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The Iliad for Boys and Girls by  Alfred J. Church


 

 

OF GLAUCUS AND DIOMED

[81] AND now the Trojans, in their turn, were driven back, for they could make no stand against the Greeks. Now there was one of the sons of King Priam who was a very wise prophet, and knew all that men should do to win the favour and help of the gods, and his name was Helĕnus. This man went up to Hector, and said to him and to Ænēas, who was standing near him: "Make the army fall back and get as close to the walls as may be, for it will be safer there than in the open plain. And go through the ranks, and speak to the men, and put as much courage into them as you can. And when you have done this, do you, Hector, go into the city, and tell your mother to gather together the daughters of Troy, and go with them to the temple of Athené, taking with her the most precious robe that she has, and lay the [82] robe on the knees of the goddess, and promise to sacrifice twelve heifers, and beseech her to have pity on us and to keep Diomed from the walls. Never did I see so fierce a man; even Achilles himself was not so terrible as he is, so dreadful is he and so fierce. Go, and come back as soon as you can, and we will do what we can to bear up against the Greeks while you are away."

So Hector went through the ranks, bidding the men be of good courage; and when he had done this he went into the city.

And now the Trojans had a little rest. The way in which this happened shall now be told.

Sarpēdon and Lycian had a cousin, Glaucus by name: the two were sons of brothers. This Glaucus, being one of the bravest of men, went in front of the Trojan line to meet Diomed. When Diomed saw him, he said: "Tell me, mighty man of valour, who you are, for I have never seen you before; for this is a bold thing that you have done to come out in front of your comrades and to stand against me. Truly those men whose children come in my way in battle are un- [83] lucky. Tell me then who you are, for if you are a god from heaven, then I will not fight with you. Already to-day have I done enough fighting with them, for it is an unlucky thing to do. King Lycurgus, in the land of Thrace, fought with a god, and it was a bad thing for him that he did so, for he did not live long. He drove Bacchus, the god of wine, into the sea. But the other gods were angry with him for this cause, and Zeus made him blind, and he perished miserably. But if you are no god, but a mortal man, then draw near that I may kill you with my spear."

Glaucus said: "Brave Diomed, why do you ask who I am, and who was my father, and my father's father? The generations of men are like the leaves on the trees. In the spring they shoot forth, and in autumn they fall, and the wind blows them to and fro. And then when the spring comes others shoot forth, and these also fall in their time. So are the generations of men; one goes and another comes. Still, if you would hear of what race I come, listen. In a certain city of Greece which is called Corinth there dwelt a great warrior, Bellerŏphon by name. Some [84] one spoke evil of this man falsely to the King of the city, and the King believed this false thing, and plotted his death. He was ashamed to kill him, but he sent him with a message to the King of Lycia. This message was written on a tablet and the tablet was folded up in a cover, and the cover was sealed. But on the tablet was written: 'This is a wicked man; cause him to die.' So Bellerŏphon travelled to Lycia. And when he was come to the King's palace, the King made a great feast for him. For nine days did the feast last, and every day an ox was killed and eaten. On the morning of the tenth day the King said: 'Let me see the message which you have brought.' And when he had read it he thought how he might cause the man to die. First he sent him to conquer a great monster that there was in that country, called the Chimæra. Many men tried to conquer it, but it had killed them all. It had the head of a lion, and its middle parts were those of a goat, and it had the tail of a serpent; and it breathed out flames of fire. This monster he killed, the gods helping him. Then the King sent him against a very fierce [85] tribe of men, who were called the Solymi. These he conquered after much fighting, for, as he said himself, there never were warriors stronger than they. After this he fought the Amazons, who were women fighting with the arms of men, and these also he conquered. And when he was coming back from fighting the Amazons, the King set an ambush against him, choosing for it the bravest men in the whole land of Lycia. But Bellerŏphon killed them all, and came back safe to the King's palace. When the King saw this, he said to himself: 'The gods love this man; he cannot be wicked.' So he asked him about himself, and Bellerŏphon told him the whole truth. Then the King divided his kingdom with him, and gave him his daughter to wife. Three sons he had, of whom one was the father of Sarpēdon and one was my father. And when my father sent me hither he said: 'Always seek to be the first, and to be worthy of those who have gone before.' This, then, brave Diomed, is the race to which I belong."

When Diomed heard this he was very glad, and said: "It is well that we did not [86] fight, for we ought to be friends, as our fathers were before us. Long ago Œneus entertained Bellerŏphon in his house. For twenty days he kept him. And when they parted they gave great gifts to each other, the one a belt embroidered with purple, and the other a cup of gold with a mouth on either side of it. Now Œneus was my grandfather, as Bellerŏphon was yours. If then you should come to Corinth you will be my guest, and I will be yours if I go to the land of Lycia. But now we will not fight together. There are many Trojans and allies of the Trojans whom I may kill if I can overcome them, and there are many Greeks for you to fight with and conquer, if you can. But we two will not fight together. And now let us exchange our armour, that all men may know that we are friends."

So the two chiefs jumped down from their chariots and exchanged their armour. And men said afterwards that Glaucus had lost his wits, for he gave armour of gold in exchange for armour of brass, armour that was worth a hundred oxen for armour that was worth nine only.


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