The "Roman de Troie" by Benoît de Sainte-Maure: A Translation 1843844699, 9781843844693

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The "Roman de Troie" by Benoît de Sainte-Maure: A Translation
 1843844699, 9781843844693

Table of contents :
Preface and Acknowledgements vii
Introduction 1
A Note on the Translation 33
Outline of the "Roman de Troie" 35
Prologue 43
Overview of the Plot 45
Part One: Causes and Effects 53
Part Two: The Trojan War 127
Part Three: Settling Scores and Surviving 367
Appendix I: Notes on Some Common Words in the "Roman de Troie" 415
Appendix II: Manuscripts of the "Roman de Troie" 432
Bibliography 435
Indexes of Personal and Geographical Names 453
Index of Personal Names 454
Index of Geographical Names 469

Citation preview

Roman de Troie

The by Benoît de Sainte-Maure


Gallica Volume 41


Gallica ISSN 1749-091X General Editor: Sarah Kay

Gallica aims to provide a forum for the best current work in medieval and Renaissance French studies. Literary studies are particularly welcome and preference is given to works written in English, although publication in French is not excluded. Proposals or queries should be sent in the first instance to the editor, or to the publisher, at the addresses given below; all submissions receive prompt and informed consideration. Professor Sarah Kay, Department of French, New York University, 13–19 University Place, 6th floor, New York, NY 10003, USA The Editorial Director, Gallica, Boydell & Brewer Ltd., PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK Previously published volumes in this series are listed at the end of this volume.



© Glyn S. Burgess and Douglas Kelly 2017 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Glyn S. Burgess and Douglas Kelly to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2017 D. S. Brewer, Cambridge ISBN 978-1-84384-469-3 D. S. Brewer is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620–2731, USA website: A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate This publication is printed on acid-free paper

Contents Preface and Acknowledgements Introduction

vii 1

A Note on the Translation


Outline of the Roman de Troie




Overview of the Plot


Part One: Causes and Effects


Part Two: The Trojan War


Part Three: Settling Scores and Surviving


Appendix I: Notes on Some Common Words in the Roman de Troie


Appendix II: Manuscripts of the Roman de Troie




Indexes of Personal and Geographical Names


Index of Personal Names


Index of Geographical Names


These men shine darkly (Lynette Roberts, ‘Gods with Stainless Ears: A Heroic Poem’) Difficile est proprie communia dicere; tuque Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus, Quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus. (Horace, Ars Poetica) It is hard to treat in your own way what is common: and you are doing better in spinning into acts a song of Troy than if, for the first time, you were giving the world a theme unknown and unsung.

Preface and Acknowledgements The present translation of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie is meant to foster a greater appreciation of this early French romance, which is one of the works known as the romans d’antiquité. We hope to provide the basis for further study of the Troie in its own right, as well as of its relationship with other authors and with literary and historical works in the Middle Ages and beyond. The legend of Troy has been a direct or indirect source for numerous rewritings that began to appear in antiquity and continued into the twelfth century when the Troie was written. Composed in Latin, French and other vernacular languages, many of these later works were influenced by, or modelled on, all or parts of Benoît’s poem. Moreover, a number of new versions continued to exploit Benoît’s work for a long time after the period in which he wrote. The love of Briseida produced some remarkable rewrites, as Cressida in Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato, Criseyde in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Cresseid in Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid, culminating in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida. These rewritings are not translations, but rather adaptations, in fresh contexts, media and narrative modes, of the Troilus–Briseida–Diomedes triangle first found in the Troie, but with different emphases and evaluations. Benoît invented Briseida’s change of heart, something that slowly transpired over almost two years of hesitation, a change that Benoît and Briseida herself admit would be controversial. These later rewritings of her story bear out Horace’s claim in his Art of Poetry1 (quoted in our epigraph) that poets would do better to show originality by writing a new version of the Trojan War than by producing something on an entirely new topic. This is obviously also relevant for the new versions of Briseida’s loves, and not only because of her altered name. If authors heeded this dictum, Benoît might be considered as a more original twelfth-century French poet than has been recognized by those who have read with some dismay the twenty-three battles that occupy so many lines of his work. Benoît’s Troie is a narrative about war. Yet, as Marc-René Jung has noted,2 only about one-third of the work relates actual combat. Indeed, war can relate Ars poetica, vv. 128–30, in Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, ed. and trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1978). 2 Marc-René Jung, La Légende de Troie en France au Moyen Age, p. 10. For works cited in the notes that are not accompanied by full bibliographical details, see the Bibliography. 1


preface and acknowledgements

to more than battlefields and slaughter. So what subject-matter do we find in the remaining two-thirds of the Troie? This question implies another query: when he wrote a new account of the Trojan War, was Benoît indeed an original writer in the way that Horace suggested? There is evidence that he was. We hope that this English translation will help us to evaluate this evidence, while making the Troie more accessible to scholars and students alike. We would like to thank all those who have helped us during the lengthy process of completing this translation, in particular Jean Blacker, Frank Brandsma, Leslie Brook, Matilda Bruckner, Sandra Ihle, Janet McArthur, Ian Short and Logan Whalen. We are also very grateful for the invaluable support of family and friends. Of course, none of them are responsible for any errors or critical lapses that may still be found in the finished product.

Introduction Since antiquity, war has been the subject of a wide-ranging sub-genre of narrative poetry or historical fiction, from Homer’s epics and the Bhagavad Gita, Statius’s Thebaid and Vergil’s Aeneid, to modern novels and war poetry such as Lynette Roberts’s poem ‘Gods with Stainless Ears’, from which the second epigraph to this volume is taken.1 Yet all these works treat the same phenomenon: the fortunes of the warriors and others who experience whatever in war is at stake. The men who shine darkly are warriors whose epic heroism reveals a darkness that the trauma of war allows to extend throughout the narrative, much as darkness does each day on the battlefield in the Troie. A more ‘visible’ depiction of war’s atrocities and traumas is literally available today in Ken Burns’s documentary, The Civil War, and, of course, in newspaper accounts and photographs of war, in sites and climes that are not that far removed from the presumed battlefields of historic Troy in Turkey. In war, as in other walks of life, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Benoît’s Roman de Troie depicts war, with its causes and effects, over a period of ten years and more of animosity and hostility between Greeks and Trojans. It can claim originality in the way it brought to its twelfth-century vernacular audiences a subject that was less well known to them than it was to those who had received a Latin education. The Medieval Reception of the Troie The Roman de Troie is a medieval masterpiece that was greatly admired by the public at which it was aimed. We therefore begin our exploration of the medieval reception of the Troie in the Middle Ages by assessing the number of extant manuscripts. Five names survive as twelfth-century French authors whose narrative poetry remains prominent in our own time: Thomas d’Angleterre, Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, Wace and, last but not least, Benoît de Sainte-Maure. However, not all the narrative poetry of these authors enjoys the prominence and attention that it enjoyed in their own time. If we compare the number of surviving manuscripts of these authors’ works and the frequency of medieval translations and adaptations of them in their own and other languages, striking differences in taste are evident. Thomas’s Tristan et Iseut survives only in fragments, offset 1 Lynette Roberts, ‘Gods with Stainless Ears: A Heroic Poem’, in her Collected Poems, ed. Patrick McGuinness (Manchester: Carcanet, 2005), p. 64.


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somewhat by the number of adaptations into French, German, Norse, English and Italian.2 Only three of Marie de France’s twelve lays survive in more than two of five extant manuscripts. By contrast, her Fables survive in twenty-three manuscripts, but her Espurgatoire seint Patriz is found in only one.3 Although, the editor of Wace’s Brut, Ivor Arnold, lists only twenty-two manuscripts,4 this number has been updated by Professor Jean Blacker. In a personal communication, dated 6 August 2015, she reports that ‘there are nineteen complete or nearly complete copies of Wace’s Brut, plus thirteen incomplete copies that survive either as extracts or as manuscript fragments’. However, Benoît’s Troie exceeds all the above figures: in all it survives in fifty-eight manuscripts, thirty of which are complete versions and twenty-eight fragments (see Jung, La Légende de Troie, chapter 1, and also Appendix II to this translation). There are also numerous surviving prose versions, adaptations and other rewritings in French and other languages.5 No doubt the most surprising contrast for modern readers emerges if we compare the manuscripts and adaptations of Benoît’s Troie with those for Chrétien de Troyes’s Arthurian romances in French and other adaptations.6 The Troie still comes out on top. Forty-five manuscripts known today contain one or more of his romances (excluding Guillaume d’Angleterre, a romance that is sometimes attributed to him).7 Broken down by titles, numbers vary from romance to romance: at the lower end the Chevalier de la Charrette survives in only eight manuscripts, whereas the Conte du graal is found in eighteen. It is interesting to note that four of the Chrétien manuscripts include the Troie.8 This confirms Jung’s assertion that ‘parmi les textes littéraires du XIIe siècle, le Roman de Troie est celui dont nous avons conservé le plus grand nombre de manuscrits’ (La Légende de Troie, p. 19).9 Of course, even if this does suggest that Benoît was a well-known 2 David J. Shirt, The Old French Tristan Poems: A Bibliographical Guide, Research Bibliographies and Checklists, 28 (London: Grant & Cutler, 1980), pp. 73–4, 82–98. On the fairly recently discovered fragment (literally in pieces), see Michael Benskin, Tony Hunt and Ian Short, ‘Un nouveau fragment du Tristan de Thomas’, Romania, 113 (1992–95), 289–319. 3 Glyn S. Burgess, Marie de France: An Analytical Bibliography, Research Bibliographies and Checklists, 21 (London: Grant & Cutler, 1977), pp. 11–13; no new discoveries have been made since this publication of this volume. On the Norse adaptations, known as the strengleikur, see items 286, 287, 326 and 416 in Burgess’s Bibliography, and item 541 in Supplement no. 1 (1986). 4 Wace, Le Roman de Brut, ed. Ivor Arnold, 2 vols (Paris: Société des Anciens Textes Français, 1938–40), I, pp. vii–xiv. 5 Jung, La Légende de Troie, chapters 3 and 6; Wilhelm Greif, Die mittelalterlichen Bearbeitungen; Punzi, ‘La circolazione della materia troiana’. 6 Les Manuscrits de Chrétien de Troyes – The Manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes, ed. Keith Busby, Terry Nixon, Alison Stones and Lori Walters, Faux Titre, 71–72, 2 vols (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993). On the adaptations of Chrétien’s romances, see section P, entitled ‘Influences’, in Douglas Kelly, Chrétien de Troyes: An Analytic Bibliography, Research Bibliographies and Checklists, 17 (London: Grant & Cutler, 1976), and Supplement 1, Research Bibliographies and Checklists, new series, 3 (London: Tamesis, 2002). 7 Les Manuscrits, I, pp. 9–15, and II, pp. 13–16. 8 Les Manuscrits, II, 2, p. 250. 9 See also Udo Schöning, Thebenroman–Eneasroman–Trojaroman, pp. 50–1, 53–7.



author, quantity is not quality. These comparisons may, of course, reflect obvious differences in medieval and modern tastes, a subject that deserves more critical investigation than is possible here. Modern Editions and Translations of the Troie There are two complete editions of the Troie, the first by Aristide Joly (two vols, 1870–71) and the current standard edition by Léopold Constans (six vols, 1904– 12). There are also two partial editions with French translations and a brief student edition containing selected passages without translation (see our Bibliography, Primary Sources). These incomplete editions are based on MS Milan Biblioteca Ambrosiana, D 55 sup., with occasional references to Constans’s edition and to other manuscript readings.10 The selections for inclusion seem to reflect modern taste rather than those of the work’s medieval audiences, since some battles and catalogues are excerpted, summarized or entirely eliminated. These partial editions come to an end with the Trojan War itself, thus leaving out the whole of Part Three of our translation, which deals with the fates of those who survived the war. By translating Benoît’s entire poem we seek to contribute to a greater appreciation of its composition and subject-matter, and thus to make available to a modern audience what medieval readers and audiences knew and appreciated. Romance matières: a Medieval Perspective The Troie, usually dated today to around 1165, belongs to the group of romances called romans d’antiquité, ‘romances of/about antiquity’.11 These include the Roman de Thèbes, which revolves around the Theban War as adapted from the account found in Statius’s Thebaid, and the Roman d’Eneas, an adaptation of Vergil’s Aeneid. Both these works are anonymous and they were probably written before the Troie (1150–65). It is also possible to include in this group some narratives that depict the career of Alexander the Great.12 These romances, or more accurately proto-romances,13 contribute to the emergence of French romance before Chrétien de Troyes, who is the first author known today to have used See Jung, La Légende de Troie, pp. 113–16. We prefer the expression romans d’antiquité to romans antiques. A roman d’antiquité refers to a narrative about antiquity, whereas a roman antique refers to an ancient narrative. Doubtless because of its length, the Troie stands alone in most manuscripts. However, some manuscripts also contain the Thèbes and Eneas as well as an Alexandre (see Jung’s descriptions of the Troie manuscripts in La Légende de Troie, chapter 1.6), and also Emmanuèle Baumgartner, ‘Seuils de l’œuvre: le folio liminaire des manuscrits du Roman de Troie de Benoît de Sainte-Maure’, in Littérature et peinture du Moyen Age au XVIIIe siècle, pp. 13–31. 12 Wace’s Roman de Brut, completed in 1155, also contains material deriving from the Trojan War as depicted in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae. 13 On proto-romance in the sense of a narrative poem written in French before those composed by Chrétien de Troyes, see Pierre Gallais in ‘De la naissance du roman’, Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, 14 (1971), 69–75; Kelly, Medieval French Romance, pp. 2–10. 10 11


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the term roman with reference to what we call ‘romance’ ‒ especially Arthurian romance.14 Before Chrétien it is used to describe a work in French or another neo-Latin vernacular, as, for example, in Wace, Brut, v. 14866, where he tells us when he completed this ‘romanz’, that is this ‘poem written in French’. The early thirteenth-century author Jehan Bodel states in a well-known passage that there are three major subject-matters in the French narratives he knew: those of France, Britain and Rome.15 The matter of France, he asserts, is the most truthful of the three, a distinction he derives from its depiction of the French crown, especially as worn by Charlemagne. By contrast, the matter of Britain is pleasing, but also fanciful, and therefore on the lowest level of subject-matters. What Jean Bodel calls Roman matter contains wise and instructive narratives dealing with Greek and/or Roman history. This group includes the Troie because, Benoît claims, it ‘is most noble and grand, and it treats of a great enterprise and great deeds’ (p. 43; vv. 40–1).16 Benoît offers his French-speaking public a true account of the Trojan War because it was rarely heard in the vernacular and therefore not well known by lay audiences. His work provides an account of the Trojan War, its causes, its prosecution over ten years and its aftermath as it affected the defeated Trojans and victorious Greeks. It thus makes this important historical event available to those who do not know, or do not have access to, the diverse Latin versions of this war that hitherto were available only to clerics.17 The Author Benoît de Sainte-Maure In v. 132 of the Troie Benoît names himself as the author of the work in the form ‘Beneeiz de Sainte More’. Virtually nothing is known today about Benoît beyond his name and the two works attributed to him: the Roman de Troie and the Chronique des ducs de Normandie (ca. 1175).18 Both these works have been 14 The first example is seemingly that found in Chrétien’s Charrette. See Kelly, Medieval French Romance, pp. xxv–xxvi. 15 Jehan Bodel, La Chanson des Saisnes, ed. Annette Brasseur, Textes Littéraires Français, 369 (Geneva: Droz, 1989), vv. 6–18. 16 In order to facilitate comparisons, we give both the page numbers for our translation and the line numbers found in Constans’s edition. 17 On the different medieval versions of the Trojan War, see, in addition to Jung’s La Légende de Troie, Wilhelm Greif, Die mittelalterlichen Bearbeitungen; Werner Eisenhut, ‘Spätantike Trojaerzählungen – mit einem Ausblick auf die mittelalterliche Troja-literatur’; František Graus, ‘Troja und trojanische Herkunftssage im Mittelalter‘; Arianna Punzi, ‘La circolazione della materia troiana’; Jung, Die Vermittlung historischen Wissens. For a brief introduction to medieval accounts of the Trojan War, see Michel Stanesco and Michel Zink, Histoire européenne du roman médiéval: esquisse et perspectives, Écriture (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1992), pp. 28–32. For evidence of clerical readers’ wider knowledge of Greco-Roman versions of the Trojan War, see Marek Thue Kretschmer, ‘“Puer hic”, ait, “equet Homerum…”: Literary Appropriations of the Matter of Troy in Medieval Latin Poetry ca. 1070–1170 (Part 1)’, Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 48 (2013), 41–54, and ‘(Part 2)’, 49 (2014), 383–92. 18 Sainte-Maure (now known as Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine) is a place in the département of Indre-et-Loire in the Touraine. There has been some debate about whether the same



linked to the English court of Henry II Plantagenêt. In the Troie Benoît refers to a ‘noble spouse of a noble king’, who, after Briseida had transferred her affection from Troilus to Diomedes, would not agree with his unfavourable depiction of her (p. 207; v. 13468). This ‘spouse’ is generally taken to refer to Henry II’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Wace also names Henry as Benoît’s patron for the Chronique des ducs de Normandie.19 The lengthy Prologue to the Troie reports Benoît’s reaction to his major Latin predecessors, his conception of his role as author, translator and rewriter, the significance of his subject-matter and his evaluation of his principal sources, Dares and Dictys.20 The twelfth-century poets who wrote in French inherited two paradigms for invention from the Latin tradition: a literary paradigm based on an art of invention that derived from classical rhetoric and poetics, and a historiographical paradigm that sought to preserve the memory of the past and interpret it by adopting the standards used to record contemporary or near contemporary history in chronicles.21 In the Troie Benoît knew and used both paradigms. He also identifies sources that were deemed historically accurate in his time ‒ Dares and Dictys, purported eye-witness chroniclers and actual participants in the Trojan War. Benoît rewrote their accounts in French for audiences who could not read even elementary Latin. But in doing so he reserved for himself the privilege of adding what he calls his ‘bons dits’, an expression that is difficult to translate, but which can perhaps be rendered as ‘clever additions’ (p. 44; v. 142) in order to interpret and explain his narrative.22 Benoît’s interventions, which are in fact extensive, become obvious if one compares his amplifications to the corresponding passages in the summary accounts by Dares and Dictys.23 Benoît’s bons dits have been variously identified over the years. Here we follow the interpretation of Marc-René Jung, who implicitly amalgamates the two literary and historical paradigms that are found not only in the composition of the Troie, but also in the Chronique des ducs de Normandie.24 In Benoît’s day a distinction was not always made between the past and the present, so authors did not readily differentiate between ancient histories, such as the allegedly eye-witness Benoît wrote both the Troie and the Chronique, but today the two Benoîts are usually taken as referring to one and the same author. See Beckmann, Trojaroman und Normannenchronik, pp. 11–45. 19 See Wace, Roman de Rou, III, vv. 11419–24 (ed. A. J. Holden, trans. Glyn S. Burgess, St Helier, Jersey: Société Jersiaise, 2002, p. 338). See Beckmann, p. 56, Karen M. Broadhurst, ‘Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine’, and Jean-Guy Gouttebroze, ‘Henri II Plantagenêt’. 20 Baumgartner, ‘Vocabulaire de la technique littéraire dans le Roman de Troie de Benoît de Sainte-Maure’, pp. 27–36. 21 Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance, chapters 2 and 3. 22 On the interpretations of this problematic passage in which Benoît speaks of his ‘clever additions’, see Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance, pp. 214–17. 23 See Solveig Kristina Malatrait,‘Si fier tornei‘: Benoîts ‘Roman de Troie’ und die höfische Kultur des 12. Jahrhunderts, chap. 3. 24 On what follows, see Jung, Die Vermittlung, pp. 24–6, and Schöning, Thebenroman, pp. 83–4, 247–50.


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accounts of the Trojan War by Dares and Dictys, and the contemporary world. Translation was translatio, i.e. material that explained in modern terms a past that was not viewed as fundamentally different from the world as it was known at the time. In other words, contemporary twelfth-century explanations were applicable to past history. The anachronisms we perceive today did not exist in our sense of the word for a twelfth-century audience unless they were clear and even blatant, such as the difference between Muslims and Christians in the age of the Crusades. Biblical history too was seen as contemporary with the Trojan War.25 As he composed his work, Benoît ‘invented’, i.e. he ‘found’, his explanations and interpreted them didactically in various ways, as Jehan Bodel thought authors of Greco-Roman matter customarily did. Benoît, for example, condemns Telamon because he did not marry his royal captive Hesiona, but instead made her his concubine (pp. 77 and 98–9; vv. 2790–804 and 4671–767). Thanks to Paris, Helen did not suffer this indignity. But both Priam and even Benoît’s own contemporaries had concubines too.26 The similarities between ancient and medieval customs are even more evident in the invention of speeches, conversations, deliberations, love stories and other features of the Troie narrative that can in rhetorical terms be either praised or blamed.27 Medieval Historiography and Vernacular Publics Benoît also distinguishes between clerical audiences and the public he envisages for his work.28 One of his authorities, Dares, wrote down at the end of each day what he had seen and experienced, and the other, the Greek Dictys, was a witness to the end of the hostilities, and he described the dispersal of the surviving Greek and Trojan combatants after the Trojan defeat. Neither Dares nor Dictys reports any of his own deeds during the war, although Dares presumably departed with the surviving Trojans after the hostilities were over (p. 44; vv. 93–8). Eye-witness accounts are very important in medieval historiography. Benoît himself implies as much in his Prologue when he attacks the Ilias latina, a work he attributes to Homer, because this Homer wrote a hundred years after the war and therefore was not trustworthy (p. 43–4; vv. 51–6).29 Proof of this for Benoît was the fact that this Latin Homer showed the gods engaging in combat with humans. Daniele Ruini, ‘Le Roman de Troie selon Jehan Malcaraume’. For examples of concubinage in the family of the counts of Guines that are similar to Priam’s concubines, see Georges Duby, Le Chevalier, la femme et le prêtre: le mariage dans la France féodale, Collection Pluriel (Paris: Hachette, 1981), chap. 13. 27 Aimé Petit, L’Anachronisme dans les romans antiques. 28 Schöning, Thebenroman, pp. 80–7. On Benoît’s ‘composite authorial image’ as ‘authorial impersonation’ and the ‘multiple … perspectives’ it offers in the composition of the Troie’, see Barbara Nolan, Chaucer and the Tradition of the ‘roman antique’, pp. 44–7. 29 Benoît did not know the Greek Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. The Latin poem known as the Ilias latina is a second-century AD adaptation of the Iliad analogous to the allegedly Latin translations of the Greek of Dares and Dictys. No Greek Dares is extant but some fragments of a Greek Dictys survive. The modern editions of these three works available today are Dares 25 26



In medieval historiography eye-witnesses were deemed reliable authorities.30 In Benoît’s case the eye-witness account is a distinguishing factor in the medieval literary paradigm that he adapts and that his rewriters may recognize in naming their own sources. For example, Guido de Columnis names Dares as the source for his late-thirteenth-century Latin work entitled Historia destructionis Troiae, although he obviously follows Benoît’s version for much of his material.31 He seems to view the Troie as a reliable intermediary and a faithful reporter of the two late-Latin eye-witness sources, so he adapts it in his own Latin rewriting without naming Benoît. This is consistent with Benoît’s rejection of the pseudo-Homer’s Ilias latina because its author lived too late to have been an eye-witness, or even the first author to tell the story of the war.32 Benoît’s Troie was obviously intended for oral delivery before a lay audience rather than for private reading to oneself. As one follows the plot, the narrator tells the members of his audiences over and over again what they will hear, e.g. ‘I shall tell you about the fierce fight between the valiant Sarpedon and the tall Telopolus, as well as who had the worst of it. Right after that, you will hear how the Persian king died’ (p. 48; vv. 455–60).33 Indeed, he announces from the beginning that Troy will fall, building on the suspense as to how, rather than whether, this will happen. However, the oral style of the Troie is not the oral formulaic style of early chansons de geste, which improvised using commonplace motifs and formulae.34 Like the other, mostly anonymous, authors of romans d’antiquité, Benoît draws on written sources that he, along with many of his contemporaries, deems to be valid historical accounts. However, he also believes that his own amplifications permit his audiences to understand better what he takes from his sources. In effect, these supplementary glosses are the Troie’s bons dits, i.e. the material that he adds to, or reads into, his sources as credible interpretations and/or illustrations of their more succinct accounts.35 The modern reader will notice, and perhaps be a bit put off by, Benoît’s frequent references to Phrygius, De excidio Troiae historia, ed. Ferdinand Meister (Leipzig: Teubner, 1873); Dictys Cretensis, Ephemeridos belli troiani libri a Lucio Septimio ex Graeca in Latinum translati, ed. Werner Eisenhut (Leipzig: Teubner, 1973), including the Greek fragments (pp. 134–40); Baebius Italicus, Ilias latina, ed. Marco Scaffai, Edizioni e saggi universitari di filologia classica, 28, 2nd ed. (Bologna: Pàtron, 1997). See the Bibliography for translations of these works. 30 Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance, chapter 3, especially p. 76. For additional bibliography on this subject, see p. 336 n. 45. 31 Jung, La Légende de Troie, p. 563. 32 For other twelfth-century examples of this use of Dares’s name when the works of his rewriters are being referred to, see Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 128–9, 147–8, and Subtle Shapes of Invention, pp. 61–2, 95–101. 33 Evelyn Birge Vitz, Orality and Performance in Early French Romance, pp. 54–7; Petit, Naissances du roman, pp. 759–60; Jung, Vermittlung, pp. 21–6. 34 Joseph J. Duggan, The Song of Roland: Formulaic Style and Poetic Craft, Publications of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA, 6 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1973), chap. 2. 35 For Benoît’s most informative references to these sources, see p. 44; vv. 75–116, p. 50; vv. 648–9, pp. 339–40; vv. 24388–424.


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the oral delivery of the Troie, as well as by his numerous allusions to Dares and Dictys, as these were intended for audiences listening to someone reading the poem to them. Benoît’s Narrative conjointure of Dares and Dictys Benoît’s rewriting is, by and large, coherent.36 First and perhaps foremost he conjoins Dares and Dictys into a three-part scheme represented by the three parts of our translation: the causes of the hostilities between Trojans and Greeks, the tenyear-long siege, and its aftermath for both the Greek and the Trojan survivors. This is analogous to what we find in Chrétien de Troyes’s bele conjointure in the Erec et Enide, which conjoins two source accounts: that of the Hunt for the White Stag and the Sparrow-Hawk Contest.37 Part One in the Troie brings together the snowballing causes of the war, which grow ever more violent and destructive until the ten-year siege actually begins on the beaches before the city of Troy in Part Two. Attempts to avoid conflict fail as there is a prevailing urge on both sides to avenge perceived wrongs even when solutions are available and recognized as feasible by both sides. Benoît then conjoins the narratives of his two sources up to the end of the war and the destruction of Troy. At this point Dares’s version ends and Benoît continues relying on Dictys in Part Three.38 Successive Causes of the Trojan War The movement towards war starts with a sinister motif that recurs throughout the Troie: enmity and distrust within families and among allies. Peleus fears that the growing fame of his nephew Jason will move him to usurp his uncle’s realm, a misfortune that befalls Peleus in Part Three, not because of Jason but rather through the machinations of his stepfather Acastus. Peleus urges Jason to go in search of the Golden Fleece, confident that his nephew will die in this foolhardy attempt because that is what happened to all those who attempted the feat before him. This is the first cause of all that follows, including the ten-year siege and the disastrous Greek return to their homeland after the war ends. It is, as Benoît puts it, a ‘petite acheison’ (‘small cause’; see the entry acheison in Appendix I). As

For a detailed analysis of the plot of the Troie, see Jung, La Légende de Troie, pp. 40–77, and Glenda Leah Warren, Translation as Re-Creation in the Roman de Troie, pp. 346–414. Jung also notes significant variant versions that are found in some manuscripts, including interpolations and deletions, many of which he edits (pp. 78–330). See also the section ‘Variantes complémentaires’ in Constans’s edition (IV, pp. 389–438). However, striking incoherencies in conjoining his sources are not totally absent from the Troie: see Luca Barbieru, ‘Qui a tué Ajax, le fils de Télamon?,’ pp. 321–59. 37 Kelly, ‘Chrétien de Troyes’, in The Arthur of the French, ed. Glyn S. Burgess and Karen Pratt (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2006), pp. 156–62. See also Baumgartner, Le Récit médiéval, Contours littéraires (Paris: Hachette, 1995), p. 15. 38 Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 121, 160–9. 36



time passes, the successive causes and their effects grow ever more violent as the narrative progresses towards war (see the epigraph to Part One). On their way to the Golden Fleece adventure, Jason and his companions, the Argonauts, pause near Troy only to be driven away summarily by the Trojan king Laomedon, who fears that they harbour hostile intentions. The king’s inhospitable ejection of the Greeks from his realm is the second cause of the Trojan War.39 His hostility introduces Trojan enmity as a new narrative: Benoît cuts short what began as a tale about Jason in order to focus on the vengeance sought by his companions because of Laomedon’s inhospitable reception. Jason does succeed in obtaining the Golden Fleece, at which point Benoît cuts short his tale: ‘I shall relate no more of Jason’s life and his exploits. I cannot find any more in my Book. Dares did not wish to write any more about him, nor does Benoît want to draw things out by adding lies to his account.’ (p. 69; vv. 2061–6). Benoît therefore says no more about Jason, but rather follows the new and different plot that begins with Laomedon’s hostility and proceeds from there to the Trojan War. After successfully completing the Golden Fleece adventure, the Greeks plot vengeance and invade Laomedon’s realm. The fighting lasts only one day, during which the Greeks slay King Laomedon, destroy Troy and abduct his sister, Hesiona, who is awarded to Telamon because he was the first Greek to enter Troy. This abduction is the third cause because, as noted above, Telamon keeps Hesiona as his concubine rather than marrying her. Priam, one of Laomedon’s sons, escapes the calamity because, when Troy falls, he is away on a separate military expedition. After Priam learns what has transpired during his absence, he first rebuilds Troy, making it stronger and more beautiful than before. Then he seeks accommodation with the Greeks: if they return his sister Hesiona, the Trojans will not seek vengeance. Priam sends Antenor to Greece with this offer, but the appeal is rudely rejected in four different Greek cities, including that of Telamon. This is the fourth cause of the Trojan War. Paris’s abduction of Helen and their marriage follow; this becomes the fifth cause.40 The Greeks prepare for war in retaliation and the oracle at Delphi assures them of victory if they persevere for ten years. A crucial moment occurs after the invading Greek army captures Tenedos, a Trojan castle at some remove from Troy. Given that Hesiona was being held as Telamon’s concubine and that Paris had retaliated by abducting Helen and marrying her, an exchange of the two women could restore peace and the peaceful status quo ante. This is Priam’s intention when he sends Antenor to negotiate a solution with the Greeks. Indeed, the Greeks recognize this possibility. In Tenedos Agamemnon, the Greek commander, summons them to council during which he sets out the obvious solution: exchange Hesiona for Helen. ‘If Hesiona had been given back’, Agamemnon announces, ‘Helen would not have been abducted … See Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage, pp. 246–53. It is noteworthy that Paris’s abduction of Helen is a contributing cause of the Trojan War, but it is not the first cause. Benoît’s depiction of the causal chain is subtler and more significant than merely this abduction. 39 40


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They find fault with us and we with them. They have done wrong and we ourselves have committed an even greater wrong’ (p. 116; vv. 6161–2, 6168–9). A lively debate ensues after which the Greeks commission Ulysses and Diomedes to go to Troy to negotiate the exchange. At this point there occurs the sixth and final cause of the war in what Martin Gosman terms an ellipse41 (an ellipse occurs when a chosen plan of action is not followed without any explanation). During the Greek embassy in Troy emotions run high and, despite Agamemnon’s wisdom and foresight, the exchange is forgotten. Ulysses and Diomedes demand the return of Helen; there is and will be no talk of an exchange until near the end of the war when Priam realizes his own error in not proposing the exchange at the outset (pp. 342–3; vv. 24618–68). Once the negotiations have failed, Part Two and the ten-year siege of Troy begin. The Catalogues in the Troie Before coming to this section, we must digress somewhat in order to examine the motif of the catalogue that is so prominent in the account leading up to the war. It too has been faulted by some readers as an unsatisfactory adaptation of the Troie’s sources. Four catalogues are lifted from Dares in Part One because, as Benoît puts it, he ‘leaves out nothing that Dares tells him’ (p. 103; vv. 5093–4). But Benoît puts the motif to good use for his attentive audiences: as noted in the Prologue, they had no knowledge of the Latin accounts of the Trojan War. The catalogues correct this impediment to understanding the narrative by including brief portraits of the principal Greeks (pp. 103–6; vv. 5093–293), followed by similar portraits of the principal Trojans (pp. 106–9; vv. 5294–582). The third catalogue lists contributions to the Greek fleet along with their commanders and the lands they come from (pp. 109–10; vv. 5601–702). It is followed by the catalogue of Priam’s foreign allies who come to Troy to assist him (pp. 121–4; vv. 6658–906).42 The first two catalogues name and describe the leaders of the opposing hosts, especially those whose exploits are narrated extensively during the siege. Helen and Briseida are also included in the Greek catalogue; the former’s crucial role in causing the war is an obvious part of traditional accounts of the Trojan War, but Briseida’s place among the Greeks will be explained and amplified by Benoît in his account of her love for Troilus and then for Diomedes, his most original addition to Dares’s narrative.43 The major Trojan figures include both men and women, many of whom are members of Priam’s family who will Martin Gosman, ‘L’Historia malmenée’, pp. 57 and 63. In Part Two there is the catalogue of Priam’s bastard sons (pp. 140–1; vv. 7989–8014 and p. 142; vv. 8097–134), and also battle catalogues, to which we shall return below. Here we are principally concerned with the catalogue motif in Benoît’s narrative economy by way of introduction to the principal actors. 43 Prior to Benoît, Briseida is among numerous high-born daughters forced, like Hesiona, into concubinage; they are not named in a catalogue. Benoît adopts these women from Dictys; see Inez Hansen, Zwischen Epos und höfischem Roman, pp. 44–8, and Kelly, Subtle Shapes of Imvention, pp. 143–4. 41 42



play significant roles in the war narrative. Others are high-ranking Trojans such as Antenor and his son Polidamas, as well as Eneas; these men betray Priam during the Trojan capitulation. It is obvious that Benoît sought to introduce the key protagonists to French-speaking audiences, who were unfamiliar with the tale of Troy and, a fortiori, with the names and identities of the actors on each side who are prominent in the battles and in other events. His audiences will be hearing for the first time names that are largely unfamiliar but must be recognized as the narrative continues.44 Most of those named in catalogues for both sides are mighty warriors, who fight well at a given moment but are periodically slain or gravely wounded and rendered provisionally or definitively unable to return to the fray. These figures have their own narratives interlaced with those of less prominent combatants, and even with men and women of lower ranks who are not catalogued or otherwise named, notably the vast throngs of troops who are slaughtered in great numbers in the course of the war’s twenty-three battles. Some of those referred to in the catalogues have no place in the work other than as a name in a catalogue. For example, Crenos (p. 110; v. 5693) does not reappear anywhere else in the narrative. Most of those named are episodic, existing only to be slain by Hector, Achilles or another major figure. The most extensive accounts of the exploits of one of these combatants occur when they reappear more than once. For example, Menesteus, duke of Athens (p. 110; vv. 5695–7), even survives the war despite his active part in it. He returns in Part Three to defend Orestes for slaying his mother Clitemnestra as punishment for her adultery and the murder of her husband by her paramour Egistus. A recent study of catalogues in Homer’s epics offers useful terminology for epic catalogues that can assist us in recognizing their interest for medieval audiences.45 Terminologically the catalogue lies between the list and the narrative. ‘A list is a bare enumeration of items, whereas a catalogue is a list to which some amount of elaboration has been added.’ At the other extreme are, in some cases, ‘extended narratives’.46 Crenos and Menesteus, duke of Athens, mark the scope of the catalogue between list and narrative. Moreover, the fourth catalogue of Priam’s allies is rich in geographical details that border on narrative. This may well reflect Benoît’s enthusiasm for world geography and the peoples and places that it contains in Asia, i.e. in the region he names Orient. In this descriptive digression in Part Two on the eastern realms of the globe,47 Benoît states: ‘I One cannot completely rule out recall by those who knew the Troie’s two predecessors among the romans d’antiquité. In the Thèbes Diomedes’s father is Tydeus, and Benoît frequently refers to this example of paternity. In the Roman d’Eneas Eneas and Anchises are prominent on the Trojan side before fleeing Troy for Lombardy. 45 Catalogues are not uncommon in twelfth-century epic narratives, including other romans d’antiquité as well as chronicles such as that found in Wace’s Roman de Rou for William the Conqueror’s companions. 46 Benjamin Sammons, The Art and Rhetoric of the Homeric Catalogue (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 9, 11. 47 Benoît did indeed know that the world was a globe, although how he imagined it in his own mind is less clear. See Peter Damian-Grint, ‘Learning and Authority in Benoît 44


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would like to embrace, investigate and begin a work in which there would be no part of the world, wherever it may be found, for which I would not describe what it is like, how large it is and how much space it covers, what is found and what happens there, what the distinctive features of its elements are, what countries and what people are found in it’ (p. 325; vv. 23205–12).48 It too is a catalogue of peoples and their realms as a medieval geographer might depict them. The catalogue of the Trojan allies in Part One offers further insight into how Benoît might have written such a geography. The allies are all exceptional knights. Moreover, as Benoît introduces characters from ever more distant lands, marvels begin to appear like those in the description of Orient. In one country little satyrs and sprites romp about in the forest, and the mountains are teeming with more than a thousand varieties of birds and animals (p. 122; vv. 6747–53); in another ‘wild land overseas’ (p. 123; v. 6794) the food is unusual, perhaps even barbaric: even though their cuisine is rich in spices, the inhabitants do not eat bread (p. 123; vv. 6798–800). From still farther away towards the east comes the gigantic knight Philemenis, who wears strange armour adorned with stones from the rivers in Paradise (p. 123 vv. 6833–46). From another faraway realm come black men who fight only with bows and arrows (p. 123; vv. 6862–74). Finally, from a land called Alizonie that lies over towards Femenie (p. 124; vv. 6893–4) Pistropleus, a leader educated in the liberal and magic arts, brings the half-human, half-equine Sagittarius that plays a spectacular role in the fifth battle (p. 124; v. 6900). The Amazons themselves arrive in Troy near the end of the war. Benoît’s conception of the marvellous includes the foreign.49 But during the actual siege in Part Two battle catalogues for both sides depict deployments such as those enumerated so extensively before the second battle, or in the serial engagements in which a major figure slays or wounds successive opponents. Narrative Diversity As Jung has suggested, there is considerable variety not only in the description of battles but also in other episodes. There are many scenes of court activities, especially during truces. Most frequent are deliberations on issues arising during hostilities and requiring debate and decision.50 These episodes can also relate confrontations as well as animosity within the opposing Greek or Trojan camps. The most splendid court setting is the Alabaster Chamber, situated at the poem’s midpoint, where all the cares and strife of the outside world are forgotten (p. 223; de Saint-Maure’s Cosmography’, pp. 25–52; Jill Tattersall, ‘Sphere or Disc? Allusions to the Shape of the Earth in Some Twelfth-Century and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular French Works’, Modern Language Review, 76 (1981), 31–46; and Françoise Vielliard, ‘Benoît de Sainte-Maure et les modèles tardo-antiques de la description du monde’, pp. 69–79. 48 Benoît speaks again of this ambition that he was never able to realize at the beginning of his Chronique des ducs de Normandie, vv. 207–570. In it he describes Europe as a complement to the description of Orient or Asia in the Troie. 49 Petit, Naissances du roman, pp. 433–9; Schöning, Thebenroman, pp. 234–5. 50 See J. L. Levenson, ‘The Narrative Format of Benoît’s Roman de Troie’.



vv. 14791–7). The Troie offers perspectives on the roles and places of women in times of war as well as in peacetime.51 There are love stories as well, none of which have a happy ending, except perhaps for that of Penelope, since she remains faithful to Ulysses while he is away, a constancy that he does not reciprocate. Hesiona, Briseida and Helen experience roles in wartime over which they have no control and must adapt to in diverse ways. In what follows we shall look more closely at this diversity in the fate of all those caught up in a war destined to drive most belligerents towards fatal ends. Hierarchy of Combatants Let us begin by returning to the three-tiered hierarchy of combatants. The exploits of all these warriors illustrate the operations of destiny, fortune or chance in the Troie.52 At the pinnacle are the recurrent figures on both sides whose names vernacular audiences often learn for the first time in the catalogues found in Part One. Among the Trojans the sons of Priam stand out: Hector, Deiphebus, Troilus and Paris. This elite group also includes prominent high-born protagonists, Antenor, Polidamas and Eneas, who are strong and loyal combatants during most of the siege, but who plot treason with the Greeks in the end, only to survive into Part Three by escaping from Troy and fleeing westward, where they found new colonies. The Greek side also includes survivors among those whose exploits mark the narrative up to the end of the siege, although their tragic fates are merely delayed until they return to Greece in Part Three. The deaths of Achilles and Palamedes during the siege constitute three major exceptions to Greek survivors such as Agamemnon, Diomedes, Ulysses and Pirrus, who meet their end after returning to their homelands. Priam’s sons illustrate the force of ineluctable destiny, whereas the cyclic flow of fortune’s rise and fall may be at odds with destiny; for example, Achilles’s refusal to fight and his subsequent death in Apollo’s temple occur because of his sudden passionate love for Polixena whom he sees by chance during a truce. He plots with Hecuba and Priam to marry her if he can convince the Greeks to terminate hostilities and depart for their homeland. Achilles’s recommendation that the Greeks end the siege and make peace with Priam follows from those negotiations but fails. His passion unabated, he falls victim to Hecuba’s plot. By and large, the second tier of combatants includes members of the high nobility, many of whom are named in the catalogues. Most stand out for a time, but are finally slain or incapacitated when they engage one of the knights from the top tier. Their fates are identified in a number of sub-headings provided for the battles in our translation. Examples are Patroclus, Cassibilant and Merion in the second battle and Boetes, Archilogus, Doroscalu and Prothenor in the third. Examples such as these occur until the Amazon warrior Penthesilea is slain by Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 121–36. On what follows, see Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, ‘Remembering the Trojan War: Violence Past, Present, and Future in Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie’. 51 52


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Pirrus. As the war drags on, Priam’s other bastard sons are also decimated. Of particular prominence are the men who serve in the elite corps like Priam’s bastard sons, Achilles’s Myrmidons and the native-born Trojans, who are distinguished from the foreign troops who come from distant parts of the Orient in support of the Trojans. Among these contingents the Persians, Paphlagonians and Amazons receive special attention. Most battles involve massive slaughter on both sides. The victims are the countless, largely nameless combatants on horse or on foot whose corpses lie rotting on the battlefield until the heaps of bodies begin to impede the combatants, horses and chariots, while the stench of putrefaction forces both sides to agree to a truce in order to remove the bodies for burial or the funeral pyre. These men include not only the brave, but also the cowards who would flee rather than face death, but cannot do so because of the crowded battlefield. Combat in the Troie is largely a face-to-face engagement in torneiements (see tornei in Appendix I). When Troy is taken, the Greeks slaughter both armed and defenceless Trojans, including women and children. Trauma Related to these features of Benoît’s narrative is what we today know as traumatic stress, a motif that becomes ever more prominent in the Trojan War as time passes. Although Benoît and his audiences did not have our terminology, they were aware of the effects our terminology identifies. We can detect it in the changes in character that take place in some of the prominent, recurrent knights: Hector’s abusive rage and violent impulses explode when his wife Andromacha urges him not to go out to fight when the tenth battle begins. She had been warned by the gods in a dream that his destiny is to die if he fails to heed their warning. Troilus flies into a misogynist rage whenever he recalls Briseida’s infidelity. After Achilles falls in love with Polixena, his passion is transformed into irrational indifference to the Greek deaths and maiming that his absence makes possible. Perhaps the most striking illustration of trauma that builds up over time is Ajax Telamon. This son of Telamon and Hesiona is slain in the twentieth battle when he encounters Paris.53 Both are strewing carnage round about, Ajax with his sword, Paris with poisoned arrows. Ajax has gone mad (p. 320; v. 22779), having come to fight ‘in the nude’, i.e. without wearing any armour (p. 318; vv. 22610–12, and p. 320; vv. 22759–65).54 When Paris catches sight of him slaughtering Trojans, he lets fly an arrow that pierces Ajax’s rib cage and sunders his spine before coming to a stop, still stuck in his body. Ajax’s fury grows ever greater as, seeking vengeance, he makes his way towards Paris. Seizing Helen’s He is still alive after the siege, as in Dictys, until he is treacherously slain by Ulysses and Diomedes after a dispute over who should have the Palladium. See Luca Barbieri, ‘Qui a tué Ajax, fils de Télamon?’ We discuss this incoherence below in our comments on Benoît’s use of his two major sources. 54 On this sense of ‘nudity’, see Aimé Petit, ‘Nu et nudité dans les romans antiques’. 53



beloved in his gigantic arms and holding him fast, despite his broken back, Ajax thrusts his sword straight into the Trojan’s lovely face. Ajax himself is now ‘savagely mangled. Neither his hands nor his feet, his head nor his chest, his rib cage, nor his arms were whole’ (p. 321; vv. 22825–7), and he finally collapses. While being borne back to his tent, he dies while with ‘great effort and pain his soul took leave of his body. He almost chewed it with his teeth as it came out’ (p. 321; vv. 22834–6). A curiously corporal soul! Corteisie in War In assessing Benoît’s treatment of the Trojan War a number of themes could be discussed in depth: military issues, feudal society, love and family matters, etc., all of which are interlocking. But perhaps the one concept that unites these themes more than any other is that of the court. To understand how Benoît depicts war and warfare, we must also observe closely not only how he describes combat, but also how he depicts the court (cort) as a setting in which courtliness (corteisie) is to be found even in the midst of close and brutal combat.55 The contrasting and connected narrative of war and corteisie in times of war and also during lesser conflicts throughout the Troie is a topic worthy of detailed examination in its own right. Benoît’s account of the Trojan War reports the gradual, yet ineluctable disintegration of social and courtly values that define his sense of cort and corteisie, which his descriptions of actions exemplify or fail to exemplify. Such values allowed court society to function smoothly, even on the often chaotic fields of battle, itself the most important locus of the activity of courts in the Troie. Such comportment obtained normally in the Greek states and in Priam’s Troy. For example, Jason’s reception of Laomedon’s messenger as well as Priam’s protection of Diomedes and Ulysses illustrate a certain corteisie in the midst of hostilities. But when a war lasts for ten years, hostilities do not uphold the laws of war. During this time one observes in the Troie a decline into violent chaos and savagery in combat along with a dramatic loss of corteisie and concomitant traumatic effects, even on those participants who are described as corteis. Ajax Telamon’s fighting without having donned any armour shows disarray and madness in conventional combats. War eventually disrupts court life, and finally leads to treachery and betrayal among allies and within families. Indeed, the years of combat seem to bring Greeks and Trojans closer to the barbarian peoples said to be hovering round about, waiting to strike and destroy their civilizations. Nestor describes this danger if they are destroyed as follows: ‘Greece would never be repopulated. Peoples from other lands would arrive there and conquer Greece for themselves.’ He continues: ‘Never again, until the end of time, would there be people living there who would be born or descend from us. You see what See Burgess, Contribution à l’étude du vocabulaire pré-courtois, Publications romanes et françaises, 110 (Geneva: Droz, 1970), pp. 20–34, and Petit, Naissances du roman, pp. 334–44. See also the entry corteis in Appendix I. 55


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a heinous outcome that would be’ (p. 389; vv. 28186–92).56 Their civilization would be wiped out and they and their families with it. From the Trojan point of view, that is precisely what the foreign Greeks, barbarians in the eyes of the Trojans, do to Troy. This anxiety is what Benoît chose to introduce and amplify when adapting the sparse narratives of Dares and Dictys. It may well account both for the Troie’s appeal and impact in the Middle Ages and for the anxiety its medieval audiences may have felt when hearing or reading the poem. They perceived the threats that war made to their survival and harmony, not only among peoples but also within families.57 The term cort in the Roman de Troie as the site of corteisie does not refer to a courtroom as such but to any gathering of barons for formal, sometimes ritualized activities, which may include debate and judgment as well as feasts and entertainment or religious rituals like sacrifices to the gods. Court may convene for counsel or debate as a sort of medieval jurga or parliament, or for receptions, marriage, festivities and other gatherings and pastimes, including those in the Alabaster Chamber. For example, when the Argonauts arrived in Jaconites, the king was holding court58 (p. 60; vv. 1197–206) and we are told that the court had assembled.59 Court may therefore designate an assembly, as in ‘la cort … josta’ (Troie, p. 341; v. 24482) for the purpose of deliberations such as those during which Antenor and Eneas propose returning Helen to the Greeks in order to end the war. If it is held in a king’s or a baron’s dwelling, this building may be called a paleis or hall (Troie, p. 347; vv. 25000–2). Benoît does not use the word cort in the sense of paleis, but instead he prefers that of ‘council’ (console/parlement). Court may also convene in a tent or in the open, as occurs in the Greek army while besieging Troy (p. 120; vv. 6495–507). The occasions on which a court convenes are formalized and ritualized according to established customs. A king like Priam or a commander-in-chief like Agamemnon can convene a court to ask for counsel. But he may also be overruled, as happens when Priam, who wishes to have the prisoner Thoas put to death after the fourth battle, is overruled by his barons (pp. 185–7; vv. 11753–844). Prominent in this context are deliberations to decide how to act in retaliation or in assault, as when the Trojans decide to avenge the Greek refusal to return Priam’s sister, Hesiona, by abducting Helen. Later, during the ten-year siege, both sides Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 111–13. Benoît’s Chronique des ducs de Normandie tells of the invasions of Danish barbarians who subdue the territory that was to become Normandy (see Baumgartner, ‘Les Danois dans l’Histoire des ducs de Normandie’). 58 For plait Constans includes the translation ‘cour’ (V, p. 250), whereas Baumgartner translates it as ‘assemblée plénière’, which, albeit broader in scope, is more precise (Troie, p. 69). 59 Note that the Argonauts do not announce their arrival or make the customary request to stay in Trojan territory when they pause on shore near Laomedon’s Troy. Laomedon’s ‘mauvais accueil’ (Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage, p. 252) is therefore mitigated by the Greek failure to explain their sudden appearance. By contrast, when they arrive at Jaconites, they immediately report to the king to explain their purpose. 56 57



frequently hold court in order to deliberate with regard to how to prosecute the war, or about whether to avenge insults, continue hostilities, stand down for a truce or even terminate hostilities altogether, as Achilles wishes the Greeks to do so that he can marry Polixena. In this way the court acts corteisement, i.e. according to the protocol that includes debate, some sort of vote or acclamation by those barons entitled to express themselves and a decision or judgment, which is often pronounced by the ‘empereor’, i.e. the commander who holds ‘empire’ or command over the entire host. In another council aristocratic hierarchy determines rank in the opposing armies. Therefore, when Palamedes joins the Greek host, he objects strenuously to serving under Agamemnon as ‘emperor’, a commander-in-chief of the Greek host whom Palamedes deems inferior to himself (pp. 171–2, 248–50; vv. 10479–560, 16881–7044). Among the Greeks, the ‘emperor’ had heretofore been Agamemnon (pp. 102–3; vv. 5025–32); the exception occurs during Palamedes’s relatively brief overlordship (p. 250; v. 17044). Among the Trojans, Priam is supreme, with his heir Hector serving as his field commander (pp. 88, 107–8, 124; vv. 3757–9, 5440, 6921–6).60 Corteisie is adherence to established procedures or customs in decision-making. Before sending Antenor to ask for the return of Hesiona, Priam as king and commander-in-chief ‘took counsel, as was proper’ (p. 82; v. 3207). When the Greeks refused to return her, Priam again sought counsel (p. 87; vv. 3712–16). In the case of the fate of Thoas, referred to above, the Trojans assemble ‘so that we can determine what decision to take – whether we ransom him or hang him or tear him limb from limb or have horses drag him to death ignominiously’ (p. 186; vv. 11773–6). But Priam’s wish to take no hostages is countered by his barons, as the same fate could befall one of them if he were captured by the Greeks! If that happens, Thoas will be useful if an exchange can be agreed upon. ‘They succeeded in giving him sound advice’ (p. 186; v. 11840), the narrator opines, as the capture of Antenor shortly thereafter shows. The exchange does take place. Benoît’s use of corteis and corteisie requires further clarification before we can discuss its role in combat. In one sense, everyone who is not a villein or part of the infantry (geude) is corteis, that is, of the nobility. For example, in the portrait catalogues (pp. 103–9; vv. 5093–582) Benoît describes (along with other attributes, of course) the major figures, whether they be men or women, as corteis.61 The attribute sets a high bar for the noble participants; indeed, their subsequent actions may not always live up to expectation. If on the walls of Troy 60 Priam enters the fray in the eleventh and twenty-second battles after Hector’s death. Laomedon leads the Trojan charge in Part One after he hears that the Argonauts have entered his realm. 61 For example, the following men, women and automatons have this attribute at various points in the narrative: Ulysses, Neptolemus, Hector, Polyxena, Priam, Peleus, Jason, Medea, Telamon, Hesiona, Andromacha, Menelaus, Troilus, Theseus, Hecuba, Helen, Epistrophus, Scedius, Polixenart, Dolon, Calcas, Briseida, Priam’s messengers, Achilles’s slain Myrmidons, Antilogus, the Amazons, Dictys himself, even some concubines and mistresses, spies and an automat in the Alabaster Chamber, presumably because he or it acts like a courtly human being who contributes to the courtly ambience of the court.


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during the second battle, ‘a thousand maidens and a thousand townsmen’s noble and courtly wives appeared’ (p. 141; vv. 8087–8),62 the implication is, broadly speaking, that all the women so designated know how to conduct themselves in conformity with aristocratic customs and court rituals. Much of this can, of course, be marked as typical of stereotypical descriptions that are common in twelfth-century romance. But, when we look at the actions imputed to these ‘courtly’ persons, some instances reveal greater subtlety. This is obvious in the case of the automatons in the Alabaster Chamber. One represents, Benoît tells us, a maiden who ‘was very courtly’ because ‘she was always lively and gay, dancing and cavorting, capering about and springing on her pillar so high up that it was a wonder she did not fall off it’ (p. 222; vv. 14711–15). Moreover, ‘seven or eight times a day she performed a hundred diverse tricks that were splendid and attractive to observe’ (p. 222; vv. 14718-19). Indeed, all the automatons are ‘courtly’ in this way because each of them provides entertainment, what we might call ‘fun’ today, that distracts from the violence and sorrows of war. Indeed, this seems to have been the intent and the goal of the Alabaster Chamber in time of war (p. 223; vv. 14791–8). This is illustrative of the goal of corteisie: to entertain and to distract from grief in order that happiness and stability will be recovered.63 This sense of courtly conduct as entertainment, or even as enjoyment, permeates all of Troy after Priam has rebuilt the city. When the Trojans celebrate: They offered numerous sacrifices to the gods while establishing and inventing games with which they often entertained themselves. There was no noble skill, diversion or court entertainment that offered delight or pleasure that the Trojans did not invent: chess, backgammon and dice games were devised there, of that you can be sure, as well as many other amusing pastimes that were splendid, worthy and delightful (pp. 81–2; vv. 3176–86).

The Alabaster Chamber is the site of these inventions, of which the four automatons are the masterpieces. They were fashioned by ‘three scholars, wise and learned men, who were very knowledgeable about necromancy’ (p. 221; vv. 14668–9). They used their corteisie to convey their wisdom. These examples illustrate corteisie as proper comportment at an ideal court in a king’s paleis: there are no conflicts. Ambiguity of Corteisie As noted above, some of the personages whom Benoît describes as corteis hide ambiguous, even dark, sides that are revealed by their actions.64 As in our 62 We recall that only high-born women like Hesiona, Andromacha and Cassandra were spared when captured; but unlike Helen they did not have the privilege of marriage. 63 The romance commonplace of not showing grief often fails in the traumatic stress of ongoing violent deaths. 64 For examples of such contradiction, see Sarah Kay, Courtly Contradictions, pp. 111–19 et passim.



epigraph, these men shine darkly: they may dazzle as epic heroes, but that does not completely blind us to their moral or social faults and failings. Ulysses is an eloquent baron who is also a deceiver more gifted than countless other such men (p. 105; vv. 5205–9). Yet, despite his misuse of this gift, he appears to be ‘wise and courtly’ (p. 105; v. 5210). Is deception a possible feature of corteisie? Peleus too is ‘corteis’ because he stages great festivals. But he does so in order to dupe his nephew Jason, sending him in quest of the Golden Fleece that his uncle hopes will be a fatal undertaking. Hesiona’s son Ajax Telamon is an outstanding Greek knight. His father Telamon too is ‘corteis’, although he does not marry Hesiona but keeps her as a concubine.65 Calcas, the Trojan turncoat (p. 202; v. 13086), is corteis too. When attributed to these men, corteis may describe an appearance that can deceive, not a positive feature in their character. We seem, therefore, to observe in these cases how the ideal, albeit formal, even ritualized relations among courtiers demanded by corteisie break down under the stress and trauma of war. In what follows, we look at some examples of the movement from positive to negative corteisie as the Trojan War grinds on, and even afterwards in the post-traumatic phase, when hostilities have ceased. Men and women are described as ‘corteis’ even though they are beginning to act irrationally, brutally and viciously in all their relations with their opponents, and in the end with their own allies and kin.66 For example, corteisie in Benoît’s sense is evident in the role and conduct appropriate in dealing with messengers before and during hostilities. As was noted above, when Laomedon learns that the Greeks have landed on Troy’s shores without asking for the king’s permission ‒ without, therefore, acting corteisement ‒ he fears that their intentions are hostile: his honour and his realm are threatened because the Greeks did not respect his lordship by asking to stop in his realm. Greek lack of deference is deemed disrespectful by the Trojan king, and therefore, Laomedon confronts them. He orders the Greeks to depart by daybreak or face harsh punishment. The messenger who communicates the command is not well received by the Greeks. Their anger frightens him so much that he feels compelled to remind them that a messenger is entitled to respect and safe conduct, given that he is not speaking in his own name. He is not the king of Troy himself but merely his message bearer. ‘The messenger was very courtly. “In God’s name, Greek lords”, he said, “threats are a churlish thing. I did not come here to quarrel with you.”’ (p. 59; vv. 1107–10). Therefore, having communicated his message in a courtly fashion, the messenger hastily departs.67 For their part, the Greeks sail away that very

Priam’s numerous concubines are maidens from noble families and gentle women of noble lineage, who give birth to superb fighters (p. 140; vv. 7991–2). 66 In what follows we focus on corteisie as a context for the assessment of conduct. 67 Messages and messengers were of immense importance to feudal and courtly society. See Jacques Merceron, Le Message et sa fiction: la communication par messager dans la littérature française des XIIe et XIIIe siècles (Berkeley. Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1998). 65


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evening, after vowing to take vengeance for what they deem to be Laomedon’s lack of hospitality and respect. Trojan discourtesy confronts a similar defect on the part of the Greeks. When the Greeks return and defeat the Trojans, Laomedon is slain and his sister Hesiona is taken away as Telamon’s concubine. The debasement to concubine of the maiden of royal birth incites Trojan anger and Benoît’s disapproval because Telamon did not make her his wife in spite of her royal pedigree (p. 77; vv. 2793–804). Later, Antenor experiences an analogous reception by Greek overlords. As Priam’s messenger, he seeks peace with the Greeks, asking only that Hesiona be returned. The five Greeks he speaks to in four different cities are unanimous in angrily scorning the Trojan proposal; indeed, their threats are far more menacing than Laomedon’s. In each confrontation Antenor himself is ordered to depart forthwith; otherwise he will enjoy none of the corteisie due to messengers. Nestor is especially hostile. Addressing Antenor as a ‘whore’s son’ and a ‘bastard’ (p. 85; v. 3517), he vows to gouge out his eyes, or otherwise mutilate him by having him ignominiously drawn and quartered, if he does not depart forthwith. Hearing this, Antenor rushes away. Their compromise rejected, the Trojans avenge themselves by abducting Helen. But, unlike Telamon, Paris takes pains to protect and honour her by marriage. Paris also vows to treat in a courtly fashion the other men and women who have been abducted along with Helen. Greek displays of violent hostility towards Antenor again contrast with Priam’s courtliness when Ulysses and Diomedes come to Troy before the first battle to seek a resolution of the conflict. Their messengers demand Helen’s return. The ensuing exchange is tense and grows ever more heated, as the Greeks display neither the coolness of Laomedon’s messenger nor Antenor’s fear. Yet Priam, far more moderate than his father and the Greek warlords who rebuff Antenor, intervenes to protect the Greek messengers: ‘No messenger need fear anyone in my court’ (p. 119; v. 6417). The Greeks leave as hastily as did Antenor and Laomedon’s messenger, albeit more haughtily and menacingly. Carnage and Corteisie Nestor’s violent threats prefigure the gruesome descriptions of combat throughout the ten years and twenty-three battles upon which Benoît amplifies in rewriting Dares’s perfunctory summaries of the battles. Everywhere, eyes are torn from their sockets, or they ooze over cheeks as noses, tongues and chins are slashed off or slit open, bloody hands push back into open bellies entrails that are bubbling out, while those whose legs have been severed drag themselves to safety on their hands. Limbs pile up on the battlefield, thereby impeding charging horses and chariots, sometimes for days on end. By their sheer accumulation, these casualties may produce a sense of revulsion in the modern reader, who may prefer simply to skip over them, perhaps pausing from time to time to focus on descriptive tours de force such as the deaths of Hector, Troilus and Achilles. It all seems the same, the result of monotonous, yet brutal and constant violence, as bodies



hack one another in close combat and almost always face to face. Soon enough, however, decaying bodies produced such a stench that ‘everyone was retching’ (p. 198; v. 12815). Benoît is nothing if not realistic. Yet this ruthless brutality is what happens in close combat with swords and spears, arrows and bolts. Lengthy truces are needed after prolonged battles so as to clear the fields of corpses and burn heaps of bodies and body parts. On and on it goes, as the combatants grow ever more savage and traumatized; the laws of war and of chivalric decorum that characterize corteisie in the Roman de Troie lose their meaning and force. We must insist on these acts of carnage. As noted above, Benoît is writing about war. With such descriptions he has an obvious purpose: he wants his audiences to be aware of war’s commonplaces and its progression in real terms. The sheer accumulation of gruesome details, the gore, the mangled bodies, the stench, make us sense, even at some remove, their traumatic effect on the warriors and, more specifically, on the growing loss of respect for proper conduct – corteisie – as the violence repeats itself on a daily basis. Warriors become like savage beasts in Benoît’s comparisons of human and animal ferocity.68 The war does not begin with such savage brutality.69 To be sure, there is always plenty of violence in battles, but initially there is also a sense of what we refer to above as the laws of war, a decorum that allowed for corteisie among belligerents. There is a striking instance of this in the second battle. Ajax Telamon encounters Hector, who is also his uncle, given that Ajax Telamon is the son of Telamon and Hesiona. They are ‘family’, we might say. So when, while fighting his nephew, Hector discovers his opponent’s identity, he immediately evinces extraordinary corteisie, mitigating his fury in battle, during which he had been slaying numerous Greeks like ‘a wolf that has been famished for a long time’ (p. 155; vv. 9159–60). Now the two warriors embrace, kiss and exchange gifts as kin. Hector invites Ajax to Troy to meet his relatives, but Ajax declines the offer for fear of incurring the wrath and blame of his Greek comrades. Hector’s response is still generous: he accedes to Ajax’s request to terminate the battle early. But because of that courtesy the Trojans do not burn the Greek fleet. Had the battle continued, Benoît tells us, the Trojans would have burned the Greek fleet and the war would have ended in Trojan victory (p. 167; 10164–86). But that was not to be.70 There are other displays of such corteisie on Hector’s part in the second battle. Theseus, a young companion of Ajax Telamon, happens upon Hector who is fighting alone and in dire straits. The young Greek knight encourages Hector to send for his troops, lest misfortune befall him (p. 52; vv. 8919–44). This unusual, almost Arthurian, act of chivalric courtesy astonishes Hector. Is this not a sign of the young Greek’s inexperience or naïveté? ‘You are not really aware of what See p. 145; vv. 8369–76, p. 179; vv. 11228–9, p. 222; vv. 14724–7, p. 231; vv. 15477–8, p. 232; 15558–60, p. 300; vv. 21097–102, p. 403; vv. 29360–61. 69 On what follows, see Petit, Naissances du roman, pp. 336–7. 70 Seven hundred ships are burned in the twelfth battle, but Ajax Telamon saves the rest of them (pp. 272–3; vv. 18904–86). 68


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I can accomplish’, he advises Theseus, but ‘very soon you will find that out’ (p. 152; vv. 8943–4). Hector’s words have more than one meaning. He is indeed the best Trojan warrior. In this sense, Theseus underestimates his prowess and seems therefore to be ignorant of the threat he poses to the Greeks. But Hector is also courtly, like his father Priam. Shortly thereafter (p. 154; vv. 9099–116), two of Hector’s bastard brothers, sons of Priam’s concubines, have captured Theseus and are about to lop off Theseus’s head. Hector intervenes to save the life of the young man, who had shown himself to be ‘very courtly, worthy and wise’ (p. 154; v. 9110). Hector’s life-saving gesture is the repayment or guerredon71 (p. 152; v. 8942) he promised for Theseus’s naïve corteisie. Such corteisie wanes as the siege of Troy goes on and the number and duration of the battles continues to rise and go on day after day. In a brief episode in the twelfth battle, Ajax Telamon ‘made [Priam’s] sons pay dearly for his family connection’ (pp. 268–9; v. 18594),72 selling his relationship to Priam’s family, as Benoît puts it, dearly (p. 269; v. 18596). First Ajax slices off the arm of Sicilien, the same bastard son who wanted to behead Theseus, whereupon Deiphebus, one of Hector’s legitimate brothers, avenges the wrong. Unhorsing Ajax, he pounds his Greco-Trojan nephew with heavy blows while reproaching him for betraying his maternal lineage by seeking to ‘disinherit and degrade’ (p. 269; v. 18619) his Trojan kin. Menesteus, the duke of Athens, rescues Ajax by unhorsing Deiphebus, himself rescued by ‘family’ – Troilus and Paris – but, ominously, as the audience will recall from Benoît’s plot overview at the beginning of the Troie, by Eneas and Polidamus, Antenor’s son. These Trojans, finally fed up with the war after it has gone on for ten years, will betray Priam and Troy to the Greeks. For them the carnage has lasted too long. The Theme of Madness Hector is changing too. This becomes obvious when, despite heavy Trojan losses, his wife Andromacha and his father Priam keep him from fighting in the tenth battle. As we noted above, Andromacha is warned by the gods in a dream that Hector will be killed if he goes out to fight on the first day of the tenth battle and she begs him to stand down. His devotion to family had been strong and profound, even when, as in the case of Ajax Telamon, it comes to family on the opposing side. But by the tenth battle Hector can no longer heed either reason or prophecy, unlike his wife Andromacha, who has a strong sense of the gods’ will and of proper conduct when they make it known;73 Benoît rightly describes 71 On the term guerredon (‘reward’, ‘recompense’, ‘payment’), see Nelly Andrieux-Reix, Ancien Français: fiches de vocabulaire, Études littéraires (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987), pp. 100 and 102. 72 The word Benoît uses here is acosiner (v. 18594), which translates literally ‘treat someone as a cousin’, as ‘engage in a fight with’; it is probably ironic. 73 This is not unlike Calcas, who betrays the Trojans at Apollo’s command, although, as he tells Briseida, he would rather not have had to follow the god’s orders (pp. 210–1; vv. 13779–814).



her as corteise (pp. 79 and 229; vv. 2950–2, 15266). But her husband’s fury is immediate and vengeful. Although in the second battle for the sake of Ajax he declined to continue fighting despite certain victory, Hector now flies into a rage, refusing to desist as the tenth battle begins; he even verges on striking his wife while snarling abuse, hatred and threats in her direction. As a result, she too loses her self-control: ‘She was on the verge of losing her mind’ (p. 230; v. 15357); ‘she did indeed resemble a woman who had gone mad. In a frenzy, dishevelled and completely out of her mind’ (p. 231; vv. 15459–61), she pleads with Priam, although not as a corteise dame would. ‘Di va’ (‘Hey you!’), she yells, as if she were addressing an ignoble underling who was not performing an assigned task as he should. ‘Have you gone mad, or lost your mind to such an extent that you no longer care for yourself?’ (p. 232; vv. 15509–11). Priam does restrain his son, but only for a while. The eighth battle puts Hector’s fury in the tenth battle into perspective. During that conflict he is absent from the battlefield for two weeks because of a grave wound (p. 220; vv. 14529–54). A day off in the tenth battle would have made little difference. In both battles without Hector, the tide of battle goes against the Trojans. In the tenth battle, Polidamas, Antenor’s son, suggests to Troilus that they retreat into Troy and wait until Hector can join them again, presumably on the next day. But to no avail. Young and impulsive as ever,74 Troilus does not respond to Polidamas’s suggestion, but rather urges him to help their comrades in trouble, whereupon Ajax Telamon attacks Polidamas, then turns to engage his uncle Troilus. The Trojans do better, but only temporarily: ‘The Trojans fought very well, but to what avail?’ (p. 237; v. 15989), remarks the narrator. As Polidamas suggested, they begin to retreat into the city. But while the tenth battle is turning against the retreating Trojans, Hector can no longer hold back. Isolated from those in the city, who now fear approaching him in his rage (p. 238; vv. 16016–17), Hector rushes into the fray and to his own death in order to rally the Trojans, exclaiming as he leaves Troy – supreme irony! – ‘I ought to be absolutely disgusted with myself for still being alive’ (p. 238; vv. 16018–19).75 Achilles, who begins to stalk his arch foe, sees his moment when Hector stoops to retrieve some booty. With one blow he makes the Trojan hero ‘spew forth his living soul’ (p. 239; v. 16131). With Hector dead, the Trojan recovery collapses and all the Trojans retreat, defenceless, into Troy. Had they done so before Hector’s intervention, the destiny revealed by the gods might have been avoided.

Cf. Hector’s words to Troilus before the second battle: ‘Do not get lost in the mêlée; do not do anything that ends up as foolish. The nobility, prowess and courage that I know to be so outstanding in you make me anxious. May God bring you back safe and in high spirits. Do not separate from your men, do not rush headlong into battle with your mortal enemies. May you return safe and sound’ (p. 138; vv. 7763–72) . 75 Cf. Priam’s words at the start of the war: ‘It is far more fitting for us to die than to suffer this shame peacefully’ (p. 87; vv. 3669–70). 74


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Diverse Corteisies Having delineated some striking examples of corteisie and its decline and loss in the traumatic stress of war, in what follows we examine corteisie and its decline from humanity into savagery in four configurations: corteisie among enemies, among allies, among vassals or amis naturels (in feudal or virtually feudal relations) and among amis charnels (within families), such as that between Ajax Telamon and his Trojan relatives.76 We have seen how corteisie between enemies can give way to anger and fury when messengers are being received. But during the truces combatants may visit their foe, a sign of courtliness analogous to the reception of messengers. But these pauses hardly allow the warriors to become sensible. Provocations occur during Greek visits to Troy when enemies taunt one another. Hector does so when he mocks Achilles’s homosexual love for Patroclus, a moment all the more tense because in the second battle Hector killed Patroclus. No accommodation is apparent. Later, when the now bisexual Achilles is duped into thinking he can win Polyxena’s hand, he is betrayed and slaughtered as savagely as Ajax Telamon and Paris slay one another in the twentieth battle. Such hostility is permissible among enemies, but it also arises among allies. The greatest corteisie among allies occurs, of course, at the start of the war. The fourth catalogue identifies Priam’s allies, who rush to his aid in Troy not only from all over the Orient but from elsewhere as well. The Greeks are just as eager to come to Menelaus’s assistance after the abduction of Helen. War in the Troie is World War (p. 155; vv. 9189-91). On the Trojan side, the defence of Troy is unflagging. However, as the war drags on far from their homelands, Greek losses weaken their resolve. On one occasion, Calcas, the Trojan turncoat thanks to Apollo, can only with great difficulty keep the Greeks from giving up and returning to their homeland by always promising victory if they persevere into the tenth year (pp. 198, 285; vv. 12771–8, 19923–50). But there are other fissures. Because he has been gravely ill Palamedes reaches the Greek host late. Once there he immediately begins to grumble about Agamemnon’s command of the Greek host in spite of the fact that he is beneath Palamedes in birth and nobility. Rank is also a matter not only of blue blood but also of corteisie. Deference to rank within the social hierarchy founded on aristocratic prerogatives also determines rank in military command. Palamedes refuses to take orders from Agamemnon and demands to be named commander-in-chief himself. For the sake of the Greek cause Agamemnon shows admirable restraint and agrees to step down. When, not long after this change, Palamedes is slain by Paris, Agamemnon assumes once more the post of commander-in-chief. Thanks to him, unity prevails among the Greeks despite internal strife that threatens to get out of hand. Not so later on. Priam promises Polyxena as wife to Achilles if See Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 117–19. Note, for example, that Mennon is Priam’s nephew and he is mourned by his family (‘charneus amis’, v. 17395), and by his liegemen (‘homes liges naturaus’, v. 19425) because he is their lord (‘lige natural seignor’, v. 28091). 76



the Greeks terminate hostilities and depart.77 The Greeks refuse, and Achilles, lovesick and in high dudgeon, declines to fight any longer. Missing Achilles, the Greeks suffer ever greater losses on the battlefield, a mirror image of the Trojans’ lot when Hector is absent. When Achilles begins to relent, first allowing his Myrmidons to fight and then, when fury because of their losses overwhelms his amorous passion, he returns to the fight, during which he slays Troilus and then drags his body around Troy. His fury costs him Polixena’s hand in marriage and, subsequently, his own life. Matters hardly improve for the Trojans after the deaths of Troilus and Paris. Antenor, Priam’s ami naturel, undertook the embassy to Greece to seek the return of Hesiona. Now Antenor and Eneas plot to betray the city to their enemies. Antenor negotiates peace between his allies and the Greeks. He even contrives to have the Palladium given to the Greeks. Possession of this sacred object, which was sent to them by Pallas, guarantees security to Troy as long as they have it; loss of it seals their fate. Treachery becomes the modus operandi as Trojan barons, Priam’s amis naturels, betray their king. When the king gets wind of their conspiracy, he in turn plots vengeance with Amphimacus, one of his remaining sons. They will invite Antenor and the other traitors to court and assassinate them there. Then the latter learn about the king’s plot, so they come to court accompanied by a large armed guard made up of their own families and allies. Priam, realizing he no longer controls affairs, breaks down (p. 349; vv. 25198–200): ‘I have no friend who is close enough to me to lament the harm that has befallen me. They have all become hostile and antagonistic towards me.’78 The king’s words reveal his weakness vis-à-vis his barons. The rest is well-known: the Trojan horse, the capture and destruction of Troy, the death of Priam. Having won the war, the Greeks collect their booty along with all the desirable Trojan women and prepare to depart. Post-war Animosities This brings us to the conclusion of Part Two, ‘when everything had been levelled and their great desire for carnage had been sated, and the Greeks wearied of destroying and slaughtering’ (p. 362; vv. 26241–3). Then strife breaks out among the Greek warlords as the post-traumatic phase of combat kicks in. First, they argue over who has the right to the Palladium. Ajax Telamon, who has sprung back to life, as noted above, thanks to Dictys, claims it, but Diomedes and Ulysses believe they are more deserving of it than he is. Ajax is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Benoît tells us, hinting at connivance by Ulysses and Diomedes (p. 375; vv. 27102–28). Later, Nauplus, convinced that the Greeks According to Achilles, they should do so for the sake of their families (pp. 264, 281–2; vv. 18217–27, 19625–32, 19636–65). 78 The Greeks are therefore analogous to savage, uncivilized peoples always ready to invade and destroy a people; on these outsiders see pp. 254, 378–91 and 389; vv. 17381–9, 27385–9, 28184–92. 77


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had treacherously killed his son Palamades, betrays them. As the Greek fleet was caught in a violent storm close to his lands, Nauplus caused their boats to become shipwrecked by luring them with bonfires to the shore through waters filled with treacherous rocks. There a great loss of life ensued along with the total loss of the immense booty the Greeks were bringing back from Troy. The ten-year-long absence of the Greek barons breeds similar mistrust among the homeward-bound warriors. News of domestic rebellion in their families and households in their homeland reaches their ears, infuriating them anew just as the fury of war is abating.79 Their reaction was to kill all their dependants: wives, families and members of their households: ‘Just as they have driven us away, let us in turn drive them out. Let us be as cruel and brutal towards them, showing no respect for lineage, friendship or family’ (p. 389; vv. 28173–6). Fury is still a driving force among these men, this time against their own amis charnels and naturels. As at Troy, total destruction is the revenge they seek. They will turn all Greece into a battlefield. However, more pragmatic, but no less furious, heads prevail. Nestor proposes that they make peace with their rebellious families. Once re-established in power, it will be an easy task for the Greek warlords to avenge themselves. Women in War We shall conclude with the fates of the Trojan and Greek women as exchangeable objects and booty80 in the hands of the warriors among whom they live. As with the men, only very high-born women on both sides are named in the catalogues and receive extensive narratives. However, the women’s narratives are different from those of their male counterparts. To be sure, their experiences and fates are played out in the four contexts in which corteisie declines among men (enemies, allies, amis naturels and amis charnels). But only one such woman, Penthesilea, is a warrior and her chivalric exploits are ‘manly’ in their violence. Her death and dismemberment mirror the fates of the male warriors, with whom she and her Amazons engage on the battlefield. The common lot of non-combatant women is rape and slaughter, or, for the ‘privileged few’ who are of high birth, abduction and life as a concubine.81 The treatment of concubines varies in the context of corteisie. Hesiona illustrates its negative side, whereas in Troy Priam’s numerous concubines and their children offer a more positive contrast, all the while suggesting that the Trojan king is something of a serial womanizer. Helen too, as Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 105–19. Hansen, Zwischen Epos und höfischem Roman; Jung, Die Vermittlung, p. 26; Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 121–59; Francine Mora-Lebrun, ‘D’une esthétique à l’autre: la parole féminine dans l’Iliade de Joseph d’Exeter et le Roman de Troie de Benoît de Sainte-Maure’, in Conter de Troie et d’Alexandre, pp. 31–50. 81 After the destruction of Laomedon’s Troy, Trojan women are raped and killed or borne away, presumably to become slaves or concubines like Hesiona (p. 77; vv. 2790–7). The same fate befalls Andromacha and Cassandra after the ten-year war ends, and Polixena prefers death to the experiences of her sisters. 79 80



noted above, is a more positive, albeit ambiguous, example: when Paris abducts and marries her, she passes from the Greek side where she is Menelaus’s wife and then, after the fall of Troy, goes back to Menelaus. The Greeks do not put her to death as a traitor, although most of them want to do just that. Hesiona’s fate is not acceptable in the Troie. If Telamon had married her, according to Benoît everything would have been all right, i.e. it would have been corteis. At best, she assumes the status of Priam’s many concubines.82 Marriage to Telamon would have been comparable to the marriage of Helen and Paris, as well as to Achilles’s projected marriage with Polyxena. For marriage resolves conflict, turning enemies into allies, which is the custom in war and, therefore, a form of corteisie. It occurs later for Andromacha as concubine when Pirrus falls in love with her. But as concubine she disrupts his marriage to Hermiona, the wife of Orestes, whom Pirrus, like Paris, had abducted and then married. Briseida too adapts to her fate, albeit less willingly and more slowly and thoughtfully than does Helen. Benoît does not tell us what became of Briseida after the war ends.83 We can project a conclusion to Briseida’s story from a development on the subject of women that Benoît takes from Dictys. Benoît treats the trauma of women in war in some of his most original amplifications. Dictys gave him what we may call the traditional fate of women (pp. 372–3; vv. 26878–990). Ydomania, daughter of Brises, and Astinome, daughter of Crises, are exchanged between Achilles and Agamemnon in heated disputes as to which knight deserves to keep the one or the other (pp. 372–4; vv. 26878–7000).84 But Benoît condemns Telamon’s treatment of Hesiona. Because she was of royal blood he should have made her his wife rather than his concubine. Polixena fears Hesiona’s fate: an inferior man, even as husband, would pollute her womb, family and person. She prefers death to this dishonourable fate: Know for certain that I have absolutely no desire, for any reason, to go on living after such grief. I would never again see anything that would console me or bring me happiness. No son or daughter will come from me because of whom my lineage could be vilified or debased. I do not refuse my destiny. I shall die with my virginity intact. That is fine with me, since I shall not pervert my high nobility. I am never to know love from any human being. May God save me from this (p. 365; vv. 26501–15).

In this way Polixena escapes spousal or any other kind of rape. Invading her body would seem to be analogous to the barbarian invasions that Nestor feared would annihilate his race. The truly original instance of forced exchange is that of Briseida. Benoît relies on scarcely any antecedent source other than Dares, who makes her out to be a Greek, perhaps adapting the hints found in Dictys where Brises is her Hesiona’s fate as the wife in Joseph of Exeter’s Ilias does not improve her lot; she is used and abused (Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 123–4). 83 Note Egial’s rejection of her husband Diomedes when she hears that he is bringing back a woman to replace her. She finally reconciles and no replacement woman in mentioned. 84 See Kelly, Subtle Shapes, pp. 143–5. 82


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father rather than Calcas. But her case is also special because it does not fit the misogynist version of her love for Diomedes that both Boccaccio and Chaucer relate, claiming, like Benoît, that she would find a new love only a few days after leaving Troilus. However, in the Troie, she becomes a variant of the example provided by Helen: both women fall in love with their captors. Although Benoît does anticipate Boccaccio and Chaucer by claiming that Briseida will have a new love in a few days, that is not what happens. She finally accepts Diomedes’s love after almost two years in circumstances that are similar to Helen’s except that Menelaus’s wife felt attracted to Paris and had even flirted with him before he abducted her (pp. 94–5; vv. 4342–67). This may offer insight into the empathy of the noble lady of a noble king that differs from Benoît’s opinion when he evaluates Briseida’s change of heart (this is not dissimilar to her turncoat father’s transfer of loyalty from the Trojans to the Greeks – it is the will of the gods and of Destiny). Indeed, the real example of a rapidly sliding woman’s heart is Helen. She begins to find Paris attractive at first sight and she consents to marry him, integrating herself fully into Priam’s family, mourning Hector’s death so vehemently that Hecuba’s esteem for her grows immensely (pp. 243, 324; vv. 16479–90, 23073–88). Helen thereby becomes an example of the way Benoît thought Telamon should have treated Hesiona, as well as of the rapidity with which he predicted that Briseida’s heart would change. We now turn to the Greek wives whose husbands return to them after the war. Penelope, of course, remained constant throughout her husband’s long absence, which extended well beyond the ten-year siege, despite the concerted effort of many suitors to win her hand in marriage in order to take possession of Ulysses’s lands. Ulysses had hardly been faithful, as a result of which he is slain by his own bastard son ‒ Telegonus, not Telemacus – whom Circe bore him. Clitemnestra too broke her marriage vow and handed Agamemnon’s realm over to Egistus, who murders Agamemnon upon his return to Mycenae. Orestes’s vengeance, when he comes of age, is horrific: he rips the nipples from his mother’s breasts before having her dragged to death, leaving her corpse to be devoured by dogs and vultures – punishment approved by the gods, and therefore arguably corteis because she is also punished for her adultery. As noted above, Egial, Diomedes’s wife, hears that her husband is bringing back to Argos another woman to replace her (presumably Briseida, although Benoît does not name her). Egial therefore denies Diomedes entrance into Argos and everyone supports her. This forces her husband to wander about alone (Briseida is not with him, having perhaps drowned after Nauplus’s vengeance, a disaster from which Diomedes is one of the few survivors). Sometime later, Diomedes is reconciled with his wife and returns to the throne. Benoît does not tell us whether he took vengeance on Egial as cold-bloodedly and ruthlessly as Nestor suggested that the returning Greeks should act towards those in their families who had revolted against them. Orestes does not participate in the Trojan War, but he does suffer its consequences. First, he avenges the murder of his father Agamemnon. Then he is betrayed when his wife Hermiona is abducted and given to Pirrus, who in turn betrays Hermiona by falling in love with Andromacha. Marriage and concubinage are powerful motives in the Troie.



The Gods and Anachronism Anachronism in the Troie is a critical issue in current scholarship. Is it merely a marvellous feature of the narrative art like that we find in Arthurian romance or is it a significant element in the transfer of contemporary themes and motifs into ancient history?85 The role of the ancient divinities can illustrate what is at issue here. The moral and religious context of Benoît’s Roman de Troie86 is noteworthy because he does not introduce a Christian context to explain and evaluate the war and its protagonists, as, for example, his contemporary Joseph of Exeter does in his Ilias, a Latin version of Dares’s De excidio.87 One might indeed say that his context is truly pre-Christian: he excludes the ancient Greek divinities from the battlefield of Troy, condemning the Latin Homer for having depicted them in combat with human beings (pp. 43–44; vv. 45–74). However, in the Troie they do intervene in important ways to issue commands to Calcas at Delphi, to reveal to Andromacha and Ulysses the future in dreams and by prodigies like that of refusing to accept sacrifices from the Trojans as a sign that Troy’s fate is sealed.88 Benoît does not make the gods out to be devils, as occurs in later rewritings, nor does he impose Christian evaluations on Greek and Trojan conduct. To be sure, there are references to ‘god’ or ‘God’, but these seem to be no more significant as religious markers than exclamations today like ‘O my God’ or ‘Mon dieu’ when spoken by atheists or agnostics. A corollary to this issue is the Benoît narrator, who sides with the Trojans, even using the first person plural to express his preference, as in the way he condemns those who betray Troy like Antenor and Eneas. Perhaps Benoît had in mind the alleged Trojan ancestry depicted for contemporary royal families by medieval writers. In the prologue to his Chronique des ducs de Normandie Benoît attributes Trojan ancestry to the Danes.89 In the Troie he also speaks of the Petit, L’Anachronisme et les romans antiques, chap. 10; Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage, pp. 230–71; Schöning, Thebenroman, pp. 247–50, and his ‘Erinnerte Vergangenheit: der altfranzösische Antikenroman’, in Kunst und Erinnerung: memoriale Konzepte in der Erzählliteratur des Mittelalters, ed. Ulrich Ernst and Klaus Ridder, Ordo 8 (Cologne, Weimar, Vienna: Böhlau, 2003), pp. 44–8. 86 Benoît is here reporting Dares’s own criticism of Homer (Dares, De excidio Troiae historia, ed. F. Meister, Leipzig: Teubner, 1873, p. 1:13–16). This does not mean that the gods disappear from the Troie. On this issue, see Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 141–3, and, for examples, Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage, pp. 381–4; Petit, Anachronisme, pp. 171–6; Schöning, Thebenroman, pp. 317–18, 327–31. 87 The issue of Joseph’s knowledge of the Troie is still an open question. What, if anything, did he do with it if he did know it? Had he even heard of it? See Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 146–7 and chapter 4 passim; and Francine Mora-Lebrun, ‘L’Ylias de Joseph d’Exeter: une réaction cléricale au Roman de Troie de Benoît de Sainte-Maure’, in Progrès, réaction, décadence dans l’Occident médiéval (Geneva: Droz, 2003), pp. 199–213. 88 Pp. 112–3; vv. 5817–920; pp. 229–30; vv. 15263–354, pp. 353–4; vv. 25500–611; and p. 409; vv. 29815–98. 89 See Baumgartner, ‘Les Danois dans l’Histoire des ducs de Normandie’, and MatheyMaille, Écritures du passé, pp. 72–3. 85


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re-establishment of the Trojan lineage and nation by Laudamanta and Achillides, although he does not elaborate on this matter or even identify any name or country where they settled (p. 408; vv. 29765–814); this would parallel his anachronistic attribution of a feudal context to war in Trojan and Greek hostilities. What motivated Benoît to ascribe twelfth-century features to his ancient subjects? He certainly does not treat the pagan religion in Christian terms by depicting the gods as devils in disguise, who deceive those blinded by a false religion. He very much writes as if he thought that the gods and goddesses were alive and active in the war, although he does not depict them as taking part in combat with humans as they do in the Ilias latina. The gods are aware of destiny; they can therefore advise the humans they favour on how to achieve their ends or to avoid calamity in the light of the knowledge the gods reveal regarding destiny. The oracles of Delphi and Apollo play a crucial role in the narrative. On a number of occasions, Calcas makes it clear to the Greeks that the oracle predicts that they will win the Trojan War if they persevere into the tenth year, as Apollo told Calcas in Delphi. Destiny and Contingency90 Contingency is a factor in how effectively destiny functions. Fortune and chance may intervene within this larger framework, either by meeting certain conditions that allow destiny to operate and advance, as when the Greeks choose to persevere with the siege for ten years or by eluding destiny by exploiting one’s knowledge of it. If, for example, the Greeks and Trojans had not exchanged Helen and Hesiona, destiny could still have been thwarted by the commonplace medieval procedure for settling various types of disputes: marriage. By the same token, if Achilles had married Polixena, the war could have stopped. Fortune intervenes as the tide of war shifts to favour alternatively the Trojans and the Greeks and consecutively from battle to battle (see the epigraph to Part Two). Chance too can play a role in conformity with destiny. In the second battle Ajax Telamon persuades Hector to terminate the Trojan drive to burn the entire Greek fleet. If the Trojans had persevered, destiny would have altered its course because the war would have come to an end before ten years had elapsed. This is always a concern for Calcas, who believes the war should continue for ten full years.91 Similarly, if Achilles had not visited Troy during a truce and seen Polixena, the Greek troubles following his withdrawal from combat and his own death might presumably have been avoided.

On what follows, see Kelly, Conspiracy of Allusion, pp. 155–7 and 164–9, and Bruckner, ‘Remembering the Trojan War’, pp. 372–4. 91 Chronology is not perfect in the Troie, as Eley, ‘How Long is a Trojan War?’, points out. 90



Conclusion But destiny extends beyond the cessation of hostilities and the destruction of Troy to engulf and destroy the Greeks themselves. After they had slaughtered all the Trojans who did not betray Priam, those Trojans who did betray him, notably Antenor and Eneas, escape and depart to found new Trojan settlements that will follow their own destiny. Indeed, as noted above, Laudamanta, son of Andromacha and Hector, and Achillides, son of Andromacha and Achilles’s son Pirrus, found a new Troy in an unspecified place. Benoît’s vernacular audiences may well have known of such resettling and restoration of the Trojan line thanks to Wace’s Roman de Brut and Roman de Rou; the latter work remained incomplete because Henry II transferred his patronage to Benoît himself, who undertook the writing of the Chronique des ducs de Normandie in order to relate the transfer of Trojan lineage as the Danes in Denmark, who in turn produced a Norman branch that ultimately had links to King Henry II’s Angevin line. This resembles destiny that preserves the Trojan race even as Troy is destroyed. They become Christians while the Greeks destroy one another during and after their return to their homelands.

A Note on the Translation In our translation, which is based on Léopold Constans’s edition, we have made every attempt to render Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s octosyllabic rhyming couplets in straightforward English prose. Our aim has been to translate every word of the text, but on occasion, when encountering short sentences, we have thought it wise to add some form of connecting word (‘and’, ‘but’, ‘for’, ‘however’, etc.) in order to improve the flow of the material for the modern reader, or to make a little clearer the connection between two sentences or statements. It is our hope that these changes have in no way adversely affected the meaning of the text, and indeed that they have enhanced it. Similarly, where long sentences are concerned, we have on occasion reordered the various elements in the sentence or broken it down into two or more sentences. Although we translate Constans’s text, in many instances we do not reproduce his punctuation, and from time to time we do not follow his use of quotation marks. However, we have by and large used his headers. We have also added some new, explanatory headers in order to make the outline that Benoît’s gives of the plot clearer and more readily understood: whereas his system of paragraphing follows the breaks in the manuscript, we have aimed for paragraphs that are roughly similar in length. The headers are assembled in the next section as an outline and virtual index of the plot. Of all the modifications we have made to Benoît’s narrative text as we find it in Constans’s edition, a noticeable change relates to the presentation of the tenses. As they tell their stories, Benoît and other Old French writers, perhaps influenced by earlier epic poets, oscillate between present and past tenses, no doubt to add an extra level of drama to the narrative. As translators, we have had to decide whether to render each tense as we find it in the text or to relate almost the entire plot using just the past tense. We have favoured this latter course of action, as it allows the material to achieve the maximum impact on a modern audience and thus to enhance the readability of the translation. Although no knowledge of Old French language or society is required in order to follow Benoît’s poem as we present it here, in Appendix I we have shared with those readers who do have an interest in such matters a selection of the difficulties his twelfth-century vocabulary poses to translators. In particular, it is of interest in our view to note how the words Benoît uses in the twelfth century often survive in Modern French and/or Modern English but with different meanings or nuances. Moreover, our understanding of such words is often enhanced by relating them to aspects of the feudal world in which the author lived.


a note on the translation

Finally, a special word on geographical names. Unless the place named is easily recognized today, e.g. Athens, Delphi, Sparta, Troy, etc., we have usually retained Benoît’s spelling as we find it in Constans’s edition. But even when the name is recognizable, Benoît’s geographical knowledge does not always correspond to the territory we know today. For example, his Peloponnesus is a city, Tenedos is not an island, the river Simois is a tributary of the Scamander and does not flow directly into the sea. We prefer therefore to be cautious in identifying place names. As Benoît was clearly fascinated with geography, a detailed analysis of his usage would be a rewarding area for future study. Readers will also find ambiguity in some personal names, especially in the case of Telamon, Ajax Telamon and Ajax Oileus, as well as Pirrus as Neptolemus. We have kept these names as Constans gives them in his edition. Although the context often makes it clear which personage is identified, it does not always do so. Readers will therefore need to make up their own mind in these cases rather than having an uncertain interpretation imposed on them.

