THE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS AND THE TALE OF TROY
THE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS AND THE TALE OF TROY
BY PADRAIC COLUM
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. SET UP AND ELECTROTYPED. PUBLISHED NOVEMBER, 1918.
REPRINTED JUNE, OCTOBER, 1919; OCTOBER, 1920; AUGUST, 1922; MARCH, 1923; MAY, 1924; JUNE, 1925; MARCH, 1926; DECEMBER, 1926; AUGUST, 1927.
Norwood Press: J.S. Cushing Co.—Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
FOR HUGHIE AND PETER
THIS TELLING OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST STORY
BECAUSE THEIR IMAGINATIONS
RISE TO DEEDS AND WONDERS
HOW TELEMACHUS THE SON OF ODYSSEUS WAS MOVED TO GO ON A VOYAGE IN SEARCH OF HIS FATHER AND HOW HE HEARD FROM MENELAUS AND HELEN THE TALE OF TROY 1
HOW ODYSSEUS LEFT CALYPSO'S ISLAND AND CAME TO THE LAND OF THE PHAEACIANS; HOW HE TOLD HE FARED WITH THE CYCLOPES AND WENT PAST THE TERRIBLE SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS AND CAME TO THE ISLAND OF THRINACIA WHERE HIS MEN SLAUGHTERED THE CATTLE OF THE SUN; HOW HE WAS GIVEN A SHIP BY THE PHAEACIANS AND CAME TO HIS OWN LAND; HOW HE OVERTHREW THE WOOERS WHO WASTED HIS SUBSTANCE AND CAME TO REIGN AGAIN AS KING OF ITHAKA. 125
The Judgement of Paris Frontispiece
FACING PAGE The Fair Helen 30
Achilles Victorious 106
The Princess Threw the Ball 138
The Sorrowing Odysseus 148
The Sirens 176
Penelope Unravelling the Web 221
HOW TELEMACHUS THE SON OF ODYSSEUS WAS MOVED TO GO ON A VOYAGE IN SEARCH OF HIS FATHER AND HOW HE HEARD FROM MENELAUS AND HELEN THE TALE OF TROY
This is the story of Odysseus, the most renowned of all the heroes the Greek poets have told us of—of Odysseus, his wars and his wanderings. And this story of Odysseus begins with his son, the youth who was called Telemachus.
It was when Telemachus was a child of a month old that a messenger came from Agamemnon, the Great King, bidding Odysseus betake himself to the war against Troy that the Kings and Princes of Greece were about to wage. The wise Odysseus, foreseeing the disasters that would befall all that entered that war, was loth to go. And so when Agamemnon's messenger came to the island of Ithaka where he was King, Odysseus pretended to be mad. And that the messenger, Palamedes, might believe he was mad indeed, he did a thing that no man ever saw being done before—he took an ass and an ox and yoked them together to the same plough and began to plough a field. And when he had ploughed a furrow he sowed it, not with seeds that would grow, but with salt. When Palamedes saw him doing this he was nearly persuaded that Odysseus was mad. But to test him he took the child Telemachus and laid him down in the field in the way of the plough. Odysseus, when he came near to where the child lay, turned the plough aside and thereby showed that he was not a mad man. Then had he to take King Agamemnon's summons. And Agamemnon's word was that Odysseus should go to Aulis where the ships of the Kings and Princes of Greece were being gathered. But first he was to go into another country to seek the hero Achilles and persuade him also to enter the war against Troy.
And so Odysseus bade good-bye to his infant son, Telemachus, and to his young wife Penelope, and to his father, old Laertes. And he bade good-bye to his house and his lands and to the island of Ithaka where he was King. He summoned a council of the chief men of Ithaka and commended to their care his wife and his child and all his household, and thereafter he took his sailors and his fighting men with him and he sailed away. The years went by and Odysseus did not return. After ten years the City was taken by the Kings and Princes of Greece and the thread of war was wound up. But still Odysseus did not return. And now minstrels came to Ithaka with word of the deaths or the homecomings of the heroes who had fought in the war against Troy. But no minstrel brought any word of Odysseus, of his death or of his appearance in any land known to men. Ten years more went by. And now that infant son whom he had left behind, Telemachus, had grown up and was a young man of strength and purpose.
One day, as he sat sad and disconsolate in the house of his father, the youth Telemachus saw a stranger come to the outer gate. There were many in the court outside, but no one went to receive the newcomer. Then, because he would never let a stranger stand at the gate without hurrying out to welcome him, and because, too, he had hopes that some day such a one would bring him tidings of his father, Telemachus rose up from where he was sitting and went down the hall and through the court and to the gate at which the stranger stood.
'Welcome to the house of Odysseus,' said Telemachus giving him his hand. The stranger clasped it with a friendly clasp. 'I thank you, Telemachus,' he said, 'for your welcome, and glad I am to enter the house of your father, the renowned Odysseus.'
The stranger looked like one who would be a captain amongst soldiers. His eyes were grey and clear and shone wonderfully. In his hand he carried a great bronze spear. He and Telemachus went together through the court and into the hall. And when the stranger left his spear within the spearstand Telemachus took him to a high chair and put a footstool under his feet.
He had brought him to a place in the hall where the crowd would not come. There were many in the court outside and Telemachus would not have his guest disturbed by questions or clamours. A handmaid brought water for the washing of his hands, and poured it over them from a golden ewer into a silver basin. A polished table was left at his side. Then the house-dame brought wheaten bread and many dainties. Other servants set down dishes of meat with golden cups, and afterwards the maids came into the hall and filled up the cups with wine.
But the servants who waited on Telemachus and his guest were disturbed by the crowd of men who now came into the hall. They seated themselves at tables and shouted out their orders. Great dishes of meat were brought to them and bowls of wine, and the men ate and drank and talked loudly to each other and did not refrain even from staring at the stranger who sat with Telemachus.
'Is there a wedding-feast in the house?' the stranger asked, 'or do the men of your clan meet here to drink with each other?'
A flush of shame came to the face of Telemachus. 'There is no wedding-feast here,' he said, 'nor do the men of our clan meet here to drink with each other. Listen to me, my guest. Because you look so wise and because you seem so friendly to my father's name I will tell you who these men are and why they trouble this house.'
Thereupon, Telemachus told the stranger how his father had not returned from the war of Troy although it was now ten years since the City was taken by those with whom he went. 'Alas,' Telemachus said, 'he must have died on his way back to us, and I must think that his bones lie under some nameless strait or channel of the ocean. Would he had died in the fight at Troy! Then the Kings and Princes would have made him a burial-mound worthy of his name and his deeds. His memory would have been reverenced amongst men, and I, his son, would have a name, and would not be imposed upon by such men as you see here—men who are feasting and giving orders in my father's house and wasting the substance that he gathered.'
'How come they to be here?' asked the stranger. Telemachus told him about this also. When seven years had gone by from the fall of Troy and still Odysseus did not return there were those who thought he was dead and would never be seen more in the land of Ithaka. Then many of the young lords of the land wanted Penelope, Telemachus' mother, to marry one of them. They came to the house to woo her for marriage. But she, mourning for the absence of Odysseus and ever hoping that he would return, would give no answer to them. For three years now they were coming to the house of Odysseus to woo the wife whom he had left behind him. 'They want to put my lady-mother between two dread difficulties,' said Telemachus, 'either to promise to wed one of them or to see the substance of our house wasted by them. Here they come and eat the bread of our fields, and slay the beasts of our flocks and herds, and drink the wine that in the old days my father laid up, and weary our servants with their orders.'
When he had told him all this Telemachus raised his head and looked at the stranger: 'O my guest,' he said, 'wisdom and power shine out of your eyes. Speak now to me and tell me what I should do to save the house of Odysseus from ruin. And tell me too if you think it possible that my father should still be in life.'
The stranger looked at him with his grey, clear, wonderfully-shining eyes. 'Art thou verily the son of Odysseus?' said he.
'Verily, I am the son of Odysseus,' said Telemachus.
'As I look at you,' said the stranger, 'I mark your head and eyes, and I know they are such a head and such eyes as Odysseus had. Well, being the son of such a man, and of such a woman as the lady Penelope, your spirit surely shall find a way of destroying those wooers who would destroy your house.'
'Already,' said Telemachus, 'your gaze and your speech make me feel equal to the task of dealing with them.'
'I think,' said the stranger, 'that Odysseus, your father, has not perished from the earth. He may yet win home through labors and perils. But you should seek for tidings of him. Harken to me now and I shall tell you what to do.
