THE GOLDEN APPLE
 AFTER the evening meal had been eaten and the cave-hall
set in order, the lads brought armloads of dry sticks
and twigs, and threw them upon the fire. And the flame
leaped up, and shone upon all around with a ruddy glow;
and the great cavern was emptied of gloom, and was so
filled with light and warmth that it seemed a fit place
for joy and pleasure. Old Cheiron sat upon his high
couch like a king upon his throne; and the five comely
lads, with Odysseus, sat before him, while Phemius the
bard stood leaning against the wall. After Cheiron had
played a brief melody upon his harp, and the boys had
sung a pleasant song, the wise old master thus began:—
"There is a cavern somewhere on Mount Pelion larger by
far and a thousand times more beautiful than this; but
its doorway is hidden to mortals, and but few men have
ever stood beneath its vaulted roof. In that cavern the
ever-living ones who oversee the affairs of men, once
held high carnival; for they had met there
 at the
marriage-feast of King Peleus, and the woods and rocks
of mighty Pelion echoed with the sound of their
merry making. But wherefore should the marriage-feast
of a mortal be held in such a place and with guests so
noble and so great? I will tell you.
"After Peleus had escaped from the plot which King
Acastus had laid for him, he dwelt long time with me;
for he feared to go down upon the plain lest the men of
Iolcos should seize him by order of Acastus, or the
folk of Phthia should kill him in revenge for old
Eurytion's death. But the days seemed long to him, thus
shut out from fellowship with men, and the sun seemed
to move slowly in the heavens; and often he would walk
around to the other side of the mountain, and sitting
upon a great rock, he would gaze for long hours upon
the purple waters of the sea. One morning as thus he
sat, he saw the sea nymph Thetis come up out of the
waves and walk upon the shore beneath him. Fairer than
a dream was she,—more beautiful than any picture of
nymph or goddess. She was clad in a robe of sea-green
silk, woven by the Naiads in their watery grottos; and
there was a chaplet of pearls upon her head, and
sandals of sparkling silver were upon her feet.
THE SILVER-FOOTED THETIS RISING FROM THE WAVES.
"As Peleus gazed upon this lovely creature, he heard a
voice whispering in his ear. It was the voice of Pallas
" 'Most luckless of mortal men,' she said, 'there is
recompense in store for those who repent of their
 wrong-doing, and who, leaving the paths of error, turn
again to the road of virtue. The immortals have seen
thy sorrow for the evil deeds of thy youth, and they
have looked with pity upon thee in thy misfortunes. And
now thy days of exile and of sore punishment are
drawing to an end. Behold the silver-footed Thetis,
most beautiful of the nymphs of the sea, whom even the
immortals have wooed in vain! She has been sent to this
shore, to be won and wedded by thee.'
"Peleus looked up to see the speaker of these words,
but he beheld only a blue cloud resting above the
mountain-top; he turned his eyes downward again, and,
to his grief, the silver-footed Thetis had vanished in
the waves. All day he sat and waited for her return,
but she came not. When darkness began to fall he sought
me in my cave-hall, and told me what he had seen and
heard; and I taught him how to win the sea-nymph for
"So when the sun again gilded the crags of Pelion,
brave Peleus hid himself among the rocks close by the
sea-washed shore, and waited for the coming of the
silver-footed lady of the sea. In a little time she
rose, beautiful as the star of morning, from the waves.
She sat down upon the beach, and dallied with her
golden tresses, and sang sweet songs of a happy land in
the depths of the sounding sea. Peleus, bearing in mind
what I had taught him, arose from his hiding-place, and
caught the beauteous creature in his arms. In vain did
she struggle to leap into the waves. Seven times
changed her form as he held her: by turns she changed
into a fountain of water, into a cloud of mist, into a
burning flame, and into a senseless rock. But Peleus
held her fast; and she changed then into a tawny lion,
and then into a tall tree, and lastly she took her own
matchless form again.
"And Peleus held the lovely Thetis by the hand, and
they walked long time together upon the beach, while
the birds sang among the leafy trees on Pelion's
slopes, and the dolphins sported in the sparkling
waters at their feet; and Peleus wooed the
silver-footed lady, and won her love, and she promised
to be his bride. Then the immortals were glad; and they
fitted up the great cavern on Mount Pelion for a
banquet hall, and made therein a wedding feast, such as
was never seen before. The vaulted roof of the cavern
was decked with gems which shone like the stars of
heaven; a thousand torches, held by lovely mountain
nymphs, flamed from the niches in the high walls; and
upon the door of polished marble, tables for ten
thousand guests were ranged.