Outline of the Roman de Troie PROLOGUE (1–144) OVERVIEW OF THE PLOT (145–714) PART ONE: CAUSES AND EFFECTS (715–6978) Peleus’s Plot: the Golden Fleece (715–952) The Argonautic Expedition (953–2078) The Love of Jason and Medea (1205–796) Jason Wins the Golden Fleece (1797–2078) The First Destruction of Troy (2079–862) Rebuilding Troy (2863–3186) Antenor’s Embassy to the Greeks Seeking the Return of Hesiona (3187–650) Trojan Deliberations after Antenor’s Failed Embassy (3651–4038) Paris’s Expedition to Greece Ratified (4039–166) Paris in Greece Meets Helen (4167–372) The Abduction of Helen (4373–636) Helen and Paris Together (4637–772) Menelaus’s Grief while Helen Enters Troy and Marries Paris (4773–936) The Greeks Prepare for War (4937–5920) The Disappearance of Castor and Pollux (5061–92) Portraits of the Principal Protagonists on the Greek Side (5093–294) Portraits of the Principal Protagonists on the Trojan Side (5295–582) Catalogue of the Greek Ships (5583–702) Achilles at Delphi (5703–816) Calcas Defects to the Greeks (5817–920) Sacrifice to Diana and Departure of the Greek Fleet (5921–90) The Greeks Capture Lauriental and Tenedos (5991–6072) The Failed Embassy of Ulysses and Diomedes to Priam (6073–510) Achilles’s Expedition to Mysia (6511–657) Catalogue of Priam’s Allies (6658–954) Palamedes Joins the Greeks Late (6955–978)


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PART TWO: THE TROJAN WAR (6979–26590) THE WAR UP TO HECTOR’S DEATH (6979–17044) First Battle (6979–8328) Greek Landing before Troy (7061–464) Death of Proteselas (7465–636) Deployment of the Trojan Leaders for the Second Battle (7637–8164) Deployment of the Greek Leaders for the Second Battle (8165–328) Second Battle (8329–10560) Death of Patroclus (8359–544) Capture and Liberation of Troilus (8545–626) Mêlée (8627–728) Menelaus Joins the Fray (8729–912) Theseus and Hector Exchange Chivalric corteisies (8913–9116) Death of Cassibilant (9117–798) Hector’s Exploits (9799–872) Mêlée (9873–10018) Death of Merion (10019–108) Destiny Operates through Ajax Telamon (10109–301) Truce (10302–478) Palamedes Demands Command over the Host (10479–560) Third Battle (10561–1096) Hector against Achilles (10625–724) Troilus against Diomedes (10725–824) Deaths of Boetes, Archilogus, Doroscalu and Prothenor (10825–966) Greek Deliberations (10967–1096) Fourth Battle (11097–994) Mêlée (11295–540) Thoas Captured by the Trojans (11541–752) Trojan Deliberations on the Fate of Thoas (11753–844) Conversing with the Ladies in Troy (11845–994) Fifth Battle (11995–2682) The Sagittarius (12337–506) Struggle for Hector’s Horse Galatea (12507–50) Antenor Captured by the Greeks (12551–682) Sixth and Seventh Battles (12683–3866) Truce (12803–3064) Exchange of Antenor for Thoas and Briseida (13065–120) Encounter of Achilles and Hector in Troy (13121–260)

outline of the roman de troie

The Love of Troilus and Briseida (13261–512) Diomedes Falls in Love with Briseida (13513–866) Eighth Battle (13867–5186) Mêlée (13985–4266) Diomedes Unhorses Troilus for Briseida’s Sake (14267–352) Mêlée (14353–528) Hector’s Facial Wound (14529–74) Truce (14575–630) The Alabaster Chamber of Beauties (14631–958) Ongoing Truce (14959–5000) Briseida Gives Diomedes Hope (15001–186) Ninth Battle (15187–354) Andromacha’s Dream (15263–354) Tenth Battle (15355–7044) Mêlée (15603–6006) Hector Joins the Fray (16007–181) Death of Hector by Achilles (16182–316) Mourning Hector’s Body (16317–502) Embalming Hector’s Body (16503–74) Truce (16575–630) Hector’s Funeral and Tomb (16631–880) Palamedes Replaces Agamemnon as Greek Commander (16881–7044) THE WAR FROM HECTOR’S DEATH TO ACHILLES’S DEATH (17045–22598) Eleventh Battle (17045–8472) Priam’s Exploits (17132–238) Death of Mennon, King of Persia (17239–344) Truce (17345–409) Agamemnon Provides for the Greek Host (17410–88) Achilles Falls in Love with Polixena (17489–746) Negotiating Marriage between Achilles and Polixena (17747–8128) Achilles Advises the Greeks to Cease Hostilities and Depart (18129–397) Achilles Forbids his Men to Fight (18398–472) Twelfth Battle (18473–9209) Death of Resa (18536–624) Deiphebus Mortally Wounded by Palamedes (18625–783) Death of Sarpedon (18784–818) Death of Palamedes by Paris (18819–903) Burning of the Greek Fleet (18904–86)



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Achilles Refuses to Aid the Greeks (18987–9087) Death of Deiphebus (19088–162) Agamemnon Replaces Palamedes (19163–209) Thirteenth Battle (19210–954) Truce (19378–410) Greek Delegation to Achilles who again Refuses to Fight (19411–798) Greek Deliberations after Achilles’s Refusal (19799–954) Fourteenth Battle (19955–20056) Troilus’s Exploits (20008–56) Fifteenth Battle (20057–340) Troilus Badmouths Briseida (20077–118) Troilus Wounds Agamemnon (20119–56) Truce (20157–92) Briseida Grants her Love to Diomedes (20193–340) Sixteenth Battle (20341–812) Achilles’s Myrmidons Join the Fray (20415–690) Achilles Tormented by Love (20691–812) Seventeenth Battle Followed by a Brief Truce (20813–78) Eighteenth Battle (20879–1241) Mêlée (20911–1067) Achilles Joins the Fray (21068–241) Nineteenth Battle (21242–2598) Mêlée (21273–366) Death of Troilus by Achilles (21367–450) Death of Mennon by Achilles (21451–686) Trojan Despondency (21687–792) Truce (21793–837) Hecuba Plots against Achilles (21838–2062) Death of Achilles (22063–316) Achilles’s Funeral (22317–500) Achilles’s Son Pirrus Called to Troy (22501–98) WAR FROM THE DEATH OF ACHILLES TO THE FALL OF TROY (22599–6590) Twentieth Battle (22599–3416) Deaths of Paris and Ajax Telamon (22745–892) Trojan Mourning (22893–3126)

outline of the roman de troie


Description of Orient (23127–301) The Realm of the Amazons (23302–356) The Amazons Come to Troy (23357–416) Twenty-First Battle (23417–824) The Exploits of Penthesilea and her Amazons (23593–780) Arrival of Pirrus (23781–824) Twenty-Second Battle (23825–4271) Mêlée (23854–4271) Twenty-Third Battle (24272–387) Death of Penthesilea by Pirrus (24304–87) DIGRESSION ON DARES AND DICTYS (24388–424) The Treachery of Antenor and Eneas (24425–6590) Conspiracies in Troy (24669–833) Antenor Conspires with the Greeks (24834–998) Priam Accedes to Antenor’s Proposal (24999–5327) The Palladium (25328–499) Dreadful Signs of Divine Enmity (25500–611) The Spoliation of the Palladium (25612–713) The Wooden Horse (25714–944) The Greeks Feigned Departure (25945–6027) The Sacking and Destruction of Troy (26028–240) Deliberations and the Apportionment of Booty and Captured Trojan Women (26241–410) Deaths of Polixena and Hecuba (26411–590) PART THREE: SETTLING SCORES AND SURVIVING (26591–30300) Dispute over the Palladium (26591–7080) Ajax Telamon’s Anger and Death (27081–182) Cassandra’s Dire Prophecies (27183–222) The Fates of the Surviving Trojans (27223–354) Eneas Banished (27355–454) Antenor Banished (27455–547) The Greeks Embark for their Homelands (27548–619) Ajax Oileus’s Shipwreck (27620–70) Rumour of the Murder of Nauplus’s Son Palamedes (27671–867) Nauplus Avenges his Son’s Death (27868–931) Diomedes Banished from Argos and Agamemnon Assassinated (27932–8112) Diomedes Driven from Salamina (28113–46)


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Greek Leaders Banished and then Recalled (28147–207) Diomedes Helps Eneas and Makes Peace with his Wife Egial (28208–76) Orestes Avenges his Father Agamemnon (28277–411) Menelaus’s Fate (28412–68) Orestes on Trial for Matricide (28469–548) Ulysses’s Adventures (28549–613) Ulysses’s Sojourn in the Realm of Lestrigonain and Ciclopain (28614–700) Ulysses’s Sojourn with Circe and Calipso (28701–825) Ulysses Confronts the Sirens of the Sea (28826–74) Ulysses from Scylla and Charybdis to the Phoenician Pirates (28875–936) Ulysses Returns to his Wife Penelope (28937–9078) Pirrus Avenges his Grandfather Peleus (29079–536) King Mennon’s Sister Buries him, then Disappears (29537–94) Enmity between Andromacha and Hermiona (29595–674) Orestes Slays Pirrus (29675–814) Ulysses and his son Telemacus (29815–974) Ulysses Slain by his Son Telegonus (29975–30300) EPILOGUE (30301–16)



Solomon teaches us and tells us, and one reads this in his writings, that no one should hide what he knows. Rather one should make it public so that it becomes profitable and honourable, for this is what our ancestors did. If those who invented the division of the seven arts1 and wrote great books about them had remained silent, as well as the philosophers who composed treatises that provide instruction for everyone, we would truly now be leading foolish lives and living like beasts. We would not even be able to distinguish between knowledge and folly, nor differentiate among them. These men will always be remembered and renowned for their great learning, for knowledge that is not made known is quickly forgotten and lost. Whoever possesses learning, but does not teach or communicate what he knows, cannot fail to be forgotten. Knowledge that is communicated germinates, flowers and bears fruit.2 You should be aware that things often improve for whoever desires to learn and makes an effort to do so. No one can hear, know or remember too much that is good. Nor should anyone hesitate to do or teach what is good. Whoever is more knowledgeable should achieve more. No one should shirk this task. That is why I wish to apply myself to beginning a work of history. I would like to translate it from the Latin in which I find it, providing I have sufficient intelligence and skill, into the French vernacular so that those who are ignorant of Latin can enjoy it in French. The history is most noble and grand, and it treats of a great enterprise and great deeds. The destruction of Troy has been related in many diverse ways, but the truth of the matter is rarely heard. (1–44) Homer, who was a wonderful cleric, wise and learned, related the destruction, the great siege and the reason why Troy was deserted in such a way that it was never again repopulated.3 But his book does not tell the truth, for we know for certain and without doubt that he was not born until a hundred years after the great The traditional seven liberal arts to which Benoît refers are the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy). On these arts in his time, see The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages, ed. David L. Wagner (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986). 2 A similar metaphor for transmission of knowledge is found in the Prologue to Marie de France’s Lais: ‘When a truly beneficial thing is heard by many people, it then enjoys its first bloom, but if it is praised its flowers are in full bloom’ (The Lais of Marie de France, trans. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby, Penguin Classics (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986, 2nd ed. 1999), p. 41). 3 This ‘Homer’, who lived in the first century AD, was the author of a Latin adaptation of Homer’s Iliad. See Introduction, pp. 6–7. 1


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expedition was assembled. No wonder he failed, for he was never present there and never witnessed anything that happened. When he had written his book and made it known in Athens, he met with strong opposition. They rightly wanted him to be condemned to death because he had shown the gods fighting with mortal men.4 He was judged to be mad and extremely foolish for showing the gods like human beings in combat with the Trojans, and the goddesses likewise fighting humans. And when his book was read out, many people rejected it for this reason. But Homer was so renowned and later accomplished so much, as I have learned, that his book was accepted and considered to be a great authority. (45–74) Long afterwards, when Rome had already existed for some time, there lived a valiant man called Sallust, who was deemed a powerful and worthy nobleman of high birth and a marvellous and wise cleric. This Sallust, my sources tell me, had a very learned nephew. His name was Cornelius and he was knowledgeable and well educated. He had a great reputation and taught in Athens. One day, while looking for grammar books in a book cupboard, he rummaged about so long that, among the other books, he came across the history that Dares had written, which was composed and recounted in Greek. This Dares you are hearing about was born and raised in Troy. He lived there and did not leave until the Greek host departed. Numerous were his deeds of prowess in assault and in open combat. He was also a marvellous cleric, learned in the seven liberal arts. Seeing that the enterprise was greater than had ever been known before or since, he decided to set the deeds down in writing. He wrote down what happened in Greek, and each day he would record exactly what he had witnessed with his own eyes. This Dares I am telling you about wrote down that very night all the day’s exploits in battle or in skirmish. He could not be deflected even by fidelity to his own people from saying and telling the truth. Therefore, even if he was a Trojan, he favoured his own side no more than he did the Greeks. The History he wrote was true. His Book was lost for a long time without being found or seen. But Cornelius discovered it in Athens and, using his knowledge and ingenuity, translated it from Greek into Latin. We should believe him and trust his story much more readily than that written by someone who was born a hundred years or more after the event, who knew nothing about it (this much we know) except through hearsay. (75–128) This history is not told too often, nor is it widely available. It would not yet have been told, had Benoît de Sainte-Maure not invented, composed and related it, writing it down with his own hand and shaping, polishing, arranging and disposing it so that neither more nor less of it is required. Here I shall begin the account. I shall follow the text of the Latin version faithfully; I wish to add nothing to it but what I find written there. I do not say that this will not include some clever additions of my own,5 if I am capable of doing so, but I shall follow my source material. (129–44) 4 Benoît is reporting Dares’s own criticism of Homer, not merely introducing a ‘Christian’ perspective on the gods. As a result, the gods are not so prominent in the Troie. But this does not mean, as is often thought, that the gods disappear from the Troie. See the Introduction, pp. 29–30. 5 On these clever additions (bons dits), see the Introduction, pp. 5 and 7.


I shall tell you briefly about the actions that will make up my whole book and about what I propose to treat in it. At the very beginning I shall tell you about Peleus, who lived for more than a hundred years. He had a noble wife, lady Thetis; that was her name, I believe. The two of them had a son, Achilles, who became very worthy and renowned. Next I shall tell you how Jason and Hercules, through their ingenuity and treachery,2 went to seek the Golden Fleece and how Medea used her knowledge to help them obtain and get hold of it. Then I shall tell you by what pretext they brought down Ilion and all of Troy, which was not yet very large, and how Laomedon, who was king and lord of that country, was slain. And you will hear how, after this destruction, Priam, a wise and courtly king, rebuilt it, how wide it was and how broad, and by which people it was populated; how they deliberated with lord Hector and Paris about seeking their aunt Hesiona, and how the noble count Antenor went to Greece to ask for her return. Afterwards, you will hear told and recounted what lord Paris, who abducted lady Helen, accomplished, how the temple, in which a thousand men were hacked to pieces, was destroyed, and about their marriage and its consummation, for which many paid dearly. (145–84) Afterwards, you will hear the prophecies that no one wanted to heed or believe in any way at all, and because of this misfortune befell Priam. For Agamemnon and Menelaus, Telamon and Ajax, Palamedes and Ulysses, the duke of Athens and Achilles, together with a hundred powerful and renowned kings, set sail in anger with a great and formidable fleet to attack the Trojans. Never before or after did so many powerful knights unite, according to what I find in Dares’s History. You will hear how many were in the fleet, how it was assembled, including the descriptions and appearances, the manners, characteristics and features of the kings and princes, damsels, ladies and the maidens who were part of the expedition. You will hear about a great council and about the man to whom the Benoît highlights the plot, rather than systematically summarizing it. For example, Peleus’s treachery and Laomedon’s refusal to receive the Argonauts are not mentioned, nor is the way in which Hesiona was abducted. The somewhat disjointed character of this Overview derives no doubt from rapid oral delivery and from Benoît’s desire to create suspense, much as a movie preview might do today. 2 This is perhaps a reference to the construction of the ship Argos and, indirectly, to Peleus’s treachery. 1


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command and mastery over everyone was granted. And you will hear how the worthy lord Achilles went to Delphi for the oracle, where he saw visions; and how Calcas came back with him and related everything that happened to them. Then you will hear how King Agamemnon offered a sacrifice in full view of all the Greeks in order to calm the storm that was preventing them from crossing the sea. (185–216) After that, you will hear how Tenedos was taken, along with how it was not taken; about the expedition that lord Achilles and Telephus, son of Hercules, led against the inhabitants of Mysia, whom they vanquished, how they fought and how Telephus obtained the country when King Teuther was slain. Then I shall tell you about Ulysses and his companion Diomedes, who bore a message seeking redress for the outrageous abduction that the Trojans had committed in Greece, and about the insults and abuse hurled at them in the Trojan response, and how Palamedes arrived there, the man who later obtained and held high command over the Greek host. Then you will hear how the Greeks held a council and how the advice was given to go and lay siege to the city. Then you will hear about the powerful kings, who will be named one after the other, who came to support the Greeks and take part in the fighting and how the ships were deployed, along with the great fleet and flotilla; how, ahead of all the others, the worthy Proteselas attacked with a hundred ships; how the others followed him with more than a hundred thousand knights; about the Trojans who engaged them and defended their harbours against them; how by force and necessity the Greeks set up camp there right away that evening. You will hear how Troy, which was not taken for ten years, was besieged, and of the marvels and the grief, and of the battle and fierce combat during which Hector slew Patroclus and some thousand and more knights. And you will hear how Hector was wounded and made to pay dearly for what he had done, and how Cassibilant, who was Hector’s brother and Priam’s son, died, and how things would have turned out badly for the Greeks if it had not been for Ajax Telamon, who fought with Hector while they failed to recognize each other. You will hear about the truce the Greeks requested, which they granted to one another and embarked upon, and about Achilles’s grief for Patroclus, whom he loved very much, and how Cassandra, the king’s daughter, frightened those in the city once again through her deeply moving divinations and her prophecies. (217–74) Then I shall tell you afterwards how Palamades complained about Agamemnon’s command, princedom and lordship over the Greeks, in opposition to what Palamedes wanted and in spite of his disapproval. The next battle lasted and was maintained for a long time; I shall tell it in order and word for word, explaining everything that each of them did there; how the Greeks had the worst of it because of the strength and vigour of the worthy and extraordinary Hector, who was a bolder and stronger man than all of them; how the Greeks took counsel once again with regard to him, in order to discuss how he might be slain. Then you will hear about the fourth battle, including the great suffering and torment the Greeks endured in their fight against those in the city, on account of which three thousand men were covered with blood, how the mighty kings on Priam’s

overview of the plot


side jousted in close combat with their most renowned opponents, how King Thoas was captured after Hector had sliced the nose off his face and that King Priam then wanted to order that he be broken, drawn and quartered, how Antenor and Eneas, and Troilus and Polidamas, while in the Chamber of Beauties, were earnestly exhorted and admonished to fight well. Then you can hear about a powerful and violent storm that caused the Greek tents, which were made from silken fabrics, to collapse.3 (275–311) Then Dares’s Work recounts how things went in the fifth engagement, which was entered upon in great anger. I shall tell you in correct order how the king of Larissa died, as well as King Almenus, one of the noblest men in the Greek army, and recount the deaths of Epistrot and his brother King Scedius and seven or ten other kings who were of very high renown. After that, you can hear how the Sagittarius came there, what it looked like and what it did, and how Diomedes killed it. Afterwards, you will hear about Galatea and how a violent fight arose for it (this was the war horse of that fine warrior Hector, a steed that was worth its weight in pure gold), how Antenor was captured that day (which caused deep sorrow among the Trojans) and how the battle came to an end that began anew the next day; it was awful, cruel, horrible and dreadful, leaving seven thousand men with a deathly pallor. After that, you will hear how the Greeks wanted to leave for their homeland and how Calcas, using his knowledge,4 persuaded them to stay. (312–40) Then I shall relate how everyone suffered revulsion because of the stench from rotting corpses that had not yet been buried, so that they needed to ask for a truce in order to cremate and bury them, how Diomedes went to the city with Ulysses, whom he loved very much, and how Dolon escorted them when it was about midnight; how the three-month truce was established in spite of Hector and against his wishes, how the corpses were collected and how enormous were the bonfires made for them; how negotiations continued between the Greeks and the Trojans, how Thoas was joyfully set free in exchange for Antenor, the old man from Troy, how Calcas the soothsayer and very wise prophet requested and sought his daughter, whose name was Briseida, with whom Troilus had fallen in love, how Priam let her leave Troy; and finally how Hector and Achilles, within earshot of more than a thousand knights, challenged each other to a duel, but the Trojans and Greeks refused to grant it. Then further on you can hear how Calcas’s worthy daughter left Troy publicly, about the grief she felt at leaving and how Diomedes subsequently sought her love when she reached the host outside Troy. This I shall relate immediately afterwards, including her anger with her father for To refer to tents Benoît uses the terms paveillon, tente and tref. We follow his usage here, although in some instances he uses these terms to designate the same object. On the distinction between tents as round and pavilions as elongated or rectangular, see Catherine Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage: poétique de la ville dans le roman antique au XIIe siècle, p. 38 n. 33. 4 This is a reference to the oracle at Delphi that assured the Greeks of victory if they persevered into the tenth year. 3


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his perversity and foolishness in abandoning the Trojans. You will hear how he responded and what he said. (341–80) Afterwards, I shall relate the great combat, battle and disarray caused by Hector, who vanquished all the Greeks, and how the Trojans then wept for him and mourned the grievous wounds he suffered. You will hear about the Chamber of Beauties, built of alabaster, and how it was constructed. You will learn about the marvels it contained, its finely carved features and its noble contrivances, that were as remarkable as one could imagine in one’s heart. You will do well to pay attention to that. Then I shall relate the noble love, distress and grief that Tydeus’s son Diomedes endured for Troilus’s beloved. Then you will hear about the eighth battle that lasted more than a week. Then I shall tell the truth about an awful slaughter that began one day within the Greek host, as well as how Hector’s wife, Andromacha, was dismayed by the awful dreams she dreamt, and about the interdiction and the grief she caused in trying to ban her husband Hector from going out to battle. On behalf of the gods, she told him that if he went out he would, without fail, not return alive and that on that very day he would be slain. Then I shall tell you about the great sorrow that his mother and his sisters suffered because of this. Then you can hear further on how Priam refused to allow him to go out – Hector could not gain his consent – and how the battle began in which the king of Phrygia was captured and then escaped alive with great difficulty, how the Trojans had the worst of it in combat that day, how the Bastard sons supported one another while suffering enormously that day, how Hector wounded Achilles who then killed him. Afterwards, you will hear the dreadful harm that those of Hector’s lineage suffered, how the Trojans were plunged into grief at the gates of dark-hued marble and how King Mennon confronted Achilles all alone. You will hear the grief, dreadful and severe, that King Priam felt for Hector, as did his brother Paris and Troilus, Eneas and Deiphebus, and how he was buried, his body embalmed and shrouded. I shall describe the sepulchre, which was splendid beyond measure. When it has been described for you, you will never claim that anything like it had ever been contrived. (381–440) After that, you will hear about the discord, strife and ill-will that Palamedes unleashed by deposing Agamemnon. Through his effort and his words Agamemnon was removed from the command. Then you will hear King Priam’s complaint to his subjects about his son Hector whom the Greeks had slain while wrongly taking his kingdom from him. You will hear how Priam set about avenging his son with his sharp steel sword. That day he provoked much talk about his exploits and he received the prize for that battle. I shall tell you about the fierce fight between the valiant Sarpedon and the tall Telopolus, as well as who had the worst of it. Right after that, you will hear how the Persian king died and how the Trojans were driven from the field that day against their will. Then you will hear later how they bore the Persian king to his homeland, grieving and weeping for him, and burying him with high honour. Then I shall relate the distress and starvation that befell the Greek host and how they were helped; of the great celebrations that King Priam launched on the anniversary of Hector’s death and of the sacrifices he made; lord Achilles was present there and he fell in love with

overview of the plot


Polixena, who was such a beautiful maiden; he wanted to drive the Greek host away, so smitten was he with love for her, and how King Thoas, who did not take this matter lightly, answered him along with Menesteus, who was lord and duke of Athens. (441–82) Next you will hear tell of the discord, anger and ill-will that the Greek host felt on account of Achilles, who swore that they would never again have any help or aid from him; he forbade and ordered that not a single one of his men should harm the Trojans, whatever they may hear about the fighting, and you can also hear tell how he stopped bearing arms. The twelfth battle that the Book relates next was enormous: in it Resa, king of Aresse, charged swiftly at the Trojans. Then I shall tell how Deiphebus killed him in plain sight of more than a thousand Greeks, how Ajax Telamon stood out above them all as a warrior and how Palamedes the king, who was lord and commander of the Greeks, killed Deiphebus on that day and then Paris slew him in turn. Palamedes lived no longer. Then I shall relate to you precisely how this discomfiture occurred, how the Greek pavilions were taken and the ships set on fire and, completely lacking defence and any means of avoiding it, they would have inevitably been burned that day, if it had it not been for Ajax Telamon, who lost a thousand of his vassals in combat. After that, I shall tell how the son of Heber, who governed Thrace, came angrily to Achilles’s tent. There, covered with multiple cuts and wounds, he berated him, accusing him of folly for not helping them; how he then fell dead before Achilles’s eyes, while the latter was so puffed up with arrogance that he paid no heed to him and did not even care about his fate. You will hear how the battle ended, how Deiphebus was mourned, lamented and regretted by all, and King Sarpedon too, and how the Greeks for their part were distressed on account of their prince Palamedes – no one will ever again hear tell of such grief. Afterwards, you will hear about the great council, in which resided all their authority, during which King Agamemnon, by the common will of the Greeks, was once again named ruler and commander of their host. Then you will hear how, in the thirteenth battle, Troilus won that day and did the same the following day. Dares gives us a fine account of these victories. (483–538) Then a truce was agreed to and confirmed once more. You will hear how Diomedes, old Nestor and Ulysses went to beg Achilles to come and help them in the fighting, but they had no success with him; for this reason they considered leaving for their homelands. But lord Calcas, the soothsayer and very wise prophet, using his wit and knowledge, convinced all of them to stay. Next my written source tells how grievous and mortal combat, in which a thousand good warriors died, began anew. In it the noble and worthy Troilus accomplished more than anyone on either side, wounding Diomedes right through the body and mocking him on account of his beloved Briseida. His reproaches were most vile and were bandied about both near and far. (539–62) Then you will hear how Calcas’s daughter regretted that she had betrayed and lied, deceived and been untrue in love. Afterwards, you will hear the deliberations that the Greeks held regarding the request and the appeal to Achilles, although he refused to respond favourably to their entreaties. Despite his refusal


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and his reluctance, he did deliver his Myrmidons to them. But the worthy and wise Troilus inflicted great harm on them, frequently causing their bodies to be covered in blood. This created much unhappiness for Achilles and made him very anxious and angry, as he saw that he was suffering great harm himself. Then I shall speak about the conclusion of the battle and strife: how Troilus was relieved of his armour in the Chamber of Beauties, in which his mother felt such great grief that she would have preferred a thousand deaths. After that, you will hear him complain of Calcas’s daughter, with whom his awful and mortal enemy was in love. He denounced her conduct to the Trojan maidens. (563–88) Then you can hear tell how Achilles was dying of love because he could find no counsel or comfort for it, nor was he bold enough to undertake anything or to harm the Trojans. Then you will hear of another great and fierce battle that took place shortly thereafter, as a result of which three thousand men lay in coffins; the worthy and handsome Antilogus cast Brun the Twin down dead. Then I shall relate to you that when Troilus came out no Greek stood his ground any longer. After that, you will hear how Achilles could no longer hold back or resist any more; he was compelled to issue forth armed and to defend himself against death. Then you will be able to hear about the wondrous things that he did upon his arrival, how in the nineteenth battle he killed Troilus with his own hands thanks to the great effort of his men. You will indeed hear how this happened. In the correct order you will learn how Hecuba was faring. Because of her dead sons she herself was dying, and you will hear what plot she contrived. Treacherously (she could not act differently), she had Achilles hacked to pieces. The great dismay, distress and grief that this caused will be related and explained to you. Each of the Greeks would have departed if Calcas, who had consulted oracles, had not persuaded them, through his admonitions, to seek out Pirrus, a very worthy man who then vanquished all the Trojans with his arms. Then came mortal combat, and you will hear how King Ajax killed Paris and Paris killed him; that is how both of them came to an end. Helen’s grief will also be recounted to you. But I do not think any human being was ever so anguished, so wretched or so distressed as she was. (589–633) You will then hear a description of the whole world together with an explanation, account and statement of what it is like and what its dimensions are, according to what can be found in written form. Then it will be related how Penthesilea came to help the city; but before two months had passed by the Greeks paid dearly for her prowess and her excellence. With respect to her, you can hear told that she had no equal in the whole world. You will be told how her life ended and about the great body of water into which her corpse was dragged grievously and wrongly. (634–47) From this point onwards, you will hear from the great treatise that Dictys wrote how King Priam was betrayed; how the traitors operated who plotted the betrayal, who they were and what their names were and which ones abducted the Palladium; how the horse was constructed and offered to the temple of Minerva; how the city was set on fire and Ilion sent crashing down as King Priam was hacked to pieces, which was the cause of great grief and great misfortune. You

overview of the plot


will hear about the huge slaughter and dreadful destruction – once you have heard it told and recounted, you will never believe that such destruction had ever occurred5 – and you will hear who was taken away as captives and which ones escaped with their lives. You will hear told the conflict and the strife that arose concerning the Palladium, and how Telamon was murdered, how Ulysses, who was blamed for it, took flight by night. You will hear how immensely difficult it was to return Helen to her husband Menelaus and how the beautiful maiden Polixena, daughter of King Priam, was then beheaded beside the tomb of Achilles, who had loved her so much. This was a source of great grief and distress, and many later paid for it. (648–80) It is right that you should hear the reason for Eneas’s exile, as well as how the Greeks encountered new perils while returning to their country. They departed in grief and many of them were killed, Agamemnon was murdered and his son then avenged him on his very own mother – you will hear in great detail how this all came about. You will be told about the dire straits Ulysses endured for seven years and about Antenor and how he fared in the city he founded. As for Pirrus, Achilles’s son who was a very cruel and wicked man, you can learn what happened to him because of his two uncles, whom he killed, and how, a long time thereafter, Orestes killed him on account of his wife, how the valiant Andromacha became pregnant with Pirrus’s child, whom Hector’s son later made king, long before he made himself one. You will hear about the dreams Ulysses dreamt, the likes of which no one will ever hear told, and how his son Telegonus, who had sought him for more than three months, had the misfortune to kill his father, as the written source states. The deeds that are named here are recounted in this Book in a way that will bring pleasure to everyone and it will be very beneficial to hear what happened to all of them. (681–714)


In other words, the slaughter and destruction were incredible.

PART ONE 715–6978

Causes and Effects Or vient uevre, s’est qui la die, Ja mais teus ne sera oïe. L’uevre e la chanson vos ai dite, Si com jo l’ai trovee escrite, Saveir par com faite acheison Avint cette destrucion. Par assez petit d’uevre mut, Mais mout par monta puis e crut. (vv. 2825–32) Now comes the main part of my work, providing someone is prepared to tell it. You will never again hear the like. I have expounded to you the work and the song, just as I found it written down, that is the cause of the great destruction that followed. It started with a very small act, but thereafter it rose and grew considerably.

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Peleus’s Plot: the Golden Fleece Peleus was a powerful king who also was very worthy, sage and courtly. His dominion extended across Greece and he ruled a very large part of the realm. He held his land freely, in great peace and wisely. This king had a brother, son of the same father and mother,1 who was called Aeson. I do not know whether he was king, count or duke of the city of Peloponnesus,2 for Dares’s Book does not tell me anything more about him. This Aeson had a son named Jason, who, as I find it, was very handsome, worthy and intelligent. He was very strong and powerful, and known throughout many a realm. Being very courtly, noble and honourable, he was greatly loved by all. He conducted himself in a very noble fashion and was very fond of fame and largesse. He was very highly regarded and had achieved so much since his youth that his name was widely known throughout many lands and regions. (715–40) When King Peleus saw Jason’s ever-increasing rise and his celebrity that grew daily, he became anxious and began to fear that his nephew might grow and rise so high that he would drive him out of his own land. He was afraid that, if Jason lived long, he would leave nothing to his uncle. Peleus profoundly feared being ousted from his kingdom, for if Jason should decide to attempt this he could easily drive him away completely. Peleus harboured very treacherous feelings towards Jason. All he could think of was how he might plot and contrive to destroy his nephew, so as to keep his lands from him and prevent him from doing him any harm. Peleus made every effort to deceive Jason, although he kept his thoughts very much to himself, showing his nephew no sign of his intentions. During this time, as I find in my reading, a great marvel appeared on the island of Colcos in the sea; that is how I heard the place named not long ago. As is well known, there was a sheep there with a fleece all of gold. But no one was powerful enough, neither in physical strength nor in know-how, to succeed, by hook or by crook, in devising a plan to escape with it. No one knew how to get the Fleece, nor had anyone ever devised a way to do so. Rest assured, moreover, that its guardian was such that no one who desired to get hold of it failed to lose his life. Many decided to attempt this feat who never managed to return. (741–80) Peleus’s intent was wicked. However, he saw no ruse, place or time that allowed him to cause his nephew’s death. Jason was his nephew and he feared him greatly. But he did not want, nor did he dare, to show or reveal any sign of his hatred. He decided to request and bring it about in every way he could that Jason should go to Colcos so that he would never return from there. Peleus knew that if he could make Jason go there, he would have nothing more to fear from him, nor need he fear his coming back from there. Rather he was quite sure that this would end the matter; Jason would die there and never return. A month had not gone by before the king held a great feast. He assembled a large court with many guests 1 Given the prominence of bastard sons in the Troie, the designation of both parents is important. Cf. Priam’s sons and daughters by his wife Hecuba and his sons by his concubines. 2 In the text the name of the city is Penelope (variants Pelenope, Penolope, Pelepone, Pelopene); Benoît is doubtless referring to the Peloponnesus, which he takes to be a city.


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in attendance: there were numerous counts and dukes and seven hundred and more knights. Jason was there along with Hercules, the man who had endured many hard labours, accomplishing many a marvellous deed and slaying many a wicked giant. He fixed the boundary-markers where Alexander found them.3 Hercules’s great and marvellous deeds will be recounted forevermore. Peleus’s court was large and full. After seven days had passed, the king summoned Jason and addressed him within earshot of all those who were present. ‘Listen, fair nephew’, said Peleus, ‘I love no man alive as much as I do you, as you well know. But there is something I wish to tell you. You are exceedingly handsome, worthy and bold, and you are a tall, sturdy knight. You have a very noble body and great strength, and you have done battle in many places, always emerging victorious. You have had many an adventure, about which you can rejoice, and on account of which you have been highly exalted. No one of your age living today in any land possesses prowess or valour comparable to yours. You can still achieve great deeds. You are very highly renowned and valiant and you have won great honour. But you could still achieve much more if you were to succeed in one specific task: that is, if you were so worthy or so daring as to win the Golden Fleece of Colcos, in any way, whether using your strength or your know-how. The Fleece is assuredly of pure gold about which there is so much talk, and by doing so you would have won more fame than any man who was born or is alive today. I swear to you by the gods, and assure you in all loyalty, you should know that if you can obtain the Fleece I shall make you heir to my realm during my time, and while I am alive I shall grant you dominion over it. You will be lord and master over everything. Nothing you may think of or say shall I fail to do, if it suits or pleases you.’ (781–854) Jason heard the king and his promise to him. He also noted the fine words he said to him about the great deeds of prowess he had performed. He liked and was very pleased by what he heard, and it filled him with immense joy. Jason knew that he possessed such strength and energy and had such wit, prowess and worth that he would surely win the Fleece as soon as he undertook the task. It would never be found in a stronghold so great, he believed, that he could not bring it back from there. He had a profound desire and will to go to a foreign realm and see those regions whose names he had heard. He would very much like to achieve something that people would admire and by which his name would be exalted. He heard the offer and the great gift his uncle was promising him. He did not detect any deception in his words; rather he thought for certain that, without any form of guile, Peleus had encouraged his nephew to do it for his own benefit. Jason found no evil or animosity in his uncle’s words. He responded with good 3 The reference here is to one of the twelve labours of Hercules. The boundary-markers refer to the straits of Gibraltar that marked the limit of the world. Hercules marked the place by pillars that Alexander the Great was believed to have observed when he went to that region. Benoît’s audiences may have known about this from one of the versions of the Alexander romances available at the time. See Jung, ‘Hercule dans les textes du moyen âge: essai d’une typologie’, pp. 30–2.

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will: ‘My lord’, he said, ‘thank you. I know and perceive, and do not doubt in any way, that you intend my honour and well-being. You promise me a great exploit and I am most thankful and grateful to you on that account. Since it pleases you, I shall set out most willingly. I am all ready to go and do not wish to delay any longer. If God4 shields me from harm, the Fleece will return with me, no matter how well guarded the sheep may be.’ (855–92) Peleus now felt secure. He sent for Argus, an experienced artisan, the cleverest ever born; no one knew of his peer on earth, nor anyone whose workmanship was so skilful. After the king had summoned him, he asked and commanded him to build a ship promptly, one that was strong, swift-moving and equipped with the tackle needed to withstand a powerful storm and high winds and gales. Argus answered: ‘Within a month, or perhaps even sooner, the ship will be ready and lack nothing, neither mast nor sail.’ He set to work diligently building the ship and he knew very well how to complete the task. It was a fine ship, big and strong, with reinforced rails. There are many who claim, but I cannot find it in my author, that this was the first ship ever built with sails and mast, and the first to cross the sea. The first man who dared to do this, it is believed, was Jason, but I can find no authority for this assertion. Argus had the ship fitted out, well nailed and bolted together, with the rigging installed. It had tillers, oars, sails, halyards and shrouds, plus strong cables and large trusses. Nothing more was required. From then on, it was ready to set out to sea with sails raised on high, both in daylight and beneath the stars. Word had already spread throughout Greece and throughout the region that King Peleus was having a ship built in great haste and that Jason was to go on board in order to sail to Colcos, where he intended to get the sheep’s fleece of pure gold. The most worthy and valiant, resourceful, feared and renowned men came straight to Jason. They offered, promised and told him that they would accompany him. He thanked them all, amiably responding and asking that, as soon as he had good weather and they saw his messenger, they would be equipped and ready to come to where the ship was. They all agreed to do so and then took leave of him. (893–952) The Argonautic Expedition As springtime approached and birds sang sweetly, flowers appeared white and beautiful. Plants were green, fresh and new. When the orchards bloomed pleasantly and were covered anew with leaves, and when the sweet wind was gently blowing, Jason had his ship launched without further delay. The ship was named Argo after the name Argus. Argus had made and fashioned it, and so for Argus it was called Argo. Peleus equipped it well and they lacked nothing they would need. The knights and all the other companions had arrived and sprung enthusiastically into the ship. Together with them was Hercules, who was a very close relative of Jason. The wind blew from the land, bearing the ship swiftly out of 4 Or ‘a god’? On the capitalization of God in this translation, see the Introduction, pp. 29–30.


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the harbour. They hoisted the sail on the mast. They had a good and favourable breeze, so they set sail across the vast sea. They progressed with full sail so that, before a week had passed, they reached harbour at Troy, filled with great joy and happiness. I know for certain that the ship docked in the harbour on the Simois river. Jason disembarked together with Hercules and all the other companions. They rejoiced on the beach and took on fresh water, as the sea had caused their supply to diminish. On the sandy beach they prepared their meal. As they were rather weary, they stayed there two days. They had no great desire to stay long in that country, although they did like the idea of resting in a new place and allowing their bodies some relaxation. They had all disembarked, but they did no harm and did not destroy anything in the region in which they found themselves. (953–1002) King Laomedon of Troy had received word of the arrival of Jason and Hercules, and at the same time that more than seven hundred of the most courageous and excellent Greek knights had come there from their own land. It was believed that they would destroy the country, burning castles and seizing booty, if Laomedon did not drive them away forthwith. He did not want to let them stay there, for he could suffer great harm from this. Laomedon was a man of high intelligence. He feared and was anxious that, if he allowed the Greeks to stay, or consented in any way to their docking in his harbour, he would be shamed and slain. He might well lose his domain, and in the end they would cause him great harm. The king chose one of his messengers, a count from a noble family who was worthy and wise. He entrusted him with, and told him of, his wishes and the messenger had it all accurately set down in writing. Then he mounted his palfrey, taking ten companions with him. They rode off so quickly that they came straightaway to the harbour. They asked to see their leader and were shown to him. The count delivered his message to the man who was lord and master of his men: ‘Jason’, he said, ‘heed my words. Hear what I report from the king. He tells you specifically, and the others too, to leave his land quickly, for he wishes to hold it in peace and without any hostilities. Without his permission or good-will you have entered into his country. He does not know why, but he is very angry that you ever came here and entered his territory. He does not want you to stay any longer; rather he wants to impress upon you that he would regard it as very foolish if you did so. Do not take your time. Go away quickly, before you suffer any further harm. If you violate the command that I have announced to you by as much as a single day, no one taken prisoner would escape being slaughtered. Punishment would be meted out to you and no ransom would be taken for you.’ (1003–60) Jason heard this challenge and it profoundly grieved and distressed him. ‘In God’s name’, he said, ‘Greek lords, the king has shamed us outrageously by ordering us out of his land and sending word forbidding us to remain here one more day. He and his subjects ought to be showing us honour, but he has no desire to do this. He honours us in a most shameful way. But I believe a time will come when he will bitterly regret his action. Vassal’, he said to the messenger, ‘you can tell your king that, by the gods of our religion, when we docked here we intended no harm, outrage, shame or wrong in his land, nor did we have any

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desire for war. If he had come to Greece, he would have been received very joyfully. He would not have been turned away; on the contrary, he would have been treated most honourably. This shame he has done to us will be widely recounted among people who will be very troubled by what they hear. I do not think there is any doubt about this.’5 Hercules addressed the messenger in these words: ‘Vassal, we shall leave the harbour and the shore today or tomorrow. But of one thing I can assure Laomedon, your lord: before three years have passed he will see the day on which we return to this country, and we shall never ask his leave to do so, nor will any refusal or threat keep us from staying here, whether he likes it or not. We ought to be grieved and distressed because of the shame he has done to us. Before finally departing, we ought to have contested his action so as to dishonour him, with the result that he would have reason to complain forever. He will have reason to do so, that is unavoidable.’ The messenger was very courtly. ‘In God’s name, Greek lords’, he said, ‘threats are a churlish thing. I did not come here to quarrel with you. I have properly delivered my message to you; I do not believe that I left anything out of it. I have no more business with you, so I shall now be on my way. If you like, you will depart, and if you prefer, you will stay. But know that I would advise you to leave.’ Thereupon, he turned away and went back to Troy. The Greeks remained, sad and downcast. Of one thing you can be sure: if they had been strong enough, they would never have left the land without causing destruction. But their numbers were too small to undertake anything. For that reason they let the matter stand. They did not dare tarry any longer. They embarked towards evening, sailing away vigorously and leaving the country behind. (1061–130) Jason repeatedly voiced deep regret because of the way Laomedon had treated both him and his companions. They pulled on the oars and sailed with full sail, by both moon and stars, until they reached Colcos. Jason disembarked, along with Hercules and his companions. On the beach of fine sand they donned their noble attire. They were splendidly clothed in silk embroidered with gold and lined with squirrel and ermine fur. The poorest man among them had splendid, well-fashioned garments that fitted him well. There was a city nearby called Jaconites; it was beautiful, large, strong and noble, with more than thirty towers. A great wall of solid marble, tight-fitting and hard, enclosed it completely. There were many splendid dwellings, great palaces and tall keeps, as well as knights and merchants who were wealthy, wise and prosperous. There were many ladies and maidens, as well as elegant and beautiful merchants’ wives. The city was very well built and the land round about was plentiful. I can tell you that there was fruit, birds and fish in abundance. Jaconites was beautiful and well off. Its king was named

Jason resents the shame caused to him and the Greeks. They do not feel shame, hence their desire for vengeance. On the notion of shame as imposed from outside in twelfth-century French, as distinguished from a growing inner feeling of shame that emerges in the thirteenth century, see David F. Hult, ‘Lancelot’s Shame’, Romance Philology, 42 (1988–89), 30–50, especially pp. 32–5. 5


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Aeetes. He had a very prosperous and noble domain, for his island was very well provided for. (1131–66) The weather was fair and the day shone bright, as is common at Eastertide. The worthy Jason and Hercules, with all their companions following them, went straight to the city. They were nobly attired, and thanks to their fine equipment they resembled an excellent set of troops.6 From the street and the terraces, windows and wooden balconies, the inhabitants marvelled at the sight of them as they entered the city. They were very eager to ask where they came from and what their country of origin was. But the Greeks did not stop or cease walking until they had reached the palace where Aeetes the king was. That day he was holding a great court. In front of the tower’s hall, beyond the vaults of the reception space, was a huge, broad square that was completely surrounded by a high wall; it was an arrow-shot in length. There many knights played dice, chess, backgammon and other entertaining games. There were a great many such games to play that day. You could always have seen there many a fine horse and goshawk, and many a costly and noble outfit. The Greeks came in through the gate and King Aeetes went to meet them. His barons and vavassors7 received them with high honour. When the king learnt who they were, their destination and origin, he honoured them in grand style and showed himself most hospitable towards them. (1167–204) The Love of Jason and Medea That night Aeetes provided the Greeks with such fine lodgings that they had not seen the like since their departure from Greece. The king fed them well and diligently saw to their needs. They sat at table for a long time, receiving an abundance of wines flavoured with honey and spices. The king sent for Medea in her chambers. She was his daughter and a very beautiful woman; he had no other child or heir. She was a maiden of very great learning, skilled in and master of the magic arts and necromancy; she could conjure and practise sorcery. She had applied herself to studying these arts in such a way that she was extremely wise and learned. While still a child, she had learned everything about astronomy and necromancy by heart and had such command of these arts and spells that she could turn bright day into dark night. If she wished, you would appear to be flying through the air. She made rivers flow upstream and was exceptionally knowledgeable. Upon hearing that the king summoned her, she dressed as attractively as she could. She wore a tunic that was lined with ermine and dyed crimson and that was sparkling with gold; it was splendidly made and fashioned. She also donned a sable cloak covered with an ultramarine cloth worth seven times its weight in the finest gold. When she was elegantly attired, she came forth from 6 Dress in the Middle Ages is always important as a sign of identity and status (see Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, pp. 265, 268). 7 In the Troie a vavassor is a man belonging to the lower nobility and in possession of a small fief. See Appendix I, p. 431.

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her chambers, bringing her maidens with her until she came before the king. (1205–240) Medea was extremely beautiful in body, shape and countenance. Her hair was plaited with a headband; no one had ever seen one finer. A net of gold thread covered her hair. I shall not describe her appearance any further, except to say that there was no more beautiful lady in the country or the realm. She walked at a seemly pace through the hall, tilting her face down somewhat, a face that was more exquisite, fresh and well-complexioned than a budding rose. She was very courtly and well brought-up. Aeetes sat her down beside him, and she enquired and asked about the Greeks’ place of origin and what kingdom these men came from. When she knew for certain that Jason was among them, she was highly pleased. She had heard a great deal about him and knew that he was praised far and wide. She became very fond of him in her heart and could not take her eyes off him in any way; he seemed to her to have a very noble bearing. She examined his physique, his golden, curly hair, beautiful eyes and handsome face. I already fear that she will find him too attractive! He had a lovely mouth and a gentle look, a lovely chin, handsome body and shapely arms, and hips that were large and broad. He spoke very demurely and was sensible and well-mannered. Medea looked straight into his face and fixed a gaze on him that was tender, open, honest and not the least bit contemptuous. As she gazed on him very tenderly, her heart caught fire with pure love. He pleased her immensely and she became very fond of him. She would have given him her love very quickly if he were at liberty to ask her for it. I doubt that she would ever have spurned him. She had never thought of loving before this, and indeed she did not want to love and had no lover. Now her heart had changed so much that she would in no way fail to do everything in her power to win him. She would have little regard for all her knowledge, if she did not have her way. She very much wanted to marry him. That is why she endured this state with great difficulty throughout the whole week, finding no ease, comfort or solace. Now Love, whom no one can resist, had her in her8 trap. Medea continually considered and plotted ways she might achieve complete joy, for she was suffering great anguish. She was not sure how she could get the affair started. (1241–99) One day, after the meal had ended, the king summoned her to him in the paved hall. He received her affectionately, embracing and kissing her face a hundred times. He then bid her go and make pleasant conversation with Jason and Hercules; this much he allowed her to do. Therefore, burning with love, she approached them very shamefacedly, although she spoke wisely and knowledgeably. Jason received her very cheerfully. She responded softly, in a low voice so as not to be overheard: ‘Vassal, do not consider it improper or indecent if I come to make your acquaintance. It should not vex you if I do so. It is right and proper, I believe, if one sees a man from a foreign country, to go and speak to him and make conversation, giving him good counsel.’ ‘Lady’, he said, ‘you are right. I 8


Love (Amor) is here a feminine noun and personified; it is therefore the goddess of


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thank you above all for having seen fit to talk to me and address me first. What you have done shows good breeding, and since it has pleased you to act in this way, rest assured that all the days of my life I shall be grateful to you for it. You can be filled with joy, for you possess great learning, beauty and nobility, and you have a noble mind.’ ‘Jason’, she responded, ‘we know that you have come for the Fleece. You have not come here for any other reason. But you have undertaken something very foolish. For if everyone who has lived or been born were assembled, they could not imagine, pursue or discover how they might obtain it. Do not get your hopes up, for on your own you would never work out how you can achieve your aim. Why make such an effort? Many have tried who ended up dead. I never heard tell that anyone who made an effort to obtain the Fleece escaped this fate. The gods have placed their guard there in the way and manner I shall tell you, for this information will be very useful to you. (1300–51) ‘Mars has placed there two bronze oxen. When they become angry or ill-tempered, they spew flames from their noses and mouths. No one struck and reached by those flames will escape death, rather he will be instantly consumed like a piece of wood. They guard the sheep thanks to magic and spells. He who wishes to get the Fleece must tame them so as to make them draw a plough and trace furrows in the ground. It is certain that Mars, the mighty god of battle, placed them there in this way. There are further obstacles to be overcome that are far more terrifying: a dragon that is ever on the watch and neither sleeps nor slumbers, but keeps an eye on the sheep from the opposite side with such ingenuity and skill that no one can approach without being slain on the spot. For the dragon spews fire together with deadly, quick-acting poison. It is a huge, fierce and most hideous creature. No one has ever seen such an awesome beast. It could never be vanquished or tricked into being killed. Why should I go on talking about this? Know that you will never get hold of the Fleece in any way, nor should you presume that you will. See what a foolish thing you have undertaken! I can assure you that, if you go there, you will never come back.’ (1352–86) Jason replied prudently, saying: ‘My lady, do not alarm me. I did not come here merely to turn back, like someone who has lost heart. I prefer to die rather than to fail to try and see if somehow I can get hold of the Fleece. If I cannot take it away with me, I do not wish to go back home. If I did that, I would be shamed forever, and therefore would never again recover my honour. I have to carry out this task as planned. I have come so far that I cannot turn back. Whatever my lot may be, good or bad, I cannot change course now.’ ‘Jason’, she answered, ‘I foresaw clearly that you would not heed my warnings. Your death is certain; no one can deliver you from it. I feel sorry for you and pity you. You will go there, this I know and foresee. However, if I could be sure of having your love and that you would take me as your wife without ever abandoning me when you returned to your homeland, and if therefore you would not leave me in this country but remain faithful to me, I would then devise a plan by which you can achieve your goal without death or grave harm. I am the only person who could help, guide and counsel you. Indeed, my knowledge of magic is so great that I can do whatever I wish, for I learnt the art in my youth. To do so will not cause me any difficulty

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or impediment. However arduous the task may be, it is easy for me. I shall not encounter any obstacle to my goal. Now consider how you will respond, that is whether you will accept my proposal. Tell me your feelings without deceiving me. I want to know exactly what you intend to do.’ (1387–428) ‘My lady’, he said, ‘what can I say? I would swear by all the gods and by our entire faith to love you and be faithful to you. I shall take you as my wife and love you more than anyone else. You would be my lady and my beloved, and you will have lordship over me. I shall devote myself to your service so diligently that I shall do whatever pleases you. I shall take you away to my country, where you will enjoy very high honour. Everyone there will honour you highly, both the wealthiest and the highest born among them. You will know more joy and pleasure than anyone can bear.’9 Thereupon, the maiden answered: ‘Now I know your wishes’, she said. ‘We shall leave matters as they stand until the time comes when the king has retired to bed. You will come all alone to my chamber, without any company. There you will make such pledges to me that I shall have no more doubts about you. Then I shall tell you how you can vanquish, subdue and tame the oxen and the dragon. They will no longer be an obstacle for you.’ ‘My lady’, he answered, ‘I agree to do so. But I beseech you to send for me, for I would not know where to go, nor at what time to get up to do so.’ The maiden said: ‘This will be done’. She took leave of him and left. (1429–62) Medea returned to her chambers, her heart throbbing in her breast; Love had set her on fire. She was very upset because the day did not pass by more quickly, and she wondered greatly why this was happening. She watched the sun until she saw it set. Then nightfall seemed to her to be very slow in coming, which made her delay putting her plan into action. When she observed that daylight had passed, she still did not have all that she desired. She looked again and again to see whether the moon had risen. She feared that the night would quickly come to an end. She was not pleased that everyone stayed up in the hall rather than retire to bed. If she had had her way, they would all be sound asleep. In great consternation she went to the door of her chambers in order to hear whether they were finally talking about sleeping. There she stood listening, but she heard no talk of it. ‘What is this?’ she exclaimed. ‘When will these people turn in? Have they sworn to stay up and never go to bed? Whoever saw people be up so late and not grow weary of staying awake? Wretched people, utter fools! It is already past midnight. There is little time left before daybreak. I have indeed been foolish. What have I got myself into? I could be blamed more plausibly than a person caught in the act of stealing. One could deem me foolish and suspicious, standing here for no good reason. Do I need to fear that Jason will fail to come to me whenever I send for him? Of course, he will come, quite willingly, I believe. What am I doing here? What am I waiting for? I have already gone so far that I now regret what I have done.’ With that she left the door, came to her bed and sat Baumgartner translates this curious statement somewhat differently: ‘Vous serez encore plus comblée que vous ne pourrez l’espérer’ (‘You will be filled with even more joy than you could have wished for’, Troie, p. 81). 9


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down. But I am quite sure that she will not sit there very long. She did stand up again, unable to remain seated there any longer, and went to open a window. She saw that the moon had risen, which doubled her distress. ‘Now’, she said, ‘this is really upsetting. It is past midnight!’ Closing the window, she went back in, vexed, pensive and downcast. (1463–520) Coming to a halt in the middle of her chamber, she listened while still standing. The noise had subsided somewhat, for the company was breaking up. Pensive and pale, she went to the door and looked out into the hall. She saw the chamberlains making the beds. Then she believed that they would soon be going to bed and not be staying up much longer. She paced up and down in her chamber, frequently glancing through an opening until they were all bedded down. She had a clear view to watch the bed in which Jason had lain down. She called one of her governesses and confessed her entire plot to her, for she had great trust in this woman. ‘You will go straight to his bed’, she said, ‘softly and slowly. Bring the man lying there back with you, without making any noise or commotion.’ ‘My lady’, she said, ‘first you should get into bed, for that would be better. Part of the night has passed, and he would regard it as shameful if you still had to be put to bed at this hour, for it is high time for you to be lying in bed.’ The maiden replied: ‘I agree!’ (1521–49) They wasted no time. Hers was a costly bed made of gold and silver, so fine that no one ever saw one better. The four bedposts were alike in being entirely of enamel adorned with green emeralds and bright, shining rubies. On it lay a quilt lined with silk ‒ none better was found in Thessaly ‒ as well as white sheets of fine silk; I do not believe anyone could find better ones. The pillows were splendid; no maiden ever had any more precious. The cover was very valuable, being bordered with animal fur that shone bright yellow, like orpiment; in it were other very precious furs. It was lined with cloth from Saragossa and woven with gold and new silk. In this bed the maiden lay down. She was very wise, noble and beautiful, and was indeed worthy of such a bed. The old woman tarried no longer. Leaving the chamber, she came straight to Jason’s bed. Softly and imperceptibly, she drew him to her by the hand, and he very quickly got up and donned his cape. Quietly and stealthily, they entered Medea’s chamber. It was lit and they had no trouble seeing, for two big candles were burning there. The governess closed the door and locked it. Then she led him to Medea’s bed. (1550–84) Medea realized that he was coming and pretended to be asleep. He was not ill-mannered in lifting her cover with his hands. She started and turned to face him, somewhat shamefaced and all aflutter. ‘Vassal’, she said, ‘who brought you here? You have certainly stayed up late tonight. I heard such noise all night long that only now, with great difficulty, have I finally been able to fall asleep.’ ‘My lady’, he answered, ‘I need no guide other than you and your governess. I have consented to be your prisoner and should not suffer any worse fate.’ The old woman left them together and went into another chamber. Jason spoke first: ‘My lady, your knight who will be totally and completely yours all his life, beseeches and humbly requests that you receive him as your liegeman on condition that he will never do anything that causes you grief or otherwise displeases you.’

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Medea answered: ‘Fair beloved, you have promised me a great deal. If you are willing to keep your promise, you could offer me nothing greater. I want to have assurances on the matter; then I will await your wishes.’ ‘My lady, just as it pleases you. Without betrayal or falsehood I shall pledge you such surety that it would be wrong of you to doubt me.’ Medea put on a fur-lined mantle over her shift, whereupon she arose from her bed and brought out a statue of the mighty god Jupiter. ‘Jason’, she said, ‘step forward. Here is the statue of the god of the heavens. I do not want to enter into our union lightly. This is how I want to have assurances. You are to place your hand on the statue, and with it there you will swear to be true to me, keep faith, take me as your wife and not abandon me. May you be a faithful lord and husband and a constant lover from this day forth!’ Jason acceded to her wishes, but he did break faith with her. He kept neither covenant nor marriage vow. Perhaps that is why he suffered misfortune. But that is no concern of mine now, for I do not have to treat or relate that matter. There is more than enough other material to cover, so I do not intend to dwell on this topic any longer. (1585–642) Afterwards, they lay together all night long, as I find in Dares’s Book, in naked embrace. I am hiding nothing else from you. Unless Jason experienced any impotence, he took her maidenhead that night. For, if he desired this, she too did so just as much. When dawn came, he said: ‘My lady, it will not be long before daylight. I cannot tarry much longer before having to leave. Now you must, for my sake, oblige me and think about me without delay, for you are my source of hope, assurance and expectation.’ The damsel answered: ‘Fair beloved, rest assured that I have already thought the matter through.’ Both of them rose from bed because daylight was already appearing. Medea took a golden jewel box, and opening it before Jason she removed from it a statuette that had been fashioned using magic and necromancy. ‘This object’, she said, ‘you will take with you, for I tell you in good faith that as long as you possess it you will never fear anything on earth.’ Next she gave him an ointment. I do not know how or with what it was concocted. ‘With this’, she said, ‘you will be covered, for this is what you need most; with this ointment on you, you need not fear that fire will harm your body. Now I shall give you a ring more beautiful than any you will ever see again, and you can be sure that its stone cannot in any way be more precious. Once he has put it on his finger, no man alive beneath the heavens need ever again fear magic, fire, weapon, poison or a dragon; they cannot cause him any distress, nor can he drown. As long as you wear the ring, it would be wrong for you to feel either fear or anxiety. It has other magic properties too. If you do not wish to be seen, turn the stone so that it shows on your hand. Then you can be quite sure that you are invisible. And when you wish it, and are not anxious about being observed, close the stone in your fist and people will see you just as they would any other man. Never did Octavian10 in Rome manage to acquire anything as valuable as this. Octavian, otherwise known as the emperor Augustus, was a Roman emperor reputed to be very wealthy. He is mentioned in a number of Old French romances (see Flutre, Table des noms propres, p. 146). 10


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Take good care of the ring for my sake’, she said, ‘for I love it above all else.’ (1643–702) Next she gave him a script while explaining it to him: ‘Jason, when you see the sheep, do not take another step forward before offering sacrifice, so as not to anger the gods. I fear that, if you fail in this, you will pay for it dearly. In this way you will appease the gods. Moreover, while you are doing that, carefully speak thrice the words written on this script while you are facing East. Do not forget what I have told you. Now I shall give you this glue. It is concocted so as to stick fast to whatever it touches. Quickly advance straight forward. Spread all of it over the oxen’s noses and mouths. This will be very useful to you, because in that way you will subdue them. No flames will issue from them thereafter. You will have them plough four furrows, but you must close your eyes so that you do not see them. Then go confidently forward to fight the dragon. There you will have a great battle, but there is no need to be afraid, since the beast will have no power over you. Now I want to make something very clear to you. You are to extract all the dragon’s teeth and sow them in the ground you ploughed with the oxen, for that is how it is destined to happen; it cannot be otherwise. Immediately before your eyes you will see knights appear fully armed, born from the teeth. Their birth will take little time and they will be very well equipped with helmets, hauberks and shields. But there will be great anger among them. As soon as they set eyes on one another, they will slaughter each other while you are watching. With that you will have achieved your goal. But mind you do not forget, because you have been victorious, to thank and glorify the gods while genuflecting three times. Then approach the sheep. Take the Fleece, but leave the beast there and tarry no longer. Return quickly so as to avoid troubles or obstacles. I do not know what else to tell you, but I beseech you tenderly not to forget any of this. Now you can leave; we cannot stay together any longer. It is already broad daylight, it seems to me.’ (1703–62) Jason took her in his arms, kissing her tenderly a hundred times. Then he took leave of her and went straight back to his bed. He concealed and carefully hid what she had given him; he was delighted. After settling into his bed, he fell straight to sleep, being quite weary from having remained awake. After sleeping for a long time, it must have been well beyond the third hour when he got up and dressed. He wanted to set out for the marvel. All his companions felt great fear and apprehension on his account. When Aeetes saw what Jason intended to do, he began to speak to him frankly: ‘Jason, know this. I do not wish to be wrongly blamed for your death. I tell you so because, if you were to heed my words, you would never set foot in that place. I have never seen anyone return who went there. The gods have stationed guardians there, for they do not want any flesh and blood human to lay a hand on anything thereabouts. Of this we are quite sure: if you go there, it will mark the end of your life. But I shall never forbid you from setting out. I would be violently constraining you and I know I would be blamed for that. Do entirely as you wish in this matter. I shall not be the reason why you abandon the task.’ (1763–96)

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Jason Wins the Golden Fleece Jason took little account of everything King Aeetes had said. He did not want to wait any longer and was the first to leave the city. The king, princes and barons, as well as Hercules and his companions, accompanied him to the shore from which he was to embark. There, like it or not, he had to traverse a channel. But the channel was narrow, extending hardly more than a league and a half, and across it lay the island of Colcos. It was not very big, but it was quite lovely. They told him where he should go and that he would find what he was looking for there. On the sandy shore he took up his arms and his equipment. First he donned his knee guards; there were never any more valuable ones here below. His spurs were of pure gold, fashioned in the style of Solomon.11 Then he put on a hauberk; none better had ever been forged. It was made to fit him well and the mail on it was close-knit and tough. Once he had put it on, it was not heavy to bear. Next he laced on a pointed helmet, brightly shining; it was a good fit. No matter what weapon struck him, it would never fail him. The band circling the helmet was of purest gold and inscribed with the names of the gods; for that reason it was considered more valuable. The nose guard was made of expensive onyx; anyone seeking one better or more beautiful would be acting foolishly. Then Jason girded on a steel sword. No one ever saw one more costly, so splendid or so valuable; it shone brightly and cut like a razor. His shield was fashioned from elephant bone and it was strong and well made, precious and large. Its buckle was of Spanish gold and the strap was gold-trimmed. They gave him a large spear,12 bright and shining, with trenchant steel. (1797–842) When they had properly outfitted him, he took leave of them all. He kissed Hercules and his followers, leaving them in great distress as he departed, for many of them felt profound grief, because they feared for their lord. He embarked and sailed away. No other sailor accompanied him and he brought along no warhorse. He knew full well that it would be worth very little to him in such a precarious undertaking. He sailed to the island as best he could, quickly and directly. Medea was in a tower. When she caught sight of him, she turned pale. She could not help weeping when she saw him out off shore. She whispered softly to herself: ‘Jason, my lord, fair, noble beloved, I am very anxious on your account, for I love you passionately. You have made me very apprehensive. There is no way I can feel confident until I catch sight of you on your way back. I very much fear and dread that you may forget what I have told you and instructed you to do. I shall never again be happy until I hold you in my arms. I beseech all the gods not to be angry with you.’ Then she shed tender tears. (1843–76) Jason had already managed to reach the island’s shore. Without further delay, he took up his shield and lance, disembarked and made his way up the small island. He caught sight of the oxen, the dragon and the bright, shining sheep; 11 On this legendary craftsman, see G. D. West, ‘L’Uevre Salemon’, Modern Language Review, 49 (1954), 176–82, and Croizy-Naquet, Thèbes, Troie et Carthage, pp. 297–8. 12 The Troie uses the terms espié and lance interchangeably to refer to a spear or a lance. For the sake of consistency we translate the former as ‘spear’ and the latter as ‘lance’.


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its bright-red gold shone in full splendour against the sun’s rays. Such fire and flames issued immediately from the oxen’s noses and mouths that it seemed to Jason, as he watched, that the whole island was ablaze. Jason took his ointment and spread it over his body and face. He sacrificed to the statue that Medea had given him. He then put it on his helmet and attached it just as she had told him to do. Then he made sacrifice to the gods in the same way and manner as the maiden had instructed him to do, and he read the script through three times. Then advancing towards the oxen, he passed right through the burning flame. His whole shield was instantly consumed by the fire, but this did not disturb him in the least. He spread the glue over the oxen’s mouths, after which no more fire issued from them; their power was almost totally extinguished. He made them plough the four furrows, just as Medea had instructed. But he did not watch, carefully avoiding doing so. He never dared let his eyes rest on what was happening, not wishing to infringe the orders his beloved had given him, for that would have been very foolish. (1877–914). When this task was completed, he hastened to confront the dragon. When the dragon saw him coming towards it, it let out a loud, threatening hiss. It bristled, shook its scales and spewed fire and venom together. It jabbed repeatedly with its sting and scorched the earth round about. No one born here below could have withstood it. If Jason had not been so well protected, he would have been finished in short shrift; either the fire or the poison would have killed him instantly. But the ointment and the statue on which the spells were inscribed, and the gold ring he was wearing, guarded and protected him. He shattered his spear on the beast, but without wounding it in the slightest. He thrust at it in many ways before he could inflict any wound. With his sword he dealt it such powerful blows that the whole island resounded from them. He could not pierce the beast: his sword merely bounced back, so hard and strong was its hide. He knocked the dragon to the ground many times, pressing it so hard that he almost destroyed and killed it. To grasp hold of it was so painful that blood spurted from his mouth, and he sweated profusely from the agonizing struggle. But he fought and strove so mightily, hacking at it with his sword, that he finally cut off its head. If the battle had lasted a little longer, Jason would doubtless have been killed on the spot. He extracted the dragon’s teeth and sowed them in the ground that he had ploughed. In no time knights were born from them, all fully armed. Immediately, they attacked one another and in a short time every single one of them had been slain. At that moment Jason had accomplished and finished his mighty task. He gave great thanks to the gods for his victories. He went straight to the sheep and sheared its Fleece. He did not wish to stay any longer, as harm might befall him if he did so. He came straight back to his boat and boarded immediately. He unfastened it from its mooring and pushed off; he did not hesitate before sailing away. (1915–70) From the tower balcony, Medea saw him returning. No one need ask if she was overjoyed; indeed, no living person ever experienced more joy. Now that she knew full and total joy, the colour came back to her face. Hercules and the Greek knights also saw their lord on his way back. They were so full of joy

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that no one could describe their feelings. However, the king was sorely vexed.13 Jason landed and disembarked while everyone gathered to welcome him joyfully. Those of his men who loved him most quickly disarmed him. All the inhabitants of the region came and gathered together in order to gaze on the great marvel, for no one had ever seen anything like the Fleece, nor will anyone ever do so again. They spoke of it with great amazement while examining the Fleece very closely. They asserted that it was an enchanted thing and claimed that, in truth, if the gods had been opposed to Jason’s exploit, it could not have been obtained by any cunning artifice. If they had not granted it to him, how or in what way could any man have acquired it? They all praised Jason highly and they even thought that he possessed magic powers. The king conducted him into the city, striving mightily to show him honour. As Jason entered the palace, Medea came to meet him. If she had dared, she would have gladly kissed him five hundred times. She threw her arms about him14 and softly whispered that, when the time was right and without delay, he should pay her a visit that night. ‘My lady’, he said, ‘that is what I very much desire. I shall do your bidding in every way.’ A bath was drawn for him. When he had washed and bathed, he emerged quickly from the bath and dressed in the splendid raiment his beloved had sent to him. Then they sat down to eat and were served in high style. (1971–2021) I shall not dwell on this subject any longer. The Greeks stayed there for a month and two weeks. The two lovers had ample opportunity to satisfy their desires together. As a result, the life they shared was often delightful. When he departed, Jason took his beloved with him. That was an act of great folly on Medea’s part. She loved the vassal passionately and left her kin for him, as well as her father, her mother and her people. Afterwards, things turned out very badly for her because, as my author says, he later abandoned her, thus committing a very shameful act. She had saved him from death, so he ought not to have forsaken her after that. He shamefully deceived her, which distresses me because he was false to his word in a disgraceful way. All the gods were angry with him and their vengeance on him was terrible. I shall say no more on this matter, nor do I wish to do so, for I have a very long tale to tell. (2022–44) When the Argonauts reached Greece, they joyfully entered the harbour from which they had set out. They had escaped great pain and tribulation, or so they thought. Their friends and family were very happy and they expressed great admiration when they gazed on the wondrous Fleece. Because of this, Jason garnered great fame and honour, as I find. His uncle Peleus showed him great honour without revealing any trace of grief upon his return. No one could perceive his hatred or his desire that Jason should come to harm. I shall relate no more on Jason’s life and his exploits. I cannot find any more in my Book. Dares did not wish to write any more about him, nor does Benoît want to draw things out by adding lies to his account. Dares makes no further mention of him. But whoever

13 14

This is presumably because of the loss of the Fleece. The literal sense is ‘around the hips’, a common form of embrace in Benoît’s time.


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now wishes can hear a song15 about the greatest undertaking ever embarked upon or ever heard of; the song will relate the mightiest and the most cruel, violent and mortal battle, in which the noble knighthood of that time perished and the great city of Troy was destroyed. I shall tell the truth of the matter and relate the entire enterprise, just as its author describes it. (2045–78) The First Destruction of Troy The Greeks reported and explained what happened to them at Troy, how Laomedon, the Trojan king, drove them away after denying them entrance to his lands, refusing to let them stay there. He arrogantly presumed to humiliate them in this way. They protested very loudly about this treatment. By his actions King Laomedon gravely wronged, scorned and shamed them and this incensed the Greeks. They found it highly offensive and arrogant that he had dared to deny them access to his country. All of them were outraged at having been treated in this way, vowing and promising to destroy his country and ravage all his land. The Trojan king could count on a war that would lead to his shameful death. He would regret closing his harbours to them. Hercules did not stop talking about this, as he assumed the greatest responsibility in this matter. He explained everything to all his allies, and his words and deeds were so effective that he incited Greek anger against the Trojans. My written source tells us that his actions and words provoked the catastrophe and the whole enterprise that you will hear recounted in what follows. (2079–108) Without any further delay, Hercules went to Sparta, where he met Castor and Pollux; they were brothers and both of them were kings there. Both were wealthy, and they received Hercules very warmly. His words moved both of them to promise aid. They were, they said, prepared to exact vengeance. There would be no delay on their part. The vengeance would be very harsh, the Trojan king could be sure of that. No matter how strong his towers and walls may be, they would seize them and avenge their shame. Their response pleased Hercules greatly. Bowing deeply, he thanked them heartily. Then he went on to Salamina, where he met the courtly Telamon. There was no better Greek in all of Greece, none nobler or bolder, or a more helpful ally. Hercules related to him the whole affair and the shame they had endured. ‘If you feel any affection for me’, he exclaimed, ‘it will now be clearly visible. Come to Troy with us, for that is where we are going. If you participate in our expedition, we shall have a large force. It would certainly be highly dishonourable for us to go there without you, for those who stay behind will suffer great shame.’ Hercules’s appeal was so strong that Telemon agreed to go and Hercules thanked him warmly. (2109–42) Then Hercules returned to Phthia. He appealed to Peleus16 to make preparations to depart and bring with him his country’s best men and those most Not, of course, to be sung, but heard as a ‘poem’. Here Peleus becomes part of the main plot that centres on the Trojan War. Jason is not mentioned again in the Troie and is therefore not part of the expedition. 15 16

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battle-hardened. ‘Troy is a prosperous, opulent land. It will not take much effort or struggle to lay waste to it and avenge the shame done to us.’ Peleus answered: ‘In faith, you can count on my bringing many counts, dukes and worthy and bold knights. Moreover, we shall stay there one or two years if we want to.’ Hercules answered: ‘Well spoken! Nothing you could say would make me happier than to hear you promise to go and wage war against the Trojans.’ He then went straight to Nestor, a wealthy and renowned man. He set about telling him the whole affair and what they had in mind. Nestor did not hold back. He said: ‘I promise and assure you that unquestionably I shall be the first to destroy the Trojans. As soon as I receive word from you, you will find me on the shore, ready to set sail. Moreover, I shall bring such companions along with me that they will soon rout those in Troy. Your announcement of this expedition is the best news I have ever heard.’ Now Hercules had everything he wanted; nothing was lacking. They fitted out fifteen ships in the harbour with anchors, sails and masts, and filled them with food. (2143–82) When winter came to an end and green growth reappeared on the moist ground, while branches burst into flower, in the season when birds – blackbirds, thrushes and orioles, starlings and nightingales – sing sweet songs, the white hawthorn blooms, the woods turn green again and the weather becomes gentle and soft, then the ships set out from their harbours. Those dukes, princes and barons whom Hercules summoned were all called upon and waited for before he himself left harbour. They set out over the high seas, advancing and sailing vigorously over the deep waters. Once on their way, they did not stop at any time, night or day, until they saw the lands they had longed for so much. All were overjoyed when Troy came into view. They let the day pass and at nightfall headed for the harbour at Sigeon. All their ships arrived there, and when they were securely anchored the Greeks fortified them well. They armed the towers with axes, darts, javelins and guisarmes.17 Thus, if by chance they were defeated, their ships would serve as a fortress when they found themselves in such dire straits. At about midnight, when the moon had set, the warriors disembarked on the fine sandy beach. (2183–222) They held counsel and Peleus was the first to speak. ‘Heed my words, my lords and comrades, you who are powerful, wise, worthy and bold. Nowhere in the world do I know any people as courageous and brave as you, or who have conquered a third as many of the rich lands and fine countries as you have. You have won many battles and conquered many a land. You have been successful everywhere because you have never suffered defeat, nor will you ever be defeated in any conflict. We have successfully entered this land, yet no one knows we are here. Now it behoves us to determine how to proceed so that we can complete the task victoriously, with honour, fame and glory. I wish to point out three things we would do well to consider; each of us should be aware that he must do everything in his power to realize them. The first is to avenge the outrage the Trojans committed against our people when they drove them away from this 17

A guisarme is a kind of spear with cutting edge and sharp point.


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country with disgraceful threats. The second is to lay claim to their lands so that they cannot harm us. They will be brimful of anger when they see their lands laid waste. They will make every effort to protect them and to kill us or take us captive. But this does not dismay me at all, for you will succeed in everything you do. The third thing I wish to point out to you has to do with what we do if we conquer our enemies. In Troy there are enormous treasure troves of silks, gold and silver, and every other kind of wealth. Our fleet is not large enough to transport half of it when we return to Greece. That booty will suffice to make us and our offspring wealthy in our lands forever; all of Greece will continue to benefit from it for a thousand years after our deaths. Nothing more need be said; night is drawing to a close. There is no need to prolong this issue. Now it is time to arm for we shall soon see daylight. Let us separate and deploy our forces, arraying our divisions intelligently and in the most straightforward way. Then, when it comes to combat, no changes will be necessary and we shall not be confused. Let anyone who knows the best way to do this speak up!’ (2223–84) Hercules was the first to respond. ‘My lord, you give loyal and just counsel, there can be no doubt about that! Let us arm all our troops. Let part of them go to Troy while the rest remain with the ships. Telamon and I shall go forward with our men and you will follow with your forces, prepared to meet the heaviest charge. Each man will have his own company. Before dawn breaks, Telamon and I shall hide with our men in ambush near the walls in a place that is convenient and safe. The rest of you who stay here will separate into three divisions. King Nestor will command one division, Castor the other and Pollux the third. You will engage them in combat on the beach in front of the ships. I know for sure that when the Trojan king learns that we are here he will sally forth as soon as he hears the hue and cry together with all the forces he can muster. They will be upon you straightaway. So eager will they be to engage you that they will pay no heed to the city, rushing here as fast as they can as soon as they hear about you. The Trojans will be very keen on joining battle with us out here on the field. Their horses will have full rein until shields have been split. For your part, do not break ranks. Stand fast where you are. Our men will lie with me in ambush. When the Trojans have emptied the city, we shall emerge from our ambush and enter it unimpeded. We shall not encounter much resistance because all their forces will have left. When we have seized the gates and our knights have occupied them, we shall spur after their forces from the rear. In this way we shall surround them; their surprise will be great when they hear the shouting from behind them. They will be in an awful fix when we attack their rear. If they want to turn back, they will have to pass through us. They will never have seen such a difficult passageway or one causing them such harm. I assure you and pledge to you that they will be slain or captured, one and all. If anyone has a better idea, let him improve on my words. But, as far as I can see, I think I have made a rather good proposal.’ There was no one, great or small, who was not convinced that this was a fine plan. So, regardless of how successful their plan may turn out to be, they rushed immediately to arm, for they feared the approach of daylight that was drawing near. Each man gathered his equipment on the sandy beach. They armed

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themselves nobly with gleaming hauberks, pointed helmets and many-coloured shields. Then they deployed their forces. (2285–354) Hercules rode out first with some two thousand knights. Behind him rode Duke Telamon with his troops in serried ranks; he had three thousand troops silent beneath their helmets. Then came Peleus, who had the largest contingent of knights – four thousand men, all renowned, who accompanied him towards the city. The three companies were splendid, with many-coloured caparisons and housing. Before daybreak, they hid themselves throughout the orchards, which they found to be wide and dense. With the new summer approaching, the branches were in flower, and the trees green with foliage; this prevented and saved them from being detected. The impending bright day was not slow in coming. Dawn broke and the rising sun spread its rays roundabout. The peasants in the region saw the huge host that had gathered, including both the ships and the armed men. This provoked great fright among them and their outcry filled the countryside as soon as they caught sight of their foe. The noise from the hue and cry was great, as the peasants fled into the woods and the bushes. The noise reached the city and everyone took fright, even the best protected among them. (2355–88) Laomedon flew into a rage when he learnt that the Greeks had returned intent on destroying him and his realm. He quickly armed and sallied forth from the city with as many men as he had and could muster. He spurred swiftly on towards the Greeks. As soon as he caught sight of them he began to attack them straightaway. Immediately, there were many bleeding knights, many wounded and maimed, while many others were unhorsed and killed. No sooner had they begun to fight, with mighty sword blows, when many helmets were shattered and many knights hacked to pieces. The attack was furious and slaughter was widespread on both sides. Nestor and his troops were the first Greeks to engage the Trojans. Things went badly for him at the start and his men were in dire straits. Yet they stood firm in battle for a long time before Castor and Pollux came up with their men. They went to assist their companions as soon as they saw the need to do so. Thereupon, Castor came up with all his forces, and, lances lowered and shields in hand, they attacked their enemies. There was a great throng and a great din and many a mighty shield was pierced. The Trojans held firm, fighting extraordinarily well. They gave no ground, but continually grew and expanded in numbers. Their troops advanced in large companies over mountains and through valleys. They charged at the Greeks with naked swords drawn. Many saddles were emptied there and they drove the Greeks back the distance an arrow flies. Were it not for Pollux’s troops, who came up without further delay, the Greeks would have been defeated on the spot. But the new troops, arriving fresh, charged on horseback. There you would have seen battle commence that was marvellous, awful and grievous, violent, mortal and bitter. The hue and cry rose loud and clear as the boldest men fought hard. Blows rained as they withdrew to charge anew. When the troops joined battle, the Greeks recovered the ground they had lost, but their pursuit did not last very long. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the Trojans endured heavy losses: a hundred worthy and valiant knights, all among their best fighters. (2389–450)


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Laomedon, king of Troy, saw that the Greeks would wreak great havoc on his army if he did not deploy them in a different order. They broke ranks too wildly and therefore lacked prudence. For this reason, their losses were even greater. The king had them pull back so that he could separate them and establish divisions. Now the battle would be a fine one; there would be jousting, without any doubt, before the fighters disengaged. King Nestor was a very bold man and a big and sturdy knight. He was well armed and sat astride a priceless steed; there was none better beneath the heavens. The horse was a sorrel piebald from Castile; a lark could not keep up with it. Nestor came galloping up to the front lines, desiring and intending to charge and attack right away. Laomedon held firm, leading his troops and holding them in serried ranks. He fought well and earnestly, and no one ever born was more nobly armed. He had splendid armour. His caparison and standard were of costly crimson cloth and a large pennant was fixed to his lance; the streamers flapped against his fists. Nestor spurred against him, his shield firmly held against his chest. The king saw his approach and, intent on striking a blow, had at him. As fast as a horse could gallop, they went to strike each other with mighty blows. The iron and wood of their lances pierced the buckles of their shields and the king’s lance shattered. But I can tell you for certain that he would have mortally wounded Nestor, if the latter had not had such a strong hauberk. Nestor then struck him furiously, splitting and shattering the king’s large shield with its floral decoration and damaging his coat of mail. With that blow Nestor lightly wounded his foe’s arm and hand; then, thrusting vigorously, he knocked him to the ground. This incensed the king greatly and he quickly sprang to his feet. Before Nestor had turned about, Laomedon drew his brightly shining green blade and dealt him three mighty and ferocious blows. (2451–505) King Laomedon was a very fine knight. A Trojan named Cedar was young and still without beard and moustache; less than a year had passed since he had been dubbed a knight. He was so aggrieved and angry when he saw his lord on the ground that he almost gave up the ghost. Ferociously, he went to attack Nestor and dealt him such a blow straight into his chest that pieces of wood flew from his lance. The banner would have passed right through him if Nestor’s hauberk had not been so strong. Nonetheless, the blow was so powerful that Cedar caused Nestor to flip over on to the ground. His helmet struck the sand as a thousand knights were watching. The first of them to arrive was King Laomedon, holding his bright, trenchant blade naked in his hand. He struck Nestor’s helmet with such fury that he knocked the nosepiece down to the ground, and pieces of his lip and chin could be seen lying on the sand. I believe the Trojan king would have avenged himself if the Greeks had not pressed in on him. But so many of them gathered there that Nestor and Laomedon were separated from one another. But before they were remounted, many a knight’s head had been sheared from its trunk. The Trojans handled themselves well, wreaking havoc among the Greeks. They slew about thirty-six Greeks of high renown. (2506–40) Castor had clearly observed Cedar when he struck Nestor down. He noted how well the young man fought and spurred his horse into the fray, engaging

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the Greeks time and again. On the king’s side not a single man fought better. King Castor sat well armed on a Spanish sorrel. Ruthless and furious, he charged through the lines against the Trojans, intent on doing them immediate harm. A Trojan named Segurades came up and attacked him. A more handsome man in body, face and features could not be found in any created being. He was an exceedingly powerful man. He and Cedar were cousins; Segurades was a very noble youth. He and Castor confronted one another. In the midst of the lines they joined battle as furiously as their horses could gallop, and this showed clearly in their split and shattered shields. Segurades broke his lance straightaway; that was all there was to say about that. I believe that, if the lance had not shattered, he would have unhorsed Castor. Castor wounded his foe in the joust. Segurades’s hauberk failed to protect him and Castor thrust his banner into his body. The grief of Segurades’s troops rose and grew louder. Cedar saw his cousin wounded, whereupon he immediately thought he would lose his mind; he would die if he could not avenge him. Spurring his horse furiously, he attacked Castor from the side. The iron tip of his lance sliced through him, piercing Castor’s shield and ventail.18 Castor’s hauberk failed him there and Cedar wounded him in the face before knocking him down from his horse. He seized the horse’s reins and gave the animal to his squire; he had won it thanks to his great prowess. Castor was indeed in dire straits. He was on the ground in the midst of troops who had absolutely no affection for him. Cedar said to him: ‘My lord vassal, you will not lead your horse away from here. To some extent I have avenged my cousin for what you did, which made me very angry. Never, from what you gain in this region, will you restore this loss. You made a pledge to us and in doing so you have lost more than you gained. A thousand men lie on the shore for whom we Trojans shall never again feel hatred.19 They will stay with us in this land and never see Greece again.’ (2541–600) Castor, who had been fighting hard on foot, had been seized and was being held when King Pollux came to his assistance. Pollux came up suddenly and would never abandon his brother to them as long as there was any life left in his body. Mad with rage, he charged immediately into the throng. Seven hundred very brave Greeks followed him into the fray. Right away there would arise a furious struggle during which Castor’s attack would be dearly paid for; that is all I can say about that. The vassals joined in combat, laying on heavy blows and striking one another. They did not hold back from killing one another and the ground was covered with dead bodies. What more could I say about this? With some effort Castor, although wounded in seven places, was rescued and mounted on a horse. By sheer force and using their swords to break through the throng, the Greeks got him away from his captors. Pollux did the Trojans great harm, for he slew the son of the king of Carthage. This was a grievous blow, for he was the Trojan king’s nephew and his sister’s son. Still a youngster, he was not very advanced in years, 18 19

A ventail is the moveable part of the front of a helmet, covering the nose and mouth. This is, of course, because they are dead.


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but he was handsome and experienced. He was much lamented and mourned. His name was Eliachim. When the Trojans saw that he was dead, you can be sure that they mourned him deeply. They cried out, weeping and giving vent to profound grief while tearing out their hair for his sake. When the king found his dead nephew, his tears flowed and he vowed not to see Troy again until he had avenged him. He summoned all his men: ‘Let us spur on’, he exclaimed, ‘you sons of barons. Let us wipe out our foe and deliver our country that these wretches wish to destroy while afflicting it with grief and suffering. See your brothers here, your relatives, and see my nephew, whom they have slain. Now we shall see who will follow me and avenge my sorrow.’ (2601–48) With that, the king had an ivory horn sounded loud and clear. All around, the ranks shuddered; no coward knew how to escape. Now they will find their foe to be cruel and violent; from now on they will attack them in close combat. The king rode among those in the forefront, together with a good seven thousand knights. Shields in hand and lances lowered, the forces joined battle. There you would have seen deadly fighting, the likes of which no one will ever see again. The Greeks could not hold on, so they had to leave the field to the Trojans. They could not hold their position from within the territory that led to the sea and lost large numbers of men during the Trojan pursuit. They could not have kept their formation any longer, if a messenger had not reached the Trojan king. It was Dirces from Salamina, who was a close relative of the queen. He had a wound in the body that caused him to dread his own death. ‘Laomedon’, he exclaimed, ‘what are you doing? My lord, why do you not turn back? On this day you are dead and betrayed, as you are now on the verge of being routed. Look at the Greek troops following me. They are some seven thousand and more in number, I believe, and they have taken Troy by treachery. We shall never again enter it. In the towers, on the walls and at the gates are stationed more than a thousand of their vassals. They have seized and fortified the city that you have lost for good. Leave here at once and ride against them. It is better for you to attack them than to wait for them here.’ The king was horrified when he heard that the Greeks had taken his city. It is no wonder he was dismayed. Such great grief and great anger possessed him that he did not know what to do or to say. He realized that he could not escape without huge losses. Then he had a horn sounded and gathered his men close about him. But he never managed to divide up his troops, for the Greeks did not leave him alone or spare them in the least. They were pressing on the Trojans hard, bringing them to a wretched and violent end. (2649–700) Grieving and hard-pressed, the king attacked his enemies. From anger and anguish, tears flowed down his cheeks in spite of himself. He saw his loss and destruction and therefore nearly went stark staring mad. He saw charging at him some thousand men, who were about to strike him. Things could not turn out otherwise; from now on the Trojans would suffer defeat. Nestor, Castor and Pollux assailed them and the Trojans could not defend themselves. Lord Hercules and his troops, who had such fine equipment, drew so near to them that they lowered a thousand banners while charging at full speed. These Greeks made short shrift of most of them. The Trojans were weary, but the Greeks were fresh. The Greeks

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had surrounded them, striking from their front and rear and slaying many Trojans on the spot. There you would have heard a loud outcry and mighty reverberations from the swords. Hercules was mounted on a horse; no one will ever hear tell of such a man or his peer. One could tell you a great deal about him, but scarcely anyone would believe how he was born or what great valour he had. Furious and with his naked steel blade drawn, he hurled himself into the throngs and attacked. He struck and hacked with his sword, thrusting and lunging, cutting to pieces all those he reached. He sliced one knight in two and dealt such mighty blows with his steel blade that all about him Trojans died and came to an end. They allowed him free range as he rode up and down until he encountered Laomedon. He did not spend any more time looking for him. He dealt the king such a great blow with his sword that he cut off his head in the sight of most of his troops. When the Trojans saw their lord dead, they no longer put up any further resistance. Everyone tried to save his own life, now that they were without a leader. They abandoned the field straightaway and turned in flight towards their city. But the Greeks stood in their way and they struck them down three by three. What more should I say about this? That day the Trojans died and were destroyed with great suffering. Laomedon was slain there and very few of the remaining Trojans escaped with their lives. (2701–56) When the armies parted and the combat ceased, all the Greeks entered the city, where they met no opposition. There was immense wailing from the women and little children as they fled into the temples of the gods, for they knew no other refuge. You would have seen fleeing through the streets, in fear and dismay, many a lady and maiden, many a rich and beautiful merchant’s wife, carrying their children in their arms. The grief was so great that there was never any greater anywhere, nor could anyone tell you what it was like. All the women abandoned their homes, which were filled with valuable possessions. The Greeks discovered a huge store of booty and stayed there for over a month. They took back to their country with them many valuable objects and abundant treasure in silks, silver and gold along with many precious stones and rings, many gold and silver vessels, many horses, many goshawks and many costly pieces of dyed cloth. They laid the whole city waste, destroying its fortresses and bringing down its mighty towers. No house remained intact, nor did any wall, temple or household partition, nor any fine palace or beautiful manor. They dealt as they wished with the Trojan women. Many of these were raped and thus dishonoured; the Greeks bore the most beautiful ones away with them. (2757–92) Telamon took with him the king’s daughter Hesiona. Never will a more beautiful woman be born, nor one more noble and more courtly. This abduction makes me very angry and it grieves me deeply! Telamon took her away with him. Lord Hercules gave her to him because he was the first man to enter Troy. He did not have a bad prize! If he had married her, that would hardly have upset me, but he kept her as his concubine, which was a great sorrow and a great wrong. When the Greeks had sated their desires and the ships were outfitted, they embarked with great joy and set out from the Trojan harbours. They sailed and pulled oars until they came back to Greece. Their loved ones were overjoyed, as was everyone


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else, and they gave great thanks to the gods for their victories. They made immense sacrifices to them and fulfilled their vows and celebrated their religious rites. They distributed the huge booty among their fathers and their sons. They gave so liberally to their households and the relatives in their lineages that they never again knew poverty; they were rich, wealthy and well provided for. Thanks to Troy and its wealth, all Greece was replenished. (2793–824) Now comes the main part of my work, providing someone is prepared to tell it. You will never again hear the like. I have expounded to you the work and the song, just as I found it written down, that is the cause of the great destruction that followed. It started with a very small act,20 but thereafter it rose and grew considerably. Nothing, as far as I can discover, ever waxed so great before or after, for, from that time onwards, all of the finest men of those days died in great pain on account of it. The war began from something very small but it went on for a very long time. The enterprise was quite uncertain and its end was dreadful. Now the thing has started that will be sternly avenged. But the peasant has a saying that has never proved to be wrong: the man who thinks he can avenge his shame encounters considerable obstacles in doing so. But we can now let that be. Those who wish to hear what transpired, take heed! We shall tell them what happened following the account we find in Dares’s Book: how the affair progressed, who lost and who won, who was slain and who killed; we shall let you know who took vengeance, who was prosperous and who was brave, who was most highly praised by all, who was esteemed the wisest and who had the boldest heart, and who received the highest renown there. Whatever I find in Dares’s History you will hear me relate, if you are willing to listen to me attentively. (2825–62) Rebuilding Troy Laomedon had a son who was wealthy, wise and worthy. His name was Priam and his wife Hecuba had given him eight children. He was on a military expedition far from his homeland, having been sent there by his father. He was besieging a castle when it was reported and announced to him that Troy and the surrounding countryside had been completely scorched, destroyed and plundered, and that his father and mother had been slain, along with his sisters and all his brothers, with the exception of one sister, Hesiona, who had been borne away in bondage. This was a great calamity. When this news became known and Priam had heard it, let no one ask whether it distressed him. No living person had known such sorrow. He wept abundantly and displayed great grief. If he had had his way, he would have died then and there. He mourned his father greatly for his valour and courage: ‘Laomedon, dear father, lord, the man who killed you has brought such distress to my heart that for the rest of my life I shall never know a day without grief. Never has any act so outrageous been perpetrated; the shame and the loss This would be Peleus’s proposal to send Jason in search of the Golden Fleece in the hope that he would die in the attempt. Note here the presence of a small act that becomes the cause of the Trojan War. 20

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are mine. My whole life has little value or appeal to me. Ah! Fine body of knights, how you have perished in such short time! I should indeed lose my mind! Anyone who has endured such a calamity should feel confounded. Ah! Noble race of Troy, I took leave of you so full of joy! How shamefully you now lie ravaged, dead, slain and dismembered. Noble ladies, noble maidens! What chilling news we have received here about you. Your wealthy husbands have taken leave of you so cruelly. Your sons, your brothers and your nephews, your brave and handsome loved ones, such worthy men ‒ the Greeks have slain them all and laid waste our fine land. They have devastated the whole region and carried off my sister! I know that the man who took her into exile will treat her basely. Alas! Why can I not die of grief? How can I endure this? How can I ever again be happy? If I had the strength or the might to exact vengeance for this, doing so would give me immense relief. God willing, before I die, I intend to do them so much harm and injury that they will have much to lament. This affair cannot come to a close until that is achieved.’ (2863–922) Without further ado, he summoned as many of his troops as possible, including his neighbours and his allies, and rode off towards his country. He took his wife, whose name was Hecuba, with him; she was a beautiful lady, worthy and valiant. She had eight children by the king, five boys as well as three girls, who would all have been worthy of being queens. The first born son was named Hector; no man more worthy was ever reared. He accomplished so much and was so brave that his renown will live on forever. The second son was called Paris; he was a very handsome young man of great worth. The third was called Deiphebus, and after him the fourth was Helenus, who was a soothsayer who could foresee every future event. He was very wise and possessed extraordinary intelligence. The fifth was named Troilus. He had a noble body and stature and was a very capable knight. Further on, you will hear about his marvellous exploits; in many a battle he was the best warrior. Of the three daughters the oldest was called Andromacha. She was very sensible, very beautiful and very courtly, and she held honour and prowess in high esteem. The next daughter was called Cassandra; she was expert at telling the future. Polixena was the youngest. But I assure you that I am telling the truth when I say that no woman was as beautiful as she in Troy or in the surrounding region. Dares’s Book informs me that Priam had thirty more children, all good knights, but that they were not from his wife. (2923–62) With all the forces he could muster, King Priam came to Troy as fast as he could. He found the city in ruins, its inhabitants dead and massacred. Everything he saw had been burned, laid waste, ruined, ransacked, plundered and destroyed. No dwelling was intact, nor was any tower, temple or wall. They wept for the first three days, refusing to take any food. They offered great sacrifices to the gods for the souls of their slain friends, as was proper, and held lavish ceremonies. Not long thereafter Priam consulted his vassals about the restoration of the city. He wanted to make it better and larger, more defensible and stronger. In this way, they would not need to fear violent and wrongful attacks, or their neighbours’ hostility. They would no longer be subject to anyone else or have any fear of the Greeks; then they could avenge the harm the Greeks had done them. Wasting


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no time in their deliberations, they sought workers and found a lot of them. As quickly as possible, they began to quarry marble and swiftly rebuild the city. Clerics find, and it is still evident, that nowhere on earth was there a city so beautiful, so grand, so extensive, so abundant or so prosperous. The foundations were of great value, as well as the buildings rising up from them. Although they found the city in total ruin, they rebuilt it a hundred times better than before; their reconstruction was fine and noble. Priam applied himself diligently to this task. He had the city enclosed with solid walls of marble that were tall, thick and firm. The earthen embankments were high. Spaced at least an archer’s bow shot from one another stood great towers all the way around made of lime and sand. All their blocks were of fine marble and hard limestone, coloured yellow and green, violet and blue-grey and very carefully chiselled. In several places were fortresses with solid platforms and parapets raised on high over tall embankments surrounded by deep moats. There were more than a thousand dwellings there for kings, counts and dukes; the weakest among them would not have feared all the French king’s forces. They lured people there from the surrounding lands and from the whole region, and they came. They arrived and repopulated the city, surrounding it with a wall that undoubtedly took more than three days to walk round.21 The streets were very beautiful and adorned with splendid houses. There were many fine palaces; you would never see any that were so opulent! In all of Troy, not even the meanest dwelling was made of stone or slabs, but only of sculpted marble. No one’s feet ever got wet, because the streets were vaulted and joined to one another. Beneath, they were paved, and overhead they were adorned with mosaics inlaid with gold. (2963–3040) To one side stood Ilion, the principal keep in Troy. Priam had it built for his own use. I can tell you confidently that no human being ever constructed anything like it. It was situated on Troy’s highest spot. The man who built it was indeed a master craftsman. Ilion was located on a solid rock as its foundation and shaped all round so as to narrow somewhat as it rose up. Yet it was not so narrow on top that it did not encompass five hundred toises22 and more. There Ilion was positioned, and from it one surveyed the whole countryside. It was so tall that, to anyone looking at it, it seemed to reach up to the clouds. God never made a siege engine that could be brought up to it by any man alive. All the stones in its walls were of marble, coloured white, violet, saffron, yellow, bright red, dark blue and crimson. They were arranged so that they differed from one another because of the colours that distinguished them. This was the same for the various decorations that consisted of flowers, birds and beasts. The azure or bright-red shades were all produced by the marble. The windows were inlaid with pure gold and crystal. There was no capital or pillar that had not been sculpted, chiselled and finely cut with marvellous craft. The paving stones were splendid, with an abundance of 21 Troy is described here as a fortified city called a bastide. On this kind of fortified city, see The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology, ed. Clifford R. Rogers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), vol. 1, p. 127. 22 A ‘toise’ is a measure of about six feet or two metres.

