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

Concerning Other Valiant Deeds

N OW among the chiefs who came to help King Priam and the Trojans there was a certain Sarpēdon, who was Prince of Lycia, and with him there was one Glaucus who was his cousin. When Sarpēdon saw how Diomed was laying waste the army of the Trojans, and that no man was willing to stand up against him, he said to Hector: "Where are your boasts, O Hector? You used to say that you could keep the city of Troy safe, without your people, and without us, who have come to help you. Yes, you and your brothers and your brothers-in-law would be enough, you said; but now I look about me, and I cannot see one of them. They all go and hide themselves, as dogs before a lion. It is we who keep up the battle. Look at me; I have come far to help you, even from the land of Lycia, where I have left wife and child and wealth. Nor do I shrink back from the fight, but you also should do your part."

These words stung Hector to the heart. He jumped down from his chariot, and went through the army, telling the men to be brave. And Ares brought back Ænēas with his wound healed, and he himself went back with Hector, in the shape of a man. And even the brave Diomed, when he saw him and knew that he was a god, held back a little, saying to his companions: "See, Hector is coming, and Ares is with him, in the shape of a man. Let us give way a little, for we must not fight with gods; but we will still keep our faces to the enemy."

Just then a great Greek warrior, who was one of the sons of Hercules, the strongest of men, was killed by Sarpēdon the Lycian. This man cried out to Sarpēdon: "What are you doing here? You are foolish to fight with men who are better than you are. Men say that you are a son of Zeus, but the sons of Zeus are braver and stronger than you. Are you as good as my father Hercules? Have you not heard how he came to this city of Troy, and broke down the walls and spoiled the houses, because the King of Troy cheated him of his pay? For my father saved the King's daughter from a great monster of the sea, and the King promised him a team of horses, but did not keep his promise. And you have come to help the Trojans, so they say; small help will you be to them, when I have killed you."

Sarpēdon answered: " 'Tis true that your father broke down the walls of Troy, and spoiled the houses; the King of the city had cheated him and he was rightly punished for it. But you shall not do what he did; no, for I shall kill you first."

Then the two warriors drew their spears. At the same moment they threw them, and both of them hit the mark. The spear of Sarpēdon went right through the neck of the Greek, so that he fell down dead; and the spear of the Greek hit Sarpēdon on the thigh of the left leg and went through it close to the bone. It went very near to killing him; but it was not his fate to die that day. So his men carried him out of the battle with the spear sticking in the wound, for no one thought of drawing it out, so great was their hurry. As they were carrying him along, Hector passed by, and he cried out: "O Hector, do not let the Greeks take me! Let me, at least, die in your city which I came to help; for to Lycia I shall not go back, nor shall I see again my wife and my child." But Hector did not heed him, so eager was he to fight. So the men carried him to the great oak tree, and laid him down in the shade of it, and one of them drew the spear out of the wound. When it was drawn out he fainted, but the cool north wind blew on him and refreshed him, and he breathed again.

At this time the Greeks were being driven back; many were killed and many were wounded. For Hector, with Ares by his side, was so fierce and strong that no one dared to stand up against him. When the two goddesses, Hera and Athené, who loved the Greeks, saw this, they said to Zeus: "Father, do you see how furiously Ares is raging in the battle, driving the Greeks before him? May we stop him before he destroys them altogether?" Zeus said: "You may do what you please." Then they yoked the horses to Hera's chariot and went as fast as they could to the earth. Very fast they went, for every stride of the horses was over as much space as a man can see when he sits upon a cliff and looks over the sea to where the sky seems to come down upon it. When they came to the plain of Troy, they unharnessed the horses at a place where the two rivers met. They covered them and the chariot with a mist that no one might be able to see them, and they themselves flew as doves fly to where the Greeks and Trojans were fighting. There Hera took the shape of Stentor, who could shout as loud as fifty men shouting at once, and cried: "Shame, men of Greece! when Achilles came to battle the Trojans scarcely dared to go beyond the gates of their city, but now they are driving you to your ships." Athené went to Diomed, where he was standing and wiping away the blood from the wound which the arrow had made. "You are not like your father; he was a little man, but he was a great fighter. I do not know whether you are holding back because you are tired or because you are afraid; but certainly you are not like him."

Diomed knew who it was that was speaking to him, and answered: "Great goddess, I am not holding back because I am tired or because I am afraid. You yourself said to me: 'Do not fight against any god; only if Aphrodité comes into the battle, you may fight against her.' And this I have done. Her I wounded on the wrist and drove away; but when Apollo carried away Ænēas from me, then I held back. And now I see Ares rushing to and fro through the battle, and I do not dare to go against him."

Then said Athené: "Do not be afraid of Ares. I will come with you, and you shall wound him with your spear, and drive him away from the battle."

Then she pushed Diomed's charioteer with her hand, but the man did not see who it was that pushed him. And when he jumped down from the chariot she took his place, and caught the reins in her hand, and lashed the horses. Straight at Ares she drove, where he was standing by a Greek whom he had killed. Now Athené had put on her head the helmet of Hades, that is to say, of the god who rules the dead; Ares did not see her, for no one who wears the helmet can be seen. And he rushed at Diomed, thinking to kill him, and threw his spear with all his might. But Athené put out her hand and turned the spear aside, so that it flew through the air and hurt no one. Then Diomed thrust his spear at Ares, and Athené leant all her weight upon it, so that it pierced the god just below the girdle. And when Ares felt the spear, he shouted with the pain as loud as an army of ten thousand men shouts when it goes forth to battle. And Diomed saw him rise up to the sky as a thunder-cloud arises.

And this was the greatest of the deeds of Diomed, that he wounded Ares, the god of war, and drove him out of the battle.

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