When dawn came the King prepared himself for the battle, putting on his great breast-plate and his helmet that had a high plume of horse-hair and hanging round his shoulders a great sword that shone with gold. This sword that had a silver scabbard fitted with golden chains. Over his shoulders he put a great lion’s skin, and he put on his arm a shield that covered the whole of a man. Next he took in his hands two strong spears of bronze, and so prepared and so armed he was ready to take the main place in the battle.’

‘He cried aloud and told the Greeks arm themselves, and they immediately did so and poured from behind the wall that guarded their ships into the Trojan plain. Then the chiefs mounted their chariots, and their charioteers turned the horses towards the place of battle.’

‘The Trojans had gathered their battalions  on the high ground in front of them and the figure of great Hector was plain to Agamemnon and his men. Like a star that now and then was hidden by a cloud, so he appeared as he went through the battalions, all covered with shining bronze. Spears and arrows fell on both sides. Footmen kept killing footmen and horsemen kept killing horsemen with the sword, and the dust of the plain rose up, stirred by the thundering hooves of the horses. From dawn till morning and from morning till noon the battle raged, but at midday the Greeks broke through the Trojan lines. Then Agamemnon in his chariot rushed through a gap in the line. He instantly killed two men, and dashing onward he killed two warriors who were sons of King Priam. Like fire falling on a wood King Agamemnon went through the Trojan ranks. Agamemnon went through the men and up to the high walls of Troy, killing Trojan warriors with his spear. Hector did not go toward him, for the gods had warned Hector not to lead any attack until Agamemnon had turned back from battle.’

‘But a Trojan warrior hit King Agamemnon on the forearm, below the elbow, and the point of his spear went clean through. Still he went through the ranks of the Trojans, killing with spear and sword. Then the blood dried on his wound and he felt a sharp pain and he cried out, “Oh friends and captains! It is not possible for me to fight forever against the Trojans, but you must fight on to keep the enemy from our ships.” His charioteer turned his horses, and they dashed back across the plain carrying the wounded King from that day’s battle.’

‘Then Hector attacked. Leaping into his chariot he led the Trojans on. In the first attack he killed nine captains of the Greeks. Their ranks would have been broken, and the Greeks would have fled back to their ships if Odysseus had not been on that side of the battle with Diomedes, the great horseman. Odysseus cried out, “Come here, Diomedes, or Hector will sweep us across the plain and bring the battle down to our ships.”‘

‘Then these two forced themselves through the press of battle and held back the attack of Hector until the Greeks had their chance to rally. Hector saw them and rode towards them. Diomedes lifted his great spear and hurled it at Hector. The bronze of the spear struck the bronze of his helmet. The blow dazed Hector. He, stumbled from his chariot, stayed amongst the press of warriors, and rested himself on his hands and knees. He got his breath back again, and leaping back into his chariot drove away from that dangerous place.’

‘Then Diomedes himself was wounded by Paris who shot an arrow at him. It went clean through his right foot. Odysseus put his shield in front of his friend and comrade, and Diomedes was able to pull the arrow from his flesh. But Diomedes was forced to get back into his chariot and command his charioteer to drive from the battle.’

‘Now Odysseus was the only one of the captains who stayed on that side of the battle, and the Trojans came on and surrounded him. One warrior struck at the centre of his shield and the strong Trojan spear passed through the shield and wounded Odysseus. He killed the warrior who had wounded him and he pulled the spear from his body, but he had to give ground. Odysseus cried out to the other captains. .Strong Aias heard him and came, holding his famous shield that was like a tower. The Trojan warriors that were round him drew back at the coming of Aias and Odysseus left the battle, and mounting his chariot drove away.’

‘ Aias fought through the Trojans, and on that side of the battle they were being driven back towards the City. But suddenly Aias became fearful. He threw his great shield behind him, and he stood like a wild bull, turning this way and that, and slowly retreating before those who pressed towards him. But now and again his courage would come back and he would stand steadily and, with his great shield, hold at bay the Trojans who were pressing towards the ships. Arrows fell thick on his shield, confusing his mind. Aias might have died beneath the arrows if his comrades had not pulled him to where they stood with shields sloping for a shelter, and so saved him.’

‘All this time Hector was fighting on the left wing of the battle against the Greeks, who were led by Nestor and Idomeneus. On this side Paris let fly an arrow that brought trouble to the enemies of his father’s City. He struck Machaon who was the most skilled healer of wounds in the whole of the army. Those who were around Machaon were fearful that the Trojans would seize the wounded man and carry him away. Then Idomeneus said, “Nestor, get up. Get Machaon into your chariot and drive swiftly from the battle. A healer like him is worth the lives of many men. Save him so that we may still have him to draw the arrows from our flesh and put medicines into our wounds.” Then Nestor lifted the healer into his chariot, and the charioteer turned the horses and they too drove from the battle and towards the ships.’