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Neoptolemus
They came for me in a ship elaborately ornamented, shining Odysseus, and he who fostered my father, [345] and said—whether truly or falsely, I do not know—that since my father had perished, fate now forbade that anyone but I should take the towers of Troy. Saying that this, my friend, was how things stood, they caused me no long delay before I set sail in haste, [350] chiefly because of my yearning for the dead, that I might look upon him before burial, since I had never seen him. Then, besides, theirs was a fine promise, if by accompanying them I might sack the towers of Troy.

It was now the second day of my voyage [355] when, sped by breeze and oar, I approached bitter Sigeum. When I landed, straightaway the entire army thronged around me with greetings, vowing that they saw their lost Achilles once more alive. He, though, lay ready for burial, and I, unhappy, [360] when I had wept for him, went before long to the Atreids, to friends, as it was reasonable to suppose,—and claimed my father's arms and all else that had been his. O, their reply was bold and shameless! ‘Seed of Achilles, you may take all else [365] that was your father's. But of those arms another man now is lord, the son of Laertes.’ The tears came quick to my eyes as I sprang up in passionate anger and said in my bitterness, ‘Madman! Have you dared give my arms [370] to another man in my place, without asking me?’ But Odysseus—for he chanced to be at hand—said, ‘Yes, boy, they awarded them as was just, since it was I who saved the arms and their master by my presence at the crucial moment.’ Then immediately, in my fury, I began to lash at him with every kind of insult [375] and left not one unsaid, if he was indeed to rob me of my arms. At this point, stung by the abuse, though not given to anger, he answered,—‘You have not gone to where we have; instead you have been absent from where you were needed. [380] And since your tongue is so arrogant, you will never sail back to Scyros with those arms in your possession.’ In that way rebuked, in that way insulted, I sail for home, deprived of what is my own by that worst offspring of a wicked line, Odysseus. [385] And yet I do not blame him as much as I do those in power. For a city hangs wholly on its leaders, and so does an army, but when men shatter law and order, it is the lessons of their teachers that corrupt them. My tale is told in full. May he who hates the Atreids [390] be as dear to the gods as he is to me!

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 414
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 725
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