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gold and silver. There were ten large, wide floors found there that were beautiful, well-constructed and well-fashioned, from the first floor and extending straight up to the last one. The battlements and crenellations were all chiselled. A great many statues, made entirely of fine gold, were set in the walls. When Ilion was completed, it was splendid to behold. It sat very proudly, its outward appearance threatening everything round about. It could indeed threaten since it feared nothing unless it came from the sky. All the forces and all the peoples from here to the Orient could not harm it in the least. It was, in short, exceptionally strong. (3041–98) Priam had a hall built of pure marble and ebony. The wainscoting was splendid and the ceiling even more so. Precious stones were fitted in many places in the walls and the hall was very large, very broad and very richly decorated. No one ever saw a flag-stoned room like this one, nor one so beautiful. There were so many bas-reliefs that I cannot imagine how all of them were conceived. The high table, where Priam would take his meals, was at one end. The tables at which his large number of knights sat were arranged there. At the opposite end, the king had an altar built with careful pre-designing and great skill; no one ever saw its like. As Dares tells it, Priam had it built with marvellous splendour; even half the wealth that went into it could never be known. The statue was of the mighty god Jupiter, in whom their faith was strongest and in whom they had the greatest trust; Priam had had it made using the finest gold he ever possessed or could ever find. They had great trust and faith in it, and they expected that through it they would be protected and never again be vanquished or have their country destroyed. But that was not their destiny. Vaulted chambers with arches and glass windows were in abundance there, as well as cloisters and grassy enclosures, fountains and wells. Their source of water was very close by. (3099–138) When the walls enclosing the whole city were finished, I find that none have ever been constructed so splendidly, before or afterwards. There were only six gates, if my author does not lie to us. That is what Dares reports and he does not err. One of them was called Antenoridas, the next one after that was Dardanides, the third one they called Ylia, the fourth one was Ceca and the fifth one’s name, I know for certain, was Timbree, and those who rightfully named it called the sixth one Troyana. The gates were splendid, and over each one stood a main tower that rose up high and was thick-walled and defensible. No commander receiving lordship over the least of these gates was so poor that he did not have a thousand knights in his fief and an income worth, by the most niggardly estimate, more than seven thousand marks. What more could I say? It would be foolish of me to try. Never would even a tenth part of the marvels and the artistry be known that went into Troy’s walls, towers and keeps. It would weary you to listen to it, and myself even more so to relate it. In short, no person alive has ever seen anything so splendid or so grand. When Ilion was finished, as well as the noble city of Troy, everyone was overjoyed and jubilant. They offered numerous sacrifices to the gods while establishing and inventing games with which they often entertained themselves. There was no noble skill, diversion or court entertainment that offered delight or pleasure that the Trojans did not invent: chess, backgammon


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and dice games were devised there, of that you can be sure, as well as many other amusing pastimes that were splendid, worthy and delightful. (3139–86) Antenor’s Embassy to the Greeks Seeking the Return of Hesiona When King Priam had finished rebuilding Troy and had brought his work to a successful conclusion, he saw that his city was strong and intact and his land prosperous and fertile. It seemed to him to be the right time and occasion to challenge his enemies. He could in no way forget the wrong they had done to him with regard to his father and the members of his lineage, whom they had slain and abducted. He fixed a day to hold council and summoned the worthiest men among his subjects. All his sons except one were present, each of whom was a good knight. He had sent Hector urgently into the broad stretches of Pannonia to negotiate their great enterprise and ally this realm with theirs. With the others he had assembled, who were sensible and intelligent men, he took counsel, as was proper. Hear what he began saying to them. ‘My lords’, he exclaimed, ‘heed my words, you who love me in good faith. You are well aware of the misfortune and shameful defeat the Greeks have so outrageously inflicted on our fine lineage. They killed my father, and in no way would the anger I feel on account of this be lifted from my heart, nor will that ever happen, unless I can avenge it. My sister Hesiona is in their country, she whom a vassal has made his concubine without deigning to take her as his wife; this should grieve and distress me. It is a great shame and an unseemly wrong for a king’s daughter to be reduced to such servitude. That is why I feel great and grievous shame. What more could I say about that? They have done so much harm to us that we ought never again to know great joy, or at least before God allows us to see the day when we can repay them for this deed that has aroused our profound hatred for them. We have a strong, well-fortified city and reliable support from many regions, so this would be an ideal time to go to war. I would not advise putting it off any longer, unless we can recover my sister. But first we must find out whether in some way they will return her to us, as it weighs heavily on me that they hold her captive. I shall therefore ask them to return her to me. Then, if after that they reject my appeal, I shall call all of you and my sons to a war council so that I am not utterly put to shame; there we can decide whether to proceed quickly or put off further action for a while.’ (3187–244) The king’s sons and his loyal supporters warmly approved this proposal; none could offer better advice. The king summoned one of his counts, a powerful baron of very high intelligence and renown. He was a shrewd, wealthy and sensible man named Antenor. He was very knowledgeable when it came to legal disputes and laws. The king told him quite frankly that he must go to Greece to request and ask for his sister. ‘I know of no one’, he said, ‘whom I might send, lord Antenor, if I did not send you. I cannot dispatch a better man. Now set your mind to carrying out this mission. Tell those Greeks who came here that if they return Hesiona to me they will never again hear me speak of the outrage, the wrong or the shame they caused by slaying my father, my sisters or my mother.

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I seek and ask for her alone. It shames me that she is being held as a concubine. Arrange and make possible a way for us to get her back. I shall be very happy and joyful if she can return with you.’ Antenor answered: ‘Rest assured that you will incur no loss because of your messenger. Since I am to go there, I do not wish to delay or put off my departure.’ (3245–76) The deliberations ended with that. In the evening, when night fell, the ship was properly equipped and it quickly put out to sea. It sailed swiftly by moonlight as Fortune provided a good wind; it sailed on in this way for a week, suffering no harm or hardship on the way. At Magnissia they docked right where King Peleus was; the city belonged to him. Lord Antenor went to him with his followers, and the king lodged them and treated them hospitably for three days. But then he began to wonder what Antenor had come there for, since he had not said a word to him nor discussed anything with him. He greatly wondered what Antenor was looking for in his land or in his country. Peleus was not at peace with the Trojans, nor did he think that he ever would be. So he asked Antenor what he had come to his country and land for. Antenor answered: ‘It is quite right that I inform you of this and that you know it. This is the message that King Priam sends to you, both you personally and to the other Greeks, because you have all wronged him deeply. You did him great wrong, great shame and great outrage by killing his father. You gave the whole country over to grief, harm and slaughter. When you had burned and ransacked it, you abducted his sister, which is a very serious dishonour. The man who carried her off keeps her as his concubine. In doing so, he brings great shame on King Priam. Now the king appeals to you and tells you through me to deliver his sister to him; he makes no other threats against you. But if she is returned to him peaceably, he will receive her just as peacefully. He does not wish to ask for anything else. You will never hear him bring the matter up again. There is a great deal more he could have sought from you, but never through his actions will war break out, nor any quarrel, strife or battle, provided his sister is handed over to him.’ (3277–326) Peleus heard what Antenor said. His words could not have made him angrier. Because the request Antenor made concerned him to some extent, Peleus said that the Trojan could be quite sure he would get nothing from him. ‘This is no concern of mine’, he said. ‘Indeed, I am on the verge of having you put to death. If lord Priam, whom you call your king, ever sent an army against me, the very first man to arrive would pay very dearly for it. Now be on your way quickly, and mind that I never see you again and that you do not remain in my land. Make sure you are not found here again. May God grant me honour and joy,23 you would never see Troy again.’ Antenor did not stay there any longer. He hastened to his ship where everyone swiftly sprang into action. They hoisted the sail on the mast, and those on board rejoiced when the wind struck it. They did not feel at all free from mortal danger until they were at some distance from the harbour. They sailed early in the morning along the shore of Boeotia, which is situated in the 23

This seems to mean something like ‘so help me God’.


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Greek region, and did not stop or rest until they reached the harbour of Salamina. (3327–57) On the shore and the beach they disembarked on to the open land and waited throughout the night until morning. They had asked and enquired as to whether Telamon was in the country and were told that he had been in the city for some time: ‘Anyone who needs to talk to him can find him in the city.’ Antenor dressed himself nobly and was remarkably well attired. Having donned splendid garments along with his companions, they mounted their palfreys. They were not unduly anxious because in those days no messenger ever had anything to fear, no matter who he was. They rode through the city at an amble. As they advanced, they enquired and asked for King Telamon until they finally found him. Alongside the reception hall, on a grass-covered space in the shade of an olive tree, those I mentioned dismounted; it was already close to noon. Telamon was pointed out to them alongside the tower in an orchard. Three knights whom they encountered there led them in through a small gate. Telamon was reclining on a carpet of dark-hued silk in the shade of a cypress tree. At that time he was not alone. From among his men he had brought a hundred knights, all of whom were noble and handsome. They held their castles in fief from him. (3358–92) Antenor was an eloquent speaker. ‘My lord, we are messengers. King Priam has sent us overseas to you in this country. I shall not avoid saying to you what I have to say. Through me my king urgently calls upon you and requests that you return his sister to him, she whom you have now held for some time. She is a king’s daughter and of high birth. It is not right for you to retain or hold her any longer as your concubine, for that is very shameful. Give her back to him and you will have done a very fine thing. She might still have a good marriage if he had her back in his country.’ Telamon was enflamed and consumed with anger and he began to smile maliciously. ‘Vassal’, he said, ‘with your king I have no dealings, nor does he with me. I do not know who he is, nor did I ever make his acquaintance, nor would I ever do anything for him. I am well aware that we went to Troy because of a wrong done to us that we avenged. Because I was the first to enter the city, they gave me as reward this maiden who was the king’s daughter. I took her away with me. I have kept her and intend to keep her, for she is very noble and without arrogance. I feel compelled to love and cherish her. She is beautiful and very sensible; she is the prize for my victory, for that is what the Greek barons decided. I won her through my great prowess. In this matter I have fully made up my mind never to return her as long as I am hale and hearty. She was the reward for my victory. I should no longer be a true knight if you or anyone else were to take her away from me. Let him not send anyone here again, for the first man to appear here would very quickly pay dearly for it, and to you yourself in particular I say resolutely that you should make sure above all else that you not tarry in this land, but leave straightaway. From now on I would not like to find you lingering here.’ (3393–440) Antenor and his companions did not prolong the conversation. They went straight back to their ship and put out to high sea. With favourable wind and good weather they sailed on and came straight to Achaia, where they docked

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safely. They dressed themselves nobly and without further delay sought Castor and Pollux until they found them in that country. Antenor delivered his message to them very eloquently, leaving nothing out. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘Priam calls on you and through me asks and demands that you have his sister returned to him. Should my lord wish to ask for satisfaction from you, let a time be fixed for doing so. You have been our enemies for too long. It would be well to restore harmony between us. Our animosity has lasted too long.’ Castor and Pollux responded that they had never done Priam any wrong. ‘But it is well known that his father first wronged us and our people; because of that, harm then befell you. Laomedon started it and paid cruelly for that. Whoever accuses us of any wrong cannot speak to us about it – we could not care less. We have only the lowest opinion of the Trojans. We would rather live with their animosity than be in accord with them. He who sent you here had little affection for you, for your people and ours are not united, nor do they together have anything in common. We do not want anyone to come to us from Troy. Let each of us keep what he has. Now set out on your return journey swiftly, for otherwise we would shame and harm you as much as possible. That you can be sure of! No one would criticize us for it. When you docked here, you had very little fear of death!’ (3441–88) Antenor heard their answer and it was neither pleasing nor good for him. Because their reception was so hostile, he was in a hurry to get away. Without taking leave, he left with an angry, sullen look about him. The Trojans boarded their ship and departed, and with a favourable north wind blowing they rowed and sailed until they reached Pylos. The lord of the place was Duke Nestor, a very treacherous man who was prone to violent anger. He was a highly skilled combatant and one of the most valiant of men. He ruled his land with a firm hand. To kill someone mattered very little to him. With his own hands he had slain many who had done him no wrong. He was very violent and villainous, and doing wrong scarcely troubled him at all. Antenor then spoke and acted, delivering his message word for word; omitting nothing, he related and stated eloquently the message that Priam had charged him to deliver. He did not fail to do so despite his fear. Nestor looked askance at him, growing pale and livid with anger. ‘Whore’s son’, he exclaimed, ‘bastard, I could almost gouge out your eyes. With whose permission, by whose leave did you dare approach me? I could easily tear you apart or have horses draw and quarter you in shame. I shall never seek to make peace with your shameful, wretched king. His father, the miserable lout, shamed our men very profoundly, although they had done him no harm and committed no transgression in his land. Would your lord now presume to avenge the death and the massacre we inflicted on the Trojan scoundrels when we destroyed his country? Did he think that he could make us believe that he would maintain affection and honest peace with us? A curse on his love today, and on anyone who will ever have any trust in it! He has contrived a truly foolish exploit, given that he does not have the means or the wherewithal to wage war against us, or to maintain hostilities for even two months out of the year. If he does not avoid making his foolish claim, everything he has achieved and accomplished we shall have burned and laid waste soon enough. See to it that you are not found


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tomorrow in the city of Pylos. Get out of this city fast, for I do not hate any people so much as I do those from your country. A curse on anyone who will love them or ever be at peace with them!’ (3489–550) Antenor did not feel safe. He was eager to be outside the walls. He clearly saw that he was acting foolishly and that the confrontation had almost turned against him. He came to his ship as quickly as possible. With what wind there was he quickly distanced himself from land, eager now to be back again in his own country. He would not willingly dock at any more ports until he reached the harbour from which he set out. But before that the Trojans had to put up with a huge storm that lasted for three full days. The sea was very dark and horrid, sombre, violent and glowering. Antenor was very frightened and loudly complained about the great storm. Wind and sea threatened him and he had lost all hope of survival. Those on board lay face down, each one lamenting woefully. No one expected to escape, and it was very hard for them to endure it. But, after terrible grief and suffering, they did reach their country before the week ended. (3551–75) There was great rejoicing amongst friends and family. The king and the Trojan barons received them with immense joy. Antenor went to the temples and most humbly prayed to the gods. He offered them a sacrifice for having saved him from death. Then he came to the great hall where he was neither silent nor mute. Before the king, his sons and a hundred select knights he explained and related how he had got on, saying: ‘The message I bore almost became a great calamity for me. Over there they hate us so passionately that they will never feel affection for us here. First I went to Peleus, whom I found very insolent and ferocious. Know that he almost had me shamefully mutilated while I was delivering my message. He began by ordering me out of his country in a most dishonourable way. He said that he would never be on amicable terms with the Trojans, nor would he ever make peace or even a truce with them. I could not get anything else from him. Then I set sail again. I sought and asked for Telamon until, with some difficulty, I found him. I spoke and asked in your name that he return your sister, for he had held her for a long time: I tried very hard to convince him. What did that avail? He roundly abused me and insulted you. He said he would do nothing for you, neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. Pollux gave me the same response. He gravely abused me in his dwelling with his very hostile reception; he proclaimed his hatred for us Trojans. He would do absolutely nothing for you, he said, any more than he would for a vile dog. Do not expect anything from him. He treated me in a thoroughly shameful and irrational manner. I bore all this impassively. Then putting out to sea again I went looking for Nestor until I finally spoke with him. I communicated your message to him, but what use was that? My lord, he told me quite explicitly that he harboured no affection for us. He wanted to pluck out both my eyes or have me ignominiously drawn and quartered by horses; he threatened to drive you away and destroy all of Troy. Never, I can assure you, have I ever met a more arrogant man than he, or one more perverse or more insolent. Why should I prolong this matter? They have no esteem for you, nor do they like you or your allies. You cannot trust them in the slightest; on the contrary, you must be on your guard against them. For their part they are aware,

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as you well know, that you have absolutely no affection for them. Take counsel as to what course you must follow, so that you can gain your advantage and keep your honour. For, as our authors tell us, he who wishes to undertake a great task must, if he is wise, determine to what end it will lead, in order to avoid shame and harm.’ (3576–650) Trojan Deliberations after Antenor’s Failed Embassy King Priam became very angry when he heard that the Greeks had spurned his envoy; it weighed heavy on his heart. He heard the Greek threats and insults that Antenor spoke of and related, as well as the reprimands they had voiced. He began reporting and explaining the situation to his men and his sons. ‘My lords, I must rely on you. You can hear the kind of terms, peace and accord the Greeks would make with us if they had the place, time and leisure to offer them. They neither fear nor dread us and have little esteem for our might. They will never return my sister to me. I do not know what more to say now, but it is far more fitting for us to die than to suffer this shame peacefully. A curse on the man who would accept this, or who would not strive to remove any wrongful blame from us! We have but one death to die. It has often been observed that those who were vanquished have come back to vanquish their enemies, who would suffer defeat in turn. We have a strong city. Until the Day of Judgment it would not be taken by force. We have a large body of knights and an abundance of foot soldiers, and we already possess a huge stock of provisions. We must strive to find a medicine capable of healing the anger that fills us or of inflicting shame and destruction on those who have shamed our lineage. Then we shall be hale, hearty and joyous. I leave it to you to decide. Whatever is said or not said, I shall undertake nothing except with your support. Nevertheless, it is right and proper that I tell you my wishes, my feelings and my thoughts, be they sensible or foolish. Let us select from our people as many men as you want, men who are worthy and courageous knights, well equipped with weapons and armour; then send them into their country quietly and stealthily so that, before the invasion becomes known, they can lay waste the land, slay their men and seize their booty. They do not at all believe that anyone would dare attack them or invade their lands. Well, well, my noble knights! What a fine task he would achieve who brought their pride down low! Now tell me what seems best to you. This I assure you truthfully: if I can count on your help in this exploit, they will not escape harm from me, nor will they have truce or peace.’ Not one of them disagreed. Each one promised and swore to do everything Priam wished, with all their might and main. ‘Let him command and speak his pleasure’, they exclaimed, ‘for they are ready to obey him.’ The king was delighted by this. (3651–723) Then Priam addressed all his sons, saying that he was quite sure he had brought them up well because he perceived that they were handsome, bold and worthy. Then he continued: ‘You will be lords over all our men. Each one of you will have his own contingent of well-arrayed and well-organized men. Each will command his own men and be duke and lord, chief and count over them. Now


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it will be clear who will exert himself the most and who will show the greatest love for his men. Let each of you take care to treat them so that none of them wants to have a different lord, and that none complains that he has a bad leader, or that they lose their valour through the fault of their lord. Now will be evident the hope, upbringing and devotion that I have given to you and anticipated. Now the prowess I expect from you will be discernible. As the true God advises me, no one who is unworthy could count on me. But he who can endure the heavy labour of bearing arms, the deprivations and the suffering, and who is a reliable and combative man will truly be my son: him I shall love and for him I shall do everything he wishes. Let him take everything I possess, giving it away or retaining it. Nothing will be denied him. Hector, fine son, you are the eldest. You will be lord over this enterprise; you will be commander over them all, for you are extraordinarily prudent and worthy. To you the men will have recourse; to you they will come for counsel. I want no baron’s son to do anything except with your authorization. You will have supreme lordship, power and authority over everyone. But see that your power remains intact. For that you will have a right to my realm; that will make you my son and heir. May the gods grant my wish!’ (3724–70) Hector responded as any sensible man would: ‘My lord’, he said, ‘I am indeed eager to do as you wish, for that is right. You see me ready to do your bidding. I shall willingly undertake the task and do everything I can to succeed. I beseech and request of all the gods that I may avenge my forefather Laomedon. May it be their will and pleasure to protect and preserve us, until we have taken vengeance on that people who have shown us so little respect! It would truly be an outrage if their descendants were to go about mocking us, or if they were to continue living in peace after the vile wrongs they have perpetrated against us. We must all make a mighty effort to avenge our great shame. I long and am very eager for our forces to do battle with theirs. I would indeed wish for this and would willingly put myself to the test in this way. It grieves me that we are not waging war against those we hate. I want to take the war to them, but it behoves us to take great care. We must begin in such a way that we achieve a successful outcome. They are a very strong people and enjoy widespread support. Their power and domain are spread far and wide. We shall suffer great shame if at the outset we cannot avenge ourselves. What is the use of starting something well if in the end all is lost and the exploit fails? One should scorn beginning a task that one cannot complete. The peasant says: “Better to leave than to have a bad start.” We all know that nowhere in the world are there any people as strong as the Greeks are. Look at Europe, which they hold. It makes up a third of the world; moreover, it contains the best knights and men who have received the best preparation for waging war. They have never undertaken any other activity, nor do they have any other occupation. They can bring all these men on expedition with them, both by land and by sea. They will have all of them at their disposal, as well as those from Asia. The Asians care about nothing else but spending their days on horseback. They desire war more than anything else, and they have never liked repose or comfort. We know for certain that these Asian men are on their side. So weigh carefully

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what you will do about it. Of course, it would be wrong for you to give this up on my account. I do not voice this opinion out of cowardice. The main problem is that we have no fleet with which we can cross over the sea and attack them. I do not know what advice to give on that score. Without ships I do not know how we can do them any harm. We are very poorly equipped for such an undertaking and it behoves us to decide how we may carry this exploit through to the end, and not have anything to complain about when the fighting ceases. Our honour and our welfare are what I desire above all else.’ On this subject various and sundry persons expressed their views. Their advice was to go through with the plan in different ways, but to narrate everything becomes tiresome. (3771–844) After all of them had spoken, Paris raised his voice: ‘I approve of none of this’, he exclaimed. ‘We are a noble people, valiant and well provided with support and wealth. This city fears no one. Here is my advice in brief: we should seek vengeance on the Greeks, for I know for certain and am confident that every advantage will come to us from this undertaking. If not, let all the blame fall on me! Let the fleet be made ready and sent promptly and very soon to Greece. The gods wish our honour in this exploit and I shall tell you how I know this. Recently, on the calends of May, in Lower India24 I was hunting a stag; it was a swift animal, as I recall it. My dogs pursued it all day, and I ran a great deal but caught nothing. It was blazing hot and that day there was hardly any wind blowing from the north. I lost track of my huntsmen and all my dogs in the Cytherean Vales. Beside the fountain where no one drinks,25 in the shade of a juniper tree, I had to sleep. I could not help it because I was not able to go any further. Right away in a vision Mercury appeared before me.26 He brought to me three goddesses, Juno, Venus and Minerva. Thrice he called to me by my name and then said: “Paris, listen to me. These goddesses come to you for a judgment on an offer that has been made to them. A solid gold apple, covered in writing, has been thrown to them. The inscription says in Greek that the apple is to be granted unconditionally to the most beautiful of the three goddesses. There is great strife among them for the apple. Each one claims to be the most beautiful and that by rights she should receive it. Each one of them claims that she will not lose the argument because of her beauty. One wants it while the other refuses to give it to her. It has not yet been granted to any of them, nor has any one of them yet taken possession of it. Each of them is very angry with the other two. They have taken counsel during which I advised them and recommended in good faith that, according to the judgment you, Paris, make as to which one of them should receive it, the others would agree that that goddess’s beauty is the most highly esteemed. All three agreed that you will decide the matter. The one you name and whose beauty you praise the most will have it. You must therefore make known which one is to Baumgartner sees ‘Inde la Menor’ as Benoît’s erroneous interpretation of Dares’s ‘in Ida silva’ (see her note to vv. 3860–928, Troie, p. 638). 25 The import of this statement is not clear. 26 Benoît introduces the Judgment of Paris issue here in order to explain Paris’s desire for, and abduction of, Helen. 24


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receive the apple.” Each goddess discussed this with me privately and in secrecy. There was nothing that I might want here on earth that each of them would not have offered to me right away. Not one of them failed to make me an offer. Venus swore and told me that if I offered her the apple and praised her beauty the most highly she would give me the woman esteemed most beautiful in Greece. I gave Venus the apple and praised her beauty the most. I sided with her because of her promise. I know quite well that the goddess will help me; I have no doubt about it. If you, my lord, wish it, I am willing to go to Greece, of that you can be sure. Let me have enough men and knights so that we can wreak havoc in their country. Before setting out on the way back, we shall have wrought such destruction that it will be talked about forever.’ (3845–928) Before anyone else responded, Deiphobus spoke up: ‘I admire’, he exclaimed, ‘and agree with the advice Paris has given. I support him, for he has spoken eloquently. He should not encounter any opposition. I think and firmly believe that if he goes there the Greeks will come to an agreement with us and return Hesiona. Before the year is out, they will give us satisfaction in a way that is entirely to our liking. Let the fleet be made ready and depart quickly. Let there be no more delay!’ (3929–42) Lord Helenus, Paris’s brother and Priam’s son, spoke next. He stood up before the king. ‘My lord’, he said, ‘heed my words. I have some knowledge of divination; indeed, you have never seen anyone who is my equal. I have prophesied many a thing that has been tested and proven, nor did I ever convince anyone of anything that did not subsequently turn out to be true. I shall not err in anything I say. But of one thing I know you can be certain: if Paris takes a wife from the land or the kingdom of Greece and if Troy is not laid waste on account of that, burned down, destroyed and overthrown, then I grant that I be condemned and burned and that my ashes be thrown to the wind. I have thrice seen visions and oracles on this. I claim as soothsayer and authority that it cannot be otherwise. If Paris brings a wife back from Greece, not a single one of us can escape death, grief or suffering, for the Greeks will attack us; by brute force and combat they will demolish Ilion for sure. No entrenchment will be so high that they will not bring it down. They will slay all our fathers and sons and destroy the whole realm amidst great grief and suffering. We shall have absolutely no family members who survive the calamity. For this reason it seems to me best that lord Paris should not go to Greece. Let him stay here, for great harm can befall us if he sails abroad. A great enterprise should be disavowed and rejected in order to avoid worse consequences.’ (3943–82) When Helenus had finished the speech he made, everyone at court fell silent. No one, great or small, uttered a word. Nothing had been said when Troilus sprang to his feet. He was the youngest of the king’s sons, but our author Dares tells us that he was, in his own right, hardly less strong or less bold than Hector. ‘Well!’ he exclaimed, ‘noble knights, why do I find you so dismayed by the words of a priest here who makes us believe a lie? Whoever thinks or believes that Helenus knows what is going to happen three years from now is a rank fool. I do not believe a word of it. Cowardice makes him say this. Priests are always

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cowards because trivialities trouble them.27 Do not listen to this priest! Damn his predictions! What is he doing here among knights? Let him go and pray in the churches he frequents and see to it that he grows big and fat. The lives we lead are not compatible. Let him devote himself to his easygoing life, for he has no other needs. To struggle and strive to gain honour, that is the kind of life we knights must lead. Anyone who, because of Helenus’s predictions, fails to avenge our great shame and the dreadful outrage the Greeks have inflicted so harshly on us, let him be forever shamed and ostracized by all the gods!’ Troilus’s speech caused great uproar. Everyone agreed: ‘He has spoken very well’. Each of them recommended and each agreed that Paris should be on his way. ‘Let Helenus’s speech not keep him here, whether his words be true or false.’ Paris would not desist, and for this reason all the Trojans were annihilated. Thus his advice was accepted: ‘Let the fleet be made ready,’ they exclaimed. ‘Let it go to Greece and not remain here, no matter who may approve or disapprove of it.’ For the time being, deliberations ceased. Priam dispatched Deiphebus to Pannonia together with Paris to find knights in that country. They went there without delay and quickly gathered a large number of men. They brought together as many as they wanted, after which they returned to Troy as quickly as possible. (3983–4038) Paris’s Expedition to Greece Ratified Afterwards King Priam convoked an enormous assembly. All those in his domain attended, as both the noblest and the best men among them had been summoned. A huge throng assembled there, for King Priam was eager to sound out their feelings and their wishes. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘I have called you together here. Do you know why? I shall tell you. You have heard about the great grief because of our forefathers who were slain. The Greeks massacred them and then ravaged Troy and the countryside. We have not taken vengeance for that. Now rest assured that nothing will delay us from doing something about this. It is right for me to ask for your counsel before undertaking a new course of action. Recently I sent Antenor there, for I wanted to find out and learn whether they would give me back my sister, whom they hold in a most dishonourable way. They categorically refused to surrender her to me. Indeed, they uttered many outrageous and foolish words to Antenor. This is an end to the matter! I have decided to send Paris there in order to do harm and take vengeance for the outrage they have committed against our people. But I still want to hear what you advise and what you want. For, if it pleases you, he will go there, or should it please you, he will remain here. If this plan displeases any one of you, it would be foolish for him to keep silent. Let him speak up and express his point of view. May he who seeks counsel heed counsel.’ (4039–76) Panthus, a very intelligent man who was knowledgeable and well-educated, began to speak his mind so that the barons might hear what he said: ‘My lord the 27

This evokes the medieval commonplace opposing the lifestyles of knights and priests.


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king, heed my words. In faith, I must not keep silent. I must not hide from you anything as a result of which I would be breaking the faith I owe you. In my opinion, no one loves well who hides from his lord anything which could cause him to be disinherited, slain, made prisoner or otherwise hampered. My father Euforbius was more than 360 years of age when he passed away. He was very intelligent and highly educated. In the arts of divination everyone submitted to his authority. He never predicted anything that did not come to pass in its time. I often heard him say that all of Troy and its whole empire would go into decline, along with the entire realm, if Paris took a wife from Greece. I tell you this because if Paris goes there and abducts and keeps a wife from Greece the prophecy that my father forecast will prove to be true. Do not scorn what the wise man knew and foresaw. It would be better for you to leave matters as they stand and keep your kingdom in peace than to undergo tumult and anxiety, and have misfortune befall you. You enjoy and have to your liking true peace and great freedom. If you act rightly, you will not seek a way of losing your freedom and peace. He truly deserves a cruel punishment who willingly disinherits himself. From a noble and genteel life you wish to plunge into great peril.’ (4077–118) All those who were assembled for the council rejected unanimously the authoritative view that Panthus had expressed and explained. They failed to act on his advice and took no heed of it. Therein lay their misfortune. They urged the king to command them to do everything that pleased him and was to his liking. There would be no delay in implementing this plan, whomsoever it pleased or dismayed. The king gave them his warmest thanks, and in accordance with their customs he gave everyone leave to depart. Then he sought and procured skilled workers who could build the ships. I do not wish to draw this tale out for you. The ships were soon ready and equipped and loaded with provisions. From that time onwards, good weather seemed to them slow in coming. Meanwhile, the worthy Hector had gone off to assemble and raise an army. Thanks to his appeals he brought to Troy many a noble and valiant knight who thereafter never returned home. (4119–42) Cassandra was the king’s daughter. She knew a great deal about divine mysteries. She took auguries and consulted the fates. She realized very clearly and understood that, if Paris took a wife from Greece, Troy and the country would be destroyed. She explained this and very eloquently told them as much: ‘Make no mistake about it’, she exclaimed, ‘for if our fleet goes to Greece, we can consider our lives to be of very little worth. Troy will again be reduced to ashes; nothing can prevent this. We shall endure destruction and peril, and many people will embark on prolonged banishment.’ Very forcefully she prohibited and forbade them from persevering, and this caused her great sadness and agitation. She clearly was predicting the truth. What good did this do? They refused to believe her. If they had heeded Cassandra, Helenus and Panthus, Troy would as yet have suffered no harm, nor would her noble and wealthy vassals have suffered. But Fortune was against it; she was very hostile to the Trojans. (4143–66)

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Paris in Greece Meets Helen In the month when birds sing, the sea became calm and the weather fair. The ships were equipped and they put out to sea from the land. There were twenty-two ships and no more. Eurus blew a favourable wind in their direction from the east. The knights, together with the barons whom Paris and his brother Deiphebus had sought and summoned in Pannonia, three thousand and more in number, had arrived, fully armed and capable of defending themselves like worthy and bold men. For battle and combat one could not have found any more suitable men. King Priam addressed them all, telling them and explaining how things stood. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘now will be apparent and made known the great prowess you are believed to possess. The Greeks are in the wrong; we are in the right. I send you against them to inflict harm on them. Make sure, when people hear tell of what happens, that you will have acted so nobly that you suffer neither shame nor harm. Paris, who is eager to exact vengeance, will be your commander-in-chief. Do his pleasure and his bidding. Deiphebus will be with you. You, Eneas, will go too’, he continued, ‘along with Polidamas. I do not fear or worry about anything that may happen there when I know that you are giving counsel. You will not allow anything foolish to transpire. If you can liberate Hesiona, do what you can to have her released. If you cannot get her release, then send word back to me in all haste and I sincerely declare that, should you need help, I shall send after you such a mighty host that no city will be so strong, nor any castle or fortress so tightly walled in, that our men will not take it through heavy assault, including the keep itself.’ There was no further discussion. They all embarked together and had a favourable breeze and calm sea for rapid passage and sailing. They waved heartily to their friends and family and were soon far from their country. Following the stars, they sailed straight for Greece. (4167–218) At the same time as this was happening, as Dares’s Book relates, and before they reached Greece or docked there, Menelaus had put out to sea. He intended to sail straight to Pylos. Nestor had summoned him, but I do not know why. Menelaus was a very noble king; he was very courageous, very wise and very courtly. He had a wife of exceptional beauty. Never in bygone times was any woman of her worth born, neither at that time or previously, before or after. When those in the ships spotted and observed one another, they could not tell or determine whither each wanted to go. They declined to draw near enough to speak to one another. At that time Castor and his elder brother Pollux had gone to Climestrea, a very noble and renowned city. Helen was their sister, and because of her they later suffered greatly. This Menelaus, who was sailing to Pylos, was her husband. Helen had a daughter who was with her two brothers; her name was Hermiona. Her uncles loved her very much. Indeed, they loved and cherished her deeply, and they raised her with great affection. The Trojans hastened on, sailing and pulling on the oars until they reached the country that belonged to their enemies. Cythera, our author Dares reports, was the island’s name in the days when their ships arrived there. (4219–59)


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The weather was very gentle and pleasant. On that island there was a marvellous and opulent temple. It was very old and precious and had been built in honour of Venus, the goddess of love. All the inhabitants of the realm round about came there to worship; the temple was cherished by all. There they adored their idols;28 there the inhabitants of the country offered sacrifices in their customary way, tendered precious gifts and consulted the oracles. They also celebrated their solemn festival there, as Dares’s account of the events relates. All the inhabitants of the country were present; joyfully and with great pleasure every year they would gather there to celebrate the high festival of the great goddess of the heavens. They did not take the matter at all lightly, for they were celebrating the sovereign goddess Juno. Paris, together with those he brought with him, came straight to the temple, where a large throng was gathered. Paris was very handsome in body, shape and features. He was the most noble of them all and was dressed in very splendid garments. He had no companion who was so impoverished that he did not look like a prince or a baron. Paris prepared to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana in accordance with Trojan rites and with devout countenance and prayers; he did so fittingly in the presence of everyone. The inhabitants of the country asked the Trojans they spoke to who they were and what they wanted, where they were headed and whence they came. They briefly answered that Paris was the son of Priam himself, who was lord and king of Troy. Priam had dispatched him to this country to find and make a request to Castor and Pollux, who had been in his lands some time ago and had abducted a maiden when they had laid waste Troy and the countryside. ‘She is Paris’s aunt and the king’s sister, and is being held in great indignity. He has come to ask for her. If we could have her, we would gladly take her away. If she is not relinquished, great harm might well occur as a result.’ (4260–314) Rumour29 spreads about very swiftly. It was soon made known throughout the land that Paris had come to rest with his ships in the island’s harbour. Helen, who was more beautiful than other ladies, and noble, wise and elegant, heard the news. She would not think well of herself if she did not attend the festival. She spoke and informed her close followers that she had earlier made a vow to go there on that feast day; she wanted to offer gifts on the altar and hear the holy oracles. She made ready her journey, and then rode swiftly away. She came to the temple with her retinue, which made her very joyful and happy. When Paris learned that she had arrived, he was very eager to see her; he had never yet set eyes on her. He had heard it said that Helen was truly the most beautiful creature on earth. He acted, spoke and strove, all the while coming and going, to ensure that he saw her and she him. They gazed long and intently at one another. She asked and enquired whose son Paris was and where he was from. She marvelled 28

p. 639.

On this translation of the term vertuz as ‘idols’, see Baumgartner, note to v. 4268,

Rumour (Old French Renomee) is here personified as a feminine noun. See v. 4773. The Old French term is often a personification analogous to that of the goddess Fama, e.g. in Book IV of Vergil’s Aeneid. 29

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at his extraordinary beauty. She took a great liking to him, for he pleased her exceedingly. Paris was wise and knowledgeable, as well as clever, cunning and crafty. He quickly realized, knew and recognized her fondness for him and saw that he pleased her. She was not too reserved towards Paris, even going so far as to reveal some of her feelings to him. Through the sight of one another and their brief conversation, Love had wounded both of them before they separated. By virtue of their age and youth, and their looks and appearance, Love had taken a firm hold on both of them. He30 often made them blush. They were so fair, I do not wonder that he wanted to unite them; he could not have found their like anywhere else. They had ample opportunity to converse and communicate to each other something of their desires. After Paris took leave of Helen together with all his Trojans, they returned straightway to their ships; but she knew for certain that he would come back to see her. (4315–72) The Abduction of Helen When the Trojans had returned to the harbour, the sun had gone down somewhat. Paris assembled his men secretly and out of sight. Lords Antenor and Eneas, Deiphebus, Polidamas and the others met to deliberate. The first to speak was Paris, who was a very wise and worthy man. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘King Priam sent us to this country in order to bring shame and harm to those who did the same to our lineage. There is no way to get my aunt back. Let us no longer cling to any hope of achieving this. They have confined her in a place from which there is no possibility of getting hold of her. Since we cannot take her away by any action we might undertake, it behoves us to contrive some way of harming the Greeks and accomplishing some action that will shame and hurt them. We have entered this country, a fact that is already widely known. You are surely aware that they harbour no love for our people. They have shamed and hurt us so much that there will never again be peace between us. They do not trust us in the slightest. If they had had time to come up with a plan, they would have caused us distress and shame if they had caught us in their land. That is why it behoves us to deceive them before they realize what is happening. (4373–408) ‘I have hatched a plan that I shall reveal and explain to you right now. The inhabitants of this country have gathered here in order to hold these rites. All the noblest and the best of them have come from this domain. There is gold and silver in abundance here, and much fine and costly apparel. There is a great store of wealth that they have amassed in this place. There is also present a lovely woman, who is mistress over this whole realm; it is no exaggeration to say that she is the most highly esteemed woman in the Greek realm. She is a queen and the wife of Menelaus. There are many vassals among whom we would find some very profitable prisoners.31 Now listen to my plan of action. Wherever we went, Love is here a masculine figure (‘il’), i.e. the god of love. On Love as a feminine personification, see p. 61 n. 8 above. 31 That is, if they were ransomed. 30


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on land or sea, it seems to me that we could not happen upon an opportunity as splendid as the one we have found here. Let each man speak his mind on my proposal. We have not brought sufficient forces with us to invade their country. Never, with the men we have, would we take any city by force. Even if we did so, in no way would the booty we obtained be the equal of what we can see right here; there is a very rich haul here. You can see what an opportunity this is. We shall leave our enemies profoundly shamed, sorrowful and dismayed. What we do will be talked about for up to a thousand years. Let each man express his own thoughts, opinion and preferences, for we do not have much time. We must act quickly in this matter, whatever action we decide upon: whether to do what I propose or not to do it, or to embark on a different plan of action.’ (4409–50) There were varied reactions among those who heard what he said. But in the end they agreed and were all quite willing to approve an attack on the temple that very night, assaulting it by force in order to capture it and destroy it. ‘Now there is nothing else to do’, said Paris. ‘Immediately after the moon has set and the loud clamour has subsided, we shall all arm ourselves. Together with the very best men among us, stealthily and secretly and without any noise or disturbance, we shall catch them by surprise. In this way and without any of them even striking us, we shall have immediately vanquished them all, and pillaged and seized everything they have. Let those who have stayed with the ships raise anchors and sails so that, as soon as we have loaded everything on board, we may swiftly sail away from the harbour. We shall leave them clear evidence so that they can know full well who we are.’ (4451–74) They planned their actions very carefully. Day came to an end and night returned. Those who needed to eat did so, if they had any food and were able to do that. The moon began to shine brightly as soon as night fell. Before too long it had set and the Trojans had armed themselves. Slowly and in tight formation they headed straight for the temple. The inhabitants of the country were all awake, filled with great joy and delight. But they were weary from the preceding nights and soon felt compelled to get some sleep. They had no fear or concern that harm might befall them from any quarter; the country felt very secure. O God! What a great misfortune came about because of what happened there! I do not intend to prolong the account. The Trojans advanced until, fully armed, they reached the temple. They sounded a trumpet at the entrance and each one unsheathed his naked sword. Quickly and in short shrift they rushed in on them cruelly and angrily, massacring and killing many of them while capturing and binding many more. They seized the beautiful, worthy lady Helen at the very outset. She did not allow herself to be manhandled. In fact she seemed to acquiesce to what was happening. Along with her they captured many ladies and a number of maidens who were noble and beautiful. Those in the temple, being without weapons, were terrified. They did not know how to defend themselves. Hiding, they took flight in groups of three. Many were captured and bound and in no time the temple had been plundered. The Trojans left behind neither gold nor silver, silk cloth or garments. Each of them succeeded in finding so much booty there that they could not carry off even half of it. So much gain had never been made before.

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The outcry was great, as were the screams. Whoever was not taken captive was massacred. (4475–521) The Trojans would have been very successful, if it had not been for a castle named Helea by the harbour. It stood on a very fine site and contained a strong force of bold men. No sooner had they heard the noise than they dressed in a panic and rushed to take up their arms. Never did warriors arm more quickly. They went straight towards the outcry, carrying torches and firebrands lighting up all the surrounding countryside. They engaged the Trojans who were burdened by their booty and prisoners. They saw their own people screaming and shouting as the Trojans were leading them away. They made so much noise and clamour that no one could comprehend anything. Those from the castle were together and any man whose heart was not quaking was bold indeed. The hostile Greeks charged at the Trojans right away. There you would have heard skulls crack, the pounding of lances and swords as well as blows made by sharp guisarmes, bludgeons and hatchets. In defending themselves, the Trojans suffered profound and cruel anguish, as did the men from the castle who were trying to capture them. If the Greeks had come upon them unarmed, the Trojans would never have seen Troy again. The men from Helea inflicted great harm on the Trojans and almost completely routed them. The Trojans were greatly hampered because they were so heavily laden. But it was not too great a problem for them because their ships were not far away. They gave and received many a thrust, shove and blow before they were able to make their way to them. Many of them had to lose their life there. But as soon as they had delivered their prisoners to their other companions and the booty was stowed in the ships with those who had stayed behind they regained their advantage against the Greeks. Charging at them right away with shields in hand and swords drawn, they dealt them mortal wounds. They even killed one another, for it was dark and they could see very little. Many men were slain that night and large numbers were wounded and taken prisoner. Those from the castle were routed so that they no longer held the advantage. The Trojans drove them back to the castle gates and, overcome with grief, they broke off combat. (4522–76) The Trojans did not tarry. They went straight back to their ships. After quickly loading the loot taken from the scene of the rout, they boarded ship. They left none of their living behind, but they abandoned so many of their dead there that their family and friends would be in mourning. Before leaving the harbour, they saw bright daylight. When they departed from that region, the morning was very fair. All day long, until evening, they had a fine breeze to their liking. It subsided at sunset and the salt sea became quite still. No wave or ripple was visible, and the sea was exceedingly calm. That night they pulled at their oars. Paris was delighted with his prisoners and with the great booty and honour they had acquired, as well as with the harm they had inflicted on the Greeks. They had meted out harsh treatment and left behind them a lot of furious people. It will not stop at that. From then on, the madness would grow steadily. (4577–602) Once at sea, the Trojans were very eager to reach their homeland. Seven days went by, during which the wind had totally failed them. But they applied their


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oars vigorously in order to cross the sea, which was absolutely smooth, until they finally docked at Tenedos, where they were welcomed joyfully. Tenedos was a noble and beautiful castle located on the shore. Completely surrounded and enclosed by marble walls, it lay seven leagues away from Troy. The central tower was very well situated and the surrounding wall was very strong; it was a fine haven. But I do not intend to make a long story of this. The Trojans disembarked; they passed the night there and were very well lodged. Paris very quickly dispatched a messenger at top speed to report to King Priam. The messenger set out on his way very quickly. By sundown that evening, he reached Troy, found the king and told him all that had been accomplished, what Paris had achieved and that they were lodged at Tenedos. When the king heard the news, he was overjoyed and very pleased by it. But some of those who were delighted were later deeply distressed and displeased by what they heard. Some of them were joyful and happy who afterwards were filled with sorrow on this account.32 (4603–36) Helen and Paris Together Paris and all his companions spent the night at Tenedos. Lady Helen pretended to grieve and be greatly vexed. She wept profusely, expressing her grief and lamenting tenderly. She frequently bewailed the loss of her husband, her brothers, her daughter and her household, as well as her relatives and her supporters, her land and her country, her joy, her honour and her wealth, her beauty and her high standing. No one could comfort her when she saw the Greek ladies in tears who had been abducted along with her. They counted their own lives of little worth when they saw their husbands as captives, some of them wounded and many slain. It nearly caused their hearts to stop beating as they gazed upon and watched those who were their husbands and fathers, uncles, nephews, sons and brothers, for they were not at leisure to talk with them in any way at all. The Trojans deliberately put the ladies together and the men apart from them. Never was such grief heard nor such an outcry as that to which they gave vent. (4637–64) Paris could not bear it any longer. He went to raise Helen’s spirits and did his best each day to console her for her tears. He came straight to her, pretending to be angry. ‘My lady’, he said, ‘what will become of this? Who will put up with such grief? And it does not cease by day, or by night. Do you think it does not profoundly distress us? Anyone whose pity you could not arouse would be hardhearted and inhuman. No one who heard you weeping could recall what joy is. Now, now, ladies,33 cheer up! By the faith I owe you, you will know more joy in this country, and will have greater pleasures, than you had in the regions from which you have been brought here. The men who are being held in captivity

This is presumably a reference to mourning for the Trojans who were slain during the fighting in Greece. 33 Paris here addresses all the ladies, not just Helen. 32

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should indeed be dismayed; but you will never be treated basely,34 nor will you be separated from those who love you and whom you love. They will all be liberated for your sake. Those who have their husbands here, or if any one of you has her beloved, he will be released and set free for her, and you can live in this land in great joy and great bliss. No dishonour will befall you. For the sake of my lady Helen’s love, you will suffer no wrong or pain. She alone will preserve you so that no harm will come to you; whatever pleases her, I shall make all Troy obey. This realm will be under her command and she will have sovereignty over it. The person to whom she is well disposed will never have any fear of anything. She can make them wealthy and prosperous, and no one will oppose her in any way. To the poorest among you she can give, if she wishes, greater wealth than the wealthiest woman ever possessed or could own. Console yourselves, do not weep any longer.’ Each of them then cried out to him for mercy. Many fell at his feet seeking mercy for their husbands, who were distraught and in fetters. ‘I shall do everything you wish’, he said, ‘as well as whatever pleases the queen.’ (4665–719) Helen bowed deeply to him. ‘My lord’, she said, ‘if it had been possible, I would never have wanted any of this to happen. But when I see and understand that it cannot be changed, we shall have to tolerate what pleases you, like it or not. May God protect him who shows us kindness and preserves our honour! He will be well rewarded for this.’ ‘My lady’, said Paris, ‘your wishes will be met and satisfied as soon as they are uttered by your own mouth.’ He took her by the right hand. Both of them went to discuss matters on a carpet of dark purple, where he began to entreat her as follows: ‘My lady’, he said, ‘rest assured that I have never loved anyone, nor did I ever understand what love was or wish to devote myself to it. Now I have given my heart to you, and love for you has so enflamed me that I am entirely devoted to you. I shall be a faithful lover and faithful husband to you throughout my whole life; of this you may be sure and certain. Everyone will obey you and all will serve you. Although I have brought you from Greece, you will find in this land a far more beautiful and plentiful country, where your every wish will be provided for. I shall want everything you would want and whatever you will command.’ ‘My lord’, she responded, ‘I do not know what to say. But I have so much grief and distress that no one can experience more than I do. If I reject and refuse your pleasure, it will profit me little. For this reason I know full well that, whether I like it or not, I must consent to your desire and your pleasure. Given that I could not defend myself, it would be useless for me to reject you. I cannot do that, which I regret. If you show me honour and fidelity, you will have your reward from me in accordance with my worth.’ Then she could not hold back her tears. Paris consoled her tenderly and treated her with exceptional honour. He had her served most nobly that night; this I can assert without falsifying my account. (4720–72) Contrast Telamon’s treatment of Hesiona as a concubine and the violence shown towards the other Trojan women after Laomedon’s defeat with Paris’s and the Trojans’ relative humanity towards Helen. 34


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Menelaus’s Grief while Helen Enters Troy and Marries Paris Rumour spreads abroad swiftly and this time she did not linger in the slightest. She related throughout Greece how the Trojans had plundered the temple and how Paris and his company had seized and abducted Helen. She told it all, reporting everything they had done. The Greeks were furious at this. Menelaus learnt that he had lost his wife. Paris had taken her from him and brought her to Troy; she might well be in his country already. Menelaus was profoundly distressed, upset, sad and tearful. On account of this he became highly distraught and sullen. He returned to Sparta, taking with him Nestor, who loved him profoundly and in good faith. His shame and loss weighed very heavily on Menelaus. He selected a messenger and sent him straightaway to a brother of his who was a very fine knight; there was none more valiant in all of Greece, nor more noble or knowledgeable. His name was Agamemnon and Menelaus appealed to him to come to Sparta. (4773–802) Paris was at Tenedos together with his companions. They rose the next day as daylight was beginning to appear. The weather was fair as in springtime, when leaves and flowers appear on the trees, when they mounted their palfreys. They had a truly splendid baggage train, which they loaded up with the wealth and booty they had plundered in Greece. Overjoyed, they sent everything from there straight to Troy, along with their prisoners. Paris held Helen by her horse’s reins, doing everything he could to honour her. Her beauty shone forth in all its splendour. Priam and the greater part35 of his people had come out from Troy in the morning and advanced three leagues to meet them. They displayed extraordinary joy when they first encountered one another. Those who led the prisoners and brought the enormous booty presented everything to the king, who was overjoyed by it. He showed his love for his son Paris by welcoming him joyfully. The latter told him everything that had happened, relating in sequence how they went there, where and how they arrived, how the temple was destroyed and plundered of its great wealth and how they were attacked before they had returned to the ships; he told how they routed the Greeks in the dark night and showed him the woman he had brought with him, who was neither ugly nor base. The king felt quite relieved, for now he was convinced and quite confident that, in exchange for Helen, his sister whom the Greeks had held for so long would be returned. In this way he would obtain the justice he wanted from them before they had got Helen back. (4803–44) The king was very worthy and courtly. He took lady Helen’s palfrey by its bridle that was woven with strands of gold. He alone conducted and led her. He consoled her eagerly, constantly beseeching her to cheer up and weep no more. The king assured her over and over again that she would be a lady who ruled over the land. As they rode on, they continued to talk until they entered Troy. Never

35 The expression ‘le mieuz’ here may refer either to a large number of people or just to the finest members of Priam’s entourage.

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at that time had anyone, so our authors36 tell us, ever heard tell of such immense joy being displayed by any living human beings as burst forth that day in that land. That night the returning Trojans were celebrated, exalted and honoured in high style. The next day, amid great splendour, great joy and great happiness, Paris married Helen; King Priam gave her to him. The wedding ceremony was truly splendid; never will its like be reported again. All the inhabitants of Troy celebrated without ceasing for a full week. They were very happy that Paris had inflicted great harm on their enemies. In order to exalt the glory and to honour the victory, the celebration lasted for a week and even longer, as was customary among the Trojans. Helen was shown high honour and was feted grandly; King Priam and his wife loved her as did everyone else in the kingdom. Paris’s brothers cherished her, as did his sisters with the exception of the soothsayer Cassandra, who protested her presence there very loudly. (4845–84) Whoever was happy or joyous, Cassandra showed intense grief. She raised her voice to tell everyone that she well knew that Troy would now be laid waste and would never again thereafter be inhabited. The end was nigh. She cursed Helen frequently and vociferously cursed the marriage a great deal, telling them that a calamity would soon befall them and that it would last forever. ‘Alas!’ she exclaimed, ‘what sorrow there will be when these lovely towers come toppling down along with these splendid walls and dwellings, this palace and this keep! Ah! What sorrow when my beautiful brothers have died for this, along with my dear father! Too late will he call himself wretched when he sees his sons dead and slain! Hecuba, mother, what a disaster that will be! Your heart will be so distraught! This is such a terrible misfortune! What a sorrowful brood you have borne, my lady! King Priam has slain them for you, he who united this couple in marriage. Ah! Troy, noble city, how very sorrowful it is that you will now come to an end; never again will you be restored! Noble ladies, noble maidens, do not wait for the news you will often hear about your husbands, your brothers and your sons. Take flight, for now is the time to do so. Where will you find the abundant tears that you will be compelled to shed? Ah! How will you bear to witness each other fainting so often? I would ardently wish for death to come, if that were possible, before the time arrives for that dreadful, mortal grief that now looms over us every day!’ Thus did Cassandra cry out and wail; that is how she passed her time. No reprimand calmed her down. When they could bear it no longer, the king had her locked away in a room far removed from everyone. There she remained for a very a long while. (4885–936) The Greeks Prepare for War While those events I have been telling you about and relating were taking place, Agamemnon, for whom Menelaus had been waiting, suddenly arrived. He had come straight to Sparta, where Menelaus was. He found his brother in very poor 36

The reference here is to both Dares and Dictys.


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spirits because of the dishonour done to his wife and the damage wrought in his realm by the Trojans. He could hardly avoid becoming distraught because of what had happened. Agamemnon was a very worthy man. He consoled his brother better than all others had: ‘Do not ever think this way any longer,’ he said. ‘Do not let any man alive perceive or say that you feel grief or anger. The renowned men of yore, who possessed such valour and wits, did not win their honours with grief, tears and weeping; rather when they suffered wrong, they planned carefully how they might take vengeance for it. Knights too should conduct themselves in the same way. How can anyone who has not known war or adversity, harm or deprivation know his own worth? But he whose honour has been taken from him must endure hard knocks and maintain a large number of troops, whether he is poor and indigent or whether at one time he is prosperous and at another time in need. If sometimes he is victorious and at other times knows defeat, let this man’s renown grow, ascend and climb higher without growing weary of doing good. In this way our ancestors achieved their honour37 in bygone days. This is how one can achieve renown. Now, let us have no more of this grief on account of the shame and great harm that King Priam has caused us. Let us now move promptly to avenge ourselves, so that our honour may be known and recognized throughout the world, and so that those born a thousand years hence may tell their children that never was such high justice rendered as it was for Paris’s misdeeds. There is no need now for so much talk. Let us rather think of sending word the length and breadth of Greece to its kings, counts and dukes, calling on them to go to Troy. Not one of them will fail to prepare joyfully for this enterprise with all his might and main. When our forces have assembled and been arrayed for combat, no town or city under heaven, no tower, castle or fortress will be able to defend itself against us. And if someone succeeds in capturing Paris alive, let us hang him like a thief! Let us take harsh vengeance so that Troy will be destroyed, demolished and overthrown.’ (4937–5004) Without any further delay they dispatched messengers throughout Greece. There was no king, duke or emir,38 noble count or vavassor who was not convoked and summoned. Now you will hear the names of some of them. Lord Patroclus, lord Achilles and the very worthy Diomedes, the handsome Eurialus and the mighty king Telopolus came to Sparta, where those planning the enterprise were to be found. Together they all decided that, after they had assembled their forces, they would proceed without further ado to exact vengeance for the abduction of Helen. They discussed how the host should be assembled and how they might procure the fleet. Those whose names I have given you, together with those who assembled there, made Agamemnon lord and commander-in-chief over them. All the forces they would muster in order to go and besiege Troy would be under his command and he would have charge over them all. They would obey him in 37 Honour here would appear to refer to the both the abstract concept of glory and also to the acquisition of lands. See Appendix I, p. 423. 38 The term aumaçor is another ‘foreign’ title of nobility and authority. We have followed Godefroy’s translation; Baumgartner translates as ‘chef de guerre’ (‘warlord’, Troie, p. 187).

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every way, doing his bidding in whatever he wished. He would command more than fourteen kings and dukes who were just as powerful as he was; but, in spite of this, they very wisely and intelligently chose him to rule over them all, for he was a very wise and valiant man.39 (5005–38) This enterprise began quickly. A proclamation was sent once more throughout Greece so that no one, great or small, could seek any delay, by force of arms or by entreaty, in order to stay behind. As for ships, arms and equipment, they undertook urgent preparations everywhere so that, by the time agreed upon, they would all be equipped and ready to depart. They would assemble their forces at Temesa, the beach of Athens. Then, as soon as they had the right weather and wind, they would set out all together. If they succeeded in reaching Troy, it would be very hard to drive them away before many lances were shattered and many swords unsheathed; many knights there would have been struck down dead from their chargers. They would die in droves; it could not happen any other way. (5039–60) The Disappearance of Castor and Pollux During the two weeks after Paris had abducted Helen, her two brothers Castor and Pollux put out to sea in order to go to her rescue and bring her back. But they sailed away at an inauspicious time. No sooner had they left the harbour in Lesbos and lost sight of land than a storm rose up before them. For three full days the wind blew so hard that no ship dared dock in the harbour. The sea was very rough and heavy; it never calmed down at any time for a full week. No word could be heard about them except from some foolish, confused people, who readily believe anything they think is credible. These persons claimed and believed that the brothers had not been victims of a storm: ‘They could not have died at all, nor perished on land or sea’. That is what the common people said. With great effort and hardship people searched for them all the way to Troy. But, no matter who was grieved by this, or happy about it, nothing could in any way be learnt about their fate. Castor and his brother Pollux met their end in this way; I know no more about it. Those two have already received their reward for helping their beautiful sister Helen. Many would still have to suffer the same fate, their souls being taken from their bodies. (5061–92) Portraits of the Principal Protagonists on the Greek Side Benoît, who leaves out nothing that Dares tells him, says that at this place in his work he40 wanted to describe and relate the appearances and features of each of the principal figures he observed individually with his own eyes. When the Note Palamedes’s objection to Agamemnon’s overlordship in Part Two. Baumgartner argues that henceforth the first-person narrator is speaking for Dares (p. 176). The passage is ambiguous, for it could also be said to indicate that Benoît himself is speaking. 39 40


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Trojans and the Greeks had a two-month truce, or one of a shorter or longer duration he went to observe them in their tents, lodgings and open spaces in order to describe them. He wanted to make his History complete and this is why he took such pains on this particular subject. (5093–106) Of the two brothers who perished at sea I was told and heard that they were both of the same size, weight and appearance. They had long blond hair that spread out over their shoulders. Both had large eyes that were very fierce and arrogant. Their features were quite handsome, as were their mouths and jaws. They were tall and shapely, according to Dares’s History. As for their sister Helen, she was the flower of all beauties, mirror41 of all ladies. She was nobler than all other women and sovereign over them all. Just as scarlet dye is far more beautiful than anything else, and just as the rose surpasses other colours in beauty, just so, and even more so, did Helen’s beauty exceed that of any human ever born. Many said that she resembled her two brothers. Right between her two fine and elegant eyebrows she had a birthmark located so as to become her wondrously. Her body was fair-skinned and shapely, and she dressed elegantly. She was more demure and more nobly brought up than could be adequately depicted. (5107–40) Agamemnon, who was king, leader and commander-in-chief of the Greeks, was extraordinarily tall and powerfully built. He possessed very great strength and vigour. He was remarkably ardent in whatever he undertook and hard working. His skin and fine hair were whiter than newly fallen snow. No one was his equal for eloquence; he was wise, astute and clever. He was very noble and renowned, as well as industrious in the pursuit of wealth. Menelaus was neither tall nor short. He had red hair and was handsome, brave and bold. He was of very sanguine disposition, amiable and friendly towards everyone. Achilles was very handsome, with a big chest that was both massive and broad, and limbs that were large and muscular. His eyes radiated boldness and ferocity. His hair was curly and ash blond and he was not at all pensive or sullen. His countenance was happy and joyful, but it turned cruel when facing his foe. He was generous and spent freely, and he was dearly loved by knights. He was renowned in armed conflict; one would be hard put to find his equal. He was very bold, courageous and eager to triumph over his opponents. (5141–70) Patroclus had a most noble body and was very intelligent. Fair, blond, tall and large, he was a very attractive knight. His eyes sparkled and he was not prone to great anger. To tell the truth, he was very handsome and generous, giving money away freely, but had very shameful ways.42 Ajax43 was big, with a broad chest, arms and flanks. He was quite tall and broad-shouldered. He was always splendidly attired and very strong and very tough, but he was not at all reliable. He spoke somewhat glibly and very much liked to banter. But there was another The term mireor (‘mirror’) is used here to indicate that she was a model of perfection that all ladies might aspire to emulate. 42 Constans, followed by Baumgartner, interprets the term vergonde when applied to men as ‘shameful conduct’, but when referring to maidens as ‘modesty’ or ‘timidity’. 43 This Ajax is Ajax Oileus; Ajax Telamon is presented immediately after him. 41

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Ajax whose surname was Telamon. He was a man of very great valour. A fine singer, with a high, clear voice, he was a good composer of melodies.44 He had a black, curly head of hair. He was very affable, but against an enemy he was cruel and bold. Never, in battle or combat, did he trust anyone. There was no knight like him under heaven, nor one who evinced less arrogance. (5171–200) As for great beauty, according to Dares, Ulysses surpassed them all. He was neither too tall nor too short, but he was endowed with very sharp wits. He was a wondrously eloquent speaker. However, among ten thousand knights none was more deceitful. Never did he speak the truth at any time. He had a very mocking tongue, but was very wise and courtly. Diomedes was very strong, big, square-shouldered and rather tall. There was a treacherous look about him and he made many a false promise. He was very bold, a great troublemaker, and very proficient in armed conflict. His speech was very violent and slanderous, and he was very much feared. It was very difficult to find anyone who was willing to confront him, for nothing could make him remain calm. He was a very disagreeable overlord,45 although for the sake of love on many occasions he had to endure many trials and many skirmishes. (5201–24) Nestor was big, tall and thick-set. He must have been very strong. He had an aquiline nose and in conversation no one could find his peer. He gave very good counsel to whoever was his friend and to any loyal follower, but when anger overcame him he cast off all moderation. Snow is not whiter than he was overall; he was very bold and very courageous. Physically, Proteselas was in no way different, for he was extraordinarily swift, noble, courageous, strong and handsome. Neptolemus, also known as Pirrus, was big and tall, and as massive as a tree trunk around the stomach. He was wondrously strong and in many ways wily. He had a handsome face and beautiful features, but he also stuttered a great deal. He had big, round eyes, his hair was dark, not the least bit blond, and his eyebrows were bushy and abundant, as if he had puffed them out. He was knowledgeable about trials and laws and remarkably versed in court etiquette. Palamedes did not resemble him. He had a noble body and was not plump. He had very slim hips and was gentle and agreeable, open and direct. He was tall, slim, blond, handsome and upright, and his hands and fingers were white. (5225–56) Polidarius was so plump he could scarcely walk. He was distinguished in various activities, but was always dominated by sad thoughts. You would need to search far and wide if you wished to find a man more arrogant than he. Machon was a remarkable king. He was very fierce and courageous with a very rotund body and very little hair on his forehead. He uttered many threats in grand style and was very cruel towards everyone. He was neither too big nor too small. In spite of himself he was always falling asleep. The king of Persia was remarkably large, noble and powerful. He had a fleshy face marked by freckles, and his 44 The term trovere, used in v. 5192, likens Ajax Telamon to the lyric troubadours in France and Occitania. 45 Baumgartner suggests that this means that Diomedes is a mediocre lover (‘un bien piètre amoureux’, p. 195; see also her note to v. 5222, p. 640).


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beard and hair were red. Briseida was attractive. Neither small nor very big, she was more beautiful, blonder and whiter in complexion than a lily in flower or snow on a branch. But her eyebrows were joined together, which was somewhat unbecoming to her. She had extremely beautiful eyes and was a very fine conversationalist. She had exquisite manners and conducted herself sensibly. She was much loved, and loved much in return, but her heart was fickle. Still she had a very strong sense of shame,46 and was open, generous and compassionate. (5257–88) I have described the Greeks following Dares. I have told you and related everything I have found in his work, neither more nor less. Now I shall describe the Trojans for you. (5289–94) Portraits of the Principal Protagonists on the Trojan Side King Priam was very handsome, slender and tall, according to Dares’s work. His nose, mouth and face were attractive and well-proportioned. He had a rather low, soft voice that was gentle and somewhat hoarse. He was an outstanding knight and preferred to eat in the morning. He was never dismayed, nor did he approve of flatterers. He spoke truthfully and was an upright judge. He listened to stories, fables and songs, as well as to instrumental music and new melodies, often taking pleasure in these things. He showed great honour to knights, and never did any king know how to give finer gifts to his barons. (5295–312) Among the Trojans the boldest was his first-born son Hector. Among the Trojans? Indeed, in the whole world, among those who have lived and those who are alive today and those who will live at any future time. Nature made him supreme in the virtues and good qualities that humans can possess. In fashioning him she revealed all her knowledge, except that she could have made him more handsome. But no one could describe anyone superior to him. If anything was unbecoming about him, it was hidden beneath his fine deeds: you are well aware that supreme prowess attenuates the reproach of ugliness. Now I shall tell you everything one can say about Hector; you could never hear anyone express it better than I do. He surpassed all men in worth, but he stuttered a little. He was cross-eyed, but in him this was not unseemly. He had blond, curly hair and fair skin. He never indulged in mockery. He had a well-proportioned body and muscular limbs, but they were not soft. As soon as he was faced with responsibility, or when he had to assume command, there was no stouter fighter in the world, or one so reliable. No one’s generosity matched his, for, if he possessed the whole world, he would have given it all away to worthy people. He kept for himself neither gold nor silver, nor good warhorses or palfreys, nor valuable garments or good equipment. Prowess alone stayed with him and his noble heart, which urged him always to act as a noble baron should. Since he did not have his equal in arms or in the practice of largesse, his prowess was all the more praiseworthy. 46

Or she was ‘shameless’; see above, p 104, n. 42.

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His courtliness was so exceptional that the Trojans and the Greek host were mere peasants compared to him. No one more courtly ever broke bread. His intelligence and fine sense of moderation surpassed those of everyone else; never out of joy or anger did he resort to slander, insolence or deceit. No man will ever be as worthy as he was. His face, mouth, chin and body were nobly fashioned; he was a knight of swarthy complexion. He had a noble, gentle and wise disposition. His heart was so noble that under no circumstances would he ever utter an offensive or base word. No one was ever born with such stamina. As for bearing arms or endurance, or for carrying out all his wishes, no one has ever seen a better man. He had a great love of renown and honour. No man born of woman was ever as much loved in any city as he was by those in Troy, both great and small. He was gentle and devoted to its citizens, nor was he uncouth in matters of love. (5313–80) Helenus was quite similar to their father Priam, as was his brother Deiphebus. They did not differ in body and shape, except for their age, disposition and temperament. They resembled one another physically, but their inclinations diverged. Deiphebus was very strong whereas Helenus was very intelligent, a wise priest and a good soothsayer. He was skilled at predicting how affairs would turn out. (5381–92) Troilus was extraordinarily handsome. He had a cheerful expression with a ruddy complexion, a bright, open face and a broad forehead. He looked just as a knight should. He had blond hair that was very attractive and naturally glossy. His eyes were sparkling and cheerful; no one ever had eyes so lovely. As long as he was in good humour, his glance was so gentle that it was a joy to behold him. But one thing I can tell you for certain: towards his enemies he was quite different in appearance and expression. He had a well-shaped, prominent nose. His build fitted in well with his armour. His mouth was well shaped and his lovely teeth were whiter than ivory or silver. He had a square chin and a long, straight neck, such as would be suitable for wearing armour. His shoulders were wellformed, sloping down in slender fashion. His chest was shapely beneath the laces in his hauberk; his hands were well-formed and his arms handsome. He was well proportioned around the waist and his clothing fit very well. Broad in the hips, he was a wondrously handsome knight. He had straight legs and arched feet, and all his limbs were well shaped. He had a large pelvis and was very handsome in stature. He was tall, which, given his excellent stature, was appropriate. I do not believe there exists today as valiant a man the length and breadth of the earth, one who loves joy and pleasure as much or who speaks less disagreeably, who has a more generous disposition or who seeks out fame and noble deeds as much as did Troilus. He was neither insolent nor offensive, but happy, cheerful and amorous. He was well loved, loved well himself and for that reason tolerated the severest hardship.47 He was a young knight, the most handsome of the Trojans and the bravest, with the exception of his brother Hector, who was the very emperor and 47 Perhaps this was in order that he could prove that as a knight he was worthy of loving and of being loved.


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true lord of those who bear arms; Dares assures us of this fact. Hector was the flower of chivalry and Troilus showed himself to be a very worthy brother. He was truly his brother in prowess, courtliness and largesse. (5393–446) Paris was tall, slender and very fleet of foot. His hair was golden blond, brighter even than pure gold. He was sensible and strong and longed for positions of authority. He had a great yearning for overlordship, a well-proportioned face and beautiful eyes. He could shoot arrows extremely well and was knowledgeable above all else about hunting in woods. He was bold, brave and combative, and he could handle his weapons very effectively. He was a very good knight and knew how to put his bow to good use. Eneas was stout, short and wise in deed and speech. He was a skilled debater who knew how to seek out and seize his own advantage. He was an exceptionally good orator and in legal proceedings an upright counsellor. He had profound wisdom, strength, vigour and dignity. He had sparkling eyes and a cheerful countenance, and his beard and hair were red. He was cunning, astute and very greedy. Antenor was slender and tall, and he was skilled in speech and discourse. He was a clever and astute man, swift on horse and swift of foot. He was wise and a fluent speaker, and the king of Troy had great affection for him. When the opportunity to do so presented itself, he often played tricks on his companions. (5447–80) He had a son named Polidamas. Dares’s Book does not leave him out, for he was highly renowned, handsome, noble and well brought up, slender, upright and dark complexioned. He had acquired good manners and was strong, bold and good at defending himself. One could confidently assign to him any task that needed to be done. No one was worthier than he, for he was generous, gentle and noble. He was not at all deceptive and rarely angry, but he was valiant in battle. King Mennon was noble and tall and a very agreeable knight. He was, according to Dares’s work, broad-shouldered, with a solid chest, strong arms and a head of curly, auburn-coloured hair. His face was long and fine featured, with large, confident-looking eyes. Not very merry or talkative, he was formidable in combat. He feared nothing, nor did anything frighten him. He succeeded in everything he undertook, delivering and confronting many a hard onslaught. He was remarkable and did remarkable things. His great prowess and his exceptional deeds will be recounted forever. I do not wish to pass over in silence what Dares had to say about Hecuba; that was the queen’s name. She was well brought up, very tall and at the same time rather beautiful. Physically she looked very much like a man; she had no feminine inclination or disposition at all. She was a just, devout, upright and wise lady, and generous towards those in need. (5481–518) Andromacha was beautiful, noble and whiter than a flower on a grafted fruit tree. Her hair was blond and her eyes sparkling, and she was noble and demure without being the least bit arrogant. Her neck was very long and slender. Everything about her was as it should be. In her body and appearance there was nothing unseemly, nor was there any trace of levity or foolishness in her. Cassandra’s height could not be improved upon. Her face was of a ruddy complexion and freckled, and she was extraordinarily learned. Of the arts and divine mysteries she knew everything, especially how things would come to an end.

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Concerning what was to happen she revealed everything that would indeed take place. She had bright, shining eyes. Her appearance was quite unique, and her person and thoughts were distinct from those found in other women. (5519–40) It would be fruitless to describe Polyxena’s beauty to you. It could not be expressed or related by me or anyone else. She stood tall and slender, full grown and upright, and at the hips she was slender and narrow. Her head was blond and her hair long, extending down beyond her heels. Her eyes were bright, sparkling and affectionate; both eyebrows were slender. Her face was white and her countenance was brighter than the colour of a rose or a lily. Her nose, mouth and chin were nobly shaped and her neck was rather long. She wore her cape in noble style. Her shoulders did not sag, being neither too curved nor too broad. Her bosom was whiter than a lily or a hawthorn flower. She had long arms and white hands with slender fingers that were fine and smooth. No maiden was ever less foolish. Her disposition was gentle, as was her speech, and she had a lovely appearance and a good heart. No king’s daughter was ever more sensible, more generous or more courtly. With regard to manners or worth, or beauty and valour, no one in the realm was more highly endowed. Even if everyone else’s beauty were to be assembled in just one person, we are sure of one thing: Polyxena was even more beautiful. She was the loveliest, the best brought up and the most highly esteemed of all women. (5541–76) There were many other noble, wise and renowned people in Troy, of whom there is no mention here, nor are their features described. In Dares’s Book I find nothing more said, nor does he say any more than I have about any of them. (5577–82) Catalogue of the Greek Ships Winter passed and summer returned, together with the appointed day for the Greek expedition, which could not be delayed much longer. Before the end of February, all the Greeks had gathered in the great city of Athens. They assembled as many troops there as they could muster, whether by force or by command, willingly or using some other means, by summons or by entreaty. Never before had such large forces been brought together, nor will such a grand army ever be heard of again. The fleet was made ready. All the noblemen from the different regions brought their own ships together, all ready, I assure you of this, to move against their mortal enemies. (5583–600) I do not intend to tell you anything that is untrue. From Mycenae there came under Agamemnon a hundred outfitted vessels, fully provisioned with men and arms. From Sparta Menelaus brought sixty ships filled with vassals, and from Boeotia and its lordship Archelaus and Prothenor had fifty fine boats there, all fresh and new. For their part, Ascalaphus and Almanus, the one a count, the other a duke, brought thirty ships from the land called Orchomenus. Epistrot and Scedius had fifty ships and no more, well equipped, I assure you, from the land of Phocis. Ajax Telamon duly came there in his capacity as a vassal. He had fifty ships at sea that he had brought from Salamina. Teucer was his companion, as


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were Amphimacus and Dorion, Polixenart and Theseus. The poorest48 of them was a count or a duke. (5601–26) From Pylos old Nestor brought eighty ships in all, and Thoas had fifty from the city of Tholias. Hunier had forty-three from the land of Essimieis. The vassal Ajax Oileus brought thirty-seven of them from Logres, his own domain. There was not a single one of them that was not filled with men, arms and provisions; everyone was eager for combat. Thirty ships were brought from Calydon, without hindrance or difficulty, by Philitoas and Antipus; one was a king, the other a duke. Idomeneus and Merion from Crete and that region brought eighty beautiful, large ships, all counted. From Achaia Ulysses had brought fifty big and very strong ships. Emilius brought ten from the land of Pigris. (5627–50) From the country and region called Pilaca, Potarcus, together with lord Prothoilus, had fifty ships. Lord Machon and lord Polidarius – they were Escolapius’s sons – brought thirty-two ships from the land of Trikala. From Phthia, which is located near the sea, Achilles had fifty ships. From Rhodes, an island in the sea, Telopolus brought ten full ships. He was a noble king whom the Greeks loved very much. Euripilus from Orchomenus, a king of very great power, brought fifty well-equipped ships, fully stocked and loaded. From Elis, a wild country, lord Antipus and Amphimacus brought eleven ships to the shore with them; there was nothing faulty about their masts or yardarms. As Dares’s Book tells me, sixty ships came there from Larissa under Polibetes and Leontin, who were first cousins. (5651–76) Diomedes and Sthelenus and the handsome Eurialus brought eighty ships from the city and domain of Argos. From the land of Meliboea, which at that time was almost uninhabited, Philotetes came with seven ships; he was a very wicked and cruel man. A king of Cyphus who was called Cuneus, brought eleven ships and no more. Fifty ships came from Magnissia, of which not one was left behind; Prothoilus was lord there, a noble and powerful man with many troops at his command. Agapenor of Capadie also contributed fifty ships to the fleet, and Crenos, from Frise, had, by full count, twenty-two. Menesteus, duke of Athens, had fifty such ships that were among the strongest and best equipped. (5677–97) This my author reports in his own words: there were forty-nine men by name, all of them noble kings and mighty barons. They contributed what added up to one thousand one hundred and thirty ships. (5698–702) Achilles at Delphi As you can hear the truth told here without any falsification, the fleet assembled at Athens. Never again will so large a fleet be brought together. Agamemnon the king, who was so wise and valiant, and who was responsible for the whole enterprise, summoned the Greek princes, dukes and all the leaders on to open land outside the city. A very splendid assembly was held there, for there were 48

This may also imply the least noble of them.

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many high-born men in attendance. There they numbered their knights so as to determine how many each had and how many thousands they were. However, there were so many men who had come there that it was quite difficult to assess the total number. (5703–18) Agamemnon began to address them. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘you have gathered a noble assembly here. Anyone who was keen to declare war against you will be taking on and embracing a very heavy burden. He indeed feels little love for himself and his country. I see here before me a hundred men of whom, in my opinion, the least powerful should be able with his forces to achieve the task that has brought us together. The outrage and shame that Priam’s son has caused is enormous. We are mobilized to exact vengeance, for we do not want our lineage to suffer blame on account of any ignoble, shameful conduct on our part. Our ancestors never did anything that disgraces us, nor should we for our part allow our heirs to decline or to suffer shame. The lordship and nobility that Greece has held, as well as her dignity, must not enter into decline because of us; instead Greeks should be highly exalted. For we are in such accord with one another, and our might extends so far, that no king would dare do anything to us that would displease us, except for this vile Trojan race that, much to its own misfortune, has committed such egregious folly. It is obvious that they had bad counsel, for all those alive today are aware that our forces (I do not know how many they were at that time) destroyed Troy so odiously that they left no one alive there; they utterly devastated the country. Cannot a hundred and ten men accomplish what six of them achieved? Is that possible? If we were to let matters stand, without exacting vengeance, they would do us even worse harm. So let us rather forestall their actions, given that those who commit acts of shame and outrage should not be lured into aggression. We should anticipate these actions so that the Trojans have little opportunity to arm themselves, to reinforce their troops or to get help. This I know for certain: they have armed themselves against us and assembled great forces from a number of different countries. They will defend themselves with all their might and main. So, if it pleased you, I would advise, and for my part counsel, that, before setting out from here, we should send to Apollo for advice on this enterprise, in order to learn how we may succeed. Without fail and without deceit the god will tell us the truth of the matter. It is wise to ask his advice. Rest assured that, in my opinion, once he has given us an oracle we shall have no doubts regarding anything we are doing. This is what we sorely need. Delphi is not very far away from Athens, so those who go there to offer sacrifice can return promptly.’ (5719–88) This speech was approved by all those who heard it. By general agreement, the worthy Achilles went to Delphi, taking Patroclus with him. These two men came to Delphi, where, without mockery or laughter, they entered Apollo’s temple. Fearfully and devoutly, they made their supplication to the god while Achilles was offering a fitting sacrifice. That night he heard and learnt for certain what he had come to find out. The oracle spoke to him in a low voice: ‘To the Greeks’, it said, ‘you will declare that in the tenth year, without fail, the war will finally cease. Let everyone remember that in the tenth year they will be victorious; let


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them rest assured that at that time they will have accomplished everything they set out to do: Troy will be taken and overthrown and its people destroyed and vanquished.’ Achilles wrote down all that the oracle said. He made obeisance to the god, thanking him and prostrating himself before the altar. (5789–816) Calcas Defects to the Greeks Now you can hear how on that very same day Calcas, a wise and famous soothsayer, had come to Delphi. He was the son of a Trojan named Testor and was possessed of great sense. He brought gifts to Apollo, having come to the god to beseech mercy for the Trojans and to ask how they would fare and how they should act. The Trojan king and his people had sent Calcas there to offer gifts on the altar and to hear the divine oracle and learn in that way how they would cope with the forces coming to attack them. This is what the divine oracle said to Calcas: ‘See to it’, it said, ‘that on the morrow you go straight to the fleet belonging to the Greek host. You will go to Troy with them. You are wise and will instruct them; they will have great need of your intelligence. Do not let them return to their homeland before having taken Troy and punished its people. That is how it must turn out, for that is my pleasure.’ (5817–44) Calcas and Achilles, who had never seen each other before, met in the temple. Afterwards, having conversed together for a long time, they revealed their divine responses to each other. The time they spent together was very pleasant. Achilles brought Calcas back with him and lodged him in his residence in Delphi. He took great pains to serve him and to do his pleasure. They pledged in good faith to maintain their trust and companionship. Then they travelled so diligently that they came to Athens. Achilles told the barons what the oracle had said to him. He reported and set out all that it had promised them. ‘The Greeks will achieve victory, rest assured of that. It will indeed be unfortunate if they were ever to doubt this.’ Never was such joy heard as was displayed by those in the fleet. Then Calcas spoke to them, setting out truthfully and in good order how the Trojans had sent him to the god, to whom they offered their gifts. He continued as follows: ‘In order to find out and learn the truth that Apollo would reveal about what lay ahead for them, and whether Troy should defend itself or whether they could hold out against you who were to come there to Troy, they chose me and sent me, entrusting the message to me. I came to Delphi in their name. I wished most earnestly that things would turn out to their advantage. I had done everything in my power to achieve that. I was in the god’s temple. I placed on the altar the gifts I had brought from Troy and made sacrifice to him in the manner and way I knew to be proper. (5845–87) ‘I do not want to make a long story out of this. But here is what the divine voice told me: I should come to Athens here by the seashore to speak with you, to tell you and admonish you never to depart from or make peace with the Trojans before Troy has been laid waste and its people slaughtered and vanquished. It ordered me to remain with you in order to counsel your host. I am obliged to go to Troy with you to advise your army. Whatever pleases Apollo it behoves me to

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execute obediently. Since it pleases him that I join you, I do not want to refuse. He who does what displeases the gods seeks and brings about his own undoing. But one thing I shall tell you for certain: I shall incur more blame for this than for anything else. All the Trojans will hate me for it, and they will be profoundly surprised to hear that I am with you. But that will not prevent me from acting in this way. It is preferable, it seems to me, to obey the gods and do their bidding and pleasure than to obey the Trojans. Carry out what you have undertaken without a long delay. You have fair weather and a good breeze. Before tomorrow night, if you take my word for it, the whole fleet will have set sail.’ (5888–920) Sacrifice to Diana and Departure of the Greek Fleet Before this, the Greeks were already in very high spirits and cheerful, but now that Calcas had reassured them they were all the more delighted. They welcomed him most gladly and happily retained him. Now all of them felt confident about setting out. They would promptly set sail the following day, with the intention of sailing straight to Troy; however, this became impossible because a storm prohibited their passage. An extraordinary tempest, terrible, dark and sombre, went on for I do not know how many days. This upset them very much and, indeed, they were all nearly drowned because of it; they were at a great loss to know what to do. Calcas performed his incantations, and by consulting his omens he quickly discovered the meaning of this tempest that prevented their crossing the sea. He summoned the barons. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘now I know and see why we have had such weather. We have come close to being deceived. Diana has become very angry and is quite upset with us because we did not appeal to her and because she did not receive a sacrifice from us. She has made this very clear to us. We shall never have good weather or wind until she is placated. But I wish to tell you, and explain for all of you, my advice and opinion regarding what we should do. We must go into those great and famous woods called Alida and offer sacrifice to her there. Agamemnon, who has command and dominion over us, will perform the rites himself. After that, we shall be sure and certain that, with fair wind and great joy, we can make harbour at Troy.’ (5921–66) There was no delay in carrying out this task. They made their way to Alida. Agamemnon alone offered the sacrifice, prostrating himself before the goddess and submitting himself entirely to her will. He reconciled and made peace with her, after which they returned to the ships. It was proclaimed and announced to everyone that no one should refrain from crossing the sea. From now on, there was to be no delay. The Greeks were overjoyed. They raised anchor immediately and drew their sails high up on the masts.49 They set sail following the stars by night as the ships fanned out over the sea. They had the wind they wanted. As pilot, leader and guide they had a person whose name I shall tell you: it was Philotetes. He was a worthy and courageous vassal, albeit old and quite aged, 49

It is implied, but not said, that the storm has ceased.


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having earlier been at the first destruction of Troy.50 He showed them the way, for he knew the most direct route. (5967–90) The Greeks Capture Lauriental and Tenedos They reached a castle51 held by Troy. It was large and splendid, beautiful and strong. The Greeks immediately took it by force. The occupants were most unfortunately taken by surprise, so defence was of no avail. The Greeks had quickly vanquished them, slaying many of those inside the castle. They captured an abundance of booty: gold, silver and silk cloth. Tarrying no longer, they departed and headed straight for Tenedos. But their approach alarmed the inhabitants, who closed the castle gates. They became terrified and were in a state of panic; everyone feared for his own safety and so they prepared to defend themselves. What good was that? Their attackers outnumbered them, so they could hardly withstand the assault. Yet when they saw that they were being attacked, they defended themselves vigorously. The castle was very well fortified. Those who felt most confident climbed up on to the gates and the wall from where they stoutly defended themselves with stones, dealing mighty blows to those outside; they also hurled sharp stakes from the towers. Neither hauberk, helmet or shield could protect anyone they struck. Many Greeks fell into the ditches, and given that the embankments were high, those who were knocked from them into these ditches would never climb back up again. Many of them lay in a coffin that night. Those who tumbled down gravely impeded those who were climbing up, for one man knocked down more than ten others, none of whom would ever get back up again. The ditches, filled with mud, were very large and very deep and the embankments were steep and perpendicular. (5991–6030) The assault on the gates was stronger. There you would have seen stones being hurled and arrows flying, with helmets cracking and large numbers of knights dying. Those inside stoutly defended themselves, selling their lives dearly. Indeed, they paid a heavy price, for they never escaped from that place. All of them died there, both the poor and the wealthy,52 as Dares’s History affirms. The Greek invaders showed no mercy at all, for they were suffering great losses among their own men. Many of them had been killed, and for that reason they were all the more brutal. None of the defenders were offered a ransom and as a result huge slaughter took place there. The Greeks destroyed and knocked down everything and laid waste the entire country. The land was ravaged and there was no peasant or vavassor who did not abandon his dwelling; not a single one of them dared stay. The foragers and pillagers left nothing to demolish, taking all the wheat, the quarry and everything they could find that was edible. The inhabitants were in panic, all fearing for their lives and knowing of no escape, except in Troy alone. So they fled and made their way there. In Troy, if possible, they would 50 51 52

However, his name does not figure in Benoît’s account of this expedition. The castle is named Lauriental below (v. 6066). That is, nobles and commoners alike.

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defend themselves. There they would definitely be attacked and under siege for a long time. When the castles at Tenedos and Lauriental had been conquered, the Greeks seized many belongings and amassed huge booty. Agamemnon gathered all that he could find and then distributed it to everyone, giving each man his fair share. (6031–72) The Failed Embassy of Ulysses and Diomedes to Priam Afterwards, before much time had passed, the Greeks assembled in order to deliberate. All the kings, princes and barons were summoned there by name. First to speak was Agamemnon, who was a very wise knight, possessed of great intelligence and skill, and anxious about the circumstances in which they found themselves. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘I wish to impress upon you that one should vehemently despise arrogance. I see no one profiting by it, although many an impediment arises from it. He who seeks to undertake a task through arrogance is seldom likely to succeed. If he is pleased with it at the outset, he laments it in the end. Nor do I ever want arrogance or arrogant men on our side. The gods have never approved of this vice; on the contrary, they loathe it profoundly. They have often taken vengeance for it, thereby showing a sign of their disapproval. No one should despise anything more than arrogance. Loss, harm and disarray often begin with arrogance. For the one or two friends an arrogant man may have, he will face a hundred mortal enemies; of all vices this is the worst. But if evil befalls anyone who loves and believes in evil, that is entirely right. (6073–104) ‘That is why I wish to say and explain to you what it is incumbent upon us to consider. We must all be concerned about the predicament we find ourselves in. Our enemies are close at hand. We have invaded their land and we intend to conquer them by force of arms. We have already gone so far that they have become very angry with us. They will gladly avenge our invasion, if they can gather the forces needed to do so. They will defend themselves in their city against us with all the strength they can muster. Their city is exceptionally strong and they have many knights and soldiers, who have come here from numerous places in order to defend their domains against us. In my opinion, the man who defends himself in his own country has a great advantage. If he is worth anything at all, he is doubly strong against his invader. Before it is taken, a poor shack, with neither strong walls nor deep ditches, defends itself so well that it is conquered with difficulty and belatedly. Nor do I say these things because I believe in the slightest, or assert, that in the long run they will defend themselves successfully against us. I do not doubt our ultimate victory. But there is one thing we can do, it seems to me: intelligence and moderation, this pair must be our guide. It would be a great mistake for us to undertake anything without using intelligence and reason. We have gathered the wisest men in the whole wide world. All the advice you accept must be wise, good and upright. It is very well known how our enterprise began, which of us are in the right and which in the wrong. Many fine knights have died because of it. Laomedon started hostilities and he paid cruelly for his deeds: we took harsh vengeance on him for what he did. His heirs are still distressed


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because of what happened. Priam recently requested in a truly peaceful manner, without any animosity, that we return to him his sister Hesiona, whom we have held for a long time. We firmly refused to return her, and that was arrogance and great folly on our part. We had done the Trojans so great a wrong that we should have been willing to come to terms with them. He who fears nothing has no idea how quickly evil befalls him. If Hesiona had been given back, Helen would not have been abducted. Paris would never have thought of abducting her, nor would he have pillaged our land while doing that. We are shamed by his deeds, and they even more so. We have sustained losses, and so have they. We have been harmed and they have their grief. They find fault with us and we with them. They have done wrong and we ourselves have committed an even greater wrong. Everyone on their side complains about this. (6105–70) ‘Let us act as I advise and wish so that we are not deemed arrogant and so that the wrong will not be ours. Once we have destroyed and slain them, our fame will be doubled, since no fault on our part will be found. It will have turned out favourably for us when we have achieved victory and justice. When someone is wronged and avenges himself, this earns him double praise. But he who does wrong, or causes shame and harm without having suffered for his actions, will never be pitied if matters turn out badly for him. Instead, that makes many people very happy. Let us send word to Priam through messengers who are worthy and wise, that he should have Helen returned to us or be assured that, if he does not correct the misdeed that Paris perpetrated in Greece, he will be in the wrong and we in the right. He cannot escape destruction and they will never keep her from us. If they return her to us and do what is right by us, what more need we ask? It would then be appropriate for us to return to our homelands. I wish we were now already on our way back with honour. Do not believe that I could ever be dissuaded from the proposal that I am making to you. For you should be aware that I shall do enough, I believe, to avoid blame in this matter.’ (6171–202) Those who heard Agamemnon’s words responded in diverse ways. Some approved of the embassy, whereas others rejected it. Some said he had spoken very eloquently, while many voiced their opposition to him. Why should I prolong this matter for you? The assembly concluded that they should proceed in the way Agamemnon recommended. The message was entrusted to two highly esteemed knights. One was named Diomedes and the other Ulysses. For this matter to be carried out properly, they could not have chosen better men. There was no reason to put off their task, so these two men went to make ready. They dressed splendidly, if Dares’s Book does not err, in silk cloth of various colours, embroidered with animals and flowers and studded with gold and precious stones. In this way they were clothed very handsomely and so finely that it could not have been more suitable. On their heads they wore hats made of feathers from birds that inhabit, my author says, Upper India. The feathers emitted a fragrant scent, this I can tell you, and there was no colour that did not appear on them. The messengers wore them because of the summer heat. They were well equipped with golden spurs and had noble and beautiful palfreys, strong and swift and of gentle gait. The horses were wondrously well proportioned and ideal for the journey. Neither

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snow nor swan is as white as were the flanks of both steeds, and their necks, their rumps and sides were dark grey, bay and dappled. They were nobly saddled and had such splendid bits that a thousand minted bezants would not have sufficed to purchase their reins. (6203–46) The messengers mounted quickly, taking only two retainers with them. They refused to bear arms, for fear they might meet people who would neither speak to them nor hesitate to kill them. But whether or not anyone encountered them, the only way the messengers would speak to them would be positively. They rode straight to Troy that morning with no fear of hindrance, for, as messengers, they had nothing to fear. Before midday had gone by, they reached the city. They rode through the streets, advancing as rapidly as possible. That day many people stared at them and watched them. Before the hall stood a pine tree, the branches of which were of pure gold; they had been chiselled using magic arts, necromancy and spells. The pine tree was made as follows: it was somewhat taller than a lance, but on top it was thick with branches that spread out over the whole square. Because it was so slender and bore such a weight on top, the two kings wondered how it could have been fashioned in this way. They judged it to be an object of great value. They dismounted from their palfreys and left them with the two retainers. By way of the carved steps, they ascended into the hall. There were many counts and dukes there as well as many fine and noble knights. King Priam and all his sons were discussing what they would do about the Greeks who were challenging them. Thereupon, the two messengers entered and many rose to meet them; they came to a halt before the king. (6247–89) Ulysses spoke first: ‘King Priam, I do not greet you, for our people are your enemy. There has been ample justification for this. We have been sent to you here. Agamemnon summons you, saying that, without long delay and respite, you should return Helen to her husband. On account of the shameful dishonour Paris committed in our land the Greeks demand this of you through our intervention. Make amends towards them so that they accept it willingly. They possess so much intelligence and understanding that, if you wished to do right by them, you should return the lady and the plundered wealth and do what is right by them. They let you know that they will accept that accommodation and return to their own country. After that, you need not fear us anymore. Henceforth, we shall maintain secure peace and solid trust with you. Do not behave like a child now, for if you refuse to do as we ask such destruction and hostility have never occurred as will be deployed against you. It will be talked about for a thousand years. You can easily rectify this critical situation that may bring such great harm to you. You can now easily conceal with your finger53 the harm that in a short time can overwhelm you from those men advancing behind a thousand shields. If my words are ignored, a thousand of those shields will be of no more use to you than three would be. Tell me your wishes at once. Take counsel and then answer, for we must return to our host.’ (6290–326) 53 This refers to a gesture such as covering something with a finger or a hand, i.e. something that is still very small.


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Priam answered the messenger: ‘Vassal, I do not consider you wise if you think I would knowingly shame myself, as long as I am able to do anything about it. I would indeed be bringing shame on myself if I went along with any part of your proposal. Even if the Greeks put me in shackles or in prison for seven years, they would not have asked more of me. I am not so weak that I would agree to a shameful accommodation. I do not want my heirs to have anything of the kind told to them. For my part, I must ask for satisfaction for them from the Greeks. First they destroyed this land, taking away its gold, silver and wealth. But the fact that they killed my father weighs still more heavily on me. I have no longer either sister or brother, or friend, relative or well-wisher. I shall never be happy for as long as I live until I have obtained retribution for his death. I have done what is right. I sent Antenor a year ago to ask the Greeks to return Hesiona. They responded with villainous threats, and then threw him out and chased him away. Telamon, who took her away into servitude, still holds her as a concubine, about which I am justly angry and distressed. This much he can know for certain: there will be no peace or accord sought on her account. On the contrary, vengeance will be taken for it. Now the Greeks have once more laid waste my land and killed and hacked my people to pieces. After that, they say that I should give them satisfaction! I want Agamemnon to get this into his head – tell him clearly what I say – that as long as my name is King Priam he will have neither truce nor peace with me. This war will continue from now on. As long as I live, I shall display all the might I can muster for it. Let the Greeks rest assured that I shall truly teach them how courageous I am and what support I have garnered over the last month. They have attacked me nearby,54 but, if I can and do find them in my land I intend to defy them. I want to vow and promise that I shall make no accord with the Greeks, or true peace or harmony, as long as I have a hundred knights. And if you were not messengers, it would have turned out quite badly for you. Be off with you quickly, for never, as long as I see you, shall I be free of any anger for a single hour.’ (6327–84) Diomedes began to smile. ‘By God’, he said, ‘then you will never be free of anger if that is how things stand with you. Within a month you will hear of such strife and catch sight of a hundred thousand men fully armed and mounted on their chargers. Not a single one of them will lack a pennant, a helmet, a hauberk or a standard. Your barriers will not be strong enough to keep you from promptly abandoning them before your foe. On your marble walls and gates you will need stones and stakes. When we assemble and when we break off combat, you will see so many of your men lying dead there, and so many mortally wounded, that you will have a strong heart if it is not filled with dismay. If you are so distressed by our presence here without shield or lance, you should certainly be even more distressed on account of the rest of us when we are fully armed. This grief of yours will persist for a long time!’ Great tumult arose in the hall on account of Diomedes’s words. Two hundred men sprang to their feet. He would soon have 54

This is a reference to Lauriental and Tenedos.

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been slain or cut to pieces if the king had not intervened and, with great difficulty, rescued him. ‘Stop!’ he exclaimed, ‘do not do this! If the imbecile vents his folly, we need not oppose our good sense to what he says. One can tell by his words that he is not possessed of much intelligence. No messenger need fear anyone in my court, whether he be a foolish or a wise man. I shall never be reproached for that. A man shames himself for no good reason. For a thousand gold marks I do not want either of them to lose their life here.’ (6385–422) Eneas was seated next to the king. ‘My lord’, he said, ‘by my faith, everywhere the proverb is valid that states that: “Whoever speaks like a fool is also received like a fool”, and if they want to talk foolishly let them be given a good beating. Let their folly turn against them so that they get what they deserve. I could indeed say so much here that you would have me put to death, hanged or burned to death. I am convinced now, and it is my opinion, that harm would have befallen them, if it were not for you, and rightly so since they came here to berate you. There is no good to be gained by heeding them. I earnestly advise you to let them be on their way, for they will accomplish nothing here.’ (6423–40) Diomedes answered him: ‘My lord’, he said, ‘thank you. You can spin a tale and judge even better. Here you could be of use to us. We understand from what you say that, if someone should wish to shame us, it would not distress us in the least. Well, rest assured that, whatever happens, I shall never fail to recognize you. I have never desired anything as much as I do now to find you somewhere so that I could thank you for your fine and eloquent words. You have made a very ignoble speech and it will be reported in many places. But if you should dare to come out to debate amid so many shields and lances, horses, hauberks and emblems, as well as knights from so many lands, and if you then wanted to achieve renown, rest assured that you would have gained great renown if you slew or captured me. That is where I intend to meet you. If you do not have a soil-covered helmet from this,55 thereafter I shall never bear arms, nor shall I be seen in a great battle. Ah! What a vassal and what a baron! Whoever had three of the same kind in his household, how happy he could be! He would never be at a loss when it came to making a prompt decision to do something shameful.’ Ulysses spoke up: ‘Now things have become ugly and base. Let us leave it at that. My lord’, he said to King Priam, ‘I have heard your response clearly and have not forgotten any of it. I can report it accurately to our men. We shall now begin to make our way back.’ (6441–78) The exchanges were becoming more and more fraught. Foolish words would have been exchanged soon enough, if Ulysses had not promptly left. The two Greeks passed down under the vaulted arches, mounted their palfreys and rode through the city. Passing through all its streets, they observed much wealth, many a splendid dwelling and many a vassal, many a knight and many a horse, many a good burgess, many a merchant, and many arrogant and presumptuous persons. Once outside, they spurred on, quickening their pace. They rode on and on until 55

Presumably the helmet will be covered with soil after its owner has fallen to the ground.


