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Then, O Menelaus, the blessed gods, the immortals, forgat thee not; and before all the daughter of Zeus, she that driveth the spoil, who took her stand before thee, and warded off the stinging arrow. [130] She swept it just aside from the flesh, even as a mother sweepeth a fly from her child when he lieth in sweet slumber; and of herself she guided it where the golden clasps of the belt were fastened and the corselet overlapped. On the clasped belt lighted the bitter arrow, [135] and through the belt richly dight was it driven, and clean through the curiously wrought corselet did it force its way, and through the taslet1 which he wore, a screen for his flesh and a barrier against darts, wherein was his chiefest defence; yet even through this did it speed. So the arrow grazed the outermost flesh of the warrior, [140] and forthwith the dark blood flowed from the wound. As when a woman staineth ivory with scarlet, some woman of Maeonia or Caria, to make a cheek-piece for horses, and it lieth in a treasure-chamber, though many horsemen pray to wear it; but it lieth there as a king's treasure, [145] alike an ornament for his horse and to its driver a glory; even in such wise, Menelaus, were thy thighs stained with blood, thy shapely thighs and thy legs and thy fair ankles beneath. Thereat shuddered the king of men, Agamemnon, as he saw the black blood flowing from the wound, [150] and Menelaus, dear to Ares, himself likewise shuddered. But when he saw that the sinew2 and the barbs were without the flesh, back again into his breast was his spirit gathered. But with a heavy moan spake among them lord Agamemnon, holding Menelaus by the hand; and his comrades too made moan: [155] “Dear brother, it was for thy death, meseems, that I swore this oath with sacrifice, setting thee forth alone before the face of the Achaeans to do battle with the Trojans, seeing the Trojans have thus smitten thee, and trodden under foot the oaths of faith. Yet in no wise is an oath of none effect and the blood of lambs and drink-offerings of unmixed wine and the hand-clasps, wherein we put our trust. [160] For even if for the moment the Olympian vouchsafeth not fulfillment, yet late and at length doth he fulfill them, and with a heavy price do men make atonement, even with their own heads and their wives and their children. For of a surety know I this in heart and soul: the day shall come when sacred Ilios shall be laid low, [165] and Priam, and the people of Priam, with goodly spear of ash; and Zeus, son of Cronos, throned on high, that dwelleth in the heaven, shall himself shake over them all his dark aegis in wrath for this deceit. These things verily shall not fail of fulfillment; yet dread grief for thee shall be mine, O Menelaus, [170] if thou shalt die and fill up thy lot of life. Aye, and as one most despised should I return to thirsty Argos, for straightway will the Achaeans bethink them of their native land, and so should we leave to Priam and the Trojans their boast, even Argive Helen. And thy bones shall the earth rot [175] as thou liest in the land of Troy with thy task unfinished; and thus shall many a one of the overweening Trojans say, as he leapeth upon the barrow of glorious Menelaus:“Would that in every matter it may he thus that Agamemnon may fulfill his wrath, even as now he led hither a host of the Achaeans to no purpose, and lo! [180] he hath departed home to his dear native land with empty ships, and hath left here noble Menelaus.” So shall some man speak in aftertime; in that day let the wide earth gape for me.”

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    • Thomas D. Seymour, Commentary on Homer's Iliad, Books IV-VI, 5.319
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