Homer
The Iliad 

Translation by Ian Johnston

Book Two
Agamemnon's Dream and The Catalogue of Ships

[Zeus sends a false dream to Agamemnon; Agamemnon reports the dream to his advisors and outlines a test of the army; Agamemnon urges his troops to go home; Odysseus restores order; Thersites insults Agamemnon; Odysseus deals with Thersites, reminds the men of Calchas' original prophecy; Nestor suggests a display of the troops; the Catalogue of Ships (list of the Achaean, Trojan, and allied forces)]


Gods and warriors slept through the entire night.
But sweet Sleep did not visit Zeus, tossing and turning
over in his mind some way to honour Achilles,
by slaughtering many soldiers by Achaean ships.                     
In Zeus' heart the best idea seemed to be 
to send a wicked Dream to Agamemnon. 
Calling the Dream, Zeus said these winged words to him:

"Evil Dream, fly quickly to Achaea's men
at their swift ships. Go to Agamemnon's hut,
Atreus' son. Report my words precisely.                                       10        [10]
Bid him arm long-haired Achaean troops at once,
for now they'll capture Troy, city of wide streets.  
Immortal gods dwelling on Mount Olympus 
no longer disagree about all this.  
Hera's entreaties have persuaded them. 
Trojans can expect more sorrows, more disasters."

Zeus spoke.  With these instructions, Dream set off,
quickly reaching Achaea's fast ships and Atreus's son.
He found Agamemnon resting in his hut,                               
wrapped up in the sweet divinity of Sleep.                                               20
Dream stood above his head, looking just like Nestor,                                       [20]
son of Neleus, of all the more senior men, 
the one Agamemnon held in special honour. 
In that shape, divine Dream spoke to Agamemnon:

"You are sleeping, son of fiery Atreus,                                  
tamer of horses.  But a prudent man,
one to whom people have given their trust,
who has so many things to think about,
should not sleep all night long.  So pay attention.                     
Hear what I have to say.  I come to you                                       30
as Zeus' messenger, with his orders.
He's far off, but pities and cares for you.
He bids you arm long-haired Achaeans right away, 
for now you can take Troy, city of wide streets.  
The immortal gods dwelling on Mount Olympus                                   [30]
no longer disagree about all this.  
Hera's entreaties have persuaded them. 
Trojans can expect from Zeus more sorrows, 
more disasters.  Remember what I've said. 
Don't let forgetfulness seize on your mind,                                   40 
when honey Sleep has loosed his sweet grip on you."

This said, Dream went off, leaving the king imagining things
which would never happen. He thought he'd take Troy,
Priam's city, that very day. Fool!  He had no clue
of what Zeus really meant, his plan to load on them,
Trojans and Danaans both, still more suffering,
more cries of sorrow, through war's brutality.                                                  [40]

Agamemnon roused himself from sleep, the divine voice                
all round him still. He sat up, pulled on a supple tunic,
new and finely made.  On top he threw a large cloak.                            50
He laced up lovely sandals over his sleek feet,
and slung a silver studded sword around both shoulders. 
He took with him the royal staff of his ancestors,
eternal and imperishable. Gripping this,
he approached the ships of the bronze-armed Achaeans.

When Goddess Dawn rose high up on Olympus,
bringing light to Zeus and the immortals,
Agamemnon bid the loud-voiced heralds summon                                          [50]
all the long-haired Achaeans to assembly. 
Such a call went out. Men answered on the run.                                        60                
But first, Agamemnon convened a meeting
of all his great-hearted senior councillors. 
They met by Nestor's ships, king born on Pylos.
To the assembled group Agamemnon then sketched out
a plan he had conceiveda devious one.

