ADAPTED BY JEANIE LANG
THE STORY OF WHAT LED TO THE SIEGE OF TROY
In the deep forest that clothes Mount
Ida, not far from the strong city of Troy, Paris,
son of King Priam, watched his father’s flocks
Suddenly through the dim woods he
saw a light, as if the golden sun and silver moon
shone both together.
And, lo! in the radiance of this light
there stood before him the three fairest of the godesses queenly
Hera, wise Athene, and lovely Aphrodite.
Like music stealing through the trees
came the soft voice of Hera:
“Of all mortal men thou art
the most beautiful, Paris, and to thee do we come
for judgment. Tell us which of us is the fairest
of all, and to that one whom thou so deemest, give
this golden apple.”
So spake Hera, and placed in the hand
of Paris an apple of purest gold.
Again she spake: “If to
me, Hera, queen of goddesses, and wife of mighty Zeus,
king of all the gods, thou dost grant the prize of
loveliness, Power immeasurable shall be thine.
King shalt thou be of the lands where the gray dawn
rises, and king even to where the red sun goes down.
A hundred peoples shall call thee lord.”
She was silent, and the voice of Athene,
fair and pure as a silver moonbeam, broke the stillness
of the starless night.
“To me award the prize,”
she said, “and wise as the gods shalt thou be.
With me as thy friend and guide, all things will be
possible to thee.”
Last of all, standing in a rosy light,
as of the dawning sunlight in the spring, spoke Aphrodite.
“What are Power and Wisdom,
fair Paris?” she pled. “Wisdom and
Power bring no joy at last. I will give thee
Love, and for thy wife thou shalt have the fairest
woman in all the world.”
And Paris, the melody of her voice
still in his ears, as he gazed spellbound on her face
of wondrous beauty, handed to Aphrodite the golden
So was it that the wrath of the gods
came upon Paris, son of Priam. For Hera and Athene,
filled with rage, vowed to be revenged upon Paris
and all his race, and made all the gods pledge themselves
to aid them in their vengeance.
Across far seas sailed Paris, with
Aphrodite as his guide, to Sparta, where Menelaus
A brave king was Menelaus, and happily
he lived in his kingdom with Helen, his queen, fairest
of all women. One child they had, a little maid,
When to Sparta there came Paris, with
eyes blue as the sea, and hair that gleamed like gold
on his purple robe, gallant and brave, and more beautiful
than any mortal man, glad was the welcome that he had
And when Paris gazed on Helen’s
face, he knew that in all the world there was no woman
half so fair as the wife of Menelaus.
Then did Aphrodite cast her magic upon Helen.
No longer did she love her husband, nor did she remember
Hermione, her own dear child.
When Paris spoke to her words of love,
and begged her to flee with him, and to be his wife,
she knew only that she loved Paris more than all else.
Gladly she went with him, and in his red-prowed ship
together they sailed across the green waves to Troyland,
where Mount Ida showed her snowy crown high above
An angry man was Menelaus when he
found that Paris had stolen from him the fair wife
who was to him as his own heart.
To his elder brother Agamemnon, overlord
of all the Greeks, he went and told his grievous tale.
And from far and wide did the Greek
hosts gather, until a hundred thousand men and eleven
hundred fourscore and six ships were ready to cross
the seas to Troyland.
Many were the heroes who sailed away
from Greece to punish Paris and his kin, and to bring
back fair Helen to her own land.
Few there were who came home, for
ten long years of woe and of spilling of blood came
to the men of Greece and of Troy from the fatal beauty
of Helen the queen.
That night both gods and men slept
long; only Zeus, king of the gods, lay wakeful, pondering
in his heart how best he might do honor to Achilles.
“I shall send a Dream to beguile Agamemnon,”
at length he resolved.
Then did he call to a Dream, for by
Dreams the gods sent their messages to mortal men.
“Go now, thou evil Dream,”
said Zeus, “go to where Agamemnon sleeps in
his tent near to his fleet ships, and tell him every
word as I shall tell it thee. Bid him call to
arms with speed his warriors, for now he shall take
the strong city of Troy.”
To the tent of Agamemnon sped the
Dream. Taking the form of the old warrior who
had striven to make peace between Agamemnon and Achilles,
the Dream stooped over the sleeping warrior, and thus
to him it spoke:
“Sleepest thou, Agamemnon?
Ill fits it for the overlord of so mighty a host to
sleep all through the night. From Zeus I come,
and to thee he sends this message: ’Call
to arms with speed thy warriors, Agamemnon, for now
shalt thou take the strong city of Troy.’”
Off then sped the Dream, winging its
way like a strip of gray mist aloft to Mount Olympus.
Then Agamemnon awoke from sleep, and
the voice of the Dream still rang in his ears.
Speedily he arose from his bed, donned
his fair tunic, cast around him his great cloak, and
bound his sandals on his feet. Then over his
shoulder he cast his silver-studded sword, and with
the scepter of his house, token of his overlordship,
in his hand, he went down to where the Greek ships
lay, and called a council together.
To his lords he told what had befallen
him as they slept.
“Call to arms!” had been
the message from Zeus. “Call to arms! for
victory shall be thine.”
