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Fight for the body of Patroclus

The king Menelaus saw the corpse of Patrokl lying in the dust and rushed to him: he did not want to allow the Trojans to desecrate the corpse of the hero who fought for him. Like a formidable lion, he walked near the corpse of Patroclus, hiding behind a shield and brandishing a heavy spear.

The Trojan Euphorbus, who struck Patroclus in the back, wanted to take possession of the corpse. He approached Menelaus, eager to take away the corpse and take revenge on the king of Sparta for killing his brother.

Fight for the body of Patroclus
Fight for the body of Patroclus.
(The middle part of the pediment of the temple on the island of Aegina, 5th century BC)

He struck Menelaus' shield with his spear, but could not pierce the shield. Menelaus, with a mighty blow, plunged his spear into the throat of Euphorbus, and young Euphorbus fell to the ground. Menelaus began to take off his precious armor, but prompted the archer Apollo Hector to attack Menelaus. He rushed at Menelaus. Menelaus did not want to retreat from the body of Patroclus, knowing that all the Greeks would condemn him for this, but he was also afraid of being surrounded by the Trojans. Menelaus decided to call Ajax for help. He slowly retreated under the onslaught of the Trojans and called on Ajax. Hector had already managed to grab the corpse of Patroclus and remove the armor Achilles when Ajax arrived . Hector had to leave the corpse. Seeing this, Glavk began to reproach his son Priam for cowardice, for being afraid he is the Greek heroes. With these words, Glaucus forced Hector to join the battle again. He called back his servants, whom he ordered to carry the armor of Patroclus to Troy, and donned them himself. Zeus the Thunderer saw Hector arming himself with the weapon of Achilles and thought: "Unfortunate, you do not feel how close your death is. You put on the armor of the hero whom everyone is afraid. Now I will give you victory as a reward for never accepting Achilles from your arms, your wife, Andromache". Zeus thought so, and as a sign that it would be so, he frowned menacingly.

Menelaus Protecting the Body of Patroclus
Menelaus protecting the body of Patroclus.
(Sculptural group, 4th century BC)

Hector was filled with unstoppable strength and courage. He quickly went to the army and began to inspire the heroes to fight. Menelaus called in a loud voice at this time the heroes to protect the body of Patroclus. First came Ajax son of Oileus, then Idomeneo, Merion and others. The heroes closed their shields around the body of Patroclus, but the Trojans repulsed them. Again they took possession of the corpse of Patroclus. The mighty Ajax Telamonides, however, scattered the ranks of the Trojans and beat off the corpse from them, hitting the hero who was dragging the corpse by the legs. The slaughter for the corpse flared up again, and the Trojans already faltered. But Apollo inspired Aeneas to fight, - he kept the troops from fleeing. The battle became even bloodier. Blood flooded the ground, corpses piled on corpses. Like an all-devouring fire, the battle blazed. Zeus poured darkness around the corpse of Patroclus. One might think that there is no longer any sun or moon in the sky, such darkness was around the corpse of Patroclus. But only around the corpse of Patroclus was darkness, the rest of the battlefield was flooded with the rays of the sun, and there was not a single cloud in the sky. In the darkness, heroes fought for the corpse of Patroclus.

The immortal horses of Achilles stood far from the battle and shed bitter tears over the death of their master's friend. In vain did the charioteer Automedon try to make them move, they stood motionless, their heads bowed. Their manes hung down to the ground. Zeus saw the horses and thought: "Oh, ill-fated horses! Why did we give you, immortals, Peleia? there is not a single creature in the whole universe more unfortunate than a man! But do not be sad - Hector will never own you. I will give you the strength - to carry out the battle Automedont. I will give the Trojans another victory, but only for this day, until the sun goes down."

Zeus breathed great strength into the horses, and they rushed across the battlefield with Automedon. The charioteer of Achilles, seizing a heavy spear, slew the hero Aretes. He took off his armor,pouting that at least this avenged the death of Patroclus.

