Menelaus, informed by Iris in Crete of the perfidious return made by Paris for his hospitality, hastened home in grief and indignation to consult with his brother Agamemnon, as well as with the venerable Nestor, on the means of avenging the outrage.
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
It was to this youth [Hector – JL], in his solitary shepherd’s walk on Mount Ida, that the three goddesses, Here, Athene, and Aphrodite, were conducted, in order that he might determine the dispute respecting their comparative beauty, which had arisen at the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis, — a dispute brought about in pursuance of the arrangement, and in accomplishment of the deep-laid designs of Zeus. For Zeus, remarking with pain the immoderate numbers of the then existing heroic race, pitied the earth for the overwhelming burden which she was compelled to bear, and determined to lighten it by exciting a destructive and long-continued war. Paris awarded the palm of beauty to Aphrodite, who promised him in recompense the possession of Helen, wife of the Spartan Menelaus, — the daughter of Zeus and the fairest of living women. At the instance of Aphrodite, ships were built for him, and he embarked on the enterprise so fraught with eventual disaster to his native city, in spite of the menacing prophecies of his brother Helenus, and the always neglected warnings of Cassandra.
Paris, on arriving at Sparta, was hospitably entertained by Menelaus as well as by Castor and Pollux, and was enabled to present the rich gifts which he had brought to Helen. Menelaus then departed to Crete, leaving Helen to entertain his Trojan guest — a favorable moment, which was employed by Aphrodite to bring about the intrigue and the elopement. Paris carried away with him both Helen and a large sum of money belonging to Menelaus, made a prosperous voyage to Troy, and arrived there safely with his prize on the third day.
Menelaus, informed by Iris in Crete of the perfidious return made by Paris for his hospitality, hastened home in grief and indignation to consult with his brother Agamemnon, as well as with the venerable Nestor, on the means of avenging the outrage. They made known the event to the Greek chiefs around them, among whom they found universal sympathy; Nestor, Palamedes, and others went round to solicit aid in a contemplated attack of Troy, under the command of Agamemnon, to whom each chief promised both obedience and unwearied exertion until Helen should be recovered. Ten years were spent in equipping the expedition. The goddesses Here and Athene, incensed at the preference given by Paris to Aphrodite, and animated by steady attachment to Argos, Sparta, and Mycenæ, took an active part in the cause, and the horses of Here were fatigued with her repeated visits to the different parts of Greece.
By such efforts a force was at length assembled at Aulis in Boeotia, consisting of 1,186 ships and more than one hundred thousand men — a force outnumbering by more than ten to one anything that the Trojans themselves could oppose, and superior to the defenders of Troy even with all her allies included. It comprised heroes with their followers from the extreme points of Greece — from the northwestern portions of Thessaly under Mount Olympus, as well as the western islands of Dulichium and Ithaca, and the eastern islands of Crete and Rhodes. Agamemnon himself contributed 100 ships manned with the subjects of his kingdom Mycenæ, besides furnishing 60 ships to the Arcadians, who possessed none of their own. Menelaus brought with him 60 ships, Nestor from Pylus, 90, Idomeneus from Crete and Diomedes from Argos, 80 each. Forty ships were manned by the Elians, under four different chiefs; the like number under Meges from Dulichium and the Echinades, and under Thoas from Calydon and the other Ætolian towns. Odysseus from Ithaca, and Ajax from Salamis, brought 12 ships each. The Abantes from Euboea, under Elphenor, filled 40 vessels; the Boeotians, under Peneleos and Leitus, 50; the inhabitants of Orchomenus and Aspledon, 30; the light-armed Locrians, under Ajax son of Oileus, 40; the Phocians as many. The Athenians, under Menestheus, a chief distinguished for his skill in marshalling an army, mustered 50 ships; the Myrmidons from Phthia and Hellas, under Achilles, assembled in 50 ships; Protesilaus from Phylace and Pyrasus, and Eurypylus from Ormenium, each came with 40 ships; Machaon and Podaleirius, from Trikka, with 30; Eumelus, from Pheræ and the lake Boebeis, with 11; and Philoctetes from Meliboea with 7; the Lapithæ, under Polypoetes, son of Peirithous, filled 40 vessels, the Ænianes and Perrhæbians, under Guneus, 22; and the Magnetes, under Prothous, 40; these last two were from the northernmost parts of Thessaly, near the mountains Pelion and Olympus. From Rhodes, under Tlepolemus, son of Heracles, appeared 9 ships; from Syme, under the comely but effeminate Nireus, 3; from Cos, Crapathus, and the neighboring islands, 30, under the orders of Pheidippus and Antiphus, sons of Thessalus and grandsons of Heracles.
Among this band of heroes were included the distinguished warriors Ajax and Diomedes, and the sagacious Nestor; while Agamemnon himself, scarcely inferior to either of them in prowess, brought with him a high reputation for prudence in command. But the most marked and conspicuous of all were Achilles and Odysseus; the former a beautiful youth born of a divine mother, swift in the race, of fierce temper and irresistible might; the latter not less efficient as an ally, from his eloquence, his untiring endurance, his inexhaustible resources under difficulty, and the mixture of daring courage with deep-laid cunning which never deserted him: the blood of the arch-deceiver Sisyphus, through an illicit connection with his mother Anticleia, was said to flow in his veins, and he was especially patronized and protected by the goddess Athene. Odysseus, unwilling at first to take part in the expedition, had even simulated insanity; but Palamedes, sent to Ithaca to invite him, tested the reality of his madness by placing in the furrow where Odysseus was ploughing his infant son Telemachus. Thus detected, Odysseus could not refuse to join the Achæan host, but the prophet Halitherses predicted to him that twenty years would elapse before he revisited his native land. To Achilles the gods had promised the full effulgence of heroic glory before the walls of Troy; nor could the place be taken without both his coöperation and that of his son after him. But they had forewarned him that this brilliant career would be rapidly brought to a close; and that if he desired a long life, he must remain tranquil and inglorious in his native land. In spite of the reluctance of his mother Thetis he preferred few years with bright renown, and joined the Achæan host. When Nestor and Odysseus came to Phthia to invite him, both he and his intimate friend Patroclus eagerly obeyed the call.
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