'To-morrow summon a council of all the chief men of the land of Ithaka, and stand up in that council and declare that the time has come for the wooers who waste your substance to scatter, each man to his own home. And after the council has been held I would have you voyage to find out tidings of your father, whether he still lives and where he might be. Go to Pylos first, to the home of Nestor, that old King who was with your father in the war of Troy. Beg Nestor to give you whatever tidings he has of Odysseus. And from Pylos go to Sparta, to the home of Menelaus and Helen, and beg tidings of your father from them too. And if you get news of his being alive, return: It will be easy for you then to endure for another year the wasting of your substance by those wooers. But if you learn that your father, the renowned Odysseus, is indeed dead and gone, then come back, and in your own country raise a great funeral mound to his memory, and over it pay all funeral rites. Then let your mother choose a good man to be her husband and let her marry him, knowing for a certainty that Odysseus will never come back to his own house. After that something will remain for you to do: You will have to punish those wooers who destroy the goods your father gathered and who insult his house by their presence. And when all these things have been done, you, Telemachus, will be free to seek out your own fortune: you will rise to fame, for I mark that you are handsome and strong and most likely to be a wise and valiant man. But now I must fare on my journey.'
The stranger rose up from where he sat and went with Telemachus from the hall and through the court and to the outer gate. Telemachus said: 'What you have told me I shall not forget. I know you have spoken out of a wise and a friendly heart, and as a father to his son.'
The stranger clasped his hands and went through the gate. And then, as he looked after him Telemachus saw the stranger change in his form. He became first as a woman, tall, with fair hair and a spear of bronze in her hand. And then the form of a woman changed too. It changed into a great sea-eagle that on wide wings rose up and flew high through the air. Telemachus knew then that his visitor was an immortal and no other than the goddess Athene who had been his father's friend.
When Telemachus went back to the hall those who were feasting there had put the wine-cups from them and were calling out for Phemius, the minstrel, to come and sing some tale to delight them. And as he went amongst them one of the wooers said to another, 'The guest who was with him has told Telemachus something that has changed his bearing. Never before did I see him hold himself so proudly. Mayhap he has spoken to him of the return of his father, the renowned Odysseus.'
Phemius came and the wooers called upon him to sing them a tale. And the minstrel, in flowing verse, began the tale of the return of the Kings and Princes from Troy, and of how some god or goddess put a trouble upon them as they left the City they had taken. And as the minstrel began the tale, Penelope, Telemachus' lady-mother, was coming down the stairs with two hand-maids beside her. She heard the words he sang, and she stood still in her grief and drew her veil across her face. 'O Phemius,' she cried, 'cease from that story that ever wastes my heart—the story that has brought me sorrow and that leaves me comfortless all my days! O Phemius, do you not know other tales of men and gods that you might sing in this hall for the delight of my noble wooers?'
The minstrel would have ceased when Penelope spoke thus to him, but Telemachus went to the stairway where his lady-mother stood, and addressed her.
'My lady-mother,' said he, 'why should you not let the minstrel delight the company with such songs as the spirit moves him to give us? It is no blame to him if he sings of that which is sorrowful to us. As for you, my mother, you must learn to endure that story, for long will it be sung and far and wide. And you are not the only one who is bereaved—many another man besides Odysseus lost the happy day of his homecoming in the war of Troy.'
Penelope, his lady-mother, looked in surprise at the youth who spoke to her so wisely. Was this indeed Telemachus who before had hardly lifted his head? And as she looked at him again she saw that he carried his head—that head of his that was so like Odysseus'—high and proudly. She saw that her son was now indeed a man. Penelope spoke no word to him, for a new thought had come into her mind. She turned round on the stairs and went back with her hand-maids to the chamber where her loom and her distaff were. And as she went up the stairway and away from them her wooers muttered one to the other that she would soon have to choose one of them for her husband.
Telemachus turned to those who were standing at the tables and addressed them. 'Wooers of my mother,' he said, 'I have a word to say to you.'
'By the gods, youth,' said one of the wooers, 'you must tell us first who he is who has made you so high and proud of speech.'
'Surely,' said another, 'he who has done that is the stranger who was with him. Who is he? Why did he come here, and of what land has he declared himself to be?'
'Why did he not stay so that we might look at him and speak to him?' said another of the wooers.
'These are the words I would say to you. Let us feast now in peace, without any brawling amongst us, and listen to the tale that the minstrel sings to us,' said Telemachus. 'But to-morrow let us have a council made up of the chief men of this land of Ithaka. I shall go to the council and speak there. I shall ask that you leave this house of mine and feast on goods that you yourselves have gathered. Let the chief men judge whether I speak in fairness to you or not. If you do not heed what I will say openly at the council, before all the chief men of our land, then let it be on your own heads what will befall you.'
All the wooers marvelled that Telemachus spoke so boldly. And one said, 'Because his father, Odysseus, was king, this youth thinks he should be king by inheritance. But may Zeus, the god, never grant that he be king.'
Then said Telemachus, 'If the god Zeus should grant that I be King, I am ready to take up the Kingship of the land of Ithaka with all its toils and all its dangers.' And when Telemachus said that he looked like a young king indeed.
But they sat in peace and listened to what the minstrel sang. And when evening came the wooers left the hall and went each to his own house. Telemachus rose and went to his chamber. Before him there went an ancient woman who had nursed him as a child—Eurycleia was her name. She carried burning torches to light his way. And when they were in his chamber Telemachus took off his soft doublet and put it in Eurycleia's hands, and she smoothed it out and hung it on the pin at his bed-side. Then she went out and she closed the door behind with its handle of silver and she pulled the thong that bolted the door on the other side. And all night long Telemachus lay wrapped in his fleece of wool and thought on what he would say at the council next day, and on the goddess Athene and what she had put into his heart to do, and on the journey that was before him to Nestor in Pylos and to Menelaus and Helen in Sparta.
As soon as it was dawn Telemachus rose from his bed. He put on his raiment, bound his sandals on his feet, hung his sharp sword across his shoulder, and took in his hand a spear of bronze. Then he went forth to where the Council was being held in the open air, and two swift hounds went beside him.
The chief men of the land of Ithaka had been gathered already for the council. When it was plain that all were there, the man who was oldest amongst them, the lord AEgyptus, rose up and spoke. He had sons, and two of them were with him yet, tending his fields. But one, Eurynomous by name, kept company with the wooers of Telemachus' mother. And AEgyptus had had another son; he had gone in Odysseus' ship to the war of Troy, and AEgyptus knew he had perished on his way back. He constantly mourned for this son, and thinking upon him as he spoke, AEgyptus had tears in his eyes.
'Never since Odysseus summoned us together before he took ship for the war of Troy have we met in council,' said he. 'Why have we been brought together now? Has someone heard tidings of the return of Odysseus? If it be so, may the god Zeus give luck to him who tells us of such good fortune.'
Telemachus was glad because of the kindly speech of the old man. He rose up to speak and the herald put a staff into his hands as a sign that he was to be listened to with reverence. Telemachus then spoke, addressing the old lord AEgyptus.
'I will tell you who it is,' he said, 'who has called the men of Ithaka together in council, and for what purpose. Revered lord AEgyptus, I have called you together, but not because I have had tidings of the return of my father, the renowned Odysseus, nor because I would speak to you about some affair of our country. No. I would speak to you all because I suffer and because I am at a loss—I, whose father was King over you, praised by you all. Odysseus is long away from Ithaka, and I deem that he will never return. You have lost your King. But you can put another King to rule over you. I have lost my father, and I can have no other father in all my days. And that is not all my loss, as I will show you now, men of Ithaka.
'For three years now my mother has been beset by men who come to woo her to be wife for one of them. Day after day they come to our house and kill and devour our beasts and waste the wine that was laid up against my father's return. They waste our goods and our wealth. If I were nearer manhood I would defend my house against them. But as yet I am not able to do it, and so I have to stand by and see our house and substance being destroyed.'
So Telemachus spoke, and when his speech was ended Antinous, who was one of the wooers, rose up.
'Telemachus,' said he, 'why do you try to put us to shame in this way? I tell all here that it is not we but your mother who is to blame. We, knowing her husband Odysseus is no longer in life, have asked her to become the wife of one of us. She gives us no honest answer. Instead she has given her mind to a device to keep us still waiting.
'I will tell you of the council what this device is. The lady Penelope set up a great loom in her house and began to weave a wide web of cloth. To each of us she sent a message saying that when the web she was working at was woven, she would choose a husband from amongst us. "Laertes, the father of Odysseus, is alone with none to care for him living or dead," said she to us. "I must weave a shroud for him against the time which cannot now be far off when old Laertes dies. Trouble me not while I do this. For if he should die and there be no winding-sheet to wrap him round all the women of the land would blame me greatly."
'We were not oppressive and we left the lady Penelope to weave the web, and the months have gone by and still the web is not woven. But even now we have heard from one of her maids how Penelope tries to finish her task. What she weaves in the daytime she unravels at night. Never, then, can the web be finished and so does she try to cheat us.
