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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 23

'Said Agamemnon: "The council here must bind itself to give me recompense."'

'"Still you speak of recompense, Agamemnon," answered Achilles. "No one gains more than you gain. I had no quarrel with the men of Troy, and yet I have come here, and my hands bear the brunt of the war."'

'"You who are captains must give me a recompense," said Agamemnon, "or else I shall go to the tent of Achilles and take away the maiden given to him, Briseis of the Fair Cheeks."'

'"I am wearied of making war for you," answered Achilles. "Though I am always in the strife but little of the spoil comes to my tent. Now will I depart to my own land, to Phthia, for I am not minded to stay here and be dishonoured by you, O King."'

'"Go," said Agamemnon, "if your soul be set upon fleeing, go. But do not think that there are not captains and heroes here who can make war without you. Go and lord it amongst your Myrmidons. Never shall we seek your aid. And that all may know I am greater than you, Achilles, I shall go to your tent and take away the maiden Briseis."'

'When he heard Agamemnon's speech the heart within Achilles' breast was divided, and he knew not whether he should remain still and silent in his anger, or, thrusting the council aside, go up to Agamemnon and slay him with the sword. His hand was upon the sword-hilt when an immortal appeared to him—the goddess Athene. No one in the company but Achilles was aware of her presence. "Draw not the sword upon Agamemnon," she said, "for equally dear to the gods are you both." Then Achilles drew back and thrust his heavy sword into its sheath again. But although he held his hand he did not refrain from angry and bitter words. He threw down on the ground the staff that had been put into his hands as a sign that he was to be listened to in the council. "By this staff that no more shall bear leaf or blossom," he said, "I swear that longing for Achilles' aid shall come upon the host of Agamemnon, but that no Achilles shall come to their help. I swear that I shall let Hector triumph over you."'

'Then the council broke up and Achilles with Patroklos, his dear comrade, went back to their tent. A ship was launched and the maiden Chryseis was put aboard and Odysseus was placed in command. The ship set out for Chryse. There on the beach they found the priest of Apollo, and Odysseus placed his daughter in the old man's arms. They made sacrifice to Apollo, and thereafter the plague was averted from the host.

'But to Achilles' tent there came the messengers of the King, and they took Briseis of the Fair Cheeks and led her away. Achilles, in bitter anger, sat by the sea, hard in his resolve not to help Agamemnon's men, no matter what defeat great Hector inflicted upon them.'



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