All night the leaders of the host of Greece
Lay sunk in soft repose, all, save the Chief,
The son of Atreus; him from thought to thought
Roving solicitous, no sleep relieved.
As when the spouse of beauteous Juno, darts
His frequent fires, designing heavy rain
Immense, or hail-storm, or field-whitening snow,
Or else wide-throated war calamitous,
So frequent were the groans by Atreus' son
Heaved from his inmost heart, trembling with dread.
For cast he but his eye toward the plain
Of Ilium, there, astonish'd he beheld
The city fronted with bright fires, and heard
Pipes, and recorders, and the hum of war;
But when again the Grecian fleet he view'd,
And thought on his own people, then his hair
Uprooted elevating to the Gods,
He from his generous bosom groan'd again.
In the end he deemed it best to go at once to Nestor son of Neleus, and see if between them they could find any way of the Achaeans from destruction. He therefore rose, put on his shirt, bound his sandals about his comely feet, flung the skin of a huge tawny lion over his shoulders – a skin that reached his feet – and took his spear in his hand.
Now Menelaos, like his brother, shaken,
lay unsleeping, open-eyed, foreboding
anguish for the Argives, who had come
for his sake many a long sea mile to Troy
to wage the daring war. He rose and cloaked
his broad back with a spotted leopardskin,
picked up a bronze-rimmed helmet for his head,
and took a long spear in his fist, to go
arouse his brother, lord of all the Argives,
whom as a god the common folk revered.
He found him buckling on his handsome baldric
close to the ship stern, and he turned in joy to see Menelaos
come. Then MeneIaos, lord of the warcry, said:
Why, brother, are ye arming thus? Is it to undertake
The sending of some vent’rous Greek t’ explore the foe’s intent?
Alas! I greatly fear, not one will give that work consent,
Expos’d alone to all the fears that flow in gloomy night:
He that doth this must know death well, in which ends every fright.
But him king Agamemnon, answering, addressed:
my noble Menelaus. That's what we need now,
you and I both, and cunning tactics too.
Something to shield and save our men and ships
since Zeus's heart has turned – his mighty heart
is set on Hector's offerings more than ours.
I've never seen or heard tell of a single man
wreaking so much havoc in one day as Hector,
Zeus's favorite. wreaks against our troops,
and all on his own-no son of god or goddess.
He's made a slaughter, I tell you. Pain for Achaeans,
enough to last us down the years to come . . .
what blows he's dealt our men!
Go now, call Ajax, ldomeneus, quickly,
make a run for it down along the ships.
I'll go after Nestor, wake and rouse him,
see if the good man wants to join the guard,
that strong contingent, and give them orders.
He's the one they'll obey. His own son commands
the sentry-line, he and Idomeneus' aide Meriones.
They above all – we put those men in charge.
But him Menelaus, valiant in the din of war, then answered:
How do I take your meaning? Am I to stay with them and wait your coming, or shall I return here as soon as I have given your orders?
There stay; lest striking into different paths
(For many passes intersect the camp)
We miss each other; summon them aloud
Where thou shalt come; enjoin them to arise;
Call each by his hereditary name,
Honoring all. Beware of manners proud,
For we ourselves must labor, at our birth
By Jove ordain'd to suffering and to toil.
Thus saying, he dismissed his brother, having duly charged him. But he hastened to go to Nestor, the shepherd of the people. Him he found on his soft couch beside his tent and black ship, and by him lay his variegated arms, a shield, two spears, and a glittering helmet: beside him also lay a flexible belt, with which the old man girded himself, when he was arming for man-destroying war, leading on his people; since he by no means yielded to sad old age. Being supported on his elbow, and lifting up his head, he addressed the son of Atreus, and questioned him in [these] words:
What art thou, speak, that on designs unknown,
While others sleep, thus range the camp alone;
Seek'st thou some friend or nightly sentinel?
Stand off, approach not, but thy purpose tell.
Then the Lord Marshal Agamemnon answered:
Nestor, son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, it is I, Agamemnon son of Atreus, on whom Jove has laid labour and sorrow so long as there is breath in my body and my limbs carry me. I am thus abroad because sleep sits not upon my eyelids, but my heart is big with war and with the jeopardy of the Achaeans. I am in great fear for the Danaans. I am at sea, and without sure counsel; my heart beats as though it would leap out of my body, and my limbs fail me. If then you can do anything- for you too cannot sleep- let us go the round of the watch, and see whether they are drowsy with toil and sleeping to the neglect of their duty. The enemy is encamped hard and we know not but he may attack us by night.
Grave Nestor answer’d:
Marshal of the army, Agamemnon,
Zeus the Profound will not achieve for Hektor
all that the man imagines now, or hopes for.
I think he, too, will have his difficulties,
and more, if ever Akhilleus drops his anger.
But I will come with you, and gladly. Why not
awaken others to join us – Diomedes,
who is a wonder with a spear, Odysseus, and
Aias, the fast one, and the son of Phyleus?
Someone might go as well and waken Aias,
the tall one, and Idomeneus – their ships
are not so near, any of them. Moreover,
dear and respected as your brother is,
I have hard words for him. You may resent it;
I will not hide it: see the way he sleeps
and leaves the toil and worry to you alone!
He should be up and asking help of all
our noblest, now the inexorable need
has come upon us.
Good father, said the king, sometimes you know I have desir’d
You would improve his negligence, too oft to ease retir’d:
Nor is it for defect of spirit, or compass of his brain,
But with observing my estate, he thinks he should abstain
Till I commanded, knowing my place, unwilling to assume,
For being my brother, anything might prove he did presume.
But now he rose before me far, and came t’ avoid delays:
And I have sent him for the men yourself desir’d to raise.
Come, we shall find them at the guards we plac’d before the fort,
For thither my direction was they should with speed resort.
But him the Gerenian knight Nestor then answered:
True, when the man leaps in the breach that way
no one can blame or disobey him, no Achaean,
not when he spurs the troops and gives commands.
With that, the venerable warrior rose;
The shining greaves his manly legs enclose;
His purple mantle golden buckles join'd,
Warm with the softest wool, and doubly lined.
Then rushing from his tent, he snatch'd in haste
His steely lance, that lighten'd as he pass'd.
The camp he traversed through the sleeping crowd,
Stopp'd at Ulysses' tent, and call'd aloud.
Ulysses, sudden as the voice was sent,
Awakes, starts up, and issues from his tent.
Why do you go thus alone about the host, and along the line of the ships in the stillness of the night? What is it that you find so urgent?
To whom the hoary Pylian thus replied.
Son of Laertes and the gods of old,
Odysseus, master mariner and soldier,
do not be vexed at this. The Akhaians' peril
warrants it. Now, corne along with us,
and we shall find another man to waken –
someone fit to advise retreat or war.
Thus he spake, and much-counseling Ulysses returning into his tent, flung around his shoulders his variegated shield, and followed them. But they proceeded to Diomede, the son of Tydeus, and him they found without, before his tent, with his arms; and his companions slept around him. Beneath their heads they had their shields, and their spears were fixed erect upon the nether point; and afar off glittered the brass, like the lightning of father Jove. The hero himself however slumbered, and beneath him was strewed the hide of a wild bull; but under his head was spread a splendid piece of tapestry. Standing by him, the Gerenian knight Nestor awoke him, moving him on the heel with his foot, he roused him, and upbraided [him] openly: