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“ For this in truth do we know well in our hearts, and ye are all witnesses thereto, even as many as the fates of death have not borne away. It was but as yesterday or the day before, when the ships of the Achaeans were gathering in Aulis,1 laden with woes for Priam and the Trojans; [305] and we round about a spring were offering to the immortals upon the holy altars hecatombs that bring fulfillment, beneath a fair plane-tree from whence flowed the bright water; then appeared a great portent: a serpent, blood-red on the back, terrible, whom the Olympian himself had sent forth to the light, [310] glided from beneath the altar and darted to the plane-tree. Now upon this were the younglings of a sparrow, tender little ones, on the topmost bough, cowering beneath the leaves, eight in all, and the mother that bare them was the ninth, Then the serpent devoured them as they twittered piteously, [315] and the mother fluttered around them, wailing for her dear little ones; howbeit he coiled himself and caught her by the wing as she screamed about him. But when he had devoured the sparrow's little ones and the mother with them, the god, who had brought him to the light, made him to be unseen; for the son of crooked-counselling Cronos turned him to stone; [320] and we stood there and marveled at what was wrought. So, when the dread portent brake in upon the hecatombs of the gods, then straightway did Calchas prophesy, and address our gathering, saying: 'Why are ye thus silent, ye long-haired Achaeans? To us hath Zeus the counsellor shewed this great sign, [325] late in coming, late in fulfillment, the fame whereof shall never perish. Even as this serpent devoured the sparrow's little ones and the mother with them—the eight, and the mother that bare them was the ninth—so shall we war there for so many years, but in the tenth shall we take the broad-wayed city.' On this wise spake Calchas, [330] and now all this is verily being brought to pass. Nay, come, abide ye all, ye well-greaved Achaeans, even where ye are, until we take the great city of Priam.” So spake he, and the Argives shouted aloud, and all round about them the ships echoed wondrously beneath the shouting of the Achaeans, [335] as they praised the words of godlike Odysseus.

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