Thus did the monarch speak, and he straitly enjoined, and dismissed them.
Slow and reluctant they went by the shore of the desolate salt sea.
Slowly they went, till on reaching the tents, and the Myrmidon galleys,
There did they light on the chief, in his tent, in the shade of his galley,
Seated apart:—as he saw them, grief fill'd the mind of Achilleus.
Fearing the hero's wrath, but mindful still of their own King,
Silent they stood:—no demand did they make; not a word did they utter. 330
Well did he understand their errand, and thus he address'd them.
"Messengers e'en as ye are, of Zeus as well as of mortals,
Heralds, all hail, approach!—Ye, truly, are blameless before me!—
Guilty alone your King; who by you lays claim to the damsel.
Bring then the damsel Brisèis, my Zeus-descended Patroclus!
Bring her, and let her depart!—But bear ye witness, O heralds;
Witness before the high Gods, everblest; in the presence of mortals;
E'en of the ruthless King;—when the time of his need overtakes him;
When I alone shall stand 'twixt him and utter destruction,
Utter destruction to him and to all——But the man is a madman! 340
Past misfortune, to him brings no wise care for the future:
Not one saving thought for the weal of the sons of Achaia."
Thus did the hero speak; and his words were obey'd by Patroclus.
Forth from the tent did he bring Brisèis, daintily featured;
Bring her, and give to the men:—who return'd to the ships of Achaia.
Slowly and sad went the maiden away from the tent:—but Achilleus
Weeping, apart from the rest, sat him down by the wandering waters,
Close by the hoary sea:—and he steadfastly gazed on the billows
Heaving darkly; and stretch'd. out his hands, and thus pray'd to his mother.
"Mother—for mother thou art—to a premature death thou hast borne me!350
- The original thus breaks off in the middle of a sentence;—as if Achilles felt that it was useless to complete the threat which he had half uttered.