CHORUS OF TROJAN SENTINELS ODYSSEUS
MESSENGER, a shepherd THE MUSE
Before Hector's tent at the gates of Troy. Enter CHORUS
CHORUS To Hector's couch away, one of you wakeful squires that tend
the prince, to see if he have any fresh tidings from the warriors
who were set to guard the assembled host during the fourth watch of
the night. (Calls to HECTOR in the tent) Lift up thy head! Prop
thine arm beneath it! Unseal that louring eye from its repose; thy
lowly couch of scattered leaves, O Hector, quit! 'Tis time to hearken.
HECTOR Who goes there? Is it a friend who calls? Who art thou? Thy
watchword? Speak! Who in the dark hours comes nigh my couch, must
tell me who he is.
CHORUS Sentinels we of the army.
HECTOR Why this tumultuous haste?
CHORUS Be of good courage.
HECTOR Is there some midnight ambuscade?
HECTOR Then why dost thou desert thy post and rouse the army, save
thou have some tidings of the night? Art not aware how near the Argive
host we take our night's repose in all our harness clad?
CHORUS To arms! O Hector, seek thine allies' sleeping camp! Bid them
wield the spear! Awake them! thine own company despatch a friend.
Saddle and bridle the steeds. Who will to the son of Panthus? who
to Europa's son, captain of the Lycian band? Where are they who should
inspect the victims? Where be the leaders of the light-armed troops?
Ye Phrygian archers, string your horn-tipped bows.
HECTOR Now fear, now confidence thy tidings inspire; nothing is plainly
set forth. Can it be that thou art smitten with wild affright by Pan,
the son of Cronion, and leaving thy watch therefore dost rouse the
host? What means thy noisy summons? What tidings can I say thou bringest?
Thy words are many, but no plain statement hast thou made.
CHORUS The long night through, O Hector, the Argive host hath kindled
fires, and bright with torches shines the anchored fleet. To Agamemnon's
tent the whole army moves clamorously by night, eager for fresh orders
maybe, for never before have I seen such commotion among yon sea-faring
folk. Wherefore I was suspicious of what might happen and came to
tell thee, that thou mayest have no cause to blame me hereafter.
HECTOR In good season com'st thou, albeit thy tidings are fraught
with terror; for those cowards are bent on giving me the slip and
stealing away from this land in their ships by night; their midnight
signalling convinces me of this. Ah! Fortune, to rob me in my hour
of triumph, a lion of his prey, or ever this spear of mine with one
fell swoop had made an end for aye of yonder Argive host! Yea, had
not the sun's bright lamp withheld his light, I had not stayed my
victor's spear, ere I had fired their ships and made my way from tent
to tent, drenching this hand in Achaean gore. Right eager was I to
make a night attack and take advantage of the stroke of luck by heaven
sent, but those wise seers of mine, who have heaven's will so pat,
persuaded me to wait the dawn, and then leave not one Achaean in the
land. But those others await not the counsels of my soothsayers; darkness
turns runaways to heroes. Needs must we now without delay pass this
word along the line "Arm, arm! from slumber cease!" for many a man
of them, e'en as he leaps aboard his ship, shall be smitten through
the back and sprinkle the ladders with blood, and others shall be
fast bound with cords and learn to till our Phrygian glebe.
CHORUS Thou hastest, Hector, before thou knowest clearly what is
happening; for we do not know for certain whether our foes are flying.
HECTOR What reason else had the Argive host to kindle fires?
CHORUS I cannot say; my soul doth much misgive me.
HECTOR If this thou fearest, be sure there's nought thou wouldst
CHORUS Never aforetime did the enemy kindle such a blaze.
HECTOR No, nor ever before did they suffer such shameful defeat and
CHORUS This thou didst achieve; look now to what remains to do.
HECTOR I have but one word to say, "Arm, arm against the foe!"
CHORUS Lo! where Aeneas comes, in hot haste too, as though he hath
news to tell his friends. (Enter ENEAS.)
AENEAS Why, Hector, have the sentinels in terror made their way through
the host to thy couch to hold a midnight conclave and disturb the
HECTOR Case thee in thy coat of mail, Aeneas.
AENEAS How now? are tidings come of some secret stratagem set on
foot during the night by the foe?
HECTOR They are flying, these foes of ours, and going aboard their
AENEAS What sure proof canst thou give of this?
HECTOR The livelong night they are kindling blazing torches; methinks
they will not wait for the morrow, but after lighting brands upon
their ships' decks will leave this and to their homes.
AENEAS And thou, wherefore dost thou gird thee with thy sword?
HECTOR With my spear will I stop them even as they fly and leap aboard
their ships, and my hand shail be heavy upon them; for shameful it
were in us, aye, and cowardly as well as shameful, when God gives
them into our hands, to let our foes escape without a blow after all
the injuries they have done us.
AENEAS Would thou wert as sage as thou art bold But lo! among mortals
the same man is not dowered by nature with universal knowledge; each
hath his special gift appointed him, thine is arms, another's is sage
counsel. Thou hearest their torches are blazing, and art fired with
the hope that the Achaeans are flying, and wouldst lead on our troops
across the trenches in the calm still night. Now after crossing the
deep yawning trench, supposing thou shouldst find the enemy are not
flying from the land, but are awaiting thy onset, beware lest thou
suffer defeat and so never reach this city again; for how wilt thou
pass the palisades in a rout? And how shall thy charioteers cross
the bridges without dashing the axles of their cars to pieces? And,
if victorious, thou hast next the son of Peleus to engage; he will
ne'er suffer thee to cast the firebrand on the fleet, no, nor to harry
the Achaeans as thou dost fondly fancy. Nay, for yon man is fierce
as fire, a very tower of valiancy. Let us rather then leave our men
to sleep calmly under arms after the weariness of battle, while we
send, as I advise, whoe'er will volunteer, to spy upon the enemy;
and if they really are preparing to fly, let us arise and fall upon
the Argive host, but if this signalling is a trap to catch us, we
shall discover from the spy the enemy's designs and take our measures;
such is my advice, O King.
