« السابقةمتابعة »
great military and naval resources; he planned a conquering expedition against Priam of Troy, a rival prince, with a tempting kingdom; and by the predominance of his power he compelled the weaker chieftains of Greece to join his army*. For this very plausible theory there is not (as Mr. Grote observes) the slightest extrinsic evidence; but we will venture to add, that it is likewise deficient in internal probability. For if Agamemnon went to Troy with the same motives which carried Napoleon to Moscow, why did he not retain possession of the country? The expedition, according to this view, was an expedition of ambition and conquest, not of revenge; why, when Agamemnon had taken the town, did he not subject it and the rest of King Priam's dominions to his own sceptre, leave a governor with a detachment of troops in occupation of the territory, and annex it to the Mycenaean kingdom? It will hardly be said that, the Trojans, like the Russians, burnt their own city, in order to prevent the Greeks from occupying the place. Such an hypothesis is contrary to the notion of all the poets, who suppose that Troy was burnt by the Greeks', and, we will venture to say, would never have occurred to Thucydides or any other ancient historian; for the destruction of the city would not have prevented Agamemnon from holding the country in subjection, supposing the art of navigation in the heroic age had permitted a ruler of Peloponnesus to think of governing a province in Asia Minor. The poetical legend, on the other hand, is consistent with itself, if not with the laws of historical probability. The Greeks formed an expedition against Troy, in order to avenge the wrong which Menelaus had received from the Trojan Paris. After a ten years' siege, which the gods chequered with alternate successes and reverses, Troy was taken by the stratagem of the wooden horse; Helen was recovered by Menelaus, Paris having been previously killed; the -city was plundered and burned by the conquerors; Priam was slain, and his daughters led away into captivity*. Such was the vengeance which the Greeks exacted for the wrong done by Paris.
4 oil \dpiTi To irXeov Vj <po(3<p. Thuc. I. 9. Menelaus, in the Helena of Euripides, gives the genuine poetical view :— TrXeltrrov yap difiai, Ktd Too" Ov KOfitrw
Xeyto, iTTpaTevfia KiAlrri fitopiarai Tpoiav ewi Tvpavvost oi/devirpd? fiiav trTpaTTjXaTcov, tKoutri 3' c[p£as 'EAAaoos veaviaiv.
(v. 393-6.) Dictys, improving upon the hint of Thucydides, represents the wealthy Agamemnon as bribing the Greek princes. 'Uein Agamemnon, grande auri pondus Mycenis adportatum per ceteros dispartiens, promptiores animos omnium ad bellum, quod parabatur, facit.' i. IS. s Homer says of the wooden horse— ov Ttot' es aKpoiroXiv SoXov ijyaye 5ios
avopiov 6/rTrX.TJiras, ol "IXtov e^aXdwa^av. Od. vm. 494-5. See also xi. 533.
Proclus concludes his account of the contents of the 'IXiow irepais of Arctinus thus. Speaking of the Greeks, he says: —-"ErreiTa epirp^aatrre^ Ttjv Itoxii/, IIoXvfcevrjv a<payia\ovciv Girt Tovtov 'A^tXXe'ios Td<pov. Gaisford's Hephtest. p. 484.
Virgil, faithfully reproducing the spirit of the Greek poets, represents jEneas as speaking thus to Panthus:—
Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus
Dardania?. Fuimus Troes; fuit Ilium, et
Arduus armatos mediis in moenibus adstans
Fundit equus, vicUyrque Sinon incendia mitcet
Intultans. Mn. n. 324-30.
See also jEsch. Ag. 818. Eurip. Troad. 8, 1260, 1279.
