“I am Pallas Athené and I know the thoughts of all men’s hearts, and discern their manhood or their baseness. And from the souls of clay I turn away; and they are blest, but not by me. They fatten at ease, like sheep in the pasture, and eat what they did not sow, like oxen in the stall. They grow and spread, like the gourd along the ground: but, like the gourd, they give no shade to the traveller; and when they are ripe death gathers them, and they go down unloved into hell, and their name vanishes out of the land.
But to the souls of fire I give more fire, and to those who are manful I give a might more than man’s. These are the heroes, the sons of the Immortals, who are blest, but not like the souls of clay. For I drive them forth by strange paths, Perseus, that they may fight the Titans and the monsters, the enemies of Gods and men. Through doubt and need, danger and battle, I drive them; and some of them are slain in the flower of youth, no man knows when or where; and some of them win noble names, and a fair and green old age; but what will be their latter end I know not, and none, save Zeus, the father of Gods and men. Tell me now, Perseus, which of these two sorts of men seem to you more blest?
Then Perseus answered boldly: “Better to die in the flower of youth, on the chance of winning a noble name, than to live at ease like the sheep, and die unloved and unrenowned.”
For my mother, the silver-footed goddess Thetis, tells me
that two-fold fates are bearing me towards the doom of death.
If staying here I wage battle around the city of the Trojans,
my return home is lost, but my fame will not perish;
but if I go home to my dear fatherland,
my noble fame is lost, but long-lasting my life
will be, and the doom of death will not soon find me.
– Homer, Iliad 9.410-416 (spoken by Achilles)