Ian Johnston, Malaspina
University-College, Nanaimo, BC. For information about copyright,
use the following link:
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form of a published book from
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The Quarrel by the Ships
[The invocation to the Muse;
Agamemnon insults Apollo; Apollo sends the plague onto the army; the
quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon; Calchas indicates what must
be done to appease Apollo; Agamemnon takes Briseis from Achilles;
Achilles prays to Thetis for revenge; Achilles meets Thetis;
Chryseis is returned to her father; Thetis visits Zeus; the gods
converse about the matter on Olympus; the banquet of the gods]
[Last modified on July 6, 2006]
[Note that the line numbers in square
brackets refer to the Greek text]
Sing, Goddess, sing of the rage of Achilles,
son of Peleus
that murderous anger which condemned Achaeans
to countless agonies and threw many warrior souls
deep into Hades, leaving their dead bodies
carrion food for dogs and birds
all in fulfillment of the will of Zeus.
Start at the point where Agamemnon, son of
that king of men, quarreled with noble Achilles.
Which of the gods incited these two men to fight?
That god was Apollo, son of Zeus and
Angry with Agamemnon, he cast plague
onto the troopsdeadly
For Agamemnon had dishonoured the god's priest,
Chryses, who'd come to the ships to find his daughter,
Chryseis, bringing with him a huge ransom.
In his hand he held up on a golden staff
the scarf sacred to archer god Apollo.
He begged Achaeans, above all the army's leaders,
the two sons of Atreus:
"Menelaus, Agamemnon, sons of
all you well-armed Achaeans, may the gods
on Olympus grant you wipe out Priam's city,
and then return home safe and sound.
Release my dear child to me. Take this
Honour Apollo, far-shooting son of Zeus."
All the Achaeans
roared out their support:
priest. Take the generous ransom."
Agamemnon dismissed Chryses roughly
don't let me catch you by our hollow ships,
sneaking back here today or later
Who cares about Apollo's scarf and
I'll not release the girl to you, no, not before
she's grown old with me in Argos, far from
working the loom, sharing my bed. Go away.
If you want to get home safely, don't anger me."
The old man,
afraid, obeyed his words, walked off in silence,
along the shore by the tumbling, crashing surf.
Some distance off, he prayed to lord Apollo,
Leto's fair-haired child:
"God with the silver bow,
protector of Chryse, sacred
mighty lord of Tenedos, Sminthean
hear my prayer: If I've ever pleased you
with a holy shrine, or burned bones for you
bulls and goats well wrapped in fat
grant me my prayer. Force the Danaans
to pay full price with your arrows for my tears."
So Chryses prayed. Phoebus Apollo heard
He came down from Olympus top enraged,
carrying on his shoulders bow and covered quiver,
his arrows rattling in anger against his
So the god swooped down, descending like the
He sat some distance from the ships, shot off an arrow
the silver bow reverberated ominously.
At first, the god massacred mules and swift-running
then loosed sharp arrows in among the troops themselves.
Thick fires kept burning corpses
For nine days
Apollo rained death down upon the troops.
On the tenth, Achilles summoned an assembly.
White-armed Hera put that thought into his mind,
concerned for the Danaans, seeing them
The men gathered. The meeting came to order.
Swift-footed Achilles rose to speak:
"Son of Atreus,
I fear we're being beaten back, forced home,
if we aren't all going to be destroyed right here,
with war and plague killing off
Come now, let's ask some prophet, priest,
interpreter of dreamsfor
dreams, too, come from Zeus
a man who might say why Apollo is so angry,
whether he faults our prayers and offerings,
whether somehow he'll welcome sacrificial smoke
from perfect lambs and goats, then rouse himself
and release us from this plague."
Achilles spoke and took
Then Calchas, Thestor's son, stood up before them
the most astute interpreter of birds, who understood
present, future, past. His skill in
Apollo's gift, had led Achaean ships to
He addressed the troops, thinking of their common good:
friend of Zeus, you ask me to explain
Apollo's anger, the god who shoots from far.
