| Stories of the Ancient Greeks|
|by Charles D. Shaw|
|Delightful collection of both mythological and historical stories of the ancient Greeks, in language simple enough for younger listeners, yet appealing to all ages. Provides an excellent introduction to ancient Greece, beginning with 32 of the best-known myths, and then continuing with 32 short stories of the historical era, arranged in chronological order. An extensive pronunciation guide is included. Ages 8-11 |
THE TROJAN WAR
HEN Paris had carried off Helen to Troy, her husband
Menelaus called on the Greek leaders to help him bring
her back. That meant war, and some were very unwilling
to risk their lives and the lives of their soldiers in
such a cause. One named Odysseus, whom we will call by
his Latin name, Ulysses, pretended to be insane. He
yoked up a donkey and a cow to the plow, and sowed salt
in his field. The messenger who had been sent to him
placed the little son of Ulysses before the plow. Of
course the father turned his strange team aside and
could no longer pretend to be out of his mind.
He persuaded several to go with him to the war, among
them Achilles. The mother of this young man was
unwilling to have him fight against Troy, so she
dressed him like a girl and placed him among the
daughters of a friendly king. Ulysses heard of this
and put on the clothes of a traveling merchant. He
went to the palace with rings and bracelets and belts,
and two or three good swords. The girls came out to
see these treasures and were pleased with the jewelry.
One among them did not look at the rings and ornaments,
but lifted the swords and tried their weight.
 Ulysses said, "Young man, your dress is that of a girl,
but your eye is that of a man. You are Achilles, and
you must go with me to Ilion and to battle."
Two years were spent in collecting ships and men. The
entire company met at Aulis, ready to sail together.
But the winds were contrary, and no vessel could leave
the port. A deadly sickness broke out among the men.
It was found that one of the chiefs had hunted and
killed a stag sacred to Artemis, who was very angry.
The fortune-teller, or soothsayer, who was with the
company, said that the goddess demanded the sacrifice
of Iphigenia, the daughter of the chief.
The maiden was sent for and came, not knowing what was
to be done. An altar had been built. She was bound
and placed upon it, while the leaders stood waiting to
see her die. The priest raised the knife to strike,
but a thick cloud came down and hid the altar, and the
girl was gone. The goddess carried her to Tauris and
made her a priestess in the temple there.
The sickness passed away. The wind blew strongly out
of the port. The fleet sailed and soon reached the
coast of Troy. War began at once and lasted for nine
years without seeming any nearer an end.
A quarrel arose between Achilles and Agamemnon, the
king whose daughter was to have been sacrificed at
Aulis. Achilles said he would fight no more, but would
go home to Greece.
The gods and goddesses took a deep interest in the
case. Hera and Athene were angry at Paris and the
 but Aphrodite was friendly to them.
Ares took her side, but Poseidon helped the Greeks.
Fighting went on more fiercely than ever. The Trojans
won victory after victory, and the Greeks were driven
to their ships. The enemy followed and were about to
burn the vessels, when Poseidon went among the Greeks
as a soothsayer and gave them new courage. Ajax the
Greek met Hector of Troy, who darted his lance, which
struck but did no harm. Then Ajax took a huge stone
and threw it with all his might. It fell on Hector
like a falling mountain, and he sank to the ground hurt
and stunned. Zeus sent Apollo to cure him, and he soon
was busy again in the fight.
The battle went against the Greeks. Some chiefs were
wounded, others were killed. Once more the Trojans
reached the ships and were preparing to burn them.
A dear friend of Achilles, named Patroclus, went to the
hero and said, "Oh, my friend! If you will not come and
help us, lend me your armor and your soldiers, that I
may drive away these enemies before they destroy all
Achilles said, "Take my armor and my men and drive away
our foes, but do not try to follow them without my
The Trojans thought they saw the great Achilles with
his troops coming against them. They fled, and
Patroclus followed, driving them like sheep, until he
met Hector. These two fought, and Patroclus fell.
Then Hector took from him the armor of Achilles and put
 When Achilles heard that his friend was dead he started
up and said, "I will go out and fight with Hector this
His mother said, "Remember, you have no armor. Wait
until to-morrow, and you shall have a suit better than
She hastened to Hephæ, who made the armor, and at
the dawn of day it lay at the feet of Achilles. He
went into the battle and drove the Trojans inside the
wall of their city.
Only Hector stood outside waiting to meet him, but when
he saw Achilles coming he turned and ran. Achilles
followed him three times around the city; then Hector
stood and fought. The spear of Achilles pierced him,
and he fell.
Achilles striped the armor from the body, tied Hector's
feet behind his chariot, and drove around the city,
dragging the dead hero through the dust. The Trojans
stood weeping on the walls, among them the father and
mother and wife of Hector, lamenting at the dreadful
The Greeks took the body of Patroclus and burned it
with many honors, but Hector's corpse lay out upon the
plain. Priam, his father and king of Troy, heaped a
litter full of gold and rich dresses and other costly
gifts. The gods helped him and his servants to carry
it to the tent of Achilles as a ransom for the corpse
of Hector. It was accepted, and the weeping company
carried back those poor remains to the city and gave
them the highest funeral honors.
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