The Iliad of Homer
Page: 147With each a sable lambkin by her side;
At every rite his share should be increased,
And his the foremost honours of the feast."
Fear held them mute: alone, untaught to fear,
Tydides spoke—"The man you seek is here.
Through yon black camps to bend my dangerous way,
Some god within commands, and I obey.
But let some other chosen warrior join,
To raise my hopes, and second my design.
By mutual confidence and mutual aid,[pg 186]
Great deeds are done, and great discoveries made;
The wise new prudence from the wise acquire,
And one brave hero fans another's fire."
Contending leaders at the word arose;
Each generous breast with emulation glows;
So brave a task each Ajax strove to share,
Bold Merion strove, and Nestor's valiant heir;
The Spartan wish'd the second place to gain,
And great Ulysses wish'd, nor wish'd in vain.
Then thus the king of men the contest ends:
"Thou first of warriors, and thou best of friends,
Undaunted Diomed! what chief to join
In this great enterprise, is only thine.
Just be thy choice, without affection made;
To birth, or office, no respect be paid;
Let worth determine here." The monarch spake,
And inly trembled for his brother's sake.
"Then thus (the godlike Diomed rejoin'd)
My choice declares the impulse of my mind.
How can I doubt, while great Ulysses stands
To lend his counsels and assist our hands?
A chief, whose safety is Minerva's care;
So famed, so dreadful, in the works of war:
Bless'd in his conduct, I no aid require;
Wisdom like his might pass through flames of fire."
"It fits thee not, before these chiefs of fame,
(Replied the sage,) to praise me, or to blame:
Praise from a friend, or censure from a foe,
Are lost on hearers that our merits know.
But let us haste—Night rolls the hours away,
The reddening orient shows the coming day,
The stars shine fainter on the ethereal plains,
And of night's empire but a third remains."
Thus having spoke, with generous ardour press'd,
In arms terrific their huge limbs they dress'd.
A two-edged falchion Thrasymed the brave,
And ample buckler, to Tydides gave:
Then in a leathern helm he cased his head,
Short of its crest, and with no plume o'erspread:
(Such as by youths unused to arms are worn:)
No spoils enrich it, and no studs adorn.
Next him Ulysses took a shining sword,
A bow and quiver, with bright arrows stored:
A well-proved casque, with leather braces bound,
(Thy gift, Meriones,) his temples crown'd;
Soft wool within; without, in order spread,217
A boar's white teeth grinn'd horrid o'er his head.
This from Amyntor, rich Ormenus' son,[pg 187]
Autolycus by fraudful rapine won,
And gave Amphidamas; from him the prize
Molus received, the pledge of social ties;
The helmet next by Merion was possess'd,
And now Ulysses' thoughtful temples press'd.
Thus sheathed in arms, the council they forsake,
And dark through paths oblique their progress take.
Just then, in sign she favour'd their intent,