Late last night, Odysseus, Diomedes, and their horse-stealing crew ventured out to capture some Trojan steeds.
This is how Polites related it:
First off, things looked good. Polites guided the two dozen men up to the spot where he had spotted the Trojan horses two nights before. Everything appeared the same.
As there were a dozen Trojan guards hanging about, accompanied by just as many villagers, Odysseus decided that surprise, combined with a quick show of force, would scatter the Trojans and leave the horses for the taking.
The plan was that Odysseus, Diomedes, and a dozen of the men would sneak up, and when they got close, charge in and quickly kill a Trojan or two. –Polites was with this crew.
The other group of men, lead by Macar, were to follow in soon after, grab as many horses as they could and ride back to the beachhead.
That isn’t what happened.
Odysseus and his team had little difficulty getting close to the guards. The Trojan guards and the villagers were chatting about a fire, and the moon was almost new. In addition, the terrain north of Troy is hilly and is full of outcroppings of rocks and scattered boulders.
In fact, the men were able to get within about 20 yards of the fire without being noticed by their quarry.
Unfortunately, in addition to the Trojan guards and villagers around the fire, there was also some shepherd boys scattered about, looking after the peasant livestock.
One of these boys shot an arrow into Patroclus’ face.
Although it was a flesh wound, sticking only into his cheek, Patroclus was no longer able to maintain his stealthy composure. Polites said that Patroclus let out a torrent of slurred explicative, initiated by a thunderous: “Muvver of Zeuf! Fuckin Harpy Shif!”
To make matters worse, Patroclus’ fury did little to dissuade the adolescent archers. -Soon a rain of underpowered arrows began to fall upon Odysseus and his men.
Things got worse.
Despite the loss of surprise, Diomedes assumed that the plan was still on. Raising his sword, he yelled and charged into the Trojans, followed by a handful of men.
Odysseus on the other hand thought that the plan was to be abandoned. Raising his sword, he ordered a retreat and began to run in the direction of Macar, followed by a handful of men, including Polites.
Polites said that Macar’s crew was equally confused and broke into three groups: One followed Macar to capture the horses, one high-tailed back to the beach, and one stood frozen, unsure of what to do.
All the while, shepherd boys peppered everyone with a barrage of painful, but non-lethal arrows.
To Odysseus’ credit, he didn’t really chicken out. After meeting Macar, he realized that Diomedes had attacked, and he reordered those present to charge back for support.
Unfortunately for Diomedes, this left him and his few men outnumbered and without the benefit of surprise. By the time that Odysseus had returned, only Diomedes and Patroclus were still standing.
Polites said that they found Patroclus fighting three Trojans at once. He figured that Patroclus must have killed five men in about as many minutes.
And, with the aid of Odysseus and his men, it seemed that they might yet succeed. However, almost as immediately as they reached the fire, two of our guys were killed by very powerful arrows. -Trojan archers were shooting from the city walls. Macar was shot in the foot.
Odysseus and Diomedes sounded a retreat in unison, and all those remaining ran back to the beach.
Eight of our men were killed. Five were wounded.
All told, three horses were captured. Two were captured by the first men to retreat, and one was taken by an angry Macar, who couldn’t walk due to an arrow in his foot.
Odysseus didn’t stop by today.