Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Paris, Hector, and Helen

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Paris, Hector, and Helen

By Homer (fl. 850 B.C.)

From the Iliad, vi. 332–362: Translation of William Cranston Lawton

THEN, in reply to his brother, thus spake Alexander the godlike:

“Hector, indeed you reproach me with justice, no more than I merit.

Therefore to you will I speak, and do you give attention and hearken.

Not out of rage at the Trojans so much, nor yet in resentment

Here in my chamber I sate, but I wished to give way to my sorrow.

Yet even now my wife, with gentle entreaty consoling,

Bade me go forth to the fray, and I too think it is better.

Victory comes unto this one in turn, and again to another.

Tarry a moment, I pray, till I don mine armor for battle;

Or do you go, and I will pursue, and I think overtake you.”

So did he speak; and to him bright-helmeted Hector replied not.

Helen, however, with gentlest accents spoke and addressed him:—

“Brother of mine,—of a wretch, of a worker of evil, a horror!

Would that the selfsame day whereon my mother had borne me,

I had been seized and swept by the furious breath of the storm-wind

Into the mountains, or else to the sea with its thundering billows.

There had I met my doom, ere yet these deeds were accomplished!

Or, as the gods had appointed for me this destiny wretched,

Truly I wish I had been with a man more valorous wedded,

Who would have heeded the scorn of the folk and their bitter resentment.

Never a steadfast spirit in this man abides, nor will it

Ever hereafter be found; and methinks his reward will be ready!—

Nay, but I pray you to enter, and here on a chair to be seated,

Brother, for on your heart most heavily laid is the burden

Wrought by my own base deeds, and the sinful madness of Paris.

Evil the destiny surely that Zeus for us twain has appointed,

Doomed to be subjects of song among men of a far generation.”

Then unto her made answer the great bright-helmeted Hector:

“Helena, bid me not sit,—nor will you, tho’ gracious, persuade me.

Eagerly yearns my spirit to fight in defense of the Trojans,

While among them there is longing already for me in my absence.”