Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. I. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1906.
The men are flying, and going aboard their ships.
What sure proof can you give of this?
The whole night they are kindling blazing torches; I think they will not wait for tomorrow, but after lighting brands upon their ships’ decks will leave this land and fly to their homes.
And you, why do you gird on your sword?
With my spear I will stop them even as they fly and leap aboard their ships, and my hand shall be heavy upon them; for it is shameful in us, yes, and cowardly as well as shameful, when the god gives them into our hands, to let our foes escape without battle, after all the injuries they have done us.
Would you were as sage as you are bold! But, to be sure, among mortals the same man is not dowered by nature with universal knowledge; each has his special gift appointed him, yours is battle, another’s is sage counsel. You are excited to hear that the Achaeans are
lighting blazing torches, and you would lead on our troops across the ditches in the calm still night. Now after crossing the deep yawning trench, supposing you should find the enemy are not flying from the land, but are awaiting your onset,
beware lest you suffer defeat and so never reach this city again; for how will you pass the palisades in a rout? And how shall your charioteers cross the bridges without dashing the axles of their cars to pieces? And, if victorious, you have next the son of Peleus to engage;
he will never allow you to cast the firebrand on the fleet or harry the Achaeans, as you believe. No, for that man is fierce as fire, a very tower of might. Let us rather then leave our men to sleep calmly under arms after the weariness of battle,
while we send, as I advise, whoever will volunteer to spy upon the enemy; and if they really are preparing to fly, let us arise and fall upon the Argive army, but if this signalling is a trap to catch us, we shall discover from the spy the enemy’s designs
and take counsel; such is my advice, lord.
It pleases me well; so change your mind and adopt this counsel. I do not love hazardous commands in generals. What is better than for a swift-footed spy to approach the ships
and learn why our foes are lighting fires in front of their naval station?
Since this finds favor with you all, prevail. To Aeneas. Go and calm the allies; perhaps the army hearing of our midnight council is disturbed.
Mine shall it be to send one forth to spy upon the foe. And if I discover any plot among them, you shall fully hear of it and be present to learn the report; but in case they are starting off in flight, with eager ear await the trumpet’s call,
for then I will not stay, but will this very night engage the Argive army there where their ships are hauled up.
Send out the spy at once; there’s safety in your counsels now. And you shall find me steadfast at your side, whenever occasion calls.
What Trojan of those present in council
volunteers to go and spy on the Argive fleet? Who will be that patriot? Who says yes? I myself cannot at every point serve my country and my friends in arms.