CHORUS It likes me well; so change thy mind and adopt this counsel.
I love not hazardous commands in generals. What better scheme could
be than for a fleet spy to approach the ships and learn why our foes
are lighting fires in front of their naval station?
HECTOR Since this finds favour with you all, prevail. (To AENEAS)
Go thou and marshal our allies; mayhap the host hearing of our midnight
council is disturbed. Mine shall it be to send one forth to spy upon
the foe. And if I discover any plot amongst them, thou shalt fully
hear thereof, and at the council-board shalt learn our will; but in
case they be starting off in flight, with cager ear await the trumpet's
call, for then I will not stay, but will this very night engage the
Argive host there where their ships are hauled up.
AENEAS Send out the spy forthwith; there's safety in thy counsels
now. And thou shalt find me steadfast at thy side, whene'er occasion
call. (Exit AENEAS.)
HECTOR What Trojan now af all our company doth volunteer to go and
spy the Argive fleet? Who will be that patriot? Who saith "I will"?
Myself cannot at every point serve my country and my friends in arms.
DOLON (Comes from the rear) I for my country will gladly run this
risk and go to spy the Argive fleet, and when I have learnt fully
all that the Acheans plot I will return. Hear the conditions on which
I undertake this toil.
HECTOR True to his name in sooth, his country's friend is Dolon.
Thy father's house was famed of yore, but thou hast made it doubly
DOLON So must I toil, but for my pains a meet reward should I receive.
For set a price on any deed, and then and there it gives to it a double
HECTOR Yea, that is but fair; I cannot gainsay it. Name any prize
for thyself save the sway I bear.
DOLON I covet not thy toilsome sovereignty.
HECTOR Well then, marry a daughter of Priam and become my good brother.
DOLON Nay, I care not to wed amongst those beyond my station.
HECTOR There's gold, if this thou'lt claim as thy guerdon.
DOLON Gold have I in my home; no sustenance lack I.
HECTOR What then is thy desire of all that Ilium stores within her?
DOLON Promise me my gift when thou dost conquer the Achaeans.
HECTOR I will give it thee; do thou ask anything except the captains
of the fleet.
DOLON Slay them; I do not ask thee to keep thy hand off Menelaus.
HECTOR Is it the son of Oileus thou wouldst ask me for?
DOLON Ill hands to dig and delve are those mid luxury nursed.
HECTOR Whom then of the Acheans wilt thou have alive to hold to ransom?
DOLON I told thee before, my house is stored with gold.
HECTOR Why then, thou shalt come and with thine own hands choose
out some spoil.
DOLON Nail up the spoils for the gods on their temple walls.
HECTOR Prithee, what higher prize than these wilt ask me for?
DOLON Achilles' coursers. Needs must the prize be worth the toil
when one stakes one's life on Fortune's die.
HECTOR Ah! but thy wishes clash with mine anent those steeds; for
of immortal stock, they and their sires before them, are those horses
that bear the son of Peleus on his headlong course. Them did king
Poseidon, ocean's god, break and give to Peleus, so runs the legend-yet,
for I did urge thee on, I will not break my word; to thee will I give
Achilles' team, to add a splendour to thy house.
DOLON I thank thee; in receiving them I avow I am taking a fairer
gift than any other Phrygian for my bravery. Yet thee it needs not
to be envious; countless joys besides this will glad thy heart in
thy kingship o'er this land. (Exit HECTOR.)
CHORUS Great the enterprise, and great the boon thou designest to
receive. Happy, ay, happy wilt thou be, if thou succeed; fair the
fame thy toil shall win. Yet to wed with a prince's sister were a
distinction high. On Heaven's decrees let Justice keep her eye! what
man can give thou hast, it seems, in full.
DOLON Now will I set forth, and going within my house will don such
garb as suits, and then will hasten to the Argive fleet.
CHORUS Why, what dress in place of this wilt thou assume?
DOLON Such as suits my task and furtive steps.
CHORUS One should ever learn wisdom from the wise; tell me wherewith
thou wilt drape thy body.
DOLON I will fasten a wolf skin about my back, and o'er my head put
the brute's gaping jaws; then fitting its fore-feet to my hands and
its hind-feet to my legs I will go on all-fours in imitation of its
gait to puzzle the enemy when I approach their trenches and barriers
round the ships. But whenever I come to a deserted spot, on two feet
will I walk; such is the ruse I have decided on.
CHORUS May Hermes, Maia's child, escort thee safely there and back,
prince of tricksters as he is! Thou knowest what thou hast to do;
good luck is all thou needest now.
DOLON I shall return in safety, and bring to thee the head of Odysseus
when I have slain him, or maybe the son of Tydeus, and with this clear
proof before thee thou shalt avow that Dolon went unto the Argive
fleet; for, ere the dawn appear, I will win back home with bloodstained
hand. (Exit DOLON.)
CHORUS O Apollo, blest godhead, lord of Thymbra and of Delos, who
hauntest thy fane in Lycia, come with all thy archery, appear this
night, and by thy guidance save our friend now setting forth, and
aid the Dardans' scheme, almighty god whose hands in days of yore
upreared Troy's walls! Good luck attend his mission to the ships!
may he reach the host of Hellas and spy it out, then turn again and
reach the altars of his father's home in Ilium! Grant him to mount
the chariot drawn by Phthia's steeds, when Hector, our master, hath
sacked Achae's camp, those steeds that the sea-god gave to Peleus,
son of Aeacus; for he and he alone had heart enough for home and country
to go and spy the naval station; his spirit I admire; how few stout
hearts there be, when on the sea the sunlight dies and the city labours
in the surge; Phrygia yet hath left a valiant few, and bold hearts
in the battle's press; 'tis only Mysia's sons who scorn us as allies.
