Thus did the Trojans watch. But Panic, comrade of blood-stained Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achaeans and their princes were all of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from Thrace
- the north and the northwest - spring up of a sudden and rouse the fury of the main [pontos] - in a moment the dark waves uprear their heads and scatter their sea-wrack in all directions - even thus troubled were the hearts of the Achaeans.
The son of Atreus in dismay bade the heralds call the people to a council man by man, but not to cry the matter aloud; he made haste also himself to call them, and they sat sorry at heart in their assembly. Agamemnon shed tears as it were a running stream or cataract on the side of some sheer cliff; and thus, with many a heavy sigh he spoke to the Achaeans. "My friends," said he, "princes and councilors, Zeus has tied down with ruin [atê] more than any other Argive
. The cruel god gave me his solemn promise that I should sack the city of Troy
before returning, but he has played me false, and is now bidding me go back to Argos
with bad kleos and with the loss of many people. Such is the will of Zeus, who has laid many a proud city in the dust as he will yet lay others, for his power is above all. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say and sail back to our own country, for we shall not take Troy
Thus he spoke, and the sons of the Achaeans for a long while sat sorrowful there, but they all held their peace, till at last Diomedes of the loud battle-cry made answer saying,
"Son of Atreus, I will chide your folly, as is my right [themis] in council. Be not then aggrieved that I should do so. In the first place you attacked me before all the Danaans and said that I was a coward and no warrior. The Argives young and old know that you did so. But the son of scheming Kronos endowed you by halves only. He gave you honor as the chief ruler over us, but valor, which is the highest both right and might he did not give you. Sir, think you that the sons of the Achaeans are indeed as unwarlike and cowardly as you say they are? If your own mind is set upon going home - go - the way is open to you; the many ships that followed you from Mycenae
stand ranged upon the seashore; but the rest of us stay here till we have sacked Troy
. Nay though these too should turn homeward with their ships, Sthenelos and myself will still fight on till we reach the goal of Ilion
, for heaven was with us when we came."
The sons of the Achaeans shouted approval at the words of Diomedes, and presently Nestor rose to speak. "Son of Tydeus," said he, "in war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light of what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end [telos] of the whole matter. You are still young - you might be the youngest of my own children - still you have spoken wisely and have counseled the chief of the Achaeans not without discretion; nevertheless I am older than you and I will tell you every" thing; therefore let no man, not even King Agamemnon, disregard my saying, for he that foments civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw.
"Now, however, let us obey the behests of night and get our suppers, but let the sentinels every man of them camp by the trench that is without the wall. I am giving these instructions to the young men; when they have been attended to, do you, son of Atreus, give your orders, for you are the most royal among us all. Prepare a feast for your councilors; it is right and reasonable that you should do so;
there is abundance of wine in your tents, which the ships of the Achaeans bring from Thrace
daily over the sea [pontos]. You have everything at your disposal wherewith to entertain guests, and you have many subjects. When many are got together, you can be guided by him whose counsel is wisest - and sorely do we need shrewd and prudent counsel, for the foe has lit his watchfires hard by our ships. Who can be other than dismayed? This night will either be the ruin of our host, or save it."
Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. The sentinels went out in their armor under command of Nestor's son Thrasymedes, a leader of the host, and of the bold warriors Askalaphos and Ialmenos: there were also Meriones, Aphareus and Deipyros, and the son of Kreion, noble Lykomedes. There were seven leaders of the sentinels, and with each there went a hundred youths armed with long spears: they took their places midway between the trench and the wall, and when they had done so they lit their fires and got every man his supper.