In these expeditions the Grecian army consumed nine years, during which the subdued Trojans dared not give battle without their walls for fear of Achilles.
Continuing Fall of Troy,
our selection from History of Greece by George Grote published in 1846. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Fall of Troy.
Time: 1184 BC
Agamemnon and his powerful host set sail from Aulis; but being ignorant of the locality and the direction, they landed by mistake in Teuthrania, a part of Mysia near the river Caicus, and began to ravage the country under the persuasion that it was the neighborhood of Troy. Telephus, the king of the country, opposed and repelled them, but was ultimately defeated and severely wounded by Achilles. The Greeks, now discovering their mistake, retired; but their fleet was dispersed by a storm and driven back to Greece. Achilles attacked and took Scyrus, and there married Deidamia, the daughter of Lycomedes. Telephus, suffering from his wounds, was directed by the oracle to come to Greece and present himself to Achilles to be healed, by applying the scrapings of the spear with which the wound had been given; thus restored, he became the guide of the Greeks when they were prepared to renew their expedition.
The armament was again assembled at Aulis, but the goddess Artemis, displeased with the boastful language of Agamemnon, prolonged the duration of adverse winds, and the offending chief was compelled to appease her by the well-known sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia. They then proceeded to Tenedos, from whence Odysseus and Menelaus were dispatched as envoys to Troy, to redemand Helen and the stolen property. In spite of the prudent counsels of Antenor, who received the two Grecian chiefs with friendly hospitality, the Trojans rejected the demand, and the attack was resolved upon. It was foredoomed by the gods that the Greek who first landed should perish: Protesilaus was generous enough to put himself upon this forlorn hope, and accordingly fell by the hand of Hector.
Meanwhile, the Trojans had assembled a large body of allies from various parts of Asia Minor and Thrace: Dardanians under Æneas, Lycians under Sarpedon, Mysians, Carians, Mæonians, Alizonians, Phrygians, Thracians, and Pæonians. But vain was the attempt to oppose the landing of the Greeks: the Trojans were routed, and even the invulnerable Cyncus, son of Poseidon, one of the great bulwarks of the defense, was slain by Achilles. Having driven the Trojans within their walls, Achilles attacked and stormed Lyrnessus, Pedasus, Lesbos, and other places in the neighborhood, twelve towns on the sea-coast, and eleven in the interior: he drove off the oxen of Æneas and pursued the hero himself, who narrowly escaped with his life: he surprised and killed the youthful Troilus, son of Priam, and captured several of the other sons, whom he sold as prisoners into the islands of the Ægean. He acquired as his captive the fair Briseis, while Chryseis was awarded to Agamemnon; he was, moreover, eager to see the divine Helen, the prize and stimulus of this memorable struggle; and Aphrodite and Thetis contrived to bring about an interview between them.
At this period of the war the Grecian army was deprived of Palamedes, one of its ablest chiefs. Odysseus had not forgiven the artifice by which Palamedes had detected his simulated insanity, nor was he without jealousy of a rival clever and cunning in a degree equal, if not superior, to himself; one who had enriched the Greeks with the invention of letters of dice for amusement of night-watches as well as with other useful suggestions. According to the old Cyprian epic, Palamedes was drowned while fishing by the hands of Odysseus and Diomedes. Neither in the Iliad nor the Odyssey does the name of Palamedes occur; the lofty position which Odysseus occupies in both those poems — noticed with some degree of displeasure even by Pindar, who described Palamedes as the wiser man of the two — is sufficient to explain the omission. But in the more advanced period of the Greek mind, when intellectual superiority came to acquire a higher place in the public esteem as compared with military prowess, the character of Palamedes, combined with his unhappy fate, rendered him one of the most interesting personages in the Trojan legend. Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides each consecrated to him a special tragedy; but the mode of his death as described in the old epic was not suitable to Athenian ideas, and accordingly he was represented as having been falsely accused of treason by Odysseus, who caused gold to be buried in his tent, and persuaded Agamemnon and the Grecian chiefs that Palamedes had received it from the Trojans. He thus forfeited his life, a victim to the calumny of Odysseus and to the delusion of the leading Greeks. The philosopher Socrates, in the last speech made to his Athenian judges, alludes with solemnity and fellow-feeling to the unjust condemnation of Palamedes as analogous to that which he himself was about to suffer; and his companions seem to have dwelt with satisfaction on the comparison. Palamedes passed for an instance of the slanderous enmity and misfortune which so often wait upon superior genius.
In these expeditions the Grecian army consumed nine years, during which the subdued Trojans dared not give battle without their walls for fear of Achilles. Ten years was the fixed epical duration of the siege of Troy, just as five years was the duration of the siege of Camicus by the Cretan armament which came to avenge the death of Minos: ten years of preparation, ten years of siege, and ten years of wandering for Odysseus were periods suited to the rough chronological dashes of the ancient epic, and suggesting no doubts nor difficulties with the original hearers. But it was otherwise when the same events came to be contemplated by the historicizing Greeks, who could not be satisfied without either finding or inventing satisfactory bonds of coherence between the separate events. Thucydides tells us that the Greeks were less numerous than the poets have represented, and that being, moreover, very poor, they were unable to procure adequate and constant provisions: hence they were compelled to disperse their army, and to employ a part of it in cultivating the Chersonese — a part in marauding expeditions over the neighborhood. Could the whole army have been employed against Troy at once (he says), the siege would have been much more speedily and easily concluded. If the great historian could permit himself thus to amend the legend in so many points, we might have imagined that a simpler course would have been to include the duration of the siege among the list of poetical exaggerations and to affirm that the real siege had lasted only one year instead of ten. But it seems that the ten years’ duration was so capital a feature in the ancient tale that no critic ventured to meddle with it.
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