Which of the Achaeans will their four-footed murderous foe slay in
their beds, as he crosses the ground, feigning to be a beast? May
he lay Menelaus low or slay Agamemnon and bring his head to Helen's
hands, causing her to lament her evil kinsman, who hath come against
my city, against the land of Troy with his countless host of ships.
DOLON reappears disguised and departs for the Greek camp. (Enter
MESSENGER (a Shepherd) .
Great king, ever in days to come be it mine to bring my masters such
news as I am bearing now unto thine ears. (Enter HECTOR.)
HECTOR Full oft the rustic mind is afflicted with dulness; so thou,
as like as not, art come to this ill-suited place to tell thy master
that his flocks are bearing well. Knowest thou not my palace or my
father's throne? Thither thou shouldst carry thy tale when thou hast
prospered with thy flocks.
MESSENGER Dull herdsmen are; I do not gainsay thee.
But none the less I bring thee joyful news.
HECTOR A truce to thy tale of how the sheep-fold fares; I have battles
to fight and spears to wield.
MESSENGER The very things of which I, too, came to tell thee; for
a chieftain of a countless host is on his way to join thee as thy
friend and to champion this land.
HECTOR His country? and the home that he hath left?
MESSENGER His country, Thrace: men call his father Strymon.
HECTOR Didst say that Rhesus was setting foot in
MESSENGER Thou hast it; and savest me half my speech.
HECTOR How is it that he comes to Ida's meadows, wandering from the
broad waggon track across the plain?
MESSENGER I cannot say for certain, though I might guess. To make
his entry by night is no idle scheme, when he hears that the plains
are packed with foemen's troops. But he frightened us rustic hinds
who dwell alog the slopes of Ida, the earliest settlement in the land,
as he came by night through yon wood where wild beasts couch. On surged
the tide of Thracian warriors with loud shouts; whereat in wild amaze
we drove our flocks unto the heights, for fear that some Argives were
coming to plunder and harry thy steading, till that we caught the
sound of voices other than Greek and ceased from our alarm. Then went
I and questioned in the Thracian tongue those who were reconnoitring
the road, who it was that lead them, and whose he avowed him to be,
that came to the city to help the sons of Priam. And when I had heard
all I wished to learn, I stood still awhile; and lo! I see Rhesus
mounted like a god upon his Thracian chariot. Of gold was the yoke
that linked the necks of his steeds whiter than the snow; and on his
shoulders flashed his targe with figures welded in gold; while a gorgon
of bronze like that which gleams from the aegis of the goddess was
bound upon the frontlet of his horses, ringing out its note of fear
with many a bell. The number of his host thou couldst not reckon to
a sum exact, for it was beyond one's comprehension; many a knight
was there, and serried ranks of targeteers, and archers not a few,
with countless swarms of light-armed troops, in Thracian garb arrayed,
to bear them company. Such the ally who comes to Troy's assistance;
him the son of Peleus will ne'er escape or if he fly or meet him spear
CHORUS Whenso the gods stand by the burghers staunch and true, the
tide of fortune glides with easy flow to a successful goal.
HECTOR I shall find a host of friends now that fortune smiles upon
my warring and Zeus is on my side. But no need have we of those who
shared not our toils of erst, what time the War-god, driving all before
him, was rending the sails of our ship of state with his tempestuous
blast. Rhesus hath shewn the friendship he then bore to Troy; for
he cometh to the feast, albeit he was not with the hunters when they
took the prey, nor joined his spear with theirs.
CHORUS Thou art right to scorn and blame such friends; yet welcome
those who fain would help the state.
HECTOR Sufficient we who long have kept Ilium safe.
CHORUS Art so sure thou hast already caught the foe?
HECTOR Quite sure I am; to-morrow's light will make that plain.
CHORUS Beware of what may chance; full oft doth fortune veer.
HECTOR I loathe the friend who brings his help too late.
MESSENGER O prince, to turn away allies earns hatred. His mere appearing
would cause a panic amongst the foe.
CHORUS Let him, at least, since he is come, approach thy genial board
as guest, if not ally, for the gratitude of Priam's sons is forfeit
in his case.
HECTOR Thou counsellest aright; thou too dost take the proper view.
Let Rhesus in his gilded mail join the allies of this land, thanks
to the messenger's report. (Exeunt the MESSENGER and HECTOR.)
CHORUS May Nemesis, daughter of Zeus, check the word that may offend;
for lo! I will utter all that my soul fain would say. Thou art come,
O son of the river god, art come, thrice welcome in thy advent, to
the halls of Phrygia; late in time thy Pierian mother and Strymon
thy sire, that stream with bridges fair, are sending thee to us-Strymon
who begat thee his strong young son, that day his swirling waters
found a refuge in the tuneful Muse's virgin bosom. Thou art my Zeus,
my god of light, as thou comest driving thy dappled steeds. Now, O
Phrygia, O my country, now mayst thou by God's grace address thy saviour
Zeus! Shall old Troy once more at last spend the live-long day in
drinking toasts and singing love's praise, while the wildering wine-cup
sends a friendly challenge round, as o'er the sea for Sparta bound,
the sons of Atreus quit the Ilian strand? Ah! best of friends, with
thy strong arm and spear mayst thou this service do me, then safe
return. Come, appear, brandish that shield of gold full in Achilles'
face; raise it aslant along the chariot's branching rail, urging on
thy steeds the while, and shaking thy lance with double point. For
none after facing thee will ever join the dance on the lawns of Argive
Hera; no, but he shall die by Thracians slain, and this land shall
bear the burden of his corpse and be glad. (Enter RHESUS.) Hail,
all bail O mighty prince! fair the scion thou hast bred, O Thrace,
a ruler in his every look. Mark his stalwart frame cased in golden
corslet! Hark to the ringing bells that peal so proudly from his targehandle
hung. A god, O Troy, a god, a very Ares, a scion of Strymon's stream
and of the tuneful Muse, breathes courage into thee. (Re-enter HECTOR.)
