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Let Dulychius match with theis, the horses whyght
Of Rhesus, dastard Dolon, and the coward carpetknyght
King Priams Helen, and the stelth of Palladye by nyght.
Of all theis things was nothing doone by day nor nothing wrought
Without the helpe of Diomed. And therefore if yee thought
To give them to so small deserts, devyde the same, and let
Sir Diomed have the greater part. But what should Ithacus get
And if he had them, who dooth all his matters in the dark,
Who never weareth armour, who shootes ay at his owne mark
To trappe his fo by stelth unwares? The very headpeece may
With brightnesse of the glistring gold his privie feates bewray
And shew him lurking. Neyther well of force Dulychius were
The weyght of great Achilles helme uppon his pate to weare.
It cannot but a burthen bee (and that ryght great) to beare
(With those same shrimpish armes of his) Achilles myghty speare.
Agen his target graven with the whole huge world theron
Agrees not with a fearefull hand, and cheefly such a one
As taketh filching even by kynd. Thou Lozell, thou doost seeke
A gift that will but weaken thee, which if the folk of Greeke
Shall give thee through theyr oversyght, it will be unto thee
Occasion, of thyne emnyes spoyld not feared for to bee,
And flyght (wherein thou, coward, thou all others mayst outbrag)
Will hindred bee when after thee such masses thou shalt drag.
Moreover this thy sheeld that feeles so seeld the force of fyght
Is sound. But myne is gasht and hakt and stricken thurrough quyght
A thousand tymes, with bearing blowes. And therfore myne must walk
And put another in his stead. But what needes all this talk?
Lets now bee seene another whyle what eche of us can doo.
The thickest of our armed foes this armour throwe into,
And bid us fetch the same fro thence. And which of us dooth fetch
The same away, reward yee him therewith. Thus farre did stretch
The woordes of Ajax. At the ende whereof there did ensew
A muttring of the souldiers, till Laertis sonne the prew
Stood up, and raysed soberly his eyliddes from the ground
(On which he had a little whyle them pitched in a stound)
And looking on the noblemen who longd his woordes to heere
He thus began with comly grace and sober pleasant cheere:
My Lordes, if my desyre and yours myght erst have taken place,
It should not at this present tyme have beene a dowtfull cace,
What person hath most ryght to this great pryse for which wee stryve.
Achilles should his armour have, and wee still him alyve.
Whom sith that cruell destinie to both of us denyes,
(With that same woord as though he wept, he wypte his watry eyes)
What wyght of reason rather ought to bee Achilles heyre,
Than he through whom to this your camp Achilles did repayre?
Alonly let it not avayle sir Ajax heere, that hee
Is such a dolt and grossehead, as he shewes himself to bee
Ne let my wit (which ay hath done you good, O Greekes) hurt mee.
But suffer this mine eloquence (such as it is) which now
Dooth for his mayster speake, and oft ere this hath spoke for yow,
Bee undisdeynd. Let none refuse his owne good gifts he brings.
For as for stocke and auncetors, and other such like things
Wherof our selves no fownders are, I scarcely dare them graunt
To bee our owne. But forasmuch as Ajax makes his vaunt
To bee the fowrth from Jove: even Jove the founder is also
Of my house: and than fowre descents I am from him no mo.
Laertes is my father, and Arcesius his, and hee
Begotten was of Jupiter. And in this pedegree
Is neyther any damned soule, nor outlaw as yee see.
Moreover by my moothers syde I come of Mercuree,
Another honor to my house. Thus both by fathers syde
And moothers (as you may perceyve) I am to Goddes alyde.
But neyther for bycause I am a better gentleman
Then Ajax by the moothers syde, nor that my father can
Avouch himself ungiltye of his brothers blood, doo I
This armour clayme. Wey you the case by merits uprightly,
Provyded no prerogatyve of birthryght Ajax beare,
For that his father Telamon, and Peleus brothers were.
Let only prowesse in this pryse the honour beare away.
Or if the case on kinrid or on birthryght seeme to stay,
His father Peleus is alive, and Pyrrhus eeke his sonne.
What tytle then can Ajax make? This geere of ryght should woone
To Phthya, or to Scyros Ile. And Tewcer is as well
Achilles uncle as is hee. Yit dooth not Tewcer mell.
And if he did, should hee obteyne? Well, sith the cace dooth rest
On tryall which of us can prove his dooings to bee best,
I needes must say my deedes are mo than well I can expresse:
Yit will I shew them orderly as neere as I can gesse.
Foreknowing that her sonne should dye, the Lady Thetis hid
Achilles in a maydes attyre. By which fyne slyght shee did
All men deceyve, and Ajax too. This armour in a packe
With other womens tryflyng toyes I caryed on my backe,
A bayte to treyne a manly hart. Appareld like a mayd
Achilles tooke the speare and sheeld in hand, and with them playd.
Then sayd I: O thou Goddesse sonne, why shouldst thou bee afrayd
To raze great Troy, whoose overthrowe for thee is onely stayd?
And laying hand uppon him I did send him (as you see)
To valeant dooings meete for such a valeant man as hee.
And therfore all the deedes of him are my deedes. I did wound
King Teleph with his speare, and when he lay uppon the ground,
I was intreated with the speare to heale him safe and sound.
That Thebe lyeth overthrowne, is my deede. You must think
I made the folk of Tenedos and Lesbos for to shrink.
Both Chryse and Cillas, Phebus townes, and Scyros I did take.
And my ryght hand Lyrnessus walles to ground did levell make.
I gave you him that should confound (besydes a number mo)
The valeant Hector. Hector, that our most renowmed fo,
Is slayne by mee. This armour heere I sue agein to have
This armour by the which I found Achilles. I it gave
Achilles whyle he was alive: and now that he is gone
I clayme it as myne owne agein. What tyme the greefe of one
Had perst the harts of all the Greekes, and that our thousand sayle
At Awlis by Ewboya stayd, bycause the wyndes did fayle,
Continewing eyther none at all or cleene ageinst us long,
And that our Agamemnon was by destnyes overstrong
Commaunded for to sacrifyse his giltlesse daughter to
Diana, which her father then refusing for to doo
Was angry with the Godds themselves, and though he were a king
Continued also fatherlyke: by reason, I did bring
His gentle nature to relent for publike profits sake.
I must confesse (whereat his grace shall no displeasure take)
Before a parciall judge I undertooke a ryght hard cace.
Howbeeit for his brothers sake, and for the royall mace
Committed, and his peoples weale, at length he was content
To purchace prayse wyth blood. Then was I to the moother sent,
Who not perswaded was to bee, but compast with sum guyle.
Had Ajax on this errand gone, our shippes had all this whyle
Lyne still there yit for want of wynd. Moreover I was sent
To Ilion as ambassadour. I boldly thither went,
And entred and behilld the Court, wherin there was as then
Great store of princes, Dukes, Lords, knyghts, and other valeant men.
And yit I boldly nerethelesse my message did at large
The which the whole estate of Greece had given mee erst in charge.
I made complaint of Paris, and accusde him to his head.
Demaunding restitution of Queene Helen that same sted
And of the bootye with her tane. Both Priamus the king
And eeke Antenor his alye the woordes of mee did sting.
And Paris and his brothers, and the resdew of his trayne
That under him had made the spoyle, could hard and scarce refrayne
There wicked hands. You, Menelay, doo know I doo not feyne.
And that day was the first in which wee joyntly gan susteyne
A tast of perrills, store whereof did then behind remayne.
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