'She has gained praise from the people for doing this. "How wise is Penelope," they say, "with her devices." Let her be satisfied with their praise then, and leave us alone. We too have our devices. We will live at her house and eat and drink there and give orders to her servants and we shall see which will satisfy her best—to give an answer or to let the wealth of her house be wasted.
'As for you, Telemachus, I have these words to say to you. Lead your mother from your father's house and to the house of her father, Icarius. Tell Icarius to give her in marriage to the one she chooses from amongst us. Do this and no more goods will be wasted in the house that will be yours,'
Then Telemachus rose and said, 'Never will I lead my mother out of a house that my father brought her into. Quit my father's house, or, as I tell you now, the day may come when a doom will fall upon you there for your insolence in it.'
And even as Telemachus spoke, two eagles from a mountain crest flew over the place where the council was being held. They wheeled above and flapped their wings and looked down upon the crowd with destruction in their gaze. They tore each other with their talons, and then flew away across the City.
An old man who was there, Halitherses by name, a man skilled in the signs made by birds, told those who were around what was foreshown by the combat of the eagles in the air. 'Odysseus,' he said, 'is not far from his friends. He will return, and his return will mean affliction for those who insult his house. Now let them make an end of their mischief.' But the wooers only laughed at the old man, telling him he should go home and prophesy to his children.
Then arose another old man whose name was Mentor, and he was one who had been a friend and companion of Odysseus. He spoke to the council saying:
'Never again need a King be gentle in his heart. For kind and gentle to you all was your King, Odysseus. And now his son asks you for help and you do not hurry to give it him. It is not so much an affliction to me that these wooers waste his goods as that you do not rise up to forbid it. But let them persist in doing it on the hazard of their own heads. For a doom will come on them, I say. And I say again to you of the council: you are many and the wooers are few: Why then do you not put them away from the house of Odysseus?'
But no one in the council took the side of Telemachus and Halitherses and Mentor—so powerful were the wooers and so fearful of them were the men of the council. The wooers looked at Telemachus and his friends with mockery. Then for the last time Telemachus rose up and spoke to the council.
'I have spoken in the council, and the men of Ithaka know, and the gods know, the rights and wrongs of my case. All I ask of you now is that you give me a swift ship with twenty youths to be my crew so that I may go to Pylos and to Sparta to seek tidings of my father. If I find he is alive and that he is returning, then I can endure to wait another year in the house and submit to what you do there.'
Even at this speech they mocked. Said one of them, Leocritus by name, 'Though Odysseus be alive and should one day come into his own hall, that would not affright us. He is one, and we are many, and if he should strive with those who outnumber him, why then, let his doom be on his own head. And now, men of the council, scatter yourselves and go each to his own home, and let Mentor and Halitherses help Telemachus to get a ship and a crew.'
Leocritus said that knowing that Mentor and Halitherses were old and had few friends, and that they could do nothing to help Telemachus to get a ship. The council broke up and those who were in it scattered. But the wooers went together back to the house of Odysseus.
Telemachus went apart, and, going by himself, came to the shore of the sea. He dipped his hands into the sea-water and prayed, saying, 'O Goddess Athene, you who did come to my father's hall yesterday, I have tried to do as you bade me. But still the wooers of my mother hinder me from taking ship to seek tidings of my father.'
He spoke in prayer and then he saw one who had the likeness of the old man Mentor coming towards him. But by the grey, clear, wonderfully-shining eyes he knew that the figure was none other than the goddess Athene.
'Telemachus,' said she, 'if you have indeed one drop of your father's blood in you or one portion of his spirit, if you are as he was—one ready to fulfil both word and work, your voyage shall not be in vain. If you are different from what he was, I have no hope that you will accomplish your desire. But I have seen in you something of the wisdom and the courage of Odysseus. Hear my counsel then, and do as I direct you. Go back to your father's house and be with the wooers for a time. And get together corn and barley-flour and wine in jars. And while you are doing all this I will gather together a crew for your ship. There are many ships in sea-girt Ithaka and I shall choose the best for you and we will rig her quickly and launch her on the wide deep.'
When Telemachus heard her counsel he tarried no more but went back to the house and stood amongst the wooers, and when he had spoken with them he went down into the treasure-vault. It was a spacious room filled with gold and bronze and chests of raiment and casks of wine. The doors of that vault were closed night and day and Eurycleia, the dame who had been the nurse of Telemachus when he was little, guarded the place. She came to him, and he spoke to her:
'My nurse,' said he, 'none but yourself must know what I would do now, and you must swear not to speak of it to my lady-mother until twelve days from this. Fill twelve jars with wine for me now, and pour twelve measures of barley-meal into well-sewn skins. Leave them all together for me, and when my mother goes into the upper chamber, I shall have them carried away. Lo, nurse, I go to Pylos and to Sparta to seek tidings from Nestor and Menelaus of Odysseus, my father.'
When she heard him say this, the nurse Eurycleia lamented. 'Ah, wherefore, dear child,' she cried, 'has such a thought risen in your mind? How could you fare over wide seas and through strange lands, you who were never from your home? Stay here where you are well beloved. As for your father, he has long since perished amongst strangers why should you put yourself in danger to find out that he is no more? Nay, do not go, Telemachus, my fosterling, but stay in your own house and in your own well-beloved country.'
Telemachus said: 'Dear nurse, it has been shown to me that I should go by a goddess. Is not that enough for you and for me? Now make all ready for me as I have asked you, and swear to me that you will say nothing of it to my mother until twelve days from this, or until she shall miss me herself.'
Having sworn as he asked her, the nurse Eurycleia drew the wine into jars and put the barley-meal into the well-sewn skins. Telemachus left the vault and went back again into the hall. He sat with the wooers and listened to the minstrel Phemius sing about the going forth of Odysseus to the wars of Troy.
And while these things were happening the goddess Athene went through the town in the likeness of Telemachus. She went to this youth and that youth and told them of the voyage and asked them to make ready and go down to the beach where the boat would be. And then she went to a man called Noemon, and begged him for a swift ship, and Noemon gave it her.
When the sun sank and when the ways were darkened Athene dragged the ship to where it should be launched and brought the tackling to it. The youths whom Athene had summoned—they were all of the age of Telemachus—came, and Athene aroused them with talk of the voyage. And when the ship was ready she went to the house of Odysseus. Upon the wooers who were still in the hall she caused sleep to fall. They laid their heads upon the tables and slumbered beside the wine cups. But Athene sent a whisper through the hall and Telemachus heard and he rose up and came to where she stood. Now she had on the likeness of old Mentor, the friend of his father Odysseus.
'Come,' said she, 'your friends are already at the oars. We must not delay them.'
But some of the youths had come with the one whom they thought was old Mentor. They carried with Telemachus the skins of corn and the casks of wine. They came to the ship, and Telemachus with a cheer climbed into it. Then the youths loosed the ropes and sat down at the benches to pull the oars. And Athene, in the likeness of old Mentor, sat at the helm.
And now they set up the mast of pine and they made it fast with forestays, and they hauled up the sails with ropes of twisted oxhide. And a wind came and filled out the sails, and the youths pulled at the oars, and the ship dashed away. All night long Telemachus and his friends sat at the oars and under the sails, and felt the ship bearing them swiftly onward through the dark water. Phemius, the minstrel, was with them, and, as the night went by, he sang to them of Troy and of the heroes who had waged war against it.
Troy, the minstrel sang, was the greatest of the Cities of men; it had been built when the demi-gods walked the earth; its walls were so strong and so high that enemies could not break nor scale them; Troy had high towers and great gates; in its citadels there were strong men well armed, and in its treasuries there were stores of gold and silver. And the King of Troy was Priam. He was old now, but he had sons that were good Captains. The chief of them all was Hector.
Hector, the minstrel sang, was a match for any warrior the nations could send against Troy. Because he was noble and generous as well as brave, the people were devoted to him. And Hector, Priam's son, was commander in the City.
But Priam had another son who was not counted amongst the Captains. Paris was his name. Now when Paris was in his infancy, a soothsayer told King Priam that he would bring trouble upon Troy. Then King Priam had the child sent away from the City. Paris was reared amongst country people, and when he was a youth he herded sheep.
* * * * *
Then the minstrel sang of Peleus, the King of Phthia, and of his marriage to the river nymph, Thetis. All the gods and goddesses came to their wedding feast, Only one of the immortals was not invited—Eris, who is Discord. She came, however. At the games that followed the wedding feast she threw a golden apple amongst the guests, and on the apple was written "For the fairest."
Each of the three goddesses who was there wished to be known as the fairest and each claimed the golden apple—Aphrodite who inspired love; Athene who gave wisdom; and Hera who was the wife of Zeus, the greatest of the gods. But no one at the wedding would judge between the goddesses and say which was the fairest. And then the shepherd Paris came by, and him the guests asked to give judgment.
