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So spake he, but they all laughed merrily at him. [785] Then Antilochus bare away the last prize, smiling the while, and spake among the Argives, saying: “Among you all that know it well, will I declare, my friends, that even to this day the immortals shew honour to older men. For Aias is but a little older than I, [790] whereas Odysseus is of an earlier generation and of earlier men—a green old age is his, men say—yet hard were he for any other Achaean to contend with in running, save only for Achilles.” So spake he,and gave glory to the son of Peleus, swift of foot. And Achilles made answer, and spake to him, saying: [795] “Antilochus, not in vain shall thy word of praise be spoken; nay, I will add to thy prize a half-talent of gold.” So saying, he set it in his hands, and Antilochus received it gladly. But the son of Peleus brought and set in the place of gathering a far-shadowing spear, and therewith a shield and helmet, [800] the battlegear of Sarpedon, that Patroclus stripped from him; and he stood up, and spake among the Argives, saying:“To win these prizes invite we warriors twain, the best there are, to clothe them in their armour and take bronze that cleaveth the flesh, and so make trial each of the other before the host. [805] Whoso of the twain shall first reach the other's fair flesh, and touch the inward parts through armour and dark blood, to him will I give this silver-studded sword—a goodly Thracian sword which I took from Asteropaeus; and these arms let the twain bear away to hold in common; [810] and a goodly banquet shall we set before them in our huts.” So spake he, and thereat arose great Telamonian Aias, and up rose the son of Tydeus, stalwart Diomedes. So when they had armed them on either side of the throng, into the midst strode the twain, eager for battle, [815] glaring terribly; and amazement held all the Achaeans. But when they were come near as they advance done against the other, thrice they set upon each other, and thrice they clashed together. Then Aias thrust upon the shield, that was well-balanced upon every side, but reached not the flesh, for the corselet within kept off the spear. [820] But Tydeus' son over the great shield sought ever to reach the neck with the point of his shining spear, Then verily the Achaeans, seized with fear for Aias, bade them cease and take up equal prizes. Howbeit to Tydeus' son the warrior gave the great sword, [825] bringing it with its scabbard and its well-cut baldric.

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