from the start and throughout.
No, now Menelaus the great spearman ran him through
square between the blades as he fled and raced aheadtearing into his flesh, drilling out through his chest-
he crashed facedown, his armour clanged against him.
Meriones caught him quickly, running him down hard
and speared him low in the right buttock-the point
pounding under the pelvis, jabbed and pierced the bladder-
he dropped to his knees, screaming, death swirling round him.
Some characters have a brief introduction before they die:
Meges killed Pedaeus, Antenor’s son, a bastard boy
but lovely Theano nursed him with close, loving care
like her own children, just to please her husband.
Closing, Meges gave him some close attention too-
the famous spearman struck him behind his skull,
just at the neck-cord, the razor spear slicing
straight up through the jaws, cutting away the tongue-
he sank in the dust, teeth clenching the cold bronze.
His killer pays him attention like his mother did? What? I was going to say that all these deaths come from one book of the Iliad, but so far they come from one page of the Robert Fagles translation.
Diomedes, aka Tydides, has gone bare-shirt, bare-sark, berserk:
Down the plain he stormed like a stream in spate,
a raging winter torrent sweeping away the dykes,
the tight, piled dykes can’t hold it back any longer…
As a lion charges cattle…
Here is the grief of war-
he ripped the dear life out of both and left their father
tears and wrenching grief. Now he’d never welcome
his two sons home from war, alive in the flesh,
and distant kin would carve apart their birthright.
Here, its joy:
“Now be men, my friends! Courage, come, take heart!
Dread what comrades say of you here in bloody combat!
When men dread that, more men come through alive-
when soldiers break and run, goodbye glory,
goodbye all defences!”
Diomedes attacks Gods!
he with his ruthless bronze was hunting Aphrodite…
gallant Tydeus’ offspring rushed her, lunging out
thrusting his sharp spear at her soft, limp wrist
and the brazen point went slashing through her flesh
She flees to Mount Olympus, where she is instantly healed, but Athena and Zeus mock her.
bronze splitting his belt and plunging down his guts-
Down they crashed like lofty pine trees axed…
stabbed him right where he stood, the spearpoint
pounding his collarbone to splinters…
deep in the guts the long, shadowy shaft struck
and down he fell with a crash as glorious Ajax rushed
to strip his armour…
The book ends, but the battle continues. Even the Gods are dismayed! Ares cries out,
aren’t you incensed to see such violent brutal work?
We everlasting Gods… Ah, what chilling blows,
we suffer- thanks to our own conflicting wills-
whenever we show these mortal men some kindness.”