Said Hera to Paris, 'Award the apple to me and I will give you a great kingship.' Said Athene, 'Award the golden apple to me and I will make you the wisest of men.' And Aphrodite came to him and whispered, 'Paris, dear Paris, let me be called the fairest and I will make you beautiful, and the fairest woman in the world will be your wife.' Paris looked on Aphrodite and in his eyes she was the fairest. To her he gave the golden apple and ever afterwards she was his friend. But Hera and Athene departed from the company in wrath.
The minstrel sang how Paris went back to his father's City and was made a prince of Troy. Through the favor of Aphrodite he was the most beautiful of youths. Then Paris went out of the City again. Sent by his father he went to Tyre. And coming back to Troy from Tyre he went through Greece.
Now the fairest woman in the world was in Greece; she was Helen, and she was married to King Menelaus. Paris saw her and loved her for her beauty. And Aphrodite inspired Helen to fall in love with Paris. He stole her from the house of Menelaus and brought her into Troy.
King Menelaus sent to Troy and demanded that his wife be given back to him. But the people of Troy, thinking no King in the world could shake them, and wanting to boast that the fairest woman in the world was in their city, were not willing that Menelaus be given back his wife. Priam and his son, Hector, knew that a wrong had been done, and knew that Helen and all that she had brought with her should be given back. But in the council there were vain men who went against the word of Priam and Hector, declaring that for no little King of Greece would they give up Helen, the fairest woman in all the world.
* * * * *
Then the minstrel sang of Agamemnon. He was King of rich Mycenae, and his name was so high and his deeds were so renowned that all the Kings of Greece looked to him. Now Agamemnon, seeing Menelaus, his brother, flouted by the Trojans, vowed to injure Troy. And he spoke to the Kings and Princes of Greece, saying that if they all united their strength they would be able to take the great city of Troy and avenge the slight put upon Menelaus and win great glory and riches for themselves.
And when they had come together and had taken note of their strength, the Kings and Princes of Greece thought well of the word of Agamemnon and were eager to make war upon Troy. They bound themselves by a vow to take the City. Then Agamemnon sent messages to the heroes whose lands were far away, to Odysseus, and to Achilles, who was the son of Peleus and Thetis, bidding them also enter the war.
In two years the ships of all the Kings and Princes were gathered into Aulis and the Greeks, with their leaders, Agamemnon, Aias, Diomedes, Nestor, Idomeneus, Achilles and Odysseus, sailed for the coast of Troy. One hero after another subdued the cities and nations that were the allies of the Trojans, but Troy they did not take. And the minstrel sang to Telemachus and his fellow-voyagers how year after year went by, and how the host of Greeks still remained between their ships and the walls of the City, and how in the ninth year there came a plague that smote with death more men than the Trojans killed.
So the ship went on through the dark water, very swiftly, with the goddess Athene, in the likeness of old Mentor, guiding it, and with the youths listening to the song that Phemius the minstrel sang.
The sun rose and Telemachus and his fellow-voyagers drew near to the shore of Pylos and to the steep citadel built by Neleus, the father of Nestor, the famous King. They saw on the shore men in companies making sacrifice to Poseidon, the dark-haired god of the sea. There were nine companies there and each company had nine black oxen for the sacrifice, and the number of men in each company was five hundred. They slew the oxen and they laid parts to burn on the altars of the god, and the men sat down to feast.
The voyagers brought their ship to the shore and Telemachus sprang from it. But before him went the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, in the likeness of the old man, Mentor. And the goddess told Telemachus that Nestor, the King whom he had come to seek, was on the shore. She bade him now go forward with a good heart and ask Nestor for tidings of his father, Odysseus.
But Telemachus said to her, 'Mentor, how can I bring myself to speak to one who is so reverenced? How should I greet him? And how can I, a young man, question such a one as Nestor, the old King?'
The goddess, grey-eyed Athene, encouraged him; the right words, she said, would come. So Telemachus went forward with his divine companion. Nestor was seated on the shore with his sons around him. And when they saw the two strangers approach, the sons of Nestor rose up to greet them. One, Peisistratus, took the hand of Telemachus and the hand of the goddess and led them both to where Nestor was.
A golden cup was put into the hand of each and wine was poured into the cups, and Nestor's son, Peisistratus, asked Telemachus and the goddess to pray that the sacrifice they were making to Poseidon, the god of the sea, would bring good to them and to their people. Then the goddess Athene in the likeness of old Mentor held the cup in her hand and prayed:
'Hear me, Poseidon, shaker of the earth: First to Nestor and his sons grant renown. Then grant to the people of Pylos recompense for the sacrifice of oxen they have made. Grant, too, that Telemachus and I may return safely when what we have come in our swift ship to seek has been won.'
Telemachus prayed in the words of the goddess and then the sons of Nestor made them both sit on the fleeces that were spread on the shore. And dishes of meat were brought to them and cups of wine, and when they had eaten and drunk, the old King, Nestor, spoke to them.
'Until they have partaken of food and drink, it is not courteous,' he said, 'to ask of strangers who they are and whither they go. But now, my guests, I will ask of you what your land is, and what your quest, and what names you bear.'
Then Telemachus said: 'Nestor, renowned King, glory of the Greeks, we have come out of Ithaka and we seek tidings of my father, of Odysseus, who, long ago, fought by your side in the war of Troy. With you, men say, he sacked the great City of the Trojans. But no further story about him has been told. And I have come to your knees, O King, to beg you to give me tidings of him—whether he died and you saw his death, or whether you heard of his death from another. And if you should answer me, speak not, I pray you, in pity for me, but tell me all you know or have heard. Ah, if ever my father helped you in the land of the Trojans, by the memory of what help he gave, I pray you speak in truth to me, his son.'
Then said Nestor, the old King, 'Verily, my son, you bring sorrow to my mind. Ah, where are they who were with me in our war against the mighty City of Troy? Where is Aias and Achilles and Patroklos and my own dear son, Antilochos, who was so noble and so strong? And where is Agamemnon now? He returned to his own land, to be killed in his own hall by a most treacherous foeman. And now you ask me of Odysseus, the man who was dearer to me than any of the others—Odysseus, who was always of the one mind with me! Never did we two speak diversely in the assembly nor in the council.
'You say to me that you are the son of Odysseus! Surely you are. Amazement comes over me as I look on you and listen to you, for you look as he looked and you speak as he spoke. But I would have you speak further to me and tell me of your homeland and of how things fare in Ithaka.'
Then he told the old King of the evil deeds I worked by the wooers of his mother, and when he had told of them Telemachus cried out, 'Oh, that the gods would give me such strength that I might take vengeance on them for their many transgressions.'
Then said old Nestor, 'Who knows but Odysseus will win home and requite the violence of these suitors and the insults they have offered to your house. The goddess Athene might bring this to pass. Well was she inclined to your father, and never did the gods show such favour to a mortal as the grey-eyed goddess showed to Odysseus, your father.'
But Telemachus answered, 'In no wise can your word be accomplished, King.'
Then Athene, in the likeness of old Mentor, spoke to him and said, 'What word has crossed your lips, Telemachus? If it should please them, any one of the gods could bring a man home from afar. Only this the gods may not do—avert death from a man who has been doomed to it.'
Telemachus answered her and said, 'Mentor, no longer let us talk of these things. Nestor, the renowned King, has been very gracious to me, but he has nothing to tell me of my father. I deem now that Odysseus will never return.'
'Go to Menelaus,' said Nestor. 'Go to Menelaus in Sparta. Lately he has come from a far and a strange country and it may be that he has heard of Odysseus in his wanderings. You can go to Sparta in your ship. But if you have a mind to fare by land then will I give you a chariot and horses, and my son will go with you to be a guide for you into Sparta.'
Then Telemachus, with Athene, the grey-eyed goddess in the likeness of old Mentor, would have gone back to their ship, but Nestor the King said, 'Zeus forbid that you two should go back to the ship to take your rest while there is guest-room in my hall. Come with me to a place where you can lie softly. Never shall it be said that a son of Odysseus, my dear friend, lay on the hard deck of a ship while I am alive and while children of mine are left in my hall. Come with me now.'
Then the goddess Athene in the likeness of old Mentor said, 'You have spoken as becomes you, renowned King. Telemachus should harken to your word and go with you. But it is meet that the young men who came for the love of him should have an elder with them on the ship to-night. I shall abide with them.'
So speaking, the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, in the likeness of old Mentor went from the shore, and Telemachus went with Nestor and his sons to the high citadel of Neleus. And there he was given a bath, and the maiden Polycaste, the youngest daughter of King Nestor, attended him. She gave him new raiment to wear, a goodly mantle and doublet. He slept in a room with Peisistratus, the youngest of Nestor's sons.
In the morning they feasted and did sacrifice, and when he had given judgments to the people, the old King Nestor spoke to his sons,—
'Lo, now, my sons. Yoke for Telemachus the horses to the chariot that he may go on his way to Sparta.'