"When the wedding-feast was ready, all those who live
on high Olympus, and all the immortals who dwell upon
the earth, came to rejoice with King Peleus and his
matchless bride; and they brought rich presents for the
bridegroom, such as were never given to another man.
They gave him a suit of armor, rich and fair, a wonder
to behold, which lame Hephaestus with rare skill had
wrought and fashioned. Poseidon bestowed on him the
deathless horses, Balios and Xanthos, and a
 deftly-wrought chariot with trimmings of gold. And I,
one of the least of the guests, gave him an ashen spear
which I had cut on Pelion's top, and fashioned with my
"At the table sat Zeus, the father of gods and men; and
his wife, the white-armed Here; and smile-loving
Aphrodite; and gray-eyed Pallas Athené; and all
the wisest and the fairest of the immortals. The
Nereides, nymphs of the sea, danced in honor of Thetis
their sister; and the Muses sang their sweetest songs;
and silver-bowed Apollo played upon the lyre. The
Fates, too, were there: sad Clotho, twirling her
spindle; unloving Lachesis, with wrinkled lips ready to
speak the fatal word; and pitiless Atropos, holding in
her hand the unsparing shears. And around the table
passed the youthful and joy-giving Hebe, pouring out
rich draughts of nectar for the guests.
"Yet there was one among all the immortals who had not
been invited to the wedding; it was Eris, the daughter
of War and Hate. Her scowling features, and her hot and
hasty manners, were ill-suited to grace a feast where
all should be mirth and gladness; yet in her evil heart
she planned to be avenged for the slight which had been
put upon her. While the merry-making was at its height,
and the company were listening to the music from
Apollo's lyre, she came unseen into the hall, and threw
a golden apple upon the table. No one knew whence the
apple came; but on it were written these words,
'FOR THE FAIREST.'
 " 'To whom does it belong?' asked Zeus, stroking his
brows in sad perplexity.
"The music ceased, and mirth and jollity fled at from
the banquet. The torches, which lit up the scene,
flickered and smoked; the lustre of the gems in the
vaulted roof was dimmed; dark clouds canopied the great
hall: for Discord had taken her place at the table,
uninvited and unwelcome though she was.
" 'The apple belongs to me,' said Here, trying to snatch
it; 'for I am the queen, and gods and men honor me as
having no peer on earth.'
" 'Not so!' cried white-armed Aphrodite. 'With me dwell
Love and Joy; and not only do gods and men sing my
praises, but all nature rejoices in my presence. The
apple is mine, and I will have it!'
"Then Athené joined in the quarrel. 'What is it
to be a queen,' said she, 'if at the same time one
lacks that good temper which sweetens life? What is it
to have a handsome form and face, while the mind is
uncouth and ill-looking? Beauty of mind is better than
beauty of face; for the former is immortal, while the
latter fades and dies. Hence no one has a better right
than I to be called the fairest.'
"Then the strife spread among the guests in the hall,
each taking sides with the goddess that he loved best;
and, where peace and merriment had reigned, now hot
words and bitter wrangling were heard. And had not Zeus
bidden them keep silence, thus putting an end to the
quarrel, all Pelion would have been rent, and the
shaken to its centre by the mêlée that
would have followed.
" 'Let us waste no words over this matter,' he said. 'It
is not for the immortals to say who of their number is
most beautiful. But on the slopes of Mount Ida, far
across the sea, the fairest of the sons of men—Paris,
the son of Trojan Priam—keeps his flocks; let him
judge who is fairest, and let the apple be hers to whom
he gives it.'
"Then Hermes, the swift-footed messenger, arose, and
led the three goddesses over sea and land to distant
Ida, where Paris, with no thought of the wonderful life
which lay before him, piped on his shepherd's reeds,
and tended his flock of sheep."
Here Cheiron paused in his story; and the five lads,
who had heard it oftentimes before, bade him a kind
good-night, and withdrew into an inner chamber to pass
the hours in sleep. When more wood had been thrown upon
the fire, and the flames leaped up high and bright
towards the roof of the cave, Odysseus and Phemius sat
down again before the wise old master, and asked him to
finish the tale which he had begun.
