Iliad: The Deeds and Death of Patroclus (end)

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

The Deeds and Death of Patroclus (end)

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Hector was much troubled by these words, and so were all the men of Troy, for among the allies there were none braver than Sarpēdon. So they charged and drove back the Greeks from the body; and the Greeks charged again in their turn. No one would have known the great Sarpēdon as he lay in the middle of the tumult, so covered was he with dust and blood.

But at last the Greeks drove back the Trojans from the body, and stripped it of its arms, but the body itself they harmed not. For at the bidding of Zeus, Apollo came down and carried it out of the tumult, and gave it to Sleep and Death that they should carry it to the land of Lycia.

Then again Patroclus forgot the commands of Achilles, for he thought in his heart, "Now shall I take the city of Troy," for, when he had driven the Trojans up to the very gates, he himself climbed on to an angle of the wall. Three times did he climb upon it, and three times did Apollo push him back, laying his hand upon the boss of his shield. And when Patroclus climbed for the fourth time, then Apollo cried to him in a dreadful voice: "Go back, Patroclus; it is not for you to take the great city of Troy, no, nor even for Achilles, who is a far better man than you." Then Patroclus went back, for he feared the anger of the god. But though he thought no more of taking the city, he raged no less against the Trojans.

Then did Apollo put it into the heart of Hector to go against the man. So Hector said to his charioteer: "We will see whether we cannot drive back this Patroclus, for it must be he; Achilles he is not, though he wears his armour."

When Patroclus saw them coming he took a great stone from the ground and cast it at the pair. The stone struck the charioteer full on the helmet. And as the man fell head foremost from the chariot, Patroclus laughed aloud, and said: "See now, how nimble is this man! See how well he dives! He might get many oysters from the bottom of the sea, diving from the deck of a ship, even though it should be a stormy day. Who would have thought that there should be such skilful divers in Troy?"

Three times did Patroclus charge into the ranks of the Trojans, and each time he slew nine warriors. But when he charged the fourth time, then, for the hour of his doom was come, Apollo stood behind him, and gave him a great blow on his neck, so that he could not see out of his eyes. And the helmet fell from his head, so that the plumes were soiled with the dust. Never before had it touched the ground, from the first day when Achilles wore it. The spear also which he carried in his hand was broken, and the shield fell from his arm, and the breastplate on his body was loosened.

Then, as he stood without defence and was confused, one of the Trojans wounded him in the back with his spear. And when he tried to hide himself behind his comrades, for the wound was not mortal, Hector thrust at him with his spear, and hit him above the hip, and he fell to the ground. And when the Greeks saw him fall they sent up a dreadful cry.

Then Hector stood over him, and said: "Did you think, Patroclus, that you would take our city, and slay us with the sword, and carry away our wives and daughters in your ships? This you will not do, for, lo! I have overcome you with my spear, and the fowls of the air shall eat your flesh. And the great Achilles cannot help you at all. Did he not say to you, 'Strip the fellow's shirt from his back and bring it back to me'? and you, in your folly, thought that you would do it."

Patroclus answered: "You boast too much, O Hector. It is not by your hand that I am overcome; it has been Apollo who has brought me to my death. Had twenty such as you come against me, truly I had slain them all. And mark you this: death is very near to you, for the great Achilles will slay you."

Then said Hector: "Why do you prophesy my death? Who has shown you the things to come? Maybe, as I have slain you, so shall I slay the great Achilles."

So Hector spoke, but Patroclus was dead already. Then he drew the spear from the wound, and went after the charioteer of Achilles, hoping to slay him and take the chariot for spoil, but the horses were so swift that he could not come up with them.

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