And I will speak. But first you listen to
Swear an oath that you will freely help me
in word and deed. I think I may provoke
someone who wields great power over Argives,
a man who is obeyed by everyone.
An angry king overpowers lesser
Even if that day his anger is suppressed,
resentment lingers in his chest, until one day
he acts on it. So speak. Will you protect me?"
In response to
Calchas, swift-footed Achilles said:
State what your powers tell you.
By Apollo, whom Zeus loves, to whom you, Calchas,
pray in prophesy to the Danaans, I swear this
while I live to look upon the light of day,
no Achaean will raise violent hands against you,
no, not even if you name
who claims he's by far the best Achaean."
wise prophet then declared:
"Apollo does not fault us for prayers or
but for his priest, disgraced by Agamemnon,
who did not free his daughter and take ransom.
That's why the archer god has brought disaster,
and will bring still more. He won't remove
this wretched plague from the Danaans,
until we hand back bright-eyed Chryseis,
give her to her beloved father, freely,
without ransom, and offer holy sacrifice
to Chryse. If we will carry out all that,
we may change Apollo's mind, appease
So he spoke and sat
back down. Then, Atreus' son,
wide-ruling, mighty Agamemnon, stood up before
incensed, spirit filled with huge black rage.
Eyes blazing fire, he rounded first on Calchas:
"Prophet of evil, when have you ever said
good things to me? You love to predict the worst,
always the worst! You never show good news.
Now, in prophecy to the Danaans,
you say archer Apollo brings us
because I was unwilling to accept
fine ransom for Chryses' daughter, Chryseis.
But I have a great desire to take her
In fact, I want her more than Clytaemnestra,
the wife I married. Chryseis is just as
in her shape, physique, intelligence, or work.
Still, I'm prepared to give her back, if that's best.
I want the people safe, not all killed off.
But then you'll owe me another prize.
I won't be the only Argive left without a gift.
That would be entirely unfair to
You all can see my spoils are going
At that point,
swift-footed Achilles answered the king:
"Noble son of
Atreus, most acquisitive of men,
how can brave Achaeans give you a prize now?
There are none left for us to pass around.
We've divided up what we allotted,
loot from captured towns we devastated.
For men to make a common pile again
would be most unfair. Send the girl back now,
as the god demands. Should Zeus ever grant
we pillage Troy, a city rich in goods,
we'll give you three or four times as
then said in
"Achilles, you're a fine man, like a god.
But don't conceal what's in your heart.
You'll not trick me or win me with your words.
You intend to keep your prizes for yourself,
while the army takes my trophy from me.
That's why you tell me to give Chryseis back.
Let Achaeans give me another prize,
equal in value, something I'll enjoy.
If not, then I'll take a prize myself by
something from you or Ajax or Odysseus.
The man I visit is going to be enraged.
But let's postpone discussion of all this.
Let's drag a black ship to the sacred sea,
select a crew, load oxen on for sacrifice,
and Chryseis, that fair-complexioned girl.
Let's have as leader some wise counselor
Idomeneus, Ajax, godlike Odysseus,
or you, Peleus's son, most eminent of all,
so with a sacrifice we may appease
the god who shoots from far away."
swift-footed Achilles interposed:
"You insatiable creature, quite
How can any Achaean obey you willingly
join a raiding party or keep fighting
with full force against an enemy?
I didn't come to battle over here
because of Trojans. I have no fight with them.
They never stole my bulls or horses
or razed my crops in fertile
where heroes grow. Many shady mountains
and the roaring sea stand there between us.
But you, great shameless man, we came with you,
to please you, to win honour from the Trojans
for you, dog face, and for Menelaus.
You don't consider this, don't think at
You threaten now to confiscate the prize
I worked so hard for, gift from Achaea's sons.
When we Achaeans loot some well-built Trojan town,
my prizes never match the ones you
The major share of war's fury rests on me.
But when we hand around the battle spoils,
you get much larger trophies. Worn out in war,
I reach my ships with something fine but small.
