A translation of ‘The Catalogue of Ships’
from Book II of Homer’s Iliad

 

Now, Muses, goddesses breathing the fresh air of Olympus :
Inspirers of Art! Faculty of Artfulness itself,
that allows all the Arts to breathe out into life!
You, the beginning, the origin of Art and Memory!
Speak now, Muses! who are, and who are present
here and everywhere, and know everything that is,
while we men know only Rumour, and nothing more.

Speak of the leaders and kings of the Danaans.

Of the multitude of men consolidated
as one army—no, not even if ten tongues
fluttered within ten mouths with voice implacable,
and the spirit inside me was of bronze,
could I make mention of that from end to end,
unless the Muses, daughters of Zeus, summoned it
to memory, and brought back all that happened at Ilium.

Now, in entirety, I shall speak of the leaders and kings
of the fleets of the ships, and in refined order.

Of the Boeotians, Peneleos τε Leïtus were ἄρχων ,
τε Arcesilaus τε Prothoënor τε Clonius : 
τε those who lived in Hyria, τε rocky Aulis,
τε Schoenus τε Scolus τε mountainous Eteonus;
τε Thespeia, τε Graia; τε broad, grassy Mycalessus;
who lived around Harma τε Eilesium τε Erythrae;
who held Eleon τε Hyle τε Peteon τε Ocalea τε broad city Medeon;
τε Copae, τε Eutresis, τε Thisbe, where doves fly;
who inhabited Coroneia; τε grassy Haliartus;
who held Plataea; and lived in Glisas;
who held high citadel Thebe
and the splendid grove of Poseidon in holy Onchestus;
who held Arne and its fertile vineyards; καὶ Mideia 
καὶ Nisa; καὶ τε most sacred Anthedon, far remote.
The Boeotians came with ships fifty;
on each came youths one hundred and twenty.

With the Minyae who lived in Aspledon τε Orchomenus
came ἄρχων Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, son of Ares.
Ialmenus was conceived in secret
in the palace of Actor, who entered the inner chamber
of the no-longer-bashful maiden Astyoche.
With these, thirty hollow ships came in ordered advance.

ἄρχων of the Phocians were Schedius and Epistrophus,
sons of great-hearted Iphitus, Naubolus’ son;
these held Cyparissus τε rocky Pytho;
τε sacred Crissa καὶ Daulis καὶ Panopeus;
these held Anemoreia, τε Hyampolis;
who raised homes by δῖος river Cephissus;
who held Lilaea by the springs of Cephissus.
Of the Phocians forty black ships came
in ordered rows, and prepared for battle,
sailing in with the Boeotians on their left.

Ajax came as leader of the Locrians.
Ajax, the speedy son of Oïleus, not the great
Ajax Telamon’s son, not nearly so :
this Ajax was a little man with breast-plate of linen;
but as spearman he surpassed all Achaeans and Hellenes.
These lived in Cynus τε Opus τε Calliarus τε
Bessa τε Scarphe τε elegant Augeiae
τε Tarphe; καὶ Thronium, amid the many streams
of river Boagrius. In forty black ships came the Locrians,
who lived beyond holy Euboea.

καὶ those who held Euboea, the Abantes,
breathing rage; who held Chalcis τε Eretria;
καὶ Histiaea, where grape-bunches clustered;
τε Cerinthus on the sea; τε Dion on the high peaks;
who held Carystus; and lived in Styra.
Descended-of-Ares Elephenor,
Chalcodon’s son, was leader and ἄρχων
of the great-hearted Abantes.
With him came his long-haired warriors, 
incoming spearmen thrusting through enemy breast-plates
murderous ashen spear-points.
With him came forty black ships.

καὶ those who held Athens, deep-rooted city,
the people of high-spirited Erechtheus,
whom the grain-gifting soil brought to life.
Far-seeing Athena Zeus Goddess raised him there
in her own sumptuous grove. Athenian youths,
even now, sacrifice bulls and rams there
amid the poplar trees, praying for mercy.
With them as leader was Menestheus, Peteos’ son.
I would say that no man had yet been born
with his skill for ordering horses and arranging
shield-bearing men. Nestor alone
might challenge him in this, for he was the older
and more experienced. With him came fifty black ships.

Ajax from Salamis led twelve ships, and placed them
where the Athenians had gathered in a line of battle.

