The Death of Dolon

Dumb Dolon, he who was of doubtful mind
To Hector’s charge in foolishness resigned;
For Hector promised him Achilles’ steeds
For but one night of brave and daring deeds.
He snuck (he thought) across the Trojan plain
To breach the Argive camp upon the main,
And spy out all their counsels to report
What plans they laid, to what they would resort:
But the keen ears of Odysseus caught
The sound of footsteps as his way he sought;
Diomed was with him when he heard the sound
Of Dolon sneaking quick over the ground;
“Let him go ahead,” Odysseus advised,
That then from behind the spy could be surprised:
“If we cannot catch him, pin him by the shore;
Our spears shall see that he sees Troy no more.”
Dolon passed and they followed in his wake:
Toward the Achaean camp did Dolon make;
When he perceived the sound of their approach,
He thought them Trojans and ceased not to encroach.
But when at last his folly he perceived,
He was seized with fear and his soul was grieved:
He flew across the plain, seeking to evade
The men whose camp he’d laboured to invade.
To check him Diomed lifted his hand
And hurled his javelin and struck the sand;
He purposed thus to miss to halt the spy,
And lifted his voice to the foe to cry:
He urged the man to halt, lest he be slain
And Dolon did and fear gripped him as pain;
He shook with terror and could hardly stand,
And all at once by tears he was unmanned.
Forsaking all his honour, he proffered gold
From his father’s house if his life be sold.
And Odysseus, always being wise,
Proffered in return one of his cunning lies;
To give him hope, he urged him not to fear,
And asked him why he had at night come near
Their camp, and though the coward trembled still,
He found the will to speak, and his words did spill
Out all at once; he told the men his charge,
Which when they heard they marveled at folly large.
Odysseus could hardly keep straight face
That such a one as this, a coward base,
Had thought to be the master of the steeds
Of Achilles: how luxury folly breeds!
Odysseus then questioned Dolon to
Discover what of Troy’s defense he knew.
Dolon replied and told him all he could,
Where every camp was set, and where guards stood;
That Hector held a counsel made he known,
That the Thracians were encamped alone.
This told Dolon submitted to be a slave,
But Diomed observed him with visage grave.
“From captivity, we shall not set you free,
Nor risk that as slave you’d a traitor be.”
The spy began to speak a word in turn,
But Diomed his plea ‘fore he spoke did spurn;
Like a thunderbolt fell his fearsome sword,
His head fell from his neck and his blood poured
Forth in purple spurts and stained all the ground;
In the dirt his head, severed, rolled around.
This done they stripped his body for reward;
A bow and spear and a wolf’s hide they scored:
And Odysseus dedicated these
To Athena who he always sought to please.