Then Meriones said, "I too in my tent and at my ship have spoils taken from the Trojans, but they are not at hand. I have been at all times valorous, and wherever there has been hard fighting have held my own among the foremost. There may be those among the Achaeans who do not know how I fight, but you know it well enough yourself."
Idomeneus answered, "I know you for a man of excellence [aretê]: you need not tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush- and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who has a sense of striving [aretê]; the coward will change color at every touch and turn; he is full of fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change color nor be on finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into action -
if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your neck nor back, but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks. But let us no longer stay here talking like children, lest we be ill spoken of; go, fetch your spear from the tent at once."
On this Meriones, peer of Ares, went to the tent and got himself a spear of bronze. He then followed after Idomeneus, big with great deeds of valor. As when baneful Ares sallies forth to battle, and his son Panic so strong and dauntless goes with him, to strike terror even into the heart of a hero - the pair have gone from Thrace
to arm themselves among the Ephyroi or the brave Phlegyans, but they will not listen to both the contending hosts, and will give victory to one side or to the other - even so did Meriones and Idomeneus, leaders of men, go out to battle clad in their bronze armor. Meriones was first to speak. "Son of Deukalion," said he, "where would you have us begin fighting? On the right wing of the host, in the center, or on the left wing, where I take it the Achaeans will be weakest?"
Idomeneus answered, "There are others to defend the center - the two Ajaxes and Teucer, who is the finest archer of all the Achaeans, and is good also in a hand-to-hand fight. These will give Hektor son of Priam enough to do; fight as he may, he will find it hard to vanquish their indomitable fury, and fire the ships, unless the son of Kronos fling a firebrand upon them with his own hand. Great Ajax son of Telamon will yield to no man who is in mortal mold and eats the grain of Demeter , if bronze and great stones can overthrow him. He would not yield even to Achilles in hand-to-hand fight, and in fleetness of foot there is none to beat him; let us turn therefore towards the left wing, that we may know forthwith whether we are to give glory to some other, or he to us."
Meriones, peer of fleet Ares, then led the way till they came to the part of the host which Idomeneus had named.
Now when the Trojans saw Idomeneus coming on like a flame of fire, him and his squire [therapôn] clad in their richly wrought armor, they shouted and made towards him all in a body, and a furious hand-to-hand fight raged under the ships' sterns. Fierce as the shrill winds that whistle upon a day when dust lies deep on the roads, and the gusts raise it into a thick cloud - even such was the fury of the combat, and might and main did they hack at each other with spear and sword throughout the host. The field bristled with the long and deadly spears which they bore. Dazzling was the sheen of their gleaming helmets, their fresh-burnished breastplates, and glittering shields as they joined battle with one another. Iron indeed must be his courage who could take pleasure in the sight of such a turmoil [ponos], and look on it without being dismayed.
Thus did the two mighty sons of Kronos devise evil for mortal heroes. Zeus was minded to give victory to the Trojans and to Hektor, so as to do honor to fleet Achilles, nevertheless he did not mean to utterly overthrow the Achaean host before Ilion
, and only wanted to glorify Thetis and her valiant son. Poseidon on the other hand went about among the Argives to incite them, having come up from the gray sea in secret, for he was grieved at seeing them vanquished by the Trojans, and was furiously angry with Zeus. Both were of the same race and country, but Zeus was elder born and knew more, therefore Poseidon feared to defend the Argives openly, but in the likeness of man, he kept on encouraging them throughout their host. Thus, then, did these two devise a knot of war and battle, that none could unloose or break, and set both sides tugging at it, to the failing of men's knees beneath them.