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Thus spake the old man, and with his hands he plucked and tore the hoary hairs from his head; but he could not persuade the heart of Hector. And over against him the mother in her turn wailed and shed tears, [80] loosening the folds of her robe, while with the other hand she showed her breast, and amid shedding of tears she spake unto him winged words: “Hector, my child, have thou respect unto this and pity me, if ever I gave thee the breast to lull thy pain. Think thereon, dear child, and ward off yon foemen [85] from within the wall, neither stand thou forth to face him. Cruel is he; for if so be he shay thee, never shall I lay thee on a bier and bewail thee, dear plant, born of mine own self, nay, nor shall thy bounteous wife; but far away from us by the ships of the Argives shall swift dogs devour thee.” [90] So the twain with weeping spake unto their dear son, beseeching him instantly; howbeit they could not persuade the heart of Hector, but he abode Achilles as he drew nigh in his mightiness. And as a serpent of the mountain awaiteth a man at his lair, having fed upon evil herbs, and dread wrath hath entered into him, [95] and terribly he glareth as he coileth him about within his lair; even so Hector in his courage unquenchable would not give ground, leaning his bright shield against the jutting wall. Then, mightily moved, he spake unto his own great-hearted spirit: “Ah, woe is me, if I go within the gates and the walls [100] Polydamas will be the first to put reproach upon me, for that he bade me lead the Trojans to the city during this fatal night, when goodly Achilles arose. Howbeit I hearkened not—verily it had been better far! But now, seeing I have brought the host to ruin in my blind folly, [105] I have shame of the Trojans, and the Trojans' wives with trailing robes, lest haply some other baser man may say: ‘Hector, trusting in his own might, brought ruin on the host.’ So will they say; but for me it were better far to meet Achilles man to man and shay him, and so get me home, [110] or myself perish gloriously before the city. ”

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 985
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 3.101
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