The sons of Nestor gave heed and they yoked the swift horses to the chariot and the housedame came from the hall and placed within the chariot wine and dainties. Telemachus went into the chariot and Peisistratus sat before him. Then Peisistratus touched the horses with the whip and they sprang forward, and the chariot went swiftly over the plain. Soon they left behind them the steep citadel of Neleus and the land of Pylos. And when the sun sank and the ways were darkened, they came to Pherae and to the house of Diocles and there they rested for the night.
In the morning as soon as the sun rose they yoked the houses and they mounted the chariot, and for another day they journeyed across the plain. They had gone far and the ways were again darkened around them.
They came to Sparta, to a country lying low amongst the hills, and they stayed the chariot outside the gate of the King's dwelling. Now upon that day Menelaus was sending his daughter into Phthia, with horses and chariots, as a bride for Achilles' son. And for Megapenthes, his own son, a bride was being brought into the house. Because of these two marriages there was feasting in the palace and kinsmen and neighbours were gathered there. A minstrel was singing to the guests and two tumblers were whirling round the high hall to divert them.
To the King in his high hall came Eteoneus, the steward. 'Renowned Menelaus,' said Eteoneus, 'there are two strangers outside, men with the looks of heroes. What would you have me do with them? Shall I have their horses unyoked, bidding them enter the Palace, or shall I let them fare on to another dwelling?'
'Why do you ask such a question, Eteoneus?' said Menelaus in anger. 'Have we not eaten the bread of other men on our wanderings, and have we not rested ourselves in other men's houses? Knowing this you have no right to ask whether you should bid strangers enter or let them go past the gate of my dwelling. Go now and bid them enter and feast with us.'
Then Eteoneus went from the hall, and while he had servants unyoke the horses from their chariot he led Telemachus and Peisistratus into the palace. First they were brought to the bath, and when they had come from the bath refreshed, they were given new cloaks and mantles. When they had dressed themselves they were led into the King's high hall. They seated themselves there, and a maid brought water in a golden ewer and poured it over their hands into a silver basin. Then a polished table was put beside them, and the housedame placed bread and meat and wine upon it so that they might eat.
Menelaus came to where they sat and said to Telemachus and Peisistratus, 'By your looks I know you to be of the line of Kings. Eat now, and when you have refreshed yourselves I will ask who you are and from what place you come.'
But before they had finished their meal, and while yet Menelaus the king was showing them the treasures that were near, the lady Helen came into the high hall—Helen for whom the Kings and Princes of Greece had gone to war. Her maids were with her, and they set a chair for her near where Menelaus was and they put a rug of soft wool under her feet. Then one brought to her a silver basket filled with colored yarn. And Helen sat in her high chair and took the distaff in her hands and worked the yarn. She questioned Menelaus about the things that had happened during the day, and as she did she watched Telemachus.
Then the lady Helen left the distaff down and said, 'Menelaus, I am minded to tell you who one of these strangers is. No one was ever more like another than this youth is like great-hearted Odysseus. I know that he is no other than Telemachus, whom Odysseus left as a child, when, for my sake, the Greeks began their war against Troy.'
Then said Menelaus, 'I too mark his likeness to Odysseus. The shape of his head, the glance of his eye, remind me of Odysseus. But can it indeed be that Telemachus has come into my house?'
'Renowned Menelaus,' said Peisistratus, 'this is indeed the son of Odysseus. And I avow myself to be the son of another comrade of yours, of Nestor, who was with you at the war of Troy. I have been sent with Telemachus to be his guide to your house.'
Menelaus rose up and clasped the hand of Telemachus. 'Never did there come to my house,' said he, 'a youth more welcome. For my sake did Odysseus endure much toil and many adventures. Had he come to my country I would have given him a city to rule over, and I think that nothing would have parted us, one from the other. But Odysseus, I know, has not returned to his own land of Ithaka.'
Then Telemachus, thinking upon his father, dead, or wandering through the world, wept. Helen, too, shed tears, remembering things that had happened. And Menelaus, thinking upon Odysseus and on all his toils, was silent and sad; and sad and silent too was Peisistratus, thinking upon Antilochos, his brother, who had perished in the war of Troy.
But Helen, wishing to turn their minds to other thoughts, cast into the wine a drug that lulled pain and brought forgetfulness—a drug which had been given to her in Egypt by Polydamna, the wife of King Theon. And when they had drunk the wine their sorrowful memories went from them, and they spoke to each other without regretfulness. Thereafter King Menelaus told of his adventure with the Ancient One of the Sea—the adventure that had brought to him the last tidings of Odysseus.
Said Menelaus, 'Over against the river that flows out of Egypt there is an Island that men call Pharos, and to that island I came with my ships when we, the heroes who had fought at Troy, were separated one from the other. There I was held, day after day, by the will of the gods. Our provision of corn was spent and my men were in danger of perishing of hunger. Then one day while my companions were striving desperately to get fish out of the sea, I met on the shore one who had pity for our plight.
'She was an immortal, Eidothee, a daughter of the Ancient One of the Sea. I craved of her to tell me how we might get away from that place, and she counselled me to take by an ambush her father, the Ancient One of the Sea, who is also called Proteus, "You can make him tell you," said she, "for he knows all things, what you must do to get away from this island of Pharos. Moreover, he can declare to you what happened to the heroes you have been separated from, and what has taken place in your own hall."
'Then said I to that kind nymph Eidothee, "Show me how I may take by an ambush your immortal father, the Ancient One of the Sea."'
'Said Eidothee, "My father, Proteus, comes out of the sea when the sun is highest in the heavens. Then would he lie down to sleep in the caves that are along the shore. But before he goes to sleep he counts, as a shepherd counts his flock, the seals that come up out of the ocean and lie round where he lies. If there be one too many, or one less than there should be, he will not go to sleep in the cave. But I will show you how you and certain of your companions may be near without the Ancient One of the Sea being aware of your presence. Take three of your men—the three you trust above all the others—and as soon as it is dawn to-morrow meet me by the edge of the sea."'
'So saying the nymph Eidothee plunged into the sea and I went from that place anxious, but with hope in my heart.
'Now as soon as the dawn had come I walked by the sea-shore and with me came the three that I trusted above all my companions. The daughter of the Ancient One of the Sea, Eidothee, came to us. In her arms she had the skins of seals newly-slain, one for each of us. And at the cave where the seals lay she scooped holes in the sand and bade us lie there, covering ourselves with the skins. Then she spoke to me and said:
'"When my father, the Ancient One of the Sea, comes here to sleep, lay hands upon him and hold him with all the strength you have. He will change himself into many shapes, but do not you let go your hold upon him. When he changes back into the shape he had at first you may let go your holds. Question him then as to how you may leave this place, or question him as to any other matter that may be on your mind, and he will answer you, speaking the truth."'
'We lay down in the holes she had scooped in the sand and she covered each of us with one of the skins she had brought. Then the seals came out of the sea and lay all around us. The smell that came from those beasts of the sea afflicted us, and it was then that our adventure became terrible. We could not have endured it if Eidothee had not helped us in this also. She took ambrosia and set it beneath each man's nostril, so that what came to us was not the smell of the sea-beasts but a divine savour. Then the nymph went back to the sea.
'We lay there with steadfast hearts amongst the herd of seals until the sun was at its highest in the heavens. The Ancient One of the Sea came out of the ocean depths. He went amongst the seals and counted them, and us four men he reckoned amongst his herd. Then in great contentment he laid himself down to sleep.
'We rushed upon him with a cry and laid hold on him with all the strength of our hands. But we had no sooner grasped him than his shape changed. He became a lion and faced us. Yet we did not let go of our grasp. He became a serpent, yet we still held him. He became a leopard and then a mighty boar; he became a stream of water and then a flowering tree. Yet still we held to him with all our might and our hearts were not daunted by the shapes he changed to before our eyes. Then, seeing that he could not make us loose our hold, the Ancient One of the Sea, who was called Proteus, ceased in his changes and became as we had seen him first.
'"Son of Atreus," said he, speaking to me, "who was it showed you how to lay this ambush for me?"'
'"It is for you who know all things," said I, "to make answer to us. Tell me now why it is that I am held on this island? Which of the gods holds me here and for what reason?"'
'Then the Ancient One of the Sea answered me, speaking truth, "Zeus, the greatest of all the gods holds you here. You neglected to make sacrifice to the gods and for that reason you are held on this island."
'"Then," said I, "what must I do to win back the favor of the gods?"'
'He told me, speaking truth, "Before setting sail for your own land," he said, "you must return to the river AEgyptus that flows out of Africa, and offer sacrifice there to the gods."'
