Robert Fitzgerald, 1974
Lines 70 – 127
Akhilleus lay down groaning among his men,
his Myrmidions, on a bare open place
where breakers rolled in spume upon the
Pursuing Hektor around windy Troy
He had worn out his legs. Now restful floods
Of sleep, dissolving heartache, came upon
And soon forlorn Patroklos’ shade came near —
A perfect likeness of the man, in height,
Fine eyes, and voice, and dressed in his own
The image stood above him and addressed him:
“Sleeping so? Thou hast forgotten me,
Akhilleus. Never was I uncared for
In life but am in death. Accord me burial
In all haste: let me pass the gates of Death.
Shades that are images of used-up men
Motion me away, will not receive me
Among their hosts beyond the river. I wander
Above the wide gates and the hall of Death.
Give me your hand. I sorrow.
When thou shalt have allotted me my fire
I will not fare here from the dark again.
As living men we’ll no more sit apart
From our companions, making plans. The day
Of wrath appointed for me at my birth
Engulfed and took me down. Thou too, Akhilleus,
Face iron destiny, godlike as thou art,
To die under the wall of highborn Trojans.
One more message, one behest, I leave thee:
Not to inter my bones apart from thine
But close together, as we grew together,
In thy family hall. Menoitios
From Opoeis had brought me, under a cloud,
A boy still, on the day I killed the son
Of Lord Amphidamas — though I wished it not —
In childish anger over a game of dice.
Peleus, master of the horse, adopted me
And reared me kindly, naming me your squire.
So may the same urn hide our bones, the one
Of gold your mother gave.”
Spoke in answer, saying:
“Dear old friend, why comest hither, and why
I shall bring all to pass for thee; I shall
Comply with all thy bidding. Only stand
Nearer to me. For this little time
May we embrace and take our fill of tears.”
He stretched his arms out but took hold of
As into earth Patroklos’ shade like smoke
Retreated with a faint cry. Then Akhilleus
Rose in wonderment and clapped his hands,
And slowly said:
“A wisp of life remains
in the undergloom of Death: a visible form,
though no heart beats within it. All this
the shade of poor Patroklos bent above me
grieving and weeping, charging me with tasks.
It seems to the life the very man.”
The Myrmidons were stirred again to weep.
Then Dawn with rose-red fingers in the east
Began to glow upon them as they mourned
Around the pitiful body.
Homer, The Iliad,
The Trojan Wars.
Translation: Alexander Pope, 1760
Death of the Trojan hero, Sarpedon
The towering chief’s to fiercer fight
And first Sarpedon whirl’d his weighty lance,
Which o’er the warrior’s shoulder took its
And spent in empty air its dying force.
Not so Patroclus’ never-erring dart;
Aim’d at his breast it pierced a mortal part,
Where the strong fibres bind the solid heart.
Then as the mountain oak, or poplar tall,
Or pine (fit mast for some great admiral)
Nods to the axe, till with a groaning sound
It sinks, and spreads its honours on the
Thus fell the king, and laid on earth supine,
Before his chariot stretch’d his form divine:
He grasp’d the dust distain’d with steaming
And, pale in death, lay groaning on the
So lies a bull beneath the lion’s paws,
While the grim savage grinds with foamy jaws
The trembling limbs, and sucks the smoking
Deep groans, and hollow roars, rebellow
through the woods.
Homer, The Iliad,
The Trojan Wars
Translation: Robert Fitzgerald, 1974
Death of Trojan hero, Sarpedon
The team then ranged themselves beside the
drawing the reins taut, and once more,
devoured by fighting madness, the two men
Sarpedon missed again. He drove his spearhead
over the left shoulder of Patroklos,
not even grazing him. Patroklos then
made his last throw, and the weapon left his
with flawless aim. He hit his enemy
just where the muscles of the diaphragm
encased his throbbing heart. Sarpedon fell
the way an oak or poplar or tall pine
goes down, when shipwrights in the wooded
with whetted axes chop it down for timber.
So, full length, before his war-car lay
Sarpedon raging, clutching the bloody dust.
Imagine a greathearted sultry bull
a lion kills amid a shambling herd:
with choking groans he dies under the claws,
So, mortally wounded by Patroklos
the chief of Lykian shieldsmen lay in agony
and called his friend by name: “Glaukos, old
old war dog, now’s the time to be a spearman!
Put your heart in combat! Let grim war
be all your longing! Quickly, if you can,
arouse the Lykian captains, round them up
to fight over Sarpedon. You, too, fight
to keep my body, else in later days
this day will be your shame. You’ll hang your
all your life long, if these Akhaians take
my armor here, where I have gone down
before the ships. Hold hard; cheer on the
The end of life came upon him as he spoke,
closing his eyes and nostrils. And Patroklos
with one foot on his chest drew from his
spearhead and spear; the diaphragm came out,
so he extracted life and blade together.