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Four Old Greeks by  Jennie Hall
Table of Contents


 

 

ACHILLES AND THE WAR

CHAPTER I.

[20]

"T
HE ing has a boy baby. They have named him Achilles. He will be our king some day. I hope he will be a brave man."

That is what the people of Thessaly were saying. They stood in the streets and talked about it. They could think of nothing else; for a king's son is a great person.

The mother, ah! she was a beautiful woman. Part of the time she lived under the sea in a cave of pearl. She was as light as mist. Her skin was white like the foam of waves. Her voice was like the sound of the sea on a calm day. But now she was in the king's palace with her baby. She was saying:

"How can we make him strongest and wisest?"

The father thought for a long time. Then he raised his head and spoke.

"I know the wisest, kindest being in the world. He lives in a cave on the side of a mountain. He loves boys, and many kings' sons are living with him now. He teaches them the secrets of the trees and the flowers, the animals, the waters, and the stars:, He teaches them to shoot and to run, to wrestle and to box, to swim and to row, to sing and to play the lyre, to speak the truth and to know no fear. It is a good and pleasant place to be. Let us send him there to Cheiron, the Centaur."

So Achilles went when he was five years old. He lived there for many years. This Cheiron was very old and very strong. Down to the waist he was like a strong old man. The rest of [22] him was like a horse. He knew all things in the world and in the sky.


[Illustration]

ACHILLES AND THE CENTAUR HUNTING

All day long Achilles ran over the steep hills. He jumped from rock to rock. He swam the swift mountain rivers. At night he brought strange plants to the cave and asked Cheiron about them. Or he dragged a deer slung over his shoulder for supper.; There came also the other kings' sons with wild game or with curious things. After supper they all sang wonderful stories and played on the lyre. They had sports, leaping and wrestling, and throwing of quoits. The cave and the mountain rang with their laughter.

At last Achilles went back to his father's palace, where there was another wise man, Phœnix. He told Achilles stories of war and o{ heroes. He taught him to drive horses before a chariot. He taught him to throw a spear and to swing a sword. He taught him to be quick with his shield to ward off a blow.

In the king's palace lived hundreds of young men, servants or warriors. Among the young warriors was one [23] called Patroklos. When Achilles first saw him he said:

"There is a hero."

He ran to him and clasped his hand, saying:

"You are my brother. I will love you like my own life. You shall never leave me." Patroklos' eyes shone.

"My lord, my brother!" he said; "I will follow you through the world. I will fight for you. I will die for you. "You shall be the dear light of my eyes."

CHAPTER II.

Across the sea from Greece was a wonderful city, Troy. The men of that city were called Trojans.

One day the men of Greece said:

"The Trojans have insulted us. They have stolen the most beautiful woman of Greece, They have stolen Helen."

Then all the bravest warriors began to shout:

"To war! to war! Pull down the ships to the shore. Bring spear and sword [24] and shield. We will sail to this Troy. We will burn it to the ground. We will bring back yellow-haired Helen."

They gathered at the shore, ready to start. They looked about to see all the great heroes.

"Achilles is not here," they cried. "We can not go without him. Why! he is worth a whole army. Some one must go and get him."

So some one went and Achilles came, and Patroklos with him. He brought fifty ships, and in every ship fifty men. When the army saw how big Achilles was, and how straight and how strong, and how his eyes flashed, they caught their breath in wonder.

"This is the greatest and the most beautiful man in the world," they told one another.

There was one thing more to do before they were ready to go. They said:

"We must have a leader. Agamemnon is richest; he brought the most warriors. Helen was his brother's wife. Let him be our leader."

Now they marched down to enter [25] their ships. There were so many warriors that the earth groaned under them. They sailed for many days, but at last they began to see Troy. A high brick wall with many towers was around it. It sat on a hill a mile back from the sea. A low plain lay all around it and came down to the ocean. Back of it were high mountains.

"It is a great city," said the Greeks as they looked at it.

They sailed along the coast a little way.

"Here is a good.place to land," Agamemnon said at last.

So they rowed to shore. The men stepped out and pulled the boats upon the sand, so that the water did not reach them. Then they took their shields and spears and swords; some took bows and arrows. They all formed in line for battle, with Achilles and the greatest warriors in front.

"We will march against Troy; we will tear down the wall; we will burn the houses and bring back lovely Helen," shouted Agamemnon to the army.

[26] And all the army shouted, "Yes! yes!" and shook their spears.

So they marched against Troy. They fought all day long, but they could not tear down the wall, and they could not get into the city. The Trojans had been ready for them, and there were brave men in Troy, too. So the Greeks camped that night and tried again the next day. And many other days they tried to take Troy, but they could not do it. Then they said:

"Perhaps we must stay here a long time. Let us build huts on the shore by the ships and camp there. We will stay until we capture Troy, if it takes ten years."