'When he said this my spirit was broken with grief. A long and a grievous way would I have to sail to make that sacrifice, turning back from my own land. Yet the will of the gods would have to be done. Again I was moved to question the Ancient One of the Sea, and to ask him for tidings of the men who were my companions in the wars of Troy.
'Ah, son of Odysseus, more broken than ever was my spirit with grief when he told me of their fates. Then I heard how my brother, great Agamemnon, reached his own land and was glad in his heart. But his wife had hatred for him, and in his own hall she and AEgisthus had him slain. I sat and wept on the sands, but still I questioned the Ancient One of the Sea. And he told me of strong Aias and how he was killed by the falling rock after he had boasted that Poseidon, the god of the Sea, could afflict him no more. And of your father, the renowned Odysseus, the Ancient One had a tale to tell.
'Then, and even now it may be, Odysseus was on an island away from all mankind. "There he abides in the hall of the nymph Calypso," the Ancient One of the Sea told me. "I saw him shed great tears because he could not go from that place. But he has no ship and no companions and the nymph Calypso holds him there. And always he longs to return to his own country, to the land of Ithaka." And after he had spoken to me of Odysseus, he went from us and plunged into the sea.
'Thereafter I went back to the river AEgyptus and moored my ships and made pious sacrifice to the gods. A fair wind came to us and we set out for our own country. Swiftly we came to it, and now you see me the happiest of all those who set out to wage war against Troy. And now, dear son of Odysseus, you know what an immortal told of your father—how he is still in life, but how he is held from returning to his own home.'
Thus from Menelaus the youth Telemachus got tiding of his father. When the King ceased to speak they went from the hall with torches in their hands and came to the vestibule where Helen's handmaids had prepared beds for Telemachus and Peisistratus. And as he lay there under purple blankets and soft coverlets, the son of Odysseus thought upon his father, still in life, but held in that unknown island by the nymph Calypso.
His ship and his fellow-voyagers waited at Pylos but for a while longer Telemachus bided in Sparta, for he would fain hear from Menelaus and from Helen the tale of Troy. Many days he stayed, and on the first day Menelaus told him of Achilles, the greatest of the heroes who had fought against Troy, and on another day the lady Helen told him of Hector, the noblest of all the men who defended King Priam's City.
'Achilles,' said King Menelaus, 'was sprung of a race that was favoured by the immortals. Peleus, the father of Achilles, had for his friend, Cheiron, the wisest of the Centaurs—of those immortals who are half men and half horse. Cheiron it was who gave to Peleus his great spear. And when Peleus desired to wed an immortal, Zeus, the greatest of the gods, prevailed upon the nymph Thetis to marry him, although marriage with a mortal was against her will. To the wedding of Thetis and Peleus all the gods came. And for wedding gifts Zeus gave such armour as no mortal had ever worn before—armour wonderfully bright and wonderfully strong, and he gave also two immortal horses.
'Achilles was the child of Thetis and Peleus—of an immortal woman married to a mortal hero. He grew up most strong and fleet of foot. When he was grown to be a youth he was sent to Cheiron, and his father's friend instructed him in all the ways of war. He became the greatest of spearmen, and on the mountain with the Centaur he gained in strength and in fleetness of foot.
'Now after he returned to his father's hall the war against Troy began to be prepared for. Agamemnon, the king, wanted Achilles to join the host. But Thetis, knowing that great disasters would befall those who went to that war, feared for Achilles. She resolved to hide him so that no word from King Agamemnon might reach him. And how did the nymph Thetis hide her son? She sent him to King Lycomedes and prayed the King to hide Achilles amongst his daughters.
'So the youth Achilles was dressed as a maiden and stayed with the daughters of the King. The messengers of Agamemnon searched everywhere for him. Many of them came to the court of King Lycomedes, but not finding one like Achilles amongst the King's sons they went away.
'Odysseus, by Agamemnon's order, came to seek Achilles. He knew that the youth was not amongst the King's sons. He saw the King's daughters in their father's orchard, but could not tell if Achilles was amongst them, for all were veiled and dressed alike.
'Then Odysseus went away and returned as a peddler carrying in his pack such things as maidens admire—veils and ornaments and brazen mirrors. But under the veils and ornaments and mirrors the wise Odysseus left a gleaming sword. When he came before the maidens in the King's orchard he laid down his peddler's pack. The mirrors and veils and ornaments were taken up and examined eagerly. But one of the company took up the gleaming sword and looked at it with flashing eyes. Odysseus knew that this was Achilles, King Peleus' son.
'He gave the youth the summons of King Agamemnon, bidding him join the war that the Kings and Princes of Greece were about to wage against Troy. And Achilles was glad to get the summons and glad to go. He returned to Phthia, to his father's citadel. There did he make ready to go to Aulis where the ships were being gathered. He took with him his father's famous warriors, the Myrmidons who were never beaten in battle. And his father bestowed on him the armour and the horses that had been the gift of Zeus—the two immortal horses Xanthos and Balios.
'But what rejoiced Achilles more than the gift of marvellous armour and immortal steeds was that his dear comrade, Patroklos, was to be with him as his mate in war. Patroklos had come into Phthia and into the hall of Peleus when he was a young boy. In his own country he had killed another boy by mischance over a game of dice. His father, to save him from the penalty, fled with him to King Peleus. And Achilles' father gave them refuge and took Patroklos into his house and reared him up with his own son. Later he made him squire to Achilles. These two grew up together and more than brothers they loved each other.
'Achilles bade good-bye to Phthia, and to his hero-father and his immortal mother, and he and Patroklos with the Myrmidons went over the sea to Aulis and joined the host of the Kings and Princes who had made a vow not to refrain from war until they had taken King Priam's famous city.'
Achilles became the most renowned of all the heroes who strove against Troy in the years the fighting went on. Before the sight of him, clad in the flashing armour that was the gift of Zeus and standing in the chariot drawn by the immortal horses, the Trojan ranks would break and the Trojan men would flee back to the gate of their city. And many lesser cities and towns around Troy did the host with the help of Achilles take.
'Now because of two maidens taken captive from some of these cities a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon grew up. One of the maidens was called Chryseis and the other Briseis. Chryseis was given to Agamemnon and Briseis to Achilles.
'The father of Chryseis was a priest of Apollo, and when the maiden, his daughter, was not given back to him, he went and prayed the god to avenge him on the host. Apollo listened to his prayer, and straightway the god left his mountain peak with his bow of silver in his hands. He stood behind the ships and shot his arrows into the host. Terrible was the clanging of his silver bow. He smote the beasts of the camp first, the dogs and the mules and the horses, and then he smote the men, and those whom his arrows smote were stricken by the plague.
'The warriors began to die, and every day more perished by the plague than were killed by the spears and swords and arrows of the Trojans. Now a council was summoned and the chiefs debated what was to be done to save the host. At the council there was a soothsayer named Kalchas; he stood up and declared that he knew the cause of the plague, and he knew too how the remainder of the host might be saved from it.
'It was because of the anger of Apollo, Kalchas said; and that anger could only be averted by Agamemnon sending back to his father, the priest of Apollo, the maiden Chryseis.
'Then was Agamemnon wroth exceedingly. "Thou seer of things evil," said he to Kalchas, "never didst thou see aught of good for me or mine. The maiden given to me, Chryseis, I greatly prize. Yet rather than my folk should perish I shall let her be taken from me. But this let you all of the council know: some other prize must be given to me that the whole host may know that Agamemnon is not slighted."'
'Then said Achilles: "Agamemnon, of all Kings you are the most covetous. The best of us toil and battle that you may come and take what part of the spoil may please you. Be covetous no more. Let this maiden go back to her father and afterwards we will give you some other prize."'
'Said Agamemnon: "The council here must bind itself to give me recompense."'
'"Still you speak of recompense, Agamemnon," answered Achilles. "No one gains more than you gain. I had no quarrel with the men of Troy, and yet I have come here, and my hands bear the brunt of the war."'
'"You who are captains must give me a recompense," said Agamemnon, "or else I shall go to the tent of Achilles and take away the maiden given to him, Briseis of the Fair Cheeks."'
'"I am wearied of making war for you," answered Achilles. "Though I am always in the strife but little of the spoil comes to my tent. Now will I depart to my own land, to Phthia, for I am not minded to stay here and be dishonoured by you, O King."'
'"Go," said Agamemnon, "if your soul be set upon fleeing, go. But do not think that there are not captains and heroes here who can make war without you. Go and lord it amongst your Myrmidons. Never shall we seek your aid. And that all may know I am greater than you, Achilles, I shall go to your tent and take away the maiden Briseis."'