καὶ those who held Argos, καὶ high-walled Tiryns;
τε Hermione τε Asine, mutually touching the hem of the sea;
τε Troezen, τε Eiones, τε vine-rich Epidaurus;
and the Achaean youths that held Aegina καὶ Mases;
—all these Diomedes led alongside Sthenelus,
eminent Capaneus’ much-loved son.
And a third came with them : godlike Euryalus,
son of King Mecisteus, son of Talaus.
Diomedes, he of the fierce war cry, held foremost command.
With them came eighty black ships.

καὶ those who held Mycenae, powerful city;
καὶ opulent Corinth, καὶ well-built Cleonae;
καὶ those who lived in Orneae; καὶ fair Araethyrea;
καὶ Sicyon; all those whose first king was Adrastus.
καὶ those who held Hyperesia, καὶ high Gonoessa
καὶ Pellene; and dwelt all over Aegium
τε Aegialus τε wide Helice.
With them came one hundred ships.
ἄρχων : son of Atreus, King Agamemnon.
With him followed many of the finest people.
Among them he put on his shining armour,
and went proudly along as the most distinguished
of the warriors, for he was the foremost man
and led the greatest number of people.

καὶ those who held the cavernous land of
Lacedaemon, split with many ravines;
τε Pharis, τε Sparta, τε Messe, where doves fly;
τε those who lived in Bryseae, τε beautiful Augeiae;
τε those who held Amyclae, τε Hele, the seaside city;
τε those who held Laas; and dwelt all over Oetylus.
These King Agamemnon’s brother led as ἄρχων :
Menelaus, fierce with the battle cry.
Bringing sixty ships, he positioned them
apart from the rest. He himself moved among them,
trusting in his readiness, encouraging his men
into war. Above all, his heart burned for vengeance,
for all the bitterness and sorrow brought by Helen.

καὶ those who lived in Pylos, τε radiant Arene;
τε Thryon, famed river-passage to Alpheius; 
τε Aepy; τε those who lived in Cyparisseïs,
τε Amphigeneia, τε Pteleon τε Helos τε Dorion
—where the Muses ambushed Thamyris
the Thracian and extinguished his singing :
for while travelling from Eurytus of Oechalia
he boasted in bold declaration that he would prevail
even if the Muses themselves, daughters of Zeus, sang against him!
So in their rage they mutilated him.
They took away his divinely sweet song
and he abandoned poetry and the lyre.
With these as leader was the tamer of horses  
from Gerenia : Nestor. And with him
came ninety hollow ships in ordered advance.

καὶ those who held Arcadia under the high peak
of Cyllene, by the tomb of Aepytus;
whose warriors fought up close and hand to hand;
καὶ those who lived in Pheneos, τε sheep-grazed Orchomenos;
τε Rhipe τε Stratia τε windy Enispe;
καὶ those who held Tegea, τε lovely Mantineia,
τε Stymphalos. καὶ those who lived in Parrhasia.
With them as leader was King Agapenor,    
son of Ancaeus, who came with sixty ships.
On each ship were many Arcadian warriors
skilled in battle. King of men Agamemnon
had given them the well-made ships to travel
the wine-dark sea, the son of Atreus himself,
for they had no interest in affairs of water.

καὶ those who lived in δῖος Elis; τε Buprasium;
τε Hyrmine τε Myrsinos overlooking the sea;
καὶ all those by the rock of Olen τε Aleision.
With them were four ἄρχων bringing many Epeians :
ten black ships followed each leader.
Of the ten, some were led by Amphimachus
τε Thalpius, both of the line of maiden-stalking Actor :
the first, Cteatus’ son; son of Eurytus, the other.
Of the ten, some were led by Amarynceus’ son,
powerful Diores. And of the fourth command,
godlike Polyxeinus was ἄρχων, son of Agathenes,
son of Augeias.

καὶ those from Dulichium τε Echinae,
the holy islands that lie on the far side
of the sea, facing Elis. With them as leader
was the destructive Meges, son of Phyleus—
the horseman Phyleus beloved of Zeus
who withdrew to Dulichium in rage against
his father. And with Meges came forty black ships.

And Odysseus led the great-hearted Cephallenians,
who held Ithaca and Neritum, which quivers constantly
with leaves. καὶ those from Krocyleia, καὶ stony Aegilips;
τε those who held Zacynthos; τε those who dwelt around Sáme;
τε those who held the mainland, καὶ τε those who lived on the shores
opposite the islands. Of these was Odysseus ἄρχων ,
who in mind was as fertile as Zeus. And with Odysseus
came twelve ships painted red.