RHESUS Brave son of sire as brave, Hector, prince of this land, all
haill After many a long day I greet thee. Right glad am I of thy success,
to see thee camped hard on the foemen's towers; I come to help thee
raze their walls and fire their fleet of ships.
HECTOR Son of that tuneful mother, one of the Muses nine, and of
Thracian Strymon's stream, I ever love to speak plain truth; nature
gave me not a double tongue. Long, long ago shouldst thou have come
and shared the labours this land nor suffered Troy for any help of
thine to fall o'er thrown by hostile Argive spears. Thou canst not
say 'twas any want of invitation that kept thee from coming with thy
help to visit us. How oft came heralds and embassies from Phrygia
urgently requiring thine aid for our city? What sumptuous presents
did we not send to thee? But thou, brother barbarian though thou wert,
didst pledge away to Hellenes us thy barbarian brethren, for ill the
help thou gavest. Yet 'twas I with this strong arm that raised thee
from thy paltry princedom to high lordship over Thrace, that day I
fell upon the Thracian chieftains face to face around Pangaeus in
Paeonia's land and broke their serried ranks, and gave their people
up to thee with the yoke upon their necks; but thou hast trampled
on this great favour done thee, and comest with laggard step to give
thine aid when friends are in distress. While they, whom no natural
tic of kin constrains, have long been here, and some are dead and
in their graves beneath the heaped-up cairn, no mean proof of loyalty
to the city, and others in harness clad and mounted on their cars,
with steadfast soul endure the icy blast and parching heat of the
sun, not pledging one another, as thou art wont, in long deep draughts
on couches soft. This is the charge I bring against thee and utter
to thy face, that thou mayst know how frank is Hector's tongue.
RHESUS I too am such another as thyself; straight to the point I
cut my way; no shuffling nature mine. My heart was wrung with sorer
anguish than ever thine was at my absence from this land; I fumed
and chafed, but Scythian folk, whose borders march with mine, made
war on me on the very eve of my departure for Ilium; already had I
reached the strand of the Euxine sea, there to transport my Thracian
army. Then did my spear pour out o'er Scythia's soil great drops of
bloody rain, and Thrace too shared in the mingled slaughter. This
then was what did chance to keep me from coming to the land of Troy
and joining thy standard. But soon as I had conquered these and taken
their children as hostages and appointed the yearly tribute they should
pay my house, I crossed the firth, and lo! am here; on foot I traversed
all thy borders that remained to pass, not as thou in thy jeers at
those carousals of my countrymen hintest, nor sleeping soft in gilded
palaces, but amid the frozen hurricanes that vex the Thracian main
and the Paeonian shores, learning as I lay awake what suffering is,
this soldier's cloak-my only wrap. True my coming hath tarried, but
yet am I in time; ten long years already hast thou been at the fray,
and naught accomplished yet; day in, day out, thou riskest all in
this game of war with Argives. While I will be content once to see
the sungod rise, and sack yon towers and fall upon their anchored
fleet and slay the Achaeans; and on the morrow home from Ilium will
I go, at one stroke ending all thy toil. Let none of you lay hand
to spear to lift it, for I, for all my late arrival, will with my
lance make utter havoc of those vaunting Achaeans.
CHORUS Joy, joy! sweet champion sent by Zeus! Only may Zeus, throned
on high, keep jealousy, resistless foe, from thee for thy presumptuous
words! Yon fleet of ships from Argos sent, never brought, nor formerly
nor now, among all its warriors a braver than thee; how I wonder will
Achilles, how will Aias stand the onset of thy spear? Oh! to live
to see that happy day, my prince, that thou mayest wreak vengeance
on them, gripping thy lance in thy deathdealing hand!
RHESUS Such exploits am I ready to achieve to atone for my long absence;
(with due submission to Nemesis I say this;) then when we have cleared
this city of its foes and thou hast chosen out firstfruits for the
gods, I fain would march with thee against the Argives' country and
coming thither, lay Hellas waste with war, that they in turn may know
the taste of ill.
HECTOR If thou couldst rid the city of this present curse and restore
it to its old security, sure I should feel deep gratitude towards
heaven. But as for sacking Argos and the pasture-lands of Hellas,
as thou sayest, 'tis no easy task.
RHESUS Avow they not that hither came the choicest chiefs of Hellas?
HECTOR Aye, and I scorn them not; enough have I to do in driving
RHESUS Well, if we slay these, our task is fully done.
HECTOR Leave not the present need, nor look to distant schemes.
RHESUS Thou art, it seems, content to suffer tamely and make no return.
HECTOR I rule an empire wide enough, e'en though I here abide. But
on the left wing or the right or in the centre of the allies thou
mayst plant thy shield and marshal thy troops.
RHESUS Alone will I face the foe, Hector. But if thou art ashamed,
after all thy previous toil, to have no share in firing their ships'
prows, place me face to face at least with Achilles and his host.
HECTOR 'Gainst him thou canst not range thy eager spear.
RHESUS Why, 'twas surely said he sailed to Ilium.
HECTOR He sailed and is come hither; but he is wroth and takes no
part with the other chieftains in the fray.
RHESUS Who next to him hath won a name in their host?