'When he heard Agamemnon's speech the heart within Achilles' breast was divided, and he knew not whether he should remain still and silent in his anger, or, thrusting the council aside, go up to Agamemnon and slay him with the sword. His hand was upon the sword-hilt when an immortal appeared to him—the goddess Athene. No one in the company but Achilles was aware of her presence. "Draw not the sword upon Agamemnon," she said, "for equally dear to the gods are you both." Then Achilles drew back and thrust his heavy sword into its sheath again. But although he held his hand he did not refrain from angry and bitter words. He threw down on the ground the staff that had been put into his hands as a sign that he was to be listened to in the council. "By this staff that no more shall bear leaf or blossom," he said, "I swear that longing for Achilles' aid shall come upon the host of Agamemnon, but that no Achilles shall come to their help. I swear that I shall let Hector triumph over you."'
'Then the council broke up and Achilles with Patroklos, his dear comrade, went back to their tent. A ship was launched and the maiden Chryseis was put aboard and Odysseus was placed in command. The ship set out for Chryse. There on the beach they found the priest of Apollo, and Odysseus placed his daughter in the old man's arms. They made sacrifice to Apollo, and thereafter the plague was averted from the host.
'But to Achilles' tent there came the messengers of the King, and they took Briseis of the Fair Cheeks and led her away. Achilles, in bitter anger, sat by the sea, hard in his resolve not to help Agamemnon's men, no matter what defeat great Hector inflicted upon them.'
Such was the quarrel, dear son, between Agamemnon, King of men, and great Achilles. Ah, because of that quarrel many brave men and great captains whom I remember went down to their deaths!'
'But Agamemnon before long relented and he sent three envoys to make friendship between himself and Achilles. The envoys were Odysseus and Aias and the old man Phoinix who had been a foster-father to Achilles. Now when these three went into his hut they found Achilles sitting with a lyre in his hands, singing to the music he made. His song was of what Thetis, his goddess-mother, had told him concerning his own fate—how, if he remained in the war against Troy, he should win for himself imperishable renown but would soon lose his life, and how, if he left the war, his years in his own land should be long, although no great renown would be his. Patroklos, his dear friend, listened to what Achilles sang. And Achilles sang of what royal state would be his if he gave up the war against the Trojans and went back to his father's halls—old Peleus would welcome him, and he would seek a bride for him from amongst the loveliest of the Greek maidens. "In three days," he sang, "can Poseidon, God of the Sea, bring me to my own land and to my father's royal castle."'
'"Well dost thou sing, Achilles," said Odysseus to him, "and pleasant would it be to hear thy song if our hearts were not filled up with great griefs. But have not nine years passed away since we came here to make war on Troy? And now are not our ships' timbers rotted and their tacklings loosed, and do not many of our warriors think in their hearts how their wives and children have long been waiting for their return? And still the walls of Troy rise up before us as high and as unconquerable as ever! No wonder our hearts are filled up with griefs. And now Achilles, the greatest of our heroes, and the Myrmidons, the best of our warriors, have left us and gone out of the fight."'
'"Even to-day did great Hector turn back our battalions that were led by Agamemnon and Aias and Diomedes, driving us to the wall that we have built around our ships. Behind that wall we halted and called one to the other to find out who had escaped and who had fallen in the onslaught Hector made. Only when he had driven us behind our wall did Hector turn back his chariot and draw off his men."'
'"But Hector has not gone through the gates of the City. Look now, Achilles! His chariots remain on the plain. Lo now, his watch-fires! A thousand fires thou canst see and beside each sits fifty warriors with their horses loose beside their chariots champing barley. Eagerly they wait for the light of the dawn when they will come against us again, hoping this time to overthrow the wall we have builded, and come to our ships and burn them with fire, and so destroy all hope of our return."'
'"We are all stricken with grief and fear. Even Agamemnon weeps. We have seen him standing before us like unto a dark fountain breaking from some beetling cliff. How else could he but weep tears? To-morrow it may be he shall have to bid the host draw the ships to the water and depart from the coast of Troy. Then will his name forever be dishonoured because of defeat and the loss of so many warriors."'
'"Deem'st thou I grieve for Agamemnon's griefs, Odysseus?" said Achilles. "But although thou dost speak of Agamemnon thou art welcome, thou and thy companions. Even in my wrath you three are dear to me."'
'He brought them within the hut and bade a feast be prepared for them. To Odysseus, Aias and Phoinix wine cups were handed. And when they had feasted and drunk wine, Odysseus turned to where Achilles sat on his bench in the light of the fire, and said:
'"Know, Achilles, that we three are here as envoys from King Agamemnon. He would make a friendship with thee again. He has injured and he has offended thee, but all that a man can do he will do to make amends. The maiden Briseis he will let go back. Many gifts will he give thee too, Achilles. He will give thee seven tripods, and twenty cauldrons, and ten talents of gold. Yes, and besides, twelve royal horses, each one of which has triumphed in some race. He who possesses these horses will never lack for wealth as long as prizes are to be won by swiftness. And harken to what more Agamemnon bade us say to thee. If we win Troy he will let thee load your ship with spoil of the city—with gold and bronze and precious stuffs. And thereafter, if we win to our homes he will treat thee as his own royal son and will give thee seven cities to rule over. And if thou wilt wed there are three daughters in his hall—three of the fairest maidens of the Greeks—and the one thou wilt choose he will give thee for thy wife, Chrysothemis, or Laodike, or Iphianassa."'
'So Odysseus spoke and then Aias said, "Think, Achilles, and abandon now thy wrath. If Agamemnon be hateful to thee and if thou despiseth his gifts, think upon thy friends and thy companions and have pity upon them. Even for our sakes, Achilles, arise now and go into battle and stay the onslaught of the terrible Hector."'
'Achilles did not answer. His lion's eyes were fixed upon those who had spoken and his look did not change at all for all that was said.'
'Then the old man Phoinix who had nurtured him went over to him. He could not speak, for tears had burst from him. But at last, holding Achilles' hands, he said:
'"In thy father's house did I not rear thee to greatness—even thee, most noble Achilles. With me and with none other wouldst thou go into the feasthall, and, as a child, thou would'st stay at my knee and eat the morsel I gave, and drink from the cup that I put to thy lips. I reared thee, and I suffered and toiled much that thou mightst have strength and skill and quickness. Be thou merciful in thy heart, Achilles. Be not wrathful any more. Cast aside thine anger now and save the host. Come now. The gifts Agamemnon would give thee are very great, and no king nor prince could despise them. But if without gifts thou would'st enter the battle, then above all heroes the host would honour thee."'
'Achilles answered Phoinix gently and said, "The honour the host would bestow upon me I have no need of, for I am honoured in the judgment of Zeus, the greatest of the gods, and while breath remains with me that honour cannot pass away. But do thou, Phoinix, stay with me, and many things I shall bestow upon thee, even the half of my kingdom. Ah, but urge me not to help Agamemnon, for if thou dost I shall look upon thee as a friend to Agamemnon, and I shall hate thee, my foster-father, as I hate him."'
Then to Odysseus, Achilles spoke and said, "Son of Laertes, wisest of men, harken now to what I shall say to thee. Here I should have stayed and won that imperishable renown that my goddess-mother told me of, even at the cost of my young life if Agamemnon had not aroused the wrath that now possesses me. Know that my soul is implacable towards him. How often did I watch out sleepless nights, how often did I spend my days in bloody battle for the sake of Agamemnon's and his brother's cause! Why are we here if not because of lovely Helen? And yet one whom I cherished as Menelaus cherished Helen has been taken from me by order of this King! He would let her go her way now! But no, I do not desire to see Briseis ever again, for everything that comes from Agamemnon's hand is hateful to me. Hateful are all the gifts he would bestow upon me, and him and his treasures I hold at a straw's worth. I have chosen. To-morrow I shall have my Myrmidons draw my ships out to the sea, and I shall depart from Troy for my own land."'
'Said Aias, "Have the gods, Achilles, put into your breast a spirit implacable and proud above all men's spirits?"'
'"Yea, Aias," said Achilles. "My spirit cannot contain my wrath. Agamemnon has treated me, not as a leader of armies who won many battles for him, but as a vile sojourner in his camp. Go now and declare my will to him. Never again shall I take thought of his war."'
'So he spoke, and each man took up a two-handled cup and poured out wine as an offering to the gods. Then Odysseus and Aias in sadness left the hut. But Phoinix remained, and for him Patroklos, the dear friend of Achilles, spread a couch of fleeces and rugs.'
'Odysseus and Aias went along the shore of the sea and by the line of the ships and they came to where Agamemnon was with the greatest of the warriors of the host. Odysseus told them that by no means would Achilles join in the battle, and they all were made silent with grief. Then Diomedes, the great horseman, rose up and said, "Let Achilles stay or go, fight or not fight, as it pleases him. But it is for us who have made a vow to take Priam's city, to fight on. Let us take food and rest now, and to-morrow let us go against Hector's host, and you, Agamemnon, take the foremost place in the battle."'