So I'll return home now to Phthia.
It's far better to sail back in my curved
I don't fancy staying here unvalued,
to pile up riches, treasures just for you."
To that, Agamemnon,
king of men, shot back:
"Fly off home then, if that's your heart's
I'll not beg you to stay on my account.
I have others around to honour me,
especially all-wise Zeus himself.
Of all the kings Zeus cherishes, it's you
I hate the most. You love constant strife
war and combat. So what if you're strong?
Some god gave you that. So scurry off home.
Take ships and friends. Go rule your
I don't like you or care about your rage.
But I'll make this threat: I'll take your
fair-cheeked Briseis. I'll fetch her in person.
You'll see just how much I'm the better man.
And others will hate to speak to me as peers,
in public claiming full equality with me."
As Agamemnon spoke,
Peleus' son, Achilles,
was overwhelmed with anguish, heart torn two ways,
debating in his shaggy chest what he should
Should he draw out the sharp sword on his
incite the crowd, kill Atreus' son, or suppress his rage,
control his fury? As he argued in his mind and
he slid his huge sword part way from its sheath.
At that moment, Athena came down from heaven.
White-armed Hera sent her. She cherished both men,
cared for them equally. Athena stood behind Achilles,
grabbed him by his golden hair, invisible to all
except Achilles. In astonishment he turned.
At once he recognized Pallas Athena,
the dreadful glitter in her eyes. Achilles spoke
his words had wings.
of aegis-bearing Zeus,
why have you come now? Do you wish to
how overbearing Agamemnon is?
I'll tell you where all this is going to lead:
that arrogance will soon cost him his life."
Athena then spoke in reply:
"I came down from heaven to curb your
if you obey. White-armed Hera sent me.
She loves you both alike, cares equally.
Give up this quarrel. Don't draw your
Fight him with words, so he becomes disgraced.
For I say to you, and this will
because of Agamemnon's arrogance
some day gifts three times greater than this girl
will be set down before you. Control yourself.
Swift-footed Achilles answered Athena:
should follow your instructions,
though angry in their hearts. It's better
The person who's obedient to the gods,
the gods attend to all the more."
Achilles relaxed his huge fist on the silver hilt
and pushed the massive sword back in its
Athena then returned to heaven, home of Zeus,
who bears the aegis, and the other gods.
again on Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
with harsh abuse, his anger still unabated:
"You drunken sot, dog-eyed, deer-timid
You're never strong enough within yourself
to arm for war alongside other
or venture with Achaea's bravest on a raid.
To you that smells too much like death.
No. You'd much prefer to stroll
throughout the wide Achaean army,
to grab gifts from a man who speaks against
A king who gorges on his own people!
You lord it over worthless men. If not,
son of Atreus, this would be your last offence.
I'll tell you, swear a great oath on this
by this sceptre, which will never sprout
leaves and shoots again, since first ripped away
from its mountain stump, nor bloom any more,
now that bronze has sliced off leaf and
This sceptre Achaea's sons take in hand
whenever they do justice in Zeus' name.
An oath on this has power. On this I swear
the time will come when Achaea's sons
all miss Achilles, a time when, in distress,
you'll lack my help, a time when Hector,
that man killer, destroys many warriors.
Then grief will tear your hearts apart,
because you shamed Achaea's finest man."
So the son of Peleus spoke, throwing to the
the sceptre with the golden studs. Then he sat down,
directly facing furious Agamemnon.
Then Nestor stood
up, clear, sweet orator from Pylos.
Sweeter than honey the words flowed from his tongue.
In his own lifetime two generations of mortal
had come and passed away, all those born and raised
with him so long ago in sacred
Now he ruled a third generation of his people.
Concerned about their common good, he said:
"Alas, this is great sorrow for
Priam and Priam's children will be glad,
the hearts of other Trojans swell with joy,
should they find out about such quarrelling,
a fight between you two, among Danaans
the very best for counsel or combat.
