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The Iliad: Book 14

Nestor was sitting over his wine, but the cry of battle did not
escape him, and he said to the son of Aesculapius, "What, noble
Machaon, is the meaning of all this? The shouts of men fighting by our
ships grow stronger and stronger; stay here, therefore, and sit over
your wine, while fair Hecamede heats you a bath and washes the clotted
blood from off you. I will go at once to the look-out station and
see what it is all about."
As he spoke he took up the shield of his son Thrasymedes that was
lying in his tent, all gleaming with bronze, for Thrasymedes had taken
his father's shield; he grasped his redoubtable bronze-shod spear, and
as soon as he was outside saw the disastrous rout of the Achaeans who,
now that their wall was overthrown, were flying pell-mell before the
Trojans. As when there is a heavy swell upon the sea, but the waves
are dumb- they keep their eyes on the watch for the quarter whence the
fierce winds may spring upon them, but they stay where they are and
set neither this way nor that, till some particular wind sweeps down
from heaven to determine them- even so did the old man ponder
whether to make for the crowd of Danaans, or go in search of
Agamemnon. In the end he deemed it best to go to the son of Atreus;
but meanwhile the hosts were fighting and killing one another, and the
hard bronze rattled on their bodies, as they thrust at one another
with their swords and spears.
The wounded kings, the son of Tydeus, Ulysses, and Agamemnon son
of Atreus, fell in Nestor as they were coming up from their ships- for
theirs were drawn up some way from where the fighting was going on,
being on the shore itself inasmuch as they had been beached first,
while the wall had been built behind the hindermost. The stretch of
the shore, wide though it was, did not afford room for all the
ships, and the host was cramped for space, therefore they had placed
the ships in rows one behind the other, and had filled the whole
opening of the bay between the two points that formed it. The kings,
leaning on their spears, were coming out to survey the fight, being in
great anxiety, and when old Nestor met them they were filled with
dismay. Then King Agamemnon said to him, "Nestor son of Neleus, honour
to the Achaean name, why have you left the battle to come hither? I
fear that what dread Hector said will come true, when he vaunted among
the Trojans saying that he would not return to Ilius till he had fired
our ships and killed us; this is what he said, and now it is all
coming true. Alas! others of the Achaeans, like Achilles, are in anger
with me that they refuse to fight by the sterns of our ships."
Then Nestor knight of Gerene answered, "It is indeed as you say;
it is all coming true at this moment, and even Jove who thunders
from on high cannot prevent it. Fallen is the wall on which we
relied as an impregnable bulwark both for us and our fleet. The
Trojans are fighting stubbornly and without ceasing at the ships; look
where you may you cannot see from what quarter the rout of the
Achaeans is coming; they are being killed in a confused mass and the
battle-cry ascends to heaven; let us think, if counsel can be of any
use, what we had better do; but I do not advise our going into
battle ourselves, for a man cannot fight when he is wounded."

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poem by , translated by Samuel ButlerReport problemRelated quotes
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