So they went up to the mountains and cut down pine trees and dragged them to the shore. They chopped them and smoothed them and made houses of them. For the chiefs they made houses with two large rooms and with a porch in front. The roofs were made of rushes from the swamps. Around the houses they built high, close fences of stakes. Near the chiefs house they [27] built smaller huts for the common soldiers.

The Trojans looked down on the camp from their wall and said:

"Why! a great city of little log huts has grown up on our shore. The ships lie on the beach behind. Fires blaze among the huts; smoke of cooking meat rises. A million men are running about; it is a busy city."

That city of huts stayed for ten years. Day after day the Greeks and Trojans fought, but both were so strong that neither was beaten.

During all that time, of course, the Greeks had to have food. The Trojans would not sell it to them. There were many farms and little cities around Troy, but these people were friends of the Trojans, and they would not give to the Greeks. So there was only one thing to do; some of the Greeks would go to these places and take the crops from the farms. They would capture a small city and take good things from there back to camp. For ten years they lived like this.

CHAPTER III.

There was a beautiful place in the sky called Olympos, It was higher than' any man could see. It was a wonderful meadow with hills around it. The, place was never shaken by winds; it was never wet by rain; the snow never fell upon it; a cloud was never in the air,—clear, warm light always shone upon it. There lived the Happy People. They were taller than men; they knew all things. They could make things come to pass as they pleased. They could stand on the hills and look all over the world with their great eyes. They feasted in gold and silver palaces. They walked among the stars and watched the battles at Troy. Many of them went down sometimes and helped in the war. One of these Happy People was Apollo. The men of the earth had said:

"Does he not send the sun across the sky every day to give us light? Does he not shoot monsters that kill men? Does he not make damp places dry, and [29] cold mountains warm for us? Let us build a house for him; he can come there to rest when he pleases. We can put meat and fruits there. We must have some one to take care of the house and to burn the meat and fruit, for the smoke will go up to Apollo in the sky. It will make him strong and glad, and he will say, 'Ah! my people love me,' "

So they built him beautiful houses everywhere. One was in a small city near Troy. Chryses took care of that house. He had a beautiful daughter, Chryseis, who lived with him.

Once when the Greeks were hungry they went to this small city and fought with the men. They tore down the walls and went in. They took jars of wine, meats, fruits, spears, swords, and armor, sheep, oxen, and horses, and servants. They took the gold and silver dishes from Apollo's house: And they took Chryseis. They brought everything to one place; the army stood around that great pile of riches. All this was to be divided among the soldiers.

[30] "To our leader, Agamemnon," they said, "we will give these golden dishes and the beautiful Chryseis for a servant. Achilles shall have this other beautiful girl, Briseis, for his servant. Let everything else be divided equally among us."

Each man took his share, and the army marched back to camp.

Chryses stood before the empty house of Apollo and wept for his daughter. He gathered together much gold; for the Greeks had not found it all. He put on the long purple robe that he wore when he was serving Apollo. He took the golden staff in his hand, to show that he was keeper of Apollo's house. In the other hand he carried the treasure. He walked along the shore to the Greek camp, and went among the huts and ships. At last he came to where Agamemnon and Achilles and all the chiefs were talking.

"Noble Agamemnon," he said, "and brave Greeks, may the Happy People of the sky be kind to you; may you get back Helen; may you go home [31] happy; but give me my dear daughter. Take this gold and give me Chryseis."

When the Greeks saw his white hair and his gentle face they said:

"Give him back his daughter; he is a good old man,"

But Agamemnon scowled at him, saying:

"Old man, go home; I will keep your daughter. Go before I grow more angry," and he shook his fist at him.

Chryses was afraid and went away. He walked along the shore of the sea and wept. He raised both his hands and looked up to where Apollo lived; crying:

"O giver of light, lord of the silver bow, Apollo, hear me! The Greeks have stolen my dear daughter, and will not give her back. Help me!"

Apollo was feasting in the golden palace, but he heard the prayer. It made him angry with the Greeks. He took his great silver bow and threw a quiver of arrows over his shoulder. He took large steps down the sky. The arrows clanged at his back. He came [32] like a black storm-cloud. He stood on the shore, away from the ships. Then he let the arrows fly fast He shot the dogs and the mules, and they died. Then he shot the men, and they died. For nine days he stood so shooting his arrows.

The Greeks could not think why Apollo was angry with them. They could not think what to do. But at last Achilles went to all the ships and said to the chiefs:

"Let us all come together and try to find out why Apollo is angry."

