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A CAUSE OF WAR
 TIME passed.
Menelaus had returned from Ilios, bringing with him the
bones of his countrymen who had died in that distant
land. The great plague had been stayed, for the anger
of Apollo had been assuaged. And it had seemed for a
time that the old days of peace and plenty had come
again to Lacedæmon, never to depart.
Yet within a few weeks all was changed once more. There
was silence in the golden halls of Menelaus, and guests
sat no longer as of yore around the banquet tables.
Anger and grief and uneasiness were plainly seen in
every face. Men gathered in the streets, and talked in
wild, excited tones about the strange things which had
lately happened in Lacedæmon; and the words
"Helen," and "Paris," and "Troy," and "Ilios" seemed to
be on every tongue, and repeated with every sign of
love and hatred, of admiration and anxiety.
"Our good king, by his visit to Troy, lifted the
scourge of pestilence and famine from our land," said
one of the elders of the city; "but he brought to our
 shores a greater evil,—even Paris, the handsome
prince of Ilios. And now the glory of our country, the
sun which delighted all hearts, the peerless Helen, has
been stolen by the perfidious one, and carried to his
home beyond the sea."
"And do you think there will be war?" asked a
long-haired soldier, toying with the short dagger in
"How can it be otherwise?" answered the elder. "When
Menelaus won peerless Helen for his wife, the noblest
princes of Hellas promised with solemn oaths that they
would aid him against anyone who should try either by
guile or by force to take her from him. Let the word be
carried from city to city, and all Hellas will soon be
in arms. The king, with his brother Agamemnon, has even
now crossed over to Pylos to take counsel with old
Nestor, the wisest of men. When he comes back to
Lacedæmon, you may expect to see the watch-fires
blazing on the mountain-tops."
"No sight would be more welcome," answered the soldier.
"None, indeed, save only the towers and palaces of Troy
in flames!" returned the other earnestly.
Meanwhile, with troubled brow and anxious heart,
Menelaus sat in Nestor's halls, and told the story of
his wrongs. Before him, seated on a fair embroidered
couch, was the aged king, listening with eager ears.
Behind him stood his brother Agamemnon, tall and
strong, and with eye and forehead like mighty Zeus.
 Close by his feet two heroes sat: on this side,
Antilochus, the valiant son of Nestor; and on that,
sage Palamedes, prince of Eubœa's distant shores.
The last had just arrived at Pylos, and had not learned
the errand which had brought the king of
"Tell again the story of your visit to Troy," said
Nestor. "Our guest, good Palamedes, would fain
understand it all; and I doubt not that he may be of
service to your cause."
Then Menelaus began once more at the beginning,—
"There is no need that I should speak of the long
voyage to Ilios, or of the causes which persuaded me to
undertake it. When I drew near the lofty citadels of
Troy, and through the Scæan gates could see the
rows of stately dwellings and Athené's marble
temple, and the busy market-place of that great city, I
stopped there in wonder, fearing to venture farther.
Then I sent a herald to the gates, who should make
known my name and lineage, and the errand upon which I
had come; but I waited without in the shade of a
spreading beech, not far from the towering wall. Before
me stood the mighty city; behind me the fertile plain
sloped gently to the sea; in the distance I could see
the tomb of Ilus and the sparkling waters of Scamander;
while much farther, and on the other side, the wooded
peak of Ida lifted itself toward the clouds. But I had
not long to view this scene; for a noble company of
men led by Paris himself, handsome as
 Apollo, came
out of the gates to welcome me. With words of kind
greeting from the king, they bade me enter within the
walls. They led me through the Scæan gates and
along the well-paved streets, until we came, at last,
to Priam's noble hall. It was a splendid house, with
broad doorways and polished porticos, and marble
columns richly carved. Within were fifty chambers,
joining one another, all walled with polished stone; in
these abode the fifty sons of Priam with their wedded
wives. On the other side, and opening into the court,
were twelve chambers, built for his daughters; while
over all were the sleeping-rooms for that noble
household, and around were galleries and stairways
leading to the king's great hall below.
"King Priam received me kindly, and, when he understood
my errand, left naught undone to help me forward with
my wishes. Ten days I abode as a guest in his halls,
and when I would return to Lacedæmon, he pressed
me to tarry yet a month in Troy. But the winds were
fair, and the oracles promised a pleasant voyage, and I
begged that on the twelfth day he would let me depart.
So he and his sons brought many gifts, rich and
beautiful, and laid them at my feet,—a fair mantle,
and a doublet, and a talent of fine gold, and a sword
with a silver-studded hilt, and a drinking-cup richly
engraved that I might remember them when I pour
libations to the gods.