HECTOR Aias and the son of Tydeus are, I take it, no whit his inferiors;
there is Odysseus too, a noisy knave to talk, but bold enough withal,
of all men he country. For he her image he made his a vagrant in a
beggar's garb, and loudly did he curse the Argives, sent as a spy
to Ilium; and then sneaked out again, when he had slain the sentinels
and warders at the gate. He is ever to be found lurking in ambush
about the altar of Thymbraean Apollo nigh the city. In him we have
a troublous pest to wrestle with.
RHESUS No brave man deigns to his foe in secret, but to meet him
face to face. If I can catch this knave alive, who, as thou sayest,
skulks in stealthy ambuscade and plots his mischief, I will impale
him at the outlet of the gates and set him up for vultures of the
air to make their meal upon. This is the death he ought to die, pirate
and temple-robber that he is.
HECTOR To your quarters now, for night draws on. For thee I will
myself point out a spot where thy host can watch this night apart
from our array. Our watchword is Phorbus, if haply there be need thereof;
hear and mark it well and tell it to the Thracian army. Ye must advance
in front of our ranks and keep a watchful guard, and so receive Dolon
who went to spy the ships, for he, if safe he is, is even now approaching
the camp of Troy. (Exeunt HECTOR and RHESUS.)
CHORUS Whose watch is it? who relieves me? night's earlier stars
are on the wane, and the seven Pleiads mount the sky; athwart the
firmament the eagle floats. Rouse ye, why delay? Up from your beds
to the watch! See ye not the moon's pale beam? Dawn is near, day is
coming, and lo! a star that heralds it.
SEMI-CHORUS Who was told off to the first watch?
The son of Mygdon, whom men call Coroebus.
Who after him?
The Paconian contingent roused the Cilicians;
And the Mysians us.
Is it not then high time we went and roused the Lycians for the fifth
watch, as the lot decided?
CHORUS Hark! hark! a sound; 'tis the nightingale, that slew her child,
singing where she sits upon her bloodstained nest by Simois her piteous
plaint, sweet singer of the many trills; already along Ida's slopes
they are pasturing the flocks, and o'er the night I catch the shrill
pipe's note; sleep on my closing eyelids softly steals, the sweetest
sleep that comes at dawn to tired eyes.
SEMI-CHORUS Why doth not our scout draw near, whom Hector sent to
spy the fleet?
He is so long away, I have my fears.
Is it possible he hath plunged into a hidden ambush and been slain?
Soon must we know.
My counsel is we go and rouse the Lycians to the fifth watch, as the
lot ordained. (Exit SEMI-CHORUS., Enter DIOMEDES and ODYSSEUS
cautiously with drawn swords.)
ODYSSEUS Didst not hear, O Diomedes, the clash of arms? or is it
an idle noise that rings in my ears?
DIOMEDES Nay, 'tis the rattle of steel harness on the chariot-rails;
me, too, did fear assail, till I perceived 'twas but the clang of
ODYSSEUS Beware thou stumble not upon the guard in the darkness.
DIOMEDES I will take good care how I advance even in this gloom.
ODYSSEUS If however thou shouldst rouse them, dost know their watchword?
DIOMEDES Yea, 'tis "Phorbus"; I heard Dolon use it. (They enter
the tent, then return.)
ODYSSEUS Ha! the foe I see have left this bivouac.
DIOMEDES Yet Dolon surely said that here was Hector's couch, against
whom this sword of mine is drawn.
ODYSSEUS What can it mean? Is his company withdrawn elsewhere?
DIOMEDES Perhaps to form some stratagem against us.
ODYSSEUS Like enough, for Hector now is grown quite bold by reason
of his victory.
DIOMEDES What then are we to do, Odysseus? we have not found our
man asleep; our hopes are dashed.
ODYSSEUS Let us to the fleet with what speed we may. Some god, whiche'er
it be that gives him his good luck, is preserving him; 'gainst fate
we must not strive.
DIOMEDES Well, we twain must go against Eneas or Paris, most hateful
of Phrygians, and withour swords cut off their heads.
ODYSSEUS How, pray, in the darkness canst thou find them amid a hostile
army, and slay them without risk?
DIOMEDES Yet 'twere base to go unto the Agrive ships if we have worked
the enemy no harm.
ODYSSEUS What! no harm! Have we not slain Dolon who spied upon the
anchored fleet, and have we not his spoils safe here? Dost thou expect
to sack the entire camp? Be led by me, let us return; and good luck
go with us! (ATHENA appears.)
ATHENA Whither away from the Trojan ranks, with sorrow gnawing at
your hearts, because fortune granteth not you twain to slay Hector
or Paris? Have ye not heard that Rhesus is come to succour Troy in
no mean sort? If he survive this night until to-morrow's dawn, neither
Achilles nor Aias, stout spearman, can stay him from utterly destroying
the Argive fleet, razing its palisades and carrying the onslaught
of his lance far and wide within the gates; slay him, and all is thine;
let Hector's sleep alone, nor hope to leave him a weltering trunk,
for he shall find death at another hand.
ODYSSEUS Queen Athena, 'tis the well-known accent of thy voice I
hear; for thou art ever at my side to help me in my toil. Tell us
where the warrior lies asleep, in what part of the barbarian army
he is stationed.
ATHENA Here lies he close at hand, not marshalled with the other
troops, but outside the ranks hath Hector given him quarters, till
night gives place to day. And nigh him are tethered his white steeds
to his Thracian chariot, easy to see in the darkness; glossy white
are they like to the plumage of a river swan. Slay their master and
bear them off, a glorious prize to any home, for nowhere else in all
the world is such a splendid team to be found.
ODYSSEUS Diomedes, either do thou slay the Thracian folk, or leave
that to me, while thy care must be the horses.
DIOMEDES I will do the killing, and do thou look to the steeds. For
thou art well versed in clever tricks, and hast a ready wit. And 'tis
right to allot a man to the work he can best perform.
