Sing to me now, you Muses who hold the halls of Olympus!
You are goddesses, you are everywhere, you know all things –
all we hear is the distant ring of glory, we know nothing –
who were the captains of Achaea? Who were the kings?
The mass of troops I could never tally, never name,
not even if I had ten tongues and ten mouths,
a tireless voice and the heart inside me bronze,
never unless you Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus
whose shield is rolling thunder, sing, sing in memory
all who gathered under Troy. Now I can only tell
the lords of the ships, the ships in all their numbers!
The Iliad, Book 2, lines 573-583. Homer invokes the Muses to divinely inspire him to list the contingents of the Achaean army that sailed to Troy, commonly known as the "Catalogue of Ships." This enumeration of Greek contingents makes up a major part of Book 2. Homer lists 29 contingents under 46 captains and a total of 1,186 ships. In asking the Muses to help him describe the fighting forces, Homer uses a metaphor saying that he himself could never tally them all even if he had a heart of bronze.