The Aetolians were led by Thoas, son of Andraemon.
τε those who lived in Pleuron, τε Olenus, τε Pylene,
τε Chalcis on the sea; καὶ rocky Calydon.
The sons of great-hearted Oeneus were all gone,
nor was he himself alive; and blond Meleager was dead,
who’d been given sovereignty over the Aetolians.
And with Thoas came forty black ships.

τε came Idomeneus from Crete as ἄρχων ,
those who held Cnossos and high-walled Gortys;
τε Lyctus τε Miletus τε Lycastus, all gleaming white
from their high chalk cliffs; καὶ Phaestos τε Rhytium,
populous cities; and all the other places
on the island of the hundred cities.
Of all these was Idomeneus, famous spearman, ἄρχων ;
also Meriones, equal in fury to man-killing Enyalius.  

Tlepolemus, son of Heracles, good and brave and strong,   
led nine ships from imperial Rhodes, warriors from cities
Lindos τε Ialyssos τε Camirus, built on the white chalk.
Tlepolemus was ἄρχων . Renowned in war, he was born
to Heracles by Astyoche, whom he’d taken from Ephyre
by the river Selleïs, when he’d conquered many cities
of warriors beloved of Zeus. When Tlepolemus
grew up, in a high-rising palace, he murdered his uncle
—Licymnius, once heir to  Ἄρης , but by then an old man.
So Tlepolemus built ships, and gathered many people,
and fled away over the sea, leaving the constant menace
of the numerous sons and grandsons of βία Heracles.
Thus he came to Rhodes after prolonged and painful wandering.
There, the people settled by tribes into three communities;
and were loved by Zeus, king of gods and men,
who showered them with magnificent wealth.

Nireus, now, led three pretty ships from Syme.
Nireus, son of Aglaïa and King Charops.
Nireus, the most beautiful of Danaans
to come to Troy, after excellent Achilles.
But he was weak, and few followed him.

καὶ those who held Nisyros, καὶ Carpathos, καὶ Casos καὶ Cos;
τε city of Eurypylus; τε the Calydnian islands.
These were led by Pheidippus τε Antiphus,
the sons of King Thessalus, son of Heracles.
And with them came thirty hollow ships.

Now all those who lived in Pelasgian Argos;
in Alos, τε Alope, τε Trachis; and who held
Phthia, τε Hellas καλλι-γύναικα
(oasis of beautiful women) :
all those called Myrmidons, and Hellenes, and Achaeans :
they came in fifty ships with ἄρχων Achilles.
Yet not a one of them thought of clangorous war,
for no one ordered them into formation.
He lay there languorous among his ships,
quick-footed δῖος Achilles,
breathing rage over Briseïs—gorgeous girl
whom he’d carried out of Lyrnessus only
after great struggle, when the city was finally
obliterated along with the walls of Thebe.
He’d cut down warriors Mynes and Epistrophus,
sons of King Evenus, Selepius’ son,
but only after heated contention with the spear.
So now he lay idle, grieving over her loss.
Soon he would rise.

καὶ those who held Phylace; τε Pyrasus, full of flowers;
τε the holy ground of Demeter, who freely gives us gifts
up from the soil; τε Iton, where many sheep nibble;
τε Antron by the sea; τε Pteleos, of broad meadowlands.
With them as leader was  Ἄρης-like Protesilaus,
while he lived. Now the black earth holds him forever.
And the two tender cheeks of his new-wedded wife
were torn open with her fingernails from grief.
She, Laodamia, was left in Phylace in a house but half-
built. But he was the first of the Achaeans to leap
from the ships and charge the Trojan shore : and a Dardanian
warrior killed him in the surf that washed his footprints away.
And though his men missed their ἀρχόν , they needed someone to lead;
and Podarces, an heir to  Ἄρης , maintained order.
He was son of Iphiclus, prosperous with sheep; and grandson
of Phylacus; and the very brother of courageous, great-
hearted Protestilaus. But Podarces was the younger
of the two, and the older was the better and the stronger
man : hero Protesilaus. So while an ἀρχόν had come,
all grieved for the excellent one that was lost.
They came in forty black ships.

τε those who lived in Pherae, by the holy lake Boebeïs,
in which, they say, goddess Athena once bathed her feet;
τε in Boebe τε Glaphyrae τε high-rising Iolcus.
These came in eleven ships led by Eumelus,
much-loved son of King Admetus. His mother was Alcestis,
most beautiful of the daughters of Pelias.