" 'Take these gifts,' said Priam, 'as tokens of our
friendship for you, and not only for you, but for all
 dwell in distant Hellas. For we too are the
children of the immortals. Our mighty ancestor,
Dardanus, was the son of Zeus. He it was who built
Dardania on the slopes of Ida, where the waters gush in
many silvery streams from underneath the rocky earth.
To Dardanus a son was born named Erichthonius, who, in
his time, was the richest of mortal men. And
Erichthonius was the father of Tros, to whom were born
three noble sons, Ilus, Assaracus, and Ganymedes. The
last was the handsomest of men, and for his beauty's
sake the gods carried him to Ida's sacred summit to be
the cup-bearer of Father Zeus and the companion of the
immortals. Then Ilus had a son, famous in song and
story, named Laomedon, who in his old age became my
father. He, though my sire, did many unwise things, and
brought sore distress upon the people of this land.
" 'One day Apollo and Poseidon came to sacred Troy,
disguised as humble wayfarers seeking some employment.
This they did because so ordered by mighty Zeus.
" ' "What can you do?" asked my father, when the two had
told their wishes.
" 'Poseidon answered, "I am a builder of walls."
" 'And Apollo answered, "I am a shepherd, and a tender
" ' "It is well," answered Laomedon. "The wall-builder
shall build a wall around this Troy so high and strong
that no enemy can pass it. The shepherd shall
 tend my
herds of crook-horned kine in the wooded glens of Ida.
If at the end of a twelvemonth, the wall be built, and
if the cattle thrive without loss of one, then I will
pay you your hire: a talent of gold, two tripods of
silver, rich robes, and armor such as heroes wear."
" 'So the shining archer, and the shaker of the earth,
served my father through the year for the hire which he
had promised. Poseidon built a wall, high and fair,
around the city; and Apollo tended the shambling kine,
and lost not one. But when they claimed their hire,
Laomedon drove them away with threats, telling them
that he would bind their feet and hands together, and
sell them as slaves into some distant land, having
first sheared off their ears with his sharp sword. And
the twain went away with angry hearts, planning in
their minds how they might avenge themselves.
" 'Back to his watery kingdom, and his golden palace
beneath the sea, went great Poseidon. He harnessed his
steeds to his chariot, and rode forth upon the waves.
He loosed the mighty winds from their prison-house, and
sent them raging over the sea. The angry waters rushed
in upon the land; they covered the pastures and the
rich plain of Troy, and threatened even to beat down
the mighty walls which their king had built. Then,
little by little, the flood shrank back again; and the
people went out of the city to see the waste of slime
and black mud which covered their meadows. While they
were gazing upon the scene, a fearful monster,
 sent by
angry Poseidon, came up out of the sea, and fell upon
them, and drove them with hideous slaughter back to the
city gates; neither would he allow any one to come
outside of the walls.
" 'Then my father, in his great distress, clad himself
in mourning, and went in deep humility to the temple of
Athené, where stands the heaven-sent statue
which we call Palladion. In sore distress, he called
unto the goddess, and besought to know the means
whereby the anger of Poseidon might be assuaged. And in
solemn tones a voice came from the moveless lips of the
" ' "Every day one of the maidens of Troy must be fed to
the monster outside of the walls. The shaker of the
earth has spoken. Disobey him not, lest more cruel
punishments befall thee."
" 'Then in every house of Troy there was sore distress
and lamentation, for no one knew upon whom the doom
would soonest fall. And every day a hapless maiden,
young and fair, was chained to the great rock by the
shore, and left there to be the food of the pitiless
monster. And the people cried aloud in their distress,
and cursed the mighty walls and the high towers which
had been reared by the unpaid labors of Poseidon; and
my father sat upon his high seat, and trembled because
of the dire calamities which his own deeds had brought
upon his people.
" 'At last, after many humbler victims had perished, the
lot fell upon the fairest of my sisters, Hesione, my
 father's best-loved daughter. In sorrow we arrayed her
in garments befitting one doomed to an untimely death;
and when we had bidden her a last farewell, we gave her
to the heralds to lead forth to the place of sacrifice.
Just then, however, a noble stranger, taller and more
stately than any man in Troy, came down the street from
the Scæan gate. Fair-haired and blue-eyed,
handsome and strong, he seemed a very god to all who
looked upon him. Over his shoulder he wore the tawny
skin of a mighty lion, while in his hand he carried a
club most wonderful to behold. And the people, as he
passed, prayed him that he would free our city from the
dread monster who was robbing us of our fair loved
" ' "I know that thou art a god!" cried my father, when
he saw the stranger. "I pray thee, save my daughter,
who even now is being led forth to a cruel death!"