Ferus omnia Jupiter Incensa Danai dominantur in
Herodotus has another way of explaining the difficulty about Helen. He does not venture to doubt that the rape of Helen was the cause of the Trojan war: indeed, he considers it as one of a series of mutual wrongs by which the two continents were brought into collision with each other:
Quibus actus uterque
"The Phoenicians" (he says) "are represented by the Persian historians as having been the authors of the difference: they first wronged the Greeks by carrying away Io, the daughter of Inachus, from Argos. The next injury came from the other side. Some Greeks carried away Europa, the king's daughter, from Tyre. At this time the Greeks and Asiatics were even'. But the Greeks could not refrain from injustice, and they were the authors of the next outrage; they sailed in a ship of war to JEa in the Colchian land, and the river Phasis, and carried away Medea, the king's daughter. The king sent an ambassador to Greece to demand reparation, and the restoration of his daughter; but the Greeks refused all redress, referring to the case of Io. In the second generation after these events, Paris, the son of Priam, having heard of them, wished to obtain a wife from Greece by forcible abduction; knowing that as they had refused redress, so he would not be required to make reparation. Ac
6 See Eurip. Troad. 864-8. Deiphobus, another son of Priam, was represented to have married Helen after the death of Paris; and accordingly Menelaus and Ulysses are described in the Odyssey (viii. 517-8) as going straight from the wooden horse to the house of Deiphobus. See Nitzsch Od. Vol. i. p. 258-60; Vol. ii. p. 228. Deiphobus was cruelly
mutilated on this occasion, through vengeance, as being Helen's husband. See Dictys, v. 12, and compare JEn. vi. 494530. Concerning the proposal to kill Helen likewise, see Heyne, Exc. xn. ad Mn. n. Dictys. v. 14.
7 Tavra fxltf 6ij Itra trtpt xpo? laa y«vcaihti. I. 2.
cordingly, when he had carried away Helen, the Greeks sent ambassadors to demand the restoration of her, and reparation for the wrong. But the Trojans refused to comply with these demands, appealing to the abduction of Medea, and saying that the Greeks required of others what they refused to do themselves. Thus far, say the Persians, there had been merely abductions of women on both sides; but from this point the Greeks were guilty of a great wrong; for they made an expedition against Asia, before the Asiatics made an expedition against Europe. To carry away women by force, was an act of injustice; but to avenge them when carried off, was an act of folly; the only wise course was to take no heed of them;-for it was clear that they could not have been carried off without their consent. Now the Asiatics did not attempt to avenge the abduction of the women; whereas the Greeks collected a great armament on account of a Lacedaemonian woman, invaded Asia, and destroyed the power of Priam. Hence the Persians consider the capture of Troy to have been the cause of their enmity against the Greeks8."
Herodotus does not vouch the truth of this relation of the Persians9, though he thinks it worthy of being preserved. At all events, its existence proves the universality of the belief in the connexion of the Trojan war with the rape of Helen. In a subsequent part of his history, however, he cordially adopts a story concerning the flight of Helen from Sparta, told him by some other foreigners, which appears to have had no stronger claims to credit than the narrative of the learned Persians.
The Egyptian priests, who furnished Herodotus with information, related to him an account of Paris, with Helen, having been driven by unfavourable winds to Egypt, during the reign of king Proteus. Proteus, they said, being informed of the wrong committed by Paris, detained Helen and the stolen goods in Egypt, in order that Menelaus might come to claim them, and expelled Paris and his companions from the country. Herodotus proceeds to say that he asked the priests if the story which the Greeks told about Troy was true, or not. They answered him that they knew how the events had really occurred, as their information had been derived from Menelaus himself. The truth was this: a great
