Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published May 20, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Since this week’s myth is finally going to be the rest of the Theban cycle (or, more likely, just the first half of it, or possibly even only a third), so I thought for this week’s Words Crush Wednesday I’d post some of the oldest text about the conflict at Thebes.  From Book IV of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation, what we have here is Agamemnon taunting Diomedes to get him riled up for the fight.  (And oh boy does he succeed!  Diomedes is about to kick all kinds of ass!)

“What pity to find you skulking here, goggling your eyes at the battlefield!  what would your noble father have said!  It was not your father’s way to skulk.  He used to be first at the enemy by a long way, as they say who never saw him about the business.  I never met him myself, never saw him, but they say he had no equal.  Once indeed he came to Mycene, not in war–he came as a guest with Prince Polyneices to enlist men; for they were besieging the sacred walls of Thebes.  They begged hard for volunteers, and the people were ready to go, but Zeus changed their minds by showing unfavorable signs.  So the envoys went away and got as far as the river Asopos.  There they waited in the reeds and grass while Tydeus went on a parley to Thebes.  He found a party of the Cadmeians feasting in the house of Eteocles.  There was Tydeus alone among a host of Cadmeians, a stranger; but he feared nothing, he challenged them to trials of strength and beat them all easily by the help of Athena.  Then the Cadmeians were enraged, and laid an ambush for him on his way home, forty lads with two leaders, Maion Haimon’s son and Polyphontes the son of Autophonos.  Tydeus made an end of these also; he killed them all but one, whom he sent back.  Maion was the man, and he let him go in obedience to omens from heaven.  Such a man was Aitolian Tydeus; but his son is not so good on the battlefield, although he is a better talker.”

Next week, I’ll post the response; it’s really good.  (Okay, I didn’t need to say that latter part, did I?)


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