They went their way by the shore of the sounding sea, and prayed earnestly to earth-encircling Poseidon that the high spirit of the son of Aiakos might incline favorably towards them. When they reached the ships and tents of the Myrmidons,
they found Achilles playing on a lyre, fair, of cunning workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver. It was part of the spoils which he had taken when he sacked the city of Eetion, and he was now diverting himself with it and singing the glories [klea] of heroes. Patroklos alone sat facing him, in silence, waiting till he should cease singing. Odysseus and Ajax now came in - Odysseus leading the way -and stood before him. Achilles sprang from his seat with the lyre still in his hand, and Patroklos, when he saw the strangers, rose also. Achilles then greeted them saying, "All hail and welcome - you must come upon some great matter, you, who for all my anger are still dearest to me of the Achaeans."
With this he led them forward, and bade them sit on seats covered with purple rugs; then he said to Patroklos who was close by him, "Son of Menoitios, set a larger bowl upon the table, mix less water with the wine, and give every man his cup, for these are very dear friends, who are now under my roof."
Patroklos did as his comrade bade him; he set the chopping-block in front of the fire, and on it he laid the loin of a sheep, the loin also of a goat, and the chine of a fat hog. Automedon held the meat while Achilles chopped it; he then sliced the pieces and put them on spits while the son of Menoitios made the fire burn high. When the flame had died down, he spread the embers, laid the spits on top of them, lifting them up and setting them upon the spit-racks; and he sprinkled them with salt. When the meat was roasted, he set it on platters, and handed bread round the table in fair baskets, while Achilles dealt them their portions. Then Achilles took his seat facing Odysseus against the opposite wall, and bade his comrade Patroklos offer sacrifice to the gods; so he cast the offerings into the fire, and they laid their hands upon the good things that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, Ajax made a sign to Phoenix, and when he saw this, Odysseus filled his cup with wine and pledged Achilles.
"Hail," said he, "Achilles, we have had no scant of good cheer, neither in the tent of Agamemnon, nor yet here; there has been plenty to eat and drink, but our thought turns upon no such matter. Sir, we are in the face of great disaster, and without your help know not whether we shall save our fleet or lose it. The Trojans and their allies have camped hard by our ships and by the wall; they have lit watchfires throughout their host and deem that nothing can now prevent them from falling on our fleet. Zeus, moreover, has sent his lightnings on the right side, as signs [sêmata]; Hektor, in all his glory, rages like a maniac; confident that Zeus is with him he fears neither god nor man, but is gone raving mad, and prays for the approach of day. He vows that he will hew the high sterns of our ships in pieces, set fire to their hulls, and make havoc of the Achaeans while they are dazed and smothered in smoke; I much fear that heaven will make good his boasting, and it will prove our lot to perish at Troy
far from our home in Argos
. Up, then, and late though it be, save the sons of the Achaeans who faint before the fury of the Trojans. You will have grief [akhos] hereafter for all time to come if you do not, for when the harm is done there will be no cure for it; consider ere it be too late, and save the Danaans from destruction.
"My good friend, when your father Peleus sent you from Phthia
to Agamemnon, did he not charge you saying, ‘Son, Athena and Hera will make you strong if they choose, but check your high temper, for the better part is in goodwill. Eschew vain quarreling, and the Achaeans old and young will respect you more for doing so.’ These were his words, but you have forgotten them. Even now, however, be appeased, and put away your anger from you. Agamemnon will make you great amends if you will forgive him; listen, and I will tell you what he has said in his tent that he will give you. He will give you seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of gold; twenty iron cauldrons, and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes.
Rich indeed both in land and gold is he who has as many prizes as these horses have won for Agamemnon. Moreover he will give you seven excellent workers, women of Lesbos
, whom he chose for himself, when you took Lesbos - all of surpassing beauty. He will give you these, and with them her whom he erewhile took from you, the daughter of Briseus, and he will swear a great oath, he has never gone up into her couch nor lain down with her, though it is right [themis] for men and women to do so. All these things will he give you now down, and if hereafter the gods grant him to sack the city of Priam, you can come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load your ship with gold and bronze to your liking. You can take twenty Trojan women, the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, you shall be his son-in-law, and he will show you like honor with his own dear son Orestes, who is being nurtured in all abundance. Agamemnon has three daughters, Chrysothemis, Laodike, and Iphianassa; you may take the one of your choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; he will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give you seven well-established cities, Kardamyle
, Enope, and Hire where there is grass; holy Pheras and the fertile meadows of Anthea
; Aipeia also, and the vine-clad slopes of Pedasos, all near the sea, and on the borders of sandy Pylos
. The men that dwell there are rich in cattle and sheep; they will honor you with gifts as though were a god, and be obedient to your comfortable ordinances [themistes]. All this will he do if you will now forgo your anger. Moreover, though you hate both him and his gifts with all your heart, yet pity the rest of the Achaeans who are being harassed in all their host; they will honor you as a god, and you will earn great glory at their hands. You might even kill Hektor; he will come within your reach, for he is infatuated, and declares that not a Danaan whom the ships have brought can hold his own against him."
Achilles answered, "Odysseus, noble son of Laertes
, I should give you formal notice plainly and in all fixity of purpose that there be no more of this cajoling, from whatsoever quarter it may come. Hateful [ekhthros] to me like the gates of Hades is the man who says one thing while he hides another thing in his mind [phrenes]; therefore I will say what I mean. I will be appeased neither by Agamemnon son of Atreus nor by any other of the Danaans, for I see that I have no thanks [kharis] for all my fighting. He that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are held in equal honor [timê], and death deals like measure to him who works and him who is idle. I have taken nothing by all my hardships - with my life [psukhê] ever at risk; as a bird when she has found a morsel takes it to her nestlings, and herself fares hardly, even so many a long night have I been wakeful, and many a bloody battle have I waged by day against those who were fighting for their women. With my ships I have taken twelve cities, and eleven round about Troy
have I stormed with my men by land; I took great store of wealth from every one of them, but I gave all up to Agamemnon son of Atreus. He stayed where he was by his ships, yet of what came to him he gave little, and kept much himself.