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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 41

'And an old man, Antenor, who was by us said, "That indeed is Odysseus. I remember that he and Menelaus came on an embassy to the assembly of the Trojans. When they both stood up, Menelaus seemed the greater man, but when they sat down Odysseus seemed by far the most stately. When they spoke in the assembly, Menelaus was ready and skilful of speech. Odysseus when he spoke held his staff stiffly in his hands and fixed his eyes on the ground. We thought by the look of him then that he was a man of no understanding. But when he began to speak we saw that no one could match Odysseus—his words came like snow-flakes in winter and his voice was very resonant."'

'And Priam said, "Who is that huge warrior? I think he is taller and broader than any of the rest."'

'"He is great Aias," I said, "who is as a bulwark for the Greeks. And beside him stands Idomeneus, who has come from the Island of Crete. Around him stand the Cretan captains." So I spoke, but my heart was searching for a sight of my own two brothers. I did not see them in any of the companies. Had they come with the host, I wondered, and were they ashamed to be seen with the warriors on account of my wrong-doing? I wondered as I looked for them. Ah, I did not know that even then my two dear brothers were dead, and that the earth of their own dear land held them.'

'Hector came to the gate and the wives and daughters of the Trojans came running to him, asking for news of their husbands or sons or brothers, whether they were killed or whether they were coming back from the battle. He spoke to them all and went to his own house. But Andromache, his wife, was not there, and the housedame told him that she had gone to the great tower by the wall of the City to watch the battle and that the nurse had gone with her, bringing their infant child.

'So Hector went down the street and came to the gate where we were, and Andromache his wife came to meet him. With her was the nurse who carried the little child that the folk of the city named Astyanax, calling him, 'King of the City' because his father was their city's protector. Hector stretched out his arms to the little boy whom the nurse carried. But the child shrank away from him, because he was frightened of the great helmet on his father's head with its horse-hair crest. Then Hector laughed and Andromache laughed with him, and Hector took off his great helmet and laid it on the ground. Then he took up his little son and dandled him in his arms, and prayed, "O Zeus, greatest of the gods, grant that this son of mine may become valiant, and that, like me, he may be protector of the City and thereafter a great King, so that men may say of him as he returns from battle, 'Far greater is he than was Hector his father.'" Saying this he left the child back in his nurse's arms. And to Andromache, his wife, who that day was very fearful, he said "Dear one, do not be over sorrowful. You urge me not to go every day into the battle, but some days to stay behind the walls. But my own spirit forbids me to stay away from battle, for always I have taught myself to be valiant and to fight in the forefront."'


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