XIX KING PRIAM LOSES A SON

                                 XIX

King Priam, in his tower ,saw Achilles come raging across the plain and he cried out to Hector, “Hector, beloved son, do not wait for this man’s attack .Come inside the city’s walls so that you will live and be a protection to the men and women of Troy. Come inside so that that you can save your father who will die if you are killed.”‘

‘But Hector would not come inside the walls of the city. He stood outside and all around him were the Trojans, who came pouring in through the gate without waiting to speak to each other. As he stood there he was saying in his heart, “It is my fault that the Trojans have been defeated on the plain. I kept them from entering the City last night against the advice of a wise man, for in my pride I thought it would be easy to drive Achilles and the Greeks back again and defeat them and destroy their hopes of return. Now the Trojans are defeated and dishonoured and many have lost their lives because of my pride. Now the women of Troy will say, ‘Hector has brought destruction down on the whole army and our husbands and sons and brothers have died because of him.’ Rather than hear them say this I shall face Achilles and kill him and save the city, or, if it must be, die by his spear.”‘

‘When Achilles approached, Hector spoke to him and said, “My heart tells to me stand against you even though you are a stronger man than me. But before we go into battle let us agree, with the gods to witness, that, if I should kill you, I shall strip you of your armour but I shall not carry your body into the city but shall give it to your own friends to treat with all honour, and that, if you should kill me, you give my body to my friends.”‘

‘But Achilles said, “Between us there can be no agreement. Fight, and fight with all your might, for now I shall make you pay for all the sorrow you have brought to me because of the killing of Patroklos, my friend.”‘

‘He spoke and raised his spear and threw it. But with his speed Hector avoided Achilles’ spear. Then he raised his own, saying, “You have missed me, and so it is not yet the hour of my doom. Now it is your turn to stand before my spear.”‘

‘He threw it, but the wonderful shield of Achilles stopped Hector’s spear and it fell on the ground. Then Hector was disappointed, for he had no other spear. He drew his sword and sprang at Achilles but the helmet and shield of Achilles let none of Hector’s great blows touch his body. Achilles got back his own great spear, and he stood guarding himself with his shield and watching Hector for a spot to strike him on. In the armour that Hector wore—the armour that he had stripped off Patroklos—there was a point at the neck where there was an opening. As Hector attacked, Achilles drove at his neck with his spear and struck him and Hector fell in the dust.’

‘Then Achilles stripped from him the armour that Patroklos had worn. The other captains of the Greeks came up and looked at Hector where he lay and all marvelled at his size and strength. Achilles dragged the body to his chariot and drove away towards the ships.’

‘Hector’s mother, standing on the tower on the wall, saw what had happened and she broke into a great cry. All the women of Troy took up the cry and wailed for Prince Hector who had guarded them and their loved ones from the enemy. Andromache, his wife, did not know what terrible thing had happened. She was in an inner room of Hector’s house, weaving a great piece of cloth and embroidering it with flowers, and she had ordered her maids to heat water for the bath, so that Hector could refresh himself when he came in from the fight. But now she heard the wail of the women of Troy. She became afraid, for she knew that such wailing was for the best of their warriors.’

‘She ran from her room and out into the street and came to the battlements where the people stood watching. She saw the chariot of Achilles dashing off towards the ships and she knew that it dragged the dead body of Hector. Then she fainted away. Her husband’s sisters and his brothers’ wives crowded round her and lifted her up. At last she awoke and she wailed for Hector, “Oh my husband,” she cried, “our lives are such a misery! Now you have been killed by Achilles and I am left without a husband! How sad for our young child! He will come weeping to me, his widowed mother, who will live always sad, thinking about where you lie, Hector, by the ships of those who killed you.”‘

‘ Andromache spoke and all the women of Troy joined in her grief and wept for great Hector who had protected their city.’