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HOW ACHILLES AND AGAMEMNON FELL OUT
 BEFORE the walls of Troy the Greeks set
their camp, and day by day and night by
night did they besiege it.
One day would the Greeks win the fight,
and the next day the Trojans would be
victors in the battle.
And so passed nine long years away.
To the city of Chryse one day went part of
the Greek host, sacked it, and brought back
to their camp rich spoils and many prisoners.
Among the prisoners was a beautiful
maiden, Chryseis, daughter of the old priest
of the Temple of Apollo. Her did Agamemnon
choose as his part of the spoil, to be his
From Chryse, seeking his daughter, came
the old priest. With him he brought a rich
 ransom to buy the freedom of Chryseis, and
in his hands he bore a golden staff wrapped
round with the garland worn by Apollo, to
show that the god whose priest he was, was
with him in craving a boon from Agamemnon,
overlord of the Greeks.
'Take this ransom, I pray you, and set ye
my dear child free,' pled Chryses, 'and the
gods will grant you to lay waste the city of
Troy, and to fare happily homeward.'
Then the Greeks gladly agreed that
Chryseis should go home with her father,
and that the goodly ransom should be theirs.
But Agamemnon, in great wrath, drove the
old man away.
'Let me not find thee, old man, lingering
here beside the ships, lest the golden staff
and garland of the god help thee naught!'
he cried. 'Your daughter shall grow old as
my slave, and never more return to thy land.
Get ye gone!'
Silently along the shore of the sounding
sea walked Chryses the priest.
Alone he knelt down and prayed to Apollo,
 'Hear me, god of the silver bow!' he
cried. 'If I have built thee a temple that
is fair in thine eyes, and have offered unto
thee there the flesh of bulls and goats, hear
me! Let the Greeks be paid by thine arrows
for my tears!'
High up amongst the peaks of Olympus
Apollo heard the prayer of his priest, and
great anger filled his heart.
As dark night falls upon the earth, so did
the god come to where Agamemnon and his
armies lay. A little apart from the ships he
sat down, and drew back with a dreadful
clang the string of his silver bow.
Mules and dogs fell at first before his
arrows of death. Then he smote men.
For nine days did the Greeks fall dead at
the will of the avenging god. For nine
days did the black smoke from the funeral
pyres of the Greek warriors roll out to
On the tenth day Achilles, son of a
mortal warrior and a goddess, fleetest of
foot and bravest of all Greek heroes, called
an assembly of the Greeks.
 'War and pestilence ravage us,' he said.
'Surely it is time to inquire of a priest or
soothsayer why it is that Apollo is so
Then Chalcas, wisest of soothsayers,
arose and spoke.
'These woes have come upon us,' said
he, 'for the wrong that Agamemnon hath
done to Chryses, priest of Apollo. With his
arrows of pestilence Apollo will not cease
to slay until we have given the bright-eyed
Chryseis back to her father, unbought and
unransomed, and have taken a hundred
beasts and offered them up at Chryse as a
sacrifice to the angry god.'
So spake Chalcas, and sate him down.
There uprose then from his seat the great
Agamemnon, black anger in his heart, and
with eyes flashing fire.
'Ill prophet art thou indeed, Chalcas!'
he cried. 'Naught but evil hast thou ever
foretold to me! I would not take a goodly
ransom for Chryseis, because I love her even
more than I love my own wedded wife. Yet
will I give her back, rather than that my
 people should perish. But another prize
must I have! Why should I alone, of all
the Greeks, have my prize taken from me?
It is not seemly that it should be so.'
'Nay, nay! most noble Agamemnon,' said
Achilles. 'Too greedy art thou for gain.
We have no common store of treasure with
which to repay thee for that thou hast lost.
What spoil we got from the cities we have
taken hath already been divided. Nay, give
back Chryseis to her father, and when next
we sack a city, thine shall be the richest
spoil of all.'
'Dost seek to cheat me, Achilles?'
answered the angry Agamemnon. 'Wouldst
thou rob me of my prize and give me naught
instead? If thou wilt not give me the reward
my honour seeks, then will I seize it for
myself—be it thine, or that of Odysseus, or the
spoil of any other; wroth will be he to whom
soever I come. But of this hereafter. Now
let us launch a black ship on the sea, and
in it embark Chryseis of the fair cheeks,
and with her send an offering of beasts,
that Apollo the Far-Darter may have his
 Then Achilles, with black brows, looked at
'Shameless art thou!' he cried, 'shameless
and crafty. For thy sake and that of
Menelaus thy brother left I my home and
fared across the seas to fight in Troyland.
And now thou, dog-face! dost threaten to
steal from me the spoil that I have won for
myself by weary toil and by hard fighting.