Then said the old warrior in whose
likeness the Dream had come:
“My friends, had any other told
us this dream we might deem it false; but to our overlord
the Dream hath come. Let us then call our men
So did all the lords follow his counsel,
and quickly did the Greeks obey their summons.
Like bees that pour from out their nests in some hollow
rock, and fly to where the spring flowers grow most
sweet, even so did the warriors pour forth from their
ships and their huts by the sea. Loudly they
shouted as they came, till all the earth echoed.
Nine heralds sought to quiet them, but it was long
before they would cease their noise, and sit silent
to listen to the voice of Agamemnon their lord.
Then did Agamemnon prove his people.
“Ill hath Zeus dealt with us, my friends,”
he said. “To us he promised ere we sailed
hither that victory should be ours. But nine
years have passed away, and our ships’ timbers
have rotted, and the rigging is worn. In our halls
our wives and children still sit awaiting us, yet
are we no nearer victory than we were on the day that
we came hither. Come then, let us flee with our
ships to our dear native land, for never shall Troy
So spake Agamemnon, and stirred the
hearts of all that had not heard his secret council.
As the high sea-waves are swayed by
the winds that rush upon them from the east and from
the south, even so the Greek host was swayed.
And even as the west wind sweeps over a cornfield
and all the ears bow down before the blast, so were
the warriors stirred.
Shouting, they hastened down to their
ships. And the dust rose up in clouds from under
their hurrying feet.
Quickly did they prepare their ships,
and gladly did they make them ready to sail homeward
across the bright salt sea.
Then would the Greeks have returned,
even though fate willed it not. But Hera spoke
“Shall we indeed allow the Greeks
thus to flee homeward?” she cried. “Shame
it will be to us if Helen is left, in Troy, and Paris
goes unpunished. Haste, then, and with thy gentle
words hold back the men from setting forth in their
ships for their own homeland.”
Down from the peaks of Olympus darted
the bright-eyed Athene, clown to where the dark ships
were being dragged to the launching ways.
By his ship stood Odysseus of the
many devices, and heavy of heart was he.
As one who speaks aloud the thoughts
of another, so then to Odysseus spake the fair goddess
who was ever his guide.
“Will ye indeed fling yourselves
upon your ships and flee homeward to your own land?”
she said. “Will brave Odysseus leave Helen,
for whose sake so many Greeks have died, to be the
boast of the men of Troy? Hasten, then, and suffer
not the Greeks to drag their ships down to the sea.”
At the sound of the voice of Athene,
Odysseus cast away his mantle and ran to meet Agamemnon.
From him he received the scepter of overlordship,
and bearing it he went among the ships.
Whenever he saw a chief, he would
say to him with gentle words:
“Good sir, it fits thee ill
to be a coward. Stay, now, for thou knowest not
what is the will of Agamemnon. He is only making
trial of thee. Hold back then thy people, and
anger him not.”
But when Odysseus met a common man
hasting to the ships, with his scepter he smote him,
“Sit still, sir, and listen
to the words of thy betters. No warrior art thou,
but a weakling. One king only hath Zeus given
to us. Hearken then to the will of Agamemnon!”
Thus did Odysseus rule the people,
driving them back from the ships to where sat Agamemnon.
And the noise they made in returning
was as the noise of mighty waves of the sea, when
they crash upon the beach and drive their roaring
echoes far abroad.
Silence came upon them as they sat
themselves down before Agamemnon and their lords.
Upon all but one did silence fall. Thersites,
bandy-legged, round-shouldered, lame of one foot, with
ugly head covered with scanty stubble, most ill-favored
of all men in the host, would not hold his peace.
Shrilly he poured his upbraidings upon Agamemnon.
“What lackest thou now?”
he cried. “Surely thy huts are full of the
spoils we have brought to thee each time we have taken
a town. What more dost thou want? Soft fools,
women, not men, are ye Greeks, else would ye return
home now with the ships, and leave this fellow here
in Troyland gorging himself on the spoils for which
he himself hath never fought. To brave Achilles
hath he done dishonor, a far better man than he!”
Straight to the side of Thersites
came the goodly Odysseus.
“Hold thy peace,” he sternly
said. “Plainly I tell thee that if ever
again I find thee raving as thou hast raved now, I
myself will strip off thy mantle and tunic, with shameful
blows beat thee out of the assembly, and send thee
back weeping to the ships.”
So spake Odysseus, and with his scepter
smote Thersites on his back and shoulders. And
Thersites bowed down, and big tears fell from his
eyes, and a bloody weal from the golden scepter stood
up from his back. Amazed he sat down, and in
pain and amazement he wiped away a tear. The
others, though they were sorry, laughed at his bewilderment.
“Many are the good deeds of
Odysseus,” said they, “but never did he
do a better deed than when he stopped the tongue of
this prating railer.”
Then spake Odysseus, scepter in hand.