καὶ those who lived in Methone καὶ Thaumakie;
καὶ those who held Meliboea καὶ rocky Olizon.
They came in seven ships led by master archer
Philoctetes; each ship advancing by the effort
of fifty rowers experienced in handling the bow
in battle. But Philoctetes was now left behind
on the island of most holy Lemnos,
suffering terribly with a bleeding wound
delivered by a deadly-minded water-snake.
Watching him writhing in anguish, the sons of the Achaeans
had gone away and onward. There he lay in monstrous pain.
One day soon the Argives by their ships would come to remember
Philoctetes. And though his men missed their ἀρχόν ,
they needed someone to lead. Medon brought order,
whom Oïleus fathered with glowing nymph Rhene :
another bastard son of Oïleus, wrecker of cities.

καὶ those who held Tricca καὶ stony Ithome;
καὶ Oechalia, city of Eurytus of Oechalia.
τε ἄρχων were the two sons of Asclepios,
the great healers Podaleirius τε Machaon.
With them came thirty black ships.

τε those who held Ormenius and the Hypereian spring,
bathing-place of goddesses; τε Asterium;
τε Titanus—warriors in white-plumed helmets of dogskin.
Eurypylus led them, shining son of Euaemon.
With him came forty black ships.

καὶ those who held Argissa. καὶ those who raised homes
in Gyrtona, τε Orthe, τε Elone, τε bright city of Oloösson. 
All these Polypoetes led as ἄρχων : he-who-holds-his-ground,
son of Peirithous, a son of Zeus. On the very day
he brought vengeance on the hairy centaurs,
forcing them out of Pelion and driving them to the tribe
of Aethices, he lay with the splendid Hippodameia
and conceived Polypoetes. With him came Leonteus,
an heir to  Ἄρης , son of lively-spirited Coronus,
son of Caenus, who was both man and woman.
With them came forty black ships.

From Cyphus came Gouneus with twenty-two ships.
With him came Enienes τε Peraebi,
hard to vanquish. They lived around cold Dodona,
and the quiet fields of river Titarisios,
whose beautifully clear waters run in with
the river Pineios, yet does not mingle with
the river Pineios and its silvery rushing waters,
but flows through and onward, smooth as olive oil :
for the river Pineios is a branch of the Styx :
the dread oncoming of death, which no one escapes.

And the Magnetes had as ἄρχων Prothous,
Tenthredon’ son. These lived around the Pineios
τε Pelion, which quivers constantly with leaves.
And they were led by the quick-moving Prothous.
With him came forty black ships.

These were the kings and leaders of the Danaans.
But of all of these warriors, tell me, Muse,
who was the best? The best of the horses,
and the best of men, who followed Agamemnon?

Of the horses, far the finest were from Pherae,
the mares of King Admetus, son of Pheres;
and Eumelas drove them as fast as birds fly :
perfectly matched in age, in coat, and in height.
Silver-arrowed Apollo had reared them in Pereia;
and with them they brought fury into battle.

Of the men, far the finest was Telamonian Ajax—
while δῖος Achilles brooded in rage. Achilles was far
the best of them. His horses, too, were excellent.
But just now he sat by his pointed sea-crossing ships,
burning in rage at Agamemnon, leader of the people.
So his men amused themselves by the seasurf,
throwing the discus, and aiming the javelin,
and engaging in the fine art of archery.
And his horses stood, each by their own chariot,
grazing on the clover and wild celery
covering the marshy ground. And the chariots
stood covered up. So his men, waiting for their ἀρχὸν
to stand, roamed here and there up and down the camp,
away from the fighting.

So they advanced like a groundswell of fire,
and the earth trembled under them, as under Zeus
High Endless Thunderer, who lashes the country
round Typhoeus in the land of the Arimi—
it’s said you’ll find there the bed of Typhoeus.
In like manner the ground rumbled as they moved across the plain.

And a rainbow brightened the sky :
Swift Iris, who walks with the wind, came down
with a word from Zeus Orderer—unpleasant news for Trojans.

As she swooped in, the Trojans were together,
speaking in assembly at Priam’s palace gates,
a gathering of both young men and the elders.

And Iris appeared in shape and voice of a son
of Priam’s : Polites, who was a quick-footed
watchman who sat atop the ancient tomb
of Aesyetes, waiting for any Achaeans
to come from their ships. Now she spoke as he :

“Most worthy sir, you speak on and on
as if we’re at peace. But war is coming!
It’s not on the way—it’s here! I’ve faced many
warriors in combat before now, but
I’ve yet to see an army like this one.
It’s like looking at the leaves, or the sands
by the sea. They’re marching over the plain,
right now, to annihilate our city!

Hector—I speak to you directly : hear my word.
All through our huge city of Priam there are men
of foreign speech from all over the earth,
one after another. So let this follow from that :
command each to give the sign to the men
under his leadership, and lead them out
of the city, and in ordered array.”

So spoke Iris.

And Hector alone saw the aura of the goddess,
and knew those words were hers. So at once he dismissed
the assembly, and all rushed to arm themselves.

All the gates were opened, and the people streamed out,
both foot-forces and charioteers, raising thunderous sound.

Now, outside the city walls, standing alone
out in the plain, with grass growing all round,
was a mound of earth, high and steep, which the people
called Bateia, but the immortals knew it
as the tomb of the far-springing Amazon queen Myrine.
Here the Trojans and their allies composed
themselves into companies, combining forces.

Great Hector in glinting helmet led the Trojans,
the first-born of Priam’s full many sons;
and they were greater in number by far,
and they were eager to transfix the spear.

The Trojans of the district of Dardania
had Aeneas as leader, son of Anchises,
whom Aphrodite lay with on the ridges
of Ida; goddess conceiving with mortal man,
mother of noble Aeneas. He was not alone.
With him were the two sons of Antenor,
Archelochus and Acamas, both expert in war.                  

And those who lived in the deepest valleys of Ida,
prosperous men who drank dark Aesepian water,
the Troes, who were led by the excellent son
of Lycaon, Pandaros, whose skill with the bow
was taught him by Apollo.

And those who held Adrasteia, and the land
of Apaesos; and who held Pityeia; and the high
mountain of Tereia. These were led by Adrastus
and Amphius, whose breast-plate was of linen,
the two sons of Merops of Perkote,
who was well-skilled in the visionary
art of divination, and would not have
his sons march off into slaughterous war.
But his sons did not obey him, for the fates
were leading them into a dark death.

And those who lived in Perkote and Praktius,
and who held Sestos and Abydos, and lovely
Arisbe. These were led by Hyrtacus’ son
Asius, a teacher of men : Asius,
who brought sleek horses from the river Selleïs,
in lovely Arisbe.

And Hippothous, who led the Pelasgian tribes
of spearmen, those who lived in fertile Larissa.
With him was Pylaeus, an heir to Ares,
and both were sons of Lethus, son of Teutamus,
of the Pelasgi.

Acamas and warrior Peiroös led the Thracians,
all those from over the strong-flowing Hellespont.

Euphemus led the Ciconian spearmen,
son of Troezenus and grandson of Ceos,
beloved of Zeus.

Pyraechmes led the heavily-armed Paeonians 
from far off Amydon by the river Axius :
Axius, the clearest, brightest water on earth.

Pylaemenes of the gruff heart led the Paphlagonians
from Eneti, where a wondrous race of half-asses
ran wild. These people held Cytorus, and lived
around Sesamon, and had houses by the river
Parthenius, and Cromna, and Aegialus,
and high-reaching Erythini.  

And Odius and Epistrophus led the Halizones
from far away Alybe, where men first found silver.

Chromios led the Mysians with Ennomus,
who read the flight of birds. But all his prophetic
reading didn’t save him from a dark fate.
He was killed by quick-moving Aeacus
in the river, alongside other of Aeacus’ victims.

Phorcys and godlike Ascanius led the Phrygians
from far off Ascania, and both eagerly awaited
combat.

Mesthles and Antiphos led the Maeonians,
the two sons of TaIaemenes, whose mother
was the Gygaean lake. They brought the Maeonians
from their dwellings at the foot of Mount Tmolus.

And Nastes led the Carians βαρβαρόφωνος—speaking
a simple tongue—who held Miletus, and Phthires,
the mountain with foliage densed to a smoothness,
and the river Maeander, and the steep heights of Mycale.
With him was Amphimachus. Chiefs Nastes and Amphimachus,     
the illustrious children of Nomion. This Nastes came
into battle wearing golden ornaments like a silly girl;
but all that gold brought no defense from a miserable death.
He was killed in the river by quick-moving Aeacus,
and Achilles carried off the gold.

Sarpedon led the Lycians with the incomparable
Glaucus, from far away Lycia, where river Xanthus swirls.

 

End of Book II

 



[Jeffrey Scott Bernstein  graduated from the University of Sheffield. The Oresteia of Aeschylus, now available at Carcanet, is his first published work.]

Copyright © 2022 by Jeffrey Scott Bernstein, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.