'So Diomedes spoke and the warriors applauded what he said, and they all poured out libations of wine to the gods, and thereafter they went to their huts and slept. But for Agamemnon, the King, there was no sleep that night. Before his eyes was the blaze of Hector's thousand watch-fires and in his ears were the sound of pipes and flutes that made war-music for the Trojan host encamped upon the plain.'
When dawn came the King arrayed himself for the battle, putting on his great breast-plate and his helmet that had a high plume of horse-hair; fastening about his legs greaves fitted with ankle-clasps of silver; and hanging round his shoulders a great sword that shone with studs of gold—a sword that had a silver scabbard fitted with golden chains. Over his shoulders he cast a great lion's skin, and he took upon his arm a shield that covered the whole of a man. Next he took in his hands two strong spears of bronze, and so arrayed and so armed he was ready to take the foremost place in the battle.'
'He cried aloud and bade the Greeks arm themselves, and straightway they did so and poured from behind the wall that guarded their ships into the Trojan plain. Then the chiefs mounted their chariots, and their charioteers turned the horses towards the place of battle.'
'Now on the high ground before them the Trojans had gathered in their battalions and the figure of great Hector was plain to Agamemnon and his men. Like a star that now and then was hidden by a cloud, so he appeared as he went through the battalions, all covered with shining bronze. Spears and arrows fell upon both sides. Footmen kept slaying footmen and horsemen kept slaying horsemen with the sword, and the dust of the plain rose up, stirred by the thundering hooves of the horses. From dawn till morning and from morning till noon the battle raged, but at mid-day the Greeks broke through the Trojan lines. Then Agamemnon in his chariot rushed through a gap in the line. Two men did he instantly slay, and dashing onward he slew two warriors who were sons of King Priam. Like fire falling upon a wood and burning up the underwood went King Agamemnon through the Trojan ranks, and when he passed many strong-necked horses rattled empty chariots, leaving on the earth the slain warriors that had been in them. And through the press of men and up to the high walls of Troy did Agamemnon go, slaying Trojan warriors with his spear. Hector did not go nigh him, for the gods had warned Hector not to lead any onslaught until Agamemnon had turned back from battle.'
'But a Trojan warrior smote King Agamemnon on the mid-arm, below the elbow, and the point of his spear went clean through. Still he went through the ranks of the Trojans, slaying with spear and sword. And then the blood dried upon his wound and a sharp pain came upon him and he cried out, "O friends and captains! It is not possible for me to war for ever against the Trojans, but do you fight on to keep the battle from our ships." His charioteer turned his horses, and they, all covered with foam and grimed with dust, dashed back across the plain bearing the wounded King from that day's battle.'
'Then Hector sprang to the onslaught. Leaping into his chariot he led the Trojans on. Nine captains of the Greeks he slew in the first onset. Now their ranks would have been broken, and the Greeks would have fled back to their ships if Odysseus had not been on that wing of the battle with Diomedes, the great horseman. Odysseus cried out, "Come hither, Diomedes, or verily Hector will sweep us across the plain and bring the battle down to our ships."'
'Then these two forced themselves through the press of battle and held back the onset of Hector till the Greeks had their chance to rally. Hector spied them and swept in his chariot towards them. Diomedes lifted his great spear and flung it full at Hector. The bronze of the spear struck the bronze of his helmet, and bronze by bronze was turned. The blow told upon Hector. But he, springing from his chariot, stayed amongst the press of warriors, resting himself on his hands and knees. Darkness was before his eyes for a while, but he got breath again, and leaping back into his chariot drove away from that dangerous place.'
'Then Diomedes himself received a bitterer wound, for Paris, sheltering himself behind a pillar on the plain, let fly an arrow at him. It went clean through his right foot. Odysseus put his shield before his friend and comrade, and Diomedes was able to draw the arrow from his flesh. But Diomedes was fain to get back into his chariot and to command his charioteer to drive from the battle.'
'Now Odysseus was the only one of the captains who stayed on that side of the battle, and the ranks of the Trojans came on and hemmed him round. One warrior struck at the centre of his shield and through the shield the strong Trojan spear passed and wounded the flesh of Odysseus. He slew the warrior who had wounded him and he drew the spear from his flesh, but he had to give ground. But loudly as any man ever cried, Odysseus cried out to the other captains. And strong Aias heard him and drew near, bearing his famous shield that was like a tower. The Trojan warriors that were round him drew back at the coming of Aias and Odysseus went from the press of battle, and mounting his chariot drove away.'
'Where Aias fought the Trojans gave way, and on that side of the battle they were being driven back towards the City. But suddenly upon Aias there fell an unaccountable dread. He cast behind him his great shield, and he stood in a maze, like a wild bull, turning this way and that, and slowly retreating before those who pressed towards him. But now and again his valour would come back and he would stand steadily and, with his great shield, hold at bay the Trojans who were pressing towards the ships. Arrows fell thick upon his shield, confusing his mind. And Aias might have perished beneath the arrows if his comrades had not drawn him to where they stood with shields sloping for a shelter, and so saved him.'
'All this time Hector was fighting on the left wing of the battle against the Greeks, who were led by Nestor and Idomeneus. And on this side Paris let fly an arrow that brought trouble to the enemies of his father's City. He struck Machaon who was the most skilled healer of wounds in the whole of the host. And those who were around Machaon were fearful that the Trojans would seize the stricken man and bear him away. Then said Idomeneus, "Nestor, arise. Get Machaon into your chariot and drive swiftly from the press of battle. A healer such as he is worth the lives of many men. Save him alive so that we may still have him to draw the arrows from our flesh and put medicaments into our wounds." Then did Nestor lift the healer into his chariot, and the charioteer turned the horses and they too drove from the press of battle and towards the hollow ships.'
Achilles, standing by the stern of his great ship, saw the battle as it went this way and that way, but his heart was not at all moved with pity for the destruction wrought upon the Greeks. He saw the chariot of Nestor go dashing by, dragged by sweating horses, and he knew that a wounded man was in the chariot. When it had passed he spoke to his dear friend Patroklos.
'"Go now, Patroklos," he said, "and ask of Nestor who it is that he has borne away from the battle."'
'"I go, Achilles," Patroklos said, and even as he spoke he started to run along the line of the ships and to the hut of Nestor.'
'He stood before the door, and when old Nestor beheld him he bade him enter. "Achilles sent me to you, revered Nestor," said Patroklos, "to ask who it was you bore out of the battle wounded. But I need not ask, for I see that it is none other than Machaon, the best of our healers."'
'"Why should Achilles concern himself with those who are wounded in the fight with Hector?" said old Nestor. "He does not care at all what evils befall the Greeks. But thou, Patroklos, wilt be grieved to know that Diomedes and Odysseus have been wounded, and that sore-wounded is Machaon whom thou seest here. Ah, but Achilles will have cause to lament when the host perishes beside our burning ships and when Hector triumphs over all the Greeks."'
'Then the old man rose up and taking Patroklos by the hand led him within the hut, and brought him to a bench beside which lay Machaon, the wounded man.'
'"Patroklos," said Nestor, "speak thou to Achilles. Nay, but thy father bade thee spake words of counsel to thy friend. Did he not say to thee 'turn Achilles from harsh courses by gentle words'? Remember now the words of thy father, Patroklos, and if ever thou did'st speak to Achilles with gentle wisdom speak to him now. Who knows but thy words might stir up his spirit to take part in the battle we have to fight with Hector?"'
'"Nay, nay, old man," said Patroklos, "I may not speak to Achilles to ask for such a thing."'
'"Then," said Nestor, "do thou thyself enter the war and bring Achilles' Myrmidons with thee. Then might we who are wearied with fighting take breath. And beg of Achilles to give you his armour that you may wear it in the battle. If thou would'st appear clad in Achilles' bronze the Trojans would think that he had entered the war again and they would not force the fight upon us."'
'What old Nestor said seemed good to Patroklos and he left the hut and went back along the ships. And on his way he met Eurypylos, a sorely wounded man, dragging himself from the battle, and Patroklos helped him back to his hut and cheered him with discourse and laid healing herbs upon his wounds.'
'And even as he left old Nestor's hut, Hector was before the wall the Greeks had builded to guard their ships. On came the Trojans against that wall, holding their shields of bulls' hides before them. From the towers that were along the wall the Greeks flung great stones upon the attackers.'
'Over the host an eagle flew, holding in its talons a blood-red serpent. The serpent struggled with the eagle and the eagle with the serpent, and both had sorely wounded each other. But as they flew over the host of Greeks and Trojans the serpent struck at the eagle with his fangs, and the eagle, wounded in the breast, dropped the serpent. Then were the Trojans in dread, seeing the blood-red serpent across their path, for they thought it was an omen from Zeus. They would have turned back from the wall in fear for this omen had not Hector pressed them on. "One omen is best, I know," he cried, "to fight a good fight for our country. Forward then and bring the battle to those ships that came to our coast against the will of the gods."'