| 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 |
HEROES OF THE TROJAN WAR
AGAMEMNON KING OF MEN
 THE early kings of Mycenæ were descendants of Jupiter.
One of these, named Agamemnon, was the most powerful king
in Greece in his day, and hence he was called the "King of
Men." During his reign occurred the famous Trojan War,
which is supposed to have taken place about 1200 years
before Christ. All the most famous heroes in Greece took
part in it. The story of the events that brought it on is
full of interest.
A wonderful wedding took place in Greece.
Peleus, the brave king of Thessaly, married the
beautiful sea-nymph, Thetis. The wedding feast was
held on Mount Pelion near the home of the gods, and
to show their love for Thetis all the gods came down from
Olympus. Apollo shot sunbeams
 through the quivering oak leaves and the floor of the forest
was dappled with golden light. Nymphs had hung garlands of
snow-white roses from tree to tree. Wild vines were covered
with blossoms and the air was filled with their fragrance.
But while the Muses were singing their sweetest songs, a
golden apple suddenly fell among the gods and goddesses. It
had been thrown by the goddess of discord, who was angry
because she had not been asked to the wedding.
Mercury, who of course was among the guests, picked up the
apple and read to the wedding party the words written upon
it, "Let the most beautiful have me."
Juno, Minerva, and Venus each claimed that the apple was
hers, and the quarrel of the goddesses ended only when
Jupiter said to them:
"Go with Mercury over the sea to Mount Ida, and let Paris, the shepherd, decide the matter."
At once the goddesses, led by Mercury, sped through the air
to Mount Ida to find Paris.
Paris was a son of Priam, the king of a rich and powerful
city called Troy, which was opposite Greece on the shore of
the Ægean Sea. His mother dreamed that he would one
day set Troy on fire, and so, as soon as he was born, King
Priam ordered one of his shepherds to carry the infant to
snow-  capped Mount Ida, near Troy, and there leave it to die of
cold and hunger.
Five days after leaving the child, the shepherd found it
still alive. This made him think that the gods did not wish
it to die; so he carried it home to his wife, who brought it
up as her own child.
Paris thought himself only a shepherd's boy and tended King
Priam's herds while they grazed on the slopes of Mount Ida.
On the date of the wedding upon Mount Pelion, as he sat
watching the flock, Mercury and his three companions
suddenly appeared before him. The goddesses were all so
lovely that when they asked Paris to say which was the most
beautiful he was greatly perplexed. Each tried to persuade
him to decide in her favor. Juno promised to make him the
greatest of kings; Minerva said that she would make him the
wisest of men; and Venus declared that she would give him
the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife. He
awarded the apple to
 Venus, but by doing so he greatly offended Minerva and Juno.
PARIS GIVES THE APPLE TO VENUS
Not long after this Paris went to Troy and took part in some
games that were held at the court of Priam. These games
were wrestling, boxing and running races; and the unknown
shepherd carried off many prizes. It was soon found out who
he really was and Priam heartily welcomed him home.
Meantime, Venus had not forgotten her promise. She advised
Paris to sail to Greece, where he would find the most
beautiful woman in the world. This was Helen, the wife of
Menelaus, king of Sparta.
Paris went to Sparta and with the help of Venus
 won the
heart of Helen and took her away with him to Troy.
HELEN OF TROY
When Menelaus found that his wife had been stolen he sent a
message to the kings of all the states of Greece and asked
them to help him to regain Helen and punish Paris. Now
thirty or more of the kings had wished to marry Helen before
she had chosen a husband, and all had sworn to aid the one
chosen if any one should ever try to take her away from her
husband. So as soon as they received the message of
Menelaus, in accord with their oath these kings began to
make ready for war against the Trojans.
Meanwhile Agamemnon, who was a brother of Menelaus, was
already busily preparing for war. His woodsmen were cutting
yew trees from which to make bows and gathering reeds for
arrows. His smiths were making swords and spear-heads and
 javelins. In his shipyards hundreds of men were building
ships. The roads were alive with countrymen bringing in
loads of wheat, barley, bacon, and olives to store in the
At last one hundred black ships were ready and Agamemnon set
sail. A place named Aulis had been selected where the
Greeks were to meet. Twelve hundred ships
and Agamemnon was chosen commander-in-chief.
Just as the ships were about to start for Troy a terrible
storm came up. Agamemnon felt sure that one of the gods
must be angry with the Greeks and so he consulted a
wonderful soothsayer named Calchas.
"Diana is angry, great King," said Calchas, "but not with
the Greeks. Thou only hast offended her. Thou hast slain a
deer in the forest and boasted that thou hast greater skill
in the chase than Diana herself. Never, O King," he added,
"can the storm be lulled until thou hast offered thy
daughter Iphigenia as a sacrifice on the altar of
Agamemnon was heart-broken, but he felt that the will of
Diana must be done. So he sent a messenger to the mother of
Iphigenia to say that Achilles, a Greek prince,
wished to marry the girl and that she must come to Aulis at
once. This was only a device to get Iphigenia to Aulis.
However, when she reached Aulis and heard the
 truth from her father, the girl behaved nobly. "My father,"
she said, "if my death will help the Greeks, I am ready to
THE SACRIFICE OF IPHIGENIA
Her words sent a thrill through all the host and ninety
thousand brave men sorrowed. Achilles and Ajax, sternest
of warriors, wept, and Agamemnon was wild with grief.
While the girl was lying upon the altar and the priestess of
Diana was standing near, the goddess, watching from Olympus,
was moved to pity; and, just as the father had lifted his
swords to slay the girl, a cloud as bright as shining snow
appeared above him. Diana stepped from the cloud, lifted
the girl from the altar, and carried her through the air to
one of her temples, where she made her a priestess. On the
altar lay a white fawn which was sacrificed instead of
And now the fairest winds blew, the sails of the Grecian
ships were set, the fleet sailed swiftly to Troy, and the
siege of that city began.
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