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they reached the Greek host. They went to Agamemnon’s tent, without reining in beforehand, and there they dismounted from their palfreys. All the Greek princes came there, the kings, the counts and the barons, for they wanted to hear Priam’s response. The messengers reported to them how they had fared, their journey there and back, the answer they received from the Trojans and what was said. They did not fail to relate every single word, great or small, that had been uttered in Priam’s court. Then they went to their quarters and the meal was made ready. They gladly sat down to eat. (6479–510) Achilles’s Expedition to Mysia Agamemnon and the Greek barons gathered in his pavilion, in which Spanish gold was in abundance, as well as fine silks that were new and of great value. They discussed diverse topics, but I shall not relate them now. I do not need to report everything, given that I still have a great deal to write. But you can hear in what follows how lord Achilles went to Mysia to procure the food the army required. The princes had sent him there. He raised no objection at all about doing this. Duke Telephus accompanied him, along with more than ten thousand knights. Dares states and reports that Telephus was Hercules’s son. They went to Mysia, as I said, a rich country, plentiful, fertile and fully prepared for combat. They discovered it to be steadfast and strong. Many knights met their death there, for its king, Teuther, fought the Greeks because he wanted to defend his land against them. He did not advance very far to find them, but with the forces he had succeeded in mustering he set out straightaway to engage the Greeks. They joined battle immediately and exchanged many a blow, not sparing one another in the least. Those from Mysia fought well, defending themselves and their country. I can assure you that they sold their lives dearly. If it were not for a fortuitous event that hit them hard and violently, they would have defeated the Greeks that day. But Achilles recognized the king in the midst of the fray and went to strike him, inflicting a mortal injury on him. Teuther fell face down on the spot. Achilles unlaced the helmet on the king’s head and would have decapitated him right away if Telephus had not begged him to be merciful while protecting the king with his shield. Achilles wanted to know why. ‘A good ten years ago, I believe it was’, Telephus responded, ‘Teuther gave me lodging in this country and honoured me extraordinarily well. He did his best to serve me and that is why I cannot bear to watch him die.’ Achilles most gladly told him that he would do as Telephus wished. (6511–66) The Mysians, having lost their lord, were defeated. They did not seek revenge, nor did they continue to fight. The Greeks fanned out over the countryside, plundering and seizing great booty. Never had so much wealth and so much booty been gathered together as each of them seized and bore away. The king was mortally wounded. He realized that death was inevitable and that he could in no way avoid it. He wanted to make Telephus his heir, for, as he was able to explain and relate it, Telephus’s father Hercules had returned his land to Teuther after he had lost it. ‘A king’, he said to Telephus, ‘was waging war against me, intending to disinherit

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me. But Hercules came to my assistance in my time of greatest need. He slew and dismembered the king and delivered my land to me. He gave it all back to me in peace, so that is why I abandon it and hand it over to you. I designate you as my heir, to be king and lord over both the land and the honour it represents. You can acquire great wealth from it. I see that my death grieves you and for this I am grateful to you. Bury me as one ought to bury a king. Have a sepulchre made for me and provide a suitable funeral service. Defend the land, love its people, and do not bring about their annihilation. Be the good son of a good father.’ With these words he passed away. Telephus had him interred as splendidly as possible. They embalmed him in a sarcophagus of green, finely flecked marble. When the funeral rites had ended, everyone left the tomb. Then Telephus received homage from all the nobility in the land. He had their fortresses reinforced and held the whole realm at his pleasure. (6567–612) After this was done, Achilles made ready to return to the host immediately. Telephus begged him to be allowed to go back to the host too. He wanted to do what those who were going to the great siege of Troy would do, participating in the immense battles they would fight on many occasions. But Achilles told him and asked him not to raise this subject. ‘You will stay here because that is what is needed. Be prepared to help us, for you can still be of great assistance to us. See to it that the host is supplied with wine, wheat, oil and meat. Do not scrimp on this or forget it, for that would be wrong and for that reason you would incur harsh blame.’ Telephus remained behind, albeit with some difficulty. (6613–31) Before that week had passed, Achilles was back with the host. They gave him a very joyous welcome, for he had brought a great deal to the host, supplying it with abundant provisions. Agamemnon and Menelaus, old Nestor and Ajax, as well as more than three hundred of the others – kings and counts, princes and dukes – came straight to the tent where Achilles had dismounted. Each one of them went to embrace him. They were overjoyed, for they held him very dear. He told them how he had fought and with what people, how their king was slain and defeated and how Telephus received the country and the whole realm, free of all encumbrances. He was king there and enormously wealthy. ‘He will supply us with the country’s wheat and victuals, as he has promised me.’ All of them thanked him, proclaiming that he had accomplished a lot and had carried out a fine expedition. When they heard this in Troy, the inhabitants would be distraught: this was bound to happen. (6632–57) Catalogue of Priam’s Allies Before going any further, it is proper for me to report, and right and fitting too, to tell what support Priam received, which kings, which princes and which dukes, which counts and which barons he had on his side, so that you can hear the names of some of those who came to support the noble city and who fought in defence of it for a long time. (6658–66) From Sezile came Pandarus, old Ampon and Adrastus. They brought exceptional forces composed of bold and chivalrous men. Well armed with splendid


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weapons, they would defend the city against those who laid siege to it and prevent it from being set ablaze or destroyed. From Colophon, a country surrounded by sea, came Caras and Masius, strong Nesteus and Phimacus. All four of these men were kings, each one of whom brought with him a splendid army, well armed and equipped for battle. They would defend Priam’s lands and suffer great hardship for his sake. From Lycia came old Glaucon together with his son Sarpedon. These two brought from their country an army more than three thousand strong. They came with such a huge army because they were related to the king of Troy. They would deal mighty blows and endure heavy fighting before the Greeks took Troy or vanquished its army by sheer force. (6667–94) And from Lycaonia, a country of great worth, came the admiral Eufeme. In his troop he brought a thousand bold and courageous knights, who were well armed and equipped. They would sustain combat and make many a fine sortie before the city surrendered. The mighty Hupot and Cupesus, who were dukes of Larissa, did not arrive poorly prepared. The one who brought fewer troops might have had seven hundred men of such mettle that they were worthy, brave and eager to bear arms. They were willing to sustain great losses and heavy blows before the Greeks hold Troy in peace. King Remus of Cisonie arrived with a noble band of men, including seven counts, four dukes and more than seven hundred knights. His liege men were beholden only to him. None of them lacked a horse, or even two, three, four or six of the animals, all of high quality and of great value. Their arms, which were fresh and new, included helmets, hauberks, shields and saddles; all were of the same hue and colour, since that pleased their lord. In this way they would recognize one another in the midst of the great battles of which they would be part, and it would be told and related how they had performed. Before the city was taken by force, they would break many a lance and cause many souls to leave their bodies. (6695–732) From Thrace, a plentiful land whose inhabitants were bold and fierce, and whose men were more battle-hardened and combative than any other people in existence, came Pileus and Acamus. One was a king, the other a duke; I assure you that both of them were marvellous knights. They brought two thousand one hundred Thracian vassals to oppose the Greeks. Before the Greeks held the city, they would have suffered great hardship and sustained huge pitched battles and heavy fighting that was brutal and deadly. From Peoine, a country in which many a marvel has been found – for in the forests and in the mountains, which are more numerous than its plains, one observes sprites and little satyrs, wild animals and birds of more than a thousand varieties – came its king Pretemesus and one of his cousins named Steropeus. Both were youths, noble, handsome, worthy, well brought up and very shrewd in all circumstances. They brought there a thousand knights, who never bore lances but sharp javelins of pure steel and large spears for hurling, along with strong Turkish bows. Unarmed troops could not hold out against them. They will wound many a knight and slay many a fine warhorse (I foresee this clearly for you) before the siege comes to an end. (6733–68) Next from Phrygia came Antipus, Merceres and Thalamus. These men were not castellans or low-ranked vavassors, but rather noble and mighty kings, strong,

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courageous and belligerent. They brought troops that were nobly outfitted. Each had in his company seven hundred men. Not one lacked a pennant, a bright steel helmet and a good, sharp sword. From Boeotia came Asimas, the brave Fortis and Sanias. All three of them were counts who never kept faith with one another, but were constantly at war. But now they had made peace with one another in order to protect Troy against the Greeks. They led a thousand knights, not one of whom would act shamefully in combat. They would make sorties that would provoke much hand-wringing. From the great kingdom of Botine, a wild land overseas, came Boetes and Epistrot with seven hundred worthy knights; they were blood brothers. They never baked bread in their land, but they were accustomed to eating good spices and fish, precious fruits and diverse kinds of venison. Each had a horse of great worth, a sharp spear, shield and coat of mail. They would encounter many difficulties before the time came when they would abandon the city and war would turn to peace. (6769–806). From Paphlagonia came Philemenis. His was a country that is not well known because it lies so far to the east that I truly wonder how one could travel there or how anyone could reach us here from there. But Philemenis, who was lord over Paphlagonia, did so, and it was and would ever be a wonder how he managed to reach Troy from there. But I do not believe that beneath the vault of heaven there existed two knights as tall as he was. He was almost as big as a giant. He was strong and mighty, ruthless, bold and courageous. I do not know how he learnt of the siege being mounted against Troy. Without being called upon, he wanted to come there with a good two thousand followers. They endured very great hardship for ten full months and three weeks before reaching Troy. Philemenis lost a large number of his men, for they frequently came to places where they almost perished. It is a wonder how they set out; in no way should they ever have made it to Troy. Philemenis and his following, composed of extremely violent and ferocious men, came to Troy in order to prevent the Greeks from taking it. They were armed in a manner different from the Trojans. Their shields were of boiled leather and they blazed with pure gold. The worst man among them was prized more highly than the finest from Troy, because all of them were adorned and covered with stones of Paradise from the Euphrates and the Tigris, as were all their bridles. Their emblems were of royal purple, as were the great pennants on their spears. They would make people talk a lot about them when they attacked and jousted. They would never abandon Troy out of fear or cowardice. (6807–52) Next from a country not too close to Ethiopia came King Serses and his sister’s son Mennon, a man of outstanding valour and also a very noble knight, for he was lord over ten cities. Serses arrived in full splendour and with a noble bearing. It took him more than seven months to get there, and he brought with him many counts, dukes and knights and other troops. But neither pitch nor ink was ever so black as they were. They brought extraordinary horses. They did not know how to bear arms, but no people could shoot arrows or handle bows as expertly as they did. They were very bold and ruthless. They would mow down the Greeks, for their arrows and shafts are poisoned; no one they wounded would ever recover from it. (6853–74)


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From Therache came Heseus, together with his son Archilogus. They were relatives of the king of Troy and had been his allies for a long time. They were strong and noble men. They had more than a thousand knights of the kind that would never fail in heavy combat or in battle. They would aid their kin and be of help to those in the city. From Agreste, an island in a faraway sea whose inhabitants are fierce and savage, came King Fion and King Edras, who brought no small number of knights and men-at arms. They would bring aid to the Trojans and pay dearly for it until the Greeks gain the upper hand. From the kingdom of Alizonie, which is situated in the direction of Femenie, where precious spices are found that are transported all over the world, came Pistropleus, an aged king, who was very knowledgeable in the seven liberal arts; he could produce many a marvel. He brought with him a Sagittarius, about which there was much talk in the host. The creature aroused great fear among the Greeks. As long as it was alive, it was a dreadful adversary. But it did not live long. You will hear later on how this came about. (6875–906) All those I have named came to the city of Troy. Many of them came there for fame, for renown and for love, some for lordship and others because of family bonds. From the time God decided to form the world, no one had ever heard tell that knighthood so constituted had protected any city. Those I have named here numbered thirty-three; the poorest of them was king or duke over more than a thousand knights. (6907–20) Hector was lord over all those who came to Troy and defended it against the Greeks. They were all obliged to do as he wished. Although he held lordship, power and command over all of them, his brothers Paris, Troilus and Deiphebus, as well as Antenor and Polidamas with lord Eneas, had troops for which each was responsible. Under his command each of them also had a portion of those who were outside the city.56 It was foreseen, ordered and arranged that no knight should mount unless he was ordered to do so by his prince. No one could be allowed to go outside the walls until the time came when he wanted them to do so. This was truly necessary to discipline them, for they were very arrogant and fierce. They would have acted very foolishly if they had not submitted to such discipline. They did so, this I can report, as best they could. They had no expectation, fear, apprehension or anxiety that their Greek foe would assail the walls.57 That is why it was not determined what defences the kings would have, nor in which places they would defend themselves. There was no great need for that, as the Greek host was always a good distance away.58 (6921–54)

That is, the foreign troops who are named in this catalogue. This is because, as noted below, p. 324, the walls were too high to scale. 58 This must be taken as referring to the battles in which the Greeks pushed their enemy back to the walls of Troy; in the twentieth battle Diomedes even penetrates into part of the city. 56 57

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Palamedes Joins the Greeks Late The Greeks, according to what we have read, were still at Tenedos. Before anyone had left there, Palamedes had joined them. He brought thirty ships loaded with knights and their troops. In the entire host, it seems to me, there were not three men better than he, wiser or more cunning, bolder or more courageous. He had been harshly reproached for not coming, but he fully justified himself against the charge, saying that he had been very ill and incapacitated for a long time. He could not come to Athens for the departure. However, as soon as he recovered he set out with all his forces. They ought not to hold that against him, for he was overjoyed and very happy that he could come once he had recovered. Everyone was happy at his arrival and they thanked him warmly for it. They said that he should take part in their secret deliberations and give them his high counsel there. (6955–78)

PART TWO 6979–26590

The Trojan War c’est est costume de tel plait, Que teus i pert qui puis guaaigne. (vv. 7588–9) As is customary in such conflicts, those who lose later win.

THE WAR UP TO HECTOR’S DEATH First Battle The Greeks had planned for a long time and frequently prepared to go and lay siege to Troy by night, but they could not find the opportunity they wanted or the means to do so. They greatly feared how they would land there, for they could not avoid the need to go on board their ships in order to draw nearer to the city, nor was it easy for them to dock or to get on land in the face of men bent on defending it. They were uncertain as to how they would disembark, as they greatly feared misfortune. They had been perplexed about this for a long time, having taken and given much advice on the matter. One day the barons assembled for this purpose and discussed it. I cannot say or report in full what course of action each one recommended, but you can hear what Palamedes said about it in what follows. His words were well received, for everyone placed great trust in his intelligence. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘you can suffer great dishonour by this delay. A year, I believe, has passed since you arrived here, but you have not yet laid eyes on Troy. During this time a large number of troops have arrived there who will defend it against you with all their might and main. They have succeeded in constructing numerous palisades, barriers and ditches and have had ample time to reinforce them and to seek help. They think, apparently, that we do not dare advance. Do you presume to surprise them? It is no use thinking of doing that, for you will never besiege them until you have engaged them in combat. This is unavoidable, whatever may be the result. The longer you delay, the greater the harm you will incur. They feared you more before now than they will for a long time to come. Who advised you to allow them to feel confident, get reinforcements and seek aid? If the fleet had gone straight to the city, I am sure that there would have been no great opposition when we arrived. For that missed opportunity I know of no advice that I can offer. But on the morrow, without further delay, let us make our ships ready. When we have put wooden castles on them and prepared them for combat, and when we are fully armed, let us make a dash for the city and engage them in combat. I do not know why we are holding back. Whatever happens, whether harm or ill, this is how it behoves us to act. If they are not conquered by force, they will not be taken by any other means. Well then! Come on! Let us do what we have to do. If we had taken Troy, every one of us would have returned to his country overjoyed. Let us not deliberate any longer, but act on my advice. Tomorrow morning, without delay, let this attack be launched in such a way that, whoever weeps or laughs about it, we can, by force and by necessity, lay siege to the city.’1 All those present, great and small, approved this advice unanimously. (6979–7060)

1 Palamedes’s criticism of Greek idleness seems to anticipate his demand after the second battle that he should replace Agamemnon as commander-in-chief.


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Greek Landing before Troy They let the night pass, but by the next day at daybreak, before the sun had risen, they had completed all their preparations. The castles were raised on the ships, which were equipped with lances and spears. Never did a host prepare or equip itself so well. They deployed, ordered and grouped their ships, determining, arranging, disposing and arraying those that would be first to advance, those that would be next and those that would come last. They placed a hundred ships in the forefront, with sails of fine silk and imperial cloth raised to the wind. They raised a thousand pennants that were unfurled in the wind. The ships’ rails were well equipped with shafts, shields, furbished spears, Danish axes, swords and steel guisarmes. Those watching such an undertaking thought it a sheer marvel. After the first hundred ships, another hundred set out with sails raised in the wind. Then the great forces set sail with their innumerable emblems and pennants. For fifteen uninterrupted leagues they covered the sea to such an extent that it was not the least bit visible. They sped straight on to the city, sails raised and in great haste. Even if they encountered opposition in the harbours, no matter how great the forces or the strength of their opponents might be, before evening on the next day a thousand men would have landed there. But, before that, they would have paid dearly, for this is what Dares’s work recounts: since the world was established, no harbour was taken with so much suffering. That day many lost their heads. When the Trojans spotted them, they all issued forth together, precipitately and in disorderly fashion. No one waited for prince or king, peer, lord or companion. On the shoreline in the lovely sand they gathered and rushed forward; many a blow would soon be dealt there. (7061–112) Those on the ships saw clearly and realized that the only possible course of action was to ram their ships ashore; they had to vanquish by sheer force. Their enemies were all well equipped and they would be well received by them. Each of the Greeks armed himself as best he could, with whatever weapons he possessed. None was so valiant that he did not feel fear or waver in his heart. Proteselas, bold, valiant and confident, was the first to arrive. This renowned king was from Pilaca. With his hundred boats he charged forward, the wind propelling the ships being so strong that with sails raised it drove them some distance on to the dry sand, splintering and shattering them. Some highly valued men drowned on the spot. As soon as the Greeks emerged from the boats, the Trojans attacked them, subjecting them to terrific slaughter, while the Greeks strove mightily to kill their foe. No one could relate the grief at this landing, nor the slaughter and killing, for flour being sifted does not fall so finely, nor does wind-blown rain or hail, as did the barbed arrows, spears and shafts shot from crossbows. The combatants immediately struck with their swords; I do not believe that anyone was safe. The hundred ships that had been beached were overcome, as the Greeks had no way to defend them. In the sand lay seven hundred men who would never assault Troy. Then the next hundred ships advanced in a solid line. Swiftly and at full speed, they dashed into the harbours, sails raised on high. They produced a thunderous sound with great outcry, so that

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even the boldest men were fearful. When the sails had been lowered and the boats beached, the Trojans attacked them, preventing the Greeks from disembarking. Those on the boats had more than three thousand crossbows, ready to shoot. They shot their bolts into the Trojans where their ranks were thickest. A thousand men blanched and dropped face down, cold and in a faint. There was a great commotion among those on board ship. A large contingent emerged that would come to the assistance of the others; they came together in tight, orderly formation. (7113–69) Proteselas had fought very well. He had been a great help to his men with his sharp, naked blade. That day he slew a great number of his enemies and put up a very hard fight. If it had not been for him, all the Greeks would have suffered severely, and none of them would have survived. The Trojans attacked, and soon dreadful slaughter would have been inflicted on their foe. Those Greeks on shore could not hold out against so many blows, yet they dared not take flight. They did not even know in what direction to flee, for it was extremely difficult to rely on seven thousand men against a hundred thousand. Then the battle began to grow ferocious. No human being could ever have witnessed one so awful and so deadly. With heavy axes, sharp and wide, they cleaved one another down to the entrails. The dead fell in throngs with the result that that all the beaches were covered in blood. These broad streams of blood came from the hordes of men who died there. The Greeks defended themselves, for they knew of no other way to survive. They preferred to die on land rather than by drowning and perishing at sea. They were surrounded on all sides, and there was great danger behind them: high waves pounded hard as they rolled in from the sea, horrifying and frightening the Greeks. In front of them the danger was just as great, for the Trojans were so numerous that in a short time they had killed a sixth of the Greeks and more; pushing the foe back, they drove them as far as the sea. Then many Greeks were forced to go in over their armpits, many of them with their innards trailing. A massive rout took place there. If the combatants had had to endure this for long, not one of them, handsome or ugly, would have escaped. But those who were together on the castles that had been erected on the ships shot arrows and hurled spears that forced the Trojans to pull back, leaving behind more than a thousand of their own men. (7170–220) Thereupon Archelaus and Prothenor arrived with their vassals. Sails hoisted, they docked, whether their foes liked it or not. From their fifty well-equipped ships troops issued forth, armed to defend themselves. But before they reached the open fields, the Trojans had hurt, slain, killed and hacked them to pieces. Yet from the moment they joined and came together with the other Greeks they withstood the attack, until the men arrived whom Nestor, lord and king of Pylos, had brought with him. With sixty well-armed ships they came to the ports, their sails raised on high. They were very eager to link up with those they could see fighting. A huge throng was trying to disembark. Few remained on board, so keen were they to fight. If you could only have seen them charge into the densest throngs they found! They covered the ground with the dead, hacking to pieces all those they encountered without wavering in their advance. (7221–48)


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Archelaus, who inflicted great damage on the enemy, was in the midst of the fighting. Like a good knight, he made use of his sharp, naked blade. Prothenor was on the other side of the fray, ferocious and bolder than a leopard. He feared neither blow nor mortal wound, and in no way did he spare any Trojans. He charged straight into their midst, raining blows on them. They in turn killed many of his men. King Ascalaphus and King Almenus delayed entering the fray no longer. They landed with thirty ships, and you can be sure that they issued forth without hesitation. They were profoundly aggrieved and distressed at having held back for so long. Steadily, in tight formation, they advanced straight into the clash of weapons and the blood of the boldest men froze with fear. There were three thousand of these new and fresh men, and with these reinforcements from other Greeks they forced the Trojans to shift their position. But they had to pay for it dearly because the Trojans recovered and were very brutal and pitiless towards them. They drove them back to the ships, not letting up in the slightest until they reached the sea. If they had found a substantial escape route, never would a single one of them have turned back to fight. On account of the throng which was so huge, I do not know which men or how many drowned there; this could not be avoided, and even the boldest man would have preferred to be somewhere else. (7249–82) When Ulysses arrived with his men, things were still going very badly for the Greeks. From the fifty ships he had brought he drew his men out on to the beach. They were all very well armed, but they were roughly received, with the result that they could not make their way over towards the other Greeks. I can assure you that they numbered more than twenty thousand between them, all eager to inflict dire losses on their foe. They swerved quickly in order to attack the Trojans. The Greeks had a very heavy burden to bear because their strength had greatly diminished before they received reinforcements. Nevertheless, they had Ulysses, a good lord, who led, commanded and defended them with all his might; he would deserve very great fame if he succeeded in coming through this alive. Philemenis, the warrior from beyond the sea,2 pressed him very hard; he would not fail to challenge the Greek. Ulysses was mounted, while his opponent was on foot but still holding his spear with both hands. Philemenis advanced to strike Ulysses and managed to deal him a very hard blow that pierced his shield, which was emblazoned with a lion, and then drove his banner right into his foe, damaging his hauberk. He almost struck Ulysses down dead, who could not withstand the great blow that made him fall to the ground. But he sprang right back up on to his feet and hurled his furbished spear at Philemenis over the top portion of his shield. Ulysses totally shattered Philemenis’s hauberk, striking him in the neck beneath the chin, as a result of which I did not know whether or not he would live.3 Philemenis was immediately covered with blood and he dropped unconscious from the agony. His men were dumbfounded; each of them wept, wailed and yelled. They had absolutely no desire to leave the body there, regardless of 2 3

This is a reference to his distant realm in the Orient; see p. 123; vv. 6807–12. This seems to be Dares’s voice speaking of his reaction to the blow.

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who might kill them, and they wept, wailed and made a great clamour. A number of them, who thought he was dead, went and drowned themselves out of grief. Some of the others carried him some distance away from the harbour, and on his shield they bore him straight to the city. They had lost a large number of their men before leaving the field. (7283–334) Ulysses was standing on the shore but if it were not for the fate that befell Philemenis all the Greeks would have immediately been slain or captured. In the meantime, the worthy and renowned Thoas had arrived, as well as Ajax Telamon, Agamemnon and Menelaus. They had beached their ships in the harbour without arrows being shot or lances thrown at them, because the others who were fighting with the Trojans protected them. Out of their ships they brought their horses, covered with purple and silk cloth: they were sorrel, piebald, dappled and dark grey in colour, with their mane lying on their right side. They armed themselves well with emblems, laced their pennants on their lances and put tunics over their hauberks. The day was lovely and became hotter, with the shields, painted bright golden red, gleaming in the sun. When these men were in battle order, no rein restrained them any longer. With shields in hand and lances lowered, they went to rescue their troops. Those who attacked fiercely struck one another through their shields. Lances shattered and splinters flew as the knights fell from their saddles. They drew swords and struck hard. The mortally wounded were so numerous that no one could tell or estimate how many there were. There you would have heard loud screaming. Whoever felt he was dying or maimed could not help but scream or moan. (7335–70) Proteselas fell back, having fought well and in fine style. He had suffered and received an enormous number of blows, but in turn he had given the Trojans much of the same. He saw his men dead round about him, along the shore and on the sand. This greatly distressed him, as it should have done. But this was not the place to grieve. While this was going on, the horses were taken off the ships. With as many men as he had, for he could not accomplish anything by himself, Proteselas mounted his horse in order to lighten his grief and avenge his troops. Some thousand men, all of considerable worth and valour, followed him into the fray. Not a single one lacked a swift horse, a helmet and a bright shining shield, a hauberk, a lance and a good sword. Spurring on, they came to the fighting. Burning with anger and hatred, they advanced against their foe. But they did not do so slowly, letting their horses charge over to where they saw the thickest mêlée. There you would have heard a hue and cry raised and such sounds as lances splintering, shields shattering and hauberks ruined. There knights fell on their backs, dead and wounded, pale and cold, where they saw the thickest throng. Loud was the noise and the clatter of hoofs, as sharp swords glanced off shining helmets. These men had indeed reinvigorated their companions. (7371–405) King Serses entered the fray. He led some seven thousand men, each of whom loved him and remained true to him. The king was valiant and bold and had excellent knights. In the entire host there was no such company, nor any so bold and brutal. They had excellent Arabian steeds, arrows and Turkish bows. At a slow gait and in close array, they issued forth from the city, each one with his bow


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drawn. When they reached the fighting, they all spurred forward, crying out with such force that the whole valley resounded. There was such a volley of arrows shot and such a twang from bowstrings, such slaughter and destruction of those on the shore, of whom a thousand fell with this charge. After that, not one of them wanted to go on fighting. The Greeks could not withstand the charge. Without turning back, they fled towards the sea, completely routed. They could no longer defend themselves, and more than seven hundred of them dashed headlong into the sea. If Palamedes had not been present, the Trojans would have hacked to pieces those who did not drown in the water. (7406–34) Palamedes observed the slaughter and it grieved and angered him so intensely that he almost totally lost his mind. He was a man of great valour and feared nothing in the world that any other knights might dare to do. A thousand men armed themselves while standing with him on the sandy bank, men who were worthy, agile and brave. They had fine weapons and fine horses bedecked with emblems. Seizing their shields and lances, they galloped forward, filled with anger. Palamedes began to address them: ‘My lords’, he exclaimed, ‘you can see how the Trojans have driven us back. Our men do not have the wherewithal to defend themselves. We are suffering horrendous losses here. I have never seen such violence done to men. Hear how each of them screams and screeches. Let us help them, this is imperative. And may whoever holds me dear spur on. Let us engage them so resolutely that we drive them back on to the field until our men recover and all of our remaining troops arrive. If we can accomplish that much, we shall gain extraordinary honour. Follow me now, noble knights.’ With that, they spurred on their chargers. (7435–64) Death of Proteselas Palamedes went ahead of all the Greeks by a distance greater than a bow shoots an arrow. He rode a horse from Germany, the like of which had never come from Spain. He had a shield of silver emblazoned in gules. As he charged first and foremost, he went to join battle with Sicamor, the blood brother of King Mennon. He held his land in fief from Serses and you could not have found a better knight than he was. The two men joined battle, striking one another at full gallop. But Palamedes’s lance cut clean through both sides of his opponent’s body and Sicamor was sent tumbling down dead. This provoked immense grief and great harm, for he was very handsome, worthy and prudent. The knights following Palamedes came up. With their lances lowered, they joined battle and felled about a hundred Trojans, who thereafter never rose again or rode against the Greeks. Palamedes struck frequent blows, slaying many of them, knocking many more senseless, unhorsing and maiming many others. None of his men held back. Know that at that time the Greeks were exerting great effort and earning great glory. They dealt so many sword blows and laid on so brutally that they forced the Trojans to fall back somewhat; they slew more than three hundred of them. Then their Trojan opponents recovered and eagerly returned great blows right away, driving the Greeks back six or even more than seven times the

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distance an arrow flies. There was no way that the Greeks could recover, nor did they show any sign of doing so when Hector came spurring up on his Spanish bay; I cannot tell you of a better man. He held a shield emblazoned in gold with two lions, which were also depicted on his banner. He pricked his horse and spurred into the midst of the throng, encountering Proteselas and engaging him in combat. He dealt him such a heavy blow through the shield and the hauberk he was wearing that he clove his heart in two. Henceforth, those who did not make way for Hector and waited for him to attack them had reason to fear. Proteselas had been a good knight, both noble and worthy as well as a powerful warrior. What a calamity your death was!4 You were the first to reach the harbour. Oh! What suffering you endured there! What a misfortune your loss is! Never will a day pass on which you are not mourned. Many will yet shed tears for your sake. That man Hector has reaped great profit this day from your death, for he will wreak havoc among the Greeks. Many of them will die by his right hand. This cannot be prevented! (7465–530) Hector neither stopped nor ended his attacks, spreading slaughter and havoc everywhere. He held his naked sword in his hand, and those he struck were slain and died. The Greeks recognized him soon enough; that day they found out for certain who he was. They paid dearly thanks to his martial skills5 and the sharp iron blade of his lance. As long as Hector was in the battle, the Greeks had by far the worst of it. When he withdrew because of fatigue, they recovered straightaway. But then, when he returned, they feared him so much that none of them stood their ground. This happened seven or ten times that day before Achilles entered the fray. When he arrived on the field, it was late in the afternoon and most of the combatants were worn out. Many of them had had a very rough time of it that day from jousting, striking, hurling darts and shooting arrows. Achilles did not come alone; more than three thousand men were with him, not one of whom lacked a horse covered in purple or silk. Shields raised, they rushed into the great mêlée, where so many knightly deeds had taken place and so many souls had been shorn from their bodies. The Greeks had been in pursuit, and with the others who arrived fresh they attacked the Trojans so hard that they never recovered: they could not stand firm any longer. The pursuit continued right up to the city gates. Achilles performed wonders, killing more than a hundred Trojans while driving them back in remarkable fashion. They fled from before him as a stag does before hounds. The Greeks had routed the Trojans. Not a single one who remained outside the walls could be sure of escaping death. Paris defended the entrance vigorously, slaying many Greeks with his sword. He acquitted himself boldly, as did Troilus. The Greeks charged them many times. Know for certain that the Trojans suffered cruelly there. (7531–78) This is the start of a series of exclamations attributable to the narrator (and, ultimately, to Dares). 5 The text uses the terms connaissance here, which can mean ‘emblem’ or ‘knowledge’. It seems more likely that it refers to the emblem on Hector’s shield or on the pennant of his lance, but both meanings would serve to praise his martial skills in using the shield and lance. 4


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This fighting lasted until the Greeks forced their way inside Troy. Now they were actually in the city. When they left it, they had lost a large number of men. There still remained a great throng at the gates until night finally separated them. The Greeks had succeeded in their effort and they went back happy and in high spirits. They had sustained losses among their troops, but, as is customary in such conflicts, those who lose later win. By the shore, in the middle of the plain, Agamemnon called them together in order to arrange and determine how the tents were to be put up. When they had made all the arrangements, they raised them in numerous places. Now the game6 has begun! I do not wish to tarry here in order to describe or relate what pavilion Achilles had, or Menelaus or Ulysses, or what old Nestor’s was like. But there were tents there so splendid that they would not have been made for a hundred pounds of pure gold. Whoever saw all this looked on in wonder. The men from different countries, who had come together there to besiege the great city, were separated and divided; each prince was with his own men, his own tents and his own equipment. When the Greeks had emerged from their ships and their lodgings had been set up, the camp covered an extraordinary amount of ground. One could see countless shining golden eagles there, much costly silk from the Orient, green, bright red, and countless more from Africa. Thanks to this brilliance, the night would never be so dark that they did not see as well as on a clear day. They laboured at this task through the night, eating and sleeping very little. This put them through great suffering. That would still have been well enough. However, the Trojans would not fail to attack them in the morning; they would never let up. By a general arrangement the Greeks stood watch that night, for a number of men stayed awake. They applied themselves to their tasks until the fair day dawned bright. Then they would certainly have needed to rest their bodies, eat and sleep, bury their dead and find physicians for their wounded. But many obstacles prevented them from doing these things. (7579–636) Deployment of the Trojan Leaders for the Second Battle A dreadful day would dawn for the Greeks there. Before eventide, many a maiden would be in sorrow and many a lady made a widow. The Greeks were weary and they very much longed for repose. But that did not suit the Trojans, who sorely hated their presence. The day that morning was lovely. One would have heard many horns and flutes, flageolets, pipes and small horns up on the walls and their turrets. There was no loophole or crenel that lacked a pennant or standard, as well as splendid banners and flags of a thousand different kinds, embroidered in gold and made of silk. The whole countryside was resplendent with them. Never had such beauty been seen, nor such splendour imagined. The city appeared to be eminently defensible. He who was everyone’s commander, leader and prince, lord and master – I mean Hector, a man who rightly held these titles, for, if 6 For the use of the term gieu here in Old French, and the notion of game-playing (‘gieus partiz’, vv. 9802, 15678, etc.), see the entry gieu in Appendix I, p. 422.

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the whole world were his, he was so wise and valiant that he would have been worthy of possessing it – that man did not undertake his task lightly, marshalling his troops in the early morning at a site very close to the temple of Diana. In a large, wide square they identified their divisions, how many kings they would have and how many there would be when they went forth from the gates of Troy. (7637–70) When Hector had issued all the orders he saw fit to make, he had Dardanides thrown open. This was one of the six gates to the city that I have previously named for you. This gate was called Dardanides. There was neither a wooden parapet nor a keep there, but a huge, broad marble tower over seven toises high, resting on firm foundations and made entirely of rough marble and mortar. There is not a single man here below who could knock down even two of its stone blocks or the smallest of its capitals. The palisades there were broad and elaborate, as were the ditches and earthen mounds, the barriers and the trenches located outside at a distance of seven, fifteen and twenty bow shots.7 (7671–86) Before Hector left the city, he had set aside some two hundred thousand men, who were keen, eager and above all bent on wiping out their enemies. Hector chose two of his allies.8 One of them, named Glaucon Fierejostice, was son of the king of Lycia. He was very handsome as well as very prudent. He was also a man of great courage and a very close relative of Hector’s, in that he was the son of Hector’s aunt. Glaucon chose as combatants a thousand good, select knights, some of them his father’s men and some of his own, armed and mounted on very valuable steeds. With helmets laced on and wearing hauberks, they seized their shields by the leather straps and sallied forth first of all. A king’s son was in charge of them, a brother of Hector’s, but not by his own mother. He was bold, worthy and combative, and his name was Cicinalor. He had a noble body and appearance and was held in high esteem, quite rightly so because he had often earned it. Cicinalor was well armed and seated on a red Spanish bay. His gilded shield was bordered in azure. These two rode out from the wall as far as the last barrier and on to the open fields that were surrounded by sand. (7687–718) They were joined by Heseus with his son Archilogus, both of whom were lords of Thrace. However, I want everyone to know that, when Hector chose them for this position, he knew that they were endowed with great prowess. Both father and son had three thousand knights; one never heard tell of better men. They had helmets, hauberks and shields painted with flowers of many kinds. This was the first division; it contained two thousand knights, who were bold and worthy, strong and fierce. In tight formation and with lances raised they came to a halt beyond the trenches to wait there until the other divisions arrived that had not yet emerged. (7719–36) The references to distance here indicate how far removed the barriers and trenches are from the walls. This is borne out by the positioning of the Trojan troops in the succeeding sections, i.e. how far out into the open field they go and and where they position themselves. 8 For the term ami, see Appendix I, pp. 416–7 and Introduction, p. 24 et passim. We have translated as ‘allies’ here, but the meaning ‘relatives’ is also possible. 7


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Another division would arrive straight after them under Merceres, the king of Phrygia, with Antipus and Thalamus. This division totalled more than three thousand men, I believe, all from the same land and the same region. They were armed and seated on good, valuable horses, and their helmets were laced on and their swords girded. Their weapons were not coloured green, yellow or azure, but were of fine and pure gold, bright red in colour. As soon as Hector gave the command, they came out willingly. Troilus was their prince; no one could find a better man than he was. Never through his fault would even two or three of them be missing. Troilus was very well armed. His horse was of Spanish origin and wondrously swift and fast. His blazon was of lion cubs that were azure in colour, set in bright-red gold. Hector addressed him: ‘Dear friend, take care to avoid excessive disorder, for, by the faith I owe you, you will still be fighting them for two more years, if I am not mistaken. Do not get lost in the mêlée; do not do anything that ends up as foolish. The nobility, prowess and courage that I know to be so outstanding in you make me anxious. May God bring you back safe and in high spirits. Do not separate from your men, do not rush headlong into battle with your mortal enemies. May you return safe and sound.’ ‘My lord’, Troilus replied, ‘will you have no further orders for me? I intend and want to do all that you desire and that pleases you. I do not think that I shall earn your anger or your threats for anything I may do out there.’ Thereupon, he and the three kings sallied forth on to the sand, well beyond the barriers. The men, more than three thousand strong, would bear a very heavy load out there. Before they saw nightfall, they would be in great need of help. (7737–84) Hector arrayed the third division composed of the men from Larissa. Their lord was Hupot, a tall, strong, courageous and combative man, as well as Cupesus, who was much taller. But this I can tell you for certain: there was none like them in the whole army. These two would make bright-red blood flow. Very strong and very tall, they resembled giants more than they did other people; these men numbered three thousand seven hundred. Not a single one lacked a helmet laced upon him, or a lance or good spear. Hector gave them Cadarz, one of his bastard brothers, whom he loved very much and held dear, for he was a very good knight. He was, moreover, handsome, worthy and shrewd. In tight formation, they came forth to take their position on the sand, well beyond the barriers, alongside the first two divisions. (7785–806) Remus, king of Cisonie, furnished the fourth division. That day there was none so large, so fierce and so terrifying as he. The king was splendidly armed; his harness was very handsome. His steed was exceptionally valuable, worth ten of the finest of the other horses. His whole shield was of burnished gold; there was no other colour on it, but it was covered with purple cloth, widely slashed. The cloth was dark, with large ribbons that made the shield more beautiful. The confident Polidamas had command and authority over them. Hector had named him their commander, for he knew him to be a valiant man and very capable. Polidamas sat on an Aragonese stallion that was strong and swift; it was faster than a merlin and easy to handle. His arms were painted with eaglets of pure gold set in green. Catching sight of Hector, he galloped up to him. ‘My lord’, he said,

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‘I am much relieved and overjoyed that today we shall fight those we hate, men who have attacked us from so close by. Now it will be seen who will earn renown from this. Now will the braggarts fall silent, as will the cowardly slanderers, while the renowned will have their moment of glory. It will now be our turn to win the game.’ Hector answered: ‘Fair, sweet friend, whoever may be downcast or pensive about it, you are in very fine spirits. The prize will never be awarded without your having a share of it. Of that I have not the slightest doubt. Today no shield will hang from the neck of a man who is finer than you, be he wise or foolish. Go now, follow our knights!’ ‘My lord’, he said, ‘most willingly.’ In tight formation they went forth beyond the trenches by the moat. (7807–52) The men from Peoine, who constituted the fifth division, went out in their turn. Pretemesus was king over them with Steropeus, son of Menalus. They bore no spears or lances, nor did they have pennants or emblems. They had strong, swift horses and bows, arrows and bolts. They were exceptionally well armed, as was their custom. Deiphebus came out with them, bow in hand, and he tarried no longer. He was their prince and governor by order of his brother. His quiver was well stocked with arrows of pure steel, ready for shooting, and if he left them stuck in his opponents’ bodies he would have made the Greeks pay very dearly for them. The Greeks never experienced such a costly trade-off, or anything that vexed them more. (7853–72) The men from Agreste, who were very nobly armed, were summoned. They had horses to their liking, chestnut coloured and spotted, iron grey and black. They had helmets, hauberks, shields of pure gold, green, azure and carmine, as well as sharp spears of fine steel with great shafts made from apple wood. Their lord was King Edras, along with King Fion, son of Doglas, who conquered many a rich realm but was later poisoned by his wife.9 This Fion had a chariot of immense value. During combat he stood on it in full armour. It was worth more than seven hundred gold marks. Its wheels were of ebony, rimmed with pure gold. The shafts were of ivory, as were the axle and the felloes, which were fashioned so delicately and carved so skilfully that the carving was exceptionally lovely. Its casing and the border were of boiled elephant hide, painted with different colours and varnished. It contained so much gold and fine jewels that were so precious and so costly that whoever saw it viewed it as a marvel. It was constructed like a small tower. God made no weapon that would penetrate it, or that would ever damage it. It was drawn by two swift and rapid dromedaries. The chariot was very well stocked with weapons. It contained a large number of feathered shafts, and Danish axes and swords with which Fion would deal mighty blows. All those who saw it were fascinated, for they had never seen anything like it. Hector assigned Pitagoras to King Fion and King Edras (Pitagoras was one of Hector’s brothers by a concubine, and he was bold, valiant and combative). Pitagoras (of

This anecdotal detail has been added by Benoît. It distinguishes this Doglas from Priam’s bastard son of the same name, who is said to have excelled at the game of chess (see p. 142; vv. 8123–4). 9


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this I am sure) had a weapon made of silver with an oblique stripe.10 He sat on an Arabian steed that was swift, strong and very hardy. Without making any noise or outcry, they moved out at a slow pace. (7873–923) Then Hector chose Eneas. ‘Now’, he said, ‘you will go out. You will lead the seventh division, made up of the men from Lycaonia. There are no better men beneath the vault of heaven. Protect Eufeme, their admiral in command. He is old and frail and, so help me God, he would be a very great loss to us, for I have never met a wiser man.’ Eneas answered: ‘All is in God’s hands! I shall not willingly let any harm come to him. From now on, focus on action, for a messenger has informed me that our opponents have been ready for some time and that, if we do not move out faster, they might drive us from the field so effectively that we would never emerge from the city or pass beyond the barriers. If they can drive us back inside, there will be no combat today.’ Hector answered: ‘What you say is true. But ten thousand armed knights, who are already beyond the ditches, will have to experience some hard fighting today before we are driven back. Now ride on. I promise to follow you very quickly. Do not engage those in their host until, armed with steel and ready for battle, I have emerged with the Trojans.’ ‘My lord’, he replied, ‘do not tarry!’ Lord Eneas and his company moved out on to the plain. (7924–58) Paris issued forth, together with King Serses. He was lord of those from Persia and wept profusely because he was in deep mourning for his nephew Mennon, who had been slain. But he had one strong desire: if possible, he would avenge him. Their quivers were stocked and full, and each of them held in his hand his Turkish bow, with which he would shoot his arrows. The Greeks had good reason to fear them, because they would cause great slaughter with these weapons. Marvellously well armed, in a striking manner, was the handsome Paris, with his helmet laced on, his sword at his side, and on a steed that came from beyond the river Euphrates and was worth a hundred marks. This was the eighth division and it was not far away from the Greeks. In fact, they would draw very close to them that day and press them very hard. (7959–78) Hector assembled all the armed knights who were native to the city. This ninth division was large, combative and redoubtable; no army was ever so splendidly armed. He led these men himself, and with them he would sustain the combat and bring assistance to those whose lives he would save. With him he had ten of his brothers, who were sons of King Priam by maidens from noble families and by gentle women of noble lineage. These brothers were worthy and handsome knights. One of them was named Odenel, and Antonius was the second, Edron the third and Dolon the fourth. Dolon was tall and wondrously endowed in bright red armour. The fifth was named Sicilien and the sixth Quintilien, who was one of the most beloved of them all, for he was very handsome and worthy. The name of the seventh was Rodomorus, but he was quite cantankerous and vicious. He was neither pleasant nor fun-loving, but he was a very good knight. Cassibilant 10

The weapon referred to here seems to be a shield.

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was the name of the eighth man and the ninth was Dinas of Aron. Doroscalu, son of Mahez, was the name of the tenth man; this Mahez was a lovely maiden, possessed of the most extraordinary beauty, but she had the great misfortune to die in childbirth. These brothers will be with their lord Hector and fight alongside him. As long as they could be of assistance, they would never let any harm come to him. Armed in a manner befitting the sons of a king, they went out to join the combat. They might well have numbered more than five thousand, the worst of whom was a good knight. (7979–8022) Hector mounted Galatea, a horse that Orvain the Fay11 had sent him. She loved him very much and held him very dear, but he refused to lie with her. Because of the shame his rejection caused her, she began to hate him with all her heart. This horse was by far the most beautiful one any human being had ever mounted, the best and the fastest, the hardiest and biggest; none so beautiful had ever been born. Hector, his head completely protected with armour, went to speak with King Priam. ‘I shall set out from here’, he said, ‘before you do. You will follow me in orderly fashion with brave knights and, right after them, all the foot soldiers. Have them all drawn up at the barriers, but do not let any of them issue forth from there unless I order it. But you must not advance whatever may or may not happen. You will have your dragon standard with you. Both because of your foot soldiers and yourself we ought not to be too concerned that they will wrest anything from us, penetrate our lines or cause us serious losses. If they are routed, you will attack in good order and join battle after us. Make sure now that nothing is lacking.’ Priam responded: ‘That is how things may turn out. My son, I have great faith in your right hand. Let it appease my anger and avenge our dishonour. Take care to return to me often, and may the gods watch over you.’ (8023–58) With the air of a cruel and angry man, Hector went forth with his helmet laced on. His heart was swollen with anger against the Greeks because of which Greek bones would be aching that day. In this critical moment he would show the Greeks that any affection he might feel towards them was a long way off. There was just a single lion on his shield, but it was bright red and surrounded by gold. His emblems were the same, as were the pennants on his lances. He went right past all the troops until he joined battle with the frontline Greeks. He told the Trojans to ride swiftly onwards and head for the tents. The nine divisions spurred on, for they neither wanted nor sought anything other than to engage their foe. The whole ground shook and quaked. So numerous were the helmeted heads there and there were so many gold-embroidered pennants and shields of gold and silver that the whole landscape shone bright because of them. (8059–80) In order to watch the great battle, the ladies, who did not feel the least bit secure, stood on the walls, as did all the king’s daughters. Helen was the most anxious one there. She was downcast and very much afraid. A thousand maidens and a thousand townsmen’s noble and courtly wives appeared there; each one of them was fearful. King Priam advanced as far as the outer barrier, the one farthest 11 The term ‘fay’ here is a translation of Old French ‘fee’ (‘fairy’, ‘enchanted being’). The term is used again in p. 406; v. 29582 (‘deuesse o fee’).


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removed from the others. There he deployed his foot soldiers and his companies, not allowing anyone to move farther out and strategically stationing them in the passage ways.12 (8081–96) King Priam had thirty sons, all knights born of his concubines (I have already given the names of twelve of them13 and now you can hear the names of the remaining eighteen), whom he had kept with him. This constraint had upset them all, for they would have greatly preferred to be among the first rather than the last. But they had to obey, because that was what their father wanted. Of these sons one was called Menelus, the second Isdor and the third Chirrus. The fourth was Celidonias, the fifth was named Hermagoras, the sixth Maudan Clarueil and the seventh Sardes of Vertfueil. Margariton was the name of the eighth one; he was very closely related to Achilles by one of his relatives, a king’s daughter of high nobility. The ninth was called Fanoel and the tenth Brun the Twin. The eleventh was named Mathan, the twelfth Almadian, the thirteenth Gilor d’Agluz and the fourteenth Godeles. The fifteenth was called Doglas;14 no one knew more about the game of chess. The sixteenth was Cadorz de Liz. David’s son Absalom had features that were no more handsome than his;15 he was worthy, bold and strong. One of the remaining two was named Nez d’Amors,16 while the other was Tharé. Priam wanted to keep these Bastards with him, for they loved him sincerely. Either on foot or on horseback, they would be loyal family members. (8097–134) Neither King Pandarus of Sezile nor King Ampon with their troops, nor four kings from another country called Colophon, nor the three kings from Phrygia where there was so much gold and riches, nor did all the men from Boeotia, where so many fine spices grow, nor those from the realm of Botine, a great land overseas, nor all those from Paphlagonia, who had a most powerful reason to abstain from combat (their lord lay wounded, which caused them great distress), nor those from Alizonie went out at all that day. They did not participate in this great battle, but remained at rest in the city. This was a very wise decision, for the Trojans did not want all their men to be harmed together, nor to be so exhausted on one day that there would be no return on the morrow, or that none of them would be fresh enough to fight the Greeks. The leaders did not want the city to remain without protection.17 Whatever might or might not happen, there was no parapet or keep that was not well stocked with weapons. They did not need to fear any man alive. (8135–64) These are presumably passages in the outer barrier. See pp. 140–1; vv. 7989–8014. 14 This is not the Doglas in the Greek army who was poisoned by his wife; see p. 139, note 9 above. 15 It is not clear whether the expression ‘bel chief’ in the text here refers to Cadorz’s features in general or just to his ‘head of hair’. 16 This name ‘Nez d’Amour’ means ‘Born of Love’, perhaps indicating the affection that exists between Priam and at least one of his concubines. 17 This may be another reminder that Laomedon had been defeated because all the warriors had left Troy in order to fight in the fields. 12 13

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Deployment of the Greek Leaders for Second Battle Agamemnon was not idle. He drew up and deployed his divisions, arraying them in good order, just as they would present themselves and enter into combat. Patroclus led the first one, which was very large, fine and ferocious; he led all Achilles’s men,18 for everything the latter had belonged to Patroclus too. The one possessed nothing that the other did not share, without having to account for it or to contest it. No knights ever loved one another more, or were more faithful to one another. Achilles had been slightly wounded, so he did not put on his armour to fight that day. (8165–78) Merion was in the second division.19 I do not believe that, in the whole wide world, there were ten better knights than he. Ipomenes, along with his supporting troops numbering some two thousand and more, furnished the third division. He was followed by the duke of Athens, the handsome and valiant Menesteus, along with more than three thousand knights. The men from Orchomenus, of whom Ascalaphus was king, along with his handsome son Almenus, were in the fourth division composed of men who possessed great worth and courage. Those from Boeotia20 made up the fifth division; there were none like them in all of Greece. Their king was Archelaus, as was Prothenor the good warrior, who was strong, worthy and confident; they were first cousins. (8179–98) Menelaus was in the sixth division; he was Helen’s lord and spouse. He commanded the Spartans and was their rightful lord. King Epistrot and King Scedius, with their large body of men from Phocis, made up the seventh division, not counting the foot soldiers and other commoners, but containing excellent knights of great prowess and worth. (8199–208) Ajax Telamon was in the eighth division with his vassals. He led the men from Salamina, a country that was entirely beholden to him. He had four admirals with him along with King Teucer. Of the four, one was Theseus and the second Amphimacus; the third was called Dorius and the last Polixenart. The worthy and renowned Thoas was assigned to the ninth division. The troops from Logres made up the tenth division with the worthy Ajax Oileus as their leader. The eleventh division contained the men from Calydon, and Philitoas was their king. The twelfth was formed by Idomeneus and Merion; they led and had command over the men from Crete, troops in whom they had great confidence. (8209–28) King Nestor, who was a most worthy man and one of the wealthiest of them all, made up the thirteenth division with the men from Pylos, of whom there were many more than three thousand. You would never have seen men more splendidly armed. Afterwards came the inhabitants of Essimieis bearing arrows and Turkish bows, and riding horses that carried them swiftly along. Hunier, their king and son of Mahon, who was a very good knight, commanded them as his This would be the Myrmidons, who play an important role throughout the war. Presumably Merion is the leader of this division. 20 There are two countries named Boeotia in the Troie, but they are spelt differently in Dares. See Constans, V, p. 38. Could each refer to a part of Boeotia, as one might refer to Sparta and Athens as parts of Greece? 18 19


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own men; that was the fourteenth division. Lord Ulysses made up the fifteenth with the men from Achaia, whom he commanded; this was a very fine division. Division sixteen with the men from Pigris was commanded by Emelius, their lord and king. (8229–46) The men from Pilaca mourned bitterly for their lord, the good and worthy Proteselas, whom they had lost the day before. But Potarcus, who was a king and nephew of the dead man, would not fail, whatever sorrow, grief or misfortune they might suffer, to form with his vassals the seventeenth division. This was a division of select men, set apart. On that day the great love and loyalty they felt for their lord Proteselas would be on display against the Trojans; they felt no affection for those who slew their lord.21 (8247–60) In the eighteenth division was the great host from Trikala. Machon, son of Labius, and King Polidarius had command over these men and they led and watched over them. The men from Rhodes made up their own contingent; their lord was Telopolus, who was very skilled in knightly deeds. Euripilus of Orchomenus22 made up the twentieth division and that day he suffered great pain. (8261–72) The men from Elis were also equipped, drawn up and stationed. Antipus was in command of them, together with King Amphimacus. The men from Larissa made up another contingent. These were men who had a high regard for themselves. The worthy Polibetes was their leader, as was Leontin of Valjoie. When these troops had been deployed, the Greeks had twenty-two divisions ready for combat. (8273–82) Diomedes, Sthelenus and the handsome Eurialus, powerful and combative kings, made up the next division, together with the men from Argos who were numerous. Then Philotetes took all the men from Meliboea and in turn drew up his division such that there was none more capable of defending himself, or more persevering and supportive. (8283–92) The men from Cyphus had also mounted and were ready and arrayed for battle. They had as their prince a man much to their liking: he was Cuneus, their rightful heir. He watched over and supported them whenever they found themselves in dire straits. The men from Magnissia assembled in turn. They caused no commotion, nor were they undisciplined; rather they armed themselves as quickly as possible. The handsome King Prothoilus led them straight into the fray. I have no fear that any of them would be missing in this undertaking. (8293–304) Agapenor of Capadie also had a marvellous company that included men of great worth, who were very well armed. Lord Agamemnon came last, with a much greater number of knights than any of the others. He led the men from Mycenae. All those who were in the host without a lord joined his division. (8305–14) Thirty Greek divisions, which were very large and feared, had now been deployed. So many steel helmets were on show, so many fine shields, so many This statement confirms that the lord is Proteselas rather than Potarcus. This is another instance where two countries have the same name in the Troie but are spelt differently in Dares. See vv. 5614, 8188, etc. 21 22

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good warhorses and so many pennants unfurled, so many emblazoned arms and so many tunic sleeves trimmed in gold, silk brocade and sandal. No mother’s child ever saw so many armed men together. The horses made such a noise from their stamping that all the earth shook round about; the air rang out and the heavens rumbled.23 Both sides joined battle. (8315–28) Second Battle Hector engaged the Greeks first of all, in full view of ten thousand knights. More swiftly than a bow shoots, Patroclus advanced to attack him. Their warhorses, which were faster than a merlin or a swallow, brought them together quickly. In their joust they did not miss their mark. Patroclus struck Hector’s shield with such anger and force that his burnished steel and its pennant of green silk passed right through it. The lance arched against Hector’s hauberk and broke into pieces, sending fragments flying about. Hector did not budge or waver. He thrust his good, sharp spear right through Patroclus’s new shield and the closely woven mail hauberk that he had donned, with the result that he cleaved the Greek’s entire chest, slicing his heart in two. Patroclus fell down dead on his back at the Trojan’s feet. Hector said to him: ‘I know for certain that you now have no friend so dear that he would change places with you. You would indeed have conquered a foreign land if anyone had let you do so unimpeded. That is why one must forestall one’s enemies if one can.’ Patroclus no longer heard anything, nor did he move. (8329–58) Death of Patroclus From the time that God decided to save the world, no one had ever heard tell of a knight who bore such arms or such accoutrements as Patroclus; they had been made at great cost. Hector was on the point of stripping him of them and had already partially disarmed him, when Merion came up at full tilt. Ahead of three thousand knights he attacked Hector first, exclaiming: ‘You rabid wolf, go in search of other meat, for you will not eat any of this one; rather I think you will pay dearly for what you have done. A tiger, lion or raging she-bear, when they have swallowed their prey, take it somewhere else.24 You want to gorge yourself on it right here! You have dismounted in an astonishing place: you saw ten thousand knights, not one of whom would shirk doing all in his power to have your head.’ With that Merion attacked and struck Hector. He hit him brutally through the shield, on which the gold glittered. Hector fell down in the middle of the path, but he did not let go of his charger. Quickly seizing it by the reins, he immediately remounted before the Greeks got to him. Now Merion could know These lines describe the sounds created by the charge. This problematic passage may best be understood as an infelicitous metaphor: Hector seizes the dead man’s armour without moving away, whereas ravenous wolves devour their prey and take it away with them in their stomach. 23 24


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that his ransom25 was in his own hands. Never, if Hector could get at him, would he let him mourn Patroclus’s death. Merion could not escape death if he chose to continue fighting. (8359–94) Glaucon arrived with his division, as did Heseus, both of whom were kings; Heseus’s son Archilogus was with him, plus more than three thousand knights burning with anger and fury. Lances lowered and shields raised, they charged against the men from Phthia far out on the open field, beyond the barrier. Glaucon was the first to enter the fray; he went to joust with one of the Greeks, bathing his lance in his opponent’s blood and knocking him down dead from his horse. Both sides were now locked in combat. Fierce fighting was in progress there. You would have seen shields pierced, green helmets hacked to pieces and so many fine hauberks lose their mail, so many knights felled and so many maimed and slaughtered that no one could count or say how many there were. The huge division that Patroclus had led there tarried no longer. But it was very distressing for them, as they knew full well that their leader was dead. They joined the fray and you can be sure that there was a heavy exchange of blows with lances and burnished spears. They slew many a knight there while in turn losing many of their own men. Idomeneus came there along with some ten thousand armed men. These were the Cretan riders and they joined the fray ferociously. Merion was among them, and because of Patroclus he was cruel and ruthless. The Cretans and those from Phthia fought with those from Lycia. A great struggle ensued, so that the Greeks and many good knights there were losing blood. The Cretans made every possible effort to harm, kill and mutilate the Trojans. (8395–436) Hector came back to the body of Patroclus and dismounted with his sword drawn. He would not miss divesting the Greek of his arms, no matter who would gain by it, or what the cost might be. He would prefer to lose the blood from his own body rather than failing to strip Patroclus of his arms. Indeed, he coveted them passionately, and rightly so, for under heaven there were none better, more valuable or more highly prized. Hector would have already pulled them off his body, but Merion caught sight of him again and was heartsick because of what he saw. With more than a hundred knights he galloped full tilt towards the Trojan. More than ten men struck him and, indeed, came close to inflicting serious wounds on him. A great struggle took place over him, with broken lance stubs and chips of wood flying all about. But they did not wound him in the flesh. Hector realized that he was in dire straits, since he was on foot in their midst. But, with his green blade flashing, he inflicted harsh, fierce blows on them, hacking their chargers and slashing their arms, thighs and feet. He killed and mangled more than fifteen of them. I am not making this up. Never, in spite of all of them, was he willing to let go of his good horse. But Merion lifted Patroclus’s body on to his saddle-bow, eager to extricate it from the press. His action was indeed very noble, but it was also unfortunate. I fear and dread the misfortune that may befall him. (8437–70) 25

By fleeing, Merion could save his life, as if he were ransomed.

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With that, Merion withdrew, leaving Hector behind. It is truly a wonder that Hector did not complain about the numerous blows he had received. But those who had dealt them would certainly be charged for them; that same day they would be held to account for their actions. Hector defended himself vigorously, but his opponents were pressing him hard. This could easily have caused his undoing, for none of his own men saw him, nor, despite all his efforts, could he succeed in remounting his horse, even though the Greeks could not get it away from him. Upon seeing his lord’s discomfiture, Dodaniez of the Puy de Rir, one of Hector’s retainers who loved him very much, brought him two lances. Because of this Dodaniez felt great sorrow in his heart and wanted to toss a lance to him, but suddenly he had a different idea. He was very angry and resentful, and, taking one of the lances in his right hand and drawing close to the fighting, where he saw Carrut de Pierrelee pressing his lord very hard, he hurled the lance straight at him, driving it into his body through his shield, and out again by the length of a forearm.26 The Greek fell dead on the spot. Dodaniez struck once more into the throng. He hurled the other lance at them, considering it put to good use because he brought one of them down dead with it. Then he shouted: ‘Come over here, noble knights!’27 Cicinalor heard him first, and as soon as he realized how matters stood he spurred his horse vigorously in that direction, charging fiercely and boldly in among the combatants. He sliced their arms, heads and chests. With that the Trojans recovered and very quickly sprang into action. They joined battle with the Greeks, and out of every hundred Greeks the Trojans killed a good thirty. (8471–514) Hector mounted his horse, but, as I can assert, there was nothing but anger in him. He dashed towards the Greeks, hacking all their arms and sides. He struck no one who did not lament it or who remained in the saddle. Using his sharp naked blade, he made his way through the fray. If he could meet Merion, right away he would make him pay for rescuing Patroclus’s body. At that moment Menesteus arrived with some three thousand Athenians. The day was beautiful and the weather clear. The iron of their lances glistened brightly, as did the gold, the varnish and the emblems. They passed alongside the battle, engaging with the Phrygians. These men were commanded by King Antipus, King Merceres and King Thalamus of Valades, as well as the handsome, noble Troilus. They closed in on both sides so tightly that they struck their foe in the middle of their shields. There was jousting and an extraordinary shattering of lances. All of them were dealing sword blows so powerful that the hillsides resounded from them. Men often fell down, dead and wounded. A deadly combat took place there. (8515–44) Capture and Liberation of Troilus The duke of Athens, an esteemed, handsome, valiant and well-bred man, attacked Troilus (I am not lying) and knocked him off his horse. Troilus fell in a highly congested spot and rescue was very difficult. The duke seized him by the visor in 26 27

An ‘ell’ (Old French aune) is a cubit (the approximate length of a forearm). As what follows makes clear, Dodaniez is here addressing the Trojans.


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order to drag him away from the fighting. There was too much confusion round about him, such that he could not manage this himself. With their swords his Trojan opponents struck him over and over again on his pointed helmet. Without doubt Troilus would have been captured, dead or alive, if he had not been rescued by those to whom his rescue mattered. For his part, Merceres shouted, wept and wailed for having let Troilus be taken away from him in this way. When he failed to halt his men, he began to rail at them. ‘Hey!’ he shouted, ‘worthless troops, you let the handsome and noble Troilus, Hector’s brother and the king’s son, be taken away from here in this battle, he who was our lord and prince! Now we have done so well in rescuing him that never here below shall we receive any greater honour.28 What did we come looking for here today? From now on, we shall be the laughing stock, so let just a hundred men return to the fray with me. With them I shall go straightaway to free Troilus with my sharp sword of steel. King Thalamus’, he exclaimed, ‘turn round, for you are leaving shamefully!’ Thalamus swerved to one side, fierce and bold as a leopard. He had procured a huge lance that one of his retainers had brought to him. Without uttering another word or saying anything else, he went to join battle with all the Greeks. He struck one of them through the body so forcefully that the lance came out by the length of a forearm29 on the other side. He shouted his battle-cry three times. His opponent was already in the throes of death. Thalamus’s men were right behind him and they extricated him from among the Greeks. There was such sword-play there, such reverberation from helmets being struck, and such an extraordinary throng, that the great grief was shared by them all. The man who killed was slain himself, and he who maimed was maimed in his turn. (8545–94) While Antipus and the good King Thalamus were fighting with the Greeks, King Merceres crossed through the fighting with his Phrygians. He had unmistakably spotted those who had captured Troilus. Enflamed with wrath, mad with anger and cruel and ruthless, he spurred on in their direction. He was the first of the Trojans to charge in among them. He struck Menesteus with a sidelong thrust, and if the Greek had not had such a good hauberk, his soul would have been snatched from his body. Thereupon, his Athenian comrades returned to the fighting. Since the world was created, there had never been such a fearsome combat, one with less mercy shown, and more heated or so dangerous for the Trojans. They saw approaching them ten thousand Greeks who would quickly scatter them. The duke of Athens was exceedingly angry. You can be certain that he was very upset when he saw his prisoner Troilus rescued; he had never known such distress. He guarded him against the Trojans very well, but to no avail. By sheer force and assault they got Troilus back on his horse again, which pleased him immensely. Their forces doubled and grew in size, and once Troilus was back in the saddle he became a solid fortress against the Greeks. He split and broke up the throng, leaving behind him many dead and cold Greeks, as well as many others lying unconscious. (8595–626) 28 29

This comment is clearly ironic. See note 26 above.

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Mêlée Hector looked about himself, observing from nearby the grievous combat in which so many shining helmets resounded from the blows and so many knights met their end. He spurred in that direction with a thousand of his own men. Now they would again be fighting in earnest. King Ascalaphus of Orchomenus, together with his whole company, came to Menesteus’s assistance. Troilus was soon on the verge of falling into their hands again. The other Trojans would have been slain or captured, and few would have escaped with their lives. Hector and the men from Orchomenus entered the skirmish. As long as their lances lasted, they broke through one another’s strong shields; then they drew their blades of steel and many a knight was slain. Hector himself performed wonders. He wanted people to point him out, and that day many would do so. He frequently made Greeks cry out and complain, and they said that the very sight of him was a great misfortune for them. The Trojans watched him from the walls of Troy, noting how he often recovered, often gave chase, often jousted, often struck, often killed, often massacred Greeks, charging at them so effectively that many of them lost their lives. He often rescued his comrades, and those on his side prayed that God would look after him, protect him and bring him back to them safe and sound. (8627–60) Menesteus was exceedingly upset at having lost his prisoner and his men through misfortune. Where the combat was most brutal, he hurled himself headlong into its midst. Then he caught sight of Merceres coming up, the man who had taken his prisoner away from him. He struck the Trojan right in the centre of his helmet, thus making him totter and empty his saddle. Menesteus was not able to continue his attack against him, but he was able to make another Trojan fall backwards. He laid frequent blows on his foe and made good use of his sharp, naked blade. (8661–74) Without tarrying any longer, the men from Larissa came galloping up. They numbered more than two thousand and were led in tight formation by the mighty Hupot and Cupesus. They had a great deal of splendid equipment, including fine helmets and fine shields of green, azure and powdered gold, so many pennants of fine gilded silk and so many steeds from Aragon. From an ambling pace they began to gallop. King Archelaus and Prothenor, along with their Boeotians, joined battle with them, claiming no other relationship with them. But with their sharp iron shafts they immediately struck straight through their shields. Loud was the sound when they crashed together. Anyone who could escape with his life could say that he was faring well. Ah! Over the fallow land so many of them lay strewn out who would never again cause any harm, wrong, dispute or sorrow! The men from Larissa valiantly pulled themselves together and recovered. Each of them shouted his battle-cry. From then on, the combat grew more brutal. Soon we shall have to talk of something quite different.30 (8675–701) 30

This is seemingly an allusion to even more brutal fighting in the future.


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Without waiting or delaying any longer King Remus joined the fray at this time of need. He had in his company more than three thousand knights who were born in the realm of Cisonie. All of them were armed from head to toe. The bright-red gold shining on their arms shone with bright splendour. The valiant Polidamas encouraged them: ‘My lords, let us do something. If you agree with me, we shall leave the battle here and head off to the right. As it appears and seems to me, our troops are too close to one another here. That is why they are accomplishing less, striking fewer blows and attacking their foe less often. Let us go and joust with those troops where I see so many beautiful pennants. They appear to be very well armed. If they are attacked hard, we shall soon drive them from the field.’ Everyone answered: ‘As you wish! You find us ready to do as you see fit. It would be wrong for us to avoid those Greeks!’ Then they quickened their pace, intending to charge into the throng right away. (8702–28) Menelaus Joins the Fray Menelaus saw his enemies confronting him, with their shields in their hands and all eager and desirous of doing harm to his Greeks. He addressed his men, but in just a few words: ‘My lords’, he said, ‘now all those who have ever loved me or held me dear will be easily recognizable. You see the need and the task that lies ahead.’ Never did a lord plead with his men more pitifully. ‘Never have I treated you other than correctly. Repay me here by using your steel blades against those who are approaching us. They consider us their mortal enemies. I do not know what each of you is thinking, but see to it that by your resistance they are so well received that thousands of them fall unconscious. For my sake and in order to avenge my shame,31 so many kings and counts and so many princes have joined in battle here. I would rather be mutilated than for a single man in my company to display any sign of cowardice. I am responsible for this whole enterprise, because of which we must be the most valiant and among those who fight the best. This is what I want each of you to know: I shall not retreat a single step even if standing firm were to lead to my death and mutilation. You can see twenty thousand fearless Trojans, each of whom is striving to achieve honour and avoid shame. I shall not deliver a longer speech. Let us spur on against them, for they are very close by.’ With that they galloped forth, and in less distance than the bolt from a crossbow flies each of them found a joust waiting for him. But whoever unhorsed his knight did not get away with his horse. No one ever laid a hand on the animal, for he would have been severely blamed by his comrades; other matters needed attention besides capturing a horse. That meant killing others or defending oneself. No one must gain any reward from this battle. So hard did Remus and Menelaus strike each other that they were both knocked off their horses. There was no one whose blood was not seen flowing from his whole body and face. (8729–78) 31

This was the shame created by the abduction of his wife Helen by Paris.

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Polidamas charged into the fray and went to strike Merel of Biez. He was Helen’s nephew and a noble duke. Aged twenty, he was highly esteemed in his country. He received such a blow on his dark-hued shield that it split in two and his hauberk lost its chain-mail. His whole pennant from Thessaly was soaked in his blood. In great agony and torment Merel fell down dead. This was a grave loss, for he was very handsome, valiant and judicious. When Menelaus saw Merel lying dead, he despaired of any consolation, for he loved him deeply and cherished him. But he did intend to avenge him. With his shield in hand and his good blade drawn, he challenged Remus, who was in dire straits himself. He gave and dealt Remus such a powerful blow on top of his resplendent helmet that the steel blade cut down to his skull bone; he fell down unconscious in the great press and throng. If he was not rescued then, all the harm he did would come to an end. When a thousand of his men saw that blow, they derived precious little pleasure from it. They thought his soul had departed and you would have seen his men in distress, anxious and anguished. Never would he have been rescued by any of them; rather they wanted to quit the field, and they had already begun to take flight when Polidamas stopped them as he went charging into the throng. He shouted out his battle-cry as he slew and maimed many Greeks. His opponents did him great harm too, leaving wounds in seven places on his body. It was very difficult to help him. The Greeks had struck so often with their steel blades that more than three hundred Trojans were left dead in the battle. King Remus lay completely unconscious. He was so grievously trampled by the horses that after his men had pulled him away they did not see how in any way he could survive until evening. King Menelaus chased the Trojans away by brute force and scattered them. As a result of all that, the Trojans sustained great losses. (8779–828) King Celidis was a very handsome young man, tall, slender and upright. The queen of Femenie had been his lover for a long time. For her sake he was highly honoured, well known and highly esteemed. Out of affection and pure love, she had sent him his arms and his valuable steed, with which he equipped himself. For that reason he was often the object of close attention. No one alive, Dares tells me, could have been skilful enough to describe his features. Men like him never lived before nor ever would again. King Celidis charged forth, bent on striking Polidamas’s shield, which he shattered, pierced and left in pieces. With his sharp and strong spear, he burst, cut and shattered his opponent’s coat of mail. Between his body and his tunic he thrust a full forearm’s length of his ashen shaft, and as a result Polidamas came very close to death. Although King Celidis thrust hard, his opponent did not fall. Polidamas was infuriated by this. So angry was he with Celidis that he flushed and changed colour. With his blade of sharpened steel he promptly cleaved him down to the teeth. Then he said to him: ‘You have paid dearly for this combat. If you have conceived any hatred for me, I have certainly given you my thanks for it. I feel sorry for your beloved, since she will be very upset with me. She is very worthy, noble and beautiful, but now she will receive chilling tidings about you.’ The Greeks mourned Celidis, whom Polidamas had slain. His men wept, wailed and cried out; never before had anyone heard such grief. (8829–68)


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Now Hector had everything very much to his liking. With the strong support of his troops he had pursued the Greeks for a long time. By brute force he drove them back against a very arrogant company. Lances would soon be broken there, for these were the men from Salamina. When Telamon, who was their king, lord and master, saw how things were turning out, insane with anger, cruel and ruthless, he went to strike a Trojan, who could not escape sudden death. Then Telamon drew his sword and turned it against them, slaying and stunning many, knocking many more down and maiming still more of them. Four admirals in his company, and also Teucer, the king who led a very large division, came to his assistance; of that I can assure you. The Trojans would rapidly lose a lot of men there. Three divisions against one must provoke such distress and anger. (8869–90) King Teucer was in the battle, seated on a very valuable bay that was swifter and faster, and more handsome, hardier and larger, than any other steed. He engaged Hector in combat, damaging his triple-mailed hauberk in the middle of the chest. If the lance had not quickly broken, Hector would have been bereft of his soul. Teucer wounded him seriously, and there were those who pitied him for that reason. But I believe that, before the day ended, someone who is entirely guiltless will pay for the blow. Hector would have taken vengeance on him, but Teucer very quickly distanced himself. Hector then encountered the admiral Dorius and slashed more than just his tunic, cutting through to his blood and his flesh. From then on Dorius did not regard this as a joke. He saw a large number of men round about him, but his own troops were too slow for his liking. They were fighting in two hundred places, killing and hammering one another. (8891–912) Theseus and Hector Exchange Chivalric Corteisies Theseus was handsome and noble. He was no more than three years old when he first bore arms: he had accomplished since that time such feats that he had garnered great esteem and become widely known. He saw how numerous the Greeks were who were fighting with Hector. He also saw and realized at once that Hector would be slain, vanquished or captured before help could reach him. He undertook something that would be beneficial to him that very day. ‘Hector’, he exclaimed, ‘you are suffering too much distress here. I do not know why you do not permit your troops to come to your help and assistance. I believe that they are taking too much time to get here. If you fall here among us, you cannot be rescued and that would not please me. May God not allow any of us to harm you! Tell your men, my lord, to ride quickly, for misfortune happens in almost no time at all. That man is indeed foolish who fears nothing.’ Hector thanked him very warmly. ‘Fair friend, brother, you are quite right! I am most grateful to you for that counsel. If I could, I would gladly return the favour, but you are not really aware of what I can accomplish. Very soon you will find that out.’ (8913–44) Meanwhile, King Menelaus was leading Polidamas away as a prisoner. Polidamas had knocked down Telamon, who had given him a hard fight, but he was finally captured without any chance of recovering his freedom. He had lost

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his steel blade and his helmet was covering his face, having been broken, ruined and destroyed. The combat around him was brutal. Hector saw this and it did not please him; therefore he galloped in that direction. You should know that he was very angry. He quickly broke up the throng, and with his sharp, burnished sword he slew more than thirty of them. Through Hector’s efforts Polidamas was rescued and forcibly liberated from his captors. Those who saw this feat marvelled greatly, for Hector had taken so many heavy blows and been struck by so many men that no one else could have endured it. You should know that he lost a remarkable number of his men in the fighting. There were far too few Trojans to match their enemies. (8945–68) King Epistrot, King Menelaus and King Telamon, together with their vassals and their men, attacked the Trojans so ferociously that their losses grew so high that they were forced to quit the field, routed and chased away. Half of them would not have escaped, but Hector’s ten brothers – hear how essential they were to him – had left the division in which he had placed and left them. They feared for him and were anxious about how matters stood. If they succeeded in joining their brother, they would not let themselves be separated from him again that day. They saw the divisions engaged in battle as well as the extraordinary combats and the resplendent light of the flashing swords. Then they would have liked to be with him. They looked towards the left, saw the routed Trojans and heard the uproar and outcry. Together they set off in that direction, as fierce and as bold as leopards. The very first Trojans they encountered shouted to them and urged them on, saying: ‘Ride hard, do not delay, for Hector is overwhelmed’. This was true, for he was in dire straits. The Greeks had killed his horse from under him, but none of them dared seize him, for he would swiftly pay for this act. Amphimacus could not accept this. He advanced in order to seize him, but paid dearly for having tried. The only pledge he left there was the head cut from his body. (8969–9005) With that, Amphimacus’s brothers arrived. Odenel engaged with Eneas,32 whom he knocked down in the midst of the throng; Antonius fought with Epistrot and they unhorsed one another. For his part Edron struck King Telamon so violently through his shield that his hauberk did not protect him against the burnished spear that passed right through him. The result was that his blood gushed forth so abundantly that he uttered no sound. Nor was Dolon idle, for he struck Admiral Polixenart so hard that he was left lying dead on the ground among a thousand Greeks. Dolon seized the Greek’s swift, light-footed and nimble steed that was worth a hundred pounds. He came to Hector and gave it to him. Hector succeeded in mounting it quickly. He struck Sicilien, an admiral, through the shield and brutally knocked him and his horse down in the midst of the combat. Quintilien did not miss the opportunity to fight. He engaged Bauduin, son of Ourie, and unsaddled him. In both hands he held his entrails, which came tumbling from his body through the wound; he would indeed have a strong heart if he did not panic. 32 Odinel is one of Priam’s bastards, so he would not have engaged in combat with Eneas. In the variant readings here the name is Theseus.


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Rodomorus went on the attack with the result that in one gallop he unhorsed two of the enemy. Cassibilant was fighting well, jousting with Count Glo de Valfreit before the eyes of his brother Hector. The Greek’s mail was not solid enough to prevent the wood of the lance from appearing on both sides of his body after the blow; he realized that he did not have much longer to live. Dinas of Aron struck another opponent, after which his victim did not utter a single word. Doroscalu came up in fine fettle. He struck the admiral who ruled Dorse, knocking him down along with his steed. Then they grasped their swords and laid such mighty blows on one another that you would have seen combat that was so ferocious that its like had never been seen before. The eleven brothers made common effort, driving back the three Greek divisions. They slew on the spot around a hundred of them, who were highly renowned men. The effort they made was tremendous; that is why it will always be recounted. (9006–58) The men from Peoine rode up, drawing near to the battle. The lords who led them into the fray were two powerful kings. With bow in hand, Deiphebus commanded them. He had no roundel or shield in his company, but many a fine bow and crossbow bolt. He had got hold there of many such bolts and arrows and was ready to shoot them. With arrows notched on bowstrings, they charged. Many knights were slain and many horses killed and wounded there. Deiphebus took aim, and using an arrow with a sharp iron head he struck King Teucer straight through the shield and hauberk, leaving him with a very severe wound that would not be healed even after many months. Nevertheless, Teucer immediately hastened to deal his opponent such a violent blow that his entire sword was covered in blood. King Steropeus shot many arrows, wreaking havoc on their men. Pretemesus slaughtered them, killing more than twenty Greeks. (9059–84) Theseus made his way through the battle, his helm and ventail attached, his shield at his neck and his sword girded on. It was stained with Trojan blood, as with it he had inflicted a great deal of harm that day on the Trojans. The valiant and wise Quintilien went to joust with him and they dealt one another such heavy blows on their shields and hauberks that the wooden shaft and the iron pierced each of them, shattering their lances, and they felled each other. Then with their blades they unleashed violent blows on their helmets. Rodomorus came galloping up and with his sword struck three mighty blows on Theseus’s helmet. The two brothers captured Theseus, who would have lost his head then and there when Hector came riding up. He easily recognized Theseus, which pleased him immensely. ‘Let the young man be,’ he exclaimed. ‘He will not encounter any more hindrance today, wherever he might need it. He did not let any harm come to me today, being very courtly, worthy and wise; it is right for me to watch out for him. Put him back safely on his very fine horse. I want him to return liberated to his men.’ They did as he asked and took no more action. Theseus thanked Hector warmly. (9085–116)

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Death of Cassibilant Thoas had joined the fighting with some five thousand or more knights, as without hesitation did Philitoas, together with the large contingent from Calydon. When these two divisions arrived, it was with great difficulty that the Trojans resisted taking flight. You can be sure that they lost so many men there that it was a wonder they could hold out. If the Greeks had known their state of mind, they would have put them to flight. Thoas broke ranks before all the others, sitting fully armed astride his warhorse, which was worth a hundred pounds of pure gold. As fast as he could charge, he went to strike one of the king’s sons. His name was Cassibilant, whom Priam loved with extraordinary affection, for he was a most valiant, noble and handsome man. Because of him fresh grief would arise that day. Thoas pierced his shield and shattered the mail of his hauberk, so that he thrust his silken pennant straight through the middle of his chest. Cassibilant fell down dead before the eyes of a hundred men and because of this they were grief-stricken. Not one of them failed to seek vengeance with sword or lance. Hector was filled with grief. I can assure you that he would not fail for any reason to attack his enemies. It would not please him if they escaped. He seized his shield and adjusted his helmet. He was very distressed on account of his brother, whom the Greeks had slain right in front of him. From that moment on, he became more and more defiant. He gathered his men close about him. Then the combat began anew that was so extraordinary and so violent that no one there felt secure. A hundred thousand arrows went flying, inflicting grievous wounds on many fine knights. (9117–58) As a wolf that has been famished for a long time flies at his prey to catch it so that no one could take it from him, so did Hector charge into seven thousand armed Greeks. Striking and slaying, hacking to pieces and mutilating them, he shook up the whole battle. I cannot say for sure (because I would not know), but those he encountered in his way were forced to meet a swift end. Hector himself suffered intense bodily pain there. For their part, Priam’s Bastards fought well: they mowed down Greeks, making them pay for the grief they felt for their brother Cassibilant. Some Greeks paid for it who were guiltless.33 Whether they liked it or not, I can tell you truthfully that the Greeks were forced to take flight. However, they suffered great losses there; even the noblest of men were deeply distressed by this. (9159–78) Things were going badly for the Greeks when they saw two detachments advancing to join them. They were the Cretans and the men from Pylos, whose king and lord was Nestor. But no knights ever came to combat more nobly. They numbered five thousand, and not even three of them lacked a new banner of yellow, bright red, indigo or blue. They did not appear to be small in number, and to anyone looking at them it would have seemed as if the whole world were united in battle against the Trojans. From then on, I can assure you that there 33


This presumably means that they were not personally responsible for Cassibilant’s


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would be spurring of horses that would result in the burial of a thousand men. They advanced at a slow pace. Soon they were quite close to the men who were fighting and killing one another in armed combat when a company met them that had a hard time holding them back. The men from Agreste encountered Greek opponents who never felt any affection for them. You can rest assured that those from Agreste were valiant, honourable knights. Their lords were King Edras and Doglas’s son, King Fion, who had the splendid chariot that was so beautiful.34 Fion stood on it, fully armed, and he did indeed inspire fear. To anyone who ever saw him he looked like a god. Pitagoras, King Priam’s son, who was very valiant and capable, had led them into the fray; he was their lord and constable. They raised their shafts, seized their shields once more and passed alongside the battle, in which the two divisions had come together. In the attack they had broken lances and torn emblems, pierced shields, shattered helmets, sliced through hauberks and bellies, killing and maiming knights. There had never been blows like those that were struck that day. (9179–226) Fion advanced through the fray. From his chariot he hurled and shot feathered shafts of pure steel. That day he slew many a knight. No one would know how he did so, but he brought great assistance to the Trojans. He forced the densest throngs of Greeks to break up, much to their chagrin. They could not harm him much, even though you would have seen a thousand men bombard him with arrows. There was not a single one of them who did not strive to knock him off his chariot, dead and hacked to pieces. They thought they would be avenged after surrounding him when he was far removed from his own men. The strife lasted a long time. The Greeks attacked him most vigorously, but he stoutly defended himself. Nonetheless, Ludel wounded him right through the face with a crossbow bolt. Ludel was a good knight and also an especially fine archer. Fion could not hold out any longer. He would not have escaped death on the spot when Pitagoras saw what was happening. He said to King Edras: ‘My lord, look at Fion there, where they have taken hold of him. Now we shall see whether he has friends or well-wishers who are willing to help him.’ With that they let their horses gallop. On the Trojan side some thousand men, who would not depart again in peace, drew their naked blades. They would surely confront men who would receive them well. As booty, they would leave them something other than their arms; by that I mean their dearest limbs. They made their way to Fion, but it was very difficult to liberate him. Many of them had to pay for their effort. A hundred men, who never again threatened anyone, were left lying on the field. They paid for rescuing Fion, for by the end of the fighting the Trojans had the worst of it. The men from Crete and Pylos launched an attack on them, dispersing them with shafts, lances and spears so that many Trojans were slain and cut to pieces. The divisions were all entangled. I cannot imagine, or see, how they would ever be separated from one another. So many helmets were shattered and so many hauberks and shields cut, bereft of mail and broken. (9227–80) 34

See p. 139; vv. 7885–6.

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What could I say about Hector’s exploits? I am sure he would make his way to his men, whoever might be displeased by that. That was his wish and his intention. It would still be a wonder if he made it to them through the throng. He hacked and cut every Greek to pieces, reaching and getting to no one whom he failed to kill or maim. His brothers, who were very close by him, suffered enormous hardship in the strife. Deiphebus dealt many blows, not sparing the Greeks in the least. Polidamas (of this I assure you) should win great renown in the fray, for he fought most valiantly. On the Greek side, Menelaus stood with his men, and King Telamon with his own, many of whom were fine warriors. Over and over again they strove mightily, slaying so many Trojans that it was a marvel, and would always be so, how any knights escaped with their lives. But thanks to Hector’s effort there, as the Book tells me, the Trojans broke through to their own men, who were having the worst of it. If they had suffered shame and distress before, now they could avenge it. (9281–308) The Trojans did so in such an extraordinary way that it proved terrible and grievous to the Greeks, for they left dead stone cold on the field some of the best men in the five divisions. The Trojans routed them with great losses and there was no way for the Greeks to recover the lost ground. The Trojans drove them back into their own men, and you can be sure that they suffered great losses there. The Greek divisions were forced to retreat, for they were very terrified. No division failed to disintegrate out of fear and anguish. The combat was still in progress when Eneas arrived. He brought with him the men from Lycaonia, whose king was Eufeme; this was a very large division. Ah! So many pennants were unfurled there, so many shields seized so they could go and join in the fighting! Upon arriving, they spurred their horses and then went to strike the Greek divisions that Hector had forced to abandon the field. Bodies were stacked up so high there, and such slaughter took place, that not a single Greek failed to think that they would all be routed. They unified some ten divisions, each one of which was estimated to be more than three thousand knights strong. Now the Trojans were on top. If anyone took flight, they would pursue them. (9309–39) But the Greeks would pull themselves together quickly. For Ajax, the good vassal, saw that the affair had turned against them and that his men were falling back, being driven from the field, killed, routed and captured, so that they were on the verge of no longer being able to offer any resistance. Behind him he also observed so many divisions, so many admirals, so many noble kings, and the flower of the Greek host, who on that day had not yet engaged in battle. Among these were so many noble knights and such great relief was available that beneath the heavens there was certainly no army against whom they would not have fought valiantly. ‘Ah!’ he exclaimed, ‘what will happen? How will this enterprise turn out? What has got into our men that they are retreating so ignominiously? They cannot hold their position, and indeed they look as if they are being pursued. I am well aware of what I am witnessing. See how our divisions are breaking up. Our enemies have so overwhelmed them that they are far from being as courageous as they were this morning. I really fear that in the end the Trojans will cause us great grief. I dread a disaster looming. Now there is no other alternative, my


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lords’, he exclaimed. ‘Take care lest, when hostilities cease, we become the most despicable or the worst combatants. It is far preferable for us to die there than to act like cowards. Do not be afraid of anything. Know that, if you are willing to help me, in no time at all we shall push them back towards the barriers, however much that distresses them. And if the forces increase on our side, as they will,35 by a hundred thousand men, and provided we are not cowards, their troops will be driven back towards the gate and into the entrance. Let us spur on then, and let no one be missing until the division that is pressing so hard at our back reaches us. See to it that no one is so bold as to leave the fighting without me. May the gods honour us in this undertaking!’ (9340–88) The Greeks then rode like men who wanted to fight well, until the time came to lower their lances. One can tell you in truth that they advanced to the fray and were striking their foe so effectively that a hundred Trojans fell. There was a loud noise when they joined battle, and you would have seen the combat grow in intensity, lances being broken, shields pierced, hauberks ruined and sparks flying from helmets. You would have seen men striking with swords, heads cut off, men knocked down, so many good knights killed and so many chargers with empty saddles. During the whole of that day there was no combat so dreadful and mortal. Ajax joined battle with Eneas and they laid such blows on their opponents’ shields that the spears of iron and wood pierced them. No hauberk escaped damage, nor did either of them avoid bleeding wounds. There was no lance that did not snap, yet neither of them avoided a fall. But on their helmets they dealt one another such mighty blows with their green blades that they made their hoops fly and crushed the mail into their heads, thus causing blood to flow. One or the other would have been dead on the spot, or both of them, if their troops had not recovered and separated them. The blows exchanged were ferocious. (9389–424) The battle was not yet over, for the great pursuit and outcry against the Greeks was still ongoing, and in it they suffered many losses: that is the truth. Philitoas of Calydon and every single one of his men, of whom there were some three thousand, would immediately come to Ajax’s assistance; and they fought so skilfully that they sent five thousand of their enemies into their coffin. These two Greek divisions thwarted the Trojan forces and the disarray they were causing among their own men. Deadly combat arose there once more. The Greeks strove mightily to push their opponents back and make them retreat. The Trojans were doing the same in order to rout them; but it seems to me that the tide turned against them. It was not easy to achieve their goal. For this reason resistance began to stiffen on both sides, as they continued to fight with one another. Shields, hauberks and helmets split; arms, thighs and feet were sliced off. So many lay dead and maimed that the ground was all covered with them. On both sides there was enormous loss of life. (9425–50) Philitoas engaged Hector, his sycamore lance shattering to pieces on the shield he was holding; Hector in turn struck the Greek with a blow that cut down 35 Reassurance is being offered here because the Greeks who were not yet engaged in the fighting would bring relief.

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through the two saddle bows, so that his good Castilian warhorse fell beneath him. Philitoas was wounded and lay unconscious for quite a while. He could indeed have died from the wound, but he might also be healed. Many knights died here, as the Greeks recovered their strength against those from within the walled city. But the combat went on for a long time before that site was abandoned. The Greeks launched many a joust, clash, combat and attack on their opponents before the Trojans could bestir themselves or recover. But the Greeks did recover by sheer force of arms; filled with wrath they went after the Trojans, striking them so ruthlessly that, like it or not, they drove them from the field. There was tremendous loss of life there and a great rout. The Greeks launched such loud and noisy outcry against the Trojans that they drove them back. They withdrew in shame because they were losing a large number of their own men. (9451–82) Then all the divisions that had been involved in the conflict became engaged in the fighting. They all became locked in battle, and never has anyone in the world seen so many helmets and shields at the same time. The ground shook and trembled everywhere. The Greeks grew stronger. They were joined by three formidable divisions that were vicious and dangerous, for they were the Essimiens with their arrows and Turkish bows. Hunier, son of Mahon, was the leader of these very bold men. Ulysses was there with the men from Achaia and they did not spare the Trojans. King Emelius was present with his men from Pigris. They were not riding on packhorses, but on good stallions from beyond the Euphrates. Here, I tell you, there was brutal fighting. These three divisions advanced at a steady pace, and in all they were at least ten thousand strong; not one man lacked armour and they were all ready to fight. At the same time that the Trojans were falling back and retreating towards the city; all these men arrived fresh and instantly rushed forward to hit them so hard that their shields and hauberks were battered. Bellies and innards were pierced. Thereupon, the fighting grew more intense, with hammering on helmets with burnished blades as knights fell from their warhorses, dead and wounded. From that time on, deadly combat prevailed, as the Greeks gained the advantage and drove back the Trojans, causing many of them to collapse face down, unconscious, cold and close to death. Here the boldest and the best of them sustained heavy pressure, and they did not feel the least bit secure. No wonder, for they were sorely afflicted, as there were fifteen Greek divisions against seven of the Trojans. (9483–528) However displeasing it was to them, I assure you that the Trojans were being forced to retreat when the Persians arrived on the scene bearing many a taut bow. The handsome, valiant Paris was leading them. Here was a noble band of men, with hauberks and haubergeons,36 iron helmets and hoods made of new, fresh silk. Their fine Aragonese steeds were covered all over with emblems. They had Turkish bows instead of lances, and each one of them had girded on a steel blade. Not one of them failed to make every effort to take vengeance on their Greek foes 36 A haubergeon, or ‘little hauberk’, is a coat of mail that reaches down to the mid-thigh and includes sleeves.


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by killing them in combat. The Persians came riding in serried ranks, drawing near to the fighting while approaching from the right; they raised their battle-cry, all together shouting and shooting arrows, wounding knights and horses. Here tumult arose beneath a torrent of arrows and whoever was wounded was immediately in anguish. Paris shot at the Greeks, aiming well. He killed one of them, a Phrygian king, which caused the Greeks to be overwhelmed with sorrow because the king enjoyed great esteem in arms. He was a first cousin of Ulysses, who strove mightily to avenge him. He spurred his horse, a fine mount, looking for Paris among his men. He struck him through the saddle bow and the flaps of his haubergeon, so that he thrust his entire green silk pennant into the horse’s belly. Paris fell, and almost died. If Ulysses had had enough forces, he would willingly have lingered over him. But Troilus got there first. He did not have a lance, but he thrust his sword into Ulysses’s helmet, which cracked and broke, bent and shattered so that the mail over his forehead was driven into his head and was covered in his blood. Hanging on to his horse, Ulysses continued on for a league and almost fell from his steed. His face was still caked in blood and he was in great anguish and distress. He thrust with the stub of a lance right into the face of Troilus, the man who had attacked him in the close combat and bent the noseguard over his nose. You can be sure that he gravely wounded him; Troilus’s skin split open and he was bleeding profusely. (9529–83) The fighting grew more ferocious. Many of those in the Greek host came pouring on to the battlefield. Each one did what he could for himself, throwing lances, shooting arrows and striking incessantly. Then the Greeks began again chasing after their foes. A hue and cry went up and there was many a sword blow there. If it had not been for Hector and Troilus, their brother Deiphebus, handsome Paris and the Bastards (they were in such a rage that they attacked no knight without knocking him off his horse), things would have gone badly for the Trojan side. But they defended their land with steel blades, so that their enemies paid for having attacked them with such force. Still, the Greeks drove them back as far as the barriers, struggling mightily to rout the Trojans. More than ten thousand men went back inside Troy. Troilus did his best there. He would have been highly prized by many, if envy had not stood in the way. (9584–606) There would have been no talk of holding out any longer. The Trojans would have had to pull away from the fray and surely been driven back inside; as a result, some thousand men would have been buried. Then Hector came to his division, which was already in some panic. Their lord had not been among them. He had abandoned them all day long while he was away breaking many a lance without them and unsheathing his sword in many different places; there were more than ten thousand men in his throng. When they saw him, they were delighted and their whole disposition was transformed and altered. There was no foreign knight among them: they and all their kin came from Troy and were born there. With all their might and main they would defend themselves, their land and their possessions. They would avenge the great wrongs the Greeks had done them, as well as the great crimes and great harm they had caused. (9607–27)

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Hector addressed these men with these words: ‘My lords, you can see our task. It is fully obvious now for the first time. The beginning has been formidable; I do not know how it will end. There stand against us here men who are so powerful that they feel absolutely no love for us. The flower of the whole world is present with the most noble and the best of men. They have come here to slay us and to destroy our city. Unless they depart by dint of combat, they will never leave. If they can do us harm today, great misfortune may befall us as a result. Since their men will have no fear of us, their strength will be doubled. We have done them a lot of harm today, slain, killed and cut them to pieces, and our forces have performed very well. See to it that the honour is yours. They have put us to flight and pushed us back, forcing us to retreat back into our foot soldiers. They do not believe that we can recover. But if you are willing to help me, we shall straightaway launch such an attack on them that many a soul will depart from its body today. We shall quickly drive them from the field and make them pay dearly for the death of our noble kinsmen, men who were valiant, handsome and noble. My lords, let us avenge our forefathers, who won these lands that they are trying to take from us by killing and wounding us here. Today they have slain one of my brothers, Cassibilant, who was a most valiant man, and I feel great anger and grief because of his death. The king will be angered by his demise more than by all the others. We can be sure, without any doubt, that if they are not defeated in combat they will overcome and kill us and destroy our own liegemen.37 I wish and ask that, before we leave the fray, we may go and show them how strong we are. Let no one fear death any more. Each one of us will die when his time has come. Know that my heart tells me that they will be routed today. Let us linger no more but, in the name of the gods, let us go on the offensive! Let them honour us for what happens!’ (9628–80) Thereupon, they rode forth without further ado. They raised many a lance there and unfurled many a banner, pennant and flag, both green and bright red, of crafted silk and finely embroidered with golden strands. Many a steel helmet appeared there, many a shield, and many a steed, sorrel and piebald, white and grey. Hector led them along a slope, and in this way they eluded the whole battle. They had devised a cunning ruse, for from the side, a good distance from their own men, they re-entered the fighting. You can be sure that even on the Day of Judgment no army will ever have been attacked in this manner.38 Never will a harsher combat be observed than the one they would soon launch against the Greeks. Each of them was angry and completely refreshed; each had taken hold of his shield strap, each yelled out as they charged, each went to strike his opponent. Then you would have heard the crack of lances and seen men assisting each other and shields transfixed and pierced. There were so many hauberks unmeshed and so many good knights wounded and knocked down who never got Liegemen were men who held a fief under a lord. This kind of ambush appears in other romances. There is a version of it in the Troie when, after the Argonautic expedition in Part One, the hidden Greeks attack Laomedon’s forces from behind (pp. 71–3; vv. 2285–354). 37 38


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up again. You would have seen there so many sword blows laid on steel helmets; no coward could escape. There was a great hue and cry as iron-tipped arrows flew, along with the pommels of swords.39 Helmets were split and hauberks wrenched out of shape. Knights there were falling on their backs face upwards; heads, arms and bodies were sliced asunder. Anyone who could leave the field would have escaped great peril. Hector made them feel his blade, which slashed and maimed them while causing their ranks to thin out. From then on, he showed them his mettle, and they found him eager to kill them. The Trojans had burst through the midst of the battle, but in doing so many saddles were left empty. When the Greeks who were fighting in the forefront heard and saw that they were being ambushed from behind, they were somewhat dismayed. In their midst they saw their enemy, who had already slain many of their own Greeks, and that the Trojans facing them were rallying, becoming vicious and brutal towards them as each recovered his courage. I can tell you that from then on the fighting was so grievous and deadly that no one ever heard the likes of it. (9681–738) Thoas was on the move through the fray, often entering into the throng in order to strike his foe. He exposed himself to danger and severely damaged his enemies. The sons of King Priam took notice of this. Quintilien pointed him out to them. ‘My lords, that man is our enemy; he killed our brother Cassibilant. Let us ride against him and avenge our kin!’ Then he pricked and spurred his horse, and Odenel spurred with him. Both struck their opponent through the shield and knocked him down, but without otherwise wounding him. However, Thoas would not escape them for all that, for when Rodomorus reached him he seized Thoas by the nosepiece, but failed to hold him long, for the latter drew his steel blade and was quite sure that he would avenge himself. Thoas struck Rodomorus through the hand with such a blow that he would never again see it healed. With his sword Odenel dealt him three blows on his pointed helmet and Quintilien laid on seven more. This robbed Thoas of any satisfaction for what he had accomplished. They knocked him down two or three times, yet he still gave them a tough fight. He would have got away from them quickly enough if his sword had not shattered. As soon as he lacked the means to defend himself, they rushed to seize him and take him prisoner. They unlaced his ventail and handled him brutally. He might have lost his head on the spot, but his liberation was very close at hand. (9739–74) The duke of Athens came riding up. With a huge lance he was holding he struck Odenel so hard that he knocked him down flat, with his feet in the air. One man observed this who was greatly distressed by what he saw: this was Paris, who drew his bow and wounded the duke somewhat with an arrow in the flesh of his rib cage. Quintilien struck him in turn on the helmet, stunning him. Thoas flew from their clutches, yet he was not entirely safe, for he had serious wounds. He could recover from them, but he needed a good physician. His liegemen mounted him on a horse and took him out of the throng. There was a great 39

This is perhaps a reference to the blows struck by their opponents in rapid succession.