ATHENA Lo! yonder I see Paris coming towards us; he hath heard maybe
from the guard a rumour vague that foes are near.
DIOMEDES Are others with him or cometh he alone?
ATHENA Alone; to Hector's couch he seems to wend his way, to announce
to him that spies are in the camp.
DIOMEDES Ought not he to head the list of slain?
ATHENA Thou canst not o'erreach Destiny. And it is not decreed that
he should fall by thy hand; but hasten on thy mission of slaughter
fore-ordained, (exeunt ODYSSEUS and DIOMEDES) while I feigning to
be Cypris, his ally, and to aid him in his efforts will answer thy
foe with cheating words. Thus much I have told you, but the fated
victim knoweth not, nor hath he heard one word, for all he is so near.
PARIS To thee I call, general and brother, Hector! Sleep'st thou?
shouldst not thou awake? Some foeman draws anigh our host, or thieves
maybe, or spies.
ATHENA Courage! lo! Cypris watches o'er thee in gracious mood. Thy
warfare is my care, for I do not for the honour thou once didst me,
and I thank thee for thy good service. And now, when the host of Troy
is triumphant, am I come bringing to thee a powerful friend, the Thracian
child of the Muse, the heavenly songstress, whose father's name is
PARIS Ever unto this city and to me a kind friend art thou, and I
am sure that decision I then made conferred upon this city the highest
treasure life affords in thy person. I heard a vague report, and so
I came, for there prevailed amongst the guard a rumour that Achaean
spies are here. One man, that saw them not, saith so, while another,
that saw them come, cannot describe them, and so I am on my way to
ATHENA Fear naught; all is quiet in the host, and Hector is gone
to assign a sleeping-place to the Thracian army.
PARIS Thou dost persuade me, and I believe thy words, and will go
to guard my post, free of fear.
ATHENA Go, for 'tis my pleasure ever to watch thy interests, that
so I may see my allies prosperous. Yea, and thou too shalt recognize
my zeal. (Exit PARIS., Enter ODYSSEUS and DIOMEDES.) O son of
Laertes, I bid you sheathe your whetted swords, ye warriors all too
keen; for dead before you lies the Thracian chief, his steeds are
captured, but the foe have wind thereof, and are coming forth against
you; fly with all speed to the ships' station. Why delay to save your
lives when the foemen's storm is just bursting on you?
CHORUS On, on! strike, strike, lay on, lay on! deal death in every
SEMI-CHORUS Who goes there?
Look you, that man I mean. There are the thieves who in the gloom
disturbed this host. Hither, come hither, every man of you! I have
them-I have clutched them fast.
What is the watchword? Whence cam'st thou? Thy country?
ODYSSEUS 'Tis not for thee to know.
SEMI-CHORUS Speak, or thou diest as a vile traitor this day.
Wilt not the watchword declare, ere my sword finds its way to thy
ODYSSEUS What! hast thou slain Rhesus?
SEMI-CHORUS Nay, I am asking thee about him who came to slay us.
ODYSSEUS Be of good heart, approach.
SEMI-CHORUS Strike every man of you, strike, strike home!
ODYSSEUS Stay every man of you!
SEMI-CHORUS No, no, lay on!
ODYSSEUS Ah! slay not a friend.
SEMI-CHORUS What is the watchword, then?
SEMI-CHORUS Right! stay every man his spear! Dost know whither those
men are gone?
ODYSSEUS Somewhere here I caught a sight of them.
SEMI-CHORUS Close on their track each man of you, or else must we
shout for aid.
ODYSSEUS Nay, 'twere conduct strange to disturb our friends with
wild alarms by night. (Exeunt ODYSSEUS and DIOMEDES.)
CHORUS Who was that man who slipped away? Who was he that will loudly
boast his daring in escaping me? How shall I catch him now? to whom
liken him? the man who came by night with fearless step passing through
our ranks and the guard we set. Is he a Thessalian or a dweller in
some seacoast town of Locris, or hath he his home amid the scattered
islands of the main? Who was he, and whence came he? What is his fatherland?
What god doth he avow as lord of the rest?
SEMI-CHORUS Whose work is this? is it the deed of Odysseus?
If one may conjecture from his former acts, of course it is.
Dost think so really? Why, of course.
He is a bold foe for us.
Who is? whom art thou praising for valiancy?
Praise not the crafty weapons that a robber uses.
CHORUS Once before he came into this city, with swimming bleary eyes,
in rags and tatters clad, his sword hidden in his cloak. And like
some vagrant menial he slunk about begging his board, his hair all
tousled and matted with filth, and many a bitter curse he uttered
against the royal house of the Atreidae, as though forsooth he were
to those chiefs opposed. Would, oh! Would, oh! would he had perished,
as was his due, or ever he set foot on Phrygia's soil!
SEMI-CHORUS Whether it were really Odysseus or not, I am afeard.
Aye surely, for Hector will blame us sentinels.
What can he allege?
He will suspect.
What have we done? why art afeard?
By us did pass-
They who this night came to the Phrygian host. (Enter CHARIOTEER.)
CHARIOTEER O crue! stroke of fate. Woe, woe!
CHORUS Hush! be silent all! Crouch low, for maybe there cometh someone
into the snare.
CHARIOTEER Oh, oh! dire mishap to the Thracian allies.
CHORUS Who is he that groans?
CHARIOTEER Alack, alack! Woe is me and woe is thee, O king of thrace!
How curst the sight of Troy to thee! how sad the blow that closed
CHORUS Who art thou? an ally? which? night's gloom hath dulled these
eyes, I cannot clearly recognize thee.
