|A Story of the Golden Age of Greek Heroes|
|by James Baldwin|
|This book paves the way to an enjoyable reading of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, by presenting the legends about the causes of the Trojan War woven into a continuous narrative, ending where the story of the Iliad begins. The youthful Odysseus is the hero, as he journeys to visit his grandfather Autolycus, then Nestor and Menelaus, hearing the old stories as he goes. Ages 8-12 |
NOTE 1.—ODYSSEUS AND HIS NURSE. Page 12.
 IN the Odyssey, Book I., lines 425-444, a similar incident is
related concerning Telemachus and Euryclcia. Many of the illustrations
of life and manners given in this volume have been taken,
with slight changes, from Homer.
It has not been thought necessary to make distinct
mention of such passages. The student of
Homer will readily recognize them.
NOTE 2.—APOLLO AND THE PYTHON. Page 43.
Readers of the "Story of Siegfried" cannot fail to notice the
resemblance of the legends relating to that hero, to some of
the myths of Apollo. Siegfried, like Apollo, was the bright being
whose presence dispelled the mists and the gloom of darkness.
He dwelt for a time in a mysterious but blessed region far to the
north. He was beneficent and kind to his friends, terrible to his
foes. Apollo's favorite weapons were his silver bow and silent
arrows; Siegfried's main dependence was in his sun-bright armor
and his wonderful sword Balmung. Apollo slew the Python, and
left it lying to enrich the earth; Siegfried slew Fafnir the dragon,
and seized its treasures for his own.—See
The Story of Siegfried.
NOTE 3.—SISYPHUS. Page 50.
"Yea, and I beheld Sisyphus in strong torment, grasping a
monstrous stone with both his hands. He was pressing thereat
 with hands and feet, and trying to roll the stone upward toward the
brow of the hill. But oft as he was about to hurl it over the top,
the weight would drive him back: so once again to the plain rolled
the stone, the shameless thing. And he once more kept heaving
and straining; and the sweat the while was pouring down his
limbs, and the dust rose upwards from his head."—Homer's
Odyssey, XI. 595.
NOTE 4.—A SON OF HERMES. Page 50.
Autolycus was said to have been a son of Hermes, doubtless on
account of his shrewdness and his reputation for thievery. Hermes
is sometimes spoken of as the god of thieves.
NOTE 5.—THE CHOICE OF HERACLES. Page 61.
This moral lesson is, of course, of much later date than that of
our story. It Is the invention of the Greek sophist Prodicus, who
was a contemporary of Socrates.
NOTE 6.—MELEAGER. Page 68.
Readers of the
"The Story of Roland"
will readily recognize several
points of resemblance between the legend of Meleager's childhood
and the story of Ogier the Dane. It is, indeed, probable that very
much of the latter is simply a mediæval adaptation of the
former.—See also the account of the three Norns in
The Story of Siegfried.
NOTE 7.—THE DEATH OF ASCLEPIUS. Page 91.
The story of Balder, as related in the Norse mythology, has
many points of resemblance to that of Asclepius. Balder, although
a being of a higher grade than Asclepius, was the friend and
benefactor of mankind. He was slain through the jealousy of the evil
one: his death was bewailed by all living beings, birds, beasts,
trees, and plants.—See
The Story of Siegfried.
NOTE 8.—PARIS AND OENONE. Page 109.
A very beautiful version of this story is to be found in Tennyson's
poem entitled "Œnone." It will well repay reading.
NOTE 9.—THE SWINEHERD'S STORY. Page 119.
This story was afterwards related to Odysseus under very
different circumstances. The curious reader is referred to the
Odyssey, Book XV., 390-485.
NOTE 10.—PRAYERS. Page 129.