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deal of shouting and howling. Menesteus was brought to safety and a hundred furious knights, his own vassals, all from his country, took him away from among his foe. They staunched his wound so that the blood no longer poured or spurted from it. (9775–98) Hector’s Exploits Hector did not feel at all safe. He put all his effort and care into wreaking havoc among the Greeks and routing them. If he could manage it, in this fierce competition, the Greeks would come off worse when the fighting came to an end. The Greeks could not hold out, for Hector was inflicting terrible devastation on them. He and his men pierced their lines and drove them back. Those on the Trojan side fought well with good support from their lord. King Hunier, who was lord of the Essimiens, advanced through the fighting. He had drawn a Turkish bow and let fly an arrow that struck Hector in the face, almost killing him. But the arrow slid off him, so that he was scarcely wounded by it. Hector took swift revenge, slicing Hunier’s head in two. Because he was so angry at his loss of blood, Hector’s courage waxed stronger. He sounded a horn to summon help, and it was heard by many Trojans who were greatly pleased by it. Some seven thousand men drew towards him, the worst of whom was a good knight. Then they attacked the Greeks furiously and there was very fierce fighting with mighty blows being struck. Although losing many of their men, the Trojans broke through the centre of combat and then regrouped. When they came together, standing before the barriers they fought with their opponents for a long time. There were many knightly exploits, as many a soul took leave of its body. The Trojan foot soldiers fired arrows in huge volleys. They slew and wounded a great number of their enemy and acquired many horses there as well. (9799–837) Hector did not waste any time, but went to speak with King Priam. ‘My lord’, he said, ‘I want to tell you this: know that our enemy has truly suffered grievous losses and is weary from encountering our assaults. If we can drive them from here, they will be defeated without any possibility of revenge. They will not be able (I am sure of this) to defend themselves against us or stand firm; now nothing else stands in our way. You should give me a thousand knights with whom to reinforce our troops. Nothing in the world could convince me that we shall fail to put the Geeeks to flight. Ride after us today with the large number of men at your disposal. The Greeks will have to quit the field right away, and either all of them or all of us must die; there can be no mistaking this. Spur on today, but in battle formation, lead the foot soldiers judiciously and let there be no disarray among them.’ Priam answered: ‘My fair, dear son. I see your face all bloodied, your shield full of holes and your green helmet hacked to pieces. It is obvious that you have had a hard time. Blood is spurting out through your armour in several places. Now it is obvious that we are not playing in some game here. My heart cannot but be deeply afflicted. So be it, do as you said. May the gods grant you victory today and that we gain honour and glory from it!’ (9838–72)


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Mêlée Hector returned to the fray. He led a thousand men with him, that is certain, and not one of them lacked a lance or a sword and helmet on his head. By order of the king, Hector brought his brothers with him. When they drew near the Greeks, they spurred their horses, after which they charged their enemies so violently, and with such anger, that they caused all the battle lines to tremble. They pressed hard on their opponents, who engaged them, often becoming drenched in their own blood. Hector jousted with Ajax so that both fell from their steeds. Neither was wounded, nor did they engage one another any longer, as the great throng of men prevented them from doing so. An admiral, Morin d’Aresse, fell down dead, his life spent; Menelus had given him that kind of blow. His brother Isdor had struck a noble Greek count so harshly that he lifted him from his saddle, knocking him down dead. Chirrus shattered his lance when he thrust it through the body of a Greek who descended from counts and kings. Meles of Orep was Thoas’s nephew. He joined battle with Celidonias, whom he unhorsed, wounding him in the middle of his face. Hermagoras avenged his brother. He struck a Greek beneath his sword belt, causing his lungs and guts to spill out over his saddle bow. Scedius was a noble king, highly esteemed among the Greeks. Mauden Clarueil engaged him, striking him right in the eye, so that it came flying out of his head. If he had not held on to his horse with both hands, Scedius would have fallen in a faint because of the pain; he was never completely well again. Sardes of Vertfueil fought well, for with his first attack he struck an admiral who was puffed up with arrogance, knocking him down dead on first contact. (9873–918) Margariton charged into the lines, then went and struck King Telamon through his shield with such violence that he made him feel the iron point of his spear; if it had gone straight, Telamon would certainly have died. But he drew his sword that cut sharply and gave Margariton such a blow that seven weeks later his wounds had still not healed. Prothenor engaged with Fanoel, knocking him down from his colt. If the latter had not received help quickly, he would not have escaped with his life. Brun the Twin helped him. He struck Prothenor through his shield so that he knocked him out of his stirrups and caused the reins to be wrenched from his hands. He hit the sand with his helmet, but his men quickly remounted him. Mathan joined battle with Ulysses, then suffered great pain because of it, for the Greek wounded him in the thigh, almost maiming him. It was Almadian’s task to avenge him. He bloodied his opponent’s head, striking three blows on it that were later to cost him dearly. Emelius and Gilor of Agluz struck one another on their shields so that their lances shattered and they knocked each other to the ground. Godeles attacked Archelaus so that the wood of their shields split and the mail of their hauberks was torn. As a result their silken pennants were drenched in their own blood, although their weapons did not penetrate far into their flesh. (9919–54) The Trojan Doglas had joined battle with Teucer, but he aimed his lance too low, striking his horse in the forehead and causing it to collapse in a heap. Doglas halted above Teucer, who would have been killed, captured or in great trouble if

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Menesteus had not come to his assistance. But I am sure that, before he got away, he would have suffered many a blow from their fine blades of freshly sharpened steel. He thrust a huge spear of bright steel through Doglas’s shield, splitting it from one side to the other; the mail of his hauberk was stretched and a hundred pieces broke off it all at once. Menesteus dealt him a very severe wound: with his steel blade he drew blood from the Trojan’s face by slicing off his entire nose piece and half his nose. When Nez d’Amors saw and realized what a predicament his brother was in, he charged forward and struck the Greek, unhorsing him. Menesteus sprang to his feet. Then, drawing his furbished blade from the scabbard, he defended himself against the two brothers, but they in turn pressed him hard: cutting into his shield with their blades they sliced off large chunks of his hauberk and split the helmet on his head. The Greek was in great difficulty there, for Tharé was attacking him fiercely – he was the youngest of his bastard brothers – when Teucer arrived on the scene; he defended himself for a long time. (9955–90) When Hector joined the battle, it would have been over with his first blows, if Ajax Telamon had not arrived with a thousand vassals. The rescue cost them dearly, for very savage fighting arose from it. Then it was broken up completely, for the noble king of Persia had drawn up his troops, five thousand strong, from his country. With bows drawn to shoot, they spurred on. Paris sounded a horn and at this even the greatest coward among the Trojans took courage; an outcry arose from all sides. When they saw the foot soldiers advancing, there was no more delay. All together these troops charged the Greeks and from that moment onwards put them to flight. Hector went with them, sword in hand. Dares reports and tells us the truth about this: he slew more than a thousand of them. For those men who took flight there were plenty who pursued them. Like it or not, the Greeks, with no means of escape, were driven until they fell back on their own men. But then there arose great strife and dreadful resistance. (9991–10018) Death of Merion The men from Rhodes, from Orchomenus and from well-fortified Elis, comprising three large and redoubtable divisions that were remarkably fierce and frightening, joined the fray. With lances and unsheathed swords they delivered many a mighty blow, throwing the Trojans into disarray. But the Trojans recovered very soon, and for some time they ruthlessly pushed the Greeks back towards their tents; this frightened them immensely. Then the men from Larissa came back up, and you can be absolutely certain that they performed wonders as they slew many a Trojan. Polibetes, who was their lord, inflicted great harm and destruction on the Trojans. Never did a knight from any country do any more harm to his foes. Deiphebus let fly an arrow at him, striking him low in the thigh with a barbed arrow that penetrated right up to his bone. Polibetes withdrew to have the wound staunched because it was spurting blood. Then the Trojans began anew to drive their enemies into their encampment, as they continued to make a mighty effort. They drove them right in among the tents, where many knights were slain. Hector


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caught sight of Merion. He turned towards him right in front of a pavilion and ran at him. ‘Now your time will come’, he exclaimed. ‘I want you to become a companion of the dead, for you have angered me for some time now because of Patroclus, whom you snatched away from me. You have never made such a reckless decision as you did then.’ Hector struck him down through the middle of his helmet, knocking him from his horse. Merion defended himself while Hector was attacking him, but his defence was to no avail, for it cost him his head. I assure you that Merion’s presence there was a great misfortune. He was a courageous, worthy knight and one of the most beloved of all. (10019–64) Then Hector noticed Patroclus’s body40 lying in his tent. He struggled with all his might and main to get hold of its armour, pulling it off as quickly as he could. This distresses me, for this is a very shameful act. Merion, who had just been beheaded, was the one who had brought the body into the tent. If lord Hector had seen fit, he might well have done without the armour. But he craved it too much, and for this he almost lost his life. The duke of Athens was stalking him in a tremendous effort to do him harm. He had no other goal in mind. He saw that Hector had dismounted over the body, and never had he felt such delight. The duke held a spear of sharp steel and gave full rein to his charger. Before Hector had caught sight of him or taken up his shield, the duke had shattered the chain-mail in his hauberk so badly that he ran his spear through it a full arm’s length. He inflicted a huge, gaping wound on him, but one that was not too dangerous. If it had entered a finger’s breadth deeper, Hector would have fallen face down, dead. The duke did not want to tarry there in case he might pay for doing so. Hector folded three times a pennant made of new silk with which he staunched the wound and bound it up tight. Then, full of anger, he remounted. From now on he would go about massacring the Greeks. The Source says this, and it is true that after he had been wounded Hector went on to slay more Greeks than before. As I find in my reading, he killed them with his own hands by the thousands. However, he was not at full strength, for his enemies had battered him and inflicted many bleeding wounds on his body. That day the Greeks lost a very large number of men there and they were completely routed. (10065–108) Destiny Operates through Ajax Telamon Agamemnon never had the opportunity to enter the battlefield, nor did a large number of the other Greeks. Their men were so frightened that they had no chance to recoup their losses. The Trojans won great booty. They carried away more than three hundred pavilions that they had seized, all replete with valuable provisions of gold, silver, vessels and other fine and precious spoils. Because of this the Greeks suffered huge losses. That day the conflict would have ended, and nothing could have prevented this if Destiny had not refused to allow it to 40 The name Patroclus is not found in the text or the variants. Baumgartner adds the name and we follow her plausible suggestion (Troie, p. 241).

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happen, hostile as she41 was towards the Trojans. Do you know why the fighting came to an end that day? Priam had a sister, Hesiona, who had been carried off at the time Laomedon’s Troy was laid waste. The lady had a son, who had come to the siege. He was Ajax Telamon, a good knight and a fine vassal. Hector and he had continued to fight until they recognized one another, at which time they greeted each other joyfully. Hector wanted to take him to Troy to see his noble kin, but Ajax was afraid of being censured if he did so; therefore, he refused to go with his uncle. But they exchanged many kisses and embraced one another joyfully, offering each other their precious possessions. The young man asked and begged Hector to pull his men back and to order them to depart, for they would be able to return to do battle every day thereafter, until it ended. Hector responded: ‘Fair cousin, your wishes will be done, but this strife is far too harsh for us. This host has come to attack us and has laid waste our land without even knowing why. But I assure you in good faith that before we lose our heritage they will have paid for it dearly. The conflict with them is already well under way, and many a soul has been wrenched from its body. I do not want them to flee, or for them to be able to leave or escape. It will be a pleasure for me if I see them dead and massacred. May the gods grant us honour.’ (10109–63) That is how the Trojans left the battle and how the fighting ceased. They undertook nothing more that day. As Dares’s history tells us, the Trojans were bent on setting fire to the ships when Hector had the fire withdrawn. Yet those who wanted to burn them had all the time and leisure they needed for the task. The ships would have been consumed on the spot. Now the Trojans would never again be so close to success. They would never again have the strength or the power to set them on fire;42 yet, if Fortune had willed it that day, their great travail and hard labour would have come to an end, and they would not have had to exert themselves so much any longer or suffer any further harm. O God! How fortunate they would have been! But Chance, it seems to me, refused to let this happen, of that we have no doubt, when for such a small cause their liberation slipped away from them that day, and also their relief and their deliverance. It had to happen the way it did, for nothing could have prevented it. Therefore, Hector ordered his men to stop fighting, an order he could regret for ever more. With great effort and travail he separated his troops from the battlefield. They returned to the city, some joyfully, others vexed. Whoever loses a friend or a dear relative often has a grief-stricken heart. Scarcely any of the Trojans had lost so few that they felt no anger and distress. They parted to go to their lodgings, and that night they were well served. Those who were fit were well lodged while the wounded suffered terrible pain. (10164–200) Hector entered the city after all the others. Some twenty thousand came to receive him, all of them weeping for joy when they saw him back in Troy. No lady or maiden, burgess or damsel failed to come out to behold him, and one Destinee is a feminine noun in French. This statement is not true. See pp. 272–3; vv. 18904–86, where Ajax Telamon again avoids disaster after the fleet is partially set on fire; cf. also p. 331; vv. 23697–702. 41 42


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would have seen a thousand tears shed for him there. Many of them shouted out: ‘Behold the flower of all the valiant, the sovereign and the most worthy of all. He is the one who will avenge all of us for the wrongs and the harm they have done us. May he who is lord over the whole world protect him from harm for our sake, as we have need of him.’ They never let him be until he reached the great hall and dismounted. He embraced his mother and then his sisters undid his laces and removed from his head his helmet that was caked with blood. They took the hauberk off his back – that night he had hardly any rest – and those women who sincerely loved him removed his knee guards. He was left in a tunic stitched with bright-red silk. His blood, clotted and purple, had caused it to stick so tightly to his back that they had great difficulty in removing it. There was much tender weeping there. Lady Andromacha, his wife, to whom he was dearer than all others, shed tears most tenderly, as did the hundred maidens about her. There was no mockery, banter or laughter there. They quickly laid him down in a precious bed of cypress, with Saracen carving and bedecked all over with gold and precious stones, as well as by costly new felt that was whiter than any snow and studded with fine stars of gold. The good physician, Goz the Wise, who was born in the Orient and was more esteemed in his time than Hippocrates or Galen were later, examined his wounds, treating and washing them. He had him drink a potion that quickly alleviated his pain so that his wounds would not afflict him too much. The physician had him eat a little, after which they had the room cleared. Before he fell asleep, the wise and the courtly King Priam came. He asked his son how he was and Hector replied that he was doing well. ‘Tomorrow, without any delay, and with my sword and lance, I shall show them that I am well, you may be quite sure of that.’ (10201–64) That night they did not tell Priam that his son Cassibilant was dead. They hid it from him, and did well to do so, for the king loved him above all else. Otherwise he would have become more distressed, grief-stricken and vexed. The meal, large and plentiful, was set out in the dining hall. Whoever wanted to eat could do so right away, and they were served without being disturbed. Afterwards, they retired to their lodgings. Some of them had scarcely any repose that night because their chests and backs were in such pain that they could hardly turn over. They were not used to enduring misfortune; however, they would become accustomed to it. It distressed them very much now because of the damage that was waxing ever more terrible for them. The ladies enquired diligently who should receive the prize after Hector, and to whom they would grant it. But they could not decide absolutely, for Troilus had fought very well; each of them said as much and talked about it. Furthermore, there was no one of high or low birth who would not have granted it to Polidamas; none there had endured more than he had or fought better all day long. Hearing this, no woman escaped grief unless she was a peasant or a townswoman. Whoever fought well was proclaimed openly and became well known. They did not denigrate Paris at all; rather they said that he had fought very well. They also said without any opposition that the Bastards were fine, and exceptional knights, skilled in the use of their weapons. (10265–301)

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Truce In conversations such as these they passed the night until morning, when those who were hale and hearty wanted to re-arm in order to fight again with those outside Troy. They were already putting on their armour in their lodgings while preparing to mount their steeds when the Greeks asked for a truce. But I cannot give the names of the messengers they sent: I do not find their names recorded anywhere, nor does Dares’s History tell me that much. The truce was requested and those in the city granted it. The Trojans and the Greeks pledged it for two months during which none of their men would have anything to fear. From that time onwards, they would have abundant leisure, and the wounded would have ample time to recover. They ordered a search of the battlefield on which so many decapitated men lay, alongside ever so many dead and mutilated men. Many men on both sides joined in the search, each one looking for a relative, a friend or a lord. Tears were shed in abundance and there was much weeping. They buried the dead in accordance with their rites and with what was conventional and just. (10302–30) Achilles wept for Patroclus. No man ever expressed greater grief. He frequently collapsed in a faint over the corpse, lamenting and blaming himself. ‘I did not do right, fair, sweet friend, when I sent you out without accompanying you. Alas! What harsh destiny! The love I showed you was very poor. Since you died without me, I recognize that I am in the wrong. For, if I had been at your side in this grievous strife, you would have feared no man alive. Now, when I take leave of you, for the rest of my life I shall have neither love nor companionship with anyone alive. My heart belonged entirely to you, for you were so handsome and worthy, faithful, noble and of good family. I believe that I shall never again accomplish anything that will give me joy or bliss. Henceforth, I shall forever dwell in sadness. Dear friend, why did I lose you? How unfortunate it was that you were there where it happened! You loved me more than anyone else, for I was yours and you were mine. Henceforth, as long as I live, I shall mourn for you with tears and sobs. I shall avenge you if I am able to do so. Let Hector rest assured that, if I find him, he will kill me or I him. Alas, wretch that I am, I who was not present when he dismounted above you! That base and greedy wretch would have paid for it, and he will indeed do so. On your behalf I shall slay some thousand men, not one of whom will lack a helmet. The anger I feel for your sake will be quite obvious to them.’ Then, manifesting immense sorrow, he collapsed unconscious. (10331–70) Achilles had Patroclus’s corpse buried gently and without undue haste in very noble and splendid style. Alongside his casket they performed many different games from many a locale, for in those days (this I find in my reading) that was their custom when the most valiant man passed away from this life. When a baron died in those days, there were magnificent games and songs that were suitable for the deceased, in accordance with the rituals that he embraced. Straightaway Achilles had a sarcophagus made that was magnificent, handsome and costly; it was wrought in green marble and the corpse was firmly sealed inside. The tomb


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was of one piece and faultless, with its tombstone so attached that no one could see the jointing. Achilles had a magnificent sepulchre made for him. If he loved Patroclus while he was alive, he proved it to him when he died. The peasant says (but he is not telling the truth) that a dead man will never have a friend. Patroclus had a very good friend in Achilles. His beloved did as much for him as he could, and in death and in life he remained a faithful and loyal partner. (10371–98) What was Agamemnon for his part doing? On his own initiative he had Proteselas and the good vassal Merion buried most nobly. Never did a king receive a more honourable burial. The Greeks searched the entire field. In ten days they had been so successful that all their deceased had been buried. The Trojans on their side did the same. They carried away many of their men and buried them with high honour. Alongside the temple of Venus, in a sarcophagus of dark-hued marble, they buried Cassibilant. Priam displayed great grief for him, and his brothers wept and lamented over him, as did many of the other Trojans. (10399–416) When Cassandra, the king’s daughter, heard the uproar and emotional outbursts and saw the death and slaughter, she began to cry out in a loud voice: ‘Go on, you despicable race, you hated men! Why do you each have such scorn for living so long? Why are you so eager to die? You too will have to go where those lie whom you are burying. I believe that all of you are ill-fated. Make peace, for if you do not Ilion will be destroyed. Noble family, how grievous it is that from now on you will, as each day passes, suffer ever greater losses. Dearly beloved brothers, what a destiny lies ahead of you. So many tears will be shed for your sake before long, provided there is anyone left to shed them. If you had heeded my words, you would be unscathed by all this destruction. But now there is no holding it back until all of us have been destroyed. What is each of you doing that keeps you from taking flight? How can a heart endure the great sorrow that we must undergo? O God! Why does my heart not take leave of my body? O noble Troy, to what catastrophic ruin you will be delivered before long! Cursed be the destiny, pain and suffering that is ours because of Lady Helen!’ She often repeated these words in earshot of everyone. She would have said a lot more, but they locked her up in a place where she remained for a very long time. She did not emerge from there in accordance with her wishes, for her words perplexed the inhabitants of Troy, making them fearful and anxious. (10417–54) The truce held without being broken or squashed. The inhabitants of the city were at peace; no one did anything that was displeasing to them. A large number of knights were present, and food was plentiful. They maintained splendid lodgings there and spent lavishly, frequently holding fine banquets and distributing many beautiful gifts. Priam knew how to make them content with their lot, doing what each of them wanted. They in turn were all encouraged to believe that just as they had begun so would they persevere. They would never fail to support him fully. Those in the host were mainly preoccupied with finding some device or means to harm the enemy. They came together in numerous councils. Scarcely a day passed by without their meeting so that the wise men among them might

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discuss this aim. They considered many different options and exchanged abundant counsel. (10455–78) Palamedes Demands Command over the Host Palamedes was very active during these deliberations. None of the Greeks was of such high standing, and none of them considered more closely than he did what the course of action should be. No Greek possessed more ingenuity and skill. But one thing greatly displeased him, and you can be sure he did not keep it to himself: this was that Agamemnon had the command and lordship over them all. Before the kings and the dukes, of whom there were more than two hundred, Palamedes was very blunt. ‘My lords’, he exclaimed, ‘I have no idea why an inferior and less knowledgeable man, who cannot be as worthy as many of you are, should have authority over us. I do not think this is sensible. We might indeed be less worthy on account of this. It is proper that the man who is our lord should have sound judgment and high intelligence, that he be able to endure suffering, keep and maintain the host and give counsel in many ways regarding whatever causes us most distress. The fleet had not yet been assembled when Agamemnon received this charge. He did not receive it from me and my men, nor is it reasonable or right that he should have dominion over so many kings if they have not granted it to him. For my part, I do not advise it at all, nor do I say so boastfully. If he is wise, I am wiser. To my knowledge I have under me as many counts and dukes, knights and other men, and even more than he does. I am better at giving high counsel and marshalling troops for combat, and I am better able to foresee which side will win the battle when it will come to an end. I can better sustain heavy fighting and separate our men from theirs. I know the best way to watch the host by night and to seek out what it needs to eat, to go foraging near and far, as will often be necessary. I am better at dividing up what we have in common and at giving each person his fair share. I can watch better by night and still exert myself all day long. If I see something that needs to be done, I am fully capable of making my case and citing examples in order to gain greater trust from my men. If strife should arise among them, I shall know how to restore peace and harmony. Never through lack of information will they ever be at a loss as to what needs to be done, and, given that I am so capable and knowledgeable, know that I shall not allow Agamemnon to retain command over my men any longer. If he is a king, I too am king, one of quite a different mind and different skills than he will ever have as long as he lives. His deeds are not so great as mine. That is why it is neither reasonable nor proper that he should have command over me. Therefore, he will no longer enjoy my approval.’ (10479–546) There was lively response to Palamedes’s speech. The greater number of them took his side, for they loved him, feared him and were wary of him. I cannot relate everything that was said in reply, for I still have too much left to say and to do. With that the debate stopped. and nothing more was accomplished at that time. However, you will yet hear much about what happened further on. But, as


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I find in Dares’s book, the truce came to an end, expired and ceased. From here onwards, we shall relate, without fail, how the third battle went. (10547–60) Third Battle Agamemnon waited no longer. He deployed his forces and partitioned his men. In the front line he put Achilles, who was brimful of anger. Next came Diomedes; he had many brave knights with him. Two thousand men came from his country, all armed and wearing a helmet. Menelaus followed them with seven thousand men ready to fight; they would all attack without being forced or begged to do so. Next came the divisions with the dukes, admirals and kings, all well deployed and in good order. From the city Hector, Troilus and more than ten thousand knights also issued forth in full battle array. They drew up their divisions and placed them under the command of their princes. Then they passed beyond the outer barricade and spread out over the sandy field. There one would have seen many a pointed helmet, many a lance and many a shield, as well as many a fine steed and many an esteemed vassal. Great pride prevailed on both sides, and for that reason many eyes shed tears on account of what happened. The day would not come to an end before a thousand men had their heads cut off. (10561–90) The ladies were on the walls and at their windows. Lady Helen was there, fearful, very worried and anxious. Everything around her shone brightly from the splendour of her face. That day many admired her freshly hued complexion; some pointed her out to others. Polixena, the king’s daughter, was there too, she who was in no way less beautiful than Helen. One of the women called to the other while pointing: ‘See Paris there! There is Hector, I believe, and look at Polidamas over here, who in no time will be charging into the fray. He looks like a fine knight. See how his steel helmet becomes him! There is Troilus’s division. Look there! Now Deiphebus is emerging. See how close the two sides are to one another now! Soon we shall have in full stride a thousand heinous jousts. We have good reason to be fearful, for we see the lives, well-being and joys of our young men in the balance. May death not part us from them.’ Not one of the women could avoid being anxious, for all of them saw with their own eyes their own life or death.43 Each woman made obeisance to God, asking him to protect their men and prevent misfortune from befalling them. (10591–624) Hector against Achilles As they were approaching from both sides, these men were angrily challenging each other; there was great clamour and uproar. Ten thousand unfurled banners were lowered there that would not be raised again until they were drenched in blood. Hector, with his company that was composed of men who were fierce and dreadful to behold, and Achilles, with his troops of whom a large number were 43 Constans erroneously places the closing quotation mark after v. 10621 rather than after v. 10618.

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good fighters, were the first to join battle that day. They harboured great anger, hatred and rancour towards one another. Through their painted shields they struck each other at full charge, shattering the boards. Their lances broke in pieces as they passed through their cobalt-blue coats of mail. On both sides, men fell to the grass-covered earth, after which fighting began that was dreadful, cruel and so devoid of any love that two thousand shields painted with flowers and three thousand green helmets adorned with precious stones were shattered on the spot. One could indeed have seen many men’s brains as they tumbled down dead from their saddles. They attacked one another furiously so that there were many dead men there. In the same way Hector attacked and delivered hammer blows while he rode through the fray, carving his way through the middle and passing right on through the throng. Whoever did not make way for him was in dire straits, of that you can be sure, for he was quickly finished off. (10625–58) Achilles was not idle. All those he attacked he killed, one after the other. He was filled with anger and made the Trojans pay for their anger, leaving a bloody field in his wake. The Trojans fled before him, for no one had ever performed such wonders as he did. Every man who saw Achilles coming at him, if he failed to get out of his way, was absolutely sure of death. He severed many souls from their bodies. He was riding a steed from Nubia that was strong and swift, and he had great trust in it; there was no more beautiful horse in the whole world, or any more courageous and swift. Achilles was so firmly seated on it that he seemed to have been born there. In fine style he wore armour that was rich and costly, strong, solid and marvellous; its splendour made the air gleam. Since the world was created, no one had seen a man of such beauty in arms, nor a knight who enjoyed such high esteem. He and Hector were enemies of the kind who would cut off each other’s head. They very much wanted to test one another, each of them being eager to prove against the other his vigour, strength and valour. Yet they had to pay for it, for I do not believe it could have turned out differently. What a calamity that the one saw the other alive. Both men came forward and advanced until they encountered one another. As soon as they recognized each other, they charged angrily. They attacked with such wrath that no one could relate or express it. Through their shields, painted with lions, they thrust their banners. No hauberk resisted the blow, nor did either avoid bloody wounds. Upon their violent impact Achilles fell backwards on the spot. Hector grabbed Achilles’s steed, and you can be sure that it was very hard to get it from him. Hector entrusted it to Dodaniez from the Puy de Rir, one of his retainers. The Greeks quickly remounted Achilles. He rushed at his opponent, sword drawn, immediately striking Hector with two blows so heavy that he tottered and was almost unsaddled. Hector flew into a rage and angrily drew his sword with its burnished blade. He struck Achilles’s helmet with three blows, causing his whole face to be covered in blood. They could not have been separated from one another unless one of them had died, or perhaps both of them. However, their men came between them immediately and rightly so. The fighting there was so agonizing, perilous and deadly that no one will ever see the like again. (10659–724)


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Troilus against Diomedes Then Diomedes came up with more than a hundred and forty44 knights. Opposite him Troilus had no fewer men; indeed, he had even more. Giving their horses free rein, these men went to strike one another through their painted shields and their helmets adorned with flowers. Their white hauberks, strong and with double mail, were shattered by the steel. The lances pierced their bodies, causing souls to take leave of them. With their blades they struck one another mighty blows through their helmets, slicing their opponents right down to the teeth. That was how they fought. Diomedes and Troilus unhorsed one another. Their combat was harsh and tough, for each one of them was extraordinarily brave. If their lances had not shattered, they would never again have been in a joust. Diomedes was the first to remount. Because he was angry and ashamed, he struck Troilus through the helmet so that he knocked off its circle. Now one of them was on foot, the other mounted, so they were not fighting on equal terms. Diomedes attacked Troilus hard, hitting and striking him in many places. Troilus drew his steel blade and struck his opponent’s charger down dead, cleaving it through to the breastplate. Diomedes, who had a courageous heart, was neither startled nor dismayed, nor did he spare Troilus in the least. They hit and dealt one another heavy blows. The blades resounded on their helmets and were bent on contact with their hauberks. The marks from the mail showed on their flesh as they rammed the helmets down on their heads. When the throng separated them, the fighting was extraordinary and grievous, devoid of pity or mercy. As in a bad throw of the dice, this combat could never have ended in any other way. In remounting the two barons, there was hard fighting among their men; many a knight was hit and unhorsed. Diomedes – this I know and can tell you for sure – was not at all the worst combatant that day. If he lost his horse, he had a good replacement, given that he seized the one belonging to Troilus. The Trojans went to extraordinary pains and great effort to retrieve it from him, but they failed in their effort to get it away from him. He later displayed it to the Trojans in many battles, while wreaking havoc on them. (10725–84) When Troilus, with the help of his men, was remounted on a dappled chestnut steed, which was truly handsome and superb, he went to strike the Greeks with such vigour that his enemies immediately lost a hundred knights and even a good many more. The Trojans were driving them back, treating them with great cruelty, when Menelaus arrived with his troops, who hit back at them hard. Many knights were knocked down, wounded and killed. Then Paris’s men returned at full speed and with great ardour. The combat grew dense with fighting on both sides. They shot arrows and threw spears; no one dared reveal an eye.45 How unfortunate that they witnessed their enemy’s great arrogance, for it was overwhelming on both sides. Hector, King Priam’s son, passed fully armed through the fray. With his Benoît gives the figure as seven twenties (‘set vinz’); cf. the figure 80 in Modern French, which is ‘quatre-vingts’ (this numeral system is of Celtic origin). 45 That is to say, in case he was struck in the eye by an arrow or a bolt. 44

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sword and its sharp blade he pounded them with powerful and deadly blows. That day he killed a large number of their men, including many of high lineage, and because of this the Greeks suffered much harm. Divisions and companies joined in the combat. They each charged one another, often pursuing and fleeing, often46 and repeatedly jousting and striking one another down. Often they lost, and just as often they won, often killing and maiming the bravest knights of all, the boldest and the finest. That day more than seven hundred men were lost among both besiegers and besieged. (10785–824) Deaths of Boetes, Archilogus, Doroscalu and Prothenor In the huge battle Boetes advanced through the ranks. He was a powerful king with his shield attached to his neck and his helmet laced on. He was angry with the Trojans, and at the tip of his lance he had a banner marked with his emblem so that he would be recognized. That day he would have performed knightly deeds, if he had not been thwarted and stopped by the man who was doing most harm to the Greeks: I mean Hector, the most courageous warrior of them all. On their shields, painted with varnish, they dealt blows so powerful that pieces of their apple-wood lances flew into the air. Hector had turned about quickly and with his sharp blade of various hues he struck him so violently on his pointed helmet that he sliced down to his teeth. In the sight of a thousand Greeks Boetes fell dead. This distressed them profoundly, for he was a very noble and worthy man, one of the most valiant Greeks of all. Hector led away his charger, hardly exerting himself to get it. (10825–48) Archilogus saw and realized that Hector had slain his relative and friend, whom he loved deeply. As fast as he could make his Castilian charger gallop, he rushed to strike him beneath the chest. He shattered three links of the chain mail in Hector’s hauberk, so that through the tunic a large stream of blood spurted forth, although the iron blade scarcely penetrated his body. Hector would have met his end there and then, but Archilogus’s ashen shaft broke and cracked. Hector drew his good sword, reached his opponent and dealt him a blow. Whether anyone liked it or not, he cleaved him down to the navel. Some three thousand men witnessed that blow and, as I find it told in Dares’s book, thereafter they feared Hector greatly. Hector seized Archilogus’s horse with his right hand and held on to the other one from Boetes with his left hand. Then he led both of them away without being stopped by anyone. Except for Galatea, on which he was sitting, no one had ever seen such fine steeds. With that, Hector’s men took up the chase and shook up their enemy lines. However, the Greeks recovered very quickly. (10849–76) The foremost lord of arms was the hardy Achilles, the brave, strong and mighty man who was more remarkable than all the others. He was the first to recover during the pursuit. But I want each of you to know that on his own he performed 46 The frequent brief sentences beginning with ‘often (‘sovent)’ are a dramatic instance of anaphora, a stylistic device Benoît uses frequently in his descriptions of combat.


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marvels there. He sliced the head off the body of one of the king’s Bastards called Doroscalu. He received many a blow in vengeful retaliation with spear, sword and lance, but none of them harmed him, or maimed or wounded his body. But because of the death of the king’s son the Trojans fell into disarray, losing many more than the Greeks did. This was the death that the Trojans unfortunately witnessed. Troilus was driven insane from dealing blows with his sword. He dealt them such blows on their helmets that none of those he struck down ever got up again. No head was so well protected that it was not cut off when he struck it. Paris for his part did not let up either; he killed and wounded many Greeks, as did Polidamas. I no longer consider this idle boasting. The Trojans went after them with all their might, and they were awash with Greek blood. The ground was covered with the dead, with great losses on both sides. But the Greeks endured extraordinary grief. As the Book relates, lord Prothenor, king of Boeotia, one of the most valiant men in all of Greece, strong and powerful, handsome and worthy, and of the most noble stock of all, struck Hector a lateral bow, knocking him down from his horse on to his back. Prothenor tried to seize Galatea, but he could well have abstained from doing so; covetousness was the fault that caused this. Hector was ashamed and he flew into a rage, and, with his sword drawn, ran at him. Neither hauberk, helmet nor shield could save Prothenor from being sliced through and left lying spread-eagled on the ground. Here the Greeks suffered great harm, for he was a very brave, noble and wise man. Hector mounted and seized his opponent’s horse, which was worth six times its weight in silver. He gave it to someone who took it away and then he returned to the fray, ruthless, cruel and agitated. He carried his dangerous, unsheathed blade by which so many knights perished, died and met their end. (10877–934) When Archelaus saw that Hector had slain Prothenor in this way, he felt such sorrow and chagrin that he was on the verge of killing himself with his own lance. He was Prothenor’s uncle and he loved no one else more than him. He had brought him up as a small boy. No one ever saw such great grief as Archelaus displayed. In no way, by force or by effort, could the Greeks recover the corpse; it had to be left on the field. Yet Archelaus did try hard to retrieve it. His great courage was obvious, for he slew so many Trojans that he garnered remarkably high esteem for it. Because of the struggle to retrieve the body you can be told that in truth a thousand knights died and the Greeks had to give up. They failed to carry Prothenor away, and night was already beginning to fall. The Trojans had forced and driven the Greeks back from the battlefield to their tents. If night had not come so quickly, those in their host would have suffered grave losses. They had been severely maltreated, and were wounded, wearied and worn down. Because the oncoming night made it dark, the enemies then separated. (10935–66) Greek Deliberations The day ended and night fell. Those who were experienced in the art of warfare separated the two sides. Each man calmly led his troops away in tight and orderly formation; they were weary, broken and exhausted. The Trojans, who had

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fought very well that day, went back towards the city; the Greeks went towards their lodgings, fearful and anxious because they had suffered such great losses. Without exception, they were all angry and they feared Hector more than death. Because of this distress, at nightfall, after they had eaten and before any of them had retired to bed, all the kings were summoned, as well as the princes, each one individually. They came together in Agamemnon’s tent. Now hear what they discussed there. (10967–86) Agamemnon was the first to address them. ‘My lord barons, you are most worthy and renowned. Your ancestors were powerful and they earned great praise and honour. At no time did they ever act dishonourably. You must maintain and uphold the dignity they bequeathed to you, so that no one can lower your status. You have undertaken a task that all of you are well aware of, so that, if you do not succeed, your fame will not survive. In that case your power will pass away and your name will be forgotten. The great honour you possess will be totally broken and destroyed, if you do not complete this task, and as a result your land will be shamed. But if we can succeed in this undertaking and this enterprise, we shall have gained such honour that none could be greater. However, it would behove us most to eliminate that which can cause us the most harm. We have found a strong enemy, albeit dreadful and terrible, in this warrior named Hector. Today he has wreaked terrible harm on us; no one here has escaped its effects. Today he killed three kings who were of very high renown. It is our duty, therefore, to take counsel. We must decide all together how to proceed in order to capture and thwart him. He has done us a great deal of harm today and this has caused us distress and anger. If death does not catch up with him, we shall often be driven to sorrow by him. He is their strength and their fortress, their support and their leader. He is their bulwark and their trust, and he receives all their devotion, for they do nothing except at his command. He is their pennant and their dragon emblem. He inspires daring in the most cowardly and, by inflaming them, his great prowess causes us to break up our attacks. But if anyone could remove him from the Trojans, either by capture or death, they would be far less likely to issue forth again and would scarcely have any vigour left to withstand us for a single day. Know that they would be greatly dismayed by the harm they would suffer in losing him. They could not hold out against us any longer or confront us in combat. And that is why I have summoned you, so that you can undertake such a heavy burden that all your efforts will be devoted to how he can be captured or killed. May each of you achieve as much as possible, for this task is of the greatest necessity. Each of you should judge himself worthy of dying, given that you would be willing to make the effort. Today lord Achilles, whom I see present here, with his good sword of burnished steel dealt Hector three marvellous blows. If he had not had help close at hand, he would have found himself in such a predicament that he might well have been slain. Now let us do all we can by attacking him so harshly that he will either be killed or captured on the morrow.’ (10987–1060) All of them replied with one voice, saying that his advice would be duly heeded. They earnestly pleaded with Achilles to assume this heavy task. ‘Do


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not’, he answered, ‘say any more about it. Even if each of you had sworn on his life that Hector would encounter from us no trouble or hindrance, death, imprisonment or difficulty, he could not evade me. He has made my heart ache so much because of Patroclus that he has almost caused my death, and for that reason I am in such grief and distress that Hector must kill me or I him. I set aside all else for this task, nor do I heed or think of anything other than how to find the right time and place to avenge my profound grief, because of which I shall forever live in dismay. You can take it for an absolute certainty that I shall apply all my wiles and my strength to slaying him. No day will come when I pursue any other goal.’ Each of them made the same vow. But before they had slain or captured Hector, he would sally forth three times against the Greeks with the result that many Greeks would die. They took leave of this session, but the night watch was established in force. During that night Lord Ulysses had more than a thousand knights under his command. The fourth battle was enormous. Whoever wishes to hear more now, let him pay attention, for we can recount well everything that Dares tells us in his History, including all that happened and transpired, and which men among the combatants fought best. (11061–96) Fourth Battle The Trojans felt secure. On the gates and the wall stood the watch, whose men played shwarms and sounded horns and flutes. They hurled foolish gibes at those in the host, and when the dawn sky lit up the Trojans rose in the lodgings and went to the temples of their gods to offer sacrifices and say prayers. Then they put on their doublets, and over their tunics and miniver cloaks they laced on helmets and donned hauberks. Throughout the city they all armed themselves without causing any commotion or uproar. They covered their horses with cloth marked with their emblems and attached pennants to their lances. Having seized their shields, they mounted and deployed their troops carefully and prudently. Hector issued first, leading those in his division who came from his own country and were born there; his contingent was large, fierce and redoubtable. Eneas in turn came out of the city along with the troops of whom he was in charge. More than three thousand steel helmets could be seen around him; this was a powerful division. Then the handsome and brave Paris came forth, leading all the Persians, and next came Deiphebus, Polidamas and Troilus, Philemenis and Antenor, the Persian king and his nephew Mennor, with all their troops and all their divisions. No admiral or king stayed behind. There you would have seen many a helmet of gold and many a dappled and chestnut charger covered with costly silk, because of which the whole countryside was resplendent. When they had left the city, they numbered more than a hundred and fifty thousand men. (11097–138) Those in the host seized their weapons and arrayed their troops in battle formation. They separated and divided up their divisions and armed themselves remarkably well. Those who saw their helmets, shields and pennants on their wooden shafts wondered where so many men came from and how anyone could hold out against them. Both sides joined battle, shooting arrows and hurling spears more

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densely than a shower of rain. All the blood of those they struck gushed forth from their bodies. Ten thousand and more men, all face to face, joined battle with lances lowered. They struck one another’s shields with the result that the mailed hauberks worn by a great number of men shattered and broke as their colourful pennants pierced their sides. When battle recommenced, never was there such slaughter. So many men fell dead on the sand that eyewitnesses marvelled at it. Their great arrogance and pride would still come crashing down; that was unavoidable. How unfortunate that they ever saw Helen born. Rest assured that I do not err: she was the cause of much hardship for them. (11139–66) The numerous divisions arrived and attacked one another with lances and swords. Their heads were not well enough protected as to prevent them from slaying one another by the thousands that day (so says our author Dares). Those who were struggling to fight endured immense suffering. There was very little jousting that day, for the battle was so equally joined that there were only sword blows, which were dealt with deadly force. The Greeks did not have the strength or opportunity to trouble Hector or to harm him. They each had more than enough to do looking out for and protecting themselves, for the battle was very uncertain, cruel and dangerous. Again and again, large numbers of men fell dead and many knights there were covered with their own blood or with that of others. They would not disengage this day before they numbered three thousand knights, who would never again return to combat or hang a shield round their necks. I consider the most sensible among them to be a fool for slaughtering one another for this cause.47 (11167–93) The Persians rallied, spurring forward with their bows taut. Many men were unhorsed, both wounded and slain there. Paris had performed wonders. Boldly and brutally, he made the Greeks appreciate his mettle. He stood out that day with his Turkish bow and his blade. However he may have performed elsewhere, that day it was right that he should gain the prize. And he did receive it, for that was fair, both then and, I believe, on other occasions too. (11194–206) Agamemnon was in trouble, for Hector had pierced his dark-hued shield and tightly mailed hauberk, knocking him to the ground but not piercing his body. This time his opponent escaped him, for Achilles helped him by striking Hector with his sharp blade so hard that he made his helmet fly off. But Agamemnon had to pay dearly for this, as Eneas and Troilus, along with more than sixty other knights, came up all together at a gallop. He would not escape in a peaceful manner that day, for they pressed him hard with their naked blades. They did him great harm, dealing numerous blows with their sharp blades or bright steel that it caused him such difficulty. If he had not received help, he could quickly have valued his life as worth very little. From all sides they went to seize him. But neither a wild boar, a lion or a leopard defends itself as well as he did. One could not recount so much as half of Agamemnon’s prowess. He roundly slew, wounded and injured his opponents. The Trojans learnt that day how great his prowess and 47 This is perhaps an allusion to the abduction of Helen that is mentioned in the preceding paragraph.


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valour were. No one would have thought that just one man could defend himself as well as Agamemnon did. In seven places his armour was deficient; his entire shield was hacked to pieces and his helmet with stripes of gold hung in pieces. His body was not without wounds, for his blood was spurting out in many places. (11207–43) The game would soon have been up for him, since Hector had captured him and was leading him away when Diomedes appeared. He came up at a gallop, spurring his horse and breaking forth from the ranks. In his path he encountered Eneas and gave him such a blow through the shield and through the tightly mailed hauberk that he caused blood to spurt from his side; he knocked him down in a muddy puddle. Diomedes said to him: ‘My honourable lord, you who give advice to others, you are very worthy, but, in truth, I do not regard myself as being inferior to you. What a loss if they lose you! Where will one find a greater scoundrel, or anyone as deceitful as you? Do not come out to fight again, for I have a grudge against you because of the deceitful advice to harm me that you gave the king the other day.48 I intend to make you sorry for that. What a misfortune that he ever embraced you. For that you can consider yourself a fool!’ (11244–68) Tydeus’s son drew his sword, anger having surged up into his head. When he saw Achilles hard pressed he almost went out of his mind. He struck Hector, who was holding Achilles, directly on the head. Nothing remained of his helmet except the ventail. Against Diomedes’s blade his hauberk’s mail came apart, which resulted in a grave wound. Hector did not let that bother him. When Achilles escaped from his grasp, which is what the Greek needed and required, Hector was consumed with anger. He drew the sword at his side and paid Diomedes back with a blow that knocked him from off his horse on to his back. Troilus dismounted above this man, whom he hated so intensely that he could not hate him any more. But Diomedes quickly sprang to his feet and defended himself courageously. Violent combat ensued (I do not know any more about it than that) between him and Troilus. Achilles did not take flight; rather he and Hector attacked one another at close quarters, exchanging blows that wounded and stunned them. (11269–94) Mêlée They put Agamemnon back on his horse. While this was happening, there came to his rescue about a hundred very bold men: King Menelaus, King Ulysses and someone else named Polibetes, as well as the strong and tall Telopolus, Palamedes and Sthelenus, the stocky King Polidarius, old Nestor, King Thoas, Ascalaphus and Archelaus, Telamon and Ajax, the brave and the wise Menesteus, the noble king of Carthage and the handsome Eurialus, Philitoas and Theseus, and some sixty other Greeks, the poorest of whom was a duke or a king. All of them joined the fray. A large number of men came together there, for King Pandarus was present as were old Apon and Adrastus, King Nesteus, King Caras, King Merceres, 48 The reference here is to the embassy that took place before the first battle (p. 119; vv. 6441–71).

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King Sanias, King Cupesus, the king from Larissa, the mighty king of Frise, King Remus of Cisonie, Eufeme of Lycaonia and Acamus, king of Thrace, King Steropeus, King Antipus, King Sarpedon, King Heseus and the very handsome Archilogus, the big and brave Philemenis – all these men were present at this time of need. Paris was there, as were the Bastards, who were neither ignoble nor cowardly. There was no one under of heaven who was more worthy than they, in attack or in battle. (11295–332) Polidamas approached them, as did Antenor, who bore those on his side no hatred. Since the creation of the world, no fiercer battle was ever joined, nor one that involved so many noble men. There was so much splendid equipment there that was so costly and so dearly sold, so many golden helmets and so many shields, and so many fine steeds covered with gilded cloth of great value and high price! Each of them thought, said and affirmed that he would surely perform knightly exploits. I do not know what more I can tell you about this. With lances lowered and shields grasped, they advanced to pierce shields, penetrating them with iron and pennants while smashing and breaking up the boards in their shields. They battered one another’s hauberks, so that blood flowed from their bodies down to the undergrowth that was blowing in the wind. (11333–52) Agamemnon and Pandarus knocked each other off their horses. They lunged at one another, striking hard and fighting hard. King Menelaus jousted with Paris, striking him, I believe, so that he split his shield, on which a leopard was painted beneath the buckle. Paris would certainly have been slain on the spot, but his hauberk was so strong that his opponent could not undo the mail. But Menelaus made him slip off his horse from the blow; Paris fell over his horse’s crupper. He was very much ashamed of this because Helen was watching him. Adrastus and Ulysses met one another at full gallop. The one struck high, the other low. King Adrastus fell in a heap. He was so severely wounded in the mouth that the intense pain he felt went straight to his heart. Ulysses led his charger away; Adrastus would never recover it that day. Polimenes, for his part, struck old Ampon through the shield with a blow that knocked him to the ground. Ampon drew his bright-green sword and went to strike Polimenes, doing so with such force that his foe fell down dead from the wound. After that, Ampon turned away. The big, tall Telopolus and the handsome King Archilogus attacked one another with the result that each of them fell down bleeding in the middle of the plain. Afterwards, they pounded one another with mighty sword blows on the helmet: if they had not been separated one or the other would have been deeply chagrined. (11353–92) At full gallop Polidamas struck Palamedes’s shield so that his pennant passed entirely through it as most of his lance smashed, shattered and broke into pieces. But Palamedes did not move or totter; instead he struck back so hard through Polidamas’s shield that glistened with gold that the iron point cut through him; his double-mail hauberk was not strong enough to keep it from penetrating his flesh. This brought both lord and horse down in a heap, after which Palamedes addressed Polidamas: ‘My lord knight, you are very brave, but, in truth, I do not regard myself as any less worthy. Now we shall put ourselves to the test. Nowhere


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shall I catch sight of you without turning my shield in your direction. Indeed, you can rest assured that I shall make what happened known to a particular lady who is very beautiful. Whatever she hears said about it will not matter much to her. There are other knights in Troy more handsome and more valiant than you. You make yourself out to be very chivalrous. He who haggles over something and then does not buy it embarks on a struggle for absolutely no purpose, for, whether he likes it or not, it will never be wrested from him.’ Polidamas exploded in anger. He understood those words very well. They would never be forgotten and Palamedes would pay for them. (11393–426) King Sthelenus and King Caras swiftly joined battle. They met in furious combat, dealing one another remarkable blows. Right through their shields and into their hauberks they thrust shaft and iron, as pieces from their lances flew off. King Sthelenus knocked Caras to the ground. He stopped over him, and by doing so he acted foolishly for his opponent gave him such powerful blows that he killed his steed and wounded him in the face. This is how a knight defends himself when he sees what he needs to do. (11427–40) The renowned duke of Athens came riding across the field at full speed, astride a piebald Spanish steed that was covered with a standard bearing his coat-ofarms. With helmet laced on and wearing a hauberk, he held his shield by the straps. His lance had a large steel head and a pennant of costly material. He intended to seek out noble deeds to perform. Philemenis spurred his horse as hard as he could and they both headed for each other. The duke of Athens dealt the first blow. He thrust his massive apple-wood shaft through his opponent’s shield by, if you measured it, a full foot, pushing Philemenis’s arm back against his body. The lacings of his hauberk snapped and the duke wounded and injured the Trojan’s body. But Philemenis was not standing still. He split the duke’s shield, cut through the saddle bow and tore apart the lap of his hauberk, splitting the thigh-piece in two and wounding him above the thigh. He thrust hard and toppled him, and the grass all around him was covered in blood. Philemenis seized the duke’s charger, which was a very fine and highly prized steed. He turned away with it and handed it over to his men. Then he returned to the fray. (11441–70) Merceres, a brave and wise man, joined battle with the noble king of Carthage, thrusting his banner impetuously through his body and knocking him down dead from his saddle. Merceres seized and kept the king’s fine Castilian charger, which he then gave to one of his men. Philitoas advanced to the line of combat. His coat-of-arms was of gold with two lions, and over his hauberk was a tunic of costly silk. Lance lowered and shield in hand, Remus sprang up right in front of him, seated on a grey steed that was strong, swift and spirited. They struck one another with such violence that their lances could only snap; the fragments flew high up into the air. Both men left their saddles, but then sprang vigorously to their feet. With their sharp, bright blades they charged, intent on laying mighty blows on each other. King Theseus saw what was happening. Mounted on a bay steed from Gascony he dashed through the fray, and Resa, the cruel king of Aresse, rushed to attack him. Through their enamelled shields they thrust their ashen shafts with the result that their double-mailed hauberks were broken and

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shattered. They would suffer grievous wounds; however, gravely injured, they unhorsed one another. Neither could harm the other now, for henceforth both would require a physician. (11471–508) The Bastards came riding up to their men. When the fighting came to an end, no one would ever consider them to be the worst combatants. This was evident from their painted shields, which were split, pierced and full of nail-like holes made by the iron tips of lances; with their sharp, naked swords they broke off their shields’ buckles. They were very bold and courageous men, winning many horses there that were worth more than a thousand bezants. King Priam had to love them, and he did indeed love them, for they were marvellous knights. The handsome, worthy Sarpedon went to joust with Telamon, a very cruel and very violent man who was also strong, bold and confident. On their horses, with shield in hand and enflamed with anger and hate, they joined battle at full speed. They split the boards in their strong shields and broke the mail of their hauberks, so that their pennants from Thessaly pierced their enemy’s bare sides. After gravely wounding one another, both fell to the ground unconscious. Some five hundred watched them joust, and this did not fail to dismay and cause great grief to every single one of them. They were indeed noble and powerful men and they caused many to feel great distress. (11509–40) Thoas Captured by the Trojans Both Thoas and Achilles, who were close relatives, fought with Hector. As a result, helmets lined with gold flew off their heads. Never was such a combat witnessed between bears and a wild boar.49 Blood poured through the mail in their ventail; no wonder the grass beneath them was bright red. Thoas had two thirds of his nose sliced off, or at least half of it. Hector’s troops put to the test the Greeks who were exhausted from fighting; no man alive here below was safe from them. Because of Telamon, who was wounded and carried off for dead, the Greeks pulled back. On that day they lost sixty knights and even more. King Thoas was captured and Deiphebus, along with Antenor, led him away into the city. The Greek had every reason to be afraid, for King Priam hated him sorely. This caused both Achilles and all his men to be filled with grief, which became quite obvious before three days had passed. This battle produced a great deal of talk throughout the host and in the great city. Both sides were overjoyed, for they had fought well. The fighting continued to be talked about for a long time afterwards, because all the kings on the outside had jousted in close combat with those from within, who were considered to be braver and were more highly prized. They both lost and gained, which is customary in such a business. When the battle had come to an end, which vexed many of them, the troops pulled back. (11541–83) 49 The rhymes here seem to indicate animals fighting with one another. We take this to be a metaphor for Achilles and Thoas (the bears) against Hector (the boar).


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However, the fighting went on for some time thereafter and many knights were knocked down dead from their chargers. Paris let fly huge bolts from his crossbow, killing many Greeks that day. With his Turkish bow he pressed them hard, as he wanted to be watched from the city. Menelaus applied himself with a hundred of his best vassals to tracking Paris in order to catch him by surprise. He planned to make him pay dearly for abducting his wife. He set as his goal the task of drawing the Trojan’s soul from his body, but that was very difficult for him to do. He thought of nothing else and intended nothing else, making frequent attacks on Paris that day and pursuing him throughout the fighting. He wanted, sought and desired his death. Paris noticed this. He looked about him and when he caught sight of Menelaus, he exclaimed: ‘Pull back right away and mind that I do not strike you or your horse. If you are aiming to harm me, I shall pay you back for it. You will quickly discover how well I can shoot.’ He notched an arrow that was solid, cutting and sharp, aimed it carefully and shot it angrily. From close by, he made Menelaus feel it. It struck him grievously, wounding and injuring him. The blood spurted from his thigh. He nearly fell flat on the ground because of the pain he felt. He pulled himself back up in anger and grief. He would never be happy ‒ that was his wish ‒ until he had exacted vengeance. He had no sooner staunched his wound than he remounted his charger. He stated firmly, showing and giving the impression that he meant it, that Paris would die before he did; he would see if he could harm him in some way or the other. He returned to his vassals. Ajax, who hated and threatened Paris often, went with him. They came to the fray together, stalking Paris closely while trying hard to surprise him. They would gladly have engaged him in combat. They were enraged and out of their mind because Paris did not draw closer to the lines of battle. They would have got near to him in no time. With their blade of Poitevin steel they would have overcome him, if possible, and they would have killed him on the battlefield. (11584–636) Hector understood why they had joined ranks in that way and realized what their desire and goal was. He had seen the wounding of Menelaus and his subsequent return to combat. He would avenge himself, that Hector knew for sure, if he had the opportunity and the right place to do so. Harming Paris was the only thing Menelaus thought of. Stealthily and swiftly, Hector went with Eneas over to where Menelaus was. They had spurred right up to Menelaus and come up alongside him. Menelaus was consumed with anger. As he spurred on towards Paris, he held a sharp steel blade. He would have struck him right away and knocked him off his horse, if Eneas had not come up and thrust his shield between them. Paris had already disarmed, for the sun had set. But he had come to shoot some arrows at the Greeks while they were beginning to withdraw; in order to launch this attack he had abandoned his armour. Menelaus caught him unawares, and he would have thrust his whole pennant, together with its burnished iron head, into his abdomen, and knocked him down dead from his horse, if Eneas had not stopped the blow with his shield. He covered Paris’s body and brought him out of the throng. Since he was not armed, Eneas led him into the city. But all of that would have been to no avail, and Paris would have been slain, obviously, if

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he had not been protected by lord Hector, who thrust himself with all his might and main into the fight, forcibly driving back a good thousand knights and more. He attacked some forty of them, who would never again be counted among the combatants. With the help of the men accompanying him, he pursued the Greeks as far as he could. Sword in hand, he followed them closely, all of whom fled and made way for him. They departed and nothing more was accomplished that day. Both sides withdrew. (11637–84) Hector went riding through the fray, dispatching his men on ahead of him. Before they had disarmed, daylight had faded into night. But, like a brave and worthy man, he went up and down throughout their lodgings in order to comfort the wounded and to tell everyone and command that whatever they might want should be done for them. He looked for physicians to heal them, after which he went to dismount in the great hall. Ready to receive and take his sword were many ladies and maidens who were noble and worthy, wise and beautiful. They gladly disarmed him; no retainer or squire had a hand in this, just these women. After that, Hector remained in his tunic, which was made of cloth from Saragossa; he had donned it fresh that day, but now it was torn and faded, caked in blood and sweat, filthy and stained. He donned a grey silk mantle adorned with gold. It was quite obvious that he had laboured, for the mail of his hauberk had left a deep mark in his face. His eyebrows were very swollen from the mighty sword blows he had received. His skin was purple in many places. He showed clearly what kind of game he had been playing. He was well shod in costly silk. Never was a knight born who could hold out against him in close combat; any such Greek was compelled to die on the battlefield. (11685–720) Paris had come there ahead of the others. Lady Helen had shown him her love and great joy, and he in turn told her in his own words how Menelaus had knocked him down and how for his part he had struck him so hard that he almost killed him. ‘My lord’, she answered, ‘if he hates you, you do no wrong in hating him. May he protect himself better in the future, for he surely needs to do so, it seems to me.’ After welcoming Paris joyfully, she said she would go and see Hector. Through the gold-painted room she went straight to him, and when he saw her he sprang to his feet in order to welcome and embrace her. He kissed her eyes, mouth and face more than a hundred times. ‘My fair one’, he said, ‘if you had seen your two lords fight today – with Paris falling and the other wounded – how they attacked one another, burning with anger and wrath, you would have known fright and fear if you felt any love at all for them.’ ‘My lord’, she answered, ‘if I do not see them I have no less fright on account of that. I live in fear and anxiety, for I dread misfortune. May God keep you from it, that is my wish.’ Then tears fell from her eyes. (11721–52) Trojan Deliberations on the Fate of Thoas Priam summoned his counsellors in a chamber that was sculpted in gold and paved with crystal that shone more brightly than the sun. Adorned with carbuncles and bright-red gold, it was hung with precious silken brocades. One of


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the counsellors was Paris and the other Hector. Also present were Troilus and Antenor, Deiphebus and Eneas; the seventh was Polidamas. These men were summoned to the council. Priam was the first to speak: ‘My lords, King Thoas has been captured; he is noble and highly prized. In their host there were not three knights as strong, brave or combative as he was. He came to disinherit us, to expel us from this realm and to mistreat and kill us. I want to explain and tell you this so that we can determine what decision to take ‒ whether we ransom him or hang him or tear him limb from limb or have horses drag him to death ignominiously. In this way, those who have invaded us here may be sure, certain and confident that they will receive the same reward if we capture them or get hold of them. For that reason they will be afraid, fearful and anxious, and their whole army will be less effective and less bold and brave.’ (11753–83) Standing before all the others, Eneas responded, saying: ‘My lord, for my part I say and advise you in good faith that he be neither mutilated nor badly treated. He is a very strong man with many friends. If we take vengeance on him in that way, the Greeks would treat one of our own men in similar fashion. The fighting is exceedingly perilous and you have so many allies caught up in the hostilities! Do you imagine that none of them would be captured? On the contrary, it is truly unavoidable if this conflict goes on for a week. You have a large number of relatives and sons involved. If they captured anyone from among them, he would surely come to a bad end, and his death would be cruel. They will capture someone with the result that, whoever may be displeased, you would not want to have him put to death, mutilated, injured or mistreated, even for this chamber of fine gold. To my way of thinking and to my mind, I believe I have spoken for your advantage. Hear now in their turn what these lords will say, all of whom wish to preserve your honour.’ (11784–808) Hector responded immediately. ‘My lord, Eneas gives you sound advice. Let King Thoas be closely guarded for now, and before a month passes we shall know what we must do. We can quickly have him mutilated, ransom him, let him go, or tear him limb from limb. We do not know what will happen.50 The battles are tough and harsh. A knight is captured quickly enough. Not one of us is so powerful that, if he were captured, they would fail to return him to us in exchange for Thoas. For us he will be a treasure to be ransomed as long as we keep him in prison.’ ‘Right!’ exclaimed King Priam, ‘but the Greeks have so much skill, wit and cunning that they will always claim that turpitude and cowardice have so quickly frightened us, and that we are so fearful that we dare not do anything. I for one (of this you can be sure) do not want them to believe that we are cowards. Nonetheless, I leave it to you. Do in this matter what you will. I do not wish to deviate from your counsel.’ The discussion and deliberations went on until the king agreed to delay putting Thoas to death. They succeeded in giving him sound advice. Priam would not have seen the month come to an end without having 50 Our expression ‘what will happen’ translates the Old French ‘les aventures’ (v.11817), i.e. the play of chance, as discussed in the Introduction (pp. 13 and 30).

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deeply regretted taking any other course of action than that which they advised. This is how those who were his loyal allies terminated the council. (11809–44) Conversing with the Ladies in Troy Eneas went to see Helen, taking Polidamas with him; Troilus accompanied them as well. They found the ladies in a chamber made of ebony, which gleamed and shone more brightly than the moon in the firmament. A hundred maidens, noble and beautiful, were there with them. Not one of them lacked a father, a husband or a brother who was a king. Hecuba was courtly and worthy. She welcomed the three vassals warmly and engaged in very serious conversation with them, as a woman would do who is not foolish. ‘My lords’, she said, ‘this much I know. You never refrained from supporting the interests of my husband and my own, ever exulting our crown insofar as justice and laws grant it to us. You have so far shown us true affection and absolute fidelity. Now matters have come to such a head that we must recognize those who have ever felt sincere affection for us. Someone said truly, and he was not lying, that in times of need one recognizes who is one’s friend. That time of need is upon us today; never have we faced a greater need than now. Henceforth, your love will be on display, as well as the great wisdom, valour and devotion that is in you, for we have great trust in those qualities. Never, in giving high counsel, need one ask for anyone else. The king has placed all his confidence in you. This siege is exceedingly perilous. In God’s name, be most mindful of this, for misfortune is quickly upon us. Guard the city well! Do not allow us to be disinherited! The honour and advantage will be yours, and as a result you will be glorified for all time. For that reason our heirs to the realm will always love you and your lineages. If we are brought down, the decline would be yours too, along with that of your people. May the gods take pity on us now and make us happy and joyful in opposing those who have brought such harm on us by surrounding and besieging us here.’ ‘My queen and lady’, they answered, ‘in this undertaking lies great peril, for matters have gone so far that they can no longer be turned about until they or we have been unquestionably vanquished in combat. And if the gods have foreseen this favourably, we shall soon have delivered ourselves, the city and the country from the hands of our mortal enemies. It must be as they wish; we cannot save ourselves in any other way. All our possessions, our wealth, our minds, our lives and our bodies are committed to this task. Therefore, we shall be doing everything in our power to win. Believe this and know for sure that we shall never be faint-hearted in what we do.’ (11845–912) They had been in the chamber for some time where they conversed at great length with Helen, both privately and openly. She was very affable with them and very courtly, sensible and worthy. She gave all of them gifts from her valuable possessions, and they reassured her firmly and comforted her in many ways. Polidamas alone remained silent. The gift that he received from her pleased him immensely. I am well aware that he would like to have had more, but that did


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not depend on his own wishes, or on his feelings or desires.51 Between the two of them there was no action, sign or word about which anything base might be said or heard. But it is difficult to explain forthrightly one’s wishes, feelings and thoughts. Troilus kissed his sister Polixena, who bore the flower of beauty. Then, having taken their leave, the men departed; I do not know what more to say. The water was brought into the great hall, and a thousand knights, and another thousand and even more of them, dined there in high honour. Whoever might have been vexed or grieved, Paris had much to delight him, for he held in his arms all night long the woman whose body was so pleasing and whose eyes, mouth and face shone brightly. It was not right for anyone who gazed on her while holding her in his arms to feel grief or anger. (11913–44) Doroscalu, the king’s son, was mourned, and for good reason. He was an extraordinary knight, strong, bold and courageous. His brothers mourned and wept for him, as did the common folk in the city. There was no lady who was not in mourning for him or who did not feel sorrow because of his death. Priam was grief-stricken because of him. They placed Doroscalu alongside his brother Cassibilant in a very precious sarcophagus, made of a stone called onyx, which shone brightly and was very hard. The sepulchre was worth a hundred marks. (11945–58) In the Greek host everyone was disinclined to speak because of their fear and fright. It seemed to them that they were suffering too much misfortune. A great many of their men had been killed and so many of them wounded and injured because of which they were very sullen. Because of King Telamon, they were filled with sorrow and wept. They all hastened to where he lay, greatly fearing he would die. But the physicians assured them that he would recover in a short time; they should trust in and be sure of that. The wound was not so alarming that they should presume that it would cause his death. If he were healed and had recovered, the Greeks would be profoundly comforted, if it were not for King Thoas alone, whom they had lost in that day’s battle. They did not believe there would be any ransom, only decapitation; because of that they were sorrowful and distressed. There was no laughter or merriment that night, no amusements or entertainment. That night was so dark, and there was so much thunder along with gales and heavy rain, that never did they suffer such grievous torment since the time the host had set out. The wind blew constantly until daybreak. The pavilions were blown down, broken and torn. Five hundred of them fell down during the night, so strong were the winds. At dawn the storm ceased, pleasant weather returned and it became calmer. Now there will be such a charge on horseback that a thousand men will be buried because of it. (11959–94)

51 Benoît is clearly alluding to Polidamas’s desire for Helen’s love. But nothing comes of this in the Troie.

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Fifth Battle The morning was very fair, and without further ado the Greeks armed themselves again quickly and swiftly, for they saw a band of warriors approaching, with ten thousand knights fully armed on their chargers. None of them lacked a helmet laced on or a shield, a lance and a good spear of burnished steel shining bright and sharp. Resolute and eager, the Trojans had issued forth to challenge the Greeks. From the Greek camp lord Achilles came out first of all, together with some seven thousand knights, who had seized their shields and were filled with hatred for those coming from within the city. Diomedes and his company followed Achilles on to the whole field. With sharp steel blades and, held high, wooden shafts that were solid and smooth, and pennants waving, they advanced, ruthless, fierce and violent, towards those from the city, whom they were eager to destroy. Agamemnon and Menelaus, with forces comprised of their own vassals, emerged from their lodgings, armed for combat with the Trojans. The throngs of men were great and their ranks enormous. Then they rode against the Trojans, who were coming out to oppose them, very cruel and ruthless and equipped for tough combat. Listen to how the ensuing encounter was fought. (11995–2028) Achilles broke away from his men and spurred his horse forward eagerly, galloping faster than a crossbow or a bow can shoot. The horse’s neck, rump and flanks were sorrel in parts and white in others; it was a truly swift and very defiant animal. It had been brought from the realm of Leutiz and sold at a high price. Achilles’s hauberk was handsome, as was his shield and his helmet ringed with gold. He held a huge lance with a sharp iron tip, made from an ash tree that was straight, long and smooth. His banner and emblem were made of costly bright-red silk from Africa. Without any further ado, he went armed in this way to joust with Hupot, king of Larissa, who was very strong and tall, much like a giant. These two men met first, in open field, ahead of the others. The joust between the two of them was very violent and the outcome unfortunate. The mighty Hupot dealt the first blow with his square-cut lance that passed along Achilles’s side, causing blood to flow down to his spurs and almost killing him. Achilles was angered by this! He struck Hupot through the shield in such a way that the hauberk he was wearing did not protect him and the silken pennant passed through his chest. It split the Trojan’s heart in two and he fell down dead on the ground. Achilles seized his charger and gave it to someone who, if he could, would return it to him without fail. It was worth seven hundred silver marks and more; no king or duke ever owned a better steed. (12029–68) The king of Larissa was dead. Rest assured, that day all those in the city were profoundly disturbed by this. But before the strife came to end, he would be avenged for certain. The Greeks would have much to lament. The combatants attacked from both sides, laying prodigious blows on one another. Lances pierced shields, and a thousand fallen men lay dead and wounded, bleeding and cold. The battle was joined and the men fought with each other angrily; great was the outcry, loud the laments. On the green, brightly burnished helmets there landed sword blows so prodigious and so deadly that heads went flying.


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It could not be otherwise; no one was spared or granted mercy. They were enemies on both sides, as would be obvious before nightfall. In the Greek host was a noble king, who was wise and worthy. His name was Orcomenis and I know that he was born over towards India. He had brought a thousand valiant, esteemed knights from his country. Not a single one of them lacked equipment that would have been suitable for a king. Orcomenis was their lord, a man who enjoyed great renown in arms. He engaged Hector, which was madness. Through his shield, which gleamed with gold, Orcomenis thrust his steel blade and its pennant of costly silk. The lance shattered and broke in pieces. Hector neither moved nor tottered; rather he pierced his opponent’s shield and shattered the mail on his strong hauberk so that he severed his flanks. Orcomenis fell down dead on the ground. Those who loved him dearly showed him a great deal of affection and felt much grief. They were his liegemen who, with great effort and difficulty, pulled his body away from the horses. Diomedes arrived with his vassals, who then went on to joust. There you would have seen the fighting grow more intense as well as lances being broken. No one who was there knew how to protect himself. You would have heard such clanging from weapons and cracking of helmets. There you would have seen many a knight unable to harm or assist at the point where the living passed over the dead. When Diomedes charged, the strife had gone on a long time. Where he saw the thickest throng, he went to strike King Antipus, so that all his liver and lungs came tumbling out from his body. It was not easy to compensate for the great loss the Trojans suffered in him. This was obvious, and it was also clear that it displeased Hector. He had barely reached Alamenis when he thrust a lance into him in such a way that that his soul took leave of his body. Alamenis was a powerful duke from beyond the river Jotarus. If Hector had not stopped him, he who had accomplished much would have achieved still more. (12069–142) Two kings, both men of very great valour, joined the fighting. They were twin brothers, who ruled a country that was large and beautiful, always prosperous and plentiful. This was the realm called Phocis, a most delightful land that abounded in all good things. With a large body of knights, equipped with arms and chargers, they had joined the Greek host; they were very worthy and courtly men. One was named Epistrot and the other King Scedius. They loved one another with genuine affection; no offensive or vulgar word passed between them. Just as Dares reports it, I shall tell you what happened to them. King Epistrot held a bright spear, as sharp as a razor. He spotted Hector in the thick of battle and noted the devastation he was inflicting on them. He made his way towards Hector through the throng and dealt him such a remarkable blow that, as a result, his saddle turned bright red from his blood. He shoved him hard, but he did not fall. Then Epistrot said: ‘Your impudence harms us, but rest assured that you will pay for it so grievously that you will lose the soul in your body. After those you have killed, you must take your turn. It will be a great consolation for them when they see that we have taken revenge on you.’ Hector heard what he said and became very angry. ‘It is you who will be the first to follow them’, he exclaimed, ‘along with thirty thousand others before my time comes. Nor do I believe that the threat you made to

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me is of any worth to you at all.’ Whereupon, he drew his good sword and thrust it right through Epistrot’s helmet of shining gold, knocking him down dead from his charger. Then he said reproachfully: ‘Tell the dead men whom you meet that I have dispatched you after them, for you were not my friend. It would be wrong for you to hide it from them because of me.’ (12143–92) When Scedius saw his dear brother Epistrot after Hector had slain him, he was overwhelmed with such grief that he almost died. He beat his face and wrung his hands, frequently collapsing from sorrow, as did a great many of his men. After that, ruthless, aggrieved and angry, they took up their shields once more and went looking for Hector. They would soon find him. Some thousand men attacked him frontally, and there was not one who did not feel mortal hatred for him. Hector received many a sword blow there. They struck him numerous times, inflicting great harm on him, and they would have taken him away dead or as a prisoner if Eneas had not come to his aid. Otherwise, it would have ended badly for him. Eneas came spurring up with seven hundred men, who would soon make the Greeks disconsolate. The Trojans charged right into their midst, striking with lance and spear, but in return they received harsh blows that killed, wounded and unhorsed them. There was much crying out and lamenting. Both sides had fought well. Eneas slew a king there who was noble and valiant in his own right. His name was Amphimacus and he was a high-born man of great renown. With his spear Eneas knocked him down dead. The Greeks subsequently mourned and sorely grieved for him. He had no heir; therefore his realm was thrown into disarray. (12193–224) King Scedius, together with his men, fought hard. Whether it turned out for the better or the worse, he avenged his brother as best he could. When he saw Hector in the midst of his men, he thought he had found just what he wanted. They had knocked Hector off his horse, but he stood firm against them; he was the wild boar and they were the dogs. They did not spare one another in the least, for if the Greeks struck him Hector returned the blows. In a short time their grief would increase. ‘Wretch, in the name of God’, exclaimed Scedius, ‘you will die here and live no longer. I shall avenge my brother and you will pay for having separated the two of us.’ With the naked steel blade he had drawn, Scedius charged at Hector like a man gone mad. Through his shield with its golden bands Scedius struck him so hard that nails flew off together with the shield’s rim. He dealt Hector another blow on the nose piece in the middle of his face. The sword slipped in his fist, which was exactly what Hector needed, for if Scedius had struck him directly things would have turned out badly for his Trojan foe. As it was, Hector lost the nose above his mouth, which inflamed him and roused immense anger in him. ‘Henceforth’, Hector cried out, ‘I am shamed if you are not quickly made to grieve!’ He hurled himself right at Scedius, slicing off his right arm and his side down to the navel. More than a thousand men witnessed this blow. Scedius dropped dead on the spot. Eneas made his way to Hector and got him back on his charger. There would soon be intense fighting, for Paris joined the fray at this time of need with more than ten thousand Persians astride their swift chargers. Deiphebus led just as many men; they counted more than


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twenty thousand on horseback. The fine vassal Polidamus came along with his father Antenor to Hector, who was the Trojan duke and leader.52 (12225–72) From the opposing side came King Menelaus with a large number of good vassals, including King Ajax, King Ulysses, the worthy Diomedes from Argos, King Archelaus, King Machon and the wise Agamemnon. With the troops each of them had available the sword-play on that day was widespread. It was very cruel and ruthless; kings, dukes, counts and barons were slain there in large numbers. I do not know what more I can tell you about it. There were huge forces on both sides, and for this reason many men fell dead. Seven or eight times that day the Greeks happened to have the worst of it, but the Trojans fared no better. Midday had already passed and the Greeks had regrouped themselves and reassembled their men. When their troops were separated and their divisions deployed, they charged their enemy anew, hitting them so hard that they put them to flight. They drove them into tight passages on their side and the Trojans came close to losing many men there. As they crowded together while trying to seize the passage, many men had to die. The entrances into Troy were narrow and the throng huge; that is why they suffered such great losses there. (12273–303) Achilles held his drawn sword. He slew many Trojans and toppled still more. The ground was covered with the dead men’s blood. Achilles sliced off the head, along with the visor, of a noble king named Eufeme, a man who was highly renowned in arms. You can be sure that without fail, this would cause deep sorrow to both Priam and the lady with such an attractive body. He was a relative of the king’s sons – a first cousin, I believe. Those from the city lost enormous numbers of men there, but Hector, who was neither cowardly nor a slouch and was now lord over all of them, remained strong, bold and courageous. When he saw his men’s misfortune, he was seized with such grief and sorrow that he almost went stark staring mad. With his naked blade drawn, and overcome with anger, he was the first to return to the action. With his own hands he killed two of the Greek kings, strong, noble combatants who were very powerful men in their own realms. One was called Elpinor from the kingdom of Libanor; the other was Dorius from Satelee. These men would never again see their country. The Trojan recovery gained in vigour, and rest assured: Paris fought hard there. He suffered and endured much while inflicting great harm on many of his opponents. The Trojans then recovered and those who were renowned in arms fought well. (12304–36) The Sagittarius I cannot tell or relate everything, for it would be tedious to listen to the deeds of each and every man separately. However, in the city there was a king who was lord of Alizonie. With a marvellous company of men he had come to help defend Troy. But things had not gone well for him on his arrival.53 His name was King 52 53

On these titles and their rank, see Appendix I, pp. 417 and 419, entries ber and duc. No explanation is given for this turn of events.

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Pistropleus and he was well grounded in all the arts. When he heard and was told that the Greeks had arrived in great numbers, and that the Trojan forces had been so cruelly butchered, he ordered his company to take up arms. He then sallied forth with a good three thousand armed men. He brought a Sagittarius with him that was very cruel and wicked. From its navel downwards it had the body and shape of a horse, and there was no one who, even if he tried, could match it for speed. Its body, arms and face resembled that of humans like ourselves, but it was not the least bit attractive. It never wore clothing, because it was hairy like a beast. Its face was fashioned in such a way that it was a brighter red than a piece of coal. The eyes shone in its head and in the dark of night they burned. I am not lying when I assert that from as far away as three long leagues one could easily catch sight of it. It had such horrid features that there is no living creature here below who would not be terrified by it. It carried a bow that was not made of laburnum, but rather of the gum from boiled leather and fused with remarkable skill. Its bow was so strong that no one could shoot with it or draw it by sheer force. It carried in a quiver of pure gold a hundred arrows of pure steel, well decorated with allerion feathers.54 These birds dwell and are found in the wide, uninhabited stretches towards the south. Just as I am telling you, Pistropleus’s men sallied forth into the mêlée. They did not have to look very far for Greeks; they found them near the city. I am telling you this because the Greeks paid for it. They had driven the Trojans back and were forcing them to withdraw. That is when the Alizonians arrived in full charge straight into the midst of the ranks of combatants. They went to strike those who were waiting for them and who engaged them in ferocious combat. The sword fight was perilous and devastating on both sides. The number of those slain there was enormous and the whole land was covered with their bodies. (12337–96) A courtly duke from Salamina, Polixenart of the Gaudine, who was a relative of Ajax Telamon and a good and brave knight, received from Hector such a blow that his head was sent flying over the field a good distance from his body. Then those holding and guarding the Sagittarius let it loose. They showed it which men it was to harm, which to help and which to hate. With that, it sprang up very joyfully while the Trojans fastened their eyes intently on it. It made a great noise, braying and screaming, so that the sound spread about in all directions. It also made all those in the Greek host stare at it in wonder. When they saw this devil shooting arrows at them and killing them, there was not a single one of them, great or small, who did not take fright. Without further ado, they drew back as it came at them, wreaking immense havoc among them. The Sagittarius fired arrows at them, often killing two or three Greeks with one blow, according to what Dares wrote. In a short time it killed a hundred men. It frothed at the mouth, the foam catching fire on contact with the air. The Greeks were in high panic. Before shooting its arrows, it moistened them, applied poison to them and then grasped them. Then, as soon as it took aim, the arrowhead caught fire, as did 54 An allerion is an eagle that is used as an heraldic device with expanded wings but no beak or feet.


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the air and the wind. If this battle had lasted long, the Greek army would have been routed. Not a single Greek could have escaped with his life. Because of the fright it caused, as I think and believe, they lost some two thousand men that day, the worst of whom was a good knight. The Sagittarius totally routed them. (12397–439) Dares’s history reports that the Trojans forced their way in among the Greek tents. You can rest assured that they inflicted heavy losses on the Greeks, all of whom were exposed to death, which would have been inevitable if something extraordinary had not happened. A rout was taking place among the tents. The Greeks, on foot and mounted, put up a concerted defence but with great hardship; they lost many men there. While the fighting was going on, the Sagittarius was everywhere. Everyone feared its arrow, for it did not fail to kill whomsoever it struck; neither double hauberks nor strong shields were a defence against its blow. While the beast was passing in front of a pavilion, Diomedes, all alone, came charging after it. Tydeus’s son had been wounded by a javelin in the upper part of his head, but he hardly felt the wound. He felt great sorrow and anger because the Greeks had suffered such enormous losses. On horseback, and with his sword drawn, he charged after the Sagittarius. In his predicament Diomedes did not know what to do. If he had turned back, it would have been folly, for he would have immediately lost his life. More than twenty thousand Trojans were pursuing him and they had no intention of seeking peace or a truce with him. He feared the devil in front of him that had so terrified the Greeks. The Sagittarius caught sight of him and yelled out, brayed and whinnied. The ground shook beneath its hooves. In great anger it shot its steel arrow at Diomedes, striking him with such force that the arrow did not stop in his shield. It sliced through his hauberk and his side, striking a tent on the opposite side and almost killing him. If the arrow had penetrated deeper into him, he would never again have put food in his mouth. Then it reached for its quiver, but Diomedes charged towards the beast at full tilt and made it feel his steel blade. He had great strength and anger, and slashing through both its sides he cut it in two. Its human part dropped on the spot. The Trojan pursuit would come to an immediate halt, I believe, while the part that resembled a beast went on running for a long time until the Greeks, recovering their strength because of what happened, brought it down. If it had not been for Tydeus’s son, the Greeks would have been vanquished, which is all I know about this. When they had killed the Sagittarius, the Greeks found new courage. They sounded their trumpets and horns. By force and by effort, they set about driving the Trojans out from the midst of the tents, pushing them far back on to the open fields. Fighting took place there that was so awful and so deadly that no one had ever seen the like. There was both loss and gain, which vexed many of the combatants. (12440–506) Struggle for Hector’s Horse Galatea Among those in the city there was a king present who was very handsome, worthy and noble; Phileus was his name. He was raised and begotten in the great realm

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of Palatine. Hear what was to be his destiny. He went to joust with Achilles, but the task he took on was far too arduous. His opponent slew him with his lance, which distressed and grieved his men. Hector saw what happened and it did not please him. He spurred Galatea towards Achilles and they laid mighty blows on one another, for both of them were furious. Their strong spears shattered and each man was unhorsed. Achilles was first to remount. He reached out for Hector’s fine charger, Galatea, grasping and holding the horse and riding away swiftly with it. Now he had a great deal of what he wanted if he could get it to his men. Hector was angry and shouted to his men not to let Achilles get away with the animal. ‘Noble knights, spur after him, for I shall never again know great joy if he takes the horse away unopposed. Now make a great effort and take pains to retrieve it.’ Thereupon, so many men spurred forth together that the whole earth shook and shuddered. In the attempt to rescue Hector’s horse, many a man died or was wounded. The fighting went on for a long time before any of the Trojans could get hold of the horse. Before that, many helmets lost their rings, many good shields were pierced and many knights were knocked down. But, as I understand it, that same day the Bastards gave the steed back to Hector, their brother and their lord. By their efforts and prowess, their courage and agility they wrested it from the hands of Achilles, the man who defended the Greeks in moments of great need. (12507–50) Antenor Captured by the Greeks Before the fighting ceased, Achilles’s anger became obvious to the Trojans, for he captured Antenor, which caused great distress among those in the city. He captured him on his word of honour and held on to him. When Polidamas learnt what had happened, he almost went stark staring mad. He was not present when the capture took place. When he learnt about it, he wanted to hurl himself right into the fray. He would have had the Greeks pay dearly for his anger, his grief and his loss, but the high-born and wisest men brought the huge battle to an end, for the day was coming to a close. It was vespers55 and night was drawing nigh. By dint of great effort and with considerable difficulty both sides pulled back and disengaged. One side went off into the city and the other side headed straight to their pavilions. (12551–69) That night the Greek barons gathered together with their princes and highborn men. Hear now the substance of their deliberations. Agamemnon urged them not to be dismayed, saying that they should go on fighting confidently, for he knew for certain that an army would be coming from Mysia that would be a great help to them. The Greek host would be growing in numbers ever more each day. So there should be no let up; rather they should go on fighting relentlessly until their enemy had the worst of it and was vanquished or captured or each and every one of them defeated in battle. ‘Observe’, he exclaimed, ‘what proof the 55

Vespers is the evening canonical hour.


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gods offer us as assurance against that awful, hideous devil that did battle with us today. We would all been have killed, captured or vanquished if the Sagittarius had lived till now. If it had not been for Tydeus’s son, it would have wiped us out; that much I know for sure. The gods have provided us this day with a fine adventure and great honour. Diomedes’s renown is greatly enhanced by it, and we should be well pleased, for he is a son issued from, born to and begotten by, the best father who ever girded on a sword. Moreover, one of the highest-born Trojan men in this land and the wisest man, one who has the greatest dominion there and can accomplish the most with the king, who confides most of his secrets to him and through whose intelligence the Trojans do what they do ‒ this man we have captured and now hold prisoner. It would have turned out very well for us, for, as I have heard say and tell, he would have had us realize all our desires and given us peace and accord to our liking.56 But we have been led in the opposite direction because the Trojans have captured King Thoas.’ Achilles spoke next. ‘Fair beloved lord, if we can free Thoas from prison in exchange for Antenor, things would turn out very well for us. Thoas would be too great a loss for us, for he is a high-born man, noble and worthy. Without him we are all much weaker. Now we shall get him back in exchange for old Antenor of Troy; this will be a source of great joy to us.’ All those assembled there were very grateful to Achilles for this proposal. They fully recognized the value of his words, and as long as he lived they loved him even more because of what he said then. (12570–626) The Greeks kept watch that night. There were a good three thousand knights who had been called up for this purpose. As I have told you, those in the city remained quiet, making no clamour or outcry. They were upset about Antenor, and Priam was very angry because of his capture. In him the Trojans had sustained a huge loss. However, they took comfort and solace in the fact that the Greeks would do nothing to harm him for the sake of Thoas, whom the Trojans were holding as a prisoner. (12627–38) There was much talk among the Trojans about the Sagittarius. People said that, in losing it so quickly, things had not turned out well for them. If it had survived for just that one day, they would have freed the whole country and the Greeks would have paid dearly for it. They would never have returned home without a hundred thousand of their men lying in coffins. The Trojans mourned intensely for Eufeme, the giant Hupot and Phileus, Steropeus, Merceres and Antipus; these six men were mighty kings. Achilles had slain four of them and Diomedes the other two. It seems entirely credible to me that, in a place where six kings died, many more were killed. But the Trojans were somewhat reassured and comforted by Hector’s exploits that day: he alone slew seven Greeks, six of whom were mighty kings and the seventh a duke, I believe. One of them was called Orcomenis and the others were King Almenus, King Elpinor, King Scedius, King Epistrot and King Dorius; the duke was Polixenart, a noble and strong man of great renown. Know as well that, without any doubt, in the fifth battle Hector 56

This may be the narrator’s anticipation of Antenor’s betrayal of Priam.

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slew these seven men. For his part, lord Eneas also killed a noble and worthy king named Amphimacus. It comforted the Trojans to think that everywhere they were superior, since, for every one of their losses, the Greeks lost three of their men. Polidamas became very despondent for his father, whom the Greeks had captured. But then he began to think that, if they wanted to engage battle on the morrow, he would like to make them pay dearly for his anger by slaying and capturing one of their kings, in exchange for whom his father would be freed or, if they killed him, avenged at great cost to them. (12639–82) Sixth and Seventh Battles Night passed and daylight returned, illuminated by Lucifer57 and the dawn. The morning was somewhat misty and dew made the gardens damp. But the sun came up bright, driving away the day’s gloominess. On to the fresh grass, green and extensive, the dew dripped from the trees. The weather turned fair and the day was clear. Know that there was no further delay; rather the Trojans issued forth from the city and those in the host met them. They could not avoid them, although at that time they would have preferred to remain at rest rather than to engage them in combat. But, like it or not, necessity constrained them to act. With entreaty and threats they came out on to the deadly fields. Those among them who were more valiant were the first to join battle. Then began the ferocious battle which was awful, extraordinary and murderous. There you would have seen so many men in anguish, who were wounded and lamenting as they slew and maimed one another. The lines and the rows of combatants were massive, as were the combat, the fighting, the pursuits and the pitched battles. They had not protected their heads well enough to keep their brains from being splattered about, along with their entrails and their guts. The mire their blood produced was immense. So many men lay dead and fallen that no one could count them. But this much I can tell you for certain: the History that Dares, as eyewitness, relates tells me that, of the knights alone, many thousands were struck down that day and hacked to pieces. The Greeks fought very well for their side and that day they killed an enormous number of Trojan men. But the Trojans paid them back in kind, for the Greeks also suffered terrible losses. They fought all day long without separating until evening came. The departure was very grievous, and there were very few of them who found anything to smile about in this. They were greatly distressed and weary, and most of them were wounded. (12683–734) The day came to an end and night came on quickly. Those in the host went to their encampment and the Trojans returned, entering the city vexed, taciturn and without jesting. They were incensed with anger towards the Greeks, who had arrogantly attacked them, slain their men and were trying to capture them by force of arms and to set Troy ablaze and reduce it to ashes. Many of them were unsightly, being covered with bright-red blood and sweat. They had lost the flesh 57

Lucifer is the morning star.


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on their hands because the fighting had lasted so long. Anyone who had left his companion dead on the field felt sorrow and chagrin. The bodies were not moved or brought in. Many lamented, giving voice to their sorrows while shedding hot tears. Now the destinies the gods had foreseen would be fulfilled. The struggle did not end, rather it was waxing so grievous and cruel that no one will ever hear the like. (12735–58) Why should I drag out this affair? In the Greek host there was also much anger and distress. They had lost a great deal while gaining little, nor had they achieved anything thus far. They had found their enemy to be strong and able defenders of their country. The Trojans had done them harm on numerous occasions by chasing them from the field and routing them. The city was strong and, since help was continually coming to them, they had nothing to fear. The Trojans had such abundant provisions that they were very well provided for and supplied. Because of this most of the Greeks fell into despondency and would very much have preferred to return home. But this was a vain hope. They did not know what deadly strife was threatening them. Calcas preached such sermons about this, and argued so cogently that many of them, who later lost their life, were reassured. (12759–78) Without any truce being negotiated between them, as Dares’s History informs us, the seventh great battle lasted unquestionably for eighty days – eighty, that is to say four times twenty.58 Many an outstanding deed occurred and there was many a hard-fought engagement with much fighting and many powerful sword blows, while many knights were slain and captured there; I can vouch for the truth of this. Lord Achilles and lord Hector fought hand to hand, both on horse and on foot. They frequently wounded one another and just as frequently knocked one another down. But the day of their great undoing had not yet arrived, although it would not remain immanent much longer. Polidamas earned high praise. He did not forget the source of his great anger: if they held his father prisoner, it would be even worse for many Greeks. Using his sharp steel sword, he made them pay dearly for capturing his father. (12779–802) Truce Before the end of the eighty days truce mentioned above, such an extraordinary number of dead had accumulated there that the entire ground was bright red with blood. The waterways and the great river Simois were all flowing with red blood. A stench rose from the putrefying cadavers, and the air was heavy with the odour from the bodies that had been killed some time before but had not yet been cremated or buried. Because of the stench, which was so malodorous, thousands lay face down and pale, swollen and bloated; everyone was retching and the entire host was on the verge of perishing. Upon smelling that odour, no one on Benoît is using both ways to express the number eighty that were available in his day, probably for the rhyme (see also p. 174 note 44). This is also the first battle that explicitly goes on for more than a single day. 58

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earth would have escaped nausea. Anyone who was wounded was finished off by it; no physician could help him. The oppressive odour was killing them all. If this had not been so, I assure you that there would never have been a truce agreed upon before all had been slain. But now they could stand it no longer. Agamemnon summoned all his kings and lords, dukes, princes and commanders. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘noble knights, we have to adopt another strategy. This cannot be tolerated any longer. We shall all have to die, as this stench is killing us all. No one is so noble or so worthy that he has not become less capable and less valiant because of it. This battle has lasted so long that all the fields are piled high with the dead. There was not half a foot of ground that was free for combat. In my opinion, for the last fifteen of eighty days we have not fought except on the bodies of dead or slain men. We must ask for a truce and the bodies must be buried, so that the fields will become accessible again. When the bodies have been cremated and buried, the bad air and poisonous atmosphere that is bringing us down will pass away and the air will once more be healthy and fresh. Let us fix the truce with those in the city for three months.’ Everyone approved this suggestion. (12803–52) That night, without further ado, the messengers set out for the city. Diomedes bore the message, together with the worthy and prudent Ulysses, both of them fully armed and on horseback. A vassal came out to meet them; he was a nobleman born in Troy. I know his name: it was Dolon and he was a worthy and courtly knight. When he caught sight of the Greeks, he questioned both of them: ‘Hey!’ he shouted, ‘who are you? I see that you are armed, yet the night is dark. Identify yourselves truthfully. You seem to me to be foolhardy, insolent men. What are you looking for? Where are you heading on horseback at this late hour? I see no one to assist you if any emergency should arise that made it necessary for you. This is a threat that is not far from materializing. You will not turn back today without my striking at least one of you. Your hauberk will not be so strong, if I do strike it, that my blow will fail to leave its mark on your body and your soul will be a matter of concern to you.’ Diomedes began to smile. ‘Vassal’, he said, ‘you are a very valiant man. I recognized that as soon as you began to speak. If your actions conform to your words, we have stumbled upon a foolish quarrel. However, you have nothing to worry about from us on this occasion, unless you are the first to start trouble with us. Be at ease, do not take fright. To flee a single step because of us would be unfortunate. The Greeks have dispatched us as messengers. We are on our way to parley with King Priam. Go back to Troy with us; go on ahead and lead us to the palace. We want to establish a truce and make peace for two or three months, if the Trojans agree, in order to bury the dead that are causing such a stench.’ Dolon answered: ‘That would be a fine thing. The Trojans will never oppose this proposal, for the odour from the exposed bodies has afflicted us terribly here. Except for the fact that I see that you are armed, I would take you to the king. I would greatly fear censure if I took you to him bearing arms. But whatever may be my fear, or whatever harm may come to me from it, I shall in no way fail to accompany you. It is necessary for you that I go with you by night, for our people harbour great hatred for you. So ride on confidently. Nothing will


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impede your progress today unless I share it with you.’ Lord Ulysses thanked him warmly and promised and reassured him wholeheartedly, saying: ‘If the opportunity arises, we shall return the favour soon enough. Things can happen in a year at least that perhaps one does not foresee.’ (12853–916) Conversing in this way, they rode on. A number of people challenged them, but their escort Dolon, who was leading them, spoke in their place, stating what their purpose and goal was. They finally made their way to the palace, without ever reining in until they reached it. Priam was at table, dining; the court was very full and extensive. Present were Hector, Deiphebus, the handsome Paris and Troilus as well as some three thousand knights, all seated for the meal. Fewer than ten of them were without concussion or wounds from a lance or sword blow. It was quite obvious that many of them had been involved in heavy fighting. They were covered with bruises and scarred by gashes made by their coats of mail and their hauberks. Their faces and foreheads bore scratches and they had an odour sweeter than incense, balm or root.59 They refrained from creating any noise. They were splendidly served in costly gold and silver vessels. The Greeks came before the high table and Ulysses, who was the most skilled man of any age at speaking at court, delivered his entire message to his host the king, just as Agamemnon had commissioned it. Priam responded, ordering them to wait while he deliberated. After that he would respond to their request. (12917–48) Priam summoned all his kings, dukes and close associates. He informed them of the message he had received, which pleased and satisfied them very much. ‘My lords’, Priam said, ‘consider now what you wish to do regarding this proposal and what you recommend. The Greeks request of us a three-month truce because of the stench from the corpses lying rotting on the ground, which is causing them a great deal of distress. There is no escaping it and it is killing them all. We too have a great need for rest. Many of us are weary and suffering from wounds; we could not endure this any longer. Now let each of you give his opinion.’ They all agreed with him and were pleased with the proposal, with the sole exception of Hector, who did not hold his tongue. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘it is my opinion that the truce they are asking for is too long. The Greeks are deceptive and cunning, and this proposal is not to our advantage. They want to make us use up the city’s provisions, its bread, wine, meat and wheat. But a period of inactivity creates serious difficulties for us. They have seized our sources of revenue, the sea ports and customs houses. Why should we put up with being hemmed in? What advantage do we gain from this repose when we shall have to take up the fight once more? We also know that our enemies are making this proposal in order to cause us greater harm. For some time now, they have been unable to seek provisions for themselves. The fighting has gone on for so long that they sorely lack supplies. They want to go in search of them, both near and far. Out of necessity and need they have requested from us such a lengthy pause in hostilities. Would not a maximum of two weeks have sufficed to cremate and bury the dead and clear all the 59

This odour presumably comes from the balm for their wounds.

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fields? Yes indeed, in my opinion! But no one knows the wiles and deception they harbour. I do not believe that this is a good proposal. Not that I therefore wish to undo what seems fine and agreeable to all of us. I accede and accept whatever you want. If I alone were to oppose what all of you approve of, it would be an act of arrogance on my part.’ (12949–98) A prolonged discussion ensued before the truce was agreed upon. The majority favoured the lengthy delay and the repose that came with it, for they were worn out; sick of the fighting, they were wounded, weary and fatigued. That is why they all granted the truce. King Priam guaranteed it, as did the Greeks on their side, so that no one would have any doubts about it. Then the Greeks returned to their camp. That night the sky was not pitch-black, rather the moon shone quite clearly. After Dolon had led them from the city and the dangerous passages separating the armies, he said: ‘My lords, now you will continue on your way, slowly or fast, as you wish. You have nothing to fear from here to the host.’ They both took leave of him and returned to the Greek army. They reported that the truce had been granted and pledged by the king and his men. Throughout the tents they were overjoyed, as were those throughout the whole of Troy. They approved of this truce enthusiastically and were very pleased with it. When the day brightened, all together they collected the bodies, piling them up by hundreds and thousands. In various places they heaped great piles, big stacks and large heaps of them. They brought wood down from the mountains. Huge companies set about this task and they suffered much tribulation in carrying it out. They were burning corpses day and night; the funeral pyres were aflame in many locations. This made the sky become foul and dark. For their part, the Trojans ignited their own fires and all the lands and fields were ablaze. The bones crackled in the fire. No one was so daring as to approach the flames as long as they were burning, so strong was the smell, the stench and the odour. The conflagration and the enormous cremation lasted for two full weeks. Both those from inside and outside the city laboured hard. The slain kings and dukes were deeply mourned by their friends and families. They were entombed and buried in splendid sarcophagi made of stone and pure marble, green and blue-grey in colour, with little spots of yellow and dark blue. (12999–3050) When the land had been cleared and the stench had dissipated, the wind blew soft and fresh, while those who had put in the effort eagerly sought rest, for they certainly were in great need of it; they delighted in the repose. But the Trojans never ceased strengthening and preparing their defences and repairing their deep moats. Where the walls were low, they raised them higher and made huge ditches in the passageways. As best they could, they prepared themselves during the time the truce lasted. (13051–64)


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Exchange of Antenor for Thoas and Briseida The Trojan kings, princes and contors60 gathered together one day for deliberation. Priam was present, as well as all his sons and some thousand knights, the poorest of whom possessed a city, tower, castle or fortress. From the Greek side, there came to Troy Agamemnon and Menelaus, King Telamon, King Ajax and the Greek nobility composed of counts, dukes, admirals and kings. Neither side had anything to fear from their enemies. Great were the ranks of men and great the advice that they communicated to one another on numerous occasions. But no request that was made could be brought to fruition that very day, except for the one concerning Antenor and Thoas. They were immediately set free, the one in exchange for the other. Those in the city were overjoyed, as was the Greek army in respect of Thoas. The wise and the courtly Calcas had a daughter. She was highly esteemed, beautiful, courtly and well brought up, and her fame had spread far and wide. Her name was Briseida. Calcas had told Agamemnon, and also the other kings and Telamon, that they should ask Priam for her. Her father did not want her to remain in Trojan company any longer, for, as he well knew, Fortune hated the Trojans. For that reason he did not want her to perish with the Trojans. He wanted her to come out and join him in the host. This request was duly communicated and there was much discussion about the matter. The Trojans sharply attacked Calcas, arguing that he was viler than a dog. ‘Of all those who are shameful and all who are vile this wretch is the dregs. He is in every way shameful, villainous and a wretched person. Before abandoning us and going over to your61 side, he was a noble and highly placed figure among us.’ King Priam swore and guaranteed that, if he could get hold of Calcas, he would make him come to a bad end by having him broken and quartered by horses. ‘If it were not the case that the maiden was worthy and noble, sensible and beautiful, she would be burned and dismembered because of her father.’ I do not wish to dwell on this matter. King Priam turned her over to the Greeks. ‘She is free to leave. Let her be off on her way’, he told them, for he hated no one so much as the old traitor and did not want anyone related to him to abide or to remain in the city. (13065–120)

60 The Occitan title ‘contor’ is not the same as the Old French ‘conte’ (‘count’). For a hierarchy of Occitan titles, see the Razos de trobar, written at the turn of the thirteenth century, by Raimon Vidal: ‘Emperador, princeps, rei, duc, conte, vesconte, valvasor, contor, clergue, borgues, vilans, poucs et granz’, in The Razoz de trober of Raimon Vidal and Associated Texts, ed. J. H. Marshall, University of Durham Publications (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 2. This title also appears in Benoît’s Chronique des ducs de Normandie, v. 35545, which is translated by ‘noble de haut rang, seigneur’ (III, p. 36); this appears to be incorrect. Baumgartner prefers ‘grand seigneur’ (Troie, p. 391) but also ‘vassal’ (p. 279), which is closer to the Occitan hierarchy. For other examples, mostly from chansons de geste, see ToblerLommatzsch, II, cols 375–6. 61 This insulting language expresses Trojan opinions of Calcas addressed to the Greeks requesting Briseida.

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Encounter of Achilles and Hector in Troy Lord Achilles went to meet Hector, together with more than a hundred knights, all of whom were kings or contors, admirals or emirs.62 The flower of the Trojan army within the city was present there too, as were the very finest of the Greek knights. There they talked of chivalric deeds and of challenges that had arisen among them. They spoke about the rout and about who was the best and who the worst combatant, which man would joust and which one be captured, who would incur blame and who would be praised. They quarrelled in many different ways, with some becoming angry while others found it amusing. (13121–34) ‘My good lord Hector’, Achilles said, ‘I have never seen you with my own eyes, except when you were wearing your helmet. I have found in you a very hardy combatant. If you have any amicable feelings towards me, you keep them well hidden. This is obvious if you look at my hauberk; you have often severed its lacings. If I cannot defend or protect myself against your hefty blows, I shall have to die because of them. But, in the name of all the supreme gods, you can be sure of one thing: if I could avenge Patroclus, I would very willingly strive to do just that. You have lodged deep sorrow in my heart. But I do hope, and of this I am convinced, that, however long it may take me to do so, I shall satisfy my desire for vengeance. You will never defend yourself so well against me that I shall not get to you at some time. It will happen, if I succeed, in such a way that you will be carted away in a coffin. You can count on this if you come out often from behind your walls. I am watching and waiting for that, and shall continue to do so until the day I see it happen. That time is not far off now, I am sure of that. I hold your deathblow in these two hands of mine.’ (13135–62) Hector responded: ‘Lord Achilles, if I hate you, I cannot do anything about it. There are many good reasons for this. I shall not even wait any longer to fight you. So if you have such confidence in yourself, let the battle be between the two of us. If you can defeat me on the battlefield, the Trojans will leave this land, without a single one remaining behind or failing to flee to foreign territory. I shall have my proposal sworn for you and provide suitable hostages. But you must do the same for me. I know, believe and perceive that you are a worthy man and that you will not reject this offer. You could satisfy the great anger in your heart as well as the numerous wrongs that you claim I have done to you, including your sorrow for the companion of whom I have deprived you and whom you have so often felt in your arms, with both of you naked, as well as other vile, shameful sport you have enjoyed together. Most of these acts are despicable in the eyes of the gods, who take vengeance for them by exercising their divine might.63 It would be a great advantage if, thanks to the two of us, so many men were able to elude death, and if this dire conflict, during which a hundred thousand men will Verse 13124 contains the Old French terms ‘amiraut’ and ‘aumaçor’. The former, often spelt amirail, is a Saracen military commander and we have retained the English equivalent ‘admiral’. The latter is a Saracen dignitary, and the term can be translated into English as ‘emir’. 63 Hector seems to believe that the gods are using him to punish Achilles’s homosexuality. 62


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otherwise lose their lives, could be brought to an end. Together we can still end this war by tonight or tomorrow morning.’ (13163–94) Achilles felt anger and shame. ‘If I fail to take up your challenge, I shall never live’, he exclaimed, ‘even one more day in this world without being dishonoured, or deemed a worse man. Go and seek someone who will provide your hostages; I shall have mine handed over, for I do not want to put this off any longer. I am quite ready and am not trying to get out of it. Let us not fix a date, but have your arms brought to you now and let there be accord between us on this matter.’ (13195–206) They separated with the intention of meeting again later that day. There you would have seen people gathering. Around Hector were Trojans and Achilles was joined by his men. They were all expressing opinions one way or the other about the combat to which the two men had agreed. Their discussion was remarkably wide-ranging, with all kinds of advice being proffered and received. The crux of the matter was that Agamemnon and the men of high rank among the Greeks did not want Achilles to engage in this battle, although I can assure you, without any doubt, that it did not fail to take place on account of Achilles. He complained and protested that they wanted to dishonour him in this way by refusing to let him risk his life against one particular knight. He became very angry, swearing profusely that they would never again in his lifetime receive any help or assistance from him. What should I say about Hector? The uproar spread widely throughout Troy and the news was related to the queen and the maidens. Out of fear and fright, pity and dread many shed tears and expressed profound grief. What more should I relate about this matter? The Trojans refused to agree under any circumstances, or for any reason, that Hector should fight for them. Never before had anyone seen such tremendous grief and sorrow. Everyone wanted to prevent and stop the battle from taking place. I say that this duel was not to the liking of all the Trojans, with the sole exception of King Priam, and by his words and demeanour he did not appear to reject it. His face was not moistened with tears. Whatever everyone said or remarked, he was quite confident in Hector. I know he wanted the combat to take place if the Greeks did not back down; he would never have advised against it. Hector would have immediately girded on his sword and gone on to the field straightaway, fully armed. But the Greek leaders – dukes, princes and contors, including the wisest and best of them – spoke out, asserted and brought it about that neither Hector nor Achilles suffered any dishonour. That is how they took leave of one another on that day. (13207–60) The Love of Troilus and Briseida Whoever may have been joyous or happy, Troilus for his part was vexed and saddened. This was because of Calcas’s daughter. His love for her was no laughing matter, for he had given his whole heart to her. He was so deeply in love with her that all his attention was devoted to her alone; she too had given to him both her body and her love. Many people knew about their liaison. When she was told and realized truly that, through force and necessity, she would have to cross

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over to the Greek host without any further delay, she was grief-stricken and very distraught, shedding tears and sighing deeply. ‘Alas!’ she exclaimed, ‘what a fate, to be forced to abandon in this way the city in which I was born! To be in the Greek host would cause great shame even to the lowliest maidservant. I know no king, duke or count there who would treat me well or honourably. Henceforth, every day tears will ceaselessly moisten my face. O Troilus! How I have placed my hopes in you, my fair, sweet beloved! Never, as long as you live, will anyone love you more than I do. King Priam has committed a grave wrong in sending me away from his city. May it not please God that I survive from now until daybreak. Death is what I want, seek and call for.’ (13261–94) That night Troilus went to her, so distressed that he could not have been more so. Consolation was impossible. Each of them wept tenderly, for both knew that on the morrow they would be far apart. They would no longer have the opportunity or time to show their love to each other. As long as they were free to do so and it was possible, I tell you that they exchanged kisses. But the sorrow that gripped their hearts made the tears falling from their eyes flow over their mouths. There was no anger or arrogance in their relationship, nor any denial or strife. Those who were doing this to them were causing them great suffering and anguish. May God grant that those people do not derive any pleasure from this! Those who cause two lovers to separate must pay for the wrong they commit, as did the Greeks, who afterwards paid grievously for their actions. Troilus hated them before; thereafter, he revealed and made it plain to them that they had done something that he would remember for a long time. The Greeks did not know how to defend themselves so well that he could not make them pay for what they did. Troilus and Briseida passed the night together, although it seemed very short to them. Their separation was a very heavy burden to bear. They proffered lamentations along with sighs. On the morrow, when the day shone bright, the maiden made ready to depart. She had her most precious belongings packed in a box along with her clothes and robes. She dressed and put on the costliest garments she owned. She possessed a silk tunic embroidered in gold and adorned with splendid, well-shaped images and an ermine lining; it was so long that it trailed on the ground. It was so sumptuous, becoming and attractive on her that no woman in the world, if she were wearing it, would be lovelier in it than was Briseida herself. (13295–340) In Upper India sorcerers produced a cloth using magic and wonderful artifice. The rose is not so bright red in colour, nor the lily so white, that the material was not five or six times more so in broad daylight. By the light of day it showed seven different colours; there was no beast or flower here below that one could not see its form, appearance and shape portrayed on the cloth. It was ever new and ever beautiful. Breseida’s cloak was made from this material. A learned Indian sage, who had studied for a long time under the Trojan Calcas, had sent it to him from his native land. No one who ever saw it failed to wonder who fashioned such a thing, for in order to concoct such a work of art one needs high intelligence and great skill. The cloak’s fur lining was valuable, whole and intact with no patchwork or stitching. Learned clerics have discovered in writing that


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there existed beasts over towards the Orient (by their third year they are huge). People called them dindialos.64 The skin65 was very valuable and its bones even more so. God never created a colour in pigment, plant or flower that was not found in its skin. A savage people from that region were called Cenocefali.66 Ugly and oddly disfigured, they caught the beasts after a long, patient wait. I shall tell you what stratagem they used. Where they lived, it is burning hot and neither shade nor drink is available. But these monstrous, diabolical people took the branches from a balsam tree and covered their own bodies and arms with them. They used no other snares or nets. The beast, which was not intelligent, would come to the leaves that were offered, unaware of impending death or harm. It would browse on them, then fall asleep in the shade. The man killed it, although he himself was often almost on the verge of dying, either from sunburn or from suffocating in the heat. They did not go there every day.67 The lining came from this beast, and no balm, incense or other perfume had a similar scent. The skin covered the entire material of the cloak and it was finer than any ermine. The edging was not of sable, but from beasts of great value. They live in and inhabit the river of Paradise; this is well known, if what we read is true. It is mottled indigo and yellow and a very high price would be charged for it by anyone who could find it. But, by my faith, as I think and believe, not even ten such beasts have ever been caught; there is no animal of their quality. The mantle’s clasps were made of two rubies; never have any stones so splendid or so beautiful been seen or gazed upon. (13341–409) When Briseida had finished dressing so handsomely, she took leave of the large number of people who were bitterly grieving for her. The maidens and the queen felt great sorrow for the young woman. Lady Helen wept profusely for her sake. Briseida, who was not ill-bred, left them, shedding tears and lamenting, for she was utterly broken-hearted. No one who saw her failed to take great pity on her. A palfrey was brought out for her. I do not believe that, even for a day, any maiden ever rode one finer. Her escort was made up of King Priam’s sons; more than three of them set out with her. Troilus, who loved her so very deeply, took her reins. (13410–28) But now Briseida’s love would come to an end and from that day forward it would decline; that was why everyone was sighing and lamenting. But, if the maiden was distressed, she would be placated with the passage of time. She would quickly have forgotten her grief and her heart would change so much that those in Troy would matter little to her. If on the day of her departure she was in mourning, she would recover joy thanks to someone who had never before See Glyn S. Burgess and John L. Curry, ‘Berbiolete and dindialos: Animal Magic in Some Twelfth-Century Garments’, Medium Aevum, 60 (1991), 84–92. 65 As the beast’s skin was probably covered with fur, it is also possible to translate as ‘fur’. 66 On the Cenocefali as men with dog’s heads, see Baumgartner, Troie, p. 644 (note to v. 13373). 67 This was no doubt because of the intense heat. 64

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set his eyes on her. She would soon turn her love towards him and would be consoled soon enough. A woman will never be perplexed for too long. Provided she can find an alternative, her sighs will be short-lived. Woman’s grief is of short duration. If one eye sheds tears, the other is smiling. Their hearts change very quickly. The wisest woman is quite foolish. Whomsoever she has loved for seven years will have been forgotten in three days. Never did any woman know how to grieve. This is obvious from seeing how cleverly they behave. Never will they ever admit to having committed any wrong, or any act so base; it seems to them that they should never incur blame for it, no matter who may have witnessed it. They would never believe that they had done anything wrong, which is the greatest of their follies. Whoever relies on them or trusts them pays dearly for it and deceives himself. (13429–56) On this subject I truly fear incurring blame from that woman,68 who has so many fine qualities, including high birth, worth and valour, integrity, intelligence and honour, goodness, moderation and virtue, noble largesse and beauty. In her the misdeeds common in other women are effaced by her inherent goodness; in her all knowledge abounds. On any level she is second to none on this earth. Noble spouse of a noble king, who harbours no evil, no wrath, no melancholy, may you always be blissful! (13457–70) Solomon, who had such a wise mind, writes that ‘he who could find a strong woman should praise his Creator’.69 He calls her ‘strong’ because of the weakness he discovered and claimed to find in many women. Strong is she who defends herself against falling victim to her foolish heart. Beauty and chastity are very hard to unite, it seems to me; nothing is so highly desired here below. It often happens that the best women are vanquished because of the determination of seducers. It is a wonder how she protects herself if such a man can speak with her often.70 If one discovers a beautiful and constant woman, no angel in heaven should be held dearer than she would be. A precious jewel or powdered gold is not comparable to such a treasure as this. We could discourse at length on this topic, but this is not the place for it. Let us return to the subject we proposed to write about. (13471–94) The maiden almost died when she had to leave behind the man she loved so much and held so dear. She constantly begged him not to forget her, for she would never become another man’s beloved as long as she lived. She would always retain her love for him, and never would another man enjoy her favours. ‘Fair lady’, said Troilus, ‘I beg you. If you have ever loved me, show it now. I do not want our love to diminish. For my part, I assure you that my love will not lessen in any way. You will have my heart forever true, and I shall never change it in favour of another woman.’ Thus, before separating, they made this vow of constancy to each other. (13495–512) The assumption here has to be that this refers to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Proverbs 31:10. 70 Baumgartner sees this passage as indicating that it is remarkable what little resistance a woman offers to a man who has the opportunity to converse with her often (Troie, p. 289). 68 69


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Diomedes Falls in Love with Briseida Briseida was accompanied by her Trojan escort until they were out of the city, where they handed her over to those to whom she was intended; these men accepted her most willingly. Towards her advanced Diomedes, King Telamon, King Ulysses, King Ajax, Menesteus, the lord and duke of Athens and some sixty knights, the lowliest of whom was a noble count. The maiden was sobbing bitterly; no one could console her. She was suffering so much because of Troilus, who was receding more and more from the woman he loved. He too felt no joy or happiness as he turned away, sad and downcast. Tydeus’s son led her off, but he would suffer a lot before he would even kiss or lie with her. ‘Fair lady’, he said, ‘he who has won your love is rightly very pleased with himself. I would like to possess your heart and soul71 by agreeing to be yours for as long as I live. If it were not too soon, and we were not near the host, and because I see you distressed and downcast, fearful and vexed, I would appeal to you to accept me mercifully and entirely as your knight and beloved. Providing that it pleases you, I would rather endure great pain because of this than fail in my appeal. But I am very anxious and very fearful that your heart may harbour hatred for me and for those on our side. I know that you will always love those who have brought you up; no one should ever blame you for that. But I have often heard it said that those who have never seen, become acquainted with or known one another can love one another very much; this happens quite often. (13513–55) ‘Fair lady’, Diomedes continued, ‘I have never embarked on a love affair, nor had a beloved or even been one.72 Now I feel Love drawing me towards you. It is no wonder if someone who gazes on your great beauty is inflamed by love for you. Rest assured that I am placing all my hopes in you. I do not ever wish to achieve great joy until I am sure of winning your love without a shadow of a doubt, and receiving solace from you such that, with you in my arms, I can kiss your eyes, mouth and face. Sweet beloved, may nothing I ask for or say displease you, nor should you consider it base. I know that you will be courted and that your love will be sought in many ways. All of the most universally renowned men in the world are here, and the noblest men as well, the most handsome and the finest. They will ask for your love. But, fair lady, mark well what I say. If you make me your beloved, you will gain nothing but honour from doing so. He who takes possession of your love should be esteemed and greatly renowned. Fair lady, if I have offered myself to you, do not refuse my homage. Have the heart and the desire to accept me as your knight. Henceforth, I shall remain, as long 71 In Constans’s text the term we translate as ‘love’ is ‘periz’ (variants ‘spiriz’, ‘espiriz’, etc.). Constans translates ‘periz’ as ‘possession de l’objet aimé’ (V, p. 247), but we are not sure of his source for this meaning. Baumgartner’s reading is ‘esperiz’, which she translates as ‘sentiments’ (p. 291, v. 13534). We take ‘les periz’ to be equivalent to ‘l’esperiz’ and prefer the meanings ‘soul’ or ‘mind’. 72 But Diomedes does have a wife, Egial, who appears in Part Three, where she tries to prevent her husband from returning to Argos because she has heard that his new love that will replace her; see p. 386; vv. 27942–56.

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as I live, a constant and true lover. I have seen many a maiden and known many a lady. Never did I ask any one of them to love me in this way. You are the first and you will be the last. If I fail to win you, may God not grant that I ever strive to win another woman. I shall not do so, this I know for certain, for if I can gain your love I shall retain it without committing any wrong. You will never hear anything said about me that could displease you in the least. Given the heavy sighs and abundant tears with which I see you completely overcome, I shall strive mightily to help you to recover happiness with my embraces and kisses. I shall console you in such a way that you will be filled with joy. I am fully devoted to your service and shall be overjoyed if you accept it. From now on, I am ready for this service. God grant that you do not turn me down! For he who loves, begs and serves a woman who hates him is wasting all his effort.’ (13556–616) Briseida was wise and honourable. She responded briefly, saying: ‘My lord, at a time like this, it is neither good, reasonable or right that I speak to you of love. You could thereafter take me to be a very flighty and very foolish woman. You have spoken of what would please you and I have listened to, and understood, your words. But I have not known you long enough to grant you my love so quickly. Many have gone astray in this way. Many a maiden has been duped by men who harbour deceit, who lie and are unfaithful. These people deceive honest hearts. It is very difficult to identify someone who can be trusted in matters of love. For one person who is happy six others are in tears. I have no desire to go from bad to worse. Whoever feels as much vexation and distress as I do, and is as sorrowful and downcast as I am, has little interest in love, well-being and pleasure. I am abandoning and leaving behind my good friends, with whom I do not expect to be reunited. I knew and loved them and they held me in high honour. No wealth or fine possessions were lacking when I wanted them. Now I am cast away from all that. That is why I value myself less. It is no wonder if I am distressed, nor is it proper, if I may say so, for a maiden of my standing to enter upon a foolish love affair with someone in the Greek host. If a woman is the least bit sensible, she should avoid incurring blame. Even those who act more wisely in the privacy of their chambers cannot protect themselves from widespread gossip. Now I shall be in full view of everybody. I shall be alone, without other ladies. I would not wish to undertake anything that could be deemed wrong. I shall not do so, nor do I have any desire to do it. However, I hold you to be of high standing and worth (that is my opinion), of good breeding and properly brought up. I do not want to make you think something that would not be entirely honest and true. There is no maiden here below who is so noble, so esteemed and so beautiful that she should refuse your offer if she had any desire to love someone. Nor do I reject you for any other reason. But I have neither the desire nor the inclination to love you, or anyone else, for the time being. You can rest assured that, if I wanted to be drawn into this affair, I would hold no one dearer than you. But I have no thoughts or desire to do so. May God never make feel so inclined.’ (13617–80) Diomedes was wise and honourable. From the moment she started to speak, he understood that she was not going to be too aloof with him. He responded to her sincerely: ‘Fair lady, rest assured that I shall place my hopes in you. I shall


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love you truly and await your orders until you have mercy on me and take me as your beloved. Since Love wants me to offer myself to you, I do not oppose or reject his will. According to Love’s will and pleasure, from now on I wish to serve him. You will be the reward he will grant me. I ask for no other gift from him, and if I had no hope of achieving this, I would definitely not be serving him wholeheartedly. I shall henceforth be part of his retinue, and, if I could kiss only your mouth, no one in the Trojan host will be as well endowed as I am in this respect.’ Diomedes would have said much more, but since they were already close to the tents, he could not speak with her any longer. Before they separated, he appealed a hundred times for her to be merciful and accept him as her beloved. He stole one of her gloves without anyone knowing or noticing it. This made him very happy; moreover, he did not see any signs of resentment on her part because of what he had done. (13681–712) At that moment Calcas appeared. He had come out to meet Briseida and he heartily welcomed her, as she did him. While warmly embracing, they exchanged many kisses. Weeping tenderly, the old man conversed with his daughter, kissing and hugging her repeatedly. ‘My lord’, she said, ‘tell me now. What I have seen you do is remarkable, and you have acted in a way for which you will always incur reproach. You assist your Greek foe while they destroy your allies and the land in which you were born. You have forsaken your extensive patrimony, your wealth, your possessions and your lands to become an impoverished exile. How can your heart ever know happiness again when you are aiding your enemy in such an enterprise? What has become of your clear, eminent and good sense? Where has it gone? You are being very harshly blamed, as well you should be. The Trojans had made you lord and bishop, father and master over all of them. What you have done is especially shameful. One must fear shame more than fleeing or eluding death. Everyone has to die, of course. That is the lot of all humanity, and he who can meet death honourably will have his body blessed and his soul will move on to great delights. But he who is shamed in this life will live in much greater shame in the next one. Hell, wretched and dark, is made ready for him, which is as it should be. My lord, because you have made Pluto and Proserpina hate you in this way, along with the other infernal gods, my heart is deeply distraught. Because of them you acquire this abomination, this shame and this harm. When you conceived the idea of not returning to the city or coming back to us, why were you then so cruel as to come here to damage us in alliance with our mortal enemies and to strive for our defeat? You would have done better to go off to one of the islands in the sea until this siege came to an end. Lord Apollo did a great wrong if his oracle told you or ordered you to act in the way you have. Cursed be this prophecy, this gift and this fortune, which brings such great shame on you! He who loses honour in this life must have little desire to go on living.’ Then she began to weep and her heart was so constricted that she could no longer even utter another word. (13713–78) Calcas answered the maiden: ‘My daughter’, he said, ‘I would not have wished this to be my destiny. I knew that I would incur much blame because of it. But I could not revolt against the will of the gods, nor refuse to obey what they

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commanded. I could not go against their will, as that would soon have brought calamity down on me. I had to do what they wanted and come here, from the moment Apollo commanded me to do so. I never did anything so contrary to my own will. I ought not to suffer shame because of what I have done, for things would have gone quite differently if I had had my way. No one knows the pain my heart suffers night and day because of this. But, if I had been so foolish as to oppose the will of the gods, or was willing to do anything that went against them in any respect, I have no doubt that they would have taken vengeance on me such that it would have always been cruel and harsh, mortal and fraught with danger. Above all, I can clearly see and know that I shall witness the death and destruction of the Trojans. It is better for us to survive elsewhere rather than to die with them in Troy. They will die, conquered and captured, for that is how the gods have foretold it. This conflict cannot endure much longer. I have never stopped thinking about how I could bring you to me from Troy. Nothing has caused me more anxiety. Now that I have you with me, I feel much better. I shall no longer endure vexation or sorrow.’ (13779–814) Everyone gazed at the maiden and the Greeks heaped praise on her. They all exclaimed: ‘She is very beautiful.’ Diomedes escorted her until she dismounted at the pavilion belonging to the mighty Pharaoh, who drowned in the Red Sea. Lord Calcas received it from one of his brothers-in-law for teaching him the earth’s dimensions: how wide it is and how far it extends, how deep the earth is and what supports the sea and its waves. This is what Calcas taught and imparted to him. In return for this, Pharaoh gave something very valuable to Calcas when he received this pavilion from him. No cleric hitherto knew enough to be able, in either French73 or Latin, to set down in parchment the tent’s marvellous appearance or describe how it was assembled. I do not wish to say anything about this now, however reasonable and proper it would be for me to describe it. But you would find it to be annoying if I were to pause here to do so.74 I still have a lot to say and to write and that is why I do not wish to say any more about the pavilion for now. However, it was extremely beautiful, handsome and splendid, and inside it was all strewn with herbs that had been gathered with their flowers; they were neither faded nor withered, but had a pleasing and gentle scent. When the maiden entered the tent before which her escort Diomedes had helped her to dismount, it was difficult for him to take leave of her. Because of her, he often changed colour. But the high princes and the great lords had come there to gaze on her and to enquire about her. Briefly, in courtly fashion, she answered them all sensibly. They warmly welcomed her and honoured her, and they all consoled her heartily. Everything was going better than Briseida had anticipated, for what she saw often pleased her. Before she had reached the fourth evening, she would not have felt like returning to the city, or have any wish to do so. Human hearts 73 This reference to ‘romanz’ (‘French’, ‘the vernacular’) seems incongruous here in the context of the Trojan. War. 74 This may be a reference to the frequency of such descriptions in Greco-Roman romances, but cf. the description of Orient, pp. 324–7; vv. 23127-301.


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change rapidly. They are seldom true and stable; on the contrary, they are very weak and mutable. This is something that loyal hearts pay for, and because of this instability they often endure pain and misfortune. (13815–66) Eighth Battle Many knights were restless and their idleness weighed heavily on them. They would very much have liked the pause and the truce for the three stipulated months to come to an end. They longed for it to be over and done with, and on both sides they prepared themselves for combat. They were in good health, fresh and rested, and their wounds had healed. They had refurbished their armour and readied their lances for combat very nicely, having attached flags and colourful pennants to most of them. Their sharp blades shone, resplendent with fine steel.75 They had made their helmets gleam once more and refurbished their swords. Their good chargers were refreshed, and from that time on they were once again ready to join battle and engage in tough combat. They would not lose out on that score, for they would very soon be in the thick of the fighting. The next day those within Troy would advance right up to the Greek host in order to do battle, dealing heavy blows. That night the truce came to an end. They had been waiting for this for a long time. As dawn broke on a bright day, without any desire to prolong things, they covered their horses with all kinds of harnesses and cruppers. Throughout the city the knights armed themselves all together, as did the Greeks in the host outside. Each man armed himself carefully with hauberk, helmet and strong, intact shield, garnished with gold. The divisions were drawn up, partitioned and separated from one another. (13867–906) Hector emerged from the city, his helmet laced on with its circle of gold. He sat well-armed astride Galatea, clad in his hauberk with his sword girded on and his shield emblazoned with two lions tied on to his neck. More than ten thousand companions followed him, all good knights none of whom lacked a steel helmet. Troilus came out after them, and with him he had more than ten thousand armed men on highly prized steeds that had colourful covering made from pieces of silk. Paris too had set out with the men he commanded from Persia; they were a truly fine company. Their quivers were full and furnished with arrows of burnished steel, firm, sharp and hard. Most of them had swords so that they could sustain the deadly sword-play. Deiphebus was eager to come out, as was King Mennon, along with companies that were very brutal and terrifying. All the noble princes and all the kings, as well as the divisions and troops, had passed beyond the barriers on to the shingle. They totalled more than a hundred thousand men. (13907–34) What were the Greeks doing on their side? They were all on the verge of breaking ranks, so avid, ardent and eager were they to fight. King Menelaus was Iron and steel were combined in the best swords; see The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology, ed. Clifford J. Rogers, 3 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), III, p. 4. 75

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the first to ride out against the Trojans with some seven thousand companions, who were tough and hostile towards their foe. Diomedes followed them, taking possession of a large part of the field. In his company one could catch sight of many a fine pennant and flag. Lord Achilles delayed no longer. He drew up and prepared his division, selecting from it some seven thousand men, the worst of whom was a good knight. They rode forth, advancing towards those who on their side felt absolutely no anxiety. King Antipus and King Phelis, men of great renown from the land called Calydon, left their tents without delay or difficulty, accompanied by three thousand iron-clad men. Without waiting or any delay, the other kings in turn drew up their divisions made up of knights from their own countries. After them Agamemnon returned to the field, ready to do battle. When the companies were arrayed on the open fields and on the plains far away it was a wondrous sight to behold and gaze upon for those who that day watched the assemblage of forces. Great prestige and great arrogance were on display there. The forests of lances were huge, and bright was the splendour of their arms. Up in the palace and in the towers and at the gilded windows stood the ladies, out of their wits with fear and anxiety. They wanted to witness and observe the battle, which was enormous. Whoever saw them trembling and frequently changing colour would have wondered how they could survive for a single hour. Why should I linger any longer on this matter? Both sides joined battle like mortal enemies. (13935–84) Mêlée The men from Calydon charged, but they also paid bitterly for it. Three thousand of them grasped their shields and then spurred on their chargers as they shouted out their battle-cry. Hector, the most prestigious of the Trojans, together with his troops, joined in battle with the Greeks. King Phelis was the first one there. His emblem was gold with dark-hued lions, and over his helmet was a hood that was whiter than snow and made of precious cloth.76 Strips of material flapped down from it on to his horse’s rump as it galloped faster and sped on quicker than a crossbow or a bow can shoot. Phelis came up to Hector, who was the first Trojan to arrive, and in plain view of ten thousand knights he went to strike him through the shield, splitting it in two from top to bottom. Upon striking the hauberk, Phelis’s lance bent like a bow, splinters flying from it as it shattered in pieces. Hector engaged with him and did not miss. Right through his opponent’s shield, close to the top, and right through his abdomen he drove his silken pennant. He knocked Phelis down dead from the saddle; then he seized his Castilian charger that was worth its weight in pure silver. Then he offered it as a gift to a man who, before the press broke up, performed many knightly deeds astride it. (13985–4016) We have translated the term ‘amiton’ here as ‘precious cloth’ (v. 13996), but the precise nature of this cloth remains unidentified. The word ‘amit’ in Tobler-Lommatzsch refers to an episcopal garment (I, cols 355–6). 76


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When the men from Calydon saw this, they immediately spurred on their horses. They went to strike their opponents who were awash in their own clear blood. Because of their dead lord, the men from Calydon were in bitter anguish and distress. As long as their lances remained intact, they pierced shields and hauberks with them as well as the valiant bodies of knights, many of whom fell dead from their chargers. Many pennants were trailed along the ground there and there was immense cracking and shattering of strong lances of fir. Some thousand men, who were close to death and would die before the week passed, dropped in a faint from anguish. They caused many a steel blade, furbished and bright, to ring out on helmets so that, as it were, they drank blood right down to their brains and further on down to their saddle bows. Ah! What slaughter, what a marvel! What devastation Hector wrought, a man of great strength and power, whose perilous, naked sword sliced heads and trunks to pieces, while killing more than two hundred Greeks! (14017–42) King Antipus joined the fray. He was Phelis’s nephew on his sister’s side. He was also a noble knight, valiant and handsome, but a somewhat older man, not a youth. By massacring Trojans, he avenged his uncle and assuaged his own great anger. Using only his lance, he slew ten of them, and with his sword twenty-six more. He attacked Hector, but would have done better to keep his distance and flee from him. Nonetheless, he struck Hector’s pointed helmet so that all its laces snapped, causing it to fly from his head. If he had been able to follow up on his advantage, King Phelis would have been avenged. But Hector engaged him so ardently that the Greek could not escape from him on that day. Hector exclaimed: ‘You can indeed boast that your death is imminent. When you wanted to kill or maim me, you were overwhelmed by immoderate insolence. You will come to regret that when it is too late. He who threatens to kill me assumes and embraces a heavy task. Those on your side do so every day. But if the gods are willing to preserve my strength and my vigour, no Greek will succeed in coming forward whom I shall fail to bury by killing him with this steel blade of mine. You will find out’, he continued, ‘how it cuts.’ Hector split the Greek’s head in two along with his ventail, sending it tumbling down to the ground in two halves. He had slain both uncle and nephew, each one of whom was very valiant and brave. All the Greek troops were vanquished here, sustaining great losses that caused them dreadful harm and provoked profound dismay among them. (14043–82) Then Achilles appeared. Rest assured that he pressed the Trojans hard from that moment onwards. Such heavy fighting took place there, so cruel and so deadly, that its like has never been told. With him Achilles brought a ferocious band of men. They engaged the Trojans in close combat, sending the heads of a hundred of them flying at the same time they drove the others back. But this was an exceedingly difficult task for them to carry out, and Dares does not relate anywhere that such grievous combat or such ferocious swordsmanship had taken place at any other time. There Hector was so hard pressed and so ruthlessly attacked that I shall say no more about it. By force of arms the Greeks drove him back among Troilus’s men. Two counts of very high birth, both born

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in Troy, were powerful, valiant and honoured men. One was Licaon of Porte Cee; a better vassal has never girded on a sword. The other, count Euforbius, was lord of Chastel Clus, a marvellous dwelling in the forest of Mont Esclaire. Both were counts of high renown. Hector never had companions more valiant than these two. He had every right to feel angry and distressed upon seeing at close quarters how lord Achilles was killing them. Their heads were not so well protected that he failed to sever them from their bodies. This was a cruel and dire loss of men, for the Trojans lost so many others that, if Troilus had delayed to any extent, Hector would never have known joy for many months. He withdrew from the spot, having lost many of the most valiant men in his company. The skin on his face was torn open and it was bleeding from the wound, but we are not told how he received it or who struck him. (14083–128) When Hector perceived that he was covered in blood and forcibly driven from the field, he felt both anger and shame when he noticed Helen and his sisters, together with seven hundred ladies, watching him from the towers. He shuddered and trembled with rage and, maddened, he turned to oppose the Greeks. Meriones, a noble king, was a close cousin of Achilles from the realm called Lidiains; he was a youth, not that old yet very valiant and sensible. He was the first Greek Hector encountered. With his sharp steel sword Hector cut through the young man’s helmet and ventail, splattering Meriones’s brains and guts all about; the youth dropped down dead. No one will ever hear tell of an effort like the one that Hector made there on his own. Because of his cousin, whom he saw die, Achilles was so deeply distressed that he decided to get the better of Hector. With a stout, sharp lance he went to lay such a heavy blow on the Trojan that the wooden boards on his shield shattered and the mail in his gauntlet broke into pieces. Achilles came close to completely slicing two fingers off his hand. But Hector was not wounded so gravely as to be maimed or obliged to abandon the battlefield. Rather he in turn attacked Achilles. He struck him twice on the helmet so heavily that fifteen rings from his hauberk left their mark in his head, not one of which failed to draw blood. Neither man was amused by this. Hector said to him: ‘Lord Achilles, you will not draw so close to me without my getting even closer to you. This blade of mine is very dangerous. It is terrifying and soaked with the blood of kings, for today it has dipped in to three of them. It has drawn so much of their blood that all of them are now cold. But if from this skull of yours it does not drink so much that pieces of your brain fly on to the flat side of the blade, then it will never be sated. If you do not pull back, I think I shall satisfy its desires and fill it with delight. It has a strong thirst for your blood and that is its greatest desire.’ Achilles was a very proud man, but also cruel, ruthless and prone to anger. He did not yield to Hector in the slightest. ‘Hector’, he exclaimed, ‘you put on a poor show just now when you withdrew. You turned your back on our men in order to gaze on the women in the city, for which they show you no appreciation. I see no one looking more wretched or more bloodied than you. You are pursuing something that will put an end to the companionship between you and your blade of steel. It will acquire another lord, no doubt, before this battle comes to an end. But never again will anyone be able to bear it who is as


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redoubtable as you, or who possesses your strength and might, this we know for certain.’ (14129–200) They found no further opportunity to exchange any more words, for Troilus arrived with more than five thousand knights. They went on to attack the Greeks who were waiting for them and who fought back exceptionally well. Those who struck were struck back in turn, slain, wounded and felled. The Trojans forced them back and drove them away, killing them by their hundreds. But then more Greek troops arrived, single-mindedly bent on avenging Achilles’s men and the loss of the three kings. When Menelaus joined them, the Greeks recovered ground. The Trojans would have suffered great losses, were it not for Mennon, the king of Persia, who was leading three thousand men, all eager for battle. Not one of them failed to engage in combat, shattering his lance on bodies or on shields. Here some two hundred men were felled, half of whom never got up again. They did great damage to one another here, as the fighting was extensive, with huge numbers of knights being slain. The living passed over the dead and the struggle was furious on both sides. There was no pursuit or movement one way or the other, but with their naked blades they found one another, slashing heads, fists and arms so that blood came gushing, dripping and splashing from their bodies in large quantities. The fields were drenched in their blood. (14201–36) The fighting was widespread when Menelaus engaged Mennon. He felled the Persian, wounding him in the face, but in turn he was attacked when Troilus swerved to the side to fight him; he shattered his lance right in the middle of Menelaus’s abdomen, causing the Greek to leave his saddle empty. His hauberk was strong, since it did not give way and Troilus’s heavy lance broke. If Menelaus’s destiny had been different, his soul would have taken leave of his body. Know that over King Menelaus heavy sword-fighting erupted among the vassals. Before the combat broke up, many a soul was wrenched from its body. Hector and Achilles attacked each other again with great strength; neither was the least bit hesitant. They fought very ferociously at close quarters. There would be losses there, this I know to be true, for it could not be put off any longer. Menelaus was captured and held, but because there were so many horses they could not remove him from the battlefield. Know too that their knights fought so well that no men ever performed more valiantly. They would not quit the field that day before a thousand of them had met their end. (14237–66) Diomedes Unhorses Troilus for Briseida’s Sake Into the midst of this devastation and massacre came Tydeus’s son, who brought with him more than three thousand well-armed men. As they advanced at full gallop, they shattered their lances, putting their own prowess to the test. Among them were those who fought well, alongside those who regretted what happened to them. The man who was unhorsed, or whose entrails were trailing behind him on the ground, could not help but regret having left his tent that day. But, however that may be, by sheer constraint the Greeks chased their enemy from the field the distance of two or more flights of arrows. During this charge, while

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losing many of their own men, they also killed many of their opponents. For the sake of the maiden Briseida, Diomedes went to engage Troilus. He knocked him down from his saddle, seized his charger by the bridle and, calling his young squire, entrusted it to him. ‘Go quickly’, he said, ‘and hasten to the tent of Calcas of Troy. Tell his blond daughter that I am sending her this charger. I have won it from a knight who is very eager to please her. Tell her that I ask her not to be angered by my words, for I am totally devoted to her.’ (14267–300) The squire raced away. He dismounted before Calcas’s tent, then entered the pavilion, the pegs of which were of pure gold, as were all the supporting stakes, the very beautiful knob on its top and the eagle surmounting it. The son of Cariz of Pierrelee greeted the maiden in the name of his natural lord. ‘My lady’, he said, ‘this valuable steed is sent to you as a love token. You can be sure that he who sends it does not forget you. I can tell you that, just now, my lord took it from Troilus, who used to show you such great affection. My lord knocked him down on to the sandy ground after charging at him right before my eyes. If the violent Trojan resistance he was facing there had not been so great a hundred Greeks would not have fallen on to their backs, the soundest of whom would have been pale and livid. He sends you word that he is fighting for you and that he is completely in your thrall.’ The maiden took the horse by its ring of gold encased in crystal. ‘Tell your lord for me’, she answered, ‘that he displays the wrong kind of love for me here, for if someone tries to please me in order to obtain my approval or permission, or is in any way well disposed towards me, he must not speak ill of Troilus or do him any harm as long as he is courting me. Let him love and hold dear what is mine. I know for certain that, if he feels any affection for me, he will be better disposed towards my people. He must treat all of them with respect. But, if what he reports to me about Troilus is true, I shall certainly hear before four days have passed that he has taken revenge with his own sword for his fine steed and made full restitution for the loss. Troilus is no peasant who can be seized for what he owes, for there is no knight like him here below. I am sure he will pursue his prey without concern for anyone who might witness it. Some may presume to prevent him from doing so who could easily end up paying for it. Go back, return to the battle and greet your lord from me. Tell him that, since he loves me, it would be wrong of me to hate him. I shall never hate him as long as I have no justification for doing so, but I do not yet love him in any way that would be beneficial to him.’ (14301–52) Mêlée The squire left her and returned to the fighting, which was so extraordinary and deadly. So many vassals met their end in it, as well as so many counts and noble barons. Paris and all his companions had already joined the fray, mounted on their chargers and with bows drawn. What could I say about this? Such shooting of arrows and exceptional combat on horseback has never been seen, nor such grief. The Greeks could not hold out against the Trojan charge; they were driven from where they stood and pursued right up to their tents. If Agamemnon had


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not come to their assistance, things would have gone badly for them. He was followed by fully ten thousand Greeks, new and fresh combatants with their Pavian helmets laced on and with shields firmly in hand. They charged their foe with sharpened blades from the town of Gontaud. Hauberks and tunics were damaged there, and flanks and chests were torn apart. Many of them panicked, unable to decide how to act. Chargers ran riderless over the fields, their saddle bows broken. (14353–79) Why should I draw out my account? The Trojans had fallen back, leaving on the field more than three hundred of their own men, as Dares, who was an eyewitness to it, tells us in his Book. The Greeks would have driven the Trojans back into the town’s outer barriers and they would never have got away from there if Polidamas had not arrived with King Fion, Doglas’s son. They restored their side’s vigour and, thanks to their intervention, the Trojans recovered the open fields. But many blows were taken, returned and given before the pursuit was halted. Many men had been lost that day ‒ thousands of them according to Dares. The fighting had become heavy in front of the ditches, near the walls; the combat grew worse and tough for the rest of the day until evening. The maidens could easily follow the fighting from the walkways on the walls, and from the vaulted arches and towers. Polidamas jousted very well and won many horses. He strove mightily to perform well with his weapons. Many who kept silent or failed to reveal their thoughts understood what he was thinking.77 He jousted with Diomedes; they felt not the slightest affection for one another. For both men the combat was unremitting and perilous, for both shed blood and broke their lances. But all of a sudden Diomedes’s horse fell, collapsing in a heap on top of him and severely wounding him. Before he had sprung back up on his feet, Polidamas had given the steed to a squire of his, who presented it to Troilus. That joust was seen by some five hundred men, all of whom were very eager to have the horse; the women who did not hate Polidamas pointed him out to one another and talked a lot about what they had seen while expressing great praise for it. When Troilus saw the horse, he thanked Polidamas profusely for such a fine gift. In his heart he said and affirmed that he would perform deeds of valour on it, so that his beloved Briseida would hear tell of them. And he did just that! It did not take him long, as you will hear me tell. (14380–434) Achilles was pressing the Trojans very hard, keeping himself so close to the front lines that none of his opponents could advance to join battle, progress or ride straight ahead without his appearing unexpectedly before them, at their sides or from behind; he slew them right before their eyes. But his arrogance would soon take a fall. Troilus was seated on the charger he loved and cherished so much, for he had never ridden such a fine steed. With his shield and its gold buckle attached at his neck, his helmet laced on and his hauberk on his back, and holding in his fist the lance around which was wrapped the banner that had been given to him by the damsel Briseida, who still loved him sincerely, he took his 77 This may be another reference to Polidamas’s unavowed love for Helen; see p. 188, note 51 above.

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place on the battle line, bounding up on his precious steed. He saw clearly that one of his men had spurred, pressed forward and gone to strike a Greek knight. But, before he could do so, Achilles sprang forward, striking him directly in the face, so that he fell down dead in the dust. Then Troilus suddenly appeared. I have no reason to extend this account. He found Achilles beside him and dealt him a marvellous blow. His whole blade passed through him; no hauberk could have withstood it. If Achilles had not lowered himself, his mouth would never again have eaten food. Troilus shoved him mightily like a good knight, thrusting him away and making him tumble down off his horse. The steel blade wounded Achilles so severely that there was no day for a full month on which his heart was not filled with sorrow. But he was not seriously stunned. He quickly got back on his feet and seized his charger by the reins. Troilus did not let up. With his sword he rained blows on Achilles’s helmet, which resounded clearly. Everyone came together once again and fighting ensued that was harsh and deadly. Hector’s swordsmanship cost the lives of a hundred Greeks. I assure you that the Bastards were mowing men down from the host. Wherever they went, the battle lines thinned out as they sent many heads flying. Rescuing them was fraught with anguish and, even for the strongest among them, it became a very perilous task. No one ever saw such havoc or such sword fighting. (14435–90) Those who had striven mightily to do so had overcome Achilles. He had been firmly seized and held when Telamon came up, along with the good duke of Athens. These two men would not have arrived there in time if they had delayed the least bit, nor would Achilles have ever received any support. They withdrew him from the throng, but before they did so many a spear had been broken and many a shield with a buckle of gold had been slashed and shattered, the lacing on many helmets ripped asunder and many a knight felled. The combat lasted a long time. The rescue of Achilles was achieved at a high cost and with immense harm done. But after that nothing more happened. The day was drawing to an end, and pitch-black night was on its way to terminate the conflict. The combatants left the field and withdrew; on that occasion there was no more fighting. They returned to their lodgings but found little rest there. The Trojans did not act differently. The battle went on for thirty more days without pausing for a single day. The troops on both sides could not separate until they were forced to do so by evening and pitch-black night. These thirty days were distressing. None of the men were so battle-hardened that they failed to grow weary and exhausted before the cessation of hostilities. Two of the Bastards had been slain there,78 which caused great sorrow to King Priam, as well as to Paris and the finest men in their land. (14491–528)


Benoît does not provide their names.


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Hector’s Facial Wound During the final days of this battle, Hector had suffered a facial wound, caused by a long bolt from a crossbow that pierced the mail on his ventail and almost killed him. He subsequently lay in bed for a good two weeks, unable to don his hauberk or to go out beyond the walls of Troy. On his account his closest family members suffered dreadful harm. For as long as the battle lasted after this facial wound, the Trojans had the worst of it. Every day they very much regretted his absence. Those wept tenderly who witnessed the great devastation that was visited on their men. Many a time the Greeks drove the Trojans back into the city, and just as often they fell back more often than they recovered ground. The Trojans had very much the worst of it. When their lord was not with them, they had no protection. They deeply missed his prowess and, grieving and weeping, they were filled with great anguish. The fields were covered with the dead, as were the orchards and all the gardens. Those who witnessed and assessed what was going on claimed and asserted that there were far more corpses strewn about than for those they had burned after previous battles in funeral pyres. Many of them proclaimed: ‘Last time there were not so many!’ They could bear this no longer, for there was no place left for them to join battle. The odour and the stench drove them off; no field or space was empty. Because of Hector, who was lying wounded in his bed, those on his side were in dire straits. Therefore, in order to clear the fields again, King Priam sued for a truce. Dares, our authority, reports that he saw his men dying in their thousands every day. It was obvious that the man who was their lord was absent. (14529–74) Truce The noble king selected clever, wise and courtly messengers whom he dispatched to Agamemnon, but I have not found their names in my written source. They asked for a complete truce of six full months, with no one shooting arrows, hurling lances or striking with swords. The Greeks granted this without any opposition, great or small. The truce was ratified by both sides. Then once more an enormous throng prepared the funeral pyres and burned the corpses. They worked day and night until all was finished and all the cadavers were buried, cremated and in sarcophagi. No one was so young or so old that they were not happy about the lengthy respite. Many of them went foraging, which was necessary as there was a great need for provisions. They were obliged to seek far and wide. The king’s sons were mourned on the day of their burial. They had very costly sarcophagi, and in keeping with their customs both received magnificent and very noble burials alongside their brothers. (14575–600) According to our authority Dares, both sides were at peace and repose for a good half-year. From then on, the sick and wounded had just what they wanted. Broz li Puilleis, a most learned man, who had practised medicine using fresh ointments and plaster in the Alabaster Chamber, surgically operated on Hector so gently that he felt no hurt or pain. Night and day all the ladies and maidens, and all

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the noble damsels, stood watch before him. He was visited by the kings, princes and contors, as well as by those of the greatest worth and highest renown. His sister Polixena, who loved him deeply and with all her heart, was present. Lady Helen nursed him, washing and cleansing his wound very gently and willingly. The Trojans conversed a great deal about which of the two women they believed to be the more beautiful: Lady Helen or the maiden Polixena. But they could not agree or decide on which one was the more beautiful. There was no heart79 here on earth that could conceive, or mouth that could describe, the beautiful features and splendour of the less beautiful of the two. (14601–30) The Alabaster Chamber of Beauties80 In the Alabaster Chamber, which was resplendent with gold from Arabia, there were twelve precious gems that God had selected as the most beautiful when he named them precious stones.81 They were sapphire, red agate, topaz, prase, chrysolite, emerald, beryl, amethyst, jasper, ruby, costly sardony, bright carbuncle, and chalcedony. These stones were present in abundance in the length and breadth of the Chamber. No other light was needed there, for the finest summer’s day did not shine as brightly, nor in such a way, as the Chamber did in the dark of night. The windows were made of green prase, agate and good almandine and their frames of engraved gold from Arabia. I do not intend to tell or speak about the engravings and images, sculptures or paintings, nor of the marvels or the amusements that were found available in abundance in many parts of the structure, because it would be irksome to listen to. (14631–56) But inside the Chamber stood four tall and beautiful pillars in its four corners. One was made of precious amber, the second of jasper with rare properties, the third of onyx and the fourth of jet. The least valuable was, I believe, worth two hundred marks of refined gold. Today no man is powerful enough to purchase the two columns with the least value. Three scholars, wise and learned men, who were very knowledgeable about necromancy, had set them up in such a way that on each pillar a statue of great beauty had been sculpted. The two most beautiful ones depicted maidens, the other two young men; no one ever saw such beautiful statues. They were painted and formed so that, if one looked at them, they would resemble angels from Paradise. (14657–80)

79 Note that in the Middle Ages the heart was the seat of the intellect as well as of the emotions; see Glyn S. Burgess, ‘The Role of the Heart in the Lai de l’Ombre and the Chastelaine de Vergi’, in Conjunctures: Medieval Studies in Honor of Douglas Kelly (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994), pp. 31–47. 80 This lengthy description of the Alabaster Chamber is also something of a digression because, even when fighting is going on, the Chamber serves as a kind of refuge from the trauma of combat. 81 This is an adaptation of Revelations 21: 19–20; see Baumgartner, Troie, pp. 645–6 (note to v. 14633), and Françoise Féry-Hue, ‘La Description de la “pierre précieuse” au Moyen Âge’.


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The smaller of the two maidens always held a mirror set in bright-red gold; no light from the moon or the sun shone as brightly as it did. Whoever was present in the Chamber was truly and unambiguously visible in the mirror without any distortion; the mirror never lied. 82 It was the same for everyone who entered the Chamber: they saw their reflections in it, recognizing at once whatever was unsightly about them, and as a result they could immediately correct the blemish and adjust it to make themselves more attractive. Openly, and without distortion, maidens83 could recognize and perceive whether their mantles were on correctly, as well as their hair bands, wimples and broaches. This was a good thing, not a fault. Thanks to this, they had more confidence in themselves and were a good deal less timid. Hardly anyone there was ever criticized for their foolish appearance or their silly laughter. The mirror revealed everything: comportment, appearance and hues, as they pertained to each individual. The other three statues served different purposes. (14681–710) The other maiden was very courtly, for she was always lively and gay, dancing and cavorting, capering about and springing on her pillar so high up that it was a wonder she did not fall off it. She would often sit down to juggle four knives. Seven or eight times a day she performed a hundred diverse tricks that were splendid and attractive to observe. On a large, broad table of refined gold in front of her she produced wonders, the likes of which no one could have imagined ‒ a fight between a bear and a wild boar or a griffin, a tiger or a lion; or the flight of a goshawk, a falcon, a sparrow-hawk or some other bird; games played by ladies or young men; assemblies or ambushes, battles, betrayals or assaults; a boat sailing on high seas; various fish from the sea; single combats; horned men or grotesque figures; flying serpents, small in size and hideous; goblins84 and dangerous monsters ‒ all these she made appear every day to reveal their natural properties. She showed clearly how each of them functioned and what its use was. When one witnessed all these things, they seemed to be marvels. No one could figure out what became of them after their performance. The man who crafted and prepared these statues had a profound knowledge of the arts, as well as of the mysteries of the heavens. Whoever gazed on this great marvel wondered who the person might be who could make such a thing, for God never brought anyone to life who, while gazing on it, did not forget what he was thinking or saying, and who was not obliged to fix his gaze on it and to remain held in its thrall. While the statue on top of the pillar was performing its tricks, only with difficulty could anyone leave it and go out of the Chamber. (14711–58) 82 On the notion of mirrors at this time, see Miroirs et jeux de miroirs dans la littérature médiévale, ed. Fabienne Pomel (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2003). 83 The term ‘maidens’ here refers to those who enter the Chamber, not to the two statues that represent maidens. 84 Nuiton in v. 14736 can be compared with nuton or nuiton, the two monsters against whom Yvain fights in the Pesme Aventure episode in Chrétien de Troyes’s Le Chevalier au lion, vv. 5267, 5507, ed. Corinne Pierreville, Champion Classiques, Moyen Age, 42 (Paris: Champion, 2016); the editor translates as ‘démon’.

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One of the youths in another corner had been fashioned with great care. He was seated on his pillar on a very valuable chair made of a very precious stone called obsidian. Whoever is able to look upon it quite often is reinvigorated and refreshed, and his or her complexion becomes more beautiful; this is what Dares’s book says and it does not lie. After seeing it once, no one would ever experience great anger for the rest of that day. The statue’s head was crowned with a circle made of very finely wrought gold, including emeralds and rubies that brightly illuminated its face. It held musical instruments, both large and small. David,85 who made and fashioned such instruments, never knew so much about them as did the statue, nor did he play them as well as it did, no doubt about it. The statue produced such extraordinary delight whenever it played86 a fiddle with three chords, harp, symphonium, rote or crowd, fiddle or vielle, harmonium or portable organ, psalterion, cymbals, kettledrums, monochord, lyre and chorons; these were his twelve instruments. The statue played them so sweetly that neither the music of the spheres nor the heavenly choirs were so delightful to hear. All this seemed otherworldly. When those in the Chamber took counsel, whether they were asleep or awake, it played such a sweet tune that whoever heard it felt no pain or sorrow as long as they were able to hear or listen to it. No one there was seized with foolish impulses, evil thoughts or mad desires. It had very beneficial effects on its audiences, for they could speak in quite a loud voice and no one could hear what they said. This was very much to the liking of those who spoke of love, secret matters and other topics to which they did not want others to be privy. (14759–804) After playing his instruments, the young man, who was so refined, took up flowers of many kinds that were beautiful and fresh and gave off pleasing scents. He then tossed them in such profusion on to the paving-stones surrounded by a mosaic border that they ended up being covered with them; this happened in both summer and winter. The statue did this quite often and no one knew how it possessed or obtained so many flowers. This action did not last long, for on top of the statue was a small eagle of pure gold, perched on a lovely and finely crafted arch. Now listen to how this bird was used. Directly opposite to it, on the other side, was a hideous little satyr with horns, very carefully sculpted and standing on a vaulted arch. In its hand it held a ball, somewhat smaller than a small bread roll. It aimed to throw it straight at the eagle; when it hurled the ball, the eagle flew off quickly and sped away until the ball bounced back to the little satyr who quickly recovered it and held on to it. He could not fail to receive and catch it, or to throw it again at the right time. But as long as the throw lasted, the eagle fled away and stayed in flight. With its wings and feathers it produced a wind, as was proper and customary for it. As soon as it reached the flowers, thanks to the art of magic used by its builders, they faded, withered and wilted in no time; no one knew what became of them after that. When these flowers disappeared others sprouted anew, David’s creation of musical instruments is mentioned in the Bible. See Baumgartner, Troie, p. 646 (note to v. 14776). 86 On this line, see Baumgartner, Troie, p. 646 (note to v. 14781). 85


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beautiful, fresh and of different colour; this happened twice each day. As soon as the eagle had returned to its perch and the little satyr had recovered its ball, once more the statue spread its flowers, which smelt much better and were of much superior quality. No rushes, gladioli or fine grass would ever need to be strewn on the ground. The statue was rarely idle. It busied itself with many different tasks that were very pleasing to watch and very praiseworthy. Above all, they found the flowers to be the height of elegance and claimed that they represented great distinction. Never again was such superior artistry achieved or heard of. (14805–62) The fourth statue had a very important function: it observed those in the Chamber and signalled to them how they should act and what they most needed. It gave them the information without anyone else noticing it. If there were seven hundred people in the Chamber, each of them would truly know what the statue revealed regarding what they needed most. What it revealed was completely private, for no one else would know anything that it communicated, neither I87 nor anyone else, other than that one individual. This was truly an ingenious invention. It was a wonder how it could be possible, or how anyone could contrive such a thing. No one was to remain in the Chamber longer than he or she should be there. The statue could indicate when it was time to leave, as well as when it would be too soon or too late; it was constantly on the watch for this. It kept those who came into the Chamber from becoming annoying, boorish or importunate, whether they were entering or leaving it. No one could inadvertently be foolish, boorish or improper, for the statue with great skill kept them all from any baseness. It held in its hand a censer made from a large, clear and valuable topaz, using well-crafted chains and finely interwoven threads. The censer was filled with an aromatic gum that the medical treatise treats88 at length. Never was there such an abundance of material that was as precious as that found in it. A stone inside it burned without emitting flame or smoke. It burned night and day without growing weaker, and its flame was very hot. From the gum that was burning inside the censer a pleasant scent diffused. Here below no one breathing it in would fall victim to foolish desires. The scent was heavenly, for, if one smelt it, there was no illness or pain that it did not heal. It required great knowledge to make the flame so durable, burning uniformly forever. And so would it have been until Judgment Day, if the city had not been taken in the way that it was.89 In the Chamber there was absolutely no mortar, limestone, sand or high-quality cement, coating, moulding or plaster. It was constructed entirely with alabaster. This is a very subtle stone, being whiter than lily both inside and out. When any people were present inside, they could see through the stone clearly, but no one present was visible from outside. From within you could see out clearly, yet no one, no matter how intently they looked, could see in from the outside. Whoever paid for such a work of art spent and used his money well. The doors were of 87 Presumably Dares is reporting here because the Chamber was destroyed when the Greeks took Troy and could not have existed in Benoît’s day. 88 No specific medical treatise has been identified. 89 Thie reference here is to the fall and destruction of Troy.

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pure silver inlaid with enamel, very well crafted, and the hinges were of pure gold. (14863–936) If the bed on which Hector was lying contained any silver or gold, that was the least precious material in it. If I were to start describing the bed for you, it would be too demanding a task. However, I am not at liberty to pause here. I still have a long way to sail, for I am still on the high seas.90 It behoves me therefore to move on, for impediments often arise. Many works are begun that are often abandoned before completion.91 May God grant that I finish this work so that I can drop anchor in the right port. When Paris abducted lady Helen, King Priam gave her this entire Chamber as her own possession in keeping with the wishes of his children. Never was anything so beautiful offered to a lady or a maiden, or so splendid, according to Dares: it was worth more than a hundred thousand pounds. (14937–58) Ongoing Truce During the firmly established truce, Hector lay in bed for three full weeks. Before the month was up, he had fully recovered and was healed. Paris frequently went hunting in Beletis forest; those who wanted to go along with him caught a great deal of big game, for it was plentiful in that forest. Lady Helen often dined on loins and joints from choice morsels, as well as venison, thighs and haunches. They returned with abundant game that they had hunted down. Never during the ten years the host was present did any Greek hunt in that forest or go there, nor did Trojan knights stop hunting there because of them. (14959–76) The Greeks were becoming very anxious about the siege because it was lasting so long. Each one of them was aware of, observed and thought about the heavy commitment and great expense that they had to make and sustain. None of them could withdraw from their commitment. They had undertaken such folly as a result of which their torsos and sides often suffered injury. Their enterprise would still go on for a long time before coming to an end; that is what troubled them. Some laughed playfully about the delay and made light of it who entertained radically different opinions in their hearts. They would rather be in their own dwellings: they would not return to Troy for a long time, either when requested to do so or when summoned. On the other hand, the young men and bachelors very much enjoyed bearing arms and they enjoyed participating in the siege. Achilles for his part did not keep his hatred for Hector to himself, or his threats against him. Nothing succeeded in lightening his mood. He would never again know happiness or be light-hearted until he had killed or captured him. (14977–5000)

A ship at sea heading for a port is a metaphor for writing a book. One reason for this would be the loss of patronage, as happened in the case of Benoît’s own Chronique des ducs de Normandie and Wace’s Roman de Rou. 90 91


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Briseida Gives Diomedes Hope Whoever was enjoying ease, repose or comfort, Tydeus’s son was having no part in it. He was so aroused by Love92 that while lying in bed he did not get a wink of sleep. He could not sleep or even close his eyes, finding no rest by night or by day. He was often93 preoccupied and often sighing, oscillating between joy and resentment, often vexed, yet just as often in high spirits. Love had been so rough with him that his colour was altered and changed, with the result that on many occasions he perspired when he was not hot and could not feel any heat. Such are the common features caused by Love. Whoever is held in his snare often shows it clearly by his expression. The god’s onslaughts are very harsh; the victim is made to suffer awful torment. He who burns with pure love is never completely at peace. This is how matters stood at that time with Diomedes, who now knew neither bliss nor calm. He was very fearful, being not at all sure that he would ever possess Briseida. His hopes for bliss depended entirely on the daughter of the Trojan Calcas. He feared he would never lie with her beneath a quilt, whether by night or by day. To achieve this goal, he would be willing to make every effort, and all his thoughts were absorbed by this concern. But if she never gave him her consent, he would perish without any hope of recovering from his loss. He visited her frequently, but she was a very clever woman. Thanks to his sighs, she perceived clearly that he was totally smitten with love for her, and that was why she was three times harsher with him. (15001–37) This is a constant feature in a woman’s character. If she recognizes that you love her and that you are distraught on her account, she will always treat you with arrogance. She will rarely cast her eyes on you, except to show her dominance and cruelty. You will have paid for it very dearly before she deigns to grant you any favour. To love a person who does not return your love is a most disagreeable thing. This happens often enough, and one might well wonder how it is ever possible to succeed in love. The lover pleads, but that is all he can do. Necessity is a powerful force. Diomedes had to plead because he loved so much that he could not suffer or endure this state any longer. He often went to beg her for mercy, frequently claiming that his love was so strong that he could not recover, night or day. He had stopped eating and was losing sleep. Thoughts, sighs and tears were making him grow pale and distraught. Pleading with her was an unseemly act. I do not believe that anyone who has truly loved, however much he might plead, could avoid such servility. When speaking, he said much less than he ought to have, and for which, if he had done so, he would have been held dearer. No one can spend so much time thinking about things that he manages to avoid forgetting much of what he has planned to say. He failed to say what would have been more useful to him and what would have advanced his suit. That describes the predicament Diomedes was in. Many a time he forgot what he was most keen on

92 93

As becomes clear below, Benoît seems here to be thinking of the god of love. There is another example of anaphora here.

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saying to her. He endured this torment for a long time before he could in any way know delight or enjoy her. (15038–78) One day, when he went to plead for Briseida’s love, she was looking at the stallion that had belonged to her beloved Troilus. He had heard reports that Diomedes had presented it to her as a gift, and this deeply angered and distressed him. He had every intention of making Diomedes pay for it before their rivalry ended. If the damsel had dared, and not feared shame or hostility, she would have willingly sent the horse back to him. But to do so could have quickly made matters worse for her, as she would have incurred very great hatred from the Greek host. When she saw Diomedes, she addressed him harshly. ‘My lord’, she said, ‘overweening generosity impoverishes a man, because it is wasteful and harmful. Many are reduced to penury by it. You would not have been caught off guard in the fighting the other day, when Troilus, who feels absolutely no affection for you, seized your valuable stallion and did not return it to you afterwards.94 If you had had this charger then, it would have been, I believe, very useful to you. You gave it away too soon. I was afraid that you would need it. If I had known how much you needed it, you could have had it back right away. It is not a bad gift for someone if you can recover it so easily. But your enemies are not that foolish. Anyone who presumes to disinherit them and drive them from their lands takes on no ordinary task. The Trojans are worthy, valiant knights. My lord’, she continued, ‘I shall lend you this horse. I cannot do otherwise, nor could you find another one like it. Since you have lost your own horse, you have been very fortunate in getting this one. Therefore, I shall lend it to you. But the Trojans are very capable men. If you do not hold on to it, they will get it back. Rest assured that they will make every effort to do just that. The man who has taken your horse is neither a coward nor is he distraught. No man is less worthy of it than he is can own this horse.’ (15079–125) ‘My lady’, Diomedes answered, ‘there can be no doubt that he is most valiant in heavy fighting and combat. But it comes as no surprise if a knight loses his charger. If a man wishes to strive to fight well and endure cruel combats, he will win often and lose often. I am not in any great need of this horse, nor am I too concerned about this problem. I own a good many like it. But if you order me to take it, I shall look after it as best I can. I shall find myself in very dire straits before I let it get away from me. More than three Trojans will pay for it before that happens. From now on, I see, recognize and know the great pangs of love that I suffer because of you, to whom my heart is powerfully drawn without my knowing any joy or relief, reward, comfort or solace. But given the delay I am experiencing, it will turn to absolute joy. I shall continue to plead for your love until you have mercy on me. This mercy is what I am waiting for, what I humbly appeal for, what I covet and what I desire; it will mark an end to my sighs. My joy will be fully realized when I have taken possession of you. All this depends This is a curious sentence, especially v. 15096 (‘Ne fussiez pas si bosoignos’), which is translated by Baumgartner as ‘Vous n’auriez pas été ainsi pris au dépourvu’ (‘you would not have been caught so unexpectedly’, Troie, p. 333). 94


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on you. Sweet beloved, may your assistance not be slow in coming! My suffering will be cruel if you do not change your mind. If I had not placed my hopes in you, I do not believe I would ever again bear or take hold of a shield or a lance. It would be better for my life to end than for me to go on living any longer; living that kind of life would be too hard for me to bear. My beloved lady, turn your heart towards me. You are so beautiful, worthy and wise that I cannot, fair lady, think of anything other than you. From now on, matters will be as you wish and as you command. I cannot follow any other course of action than to surrender and hand myself over to you.’ The damsel was delighted. She was filled with joy and happiness because in this way she held him in her snare. She gave him the sleeve from her right arm, which was made of new and fresh silk, for him to use as a banner. He who was striving to win her love was filled with joy. Now she had been touched in that sensitive spot on account of which other women commit the transgressions that are so often spoken about and recounted. Henceforth, Troilus could see how useless it would be to expect anything more from her. His love for her, which later was dearly paid for, had been quashed. (15126–86) Ninth Battle The six months of truce had elapsed. Those in the city, as well as the Greeks, armed themselves once again, and then issued forth onto the fields. They fought for twelve days without ever separating before nightfall. There were numerous jousts and combats, with many knights mortally cut down. On both sides the slaughter was dreadful. In this ninth battle, and before the week was out, the mortality among the noblest men was very high. This is what Dares relates and he does not lie. Many a duke and esteemed admiral was slain and mutilated there. At that time and in that month those who were wounded died in far greater numbers than before. Know that very few of them survived. This is how it happened during that summer. The death rate rose so high that the wounded were constantly dying. Spirits on both sides were at a very low ebb. This conflict had lasted so long that the devastation became so terrible, and so many knights had died, that they could no longer tolerate it; they were obliged to ask for a truce. Agamemnon transmitted the request, as his allies advised him to do. They asked King Priam for the truce, and the latter acceded to their request on condition that those from both within the walls of Troy and outside them should be safe for a period of thirty days. This was ratified. By the time the dead had been buried, cremated on funeral pyres and entombed, those in the city had re-equipped themselves to some extent and they were ready to begin again. The entrances to the city had been reinforced. (15187–228) King Priam often held very private counsel. He received and gave advice while discussing strategies back and forth with his closest allies and the finest men in his country. They examined from all angles matters that would lead to disastrous consequences if they failed to deal with them. Alas! What loss and sorrow were in store for them shortly, and what a truly onerous destiny lay ahead of them! I do not know how I should relate it, or how anyone could bear to listen

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to my account. It would have been right if all the Trojans had died on the day on which it occurred. Thereafter, for as long as they held out, they were in deep anguish and distress. They never again recovered their joy; indeed, I do not know how they could have done so. Beginning now, you will hear what transpired during the next battle. I do not believe that anyone will ever hear tell of such profound grief and devastation. What the wise Cassandra had predicted would be their lot from that time onwards. The thirty-day truce and peace came to an end. Their men had recovered and were hale and hearty. The next day each and every one of them expected to find himself in the midst of the grief and fury of deadly combat and its baneful consequences. It began most inauspiciously, but ended all the more devastatingly. (15229–62) Andromacha’s Dream Andromacha was the correct name of Hector’s wife. She was a noble lady of high birth, free-born and courtly, worthy and wise. She was very faithful to her husband and loved him passionately. By him she had two beautiful young children. The elder was not yet five years old and was named Laudamanta. He was not ugly or dark-skinned, nor was his hair brown; rather he was noble, blond, fairskinned and handsome ‒ a veritable flower superior to all other young noblemen. The other son, according to my Source, was named Asternates. But he was a very small child and still at the breast, being not yet three years old. Listen now to what had been prophesied! On the very night the truce came to an end, the lady had good reason to take fright, I can assure you of that. The gods revealed to her, through signs, visions and prognostications, her great loss and sorrow. That night, before daybreak, she suffered much pain and anguish. But of one thing she was certain and convinced: if Hector went out to do battle, he would surely die. He could never return from the battlefield on that day, nor could he elude death. The lady learnt of his destiny as it was revealed to her that night. No wonder she became anxious for her husband, fearful, frightened and alarmed. She went to him to discuss the matter. ‘My lord’, she said, ‘I want to reveal to you the marvel that is causing me such grief that my heart almost fails me and stops beating, so great are my fright and anxiety! The supreme and most exalted divinities have made known to me that I should tell you not to go forth to do battle! Through me they issue a challenge to you and reveal a wondrous omen: if you were to do so, you would never come back unless you were borne on a stretcher. Neither the Divine Powers that be, nor the holy Deities, want you to go out there; this is what they have revealed to me. They challenge you such that, if you were to go out to fight, you would not live beyond this day. And when they forbid you to do this, you would not go out without their permission if you believe what I am saying. I tell you emphatically that above all else you must avoid going against their will, or doing anything that exceeds their wishes.’ (15263–324) Hector became furious with his noble wife. Nothing he heard pleased him. He deemed what she said to be a gross error and responded angrily. ‘From now on’, he exclaimed, ‘I know for sure and see clearly, without any doubt


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or uncertainty, that you have lost your good sense and your reason. You have been far too bold in declaring such a thing to me. Because you have dreamt this foolishness, you now come and tell me about it, questioning and forbidding me to take up arms or go out to fight. But, as long as I can do anything about it, it will never happen that I fail to do battle with those scoundrels and to defend myself against those men who have slain members of my family and laid siege to this my city. If those base-born wretches, as well as the knights of this city, who number more than two hundred thousand men, heard tell or recount that, because of a dream (if you did indeed dream it) I was so shaken and frightened that I did not dare go out – how could I shame myself more? May God not allow this to happen to me, and that because of this dream I fear and dread death! Do not utter another word about this. Keep silent, for I shall never do as you ask.’ (15325–54) Tenth Battle Andromacha wept and sighed. She felt such profound grief and chagrin that she was on the verge of losing her mind. She sent word openly to King Priam, asking him to stop her husband and restrain him, so that dreadful harm would not befall him. Above all, he should prevent Hector from going out to do battle that day. Fear and doubt gripped King Priam. He saw how great the danger was, yet his only trust was in his son, for Hector was his hope and his refuge. If he did not fight, they would end up losing and the day would go against them. Moreover, Priam did not dare refuse to prevent him from going to fight. He knew that lady Andromacha was very knowledgeable. No one should reject what someone else says and points out for their own good. Priam chose Paris and his company, as well as Troilus and Eneas, King Mennon and Polidamas, King Sarpedon and King Glaucus, along with Eufeme of Lycaonia, the strong and massive Cupesus, who was bigger than a giant, King Steropeus, King Acamus, King Epistrot, King Adrastus, King Heseus and King Fortis, who was lord of Filitis, the sturdy, valiant Philemenis and the other noble kings. He then arrayed and divided them up, forming and deploying them in divisions. They were very numerous, splendid and complete. When their chargers had been covered with horsecloth, and pennants had been affixed to their sharp, keen lances, and when the vassals were armed and drawn up for battle, King Priam ordered them to go out for the remainder of the day. They had delayed far too long, for their foe had already taken up position at the outer barriers long before. (15355–98) When Hector saw and learnt that his father forbade his going out on this occasion, he was outraged and so deeply shaken that he came close to doing violence to the woman who had brought this treatment about for him. She had lost him, his love and his heart. Since she had made this prophecy known, despite his prohibition and threat, there would never be a day when he would not hate her; he almost went so far as to strike her. He called for his arms, stipulating that he should get them quickly and without delay or any more deferment. His lady had hidden, concealed and covered them up. She gave vent to her profound anguish

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and grief, fearing the perilous day that lay ahead and unable to prevent herself from frequently collapsing in a faint. When she saw Hector donning his armour, she begged him to remain in Troy and restrain himself. She often cried out to him, asking him to take pity on her. But he was so angry that she could find no pity either by bawling or yelling. When she realized that, in no way, whether by word, deed or plea, could she restrain him any longer, she called the ladies to her side. His mother and his lovely sisters, with loud pleas, tears and weeping, begged and implored him, and in many ways admonished him, not to issue forth or go out to do battle. No appeal was of any avail; it was of no use to them and had no influence on him. ‘My son’, his mother pleaded, ‘now I know for sure that you do me wrong and prove false towards me, as well as towards your wife and the king, when you refuse to do our bidding. Take pity on us, fair son! Do not leave us, do not abandon us, do not cause us to die of grief. Dearly beloved son, what would we do if we had lost you? Not one of us would fail to kill herself and die heartbroken. Stay with us, dear, sweet son. Believe what your wife tells you.’ What a sight it was as Polixena and lady Helen strove to restrain him! But they failed to hold him back. He was so angry that he did not know what he was doing. He hated Andromacha and threatened her. (15399–454) When Andromacha saw that nothing would come from her pleas, she struck herself violently with both hands. She twisted, tore and pulled her hair, evincing terrible grief and self-torment; she did indeed resemble a woman who had gone mad. In a frenzy, dishevelled and completely out of her mind, she ran to fetch her son Asternates. With tears flowing tenderly from her eyes, she took up the child and held him in her arms. Then she returned with him to the palace where Hector was putting on his knee guards. She placed the child at his feet and said to him: ‘My lord, in the name of this small child that you begot of your own flesh, I beg you not to make light of what I have said and revealed to you. Take pity on this small child. He will never see you again if you go out to fight our enemies. Today you will die and your life will come to an end; he will be left as your orphan. Hard of heart, raging wolf, why do you not take pity on him? Why do you want to die so soon? Why do you wish to abandon me so soon, as well as your son and your father, your brothers and your mother? Why will you leave us to perish? How can we survive without you? Alas! What a destiny lies before us!’ Then she fainted, falling face down on the flag-stone floor. Then a woman lifted her up in her arms while giving vent to her anguished grief: it was lady Helen, her sister-in-law. (15455–90) Hector did not relent in the least or become more tender-hearted because of his child; he neither looked at him nor heeded him. They had already brought him his horse and he wanted to mount without further ado. Andromacha dashed out through the door, lamenting, crying out and yelling so loudly that her voice was heard a great distance away. In Troy’s great stone palace no one was too deaf to hear it clearly. She caused them to weep hot tears. Alas! How close it was getting to the time when all of them would wish they were dead! The woman for whom comfort was of no use came straight to King Priam, wringing her hands. Her grief was so profound that she uttered not a word. After some time had passed, she did


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speak to him. ‘Hey you!’95 she yelled, ‘have you gone mad, or lost your mind to such an extent that you no longer care for yourself? Know that if Hector joins the combat you will have lost him, of that you can be sure. He will be slain there this very day. I have seen it in prophecy. The gods have challenged him through me in such a way that, if he engages the Greeks in battle, they will kill him. Mind what you do about this! You will never see him again with your own eyes. Go quickly, my lord, and restrain him. I brought Asternates, his son and mine, to him a short time ago and laid the child at his feet. His mother has appealed to him, as have Helen and Polixena. But it was all in vain. He did not even deign to pay us any heed. Know that just now he wanted to mount his horse when I ran yelling to you. Go quickly, my lord and keep him here for my sake.’ She could not utter another word and fainted right at the king’s feet. (15491–532) Priam was a very austere, tough man, immovable when confronting his foes. He was not hasty, frivolous or foolish, and he had a very open, honest and gentle heart. When he heard her words and saw what sorrow the lady felt, his heart grew cold because of his doubt, fear and fright. He heaved long and heavy sighs, and for a while he remained downcast. Tears wetted his chin and the fringes of his tunic. He sensed and had a premonition about the harm threatening him. He mounted a horse with great difficulty and left the palace grief-stricken, troubled, silent and mute. In the middle of the road he caught up with Hector, who was perspiring profusely because of his fury. The women had made him extremely angry by their outcry and their ban on his going out to do battle with the Greeks. Beneath his helmet from Pavia his face was pale and discoloured; his eyes were puffed up in his head and of a brighter red than a burning piece of coal. More ferocious than a leopard or lion, having donned his hauberk and girded on his sword, Hector sat fully armed on Galatea, an animal quite accustomed to harsh combat. Priam took him by the reins, saying: ‘My fair son, you will stay behind. Know that today you will not issue forth. On the authority of my relationship to you, and by the authority of all the gods we revere, I forbid it. Go back! You must have enough reason and intelligence to know that you must never undertake anything, whether rightly or wrongly, that does not please me. I shall exert such power over you that on this day you will not leave the city. Do you see what marvellous outcry these ladies have raised? Do you see how each of them yells and howls? No one here below could fail to be moved by it. Dear beloved son, go and dismount.’ (15533–77) Hector was at a loss as to what to do. He did not dare go against his father’s orders, but he did not know how he could stay behind. He feared that he would incur shame for the rest of his life. ‘My lord’, he said, ‘how could one even contemplate such folly? How can you involve yourself in such an affair brought on by a foolish woman, who has gone mad and related her dream to you? This should not happen! I tell you in truth that I shall incur very great shame if I stay behind for such a reason. It should not displease you if I go out to assist your 95 ‘Hey you’ here translates ‘Di, va’ (v. 15509), a disrespectful form of interjection that is entirely inappropriate in addressing King Priam.

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men, who will very much need such help today.’ None of this mattered to Priam. He pleaded with Hector and appealed to him so forcefully that he persuaded him to return to the city. The expression on Hector’s face was of such ferocity that no one dared look at him. He refused to disarm in any way, except for his visor. Priam sent out to battle all the men he had, or could muster. The whole city was in an uproar. (15578–602) Mêlée After having taken up their arms, all the Trojans advanced far out into the open fields, beyond the outer barriers. Those in the Greek host had drawn very close, ready and deployed for battle. Diomedes led a noble company and Achilles, for his part, an impressive array of men. Ajax Telamon, Agamemnon, Menelaus together with the wise Palamedes led many valiant knights. The bright helmets, the silk cloth, the Spanish gold and the varnish shone brightly over the countryside. Diomedes with his company and Troilus with the Phrygians were the first to join battle. These two divisions came together, occupying a wide swath of the field. Their horses were highly agitated. From afar, one heard the tramping of their hooves and felt the ground shaking beneath them. The knights lowered their shafts as they met, striking one another through shields and finely mailed hauberks. Lances broke and shattered, while the bodies of knights fell from their saddles. Because of the good blows and the shock many were sent toppling who did not get back up again. Those who survived the lance charge drew their blades of sharp steel. Then they dealt extraordinary blows and blood was streaming from the sides of seven hundred men. The dead and wounded were so numerous that their bodies lay strewn out over the whole field. (15603–37) Diomedes became very angry when he saw his men dying in this way and the Trojans fighting so well. He spurred his horse towards Troilus. He thrust his entire ebony lance with its silken sleeve through Troilus’s shield that was emblazoned with a lion. He made him feel it pass along his flank. When returning the blow, Troilus, for his part, did not miss; he severed the Greek’s shield from his body and smashed his hauberk so that blood came spurting out from his body. But the wound was not mortal, nor was it much of a hindrance to him when it came to striking with sword or lance. They wanted to begin such a match with their bright, sharp blades of steel that blood would flow from their heads. They would never have withdrawn before this, but Menelaus came up with more than four thousand knights. He jousted with Merceres, king of Phrygia. Without any hesitation, the two lords struck one another, passing their colourful pennants through their shields. King Merceres was knocked down and so severely trampled on by Greek stallions, and Menelaus’s men were so numerous, that the Phrygian could not receive any help from all those in his company. The king of Phrygia was captured; he would not have been rescued or given assistance if Polidamas had not arrived on the scene. Be aware that I do not think that on this day they would have been able to take him away without being challenged. (15638–73)


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The Greeks did not restrain him with a cord that was strong enough to keep him from escaping shortly thereafter. ‘Troilus’, Merceres called out, ‘my lord, over here! How is it that you are withdrawing from the fray in this way? The Greeks have chosen how they will play the game, thinking they could leave the lesser role to us. The king has taken Hector from us, so we shall get no help from him today. Since the hour at which I was born, I never heard tell or relate that a knight ceased bearing arms on account of a dream or some gross illusion. Today we shall sound the retreat.’ Troilus answered: ‘Fair friends, they are taking the king of Phrygia away as a prisoner. There he is yonder in that throng. Let us help him right away and quickly.’ Then they gave their horses free rein and, without further ado, went to shatter the mail on the Greek hauberks and to hack their strong shields to pieces. The fighting, the sword blows and the assault were so violent that they knocked down dead a hundred Greeks and maimed a thousand more, so that in many cases their livers and lungs could be seen on their saddles. The sound and the fury were immense in this grievous combat, as they slew, wounded and maimed each other. By sheer force and pressure they rescued the king of Phrygia, who was in dire straits. The Greeks were unlacing his visor. Since they could not take him off the battlefield alive, he would immediately have lost his head. But they were not strong enough to do that. The Trojans wrenched him from their grasp and many men had to pay for this. (15674–712) Then Ajax Telamon arrived together with more than three thousand armed vassals on Arabian stallions, equipped with fresh weapons and banners. This band of men caused alarm ‒ no wonder it did and quite rightly so – for they were exceptionally good knights, valiant, bold and fine fighters. They also had a lord who was so valiant that no men ever had a better one. The Trojans had not left the fray or the fighting. However, matters had grown much worse for them. The Greeks came fresh and at full speed, intent on striking their foes. Many lost their lives there before they could ever leave the battlefield. But the Trojans could not equal the Greeks in numbers. Some were forced to remain in place who would gladly have withdrawn, if they had been able, or dared to do so. There was extraordinary loss of life and the ground was covered with dead bodies. Those who were suffering great hardship there pulled back towards their own troops behind them; they retreated in defeat. (15713–37) King Telamon made his way forward. He went to do battle with Polidamas, striking him with a blow so powerful that he knocked him off his horse. The fall caused him much pain. But Troilus turned back towards him, killing those surrounding him one after the other. With his steel blade he freed Polidamas from the Greeks, for which, you can rest assured, he earned high praise. He took some very noble prisoners. None of his companions failed to turn and charge. Polidamas was put back on his horse, having escaped a frightening situation, for, you must know, whoever fell in that place must by rights become their prisoner. Afterwards, the Trojans were scattered, many of them felled by the Greeks before meeting up with the Persians, who were carrying Turkish bows and easily numbered more than a thousand men. They engaged the advancing Greeks at full gallop, firing arrows and bolts from bows and crossbows. No hauberk had

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mail strong enough to prevent it from being undone and rent apart. The Persians wounded thousands of Greeks and pierced thousands more so that bright blood spurted out from both sides of their bodies. Horses were slaughtered on the spot. Paris fought bravely, causing them immense harm and the Trojans forced the Greeks to pull back somewhat. The Greeks lost so many of their men in this engagement, which must have caused them much distress. Indeed it did so. If the Greeks could manage it, the Trojans would pay for this. They would have to pay for it before the arrival of vespers. (15738–74) Lord Achilles and his men were moving in close to the fighting. He observed that his side was suffering great losses and sustaining great harm there. He noted large numbers of heads lying about on the field. Summoning his men, he admonished them all to fight together valiantly. Thereupon, they lowered their pennants. They would never again be raised up, and after penetrating knights’ bodies hundreds of them were covered in blood. No one could relate or tell of the extraordinary massacre the Trojans suffered. Their men fought well, but the forest of lances was so thick, and there occurred so many mishaps, so many dead and wounded, that they were driven back from where they stood. And once the Greeks had been aroused and had raised their battle-cry, they attacked the Trojans furiously, along with the scoundrel who was massacring them because he feared no one and never avoided blows. A gigantic rout took place there, the Trojans being forced to turn their backs on the Greeks. There was no possible way for them to stand firm. The vanquished Trojans were driven back by the Greeks. The main aim of their efforts was to push them into the entrances to Troy. The fair Polidamas withdrew a good distance away, with Troilus at his side. But both of them returned frequently to the attack. It is a great wonder they held out so long. They helped many of their men there, who would otherwise have been slain or captured. Paris, for his part, grasped his steel blade and broke up the throng surrounding him. The king of Aresse fought well too. They retired in good order with their troops. (15775–815) Trojan fighting was not of the finest at the time the Bastards came to help them. Promising one another and vowing that the Greeks would soon pay for what they had done, they joined the combat at a gallop, thrusting themselves in among the Greeks while unhorsing some thirty of them, most of whom gasped their last breath. Ah! What knights they were in battle! What knights for breaking up tight throngs and holding firm in heavy fighting! How valiantly these men supported one another, so that they could push back all the opposing troops! With their brightly shining swords they covered their helmets with blood, and together they knocked down Telamon. Margariton had seized him when lord Achilles appeared, who with his lance struck him with all his might through the stomach so that the blade emerged from his back; a good foot of the lance broke off. Before he tumbled to the ground, the Trojans drew him out of the throng. Ah! What howling and yelling there was. Margariton was so valiant, so fair, so worthy and so loyal that his men were enraged. They did not withdraw the lance stub from his body; rather they carried him to the city. How great was their grief when they arrived there. How the ladies and maidens, children, girls and maidservants


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wept. They took him straight up to the palace. When his brother Hector saw him, it gripped and tightened his heart so much that he nearly collapsed. They placed Margariton on a quilt. He passed out three times because of the agony caused by his wound. (15816–54) Hector asked who had done this, and straightaway they told him how and where it had happened. ‘In God’s name’, Hector exclaimed, ‘this is a grievous affair! My heart should stop beating when I cannot go out and fight them. But now I can stand it no longer. I must of necessity go out and fight in order to avenge him, if I can. If I find those who did this on the battlefield, they will immediately leave their battle pledge96 with me. I shall make them pay dearly for the harm they have done. I would forever be held in shame if I were to avoid them in this way. But they will see this happen soon enough, whoever may suffer grief, anger or joy because of it.’ Then they drew the lance splinters out from Margariton’s body and he died right before Hector’s eyes. Then Hector asked for his charger, saying that he would go out and avenge his brother. He would have mounted right away, but the king came and, albeit with great difficulty, succeeded in restraining him. (15855–76) The fighting came to a standstill in front of the outer barriers to the ditches. For a long time the Trojans held the passage into the city against the Greeks, as Eneas had arrived with some three thousand knights, who jousted very eagerly as all of them supported one another very well. But rest assured with regard to one thing: all the Trojans were profoundly discouraged because Hector was not with them, as this made them less bold and less valiant. When that reprobate Achilles realized this, he no longer prized their men so highly, rather he proclaimed that he would soon drive them into the city. Agamemnon went to speak with him. ‘Ride on, fair lord!’ he exclaimed. ‘Let us advance to kill and capture all of them, for they cannot defend themselves now that they do not have Hector with them, nor will they have him today. So see how they resist our attack. Know that he will not issue forth from the city today. The Trojans miss him very much. They cannot fight so well unless he is with them. Have these troops of ours ride on and let the Trojans be attacked so vigorously that they leave with us a thousand men lying unconscious behind them.’ Then the Greek forces began their advance, one company after the other in orderly fashion. There will soon be a disastrous throw of the dice.97 This affair could not come to an end in any other way. (15877–906) The duke of Athens came up first, with a good ten thousand knights on horseback and armed. There was then no further deployment of the troops, rather they charged straight at the Trojans and pierced their strong shields. Here arose such ferocious fighting with losses so great that it was nothing if not a terrible sight to behold. From that time onwards, saddles were emptied. Many good vassals died The pledge would be the stakes they placed for a duel. This refers to the fact that Hector is killed because he emerged to fight despite the gods’ warning against doing so on that particular day (cf. Baumgartner, Troie, pp. 648–9, note to v. 15905). 96 97

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there, leaving their horses in flight over the field. Philemenis from Paphlagonia, together with his men, went without delay to joust with the Athenians. I can tell you for sure that I have never heard anyone speak of so many knights whose heads were lopped off in such a short time. The Paphlagonians were big and strong and they had very little fear of the Greeks. They knew nothing of cowardice and their forces were solid. Philemenis fought very well; he earned the prize for the day over many others. He jousted with the duke of Athens, striking him in the mouth so hard that he sent four of his teeth flying while knocking him down off his horse. But he had no chance to dismount in order to attack him, nor to seize or capture him. There were far too many Athenians there and the duke was quickly picked up. His men carried him away to their encampment with great sorrow in full view. (15907–40) Palamedes met them and almost went out of his mind because of what had happened to the duke, saying that those responsible for this would pay for it without fail. The Greeks seized and grasped their shields, but many of them would soon regret having done so. Giving free rein to their horses, they joined the fray, and you should know that they did so with great speed. Then they hastened to strike blows against Trojans in the midst of the throng. They broke and shattered their shafts, thrusting them into horses or shields, or through the bodies of knights. The battle there became wide-ranging, with remarkable sword-play and massive shooting of arrows by the Persians; such destruction was wrought there in such deadly combat that no one could relate it. The Trojans could not endure it any longer; they were routed. Know that they suffered a dreadful loss of men. They made a stand at the outer barrier, where many of them were slain or captured. They fell back against the outer wall of the ditches, and before only a third of them had entered the city they had sustained such terrible losses that the number could not be told. The Greeks now occupied all the outer lists, after which they drove the Trojans back to the barbicans, where Paris fought very well. With his blade of painted steel he slew many Greeks that day. Ah! How well Troilus was fighting. No one came near him without paying for it straightaway. Such a knight was never born. How well Polidamas also fought! He drew his naked sword and held on to it, killing so many more with it, and maiming so many, that it was fully bathed in bright-red blood. He fought most valiantly, making those who harmed him pay for it dearly. The tall, valiant Philemenis (I am telling the truth) was in the thick of the fighting, more than all the others. No blow that he struck with his sword of burnished steel failed to kill. The Trojans fought very well, but to what avail? They accomplished nothing that was to their advantage. Since so many Trojans had drawn back, dispersed and departed from the field, it was no longer easy to bring them back into the fray. Twenty thousand men had already gone in through the gates, none of whom showed any sign of wanting to return to the battlefield. Cries rose throughout the city and they were all in a terrible fright. Panic set in with the result that no one felt secure. They climbed up on to the walls and the gates. The screams were so widespread that they expected to be captured immediately. They were overwhelmed with dreadful fear. (15941–6006)


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Hector Joins the Fray Hector heeded, heard and saw this outlandish violence, and he also observed the war’s unspeakable devastation and the slaughter. He saw that the whole city was in an uproar, and all the while he was hearing reports that the Greeks had driven the Trojans back through the gates. The blood rushed to his face and his heart swelled with rage in his breast. He became so furious and angry that no one dared approach him. ‘By God’, he exclaimed, ‘I ought to be absolutely disgusted with myself for still being alive.’ He donned his helmet and a young man laced it on. Then the grief was renewed. The Trojans wept and cried out throughout the hall, as many a noble lady there grew pale because of the fear that gripped them because of Hector. Alas! They would never see him again in a way that would fill them with joy and happiness. What terrible sorrow, what profound sadness that he could not let that day pass before the awful misfortune that was about to befall him! In the painted room he mounted his horse, with his sword girt about him. He seized his shield and then departed. Andromacha lay in a faint; she felt so much grief that she could neither hear nor see. Priam did not know or see what was happening. [If he had been there98], perhaps Hector would not have gone out. However, he who felt neither fear nor trepidation went down through the streets, where more than a thousand people bowed down to him in admiration. Immense joy was restored in them. When the common people saw him pass by, they all came rushing towards him, weeping and wailing in a pitiful state. ‘My lord’, they exclaimed, ‘the Greeks were clearly aware, and easily recognized throughout the whole day, that you were not present in the fighting. They have done whatever they wanted today. Our losses have been so great that no one could relate them. But now the Greeks will have to pay for it, and this will not fail to happen shortly.’ Hector reached the battle. But the throng of defeated and returning Trojans was so great that he could scarcely find a way out. (16007–57) Immediately upon reaching the fighting, he struck down dead Euripilus, one of their men, who was lord and duke of Orchomenus. Ifidus was a count of high birth and a good and sensible knight. Hector cut off his arm, wounding and maiming him so that he would never again strike with a sword. An enormous number of battle-cries were shouted out there, and so many trumpets were sounded, along with so many horns and large, handsome olifants, that all the walls reverberated from the sound as it echoed through the great halls. Hector was easily recognized. His shield aroused such great fear that all his mortal enemies immediately recoiled. While he was rescuing Philemenis, the Greeks had captured Polidamas. They were leading him away through the throng, overjoyed at having captured him, for he had deeply angered them on many occasions and caused them harm. For this reason they were striking his helmet with heavy sword blows. Rescuing him had been totally abandoned, and no sword would ever have been drawn to help him. Hector had frequently been missed by those who loved him very much. 98 Constans perceives a two-line lacuna here. For our translation, see Baumgartner, Troie, p. 649 (note to v. 16036).