But listen. You are both younger men than
And I've been colleague of better men than
men who never showed me any disrespect,
men whose like I have not seen again,
and never willlike
a shepherd to his people, Caeneus,
Exadios, god-like Polyphemus,
Theseus, son of Aegeus, all god-like men
the mightiest earthborn men, the strongest.
And the enemies they fought against were strong,
the most powerful of mountain
But they destroyed those creatures totally.
Associate of theirs, I came from Pylos,
a long way from that land, summoned
I fought on my own behalf, by
No man alive on earth could now fight them.
Yet they heard me and followed my advice.
So listen, both of you. That's what's best now.
Agamemnon, you're an excellent man,
but do not take Briseis from Achilles.
Let that pass. Achaea's sons gave her to him first.
And you, Peleus' son, don't seek to fight the king,
not as your enemy. The sceptre-bearing king,
whose powerful authority comes from Zeus,
never shares honours equally.
you may be stronger, since your mother was
but he's more powerful, for he rules more men.
But you, son of Atreus, check your anger.
Set aside, I urge you, your rage against Achilles,
who provides, in the middle of war's evils,
a powerful defence for all Achaeans."
then replied to Nestor:
everything you say is true enough.
But this man wants to put the rest to shame,
rule all of us, lord it over
But some, I think, will not obey him.
So what if the gods, who live
made him a spearman? Is that some reason
we should let him say such shameful things?"
interrupting Agamemnon, shouted:
"I'd be called a coward, a nobody,
if I held back from any action
because of something you might
Order other men about. Don't tell me
what I should do. I'll not obey you any
But I will tell you thisremember
I'll not raise my hand to fight about that girl,
no, not against you or any other man.
You Achaeans gave her to me, and now,
you seize her back again. But you'll not take
another thing from my swift black ship
you'll get nothing else with my consent.
If you'd like to see what happens, just try.
My spear will quickly drip with your dark blood."
Thus the pair of
them continued arguing.
Then they stood up, dissolving the assembly by the ships.
Peleus's son returned to his well balanced ships and huts,
along with Patroclus, Menoetius' son, and friends.
Agamemnon dragged a
swift ship down the shore,
chose twenty sailors, loaded it with oxen,
offerings for the god, and led on fair-cheeked
Shrewd Odysseus shipped on as leader. All aboard,
they set off, carving a pathway through the
Atreus' son ordered
troops to cleanse themselves.
The men bathed in the sea, washed off
They then made sacrificial offerings to Apollo
hundreds of perfect bulls and goatsbeside
the restless sea.
Savory smells curled up amid the smoke high into heaven.
The men thus
occupied, Agamemnon did not forget
the challenge he'd made earlier to Achilles.
He called his heralds, Talthybius and
"Go to Achilles' tent, Peleus's
take fair-complexioned Briseis by the hand.
Bring her to me. If he won't surrender her,
I'll come myself in force and take her.
For him that will be a worse disaster."
With these firm orders, he dismissed the men,
who moved off,
heavy hearted, along the shore of the restless sea.
They reached the huts and ships of the Myrmidons.
There they found Achilles seated by his hut
and his black ship. As he saw them approach,
Achilles felt no joy. The two heralds,
just stood in silence, out of deference to the king.
In his heart Achilles sensed their purpose. He called them.
heralds, messengers for gods and men.
Come here. I don't blame you, but Agamemnon.
He sends you both here for the girl Briseis.
Come, Patroclus, born from Zeus, fetch the girl.
Give her to these two men to take away.
Let them both witness, before blessed gods,
mortal men, and that unfeeling
if ever there's a need for me
to defend others from a shameful death.
That man's wits are foolish, disastrously so
he's not thinking about past or future,
how Achaeans may fight safely by their ships."
Patroclus did as
his dear comrade had requested.
He led out fair-cheeked Briseis from the hut
and gave her up to be led off. The heralds went back,
returning to Achaean ships, Briseis with them,
but against her will.
Achilles then, in tears,
withdrew from his companions, sat by the shore,
staring at the wide gray seas. Stretching out his
he cried aloud, praying repeatedly to Thetis,
his beloved mother.