8 I. 1—5. For an illustration of a state of society in which such dpirayai of women occur, see Boccaccio, Dec. G. 2.
Nov. 7, in the novel about the daughter
armament of the Greeks went to Troy, and, after it had landed, ambassadors (of whom Menelaus was one) were sent to demand Helen and the stolen property, as well as reparation for the injury. The Trojans replied with solemn asseverations that Helen and the stolen goods were not in Troy, but in Egypt, and that the Greeks ought to demand redress, not of them, but of King Proteus. The Greeks, thinking that the Trojans were making sport of them, persisted in the siege until they took the town; when it appeared that Helen was not there, and that the story of the Trojans was true. Upon this, Menelaus sailed to Memphis, and recovered Helen and all his property, safe and inviolate, from the Egyptian king. To this narrative Herodotus gives credit, for the following reasons. If, he says, Helen had been in Troy, it is inconceivable that Priam and his kinsmen would have been so insane as to risk their lives and the safety of the city in order that Helen might be the wife of Paris ". Supposing that they had so resolved at first, the subsequent deaths of the Trojans, and particularly of Priam's sons, would have caused them to change their resolution. Even if Helen had been Priam's own wife, he would have delivered her up to the Greeks, in order to avert the actual calamities. Hector, not Paris, was Priam's eldest son; and it was his duty, during his father's old age, to see that the country did not suffer through the wrongs done by his younger brother. "The truth is (Herodotus continues) that the Trojans had not Helen to give up, and the Greeks disbelieved them without cause; the Deity having, as it seems to me, provided that the Trojans should perish utterly, as a warning to mankind that the gods inflict great punishments for great offences." (n. 112—20.)
This story admits that the rape of Helen was the cause of the Trojan war; indeed, the moral which Herodotus extracts from the whole series of events, is, that the ruin of Troy was the divine punishment for the crime of Paris". The story of the Egyptian
10 The dislike of the Trojans for Paris, and their desire that he should be killed, are mentioned in Iliad, in. 56. 451—4; but the only allusion to the possibility of giving up Helen is contained in the reflection of the old men, ib. 159-60, which leads to nothing. The poet doubtless saw that if this idea was followed up, the entire ground-work of his story would be destroyed. The feeling of aversion
with which she was regarded by the Trojans, is mentioned in her lament over the body of Hector, xxiv. 775.
11 The idea that a whole nation was punished by the gods for the sin of a single man, was quite in accordance with the rude ethieal opinions of the ancients. Thus Juno says, near the beginning of the M,nt\&:
priests, which Herodotus adopts as a means of explaining the non-delivery of Helen to the Greeks, is, however, just as inconsistent with the epic accounts as the theory of Thucydides respecting the cause of the war. The original idea seems to have been, that Helen left Sparta voluntarily with Paris"; but that after his death, at least, she returned to her allegiance to her former husband, and native country; that she showed these feelings at the secret visit of Ulysses to the city, and was informed by him of the intended stratagem of the wooden horse". Her visit to the heroes in the wooden horse, described by Homer, indicates her knowledge of the stratagem; but is accompanied with a singular act of impatience, by which she nearly exposed her friends to great danger". Virgil makes her openly assist her countrymen on this occasion. He describes her as leading a band of Phrygian women, in order to conceal her treason, and brandishing a torch as a signal to the Greeks to descend from the horse ".
But, besides its inconsistency with the epic accounts, the explanation of Herodotus does not remove the difficulty as to the cause assigned by the poets for the Trojan war. If the art of navigation was, at the time of the supposed Trojan war, sufficiently advanced for a numerous Greek fleet to transport a large army from Peloponnesus to the coast of Troy", it would surely have been
Pallasne exurere classem ArgivQm, atque ipsos potuit submergere ponto, Uniut ob noxam et furias Ajacia Oilei? Compare Eurip. Troad. 69-94. 139-41.
12 See Iliad, m. 173-5. The verses 443-5 would, without the previous passage, seem to indicate that she had been carried away by force. Compare xxiv. 764. In the Cypria she was described as going voluntarily with Paris. Prod. p. 473, Gaisford.
13 Od. iv. 244-64; particularly the final verses. Nitzsch Anm. xur Od. Vol. I. p. 257-9. Welcker, Griech. Tragodien, Vol. i. p. 146.
14 Od. iv. 271-84. See Nitzsch's correct explanation, ib. p, 259.
ls JEn. vi. 511-9. The part which Helen bears in this scene does not correspond with her appearance in the fine passage of the second book, v. 567-88, which Tucca and Varius are said to have struck out, because it was unworthy of the heroic style for a man to kill a
woman. In the former, she triumphantly
Thais led the way
lo light him to his prey,
And, lute another Helen, Bred another Troy,
probably allude to the incident in the
18 Thucydides, 1.10, reckons from Ho-