Excerpts selected more or less arbitrarily by the translator:
Crete's King Idomeneus, to his lieutenant Meriones:
"There have been many times when our warriors
lay in ambush where men can best be judged,
where cowardice and valor both stand out.
The coward's body turns from side to side.
He lacks the fortitude to hold it still,
sits on his feet and shifts from knee to knee.
His heart thumps like thunder inside his ribs.
He thinks of death. His teeth begin to chatter.
The brave man's body does not move. He has
no fear in ambush—even if up front—
and prays that furious battle soon will blaze.
In every ambush you have proven your valor.
If you should be hit or wounded in battle
the Trojan strike would not fall on your back.
No, you would meet the blow with belly or chest
as you charged ahead of the frontmost ranks."
- Excerpt at Book 13, line 276
Achilles to Lycaon before killing him:
"So you die too, my friend, but why complain?
A better man than you has died, Patroclus,
and do you not see my own splendor, my size?
My father is noble, my mother a goddess,
but dogged fate and death await me too.
One day, whether at dawn or noon or dusk,
some warrior's weapon will take even my life—
a flying spear or arrow loosed from his string."
- Book 21, line 106
Narrator, as Achilles faces Hector:
There is a star that shines when skies first darken
late in the day, heaven's loveliest gem,
and so gleamed the tip of the spear Achilles
shook in his right hand as he studied Hector,
searching for where the point could enter his body
despite the armor that was once Achilles',
the armor Patroclus wore when Hector killed him.
- Book 22, line 317
Glorious Hector cast a spear at Ajax,
facing him on the field. It struck the hero
where two thick oxhide straps crisscrossed his chest,
supporting his shield and silver-studded sword.
The double thickness saved him. Hector withdrew
after he watched his futile weapon fall.
He backed toward his troops to evade death,
but Telamon's giant son Ajax sought out
a boulder like those used to brace the Greek ships.
He picked a rock from where it lay by his feet
and threw it over Hector's shield to his throat.
The stone raced away like a spinning top
but, as when Zeus's bolt fells a great oak
at its roots, leaving sulphur fumes in the air,
and no mortal who sees could fail to fear
the terrible thunderbolt of father Zeus,
so then, mighty Hector toppled to earth.
- Book 14, line 402
Achilles to Priam:
"On Zeus's floor there stands a pair of jars,
one each for the good and ill fortune he gives.
The man who receives a mixture from both
encounters sometimes bounty, sometimes pain.
A man to whom Zeus gives only the ill
must stagger hungry over the earth's face,
roaming, honored by neither gods nor men."
- Book 24, line 527
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