                                        "My friends, listen.  
A divine Dream has just come to me
through the sacred night, as I lay asleep,
in form, size, and voice just like worthy Nestor.                         
He stood above my head and spoke these words:
'You are sleeping, son of fiery Atreus,                                               70      [60]
tamer of horses.  But a prudent man,
one to whom people have given their trust,
who has so many things to think about,
should not sleep all night long.  So pay attention.
Hear what I have to say.  I come to you
as Zeus' messenger, with his orders.
He's far off, but pities and cares for you.
He bids you arm long-haired Achaeans right away,                          
for now you can take Troy, city of wide streets.  
Immortal gods dwelling on Mount Olympus                                 80
no longer disagree about all this.  
Hera's entreaties have persuaded them. 
The Trojans can expect from Zeus more sorrows,                                 [70]
more disasters.  Remember what I've said.'
With that, Dream flew off, sweet Sleep released me. 
Come, then, let's get long-haired Achaeans 
somehow armed for battle.  But first,                      
it's only right I test the men, ordering them  
to go home in their ships with many oars.  
You hold them back with your commands,                                  90
each one working from his own position."

Agamemnon finished speaking and sat back down.
Nestor stood up before them, king of sandy Pylos. 
With a wise sense of their common cause, he spoke to them:

"My friends, chiefs and leaders of the Argives,
if any other Achaean had told us such a dream,                                     [80]
we would declare it quite false, dismiss it.  
But now the man who has a claim to be 
the greatest of Achaeans has witnessed it.  
So come, let's find a way to arm Achaea's sons."                         100

So Nestor spoke. Then he began to make his way back,
leaving the council meeting.  The others stood up,
all sceptre-bearing kings, following Nestor's lead,
his people's shepherd. Troops came streaming out to them. 
Just as dense clouds of bees pour out in endless swarms                 
from hollow rocks, in clusters flying to spring flowers,
charging off in all directions, so from ships and huts                                       [90]
the many clans rushed out to meet, group after group. 
Among the troops Rumour blazed, Zeus' messenger,
igniting them.  The assembly was in uproar.                                           110  
Beneath the men, as they sat amid the din, earth groaned.
Nine heralds shouted out instructions, attempting
to control the noise, so men could hear their leaders,                                  
god's chosen ones.  Gradually men settled down,
kept quiet in their places. The noise subsided.                                 
King Agamemnon stood up, holding his staff,                                                 [100]
one fashioned by Hephaestus' careful craftsmanship.
That god had given it to lord Zeus, son of Cronos.
Later Zeus had presented it to Hermes,
the guide, killer of Argus. Hermes, in his turn,                                        120
gave it to king Pelops, the chariot racer, 
who passed the staff to Atreus, the people's leader.
This man, as he lay dying, left it for Thyestes,
who owned many flocks. Thyestes, in his turn,
passed it on to Agamemnon, who held it 
as ruler of all Argos and many islands. 
With this staff as his support, Agamemnon spoke:

"You Danaan warriors, comrades,                                                         [110]
companions of Ares, god of war,
Zeus, son of Cronos, has entangled me                                       130
in some really serious foolishness.
Perverse Zeus! He promised me, he agreed
I'd have devastated well-built Troy
before I went home. Now he plans a cruel trick, 
tells me to return to Argos dishonoured, 
after I've lost so many warriors. 
This is apparently what high Zeus desires, 
he who has smashed so many city heights,
and will destroy still more, such is his power,                          
the greatest power of all. This is a great disgrace,                          140
which people will learn about in years to come
how an Achaean force of such quality and size                                      [120]
vainly sailed off to fight a lesser force, 
and failed to get what they set out to attain.
For if we Achaeans and the Trojans wished,
in good faith, to draw up a treaty, 
to tally up the numbers on both sides, 
with Trojans counting each inhabitant of Troy, 
and if we Achaeans set ourselves in groups of ten, 
and chose, for every group, a Trojan man                                      150
to pour our wine, then of our groups of ten,
many would lack a man to act as steward.
That, I tell you, indicates how much
Achaea's sons outnumber Trojans,
those who live in Troy. But all their allies,                                                [130]
warrior spearmen from many cities,                                       
are a huge problem for me. They thwart my wish
to smash down those sturdy walls of Troy.
Nine of great Zeus' years have rolled on past. 
Ships' planks have rotted, their ropes have frayed.                        160
Back home our wives and children wait for us. 
The work for which we came remains undone. 
So come, let's all agree to what I say. 
Let's go back to our own dear country in our ships.                              [140]
For we'll not capture Troy with its broad streets."

