Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/165

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BK. IX.]
145
THE SPEECH OF PHŒNIX

verence, and bow before them as all good men will bow. Were not the son of Atreus offering you gifts and promising others later— if he were still furious and implacable—I am not he that would bid you throw off your anger and help the Achæans, no matter how great their need; but he is giving much now, and more hereafter; he has sent his captains to urge his suit, and has chosen those who of all the Argives are most acceptable to you; make not then their words and their coming to be of none effect. Your anger has been righteous so far. We have heard in song how heroes of old time quarrelled when they were roused to fury, but still they could be won by gifts, and fair words could soothe them.

527"I have an old story in my mind—a very old one—but you are all friends and I will tell it. The Curetes and the Ætolians were fighting and killing one another round Calydon—the Ætolians defending the city and the Ouretes trying to destroy it. For Diana of the golden throne was angry and did them hurt because Œneus had not offered her his harvest first-fruits. The other gods had all been feasted with hecatombs, but to the daughter of great Jove alone he had made no sacrifice. He had forgotten her, or somehow or other it had escaped him, and this was a grievous sin. Thereon the archer goddess in her displeasure sent a prodigious creature against him—a savage wild-boar with great white tusks that did much harm to his orchard lands, uprooting apple-trees in full bloom and throwing them to the ground. But Meleager son of Œneus got huntsmen and hounds from many cities and killed it—for it was so monstrous that not a few were needed, and many a man did it stretch upon his funeral pyre. On this the goddess set the Curetes and the Ætolians fighting furiously about the head and skin of the boar.

"So long as Meleager was in the field things went badly with the Curetes, and for all their numbers they could not hold their ground under the city walls; but in the course of time Meleager was angered as even a wise man will

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