CHARIOTEER Where can I find some Trojan chief? Where doth Hector
take his rest under arms? Alack and well-a-day! To which of the captains
of the host am I to tell my tale? What sufferings ours! What dark
deeds someone hath wrought on us and gone his way, when he had wound
up a clew of sorrow manifest to every Thracian!
CHORUS From what I gather of this man's words, some calamity, it
seems, is befalling the Thracian host.
CHARIOTEER Lost is all our host, our prince is dead, slain by a treacherous
blow. Woe worth the hour! woe worth the day! O the cruel anguish of
this bloody wound that inly racks my frame! Would I were dead! Was
it to die this inglorious death that Rhesus and I did come to Troy?
CHORUS This is plain language; in no riddles he declares the disaster;
all too clearly he asserts our friends' destruction.
CHARIOTEER A sorry deed it was, and more than that a deed most foul;
yea, 'tis an evil doubly bad; to die with glory, if die one must,
is bitterness enough I trow to him who dies; assuredly it is; though
to the living it add dignity and honour for their house. But we, like
fools, have died a death of shame. No sooner had great Hector given
us our quarters and told us the watchword than we laid us down to
sleep upon the ground, o'ercome by weariness. No guard our army set
to watch by night. Our arms we set not in array, nor were the whips
hung ready on the horses' yokes, for our prince was told that you
were masters now, and had encamped hard on their ships; so carelessly
we threw us down to sleep. Now I with thoughtful mind awoke from my
slumber, and with ungrudging hand did measure out the horses' feed,
expecting to harness them at dawn unto the fray; when lo! through
the thick gloom two men I see roaming around our army. But when I
roused myself they fled away, and were gone once more; and I called
out to them to keep away from our army, for I thought they might be
thieves from our allies. No answer made they, so I too said no more,
but came back to my couch and slept again. And lo! as I slept came
a strange fancy o'er me: I saw, methought as in a dream, those steeds
that I had groomed and used to drive, stationed at Rhesus' side, with
wolves mounted on their backs; and these with their tails did lash
the horses' flanks and urge them on, while they did snort and breathe
fury from their nostrils, striving in terror to unseat their riders.
Up I sprang to defend the horses from the brutes, for the horror of
the night scared me. Then as I raised my head I heard the groans of
dying men, and a warm stream of new-shed blood bespattered me where
I lay close to my murdered master as he gave up the ghost. To my feet
I start, but all unarmed; and as I peer about and grope to find my
sword, a stalwart hand from somewhere nigh dealt me a sword-thrust
beneath the ribs. I know the sword that dealt that blow from the deep
gaping wound it gave me. Down on my face I fell, while they fled clean
away with steeds and chariot. Alack, alack! Tortured with pain, too
weak to stand, a piteous object I know what happened, for I saw it;
but how the victims met their death I cannot say, nor whose the hand
that smote them; but I can well surmise we have our friends to thank
for this mischance.
CHORUS O charioteer of Thrace's hapless king, never suspect that
any but foes have had a hand in this. Lo! Hector himself is here,
apprized of thy mischance; he sympathizes as he should with thy hard
fate. (Enter HECTOR.)
HECTOR Ye villains who have caused this mischief dire, how came the
foemen's spies without your knowledge, to your shame, and spread destruction
through the host, and you drove them not away as they passed in or
out? Who but you shall pay the penalty for this? You, I say, were
stationed here to the host. But they are gone without a wound, with
many a scoff at Phrygian cowardice, and at me their leader. Now mark
ye this-by father Zeus I swear at least the scourge, if not the headsman's
axe, awaits such conduct; else count Hector a thing of naught, a mere
CHORUS Woe, woe is me! A grievous, grievous woe came on me, I can
see, great lord of my city, in the hour that I brought my news to
thee that the Argive host was kindling fires about the ships; for
by the springs of Simois I vow my eye kept sleepless watch by night,
nor did I slumber or sleep. O be not angered with me, my lord; I am
guiltless of all; yet if hereafter thou find that I in word or deed
have done amiss, bury me alive beneath the earth; I ask no mercy.
CHARIOTEER Why threaten these? Why try to undermine my poor barbarian
wit by crafty words, barbarian thou thyself? Thou didst this deed;
nor they who have suffered ail, nor we by wounds disabled will believe
it was any other. A long and subtle speech thou'lt need to prove to
me thou didst not slay thy friends because thou didst covet the horses,
and to gain them didst murder thine own allies, after bidding them
come so straitly. They came, and they are dead. Why, Paris found more
decent means to shame the rights of hospitality than thou, with thy
slaughter of thy allies. Never tell me some Argive came and slaughtered
us. Who could have passed the Trojan lines and come against us without
detection? Thou and thy Phrygian troops were camped in front of us.
Who was wounded, who was slain amongst thy friends, when that foe
thou speak'st of came? 'Twas we were wounded, while some have met
a sterner fate and said farewell to heaven's light. Briefly, then,
no Achaean do I blame. For what enemy could have come and found the
lowly bed of Rhesus in the dark, unless some deity were guiding the
murderers' steps? They did not so much as know of his arrival. No,
'tis thy plot this!
HECTOR 'Tis many a long year now since I have had to do with allies,
aye, ever since Achoea's host settled in this land, and never an ill
word have I known them say of me; but with thee I am to make a beginning.
Never may such longing for horses seize me that I should slay my friends!
This is the work of Odysseus. Who of all the Argives but he would
have devised or carried out such a deed? I fear him much; and somewhat
my mind misgives me lest he have met and slain Dolon as well; for
'tis long since he set out, nor yet appears.
CHARIOTEER I know not this Odysseus of whom thou speakest. 'Twas
no foe's hand that smote me.
HECTOR Well, keep that opinion for thyself, if it please thee.
CHARIOTEER O land of my fathers, would I might die in thee!
HECTOR Die! No! Enough are those already dead.