"But first tell us," said Odysseus, "about that Paris,
who was to award the golden apple to the one whom he
should deem the fairest."
Then Cheiron smiled, and went on thus with his story:—
 "On the other side of the sea there stands a city, rich
and mighty, the like of which there is none in Hellas.
There an old man, named Priam, rules over a happy and
peace-loving people. He dwells in a great palace of
polished marble, on a hill overlooking the plain; and
his granaries are stored with corn, and his flocks and
herds are pastured on the hills and mountain slopes
behind the city. Many sons has King Priam; and they are
brave and noble youths, well worthy of such a father.
The eldest of these sons is Hector, who, the Trojans
hope, will live to bring great honor to his native
land. Just before the second son was born, a strange
thing troubled the family of old Priam. The queen had
dreamed that her babe had turned into a firebrand,
which burned up the walls and the high towers of Troy,
and left but smouldering ashes where once the proud
city stood. She told the king her dream; and when the
child was born, they called a soothsayer, who could
foresee the mysteries of the future, and they asked him
what the vision meant.
" 'It means,' said he, 'that this babe, if he lives,
shall be a firebrand in Troy, and shall turn its walls
and its high towers into heaps of smouldering ashes.'
" 'But what shall be done with the child, that he may
not do this terrible thing?" asked Priam, greatly
sorrowing, for the babe was very beautiful.
" 'Do not suffer that he shall live,' answered the
"But Priam, the gentlest and most kind-hearted of
could not bear to harm the babe. So he called
Archelaus, his master shepherd, and bade him take the
helpless child into the thick woods, which grow high up
on the slopes of Ida, and there to leave him alone. The
wild beasts that roam among those woods, he thought,
would doubtless find him, or, in any case, he could not
live long without care and nourishment; and thus the
dangerous brand would be quenched while yet it was
scarcely a spark.
"The shepherd did as he was bidden, although it cost
his heart many a sharp pang thus to deal barbarously
with the innocent. He laid the smiling infant, wrapped
in its broidered tunic, close by the foot of an oak,
and then hurried away that he might not hear its cries.
But the Dryads, who haunt the woods and groves, saw the
babe, and pitied its helplessness, and cared for it so
that it did not die. Some brought it yellow honey from
the stores of the wild bees; some fed it with milk from
the white goats that pastured on the mountain side; and
others stood as sentinels around it, guarding it from
the wolves and bears. Thus five days passed, and
Archelaus the shepherd, who could not forget the babe,
came cautiously to the spot to see if, mayhap, even its
broidered cloak had been spared by the beasts.
Sorrowful and shuddering he glanced toward the foot of
the tree. To his surprise, the babe was still there; it
looked up and smiled, and stretched its fat hands
toward him. The shepherd's heart would not let him turn
away the second time. He took
 the child in his arms,
and carried it to his own humble home in the valley,
where he cared for it and brought it up as his own son.
"The boy grew to be very tall and very handsome; and he
was so brave, and so helpful to the shepherds around
Mount Ida, that they called him Alexandros, or the
helper of men; but his foster-father named him Paris.
And as he tended his sheep in the mountain dells, he
met Œnone, the fairest of the river-maidens,
guileless and pure as the waters of the stream by whose
banks she loved to wander. Day after day he sat with
her in the shadow of her woodland home, and talked of
innocence and beauty, and of a life of sweet
contentment, and of love; and the maiden listened to
him with wide-open eyes and a heart full of
trustfulness and faith. Then, by and by, Paris and
Œnone were wedded; and their little cottage in
the mountain glen was the fairest and happiest spot in
Ilios. The days sped swiftly by, and neither of them
dreamed that any sorrow was in store for them; and to
Œnone her shepherd-husband was all the world,
because he was so noble and brave and handsome and
"One warm summer afternoon, Paris sat in the shade of a
tree at the foot of Mount Ida, while his flocks were
pasturing upon the hillside before him. The bees were
humming lazily among the flowers; the cicadas were
chirping among the leaves above his head; and now and
then a bird twittered softly among the bushes behind
him. All else was still, as if enjoying to the
 full the
delicious calm of that pleasant day. Paris was
fashioning a slender reed into a shepherd's flute;
while Œnone, sitting in the deeper shadows of
some clustering vines, was busy with some simple piece
of needlework. A sound as of sweet music caused the
young shepherd to raise his eyes. Before him stood the
four immortals, Here, Athené, Aphrodite, and
Hermes the messenger; their faces shone with a dazzling
radiance, and they were fairer than any tongue can
describe. At their feet rare flowers sprang up,
crocuses and asphodels and white lilies; and the air
was filled with the odor of orange blossoms. Paris,
scarce knowing what he did, arose to greet them. No
handsomer youth ever stood in the presence of beauty.
