Single Contests Fully armed and armored, Ajax clumps into the lists, a rectangle of space already cordoned off for the noble contest this bright morning, in a field at the edge of the Greek camp where it faces Troy.
Agamemnon tells him, “Here art thou, in appointment fresh and fair!—anticipating the time with starting courage! Give with thy trumpet a loud note to Troy, thou dreadful Ajax, that the appallèd air may pierce the head of thy great combatant, and hale him hither!”
Ajax hands a leather pouch of coins to his herald. “Thou, trumpet, there’s my purse. Now crack thy lungs, and split thy brazen pipe! Blow, villain, till thy cheeks, spherèd for us, outswell the choler of puffèd Aquilon!”—the angry North Wind. “Come, stretch thy chest, and let thine eyes spout blood!—thou blow’st for Hector!”
The gleaming brass horn hurls forth its summons.
Except for the chirping of a few sparrows, the plain is silent. Notes Ulysses, “No trumpet answers.”
Agamemnon sees that a couple has emerged from Troy’s eastern gate. “Is not Diomed yonder, with Calchas’ daughter?”
“’Tis he,” says Ulysses, as the two come along the road. He grins. “I ken the manner of his gait: he rises on the toe; that spirit of his lifts him from the earth in aspiration!” His friend is undertaking this assignment with enthusiasm.
“Is this the Lady Cressida?” asks Agamemnon, when they reach him.
Diomedes bows. “Even she!”
As Cressida was taken from the town, she watched her lover hurrying away eagerly with the other princes; forlorn now, she has been comforted by the charming and attentive nobleman who has offered her aid and protection here among Troy’s enemies.
“Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady!” says Agamemnon. She pales, as the king of Mycenae’s lips touch her cheek.