"Mother, since you gave
if only for a whileOlympian
high thunderer, should give me due honour.
But he doesn't grant me even slight respect.
For wide-ruling Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
has shamed me, has taken away my prize,
appropriated it for his own use."
As he said
this, he wept.
His noble mother heard him from deep within the sea,
where she sat by her old father. Quickly she rose up,
moving above gray waters, like an ocean mist,
and settled down before him, as he wept. She stroked
"My child, why
these tears? What sorrows
weigh down your heart? Tell me, so we'll both know.
Don't hide from me what's on your mind."
With a deep groan,
swift-footed Achilles then replied.
Why should I tell you what you know?
We came to Thebe, Eλtion's
sacked it, taking everything the city had.
Achaea's sons apportioned it all fairly
amongst themselves. Agamemnon's share
was fair-skinned Chryseis. Then Chryses
arrived 410 
at the swift ships of bronze-armed
Archer god Apollo's priest sought out his
He brought with him an enormous ransom,
carried in his hands the sacred golden staff
with the shawl of archer god Apollo.
He begged Achaeans, above all Atreus' two sons,
the people's leaders. All Achaeans called on them
to respect the priest, accept the splendid ransom.
But that didn't please Agamemnon in his heart.
He sent him roughly off with harsh abusive
The old man went away again,
He prayed to Apollo, who loved him well.
The god heard him and sent his deadly arrows
against the Argives. The troops kept dying,
one by one, as the god rained arrows down
throughout the wide Achaean army.
The prophet Calchas, understanding all,
told us Apollo's will. At once I was the first
to recommend we all appease the god.
But anger got control of
He stood up on the spot and made that threat
which he's just carried out. So quick-eyed
are sending Chryseis in fast ships back to
transporting gifts for lord Apollo, and heralds came
to take away Briseis from my huts,
the girl who is my gift from Achaea's sons.
So now, if you can, protect your son.
Go to Mount Olympus, implore Zeus,
if ever you in word or deed have pleased him.
For often I have heard you boast in father's
that you alone of all the deathless gods
saved Zeus of the dark clouds from disgraceful
when other Olympians came to tie him up,
Hera, Pallas Athena, and
But you, goddess, came and set him free,
by quickly calling up to high Olympus
that hundred-handed monster gods call Briareos,
and men all name Aigaion, a creature
whose strength was greater than his father's.
He sat down beside the son of
exulting in his glory. The sacred gods, afraid,
stopped tying up Zeus. So sit down right by
clasp his knee, remind him of all that,
so he'll want to help the Trojans somehow,
corner Achaeans by the sea, by their ships' prows,
have them destroyed, so they all enjoy their
so the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon,
himself may see his foolishness, dishonouring
Achilles, the best of the Achaeans."
tears, answered her son, Achilles:
"Oh my child,
why did I rear you,
since I brought you up to so much pain?
Would you were safely by your ships dry-eyed.
Your life is fated to be shortyou'll
not live long.
Now, faced with a quick doom, you're in distress,
more so than any other man. At home,
I gave you life marked by an evil fate.
But I'll tell these things to thunder-loving Zeus.
I'll go myself to snow-topped Mount
to see if he will undertake all
Meanwhile, you should sit by your swift ships,
angry at Achaeans. Take no part in war.
For yesterday Zeus went to Oceanus,
to banquet with the worthy Ethiopians.
The gods all journeyed with him. In twelve days,
when he returns and comes home to Olympus,
I'll go to Zeus' bronze-floored house, clasp his knee.
I think I'll get him to consent."
Then she went away, leaving Achilles there,
angry at heart for lovely girdled
taken from him by force against his will.
Odysseus sailed to
Chryse, bringing with him
the sacrificial animals as sacred offerings.
When they had sailed into deep anchorage,
they took in the sails and stowed them in the ship.
With forestays they soon set the mast down in its notch,
then rowed the ship in to its mooring place.
They threw out anchor stones, lashed stern cables,
and clambered out into the ocean surf.