" ' "You make mistake," answered the fair stranger. "I am
not one of the gods. My name is Heracles, and like you
I am mortal. Yet I may help you in this your time of
" 'Now, in my father's stables there were twelve fair
steeds, the best that the earth ever knew. So light of
foot were they, that when they bounded over the land,
they might run upon the topmost ears of ripened corn,
and break them not; and when they bounded over the sea,
not even Poseidon's steeds could glide so lightly upon
the crests of the waves. Some say they were the
of Boreas given to my grandfather Tros, by his sire
Erichthonius; others, that they were the price which
Zeus paid for godlike Ganymedes, most beautiful of men.
These steeds, my father promised to give to
Heracles if he would save Hesione.
" 'Then the heralds led my fair sister to the shore, and
chained her to the rock, there to wait for the coming
of the monster. But Heracles stood near her, fearless
in his strength. Soon the waves began to rise; the
waters were disturbed, and the great beast, with hoarse
bellowings, lifted his head above the breakers, and
rushed forward to seize his fair prey. Then the hero
sprang to meet him. With blow upon blow from his mighty
club, he felled the monster; the waters of the sea were
reddened with blood; Hesione was saved, and Troy was
freed from the dreadful curse.
" ' "Behold thy daughter!" said Heracles, leading her
gently back to the Scæan gate, and giving her to
her father. "I have saved her from the jaws of death,
and delivered your country from the dread scourge. Give
me now my hire.'
" 'Shame fills my heart as I tell this story, for
thanklessness was the bane of my father's life.
Ungrateful to the hero who had risked so much and done
so much that our homes and our country might be saved
from ruin, he turned coldly away from Heracles; then he
shut the great gates in his face, and barred him out of
the city, and taunted him from the walls, saying,
owe thee no hire! Begone from our coasts, ere I scourge
" 'Full of wrath, the hero turned away. "I go, but I
will come again," he said.
" 'Then peace and plenty blessed once more the land of
Ilios, and men forgot the perils from which they had
been delivered. But ere long, great Heracles returned,
as he had promised; and with him came a mighty fleet of
white-sailed ships and many warriors. Neither gates
nor strong walls could stand against him. Into the city
he marched, and straight to my father's palace. All
fled before him, and the strongest warriors quailed
beneath his glance. Here, in this very court, he slew
my father and my brothers with his terrible arrows. I
myself would have fallen before his wrath, had not my
sister, fair Hesione, pleaded for my life.
" ' "I spare his life," said Heracles, in answer to her
prayers, "for he is but a lad. Yet he must be my slave
until you have paid a price for him, and thus redeemed
" 'Then Hesione took the golden veil from her head, and
gave it to the hero as my purchase price. And
thenceforward I was called Priam, or the purchased; for
the name which my mother gave me was Podarkes, or the
" 'After this, Heracles and his heroes went on board
their ships and sailed back across the sea, leaving me
alone in my father's halls. For they took fair Hesione
with them, and carried her to Salamis, to be the wife
 of Telamon, the sire of mighty Ajax. There, through
these long years she has lived in sorrow, far removed
from home and friends, and the scenes of her happy
childhood. And now that the hero Telamon, to whom she
was wedded, lives no longer, I ween that her life is
indeed a cheerless one.'
"When Priam had finished his tale, he drew his seat
still nearer mine, and looked into my face with
anxious, beseeching eyes. Then he said, 'I have long
wished to send a ship across the sea to bring my sister
back to Troy. A dark-prowed vessel, built for speed and
safety, lies now at anchor in the harbor, and a picked
crew is ready to embark at any moment. And here is my
son Paris, handsome and brave, who is anxious to make
voyage to Salamis, to seek unhappy Hesione. Yet our
seamen, having never ventured far from home, know
nothing of the dangers of the deep, nor do they feel
sure that they can find their way to Hellas. And so we
have a favor to ask of you; and that is, that when your
ship sails to-morrow, ours may follow in its wake
across the sea.'
