Diomedes, Worse and Better than His Father

Homer, Iliad 4. 370-400

Agamemnon criticizes Diomedes for not rushing into battle by telling him a story of his father. As a side note, Tydeus might not be the best example: he ate human brains.

“Oh man, son of wise-minded Tydeus the horse-tamer,
Why are you lurking, why are you peeping over the bridges of war?
It wasn’t dear to Tydeus, at least, to lurk like this,
But he fought with his enemies far in front of his companions—
That’s what those who saw him toiling say. I never met the man myself
Nor saw him. But they say he was better than the rest.
For, certainly, he went to Mycenae outside of war
As a guest when he was gathering an army with godly Polyneikos.
Then, they went on an expedition to the sacred walls of Thebes,
And they were begging that famous allies would join them.
They were willing to go and they were assenting to what they asked
Until Zeus changed their minds by revealing fateful signs.
So then, after they left and were on the road,
They arrived at the Asopos, deep in reeds and grass
And the Achaeans Tydeus forward on embassy.
There, stranger though he was, horse-driver Tydeus
was not frightened, alone among many Cadmeans.
But he challenged them to contests and won victory in all
easily. Such a guardian was Athena for your father!
But the Cadmeans, drivers of horses, were angered
and, as he departed from the city, they set up a close ambush
of fifty youths; there were two leaders,
Maeon, son of Haemon, peer of the immortals,
and Autophonus’ son, Polyphontes, staunch in fight.
But Tydeus let loose on them a unseemly fate:
he slew them all and only one man he sent to return home:
he sent Maion, trusting in the signs of the gods.
Such a man was Aitolian Tydeus; but he fathered a son
weaker than he in battle, but better in the assembly.”

“ὤ μοι Τυδέος υἱὲ δαΐφρονος ἱπποδάμοιο
τί πτώσσεις, τί δʼ ὀπιπεύεις πολέμοιο γεφύρας;
οὐ μὲν Τυδέϊ γʼ ὧδε φίλον πτωσκαζέμεν ἦεν,
ἀλλὰ πολὺ πρὸ φίλων ἑτάρων δηΐοισι μάχεσθαι,
ὡς φάσαν οἵ μιν ἴδοντο πονεύμενον· οὐ γὰρ ἔγωγε
ἤντησʼ οὐδὲ ἴδον· περὶ δʼ ἄλλων φασὶ γενέσθαι.
ἤτοι μὲν γὰρ ἄτερ πολέμου εἰσῆλθε Μυκήνας
ξεῖνος ἅμʼ ἀντιθέῳ Πολυνείκεϊ λαὸν ἀγείρων·
οἳ δὲ τότʼ ἐστρατόωνθʼ ἱερὰ πρὸς τείχεα Θήβης,
καί ῥα μάλα λίσσοντο δόμεν κλειτοὺς ἐπικούρους·
οἳ δʼ ἔθελον δόμεναι καὶ ἐπῄνεον ὡς ἐκέλευον·
ἀλλὰ Ζεὺς ἔτρεψε παραίσια σήματα φαίνων.
οἳ δʼ ἐπεὶ οὖν ᾤχοντο ἰδὲ πρὸ ὁδοῦ ἐγένοντο,
Ἀσωπὸν δʼ ἵκοντο βαθύσχοινον λεχεποίην,
ἔνθʼ αὖτʼ ἀγγελίην ἐπὶ Τυδῆ στεῖλαν Ἀχαιοί.
αὐτὰρ ὃ βῆ, πολέας δὲ κιχήσατο Καδμεΐωνας
δαινυμένους κατὰ δῶμα βίης Ἐτεοκληείης.
ἔνθʼ οὐδὲ ξεῖνός περ ἐὼν ἱππηλάτα Τυδεὺς
τάρβει, μοῦνος ἐὼν πολέσιν μετὰ Καδμείοισιν,
ἀλλʼ ὅ γʼ ἀεθλεύειν προκαλίζετο, πάντα δʼ ἐνίκα
ῥηϊδίως· τοίη οἱ ἐπίρροθος ἦεν Ἀθήνη.
οἳ δὲ χολωσάμενοι Καδμεῖοι κέντορες ἵππων
ἂψ ἄρʼ ἀνερχομένῳ πυκινὸν λόχον εἷσαν ἄγοντες
κούρους πεντήκοντα· δύω δʼ ἡγήτορες ἦσαν,
Μαίων Αἱμονίδης ἐπιείκελος ἀθανάτοισιν,
υἱός τʼ Αὐτοφόνοιο μενεπτόλεμος Πολυφόντης.
Τυδεὺς μὲν καὶ τοῖσιν ἀεικέα πότμον ἐφῆκε·
πάντας ἔπεφνʼ, ἕνα δʼ οἶον ἵει οἶκον δὲ νέεσθαι·
Μαίονʼ ἄρα προέηκε θεῶν τεράεσσι πιθήσας.
τοῖος ἔην Τυδεὺς Αἰτώλιος· ἀλλὰ τὸν υἱὸν
γείνατο εἷο χέρεια μάχῃ, ἀγορῇ δέ τʼ ἀμείνω.”

Schol. ad Il. 4.400a

“[but you] are better in the assembly”: For Tydeus had no part of speech. Antimakhos claims that Tydeus was raised among swineherds; Euripides [says] “he was not clever with words, but with the shield” (Suppl. 902). [Agamemnon] speaks persuasively because he is taking precautions against this speaker, in order that he might be reluctant to respond in defense. For this reason, Diomedes says nothing.”

ἀγορῇ δέ τ’ ἀμείνω: οὐ γὰρ μετεῖχε λόγου Τυδεύς. b | ᾿Αντίμαχός (fr. 13 W.) φησι παρὰ συφορβοῖς τετράφθαι Τυδέα, Εὐριπίδης δὲ „οὐκ ἐν λόγοις ἦν δεινός, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀσπίδι” (Suppl. 902). | πιθανῶς δὲ προφυλαξάμενος ἀγορητὴν αὐτόν φησιν, ἵνα πρὸς τὴν ἀπολογίαν ὀκνήσῃ· διὸ οὐδὲν προσφθέγγεται ὁ Διομήδης.
A b (BCE3E4)T


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