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Each Greek was an Ulyffes ; such a dread 135 Th’approach, and ev’n the sound of Hector
bred : Him, felh'd with Naughter, and with conquest
crown'd, I met, and over-turn'd him to the ground. When after, matchless as he deem'd in might, He challeng’d all our host to single fight, All eyes were fix'd on me : the lots were thrown; But for your champion I was wilh'd alone : Your vows were heard, we fought, and neither
yield; Yet I return'd unvanquish'd from the field, With Jove to friend th’insulting Trojan came, And menac'd us with force, our fleet with
flame : Was it the strength of this tongue-valiant lord, In that black hour, that fav'd you from the
fword; Or was my breast expos’d alone, to brave A thousand swords, a thousand ships to save ? 150 The hopes of your return! and can you yield, For a fav’d fleet, less than a single shield ? Think it no boast, O Grecians, if I deem These arms want Ajax, more than Ajax them; Or, I with them an equal honour share ; They honour'd to be worn, and I to wear. Will he compare my courage with his flight? As well he may compare the day with night,
Night is indeed the province of his reign :
165 So vast a prize, let each his portion share; Make a just dividend : and if not all, The greater part to Diomede will fall. But why for Ithacus such arms as those, Who naked and by night invades his foes ? 170 The glittering helm by moonlight will proclaim The latent robber, and prevent his game: Nor could he hold his tott'ring head upright Beneath that motion, or sustain the weight : 174 Nor that right arm could toss the beamy lance; Much less the left that ampler shield advance; Pond'rous with precious weight, and rough with
cost Of the round world in rising gold emboss’d. That orb would ill become his hand to wield, And look as for the gold he stole the shield ; 180 Which should your error on the wretch bestow, It would not frighten, but allure the foe: Why asks he what avails him not in fight, And would but cumber and retard his flight,
In which his only excellence is plac'd ?'
Since from a champion's arms the strife arose,
He said : a murmur from the multitude,
pray’r, These arms had caus'd no quarrel for an heir; Still great Achilles had his own possess’d, And we with great Achilles had been bless’d. But since hard fate, and heaven's fevere decree, Have rayith'd him away from you and
(At this he sigh’d, and wip'd his eyes,
and drew, Or seem’d to draw, some drops of kindly dew) Who better can fucceed Achilles lost, Than he who gave Achilles to your host? This only I request, that neither he May gain, by being what he seems to be, A stupid thing, nor I may lose the prize, By having sense, which heav'n to him denies: Since, great or small, the talent I enjoy'd Was ever in the common cause employ’d: Nor let my wit, and wonted eloquence, Which often has been us'd in your defence And in my own, this only time be brought To bear against myself, and deem'd a fault. Make not a crime, where nature made it none; For every man may freely use his own. The deeds of long descended ancestors Are but by grace of imputation ours, Theirs in effect : but since he draws his line From Jove, and seems to plead a right divine ; From Jove, like him, I claim my pedigree, 231 And am descended in the fame degree; My fire Laertes was Arcesius' heir, Arcesius was the son of Jupiter: No paricide, no banish'd man, is known In all my line: let him excuse his own.
. Hermes ennobles too my mother's side, By both my parents to the gods ally'd ;
But not because that on the female part
blood is better, dare I claim desert, Or that my fire from paricide is free, But judge by merit betwixt him and me : The prize be to the best ; provided yet, That Ajax for a while his kin forget, And his great fire, and greater uncle's name, 245 To fortify by them his feeble claim : Be kindred and relation laid aside, And honour's cause by laws of honour try'd : For, if he plead proximity of blood, That empty title is with ease withstood. Peleus, the hero's fire, more nigh than he, And Pyrrhus his undoubted progeny, Inherit first these trophies of the field ; To Scyros, or to Phthia, send the shield : And Teucer has an uncle's right; yet he Waves his pretensions, nor contends with me.
Then, fince the cause on pure desert is plac'd, Whence shall I take my rise, what reckon lait ? I not presume on every act to dwell, But take these few, in order as they fell.
Thetis, who knew the fates, apply'd her care, To keep Achilles in disguise from war; And till the threatning influence were past, A woman's habit on the hero cast: All eyes were cozen'd by the borrow'd vest, 265 And Ajax (never wiser than the rest)