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Alfred J. Church

The Quarrel Ended

A CHILLES went along by the ships, shouting with a loud voice to the Greeks that they should come to the battle. And they all came; there was not a man left, even those who had been used to stay behind, the men who looked after the ships, and they who had the care of the food. They all followed when Achilles came back to the war. And the chiefs came to the assembly, some of them, as Diomed and Ulysses and King Agamemnon himself, leaning on their spears because their wounds were fresh.

Achilles stood up and spoke: "It was a foolish thing, King Agamemnon, that we quarrelled about a girl. Many a Greek who is now dead had still been alive but for this, and the Trojans would not have profited by our loss. But let bygones be bygones. Here I make an end of my anger. Make haste, then, and call the Greeks to battle, and we will see whether the Trojans will fight by the ships or by their own walls."

Then King Agamemnon answered from the place where he sat: "Listen, ye Greeks. You have blamed me for this quarrel; yet it was not I, but the Fury who turns the thoughts of men to madness, that brought it about. Nevertheless it is for me to make amends. And this I will do, giving thee all the gifts which Ulysses promised in my name. Stay here till my people bring them from the ships." Achilles said: "Give the gifts, O King, if you are pleased so to do, or keep them for yourself. There is one thing only I care for, to get to the battle without delay."

Then said the wise Ulysses: "Achilles, do not make the Greeks fight before they have eaten, for the battle will be long, because the gods have put courage into the hearts of the Trojans. A man who has not eaten cannot fight from morning to sunset, for his limbs grow weary, and he thinks about food and drink. Let us bid the people therefore disperse, and make ready a meal, and let King Agamemnon first send the gifts to your tent, and then let him make a feast, as is right when friends who have quarrelled make peace again." King Agamemnon answered: "You speak well, Ulysses. Do you yourself fetch the gifts, and my people shall make ready a feast." Achilles said: "How can I think of feasting when Patroclus lies dead? Let there be no delay, and let the Greeks sup well when they have driven the Trojans into their city. As for me, neither food nor drink shall pass my lips."

But Ulysses answered: "You are by far stronger than I am, O son of Peleus, but I am older, and have seen many things. Ask not the Greeks to fast because of the dead. For men die every day, and every day would be a day of fasting. Rather let us bury our dead out of our sight, and mourn for them for a day, and then harden our hearts to forget. And let them who are left strengthen themselves with meat and drink, that they may fight the better."

Then Ulysses went to the ships of King Agamemnon and fetched thence the gifts, and the cauldrons and the horses and the gold, and the women slaves, and chief of all the girl Briseïs, and he took them to the tent of Achilles. And when Briseïs saw Patroclus lying dead upon the couch, she beat her breast and her face and wailed aloud, for he had been gentle and good. And the other women wept with her, thinking each of her own troubles.

When the King and the chiefs would have had Achilles feast with them he refused. "I will not eat or drink," he said, "till I have had vengeance. Often, O Patroclus, have you made ready the meal when we were going to battle, and now you lie dead. I had not grieved so much if my old father or my only son had died. Often have I said to myself: 'I, indeed shall die in this place, but Patroclus will go back and show my son all that was mine, goods and servants and palace.' "

And as he wept the old men wept with him, thinking each of those whom he had left at home.

Then the Greeks took their meal, the chiefs with King Agamemnon, and the others each with his own company. But Achilles sat fasting. Then Zeus said to Athené: "Do you not care for your dear Achilles? See how the other Greeks eat and drink, but he sits fasting." So Athené flew down from heaven, and poured heavenly food into the breast of Achilles that his strength might not fail for hunger. But he did not know what she did; only he felt the new strength in him. Then he armed himself with the arms which Thetis brought to him from Hephæstus, and took from its case the great Pelian spear which no man but he could wield. After this he climbed into his chariot, and he said to his horses: "Take care now, Bayard and Piebald, that you do not leave your master to-day, as you left Patroclus yesterday, dead on the field." Then Hera gave a voice to the horse Bayard, and he said: "It was not our fault, O Achilles, that Patroclus died. It was Apollo who slew him, but Hector had the glory. You too, some day, shall be slain by a god and a man." Achilles answered: "I know my doom, but I care not so that I may have vengeance on the Trojans."