They brought off the offerings to archer god
Then Chryseis disembarked from the ocean ship.
Resourceful Odysseus led her to the
placed her in her beloved father's hands, then said:
have been sent by Agamemnon,
ruler of men, to bring your daughter to you,
and then, on behalf of the Danaans,
to make an offering to lord Apollo
all these sacrificial beaststo
placate the god,
who now inflicts such dismal evil on us."
After saying this,
he handed the girl
Chryses gave his daughter a joyful welcome back.
And then around
the well-built altar, they
the splendid sacrifice. They washed their hands,
and picked up the barley grain for sprinkling.
Raising his arms, Chryses prayed out loud on their
"Hear me, god
of the silver bow, protector
of Chryse, mighty lord of holy Cilla,
sacred Tenedos. You heard me earlier,
when I prayed to you. Just as you honoured
striking hard against Achaeans then,
so now, 510
grant me what I pray forremove
this wretched evil, from the Danaans."
So Chryses spoke.
Phoebus Apollo heard him.
Once they had prayed and scattered barley grain,
they pulled back the heads of sacrificial beasts,
slit their throats, flayed them, sliced the thigh bones out,
and hid them in twin layers of fat, with raw meat on
Old Chryses burned them on split wood, poured wine on them.
Young men beside him held out five-pronged
Once the thighs were well burned, they sampled
then sliced up all the rest, skewered the meat on spits,
roasted it carefully, and drew off every piece.
That work complete, they then prepared a meal and ate.
No heart was left unsatisfied. All feasted equally.
And when the men had had their fill of food and drink,
young boys filled the mixing bowl with wine up to the
and served it, pouring libations into every cup.
Then all day long young Achaean lads played music,
singing to the god a lovely hymn of praise,
honouring in dance and song the god who shoots from
Hearing them, Apollo felt joy fill his heart. At sunset,
as dusk came on, by the ship's stern they went to sleep.
But when early
born, rose-fingered Dawn appeared,
they set off, once more back to the wide Achaean camp.
Far-shooting Apollo sent them favourable winds.
They raised the mast and then the sails. The wind blew,
filling out the body of the sailon
both sides of the prow
the purple waves hissed loudly as the ship sped on its way,
its motion carving a path through the ocean
When they reached the broad Achaean
they hauled the black ship high up on the sand,
pushed long props tight beneath it, then dispersed,
each man returning to his own huts and ships.
Achilles, divinely born son of Peleus,
sat down in anger alongside his swift ships. Not once
did he attend assembly where men win glory
or go out to fight. But he pined away at heart,
remaining idle by his ships, yearning
for the hue and cry and clash of
Twelve days later,
the company of gods came back
together to Olympus, with Zeus in the lead.
Thetis did not forget the promise to her son.
She rose up through the ocean waves at daybreak,
then moved high up to great Olympus. She found Zeus,
wide-seeing son of Cronos, some distance from the rest,
seated on the highest peak of many-ridged Olympus.
She sat down right in front of him. With her left
she clutched his knees, with her right she cupped his chin,
in supplication to lord Zeus, son of
if, among the deathless gods,
I've ever served you well in word or deed,
then grant my prayer will be fulfilled.
Bring honour to my son, who, of all men
will be fate's quickest victim. For just now,
Agamemnon, king of men, has shamed him.
He seized his prize, robbing him in person,
and kept it for himself. But honour him,
Zeus, all-wise Olympian. Give the Trojans
the upper hand, until Achaeans respect my son,
until they multiply his
Cloud gatherer Zeus did not respond.
He sat a long time silent. Thetis held his knees,
clinging close, repeating her request once more:
truly, nod your head, or deny me
since there's nothing here for you to fear
so I'll clearly see how among all gods
I enjoy the least respect."
Zeus, greatly troubled, said:
What you say will set Hera against me.
She provokes me so with her abuse. Even
in the assembly of immortal gods,
she's always insulting me, accusing
of favouring the Trojans in the war.
But go away for now, in case Hera catches on.