So Agamemnon spoke. Among the soldiers,                 
all those with no idea of what he'd planned,
men's feelings quickened. The assembly was aroused.
Just like huge ocean waves on the Icarian Sea,
when East Wind and South Wind rush down together                          170
from Father Zeus' clouds to whip up the sea,                                
the whole assembly rippled, like a large grain field,
undulating underneath the fury of the storm,
as West Wind roars in with force, all ears of corn
ducking down below the power of the gusts.
Like that, the shouting men stampeded to their ships.                                    [150]
From underneath their feet a dust cloud rose.
They yelled orders to each other to grab the ships,
drag them to the sacred sea, clear out channels
for launching ships, knock out props from underneath,                           180
frantic to get home. Heaven echoed with the din.
At that point, the Argives might well have gone back
contravening what fate had in store for them        
had Hera not spoken to Athena:

"Alas, unconquerable child of Zeus,
who bears the aegis, the Argives will flee,
go back home to their dear native land,
cross the wide sea, abandoning Helen,
an Argive woman, leaving in triumph
Priam and his Trojans. On her account,                                         190         [160]
many Achaeans have perished here in Troy,  
far from the homes they love. So now, come on,
go down to the bronze-clad Achaean troops,                       
use your persuasive power to stop the men
hauling their curved ships down to the sea."

So Hera spoke. Bright-eyed goddess Athena obeyed. 
She sped off, raced down from Olympus' crest
and quickly reached Achaea's ships, rushing to the spot 
where Odysseus, a man as wise as Zeus, was standing.
He'd laid no hand on his fast, black, well-decked ship.                         200         [170]
His stout heart was filled with pain. Standing close to him,                    
bright-eyed Athena spoke out.

                                                     "Odysseus,
divinely bred, resourceful son of Laertes,
so you are going to fly back home, 
sail off, returning to your own dear land.
You'll leap into your ships with many oars, 
and leave in triumph Priam and the Trojans, 
abandoning Argive Helen, for whose sake 
so many Achaeans have died here in Troy, 
far from the homes they love. But come now,                             210
move around among Achaean soldiers.       
Don't hesitate. Persuade each man to stop                                            [180]
dragging the curved ships down into the sea."

So Athena spoke. Odysseus knew her from her voice,
as she talked. Then he ran off, shrugging off his cloak
Eurybates, the herald, later picked it up,
a man from Ithaca, Odysseus' aide.
Odysseus went straight to Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
took from him his imperishable ancestral staff.
Grasping this, he ran to the bronze-clad Achaeans' ships.                     220
Whenever he met some king or major leader,  
he'd confront him, telling him to hold his ground:

"Friend, it's not suitable for you to panic,                                             [190]
as if you're worthless. Instead take your seat.
Get other soldiers to remain in place.
You've no clear sense of Agamemnon's plan.
Right now he's testing all the army.
Soon enough he'll punish Achaea's sons.                               
Didn't we all hear what he said in council?
In his rage he may harm Achaean troops                                 230
passions run high in kings whom Zeus supports.
Their honour comes from Zeus the Counsellor,
who loves them."

                                      By contrast, when Odysseus
came across some common soldier yelling out,
he'd beat him with the staff, admonishing him:

"My friend, take your place in silence. Stay put.                                   [200]
Listen to what others say, your betters,
you puny coward, useless in war or council. 
Achaeans can't all rule here as kings. 
No good comes from having many leaders.                                  240
Let there be one in charge, one ruler,
who receives from crooked-minded Cronos                
sceptre and laws, so he may rule his people."

