Ἀλλ’ ἄγε μηκέτι ταῦτα λεγώμεθα νηπύτιοι ὣς
ἑσταότ’ ἐν μέσσῃ ὑσμίνῃ δηϊοτῆτος.
ἔστι γὰρ ἀμφοτέροισιν ὀνείδεα μυθήσασθαι
πολλὰ μάλ’, οὐδ’ ἂν νηῦς ἑκατόζυγος ἄχθος ἄροιτο.
στρεπτὴ δὲ γλῶσσ’ ἐστὶ βροτῶν, πολέες δ’ ἔνι μῦθοι
παντοῖοι, ἐπέων δὲ πολὺς νομὸς ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.
ὁπποῖόν κ’ εἴπῃσθα ἔπος, τοῖόν κ᾽ ἐπακούσαις.
ἀλλὰ τί ἢ ἔριδας καὶ νείκεα νῶϊν ἀνάγκη
νεικεῖν ἀλλήλοισιν ἐναντίον ὥς τε γυναῖκας,
αἵ τε χολωσάμεναι ἔριδος πέρι θυμοβόροιο
νεικεῦσ᾽ ἀλλήλῃσι μέσην ἐς ἄγυιαν ἰοῦσαι
πόλλ’ ἐτεά τε καὶ οὐκί· χόλος δέ τε καὶ τὰ κελεύει.
ἀλκῆς δ’ οὔ μ’ ἐπέεσσιν ἀποτρέψεις μεμαῶτα
πρὶν χαλκῷ μαχέσασθαι ἐναντίον· ἀλλ’ ἄγε θᾶσσον
γευσόμεθ’ ἀλλήλων χαλκήρεσιν ἐγχείῃσιν.
(Homer, Il. 20.244-258)

Come, Achilles,
no more bragging on this way like boys,
standing here in the thick of a pitched battle.
Plenty of insults we could fling against each other,
enough to sink a ship with a hundred benches!
A man’s tongue is a glib and twisty thing…
plenty of words there are, all kinds at its command—
with all the room in the world for talk to range and stray.
And the sort you use is just the sort you’ll hear.
What do we need with wrangling, hurling insults?
Cursing each other here like a pair of nagging women
boiling over with petty, heartsick squabbles, blustering
into the streets to pelt themselves with slander,
much of it true, much not. Anger stirs up lies.
I blaze for battle—your taunts can’t turn me back,
not till we’ve fought it out with bronze. On with it—
taste the bite of each other’s brazen spears!
(tr. Robert Fagles)

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