"The gods themselves are placable, though far
Above us all in honor and in power
And virtue. We propiate them with vows,
Incenses, libations, and burnt-offerings,
And prayers for those who have offended. Prayers
Are daughters of almighty Jupiter,—
Lame, wrinkled, and squint-eyed,—that painfully
Follow Misfortune's steps; but strong of limb
And swift of foot Misfortune is, and, far
Outstripping all, comes first to every land,
And there wreaks evil on mankind, which Prayers
Do afterwards redress. Whoe'er receives
Jove's daughters reverently when they approach,
Him willingly they aid, and to his suit
They listen. Whosoever puts them by
With obstinate denial, they appeal
To Jove, the son of Saturn, and entreat
That he will cause Misfortune to attend
The offender's way in life, that he in turn
May suffer evil, and be punished thus."
The Iliad (Bryant's Translation), IX. 618-636.
A sacrifice to Poseidon similar to that described here is spoken
of in the Odyssey, III. 30-60.
NOTE 11.—THE LABORS OF HERCULES. Page 140.
It seems to have been one of the unexplainable decrees of fate,
that Heracles should serve Eurysthcus twelve years, and that at
his bidding he should perform the most difficult undertakings.
The account of the twelve labors of Heracles, undertaken by
command of his master, belongs to a later age than that of Homer.
The twelve labors were as follows:—
- The fight with the Nemean lion.
- The fight with the Lernæan hydra.
- Capture of the Arcadian stag.
- Destruction of the Erymanthian boar.
- Cleansing the stables of Augeas.
- Putting to flight the Harpies, or Stymphalian birds.
- Capture of the Cretan bull.
- Capture of the mares of Thracian Diomede.
- Seizure of the girdle of the queen of the Amazons.
- Capture of the oxen of Geryones.
- Fetching the golden apples of the Hesperides.
- Bringing Cerbcrus from the lower world.
NOTE 12. Page 151.
The description of the palace of Tyndareus given here has
many points of resemblance to the description of the palace of
Alcinous.—See Odyssey, VII. 85.
NOTE 13.—THE VENGEANCE OF ODYSSEUS. Page 221.
Palamedes, according to the ancient story, went to Troy with
the heroes, where he distinguished himself by his wisdom and
courage. But Odysseus, who could never forgive him, caused a
captive Phrygian to write to Palamedes a letter in the name of
Priam, and bribed a servant of Palamedes to conceal the letter
under his master's bed. He then accused Palamedes of treachery.
 Upon searching the tent, the letter was found, and Palamedes was
stoned to death. When Palamedes was led to death, he exclaimed,
"Truth, I lament thee, for thou hast died even before me!" There
are other stories as to the manner of the death of Palamedes. Some
say that Odysseus and Diomede induced him to descend into a
well, where they pretended they had discovered a treasure; and
when he was below, they cast stones upon him, and killed him.
Others state that he was drowned by them while fishing; and others
that he was killed by Paris with an arrow.—See Smith's
NOTE 14.—THE GARDEN OF LYCOMEDES. Page 230.
The curious reader may find in the description of the garden
of Alcinous (Odyssey, VII. 85, et seq.) some resemblance to the
description here given of the garden of Lycomedes.
NOTE 15.—THE CASKETS OF ZEUS. Page 233.
"Beside Jove's threshold stand
Two casks of gifts for man. One cask contains
The evil, one the good; and he to whom
The Thunderer gives them mingled sometimes falls
Into misfortune, and is sometimes crowned
With blessings. But the man to whom he gives
The evil only stands a mark exposed
To wrong, and, chased by grim calamity,
Wanders the teeming earth, alike unloved
by gods and men."
The Iliad, XXIV, 663-672.
NOTE 16.—DEATH OF AJAX. Page 258.
"The soul of Ajax, son of Telamon, alone stood apart, being
still angry for the victory wherein I prevailed against him, in the
suit by the ships concerning the arms of Achilles that his lady
mother had set for a prize; and the sons of the Trojans made
award and Pallas Athené. Would that I had never prevailed
and won such a prize!"—Odyssey, XI. 544-548.
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