Straight as a mountain pine was he; a leopard skin hung
carelessly upon his shoulders; his head was bare, but
his locks clustered round his temples in sunny curls,
and formed fit framework for his fair brows.
"Then Hermes spoke first: 'Paris, we have come to seek
thy help; there is strife among the folk who dwell on
Mount Olympus. Here are Here, Athené, and
Aphrodite, each claiming to be the fairest, and each
clamoring for this prize, this golden apple. Now we
pray that you will judge this matter, and give the
apple to the one whom you may deem most beautiful.'
"Then Here began her plea at once: 'I know that I am
the fairest,' she said, 'for I am queen, and mine it is
to rule among gods and men. Give me the prize, and you
shall have wealth, and a kingdom, and
 great glory; and
men in after-times shall sing your praises.'
"And Paris was half tempted to give the apple, without
further ado, to Here the proud queen. But gray-eyed
Athené spoke: 'There is that, fair youth, which
is better than riches or honor or great glory. Listen
to me, and I will give thee wisdom and a pure heart;
and thy life shall be crowned with peace, and sweetened
with love, and made strong by knowledge. And though men
may not sing of thee in after-times, thou shalt find
lasting happiness in the answer of a good conscience
towards all things.'
"Then Œnone whispered from her place among the
leaves, 'Give the prize to Athené; she is the
fairest.' And Paris would have placed the golden apple
in her hand, had not Aphrodite stepped quickly forward,
and in the sweetest, merriest tones, addressed him.
" 'You may look at my face, and judge for yourself as to
whether I am fair,' said she, laughing, and tossing her
curls. 'All I shall say is this: Give me the prize, and
you shall have for your wife the most beautiful woman
in the world.'
"The heart of Œnone stood still as Paris placed
the apple in Aphrodite's hand; and a nameless dread
came over her, as if the earth were sinking beneath her
feet. But the next moment the blood came back to her
cheeks, and she breathed free and strong again; for she
heard Paris say, 'I have a wife, Œnone, who to me
is the loveliest of mortals, and I care not for your
 I give to you the apple, for I know that you
are the fairest among the deathless ones who live on
"On the very next day it happened that King Priam sat
thoughtfully in his palace, and all his boys and girls—nearly
fifty in number—were about him. His mind
turned sadly to the little babe whom he had sent away,
many years ago, to die alone on wooded Ida. And he said
to himself, 'The child has been long dead, and yet no
feast has been given to the gods that they may make his
little spirit glad in the shadowy land of Hades. This
must not be neglected longer. Within three days a feast
must be made, and we will hold games in his honor.'
"Then he called his servants, and bade them go to the
pastures on Mount Ida, and choose from the herds
that were there the fattest and handsomest bull, to be
given as a prize to the winner in the games. And he
proclaimed through all Ilios, that on the third day
there would be a great feast in Troy, and games would
be held in honor of the little babe who had died twenty
years before. Now, when the servants came to Mount Ida,
they chose a bull for which Paris had long cared, and
which he loved more than any other. And he would not
let the beast be driven from the pasture until it was
agreed that he might go to the city with it and contend
in the games for the prize. But Œnone, the
river-nymph, wept and prayed him not to go.
 " 'Leave not the pleasant pasture lands of Ida, even for
a day,' said she; 'for my heart tells me that you will
" 'Think not so, my fair one,' said Paris. 'Did not
Aphrodite promise that the most beautiful woman in the
world shall be my wife? And who is more beautiful than
my own Œnone? Dry now your tears; for when I have
won the prizes in the games I will come back to you,
and never leave you again.'
