I reassured the ghost, but he broke out, protesting,
'No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus!
By god, I'd rather slave on earth for another man —
some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive —
than rule down here over all the breathless dead.
But come, tell me the news about my gallant son.
Did he make his way to the wars,
did the boy become a champion — yes or no?
About noble Peleus I can tell you nothing,
but about your own dear son, Neoptolemus,
I can report the whole story, as you wish.
I myself, in my trim ship, I brought him
out of Scyros to join the Argives under arms.
And dug in around Troy, debating battle-tactics,
he always spoke up first, and always on the mark —
godlike Nestor and I alone excelled the boy. Yes,
and when our armies fought on the plain of Troy
he'd never hang back with the main force of men —
he'd always charge ahead,
giving ground to no one in his fury,
and scores of men he killed in bloody combat.
How could I list them all, name them all, now,
the fighting ranks he leveled, battling for the Argives?
Then, once we'd sacked King Priam's craggy city,
laden with his fair share and princely prize
he boarded his own ship, his body all unscarred.
Not a wound from a flying spear or a sharp sword,
cut-and-thrust close up — the common marks of war.
Random, raging Ares plays no favorites.'
So I said and
off he went, the ghost of the great runner, Aeacus' grandson
loping with long strides across the fields of asphodel,
triumphant in all had told him of his son,
his gallant, glorious son.
The Odyssey: Homer, trans. Robert Fagles