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Now when we had put out from land, neither very far nor very near, the helmsman asked, “Shall we sail yet further, stranger, or is this far enough? [1580] For the command of this ship is yours.” And he answered, “Far enough for me.” Holding a sword in his right hand, he stepped into the prow; and, standing over the bull to slay it, with no mention of any dead man, he cut its throat and prayed: “O Poseidon of the sea, [1585] who lives in the deep, and you holy daughters of Nereus, bring me and my wife safe and sound from here to Nauplia's shore!” Streams of blood, a good omen for the stranger, darted into the waves. And someone said, “There is treachery in this voyage; [1590] let us sail back again! You, give an order for the right oar, you, turn your rudder.” But the son of Atreus, standing where he slew the bull, cried out to his comrades, “Why do you, the pick of Hellas, delay to slaughter and kill the barbarians [1595] and hurl them from the ship into the waves?” And the boatswain cried the opposite command to your rowers: “Some of you catch up planks at the end, break up the benches, or snatch the oars from the locks, and make the heads of these foreign enemies bloody!”.

[1600] They all leapt upright, some with oars in their hands, others with swords; and the ship ran with blood. Helen cheered them on from the stern: “Where is the fame you won in Troy? Show it against the barbarians!” In their eagerness, some would [1605] fall, some stood upright, you would have seen others lying dead. But Menelaos, in full armor, wherever he spied that his comrades were suffering, would go there, sword in hand; and so we dived [1610] from the ship, and he cleared the benches of your rowers. Then going to the helmsman he told him to sail a straight course to Hellas. So they set up the mast, and favoring breezes blew.

They are gone from here. But I escaped death and let myself down by the anchor into the sea; [1615] and just as I was worn out, some fisherman took me up, and put me out on land, to bring you this report. Nothing is more useful to mankind than a prudent distrust.

Chorus Leader
I never would have believed that Menelaos could have eluded both us [1620] and you, O king, the way he did on his arrival.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 390
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