Home will I go, for I have no mind to fight
for one who is greedy for riches and wealth,
and cares not if I am dishonoured.'
'Flee, then, if thou wilt,' answered
Agamemnon. Others I have as brave as thee,
and ready to do me honour. Most hateful
art thou to me, Achilles. Ever thou lovest
strife and wars and fightings. I care not
for thee and thy wrath; and this I tell thee:
to thy but I myself will go and take from
thee Briseis, fairest of all thy slaves, that
thou may'st know that I, Agamemnon, am
thy lord and ruler.'
Mad with anger was Achilles at these
words. His hand gripped his sword, and
he would have slain Agamemnon, had not
the goddess Athene stayed his hand.
 'Why art thou come hither?' angrily
asked Achilles, as he looked round and
beheld the goddess at his side. 'Art thou
come to see the insolence of Agamemnon?
Yea, I tell thee, through pride shall he lose
Gently then did Athene speak to him.
'To stay thine anger I came from far
Olympus,' said she. 'Goodly gifts shall
come to thee hereafter, Achilles. Only
stay thine hand and listen to me.'
Then said Achilles:
'Goddess, a man must needs listen to
thee and do thy bidding, for the man who
obeys the immortal gods will also be heard
Therewith did he grip his sword by its
silver hilt and thrust it back into its sheath;
yet again he spoke in wrath to Agamemnon.
'Thou with face of a dog and heart of a
deer,' he said, 'never hast thou fought as
men should fight for the spoil! Rather dost
thou seize the booty for which thy men have
risked their lives. Surely these thy warriors
are weaklings, else this should have been
 thy last wrong. But this I swear by my
sceptre which was once a tree, but never
more shall put forth leaf or twig; as surely
as that sceptre shall never again be green,
so surely shall the Greeks one day long for
Achilles when they fall in heaps dying before
the manslaying Hector. Then shalt thou
tear thy heart for anger, for that thou didst
not honour the bravest of thy warriors.'
So spake Achilles, and dashed on earth
his sceptre, studded with golden nails, while
near him sat Agamemnon, in furious anger.
With gentle words then spoke Nestor, an
old warrior of a hundred years and more,
longing to make peace.
But of peace Agamemnon and Achilles
would have none.
'Ye may take back my slave, the fair
Briseis,' said Achilles. 'The Greeks gave
her to me; let the Greeks take her from
me again. Yet that moment that thou dost
dare to lay hand on aught else of mine, thy
dark blood shall gush about my spear.'
Then was the assembly at an end, and on
a fleet ship Chryseis of the fair cheeks was
 placed, and with her were sent a hundred
beasts for a sacrifice to Apollo. With them
went Odysseus and a goodly company, and
they sailed across the sea to Chryse, to
bring back to Chryses the priest his fair
daughter, and to offer a worthy sacrifice to
the angry god.
Then did Agamemnon call his heralds to
'Go ye to the tent of Achilles,' said he,
and bring me Briseis, his fair slave.'
Unwillingly they walked along the beach
to where the tent of Achilles was pitched.
By it he sat, and well, and with a heavy
heart, he knew when he saw them what
their errand was.
'Welcome, ye heralds,' he said. ''Ye are
not guilty in my sight. Guilty only is
Agamemnon who sent you to rob me of the
fair Briseis. Lead her away, yet be
witnesses that when Agamemnon hath sore
need of me to save his host from shameful
wreck, no help from me shall he have.'
Unwillingly Briseis was led away, and
Achilles watched her go.
 Then sitting alone on the beach of the
grey sea, Achilles wept.
With eager gaze his eyes swept across the
waste of water, and holding out his hands in
supplication he cried to his mother, Thetis
the silver-footed, daughter of the King of
Like a mist Thetis rose from the depths
of the green sea-waves, and came to her
Gently she stroked his hand, and spoke to
him soothing words.
'Why dost thou weep, my child?' she
said. 'Tell me all the sorrow that is in thy
To his goddess-mother Achilles told the
tale of the grievous dishonour that
Agamemnon had done to him, and for rage and
for grief Thetis wept with her son.
'Short is to be thy life, my son,' she said.
'Would that I had never borne thee, rather
than that it should also be full of grief.'
Then did she leave him, but at dawn next
day she rose from the sea and mounted up to
 'Father Zeus,' she said to the king of the
gods, 'if ever I have given thee aid amid
gods or men, fulfil now my desire. Do
honour to my son, whose life on earth is to
be so short. Grant victory to the Trojans
while Achilles does not draw his sword.
Grant that at last the Greeks may do honour
to him to whom Agamemnon hath brought
such bitter shame.'
Then did Zeus bow his head and grant
And Thetis the silver-footed darted like
a diving bird down from Olympus, and
cleft the green waves as she went back
to her father in his kingdom under the sea.