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But the Trojans who had fallen back easily recognized him and all their courage returned to them. Polidamas received help because Hector went to engage with those whom he made cruelly pay for seizing him; he slew those who held him. Then he engaged the other Greeks with his steel blade, making many of them tumble down dead. He threw them back out through the gates and they lost many men as they bunched together. The Trojans pushed them back, completely vanquished. Hector drove many souls from their bodies. The Trojans were recovering; by a trench next to a ditch they pressed so tightly on their foe that many of them were slain or gravely wounded. This came about thanks to Hector’s effort. Why should I prolong this account? They drove the Greeks far out on to the fields. As a result, the Greeks accomplished nothing. (16058–108) Leotetes was an admiral, a blood cousin of Diomedes and a noble, highly praised vassal. He was well connected through family ties within the Greek army. Hector gutted him by thrusting a pennant made in Thessaly right through his body. The Greek fell dead, his mouth agape. Now the Trojans were fighting well. Henceforth, they were again happy and filled with joy; now they were once more equal to their opponents. This was Hector’s achievement as a good vassal. When Achilles saw the marvellous fight Hector was putting up against the Greeks, and what he was preparing to inflict on them by slaying all their princes, he thought and said to himself that, if Hector lived long, the Greeks would all be inevitably consigned to grief, harm and torment. But Achilles determined to strive on, forestalling Hector or engaging him so as to make him spew forth his living soul. He focused entirely on this goal, neither paying heed to, nor undertaking, anything else. He set aside all other actions in favour of this one goal and devoted to it both his heart and his mind. He would never again find joy or cheer until he had slain Hector with his own hands. He saw the Greeks dying. Hector was a man of such strength and anger that he killed, wounded and slew all of them, driving them all away from the battlefield. (16109–42) The Trojans were fighting well now, for they had fully regained their strength. They all swarmed out of the city, shouting out their battle-cries. Since the world came into being, no one has ever witnessed such slaughter, such carnage and such fierce fighting. The Greeks and Trojans slew one another by the hundreds and thousands. Throughout the city, as well as in the Greek encampment, there was trumpeting and shouting. Everyone felt as if the earth was crumbling beneath their feet as the dead lay strewn out over all the fields. Polibetes was a duke from beyond the Caucasus Mountains, that is towards India the Great; he was remarkably strong and valiant. He himself was extraordinarily worthy and had brought with him a very splendid company. No one in times gone by had seen a man who was armed more handsomely. His equipment, covered with gold and precious stones, was resplendent and marvellous. Achilles loved, honoured and served him because he intended to give him one of his sisters. Polibetes was a marvellous knight and an extremely dangerous opponent for those in the city. He had already slain many of them that day. However, Hector had engaged Polibetes in such close combat that the Greek could not escape him by as much as a single step. He slew Polibetes on the spot by cleaving his head down to the teeth. When


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Hector saw the valuable, precious armour that Polibetes was wearing, he became very eager to get hold of it for himself. He wanted to pull it off him and take it away.99 However, Achilles, his adversary, came there in order to prevent him from doing just that. (16143–81) Death of Hector by Achilles In that place many a saddle was riderless. Such ferocious combat was joined there once more, as a result of which many men became deathly pale. Hector and Achilles confronted one another and did not hold back in striving to slay one another. They laid many a resounding blow on their helmets, so that all the lacing was torn and both their arms ached. But Hector seized a shining spear that was cutting and sharp. Holding it in both fists, he struck Achilles through the hip, but from such close range that he could not knock him down. Then the combatants present there stopped fighting and drew their men back. Achilles’s wound was severe and he felt great pain and anger, the like of which no man had ever felt, either more or even as much. This would indeed be obvious. The Greeks staunched his wound and bound it tightly with a pennant; he then remounted with his helmet laced on. Holding a spear that was sharp and brightly shining, Achilles returned to the fray, sombre and glowering beneath his helmet. Wounded as he was, he lay in wait for Hector. He would rather be cast down dead than fail to kill him, he said to himself. This is what he strove for above all else. The battle had grown very fierce, many a soul being wrenched from its body. The hue and cry rose to a high pitch because Hector had felled a king. He intended to capture and hold on to him while removing him from the Greeks by force. He took hold of his ventail and pulled him out from the throng ‒ but without the protection of his shield! When that scoundrel (I mean Achilles, who hated Hector) saw him so exposed, he went straight for him. He spurred his charger straight towards the Trojan. Hector’s double-mailed hauberk was not strong enough to prevent him from spilling all his liver and one of his lungs out onto the saddle-bow. Achilles sent him toppling down on his back. In no time Hector had turned pale and livid. (16182–230) Alas! What a grievous turn of events! It was as terrible and as hard to bear as mournful destiny could be! There was no further delay. The Trojans took flight in total disarray, for no one looked out for himself. Each of them had so little love for his own life that they thought it a fine thing to be killed. They tossed away their lances and shields; Hector’s death was the final blow for them. They became so dispirited, anguished and vexed that against their own will the majority collapsed unconscious in the middle of the battlefield. The Greeks slaughtered them without further ado, and without aid from any of their own troops the other Trojans were forcibly ejected from the field. The Greeks drove them violently and ignominiously back to the city gates. There many a steel blade was smeared 99 The same covetousness overcomes Hector when he sees Patroclus’s armour in the second battle (p. 146, vv. 8437–70).

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with blood. You can be sure that the Greeks killed, wounded and captured many of their opponents ‒ as many as they wanted and no more. From now on, they were right on top of their foe. The Trojans who escaped from the field alive went in through the gates. There Achilles killed more than five hundred of them, according to my written source. The Greeks found their foe bunched tightly together; they slew so many Trojans before they could pass through the gate that I cannot estimate the number of dead. However, according to what Dares tells me, Mennon turned to attack Achilles, striking him with full force, so that he knocked him down from his saddle. Achilles, who was able to renew the fight, struck back through Mennon’s shield with a blow that sent him toppling down to the ground. Then, drawing his sword, Achilles pounced on him. But King Mennon, for his part, did not give up. If Achilles struck two or three blows, he immediately returned them, slicing right through his helmet from above, knocking it off his head and causing blood to spurt out from his face. Mennon attacked ferociously and both men exchanged savage sword blows. Puddles of their blood soaked the ground. Each of them was so exhausted that he could scarcely remain standing. They were so gravely wounded, and so near to death, that they were carried from the field. If Mennon had received some help, Achilles’s pain would have grown so severe that he would never again have borne arms in combat. (16231–86) Achilles was borne away on his shield, passing out seven times before reaching his pavilion. They laid him on a silk blanket and removed his armour. When they examined his wounds, they thought his soul would surely pass away from him. He would never again have uttered a word, if it were it not for a physician from the Orient who knew so much about wounds that no one could die if he could get to him in time to treat him. He alleviated Achilles’s pain so much that he had him eating a healthy and efficacious caudle right away.100 Now all his friends were convinced that he was on the mend. He recovered and was completely healed in no time. Now that they had taken vengeance on the Trojan warrior Hector, their mortal enemy, the Greeks were overjoyed and did not consider to be worth a penny all the losses that they had sustained and that had been told and reported to them. They would no longer know grief or misfortune, it seemed to them, for any reason. However, there is one thing I do know for certain: they were still to experience days like this when thousands of their men would die. (16287–316) Mourning Hector’s Body Now I shall tell you how the inhabitants of Troy were faring. After this battle they knew neither relief nor joy. Hector’s body was brought in from the field. When it had arrived in the city, no one who saw it remained standing, or failed to faint with grief. Women wailed, children wailed, as did everyone else, both great and small. Kings wept, along with contors, lords and vavassors. The maidens lamented their loss along with the ladies in the city. ‘Lord Hector, sweet, noble 100 A caudle (Old French chaudel) is a warm, syrupy drink for the sick, consisting of ale or wine mixed with bread, eggs, spices, sugar, etc.


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warrior, lord who was a noble knight, a lord who loved us so much, a lord who protected us all, a lord who was so valiant that you defended us against all our foes, what devastation now that you are dead! Our distress is so great! Never will anything good come to us! No man will ever be as important to us as you have been. We shall never be delivered from this setback. Our treacherous foes will do whatever they want with us. Ah! How distraught the wretched knights of Troy will be! From now on, their defence of the city will amount to very little. No gate will ever open again. Alas!’ exclaimed the maidens, ‘what a loss! We shall never be married. We shall be led off as grieving captives, in bondage to our enemy. Your death is so cruel that it is neither right nor reasonable for us to go on living any longer after you.’ (16317–52) After the body had passed by, the outcry was greater than had ever been heard before. Everyone followed it into the hall and stood there, livid, cold and pale. The grief was so anguished there, so terrible and dolorous that no one could recount it. When he approached it, Priam fainted over Hector’s corpse. He lay over it, stiff and cold, fainting over it so often that he neither breathed nor exhaled air. His sons, together with his kings and contors, lifted him up from the body with the greatest difficulty. They carried him for dead into a chamber painted with flowers. Henceforth, consoling him would be of little use. Paris’s grief too was extraordinary. Tears ran down his face from both eyes as he wept tenderly while repeatedly cursing the time and the hour that day had dawned and battle had begun. He considered himself dead and crushed, often exclaiming how unfortunate this loss had been for him. ‘My lord, sweet kinsman, dear lord, valiant above all knights! After this misfortune, who will lead our great army in their attacks and who will ever avenge our dead? Who will be our banner now, our fortress, our standard and our dragon?101 Who can sustain us in the future? Our hearts should leave our bodies when we look upon you in a coffin. Your death is so cruel that no one can comprehend the great harm that has been afflicted on our lineage today because of it. Because of you our people was alive and protected, but now our line is dead and destroyed. But, if it pleases God, that man Achilles will die because of what he has done. Nothing beneath heaven will save him. If we find him in combat, Hector will be avenged tomorrow, that is certain. If he had slain me, I would not care, provided that Hector had been avenged.’ Paris fell on to the corpse in a faint. Thereafter, the grief was widespread. (16353–98) Troilus deeply mourned Hector’s death, for he loved no man here below more than him. Polidamas also mourned the loss, as did Antenor and Eneas, together with all Hector’s friends and allies and all his brothers. Then came Hecuba, Hector’s mother, Andromacha and lady Helen. Each of them was so pale and faint that they could not have moved without support, or even been able to stand up. Whoever had heard their wailing and bawling, their clapping of hands, their weeping and sighing could in no way have avoided heart-felt grief. When they 101

In military terms a ‘dragon’ (v. 16382) is a standard or ensign.

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had fainted over the body, they cursed the Fates, who had been so cruel towards them. ‘Ah! Cassandra’, they exclaimed, ‘your predictions were indeed true, as were those of Helenus. O unfortunate, sorrowful wretches! If these two had been believed, such misfortune would not have befallen us. What a catastrophe! How shall we, poor grieving women, ever be happy again?’ ‘My son’, said Hecuba, ‘what can I look forward to? In whom after this shall I place my hopes? From whom shall I derive any pleasure? Now all my joy has come to an end. I have lost my protection. You were the only love I had left. Sweet beloved son, speak to me! You are not dead, this I believe. Open your eyes and look at me. It is wrong of you not to speak to me. Sweet son, you cannot open them. The great apprehension and sighs I experienced every day signified this grief, this anguish, this monstrous event. Beneath you I see the ground bright red from the blood that is flowing down from your corpse. Ah! How pale do I see your bright face! Handsome, tender and worthy man, valiant above all others, what will King Priam do after this? Who will succeed in providing him with anything that brings joy or well-being, comfort or relief? Ah! Fair beloved, what a sad perspective lies before us! How soon you took leave of us! It is right for us to die with you, so that we shall not see ourselves shamed or forcibly seized by our enemies in our own city. May God curse those through whom you have lost your life! I shall never see this happen, sad and wretched woman that I am. May God grant that I live no longer.’ Thereupon, she fainted over Hector’s body once more, as did all the others. (16399–458) That day Andromacha had shed so many tears, and wailed and cried out so much, that she could no longer utter a word. She often seemed to be dying, and often she was green, pale and faint, with no respiration or breath coming from her. But those who loved her sincerely took her away from there, as if she were a dead woman. They placed her on a bed where they sprinkled water on her face. She had done great violence to herself and her features, having lacerated her face and pulled out all her hair. If her opposition to Hector’s fighting had prevailed, Troy would still have avoided calamity, for this man with a bold and loyal heart would have defended it against all comers. The woeful destruction of Troy had begun and would continue. The end would not be slow in coming. (16459–78) Lady Helen did not hide her feelings. She had grown pale from grief, having torn and pulled out her hair while uttering frequent cries and screams; no one did so more than she. Tears poured down over her face, so that her bosom was wet with them. She felt such grief and torment that, if she had died, it would have suited her very well. The young men admired her much more because of this, and afterwards Hector’s closest family members were most grateful to her for it. What could I say about Polixena, given that I would not know how to tell you accurately her extraordinary reaction? There was no duke, admiral or king present whom she did not bring to tears. If I were to tell you the truth about her grief, it would take me the whole day. But I do not wish to distress you, for it is time for me to return to the remainder of my tale. From here on, it is worth listening to. (16479–502)


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Embalming Hector’s Body In the resplendent hall, filled with so much gold and pure silver, and with many precious stones, they placed Hector’s corpse in a coffin. First they disarmed him, washing him seven times with white wine boiled with rare spices. Before enshrouding him, they filled his body with perfumed spices and withdrew his stomach from his body. They also carefully removed his intestines, his liver, his lung102 and the other entrails. They embalmed the interior of the corpse abundantly and did the same with the exterior. They made a beautiful wrap for him, using a cloth that was in their treasury ‒ one worth more than two cities ‒ embroidered in gold and precious stones, the most sumptuous such object that had ever been made, or which you will ever hear about. They fitted it to his measurements and sewed it with golden thread. When they had clothed him with it, you would have thought him to be still alive. They placed him on a funeral bed, except that he was somewhat inclined backwards against the litter. The funeral bed was splendid, having been sculpted entirely of white ivory. The bed’s feet were sculpted and subtly carved with beasts and little birds, as well as tiny serpents surrounded by little flowers; the handiwork was artfully gilded. The bed’s head and foot, as well as its sides, were made from the teeth of a fish that Pliny names in his works.103 No flesh-and-blood human ever saw a work so beautiful or so well-fashioned. The entire bed was wrapped and strapped with fine plaited silk and marvellously adorned. Its covering was of imperial silk – no one ever saw the like – that was a large and new silk from the Orient that the king had in his treasury and cherished very much. It covered the entire litter, and in candelabras made of gold, which were not small, stood huge, brightly burning candles ‒ I cannot tell you how many of them they were. All the learned men and the clerics from all the bishoprics, and each one of the religious communities separately, together with the holy men of their religion came to the corpse. I can assure you that they did not hold back when it came to beautiful singing and eloquently reading the funeral service. It lasted all night long without pause as all the counts and kings kept vigil. But the Trojans were in a panic throughout the city in case the Greeks launched a surprise attack. All night long, they stayed on the look-out from the walls. They did not feel secure. Everywhere there was such an outcry and such grief, such weeping and wailing that the Greek host heard them clearly and was overjoyed by what they heard. (16503–74) Truce When that night had ended and the morning light had returned, the Greeks took counsel. King Agamemnon spoke: ‘My lords’, he said, ‘things have gone well for us. The man who rid us of Hector did us a great service. We owe him an enormous His other lung had fallen on to his saddle as a result of Achilles’s mortal blow (p. 240; vv. 16226-8). 103 Benoît does not name this fish or the work attributed here to Pliny. 102

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debt of gratitude. He has considerably advanced our enterprise; from now on, it is making good progress. We must now be very happy about this, for the Trojans are dead and vanquished. They can no longer offer us much resistance. It was indeed necessary and urgent that we engage with that scoundrel, who had slain so many of our kings, barons and knights. If he had survived for one full year, we would all have died or been captured and defeated. It has turned out very well for us. Lord Achilles was gravely wounded, but there has been some improvement in his condition. He will fully recover because he has a good physician. But there is one thing I want to tell you: I do not advise that we engage in combat until we have him back with us safe and sound. Let us hold off until he has recovered, given that we too are quite exhausted. And as far as carrying on the fight is concerned, I am convinced that the Trojans inside the city will not undertake anything. They have lost too much and are despondent. For the time being they will never think of sallying forth to do battle with us. Of this you can be absolutely certain: they no longer have any desire to fight. Let us send word right away to King Priam, asking him to grant us a twomonth truce. We shall bury our Greeks and they will do the same for their men. This needs to be done.’ The Greeks agreed without any opposition. Their messengers mounted and quickly came to Troy. They delivered their message properly, for the best and wisest among the Trojans agreed to the truce. Know that it grieved them immensely to do so, but they could not avoid it for now. They formally ratified the truce for two months. The Trojans made funeral pyres and set them ablaze in many places. Those in the Greek host did likewise. When they had finished burying their dead, they all went back to rest. The Trojans wept for their lord. They kept him for a fortnight in Juno’s splendid temple. (16575–630) Hector’s Funeral and Tomb During that time the Trojans considered where and in what location within the city they would take Hector for burial. They had ample time to do so. By common agreement of King Priam and his subjects, they constructed his sepulchre (that is what my written Source tells me) in front of the Timbree gate (such was its name) that faced the Greek host. A splendid temple stood there, established in honour of Apollo and made of white, green and dark-hued marble. It contained abundant works of art, including large engravings and paintings; it was very finely fashioned and richly adorned. Right before the high altar three very clever architects had built a precious tabernacle that was splendid, original and marvellous. They had constructed four standing statues of the same size and appearance. The statues stood on pedestals of pure gold with well-sculpted images, also made of gold. Two of them represented handsome youths, while the other two represented men of great age. Listen to what the three talented architects did: they designed and sculpted the statues104 to show the youths stretching forth their right arms with open palms. On each hand they placed a small pillar, each of the same size 104

Unlike the ‘automated’ statues in the Alabaster Chamber, these statues are motionless.


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and volume and rather long. But the statue of least value was worth at least two hundred marks. The clever sculptors made the first pillar with precious jacinth of garnet-red colour; the second one was made of green prase. These were of the same volume and size. The third pillar was made of an Egyptian stone. Here below there is no stone that is obtained or acquired with such great difficulty, nor one that required a higher price. I would willingly tell you where it is found and its virtues that number a hundred. But because that would cause a break in my narrative, it follows that we must leave it be. (16631–80) The fourth pillar was made of a very precious stone. As our Source tells us, there is a tree of immense value in the river flowing through Paradise. It is laden with apples that drop to the bottom of the river; those that remain there for seven years become strong and hard stones. They have such virtues and such characteristics that they can restore memory to a madman who is completely out of his mind and neither knows nor understands anything. That is what distinguishes this stone. These pillars were easily five feet tall. People marvelled at the way these statues supported the pillars. With their left hands they leant on small staffs that did not bend, because all of them were of gold sculpted with marvellous beauty. Two of the capitals belonging to the sacred pillars, which were so splendid and beautiful, were made of chrysolite, but the other two were of amethyst. All the arches were double-vaulted and duplicates of one another. The canopy was very valuable. It was not made of lime or of ivory; rather it was fashioned from pure gold and from precious and very expensive jewels. A very bright light issued from it. The canopy resembled a star-filled sky more than anything else on earth. Those who made it were exceptionally gifted. Over the canopy they built a massive wall made entirely of multi-coloured marble that stood twenty feet high. They made an arched vault there of solid gold. When it was ready, they placed a coffin inside it; no man born or alive has heard of one so splendid. For they had ground precious stones, emeralds, alemandine,105 sapphires, topaz and sards; then they melted them in Arabian gold, blending them all as one material. The three clever divines had made a mould sculpted and modelled on the noblest work of art that existed, or that any man could see;106 they threw the blended gold and the precious stones into it; then they invented something quite extraordinary. They toiled at this, neither more nor less, until it filled the mould completely. What should I say about the throne?107 I could never devote sufficient thought to it so as to succeed in describing its appearance or how it had been made. But the emperor in Germany, in my opinion, and the one in Spain – this I can truthfully assert – could not have built one like it. (16681–744)

105 The stone called alemandine in Old French is a variety of ruby that was said to be able to boil water and melt ice. 106 Benoît does not identify this ‘noblest work of art’. 107 This throne has not been mentioned before. Where Constans has ‘sarcueil’ or ‘coffin’, Baumgartner’s edition has siege (‘seat’, v. 16721); siege is not listed in Constans’s variants. See Jung, ‘Hector assis’.

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They brought Hector’s body there. When he came out of the city, all the lamentations began anew. They beat the palms of their hands together, pulled their hair, wailed, howled, wept and yelled out. They cursed the time and the day of their birth, when they first opened their eyes, and the fact that they had lived so long that they had witnessed Hector’s death, or this day of such anguished grief. Not one of them, great or small, including women and children, was absent or eschewing the great mourning. Many fell down dead on the spot because their hearts broke loose from their bodies. More than a thousand people fainted there and were carried away as though they were dead. No one could tell you a sixth part of their sorrow. Wise masters and doctors took hold of Hector’s body (I do not know any more than this) and they gently placed it up under the vault and seated it on the throne. They made ready two vessels of well-sculpted emerald, entirely filled with balm and aloe. They set them on a jade pedestal in a place that held his two feet. Balm penetrated him in abundance, all the way to his ankles. Two golden tubes of marvellous beauty and construction rose up to his nose from the vessels, so that his body was infused by the great strength and the aroma of the green balm and the liquid. The wealth and the treasure that went into constructing the sepulchre were enormous. When the task was finished, they raised a statue that people gazed upon in wonder. It was resplendent in pure gold and resembled Hector so closely that nothing was lacking in the reproduction. He held a naked steel blade as a sign of threat to the Greeks. This signified and showed that some day he would be avenged. And this did come about in the long run, as we shall tell you before we reach our conclusion. (16745–98) Hear now what the three wise men did. Beneath and before each statue they placed golden lamps, lit in veneration of the altar. Their flame was such that it would never be extinguished, nor would it ever fail to burn at any time. The flame was produced by a kind of stone that burned and continued to do so forever. The pavement was very costly because it was made entirely of pure silver with more than seven bands of gold, on which there was an inscription in Greek letters saying, for those who could read it, that Hector lay there intact; he was very valiant and the one whom Achilles killed in the battle. But I can make it perfectly clear that he did not defeat him in face-to-face combat, for such a knight was never born, from the very first to the last, against whom Hector could not have defended himself. We do not find or read that his peer was ever born of woman with his strength, valour or combativeness. Since the world came into existence, or as long as it will last, no one of his valour was born, or ever will be; Hector was superior to all valiant men. He slew a great number of kings with his own hands, for he slew Proteselas, a most worthy and valiant man, as well as King Patroclus, King Merion, King Scedius, King Boetes, King Prothenor, King Antipus and King Elpinor. Moreover, he slew Archilogus, Orcomenis and Dorius, Polixenart, King Ifidus, Polibetes, Leotetes, Philitoas and Meriones. If he had lived two more years or more, his enemies would have been destroyed. But Chance did not allow it, nor did Envy or Destiny. His life was too short for his allies. There is no recollection made here of the noble


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dukes, nor of the lords, admirals and commanders, of whom he killed more than three hundred. (16799–848) The temple was founded in such a way that the king established there a community of selected holy men. They would receive very generous sustenance, sufficient for all of them. I do not know why I should prolong this topic any more. But never did a knight’s corpse, from the first to the last, lie in the ground with such honour, nor will this ever happen in the future. In the city people were still and silent, and rightly so as there was good reason for this. They had experienced and suffered a loss that they would never see restored. No one there was happy or inclined to merriment. No one, great or small, forgot the immense grief they felt because of their lord. Many of those who loved him most lay ill-disposed for some time. After Hector died, Andromacha never again rose from her bed. It weighed heavily on her that she did not die too, so distraught was her heart. Thus, for a long time thereafter, the Trojans led a joyless life. In the Greek host spirits were high. They ardently desired the truce to end, break off completely and cease. They would be quite willing to fight now that they would not encounter Hector. (16849–80) Palamedes Replaces Agamemnon as Greek Commander One day, when all the noble and wise men had gathered together, Palamedes complained in a very loud voice, saying that he would no longer put up with Agamemnon’s or anyone else’s lordship, power or command over him. He refused to be subject to any king, prince or baron, unless it was by his own volition. Most of those present said that he was right. ‘Never, by God’, Palamedes exclaimed, ‘have I seen anything like this, with a prince being appointed over me without my having been consulted and without my approval. I do not like it, to tell the truth, and that is why I am no longer willing to accept it. Is it now proper, reasonable and right that lord Agamemnon should have authority over me or anyone of my standing? I would not do anything for him worth as much as a chestnut.108 It upsets me that I was ever in any place where he had authority over me, or could order my men to do anything. He will no longer be my overlord. Henceforth, let him be commander over you and the whole army. He will no longer exercise any more lordship over me than that which he had when his father was still alive.’ (16881–910) Agamemnon was a worthy and a wise man. In the presence of the kings and the barons, he responded sensibly, saying that he should not be blamed for taking command. ‘My lord’, he said to Palamedes, ‘I am well aware that your standing is higher than everyone else’s. Were it not for you, we would all be dead. No one is questioning your efforts. In combat or in battle none of us is of any worth compared to you. The Trojans profoundly fear your ire. You should have dominion over our forces. You are so wise and worthy that you ought to have 108 A chestnut is one of many objects used in Old French to convey the notion of something that is of little value.

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command over all of us, instructing and determining what we should do. Where would anyone find your peer? What would we do if you held my position? But this much I want you to tell me: if I have held this position that was given to me, what harm or folly, what shame or turpitude has befallen our men because me? Have I made them attempt or undertake any actions for which they believe themselves to have been mistreated, or for which I should incur blame? If I have caused that to happen, I regret it. If I have treated him in any way other than properly, let him stick his finger in my eye, whether he be king, prince or baron. Before we had your assistance, the army needed my counsel. You, Palamedes, desire my position so intensely. Know that I am amazed that you oppose, either now or then, what some hundred others want. I have not heard anyone, except you, object to my position. It displeases you, and you find it objectionable, that the command was given to me. But no one could speak to you about this, ask for or seek your permission because, for a full year after the beginning of hostilities, you did not appear here. We had deliberated extensively, it seems to me, and held many a council before you joined us. But, by the faith that I owe you, I did not seek or request my position. Moreover, when they bestowed it on me it weighed more heavily on me than it pleased me. No one ever possessed so much knowledge that he would not need all his intelligence to command an army like this one. I have been their commander up to the present moment with a high degree of peace, thanks to our men. I have never caused them shame or injury, nor in their turn have they caused me any harm. I have no complaints about them, nor do they have any about me. Let them now name as commander – I agree to that – whomsoever they wish who may be to their liking. I do not hold the position in fief or by inheritance. I ask for no command over them, except out of friendship and companionship. I willingly leave and relinquish it. In order that matters do not become worse for anyone, let them choose a prince to their liking; I shall assist them in every way, given the power and valour that I possess. I shall never refuse to act in this way.’ (16911–80) With that the debate came to an end. Most of those present were angered and vexed by what had been said. What more should I say? The next day all the worthy men and the elders came together again with all the rest of the Greeks in order to begin deliberations once more. Agamemnon had summoned all of them. When they were present, he explained the situation to them. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘you know that I have never coveted command over so many kings, nor authority or lordship over them. I would not have considered myself worthy of such standing. I have held the position for some time; now that will cease. You will bestow it on whomsoever it pleases you to choose and want, for I agree to that in all sincerity. Know that doing so does not displease me in the least. I would be content with one thing: never would my heart desire anything other than that we be victorious and take vengeance on our foe by slaying, capturing or vanquishing them. Know that I have ardently striven to attain this goal and will continue to strive for it with all my might. I have not coveted the command over anything more than Mycenae and its territory. There they consider me to be their lord and will continue to do so as long as I live. It will pass to my heirs when I


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die. You can make your choice without hostility and opposition. Let anyone who wishes to speak say what he wants, and let his words be heard. Let the choice be made, with the approval of everyone, of a man who is noble, wise and worthy.’ (16981–7018) Agamemnon had spoken without interruption. However, Palamedes was eager to be the one chosen. He told them that he possessed so much discretion and intelligence that they must indeed elect him to command the army; that would be the best decision they could make. In spite of disagreement or opposition, they chose him and made him their commander, according to my source. He was extremely grateful to them for the election and he lavished thanks on them for it. Achilles for his part was incensed by the choice; it upset him and displeased him immensely. He claimed that they would never be satisfied with the change they had made. He regarded it as very foolish. It had not happened with his approval; on the contrary it went against his will. He was highly displeased with those who had done this and approved it, despite his opposition and prohibition. He was very angry with all of them and made it quite obvious to them. However much it vexed Achilles, Palamedes did take command over the Greeks. (17019–44) THE WAR FROM HECTOR’S DEATH TO ACHILLES’S DEATH Eleventh Battle The truce was over, finished and at an end. That night the Trojans assembled. In their deliberations they determined that at dawn, by the morning light, they would set out on their way, all drawn up in formation and ready for battle and heading straight towards the Greek tents. Priam cried out, beseeching them all to avenge his son Hector. ‘My lords’, he exclaimed, ‘I cannot find words for what I want to say, except this: let the devastation and great anger that possesses and fills us be on display tomorrow morning against those who have wronged us, and will wrong us, as long as they live. Let them be attacked in a way that earns us honour and praise, and let vengeance be taken on them in such fashion that our foe does not think we have entirely withdrawn or are completely vanquished because of what has happened. I tell you in truth that I shall go out with anger in my heart, with my hauberk on and with my helmet laced on. If I can accomplish anything, their men will pay for my great fury and woe. I must indeed bear arms from now on,109 for I can see myself being wrongly dispossessed of what is rightfully mine. I am not yet so deeply afflicted that my shield could ever be detached from me in combat with any knight. Tomorrow, in the huge and violent battle, my courage will be proven before sunset.’ (17045–80) It pleased the Trojans, of course, that the king was going to ride out and do battle. They would be more valiant when the need was greatest. That time was not 109

This will be the first time that Priam participates in the fighting.

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far off. At daybreak, when dawn shone bright, and before intense heat had spread abroad, throughout the city they had donned their armour. In all their dwellings they had armed themselves with helmets, hauberks and shields. Deiphebus issued forth, as did Priam, Paris and Troilus, and more than a hundred thousand other Trojans. Beyond the lists and on the stony plains they arrayed their knights and separated their divisions. Then they galloped forward with lances raised on high as their pennants floated in the wind. At a steady pace, they advanced towards the Greek host. The Greeks, for their apart, made ready, nor were they slow in doing so. Palamedes deployed them nobly, sending his combatants forward. He inspired them to fight well. To this end, he devoted his main effort and purpose; he was very wise and knowledgeable in these matters. On both sides were men who were bitter, mortal enemies driven by hatred, and for that reason the pointed helmets of thousands of fighters would that day be covered with dirt. From that time on, their grief would weigh more heavily on them. Why should I delay my account? There was an exceptional engagement there with sharp, keen-cutting lances and solid, bare blades that sliced through shields and hauberks. Alas! So many of them fell back who would never get up again! You would have seen two thousand lances in the front lines shatter and huge stubs fly against shields. There was such a trail of pennants there that lay in heaps all along the way. The troops on both sides were coming in to close contact. Since the world began, there had never been a battle so tumultuous, nor one in which so many sword blows were dealt, so many shields pierced or helmets smashed to pieces or men striking one another with greater savagery in bloody slaughter. There was absolutely no fighting in accordance with the agreed laws of combat. (17081–131) Priam’s Exploits King Priam was out beyond the lists with a good twenty thousand knights. With their shields in hand and astride their stallions they arrived in the midst of ferocious fighting. Priam struck Palamedes, piercing his shield with its florid decoration and sending him tumbling a good distance away from his horse. Through the Greek’s shield, shining red with gold, he thrust his silken banner; then, drawing his sword, the noble king advanced into the midst of the Greek throng. If he was angry, he made them pay for it dearly. He took vengeance for his son Hector. Never did any man of his age perform deeds of such valour. He drove himself so hard that day that he was observed from the walls of Troy by a thousand ladies and a thousand maidens. They frequently heard reports that filled their hearts with joy. No one fought with such knightly valour, nor wreaked such havoc among his enemies as did Priam. He killed so many Greeks that day that everyone gave him the prize over both the Greeks and the knights from Troy. He had good bodyguards close by, who loved him sincerely and faithfully; they were his sons, who were themselves performing wondrous deeds. They bore their swords, which were bright red with the blood of those they hated so intensely. Deiphebus, Priam’s son, attacked the Greeks with such ferocity that many a heavy lance was broken, many a strong shield lost its buckle and many a knight was knocked


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down, pale, wounded and close to death. For his part, Palamedes fought well, as did all those fighting together with him on the Greek side. The Greeks frequently stood firm against their foe, often pursuing them and breaking up their formations, often shouting and hollering. They often forced the Trojans to turn their backs on them, often sending their heads flying and often driving them back. Because of this, many Trojans were left lying on the battlefield. (17132–76) The king of Lycia joined the fray, exhorting his men to fight well. His name was Sarpedon. He was very valiant and renowned and led a very distinguished company that was well-armed and well-equipped with helmets, hauberks and shields with gold buckles and garnished in gold. They began to spur towards the Greek host and, holding their shields, went to join battle. Then there occurred a huge shattering of lances and furbished spears that wounded so many knights. Then the Greeks were driven far back and the Trojans inflicted rather grievous harm on them. Like it or not, the Greeks were chased back more than twice the distance a lance can be hurled. Then Telopolus appeared who was king over the isle of Rhodes. In the entire Greek army there was no better knight, nor anyone who was taller, more generous, bigger or more skilful with arms, bolder or braver. He led some thousand men from Rhodes, the worst of whom was worth more than a king. They joined in the fighting, filled with anger directed towards their foes as they struck them with lances and swords. Heads were bloodied there and many a banner was stained with blood. Many saddles lost their riders, who lay face down on the ground. In the midst of this great combat the two kings met. The tall Telopolus from Argos110 struck Sarpedon on the shield, splitting it in two, but Sarpedon’s hauberk was strong and did not fail him. His lance that did not bend knocked Telopolus from his saddle and out of his two stirrups; he fell face down in the middle of the arena. The Trojan made no other threat, but charged immediately. In his hand he held his naked sword with which he struck Telopolus four or even seven times, so that his blood came gushing out in torrents. King Sarpedon exerted himself even more by drawing his naked sword. He dealt Telopolus such a powerful blow that he sliced off his thigh together with the entire buttock. The Greek fell once more, and before he could stand up his life and person would matter little to him. Sarpedon secured the battle for the rest of the day and brought security to those within the city, so that Telopolus would not strike them again against their will and unwittingly. The combat and the fighting between them lasted a long time before Telopolus fell down on to the sandy ground. Sarpedon had the better of the fight; this we know. (17177–238) Death of Mennon, King of Persia The battle raged on. Many a soul was rent from its body. The king of Persia arrived together with more than seven thousand men, their bows drawn. His arrival caused great fear, for in that place many a feathered arrow, keen-edged, 110 Exiled from Argos, Telopolus presumably sought sought refuge in Rhodes (see Constans, V, p. 35, s.v. Argei).

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sharp and poisonous, bathed in Greek blood. Help came to King Sarpedon, who had been a wonderful fighter, having suffered and endured much. The Greeks had wounded him in many places on his body. He had fought valiantly that day, but from this moment on the Greek troops grew in numbers. The duke of Athens appeared, as well as Ajax, who ruled over Logres, then old Nestor and Menelaus with more than twenty thousand vassals. They found their men, who had been fighting for a very long time, but too far away from them. They were attacked immediately. Many fell on both sides in such numbers that the ground was strewn with their bodies. Here they endured terrible agony. The Trojans were unable to get any help or assistance from their side because they were surrounded by Greeks. The king of Persia was slain there, along with many of his men; this was a great loss. He had been offering great support to his side and was a great help to the Trojans. Every one of them was grief-stricken by this loss. Because of him the Trojans became much weaker and were unusually troubled. (17239–72) Paris was absent from the battle when the king of Persia was slain. He had stayed with King Priam, guarding him together with his brothers; they accomplished many deeds of knightly prowess there. But Sarpedon and his men were routed and suffered great losses there. No troops ever suffered as much as they did. Sarpedon had sustained many wounds and injuries on his body from two spears, and on his head from three swords. Two of them had penetrated his helmet down to the skull. Some of those who saw this happen were so profoundly upset because they were unable to avenge it. There was no further delay. By brute force and supremacy the Greeks drove the Trojans back to the barriers. If King Priam had not been there at that time, the Trojans would have had the worst of it; his troops were losing too many men. But he responded very wisely, for he made three thousand select knights aim directly for the Greeks’ chests, and with their sharp steel weapons they pierced their foes’ ribs. Some three thousand lances shattered as they bathed in bright-red blood. The numbers and the throng were huge. Swords of sharp steel resounded on the helmets loud and clear. If King Priam had not been present, the Trojans would have suffered such losses that they would have mourned forever. Know that those who turned to fight in front of the passageway made a solid effort. They suffered and bore the brunt so that all the others could enter the city. But they were in dire straits because the Greeks, who had driven them into the passageway, had regained the advantage. The Trojans would have suffered great harm there, but their foot soldiers, who had been deployed on both sides of the roadway, shot sharp crossbow bolts and heavy sharpened arrows in such high numbers and so densely as to darken the sky. They wounded three hundred vassals there and brought down dead five hundred horses; no one dared expose his face. If the Greeks had stayed there much longer, they would have sustained enormous losses, but they had quickly pulled back. Nonetheless, they left behind many a stallion and many a good knight’s corpse. The Trojans turned to face their foe and held the field; they had fought very well that day. They went on fighting for several days more with both sides sustaining great losses. Many counts, dukes and esteemed admirals died there and were hacked to pieces. King Priam achieved great renown, as I find in my


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Source. He wounded and killed many men and captured many noble men there as well. He himself fought twice as well as three of the most valiant men on either side, and without any objection he received the prize. All his men were overjoyed when they heard about it. (17273–344) Truce When the fighting had gone on for a long time, those in the city decided to sue for a truce with the Greeks (I cannot find out how many days or months they requested). The messengers went to the host and quickly found what they had come looking for: the Greeks agreed to the truce. After both sides had ratified the agreement, the dead were buried. The Trojans were deeply distressed at the loss of the king of Persia. Never had such great mourning been seen as that displayed by his men. Ah! What a loss for the Trojans. How weakened they were now because of what happened. They had found a very good ally in the king. He offered strong support in combat, and in him they lost good succour, good aid and good counsel. They had no ally more faithful than he had been. Nonetheless, in spite of the grief they felt, both great and small put on a good face. They brought the corpse in from the field, and, when it was taken into the city, no one ever saw such sorrow as that evinced by both great and small. His nephew Mennor did not control his rage; he was on the verge of going mad with grief. He gave voice to his grief at his loss and lamented it mightily, as did his men and many others. That day Paris lamented and deplored his death more than the other Trojans. They entombed the king in a temple, dressing him in imperial garb. His wake lasted three days and three nights, during which they ate and drank little. In the meantime the Persians decided to return him to his country, where he would lie in high honour together with his ancestors. That is what they advised and decided to do. The wake having lasted three days, on the fourth day they all set out on their way. An immense throng conducted them. How abundantly the tears were shed, as they left, by Priam and his valiant nephew Mennor! How Paris showed his sorrow! The Persians took leave with great difficulty and the convoy was in great misery. A large number of the king’s close relatives frequently fainted. But more than all the others Paris was distraught, for he had harboured great affection for the king of Persia. The convoy proceeded with the coffin borne on a costly and splendid cart, of which the precious stones and bright-red gold alone were worth more than a castle. With their approval and advice the king was embalmed so as to prevent the summer heat from causing him to smell badly. He did not die without any heirs, for by his wife he had two handsome sons, who would rule over his kingdom after him. This is what happened on that occasion. (17345–409) Agamemnon Provides for the Greek Host In the host the Greeks were extremely distraught. The cost of provisions had risen so high that a loaf of bread came to a bezant, the meat of an ox to two or three marks. Palamedes and the Greeks held council to decide what course of

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action to adopt and whom to send in search of provisions. I do not know whether the choice was malicious, but I know for certain that Agamemnon was sent on that mission and that he was not at all reluctant to go. Palamedes sent him out and Agamemnon did not in any way refuse to follow his orders. He was a very sensible man and did not want quarrels to arise, or any foolishness, disturbance or discord. If that happened, the Greeks would be less valiant and less strong. Agamemnon carried out the assignment together with knights and men-at-arms, valiant men capable of defending themselves and helping their comrades. Before they set out on the way back, they had sent word to Thesidas asking for provisions from their allies there. They did the same for Carantes, where they found provisions right away. They returned by way of Demophoon. There, I can tell you that they loaded up because the land was plentiful and all goods were available in abundance. They pushed on to Mysia (that is all I know about that). Telephus was ordered to send to the host wheat from the entire realm under his authority, and he did so without any objection. No one ever saw such joy as he showed to Agamemnon. When Telephus was told about the change of command over the host that had been given to Palamedes and how it had been taken away from Agamemnon wrongly and fraudulently, it profoundly upset him and made him very angry. Nothing ever caused him greater displeasure. But Agamemnon told him that the change did not trouble him much, or even in the least; rather he was pleased with it. It would be wrong for him to be the least bit angry about it. ‘I resigned the command quite freely and willingly; it does not trouble me at all.’ The search for provisions had been a great success. If they delayed, it was not for long. Upon their return, the host was sufficiently replenished and provided with food for a long time to come. (17410–62) During the intervening time, Palamedes made ready for battle with intelligence and cunning. Like the shrewd man he was, he evinced very great finesse and foresight. He had the ships outfitted anew and well fortified and bolted. This was a very good course of action and absolutely necessary for them. Whatever would or would not happen, it was right and reasonable to prepare, supply and outfit their ships. He supplied the host in every way, circumspection that was well received. He had the towers stocked with provisions, and a number of defenders were stationed there who had hitherto paid no attention to them. They prepared them very well on the inside; for where they felt less secure they built high towers and supporting walls, ditches, deep moats and precipices. They forcibly split the rocks and prepared their defences. To this the Greeks applied themselves, to this they paid close attention and devoted their labour each and every day. They had little time for rest or relaxation. (17463–88) Achilles Falls in Love with Polixena After the year had passed since Hector’s death and burial, one can tell you in truth that never in the world was so splendid an anniversary celebrated as the one that his family commemorated for him along with everyone else in Troy. The anniversary was celebrated with great festivities, including frequent chanting by


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the clergy; the day he died was solemnized with very high ceremony. The king lavished a great deal of money on it. No knight or burgess failed to commemorate that day, or to enter the splendid sepulchre in which the body was being preserved without falling into decay. Knights, ladies and burgesses saw that the corpse was in sound shape and that it had not decomposed. It had not become repulsive, nor had it deteriorated, for the person who embalmed it would have had it preserved until Judgment Day if the city had not been taken before then.111 All night and the day after Hecuba and Polixena kept vigil in grief and sorrow; with them was lady Helen. Many highly esteemed ladies, maidens and noble damsels were there with them too. As I find in the Book, young men from the host attended in order to observe the sacrifice, anniversary and service, as well as the games that had been established by the learned and distinguished scholars, as well as to admire the ladies. Those in the host feared nothing because of the secure truce between the two sides. From among the most renowned men in the Greek army, whether admirals or kings, they came there to observe the anniversary celebration. Lord Achilles himself came, unarmed; he was so close by that he could have conversed with the Trojans, but he would have done better to have stayed away. By attending, he brought great misfortune on himself, because before he had left the festivities and returned to camp he would find himself in dire straits – that is, he would have lodged his own demise in his breast. He saw Polixena’s face there in full view. That was the cause and the way leading to his death and his soul’s departure from his body. (17489–544) Mind how Destiny operates! Today you will hear how Achilles became distraught because of true love. Alas that he saw the dawn of that fatal day! Chance112 is a mighty force that is harsh and cruel for many. Great misfortune comes from a small cause.113 The extraordinary beauty and features that Achilles observed in the maiden ignited in his heart a spark that would never be extinguished by her. It inscribed and depicted in his heart her very lovely bright eyes and her forehead, along with her beautiful hair that was so blond that it resembled pure gold. He took note of all her beautiful features. There was nothing about her that he missed and nothing failed to inflict on him a mortal wound. The splendour emanating from her face infused his body with a cold and icy sensation whereas her nose, mouth and chin ignited within him such a conflagration that it would go on burning inside him from that time on, as Love pinched and bit him. Her extraordinarily beautiful body and bosom caused him to endure such torment that he would not cease by night or by day to feel Love’s rod striking him, often with more than fourteen whacks. From now on, he would be so distraught that he could not think clearly; henceforth he would perforce lie awake through long nights without closing his eyes. Love had quickly vanquished his pride. In this predicament This is another reminder of the prophesied destruction of Troy. On the concepts of destiny, fortune and chance (aventure) in the Troie, see the Introduction, p. 30. 113 On the issue of a ‘small cause’ (‘petite acheison’), see the Introduction, pp. 8–9 , and Appendix I, p. 416. 111


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his shield would be of little use to him, nor would his hauberk of fine mail. In this encounter his sharp steel sword would be useless. Neither strength, virtue nor courage are worth anything at all when in opposition to Love. (17545–84) Achilles fixed his gaze in wonder upon the maiden; in his eyes she was extremely beautiful. This she certainly was, indubitably. No one ever saw such a lovely woman, nor would they ever again. Now many Greeks were beginning to return to their camp, for the large crowd that had gathered in Troy was dispersing. Greatly vexed, the Trojan ladies betook themselves to the palace. They wept for Hector and would continue doing so for as long as they lived. This was not a loss that could be forgotten, nor could it be restored. Polixena accompanied them. Achilles was caught on her hook that was baited with love.114 For as long as he could see her, he did not move a single step. As long as she was present, he would never have attempted to move. His face changed colour often; frequently it was pale and then it was flushed red. He mulled over what it could be that he was feeling, that he would go cold in this way and then become inflamed anew. His heart often constricted, but still he would not move the least bit as long as he could see her. Lengthy sighs arose from his heart. Then, when she was no longer visible to him, he turned away. His expression was very pensive and dejected. He took very few paces without stopping to look once more at the spot where he had seen the maiden. His whole being had changed and was transformed. He thought so intently about his experience and probed it so deeply that he no longer heard or understood anything that was said to him. That is how much Love had thoroughly overwhelmed him. Lovesick and despondent, he lay down in his pavilion. No one was so close a confidant as to stay there with him. From now on, he had a lot to complain about, and he did complain because he could not do otherwise. Love had imposed such a heavy burden on him that it was extremely hard for him to bear up under it. He would need someone else to share the load with him. This assistance would be slow in coming. And how could it come to him from within Troy? There was no one here below whom the Trojans hated as intently as they did him. (17585–637) ‘Alas!’ he exclaimed, ‘how unfortunate it is that I went to Troy. How unfortunate it was that I went to see them. How unfortunate too that I caught sight of the splendour that has caused my heart to feel such mortal grief without any prospect of relief. What blame could I cast on her for what happened? I know for certain that it would be wrong for me to do so. If I complain, what can she ever do about it? Others saw her there as much as I did, yet it meant nothing to them and was of no consequence. Love found me more than ready today. I have progressed too far along his way. That is why he has ensnared me and held me so firmly that I cannot escape. Now I must cry out for mercy. But from whom should I ask for mercy? I shall never see her again with my own eyes. Ah! So help me God, if I knew that to be true, I could scarcely hold out much longer. Is she not my mortal enemy? Yes, but now she will be my love. Truly, for it is up to me to decide. I am tricking and deceiving myself. I am fully aware that I am misleading myself, for 114 This is a common play on words for the act of falling in love, the term hain (‘hook’) being linked with the forms aim (‘I love’) and aint (‘he / she loves’).


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I am absolutely certain that she would want to have slain me. I have got myself into quite a mess by wanting to love a person who hates me. O God! Fair Lord, she does not know my heart and my thoughts, how I have turned them entirely towards her, how I give and offer myself to her. How Love has taken hold of me. It would comfort me enormously if she knew this. However, even if she did know it, she would want me dead. I shall never undergo any torment that she would not wish to be a hundred times worse. I have slain her brother Hector. I have brought such great sorrow into her heart that she will never wish me well. This fact will kill me more than anything else. If I were to hope and wait until I gained something in the long run that would give me comfort. But, no matter what I do, I neither see nor understand how I shall ever win her. I do not believe any man ever loved in this way. I have gone mad and am losing my mind so deplorably that I do not know what I am doing. If Love tightens his bonds any more, I know for certain that I am done for. I find no comfort no matter which way I look. (17638–90) ‘I am Narcissus. That much I know and recognize. He fell so deeply in love with his reflection; that is what caused his death alongside the fountain. I know that the same anguish and pain is what I feel. I too am enamoured of my own reflection. I love my death and my own self as cause of my injury. No more than Narcissus could obtain, hug or embrace his image ‒ for it is nothing, was nothing and could not be felt ‒ do I have any opportunity to possess her or her love.115 I must (this is all I know) do as lord Narcissus did, he who wept so much while appealing for mercy that his soul took leave of his body. That will be my end, however slow it may be in coming, for I see no other possible outcome. Narcissus died for love and I shall do the same. He was deceived by his own resemblance. I have nothing better to expect, because I cannot find any more assistance than he did, this I know for certain. Nonetheless, I should consider and find out if there is any way I might discover something that would help me, for the need is very pressing and drives me onwards. For this I would require lots of time. Who could truly endure so much? But I could wait for a long time without receiving or obtaining anything, or being able to help myself or counsel myself or anyone else. He who feels a malady coming on ought to do something that will heal him and make him whole again. That is how I ought to be thinking. I am ill, and if I do not seek some counsel that I need now I shall end up dead – I know and feel this. I find myself at a very difficult beginning. I should like to be a soothsayer on this matter so as to know how it will end. I can easily imagine what it will be as I mull over matters in my mind. I have been vanquished very quickly. This perplexes me a great deal and causes me much distress. I cannot do otherwise, for I know for certain that all my joy will come to an end here, or else it will be fully realized. But I fear the one more than the other. That is why it weighs so heavily on my heart. Despair confounds me. I pray that God may grant that I take such counsel and set things in order, so that she might have mercy on me.’ (17691–746) 115 Benoît interestingly adapts Narcissus’s self-love to describe Achilles’s love for a woman because both are impossible loves.

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Negotiating Marriage between Achilles and Polixena Achilles summoned one of his friends, a faithful ally who heretofore had been a close confidant. He revealed his secret to him, relating everything he was going through, hiding nothing from him. He then entrusted him with his message. ‘To Hecuba’, he said, ‘the wise woman who is the wife of the mighty King Priam, you will relate all that I want communicated to her. Greet her in my name and tell her that I am very eager to come to terms with her as soon as possible. I have acted with great hostility towards her and my heart is saddened by this. I have done her a terrible wrong because I slew her son Hector and brought great grief to her heart. I regret what I have done and am tormented by it. Pity often takes possession of my heart. I wish to right the wrong, if she will allow me to do so, and to do so in such a way that she would consider me to be a friend and ally. Let her give me her daughter as wife. If she can bring it about that King Priam and Paris offer her to me, I shall return to my country, taking my Myrmidons with me. Then no Greek will be bold enough to remain here once I have left. I offer her in good faith to make the host leave. The Trojans will henceforth be able to keep their city and their country in true peace. I shall remove their enemies. After I have left, the Greeks will not be taking up their shields any more, nor will any one be touched or approached by them. The Trojans will have come upon a noble arrangement if they do not reject my offer to depart. They will find no one who will continue to love them more than I shall. Their lovely daughter will be protected and honoured, for she will enter into a splendid marriage. I shall place a crown on her head and, if God grants me a long enough life to win her as my wife, I shall have fulfilled all my desires. I would have become very rich and of higher nobility than all other men. As a result I shall have everything I ever wanted in the whole wide world and become the happiest and the most joyous man alive. So set out on your mission immediately! May God grant that it be fortunate. I am most impatient and eager to see you return. You will report to the high-born queen everything I have said.’ (17747–805) With that the messenger set off. Stealthily and alone, he entered the city. He was very wise and very clever. He entered the women’s chambers with good guides; there he privately communicated his lord’s greetings to the queen. Then he delivered his message to her. ‘My lady Hecuba, be sensible now. You can now win as ally your greatest mortal enemy. He has done you great wrong. Now he will bring you joy and happiness. Now he will honour you and make right everything that he has deprived you of. He will take your daughter as his wife. Never again in your whole realm would you find him challenging you or undertaking to make war on you. Your war will have come to a complete end. Your land will remain in peace, for whenever he departs not a single Greek will remain here. They will return to their lands and never come back here again. Consider this proposal without any delay as something that is of such great profit for you and is carried out in order to save your lives and protect your kingdom.’ Hecuba was indeed sensible. ‘Fair friend’, she said to the messenger, ‘you are asking something of me that is very difficult for me to grant. However, I shall agree to the request


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willingly, providing that I learn that the king accepts the offer. Come back to me in three days. I shall know at that time what his wishes are. Tell your lord that I want him to know that this offer will not fail because of me. He has filled my life with great sorrow. I find no happiness or diversion from my sorrow. I would rather die than endure such grief as my heart feels night and day. But if the matter we have discussed here were brought to an acceptable conclusion, it would still be somewhat better for me. Come back to me three days from now. Depending on what I have learnt from my lord and husband and from Paris, I shall know how to respond to you. If they agree to it, I shall also agree.’ The messenger agreed to her proposal and immediately set out on his way back. Without attracting attention, or being talked about or commented on, he returned to his lord, who was very anxious to hear what his messenger would report to him. Achilles was overjoyed as soon as he spotted him. ‘Tell me’, he said, ‘how you fared.’ The messenger immediately reported the complete response from Queen Hecuba, recounting in detail her words and the date she proposed and fixed for his return. ‘Provided the king does not reject your offer, you will have achieved your goal.’ Now Achilles heard what pleased him and he felt heartened by it. ‘Now’, he exclaimed, ‘the gods are performing miracles for me, as I see and know quite well, since I have discovered a way to achieve what I want and desire so much. In this way joy will come my way and I shall have my wishes granted by the woman I most desire and for whom I am so distraught. If I did not achieve this goal, I know that I would die of sorrow and grief.’ (17806–84) In a chamber painted with flowers Queen Hecuba spoke with King Priam, her beloved lord and husband. ‘My lord’, she said, ‘our noble status is in steep decline. By the hundreds and thousands we are losing our barons, our sons and our high lineage, as well as our kings, our dukes and our knights. Our hopes, our life and our expectations resided in Hector, and, now that we have lost him, I do not know how we may defend ourselves. This affair has become very perilous and far too detrimental for our own good. Without further suffering and without more ado, it would be well to seek counsel, although I do not know who might give it. Achilles sent a messenger to speak with me privately and in secret; no one knows of this except for you and me. He is suing for and asking for Polixena’s hand. Listen to what he has to say to you through his messenger. He will crown her and make her a very powerful lady. On the day he receives her, the siege will come to an end. He will force all our mortal enemies to return to their homelands; we shall no longer be attacked by them. He will become our loyal ally, supporting us against all peoples. I am not fully informed about our situation, but given the perilous circumstances in which we find ourselves, along with our sons, our daughters and our men, it would be well to receive such proposals. Moreover, I wish to point out to you that, when faced with great calamity, you need to seek peace. The Greek forces in our country are very strong; furthermore, it is wrong and most unfortunate that so many high-born men and so many vassals are dying daily in such a dolorous way in ferocious combat. Perils threaten us from so many different sides that it would be wise to consider doing something about our plight.’ (17885–928)

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King Priam lowered his head. He remained deep in thought for a long time; then he gave his opinion to his noble queen. ‘My lady’, he said, ‘I cannot see, recognize or perceive even one single way or arrangement by which this could be done. For if Achilles becomes my ally, much as he has been my enemy, that does not lift him to my level of nobility.116 I would lower my lineage too much. It would displease me, as you well know, if on my account we were to decline the least bit. If he did gain possession of Polixena, how could I be sure and confident that he would terminate the siege? Is he planning to catch me in a trap? I would be deemed a fool if I were betrayed in this way by the man I should hate the most. There are so many powerful kings nobler than he is who are waging war against us! Would you then suppose that they would leave for his sake? Indeed, they would not have come here for him, nor would they ever do anything for him, or depart sooner for his sake. Nonetheless, if he can succeed in making the Greeks set off for their homeland, there will be peace between him and us and we shall not go on hating him. He will have earned pardon for his misdeeds and never again will he incur blame for what he has done. He will receive my daughter. I shall willingly give her in marriage to him. In the name of all the gods of our faith, I shall assure him of this, so that he need have nothing to fear from our side. If the matter can be resolved in this way, then I grant him my consent and in that sense his actions will conform to my wishes.’ When they had finished their discussion, which subsequently will be paid for dearly, they concluded their deliberations. (17929–71) Before sunrise on the third day, the messenger returned to Troy. The time agreed upon was ardently desired before it finally arrived. In the chamber of vaulted arches he approached the queen. He transmitted a hundred greetings to the young Polixena from his lord, who sent word to her that he gives and commends himself to her, submitting himself entirely to her will, along with his land and possessions. The messenger could not talk long with Polixena, for the noble queen stood in front of her daughter, preventing him from saying any more. For her part, Polixena said nothing. She did not greet him, nor did she express arrogance, outrage or scorn. In no way did she show that his words were either disagreeable or at all pleasing to her. The queen, who was very wise, did the talking; she reported to the messenger King Priam’s full response. She set forth clearly his promise that Achilles would receive assurances and that the Trojans would not fail to keep their word. ‘Therefore’, she concluded, ‘you can tell him this, for it is a great undertaking and a grand affair. Let it remain secret until it has been realized; then it can be made known or recounted.’ (17972–8000) Why should I go on prolonging this tale? The messenger then took leave and returned to his lord, who was at a complete loss as to what he should do, given that Love was showing him the kind of games he can play and on what terms one holds a fief from him.117 Whenever Love takes a fancy to do so, he compels lovers This is the argument that is used by Palamedes to reject Agamemnon’s command of the Greek host. 117 We have here the common comparison of love service to feudal service. 116


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to utter laments and heave heavy sighs, and he makes them lie awake, fast and forget all other activities in order to concentrate on the one thing that makes them downcast and pensive. Day and night their hearts are fixed on that object in fear, worry and uncertainty of attaining what they desire; this is what makes them sigh with such anguish. Those who are preoccupied in this way are aflame with love and desire, without achieving any comfort or respite. This is the service and the due payment that Love often exacts from those in his service. Lord Achilles was indeed one of them. Love has shot his arrow from close by, and it was obvious by his facial expression that Love had seized him and held him in thrall to use as he wished. He made Achilles love immoderately. (18001–27) ‘Alas!’ Achilles exclaimed, ‘what bad luck! How dismayed I have become. How overwhelmed. How hostile I have become towards everyone. I do not want anyone to converse with me. If I once had any rational sense, I have now lost my mind, since I have got into such a fix that I shall never possess what I want. Or shall I succeed? How then? Well, there is one thing I know for certain: since the world came into existence, or for as long as it will endure, no one will ever love more foolishly than I do. If my heart blames me for this, what good does that do me? To tell the truth, I am aware that neither know-how, nor courage nor valour is of any use to me here. Who is wise when struggling against Love? Samson the Strong was not, nor was King David or Solomon, he who was the wisest man of all and superior to all other human beings. If I go mad, what can I do about it? If I wander from the right track and fail or act foolishly, what then? Resistance is useless. I cannot oppose something from which our wise ancestors failed to defend themselves. Now there is no other solution. I see, know and recognize clearly that, however it may turn out for me, I must concentrate on gaining this love. If I am worth anything, it will be obvious in a short while from the way in which I think and go about satisfying my great desire. There is nothing here below that I would not do in order to succeed. And let whoever still wants to do so despise me for it. If everyone gets what they want while I have absolutely nothing, what use is that to me? I must think about how I may derive joy from loving. I shall achieve joy, provided I can bring it about that I am loved in turn by the sweet woman of noble birth, who radiates pure beauty and in whom resides my entire destiny, my whole life and my well-being; then I would have triumphed completely. Ah! Perfect lady of fair features, ethereal, glittering, desired above all other women, she who is of greater worth than all others, how bitterly Love assails me because of your delightful features that are emblazoned and inscribed in my heart! When I recall her, I am not sound in body and mind. I often grow pale and giddy, and just as often my body turns cold. Love has pinched and bitten me so much that, should he continue to hold and torment me in this way, I would not live much longer. What more could he ask of me? I reject nothing that would please him. I offer him no resistance at all. I would beg that he should mercifully provide the assistance he customarily gives to lovers and that in my case he does not forgo his customary help. May he, as lord over all human beings, also grant me the sweetness and solace that he gives to others. May he allow me to hear tidings that can bring joy to me heart!’ (18028–100)

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Therefore, as distraught, lost in thought and preoccupied with love as he was, Achilles passed the time waiting for his messenger to return. When he saw him coming back, he was seized with both joy and trepidation, as is customary for anyone in love. Achilles enquired of him and asked him in order to learn what response had been sent to him. The messenger hid nothing from him; rather he gave the full response and the agreement that King Priam would offer him and what the Trojans asked him to do, as well as how they would guarantee that their daughter would be given to him and that the Greeks would willingly accept this. ‘Give some thought’, the messenger said, ‘to how the host may depart. This much I know, so help me God. If you can get the Greeks to leave and return to their lands, they will hand the maiden over to you, she who is more beautiful than all other women. But you will not possess her before the Greeks have departed. If you have any doubts about this, they will give you such assurances as you will indicate and ask for.’ (18101–28) Achilles Advises the Greeks to Cease Hostilities and Depart When Achilles heard that his wishes would not be realized in any other way, he heaved a very deep sigh. He was vexed, but also joyful and filled with hope. This accord pleased him immensely. However, it was difficult to bring about what he had offered to Polixena’s parents. He will nonetheless try his best the next day without any further delay. He suffered much pain and grief while waiting for the day to end. It seemed to him long and tedious to wait, since he felt deeply distressed and anxious. Indeed, he lay awake all night long during which there was great turmoil in his heart; and during that night he tossed and turned in bed. When he saw daylight he made up his mind and devised a way to summon for deliberation the nobles and highly esteemed men – dukes, princes, lords, admirals and captains. They all came quickly. The assembly was packed and many powerful knights were present. The deliberations ranged over many topics, both publicly and privately, and many subjects were discussed. When Achilles rose, everyone heeded and listened closely to what he said, because although they feared and dreaded him they nevertheless held him in high honour and esteem. He was a very wise and wily man. Just as he had decided how he should proceed, he started to make his case. (18129–62) ‘My lords’, he began, ‘I wish to explain to you that, through our excesses and arrogance we are daily causing our own deaths. Already some thirty thousand bold and valiant men have died, and this is what will befall all of us. By the faith I owe you, if we do not adopt a different strategy, not one of us will escape death before this realm is conquered. We have undertaken something far too foolish: because of one woman we have left so many noble realms, kingdoms and fine countries. We have been here at this siege for more than five years. We have not yet accomplished anything that can be considered satisfactory, all the while enduring great anguish and suffering for most of this year. Our men are in dire straits and very hard pressed. I am absolutely amazed that there are among us so many wise men who have not decided on a different plan of action and that none


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of them can see what I see. The cause of our great devastation is contemptible. The Europeans and Africans, as well as those from beyond the ports of Salonika, have come together to await death. I can call to your attention that there has never been a more foolish enterprise, or any that was more arrogant or outrageous, than for us to die on account of one woman, and that for her sake alone we are sealing our own fate. (18163–98) ‘But, my fair lords, what is the meaning of all this? If lord Paris has her, let him keep her. We Greeks have already abducted Hesiona, his aunt and his father’s sister, whom the Trojans earnestly sought and asked us to give back. If Paris abducted Helen, what wrong, shame and harm can there be in this for our lineage and for those of us who are here? We have already lost all our men. Many noble kings and many renowned dukes have died and fallen silent because of this affair. Be aware that when we realize the folly we have perpetrated we shall judge ourselves to have acted like imbeciles. If you agree with my view, the folly that began so foolishly will come to an end. We shall be powerful and honoured in the great realms in which we were born; we shall once more see our households, including those who are disconsolate because of our absence. We shall once again give in marriage many nieces, daughters and sisters, for whom this is a great need and necessity. I prefer being a knight in my own land rather than in a foreign country. I no longer have any interest in these altered circumstances. I love my realm more than someone else’s. In the Greek host there are not two men who will avoid returning homeward without having suffered harm and sorrow and with great losses of their men. That is the truth. When one has done something very foolish, one makes amends for it afterwards. Know that the man who is addressing you is lord Achilles; he will never again take part in the fighting or lace on his helmet for battle. Henceforth, let whoever wishes to go on fighting and grieving, or being wounded or killed, do so. For my part, I pledge to you in good faith that I shall never again be struck down, nor will any other man receive my blows. Lord Menelaus can find plenty of noble ladies with constant hearts. Let him choose among them one who is highly prized and, given that he cannot have his wife back, leave this Helen once and for all. It seems to me that this is what he must do. He will never get hold of his wife, it seems, as long as King Priam is alive. Someone other than myself will win her back. I am a man who will never participate any more in this enterprise, neither I nor any of my men. Whoever wants to do so can condemn what I do, for, by my head, that opinion matters very little to me.’ (18199–255) Then Thoas spoke up: ‘Now, now, lord Achilles, you have got this all wrong! You are so worthy and valiant that you must not accept or recommend going ahead with an action that would bring you even the least bit of dishonour. Your worth is greater than that of other valiant men, as is your renown, courage and prowess. Do not degrade your high standing, do not compromise your inborn nobility. We have already heard about many who had always acted in ways that were well spoken of everywhere, but who subsequently came to nought, having become objects of universal ridicule. Their end was wretched and vile. You had never predicted the future, but now you have begun to do so too hastily. There

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is no prince so high born in the whole host whom you would not be obliged to refute if he were to utter the words I have heard you speak, and deem him to be a base coward. You have given us this advice far too late. Let me tell you why. (18256–79) ‘For a long time, we have besieged this city, which we want to take, destroy, burn to the ground and reduce to ashes. Be it foolish or sensible, we have accomplished whatever we could. We have fought with the Trojans and to a certain extent brought down their great arrogance and their high renown. But in doing so many of our kings and dukes have died or been captured. On the battlefield the Trojans have already deprived us of more than thirty thousand knights. Nonetheless, we have encumbered them so much that they now have neither vineyards nor sown fields, nor any revenue from their ports, no income and not a single acre of land. We frequently inflict great harm on them and, therefore, their nobility is in sharp decline. But we have not yet accomplished enough to have achieved our goal honourably. Now that we have begun this enterprise, to abandon it ignominiously in the way I hear you promote and urge upon all of us would mean that everyone would be convinced that great shame would be our lot. I would prefer to be slain or to abjure all my country than ever on any day to return and go back to it as a man vanquished and put to flight and as one who gave up the fight. Our losses have been too great for us to depart in this way without having taken vengeance. On the contrary, sixty thousand knights will endure great torment before they are willing to return home. That is not why we came here; rather we Greeks shall all be dead or vanquished, or the Trojans defeated, before a single one of us goes back to his country. I do not consider our men to be so gravely afflicted, or so lacking in courage because of this undertaking, as to abandon our enterprise and willingly do anything that people could denounce, or for which their heirs would suffer reproach. They do not harbour such foolish opinions; indeed, returning would never occur to a single one among them. May God protect and support them, for your advice is, if I may say so, neither admirable nor noble. We are not involved in this effort for Menelaus or for Helen, but rather to achieve honour and praise. Since you have begun so well, we shall never leave without winning a memorable victory. Whoever sounds retreat is shamed, as long as he can strike with naked blade in full battle. You would incur great blame, for sure, if people learnt that you seriously advocated this proposal.’ (18280–339) The duke of Athens smiled at what he had heard. He drew back his hood of scarlet cloth (never was one more beautiful made of wool), then leant on a baron who was seated next to him. He had been lost in thought for a long while, but now he would voice his opinion, no matter who may subsequently be hurt by his words. He was very angry because of what was being said. Know that he deemed it rank folly. ‘From now on’, he exclaimed, ‘it seems to me that we shall vanquish our enemies. This seems to be the case, so I shall say no more about it! But, in the name of the gods in heaven above, if everyone wished to grant and favour it by asserting and advising that the host return on condition that none of us take up arms again without just cause and in keeping with the general will, I for my part would prefer to be rent limb from limb rather than to have been present at


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these deliberations. Know for sure that I wonder what the source of your idea may be. Retreat should never be sounded from our side. These deliberations are downright scandalous. If the Trojans hear about them, they will vilify all of us. This view would not be judged so bad if someone else among us had expressed it. I do not know what good this debate may do. We have assembled so many noble kings and noble admirals, so many esteemed dukes and barons who would prefer to be captured, slain, dismembered and killed than to have returned in the way Achilles proposes. This undertaking did not start out with this end in mind. It behoves us to terminate this enterprise in a far different way; that cannot be altered. There is no way we can avoid distress. The valiant man must not fear death when confronted by such dishonour. Tomorrow we shall go out to do battle with them. The prosecution of the siege will continue with lances of burnished steel and with furbished swords. The Greek departure will be achieved by fighting for it. Let those who issue forth from the city tomorrow be greeted so that thousands of the most presumptuous among them accede to our wishes and allow us to achieve our ends. Let us make this enterprise succeed by swiftly reaching our goal. Never will there be a single day on which our men do not oppose their men!’ (18340–97) Achilles Forbids his Men to Fight The majority of those present responded to the duke’s words with ‘Well said! Well said! That is the best way to proceed!’ Whatever he felt in his heart, no one, no matter how young or old, failed to approve the duke’s proposal. Why should I tell you anymore? Amidst strife, anger and quarrels they went back to their pavilions. They had a lot to talk about now, just as Achilles had much to ponder. No one asked him whether he was angry; he showed it by his face and appearance. No one dared speak to him. He summoned his men and told them to take care, on penalty of their lives and everything else they possess, that not one of them gird on his sword for battle or for fighting, or for general or single combat. ‘It is not’, he continued, ‘to my liking or pleasure that you should help the Greeks. Since they have rejected my counsel, I want to show them how valuable I am to them. I have been well rewarded for the hardship I have endured for five years! I shall not be helping them any longer, neither I nor anyone dependent on me. They will not hear my battle-cry sounded again until two years have passed, let them be aware of that. Before this happens, they will have lost twenty thousand men, and another twenty thousand, without my ever budging. May the arrogant confront arrogance. That is only right! Now it will be evident, tested and known how good the counsel was that I gave them and whether they needed to heed my words and agree to what I proposed. Now they will carry on by themselves, without us. Take care lest any of you should act for them, no matter what you may hear said. Do not show any hostility towards the Trojans. Finally, whoever disobeys my command will never again return to me, never find a place among my troops and never receive any rewards from me.’ (18398–442)

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Achilles imposed this prohibition on his men. If he did wrong, what more could he do about it henceforth, while Love was depriving him of intelligence and moderation? Love does not safeguard religion, rectitude, nobility, integrity or lineage. Who is it who is wise when dealing with Love? Achilles was not and could not be. Love is too harsh a master; the lessons he imparts are far too onerous. Solomon showed this clearly: his intelligence was of little use to him when in love. Love works his will on all men. Many have ceased to be reliable and trustworthy, and because of Love have abandoned fathers and lords, great lands and great countries. Whoever is deeply in love no longer possesses intelligence or reason. Therefore, that is why lord Achilles abandoned arms. For that he was blamed for a long time thereafter. His Myrmidons and his followers were distressed and angry because of it. They were seen weeping sorrowfully because they did not dare take up arms. They were ashamed and distraught, but their lord did not care at all. Whoever spoke about it, openly or quietly, it mattered little to him and he showed no interest in what was said. He was in a dreadful state, for he was making little progress in pursuit of his wishes or desires. (18443–72) Twelfth Battle The truce was over and had come to an end on both sides. They spent the night before peacefully, and those who were used to it and well trained made ready in the morning. The pennants adorned with armorial bearings of gold and silk were attached to their stout lances that were made of fir. The hauberks with which most men armed themselves were shining and saffron-coloured. Their bright, burnished helmets, good blades of sharp, furbished steel with solid gold hilts along with their painted and varnished shields brightened the morning. When these divisions had been drawn up and made ready for battle, without further ado, they drew near to the city. First to come was Palamedes, who was wise and skilled in causing grievous harm to his foe. The Trojans emerged, iron-clad and ready for battle. They had noble divisions and good men, fine weapons and handsome apparel. Their chargers were covered with diverse kinds of imperial silk.118 That day, as you will hear tell, there would be without fail great devastation and widespread grief before the battle came to an end. The ranks and divisions were huge, the knights silent and still, deadly and furious beneath their helmets. The ground shook under their feet from the tumult and stomping of their Arabian chargers. The fracas caused by the sound coming from their olifants was so loud that the lofty peaks and deep valleys, the high towers and walls resounded and reverberated from it. Both sides charged at one another. Lances clashed and immediately thereafter they fired sharp arrows from Turkish bows. They lowered some thousand pennants that were then bathed in bright-red blood. As they joined in deadly combat, there was a shattering of lances on all sides. Here shields fell In the text (vv. 18499–500) these silks are said to be ‘ciclaton’ (silken cloth, or a long sleeveless tunic of silk), ‘cendaus’ (a kind of fine silk cloth) and ‘paile imperiaus’ (splendid and costly silken brocade). 118


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apart as they laid heavy blows on each other, knocking opponents down both dead and wounded, on their backs or face down; this was a horrendous fight. After their strong lances had broken, they drew their swords. They pounded one another’s helmets and varnished shields. In their encounters they struck each other in the face, violently casting one another down dead from their fine steeds. Never could anyone have seen men join in such grievous fighting. Those who felt death drawing nigh screamed and howled. (18473–535) Death of Resa In the very midst of this gigantic battle, where the throng was thickest, the men from Aresse were fighting. Resa was the name of their lord, a cruel and pitiless man. He was also a powerful man of high birth, but he wreaked great havoc among those from Troy, this much I can tell you. This greatly angered Deiphebus, and sword in hand he charged at him. Dealing three quick blows on his helmet and cleaving it in two, he knocked his opponent down dead off his horse. He then seized the horse and shouted his battle-cry. After that, no one held back. The Trojans charged the Greeks, forcing them to fall back. Some seven companies turned their backs on the Trojans; among these hardly any men were daring enough to avenge themselves or to turn and fight the Trojans. The pursuit was terrifying, with so many men lying dead in the middle of the field that no one could estimate their numbers. This much I can tell you and relate: if Diomedes had not been present, along with Palamedes’s troops, the Greeks would have suffered total defeat. But these men joined the fray, in numbers exceeding ten thousand. With shields in hand and at full charge they confronted their pursuers. The forest of lances was enormous. Iron shafts and wood and pennants passed right through the shields, the horses and the warriors’ bodies. The fighting there was so ferocious that no one knew how to escape with his life; almost no one could successfully defend himself. He who dealt a single blow received seven in return. Here cowards were distraught, dumbfounded and in anguish. But those two men,119 who enjoyed honour and esteem, revived the spirits of their companions, making their foe’s green helmets ring out when struck by their blades of sharpened steel. The Greeks received good assistance there; although a great number of their own men lost their lives, they halted the advance of their enemies. (18536–84) After the mighty forces had joined battle in inordinately large groups of combatants, in many places they arrayed themselves in battle formation. Now you will hear how this battle played out. They jousted there, but we know for certain that, if a knight was taken or captured, not one of them was ever ransomed; he was always killed right on the spot. King Telamon from Salamina joined the fight120 with Priam’s sons. Savagely, with his steel blade, he made them pay The two men are Palamedes and Diomedes. The use of the verb acosiner here (‘to treat someone as a cousin’, v. 18594) is surely ironic. It also explains that Telamon here is Ajax Telamon, son of Hesiona and Telamon, contrasting markedly with the moment in the second battle when Hector stops the burning of the 119


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dearly for his family connection. They found him to be ruthless and cruel. He fought them that day at close quarters, maiming the right arm of Sicilien, one of the Bastards, a very fine knight who after that was never again able to strike with a spear. This grieved Deiphebus greatly, and if he could he would gladly avenge his half-brother. He waited until he saw his opportunity. Sitting astride a horse from Edessa and seizing his shield and grasping his lance, he went to strike Telamon in such a way that he sewed his shield and his arm to his body. If he had survived, he would have escaped a terrible predicament; nonetheless, Deiphebus made Telamon and his warhorse tumble to the ground. Then he took his steel blade, and with it, in spite of how much this displeased his opponents, he rained mighty blows on to Telamon’s helmet while exclaiming: ‘Vassal, you are not very sensible to seek to disinherit and degrade our lineage. Your threat has come to nought. Before evening comes, may God deliver you such an awful blow that your arrogance will be tamed and my aunt will shed tears on account of it.’121 (18585–624) Deiphebus Mortally Wounded by Palamedes Deiphebus was furious. His brother would have been avenged in no time, if the good duke of Athens had not come galloping through the ranks on a bay horse from Aragon. He had a shield, lance and banner that had been made in Saragossa. He was angry, grief-stricken and of heavy heart because of Telamon, whom he saw being treated brutally. He went to strike Deiphebus through his shield adorned with painted flowers, so that his colourful pennant passed alongside his chest. Before Deiphebus could manage to get away, the Greeks had knocked him down and pummelled him with many blows. At that moment, Troilus and Eneas, together with Paris and lord Polidamas, reached them with extensive reinforcements so that, once more, many knights were slain there. They wanted to rescue Deiphebus, but he had fallen at such an inopportune time that they could not remount him or thrust him outside the throng. He fell several times in the midst of the horses and was overcome with such agony and distress that blood came gushing from his mouth. The Greeks gave him no quarter when they reached him, smiting him with their steel lances and knocking him once more face down on the ground. A thousand chargers galloped over his body. Through the mail of his hauberk the blood flowed out on to the sandy ground. This went on for some time. Nonetheless, the Trojans strove so mightily that they brought Deiphebus out from the press. He was immediately remounted on a horse belonging to the king of Aresse, after which he went charging back into the throng to strike them

Greek fleet as requested by his ‘nephew’ Ajax Telamon. The translation is accurate but does not explain the irony. 121 This is the sole indication in the Troie of Hesiona’s emotional reaction to becoming a concubine. She thus seems to have accepted her position, much as did Helen and Priam’s concubines.


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anew by introducing them to his steel blade. If these men had cruelly injured him, he made them pay dearly for it that day. (18625–66) That was a day of deadly combat. Palamades exerted himself to an extraordinary degree in order to drive the Trojans all the way back to the edges of the ditches. He called on his troops, often shouting and just as often performing valiant deeds of chivalry. Deiphebus spurred his steed towards the Greeks. With a large ebony lance he hit Palamedes so hard that his opponent tottered and almost fell from his saddle. Palamedes did not fail to respond, for he thrust his lance of burnished steel right through Deiphebus’s shoulder. Ah! What chilling news this was for King Priam and for Paris! Here was no place for mockery or jeers, but only severe and dreadful grief; never had such anguish been seen. Fair Paris bore him away towards the city, the spear stub still intact inside him. His life had not yet come to an end, but he would die as soon as it was removed from his body. No one could relate the grief to which Paris gave vent. He wanted to kill himself with his own sword. He collapsed over Deiphebus in a faint; he was racked with pain, cursing profusely the time and the moment that he had lived for so long. But that day Paris intended having himself slain by the Greeks: ‘Brother, I shall not go on living any longer after you.’ Deiphebus opened his eyes and spoke to him, saying: ‘Dear brother, I order you to return to the fray. Make sure that you do so. Avenge me on Palamedes before the spear stub is pulled out of me. Put all you have into this, for, if I can learn that he has died, I shall pass from this life without my soul feeling anger. I shall stay alive until I learn the truth. Make great haste for my heart is on the verge of stopping and giving out on me.’ (18667–710) Paris, filled with anger and grief, remounted his priceless steed. Tears ran down from his eyes. He remained seated on his horse with great difficulty, lamenting and regretting the injury he was suffering and the loss sustained by his lineage. He often cursed Destiny and anyone who had faith in it and trusted its course. ‘Wretch that I am’, he exclaimed, ‘Destiny weighs so heavily on me! Why should I count on any benefit that may come to me? This can never happen. I should have used my right hand to thrust my sword through both my sides. Alas! I believe there is every reason to think that this will happen shortly. Shall I go on living then? May God not grant that I survive my brothers. O Hecuba, wretched mother, what awful torment awaits you! Your heart will endure so much suffering when you see your son dead. Fair, sweet brother, what sorrow this causes. We are indeed dead and ruined, since we have lost you in this way. I truly wish and profoundly desire to carry out your wishes. I shall not fail to avenge you, or I shall lose my life trying. You have imposed a heavy obligation on me, but Palamedes may be sure that I am looking for him. The war between us will end soon for one of us.’ As my source tells it, he drew his bow made out of a horn (Fegor, king of Leutiz, had sent it to King Priam, who then gave it to Paris). It was a strong bow that shot well, and Paris would not have taken a thousand bezants for it. On to it he fixed the notch of an arrow that was firm, cutting and sharp. He then asked the gods to grant that he should not miss his mark, and he quickly made his way to the fighting that on both sides was widespread, perilous and devastating. During the mighty charges and the heavy sword blows on helmets there was

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loud clamour. Often the combatants gave chase and often they pulled back, often turning round and often standing firm. The one side charged at the other. They died and met their end in their thousands. (18711–62) Palamedes was in the forefront of the fray, wreaking havoc on the Trojans. He was directing and leading the Greeks while devoting himself to routing the Trojans with all his might and main. He shouted to his men in a loud voice: ‘Noble knights, let us go and attack them! The field will be ours in a little while. If you are willing to make the effort, you will quickly see them turn their backs on us. The loss will soon be theirs if you hold firm for a little while longer. Let us drive them back to the defiles and a thousand Trojans will remain there stonecold dead.’ He had a trumpet sounded alongside him, whereupon the Greeks gave their horses free rein. They struck with their lances and swords, and once again there was wide-ranging combat. The Trojans held firm and the Greeks did not take the field from them, but lost many of their own men while trying. This is how that charge ended. (18763–83) Death of Sarpedon King Sarpedon was a young man. He was very handsome, noble, well bred and highly renowned for his skill with arms. Together with his very noble company he had contributed to defending the city of Troy. He had borne arms for ten years and performed such deeds that he was very well known. He had fought in many places and expended a great deal of effort on his own. He observed from very close by the grievous combat and the devastation wrought among them by King Palamedes, whose words and speech had reinvigorated the Greeks. Sarpedon had seen him kill Deiphebus and that made him exceedingly angry. After drawing his steel blade from its scabbard and spurring his horse, Sarpedon attacked Palamedes, striking his helmet right away with two or three mighty blows (I do not know for certain just how many). The chain mail was pressed into his flesh, and his sword penetrated the skin beneath the helmet. Some fifteen links of mail drew blood. But, as quickly as possible, Palamedes countered with a mortal blow, slicing off Sarpedon’s thigh together with the whole of his buttock. The Trojan tottered, his body dropping down from the saddle. He had lost all his blood in a very short time. Then he died. What sorrow and what wrong! Sarpedon’s fame was widespread, but such was his destiny. He could not escape it, nor survive that fatal day. (18784–818) Death of Palamedes by Paris After Sarpedon had lost his life, there was great turmoil and outcry. The Greeks were joyful and delighted, but the Trojans were angry and steeped in sorrow. While they were pulling the corpse out from among the horses, many fine vassals had their heads chopped off. They had tried hard, but they could not get him away. Palamedes, who was prevailing over the Trojans, inflicted all the harm he could on them. Violently and forcibly he drove them away from where they stood. I am


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convinced that the pursuit would have lasted some time, and extended as far back as the banks of the ditches, but then Paris arrived on the scene, ready to let fly his arrow. He caught sight of Palamedes and charged at him at full gallop, aiming and shooting in anger. This was an extraordinary encounter. Paris did Palamedes no harm, other than slicing the bone and the main artery through the visor with the result that the Greek fell down dead in the midst of the fighting. Paris’s shot was a fine one and it damaged his foe. Never before had the Greeks experienced such immense grief. Those taking part in the battle saw their leader’s harsh destiny. There arose from this such bawling and such screams, such laments, such tears and such sorrow! When the Greeks saw that their lord and commanding prince was dead, the most valiant among them took fright and finally lost all their courage, whereas the Trojans’ ardour began to revive once again. They had acquired new hope and courage and they all fought well. They knew that Palamedes was dead, so they galloped forward at full speed, naked blades drawn in fury and anger. Many Greeks were hacked to pieces there, wounded and unhorsed. Now the Trojans had seized the field. (18819–60) The Greeks were defeated that day, having lost a great many of their men. No company held firm or failed to sustain heavy losses then. Menelaus returned frequently to the fray, as did Telamon and Ajax, King Thoas and Ulysses, along with Diomedes and the good duke of Athens. They inflicted grievous harm on the Trojans. The Greeks did not withdraw in disarray, for with their swords of burnished steel they rescued a good many of their own men while defending themselves very valiantly. But few of their own men came to their aid instead of turning their backs on the Trojans. According to our author I shall tell the truth about this: forcibly and ineluctably they pushed them back through their tents, ignominiously and with no hope of escape. There the Greeks defended themselves for dear life, although they fell into deep despair because of their gigantic losses. They experienced huge and ferocious combat. More than ten thousand Trojans from the city ‒ sons, brothers and cousins ‒ dismounted there,122 but the Greeks held firm against them. Their tents and fine pavilions served them as palisades, walls and towers. They truly defended themselves vigorously. Alas! What grief and what slaughter! Who ever saw such a massacre? Flour that one sifts falls far less densely than did the javelins and feathered bolts from Trojan crossbows. Double hauberks were of little use against these iron javelins. The Greeks were dying and they came to an end in heaps. Five hundred fine and handsome pavilions, all replete with vestments and splendid, precious tableware of gold and silver, became Trojan booty. (18861–903) Burning the Greek Fleet While the fighting raged on, fair Paris and Troilus, together with more than twenty thousand knights, rode straight to the sea, where they set fire to the ships. 122 They fight on foot rather than on horseback seemingly because their charging was impaired by the tents.

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Because of the hot weather, the boats had dried out in the port where they had been beached. At the same time, the wind had grown rather strong, so that more than seven hundred ships were consumed by the flames. If Ajax Telamon had not been there, that day would have brought great misfortune, for the entire fleet would have gone up in flames. But he came to the rescue,123 that is the truth, with a very noble company. He admonished his men sternly: ‘As you can see’, he said to them, ‘no prisoners, hostages or ransoms are to be taken here. No one surrenders. No one is to be captured who is not immediately put to death. The Trojans are our mortal enemies, for we have fully deserved this. When Destiny decides, let our anger be in evidence, as well as our valour. Each of us must die on the day assigned to him. That is the way we are obliged to go. Now there is no recourse but to fight valiantly. Know that if our enemies include my blood relatives they will never be able to see me fail to rend soul from body in all of those Trojans to whom I can do harm. That is our task and our duty! So let us spur on and go and strike them, for there is no reason to put up with this any longer. May each of you defend his shield and the head on his body!’ (18904–40) With that, they gave their horses free rein, which caused the ground to quake beneath them. The clarion and the horn were sounded there. Those who had unfurled pennants or flags, silken standards or banners displayed them now. Anyone seeing this company ride could indeed say and affirm that assuredly they evinced great disdain for their foe. They went to deal such mighty blows on the Trojans that the splinters and stubs of spears went flying, while the streamers embroidered in gold remained fixed in their sides. Here the Greeks felled some seven hundred men, their bodies covered with blood and no longer in need of spurs.124 There were sword blows and fighting, as well as attacks that were ruthless, violent and harsh. From the walls of Troy that day they saw the flames and the deadly, hard-fought battle. Shouting out loudly, more than twenty thousand of them streamed out from the city in total disarray. They came fresh to the fighting, but the Greeks were defending themselves very vigorously, none more so than Ajax Telamon, who on that day was a valiant fighter. He was such an outstanding knight that, were it not for him (this is what my source reports and Dares who saw him with his own eyes), all the Greeks would have been slain and the boats that were scattered on the sandy beach would have gone up in flames. Not even three of them would have survived; we are convinced that this is true. That day, if it had not been for Ajax Telamon and his company, the war would have come to an end. He performed wonders with both his arms. He was prized above all on both sides and well deserved the honour. The three best men taken together (I know this for certain) did not accomplish as much as he did on his own. With his deadly steel blade Ajax Telamon was the victor that day in some twenty separate engagements in which the Greeks were faring worse. But what did his triumphs matter? The Greeks were overwhelmed, dead or suffering from multiple wounds. (18941–86) This is the second time that Ajax Telamon saves at least part of the fleet. The first time was at the end of the second battle. 124 This is, of course, because they are dead. 123


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Achilles Refuses to Aid the Greeks Those Greeks who could not tolerate their losses any longer went to reveal to Achilles what was happening. He was in his pavilion; none of his men or companions dared arm himself that day. For this reason they were deeply distressed, as they did not dare disregard Achilles’s threat. The son of King Heber of Thrace, a handsome, renowned knight, came to him, together with nine others. They did not look like knights who might have been flirting with ladies, for their burnished helmets had been hacked to pieces. They had neither lance nor shield, and their good hauberks were in shreds. Large spear stubs were stuck in their bodies and their livers and lungs were visible. Their faces were lacerated. They had been so badly wounded and mauled that not even two or three of them would see the end of the month. Heber’s son had lodged in his body a banner with the entire spear point; his arm was slashed clean through. He was blood-stained, pale and livid, to such an extent that he could hardly speak, for he felt and sensed Death’s breath close by. He addressed Achilles: ‘Scoundrel’, he exclaimed, ‘you deserve to be arraigned for treason because you watch while we are being slain. Today we are being killed, captured and vanquished, yet you have never taken up your shield, nor have we received any help from you. You ought to have avenged the shame and immense dishonour that our lineage suffers today. Coward that you are, still alive and kicking, you will forever be branded and infamous as a traitor, for having tolerated for no good reason that the Trojans vanquish us in this way. You have failed us in our hour of need. Alas! that your tent is so far away from those in the forefront that stand directly before the Trojans! Wretched coward and traitor, what shame you must feel! And I believe that, by necessity, you will be forced to abandon your tent, for their knights are very close by. I see clearly that you will not wait for them here, given that your prowess has forsaken you. And yet you have nowhere to flee, for there is no returning to the ships. They were set ablaze today with Greek fire.’ (18987–9041) At that moment three messengers arrived from Ajax Telamon. ‘My lord’, they said, ‘noble vassal, our lord informs you that he has fought with the Trojans so long that he has lost most of his men. If you do not go now to help him, the boats he has defended valiantly will be burned and lost. My lord, the Greeks have sustained enormous losses, but if now, given that you are fresh, you were to join us together with your men, the Trojans would surely be slain in no time. They have, for certain, no company or troops left that have not already joined the fray. Do come, fair lord, and rout them. The glory for that will all be yours.’ The son of Heber, king of Thrace, answered: ‘May it never please God that he be able to do anything that anyone can speak well of!’ Blood was flowing abundantly from his body. ‘I cannot stay alive any longer’, he exclaimed, ‘but I appeal to all the gods that your soul might follow ours before this month comes to an end.’ He did not utter two more words. His heart stopped after which his life ended very quickly. (19042–70) Achilles’s facial expression and appearance showed that he had no interest whatsoever in this matter. He made no reply and did not pay any attention to

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what King Heber’s son had said. He was playing a game of chess against one of his knights with pieces of gold and silver. He still believed that he would get what he wanted, because the Greeks would be compelled to do his pleasure and will. The three messengers appealed to him earnestly, but he did not even raise his head or appear to heed them. Dares affirms (and he is not lying) that, if the day had lasted longer, the war would then have come to an end. It would have stopped altogether, had it not been for eventide and the sky that had become dark and black, throwing a veil over all the daylight. (19071–87) Death of Deiphebus The Trojans left the battlefield, many having sounded the retreat. If they had not suffered such great losses, they would have accomplished a great deal. But not one of them failed to be angered by the death of Deiphebus. They turned back towards the city; I do not know any more beyond that. By their dwellings in the city they dismounted and disarmed, and those who could sought rest. But you can be sure that there was widespread mourning. They were distraught because of Deiphebus, saddened, in tears and downcast. But he was not yet dead, but still alive. He was eager to see Paris. He was mute and for some time neither heard nor comprehended anything. Paris collapsed in a faint over him; his grief was boundless. Deiphebus, whom Death was getting the better of, opened his eyes with great difficulty. Struggling mightily to speak, he asked Paris three times in a row if he had been avenged. When he learnt that this had happened, he became very happy and pleased. ‘Now’, he said, ‘remove the lance from my body. Death no longer weighs heavily on me. I shall see the soul of Hector, my dear lord, if possible before daybreak. My soul will go straight to his. From now on I cannot arrive there too soon. Comfort my father for me’, he added, ‘and above all my mother. May the gods come to their assistance.’ Speech failed him. He closed his eyes and died in their midst. Then high mourning began. After removing the spear stub from his body, they bore him into the city. (19088–126) Know that Deiphebus’s corpse arrived there amid great mourning. No one would ever hear greater sorrow. Everyone lamented his loss and wept for him, while they honoured his corpse as best they could. King Priam was so distraught that he collapsed in a faint a hundred times over. What should I tell you about the queen? How could I relate to you her profound dismay, grief and sadness? His brothers and relatives passed the night in great anguish and torment. They suffered so much grief, anger and pain that I could not relate to you even a quarter of it. Sarpedon’s death too was mourned intensely; he was pitied and wept for by all. His loss weakened them enormously. No one in Troy was more highly acclaimed, more helpful and more valiant than he was. In the Greek host too there was such great lamentation that no one could recount it. Whoever heard the weeping and wailing for Palamedes’s death could well claim that their grief and anger were profound. They regretted in many ways the loss of his great knowledge and his goodness, his learning and his handsome bearing, his gentle heart and noble character. They passed the night in great sorrow. Most were suffering


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severely, with many of them injured and wounded. They endured a great deal of distress and hardship, saying that after they had lost Palamedes things had been going badly for them. They claimed that they were dead and vanquished. They did not know where to seek counsel or to find someone to take command of the host. (19127–62) Agamemnon Replaces Palamedes Because of such widespread affliction, the Greeks assembled to decide their future course of action. Old Nestor, the wisest man among them, addressed them all: ‘My lords’, he said, ‘this bereavement shows how matters stand now. But we must not yet despair of being victorious. Palamedes will no longer be able to help us; he is gone. For this reason we find ourselves in such dire straits. He was a very able commander of the host and a splendid counsellor. He was also a marvellous knight; no one was more valiant in combat than he. We have lost him and this cannot be altered. Now we well know that we cannot go on without a prince or leader who has authority over the entire host and to whom we pay heed. May there now be no clamour or strife. Let someone now be chosen for this position. And if I am to be believed, Agamemnon would be given the task. He knows full well what is going on. No one has ever known half as much as he does. During all the time he held command over us, nothing but good came to us. I advise that we choose him once more and that he be our overlord, because, by the faith I owe you, we cannot choose a better man, one who is so worthy of command or about whom there is less discord. For everyone knows indubitably that they could not make a better choice. Now let your wishes regarding this issue be heard.’ Everyone approved Nestor’s recommendation, without any opposition from great or small. Then they designated Agamemnon once more as their leader. This later redounded to high honour for him. Everything was then done through him and he was sovereign prince over them all. Henceforth, you can hear today about the thirteenth battle that came next. Listen now to how Benoît, who is relating this History, has put it into writing. (19163–209) Thirteenth Battle The night and the darkness passed away. When daylight appeared before sunrise, the Trojans made ready once again. They armed themselves at daybreak. Their fine horses were covered and their pennants attached to their sharp, cutting lances. They emerged from the city ready and equipped for battle. Swiftly, I assure you, they went to engage their foe. Those in the Greek army also made ready. They consulted with Agamemnon, who encouraged them, advising and asking that none of them should hold back. They should take vengeance for what happened the day before. After that there was no further delay. They donned their hauberks of doubly layered mail and girded on their steel blades; then they laced on their brightly burnished helmets. Their mounts were nobly decked with rich silken cloth. The pennants of very colourful silk were attached and then unfurled in the

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wind. The sky shone golden yellow and bright red. Their equipment was splendid and they mounted their armed chargers that were good, swift and fast-moving stallions. Having seized their shields, they rode straight towards the Trojans as fast as they could. They did not have to look far for them. The first to arrive reached their enemy beneath the elm trees, by the dark-coloured blocks of stone. They struck one another and thrust their lances through the opposing shields, shattering the hauberks of double mail. They knocked down on to the sand some hundred men from whom the breath of life issued no more. The Greeks and King Priam’s Trojans were consumed with hatred and bent on doing great harm. For that reason, they engaged in close combat because of which many fell backwards unconscious, cold and lifeless. Never had the sound of such sword fighting been heard or such resounding blows from their naked swords. (19210–55) The divisions arrived. Then they began hammering on helmets of burnished steel, thrusting their swords so as to drink blood from down inside their opponents’ brains. Saddles were emptied in large numbers. Alas! Who ever witnessed such ferocious slaughter? No one could relate or tell it as it was. Persians and Arabians fired sharp arrows from Turkish bows. Men were falling thicker than hail. One cannot close one’s eyes or blink as quickly as knights were dropping dead there. The effort was gigantic on both sides. The Greeks sustained huge losses, but they also frequently drove the Trojans back to the narrow passages, after which the Trojans then pushed the Greeks back to their camp. That day dark clouds covered the fields; the wind blew and it rained incessantly. This was what caused them the greatest harm. They were all soaking from head to toe, yet many times their forces pushed each other back and forth. The combat was very brutal. There were numerous engagements and attacks in which huge numbers of men were slain. (19256–80) Most of the day had passed by the time Troilus arrived on the scene, bringing a good thousand knights with him. Holding their shields and astride their chargers, they came to the front lines and charged. They quickly felled so many Greeks that those in the host withdrew, forced to abandon the field. That is how the Trojans drove them back. Know that the Trojans pressed them closely with twenty thousand naked steel blades, often making them fall from their horses, either dead or wounded. Alas! What a grievous day! What deeds were performed, what wrongs were committed! So many realms would be depopulated whose inhabitants were dying here painfully because of their great damage and foolishness, as well as for such an insignificant cause.125 If it were not for the pavilions, the lodgings and the tents, where the Greeks defended themselves stoutly until sunset, know that they would have suffered huge losses. When the light in the firmament grew dark with the approach of night, they were in dire straits. That is when sides separated. The Trojans trooped slowly back to their city, exhausted, weary and afflicted with wounds great and small. They were soaked with rain and blood, but they derived some comfort from the fact that, because their lodgings were good, well supplied 125 This may be a reference to one or other of the small causes that led up to the Trojan War. On these causes, see Part One and the Introduction, pp. 8–10.