“Surely it is the wish of the
Greeks to make thee the most despised of all kings,
great Agamemnon,” he said, “for like young
children or mourning women do they wail that they
must go home. Nine years have we stayed in this
land, and small wonder is it that we long for our
homes again. Yet shameful would it be to wait
so long and to return with empty hands. Be of
good heart, my friends, and wait a little, for surely
Troy shall be ours. Do ye forget, on the day that
we set sail for Troyland, the mighty portent that
we saw? As we offered sacrifices to the gods
beneath a fair plane-tree whence flowed clear water,
a snake, blood-red on the back and dreadful to look
upon, glided from beneath the altar and darted to
the tree. On the tree’s topmost bough was
a sparrow’s nest, and in it eight tender nestlings,
over which the mother bird spread her wings.
Pitifully did the little ones cheep as the snake swallowed
them all, and pitifully cried the mother as she fluttered
over her nestlings. But of her, too, did the snake
lay hold, coiling himself round her and crushing her
life out. Then did the god who sent this sign
show us that a sign from the gods in truth it was,
for he turned the snake into stone. And Chalcas,
our soothsayer, told us then the meaning of the sign.
‘Nine years,’ said he for nine
birds did the snake slay ’shall ye
fight in Troyland, but in the tenth year the city
shall fall before you.’ So then, let us
abide here, until we have taken the great city!”
When Odysseus had ceased to speak,
the Greeks shouted aloud, until the ships echoed the
praises of the goodly Odysseus.
Then said Agamemnon:
“Go now, all of you, and eat,
that ye may be ready for battle. Let each man
sharpen well his spear and see to his shield, and see
to it that the horses are well fed and the chariots
prepared. And whomsoever I see minded to stay
far away from the fight, beside the ships here by
the sea, for him shall there be no hope hereafter,
but he shall be food for dogs and for birds of prey.”
And when Agamemnon had spoken, the
shouts of the Greeks were as the thunder of mighty
breakers on a reef when the winds blow high.
Quickly then they scattered, and kindled
fires, and made their evening meal, and offered sacrifices
to the gods, praying for escape from death in the
To Zeus did Agamemnon offer his sacrifice
and to the mighty god he prayed:
“Great Zeus, god of the storm-cloud,
let not the sun set nor the darkness fall until I
have laid low the palaces of Troy and burned down
its walls with fire.”
So he prayed, but as yet Zeus heeded
not his prayer. Then did the Greeks gather themselves
together to battle, and among them went the bright-eyed
Athene, urging on each one, and rousing in each man’s
heart the joy of strength and of battle.
As the red and golden blaze of a fire
that devours a mighty forest is seen from afar, so
was seen from afar the dazzling gleam of their bronze
armor as they marched.
Like wild geese and cranes and swans
that in long-drawn strings fly tirelessly onward,
so poured they forth, while the earth echoed terribly
under the tread of men and horses.
As flies that swarm in the spring
when the herdsmen’s milk-pails are full, so
did the Greeks throng to battle, unnumbered as the
leaves and the flowers upon which they trod in the
flowery plain by the banks of the river Scamander.
THE FIGHT BETWEEN PARIS AND MENELAUS
To meet the great Greek host came
the men of Troy. With loud shouting and clamor
they came, noisy as the flocks of cranes that fly to
far-off seas before the coming of winter and sudden
But in silence marched the Greeks,
shoulder to shoulder, their hearts full of courage.
Like the mist that rolls from the
crest of the mountains until no man can see in front
of him further than the cast of a stone, so did the
dust rise in clouds under the tread of the warriors’
feet as they marched across the plain.
Front to front did the two armies
stand at last, and from the Trojan ranks strode forth
Paris the godlike, he who robbed Menelaus of her who
was to him most dear.
From the shoulders of Paris swung
a panther’s skin. He bore a curved bow
and sword, and, brandishing two bronze-headed spears,
he challenged all the chieftains of the Greek host
to fight him, man to man, in mortal fight.
As a hungry lion rejoices to see a
great-horned stag coming to be his prey, even so did
Menelaus rejoice when he saw Paris, the golden-haired
and blue-eyed, stride proudly forth.
Straightway, in his armor, did Menelaus
leap from his chariot to the ground.
But when Paris saw him to whom he
had done so sore a wrong, his heart was smitten.
As a man who, in a mountain glen,
suddenly sees a deadly snake and shrinks away from
it with shaking limbs, even so did Paris shrink back
among his comrades.
Scornfully did Hector his brother behold him.
“Fair in face thou art!”
said Hector, “but shamed I am by thee! I
ween these long-haired Greeks make sport of us because
we have for champion one whose face and form are beautiful,
but in whose heart is neither strength nor courage.
Art thou a coward? and yet thou daredst to sail across
the sea and steal from her husband the fair woman who
hath brought us so much harm. Thou shalt see
what sort of warrior is he whose lovely wife thou
hast taken. Thy harp and thy golden locks and
fair face, and all the graces given to thee by Aphrodite,
shall count for little when thou liest in the
dust! Cowards must we Trojans be, else thou hadst
been stoned to death ere this, for all the evil thou
Then answered Paris:
“No word hast thou said that
I do not deserve, brave Hector. Yet scorn not
the gifts of golden Aphrodite, for by his own desire
can no man win the love and beauty that the goddess
gives. But let me now do battle with Menelaus.
Make the Trojans and the men of Greece sit down, while
Menelaus and I fight for Helen. Let him who is
conqueror have her and all that is hers for his own,
and let the others take an oath of friendship so that
the Greeks may depart in peace to their own land,
and in peace the Trojans dwell in Troy.”
Greatly did Hector rejoice at his
brother’s word. His spear grasped by the
middle, he went through the Trojan ranks and bid the
warriors hold back.
But as he went, the Greeks shot arrows
at brave Hector and cast stones.
“Hold! hold! ye Greeks,”
called Agamemnon. “Hector of the glancing
helm hath somewhat to say to us.”
In silence, then, the two armies stood,
while Hector told them the words of Paris his brother.
When they had heard him, Menelaus spoke:
“Many ills have ye endured,”
he said, “for my sake and because of the sins
of Paris. Yet now, I think, the end of this long
war hath come. Let us fight, then, and death
and fate shall decide which of us shall die.
Let us offer sacrifice now to Zeus, and call hither
Priam, King of Troy. I fear for the faith of
his sons, Paris and Hector, but Priam is an old man
and will not break faith.”
Then were the Greeks and the Trojans
glad. They came down from their chariots, and
took off their arms, and laid them on the ground, while
heralds went to tell Priam and to fetch lambs and a
ram for the sacrifice.
While they went, Hera sent to Troy
Iris, her messenger, in the guise of the fairest daughter
To the hall where Helen sat came lovely
Iris. And there she found Helen, fairest of women,
her white arms swiftly moving back and forward as
she wove a great purple web of double wool, and wrought
thereon pictures of many battles of the Greeks and
the men of Troy.
“Come hither, dear lady,”
said Iris, “and see a wondrous thing. For
they that so fiercely fought with each other, now sit
in silence. The battle is stayed; they lean upon
their shields, and their tall spears are thrust in
the earth by their sides. But for thee are Menelaus
and Paris now going to fight, and thou shalt be the
wife of the conqueror.”
So spake lovely Iris, and into the
sleeping heart of Helen there came remembrance, and
a hungry longing for her old home, and for Menelaus,
and her father and mother, and for little Hermione,
The tears rolled down her cheeks,
but quickly she hid her face with a veil of fair linen,
and hastened out, with her two handmaidens, to the
place where the two armies lay.
At the Scaean gates sat Priam and other old warriors.
As Helen, in her fair white robes,
drew near, the old men marveled at her loveliness.
“Small wonder is it,”
said they, “that Trojans and Greeks should suffer
hardships and lay down their lives for one so beautiful.
Yet well would it be for her to sail away upon the
Greek ships rather than stay here to bring trouble
upon us now, and upon our children hereafter.”
Then Priam called to Helen:
“Come hither, dear child, and
sit beside me, that thou may’st see the man
who once was thy husband, and thy kinsmen, and thy
friends. No blame do I give to thee for all our
woes, but only to the gods who have chosen thee to
be the cause of all this bloodshed.”
Then did Priam ask her the names of
the mighty heroes who stood by their spears in the
Grecian ranks, and Helen, making answer to him, said:
“Dear father of Paris, my lord,
would that I had died ere I left my own land and my
little child, and all those that I loved, and followed
thy son hither. Agamemnon, a goodly king and a
mighty spearsman, is the Greek warrior whose name
thou dost ask. Brother of him who was my husband
is he. Ah! shameless me, who did leave mine own.”
Of Odysseus also, and of many another
warrior of great stature and brave looks, did Priam
make inquiry. And Helen told him all she knew,
while tears of longing stood in her eyes.
“My two brethren, Castor, tamer
of horses, and Polydeuces, the skilful boxer, I do
not see,” she said; “mayhap they have not
crossed the sea.” For she knew not that
her two brothers lay dead in her own beautiful land.
Then was the sacrifice to Zeus offered,
and the vows made between Agamemnon and Priam, King
When the sacrifice and vows were accomplished,
Priam in haste mounted his chariot and drove away.
“Verily will I return to windy
Ilios,” said the old man, “for I cannot
bear to watch the fight between Menelaus and my own
dear son. But only Zeus and the gods know which
one of them is to fall.”
Then Hector and Odysseus marked out
a space for the fight, and into a bronze helmet Hector
placed two pebbles and shook them in the helmet, looking
behind him. And the pebble of Paris leapt out
the first, so that to him fell the lot to cast first
his spear of bronze.
Then did Paris arm himself. Greaves
of beauteous fashioning he placed upon his legs, and
fastened them with silver ankle-clasps. Over his
shoulders he put his silver-studded sword of bronze
and his great shield. On his head he placed a
helmet with nodding crest of horsehair, and in his
hand he grasped his strong spear. In like manner
did Menelaus arm himself.
One moment did they stand face to
face, wrath and hatred in their hearts, their spears
gripped firm in their hands.
Then did Paris hurl his spear and
smite the shield of Menelaus. But the shield
was strong and the spear could not pierce it.
His hand lifted up for the cast, Menelaus
looked upwards and called to Zeus.
“Grant me revenge, great Zeus!”
he cried. “On him that hath done me grievous
wrong, grant me vengeance, so that all men hereafter
may shudder to wrong one who hath treated him as his
Then hurled he his mighty spear.
Through the bright shield it went, and through the
shining breastplate, tearing the tunic of Paris on
his thigh. But Paris swerved aside, and so escaped
Then Menelaus drew his silver-studded
sword and drove it crashing down upon the helmet of
Paris. But in four pieces was the sword shattered,
and fell from the hand of Menelaus.
“Surely art thou the most cruel
of all the gods, Zeus!” angrily he cried.
“My spear is cast in vain, and my sword shattered,
and my vengeance is still to come!”
So saying, he leapt upon Paris.
By the crest on his helmet he seized him, and, swinging
him round, he dragged him towards the Greek host.
The embroidered strap beneath the helmet of Paris strangled
him, and so he would have shamefully died, had not
Aphrodite marked his plight. Swiftly did she
burst the leather strap, and the helmet was left empty
in the grasp of Menelaus.
Casting the empty helmet, with a swing,
to his comrades, Menelaus sprang back, ready, with
another spear, to slay his enemy.
But Aphrodite snatched Paris up, and
in thick mist she hid him, and bore him away to his
own home. Like a wild beast Menelaus strode through
the host, searching for him. But no Trojan would
have hidden him, for with a bitter hatred did the
men of Troy hate Paris, most beautiful of mortal men.
Then said Agamemnon:
“Hearken to me, ye Trojans.
Now hath Menelaus gained the victory. Give us
back Helen, and all that is hers, and pay me the recompense
that ye owe me for all the evil days that are gone.”
So spake he, and glad were the shouts
of the Greeks as they heard the words of their king.
HECTOR AND ANDROMACHE
From where the battle still raged
went Hector, son of Priam. At the oak-tree by
the gates of Troy there came running to meet him wives
and daughters of those who fought. For eagerly
did they long for tidings of many a warrior who now
lay dead on the field.
When he reached the beautiful, many-pillared
palace of his father, his mother came to meet him.
His hand she took in hers, and gently spoke she to
“Art thou wearied that thou
hast left the battle, Hector, my son?” she said.
“Let me bring thee wine that thou may’st
be refreshed and yet gain strength.”
“Bring me no wine, dear mother,”
said Hector, “lest it take from me the strength
and courage that I have. Rather go thou to the
temple of Athene and offer her sacrifices, beseeching
that she will have mercy on Troy and on the wives
of the Trojans and their little children. So
may she hold back Diomedes the destroyer. I go
to Paris would that he were dead!”
And the mother of Hector straightway,
with other old women, the mothers of heroes, offered
sacrifices and prayers to Athene. But Athene
paid no heed.
To the palace of Paris, his mighty
bronze spear in his hand, then strode Hector.
Paris, the golden-haired, sat in a
room with Helen, idly handling his shining shield
and breastplate and curved bow.
In bitter scorn spoke Hector to his brother.
“Our people die in battle for
thy sake!” he cried, “while here thou
sittest idle. Up then, ere the enemies that thou
hast made for us burn our city to the ground!”
And Paris answered:
“Justly dost thou chide me,
Hector. Even now hath Helen urged me to play
the man and go back to battle. Only let me put
on my armor, and soon will I overtake thee.”
Never a word did Hector answer him.
But to Hector did Helen then speak:
“Brother Hector,” she
said, “unworthy am I to be sister of thine.
Would that I had died on the day I was born, or would
that the gods who have brought me this evil had given
me for a husband one who was shamed by reproach and
who feared dishonor. Rest thee here, my brother,
who hast suffered so much for the sake of wretched
me and for the sin of Paris. Well I know that
for us cometh punishment of which men will sing in
the far-off years that are yet to come.”
“Of thy love, ask me not to
stay, Helen,” answered Hector. “For
to help the men of Troy is my whole heart set, and
they are now in want of me. But rouse this fellow,
and make him hasten after me. I go now to see
my dear wife and my babe, for I know not whether I
shall return to them again.”
In his own house Hector found not
his fair wife Andromache, nor their little babe.
“Whither went thy mistress?”
he asked in eagerness of the serving-women.
“Truly, my lord,” answered
one, “tidings came to us that the Trojans were
sorely pressed and that with the Greeks was the victory.
So then did Andromache, like one frenzied, hasten
with her child and his nurse to the walls that she
might see somewhat of what befell. There, on the
tower, she stands now, weeping and wailing.”
Back through the streets by which
he had come then hastened Hector. And as he drew
near the gates, Andromache, who had spied him from
afar, ran to meet him.
As, hand clasped in hand, Andromache
and Hector stood, Hector looked silently at the beautiful
babe in his nurse’s arms, and smiled.
Astyanax, “The City King,”
those of Troy called the child, because it was Hector
his father who saved the city.
Then said Andromache:
“Dear lord, thy courage will
bring thee death. Hast thou no pity for this
babe nor for thy wife, who so soon shall be thy widow?
Better would it be for me to die if to thee death
should come. For if I lose thee, then sorrow
must for evermore be mine. No father nor mother
have I, and on one day were my seven brothers slain.
Father and mother and brother art thou to me, Hector,
and my dear loved husband as well. Have pity
now, and stay with thy wife and thy little child.”
“All these things know I well,
my wife,” answered Hector, “but black
shame would be mine were I to shrink like a coward
from battle. Ever it hath been mine to be where
the fight was fiercest, and to win glory for my father’s
name, and for my own. But soon will that glory
be gone, for my heart doth tell me that Troy must
fall. Yet for the sorrows of the Trojans, and
of my own father and mother and brethren, and of the
many heroes that must perish, grieve I less bitterly
than for the anguish that must come upon thee on that
day when thou no longer hast a husband to fight for
thee and a Greek leads thee away a prisoner.
May the earth be heaped up high above me ere I hear
thy crying, Andromache!”
So spake Hector, and stretched out
his arms to take his boy.
But from his father’s bronze
helmet with its fiercely nodding plume of horsehair
the babe shrank back in terror and hid his face in
his nurse’s breast. Then did the little
City King’s father and his sweet mother laugh
aloud, and on the ground Hector laid his helmet, and
taking his little son in his arms he kissed him and
gently dandled him. And as he did so, thus Hector
prayed to Zeus and all the gods:
“O Zeus and all ye gods, grant
that my son may be a brave warrior and a great king
in Troyland. Let men say of him when he returns
from battle, ‘Far greater is he than his father,’
and may he gladden his mother’s heart.”
Then did Hector lay his babe in Andromache’s
arms, and she held him to her bosom, smiling through
Full of love and pity and tenderness
was the heart of Hector, and gently he caressed her
“Dear one, I pray thee be not
of over-sorrowful heart. No man shall slay me
ere the time appointed for my death hath come.
Go home and busy thyself with loom and distaff and
see to the work of thy maidens. But war is for
us men, and of all those who dwell in Troyland, most
of all for me.”
So spake Hector, and on his head again
he placed his crested helmet. And his wife went
home, many times looking back to watch him she loved
going forth to battle, with her eyes half blinded by
Not far behind Hector followed Paris,
his armor glittering like the sun, and with a laugh
on the face that was more full of beauty than that
of any other man on earth. Like a noble charger
that has broken its bonds and gallops exultingly across
the plain, so did Paris stride onward.
“I fear I have delayed thee,”
he said to his brother when he overtook him.
“No man can speak lightly of
thy courage,” answered Hector, “only thou
hast brought shame on thyself by holding back from
battle. But now let us go forward, and may the
gods give the Greeks into our hands.”
So went Hector and Paris together
into battle, and many a Greek fell before them on
HOW PATROCLUS FOUGHT AND DIED
While round the dark ships of Greece
the fierce fight raged, Achilles, from afar, listened
unmoved to the din of battle, and watched with stony
eyes the men of Greece as they fell and died on the
To him came Patroclus.
“Why dost thou weep, Patroclus?”
asked Achilles. “Like a fond little maid
art thou that runs by her mother’s side, plucking
at her gown, hindering her as she walks, and with
tearful eyes looking up at her until the mother lifts
her in her arms. Like her, Patroclus, dost thou
Then Patroclus, heavily groaning, made answer:
“Among the ships lie the bravest
and best of the men of Greece, sore wounded or dead.
Pitiless art thou, Achilles, pitiless and unforgiving.
Yet if thou dost still hold back from the battle, give
me, I pray thee, thine armor, and send me forth in
thy stead. Perchance the Trojans may take me
for the mighty Achilles, and even now the victory
Then said Achilles, and heavy was his heart within
“These Greeks took from me my
well-won prize, Patroclus. Yet let the past be
past; no man may keep his anger for ever. I have
said that until the men of Troy come to burn my own
ships I will hold me back from the battle. But
take you my armor; lead my men in the fight, and drive
from the ships the men of Troy. But to others
leave it to chase them across the plain.”
Even as Achilles spoke, the strength
of mighty Ajax had come to an end, and with furious
rush did the Trojans board the ships. In their
hands they bore blazing torches, and up to the sky
rushed the fiercely roaring flames.
Then cried Achilles, smiting his thighs:
“Haste thee, Patroclus!
They burn the ships! Arm thyself speedily, and
I will call my men!”
Corslet and shield and helmet did
Patroclus swiftly don, and girded on the silver-studded
sword and took two strong lances in his hand.
In the chariot of Achilles he mounted,
and Automedon, best and bravest of charioteers, took
Swift as the wild west wind were Bayard
and Piebald, the two horses of Achilles, and in the
side harness was Pedasus, a horse only less swift
Gladly did the men of Achilles meet
his call to arms, for fierce as wolves were they.
“Many times hast thou blamed
me,” cried Achilles, “because in my wrath
I kept ye back from battle. Here for ye now is
a mighty fight, such as ye love.”
To battle they went, and while Patroclus
led them forth, Achilles in his tent offered up an
offering to Zeus.
Like wasps that pour forth from their
nests by the wayside to sting the boys who have stoned
them, so now did the Greeks swarm from their ships.
Before the sword of Patroclus fell
a mighty warrior, and when the men of Troy saw the
shining armor of Achilles in his own chariot their
hearts sank within them.
Out of the ships were they driven,
the fire was quenched, and back to the trench rolled
the tide of battle. In the trench writhed many
a horse and many a man in dying agonies. But
clear across it leaped the horses of Achilles, and
close to the walls of Troy did Patroclus drive brave
Hector before him.