Odysseus moved throughout the army, calming things.
From ships and huts, soldiers rushed to reassemble,
echoing like waves of the roaring sea crashing on shore,
as Ocean thunders on. Men sat calmly in their places.                                    [210]
But a single man kept on yelling out abuse
scurrilous Thersites, expert in various insults,
vulgar terms for inappropriate attacks on kings,                                    250
whatever he thought would make the Argives laugh.
Of all the men who came to Troy, he was the ugliest:
bow legged, one crippled foot, rounded shoulders 
curving in toward his chest. On top, his pointed head 
sprouted thin scraggly tufts of hair. Achilles hated him,                                  [220]
as did Odysseus, too, both subject to his taunts.
But now Agamemnon was the target of his gibes.
The Achaeans, despising Thersites in their hearts,
were furious at him. But he kept shouting out,
aiming noisy insults right at Agamemnon:                                             260

"Son of Atreus, what's your problem now?
What are you missing? Your huts stuffed with bronze, 
plenty of choice women, tooall presents
we Achaeans give you as our leader,
whenever we ransack some city.
Or are you in need of still more gold, 
a ransom fetched by some horse-taming Trojan                                    [230]
for his son tied up and delivered here
by me or by some other Achaean?
Or do you want a young girl to stash away,                                   270
so you can screw with her all by yourself? 
It's just not fair that you, our leader, 
have botched things up so badly for us, 
Achaea's sons. But you men, you soldiers,
cowardly comrades, disgraceful people,
you're Achaean women, not warriors. 
Let's sail home in our ships and leave this man, 
our king, right here in Troy to enjoy his loot.
That way he might come to recognize
whether or not we're of some use to him.                                    280
Now Agamemnon has even shamed Achilles,
a much finer warrior than himself, 
stealing a prize, keeping it for his own use.                                            [240]
Then there's Achilles, no heart's anger there,
who lets it all just happen. If he didn't,
this bullying of yours, son of Atreus,
would be your last."

                                Thersites yelled out these insults
right at Agamemnon, the people's shepherd,
abusing him. Noble Odysseus stood up quickly,
confronting Thersites. Scowling, he lashed out sternly:                         290

"Shut up, chatterbox. You're a champion talker.
But don't try to have it out with kings
all by yourself. Let me tell you something
of all those who came to Troy with Atreus' sons
you're the most disgraceful. So shut your mouth.                                  [250]
No more words from you abusing our kings, 
seeking to sneak back home. How this war will end,
we've no ideawhether Achaea's sons
will go back home successful or otherwise.
You sit here, railing at Agamemnon,                                            300
Atreus' son, leader of his people, 
because Danaan heroes have given him
so many giftsbut that's a cheap insult.
So I'll tell you how things are going to be
if I find you being so foolish any more,
then let Odysseus' head no longer stay
upon his shoulders, let him no longer
be called the father of Telemachus,                                                       [260]
if I don't grab you, rip off all your clothes,
cloak and tunic, down to your cock and balls,                               310
and beat you back to the fast ships in tears,                           
whipping you in shame from our assembly."

Saying this, Odysseus lashed out with the sceptre,
hitting Thersites hard across his back and shoulders.
He doubled up in pain, shedding many tears.
In the middle of Thersites' back sprang up
bloody welts beneath the golden sceptre.
He sat down, afraid and hurt, peering around,
like an idiot, rubbing away his tears.
The soldiers, though discontent, laughed uproariously,                         320        [270]
saying to one another:

                                                         "Comrades,           
Odysseus has done lots of fine things before,
thinking up good plans and leading us in war. 
But that's the best thing he's done by far
to help the Argives, shutting up that rabble-rouser.
Thersites' bold spirit won't urge him on
to trash our kings again with his abuse."

