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Journeys Through Bookland by Charles H. Sylvester

Part 6 out of 8

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aid me to burst yon sallyport in the main wall of the castle. As many
of you as like not this service, or are but ill armed to meet it, do
you man the top of the outwork, draw your bowstrings to your ears, and
mind you quell with your shot whatever shall appear to man the rampart.
Noble Cedric, wilt thou take the direction of those which remain?"

"Not so!" said the Saxon; "lead I cannot; but may posterity curse me in
my grave, if I follow not with the foremost wherever thou shalt point
the way. The quarrel is mine, and well it becomes me to be in the van
of the battle."

"Yet, bethink thee, noble Saxon," said the knight, "thou hast neither
hauberk, nor corselet, nor aught but that light helmet, target, and

"The better!" answered Cedric; "I shall be the lighter to climb these
walls. And--forgive the boast, Sir Knight--thou shalt this day see the
naked breast of a Saxon as boldly presented to the battle as ever ye
beheld the steel corselet of a Norman."

"In the name of God, then," said the knight, "fling open the door, and
launch the floating bridge."

The portal, which led from the inner wall of the barbican to the moat,
and which corresponded with a sallyport in the main wall of the castle,
was now suddenly opened; the temporary bridge was then thrust forward,
and soon flashed in the waters, extending its length between the castle
and outwork, and forming a slippery and precarious passage for two men
abreast to cross the moat. Well aware of the importance of taking the
foe by surprise, the Black Knight, closely followed by Cedric, threw
himself upon the bridge, and reached the opposite side. Here he began
to thunder with his axe upon the gate of the castle, protected in part
from the shot and stones cast by the defenders by the ruins of the
former drawbridge, which the Templar had demolished in his retreat from
the barbican, leaving the counterpoise still attached to the upper part
of the portal. The followers of the knight had no such shelter; two
were instantly shot with cross-bow bolts, and two more fell into the
moat; the others retreated back into the barbican.

The situation of Cedric and of the Black Knight was now truly
dangerous, and would have been still more so but for the constancy of
the archers in the barbican, who ceased not to shower their arrows upon
the battlements, distracting the attention of those by whom they were
manned, and thus affording a respite to their two chiefs from the storm
of missiles which must otherwise have overwhelmed them. But their
situation was eminently perilous, and was becoming more so with every

"Shame on ye all!" cried De Bracy to the soldiers around him; "do ye
call yourselves cross-bowmen, and let these two dogs keep their station
under the walls of the castle? Heave over the coping stones from the
battlement, an better may not be. Get pickaxe and levers, and down with
that huge pinnacle!" pointing to a heavy piece of stone carved-work
that projected from the parapet.

At this moment the besiegers caught sight of the red flag upon the
angle of the tower, which Ulrica raised to show that she had fired the
castle. The stout yeoman Locksley was the first who was aware of it, as
he was hasting to the outwork, impatient to see the progress of the

"Saint George!" he cried--"Merry Saint George for England! To the
charge, bold yeomen! why leave ye the good knight and noble Cedric to
storm the pass alone? Make in, brave yeomen!--the castle is ours, we
have friends within. See yonder flag, it is the appointed signal--
Torquilstone is ours! Think of honor--think of spoil! One effort, and
the place is ours!"

With that he bent his good bow, and sent a shaft right through the
breast of one of the men-at-arms, who, under De Bracy's direction, was
loosening a fragment from one of the battlements to precipitate on the
heads of Cedric and the Black Knight. A second soldier caught from the
hands of the dying man the iron crow with which he heaved at and had
loosened the stone pinnacle, when, receiving an arrow through his
headpiece, he dropped from the battlements into the moat a dead man.
The men-at-arms were daunted, for no armor seemed proof against the
shot of this tremendous archer.

"Do you give ground, base knaves!" said De Bracy. "Give me the lever!"

And, snatching it up, he again assailed the loosened pinnacle, which
was of weight enough, if thrown down, not only to have destroyed the
remnant of the drawbridge which sheltered the two foremost assailants,
but also to have sunk the rude float of planks over which they had
crossed. All saw the danger, and the boldest avoided setting foot on
the raft. Thrice did Locksley bend his shaft against De Bracy, and
thrice did his arrow bound back from the knight's armor of proof.

"Curse on thy Spanish steel-coat!" said Locksley, "had English smith
forged it, these arrows had gone through, as if it had been silk or
sendal." He then began to call out. "Comrades! friends! noble Cedric!
bear back and let the ruin fall."

His warning voice was unheard, for the din which the knight himself
occasioned by his strokes upon the postern would have drowned twenty
war-trumpets. The faithful Gurth indeed sprung forward on the planked
bridge, to warn Cedric of his impending fate, or to share it with him.
But his warning would have come too late; the massive pinnacle already
tottered, and De Bracy, who still heaved at his task, would have
accomplished it had not the voice of the Templar sounded close in his

"All is lost, De Bracy; the castle burns."

