Iliad: The Deeds and Death of Patroclus (cont.)

As you watch Achilles in battle, you should know that Sarpedon is one of the great heroes on the Trojan side, and his father is none other than Zeus, king of gods, while his mother is Laodamia, a mortal woman. You can read more about Sarpedon at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Iliad unit. Story source: The Iliad retold by Alfred J. Church (1907).

The Deeds and Death of Patroclus (cont.)

(for audio, see previous page)

So the Myrmidons went forth to battle in close array, helmet to helmet and shield to shield, close together as are the stones which a builder builds into a wall. Patroclus went before them in the chariot of Achilles, with the charioteer by his side.

And as they went, Achilles went to the chest which stood in his tent, and opened it, and took from it a great cup which Thetis his mother had given him. No man drank out of that cup but Achilles only. Nor did he pour libations out of it to any of the gods but to Zeus only. First he cleansed the cup with sulphur and then with water from the spring. After this he filled it with wine, and standing in the space before the tent he poured out from it to Zeus, saying: "O Zeus, this day I send my dear comrade to the battle. Be thou with him; make him strong and bold, and give him glory, and bring him home safe to the ships, and my people with him."

So he prayed, and Father Zeus heard his prayer: part he granted, but part he denied.

Meanwhile Patroclus with the Myrmidons had come to the place where the battle was so hot, namely the ship to which Hector had put the torch and set it on fire. And when the Trojans saw him and the armour he wore, they thought that it had been Achilles, who had put away his anger, and had come forth again to the battle. Nor was it long before they turned to flee.

So the battle rolled back again to the trench, and many chariots of the Trojans were broken, for when they crossed it for the second time they took their chariots with them; but the horses of Achilles sprang across it in their stride, so nimble were they and so strong.

And great was the fear of the Trojans; even the great Hector fled. The heart of Patroclus was set upon slaying him, for he had forgotten the command which Achilles had laid upon him, that when he had saved the ships from the fire he should not fight any more. But though he followed hard after him, he could not overtake him, so swift were the Trojan horses. Then he left following him and turned back, and caused the chariot to be driven backwards and forwards, so that he might slay the Trojans as they sought to fly to the city.

But there were some among the Trojans and their allies who would not flee. Among these was Sarpēdon the Lycian, and he, when he saw his people flying before Patroclus, cried aloud to them: "Stand now and be of good courage: I myself will try this great warrior and see what he can do." So he leapt down from his chariot, and Patroclus also leapt down from his, and the two rushed at each other, fierce and swift as two eagles.

Sarpēdon carried a spear in either hand, and he threw both of them together. With the one he wounded to the death one of the horses of Achilles, that which was of a mortal strain, but the other missed its aim, flying over the left shoulder of Patroclus. But the spear of Patroclus missed not its aim. Full on the heart of Sarpēdon it fell, and broke through his armour, and bore him to the earth. He fell, as a pine or a poplar falls on the hills before the woodman's axe. And as he fell, he called to Glaucus his kinsman: "Now show yourself a man, O Glaucus; suffer not the Greeks to spoil me of my arms." And when he had said so much, he died.

Now Glaucus was still troubled by the wound which Teucer the archer had given him. But when he heard the voice of Sarpēdon he prayed to Apollo, saying: "Give me now strength that I may save the body of my kinsman from the hands of the Greeks." And Apollo heard him and made him whole of his wound.

Then Glaucus called first to the Lycians, saying, "Fight for the body of your king," and next to the Trojans, that they should honour the man who had come from his own land to help them, and lastly to Hector himself, who had now returned to the battle. "Little care you, O Hector," he said, "for your allies. Lo! Sarpēdon is dead, slain by Patroclus. Will you suffer the Myrmidons to carry off his body and do dishonour to it?"

(800 words)

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