That's how the soldiers talked together. Then Odysseus,                               
destroyer of cities, rose up, grasping the sceptre.                              
At his side, bright-eyed Athena, looking like a herald,                           330  
silenced troops, so Achaeans close by and far away                                         [280]
could hear him and follow to his advice. Odysseus,
bearing in mind their common good, spoke out:

                                                       "Son of Atreus,
now the Achaeans wish to disgrace you,
their king, shame you before all mortal men. 
They're refusing now to keep their promise,
the one they swore to while sailing here,
still on their way from Argos, where horses breed, 
that oath that they'd return after we'd destroyed
Troy's strong walls   They're like infants or widows,                     340
whining to each other about going home.                                              [290]
But going back demoralized is bad.
A man who spends one month aboard his ship,
away from his wife, becomes downhearted
when winter gusts and stormy seas confine him.                       
This is now the ninth revolving year
we've been waiting here, on this very spot.
So I don't think that badly of Achaeans 
in their frustration here by their curved ships. 
Still, it's shameful to go home with nothing.                                350
My friends, be patient, give us all more time, 
until Calchas' prophecy comes true or not.                                            [300]
We all have kept in mind what he foretold. 
You all are the witnesses, those whom fate
has not yet visited to carry off in death. 
Not long ago, when our Achaean ships 
gathered at Aulis, bringing disaster  
for Priam and his Trojans, we sacrificed
on holy altars placed around a spring
hundreds of perfect creatures to the gods,                                   360
the immortalsunderneath that tree, 
a lovely plane tree, where bright water flowed.
And then a great omen appeared, a snake,
blood-red along its back, a dreadful sight,                             
a thing sent out by Zeus into the daylight. 
Out from under the altar that snake slithered,                                       [310]
darting for the plane tree, where there lay                     
tiny, new-born sparrows, eight fledglings, 
huddled under foliage at the very top.
The ninth one was the mother of the batch.                                370
The serpent ate the infants, who screamed with fear. 
The mother fluttered around here and there,
lamenting her dear chicks. The coiled serpent                     
snatched the crying mother by the wing.
Once the beast had gobbled up the sparrow
and her chicks, the god who'd made the snake appear 
did something to it there for all to see.                       
Crooked Cronos' son changed that snake to stone! 
We stood there astounded at what we'd seen                                    [320]
a horror desecrating the gods' sacrifice.                                       380
Calchas at once spoke out in prophecy:                                 
'Long-haired Achaeans, why stand there so mute?                 
Counsellor Zeus has made manifest to us
a tremendous omen. It has come late,
will take a long time to be fulfilled,                                       
but its fame will never die. Just as that snake                       
swallowed the sparrow's brood, eight in all, 
with the mother who bore them the ninth one killed, 
so for that many years we'll fight over there. 
In the tenth year we'll take Troy, wide streets and all.'                390
That's what Calchas said. Now it's coming true.                                    [330]
So come on, all you well-armed Achaeans,
let's stay, until we seize Priam's great city."                                                 

At this speech Argives gave out an enormous cheer.
The ships on all sides resounded ominously,
as Achaeans roared out their endorsement of his words.
Then Nestor, the Geranian horseman, cried out:

"Alas! In our assembly you're all infants,
silly children, with no sense of war's events.
What will happen to our agreements,                                          400
the oaths we made? Let fire consume                                                    [340]
our strategies, men's plans, our treaties,
ratified with wine and handshakes, everything                       
we used to trust. For now we fight ourselves,                      
arguing like this. We can't find any remedy,
though we've been sitting here for years.
Son of Atreus, you must maintain with force
your previous plan to lead the Argive troops                                
directly to the harsh demands of war.
And let those one or two be damned,                                            410
the men who don't think like Achaeans,          
the few of them who yearn to go back home
something they'll find they cannot do
before we learn the truth or falsehood
of what was promised by aegis-bearing Zeus. 
For I assure you mighty Zeus nodded assent                                          [350]
on that very day the Argives put to sea, 
bearing Troy's destructive fate in their swift ships.     
On our right hand, Zeus hurled down lightning bolts,
signs manifesting his good will to us.                                           420
So let no man rush to get back home
not before he's had sex with some Trojan's wife, 
payment for Helen's miseries, her cries of pain.                                   
If any man is really keen to get back home,
let him just set hand to his well-benched ship,
he'll come face to face, in plain view of all,
with death, his fate. You, my lord, think carefully 
think about what someone else suggests.                                               [360] 
Don't simply cast away what I say to you. 
Agamemnon, set men in groups by tribes and clans,                    430
so clans encourage clans, tribes bolster tribes.            
If you do that, if Achaeans all obey,                                      
you'll then recognize who's good and bad
among your leaders and your men. Ranged like that,
the two groups will oppose each other.
You'll then know whether failure to take Troy                   
stems from divine will or craven soldiers
or ineptitude in managing the war."

