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‘KING PRIAM on his tower saw Achilles come raging across the plain and he cried out to Hector, "Hector, beloved son, do not await this man’s onset but come within the City’s walls. Come within that thou mayst live and be a protection to the men and women of Troy. And come within that thou mayst save thy father who must perish if thou art slain."’

‘But Hector would not come within the walls of the City. He stood holding his shield against a jutting tower in the wall. And all around him were the Trojans, who came pouring in through the gate without waiting to speak to each other to ask who were yet living and who were slain. And as he stood there he was saying in his heart, "The fault is mine that the Trojans have been defeated upon the plain. I kept them from entering the City last night against the counsel of a wise man, for in my pride I thought it would be easy to drive Achilles and the Greeks back again and defeat them utterly and destroy their hopes of return. Now are the Trojans defeated and dishonoured and many have lost their lives through my pride. Now the women of Troy will say, ‘Hector, by trusting to his own might, has brought destruction upon the whole host and our husbands and sons and brothers have perished because of him.’ Rather than hear them say this I shall face Achilles and slay him and save the City, or, if it must be, perish by his spear."’

‘When Achilles came near him Hector spoke to him and said "My heart bids me stand against thee although thou art a mightier man than I. But before we go into battle let us take pledges, one from the other, with the gods to witness, that, if I should slay thee, I shall strip thee of thine armour but I shall not carry thy body into the City but shall give it to thine own friends to treat with all honour, and that, if thou should slay me, thou shalt give my body to my friends."’

‘But Achilles said, "Between me and thee there can be no pledges. Fight, and fight with all thy soldiership, for now I shall strive to make thee pay for all the sorrow thou hast brought to me because of the slaying of Patroklos, my friend."’

‘He spoke and raised his spear and flung it. But with his quickness Hector avoided Achilles’ spear. And he raised his own, saying, "Thou hast missed me, and not yet is the hour of my doom. Now it is thy turn to stand before my spear."’

‘He flung it, but the wonderful shield of Achilles turned Hector’s spear and it fell on the ground. Then was Hector downcast, for he had no other spear. He drew his sword and sprang at Achilles. But the helmet and shield of Achilles let none of Hector’s great strokes touch his body. And Achilles got back into his hands his own great spear, and he stood guarding himself with his shield and watching Hector for a spot to strike him on. Now in the armour that Hector wore--the armour that he had stripped off Patroklos--there was a point at the neck where there was an opening. As Hector came on Achilles drove at his neck with his spear and struck him and Hector fell in the dust.’

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

‘Hector’s mother, standing on the tower on the wall, saw all that was done and she broke into a great cry. And all the women of Troy took up the cry and wailed for Prince Hector who had guarded them and theirs from the foe. Andromache, his wife, did not know the terrible thing that had happened. She was in an inner chamber of Hector’s house, weaving a great web of cloth and broidering it with flowers, and she had ordered her handmaidens to heat water for the bath, so that Hector might refresh himself when he came in from the fight. But now she heard the wail of the women of Troy. Fear came upon her, for she knew that such wailing was for the best of their warriors.’

‘She ran from her chamber and out into the street and came to the battlements where the people stood watching. She saw the chariot of Achilles dashing off towards the ships and she knew that it dragged the dead body of Hector. Then darkness came before her eyes and she fainted away. Her husband’s sisters and his brothers’ wives thronged round her and lifted her up. And at last her life came back to her and she wailed for Hector, "O my husband," she cried, "for misery were we two born! Now thou hast been slain by Achilles and I am left husbandless! And ah, woe for our young child! Hard-hearted strangers shall oppress him when he lives amongst people that care not for him or his. And he will come weeping to me, his widowed mother, who will live forever sorrowful thinking upon where thou liest, Hector, by the ships of those who slew thee."’

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

Next: Chapter XX