Iliad: The Quarrel (cont.)

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

The Quarrel (cont.)

(for audio, see previous page)

Then the old man Nestor stood up and would have made peace between the two. "Listen to me," he said. "Great chiefs of old, with whom no one now alive would dare to fight, were used to listen to me. You, King Agamemnon, do not take away from the brave Achilles the gift that the Greeks gave him, and you, Achilles, pay due respect to him who is the King of Kings in Greece."

So spoke Nestor, but he spoke in vain, for Agamemnon answered: "Peace is good, but this fellow would lord it over all. The gods have made him a great warrior, but they have not given him leave to set himself up above law and order. He must learn that there is one here better than he."

And Achilles cried: "You better than me! I were a slave and a coward if I owned it. What the Greeks gave me, let them take away if they will. But mark this: if you lay your hands on anything that is my own, that hour you will die."

Then the assembly was broken up. After a while Agamemnon said to the heralds: "Go now to the tent of Achilles, and fetch thence the girl Briseïs. And if he will not let her go, say that I will come with others to fetch her, and that it will be worse for him."

So the heralds went, but it was much against their will that they did this errand. And when they came to that part of the camp where Achilles and his people were, they found him sitting between his tent and his ship. And they stood in great fear and shame.

But when he saw them, he spoke kind words to them, for all that his heart was full of rage. "Draw near, heralds. 'Tis no fault of yours that you are come on such an errand."

Then he turned to Patroclus and said: "Fetch Briseïs from her tent and give her to the heralds. Let them be witnesses of this evil deed, that they may remember it in the day when he shall need my help and shall not have it."

So Patroclus brought out the girl and gave her to the heralds. And she went with them, much against her will, and often looking back.

And when she was gone, Achilles left his companions and sat upon the sea-shore, weeping aloud and stretching out his hands to his mother Thetis, the daughter of the sea. She heard his voice where she sat in the depths by the side of her father, and rose from the sea, as a cloud rises, and came to him where he sat weeping, shaking him with her hand, and calling him by his name.

"Why do you weep, my son?" she said.

And he told her what had been done. And when he had finished the story, he said: "Now go to Olympus, to the palace of Zeus. You helped him once in the old time, when the other gods would have put him in chains, fetching the great giant with the hundred hands to sit by his side, so that no one dared to touch him. Remind him of these things, and ask him to help the Trojans, and to make the Greeks flee before them, so that Agamemnon may learn how foolish he has been."

His mother said: "Surely, my son, your lot is hard. Your life must be short, and it should be happy, but, as it seems to me, it is both short and sad. Truly I will go to Zeus, but not now, for he is gone with the other gods to a twelve days' feast. But when he comes back, then I will go to him and persuade him. Meanwhile do you sit still, and do not go forth to battle."

Meanwhile Ulysses was taking back the priest's daughter to her father. Very glad was he to see her again, and he prayed to his god that the plague among the Greeks might cease, and so it happened. But Achilles sat in his tent and fretted, for there was nothing that he liked so much as the cry of the battle.

(700 words)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at