| Famous Men of Greece|
|by John H. Haaren|
|Attractive biographical sketches of thirty-five of the most prominent characters in the history of ancient Greece, from legendary times to its fall in 146 B.C. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. Ages 9-12 |
ACHILLES BRAVEST OF GREEKS
 BRAVEST of all the Greeks who went to fight the Trojans was
Achilles. He was the son of Peleus and the beautiful
sea-nymph Thetis, at whose marriage feast the goddess of
discord had thrown the golden apple among the guests.
Thetis herself could never die, and when Achilles was born
she determined to make him also immortal. With the child in
her arms she went down to the gloomy kingdom of Hades. You
will remember that a dark river called the Styx flowed round
the underworld. If a mortal were dipped into the Styx no
sword or arrow or other weapon could injure him. Thetis
held Achilles by the heel and dipped him into the water. In
her haste to get out of the underworld she forgot to dip in
the heel by which she had held the child. So in that heel,
and only there, Achilles could be wounded.
When Thetis heard that the Greeks were going to fight the
Trojans she was greatly distressed, for she knew that if her
son went to the war he would certainly lose his life. She
dressed him as a girl
 and took him to Scyros, a far away island of Greece,
and left him there in the palace of the king
Now Calchas had foretold that Troy could never be taken
without the help of Achilles. So the Greek princes were
determined that he should go with them.
A Grecian chief, called Ulysses the crafty, learned where
he was hidden and set out to find him.
One day a peddler appeared at the gate of the palace in
Scyros, bringing all sorts of beautiful things for sale. The
princesses were wild with delight as the peddler showed one
thing after another. Suddenly the blast of a war trumpet rang
through the air. Away ran all the girls save one. That one
seized a shield
 and a spear which were among the peddler's
wares and stood instantly ready for battle.
ACHILLES AT THE COURT OF LYCOMEDES
Then the peddler, who was Ulysses, knew that he had found
Achilles. So he told the young man that all the princes of
the Greeks were preparing for war against Troy. Achilles
was eager to go with them, and so in spite of all that
Thetis had done, her son sailed to Troy with the other Greek
princes. For nine years he was the champion of the Greeks.
TROJANS TRYING TO BURN THE GREEK SHIPS
In the tenth year of the war a great misfortune befell the
Greeks. They had taken captive two beautiful maidens, one
of whom had been given as a slave to Achilles, the other to
 it happened that Agamemnon's slave was the daughter of
Chryses, a priest of the sun-god Apollo.
The loss of his daughter was a great grief to Chryses, and
he prayed to Apollo for vengeance. In answer Apollo drew
his silver bow and shot arrows which brought a terrible
pestilence into the camp of the Greeks. The tents were soon
filled with the dead and the dying.
Calchas, told the Greeks why Apollo had
punished them, and the girl was sent back to her father.
The god was satisfied, and his arrows stopped bringing the
plague to the Greeks.
But Agamemnon now took the other maiden from Achilles, and
this made the son of Thetis so angry that he declared he
would help the Greeks no more. For days and days he stayed
in his tent, or sat by the seashore and told his wrongs to
Then the Trojans, learning that Achilles was not fighting,
grew bold and at last came out through the gates of their
city and drove the Greeks from the field. Hector, a son of
Priam, followed them to their ships. Some of the Trojans
took lighted torches and tried to burn the Greek fleet. One
ship caught fire.
Just then, however, there rushed to the shore a warrior who
looked so like Achilles that the Trojans fled from the ships
to the gates of their city.
 The unknown warrior was not Achilles but Patroclus, his devoted friend, who had put on Achilles' armor. The Trojans
had mistaken him for the great hero. Even Hector fled
before him. But Apollo, who fought on the side of the
Trojans, at last shot forth from his silver bow an arrow
which struck Patroclus, and he fell to the earth. Hector
then slew him and carried off the armor of Achilles as his
NEPTUNE RISES FROM THE SEA TO HELP THE GREEKS
When Achilles learned that his friend had been slain he
forgot his wrongs and rushed from his tent, shouting the
war-cry of the Greeks. He had neither shield nor spear. Yet
the Trojans fled at the sound of his voice; and the ships
and tents of the Greeks were saved.
 The body of Patroclus was then carried into the tent of
Achilles, and the hero wept for his friend.
As he sat mourning his mother Thetis rose from her home in
the sea and came to comfort him. She then went to Vulcan the
great blacksmith, who, you remember, made all things of iron
and bronze for the gods, and said:
"Good Vulcan, make for my son such a suit of armor as never
mortal has worn."
Soon the forges of Ætna were glowing; the Cyclops'
anvils were ringing, and a suit of armor fit for a god was
THETIS WITH THE ARMOR OF ACHILLES
In this armor Achilles made terrible havoc among the
Trojans. He scattered them as a wolf might scatter a flock
of sheep. He killed Hector at last, tied the body to his
chariot, and dragged it three times round the tomb of
ACHILLES WITH HECTOR'S BODY
Paris avenged the death of Hector by wounding
 Achilles in the heel. From the wound the great hero died.
Hundreds of Trojans had been killed by the Greeks; but the
walls of Troy still stood and not one Grecian warrior had
entered the gates.
Troy was kept safe in a wonderful way. In the city was an
image of Athene, which the Trojans believed had come down from
heaven. It was called the Palladium, from Pallas, another name of Athene. So long as the Palladium stood in
its place, Troy could never be captured.
At length, crafty Ulysses, with the help of another Greek
warrior named Diomedes, got possession of the Palladium.
One night the two climbed the walls of Troy, went to the
temple where the Palladium was kept, and carried the image
When they returned to the Grecian camp Ulysses advised the
Greeks to build a huge wooden horse. When it was finished it
was filled with armed men and left standing before the walls
of the city. Then the Grecian army burned their tents and
sailed away as if they were going home. But really they
only went a short distance and hid behind an island not far
from the Trojan coast.
THE WOODEN HORSE OF TROY
One crafty Greek named Sinon had been left behind. He told
the Trojans that the wooden horse
 would protect their city, just as the Palladium had done.
So, very foolishly, they drew the horse within the walls.
When night came Sinon released the armed men from the horse
and signalled to the Greek fleet with a flaming torch. In a
very short time the ships were all back, and the Greek
soldiers again were swarming before the walls of Troy. The
city gates were opened by Sinon and his companions, and in
poured the Greeks by thousands. They slaughtered the
sleeping Trojans, sacked the palace of Priam, and burned the
And now, after ten long years of fighting,
Mene-  laus recovered his beautiful Helen. Then he and the rest of
the Greeks set sail for their native land.
Many of the Trojans were carried away into slavery by their
Greek conquerors. Andromache, the beautiful wife of
Hector, was given to the son of Achilles, who took her home
to his palace, a captive.
THE CAPTIVE ANDROMACHE
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