and we stood there wondering at that which had come to pass. Seeing, then, that such a fearful portent had broken in upon our hecatombs, Kalkhas forthwith declared to us the oracles of heaven. ‘Why, Achaeans,’ said he, ‘are you thus speechless? Zeus has sent us this sign,
long in coming, and long ere it be fulfilled, though its fame [kleos] shall last for ever. As the serpent ate the eight fledglings and the sparrow that hatched them, which makes nine, so shall we fight nine years at Troy
, but in the tenth shall take the town.’
This was what he said, and now it is all coming true. Stay here, therefore, all of you, till we take the city of Priam." On this the Argives raised a shout, till the ships rang again with the uproar.
Nestor, horseman of Gerene, then addressed them. "Shame on you," he cried, "to stay talking here like children, when you should fight like men. Where are our covenants now, and where the oaths that we have taken?
Shall our counsels be flung into the fire, with our drink-offerings and the right hands of fellowship wherein we have put our trust? We waste our time in words, and for all our talking here shall be no further forward. Stand, therefore, son of Atreus, by your own steadfast purpose;
lead the Argives on to battle, and leave this handful of men to rot, who scheme, and scheme in vain, to get back to Argos
ere they have learned whether Zeus be true or a liar.
For the mighty son of Kronos surely promised that we should succeed, when we Argives set sail to bring death and destruction upon the Trojans. He showed us favorable signs [sêmata] by flashing his lightning on our right hands; therefore let none make haste to go
till he has first lain with the wife of some Trojan, and avenged the toil and sorrow that he has suffered for the sake of Helen. Nevertheless, if any man is in such haste to be at home again, let him lay his hand to his ship that he may meet his doom in the sight of all.