Notes from the Iliad

“The cry went out, the men came crowding, officers

from their commander’s side went swiftly down
to form each unit — and the grey-eyed goddess
Athena kept the pace behind them, bearing
her shield of storm, immortal and august,
whose hundred golden-plaited tassels, worth
a hecatomb each one, floated in air.
So down the ranks that dazzling goddess went
to stir the attack, and each man in his heart
grew strong to fight and never quit the melee,
for at her passage war itself became
lovelier than return, lovelier than sailing
in the decked ships to their own native land.

“As in dark forests, measureless along
the crest of hills, a conflagration soars,
and the bright bed of fire glows for miles,
now fiery lights from this great host in bronze
played on the earth and flashed high into heaven.

“And as migrating bids, nation by nation,
wild geese and arrow-throated cranes and swans,
over Asia’s meadowland and marshes
around the streams of Kastrios, with giant
flight and glorying wings keep beating down
in tumult on that verdant land
that echoes to their pinions, even so,
nation by nation, from the ships and huts,
this host debouched upon Skamander plain.
With noise like thunder pent in earth
under their trampling, under the horses’ hooves,
they filled the flowering land beside Skamander,
as countless as the leaves and blades of spring.
So, too, like clouds of buzzing, fevered flies
that swarm about a cattle stall in summer
when pails are splashed with milk: so restlessly
by thousands moved the fighters of Akhaia
over the plain, lusting to rend the Trojans.

The Iliad, trans. Robert Fitzgerald,
Book 2, “Assembly and Muster of Armies” – lines 520 -550

How killer is that.

Hecatomb,
n.
In Ancient Greece, a Hecatomb (Ancient Greek / hekatómbê) was a sacrifice to the gods of 100 cattle (hecaton = one hundred). Hecatombs were offered to Greek gods Apollo, Athena, and Hera, during special religious ceremonies.

Ichor, n.
In Greek mythology, ichor ( or ; Greek ) is the ethereal fluid that is the Greek gods’ blood, sometimes said to have been present in ambrosia or nectar. When a god was injured and bled, the ichor made his or her blood poisonous to mortals.