"Then the grief of Œnone waxed still greater. 'If
you will go,' she cried, 'then hear my warning! Long
years shall pass ere you shall come again to wooded
Ida, and the hearts which now are young shall grow old
and feeble by reason of much sorrow. Cruel war and many
dire disasters shall overtake you, and death shall be
nigh unto you; and then Œnone, although long
forgotten by you, will hasten to your side, to help and
to heal and to forgive, that so the old love may live
"But Paris kissed his wife, and hastened, light of
heart, to Troy. How could it be otherwise but that, in
the games which followed, the handsome young shepherd
should carry off all the prizes?
" 'Who are you?' asked the king.
" 'My name is Paris,' answered the shepherd, 'and I feed
the flocks and herds on wooded Ida.'
"Then Hector, full of wrath because of his own failure
to win a prize, came forward to dispute with Paris.
" 'Stand there, Hector,' cried old Priam; 'stand
to the young shepherd, and let us look at you!' Then
turning to the queen, he asked, 'Did you ever see two
so nearly alike? The shepherd is fairer and of slighter
build, it is true; but they have the same eye, the same
frown, the same smile, the same motion of the
shoulders, the same walk. Ah, what if the young babe
did not die after all?'
"Then Priam's daughter Cassandra, who has the gift of
prophecy, cried out, 'Oh, blind of eye and heart, that
you cannot see in this young shepherd the child whom
you sent to sleep the sleep of death on Ida's wooded
"And so it came about, that Paris was taken into his
father's house, and given the place of honor which was
his by right. And he forgot Œnone his fair young
wife, and left her to pine in loneliness among the
woods and in the narrow dells of sunny Ida."
By this time the fire had burned low upon the hearth,
and Cheiron the master would fain have ended his talk.
But Odysseus was anxious to hear more.
"To-morrow," said he, "we must go back to Iolcos, for
perchance the ships of Peleus may then be ready to
sail. So tell us, I pray you, yet more about that
strange wedding feast in the cavern halls of Pelion."
"There is little more to tell," said the master. "After
the feast, King Peleus went down with his bride into
Phthia; and there his Myrmidons, who had
 waited so long
for his coming, rallied around him, ready to help him
in any undertaking. And they marched upon Iolcos, and
entered the gates, carrying all before them; and they
slew King Acastus, and set Peleus on his throne. Thus
ended this hero's days of exile; and now for seven
years he has ruled Iolcos and Phthia both wisely and
well; yet, though you have found him at this season of
the year in Iolcos, he loves best his old home of
Phthia, where dwell his Myrmidons."
"Please tell me about his son, fair young Achilles,
who is here in your hall," said Odysseus.
Cheiron answered briefly by telling how the young
lad's mother, the sea nymph Thetis, had longed to make
her son immortal; and how it was said that she each
night threw him into the fire to purge away whatever
mortal stains might cling to him; and how each day she
anointed him with ambrosia, and sang him to sleep with
sweet lullabies of the sea.
"But one night," added Cheiron, "King Peleus happened
to see the babe lying in the fire; and in his fright he
cried out, and snatched him from the coals. Then Thetis
sorrowfully gave up her plan; and the boy was sent to
me, that I might train him in all that goes to the
making of a man. There are those who say that I feed
the lad on the hearts of lions, and the marrow of bears
and wild boars; and those may believe the story who
wish to do so. But I have lived long enough to know
that there are other and better
 ways of training up
heroes, and fitting them for the strife of battle."
And thus the long talk with Cheiron, the wise master,
ended; and Odysseus retired to his couch, and was soon
dreaming of far-away Ithaca and of his anxious mother,
who was even then hoping for his return.
The next morning the lad and his tutor went down the
mountain; and, following the pathway which Jason had
taken when he went to claim his birthright of Pelias,
they came, in good time, back to Iolcos by the sea.
There they found that a ship was just making ready to
sail for Corinth; and bidding a hasty farewell to King
Peleus, and to bold Echion, who still tarried there,
they embarked, and were soon well on their way. The
voyage was a long and hard one; but kind Athené
favored them, and Poseidon gave them smooth waters and
many pleasant days upon the sea. Nor were they delayed
at Corinth; for they found waiting there a ship, which
Laertes had sent out on purpose to meet them and bring
them home. And so, before the autumn had closed,
Odysseus, much wiser and stronger than he was when he
departed, gazed with glad eyes once more upon the
shores of sea-girt Ithaca.