So they all came. A wise man stood up and spoke:

"Apollo is angry because we would not give Chryseis to her father. If we send her back now he will forgive us; he will shut his quiver and go up to Olympos."

Then Agamemnon scowled at the old man and said:

"Speaker of evil! you are always saying unpleasant things. But if I must, I will give her back. But I will not go without any prize. Get me ready [34] some other thing and give it to me in place of her."

Achilles pointed his finger at the king.


[Illustration]

A GREEK KING

"Stingiest of men!" he said. "Are you not willing to do this for your people? Do you love a prize better than your army? How can we get you a present now? They have all been given out to the men. Shall we go begging them back? Come, give her up, be generous. Wait until we take another town, and we will give you three times your share."

Then Agamemnon said:

"A prize is the sign of a brave man, and prizes make men rich. Do you think that I will go without any gift, while you stalk about proud and rich in yours? Beware! For I will come to your hut and take away Briseis and keep her."

Achilles shook with anger. He put his hand on his sword and was pulling it out to strike Agamemnon. But he stopped. He ground his teeth. He was thinking:

[35] "A cut of the sword would do no good."

He pushed the sword into its sheath again. He threw back his head and looked at Agamemnon.

"Coward!" he said;and shut his teeth hard. "You were always afraid to fight in the front of the battle, but you lay safely in your hut while brave men won prizes for you. And now you are going to steal one. Well, take her, but listen to me. Some day you will be sorry for this; you will weep and tear your heart because Achilles is not there to help you. But fight your own battles if you can; I will sit still in my ship and watch you. Brave Agamemnon! Stingy Agamemnon!"

He stamped his foot and walked away to his hut. Soon heralds came and took Briseis. Then Achilles went to the shore of the sea. He sat down and leaned his head on his arms and wept. He called to his mother, who was under the sea, in her cave of pearl. She heard him and came up and over the water like a mist. She sat by him [36] and put her hand on his face.

"What is it, my dear son?"

"Agamemnon has insulted me," answered Achilles. "He has taken my prize. Briseis is gone."

His mother stroked his hair and said:

"Surely, that was a cowardly thing, but cheer your heart, my son, swallow your anger. Some time Agamemnon will be sorry."


[Illustration]

A WOMAN WITH A JEWEL-BOX

She talked to him for a long time and comforted him. But the anger was still hot in Achilles' heart. He would not talk to the Greeks; he would not go to battle. For many weeks he sat by his ships and scowled at all the Greek camp.

CHAPTER IV.

There were battles every day. Sometimes the Trojans stood on the wall of the city. Then the Greeks came and stood all around the city and tried to break down the wall and get in. Sometimes the Trojans came out on the plain; then the Greeks fought them there.

Priam, the King of Troy, was too old to fight. He and the other old men used to sit on the wall and watch the battles. Down on the plain the armor blazed like fire; helmet plumes waved, dust rose from under men's feet, swords clashed, men shouted. The armies pushed back and forth. The old men looked always at Hector; he was Priam's son. He was the bravest man in the war, now that Achilles was gone. The Trojans loved him and called him "the Strong Wall of Troy."

Once when the old men were sitting watching the battle, Helen came. Long, shining white linen hung soft and loose about her. She walked slowly and [38] sighed. When the old men saw her, they whispered to one another:

"It is no wonder that the Greeks have come so far to get her, or that they fight so long. She is wonderful; flowers or the moon is not so beautiful."

Priam looked at her and smiled; he was proud of her.

"Come here, my child," he said, "sit by me and tell me who these Greek warriors are."

So Helen went and sat by him. She looked at the battle and told the names of the warriors. She thought of her home in Greece and sighed.

The other women of Troy, too, used to go to the walls and watch the battles. Everybody was sad and afraid and wished that the war would end.

Day after day the armies fought. Sometimes the Greeks won, sometimes the Trojans won. Still Troy was safe, and still the Greeks would not go home.

One day the Greeks were winning, and the Trojans were very much afraid. Hector thought:

[39] "Perhaps Athene would help us if the women asked her."

Athene was one of the Happy People. She lived on Olympos in a golden palace with Apollo and the others, but she also had many houses on the earth. She was watching the battles of Troy. She often came down and helped the Greeks; for she liked them better than the Trojans.

So Hector left the battle and went to the city. As he came near the gate, all the women ran to him.

"Tell me of my son!"

"Have you seen my husband?"

"Is my brother well?" they asked him all together.

"I cannot tell you," he said, sadly. "Come with me to my mother; you must go to Athene's house."

So they followed him to his mother in the great stone palace.

"Mother," said Hector, "take the most beautiful robe in the city, carry it to Athene's house and put it on her wooden statue. Ask her to help us in battle. She will hear you from Olympos."

