Table of Contents:
It would bee overlong to tell eche profitable thing
That during this long lasting warre I well to passe did bring,
By force as well as pollycie. For after that the furst
Encounter once was overpast, our emnyes never durst
Give battell in the open feeld, but hild themselves within
Theyr walles and bulwarks till the tyme the tenth yeere did begin,
Now what didst thou of all that whyle, that canst doo nought but streeke?
Or to what purpose servedst thou? For if thou my deedes seeke,
I practysd sundry pollycies to trappe our foes unware:
I fortifyde our Camp with trench which heretofore lay bare:
I hartned our companions with a quiet mynd to beare
The longnesse of the weery warre: I taught us how wee were
Bothe to bee fed and furnished: and to and fro I went
To places where the Counsell thought most meete I should bee sent.
Behold the king deceyved in his dreame by false pretence
Of Joves commaundement, bade us rayse our seedge and get us hence.
The author of his dooing so may well bee his defence.
Now Ajax should have letted this, and calld them backe ageine
To sacke the towne of Troy. He should have fought with myght and maine.
Why did he not restreyne them when they ready were to go?
Why tooke he not his swoord in hand? why gave he not as tho
Sum counsell for the fleeting folk to follow at the brunt?
In fayth it had a tryfle beene to him that ay is woont
Such vaunting in his mouth to have. But he himself did fly
As well as others. I did see, and was ashamed, I,
To see thee when thou fledst, and didst prepare so cowardly
To sayle away. And thereuppon I thus aloud did cry:
What meene yee, sirs? what madnesse dooth you move to go to shippe
And suffer Troy as good as tane, thus out of hand to slippe?
What else this tenth yeere beare yee home than shame? with such like woord
And other, (which the eloquence of sorrowe did avoord,)
I brought them from theyr flying shippes. Then Agamemnon calld
Toogither all the capteines who with feare were yit appalld.
But Ajax durst not then once creake. Yit durst Thersites bee
So bold as rayle uppon the kings, and he was payd by mee
For playing so the sawcye Jacke. Then stood I on my toes
And to my fearefull countrymen gave hart ageinst theyr foes.
And shed new courage in theyr mynds through talk that fro mee goes.
From that tyme foorth what ever thing hath valeantly atcheeved
By this good fellow beene, is myne, whoo him from flyght repreeved.
And now to touche thee: which of all the Greekes commendeth thee?
Or seeketh thee? But Diomed communicates with mee
His dooings, and alloweth mee, and thinkes him well apayd
To have Ulysses ever as companion at the brayd.
And sumwhat woorth you will it graunt (I trow) alone for mee
Out of so many thousand Greekes by Diomed pikt to bee.
No lot compelled mee to go, and yit I setting lyght
As well the perrill of my foes as daunger of the nyght,
Killd Dolon who about the selfsame feate that nyght did stray,
That wee went out for. But I first compelld him to bewray
All things concerning faythlesse Troy, and what it went about.
When all was learnd, and nothing left behynd to harken out,
I myght have then come home with prayse. I was not so content.
Proceeding further to the Camp of Rhesus streyght I went,
And killed bothe himself and all his men about his tent.
And taking bothe his chariot and his horses which were whyght,
Returned home in tryumph like a conquerour from fyght.
Denye you mee the armour of the man whoose steedes the fo
Requyred for his playing of the spye a nyght, and so
May Ajax bee more kynd to mee than you are. What should I
Declare unto you how my sword did waste ryght valeantly
Sarpedons hoste of Lycia? I by force did overthrowe
Alastor, Crome, and Ceranos, and Haly on a rowe.
Alcander, and Noemon too, and Prytanis besyde,
And Thoon and Theridamas, and Charops also dyde
By mee, and so did Ewnomos enforst by cruell fate.
And many mo in syght of Troy I slew of bacer state.
There also are (O countrymen) about mee woundings, which
The place of them make beawtyfull. See heere (his hand did twich
His shirt asyde) and credit not vayne woordes. Lo heere the brist
That alwayes to bee one in your affayres hath never mist.
And yit of all this whyle no droppe of blood hath Ajax spent
Uppon his fellowes. Woundlesse is his body and unrent.
But what skills that, as long as he is able for to vaunt
He fought against bothe Troy and Jove to save our fleete? I graunt
He did so. For I am not of such nature as of spyght
Well dooings to deface: so that he chalendge not the ryght
Of all men to himself alone, and that he yeeld to mee
Sum share, whoo of the honour looke a partener for to bee.
Patroclus also having on Achilles armour, sent
The Trojans and theyr leader hence, to burne our navye bent.
And yit thinks hee that none durst meete with Hector saving hee,
Forgetting bothe the king, and eeke his brother, yea and mee.
Where hee himself was but the nyneth, appoynted by the king,
And by the fortune of his lot preferd to doo the thing.
But now for all your valeantnesse, what Issue had I pray
Your combate? Shall I tell? Forsoothe, that Hector went his way
And had no harme. Now wo is mee how greeveth it my hart
To think uppon that season when the bulwark of our part
Achilles dyde. When neyther teares, nor greef, nor feare could make
Mee for to stay, but that uppon theis shoulders I did take,
I say uppon theis shoulders I Achilles body tooke,
And this same armour claspt theron, which now to weare I looke.
Sufficient strength I have to beare as great a weyght as this,
And eeke a hart wherein regard of honour rooted is.
Think you that Thetis for her sonne so instantly besought
Sir Vulcane this same heavenly gift to give her, which is wrought
With such exceeding cunning, to th'entent a souldier that
Hath neyther wit nor knowledge should it weare? He knowes not what
The things ingraven on the sheeld doo meene. Of Ocean se,
Of land, of heaven, and of the starres no skill at all hath he.
The Beare that never dyves in sea he dooth not understand,
The Pleyads, nor the Hyads, nor the cities that doo stand
Uppon the earth, nor yit the swoord that Orion holdes in hand.
He seekes to have an armour of the which he hath no skill.
And yit in fynding fault with mee bycause I had no will
To follow this same paynfull warre and sought to shonne the same,
And made it sumwhat longer tyme before I thither came,
He sees not how hee speakes reproch to stout Achilles name.
For if to have dissembled in this case, yee count a cryme,
Wee both offenders bee. Or if protracting of the tyme
Yee count blame woorthye, yit was I the tymelyer of us twayne.
Achilles loving moother him, my wyfe did mee deteyne.
The former tyme was given to them, the rest was given to yow.
And therefore doo I little passe although I could not now
Defend my fault, sith such a man of prowesse, birth and fame
As was Achilles, was with mee offender in the same.
But yit was he espyed by Ulysses wit, but nat
Ulysses by sir Ajax wit. And lest yee woonder at
The rayling of this foolish dolt at mee, hee dooth object
Reproche to you. For if that I offended to detect
Sir Palamed of forged fault, could you without your shame
Arreyne him, and condemne him eeke to suffer for the same?
But neyther could sir Palamed excuse him of the cryme
So heynous and so manifest: and you your selves that tyme
Not onely his indytement heard, but also did behold
His deed avowched to his face by bringing in the gold.
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