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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 9

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Page 2

But Atrides, wounded to the heart with great sorrow, kept going round, giving orders to the clear-voiced heralds, to summon each man by name to an assembly, but not to call aloud; and he himself toiled among the first. And they sat in council, grieved, and Agamemnon arose, shedding tears, like a black-water fountain, which pours its gloomy stream from a lofty rock. Thus he, deeply sighing, spoke words to the Greeks:

"O friends, leaders and chieftains over the Greeks, Jove, the son of Saturn, has greatly entangled me in a grievous calamity: cruel, who once promised me, and assented, that I should return, having destroyed well-built Ilium. But now has he plotted an evil fraud, and orders me to return inglorious to Argos, after I have lost much people. Thus, doubtless, will it be agreeable to almighty Jove, who has already overthrown the heights of many cities, and will still overthrow them, for his power is greatest. But come, let us all obey as I advise: let us fly with the ships to our dear fatherland, for now we shall not take wide-wayed Troy."

Thus he spoke; but they were all still in silence, and the sons of the Greeks being sad, kept silent long: at length Diomede, brave in the din of battle, spoke:

"Son of Atreus, thee will I first oppose, speaking inconsiderately, as is lawful, in the assembly; but be not thou the least offended. First among the Greeks didst thou disparage my valour, saying that I was unwarlike and weak;[292] and all this, as well the young as the old of the Greeks know. One of two things hath the son of crafty Saturn given thee: he has granted that thou shouldst be honoured by the sceptre above all; but valour hath he not given thee, which is the greatest strength. Strange man, dost thou then certainly think that the sons of the Greeks are unwarlike and weak, as thou sayest? If indeed thy mind impels thee, that thou shouldst return, go: the way lies open to thee, and thy ships stand near the sea, which very many followed thee from Mycenae. But the other long-haired Greeks will remain until we overthrow Troy: but if they also [choose], let them fly with their ships to their dear fatherland. But we twain, I and Sthenelus,[293] will fight, until we find an end of Troy; for under the auspices of the deity we came."

[Footnote 292: Cf. iv. 370, sqq.]

[Footnote 293: Heyne compares Julius Caesar, Com. B. G. i. 40. "Si praeterea nemo sequatur (contra Ariovistum), tamen se cum sola decima legione iturum dicit."]

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