The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 26

'Achilles did not answer. His lion's eyes were fixed upon those who had spoken and his look did not change at all for all that was said.'

'Then the old man Phoinix who had nurtured him went over to him. He could not speak, for tears had burst from him. But at last, holding Achilles' hands, he said:

'"In thy father's house did I not rear thee to greatness—even thee, most noble Achilles. With me and with none other wouldst thou go into the feasthall, and, as a child, thou would'st stay at my knee and eat the morsel I gave, and drink from the T

hen to Odysseus, Achilles spoke and said, "Son of Laertes, wisest of men, harken now to what I shall say to thee. Here I should have stayed and won that imperishable renown that my goddess-mother told me of, even at the cost of my young life if Agamemnon had not aroused the wrath that now possesses me. Know that my soul is implacable towards him. How often did I watch out sleepless nights, how often did I spend my days in bloody battle for the sake of Agamemnon's and his brother's cause! Why are we here if not because of lovely Helen? And yet one whom I cherished as Menelaus cherished Helen has been taken from me by order of this King! He would let her go her way now! But no, I do not desire to see Briseis ever again, for everything that comes from Agamemnon's hand is hateful to me. Hateful are all the gifts he would bestow upon me, and him and his treasures I hold at a straw's worth. I have chosen. To-morrow I shall have my Myrmidons draw my ships out to the sea, and I shall depart from Troy for my own land."'

'Said Aias, "Have the gods, Achilles, put into your breast a spirit implacable and proud above all men's spirits?"'

'"Yea, Aias," said Achilles. "My spirit cannot contain my wrath. Agamemnon has treated me, not as a leader of armies who won many battles for him, but as a vile sojourner in his camp. Go now and declare my will to him. Never again shall I take thought of his war."'

'So he spoke, and each man took up a two-handled cup and poured out wine as an offering to the gods. Then Odysseus and Aias in sadness left the hut. But Phoinix remained, and for him Patroklos, the dear friend of Achilles, spread a couch of fleeces and rugs.'

'Odysseus and Aias went along the shore of the sea and by the line of the ships and they came to where Agamemnon was with the greatest of the warriors of the host. Odysseus told them that by no means would Achilles join in the battle, and they all were made silent with grief. Then Diomedes, the great horseman, rose up and said, "Let Achilles stay or go, fight or not fight, as it pleases him. But it is for us who have made a vow to take Priam's city, to fight on. Let us take food and rest now, and to-morrow let us go against Hector's host, and you, Agamemnon, take the foremost place in the battle."'