Mighty Agamemnon then answered Nestor:

"Old man, in our assembly once again                                         440      [370]
you win out over all Achaea's sons.                                        
O father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo 
if only I had ten such counsellors
among Achaeans, king Priam's city
would soon fall, be taken, sacked at our hands. 
But aegis-bearing Zeus, son of Cronos, 
keeps showering me with grievous troubles.
He throws me into pointless bitter fights.
So Achilles and I fought for that girl,
yelling at each other. The first offence was mine.                          450
If we were to agree, were of one mind, 
then Troy's fate would be sealed without delay,                                    [380]
without a moment's pause. But let's go off to eat, 
so we can resume the fight. Every one of you,
get your spears and shields prepared for action.                                
Feed your swift-footed horses properly. 
Inspect the chariots with a careful eye,
so we can stand all day and battle Ares,
hateful god of war. We'll get no respite,
not even for a moment, except at dusk,                                        460
when nightfall separates the frenzied soldiers.
Chest straps on our protective body shields
will be soaked through with sweat. Around our spears
hands will grow numb. Horses, too, will sweat,                                     [390]
under the strain of hauling polished chariots.                              
But if I see a man coming out to fight
reluctantly, malingering by our curved ships, 
he'll not escape being food for dogs and birds."

Argives answered Agamemnon with a huge shout,                       
like waves by a steep cliff crashing on the rock face,                             470
lashed by South Wind's blasts, always foaming on the rock,
whipped on by every wind gusting here and there.
The men leapt up, moved off, scattering to ships,                       
set fires by their huts, and each man ate his dinner.
Every man then sacrificed to the immortal gods,                                             [400]
praying to escape death and war's killing zone. 
Agamemnon, king of men, sacrificed an ox,
a fat one, five years old, to Zeus, exalted son of Cronos. 
He summoned the best senior men of all Achaeans
first, Nestor and Idomeneus, then both Ajaxes,                                     480
then Diomedes, Tydeus' son. Seventh came Odysseus.
Warrior Menelaus arrived without a summons, 
knowing in his heart all Agamemnon's worries.
They stood by the ox, picked up barley grains for sprinkling.                           [410]
Then Agamemnon prayed on their behalf:

                                                 "Most powerful Zeus,
exalted lord of thunder clouds, Zeus,                             
who dwells in heaven, grant my prayer
May the sun not go down, nor darkness come,                     
before I have cast down Priam's palace,
covered it with dust, destroyed its doors                                     490
in all-consuming fire, and with my bronze sword
sliced to shreds the tunic on Hector's chest.
May many of his comrades lie beside him,
face down on the ground, teeth grinding dirt."

So he prayed. But Cronos' son did not grant his wish.
Zeus took the offering but increased their suffering.                                        [420]

Once the men had prayed, scattering barley grain, 
they pulled back the beast's head, slit its throat, flayed it,
sliced thigh bones out and hid them in twin layers of fat,
with raw meat on top.  They cooked these on split wood,                      500
then placed the innards on spits in Hephaestus' fire.
When the wrapped up thigh bones were completely cooked, 
and they'd tasted samples of the inner organs, 
they chopped up the rest, arranged the meat on spits,
cooked it carefully, then drew it from the fire.
This work finished, the men prepared a meal and ate.                                     [430]
Each soldier's appetite was fully satisfied
all dined equally. When every man had eaten                              
as much food and drink as anyone could wish,                              
Geranian horseman Nestor was the first to speak.                                510

