|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
MENELAUS AND PARIS DO BATTLE
 WHEN the heralds of Agamemnon had led Briseis away, Achilles stripped off
his armour, for not again would he fight in the Trojan War. Down to
the sea-shore he went alone to weep for the loss of Briseis the
As he wept he called aloud to his mother Thetis. From the depths of
the sea she heard his cry, and swift on a wave she reached the shore.
Soon she was by the side of her son, and taking his hand, as when he
was a boy, she asked, "My child, why weepest thou?"
Then Achilles told how Agamemnon had taken from him Briseis, whom he
"Go to the palace of Zeus," he entreated her, "and beseech Zeus to give
me honour before the hosts of the Greeks. Let him grant victory to the
Trojans until the king sends to Achilles to beg for his help in the
So Thetis, for the sake of her dear son, hastened to Olympus, and
bending at the knee of Zeus she besought the god to avenge the wrong
done to Achilles.
At first Zeus, the Cloud-gatherer, was silent, as though he heard her
not. "Give me now thy promise," urged Thetis, "and confirm it with a
nod or else deny me."
Then the god nodded, and thereat Olympus shook to its foundations. So
Thetis knew that she had found favour in the eyes of Zeus, and leaving
the palace of the gods she plunged deep into the sea.
Zeus hastened to fulfil his promise, and sent to Agamemnon a "baneful
 As the king dreamed, he thought he heard Zeus bid him go forth to
battle against the Trojans, for he would surely take the city. But in
this Zeus deceived the king.
When Agamemnon awoke in the morning he was glad, for now he hoped to
win great honour among his warriors. Quickly he armed himself for
battle, throwing a great cloak over his tunic, and slinging his sword,
studded with silver, over his shoulder. In his right hand he bore the
scepter of his sires, the sign of his lordship over all the great hosts
Then when he was armed, the king assembled his great army, and after
telling his dream, he bade it march in silence toward the city.
But when the Trojans saw the Hellenes drawing near, they came out to
meet them "with clamour and with shouting like unto birds, even as when
there goeth up before heaven a clamour of cranes which flee from the
coming of winter and sudden rain."
As the Trojans approached, Menelaus saw Paris who had stolen his fair
wife, and he leaped from his chariot that he might slay the prince.
But Paris, when he saw the wrath of Menelaus, was afraid and hid
himself among his comrades.
Then Hector, his brother, who was the leader of the Trojans, mocked at
him for his cowardice, until Paris grew ashamed.
"Now will I challenge Menelaus to single combat," he cried. And Hector
rejoiced at his words and bade the warriors stay their arrows.
"Hearken, ye Trojans and ye Greeks," he cried, "Paris bids you lay down
your arms while he and his enemy Menelaus alone do battle for Helen and
for her wealth. And he who shall be victor shall keep the woman and
her treasures, while we will make with one another oaths of friendship
and of peace." So there, without the walls of the city, oaths were
taken both by the Greeks and the Trojans. But the heart of Priam, King
of Troy, was heavy lest harm
 should befall Paris, and he hastened
within the gates of the city that he might not watch the combat. "I
can in no wise bear to behold with mine eyes my dear son fighting with
Menelaus," he said. "But Zeus knoweth, and all the immortal gods, for
whether of the twain the doom of death is appointed."
Then Menelaus and Paris drew their swords, and Menelaus cried to Zeus to
grant him his aid, so that hereafter men "may shudder to wrong his host
that hath shown him kindness."
But it seemed that Zeus heard not, for when Menelaus flung his
ponderous spear, although it passed close to Paris, rending his tunic,
yet it did not wound him, and when he dealt a mighty blow with his
sword upon the helmet of his enemy, lo, his sword broke into pieces in his
Then in his wrath, Menelaus reproached the god: "Father Zeus," he
cried, "surely none of the gods is crueler than thou. My sword
breaketh in my hand, and my spear sped from my grasp in vain, and I
have not smitten my enemy."
Yet even if Zeus denied his help, Menelaus determined to slay his foe.
So he sprang forward and seized Paris by the strap of his helmet. But
the goddess Aphrodite flew to the aid of the prince, and the strap
broke in the hand of Menelaus. Before the king could again reach his
enemy, a mist sent by the goddess concealed the combatants one from the
other. Then, unseen by all, Aphrodite caught up Paris, "very easily as
a goddess may," and hid him in the city within his own house.
In vain did Menelaus search for his foe, yet well did he know that no
Trojan had given him shelter. For Paris was "hated of all even as
black death," because it was through his base deed that Troy had been
besieged for nine long years.
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