[40] So the woman did. Hector went to his own house. He looked all through it for his wife, white-armed Andromache, but he could not find her. So he asked the servants.

"She ran to the wall to see the battle," they said. "The nurse went with her and carried your little son."

Then Hector walked fast along the streets and to the city wall. Andromache saw him and ran to him.

"Ah! Hector, my dear lord!" she cried, "you are too brave. I have been watching you. You are always in the worst place; every Greek throws his spear at you because you are the bravest. Hector, I have no friend but you; no father, no mother. Come, stay here with me and your little son; I am afraid to have you in the battle."

Hector stroked her hair and smiled at her.

"I have thought of these things," he said, "but I should be a coward to stay. They need me. I must always be in the front of the battle; I must [41] fight for Troy, for my father and mother and for you."

Then he stretched out his hands to the baby in the nurse's arms. But the child was afraid of the big shining helmet on Hector's head; he hid his face on the nurse's breast and cried. His father and mother laughed. Hector took off the helmet and threw it on the ground. Then he took the baby and kissed him, and tossed him in his arms.

"O you Happy People in Olympos," he cried, "be kind to my little son. Let him live and grow to be a great king. May the people say of him, 'he is a better man than his father was.' Let him make his mother's heart glad."

He gave the baby to his wife. Again he stroked her with his hand and said:

"Dear one, do not be sad; go home, weave at the loom, do the work of the house and be happy. But I must go to battle."

He put on his helmet and started for the gate. Andromache went on her way home, but she kept looking back at Hector. Big tears fell from her eyes.

[42] Hector went again to the battle and walked out between the two armies. Holding his long spear by the middle, he shouted to the armies, and his voice was like the voice of thunder: "Listen to me, Trojans and Greeks!"

The fighting stopped, and the men sat on the ground.

"The armies have fought long and hard," said Hector, "the men are tired and wounded. Let them sit and rest. But I will fight alone with any Greek. Who will fight with me?"

The Greeks looked at one another, but all were silent. They were afraid of Hector. At last some one said,

"Let us cast lots."

So they cast lots, and Ajax was chosen. He was the largest man of all the army.

He came striding into the space where Hector was and shook his long spear. The Greeks were glad as they looked at him, he was so big and strong. But the Trojans were afraid; even Hector's heart beat fast.

"Hector!" shouted Ajax, in a voice [43] like the roar of a lion, "I am not afraid to face you. Begin!"

Then Hector poised his long spear and threw it. Ajax caught it on his shield. Hector threw it so hard that the point went through the bronze and leather to the last layer of the shield, but there it stopped and broke. Then Ajax shouted:

"Now!" and threw his spear.

It cut through Hector's armor and scraped his side. Hector threw another spear; it stuck in Ajax' shield. Then Ajax leaped at Hector and drove a spear into his neck. Hector staggered, the blood gushed out, but still he was not afraid. He caught up a great stone from the ground and threw it hard. Ajax jumped aside and caught it on his shield; the shield rang. Then Ajax threw a great stone. It crushed in Hector's armor, and he fell. The Greeks shouted; the Trojans groaned. But almost immediately Hector jumped up. He caught his sword and was rushing at Ajax, when the heralds came between them.

[44] "Fight no more," they said, "night is coming on."

So they stopped, and Hector said:

"Ajax, you are the best of the Greeks. We have fought hard, but let us give presents before we part. Then the people may say, 'These men fought against each other, but they parted friends.' "

He took off his sword and silver scabbard with the belt and gave it to Ajax, and Ajax gave him his purple belt. Then they went back to their own armies, and all the knen cooked their supper at camp-fires and ate.

CHAPTER V.

That night the Greeks talked among themselves and said:

"The Trojans have been getting the better of us. They are camped near us now. Suppose to-morrow they should come here to fight and drive us into the sea and burn our huts and our ships! Let us build a high wall of earth around the camp."

So they built it. They piled it twice [45] as high as a man. They made watch towers on top of the wall and gates where the army could go out upon the plain. Just outside they dug a deep ditch and drove sharp stakes into the bottom of it. They said:

"No man can come alive through that. Now we are safe; the wall and the ditch are in front and on the sides, the sea is behind, and the huts and ships are shut in here."

On the next day they went to the plain to fight. It was the worst fight for the Greeks that had ever been. The Trojans pushed them back and back. At last the Greeks were afraid; they turned and ran through the gates and into the camp. The Trojans ran after them, but the Greeks shut the gates in their faces. Then they went upon the wall and shot down upon the Trojans. But night came, and the battle stopped.

