The Fall of Troy (book 1 - 6)
Wretch, wherefore, if thou vauntest thee in might
Beyond all others, hast thou set thy ships
In the line's centre, screened from foes, nor dared
As I, on the far wing to draw them up?
Because thou wast afraid! Not thou it was
Who savedst from devouring fire the ships;
But I with heart unquailing there stood fast
Facing the fire and Hector ay, even he
Gave back before me everywhere in fight.
Thou -- thou didst fear him aye with deadly fear!
Oh, had this our contention been but set
Amidst that very battle, when the roar
Of conflict rose around Achilles slain!
Then had thine own eyes seen me bearing forth
Out from the battle's heart and fury of foes
That goodly armour and its hero lord
Unto the tents. But here thou canst but trust
In cunning speech, and covetest a place
Amongst the mighty! Thou -- thou hast not strength
To wear Achilles' arms invincible,
Nor sway his massy spear in thy weak hands!
But I they are verily moulded to my frame:
Yea, seemly it is I wear those glorious arms,
Who shall not shame a God's gifts passing fair.
But wherefore for Achilles' glorious arms
With words discourteous wrangling stand we here?
Come, let us try in strife with brazen spears
Who of us twain is best in murderous right!
For silver-footed Thetis set in the midst
This prize for prowess, not for pestilent words.
In folkmote may men have some use for words:
In pride of prowess I know me above thee far,
And great Achilles' lineage is mine own."
He spake: with scornful glance and bitter speech
Odysseus the resourceful chode with him:
"Aias, unbridled tongue, why these vain words
To me? Thou hast called me pestilent, niddering,
And weakling: yet I boast me better far
Than thou in wit and speech, which things increase
The strength of men. Lo, how the craggy rock,
Adamantine though it seem, the hewers of stone
Amid the hills by wisdom undermine
Full lightly, and by wisdom shipmen cross
The thunderous-plunging sea, when mountain-high
It surgeth, and by craft do hunters quell
Strong lions, panthers, boars, yea, all the brood
Of wild things. Furious-hearted bulls are tamed
To bear the yoke-bands by device of men.
Yea, all things are by wit accomplished. Still
It is the man who knoweth that excels
The witless man alike in toils and counsels.
For my keen wit did Oeneus' valiant son
Choose me of all men with him to draw nigh
To Hector's watchmen: yea, and mighty deeds
We twain accomplished. I it was who brought
To Atreus' sons Peleides far-renowned,
Their battle-helper. Whensoe'er the host
Needeth some other champion, not for the sake
Of thine hands will he come, nor by the rede
Of other Argives: of Achaeans I
Alone will draw him with soft suasive words
To where strong men are warring. Mighty power
The tongue hath over men, when courtesy