A battle raged around the body of Patroclus. The goddess Athena descended to the fighting Greek heroes in a crimson cloud and, under the guise of a hero Phoenix, encouraged them. Menelaus, answering the Phoenix (he did not recognize Athena), called on Athena to help before the other gods. The goddess rejoiced and breathed invincible power into Menelaus. Apollo inspired the Trojans. The battle became bloodier and bloodier. Zeus shook his aegis, and thunder struck. Horror seized the heroes of Hellas. Ajax Telamonides was saddened, seeing the flight of the Greeks. He prayed to Zeus and begged him to dispel the darkness, prayed that he would not destroy the Greeks, or, if such is his will, then let him destroy them, but only in the light. Zeus heard the prayer of Ajax. The darkness dissipated and the sun shone again. Ajax asked Menelaus to find his son Nestor, Antilochus, and send him to Achilles with a message that Patroclus was killed and that the Trojans might take possession of his body. Fulfilled the request of Ajax Menelaus, found Antiloch and told him about the death of Patroclus. Antilochus was horrified. He did not yet know that Patroclus had been killed. Shedding bitter tears, the young son of Nestor hastened to Achilles. Around the body of Patroclus, the slash became stronger and stronger. Ajax advised Menelaus and Merion to pick up the body and carry it to the camp. He himself began to cover them, reflecting the Trojans. But as soon as the Trojans saw that the heroes had lifted the body of Patroclus, they rushed at them like angry dogs. But as soon as Ajax turned to them, the Trojans stopped, turning pale with fear. The battle flared up more and more, like a fire that destroys the city, devouring everything around. Menelaus walked slowly with the corpse of Patroclus in his arms. With difficulty, Ajax held back the onslaught of the Trojans, ahead of which Aeneas and Hector fought.

At this time, Achilles sat at his tent and wondered why Patroclus did not return. He was disturbed by the fact that the Greeks again took to flight. He was beginning to suspect that Patroclus was dead. Suddenly, the weeping son of Nestor approached him. He brought news to Achilles of the death of Patroclus. An inexpressible grief seized Achilles. With both hands he grabbed the ashes from the hearth and sprinkled them on his head. Ashes scattered across his clothes. Achilles fell to the ground and tore his hair out of grief. The young Antilochus also wept. He held Achilles by the hand so that he would not commit suicide from grief. Achilles sobbed loudly. Thetis heard his cry and sobbed loudly. All her sisters, the Nereids, hurried to her, and also raised a loud cry.

- My sisters! - exclaimed the goddess Thetis, - woe to me, woe! Oh, why did I give birth to Achilles! Why did she raise him, why did she let him go under the walls of Troy! I will never see him return to the bright halls of Peleus. He must suffer all his short life! I can't help him! I'll go now and find out what he's grieving about!

Quickly appeared before the sobbing Achilles his mother Thetis with her sisters. Weeping, she hugged the head of her beloved son and asked him:

- What are you crying about so loudly? Don't hide, tell me everything. After all, Zeus fulfilled your request and drove the Greek troops to the very ships. All they want is for you to help them.

- I know this, dear mother, - Achilles answered, - but what a joy in this! I lost Patroclus. I loved him more than anyone and cherished him as my own life. Hector killed him, and he stole the armor that the gods bestowed on Peleus. I do not want to live among people if I cannot slay Hector with my spear, if he does not pay me with his life for the death of Patroclus.

- But after all, you must die after Hector! - exclaimed Thetis.

- Oh, let me die now, if I could not save a friend! He must have called me before he died. Oh, let enmity perish, it plunges even the wise into fury. I will forget my anger against Agamemnon and go out again to fight to kill Hektor. I am not afraid of death! No one will escape death, the great Hercules did not escape it, although Zeus the Thunderer, his father, loved him. I am ready to die where fate promised me, but first I will get great glory. No, don't hold me, mother! Nothing can hold me back!

