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So spake he, and went on to strip of his armour the son of Paeon, famed for his spear. But Alexander, lord of fair-haired Helen, [370] aimed an arrow at Tydeus' son, shepherd of the host, leaning the while against a pillar on the barrow that men's hands reared for Ilus, son of Dardanus, an elder of the people in days of old. Now Diomedes was stripping the gleaming corselet of valiant Agastrophus from about his breast, and the shield from off his shoulder, [375] and his heavy helm, when Paris drew the centre-piece of the bow and smote him—for not in vain did the shaft speed from his hand—upon the flat of the right foot, and the arrow passed clean through and fixed itself in the ground; and with a right merry laugh Paris leapt up from his lair and spake vauntingly: [380] “Thou art smitten, not in vain hath my shaft sped; would that I had smitten thee in the nethermost belly, and taken away thy life. So would the Trojans have had respite from their woe, who now tremble before thee as bleating goats before a lion.” But with no touch of fear mighty Diomedes spake to him: [385] “Bowman, reviler, proud of thy curling locks,1 thou ogler of girls! O that thou wouldst make trial of me man to man in armour, then would thy bow and thy swift-falling arrows help thee not; whereas now having but grazed the flat of my foot thou boastest vainly. I reck not thereof, any more than if a woman had struck me or a witless child, [390] for blunt is the dart of one that is a weakling and a man of naught. Verily in other wise when sped by my hand, even though it do but touch, does the spear prove its edge, and forthwith layeth low its man; torn then with wailing are the two cheeks of his wife, and his children fatherless, while he, reddening the earth with his blood, [395] rotteth away, more birds than women around him.” So spake he, and to him did Odysseus, famed for his spear, draw nigh, and take his stand before him, and Diomedes sat down behind him, and drew forth the sharp arrow from his foot, and a sore pang shot through his flesh. Then leapt he upon his chariot and bade his charioteer [400] drive to the hollow ships, for he was sore pained at heart. Now Odysseus famed for his spear, was left alone, nor did anyone of the Argives abide by him, for that fear had laid hold of them all. Then mightily moved he spake unto his own great-hearted spirit: “Woe is me; what is to befall me? Great evil were it if I flee, [405] seized with fear of the throng;, yet this were a worse thing, if I be taken all alone, for the rest of the Danaans hath the son of Cronos scattered in flight. But why doth my heart thus hold converse with me? For I know that they are cowards that depart from battle, whereas whoso is pre-eminent in fight, him verily it behoveth [410] to hold his ground boldly, whether he be smitten, or smite another.”

1 509.1

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