|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 |
WHAT THETIS DID FOR HER SON
 WHEN the twelve days of feasting were over, Thetis rose out of the sea and
went her way to Olympus. There she found Zeus sitting alone on the highest
peak of the mountain. She knelt down before him, and her left hand she laid
upon his knees, and with her right hand she caught hold of his beard. Then
she made this prayer to him:—
"O father Zeus, if I have ever helped thee at all, now give me what I ask,
namely, that my son Achilles may have honour done to him. Agamemnon has
shamed him, taking away the gift that the Greeks gave him. Do thou,
therefore, make the Trojans prevail for a while in battle, so that the
Greeks may find that they cannot do without him. So shall my son have
For a long time Zeus sat saying nothing, for he knew that great trouble
 out of this thing. But Thetis still held him fast by the knees and by the
beard; and she spoke again, saying: "Promise me this thing, and make your
promise sure by nodding your head; or, else, say outright that you will not do
it. Then I shall know that you despise me."
Zeus answered: "This is a hard thing that you ask. You will make a
dreadful quarrel between me and the Lady Hera, my wife, and she will say
many bitter words to me. Even now she tells me I favour the Trojans too
much. Go, then, as quickly as you can, that she may not know that you have
been here, and I will think how I may best do what you ask. And see, I will
make my promise sure with a nod, for when I nod my head, then the thing may
not be repented of or undone."
So he nodded his head, and all Olympus was shaken.
Then Thetis went away, and dived down into the sea. And Zeus went to his
palace, and when he came in at the door, all the gods rose up in their
places, and stood till he sat down on his throne. But Hera knew that
 Thetis had been with him, and she was very angry, and spoke bitter words:
"Who has been with you, O lover of plots? When I am not here, then you take
pleasure in hiding what you do, and in keeping things from me."
Zeus answered: "O Hera, do not think to know all of my thoughts; that is
too hard for you, even though you are my wife. That which it is right for
you to know, I will tell you before I tell it to any other god; but there are
matters which I keep to myself. Do not seek to know these."
But Hera was even more angry than before. "What say you?" she cried. "I
do not pry into your affairs. Settle them as you will. But this I know,
that Thetis with the silver feet has been with you, and I greatly fear that
she has had her way. At dawn of day I saw her kneeling before you; yes,
and you nodded your head. I am sure that you have promised her that
Achilles should have honour. Ah me! Many of the Greeks will die for this."
Then Zeus answered: "Truly there is nothing that you do not find out, witch
that you are. But, if it be as you say, then know
 that such is my will. Do you sit still and obey. All the gods in Olympus
cannot save you, if once I lay my hands upon you."
Hera sat still and said nothing, for she was very much afraid. Then her
son, the god who made arms and armour and cups and other things out of
silver and gold and copper, said to her: "It would be a great pity if you
and the Father of the gods should quarrel on account of a man. Make peace
with him, and do not make him angry again. It would be a great grief to me
if I were to see you beaten before my eyes; for, indeed, I could not help
you. Once before when I tried to come between him and you, he took me by
the foot and threw me out the door of heaven. All day I fell and at evening
I lighted in the island of Lemnos."
Then he thought how he might turn the thoughts of the company to something
else. There was a very beautiful boy who used to carry the wine round. The
god, who was a cripple, took his place, and mixed the cup, and hobbled round
with it, puffing for breath as he went, and all the gods fell into great
fits of laughter when they saw him.
 So the feast went on, and Apollo and the Muses sang, and no one thought any
more about the quarrel.
But while all the other gods were sleeping, Zeus remained awake, thinking
how he might do what Thetis had asked of him for her son. The best thing
seemed to be to deceive Agamemnon, and make him think that he could take
the city of Troy without the help of Achilles. So he called a Dream, and
said to it: "Go, Dream, to the tent of Agamemnon, and tell him that if he
will lead his army to battle, he will take the city of Troy."
So the Dream went, and it took the shape of Nestor, whom the King thought to
be the wisest of the Greeks, and stood by his bedside and said: "Why do you
waste your time in sleep? Arm the Greeks, and lead them out to battle, for
you will take the city of Troy."
And the King believed that this false dream was true.
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