This is how Achilles answered his mother. The goddess Thetis asked her son for only one thing: that he would not enter the battle until she brought him Hephaestus new armor.

Beautiful Nereids plunged into the sea. Thetis asked them to tell her father Nereus what happened under the walls of Troy. She herself ascended to the high Olympus to the god Hephaestus.

Meanwhile, the heroes of the Greeks with difficulty held back the onslaught of the Trojans. Already three times Hector, chasing the Greeks, tried, like a furious flame, to snatch the corpse from the hands of Menelaus. Ajaxes reflected it three times. And Hector would have taken possession of the corpse of Patroclus if the messenger of the gods Irida, sent by the goddess Hero, had not come to Achilles. She urged Achilles to go and aboutdefend the body of a friend. But Achilles could not join the battle, he did not have armor. Then Irida ordered Achilles to stand unarmed on the rampart that surrounded the camp of the Greeks and frighten the advancing Trojans with their appearance.

I went to Achilles Shaft. Pallas Athena laid an aegis on his shoulders, surrounded his head with a golden cloud and a wondrous radiance, the brilliance from the head of Achilles rose to the very sky. Achilles stood up on the shaft and shouted menacingly, with him a menacing cry was issued by Pallas Athena. Horror gripped the Trojans. Their horses were frightened by the cry, and they themselves rushed back. The charioteers were horrified when they saw the fire around the head of Achilles. Three times Achilles cried out menacingly, and three times the whole army of Trojans fell into terrible confusion. In the midst of this confusion, twelve Trojan heroes perished. Some of them stumbled upon spears, some were trampled by horses. The Greeks carried out the body of Patroclus, put it on a stretcher, and with loud weeping carried it to the tent of Achilles. The son of Peleus followed them. He sobbed loudly, looking at a friend whom he himself sent into a bloody battle.

Hera commanded the sun god Helios to descend into the waters of the Ocean ahead of time. The night has come. The battle ended, the camp of the Greeks plunged into sleep. The Trojans gathered for a council in the field. They conferred standing up. None of them dared to sit down - they were afraid of the attack of Achilles. He gave the following advice to the Trojans Polydamant: to return to Troy and not wait here for the morning when Achilles will attack them. He will slay many heroes if he attacks the Trojans in the open field. If everyone defends themselves, standing on the walls, then Achilles will go around Troy on his fast horses in vain - he will not be able to take it. But Hector rejected the advice of Polydamant; he ordered the Trojans to remain in the field, posting guards in front of the camp. Hector still hoped to attack the ships of the Greeks again and drive them out of the Troad. Hector announced that if Achilles decided to fight again, he would no longer shy away from fighting him. Then one of them will return home with victorious glory - he or Achilles. Darkened the mind of the Trojans Pallas Athena, and they remained in the field, encamped.

And in the camp of the Greeks, Achilles mourned the death of Patroclus, putting his hands on the chest of the murdered. He moaned loudly and heavily, like a lion whose cubs have been stolen by a hunter. The lion returned from hunting, did not find cubs in the den, and with a loud roar he walks through the forest and looks for traces of the kidnapper of children.

Gods, gods! - exclaimed Achilles, - why did I promise the father of Patroclus that I would return to my homeland with Patroclus? No, both of us are destined to stain the Trojan land with our blood. Returning from a campaign, neither my father, Peleus, nor my beloved mother will meet me. May I die, dear Patroclus, but not before I have my revenge on Hector and give you a magnificent funeral.

Achilles ordered his friends to wash the bloodied body of Patroclus and anoint him with incense. The friends of Achilles performed this. They laid the body of Patroclus on a richly decorated bed and covered it with a thin linen, and on top with a luxurious coverlet. The Myrmidons of Patroclus mourned the whole night, and the Trojans and Dardanians captured by Achilles and Patroclus wept with them.