During that night the Greeks came together to talk. Agamemnon said:

"I was wrong to make Achilles angry. He is worth a whole army. The Trojans [46] will burn our ships if he does not help us. I will send him rich gifts and ask him to come back. I will give him many gold and silver dishes and seven servants and twelve horses, and, besides; I will give back Briseis. When we return home I will make him my son and will give him seven cities. All this I will do if he will come and help us. Here is Phœnix, his old teacher; let him and Odysseus and Ajax and two heralds go to Achilles' hut and tell him what I say."

So these men walked along the shore to .where Achilles' ships were. When they came near they saw Achilles sitting in front of his door. He was playing a great lyre and singing. Near him sat Patroklos looking at him and listening to the song. Achilles raised his head and saw Phœnix and the others. He sprang up from his chair and ran towards them, with the lyre in his hand.


[Illustration]

WOMEN PLAYING LYRES

"Now welcome, dearest of the Greeks," he cried; "you are friends indeed to come."

He spread purple cloth on carved chairs.

"Come, sit with us," and he led them to the seats. "Patroklos, bring a large bowl and mix a sweet drink for our friends."

Then all the servants of the hut put their hands to work and were busy. They built a bonfire before the door; they cut great pieces of meat and put them upon spits and roasted them in the fire. They put meat, wine, honey, and baskets of bread on the table. Then Achilles and Patroklos and their visitors [48] sat down and feasted. When the feast was over, Odysseus said:

"The feast has been very pleasant, Achilles, but we have other things to do. We fear that the Trojans will burn our ships. They have driven us into our camp; they are now camping in front of us. Their watch-fires are as many as the stars. Hector rages like a lion. He says that to-morrow he will break off the beaks of the ships. He says that he will burn the ships with fire. We are lost if you do not come. Help us, then; up and come! Listen to what Agamemnon promises if you will forget your anger." He told him of the gifts. "But if you do not care for the gifts, come for the sake of your "friends."

But Achilles answered:

"I will not do it. Agamemnon is a coward and mean; I will have nothing to do with him. Let me tell you how he has treated me. With my own spear and the spears of my men I have taken twenty-three cities. Nobody helped us. While I was fighting, Agamemnon [49] stayed safe1y in his hut; but I brought back all the prizes, the meat and fruit, the grain and horses, and the gold, to him. He took the largest part. He gave rich prizes to the other chiefs. To me he always gave only a little prize. Besides, what are you fighting for? What is Helen to me? I never saw her. Let her own people fight for her. My mother has told me a sad thing. She said, 'If you stay here and fight you will do glorious things, but you will die here and never see your country and father again.' So I am going home now. Watch to-morrow and you will see my ships sailing for Greece. Phœnix, you loved me when I was a boy, stay with me to-night and go home to-morrow."

Phœnix wept, thinking of the sorrow of the Greeks. He begged Achilles to help.

"It is not like a hero to stay angry always," he said.

But Achilles shook his head. So Phœnix stayed, for he said:

"I love him better than all the rest. He is like my own son."

[50] The others went back to camp and told the Greeks what Achilles had said. The chiefs were silent and gloomy when they heard the news.

"We are lost!" they thought.

CHAPTER VI.

But Achilles did not sail home on the next day. Early in the morning a great fight began between the Greeks and Trojans. It was the worst battle that had been fought; the noise was like thunder. Achilles heard it and stayed to watch. He stood on the high part of the ship and shaded his eyes with his hand.

"Ah! it is a brave fight," he said, and stamped his foot.

His soldiers were sitting or walking on the beach. He kept calling to them and telling them of the battle.

"Hector is raging like a lion," he called. "His arm is like a falling tree. The Greeks run or die before him."

Then he watched Agamemnon for a long time.

[51] "You are a brave man to-day, Agamemnon," he said to himself; "I could almost forgive you."

All at once he leaned forward quickly and frowned.

"Agamemnon is wounded," he called to his men.

His eyes flashed; he drew his sword.

"Stand back, you Trojans!" he shouted; but, of course, they could not hear him.

He cried again to his men:

"He is going away in his chariot."

Achilles kept on looking for a long time. He saw a dozen of the bravest men wounded and going away. He walked up and down the deck and shook his spear at the Trojans. He shouted at the Greeks. At last a chariot dashed past near his ship. One man was driving, another was lying on the bottom of the chariot.

"Patroklos!" called Achilles.

Patroklos came out from the hut where he had been working. "Run and see who is in that chariot," Achilles said to him. "The [52] wounded man looked like our friend, the great physician. But I coujd not see well, the horses flew so fast; run quickly."

So Patroklos ran, while Achilles stood watching the fight. The Trojans were pushing the Greeks back and back. Many of the Grecian warriors fell into the ditch. The others ran through the gates and shut them and got upon the wall and fought. The Trojans outside pushed on the gates and threw stones against them. But the heavy logs stood.