"Lord Agamemnon, son of Atreus, 
king of men, let's end our discussions now,
let's not postpone work given by the gods.                          
Come, let heralds of bronze-clad Achaeans
summon all the soldiers to assembly.
Let's move together across the wide front,
to stir Achaea's men with blood-lust for this war."                                [440]

Agamemnon, king of men, agreed with Nestor.
He ordered clear-voiced heralds immediately
to sound the battle call to long-haired Achaeans.                                  520
The call went out. Troops assembled on the run.
Around Agamemnon, kings nurtured by gods
rushed to establish order. With them strode Athena,
her eyes glittering, holding up the aegis
her priceless, ageless, eternal aegis,
its hundred golden tassels quivering,                                                
each finely woven, valued at a hundred oxen.                                  
With this, she sped on through Achaean ranks,                                                [450]
like lightning, firing soldiers' hearts for war.
As she passed, she roused in men that hot desire                                  530
to fight, to kill. At once she made each man feel war
far sweeter than returning home, finer than sailing
in the hollow ships back to his dear native land.
Just as an all-consuming fire burns through huge forests
on a mountain top, and men far off can see its light,
so, as soldiers marched out, their glittering bronze
blazed through the sky to heaven, an amazing sight.
As many birds in flightgeese, cranes, and long-necked swans                   [460]
in an Asian meadow by the flowing river Caystrios,
fly here and there, proud of their strong wings, and call,                          540
as they settle, the meadow resounding with the noise,
so the many groups of soldiers moved out then
from ships and huts onto Scamander's plain.      
Under men's and horses' feet the earth rang ominously.
Then they stood there, in that flowered meadow
by the Scamander, an immense array,                                              
as numerous as leaves and flowers in springtime.                            
Like flies swarming around shepherds' pens in spring,                                     [470]
when pails fill up with milk, so the Achaeans,
a huge long-haired host, marched out onto that plain                            550
against the Trojans, eager to destroy them.
Just as goatherds sort out with ease the wandering beasts
all mixed up in the pasture, so through all the army
the leaders organized the troops for battle.
Among them powerful Agamemnon roamed,
eyes and head like Zeus, who loves the thunder,                                      
waist like Ares, god of war, chest like Poseidon.                             
Just as in cattle herds the bull stands out above the rest,                                 [480]
by far the most conspicuous amid the cows,
so on that day Zeus made Agamemnon stand                                       560
pre-eminent among the troops, first of heroes.

Now, you Muses living on Olympus, tell me
for you are goddesses and know everything,
while we hear only stories, knowing nothing certain
tell me the leaders of Danaans, the rulers.
It would be impossible for me to tell
the story of or name those in the common mass,
even if I had ten tongues, ten mouths, an untiring voice,
a heart of bronze, unless the Olympian Muses,                                               [490]
daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus, could sing of the men,                       570
all those who came to Troy. But I shall list the leaders,
commanders of the ships, and all the ships in full.

Peneleus, Leitus, and Arcesilaus 
led the Boeotians, with Clonius and Prothoenor.  
Their men came from Hyria, rocky Aulis,
Schoenus, Scolus, mountainous Eteonus,
Thespeia, Graia, spacious Mycalassus,
men holding Harma, Eilesiun, Erythrae;
men holding Eleon, Hyle, Peteon,                                                                   [500]
Ocalea, the well-built fortress Medeon,                                                 580
Copae, Eutresis, Thisbe, city full of doves;
men from Coronea, grassy Haliartus;
men from Plataea, Glisas, those who held 
fortified Lower Thebes and sacred Onchestus,
with Poseidon's splendid grove; men from Arne,
land rich in grapes, Midea, sacred Nisa,
and distant Anthedon. Fifty ships came with these men,                       
each with one hundred and twenty young Boeotians.                                      [510]

Men from - NEXT


Translation by Ian Johnston, Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC.  This document is in the public domain and may be used by anyone without permission and without charge, provided the source is acknowledged. 

[Last modified December 29, 2003]

[Note that the line numbers in square brackets refer to the Greek text]