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and filled with provisions, by and large they were in fine shape. They found a large market that was well stocked with everything that a human being needs. That night seemed short to those who had longed for it to come and who needed rest. If they had had their way, the night would have gone on for a full month. However, they would not enjoy much rest. (19281–323) As soon as day broke, at the dawn of a bright morning, they set out on their way again. They had laced on their helmets and, filled with wrath, gone in search of their foe. They found them (of this I assure you) without having to look very far. Right before their eyes, they lowered ten thousand sharp lances, bright, cutting and pointed, from all of which there hung silken pennants from Germany. The bravado was at its height on both sides. They went at full tilt to strike blows that burst shield boards, and then they broke hauberks and tore the tunics underneath. Thousands of silken pennants bathed in bright-red blood. In the great pandemonium men were felled, trodden on and crushed. This is how the combat began that, before they separated that day, would end after more than two thousand men had died. There were few jousts on horseback, for they had drawn their swords and with them gone to fight one another, dealing such blows that the laces on the helmets were rent asunder. Both sides were slicing heads and bodies, cutting arms and cleaving men in two down to their saddles. The lamentation, the outcry and the reverberation from all this activity were audible throughout the countryside, as well as on the towers of yellow marble, where the Trojan ladies, agitated and fearful, were in tears and weeping. For each day the harm done to their closest kin, to their brothers and their sons, grew harsher. Their hearts were often so distressed that they were bereft of all joy. Ah! How many tears were shed there and how many grievous sighs were heard! This day was very rough on the Greek army, for Troilus killed their counts and dukes, along with their powerful, noble and highly esteemed admirals, because of which the Greeks suffered extensive harm. There was terrible slaughter on both sides, for, given all the arrows and javelins, one could not expose one’s eyes.126 Immense numbers of men had to die there. This thirteenth battle lasted continuously for the full seven days of the week. (19324–77) Truce Those in the Greek host could no longer endure the fighting. They arranged a truce with King Priam on such terms that he granted on the recommendation of Troilus and his men. Trojans and Greeks ratified the truce to last for two months. In the Greek host Palamedes was mourned. No one will ever hear of a body being more splendidly buried. The burial was carried out gently and without haste. Never had such a funeral or such a tomb, or one so precious and so beautiful, been constructed before or since (I find it reported in Dares’s Book), as that which all the Greeks and his relations together prepared for him. As long as time lasts and endures, his funeral site will stand in splendour. The Greek dukes, 126

This was presumably in order to avoid being blinded by the arrows and javelins.

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counts and the others were entombed and buried in sarcophagi or cremated on funeral pyres. I do not know what more I could say about this. On the Trojan side, they buried Deiphebus, but before this he was mourned, bewailed and tenderly wept for. They laid him out in a splendid monument made entirely of precious stones, silver and pure Arabian gold. Likewise, King Sarpedon was laid to rest magnificently and with high honour and with all the splendour they could muster. (19378–410) Greek Delegation to Achilles who again Refuses to Fight There was great dismay among the Greeks. During the two-month truce Agamemnon dispatched to Achilles lord Ulysses, together with wise old Nestor, who had delivered many messages of great importance. Along with these two men he sent the courageous Diomedes. All three were men of marvellous sagacity and Agamemnon advised them on what they were to say. They went straight to Achilles’s pavilion, which was made entirely of precious silk cloth. Achilles sat inside with a very large contingent of knights, who were his liegemen, all bold, worthy and good vassals. He was downcast and absorbed in thought, like a man who has fallen in love but could not for the life of him make up his mind what to do. He could neither eat nor drink, nor find rest by day or by night. Pure love tormented him so much that he derived neither joy nor pleasure from it. Nothing could comfort him, for he felt the pain that those feel who are often in distress because of love, having placed their heart in a location from which they derive no diversion, fun, amusement, repose or satisfaction for their desires or expectations. Despair kills these pleasures. This was the cause of the heavier burden Achilles bore and endured. He frequently abandoned himself to dismay and despair. He did not know what to think or to believe. At times, he thought he had found comfort, but at other times he claimed that he felt as if he were dying more than a hundred times a day. No man had ever been so distraught. (19411–48) All three messengers – old Nestor and the two kings – dismounted from their palfreys before Achilles’s pavilion. Achilles came out to meet them. He hugged and embraced all three, for he bore no hatred for any of them. On a new, colourful carpet, which came from the kingdom of the emir,127 all four men sat down together. I believe that no one else was present. Lord Ulysses was the first to speak, saying: ‘Lord Achilles, Agamemnon, your friend and ally, has sent us here to explain to you how matters stand and make a request. We came to this land to take and lay waste Troy and dispossess the Trojans. We shall not prolong this speech. You are well aware of our reasons for coming to Troy. We have reached a critical point at which we have suffered huge losses, and our opponents’ losses are just as dreadful. The whole world has assembled here. The Trojans are defending their lands against us, but we have given them a tough fight. We have 127

The emir is not named.


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deprived them of their tolls and of all their other sources of revenue. With your own hands you killed Hector, who possessed ferocious strength and was the one in whom they had placed all their trust as a man possessed of supreme prowess. Now they have also lost Deiphebus, which has made them profoundly dejected and uncertain; moreover, they have lost some thirty thousand of their knights, which has weakened many in Troy. We have been promised victory, a promise that we have diligently investigated.128 Of this you are sure, as I know this full well. (19449–87) ‘Now let us tell you something else. You enjoy more esteem and honour than any man born of woman, and you well know through our present undertaking that, however it may turn out for the others here, your renown has multiplied a hundred fold. Well then, see to it that you do not allow your renown to decline. You will have reached the point of bringing it down if you fail to heed any other counsel. One can achieve renown quickly enough, but keeping it, in my opinion, requires great intelligence and great valour. Many men have enjoyed high renown who subsequently declined and fell, thereby forsaking their reputations and their achievements. No one has ever acquired so much renown that, if he withdraws and retreats from it somewhat, he will ever get it back again. It is not easy to recover renown once it has been lost. That is what I want to say and explain to you. Do not act in a way that permits people to say that you have lost your prowess, or so that you become worthless and a person whom everyone avoids. You should be aware that your failure to act has truly been talked about. People are bandying about and inventing stories about your inaction. If you do not change and return to the fray, your renown will die as a result and you will become a renegade and a failure. You can be sure that the public outcry will turn against you in such a way that, before the year is up, people will speak ill of you seven times more vehemently than they have ever spoken well. (19488–523) ‘The most important reason for you to act is that the Trojans have deprived you of friends and allies. This should, it seems to me, give you an angry and heavy heart. Vengeance for these our losses must be brutal, and, if you are willing, it will be. You will have swiftly dispossessed, slain, vanquished, hunted down and captured our foe. Since you have made such an effort up to now, then, if you are willing, continue doing so in order that you be honoured and known throughout the world. The whole Greek army is begging and appealing to you to protect and support it, just as you have done heretofore. Do not let them suffer harm. They greatly need and require that you bring this undertaking to an end. We are very poor and, when we are fighting without you, like orphans. Most Greeks lose their enthusiasm for combat when they do not see your shield. Without it, they will never find help therafter. For God’s sake, do not let anything prevent you from showing your mettle; in that way you will be doing what is right. You are so valiant, noble and wise that it would be the greatest of wrongs if your renown were to enter into decline. On the contrary, it should increase and rise higher. Let the 128

This would be by Calcas reporting the words of the oracle at Delphi.

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losses be restored that we have suffered so heavily from the moment we decided to come here. Now you can make all of us rejoice again, give us heart and make us worthy until the Trojans go under. Know that I am giving you loyal, just and faithful advice.’ (19524–60) Sullen, taciturn and lost in thought, Achilles was hostile towards the undertaking about which they were lecturing him. He said nothing for a long time. Finally, he spoke. ‘My lord Ulysses, I know well that, as long as I live, I shall never hear anyone speak who knows how to advise more eloquently than you do. I well know and see that you have very high regard for my honour. For good reason and sensibly you recommend to me the best course of action you know. I hear clearly what Agamemnon asks of me, what he both pleads and commands me to do. I well know by what worthless counsel, weak, bad, contemptible and shameful as it was, we thought we could vanquish this realm. This war has gone on for five years and we have sustained exceptional losses in it. Now it does not please or suit me to go on doing any more at this time. I am very keen on your understanding clearly that I am angry about this war and regret ever having devoted myself to it to such an extent, or ever having come here and been a part of our enterprise. Because I do not destroy myself for the sake of lord Menelaus’s wife, as a hundred thousand vassals, all of whom died grievously, have already done, does that mean that I have lost my past worth, fame and renown? And if, despite force or entreaty, I do not take up arms again, am I therefore a vile, wretched and cowardly failure and, as a result, reduced to nothing? By the divine, sovereign powers on high, the Greeks may be sure and certain that they will never receive any more assistance from me. Let them continue in their folly for as long as they like. Achilles is the one man who will never seek their esteem; that is of no importance to me. Know in truth that I have scarcely any respect for all their words and opinions. As for you, who love honour and renown, go on fighting for lady Helen. I for one shall no longer take the trouble to do so. You will die for her, and that will be honourable, just as honourable as have already been the deaths of large numbers of men. If you return her to lord Menelaus, you will have conducted yourself like valiant warriors. Know in truth that he will not get her back with my help or my assistance. I shall never be slain or captured for her sake. (19561–615) ‘You are caught up in an awful undertaking when, without honour or reason and for such a vile cause, you all get yourselves hacked to pieces here. If Menelaus gets his wife while all of you perish, you will have achieved a truly fine reward! Now Palamedes is dead, along with a good hundred noble and powerful kings. Would it not have been better ‒ what do you think? ‒ for them to have been safe and sound in their country, governing their mighty realms and supporting their wives and children, who because of this will now be left anxious and dispossessed? As a result of this enterprise, thousands will lose their lands and live in misery. Cursed be the time this war began, for so many will pay for it, as so many have already done. The world will no longer be restored, except by vile, abject peoples. It is gravitating towards decline into a wretched state. Here all the finest lords and royal fathers are perishing, men from whom good heirs would have come. This


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is a very grievous affair. Through this enterprise the high lineages and sovereign lines of descent will be brought down and destroyed. Low, vile races will replace our world. In this way nobility will die out along with grandeur, renown, joy and honour. This is devastation and a great sorrow. If this affair continues, our world will die out and fall into ruin. But you who are so wise and noble and so thoroughly familiar with evil, loss and destruction and the other barons should strive and seek a way to end this war peacefully. I tell you this in truth: until the end of the world, their loss will not be restored. The war has lasted far too long. You do wrong to persevere. If hostilities go on and last much longer, you will come to repent of it when it is too late. In the name of loyalty and right, I advise and beseech you to desire peace. Moreover, do not call on me any more to put on a helmet or gird on a sword. Try as hard as you can. However, like wise knights, act in such a way that this dreadful thing, with all its slaughter and devilish fury, will come to an end and the Greeks will depart. That is what will happen, you can count on it. I shall never again be a part of it in any way.’ (19616–78) Old Nestor, who ruled the mountains of Libanor, spoke next. ‘It would be very beneficial’, he said, ‘if this opinion prevailed among the Trojans. But this would be the wrong time, in my opinion, for us to sue for peace. They have inflicted great losses on us and routed our troops, because of which they are fiercer and more arrogant than before. They would promptly refuse to make peace. Since they do not see you, Achilles, when they need you, they presume that you have given up. Know that this makes them very happy. Nonetheless, we have paid dearly for the fighting that took place no more than eight days ago. But, fair lord, do join us. Gird on your steel blade that is so perilous and let us give them such a scare that not one of them will recover from it. And when we have terrified them, driven them from the field and routed them, then the time to parley will be more favourable.’ Achilles responded: ‘Leave this matter be. These words are useless. If you want to begin fighting again, it will be, by the faith I owe you, without me and without my men. I see clearly what you are after, what you are aiming at and what you seek: that I should return to the general folly. Let no one try to persuade me to do that. I have quit the enterprise and shall leave it be. Whoever wants to do so can discuss it in any way he wishes. As for me, I am not interested in that. Any man who goes to battle blissful and in high spirits will be brought back on a litter. Do not appeal to me any more, for this concludes the discussion. I tell you firmly that I shall not engage in the fighting in any way.’ (19679–716) Diomedes was at a loss for words, but nonetheless he became very angry. He could not keep silent about what he had heard said. ‘In God’s name’, he exclaimed, ‘if you look closely at it, this is a shameful state of affairs. Lord Achilles, you are debasing yourself remarkably and becoming an object of great shame. I know and see clearly that our words and advice are accomplishing nothing. You will do nothing about it at this time. So let us leave you alone. I do not wish to discuss this matter any further. Anyone would be foolish to love you more than you love yourself. It is truly unfortunate that you have won renown here and in so many other countries. If you do not dare to take action or refuse to abandon your objection to it, you are no longer worth reprimanding. It is quite obvious from the colour in

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your face that you have something else on your mind besides combat. Those of us who argue this case do not know what is going on inside your head. Let each man judge as he wishes. Your heart is not as it used to be. There is nothing to be gained by forcing the issue. We can now withdraw. I knew it would turn out this way. It seems to me that without your help we shall henceforth receive success and folly as well as renown, praise and harm. One has to consider that man wise and valiant who protects himself. You have no more cherished possession. In my opinion, you will avoid getting in our foe’s way.’ (19717–52) Achilles heard that he was being insulted, and this began to upset him very much. If he had not known Diomedes to be so quarrelsome and so relentless, he would have told him right away, before he left, what troubled him.129 He did not make much display of his feelings, but did say this much to him: ‘My lord, I do not wonder in the least that knighthood is so dear to you. You love it and you could not love it any more. It would be a great misfortune if it were not upheld by you, the son of Tydeus. Yet, it is well known that your father Tydeus laid waste Thebes, a city that would never have been noticed or besieged by anyone but him. But as his reward he was slain by an ignoble lout.130 By great wrong and injustice he laid waste many a noble realm, and caused their inhabitants to be hacked to pieces at the siege to which he brought them. The world to come will pay for that for up to a thousand years. Now I see that you are eager and ready to do the same or even worse.’ Then King Nestor answered him: ‘My lord, all this can stop now. Since we cannot get from you what we would like, if it pleases you, we shall be on our way. Know that all three of us in good faith value your well-being.’ If they had been able to stay together, the affair might very soon have turned out differently. They could have said such things to each other that would soon have made them want to inflict harm on one another. But the three emissaries left the pavilion with little desire to quarrel. They said nothing more at that time. Deeply upset and distraught, they returned to Agamemnon. They told and reported to him all that they had learned from Achilles. This news disturbed them profoundly. (19753–98) Greek Deliberations after Achilles’s Refusal In that same week Agamemnon summoned the Greek commanders. He let them know how the emissaries had called upon and pleaded with Achilles, but without any success. ‘We have definitely lost his support; he will not join the battle again. He feels that we are incurring losses that are too heavy to bear and he urged us to make peace. Now consider what you would like to do and what course of action you would take. Let each of you express his opinion. I am ready to act This seems to be a reference to the plot hatched with Priam and the marriage to Polixena. 130 In the anonymous Roman de Thèbes Diomedes’s father Tydeus is slain by an inferior soldier. See Le Roman de Thèbes, ed. Francine Mora-Lebrun, Lettres Gothiques (Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1995), vv. 7283–96. 129


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on what I hear. Indeed, I intend to follow your wishes, your desires and your pleasure.’ King Menelaus was the first to speak. ‘By God’, he said, ‘lord Achilles is a very valiant knight. One should do everything he wants and everything he thinks we should do. But I do not know or see how so many princes and kings would shame themselves if we did so. From now until the end of time, we shall always be considered as a defeated people, beginning with the moment we came to Troy, if we return home without achieving victory. Whoever receives or gives that kind of advice no longer has his wits about him or his memory. Each of us must keep his crown, his honour, his renown and his eminence. By necessity and hardship we must totally dispossess the Trojans and throw them out of their land, levelling their towers and their dwellings, their palaces and their keeps. The sovereign deities have given us assurances about this. We must not be dismayed because Achilles does not come to our assistance. But let each of us summon his men so that, in the first encounter, our troops are so arrayed that we leave a thousand Trojans unconscious. Let them be slain wherever we find them. Whom do they still have that we should fear? Have they not lost Hector, who was their mainstay? They no longer have his equal among them. They will never hold out against us. If you are willing to put in a little effort, they cannot stand firm against us any longer.’ (19799–850) To this Ulysses responded (he always knew what to say): ‘You have it wrong, my lord, rest assured of that. If things went according to my judgment, you would not offer any advice. Everyone now believes that you have spoken in this way because of your wife. There is no one, great or small, who is not dismayed because of Achilles, and it is right that each man should be troubled in this way. For my part, I tell you most assuredly that I would prefer to have him join in the fighting, even if there are some who think I am a fool because of this, than to have a thousand more knights than we do now. Our strength is nothing compared to his; this is obvious and will remain so. The contest will never end any other way. If we have lost him, our enemies will have little fear of us; they show us as much every day. We are indeed worse off because of it. Since we cannot have him with us, we shall of necessity be compelled to do as he wishes. For, by my head, it seems to me that, if we were to continue fighting once we no longer have him with us, we could suffer shame, harm and dishonour as long as we remained here, whether we were fighting or at peace. Nonetheless, it would be well to recommend treating and furthering this affair in such a way that we do not deliver ourselves over to death and destruction. In any case, it is honourable to take the lesser of two evils.’ (19851–88) ‘My lords’, interjected Diomedes, ‘we have taken on a heavy burden, one more daunting and deadly than lord Menelaus thinks when he appeals to those of us here to be slain and abandoned to slaughter. Provided he gets his wife back, he would not care who dies. Let him leave the talking to the rest of these men. He must not recommend something that no one wants to hear about or act upon. As it seems to me, and is apparent, he does not know the Trojans well. “They have neither might nor valour with which to oppose us” – this is what he said – “nor great strength. Since they lost Hector, they no longer have anyone for us to fear.”

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But this much I want him to know: in the whole wide world, which is as huge as it is, there is no knight of any sort who in the thick of the fighting, or in battle, is of greater value than Troilus. He is just as strong as his brother Hector. He is very bold and combative, and endowed with formidable prowess. I do not believe that his worth is in any way beneath that of his slain brother. I have never heard tell of any knight whom I would want to resemble more. I have tried to do so in combat I do not know how many times, but this man is very brave and valiant.’ (19889–918) Ulysses agreed. Both of them would have preferred peace. They strongly opposed Menelaus. Neither great nor small among the Greeks agreed with him. They earnestly advised against combat. The outcome would soon have been different from what Meneleus advised. But then Calcas, the old man from Troy, rose up. To make himself heard, he raised his voice, shouting: ‘My lords, what do you mean? This is a foolish assembly and foolish council to contemplate departing or making peace with the Trojans. That would be to act in opposition to what the gods have forbidden. Know that this would displease them so much that they would cause you to perish at sea.131 There would be no going back to our homelands. It is incumbent on us to do their bidding. This much I shall tell you concerning them: you will vanquish your enemy. Before you see your countries again, the Trojans cannot escape destruction. The gods well know what they foresee: their predictions, their mysteries and their exalted divine councils are tightly closed to human hearts. Nonetheless, you can be absolutely sure that you will win honour from this undertaking. And if the Trojans are now better than you, let this not cause you to dismay. I know this through the divine oracles: the Trojans will be slain, driven away and driven from this realm.’ Thanks to Calcas’s admonition (I find this in what I read), they decided not to discuss peace at that time. Thereupon, the council came to an end. (19919–54) Fourteenth Battle The Greeks maintained the truce with the Trojans for the entire two months. No arrow was shot, nor did any sword strike a blow. The truce was properly held and kept. In the meantime, both sides equipped themselves with what they needed. When the time allotted for the truce came to an end, nothing more remained to be done other than to engage in battle. The night before the hostilities began they burnished their hauberks and attached good steel points and colourful pennants to their heavy lances made of fir. As soon as daylight broke, everyone immediately donned their armour. Their horses were covered with silk from Andros Island and with ornate embroidery and gilded silk. Agamemnon deployed his divisions. He stationed King Ajax and King Telamon in the forefront of the combatants; they were hardly among the worst fighters. Indeed, there were many fine knights in these two front-line divisions. Diomedes and 131

This will in fact be the fate of most of the Greeks in Part Three.


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Menelaus, for their part, had plenty of good vassals, valiant troops who were battle-hardened and splendidly armed. They knew how to use their weapons deftly. When all the Greeks were equipped and ready, they rode out towards the Trojans, who were themselves by no means laggards. The divisions met on the sandy field that was neither uneven nor muddy. Upon encounter, they lowered ten thousand unfurled banners. Shields had to be pierced while lances shattered, knights fell from their saddles and hauberks and tunics were torn, as the sharp shafts made in Gontaud penetrated chests and stomach pits. Chilling news would be coming from there that day. A thousand naked steel blades were drawn, then notched and broken against helmets. Heads were sent flying on both sides. One could hear men howling and screaming with mortal and dolorous voice. All the grass-covered fields were covered with blood and filled with lances and shields. A thousand fallen men lay there, unable to get back up. Their fine chargers ran about bereft of riders, because there was no one to seize or catch them. (19955–20007) Troilus’s Exploits For his part, Troilus was avenging his brothers so effectively that he cut men to pieces and killed them over a wide swathe. Where he saw that the Greeks were strongest, filled with anger and fury, he gave full rein in their direction. Neither throng nor crowd could detain him. He hurled himself in among them and penetrated their ranks, then he laid on and dealt blows all round him. When he reached it, no division was so arrogant that he did not drive it back. He instilled such fear and fright into every Greek that his most deadly enemies abandoned the field to him that day. The Trojans followed them all the way to the tents; they did not stop pursuing them beforehand. In this way Troilus had strong support from more than twenty thousand Trojans armed with bare blades. During that day’s battle the Trojans came out on top. Know (I vouch for the truth of this statement) that they wreaked havoc among their foe. They made the Greeks lose a large number of their men, who lay on the field, dead and covered in blood. And they would have deprived them of even more men if night had not arrived to separate them. Of the two hundred thousand knights, Troilus gained the prize that day (if Dares is not in error). I do not know what more to add. In serried ranks, at an amble and in good order, the Trojans returned to the city. The dead were mourned, but the wounded were well lodged that night. The Trojans eagerly did what they could to alleviate their pain and make them feel much better. Those in the host were downcast, mute and still. Each man was watching out for himself. They were very sorrowful and vexed. That night there was no joy or amusement in the camp. They were often losing while gaining little; there were also many wounded men, moaning and groaning, half of whom would never recover, nor would they ever again handle a shield. Those who could bear arms could offer them no support, beyond the tears tenderly shed for them by their next of kin. That is what happens under such circumstances: it is right that one should laugh it off and lament at the same time. (20008–56)

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Fifteenth Battle Because no truce had been made, sought or requested by either side, the fifteenth battle took place before the week ended. The disarray there was extraordinary and enormous numbers of counts and kings died, as well as admirals and highly esteemed dukes. The Trojans took vengeance very effectively. They fought valiantly, selling dearly the success the Greeks thought they would achieve. The Greeks left two thousand men who, no longer wailing, now lay pale and cold on the ground. Know that they were very distraught. Diomedes was wounded by the full force of a heavy, well-handled lance thrust through his body, such that its silken pennant remained lodged between his sides. He was presumed dead when they bore him off the battlefield. (20057–76) Troilus Badmouths Briseida Troilus did this to Diomedes in a joust, in the sight of more than a thousand knights. Then he addressed him reproachfully: ‘Now go and spend time with that woman, the daughter of old Calcas. She, it is said, does not hate you at all. For love of her I would have treated you well, if I had thought of it soon enough. Nonetheless, her short-lived fidelity has set this up for you, as did her treachery, her injustice and her betrayal of me. Her guilt has also hampered you, as well as the fact that she has been false to me in love. Through you I let her know that there are now two of us of one kind. If you have been where I was, plenty more men will be welcome in that place before the siege has come to an end. You will have to be extremely vigilant. Although you possess her now, without having to share her, she has not yet stopped, given the fact that the act now pleases her. For, if it happens to please her a little, the other transient guests will have an easy time of it. This makes sense if she considers the source of her livelihood.’132 These gibes were heard clearly; neither the Trojans nor the Greeks forgot them. There was not a day during the entire month on which they were not repeated in a hundred different places. Where Diomedes lay wounded there was much wailing and howling. Never has any mother’s son seen so many men weeping or striving harder to avenge him. Ten thousand lances broke with a crack in felling many a knight, and just as many naked swords struck helmets. The vengeance was paid for, as many bodies were separated from their souls. (20077–118) Troilus Wounds Agamemnon Because of the huge throng of men he observed, Agamemnon (so I find it in my reading) believed that Diomedes was dead. With all the strength he could muster he charged the Trojans. You can know for certain that, as soon as he reached Troilus seems to believe that Briseida is prostituting herself, and the ‘transient guests’ would be her clients. Robert Henryson will follow up on this surmise in his late-medieval Scottish poem The Testament of Cresseid, in which Cresseid ends her life as a prostitute. 132


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them, dreadful fighting ensued. With his own hands Agamemnon fought remarkably well. Not even twenty Trojans out of a hundred survived intact; he killed or wounded all of them. But he paid dearly for these men, for Troilus went to challenge him. Between the two lines of battle he attacked Agamemnon so ferociously with his fine sword of burnished steel that he sliced off a quarter of the Greek’s helmet, seriously wounding him in the head. As a result, all those in the host were filled with grief. The wound was in a critical spot. Agamemnon, fearing he would die, was greatly dismayed. If Troilus had struck him just right, recovery would have been out of the question, but the blow glanced to the side. Even so the skull bone was visible and this cut was indeed frightening. After Agamemnon had been wounded, the Greeks had the worst of it. They did not hold out any longer that day. Troilus had slain huge numbers of them. I cannot find out for how long or for how many days this battle lasted. However, according to Dares, who was present through it all, both sides lost thousands of men. But the losses were significantly higher among the Greeks (that much I can report to you). For every fallen Trojan the Greeks lost three men; they could no longer sustain the fighting. (20119–56) Truce Observing this slaughter, Agamemnon saw that most of his men had been slain and that the losses, which they were unable to prevent, were turning against them; he also noted that they could not hold the field or provide more repose for the combatants. By sheer necessity, on account of the dysentery133 that was endemic among the Greeks, they requested a truce for half a year. He sent messengers who were wise, courtly and knowledgeable. They communicated the request properly. Priam, a very worthy and wise man, took counsel with his intimates, his barons and his sons. All of them told him with one voice to reject emphatically such a prolonged truce with the Greeks. Rather, with their approval and wishes, they would go on fighting them until the Greeks had the worst of it, and until all of them had lost their lives and all their ships had been burned, thus leaving no means of escape whereby they could return to their lands and avoid being killed or captured. They had asked for too much time. Know that there was much contentious debate on this matter, but (I do not know with whose help) the truce was nevertheless granted. This time it did last six months without being compromised or broken. When they finished burning and burying their corpses, they enjoyed ample time to rest and restock their provisions and for the Trojans to receive reinforcements. (20157–92)

133 We follow Constans and translate the term feire in v. 20163 as ‘dysentery’, but it could also refer to typhus. Tobler-Lommatzsch, III, col. 1988, translates as ‘Durchfall’ (‘diarrhoea’).

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Briseida Grants her Love to Diomedes Both Diomedes and Menelaus had grave and mortal134 wounds, which provoked great fear and anxiety in King Agamemnon. They had good physicians who were to their liking, yet they lay in bed for a long time. They had assistance and such help that, before the truce ended, they had healed and recovered. When Diomedes was wounded and Calcas’s daughter learnt of it, she consoled herself as best she could. However, she was not able to hide her feelings well enough to conceal her weeping, tears and sighs. It was evident that she loved him from the heart more than any other living person. Until that day, she had never revealed much love for him, but from that time onwards she could hide it no longer. She felt great sorrow and profound grief. In spite of gossip, she did not fail to go and see Diomedes in his tent. Henceforth, all her attention was devoted to him. From then on, she was in love with him. She clung to him, fearing deeply that she might lose him because his wound was very dangerous. The Greek host was in great dismay on account of it and her tears flowed from her eyes for him. She was not prevented from going to see him frequently because of old Calcas, nor did she fear any reproaches or threats, or any prohibition. From that time on, everyone could see that she had bestowed her love entirely on Diomedes, together with her heart and her thoughts. She was well aware that she was behaving wrongly and ignominiously. She had turned her love away from Troilus, a serious wrong and betrayal on her part. It seemed to her that she had wronged him very much and caused great harm to a man so fair, so noble and so worthy, who had vanquished all the Greeks in combat. (20193–236) Speaking to herself, she expressed what she was thinking: ‘Nothing good will ever be written, nor will any fair song be sung, about me. I would have preferred not to have such a twist of fortune or such a gift. I have acted badly and foolishly, perhaps, when I betrayed my beloved Troilus, for he never deserved such treatment from me. I have not behaved as I should have. My heart should have been so firmly attached to Troilus and so secure in him that I would have heeded no other man. I have been false, inconstant and foolish by listening to that kind of talk from Diomedes. Anyone who wishes to be on one’s guard must never listen to such words. They deceive the wise and the cleverest of men. From now on, those who have little affection for me will have a great deal to say about me, including the ladies in Troy, who will be chattering profusely about me. I have shamed in a vile manner the damsels and noble maidens. Henceforth, my treachery and misdeeds will be told to them. This should weigh heavily on me, and indeed it does. My heart is far too changeable and deceptive. I had the best lover to whom any maiden ever gave her love. Those whom he loved I should love while hating and avoiding those who seek to harm him. This shows just how wise I was when, contrary to reason and justice, I granted my sincere love to the man he hated most.135 Because of this I shall suffer scorn forever. And what good 134 135

As it turns out, these are potentially mortal wounds. This appears to be an ironic condemnation of her ‘wisdom’.


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does it do me to repent for what I have done? In this affair no recovery is possible. (20237–76) ‘I shall therefore be faithful to this Greek, who is indeed a fine and worthy vassal. I can never return to Troy nor escape from this man. I have already given so much of my heart to Diomedes; because of him I have acted as I did. This would not have happened in this way if I were still in Troy. My heart would never have believed that it would vacillate or change. But here among the Greeks I had no counsel, no friend or confidant. I also needed a prospect that would have lifted me from distress and dejection. I could have dwelt on my misfortune at that time, lamented and become disheartened and continued in that way until I died. I would still have received no consolation from the Trojans I left behind. I would have died some time ago, I believe, if I had not taken pity on myself. Apart from the fact that I have acted foolishly, I have the best role to play in this dilemma.136 Now I shall find joy and happiness at a time when my heart would otherwise have known great sadness. People may condemn what I do who would have been in no hurry to console me. One need not go on living in grief and torment for the sake of others. If everyone in the world is in high spirits while my heart remains sad and vexed, this offers me nothing worthwhile. But my heart suffers profoundly and is bleeding because I am living in such uncertainty, for if one loves in a place from which the heart is trying to escape, being in a troubled, anxious and regretful state, the dilemma cannot be valid. I am often at peace and often vexed; often it pleases me and satisfies my desires and just as often I am in tears because of it. This is how things stand now; that is all I know about my lot. May God bless Troilus! Since I cannot have him nor he me, I give and grant myself to the one I do have. I would like to feel that I no longer remember my past actions; this truly distresses me profoundly. My conscience chides me and causes my heart much torment. But I am obliged from now on to devote my whole heart and mind, whether I want to or not, to how Diomedes may hope for my love; in that way he may become happy and joyful, and I become so with him, given how matters stand. Now I feel my heart bold enough and ready to do his pleasure. He will no longer find me disdainful. I have led him on with words for so long that I shall now do his bidding, in order to please him and grant him what he desires. May God grant me joy and contentment!’ (20277–340) Sixteenth Battle During the space of six months the Greeks held numerous meetings, discussions and deliberations in order to decide how they would bring their enterprise to a conclusion. The loss of Achilles was a very serious obstacle to their goal. He was the one who bore the brunt and who sustained the great battles and made great

136 We have here another example of a jeu parti (vv. 20298, 20313). Did she act foolishly or do the right thing?

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efforts. Chance occurrences were his lot.137 He sustained ferocious and harsh battles, whether on horseback or on foot. Since he had stopped bearing arms, and helping and assisting the Greeks, they had endured great losses while gaining little in return. Following the judgment and decision expressed individually by each of them, they sent Agamemnon to Achilles, knowing him to be his close friend. He took Nestor with him, a man who had profound knowledge of their rites and customs. Both spoke to Achilles alone in his pavilion. They explained the situation precisely, but that did not please him, nor did he find it acceptable. They pleaded earnestly with him, beseeching his help in this time of dire need. They missed him very much and were longing for him to fight again. They wanted and were eager for his assistance, and they begged him to accept. They called on him in many ways and, using many diverse arguments, asked him to act. But they failed to move him to take up arms willingly. (20341–74) ‘It would be useless for you to speak like this,’ he said. ‘Know that you will never receive a different response from me. Make peace. Then you would be acting wisely, for the harm that is being done is too awful, and it will be all the greater and more violent before you see a full month go by. Now Palamedes is dead for this cause, along with thirty noble kings, which is both an outrage and a source of great sorrow because of which the world will be in decline. Never, as long as the world lasts, will our losses be recovered. And know full well that I do not refrain from fighting out of fear and cowardice, but because such shameful, outrageous conduct has never before occurred, nor such wrong and such arrogance. I shall not help you any more than I am doing now. Do not count on me. I shall not go back on my decision, that is, on the vow that I made and swore. But we have shared affection for one another for such a long time that I cannot on the spur of the moment cut myself off completely from you. In order to sustain the great wrong, which I shall see you come to repent of deeply, I shall deliver my knights to you. I do not do so willingly, but I love you so much that I do not know how I can totally reject your appeal. Against my heart and in spite of myself, take my Myrmidons with you. In my absence you can lead them into battle; in that way you can boast far and wide that there is today no other man alive for whom I would do this or to whom I would entrust them.’ Agamemnon thanked him, as did King Nestor: because of this both men were happy and joyful. With that they took leave of him. (20375–414) Achilles’s Myrmidons Join the Fray The truce held, lasting until the fixed term and the day came that both sides had agreed upon. When the morning shone bright, all of them had armed themselves, composed and arrayed their divisions and made them ready to fight, attack and carry on the great combat. Achilles prepared his own division. He had them arm themselves in front of him while he arrayed and outfitted them nicely. He had all 137 The word for ‘chance’ here is aventure, that is to say, something that happens only to exceptional people such as Helen, Achilles and Briseida. See Introduction, p. 30.


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of them bedecked with costly bright-red material. Then he addressed them: ‘My lord knights, your company will lack a leader and commander. Take care not to fail on that account. When you are in the mêlée, you will recognize each other138 and therefore stay together. I do regret, in good faith, that you go into combat without me.’ His eyes moistened with compassion as his men took leave of him. They felt such great, inexpressible joy because their lord had done them a great service by giving them leave to fight. Because they had not borne arms they had felt as if they were dead and betrayed. Today there would be such favours heaped upon them that blood would pour from their sides.139 At a slow pace, tightly drawn up, with their green burnished helmets attached and seated on fine Arabian chargers, the Myrmidons entered the great battle that had begun on the stony ground. (20415–50) A thousand jousts had already taken place, a thousand lances had been broken on shields and a thousand unfurled pennants had bathed in the blood of knights; a thousand shining hauberks were battered and a thousand helmets shattered, as brains spurted out from beneath them. More than two thousand saddle bows were empty of their lords, who were lying face down in the fray, cold and unconscious, pale and livid. The man who kept knocking them down on their backs stood firm in their midst. This was Troilus, the good vassal; he was striking with telling effect with his lance and even better with his sword. The Greeks greatly feared his strength. He reached very few whom he failed to cut in two and leave lying stretched out on the ground. He jousted with the duke of Athens, whom he sent tumbling down to the ground; as a result he kept the duke’s charger, a steed worth a hundred pounds of pure gold. The tall and valiant Philemenis won great praise for his feats of arms that day, and so did Polidamas. They had captured King Thoas by the time Achilles’s men entered the fray. The man holding on to the king was forced to let him go because the Myrmidons were fresh and eager, bold, valiant and in fighting spirit. They plunged into the midst of the Trojans, quickly slaying so many of them that it was nothing short of a wonder. Their banners were completely stained with bright-red Trojan blood; they accomplished a lot. If the Persians had not fired their arrows, piercing their foe’s sides with sharp, feathered shafts, the Trojans would have paid dearly for the time they had spent in idleness during the truce. That day the Greeks would have stripped them of a thousand men. But the Persians did the Greeks great harm, wounding them in many places. (20451–92) Troilus was hotly engaged in combat with Nestor. While in the midst of the enemy, he had exposed himself too much. His horse was killed beneath him, and before he could get any help he had received a thousand blows from lances and naked swords. Paris, together with his younger brothers, the Bastards and royal sons, faithfully assisted Troilus, who would have been slain or captured there if help had been any slower in coming. But this I can tell you for certain: these reinforcements rescued him so efficiently that a hundred of the Greeks who were 138 139

This is because of the bright-red material they are wearing. According to Constans, this is an ironic statement (V, pp. 126–7, s.v. charmes).

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holding on to him could no longer hear or see anything. They forced the Greeks to release Troilus, but were very unfortunate in that Hermagoras, who was one of the Bastards and Paris’s brother, was killed. This greatly angered Troilus, who asserted that he would not tolerate it any longer. The Greeks would be forced to quit the field, for there was no way they could hold out any longer. Troilus had two olifants sounded. Where the combat was heaviest and the Myrmidons were found, he went straightaway to strike the Greeks. Tough and ferocious combat arose, for the Myrmidons were knights without equal in the entire Greek army. Philemenis came to the attack with all his Paphlagonians. Paris was also present with all his men, the Bastards and Polidamas. Many a shield was broken and ruined there. They began a contest in which seven hundred of them remained in dire straits. There was not a single man on horseback whose guts were not visible. Know that Achilles’s men had an extraordinary load to bear there. They stood together in a group, making a wall and fortress of themselves so that it was not easy to separate or break through them. They fought very well, but Troilus, who pressed hard on them, hurt them and frequently wounded them seriously, nearly putting them to flight. They were not so tightly arrayed, nor in such close formation, that he failed to cleave their flesh and bones. (20493–544) Agamemnon came to their assistance, together with King Menelaus, King Telamon, the duke of Athens and Ulysses, as well as Diomedes with his own men. They arrived at full tilt and fresh. Jousting there was not possible. The hearts of the boldest and wisest fighters changed. Cowards trembled as arrows and shafts flew, as well as pieces of heavy lances that had been shattered. Here banners and pennants embroidered with gold were trailing in the dust while they drew naked swords, and helmets lost the circles holding them together and shining hauberks were drenched with blood. Knights were being dragged along the ground; roads grew damp from blood flowing from bodies. Many lay pale on their backs. This was a deadly encounter; never had one more dreadful been fought. There was moaning, wailing and howling. Here the Greeks were driven from the field, although to do this was no easy task. So many lay dead in the dust that the fields were completely covered with them. The Book says clearly that the Greeks did not know that day how to respond to Troilus’s mighty effort. Thanks to the gigantic strength of his arms, they were destroyed, vanquished and exhausted. The Myrmidons there lost a hundred worthy and courtly knights. If Ajax Telamon had not been present, some of them would not have escaped in the way they did. The Trojans would have seized a hundred of the best pavilions they found there. But I find in my reading that Ajax Telamon regained the advantage for the Greeks. He suffered and endured so much that it was widely reported thereafter that evening that he should receive the prize for the day; indeed, this was generally acknowledged. By his assistance and his extraordinary effort he very successfully prevented his troops from suffering enormous losses that day. He refused to stop fighting until late into the afternoon when the troops were leaving the field. (20545–94) Happy and in good spirits as victors, the Trojans began to return to the city. From this sixteenth battle Troilus had taken a hundred noble knights prisoner and


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with them a hundred fine horses. These men had landed at a wretched harbour;140 it would have been better for them to have been killed. On learning of the extraordinary devastation that Troilus had wrought on his mortal enemies that day, King Priam was overjoyed. It seemed and appeared to him that all the Greeks were doomed to dreadful torment if Troilus went on living for a long time. He cherished and honoured him highly. All the common people adored him. They offered sacrifices and prayers to the gods who held the whole world in their hands, asking them to keep him from death and imprisonment. Troilus’s mother and lovely sisters, along with two hundred daughters of contors, disarmed him that evening in the Alabaster Hall, in which were found neither gladioli nor wild mint. His body was blue, livid and black. The hard mail of his hauberk had left its mark on him in two hundred places, with blood flowing from many of them. The kind of war they were fighting was visible on his body, which had been completely punctured by sharp steel shafts, and his entire face was puffed up and swollen. They threw a cloak of costly grey fur over his shoulders. ‘My son’, his mother said, ‘the Greeks are making us pay dearly for our country. They have gained and taken possession of it in such a way that it leaves me heartbroken. I have to die, but I do not know when. It is a shame for me to go on living and resisting death. I have lost too much to survive this. No woman will ever lose as much as I have lost, and I would have died were it not for you. Now all my hopes lie with you. You sustain me and keep me alive, although my heart is not at peace; it fears for you and is uncertain because of you. Son, my life is entirely in your hands. If I lose you, I assure you that I shall not go on living for any reason whatsoever. This fear alone, which I breathe in, grips the heart in my breast a thousand times, so that I neither feel it beat nor do I breathe. As I need and require it, may those who dwell on high keep you safe and secure, which they have the ability to do, and as I ask and wish them to do.’ Then the tears flowed from her eyes. She put her arms around his neck and tightened the embrace while kissing his eyes, mouth and face over a hundred times. (20595–659) Alas! How distraught her heart would be before long! Where will she find the abundant tears she will have to shed? Troilus knew how to comfort her gently and with fine words. Afterwards, he complained bitterly about his beloved Briseida, she who abandoned him and now loved his enemy. He claimed that women are treacherous and maidens mendacious, asserting that it is wrong to trust them, for there are precious few among them who love faithfully and without deceit or betrayal. ‘Whoever enjoys them, I am not one of them, for the daughter of Calcas has betrayed me.’ Briseida was now hearing much talk about her. The Trojan maidens were making great mockery of her. They hated her passionately and wished great misfortune on her. They no longer loved her as much as they once did. She had brought shame on them all. For this reason her inconstancy would henceforth be held against her. Otherwise, that night the Trojans were in high spirits; things were going rather well for them. They had ruthlessly battered the 140

This is a metaphorical reference to their capture.

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Greeks, who became greatly distressed because of that. Know that they would be delighted to make the Trojans pay dearly for it, if they could. There was great vexation and distress among them and they admitted that everything was going against them. (20660–90) Achilles Tormented by Love When Achilles saw his Myrmidons lying dead, harmed and reduced to a sorry state, there was no need to wonder whether that upset him. Not one in a hundred of them returned. All the others lay dead and mutilated on the battlefield, while most of the living were wounded and their bodies smeared with blood. Then, however slow it had been in coming, he made his sorrow quite evident. But, know this: he was still more distraught that night. Both Love and Vengeance had lectured him sternly. Love addressed him first: ‘What do you intend to do? What is your goal? To possess your beloved Polixena? The way you are conducting yourself does not at all conform to how my subjects serve me, or those who love me. You have shown and made evident that you want to take leave of me. But you have precious little knowledge of my mysteries. I made you desire to become a servant of Priam’s lovely daughter, she whose beauty is resplendent and a mirror for other ladies. Yet you have infringed on my custom! You should not have sent your Myrmidons into the fray. She who is whiter than snow has complained bitterly to me about that. This action of yours will cost you dearly. She will do what is right, just as it pleases her. You will have to do harsh penance for your decision and it will be heavy to bear. I believe that you will have to die for the sake of her shape and appearance. You should not seek to serve me in any other way than with gentle answers and fine words, and with an attitude that is ever prepared to do what I command [...141]. See to it that you are generous, open and gracious to everyone and that you honour those who serve me above all others. (20691–734) ‘Those are the kind of men who follow me. I have granted them my kind of joy. After a period of great suffering they know what delight I offer. But you are not even close to feeling me or what belongs to me. I am not opposed by anyone who humbly beseeches love, leaving everything and abandoning everything in order to do as I wish. Remember what you are aiming at! Is it not true that your beloved is in Troy? Did you not slay her brother? You have wronged and hurt her. Did you not come to an agreement with the noble queen that you would never make war on the Trojans, or try to inflict harm on them? Have you not forsaken your pact and broken your word by sending your troops out to do them harm? It seems to me that your Myrmidons defended themselves very well, given that not two out of a hundred have come back. Do you realize what you have accomplished? You have harmed yourself in three ways. You are losing your men and it seems to me that you gain neither honour nor renown for that when, alone and without you, they go out to fight and do battle. You are forfeiting your fame and 141 Constans indicates that there may be a lacuna here. See also Baumgartner, Troie, p. 652 (note to vv. 20724–34).


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your valour, and at the same time losing your beloved and your love. You will have neither of them and perish as a result. You will never receive her help and you will not escape with only those losses I have mentioned. I want Polixena to realize her desire to slay and torment you, and to deprive you of drink and food, sleep, rest and relief, leaving you bereft of hope and anything to look forward to. Henceforth, I shall make her ready and help her to hold you in her snare.’ (20735–74) That is how Love addressed Achilles, torturing and tormenting him until daybreak. He remained in sorrow, with tears and weeping, because of the love that caused him so much distress. He was very distraught and lamented at length, with much sighing and much travail. He did not hold the best hand, for in this debate the choice was not his. ‘I am deceiving myself,’ he said. ‘No one is causing me harm except myself. My heart is very cruel and mean in the way it destroys and deceives me. It knows and recognizes my woes, but it does not distance itself from me, rather it draws me towards those woes. Ah! fair maiden, I am going through such trials. Because of you I have been left behind, stripped of all joy. Except for you, nothing else matters to me. This is causing me to despair, because I cannot speak to you, gaze upon your face or tell you of my intense suffering. Ah! sweet, pure and fresh flower, beautiful beyond all other women and angelic in comparison with them, how I am dying for your sake, without any help or assistance. Creature of divine nature, queen above all other beauties, to you my spirit goes out, but, alas, it will never be welcome there because Love is against me; this I know and recognize. He does not support my cause. Polixena, I offer myself to you. If the gods do not do something about this, I shall do what is forbidden.142 I do not know what more to say. I am dying.’ (20775–812) Seventeenth Battle Followed by a Brief Truce Like many other lovers, Achilles spent many days ensnared, until the time came when the Greeks and the Trojans, before much time had passed, reassembled for the battle in which, inevitably, far too many died. This was the seventeenth encounter and it lasted more than a week. All the noble princes and all the kings on Agamemnon’s side were ready (I know this to be true) with all the troops each of them could muster. Nor did the joyous and delighted Trojans hold back in any way; rather both sides attacked with a deadly resolve that was all too visible. Both sides suffered such devastation that the most valiant and seasoned combatants on the battlefield became extremely alarmed. But I tell you and know well that Troilus performed wonders there and that in his wake he left the grass brightred with blood. Never did the presence of a knight, from first to last, inspire more fear or dread than he did. He severely wounded, battered and reduced the numbers of the troops belonging to the one man who would not be pleased by it. That man was Achilles, who became furious as a result. He frequently felt like 142

This seems to be an allusion to the act of suicide.

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going to help and avenge his men, but, for the life of him, he could not make up his mind, for Love forbade it and prevented him from acting. For this reason he suffered mortal torment. But Prowess urged him to action so that, from time to time, he lost his senses and became so enraged and so furious that he had no recollection of Love. He wanted to go out to fight, but then Love quickly overwhelmed him once more so that he did not dare set foot on the battlefield. Love silenced Prowess’s appeal, along with reason, boldness and valour. His heart was badly torn. He no longer had any control over himself, because Love had caught him, a prisoner, in his snare, thereby preventing him from helping his men whom he saw being killed and mutilated. That was what the valiant son of Priam was doing, vanquishing everything before him in combat, routing and pursuing the Greeks, who were unable to stand firm against him. After the battle had lasted for eight of the longest days of summer, and Agamemnon had seen the slaughter, as well as the wounds and violence being inflicted on his men – the Greeks had lost more men than the Trojans – his heart became heavy with grief. He asked for and sought a truce, but it was granted for a very brief duration, that is, the length of time necessary to bury the dead and clear the field. This they did. They buried their dead according to the rites they were obliged to follow, until no corpses remained for burial, or any field or area remained to be cleared. (20813–78) Eighteenth Battle Then the cruel, grievous and mortal enterprise began anew, during which a thousand knights died in just the first four days. On the day they came together there was gigantic combat. The flower of the Trojan army was there, as well as their noblest and best men, all of whom were bold and in high spirits. It seems to me that the Trojans now had little fear of their enemy. They devastated and routed them seven or ten times in succession. They rode their Arabian steeds, with their helmets made in Pavia laced on. They were divided up and deployed in ten large, fierce and fully manned divisions that provoked great fear. The burnished steel of their armour shone bright in the sun, along with the varnish and Spanish gold on their shields. The Greeks came back through the plain in twenty fierce and redoubtable divisions; the smallest of them comprised two thousand armed men. Their horses were not inferior, but rather fast, strong and swift steeds. They wore shining hauberks that were solid and tightly mailed and carried strong shields with golden buckles. Their helmets of pure red gold were resplendent in the sun. Their blades made in Germany were sharp. It does not seem to me that the fighting would stop until a thousand knights had fallen down dead from their charger. (20879–910) Mêlée The companies drew near to one another and attacked furiously. Charging from both sides, ten thousand lances broke there, while many a fine shield was pierced and many a shining hauberk lost its mail. Many green and bright-red pennants


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with gold embroidery were bloodied. Many men were lying on the ground and all the roads, pathways, tracks and grassy fields were piled high with bodies. The knights, filled with anger, were strong and ferocious and quite able to defend themselves. That is why there were such heavy blows to helmets with steel blades so that thousands lay unconscious on the ground, their guts oozing out of their bodies and their brains visible through their wounds. These men could not stand up because their whole bodies were mutilated. The large companies reached the fighting, after which the battle became so widespread with such heavy fighting and combat, immediately involving swords, that it was and always will be a great wonder how any knight emerged from it with his life. Menelaus jousted with Paris so that both fell from their mounts. Polidamas fought with Ulysses. This was no ceremonial engagement. An unusual kind of combat was in play there. Many a fine sword drawn there was notched and smeared with bright-red blood. Many engagements took place there unfalteringly. This would be evident before evening; the fighting could not end before then. (20911–46) The renowned duke Menesteus came dashing through the ranks, grasping his shield by its straps. He made a rush at Antenor and did not fail to strike him a blow that made him fall from his saddle. At the very least Antenor lost his charger, and many a knight there was struck while trying to remount him. Philemenis from overseas, strong, courageous and tall – bigger in fact than a giant – jousted with Agamemnon; if it had not been for King Telamon, he would have slain him instantly. Philemenis was slaughtering Greeks, not one of whom could withstand his blows any more than could their hauberks, helmets or shields. He cut them to pieces, mowing down Greeks as the scythe slices through thick foliage. King Telamon caught him off guard, thrusting a bright-red and yellow banner very close to his opponent’s body. Philemenis did not escape from him before Telamon had dealt him such an unusually hefty blow that the Trojan fell from his saddle. Fortunately, there were so many of his valiant companions nearby who soon put him back on his steed. However, Philemenis had been unable to protect himself well enough to prevent evidence of the contest from appearing in thirteen places on his body. He took a hundred blows, the likes of which another man would not have survived. (20947–80) Antilogus was Nestor’s son. He had a dark complexion and his hair was golden red. He stood straight and tall, a large and handsome man who was a worthy and valiant knight. He was quite young, but had excellent skills as a knight. He was going to assist his father when one of the Bastards, named Brun the Twin, sprang up in his way; he was a bold and handsome knight. The men met in the midst of the ranks and knocked one another down from their steeds. Antilogus survived his fall, sustaining no loss on this occasion; but he dealt Brun the Twin a blow that went straight through his chest, leaving him dead on the spot. Ten thousand Greeks were jousting there and twice as many Trojans. In a short time and very quickly bodies lay about in heaps, a thousand of them writhing in death throes, but not from some other pain. Very brutal fighting was going on there when the valiant Troilus came up. After that no Greek held his ground. Troilus heard what had happened to his brother Brun, and because of this his cheeks grew wet

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with warm tears. He grieved mightily, but with the naked blade he had drawn he avenged his brother. He was both angry and aggrieved with the result that he cleaved many a Greek down to the crotch; no knight had ever done so much. After that, no single Greek would have held out, if it were not for Achilles’s men, of whom there were more than two thousand. Armed and seated on their chargers, they joined the fray. I do not know what more to tell you. They received their foe with sharp steel lances. So many saddles were emptied there of their lords, whose lives came to a swift end. (20981–1024) There too the Myrmidons were fighting well with their sharp blades made in Vienne. Know that they made the Trojans pay very dearly for their arrival. If the Greeks had held firm enough in that place so as to recover what they had lost in their retreat, the Trojans would have suffered very heavy losses. But the Greeks did not recover any lost ground; rather, they made straight for their own tents. I know that they took too long in doing so, and almost none of them escaped from the fighting. Their anguish was so intense that no knight made any attempt to help then. No wonder they lost there, for their troops did not recover at all. The man who threatened them with death ‒ that is Troilus, who was busy dispatching them ‒ drove them back after the others in painful pursuit. Many Greeks fell there, mortally wounded. The outcry and the din grew louder; thereafter, no one pulled on his reins. The Trojans drove them in among the tents, killing, wounding and capturing so many of the Greeks that no one could say how many they were. Because of the din and the slaughter, and because of the great discomfiture that extended as far as Achilles’s tent, some ten thousand men passed before it who showed no sign of being able to defend themselves. They made a great deal of noise at his pavilion, often yelling ‘Achilles, your enemies are already so close by that, if you want to wait for them here, you will shortly see a good thousand of them dismount, not one of whom would fail to strike you, thereby adding to our shame and scandal. Today you have lost your men; they have been hacked to pieces, and are lying dead and covered with blood. You have failed us in our hour of need. Yet those who have no peace or truce with you will thank you for it.’ (21025–67) Achilles Joins the Fray What Achilles heard and saw displeased him greatly and caused him much grief. He was in such anguish and so distraught that he lost his mind and could not remember who he was. Quickly and without delay he threw on his hauberk; his fervour overwhelmed him. His men placed his helmet on him. I do not know what more I can tell you, except that after seizing his colourfully painted shield he mounted his valuable steed. A young man put in his hand a heavy lance with silk pennant and he then had two trumpets sounded. So enraged was Achilles that he forgot both his beloved and his love. They did not seem to matter to him at all now. Henceforth, let the Trojans beware! Henceforth, I fear they will not hold the advantage in this contest. He acted just like the famished wolf among lambs, suffering from such a lack of food that it can no longer endure, and unconcerned


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about who might see it when it wants to seize its prey; just so, Achilles no longer cared who might see him. Cruel, maddened and aflame with anger, he darted in among his foes. He dealt with them just as a wolf does with lambs; in no time he bloodied more than two hundred Trojan heads. Like the all-devouring wolf, Achilles thrust himself into the thickest press, striking with sword and lance. He received many blows himself, but what good did they do? They meant nothing to him, nor did they bother him. He separated and broke apart the dense throngs of men, frequently soaking his steel blade in their brains and entrails. He threw all the divisions into confusion. His shield created fear among the Trojans as soon as it was recognized, and all those among his men who saw him were reinvigorated. Because of him they all returned to the battlefield and, thanks to him, all the Greeks recovered their ardour. The Trojans fell back, and the outcry against them rose louder, as many were knocked down dead on the spot. (21068–118) Thanks to their lord, the Myrmidons had now recovered in the battle and they were fresh again. They made the Trojans pay dearly for their anger and their losses; the ground was covered with the dead. In no time, they quickly and rapidly inflicted great harm on the Trojans who were driven further back into the open fields while suffering heavy losses. Achilles made them pay very dearly for his absence. Thousands of them had already paid the supreme price, and they would go on paying it. However, Troilus could not accept or endure this reversal any longer. Raging with anger, he seized a bright spear that was cutting and sharp, and, holding his shield by its straps, he galloped swiftly into the lines of combat. Against the valiant Bastards – that is Priam’s sons, who were noble knights – the devilish Achilles did battle. He would immediately have confronted them with a bad throw of the dice, but Troilus came galloping up to him. Achilles recognized him clearly. They did not come close to one another, being some distance apart.143 The ground was hard, level and even, and their horses strong and swift. The knights were battle-hardened men who hated one another mortally. Filled with anger, they went to engage one another and their warhorses bore them quickly into the fray. They took aim with the blades of their lances, striking each other through their shields so powerfully that their lances shattered. They pressed their opponents’ arms back against their bodies and crashed into one another with their shields so violently that their temples felt the pain. Neither of them was so resistant to this clash that his helmet escaped being covered with dirt. Both men fell on to the grass and their horses fell on top of them. They would have been quite equal in this duel, but Achilles was gravely wounded in his arm and his fingers because of his hauberk, which had been damaged. As a result he suffered unbearable pain. He was so severely wounded that neither that day nor the next did he strike any knight or foot soldier. The Bastards had seized him and help would have been slow in coming that day, if it had not been for the Myrmidons. But with their blades made in Vienne these men broke up the throng around him. The term ‘versaine’ in v. 21143 refers literally to the distance covered by a labourer before returning home, or , more generally, to a piece of fallow ground. For further examples, see Tobler-Lommatzsch, XI, cols 315–16. 143

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Troilus did not leave Achilles’s good horse behind; rather he led it away. For the rest of the week Achilles would not be seen in combat; now he needed repose once again. One could very easily see why. He was so gravely wounded through his coat of mail that he withdrew from the combat with his men. Because of him the fighting came to an end, and nothing more was done at that time. Great numbers of knights had died there. Dares reports that they fought on through all the remaining six days, and it can be confidently said that Troilus won the prize for it. (21119–89) However, when King Priam heard that Achilles was fighting against them, he became deeply upset, and quite rightly so. There was no good news for him in that. He swore and vowed that Achilles would never have his daughter, whether that was good or bad, right or wrong. He had harsh words for Queen Hecuba. ‘My lady’, he said, ‘you were hardly sensible when you gave credence to what that scoundrel said, that damned renegade who has done so much harm to us today. He kept neither peace nor truce with us, nor did he keep his promise to take Polixena as his wife. Now you can know and perceive that he intended to deceive us by his proposal. If I had believed what you said, I would have been very cruelly put to shame and forever have rued the day I heeded your advice.’ ‘My lord’, she answered, ‘that is how matters stand now. But I would still have dearly wanted him to show us that he was trustworthy. This was certainly apparent when he stayed away from the great conflict. His promise saved more than a thousand Trojan heads. The Greeks paid dearly for that. During some seven or ten battles they have had the worst of it, so much so, in fact, that they almost took flight. Now he has adopted a different view of the situation. This upsets me, as I dread and deeply fear that awful devastation may be our lot now. May God preserve us from this. I cannot think of anything more to say, because that prayer corresponds to what my heart desires.’ Polixena learnt this news. Know that it did not please her. Her mother had had many conversations with her, with much reflection, deliberation and confidential advice. It pleased her a great deal and was to her liking that Achilles was to take her as his wife. She had heard from the messenger that he was highly distressed because of her, and she was well aware that he was not taking part in the great combats. He thought he could thereby get the host to set off on their way back to their own lands. He had tried to bring this about for a long time. Now that he had changed his mind, it weighed heavily on her, as it should have done. (21190–241) Nineteenth Battle Now you can hear about the nineteenth battle, including the sorrow and great suffering that befell the Trojans. Achilles was filled with grief, anguish and vexation. He saw the extent to which he had been deceived. Out of love for Priam’s daughter he had ceased bearing arms. He had endured mortal grief, without any relief by day or by night and without deriving any benefit from his failure to fight. Given that he would never have any benefit from it, as he well knew, henceforth he expected nothing more from his love. And yet, he felt such deep sorrow that


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he found no respite, joy or benefit from his inaction. He was more distraught because of this than for any other reason. Whenever he brought it to mind, he became lost in thought. But now that he had returned to his foolish love, he did not know how to extricate himself from it. His wound was causing him suffering and pain. He thought that if he could be healed and were he to encounter Troilus in combat he would make him pay dearly for his wounds. He had to get him within his grasp. Rightly or wrongly, Troilus could be sure of death. Achilles’s heart welled up in anger against him. For this reason his feelings would be clearly visible to his foe. This encounter would be a great misfortune, it is true, but it was bound to happen in the way it did. (21242–72) Mêlée The time set for the fateful day arrived promptly. Those in the city armed themselves, and more than sixty thousand men issued forth, all of whom had a swift steed that was strong, agile and impetuous. All of them bore a shield and had donned a coat-of-mail, a helmet and a sword from Saxony, Lorraine or Germany. On their lances could be seen many a pennant and flag with gold trimmings. All the Trojans came out rapidly; out beyond the outer lists on the stony plains they arrayed their knights. The Greeks approached them, ready for battle, angry and ruthless. Achilles deployed his knights in strong, fully manned companies and told them what he wanted them to do. ‘This much’, he said, ‘I can tell you: do not join in the fighting until the Trojans have driven our troops from the battlefield and from the arena. Moreover, I want each of you to know that I hate no one as much as I do Troilus, Priam’s son, because he has damaged and humiliated me so much and inflicted much harm on my men. He has caused my body to bleed, something that he ought to be made to regret. And he will regret it, for that is unavoidable. I must appeal to you and lament this plight in which we find ourselves. When you see our Greeks retreating, do not wait any longer. Then ride forth in close array, and when you have encountered Troilus take care that he does not get away from you. I do not care about any of the others, providing you take vengeance on him for the wounds his lance has inflicted on my body. If he leaves the battle unscathed, do not have any more confidence in me. Now I shall see what you are going to do about this. I assure you that I shall be with you when you need and require me most. I shall not be far away, although I dare not exert myself too much, for I fear that, if I do, I shall make my wounds worse.’ Thus did he set out his plan, but I believe that he would have done better to keep silent. If the Trojans were strong enough, his head would be at stake, and if there is anyone who is able to tell you the outcome this is precisely what may well occur. (21273–326) All the Greeks had mounted their horses and spread out over the deadly battlefield. The perilous enterprise was joined in battle on the broad sandy plain. Greeks rode against Trojans in large divisions and in waves. When they came forth on to the fields from their lodgings, a hundred thousand helmets shone bright while twenty thousand pennants were flapping in the wind, shining with gold and sparkling in the sunlight. Without asking for further instructions, they

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engaged one another in combat, leaving the sand covered with blood. They exposed their breasts in the forest composed of a thousand ashen lances. Neither shield nor double-mailed hauberk was of any avail to them against the sharp and glistening weapons of steel that cut through chests and innards. The divisions and companies joined battle together. Then took place a combat so grievous and so dreadfully fierce that no one knew how to protect himself, or expected to emerge from it with his life. Their banners were soaked in blood. The sound and the din rent the air as swords of burnished steel struck helmets made in Pavia. There life was driven from a thousand bodies in the midst of the clash of arms and great swarm of men. Men darted into and penetrated the fray who would never emerge from it again unless borne on a stretcher. Many lay on the ground there, gasping their last and lamenting their fate; many more were in a sorry state, unable to stand up, protect themselves or harm others. They had no chance of evading death there. (21327–66) Death of Troilus by Achilles The battle had lasted so long that it was already well past noon. At that time and without further delay Troilus arrived with enormous forces; three thousand men followed behind him. From that time on, there was no Greek bold enough to avoid changing position immediately. Their horses were spurred while many men were pursued and felled amidst the noise and the hullabaloo. The olifants made such a din that you could not have heard God thundering from on high. There was such violent slaughter that the Greeks fled in confusion. For each man who took flight there were plenty who were hot on his heels. Know that the Greeks sustained great losses there. They were already close to their tents when Achilles’s men burst into action. Two thousand made up a company, not even three of whom lacked a strong shield and a strong coat-of-mail. Without asking for any further delay, they charged at their foe with lances lowered and shields raised. The Trojans met them so firmly with their swords of burnished iron that the pursuit of all knights on both sides came to a halt. To tell the truth, they no longer had the heart or the desire to advance. (21367–96) On receiving support from the Myrmidons, the Greeks recovered right away. Then there took place such engagements, such slaughter and such fighting, the likes of which no one could relate for you. The Myrmidons had no intention of forgetting their lord’s request. They sought Troilus all over the battlefield and focused their attack on his men. Then they engaged them in battle with their lances and naked swords. Heads were split in two while hands, feet and arms were sliced off. The struggle there was extraordinary. Troilus became absolutely ferocious when he saw gathered around him those who were trying to kill him. He drew his blade of sharp steel and then engaged them, hacking them to pieces. His sole thought was to exact vengeance on all the Greeks. He attacked them in the thickest press, where those whom he struck were done for. Never, according to Dares, did anyone see a human being inflict such slaughter and butchery. Great streams of blood flowed there. Troilus had totally routed the Greeks, killing, hacking and


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wounding them. He had driven them back when his horse was killed. It had been struck by two spears and could no longer stand; it therefore collapsed in the midst of the battlefield with Troilus landing on top of it. He had no companions or peers by him. Before he could stand up again, Achilles pounced on him. Alas! So many sword blows struck Troilus all at once. Achilles positioned himself so as to yank Troilus’s helmet off while he was defending himself well and fighting back hard against the Greeks. But what good did that do? His self-defence was of no help or of any use to him, for the traitor Achilles cut off his head before any help or assistance could reach him. Then Achilles did something that was very cruel and mean. He could well have abstained from this. May he live to regret what he did! He attached Troilus’s body to his horse’s tail and then dragged it behind him in plain sight of all the combatants. (21397–450) Death of Mennon by Achilles Word of Troilus’s death spread fast. When it reached the ears of the Trojans, all of them shuddered and ceased fighting while howling and yelling, weeping and wailing. Many fell unconscious in a swoon in the midst of the battle and the fighting. Paris learnt what had happened, as did Eneas, King Mennon and Polidamas. The Trojans felt such sorrow and grief that none of them undertook any further action. Now their distress grew once more as their strength diminished. Henceforth, they had more than enough to do. When Mennon saw Troilus’s body being dragged ignominiously from the horse’s tail, he and his vassals immediately rushed to retrieve it. However, a very great throng had gathered in their way. The Persians, his liegemen, fought so hard in his wake with their polished swords that they succeeded in piercing the throngs of combatants. They came right up to the corpse where many heads were lopped off. Mennon spoke to Achilles: ‘You will leave him there, scoundrel. You will pay grievously for what you have done. Brute, how could you think of such a deed and perpetrate such savagery by dragging the king’s own son? This was a truly insolent decision on your part. But now you have lived long enough, thanks to the unrestrained liberty allowed by the long halter you had. Your shameful act will be avenged, nor will that be put off much longer. It is a great source of grief that you are still alive and that you have borne arms for so long. You have slain Hector and this man in what was a flagrant atrocity and wrong. No greater harm than this has ever been perpetrated. But you are a very long way from peace. This my blade challenges you.’ Mennon shouted his battle-cry and gave spur to his horse. Through Achilles’s shield emblazoned with two lions, and on through the hauberk against his chest he thrust his ashen lance; the streamers and the lance blade were covered with blood. Vengeance was almost achieved as King Mennon drew his sword and advanced to challenge his victim with blows to his burnished steel helmet. He landed three extraordinary blows on it, so that its circle flew off and blood flowed down from his head. He knocked Achilles off his horse, leaving him completely unconscious and almost dead. By dint of his great prowess and effort, Mennon and his Persians retrieved Troilus’s corpse. (21451–509)

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Many men were writhing in death throes, having been wounded and hurt, slain and mutilated. There was great disarray while the corpse was being rescued amidst heavy conflict and fierce fighting. Achilles was gravely wounded there, as Mennon had pressed him hard. His victim was rescued in a way that left the whole field covered with blood. Achilles had fallen, but his men immediately got him back on his horse while receiving many a blow in the process. They suffered and endured much hardship. They brought Achilles away from the fighting; he went straight to the tents. King Mennon turned in that direction, and with some three thousand armed men he charged again. Since the world was created, no one had ever seen harder fighting, with less mercy and less love shown. King Mennon received high praise, for together with his Persians he had fought very well. They made powerful assaults on Achilles and his men. When Achilles could not take it any longer, having watched Mennon fight in this way while wreaking havoc among his men, anger raged within him. He turned on Mennon with a loud shout. Deeds of knighthood were on display there once more. He and Mennon came together again and they did not hold back in the least. They fought furiously, dealing one another mighty blows, but the throng separated them so that they could achieve no more that day. (21510–46) The fighting went on for eight more days, according to my Source, without Achilles joining in because his wounds kept him in bed. But before a truce was agreed upon, as the Book tells us, he had already recovered sufficiently well to return to combat fully armed. He hated Mennon profoundly. He told his allies as much and advised them to make sure that he was assaulted before he could escape with his life. ‘He has done me great harm and wrong’, said Achilles, ‘often causing my body to shed blood. But if I can manage it, he will surrender his dearest limbs. I would not have donned my hauberk until a full month had gone by, were it not for him whom I intend to kill. In that way Trojan arrogance will gradually diminish.’ Just as he had stated, that day the Myrmidons fought in the battle without falling back in any way. All together, they went on the attack against the Persians. Never before had such fighting been seen in which so many men fell. I can assure you that very few fell there who ever came away or rose again. (21547–76) Achilles and Mennon jousted, knocking one another off their horses. Then they drew their sharp swords and with them laid heavy blows on each other. The Myrmidons strove mightily, striking with spears and swords with such force that they got the lord of the Persians away from his men. Alas! What grief and weeping there was. Achilles hacked Mennon to pieces. However, you will never hear tell of such agonizing sword-play. If Mennon had received a little assistance, in our144 opinion he would not have died. It would have been very beneficial if Mennon had been rescued, for there had never been a more valiant knight alive in this world, one more noble, more generous and more courageous, nor one more willing to assist a friend and ally. When that devilish scoundrel had vanquished 144

Benoît’s opinion is presumably based on Dares’s eye-witness account.


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and killed him in the way he did, he then hacked him to small pieces. Then all his desires had been satisfied. Nonetheless, in fifteen places the contest had left its mark on his body. Blood ran right through the mail of his hauberk and on down to his heel. He lost so much of it that his heart frequently failed and gave out. His men bore him away without delay, blacker and paler than ashes. Some said that he would die, others that he would not. Truly there was much to lament, whether it was for him or his men, of which he had lost more than five hundred since they returned to the battle. No other prince or king in the Greek army had lost as many men as Achilles. Not that they had not all sustained dreadful losses, as we find in the Source; there had never been such slaughter. And yet, after King Mennon, who supported the Trojan’s great enterprise, had died, and the worthy and prudent Troilus too, the whole Trojan army was in dismay. They were all dead or wounded, terrified and desperate, as well they should have been. (21577–625) There was no more fighting after that, but as soon as possible the Trojans left the field they hated, which had been cruel, deadly and painful to them, moving away as quickly as they could and as sensibly and efficiently as they knew how. It would have gone badly for them, if it had not been for Philemenis, Polidamas and Paris, who supported them. Otherwise, not even half of the Trojans would have escaped. They bore an especially heavy burden. Until the end of time, no knights will endure as much as they did. It was clearly evident how exceptional a knight Philemenis was, and also the Bastards and Paris, King Fion and King Edras. Until their men had all gone inside, these men defended the passage into Troy. Throughout the city the outcry rose, along with great dismay and grief. On the crenellated walls and towers stood a thousand ladies and a thousand maidens, whose tears ran down their cheeks as they cried out with loud shrieks and yelling. Never again will such grief be expressed. They dreaded that the Greeks might take the city straightaway. Those Trojans who were beyond the ditches suffered deadly torment. King Telamon and King Menelaus pursued and pressed them hard, slaughtering and mutilating Trojans, as did Menesteus and Ajax, the valiant Thoas and Ulysses and, above all, Diomedes. They drove the Trojans back into the city, although a very large number of them were killed in the combat; it is true that they sustained heavy losses. They entered the city and after them the gates were closed and barred shut. Those in the Greek host returned to their camp, for night had already fallen. They had suffered extraordinary losses there. Most of them lamented those they saw lying dead on the battlefield – whether friend or lord, brother, blood cousin, or a close relative. None of them could avoid knowing heartfelt sorrow. The sky was filled with stars before they had disarmed. There arose much lamentation, shrieking, yelling and weeping. However, they derived great comfort from the fact that the valiant Troilus was dead, along with King Mennon, the most courageous man left on King Priam’s side. For this reason I tell you that the Greeks calmed down considerably. Moreover, the physicians were not worried about whether Achilles would recover; that is what gave them the most comfort. (21626–86)

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Trojan Despondency That night those in the city were despondent, vexed and sullen. No one drank or ate there, nor did they undress or lie down to sleep. They were half dead because of Troilus – nothing could bring them comfort – and also because of Mennon, the Persian king. Priam felt such agonizing grief that everyone who saw him affirmed that his life would be very short. He neither spoke nor heeded anyone. But the queen suffered grief that was a hundred times worse. Now that she had lost three of her sons, her death was unavoidable; she would live no longer. ‘Fair son’, she lamented, ‘Troilus, what chilling news this is. Why did you suck milk from my breasts? Why were you born from me? When I see you lying dead before me, fair, sweet lord and handsome beloved son, why do I go on living? Why am I merely languishing? Was there ever a mother who suffered such loss who failed to kill herself with her own hands? It greatly displeases me to go on living. Was a mother ever as wretched as I am? Alas! What a chilling birth and what a grievous event! Oh King Mars and King Jupiter! Oh Pluto, god of the underworld! What a marvel! What cruelty! You gods have conceived such hatred for me. When this was bound to happen, why did you allow me to be born? Why did you suffer that I exist or ever bear children? Why have you taken them from me? Were they not defending what was rightfully theirs, including myself, their father and their country? Why do you prefer our enemies? What family ties do they have to you, or what merit, which we do not share? The Greeks do in fact have such merit; you have shown it to them. In dispossessing us, you do us a great wrong. This is indeed a grievous affair. I have offered you so many sacrifices and so many noble and costly temples. Is that why you are showing me so much hatred?145 You cannot possibly cause me any greater harm, take still more from me or bring me down still lower. With a deadly blade and tears, and with wailing, yelling and howling, you have filled my entrails,146 my mind and my guts. Son Troilus, for you I continued to live when I did not die because of Hector. I had regained my trust for your sake. My life would have come to an end some time ago, but my soul took comfort in you and my hope found delight therein. Now there is nothing more to rely on. Son, you know for certain that my soul will depart with you and leave this sorrowful body. I would prefer that it had already taken its leave.’ Thereupon, she fainted over his corpse, so that neither air nor breath issued from her mouth. Lady Helen had her carried into the resplendent Alabaster Chamber. There she lay for a long time. For three days she never breathed nor heeded any living person. No one would have believed she would live, or that she would ever open her eyes again. (21687–760) Ladies, townswomen and maidens, and esteemed damsels, all of them gave themselves over to such deep mourning that no living person ever witnessed such wide-ranging grief. They deeply loved Troilus. He was highly esteemed, In Constans’s edition this sentence is not presented as a question. Can this include the womb? In English ‘entrails’ are the internal organs, which would include the womb. There is overlap here, as the term ‘entraille’ can be translated as ‘guts, entrails, or intestines’. 145 146


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gentle, noble and well brought up. I do not know what to say about Paris. He would rather be dead than alive. A hundred times he collapsed in a faint from grief. In a whole day and a whole night I could not have recounted the mourning that prevailed throughout the city. Polidamas often mourned Troilus’s death, for the love they shared was not play-acting. Know that never in the whole world did two knights cherish each other more; they were both very loyal men. That is why Polidamas was so disconsolate. Note that the Trojans were in such pain and anguish all night long; none of them had any rest or ease. For this same reason they did not find comfort for the corpse of King Mennon; it had been left dead in the fighting. Their grief was finishing off his men. They were totally disheartened because of his death and all the Trojans shared their grief. This was right, for in the city there was no shield like him, a man so noble and able to defend himself, so valiant and so capable. (21761–92) Truce Night passed and daylight returned. When dawn shone brightly, Priam took his wise, courtly and eloquent messengers and, on the advice of his allies, he dispatched them to Agamemnon. Priam asked and appealed to him to agree to and grant a truce. Agamemnon discussed this offer with his council and they all approved it for thirty days. The Trojans agreed to this and the thirty-day truce was ratified. After that, there was no delay in burying the corpses. They followed their religious rites and their rightful customs. They reunited Mennon’s body parts that Achilles had hacked to pieces; neither feet nor arms were missing.147 I shall say no more about that, except that never again was there a man born for whom there was such mourning. Many among his followers, this I know, died on his account in such torment that their mouths never again tasted food. King Priam made ready and had his architects and his most skilled artisans construct for each one148 his own monument. Then he gave them as much refined gold, precious stones and silver as they asked for. If I were to tell you how they arranged the corpses, in which sarcophagi and in what shape, I would take up too much of your time. But I do not think or believe that any admiral, count or king was ever interred so splendidly, so suitably or so exquisitely. When the funeral services had ended and the task of cremating and burying the corpses was completed, the Trojans could take time for rest. This they were most willing to do, for they really needed it. They had endured a great deal of pain. (21793–837) Hecuba Plots against Achilles Queen Hecuba had not yet recovered her health; she was completely devoid of happiness and showed no sign of life. The queen was dying. Her mourning 147



This implies that all the parts were reassembled as they had been when Mennon was That is to say, for both Mennon and Troilus.

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ceased neither by day or by night; nothing could console her. Then one day she began to think how her sons might be avenged on the traitor and renegade who had killed them and taken them from her. She often dwelt on this thought. If she were to devise a treacherous plan, aimed at killing and destroying Achilles, and take vengeance on him in this way, no one should be surprised, or condemn or blame her. She summoned Paris. He was widely known for not keeping his word.149 He came to her, downcast and preoccupied, for he felt no joy or cheerfulness. He comforted his mother while speaking with her, but his words gave her little consolation. ‘Son’, said Queen Hecuba, ‘you see that the life remaining in me now is fading away in great sorrow. No one ever heard tell of such a grievous chain of events as I have known. I cannot hold out much longer: I must die, as is obvious to you. But in God’s name I ask one thing of you: bring comfort to my soul and also to that of your dear father. Give sustenance to my life and relieve my suffering somewhat. Assuage my distress, being aware that things are not going well with me. Lift the pain from my heart and wipe the tears from my eyes. I grieve, weep and sigh on this bed and have lain down on it in order to die. My spirit longs to leave me and I cannot retain it much longer. Know that if you fail to do what I want I shall never rise up from here, nor set eyes on you again; this you can be sure of. Mind how you answer me and tell me what you will do about this matter.’ (21838–86) Paris answered: ‘My lady, why do you doubt me and assume that I would reject anything you ask of me, whether it be good or bad, sensible or foolish? Command me to act. Whatever you ask of me, I am ready to do your bidding.’ ‘I thank you wholeheartedly’, she answered, ‘for these words. Now then, listen to me, fair son. You perceive, and are well aware, that that devil Achilles has killed your brothers. Through him we are losing our heritage, through him our lineage is dying out, through him King Priam will meet his end. For, if my sons were alive, Priam would no longer be plagued by war. Achilles has done us an intolerable wrong and caused awful devastation, and there has been no let up in his actions. He has acted basely towards me, promising me and swearing that he would take your sister as his wife and deliver this realm from all our mortal enemies. He was burning with love for her; his love overwhelmed him and he made a strong appeal to me for her hand. He did his very best to keep his promise. I know for certain that he has truly failed to make the Greeks depart. Now he is making us pay dearly for what he did. While we were at peace with one another and waiting for results, he never challenged me, and yet he killed my son, who was so valiant and wise. My plan is to send word to him through a messenger that he should come secretly and stealthily to speak with me in the dark of night and in private, outside Timbree gate in Apollo’s temple. For your part, position yourself inside with enough men to prevent his getting away from you. Make 149 The significance or basis for this assertion is not explained, unless it is an allusion to Oenone, Paris’s love before Helen in the Latin tradition. But why does Benoît allude to it here and not at an earlier stage? It is not clear how his vernacular audiences would have known about it, given Benoît’s claim at the outset that the entire Trojan War was not widely known.


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sure you have superior forces. See to it that your brothers are avenged by doing what your mother desires. I do not doubt or fear that he will gladly come to me, as soon as he hears this proposal and offer from King Priam. When it comes to taking possession of Polixena and being granted her hand in marriage,150 I know that he will be ready at the time agreed upon. Make sure that he is slain and that he does not succeed for any reason in escaping with his life. In this way you will have consoled me and brought me back from death to life.’ (21887–940) Paris answered: ‘With these two perilous options, you have posed a remarkable dilemma for me. I see that you are dying. I do not know of any way to turn down your request. I do not dare refuse what pleases you. I know well that I must obey you. But here lurks a very great wrong. Once an affair has turned to betrayal, the perpetrator brings shame on himself. I shall suffer great reproach because of this. I fear losing esteem and becoming less worthy on account of it. But, above all, I do not dare oppose anything that pleases you, mother; therefore, I agree to do it. However it turns out, you will find me ready to act. You will not encounter any delay because of me.’ After this project had been agreed upon, there was no further discussion of it. (21941–58) The queen selected a wise, courtly and eloquent messenger. She explained, instructed and charged him with what she wanted him to say and do; he then took leave of her. Night had not yet fallen. He went quickly to the Greek encampment, arriving there towards dusk. He found Achilles among his men in his finely fashioned pavilion, resplendent with gold and precious stones, over which its golden eagle shone bright. The messenger, as someone well-prepared, knelt before Achilles. Being rather preoccupied and out of sorts, Achilles had recently lain down on a valuable Turkish bed that was artfully embellished with precious stones and solid gold. The messenger delivered his message. ‘My lord’, he said, ‘Hecuba, a wise woman, sends me to you and requests that you do not fail for any reason to come and speak with her, for she wants to give her daughter to you. Tomorrow evening, before the moon has risen, she asks you to come without delay to meet her; you will definitely find her in the temple of Apollo. She wants to unite in marriage you and Polixena of the fair countenance. King Priam, a man commonly deemed wise, heartily approves and desires this. Between yourself and these two Trojans there will be no more enmity. They are well aware and confident that, as soon as you possess her, you will work for the benefit and, above all, honour of the Trojans.151 They think that you will be a good ally and that this is the best thing they can do under the circumstances. You have been their most damaging opponent, but now you would be their most supportive ally. In you they will recover their sons. Before you have left them, you will all be united by the marriage.152 This union will be confirmed by oaths. Full and complete joy awaits you, for, beneath the entire firmament, there are no two women This is the ostensible reason given to lure Achilles to Apollo’s temple. Note again the wide range of the term ‘(h)onor’ in feudal terms. Here it can refer not only to the abstract notion of honour but, more concretely, to Troy itself. 152 Marriages were a common way to resolve disputes. 150 151

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so beautiful, whether they be ladies or maidens, as Polixena. If these women’s beauty were brought together in one woman, she would not fail to appear dark, pale and sallow in comparison with Polixena whom her mother the queen is giving to you. It is well for you to make peace with Priam and Hecuba, for you have wronged them too much. You have heard the request that I have transmitted to you and why I have been sent to you. Give me whatever answer pleases you, for I am eager to return.’ (21959–2018) Achilles fell silent for a short time. Now he felt greater joy than he had ever known before. Now he heard what he most desired to hear and what his heart coveted most. ‘Friend’, he said, ‘you can tell the high-born queen that she has my deepest thanks. From now on, I shall be her loyal son, faithful and without deception for the rest of my life. If I am able to go on living for a long time, through me Troy will be totally free. This I assure her by swearing and vowing that I shall never again desire what is in my own interest more than I shall seek what is to her advantage. I pray her to welcome me with such love that I may serve to restore her losses by myself. I agree to what she has proposed and I shall go straight to the temple to meet her tomorrow evening, just as she requests ‒ may God grant me joy and happiness from doing so. Before daylight spreads over everything, I shall be back here in the camp, for I do not want anyone to know about or see what happens, whether playfully, seriously or jokingly, for otherwise I could not so effectively seek their advantage in any way. Go and greet Hecuba in my name. Tell my lady and my beloved Polixena that I am entirely hers and shall be so forever. Thanks to her, this kingdom will be at peace.’ The messenger took leave and returned to Troy, having successfully executed his mission. He went straight to the queen, who was highly pleased when she saw him. She was eager to hear whether Achilles would come to meet her. The messenger told her how he began the conversation with Achilles and how the Greek had been very happy with what he heard. ‘Consider’, he said, ‘and decide how you would like to carry out this plot, for nothing else remains to be done.’ (22019–62) Death of Achilles The queen was clever and meticulous in carrying out her plot. She summoned Paris. I do not know what more I can tell you about this. She related and told him what the messenger had accomplished and how, without fail, Achilles would come joyfully to the meeting. ‘Tomorrow’, she said, ‘make ready! Make arrangements and discuss them with those who will assist you in this great project. The time agreed upon is not far off. Select the very best companions: men who are bold and good knights, hardened and formidable men, who can be called upon whenever they are needed, for Achilles is so valiant and strong that it will be almost impossible to capture or kill him.’ Paris answered: ‘My only fear is that he will fail to show up. For, if I can manage to find him in the temple, he will leave me something there besides his cloak – by that I mean his blood and his skin. I am ready to make the attempt tomorrow. I shall wait no longer.’ In tears Hecuba kissed him and then gave him leave to depart. (22063–90)


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By the time night was over and dusk had arrived the next day, Paris had prepared himself quite well. He had selected twenty prized knights, the kind he was sure would be valiant and reliable. At nightfall, they all stationed themselves in the temple of Apollo, which contained numerous exquisite and beautiful crypts, vaults and chancels. Because of Hector, who was buried there, the place was highly cherished. Paris’s men separated into four groups and gave each other signals they had agreed on. As soon as the time was right, they would all leap up together and at once. They occupied their hiding places. Lord Achilles could be quite sure and certain that, if he set foot there, they would hurl him down flat on the floor. For his part, Achilles was so preoccupied by this affair that he thought he would never get to the temple on time. Dusk, the time he was to set out for the temple, seemed to be slow in coming. He very much longed for it and was eager to be on his way. Now he was burning with love more than ever before. Love had made him lose his mind; he did not realize, see or recognize anything. He had no fear of death and did not even think about it. Love, which fears nothing, brought this about. Achilles acted just like Leander, who drowned in the Hellespont because he was so much in love with his beloved Hero that he set out without boat or ship, by dark of night and without any fear of misfortune. Achilles did exactly the same: he neither considered nor took account of anything. He feared neither peril nor hindrance, for Love had confused him, Love that makes a man deaf, blind and mute had so overwhelmed and deceived him that his only desire was to rush headlong in to grim slaughter and his baneful destiny. How unfortunate it was that he ever caught sight of Polixena alive. He deceived himself and brought about his own demise on the day he went to see her. Polixena’s resplendent features drew him into such frenzy that he could never again find repose. Now he desired above all else that the moment agreed upon would arrive. (22091–143) A close friend of his was a knight named Antilogus, a young man without beard or moustache. He was old Nestor’s son and heir. You can be sure that he was bold and valiant, wise and well versed in the ways of court, and highly esteemed among the Greeks. Lord Achilles was extremely fond of him; they were quite close relatives. Achilles had revealed what he proposed to do. Be it wisdom or folly, he offered the young man the opportunity to accompany him. Antilogus was quite ready and willing to join him and he did not fail him. Night had already begun to fall and the moon to shine bright and clear. When they left the Greek encampment, the sky was dark and visibility was poor. If the moon had not been out, the night would have been very dark and sombre. They made their way straight to the temple; no one followed or escorted them. They had brought neither shields nor double-mailed hauberks, but only their steel blades. They advanced until they reached the temple, not reining in their mounts at all. The site was isolated and secluded. They were suddenly seized with horror and fright. The two knights dismounted and fastened their horses. Blood rushed up to their faces as they entered Apollo’s temple. They were amazed when they failed to encounter a living soul and their hearts were filled with alarm. It would be evident soon enough how wise they had been. From four sides the twenty men hiding in ambush sprang forth with one voice and one cry. They hurled twenty

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steel javelins at the Greeks, with more than ten striking them through their sides and chests. The Trojans shouted, while assailing and attacking them from all sides. (22144–86) When Achilles saw and realized that he had been completely duped, he very quickly and speedily wrapped his cloak tightly around his arms. Then he drew his sword and ran at the Trojans. In no time at all, he had dispatched seven of them. For his part, Antilogus stood firm against the onslaught. Many a blow was exchanged there as he chased the Trojans through the temple. Paris railed at his men: ‘Noble knights, why are you taking flight? Do you not see the three steel javelins sticking straight through his body? Let us attack them once more, all together. They will be dead very soon.’ His words gave all the Trojans courage and comfort. All of them assailed the Greeks again, dealing blows and engaging them valiantly. The Greeks defended themselves vigorously, but they were bereft of armour.153 If they had worn their hauberks, the Trojan assault would have been a disaster; not one of their men would have escaped. As it was, the Trojans had inflicted many wounds on the Greeks. Blood was flowing from their bodies in abundance, which caused them great dismay. It is no wonder they grew weaker. They sensed and saw that their death was nigh, but they continued to sell their life dearly, giving the Trojans a hefty, vigorous fight. They made of their bodies a castle and a wall, although they were far from secure. No Trojan blow failed to cause a wound. The hearts of the two Greeks were giving out and they were growing faint because of the blood they were losing. (22187–221) Antilogus was the first to go down. He could no longer hold himself upright, having suffered wounds in fifteen places. In tears he said to Achilles: ‘Fair sweet lord, I can assist you no longer, as you can plainly see, because I am suffering great pain and, since I am failing you, I am in need of help myself. Alas! What a terrible loss it is that your prowess and high nobility are perishing here. This vexes me in my anguish. Your recklessness has betrayed us.’ With these words Antilogus sprang to his feet again because Achilles had stumbled. Paris had dealt him a mortal blow with two spears he had hurled at him; Achilles could not get up again. When Antilogus attacked the Greeks, he quickly killed two of them. He drove the Trojans back from over Achilles, who then lifted himself up again. He hurled one of his spears at Paris. It would have struck him in the face if he had not seen it coming at him; with great effort he succeeded in evading the blow. Antilogus had now collapsed again in a faint on the stone floor with its mosaic border. Achilles stood over him for a very long time and defended him. He felt more pity for him than for himself. ‘My friend’, he exclaimed, ‘it saddens me that I have been the cause of your death. If I had suspected treachery, things would have turned out quite differently. I have been maliciously deceived. Love set up this whole affair for me; he made me feel deadly pain. We are not the first, nor shall we be the last, to die or to have died for love. Fair sweet friend, there is no Literally ‘nude’ (‘tuit nu’), but in this context this signifies without protective armour, such as a shield and hauberk. This sense recurs during the twentieth battle in which Ajax Telaman fights without armour. See Luca Barbieri, ‘Qui a tué Ajax, le fils de Télamon?’ 153


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comfort in this. Alongside you, like it or not, I must die here where I am. I can scarcely defend myself any more. Nonetheless, with this my steel blade I shall avenge you if I can. If I can find Paris and get to him, I shall repay him straightaway for this deadly betrayal.’ (22222–70) The temple was brightly lit and everything was clearly visible. But Achilles’s vision became blurred, because of the blood flowing from his body so profusely that he was close to death. He supported himself with great difficulty. He attacked the Trojans with his sword of furbished steel. He killed two of them and wounded five more. For his part, Paris charged at him, cutting off his foe’s arm and slashing his face. Achilles fell back alongside Antilogus. There he defended himself resolutely once more, but was knocked down forcibly. On his knees and lying down, he defended himself and his companion there until he could do no more. Paris said to him: ‘Now I admit that you are paying for your loves.154 Because of you my brothers Hector and Troilus lost their lives. By my mother’s command, I shall avenge them on your body. You were far too enamoured of hurting and destroying us. But now you will pay very dearly for that passion, for you will die here, which will bring great joy to all those in Troy.’ Both Greeks had collapsed on the mosaic floor; they could no longer defend themselves. We can find no reference in what we have read to any knights ever holding out so long or defending themselves so well without wearing any armour. My Source tells us that Paris hacked the two of them to pieces, successfully avenging his two brothers. Then, before dawn began to break, he tossed their bodies out of the temple. When the day began to grow bright, he had his own men buried. I can assure you that abundant tears were shed for them and many people mourned them. Paris had splendid sarcophagi built for all of them, for they had been courageous and worthy warriors. (22271–316) Achilles’s Funeral Word of what happened became known and it spread widely about. When the Greeks learnt of it, you should know that it caused them anguish and dismay. Never had such widespread mourning been seen as that which became manifest throughout the host. Now the Greeks were at a loss; twenty thousand men wept with deep-felt emotion. From that time on, they lost all hope of taking the city by force. Now they would have willingly departed, as there seemed to be no reason to remain any longer. Henceforth, they were speechless and mute; everyone felt totally defeated. If Achilles had not slipped away stealthily, for which they blamed him profusely, they would have regretted his loss much more. And what could I say about Achilles’s men, given that I could not recount the grief they showed for their lord? Many of them gave up the ghost for his sake. They wanted to go in search of his corpse and had already left their tents to do so. It is not clear to whom the plural form ‘druëries’ refers in v. 22289. Is Paris including Patroclus, Polixena or, as Baumgartner suggests (Troie, p. 653, note to v. 22289), Achilles’s bisexual attraction to the young Antilogus? 154

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Yelling, shouting and weeping out loud, they did not even care who killed them. Agamemnon had a hard time convincing them to turn round, but he did finally lead them back to the camp. He told them he would immediately ask King Priam for the corpse, and he did so with scarcely any delay. But listen now to what Paris thought he would do with Achilles’s corpse. He had no interest in what was required or in its burial. He wanted to leave it to be devoured by pigs, vultures and crows. His hatred for him was so intense that he did not want to allow the Greeks to bury him. All the inhabitants of Troy came to where Achilles’s body lay and they exulted enthusiastically over the corpse. (22317–56) When the Trojans saw that Achilles was dead, they no longer thought that the Greeks could seriously harm them or destroy their noble city. They were filled with great joy and happiness. All of them approved Paris’s plan for the corpse. But Helenus intervened, saying that such a deed was neither reasonable nor just. On this occasion he got them to abandon that action. Therefore, they handed the two corpses over to the Greeks. Never had such grief been heard as the Greeks displayed when they saw the two bodies. They buried them with high honour. Nestor for his part suffered such anguish, such distress a