So am I made the poorest wretch in Argos
I a thing of nothing, and Menelaus counting for a man! No son of Peleus I, but the issue of a vengeful fiend, if my name shall serve your husband for the murder. No! by Nereus, who begot my mother Thetis, in his home amid the flowing waves,
never shall king Agamemnon touch your daughter, no! not even to the laying of a finger-tip upon her robe; or Sipylus1
, that frontier town of barbarism, the cradle of those chieftains' line, will be henceforth a city indeed, while Phthia
's name will nowhere find mention.
Calchas, the seer, shall rue beginning the sacrifice with his barley-meal and lustral water. Why, what is a seer? A man who with luck tells the truth sometimes, with frequent falsehoods, but when his luck deserts him, collapses then and there.
It is not to secure a bride that I have spoken thus—there are maids unnumbered
eager to have my love—no! but king Agamemnon has put an insult on me; he should have asked my leave to use my name as a means to catch the child, for it was I chiefly who induced Clytemnestra to betroth her daughter to me;
I would had yielded this to Hellas
, if that was where our going to Ilium
broke down; I would never have refused to further my fellow soldiers' common interest. But as it is, I am as nothing in the eyes of those chieftains, and little they care of treating me well or ill.
My sword shall soon know if any one is to snatch your daughter from me, for then will I make it reek with the bloody stains of slaughter, before it reach Phrygia
. Calm yourself then; as a god in his might I appeared to you, without being so, but such will I show myself for all that.
Son of Peleus, your words are alike worthy of you and that sea-born deity, the holy goddess.
Ah! would I could find words to utter your praise without excess, and yet not lose the graciousness of it by stinting it; for when the good are praised, they have some sort of feeling
of hatred for those who in their praise exceed the mean. But I am ashamed of intruding a tale of woe, since my affliction touches myself alone and you are not affected by troubles of mine; but still it looks well for the man of worth to assist the unfortunate, even when he is not connected with then.
Therefore pity us, for our suffering cries for pity; in the first place, I have harbored an idle hope, in thinking to have you marry my daughter; and next, perhaps, the slaying of my child will be to you an evil omen in your wooing hereafter, against which you must guard yourself.
Your words were good, both first and last; for if you will it so, my daughter will be saved.