The Fall of Troy (book 1 - 6)
'Twixt godlike Aias and war-fain Odysseus,
Our Trojan captives. They shall say whom most
Our foes dread, and who saved Peleides' corse
From that most deadly fight. Lo, in our midst
Be many spear-won Trojans, thralls of Fate;
And these will pass true judgment on these twain,
To neither showing favour, since they hate
Alike all authors of their misery."
He spake: replied Agamemnon lord of spears:
"Ancient, there is none other in our midst
Wiser than thou, of Danaans young or old,
In that thou say'st that unforgiving wrath
Will burn in him to whom the Gods herein
Deny the victory; for these which strive
Are both our chiefest. Therefore mine heart too
Is set on this, that to the thralls of war
This judgment we commit: the loser then
Shall against Troy devise his deadly work
Of vengeance, and shall not be wroth with us."
He spake, and these three, being of one mind,
In hearing of all men refused to judge
Judgment so thankless: they would none of it.
Therefore they set the high-born sons of Troy
There in the midst, spear-thralls although they were,
To give just judgment in the warriors' strife.
Then in hot anger Aias rose, and spake:
"Odysseus, frantic soul, why hath a God
Deluded thee, to make thee hold thyself
My peer in might invincible? Dar'st thou say
That thou, when slain Achilles lay in dust,
When round him swarmed the Trojans, didst bear back
That furious throng, when I amidst them hurled
Death, and thou coweredst away? Thy dam
Bare thee a craven and a weakling wretch
Frail in comparison of me, as is
A cur beside a lion thunder-voiced!
No battle-biding heart is in thy breast,
But wiles and treachery be all thy care.
Hast thou forgotten how thou didst shrink back
From faring with Achaea's gathered host
To Ilium's holy burg, till Atreus' sons
Forced thee, the cowering craven, how loth soe'er,
To follow them -- would God thou hadst never come!
For by thy counsel left we in Lemnos' isle
Groaning in agony Poeas' son renowned.
And not for him alone was ruin devised
Of thee; for godlike Palamedes too
Didst thou contrive destruction -- ha, he was
Alike in battle and council better than thou!
And now thou dar'st to rise up against me,
Neither remembering my kindness, nor
Having respect unto the mightier man
Who rescued thee erewhile, when thou didst quaff
In fight before the onset of thy foes,
When thou, forsaken of all Greeks beside,
Midst tumult of the fray, wast fleeing too!
Oh that in that great fight Zeus' self had stayed
My dauntless might with thunder from his heaven!
Then with their two-edged swords the Trojan men
Had hewn thee limb from limb, and to their dogs
Had cast thy carrion! Then thou hadst not presumed
To meet me, trusting in thy trickeries!