|The Iliad for Boys and Girls|
|by Alfred J. Church|
|Vigorous retelling of Homer's Iliad, relating the incidents of the great siege of Troy, from the quarrel of the chiefs to the ransoming of Hector's body. Ages 8-12 |
THE DUEL OF PARIS AND MENELAUS
 ON the day after the False Dream had come
to him Agamemnon called all his
army to go out to battle. All the
chiefs were glad to fight, for they
thought that at last the long war was
coming to an end. Only Achilles and
his people stopped behind. And the
Trojans, on the other hand, set their
army in order.
Before they began to fight, Paris, who
had been the cause of all the
trouble, came out in front of the line.
He had a panther's skin over his
shoulders, and a bow and a quiver slung
upon his back, for he was a great
archer; by his side there hung a sword,
and in each hand he carried a
spear. He cried aloud to the Greeks:
"Send out the strongest and the
bravest man you have to fight with me."
When King Menelaüs heard
this, he said to himself: "Now this is
my enemy; I will
 fight with him, and no one else." So he
jumped down from his chariot, and
ran out in front of the line of Greeks.
But when Paris saw him he was very
much afraid, and turned his back and ran
behind the line of the Trojans.
Now the best and bravest of the Trojans
was a certain Hector. He was one of
the sons of King Priam; if it had not
been for him the city would have been
taken long before. When he saw Paris
run away he was very angry, and said:
"O Paris, you are good to look at, but
you are worth nothing. And the
Greeks think that you are the bravest
man we have! You were brave enough to
go across the sea and steal the Fair
Helen from her husband, and now when he
comes to fight with you, you run away.
The Trojans ought to have stoned you
to death long ago."
Paris answered: "You speak the truth
great Hector; I am, indeed, greatly to
be blamed. As for you, you care for
nothing but battles, and your heart is
made of iron. But now listen to me:
set Menelaüs and me to fight, man
to man, and let him that
 conquers have the Fair Helen and all her
possessions. If he kills me, let
him take her and depart; but if I kill
him, then she shall stay here. So,
whatever may happen, you will dwell in
Hector was very glad to hear his brother
Paris speak in this way. And he
went along the line of the Trojans,
holding his spear in the middle. This
he did to show that he was not meaning
to fight, and to keep his men in
their places that they should not begin
the battle. At first the Greeks
made ready spears and stones to throw at
him, but Agamemnon cried out:
"Hold your hands; great Hector has
something to say."
Then every one stood still and listened.
And Hector said: "Hear, Trojans
and Greeks, what Paris says, Paris, who
is the cause of this quarrel between
us. 'Let Menelaüs and me fight
together. Every one else, whether he
is Greek or Trojan, shall lay his arms
upon the ground, and look on while we
two fight together. For the Fair Helen
and her riches we will fight, and
the rest will cease from war and be good
friends for ever.' "
When Hector had spoken, King
 stood up and said: "Listen to me, for
this is my affair. It is well that
the Greeks and Trojans should be at
peace, for there is no quarrel between
them. Let me and Paris fight together,
and let him of us two be slain whose
fate it is to die. And now let us make
a sacrifice to the gods, and swear a
great oath over it that we will keep our
agreement. Only let King Priam
himself come and offer the sacrifice and
take the oath, for he is more to be
trusted than the young men his sons."
So spoke Menelaüs; and both the
armies were glad, for they were tired
of the war.
Then Hector sent a messenger to Troy to
fetch King Priam, and to bring sheep
for the sacrifice. And when the herald
was on his way, one of the gods put
it into the heart of the Fair Helen as
she sat in her hall to go out to the
wall and see the army of the Greeks. So
she went, leaving the needlework
with which she was busy, a great piece
of embroidery, on which the battles
between the Greeks and the Trojans were
Now King Priam sat on the wall, and with
him were the other princes of the
city, old men who could no longer fight,
 take counsel and make beautiful
speeches. They saw the Fair Helen as
came, and one of them said to another:
"See how beautiful she is! And yet
it would be better that she should go
back to her own country, than that she
should stop here and bring a curse upon
us and our children."
But Priam called to her and said: "Come
hither, my daughter, and see your
friends and kinsmen in yonder army, and
tell us about them. Who is that
warrior there, so fair and strong?
There are others who are even a head
taller than he is, but there is no one
who is so like a king."
