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beside him and pointed out the Greek heroes, — Agamemnon, ruler over wide lands, crafty Ulysses, and the mighty Ajax; but she strained her eyes in vain for a sight of her dearly loved brothers, Castor and Pollux, not knowing that they already lay dead in pleasant Lacedæmon.
In the single combat between Paris and Menelaus, the spear of the Greek was fixed in Paris's buckler, and his sword was shivered on his helmet without injury to the Trojan. But, determined to overcome his hateful foe, Menelaus seized Paris by the helm and dragged him towards the Grecian ranks. Great glory would have been his had not the watchful Venus loosed the helm and snatched away the god-like Paris in a cloud. While the Greeks demanded Helen and her wealth as the price of Menelaus's victory, Pandarus, prompted by Pallas, broke the truce by a shot aimed at Menelaus, and the battle soon raged with greater fury than before.
Diomed, having received new strength and courage from Pallas, rushed madly over the field, falling upon the affrighted Trojans like a lion in the sheepfold; then, made more presumptuous by his success, and forgetful of the few years promised the man who dares to meet the gods in battle, the arrogant warrior struck at Venus and wounded her in the wrist, so that, shrieking with pain, she yielded Æneas to Apollo, and fled to Olympus.
Perceiving that the Trojans were unable to withstand the fury of Diomed, assisted as he was by Pallas and Juno, Hector hastened homeward to order a sacrifice to Pallas that she might look with more favor upon their cause.
Having instructed his mother to lay her richest robe on Pallas's shrine, Hector sought his wife, the white-armed Andromache, and their babe, Astyanax. Andromache entreated Hector to go forth no more to battle, to lose his life and leave their babe fatherless; but Hector, upon whom the cares of war sat heavily, bade her a tender farewell, and kissing the babe, returned with Paris to the field.
Incited by Pallas and Apollo, Helenus suggested to his brother Hector that he should challenge the bravest of the
Greeks to single combat. The lot fell to Ajax the Greater,
. and the two mighty heroes contested with spears and stones until twilight fell, and they were parted by a herald.
That night the Greeks feasted, and when, the next morning, a Trojan messenger offered them the treasures of Helen if they would withdraw from Troy, and proposed a truce, they indignantly rejected the offer, declaring that they would not even accept Helen herself, but agreed upon a truce in which to bury the dead.
When the battle was renewed. Jupiter forbade the gods to take part. Opposed by no celestial foes, the Trojans were this day successful, and having pursued the Greeks to the ships, sat all night, full of hope, around their thousand watch fires, waiting for the morn.
In the Grecian camp, however, a different scene was being enacted. Disheartened by their defeat, Agamemnon proposed that the armies give up the siege and return to Greece.
Angry at his weakness, Diomed thus reproached him:
“ The gods have granted thee high rank and rule, but thou hast no fortitude. Return if thou desirest. Still enough long-haired Achaians will remain to take the city. If they desire to go as well, at least Sthenelus and I will remain until Troy is ours. We have the gods with us.”
At the suggestion of Nestor a banquet was spread, and after the hunger of all was appeased, the peril of the Greeks was discussed in the Council of the Elders. Here Nestor showed Agamemnon that the trouble began at the hour when he drove Achilles from their ranks by appropriating Briseis.
Ill fortune had humbled the haughty Agamemnon, and he confessed that he had done wrong. “ For this wrong, however," said he, " I am ready to make ample amends. Priceless gifts I will send to Achilles : seven tripods, six talents of pure gold, twenty shining caldrons, twelve steeds, seven damsels, among them Briseis ; not only this, when Prian's citadel falls, he shall be the first to load his galley down with gold and silver and with Trojan maidens. Better yet, I will unite him to me by the ties of marriage. I will give
him my daughter for a wife, and with her for a dower will go seven cities near the sea, rich in flocks and herds. Then let him yield, and join us in taking Troy."
Joyfully the messengers - Ajax, Ulysses, and the aged Phønix, carefully instructed by Nestor — set forth on their embassy. As they neared the tents of the Myrmidons their ears were struck by the notes of a silver harp touched by Achilles to solace him in his loneliness. His friend Patroclus sat beside him in silence. Achilles and Patroclus greeted the messengers warmly, mingled the pure wine, and spread a feast for them. This over, Ulysses, at a nod from Ajax, drank to Achilles' health, and then told him of the sore need of the Greeks, pressed by the Trojans. If he did not come to their aid, he whose very name frightened the enemy, the time would surely come when he would greatly lament his idleness.
