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The Iliad for the Common Reader
Published on April 16, 2008 By erathoniel In Books

   Jere's Part 2 of the Iliad for the Common Reader. The Article Link reads back to the previous one in the series, if you're lost.

    With these words he sat down, and Calchas, wisest of prophetss, who knew things past present and to come, rose to speak. He had guided the Greeks with their fleet to Troy, through the propheses which Phoebus Apollo had told him. With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them:

    "Achilles, loved of heaven, you ask me to tell you about the anger of King Apollo. I will therefore do so; but promise that you will stand by me, for I know that I shall offend Agamemnon, the king. A plain man cannot stand against the anger of a king, even if he hides his displeasure now, he will plot revenge until he gets vengeance. Consider whether you will protect me."

    And Achilles answered, "Don't worry, tell us what you have heard from heaven, for by Apollo, Calchas, who you serve, and whose sayings you tell us, not a Greek at our ships shall lay his hand upon yo while I live, not even Agamemnon himself, who is by far the foremost of the Achaeans."

    After this Chalchas spoke boldly. "Apollo," he said, "is angry neither because of his priest, who Agamemnon has dishonoured, because he did not free his daughter or take a ransom for her; therefore he sends these evils to us, and will send more. He will not save the Greeks from this plague untill Agamemnon has given the girl back without repayment, and has sent a holy sacrifice to Chryse. That's how we can please him."

    These words angered Agamemnon. His heart was black with rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he scowled on Calchas and said, "Seer of evil, you never predicted good things for me, but you love to prophecy bad things. You have not comforted or pleased me; and now you come prophecying among Greeks, and saying that Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a ransom for the daughter of Chryses. I want to keep her, for I love her better even than my own wife, who she is alike to in form and feature, in understanding and accomplishments. But I will give her up if I must, for I would like my people to live, not die; but you must find me a prize instead, or I will be the only one among us without one. This is not good, for I am the king, and deserve a prize."

    And Achilles answered, "Agamemnon, you covet more than anyone else, how shall we find you another prize? We have no plunder from which to take one. Those we took from the cities have been awarded; we cannot take back the plunder we split already. Give this girl back, and if we ever sack the city of Troy we will give you much more."

Then Agamemnon said, "Achilles, you are a great warrior, but will not outwit me. You will not overrule or persuade me. Why should you keep your prize, while have no girl? Let the us find me a prize that I like, or I will come and take yours, or that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and whoever I come to will regret it. But we will worry about this later; for the present, let's send a ship, put a sacrifice on board, and let us send Chryseis also. Let some high-ranking man among us be in command, either Ajax, or Idomeneus, or yourself, mighty warrior that you are, that we may offer sacrifice and please Apollo."

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