The Story of the Iliad/Chapter 7

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Now when Ares had departed, the Greeks prevailed again, slaying many of the sons of Troy and of their allies. But at last Helenus, the wise seer, spake to Hector and Æneas:—

"Cause the army to draw back to the walls, and go through the ranks and give them such strength and courage as ye may. And do thou, Hector, when thou hast so done, pass into the city, and bid thy mother go with the daughters of Troy, and take the costliest robe that she hath, and lay it on the knees of Athené in her temple, vowing therewith to sacrifice twelve heifers, if perchance she may have pity upon us, and keep this Diomed from our walls. Surely there is no Greek so strong as he; we did not fear even Achilles' self so much as we fear this man to-day, so dreadful is he and fierce. Go, and we will make such stand meanwhile as we can."

Then Hector passed through the ranks, bidding them be of good heart, and so departed to the city.

And when he was gone, Glaucus the Lycian and Diomed met in the space between the two hosts. Then first spake Diomed: "Tell me, thou mighty man of valour, who thou art of mortal men, for never before have I seen thee in the battle; but now thou comest out far before the ranks of thy fellows, and art willing to abide my spear. Luckless are the fathers of them that set themselves against my might. Yet, if thou be one of the immortal gods, and hast come down from heaven, I fight thee not. I dare not match myself with the gods of heaven. For King Lycurgus, son of Dryas, that fought with the gods, lived not long. Through the land of Nysa did he drive the nursing mothers of Bacchus, wielding an oxgoad in his fury, so that they dropped their wands for fear; and Bacchus also fled and leapt into the waves of the salt sea, being sore afraid; and Thetis took him to her bosom. Nevertheless, the gods that live at ease were wroth with Lycurgus, for all that he thus prevailed, and Zeus took from him the sight of his eyes; nor did he live many days, seeing that he was abhorred of all the gods. Therefore, I will not fight against any god; but if thou art mortal man, such as eat of the fruits of the field, come thou near, that I may give thee to death."

To him Glaucus the Lycian made answer: "Valiant son of Tydeus, why seekest thou to know my name and lineage, and the generations of my fathers? For the generations of men are as of the leaves of the wood. The wind scattereth them on the ground, and the wood bringeth forth others in the springtime. So is it with the generations of men—one goeth, and another cometh. Yet, if thou wilt know these things, hearken unto me. There is in the midst of Argos a certain city, Ephyre, wherein dwelt Sisyphus, son of Æolus, that was the craftiest of men. This Sisyphus begat Glaucus, and Glaucus begat Bellerophon, whom the gods made beautiful and strong above all other men. But Prœtus, who, by the ordering of Zeus, bare rule over the land of Argos, hated him, and drave him forth from among the people. And the cause was this: fair Anteia, that was wife to the King, loved Bellerophon; but he would not hearken to her words; for he was wise and upright of heart. Then Anteia spake falsely to the King, her husband, saying, 'If thou wouldst not die, O King, thou must slay this Bellerophon, for he would have had me love him, only I said him nay.' So she spake, and the King was very wroth when he heard her saying. He slew not Bellerophon, for shame forbade him; but he sent him to Lycia, to the King, the father of Anteia, and with him he sent a token of death, folding it in a tablet, that he might show it to the King and the King might slay him. So Bellerophon journeyed to Lycia, and the gods kept him safely on the way. And when he was come to the land, even to the river of Xanthus, then the King of the country made a great entertainment for him. Nine days he feasted him, slaying on every day an ox. And when the morning of the tenth day was come, he inquired of him his errand, and would see what writing he had brought. And when he had noted the token of death, he sent Bellerophon to slay the beast which no man could conquer, even the Chimæra. Now this Chimæra was of the race of the gods and not of the race of men. Her face was the face of a lion, and her hinder parts were the tail of a serpent, and her middle the shape of a goat, and the breath of her mouth was flaming fire. Her, indeed, he slew, for the gods guided him in his deed. And after this he fought with the Solymi, that were valiant men of war; and never, he was wont to say in aftertime, did he encounter warriors so fierce and strong as they. Then, again, he fought with the Amazons, that were women with the strength of men, and prevailed over them. But when he was coming back from these doings, the King devised against him a crafty device. For he set an ambush against him, choosing for it the bravest men of all the land of Lycia. But not one man of these returned to his home, for Bellerophon slew them all. And when the King knew how valiant he was, and that he was of the race of the gods, he would keep him in the land, and gave him his daughter to his wife, yea, and with her the half of his kingdom. The men of Lycia also measured out for him a fair domain of vineyards and plough-land. And his wife bare to Bellerophon three children; but after this the wrath of the gods came upon him, and he wandered alone over the Aleian plain, devouring his heart in sorrow, and avoiding the paths of men. And of his children, Peisander, his son, fell in battle, fighting against the Solymi, and Laodamia died smitten by the arrow of Artemis, after that she had borne a son to Zeus, even Sarpedon. But he had yet another son, by name Hippolochus. He is my father, and he sent me to Troy, saying to me, 'Strive evermore to be the first and to overpass other men, and shame not the house of thy fathers, who held high place in Ephyre and in the broad land of Lycia.' This, then, noble Diomed, is the house and lineage of which I claim to be."

So spake Glaucus, and Diomed was glad at heart. His spear he drave into the earth, and he spake pleasant words to the prince: "Verily, thou art by inheritance a friend of my house. For long ago great Œneus entertained Bellerophon in his dwelling, keeping him twenty days. Goodly gifts did they give one to the other. Œneus gave to Bellerophon a belt richly broidered with purple, and Bellerophon gave to Œneus a cup of gold with a mouth on either side. This I left when I came hither, in my palace at home. Now Œneus begat Tydeus, and Tydeus was my father. My father he was, but I remember him not; for he left me when I was a little child, and perished with the chiefs, his companions, fighting against Thebes. Therefore, I am thy friend and host when thou comest to the land of Argos, and thou art mine if any chance shall bring me to Lycia. But now, let each of us shun the spear of the other, yea, in the closest press of the battle. Many sons of Troy there are, and many of their brave allies, whom I may slay if the gods deliver them into my hands, and my feet be swift to overtake them. And thou also hast many Greeks to slay if thou canst. But now let us make exchange of arms and armour, that both the Greeks and the men of Troy may know that we are friends by inheritance."

So spake Tydeus. And the two chiefs leapt down from their chariots, and clasped each the hand of the other, and pledged their faith. Then Zeus changed the wisdom of Glaucus to folly, so that he gave his armour in exchange for the armour of Diomed, gold for bronze, the price of five-score oxen for the price of nine.