CHARIOTEER Where am I to turn, I ask thee, reft of my master now?
HECTOR My house shall shelter thee and cure thee of thy hurt.
CHARIOTEER How shall murderers' hands care for me?
HECTOR This fellow will never have done repeating the same story.
CHARIOTEER Curses on the doer of this deed! On thee my tongue doth
fix no charge, as thou complainest; but justice is over all.
HECTOR Ho! him hence! Carry him to my palace and tend him carefully,
that he may have no fault to find. And you must go to those upon the
walls, to Priam and his aged councillors, and tell them to give orders
for the burial of the dead at the place where folk turn from the road
to rest. (CHARIOTEER is carried off.)
CHORUS Why, with what intent doth fortune change and bring Troy once
again to mourning after her famous victory? See, see! O look! What
goddess, O king, is hovering o'er our heads, bearing in her hands
as on a bier the warrior slain but now? I shudder at this sight of
woe. (THE MUSE appears.)
THE MUSE Behold me, sons of Troy! Lo! I the Muse, one of the sisters
nine, that have honour among the wise, am here, having seen the piteous
death his foes have dealt my darling son. Yet shall the crafty Odysseus,
that slew him, one day hereafter pay a fitting penalty. O my son,
thy mother's grief, I mourn for thee in self-taught strains of woe!
What a journey thou didst make to Troy, a very path of woe and sorrow!
starting, spite of all my warnings and thy father's earnest prayers,
in defiance of us. Woe is me for thee, my dear, dear son! Ah, woe!
my son, my son!
CHORUS I, too, bewail and mourn thy son, as far as one can who hath
no common tie of kin.
THE MUSE Curses on the son of Oeneus! Curses on Laertes' child! who
hath reft me of my fair son and made me childless! and on that woman,
too, that left her home in Hellas, and sailed hither with her Phrygian
paramour, bringing death to thee, my dearest son, 'neath Ilium's walls,
and stripping countless cities of their heroes brave. Deep, deep the
wounds, son of Philammon, hast thou inflicted on my heart, in life,
nor less in Hades' halls. Yea, for 'twas thy pride, thy own undoing,
and thy rivalry with us Muses that made me mother of this poor son
of mine. For as I crossed the river's streams I came too nigh to Strymon's
fruitful couch, that day we Muses came unto the brow of Mount Pangaeus
with its soil of gold, with all our music furnished forth for one
great trial of minstrel skill with that clever Thracian bard, and
him we reft of sight, even Thamyris, the man who oft reviled our craft.
Anon, when I gave birth to thee, because I felt shame of my sisters
and my maiden years, I sent thee to the swirling stream of thy sire,
the water-god; and Strymon did not entrust thy nurture to mortal hands,
but to the fountain nymphs. There wert thou reared most fairly by
the maiden nymphs, and didst rule o'er Thrace, a leader amongst men,
my child. So long as thou didst range thy native land in quest of
bloody deeds of prowess I feared not for thy death, but I bade thee
ne'er set out for Troy-town, for well I knew thy doom; but Hector's
messages and those countless embassies urged thee to go and help thy
friends. This was thy doing, Athena; thou alone art to blame for his
death (neither Odysseus nor the son of Tydeus had aught to do with
it); think not it hath escaped mine eye. And yet we sister Muses do
special honour to thy city, thy land we chiefly haunt; yea, and Orpheus,
own cousin of the dead whom thou hast slain, did for thee unfold those
dark mysteries with their torch processions. Musaeus, too, thy holy
citizen, of all men most advanced in lore, him did Phoebus with us
sisters train. And here is my reward for this; dead in my arms I hold
my child and mourn for him. Henceforth no other learned man I'll bring
CHORUS Vainly it seems the Thracian charioteer reviled us with plotting
this man's murder, Hector.
HECTOR I knew it; it needed no seer to say that he had perished by
the arts of Odysseus. Now I, when I saw the Hellene host camped in
my land, of course would not hesitate to send heralds to my friends,
bidding them come and help my country; and so I sent, and he as in
duty bound came my toils to share. It grieves me sorely to see him
dead; and now am I ready to raise a tomb for him and burn at his pyre
great store of fine raiment; for he came as a friend and in sorrow
is he going hence.
THE MUSE He shall not descend into earth's darksome soil; so earnest
a prayer will I address to the bride of the nether world, the daughter
of the goddess Demeter, giver of increase, to release his soul, and
debtor, as she is to me, show that she honours the friends of Orpheus.
Yet from henceforth will he be to me as one dead that seeth not the
light; for never again will he meet me or see his mother's face, but
will lurk hidden in a cavern of the land with veins of silver, restored
to life, no longer man but god, even as the prophet of Bacchus did
dwell in a grotto 'neath Pangaeus, a god whom his votaries honoured.
Lightly now shall I feel the grief of the sea-goddess, for her son
too must die. First then for thee we sisters must chaunt our dirge,
and then for Achilles when Thetis mourns some day. Him shall not Pallas,
thy slayer, save; so true the shaft Loxias keeps in his quiver for
him. Ah me! the sorrows that a mother feels! the troubles of mortals!
whoso fairly reckons you up will live and die a childless man and
will have no children to bury. (THE MUSE disappears.)
CHORUS His mother now must see to this her son's burial; but for
thee, Hector, if thou wilt carry out any scheme, now is the time,
for day is dawning.
HECTOR Go, bid our comrades arm at once; yoke the horses; torch in
hand ye must await the blast of the Etrurian trumpet; for I hope with
this day's mounting sun to pass beyond their lines and walls and fire
ships of the Acheans, restoring freedom's light once more to Troy.
CHORUS Obedience to our prince! let us array ourselves in mail, and
go forth and these orders tell to our allies, and haply the god who
is on our side will grant us victory.