I'll take care of this, make sure it comes to pass.
Come, to convince you, I'll nod my head.
Among gods that's the strongest pledge I make.
Once I nod my assent, nothing I say
can be revoked, denied, or unfulfilled."
Zeus, son of
Cronos, nodded his dark
The divine hair on the king of gods fell forward,
down over his immortal head, shaking
to its very base. The conference over, the two parted.
Thetis plunged from bright Olympus back into the sea.
Zeus went inside
his house. Their father present,
all the gods at once stood up from their seats.
No one dared stay put as he came in--all rose
Zeus seated himself upon his throne. Looking at him,
Hera sensed he'd made some deal with Thetis,
silver-footed daughter of the Old Man of the
At once she spoke up accusingly:
"Which god has
been scheming with you, you crafty one?
You always love to work on things in secret,
without involving me. You never want
to tell me openly what you intend."
The father of gods
and men replied:
don't hope to understand my every
Even for my own wife that's dangerous.
What's appropriate for you to hear about,
no one, god or man, will know before you.
But when I wish to hide my thoughts from gods,
don't you go digging after them,
or pestering me for every
Ox-eyed queen Hera then replied to
"Most dread son
of Cronos, what are you saying?
I have not been overzealous before now,
in questioning you or seeking
Surely you're quite at liberty to plan
anything you wish. But now, in my mind,
I've got this dreadful fear that
silver-footed daughter of the Old Man of the Sea,
has won you over, for this morning
she sat down beside you, held your knees.
I think you surely nodded your agreement
to honour Achilles, killing many soldiers,
slaughtering them by the Achaean ships."
Zeus, the cloud
gatherer, spoke out in
"My dear lady,
you're always fancying things.
Your attention picks up every detail.
But you can't do anything about
except push yourself still further from my heart,
making matters so much worse for you.
If things are as they are, then that's the way
I want them. So sit down quietly.
Do as I say. If not, then all the gods
here on Olympus won't be any help,
when I reach out to set my hands on you,
for they're invincible."
speaking. Ox-eyed queen Hera sat down,
in fear, silently suppressing what her heart
In Zeus' home the Olympian gods began to
Then that famous artisan, Hephaestus, concerned
about his mother, white-armed Hera, spoke to them:
matter this will prove
you two start fighting
over mortal men like this, inciting gods to quarrel.
If we start bickering, we can't enjoy the meal,
our excellent banquet. So I'm urging mother,
though she's more than willing, to humour Zeus,
our dear father, so he won't get angry once
disturb the feast for us. For if Zeus,
the Olympian lord of lightning, was of a
to hurl us from our seats, his strength's too great.
But if you talk to him with soothing words,
at once Olympian Zeus will treat us well."
then stood up, passed a double goblet
across to his dear mother, saying:
mother, even though you are upset.
If not, then, as beloved as you are,
I may see you beaten up before my
with me incapable of helping out,
though the sight would make me most unhappy.
It's hard to take a stand opposing Zeus.
Once, when I was eager to assist
Zeus seized me by the feet and threw me out,
down from heaven's heights. The entire day
I fell and then, right at sunset, dropped
on Lemnos, almost dead. After that fall,
men of Sintes helped me to recover."
As he spoke, the white-armed goddess
Hera smiled. 670
She reached for her son's goblet. He poured the drink,
going from right to left, for all the other gods,
drawing off sweet nectar from the mixing bowl.
Then their laughter broke out irrepressibly,
as the sacred gods saw Hephaestus bustling
concerned about the feast. All that day they dined,
until sunset. No one's heart went unsatisfied.
All feasted equally. They heard exquisite music,
from Apollo's lyre and the Muses' beautiful song
and counter-song. When the sun's bright light had
the gods all went to their own homes. Hephaestus,
the famous lame god, with his resourceful
had made each god a place to live. Olympian Zeus,
god of lightning, went home to his own bed,
where he usually reclined whenever sweet
came over him. He went inside and lay down there,
with Hera of the golden throne stretched out beside him.