Through these stories every town and village throughout Greek lands could attach directly to the epic and to the common identity.
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
As usual with the ancient epic, the multiplied sufferings of this back voyage [of Odysseus – JL] are traced to divine wrath, justly provoked by the sins of the Greeks, who, in the fierce exultation of a victory purchased by so many hardships, had neither respected nor even spared the altars of the gods in Troy. Athene, who had been their most zealous ally during the siege, was so incensed by their final recklessness, more especially by the outrage of Ajax, son of Oileus, that she actively harassed and embittered their return, in spite of every effort to appease her. The chiefs began to quarrel among themselves; their formal assembly became a scene of drunkenness; even Agamemnon and Menelaus lost their fraternal harmony, and each man acted on his own separate resolution. Nevertheless, according to the Odyssey, Nestor, Diomedes, Neoptolemus, Idomeneus, and Philoctetes reached home speedily and safely; Agamemnon also arrived in Peloponnesus, to perish by the hand of a treacherous wife; but Menelaus was condemned to long wanderings and to the severest privations in Egypt, Cyprus, and elsewhere before he could set foot in his native land. The Locrian Ajax perished on the Gyræan rock. Though exposed to a terrible storm, he had already reached this place of safety, when he indulged in the rash boast of having escaped in defiance of the gods. No sooner did Poseidon hear this language than he struck with his trident the rock which Ajax was grasping and precipitated both into the sea. Calchas, the soothsayer, together with Leonteus and Polypoetes, proceeded by land from Troy to Colophon.
In respect, however, to these and other Grecian heroes, tales were told different from those in the Odyssey, assigning to them a long expatriation and a distant home. Nestor went to Italy, where he founded Metapontum, Pisa, and Heracleia: Philoctetes also went to Italy, founded Petilia and Crimisa, and sent settlers to Egesta in Sicily. Neoptolemus, under the advice of Thetis, marched by land across Thrace, met with Odysseus, who had come by sea, at Maroneia, and then pursued his journey to Epirus, where he became king of the Molossians. Idomeneus came to Italy, and founded Uria in the Salentine peninsula. Diomedes, after wandering far and wide, went along the Italian coast into the innermost Adriatic gulf, and finally settled in Daunia, founding the cities of Argyrippa, Beneventum, Atria, and Diomedeia: by the favor of Athene he became immortal, and was worshipped as a god in many different places. The Locrian followers of Ajax founded the Epizephyrian Locri on the southernmost corner of Italy, besides another settlement in Libya.
The previously exiled Teucros, besides founding the city of Salamis in Cyprus, is said to have established some settlements in the Iberian peninsula. Menestheus, the Athenian, did the like, and also founded both Elæa in Mysia and Scylletium in Italy. The Arcadian chief Agapenor founded Paphos in Cyprus. Epius, of Panopeus in Phocis, the constructor of the Trojan horse with the aid of the goddess Athene, settled at Lagaria, near Sybaris, on the coast of Italy; and the very tools which he had employed in that remarkable fabric were shown down to a late date in the temple of Athene at Metapontum.
Temples, altars, and towns were also pointed out in Asia Minor, in Samos, and in Crete, the foundation of Agamemnon or of his followers. The inhabitants of the Grecian town of Scione, in the Thracian peninsula called Pallene or Pellene, accounted themselves the offspring of the Pellenians from Achæa in Peloponnesus, who had served under Agamemnon before Troy, and who on their return from the siege had been driven on the spot by a storm and there settled. The Pamphylians, on the southern coast of Asia Minor, deduced their origin from the wanderings of Amphilochus and Calchas after the siege of Troy: the inhabitants of the Amphilochian Argos on the Gulf of Ambracia revered the same Amphilochus as their founder. The Orchomenians under Iamenus, on quitting the conquered city, wandered or were driven to the eastern extremity of the Euxine Sea; and the barbarous Achæans under Mount Caucasus were supposed to have derived their first establishment from this source. Meriones, with his Cretan followers, settled at Engyion in Sicily, along with the preceding Cretans who had remained there after the invasion of Minos. The Elymians in Sicily also were composed of Trojans and Greeks separately driven to the spot, who, forgetting their previous differences, united in the joint settlements of Eryx and Egesta. We hear of Podalerius both in Italy and on the coast of Caria; of Acamas, son of Theseus, at Amphipolus in Thrace, at Soli in Cyprus, and at Synnada in Phrygia; of Guneus, Prothous, and Eurypylus, in Crete as well as in Libya. The obscure poem of Lycophron enumerates many of these dispersed and expatriated heroes, whose conquest of Troy was indeed a “Cadmean” victory (according to the proverbial phrase of the Greeks), wherein the sufferings of the victor were little inferior to those of the vanquished. It was particularly among the Italian Greeks, where they were worshipped with very special solemnity, that their presence as wanderers from Troy was reported and believed.
I pass over the numerous other tales which circulated among the ancients, illustrating the ubiquity of the Grecian and Trojan heroes as well as that of the Argonauts — one of the most striking features in the Hellenic legendary world. Among them all, the most interesting, individually, is Odysseus, whose romantic adventures in fabulous places and among fabulous persons have been made familiarly known by Homer. The goddesses Calypso and Circe; the semi-divine mariners of Phæacia, whose ships are endowed with consciousness and obey without a steersman; the one-eyed Cyclopes, the gigantic Læstrygones, and the wind-ruler Æolus; the Sirens, who ensnare by their song, as the Lotophagi fascinate by their food, — all these pictures formed integral and interesting portions of the old epic. Homer leaves Odysseus reëstablished in his house and family. But so marked a personage could never be permitted to remain in the tameness of domestic life; the epic poem called the Telegonia ascribed to him a subsequent series of adventures. Telegonus, his son by Circe, coming to Ithaca in search of his father, ravaged the island and killed Odysseus without knowing who he was. Bitter repentance overtook the son for his undesigned parricide: at his prayer and by the intervention of his mother Circe, both Penelope and Telemachus were made immortal: Telegonus married Penelope, and Telemachus married Circe.
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