| 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 WOODEN HORSE
HE brave Hector was dead, but other friends went to the
help of Troy. One of these was Penthesilea, queen and
leader of the Amazons. These were women who were brave
fighters, and who did not permit any men to live in
their country. The queen met death at the hands of
Achilles, who was very sorry afterwards.
When Achilles was a child his mother had dipped him in
the river Styx, and the heel by which she had held him
was the only spot where he could be hurt.
During the war with Troy he had seen and loved Priam's
daughter, Polyxena. He told the Trojans that if she
would marry him, he would try to make peace between
them and the Greeks. While the matter was being talked
over in the temple of Apollo, Paris, with a poisoned
arrow, shot Achilles in the heel. He died; and Ajax
and Ulysses carried back his body to the ship. The
shining armor was given to Ulysses.
The Trojans had a statue of Athene, which was said to
have fallen from heaven. It was called the Palladium,
and they believe that while it was safe among them
their city could never be taken. Ulysses and a friend
went into the city one night, entered the temple, took
the statue, and carried it to the Greek ships.
 Even then the city stood unconquered. Ulysses thought
of a plan by which it might be captured. Some of the
ships were taken away and hidden behind an island.
Many men worked at building a large wood horse, which
they said was to be offered to Athene. It was hollow,
and a number of soldiers crept into it, after which it
was closed up and left standing in the camp.
The rest of the Greeks went on board their ships and
rowed away. The Trojans thought their enemies were
gone forever. So they came out of their city and
walked about, glad to be free. They went to the
deserted camp of the Greeks, and picked up old swords
and broken helmets and other things that had been left
on the ground.
Everybody wondered at the huge horse standing there.
"What can be the use of that?" said some. Others said,
"Let us take it into the city and put it in some
temple." Still others declared that it would be far
better not to touch it, but to leave it entirely alone.
Laocoön was a priest of the temple of Poseidon.
He advised them to be very careful. "Have you not
already suffered enough from the fraud of our enemies?
As for me, I fear the Greeks even when they bring
He threw his spear at the horse's side. A sound like a
groan followed the blow. The people were about to
break and burn the horse when a crowd of men were seen
dragging along a frightened Greek. His name was Sinon,
and it was part of the plan that he should remain in
the camp, so that he might be captured by the Trojans.
 The leaders asked him why he was there and what was the
meaning of this horse. He told them that Ulysses hated
him, and had left him on shore when the rest of the
Greeks went away. The horse, he said, was an offering
to Athene. It had been made very large so that it
might not be carried into the city. "Our prophet told
us," he added, "that if the Trojans ever took it they
would surely conquer us."
While the people were wondering how they could get the
horse into the city, two large snakes came up out of
the sea. They went straight to the place where
Laocoön's two sons were standing together, and
began to twine around them. The father ran to help his
boys, but the serpents wrapped themselves around him
also. The helpless Trojans stood by and saw the priest
and his children crushed and strangled in those
The people now thought that the horse must truly be
sacred, and with much labor, yet rejoicing, carried it
into the city. At night, Sinon, the Greek, opened the
horse and let out the soldiers. He also opened the
gates of the city to the other Greeks, who had come
The Trojans had gone happily to sleep, thinking it
needless to keep a watch, because no enemy was near.
They were wakened by the light of a great fire. Their
temples were in flames. They rushed into the streets
astonished and frightened. Greek soldiers met them at
their doors and showed them no mercy.
The old king Priam put on his armor that he might
fight; but the queen, Hecuba, persuaded him to go with
 her to the temple of Zeus and pray for help.
While they were kneeling at the altar their youngest
son rushed in and fell dead at their feet. After him
came the son of Achilles, who had wounded him. Priam
threw his spear at this fierce enemy, but the young man
struck him down beside his son.
Ilion, or Troy, was entirely destroyed. Many of the
people were killed. Many more, with the old queen and
her daughter, were carried away as captives.
Paris was among the dead. Menelaus found his wife
Helene, who had caused all this trouble and misery, and
they went back to Sparta, their old home. The Greek
leaders gathered their men who were left, and set said
for the land they had not seen for ten long years. The
Trojan war was over, and Troy was no more.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics