The Ancient Library

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On this page: Trojan War (continued)



storm and driven back to Greece, assemble afresli at Aulis, whence they are only permitted to set out after the sacrifice of Ipliigenia (an incident entirely unknown to Homer). On the Greek aide the first to full is Pi'ot&silCiiis, who is the first to land. The disembarkation cannot take place until Achilles has slain the mighty Cycnus (q.v., 2). After pitching their camp, Odysseus and Jlenelaus proceed as ambassadors to Troy, to demand the surrender of Helen. But this proposal, in spite of the inclination of Helen herself and the admonition of the Trojan Antenor, falls to the ground, owing to the opposition of Paris, and war is de­clared. The number of the Trojans, whose chief hero is Hector, scarcely amounts to the tenth part of that of the besiegers ; and although they possess the aid of countless brave allies, such as ^n€ds, Sarp&don, and Glnucus, in their fear of Achilles they dare not risk a general engagement. On the other hand, the Achaeans can do nothing against the well-fortified and defended town, and see themselves confined to laying ambuscades and devastating the surround­ing country, and compelled by lack of pro­visions to have resource to foraging expe­ditions in the neighbourhood, undertaken by sea and by laud under the generalship of Achilles. At length the decisive tenth year arrives. The Homeric Iliad narrates the events of this year, confining itself to the space of fifty-one days.

Chryses, priest of Apollo, comes in priestly garb into the camp of the Greeks to ransom his daughter Chryseis from Agamemnon. He is rudely repulsed, and Apollo conse­quently visits the Greeks with a plague. In an assembly of the Greeks summoned by Achilles, Calchas declares the only means of appeasing the god to be the surrender of the girl without ransom. Agamemnon assents to the general wish; but, by way of compensation, takes from Achilles, whom he considers to be the instigator of the whole plot, his favourite slave Brlsels. Achilles withdraws in a rage to his tent, and implores his mother Thetis to obtain from Zeus a promise that the Greeks should meet with disaster in fighting the Trojans until Agamemnon should give her son complete satisfaction [II. i]. The Trojans immediately take the open field, and Agamemnon is induced by a promise of victory, conveyed in a dream from Zeus, to appoint the following day for a battle [ii]. The hosts are already standing opposed to one another, prepared

for fight, when they agree to a treaty that the conflict for Helen and the plundered treasures be decided by a duel between Paris and Menelaus. Paris is overcome in the duel, and is only rescued from death by the intervention of Aphrodite [iii]. When Agamemnon presses for the fulfil­ment of the treaty, the Trojan Pandarus breaks the peace by shooting an arrow at Menelaus, and the first open engagement in the war begins [iv], in which, under the protection of Athene, Diomede performs miracles of bravery and wounds even Aphrodite and Ares [vj. Diomede and the Lycian Glaucus are on the point of fighting, when they recognise one another as here­ditary guest-friends. Hector goes from the battle to Troy, and the day ends with an indecisive duel between Hector and Ajax son of Telamon. In the armistice ensuing both sides bury their dead, and the Greeks, acting on the advice of Nestor, surround the camp with a wall and trench [vii]. When the fighting begins afresh, Zeus forbids the gods to take part in it, and ordains that the battle shall terminate with the discomfiture of the Greeks [viii]. On the following night Agamemnon already begins to medi­tate flight, but Nestor advises reconciliation with Achilles. The efforts of the ambas­sadors are, however, fruitless [ix]. Here­upon Odysseus and Diomede go out to reconnoitre, capture Dolon, a Trojan spy, and surprise Rhesus (q.v.), king of the Thracians, the newly arrived ally of the enemy [xj. On the succeeding day Aga­memnon's bravery drives the Trojans back to the walls of the town; but he himself, Diomede, Odysseus, and other heroes leave the battle wounded, the Greeks retire behind the camp walls [xi], to attack which the Trojans set out in. five detachments. The opposition of the Greeks is brave; but Hector breaks the rough gate with a rock, and the stream of enemies pours itself un­impeded into the camp [xii]. Once more the Greek heroes who are still capable of taking part in the fight, especially the two Ajaxes and IdSmeneus, succeed with the help of PSseidon in repelling the Trojans, while Telamonian Ajax dashes Hector to the ground with a stone; but the latter soon reappears on the battlefield with fresh strength granted him by Apollo at the command of Zeus [xiii]. Poseidon is obliged to leave the Greeks to their fate; they retire again to the ships, which Ajax in vain defends [xv]. The foremost ship is already burning, when Achilles gives way to the entreaties

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