The Rumble of War

Homer, Iliad 4.440-456

Ares whipped up the Trojans, Athena the Achaeans,
and with her were Terror, Rout, and ravenous Strife,
the sister-comrade of man-murdering Ares.
Strife is small when she first lifts her head. But then
her head towers into heaven, and she roams the earth.
And now she’s tossed the same warring spirit into two armies,
and she moves through the crush of men, multiplying their woes.

When the Trojans and Achaeans came together,
Shields and spears and bronze-armored men collided.
Bossed shields clanged against bossed shields.
There men cried and men exulted.
Men killed and men were killed.
And the earth flowed with blood.

Just as when swollen rivers rush down a mountain,
their mighty waters, torrents from huge springs,
hurl themselves together where they meet,
and some shepherd in the mountain hears the distant rumble–
just so, when the armies met in battle,
came the shouts and exertions of men.

ὄρσε δὲ τοὺς μὲν Ἄρης, τοὺς δὲ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Δεῖμός τʼ ἠδὲ Φόβος καὶ Ἔρις ἄμοτον μεμαυῖα,
Ἄρεος ἀνδροφόνοιο κασιγνήτη ἑτάρη τε,
ἥ τʼ ὀλίγη μὲν πρῶτα κορύσσεται, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξε κάρη καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει·
ἥ σφιν καὶ τότε νεῖκος ὁμοίϊον ἔμβαλε μέσσῳ
ἐρχομένη καθʼ ὅμιλον ὀφέλλουσα στόνον ἀνδρῶν.

οἳ δʼ ὅτε δή ῥʼ ἐς χῶρον ἕνα ξυνιόντες ἵκοντο,
σύν ῥʼ ἔβαλον ῥινούς, σὺν δʼ ἔγχεα καὶ μένεʼ ἀνδρῶν
χαλκεοθωρήκων· ἀτὰρ ἀσπίδες ὀμφαλόεσσαι
ἔπληντʼ ἀλλήλῃσι, πολὺς δʼ ὀρυμαγδὸς ὀρώρει.
ἔνθα δʼ ἅμʼ οἰμωγή τε καὶ εὐχωλὴ πέλεν ἀνδρῶν
ὀλλύντων τε καὶ ὀλλυμένων, ῥέε δʼ αἵματι γαῖα.

ὡς δʼ ὅτε χείμαρροι ποταμοὶ κατʼ ὄρεσφι ῥέοντες
ἐς μισγάγκειαν συμβάλλετον ὄβριμον ὕδωρ
κρουνῶν ἐκ μεγάλων κοίλης ἔντοσθε χαράδρης,
τῶν δέ τε τηλόσε δοῦπον ἐν οὔρεσιν ἔκλυε ποιμήν·
ὣς τῶν μισγομένων γένετο ἰαχή τε πόνος τε.

Russian war games

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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