His chariot then he turned, and headed
off the fleeing Trojans, driving them down to the
ships. Before the furious rush of his swift steeds,
other horses were borne off their feet, other chariots
cast in ruins on the ground, and men crushed to death
under his wheels. Chief after chief did Patroclus
slay. A mighty destroyer was he that day.
One only of the chiefs of Troy kept
his courage before the destroyer who wore the shining
arms of Achilles.
“Shame on ye!” cried Sarpedon
to his men, “whither do ye flee? I myself
will fight this man who deals death and destruction
to the Trojan host.”
From their chariots leaped Sarpedon and Patroclus.
With the first cast of his spear Patroelus
missed Sarpedon, but slew his charioteer. Then
did Sarpedon cast, and his spear whizzed past Patroclus,
and smote the good horse Pedasus. With a dreadful
scream Pedasus fell, kicking and struggling, in the
dust. This way and that did the other two horses
plunge and rear, until the yoke creaked and the reins
became entangled. But the charioteer leaped down,
with his sword slashed clear the traces from Pedasus,
and the horses righted themselves.
Once again did Sarpedon cast his spear,
and the point flew over the left shoulder of Patroclus.
But Patroclus missed not. Through the heart of
Sarpedon sped the fiercely hurled spear, and like a
slim tree before the axe of the wood-cutter he fell,
his dying hands clutching at the bloody dust.
Furious was the combat then over the
body of Sarpedon. One brave warrior after another
did Patroclus lay dead.
And more terrible still was the fight
because in the ranks of the men of Troy there fought
now, in all-devouring wrath, the god Apollo.
Nine men, good warriors all, did Patroclus
slay; then, waxing bolder, he tried to climb the very
walls of Troy.
Three times did Apollo thrust him
back, and when, a fourth time, he attacked, the god
cried aloud to him in anger, warning him not to dare
Against Patroclus did Hector then
drive his war-horses, but Patroclus, leaping from
his chariot, hurled at Hector a jagged stone.
In the eyes it smote the charioteer of Hector, and
the slain man dropped to the ground.
“How nimble a man is this!”
jeered Patroclus. “How lightly he diveth!
Were this the sea, how good an oyster-seeker would
this fellow be!”
Then from his chariot leaped Hector
and met Patroclus, and the noise of the battle was
as the noise of a mighty gale in the forest when great
trees fall crashing to the ground.
When the sun went down, victory was
with the Greeks. Three mighty charges did Patroclus
make, and each time he slew nine men. But when,
a fourth time, he charged, Apollo met him. In
thick mist he met him, and Patroclus knew not that
he fought with a god. With a fierce down-stroke
from behind, Apollo smote his broad shoulders, and
from off his head the helmet of Achilles fell with
a clang, rattling under the hoofs of the horses.
Before the smiting of the god, Patroclus stood stricken,
stupid and amazed. Shattered in his hands was
the spear of Achilles, and his mighty shield clanged
on the ground.
Ere he could know who was the smiter,
a Trojan ally drove a spear between his shoulders,
and Patroclus, sore wounded, fell back.
Marking his dismay, Hector pressed
forward, and clean through his body drove his bronze
spear. With a crash Patroclus fell.
“Thou that didst boast that
thou wouldst sack my town, here shall vultures devour
thee!” cried Hector.
And in a faint voice Patroclus made answer:
“Not to thee do I owe my doom,
great Hector. Twenty such as thou would I have
fought and conquered, but the gods have slain me.
Yet verily I tell thee that thou thyself hast not
long to live. Even now doth Death stand beside
As he spoke, the shadow of Death fell
upon Patroclus. No more in his ears roared the
din of battle; still and silent for ever he lay.
THE ROUSING OF ACHILLES
Fierce had been the fight before Patroclus
died. More fiercely yet it raged when he lay
From his body did Hector take the
arms of Achilles, and the dead Patroclus would the
Trojans fain have dragged to their city, there to
bring shame to him and to all the Greek host.
But for him fought the Greeks, until
the earth was wet with blood and the very skies echoed
the clang of battle.
To Achilles came Antilochos, a messenger fleet of
“Fallen is Patroclus!”
he cried, “and around his naked body do they
fight, for his armor is held by Hector.”
Then did Achilles moan aloud.
On the ground he lay, and in his hair he poured black
ashes. And the sound of his terrible lament was
heard by his mother, Thetis, the goddess, as she sat
in her palace down under the depths of the green sea.
Up from under the waves swiftly came
she to Achilles, and tenderly did she listen while
he poured forth to her the tale of the death of his
Then said Thetis:
“Not long, methinks, shall Hector
glory in the armor that was thine, for Death presseth
hard upon him. Go not forth to battle, my son,
until I return, bearing with me new and fair armor
But when Thetis had departed, to Achilles
in his sorrow came Iris, fair messenger of the gods.
“Unto windy Ilios will the Trojans
drag the body of Patroclus unless thou comest now.
