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Her loveliness with shame and with surprise
Froze my swift speech: she turning on my face The star-like sorrows of immortal eyes,
Spoke slowly in her place.
“I had great beauty: ask thou not my name:
No one can be more wise than destiny.
I brought calamity.” 1
$ 167. Its Origin. — At the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis all the gods had been invited with the exception of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, the goddess threw a golden apple among the guests, with the inscription, “For the fairest." Thereupon Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the apple. Not willing to decide so delicate a matter, Jupiter sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, was tending his flocks; and to him was committed the judgment. The goddesses appeared before him. Juno promised him power and riches, Minerva glory and renown in war, Venus the fairest of women for his wife, - each attempting to bias the judge in her own favor. Paris decided in favor of the last, thus making the two other goddesses his enemies. Under the protection of the goddess of love, he soon afterwards sailed to Greece. Here, he was hospitably received by Menelaus, whose wife, Helen, as fairest of her sex, was unfortunately the prize destined for Paris. This fair queen had in time past been sought by numerous suitors; but before her decision was made known, they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, son of Laërtes, king of Ithaca, had taken an oath that they would sustain her choice and avenge her cause if necessary. She was living happily with Menelaus when Paris becoming their guest made love to her; and then, aided by Venus, persuaded her to elope with him, and carried her to Troy. From this cause arose the famous Trojan War, — the theme of the greatest poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Vergil.
Menelaus called upon the chieftains of Greece to aid him in recovering his wife. They came forward with a few exceptions. Ulysses, for instance, who had married a cousin of Helen's, Penelope, daughter of Icarius, was happy in his wife and child, and loth to embark in the troublesome affair. Palamedes was sent to urge him. But when Palamedes arrived at Ithaca, Ulysses pretended madness. He yoked an ass and an ox together to the plough, and began to sow salt. The ambassador, to try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon the father turning the plough aside, showed
1 From Tennyson's Dream of Fair Women.
2 § 173.
that his insanity was a mere pretence. Being himself gained for the undertaking, Ulysses lent his aid to bring in other reluctant chiefs, especially Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis. Thetis being herself one of the immortals, and knowing that her son was fated to perish before Troy if he went on the expedition, endeavored to prevent his going. She, accordingly, sent him to the court of King Lycomedes of the island of Scyros, and induced him to conceal himself in the disguise of a maiden among the daughters of the king. Hearing that the young Achilles was there, Ulysses went disguised as a merchant to the palace, and offered for sale female ornaments, among which had been placed some arms. Forgetting the part he had assumed, Achilles handled the weapons, and thereby betrayed himself to Ulysses, who found no great difficulty in persuading him to disregard his mother's counsels and join his countrymen in the war.
It seems that from early youth Paris had been reared in obscurity, because there were forebodings that he would be the ruin of the state. These forebodings appeared, at last, likely to be realized ; for the Grecian armament now in preparation was the greatest that had ever been fitted out. Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ and brother of Menalaus, was chosen commander-in-chief. Pre-eminent among the warriors was the swift-footed Achilles. After him ranked his cousin Ajax, the son of Telamon, gigantic in size and of great courage, but dull of intellect; Diomede, the son of Tydeus, second only to Achilles in all the qualities of a hero ; Ulysses, famous for sagacity; and Nestor, the oldest of the Grecian chiefs, – to whom they all looked up for counsel.
But Troy was no feeble enemy. Priam the king, son of Laomedon and brother of Tithonus and Hesione, was now old ; but he had been a wise prince, and had strengthened his state by good government at home and numerous alliances with his neighbors. By his wife Hecuba, he had a numerous family; but the principal stay and support of his throne was his son Hector, one of the noblest figures of antiquity. He had, from the first, a presentiment of the ruin of Troy, but still he persevered in heroic resistance, though he by no means justified the wrong which brought this danger upon his country. He was united in marriage with the noble Andromache, and as husband and father his character was not less admirable than as warrior. The principal leaders on the side of the Trojans, beside Hector, were his relative, Æneas, the son of Venus and Anchises, Deiphobus, Glaucus, and Sarpedon.
Iphigenia in Aulis. — After two years of preparation, the Greek fleet and army assembled in the port of Aulis in Bæotia. Here Agamemnon, while hunting, killed a stag that was sacred to Diana. The goddess in retribution visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm which prevented the ships from leaving the port. Thereupon, Calchas the soothsayer announced that the wrath of the virgin goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin, and that none other but the daughter of the offender would be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, submitted to the inevitable, and sent for his daughter Iphigenia, under the pretence that her marriage to Achilles was to be at once performed. But, in the moment of sacrifice, Diana, relenting, snatched the maiden away and left a hind in her place. Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was conveyed to Tauris, where Diana made her priestess of her temple.
Iphigenia is represented as thus describing her feelings at the moment of sacrifice :
“I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears;
I, blinded by my tears,
“ Still strove to speak: my voice was thick with sighs,
As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
Waiting to see me die.
“ The high masts flickered as they lay afloat;
The crowds, the temples, wavered, and the shore;
Touched; and I knew no more.” 2
Protesilaüs and Laodamia. — The wind now proving fair, the fleet made sail and brought the forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans opposed their landing; and at the first onset one of
1 Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis, Iphigenia among the Tauri. ? From Tennyson's Dream of Fair Women.