Achilles' passion, the greater for its fifteen days' repression, burst forth in his reply: "I will say what I have in my heart,” he cried, “ since concealment is hateful to me. What thanks does the victor in countless battles gain? He and the idler are equally honored, and die the same death. Many nights' slumber have I lost on the battle field; many cities have I conquered, abroad and here upon the Trojan coast, and of the spoil, the greater part has gone to Agamemnon, who sat idle in his fleet; yet from me, who suffered much in fighting, he took my prize, my dearly loved Briseis ; now let him keep her. Let him learn for himself how to conquer Hector, this Hector, who, when I went out against him, was afraid to leave the shelter of the Scæan gates. To-morrow, if you but watch, you will see my galleys sailing upon the Hellespont on our return to Phthia. Evil was the hour in which I left its fertile coasts for this barren shore, where my mother Thetis foretold I should win deathless renown but bitter death.
“ Tell Agamemnon that I will never wed a child of his. On my return to Phthia my father will select a bride for me with whom, on his broad fields, I can live the life I have dreamed of."
The entreaties of the aged Phoenix, who had helped to rear Achilles, and his arguments against his mercilessness, were of no avail; neither were the words of Ajax. However, he at last sent the message that he would remain by the sea watching the course of the war, and that he would encounter Hector whenever he approached to set fire to the galleys of the Myrmidons.
That night sleep did not visit the eyes of Agamemnon. Long he reflected on the reply of Achilles, and wondered at the watch fires on the plain before Troy. The other chiefs were likewise full of anxiety, and when Nestor offered a reward to any one who would go as a spy to the Trojan camp, Diomed quickly volunteered. Selecting the wary Ulysses as his companion, he stole forth to where the Trojans sat around their camp fires. The pair intercepted and slew Dolon the spy, and finding Rhesus and his Thracian band wrapped in slumber, slew the king with twelve of his chiefs, and carried away his chariot and horses.
Encouraged by this bold deed, the Greeks went forth to battle the next morning. Fortune still favored the Trojans, however, and many Greeks fell by the hand of Hector, until he was checked by Ulysses and Diomed. In the fight, Agamemnon was wounded, and Diomed, Ulysses, and Machaon. And when Achilles from his tent saw the physician borne back from battle wounded, in the chariot of Nestor, he sent Patroclus to inquire of his injury. Nestor sent word that Ulysses, Agamemnon, Diomed, Machaon, and Eurypylus were wounded; perhaps these tidings would induce Achilles to forget his grievances, and once more go forth to battle. If not, he urged Patroclus to beseech Achilles to permit him, Patroclus, to go forth with the Myrmidons, clad in Achilles' armor, and strike terror to the hearts of the Trojans.
The Trojans, encouraged by their success, pushed forward to the trench which the Greeks had dug around the wall thrown up before the ships, and, leaving their chariots on the brink, went on foot to the gates. After a long struggle, — because the Trojans could not break down the wall and the
Greeks could not drive back the Trojans, Hector seized a mighty stone, so large that two men could scarcely lift it, and bearing it in one hand, battered the bolted gates until they gave way with a crash; and the Trojans sprang within, pursuing the affrighted Greeks to the ships.
From the heights of Olympus the gods kept a strict watch on the battle ; and as soon as Neptune discovered that Jove, secure in the belief that no deity would interfere with the successful Trojans, had turned away his eyes, he went to the aid of the Greeks. Juno, also, furious at the sight of the Greeks who had fallen before the mighty Hector, determined to turn the attention of Jove until Neptune had had an opportunity to assist the Greeks. Jove sat upon the peaks of Mount Ida, and thither went Juno, after rendering herself irresistible by borrowing the cestus of Venus. Jove, delighted with the appearance of his wife, and still further won by her tender words and caresses, thought no longer of the armies fighting at the Grecian wall.
Great was his anger when, after a time, he again looked towards Troy and saw that Neptune had employed his time in aiding the Greeks, and that Hector had been wounded by Ajax. By his orders Neptune was quickly recalled, Hector was healed by Apollo, and the Trojans, strengthened again by Jupiter, drove back the Greeks to the ships, and attempted to set fire to the fleet.
Seeing the Greeks in such desperate straits, Achilles at last gave his consent that Patroclus should put on his armor, take his Myrmidons, and drive the Trojans from the ships, stipulating, however, that he should return when this was done, and not follow the Trojans in their flight to Troy.
The appearance of the supposed Achilles struck fear to the hearts of the Trojans, and Patroclus succeeded in driving them from the feet and in slaying Sarpedon. Intoxicated by his success, he forgot Achilles' warning, and pursued the fleeing Trojans to the walls of Troy. The strength of the Trojans was not sufficient to cope with that of Patroclus; and Troy would have been taken had not Apollo stood upon a tower to thrust him down each time he attempted to scale