Achilles watched and ground his teeth.

"They have broken in the gates," he shouted to his men after a while, groaning as he said it.

Then the Trojans rushed into the camp. They ran about among the huts and threw their spears and shot their arrows. The Greeks were chased down to their ships, but there they stopped and fought their hardest. At last Hector broke through their line. He put his hand on a ship.

"Bring fire!" he shouted to the Trojans.

[53] So they burned that ship. Achilles saw it, but he only stood and shook his spear at them. He did not go to help.


[Illustration]

FIGHT AT THE SHIPS

Now Patroklos came running back.

"O, Achilles," he cried, "be angry no longer, it was the physician! All the best men of the Greeks lie in the ships sick and wounded by spear or arrow. Will you stand idle and see all the ships burned and the Greeks killed? Surely, gentle Thetis is not your mother; a hard rock is your mother, the angry sea is your father; so cruel is your heart. But if you will not go, let me go. Let me wear your armor; it will frighten the Trojans away."

"You shall go!" said Achilles gruffly. "As soon as the Trojans see my helmet [54] they will run, and the Greeks will be safe."

Then he looked toward the ships.

"Another ship on fire!" he cried. "Quick, Patroklos! put on my armor, I will call the soldiers."

There was a great hurry and running and clashing of swords and shields. When all the men were ready they formed in line and waited for a minute. Patroklos was standing in a chariot in front of the line; his armor shone like terrible lightning. The others were on foot.


[Illustration]

A GREEK CHARIOT

[55] Then Achilles lifted his hands to the sky.

"Great Zeus," he said, "help my friend in battle, let him save the Greeks, let him come back to me unhurt."

The horses shot forward; the men ran. They dashed into the Trojans; they drove them from the camp and put out the fire. The half-burned ships were left there. Then Patroklos shouted:

"Come, let us chase them back to Troy."

He rode on and all the Greeks followed. He swung his great sword. His helmet blinded the Trojans.

They ran away crying:

"It is Achilles!"

Achilles was standing on his ship again watching. When he saw Patroklos chasing the Trojans across the plain, he cried:

"Come back, Patroklos! Not so far! Some one will kill you! Oh, I cannot see so far!"

He walked up and down the deck. He beat his breast with his hand and kept calling Patroklos,

[56] When the Trojans came to the city-wall they stopped. Hector stood and waited for Patroklos. He threw his spear, and Patroklos fell down dead. The Trojans now took courage and stood up against the Greeks. They pushed them back again, into the ditch and through the gates. Then they stood there fighting, the Greeks on the wall, the Trojans outside.

When Patroklos was killed, a young man ran to tell Achilles. He found him leaning forward, shading his eyes with his hand, saying:

"Where is Patroklos? Why are they coming back? Where is Patroklos?"

Then the young man told him that . Patroklos was dead. The spear fell from Achilles' hand; he clasped his head and fell down on the deck and wept and kept calling:

"Patroklos! Patroklos!"

His mother, Thetis, heard him in her cave. She came over the water to him and took his head in her hands.

"My son, what is your sorrow?" she asked.

[57] Achilles said:

"Patroklos is dead, and I was not there to help him. Shame upon me! I sat here in my ship because I was angry. Oh, shame! Now I must go and help them."

"You shall go," said Thetis, "but not now. You have no armor. Hector is wearing yours. I will go to Hephæstos and ask him to make you new armor. Then you shall go."

She went away.

Achilles looked at the battle and saw Hector ready to break in the gate. Achilles scowled and stood up. A golden cloud was around his head, fire blazed above it; his eyes shot lightning. He strode toward the wall like a lion. At the ditch he stopped and shouted. The Trojans ceased fighting, their knees trembled, and their spears dropped from their hands. He shouted again. Some of the Trojans turned and ran away. He shouted once more and lifted his hands. Then all the Trojans cried:

"He is coming!" and they ran away.

Even Hector was afraid and ran.

CHAPTER VII

It was night. Thetis was on her way to Olympos to the silver house of Hephæstos the blacksmith. When she came he was still working at his forge. But he put his tools away in the chest, washed his face and hands with a sponge and came limping to meet her; for he was lame.

"Welcome, dear Thetis," he said. "But there are tears on your face! What is your sorrow?"

She told him about Achilles and Patroklos.

"And I have come to ask you for armor," she said. "Will you make him shield and helmet and breastplate and greaves?"

"Most gladly will I do it, Thetis," Hephæstos answered; "it shall be the finest armor that any man ever wore."

