|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
THE WRATH OF ACHILLES
 IN all their battles, the booty won by the Greeks from
the enemy had been divided among the chiefs and
soldiers, and on one occasion female slaves were given
to Agamemnon and Achilles. These girls were not born
slaves, but were captives of war reduced to slavery, as
was then the custom; for, while the men and boys were
always killed, the women and girls were forced to be
the servants of the victors.
Now, it happened that the slave given to Agamemnon was
the daughter of a priest of Apollo. He was very sorry
when he heard she had fallen into the hands of the
Greeks, and sent a message to Agamemnon, offering to
give him a large sum of money if he would only set her
Agamemnon would not accept the money, and sent a rude
message to the priest, who, in anger, asked Apollo to
avenge this insult by sending a plague upon the Greeks.
The god heard and granted this prayer, and soon all the
soldiers in the Greek camp were suffering from a
terrible disease, of which many of them died.
As no remedy could relieve the sufferers, the Greek
leaders consulted an oracle, to find out how the plague
might be stopped. Then they learned that Apollo was
angry with Agamemnon because he had refused to give up
his slave, and that the Greeks would continue to suffer
until he made up his mind to give her back to her
Thus forced to give her up to save his men from further
suffering and even from death, Agamemnon angrily
he would take Achilles' slave instead, and he had her
brought to wait upon him in his tent.
Achilles, who wanted to save the Greeks from the
plague, allowed the maiden to depart, warning
Agamemnon, however, that he would no longer fight for a
chief who could be so selfish and unjust. As soon as
the girl had gone, therefore, he laid aside his fine
armor; and although he heard the call for battle, and
the din of fighting, he staid quietly within his tent.
While Achilles sat thus sulking day after day, his
companions were bravely fighting. In spite of their
bravery, however, the Trojans were gaining the
advantage; for, now that Achilles was no longer there
to fill their hearts with terror, they fought with new
The Greeks, missing the bright young leader who always
led them into the midst of the fray, were gradually
driven back by the Trojans, who pressed eagerly
forward, and even began to set fire to some of the
Achilles' friend, Patroclus, who was fighting at the
head of the Greeks, now saw that the Trojans, unless
they were checked, would soon destroy the whole army,
and he rushed into Achilles' tent to beg him to come
and help them once more.
His entreaties were vain. Achilles refused to move a
step; but he consented at last to let Patroclus wear
his armor, and, thus disguised, make a last attempt to
rally the Greeks and drive back the Trojans.
Patroclus started out, and, when the Trojans saw the
well-known armor, they shrank back in terror, for they
greatly feared Achilles. They soon saw their mistake,
 however; and Hector, rushing forward, killed Patroclus,
tore the armor off his body, and retired to put it on
in honor of his victory.
Then a terrible struggle took place between the Trojans
and the Greeks for the possession of Patroclus' body.
The news of his friend's death had quickly been carried
to Achilles, and had roused him from his indifferent
state. Springing upon the wall that stretched before
the camp, he gave a mighty shout, at the sound of which
the Trojans fled, while Ajax and Ulysses brought back
the body of Patroclus.
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