escape. And if I slay them, then do you climb into the chariot and drive it away. There are no horses in the world as good as these, for they are the breed which Zeus himself gave to King Tros."

While he was speaking the two Trojan chiefs came near, and Pandărus cast his spear at Diomed. It pierced the shield and also the belt, so strongly was it thrown, but it went no further. But Pandărus cried: "Aha! you are hit in the loin. This wound will stay you from fighting." "Not so," said Diomed, "you have not wounded me at all. But now see what I will send." And he threw his spear, nor did he throw in vain, for it passed through the warrior's nose and teeth and tongue, and stood out under his chin. And the man fell from his chariot, and the armour clashed loudly upon him. But Ænēas would not leave his comrade. He leapt from the chariot and stood with shield and spear over the body, as a lion stands over the carcase of some beast which it has killed. Now Diomed had no spear in hand, neither could he draw out from the dead body that which he had thrown. Therefore he stooped and took up from the ground a big stone—so big was it that two men such as men are now could scarcely lift it up—and threw it at Ænēas. On the hip it struck him and crushed the bone, and the hero fell upon his knees, and clutched at the ground with his hands, and everything grew dark before his eyes. Thus had he died, but for his mother, the goddess Aphrodité. She caught him up in her arms, and threw her veil over him to hide him. But Diomed did not like that he should escape, and he rushed with his spear at the goddess and wounded her in the arm, and the blood gushed out—such blood as flows in the veins of gods, who eat not the food nor drink the drink of men. She dropped her son with a loud shriek and fled up into the sky. And bold Diomed called after her: "You should not join in the battle, daughter of Zeus. You have to do not with men but with women." But Apollo caught up Ænēas when his mother dropped him. Even then Diomed was loath to let him escape, for he was bent on killing him and stripping him of his arms. Three times did he spring forward, and three times did Apollo put back his shining shield. And when he came to the fourth time, Apollo called out to him in an awful voice: "Beware, Diomed; do not think to fight with gods." Then Diomed fell back, for he was afraid. But Apollo carried Ænēas to the citadel of Troy, and there his mother Latōna and his sister Artĕmis healed the hero of his wounds. But he left an image of the hero in the midst of the battle, and over him the Greeks and the Trojans fought, as if it had been the real Ænēas.

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