He walked quickly back to the forge and put on his leather apron. He turned the bellows on the fire and took hammers and files and chisels from the tool-box. Then he threw great pieces of tin, bronze, [59] silver, and gold into pots and put them into the fire to heat. After a while he took out a piece of bronze with tongs and put it on the anvil. Then he hammered it for a long time, until it was round and smooth like a shield. He took pieces of tin and silver and gold and hammered them into thin strips. Of these he made narrow bands around the edge of the shield. In the center of the shield he made pictures of gold and silver. In one picture young men were whirling in a dance; and there was a wedding march, with people singing and carrying torches. In another picture men were ploughing a field. In another, men were harvesting wheat and the women were preparing the supper. In still another picture there was a vineyard. The poles were of silver, the fence was of tin; girls and boys were picking the purple grapes. And, again, there was a herd of cattle, with men and dogs to watch, all made of gold. There was also a pasture with silver sheep. In the last picture were two armies fighting near a walled city. All these pictures [60] were made of gold and silver and tin in the center of the shield. Around them were bands of gold and silver and tin. The shield would cover a man from his neck to his knees. On the helmet, breastplate, and greaves there were pictures of horses and of men fighting.

Before morning the armor was all finished and Hephæstos gave it to Thetis. She took it and went stepping quickly through the air to Achilles. She dropped the armor at his feet; it rang as it fell. Achilles' eyes flashed when he heard it. He took up the shield and turned it round and round and rubbed his hand over it.

"I never saw so wonderful a shield before," he said.

Then he put on the armor. He laughed with joy when he felt it on him. It was a long time since he had worn armor and fought. He held his head high now and started with big steps along the seashore to the meeting place. It was where he and Agamemnon had quarreled.

[61] When the chiefs heard that Achilles was there, they all came. Many were limping and leaning on their spears, for their wounds were yet sore. Agamemnon came last. He walked very slowly, for he was ill. They all sat down on the stone benches. Then Achilles stood up and said:

"Agamemnon, let bygones be bygones. I will swallow my anger. I will fight against the Trojans." And Agamemnon answered: "I was wrong. Forgive me!" All the chiefs were glad because these great men were friends again. The soldiers laughed and were happy when they ate their breakfast that morning. "We have Achilles back," they kept saying.

CHAPTER VIII

The Trojans were waiting on the plain. At last the gates opened, and the Greeks came out. When the Trojans saw Achilles they turned white with fear, but every man said:

"We must stand and fight this time."

[62] So they stood and fought their best. Many spears broke through men's armor. Many arrows struck men's bodies. Many swords cut through strong shields.

"We are pushing the Trojans back," shouted the Greeks after a while.

And so they were. Across the plain, across the river, up towards Troy they retreated slowly, fighting hard all the time. The Mighty Ones came down from Olympos to help, but no army could make a stand before Achilles. He was like a terrible fire blowing in their faces.

The Trojans were near the city now. King Priam and the old men and the women stood on the wall. Priam was weeping and wringing his hands. As the soldiers came near, he went to the guards of the gates.

[63] "Open the gates, quickly!" he cried, "and let my people in to safety."

So they opened the gates, and all the Trojan army ran in. Then they closed the gates. But Hector waited outside. On came the whole Greek army. Achilles was running far in front.


[Illustration]

ACHILLLES CHASING THE TROJANS

Priam was again on the wall. He stretched out his arms, and tears were on his cheeks.

"Come, Hector!" he called. "Come into the city. Do not wait for Achilles. He is a terrible man."

But Hector did not move. He watched Achilles come nearer. He heard the clatter of his sword and saw the long stride of his feet.

"I cannot win against him," he thought.

Yet he stood and waited. He saw the great muscles of Achilles' arms. He heard his breath whistle through his nostrils. He saw the flashing of his eyes. Then Hector's knees began to tremble, and his heart became sick. He turned and ran. Achilles followed, shouting. For a long time the two [64] warriors ran back and forth in front of the wall. Achilles all the time kept between Hector and the gate.

At last Hector thought to himself:

"I am a coward!"

He stopped and stood facing Achilles.

"I will fight," he shouted.

Then they threw their long spears and swung their heavy swords at each other, and Achilles' spear struck Hector dead. All the Trojans were on the walls watching. When Hector fell, they cried out:

"We are lost! Now they will burn Troy. We cannot save the city without Hector. The Strong Wall of Troy has fallen."

Achilles took Hector to his hut. He was very angry with him, for having killed Patroklos.

"Ah, Hector," he said, scowling at the dead body, "you shall never have a great mound over you to do you honor. No one can put a stone on your grave and write on it and say, 'Here lies Hector, the bravest and best man of Troy.' But I will do these things for Patroklos."

CHAPTER IX

In the city the Trojans were weeping for Hector. At last Priam called his servants.

"Yoke the mules to the wagon," he said. "Hitch the horses to my chariot."

