This is a chapter of The Sunset of the Heroes: Last Adventures of the Takers of Troy, by W. M. L. Hutchinson.
Now Achilles was making havoc of the Lycians and, as he ranged hither and thither afoot, dealing death, he lifted up his eyes and saw Nestor coming in wild career, like one distraught.
And Nestor cried to him, saying, “Help me now, son of Peleus, for sore is my need. Antilochus is fallen, woe the day — fallen in his prime to save this grey, withered head — and the slayer even now despoils his corpse. Oh, mount and ride with me, if ever you held him dear, to rescue his body and avenge him.”
Then Achilles beat his bosom and leaped up beside Nestor in the chariot, and said, “Who has done this deed, old man? Not long shall he boast of it, be he who he may.”
“It was the prince of the dark-skinned folk,” answered Nestor, turning his steeds; “he came against me, huge and terrible as a titan, and was at point to slay me. Then cried I to my sons, and Antilochus came speeding amain — would to Zeus he had heard me not, but I had perished in his stead.”
With that, he gave rein to the coursers and they flew like the wind to the place where Antilochus lay, and there stood the prince of Ethiopia bestriding the corpse, and the goodly arms were at his feet.
To him spoke Achilles: “You of all men else have I avoided, son of the Morning; but now needs must you pay me the price of his blood who lies there. To your chariot then and let us fight, for not gold of Ethiopia shall you pay, but life for life. And know that your adversary is Achilles, son of silver-footed immortal Thetis.”
“Vaunt not yourself of that, renowned Achilles,” answered Memnon, scornfully, “seeing I avow myself of higher lineage by far, for my mother is the celestial Dawn, worshipped of all; yours, but one of the fifty daughters of a sea god. And think not to daunt me, like a child, with words, but spare your threats until we see whether it is not rather the Greeks who shall pay a heavy price this day, when they sue to ransom the bodies and armor of this youth — and of Achilles.”
So saying, he mounted his chariot, and both heroes addressed themselves to combat.
In that fateful hour, the heights round about Troy plain were thronged with unseen presences, for the gods were come down out of heaven to watch the fortune of battle, both those that were helpers to the Greeks and those that befriended the Trojans. But Zeus sat apart on topmost Ida, tabernacled in cloud, and held in his hand the golden balance wherein he weighs the issues of fight. And now he thundered from the mountaintop, doing honor to those twain in their glorious encounter.
Now Memnon was first to throw his flashing spear; mightily he threw, aiming full at Achilles’s right breast; nor missed, but the spear point rebounded from the corselet divine Hephaestus wrought, as though the trenchant iron were a child’s dart of reed.
Then Achilles poised and flung the spear that none but he could wield; the huge ashen shaft whereof Chiron the Centaur cut on Mount Pelion and gave the spear to youthful Peleus for a guest gift, and Peleus in old age gave it to his son. And as it flew from Achilles’s hand, the deathful point made lightnings in the blaze of noon, and it clove the air with the sound of a rushing wind. Then did Memnon avoid swift doom by a hand’s breadth, for he started aside, leaning far out from the chariot; and the spear pierced but the rim of his shield, that else had crashed through the center and found his heart; nevertheless, the force of that blow hurled him headlong to earth.
Loud clanged his glittering panoply as he fell, and his white steeds reared and snorted in terror, and fled over the plain, for all their charioteer could do.
Achilles leaped from Nestor’s car and made at him with drawn sword, but Memnon sprang up, and wrenched the spear from his shield, and flew upon Achilles, scimitar in hand. As when two lions, hunger-mad, fight on the hill over the bleeding carcass of a deer that the one has slain, so fought those two beside dead Antilochus; and the company of the immortals watched them with their shining eyes.
But now Zeus put the fates of both into his golden scales, and the scale of Memnon sank low, heavy with doom. In that instant, the great brand of Achilles beat down Memnon’s guard; in the next, it plunged deep through breastplate and through breast, and like a thunder-smitten tower he reeled and crashed to earth.
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And Achilles stood looking on him as he lay, clutching the dust, and said, “Not again, oh, prince, will you vaunt your goddess mother as excelling Thetis of the waves, nor fondly deem that Greeks shall sue to Ethiopians for ransom of their dead. Truly, small profit have the Trojans of all the helpers that arise for them from the ends of the earth; but least of you, bright child of Dawn, for like her sparkling dews have you passed from their ken, ere yet the sun rides at his highest.”
And answer made great Memnon, gasping out his soul, “Rejoice not over me, my conqueror, for ere yon sun go down you shall be even as I. Behold, this comfort some god makes known to me at the last.” And with that word his spirit fled.
Then answered Achilles: “Go forth on the dark road I too must tread ere nightfall. Yea, well I know how soon I am to follow; so much the rather will I bestir myself to send yet other souls before me down to the house of Hades.” So saying, he rushed into the thickest of the fight.