"I was glad when Priam spoke these words, for, in
truth, I was loath to part with Paris; and I arranged
at once that he should bear me company in my own swift
ship, while his vessel with its crew followed not far
"And so with favoring winds being blessed, we made
voyage back to Lacedæmon, bringing with us the
bones of my beloved countrymen. What followed
 is too
sad for lengthy mention, and is in part already known
to you. Need I tell you how I opened my halls to Paris,
and left no courtesy undone that I might make him
happy? Need I tell you how he was welcomed by fair
Helen, and how the summer days fled by on golden wings;
and how in the delights of Lacedæmon he forgot
his errand to Salamis, and cared only to remain with
me, my honored guest and trusted friend? One day a
message came to me from my old friend Idomeneus. He had
planned a hunt among the mountains and wooded vales of
Crete, and he invited me to join him in the sport. I
had not seen Idomeneus since the time that we together,
in friendly contention, sought the hand of Helen. I could
not do otherwise than accept his invitation, for he had
sent his own ship to carry me over to Crete. So I bade
farewell to Helen, saying, 'Let not our noble guest
lack entertainment while I am gone; and may the golden
hours glide happily until I come again.' And to Paris I
said, 'Tarry another moon in Lacedæmon; and when
I return from Crete, I will go with you to Salamis, and
aid you in your search for Hesione.' Then I went on
board the waiting ship, and prospering breezes carried
us without delays to Crete.
"Idomeneus received me joyfully, and entertained me
most royally in his palace; and for nine days we
feasted in his halls, and made all things ready for the
hunt. But, lo! on the evening of the last day, a vision
came to me. Gold-winged Iris, the fleet-footed
 the gods, stood before me. 'Hasten back to
Lacedæmon,' she cried, for thou art robbed of thy
dearest treasure!' And even while she spoke, one of my
own ships came sailing into the harbor, bringing
trusted heralds whom the elders of Lacedæmon had
sent to me. They told me the fatal news. 'No sooner
were you well on your way,' they said, 'than Paris
began to put his ship in readiness to depart. Helen
prayed him to tarry until your return, but he would not
hearken. "I will stay no longer," he said. "My seamen
rest upon their oars; the sails of my ship are spread;
the breeze will soon spring up that will carry me to my
own fair home across the sea. But you, beauteous Helen,
shall go with me; for the deathless gods have spoken
it. Aphrodite, long ago, promised that the most
beautiful woman in the world should be my wife. And who
is that most beautiful woman if it is not yourself?
Come! fly over the sea, and be my queen. It is the will
of the gods." '
"It was thus that the perfidious Trojan wrought the
ruin of all that was dear to me. At first, Helen
refused. But Paris is a handsome prince, and day after
day he renewed his suit. Then on the sixth day she
yielded. In the darkness of the night they went on
board his waiting vessel, carrying with them the gold
and jewels of my treasure-house; and in the morning,
when the sun arose on Lacedæmon, they were far
out at sea.
"You know the rest: how in wrath and great sorrow
 I hurried home from Crete; how I first counselled with my
own elders, and then with my brother Agamemnon of
Mycenæ. And now, O noble Nestor, we have come to
Pylos, seeking thy advice. On these two things my mind
is set: Helen must be mine again, and Paris must suffer
the punishment due to traitors."
When Menelaus had ended, sage Nestor answered with many
words of counsel. "Keep the thought of vengeance ever
before you," he said. "Yet act not rashly. The power of
Troy is very great; and, in case of war, all the tribes
of Asia will make common cause with Ilios. But an
insult to Lacedæmon is an insult to all Hellas,
and every loyal Hellene will hasten to avenge it. More
than this, the chiefs of almost every state have
already sworn to aid you. We have but to call upon
them, and remind them of their oaths, and all the
mightiest warriors of our land will take up arms
against the power of Troy."
Then Palamedes spoke in like manner, and his words had
great weight with Menelaus; for among all the heroes
there were few who equalled him in wisdom. He it was
who first built beacon fires on the headlands and
light houses to warn venturous seamen of the hidden
dangers in their way; he it was who first invented
scales for weighing, and who taught men how to measure
grain and wine by certain standards; he it was who
first made dice, and who showed what beauty and mystery
lie hidden in the letters which Cadmus brought
 from Phœnicia to Hellas. And he was wise in
state-craft and the knowledge of human nature.
"Nestor has spoken well," he said, addressing Menelaus,
"and it behooves us to follow his advice. Now do you
and Agamemnon return at once to Argos and
Lacedæmon, and call upon the fighting men along
the eastern coast to join you in the war. In the mean
while, Nestor and myself will do the same, here on the
western coast and among the islands of the sea."
"By the way," said Nestor, "there is Odysseus, king of
Ithaca,—the rarest and bravest of men. Did he but know of
this affair, he would be a host within himself, to lead
us to sure victory."
"That is true," said Palamedes, "and we must seek his
aid first. My ship lies now at anchor, just off the
beach; and if noble Nestor will be my comrade, we will
sail to-morrow to Ithaca, and make sure of his valued
"Most surely I will go with you," said old Nestor. "And
I will never rest nor give up the fight, until Helen is
returned to Menelaus, and Paris has received his due