Thus kept the Trojans watch, but the Achaeans were holden of wondrous Panic, the handmaid of numbing fear and with grief intolerable were all the noblest stricken. Even as two winds stir up the teeming deep,
the North Wind and the West Wind that blow from Thrace, coming suddenly, and forthwith the dark wave reareth itself in crests and casteth much tangle out along the sea; even so were the hearts of the Achaeans rent within their breasts.
But the son of Atreus, stricken to the heart with sore grief,
went this way and that, bidding the clear-voiced heralds summon every man by name to the place of gathering, but not to shout aloud; and himself he toiled amid the foremost. So they sat in the place of gathering, sore troubled, and Agamemnon stood up weeping even as a fountain of dark water
that down over the face of a beetling cliff poureth its dusky stream; even so with deep groaning spake he amid the Argives, saying:“My friends, leaders and rulers of the Argives, great Zeus, son of Cronos, hath ensnared me in grievous blindness of heart, cruel god! seeing that of old he promised me, and bowed his head thereto,
that not until I had sacked well-walled Ilios should I get me home; but now hath he planned cruel deceit, and biddeth me return inglorious to Argos, when I have lost much people. So, I ween, must be the good pleasure of Zeus supreme in might, who hath laid low the heads of many cities,
yea, and shall lay low; for his power is above all. Nay, come, even as I shall bid let us all obey: let us flee with our ships to our dear native land; for no more is there hope that we shall take broad-wayed Troy.”
So spake he, and they all became hushed in silence.
Long time were they silent in their grief, the sons of the Achaeans, but at length there spake among them Diomedes, good at the war-cry:“Son of Atreus, with thee first will I contend in thy folly, where it is meet, O king, even in the place of gathering: and be not thou anywise wroth thereat. My valour didst thou revile at the first amid the Danaans,
and saidst that I was no man of war but a weakling; and all this know the Achaeans both young and old. But as for thee, the son of crooked-counselling Cronos hath endowed thee in divided wise: with the sceptre hath he granted thee to be honoured above all, but valour he gave thee not, wherein is the greatest might.
Strange king, dost thou indeed deem that the sons of the Achaeans are thus unwarlike and weaklings as thou sayest? Nay, if thine own heart is eager to return, get thee gone; before thee lies the way, and thy ships stand beside the sea, all the many ships that followed thee from Mycenae.
Howbeit the other long-haired Achaeans will abide here until we have laid waste Troy. Nay, let them also flee in their ships to their dear native land; yet will we twain, Sthenelus and I, fight on, until we win the goal of Ilios; for with the aid of heaven are we come.”