’Then Odysseus went away and returned as a peddler carrying in his pack such things as maidens admire—veils and ornaments and brazen mirrors. But under the veils and ornaments and mirrors the wise Odysseus left a gleaming sword. When he came before the maidens in the King’s orchard he laid down his peddler’s pack. The mirrors and veils and ornaments were taken up and examined eagerly. But one of the company took up the gleaming sword and looked at it with flashing eyes. Odysseus knew that this was Achilles, King Peleus’ son.
’He gave the youth the summons of King Agamemnon, bidding him join the war that the Kings and Princes of Greece were about to wage against Troy. And Achilles was glad to get the summons and glad to go. He returned to Phthia, to his father’s citadel. There did he make ready to go to Aulis where the ships were being gathered. He took with him his father’s famous warriors, the Myrmidons who were never beaten in battle. And his father bestowed on him the armour and the horses that had been the gift of Zeus—the two immortal horses Xanthos and Balios.
’But what rejoiced Achilles more than the gift of marvellous armour and immortal steeds was that his dear comrade, Patroklos, was to be with him as his mate in war. Patroklos had come into Phthia and into the hall of Peleus when he was a young boy. In his own country he had killed another boy by mischance over a game of dice. His father, to save him from the penalty, fled with him to King Peleus. And Achilles’ father gave them refuge and took Patroklos into his house and reared him up with his own son. Later he made him squire to Achilles. These two grew up together and more than brothers they loved each other.
’Achilles bade good-bye to Phthia, and to his hero-father and his immortal mother, and he and Patroklos with the Myrmidons went over the sea to Aulis and joined the host of the Kings and Princes who had made a vow not to refrain from war until they had taken King Priam’s famous city.’
Achilles became the most renowned of all the heroes who strove against Troy in the years the fighting went on. Before the sight of him, clad in the flashing armour that was the gift of Zeus and standing in the chariot drawn by the immortal horses, the Trojan ranks would break and the Trojan men would flee back to the gate of their city. And many lesser cities and towns around Troy did the host with the help of Achilles take.
’Now because of two maidens taken captive from some of these cities a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon grew up. One of the maidens was called Chryseis and the other Briseis. Chryseis was given to Agamemnon and Briseis to Achilles.
’The father of Chryseis was a priest of Apollo, and when the maiden, his daughter, was not given back to him, he went and prayed the god to avenge him on the host. Apollo listened to his prayer, and straightway the god left his mountain peak with his bow of silver in his hands. He stood behind the ships and shot his arrows into the host. Terrible was the clanging of his silver bow. He smote the beasts of the camp first, the dogs and the mules and the horses, and then he smote the men, and those whom his arrows smote were stricken by the plague.