"That," said Helen, "is Agamemnon, a
brave soldier and a wise king, and my
brother-in-law in the old days."
And King Priam cried: "Happy Agamemnon,
to rule over so many brave men as I
see in yonder army! But tell me who is
that warrior there, who is walking
through the ranks of his men, and making
them stand in good order? He is
not so tall as Agamemnon, but he is
broader in the shoulders."
"That," said Helen, "is Ulysses of
 who is wiser than all other men, and
gives better advice."
"You speak truly, fair lady," said one
of the old men, Antenor by name.
"Well do I remember Ulysses when he came
with Menelaüs on an embassy.
They were guests in my house, and I knew
them well. And when there was an
assembly of the Trojans to hear them
speak on the business for which they
came, I remember how they looked. When
they were standing, Menelaüs
was the taller; but when they sat down,
then Ulysses was the nobler of the
two to look at. And when they spoke,
Menelaüs said but a few words,
and said them wisely and well; and
Ulysses—at first you might have
taken him to be a fool, so stiffly did
he hold his staff, and so awkward did
he seem, with his eyes cast down upon
the ground; but when he began to
speak, how grand was his voice and how
his words poured out, thick as the
falling snow! There never was a speaker
such as he, and we thought no more
about his looks."
Then King Priam asked again: "Who is
that mighty hero, so big and strong,
taller than all the rest by his head and
 "That," said Helen, "is Ajax, a tower of
strength to the Greeks. And other
chiefs I see whom I know and could name.
But my own dear brothers, Castor,
tamer of horses, and Pollux, the mighty
boxer, I see not. Is it that they
are ashamed to come on account of me?"
So she spoke, not knowing that they were
And now came the messenger to tell King
Priam that the armies wanted him.
So he went and Antenor with him, and
they took the sheep for sacrifice.
Then King Priam, on behalf of the
Trojans, and King Agamemnon, on behalf
the Greeks, offered sacrifice, and made
an agreement, confirming it with an
oath, that Menelaüs and Paris
should fight together, and that Fair
Helen with her treasure should belong to
him who should prevail.
When this was done, King Priam said: "I
will go back to Troy, for I could
not bear to see my dear son fighting
with Menelaüs." So he climbed
into the chariot, and Antenor took the
reins and they went back to Troy.
Then Hector for the Trojans, and Ulysses
for the Greeks, marked out a space
 fight, and Hector put two pebbles into a
helmet, one for Paris and one for
Menelaüs. These he shook, looking
away as he did so, for it was agreed
that the man whose pebble should first
fly out of the helmet, should be the
first to cast his spear at the other.
And this might be much to his gain,
for the spear, being well thrown, might
kill his adversary or wound him to
death, and he himself would not come into
danger. And it so happened that the
pebble of Paris first flew out. Then
the two warriors armed themselves, and
came into the space that had been marked
out, and stood facing each other.
Very fierce were their eyes, so that it
could be seen how they hated each other.
First Paris threw his spear. It hit the
shield of Menelaüs, but did
not pierce it, for the point was bent
back. Then Menelaüs threw his
spear; but first he prayed: "Grant,
Father Zeus, that I may have vengeance
on Paris, who has done me this great
wrong!" And the spear went right
through the shield, and through the armour
that Paris wore upon his body, and
through the tunic that was under the
armour. But Paris shrank away, so that
the spear did not wound him.
 Then Menelaüs drew his sword, and
struck the helmet of Paris on the top
with a great blow, but the sword was
broken into four pieces. Then he
rushed upon Paris and caught him by the
helmet, and dragged him towards the
army of the Greeks; neither could Paris
help himself, for the strap of the
helmet choked him. Then, indeed, would
Paris have been taken prisoner and
killed, but that the goddess
Aphrodité helped him, for he was
favourite. She loosed the strap under
his chin, and the helmet came off in
the hand of Menelaüs. The King
threw it among the Greeks, and, taking
another spear in his hand, ran furiously
at Paris. But the goddess covered
him with a mist, and so snatched him
away, and set him down in his own house
at Troy. Everywhere did Menelaüs
look for him, but he could not
find him. It was no one of the
Trojans that hid him, for they all hated
him as death.
Then said King Agamemnon in a loud
voice: "Now must you Trojans keep the
covenant that you have made with an
oath. You must give back the Fair Helen
and her treasures, and we will take her
and leave you in peace."
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