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THE MUSTER OF THE TROOPS
 WHEN the neighboring kings and chiefs received
Menelaus' message, they were delighted; for fighting
was their only occupation, and they enjoyed the din of
battle more than anything else. They began to collect
their soldiers, polish their arms, and man their
vessels. Then, inviting all who wished to join them,
they started out for Aulis, where they formed a huge
Each of the parties was led by its own king or chief.
Some of these chiefs were very brave, and their names
are still well known. The leading ones among them were
Nestor, the wisest man of his day, to whom every one
came for good advice; and Ulysses, the crafty or sly
king, who was so clever he could easily outwit all men.
There were also Ajax, the strongest man of his time;
Thersander, the new king of Thebes, who came with the
Epigoni; and Agamemnon, King of Mycenæ, Menelaus'
brother, who was chosen chief of the whole army.
The Greeks never began any undertaking without
consulting the oracles to find out how it would end.
Agamemnon, therefore, consulted one of these
soothsayers, who said that Troy would never be taken
unless Achilles fought with the Greeks.
When they heard this answer, the chiefs immediately
asked who Achilles was, and they soon learned all about
him. He was a young prince of whom it had been foretold
at the time of his birth that he would be the greatest
warrior of his age, and that he would die young. His
 mother, who loved him dearly, shed many tears when she
heard these words, and made up her mind to do all she
could to prevent this prophecy from coming true.
She first carried Achilles, when but a baby, to the
river Styx, for it was said that those who bathed in
its waters could never be wounded.
Afraid to let go of her child for fear he might drown,
but anxious to make sure that the waters should touch
every part of him, the mother plunged him into the
rushing tide, holding him fast by one heel.
This she held so tight that the waters never even wet
it; and it was only long after, when too late to remedy
it, that an oracle told her that Achilles could be
wounded in his heel, which the waters of the Styx had
not touched. As soon as this good mother heard the
first news of the coming war, her heart was troubled;
for she knew that Achilles, who was now a young man,
would want to join the army, and she was afraid of
To prevent his hearing anything about the war, she
persuaded him to visit the King of Scyros. There, under
pretext of a joke, he was induced to put on girl's
clothes, and to pretend that he was a woman.
The Greeks, after hearing the oracle's words, sent
messengers for Achilles; but they could not find him,
as he had left home, and no one would tell them where
he had gone. As it was of no use to set out without
him, according to the oracle's answer, which they
thoroughly believed, the army lingered at Aulis in
Ulysses, seeing that they would never start unless
Achilles were found, now offered to go and get him.
 Disguised as a peddler, with a pack on his back, he
went first to Achilles' home, where the chattering
maids told him all he wished to know, and thence he
went to the Island of Scyros.
Achilles was so well disguised that Ulysses could not
tell him from the king's daughters and their maids: so
he made use of a trick to find him out. Among the
trinkets in his pack, he put a sword of fine
workmanship, and, entering the palace, spread out his
wares before the admiring maids. They all gathered
about him; but, while the real girls went into raptures
over his ornaments, Achilles grasped the sword, drew it
from the scabbard, carefully tested the blade, and
swung it with a strong arm.
Of course, Ulysses then easily saw that he was not a
girl, and, slipping up to him, managed to whisper news
of the coming war, and won his promise to join the army
at Aulis in a few days.