When the pair had armed, they set out, and left the other chieftains behind them. Pallas Athena sent them a heron by the wayside upon their right hands; they could not see it for the darkness, but they heard its cry. Odysseus was glad when he heard it and prayed to Athena:
"Hear me," he cried, "daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, you who spy out all my ways and who are with me in all my hardships [ponoi]; befriend me in this mine hour, and grant that we may return to the ships covered with glory after having achieved some mighty exploit that shall bring sorrow to the Trojans."
Then Diomedes of the loud war-cry also prayed: "Hear me too," said he, "daughter of Zeus, unweariable; be with me even as you were with my noble father Tydeus when he went to Thebes
as envoy sent by the Achaeans. He left the Achaeans by the banks of the river Aesopos, and went to the city bearing a message of peace to the Cadmeans; on his return thence, with your help, goddess, he did great deeds of daring, for you were his ready helper. Even so guide me and guard me now, and in return I will offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer of a year old, unbroken, and never yet brought by man under the yoke. I will gild her horns and will offer her up to you in sacrifice."
Thus they prayed, and Pallas Athena heard their prayer. When they had done praying to the daughter of great Zeus, they went their way like two lions prowling by night amid the armor and blood-stained bodies of them that had fallen.
Neither again did Hektor let the Trojans sleep; for he too called the princes and councilors of the Trojans that he might set his counsel before them. "Is there one," said he, "who for a great reward will do me the service of which I will tell you? He shall be well paid if he will. I will give him a chariot and a couple of horses, the fleetest that can be found at the ships of the Achaeans, if he will dare this thing; and he will win infinite honor to boot; he must go to the ships and find out whether they are still guarded as heretofore, or whether now that we have beaten them the Achaeans design to flee, and through sheer exhaustion are neglecting to keep their watches."
They all held their peace; but there was among the Trojans a certain man named Dolon, son of Eumedes, the famous herald - a man rich in gold and bronze. He was ill-favored, but a good runner, and was an only son among five sisters. He it was that now addressed the Trojans. "I, Hektor," said he, "Will to the ships and will exploit them. But first hold up your scepter and swear that you will give me the chariot, equipped with bronze, and the horses that now carry the noble son of Peleus. I will make you a good scout, and will not fail you. I will go through the host from one end to the other till I come to the ship of Agamemnon, where I take it the princes of the Achaeans are now consulting whether they shall fight or flee."
When he had done speaking Hektor held up his scepter, and swore him his oath saying, "May Zeus the thundering husband of Hera bear witness that no other Trojan but yourself shall mount those steeds, and that you shall have your will with them for ever."
The oath he swore was bootless, but it made Dolon more keen on going. He hung his bow over his shoulder, and as an overall he wore the skin of a gray wolf, while on his head he set a cap of ferret skin. Then he took a pointed javelin, and left the camp for the ships, but he was not to return with any news for Hektor. When he had left the horses and the troops behind him, he made all speed on his way, but Odysseus perceived his coming and said to Diomedes, "Diomedes, here is some one from the camp; I am not sure whether he is a spy, or whether it is some thief who would plunder the bodies of the dead; let him get a little past us, we can then spring upon him and take him. If, however, he is too quick for us, go after him with your spear and hem him in towards the ships away from the Trojan camp, to prevent his getting back to the town."