Thou needst not fight, Achilles, only show thyself
to the men of Troy, for sore is the need of Patroclus
Then, all unarmed, did Achilles go
forth, and stood beside the trench. With a mighty
voice he shouted, and at the sound of his voice terror
fell upon the Trojans. Backward in flight they
went, and from among the dead did the Greeks draw
the body of Patroclus, and hot were the tears that
Achilles shed for the friend whom he had sent forth
All that night, in the house of the
Immortals, resounded the clang of hammer on anvil
as Hephaistus, the lame god, fashioned new arms for
Bronze and silver and gold he threw
in his fire, and golden handmaidens helped their master
to wield the great bellows, and to send on the crucibles
blasts that made the ruddy flames dance.
No fairer shield was ever borne by
man than that which Hephaistus made for Achilles.
For him also he wrought a corslet brighter than a flame
of fire, and a helmet with a golden crest.
And in the morning light did Thetis
dart down from snowy Olympus, bearing in her arms
the splendid gift of a god.
Glad was Achilles as he put on the
armor, and terrible was his war-cry as he roused the
Greek warriors. No man, however sore his wounds,
held back when the voice of Achilles called him to
the fight once again. Wounded was Agamemnon,
overlord of the Greeks, but forth also came he.
And there, while the sun rose on many a warrior who
would fight no more, did Achilles and Agamemnon speak
as friends once again, their long strife ended.
Hungry for war, with Achilles as their
leader, did the Greeks then meet the Trojans on the
plain. And as a fierce fire rages through the
forest, its flames driven by the wind, so did Achilles
in his wrath drive through the host of Troy.
Down to the Scamander he drove the
fleeing Trojans, and the water reddened with blood,
as he smote and spared not.
Merciless was Achilles; pitilessly
did he exult as one brave man after another was sent
by him to dye red the swift flood of the Scamander.
At length, at his lack of mercy, did
even the river grow wrathful.
“Choked is my stream with dead
men!” it cried, “and still thou slayest!”
But when Achilles heeded not, in fierce
flood the river up-rose against him, sweeping the
slain before it, and in furious spate seeking to destroy
Achilles. But as its waves smote against his
shield, Achilles grasped a tall elm, and uprooting
it, cast it into the river to dam the torrent.
For the moment only was the angry river stayed.
In fear did Achilles flee across the plain, but with
a mighty roar it pursued him, and caught him.
To the gods then cried Achilles, and
to his aid came Athene, and close to the walls of
Troy again did Achilles chase the Trojan men.
From the city walls old Priam saw
the dreadful things Achilles wrought.
And when, his armor blazing like the
brightest stars of the sky, he drew near, and Hector
would have gone to meet him, in grief did Priam cry
to his dearly loved son:
“Hector, beloved son, I pray
thee go not alone to meet this man; mightier far than
thou is he.”
But all eager for the fight was Hector.
Of all the men of Troy he alone still stood unafraid.
Then did the mother of Hector beseech him to hold
back from what must surely mean death. Yet Hector
held not back, but on his shining shield leaned against
a tower, awaiting the coming of the great destroyer.
And at last they met, face to face,
spear to spear. As a shooting-star in the darkness
so flashed the spear of Achilles as he hurled it home
to pierce the neck of Hector. Gods and men had
deserted Hector, and alone before the walls of Troy
he fell and died.
Thus ended the fight.
For twelve days did the Greek host
rejoice, and all through the days Hector’s body
lay unburied. For at the heels of swift horses
had the Greeks dragged him to the ships, while from
the battlements his mother and his wife Andromache
watched, wailing in agony, with hearts that broke.
Then at length went old Priam to the
camp of the Greeks. And before Achilles he fell,
beseeching him to have mercy and to give him back
the body of his son.
So was the heart of Achilles moved,
and the body of Hector ransomed; and with wailing
of women did the people of Troy welcome home their
Over him lamented his old mother,
for of all her sons was he to her most dear, and over
him wept, with burning tears, his wife Andromache.
And to his bier came Helen, and with
breaking heart did she sob forth her sorrow:
“Dearest of my brothers,”
she said, “from thee have I heard neither reproach
nor evil word. With kind words and gentle heart
hast thou ever stood by me. Lost, lost is my
one true friend. No more in Troyland is any left
to pity me.”
On lofty funeral pyre then laid they
the dead Hector, and when the flames had consumed
his body his comrades placed his white bones in a
golden urn, and over it with great stones did they
raise a mighty mound that all might see where he rested.
Yet still was the warfare between
Greeks and Trojans not ended.
To Achilles death came in a shaft
from the bow of Paris. By a poisoned arrow driven
at venture and at dark midnight from the bow of an
outcast leper was fair Paris slain. While winter
snow lay white on Ida, in Helen’s arms did his
life ebb away.
Then came there a day when the Greeks
burned their camp and sailed homeward across the gray
Behind them they left a mighty horse
of wood, and the men of Troy came and drew it into
the city as trophy and sign of victory over those who
had made it. But inside the horse were hidden
many of the bravest warriors of Greece, and at night,
when the Trojans feasted, the Greeks came out of their
hiding-place and threw open the gates.
And up from the sea came the Greek
host, and in fire and in blood fell the city of Troy.
Yet did not Helen perish. Back
to his own kingdom by the sea Menelaus took her, to
reign, in peace, a queen, she who had brought grief
and death to so many, and to the city of Troy unutterable