"What are you going to do?" asked his wife.

"I am going to Achilles' hut," he answered. "I will ask him to let me bring Hector back. I want to build a mound for my brave son."

"O foolish Priam!" cried his wife. "He will kill you, too. He is angry with us all, but he is most angry with you because you are the king and are Hector's father."

"I do not care what happens to me," said Priam. "I am going. Do not try to stop me."

He went to his treasure house and opened large chests. He took out twelve robes of shining linen and soft wool, purple, and yellow, and white. They were trimmed with gold and silver. He took also twelve cloaks and many other [66] pieces of fine cloth, and great piles of gold and many golden goblets.

"Put these into the wagon," he said.

"I will give them to Achilles. Perhaps he will not be angry then."

An old servant stood in the wagon to drive the mules. Priam rode in his chariot. He started across the plain with the wagon following him. It was night. Watch-fires burned outside the Greek wall, and the soldiers were on guard. Zeus saw Priam from Olympos. He spoke to a young man who stood by him.

"Hermes," he said, "go take Priam [67] into the Greek camp. Let no man see him."


[Illustration]

HERMES

Then Hermes flew through the air; for there were wings on his sandals. He stopped by the chariot and said:

"Where are you going, father? Why are you here? This is time to sleep. Can I help you?"

Priam did not know Hermes, so he said:

"I think you are a Greek. Tell me, is my son Hector in Achilles' hut?"

"I just saw him there," answered Hermes.

"Do you know the way?"

"Yes."

"Will you guide me to him?" asked Priam.

"Most gladly," answered Hermes.

He leaped into the chariot and took the reins. When they came near the wall, they could see the guards there, but Hermes raised his hand and the men all fell asleep. Then he opened the gates and drove to Achilles' hut. He opened the gate in the fence that was around the hut, and the chariot [68] and the wagon drove in and stopped near the door. But Hermes had gone, and Priam went into the hut alone.

There sat Achilles and two soldiers at the supper table. Their backs were turned toward the door, so they did not see Priam come in. He went quickly and knelt on the floor by Achilles' chair and put his hands on Achilles' knees. Achilles jumped back at the touch, and when he saw who it was, he scowled and clinched his fists.

"Achilles, think of your own father," Priam cried. "He is an old man like me, but he is proud because he has a brave son. But I have lost my brave son. Give him back to me, for your father's sake."

Tears came into Achilles' eyes. He was thinking of his old father far away.

"It would break his heart if I should die," Achilles thought.

He took Priam's hand and raised him from the floor.

"Unhappy old man," he said, "how did you dare come to the Greek camp?"

[69] "Because I loved my son," answered Priam.

"Do not weep," said Achilles.

"My wagon is at your door," answered Priam. "There are gifts in it. Will you take them and not be angry with me?"

"I will take them," said Achilles, "I will not be angry, and I will give you Hector. Sit, now, in this chair and rest."

The servants took the presents from the wagon. Achilles wrapped two beautiful cloaks about Hector, and put him into the wagon and went back to the hut.

"Your son is in your wagon, Priam," he said. "In the morning you shall take him home. But you are tired and sick. You shall eat and sleep in my hut and go back in the morning."

Then he killed a white sheep. His men roasted it over a bonfire before the door, and servants brought wine and bread. They set these things before Priam, and he ate and drank.

Achilles looked at him and thought:

"He is a noble old man."

[70] And Priam looked at Achillas out of the corner of his eye and thought:

"He is a big man, and a strong man, and a kind man, too. People do not know him when they say that he is always cruel."

When Priam had finished eating, Achilles said to his mein:

"Spread soft rugs in the porch. You shall sleep there until morning, Priam. And tell me, do you wish to bury Hector and build a great mound in his honor?"

"Yes," said Priam.

"How long will it take?" asked Achilles. "I will hold the army back from fighting until it is done."

Priam looked at him in wonder.

"Are you indeed willing to do that?" he said. "If you are willing, then let us have peace for eleven days."

"It shall be so," said Achilles.

Then they went to sleep, Achilles in the hut and Priam in the porch. Early in the morning, before it was light, Hermes came again. He waked Priam and guided him home.

[71] When the Trojans saw Priam with Hector, driving slowly into town, they cried in wonder:

"Is it possible? Can Achilles be kind? Can he forget his anger?"

CHAPTER X

Not long after this Achilles died in battle at Troy. And at last, after much fighting, the Greeks broke down the walls and burned the city. Even then the Trojans remembered Achilles and said:

"He was a better man than these are."

The Greeks built a great mound of earth over Achilles' grave. It stood on the shore for a long, long time. When sailors passed it they said:

"That is the grave of Achilles, the bravest warrior that ever lived."


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