"Thou art mad to say so!" replied the knight.

"It is all in a light flame on the western side. I have striven in vain
to extinguish it."

With the stern coolness which formed the basis of his character, Brian
de Bois-Guilbert communicated this hideous intelligence, which was not
so calmly received by his astonished comrade.

"Saints of Paradise!" said De Bracy; "what is to be done?"

"Lead thy men down," said the Templar, "as if to a sally; throw the
postern gate open. There are but two men who occupy the float, fling
them into the moat, push across for the barbican. I will charge from
the main gate, and attack the barbican on the outside; and if we can
regain that post, be assured we shall defend ourselves until we are
relieved, or at least till they grant us fair quarter."

"It is well thought upon," said De Bracy; "I will play my part.
Templar, thou wilt not fail me?"

"Hand and glove, I will not!" said Bois-Guilbert. "But haste thee, in
the name of God!"

De Bracy hastily drew his men together, and rushed down to the postern
gate, which he caused instantly to be thrown open. But scarce was this
done ere the portentous strength of the Black Knight forced his way
inward in despite of De Bracy and his followers. Two of the foremost
instantly fell, and the rest gave way notwithstanding all their
leader's efforts to stop them.

"Dogs!" said De Bracy, "will ye let _two_ men win our only pass for

"He is the devil!" said a veteran man-at-arms, bearing back from the
blows of their sable antagonist.

"And if he be the devil," replied De Bracy, "would you fly from him
into the mouth of hell? The castle burns behind us, villains!--let
despair give you courage, or let me forward! I will cope with this
champion myself."

And well and chivalrous did De Bracy that day maintain the fame he had
acquired in the civil wars of that dreadful period. The vaulted passage
to which the postern gave entrance, and in which these two redoubted
champions were now fighting hand to hand, rung with the furious blows
which they dealt each other, De Bracy with his sword, the Black Knight
with his ponderous axe.

At length the Norman received a blow which, though its force was partly
parried by his shield, for otherwise never more would De Bracy have
again moved limb, descended yet with such violence on his crest that he
measured his length on the paved floor.

"Yield thee, De Bracy," said the Black Champion, stooping over him, and
holding against the bars of his helmet the fatal poniard with which the
knights despatched their enemies, and which was called the dagger of
mercy--"Yield thee, Maurice De Bracy, rescue or no rescue, or thou art
but a dead man."

"I will not yield," replied De Bracy, faintly, "to an unknown
conqueror. Tell me thy name or work thy pleasure on me; it shall never
be said that Maurice De Bracy was prisoner to a nameless churl."

The Black Knight whispered something into the ear of the vanquished.
[Footnote: The Black Knight is Richard the Lion-Hearted, king of
England, who has returned from the Crusades to reclaim his throne from
his usurping brother.]

"I yield me to be true prisoner, rescue or no rescue," answered the
Norman, exchanging his tone of determined obstinacy for one of deep
though sullen submission.

"Go to the barbican," said the victor, in a tone of authority, "and
there wait my further orders."

"Yet first let me say," said De Bracy, "what it imports thee to know.
Wilfred of Ivanhoe is wounded and a prisoner, and will perish in the
burning castle without present help."

"Wilfred of Ivanhoe!" exclaimed the Black Knight--"prisoner, and
perish! The life of every man in the castle shall answer it if a hair
of his head be singed. Show me his chamber!"

"Ascend yonder winding stair," said De Bracy; "it leads to his
apartment. Wilt thou not accept my guidance?" he added in a submissive

"No. To the barbican, and there wait my orders, I trust thee not, De

During this combat and the brief conversation which ensued, Cedric, at
the head of a body of men, had pushed across the bridge as soon as they
saw the postern open, and drove back the dispirited and despairing
followers of De Bracy, of whom some asked quarter, some offered vain
resistance, and the greater part fled toward the courtyard.

De Bracy himself arose from the ground, and cast a sorrowful glance
after his conqueror. "He trusts me not!" he repeated; "but have I
deserved his trust?"

He then lifted his sword from the floor, took off his helmet in token
of submission, and, going to the barbican, gave up his sword to
Locksley, whom he met by the way.

As the fire augmented, symptoms of it became soon apparent in the
chamber where Ivanhoe was watched and tended by the Jewess Rebecca. He
had been awakened from his brief slumber by the noise of the battle;
and his attendant, who had, at his anxious desire, again placed herself
at the window to watch and report to him the fate of the attack, was
for some time prevented from observing either by the increase of the
smouldering and stifling vapor. At length the volumes of smoke which
rolled into the apartment, the cries for water, which were heard even
above the din of the battle, made them sensible of the progress of this
new danger.

"The castle burns," said Rebecca--"it burns! What can we do to save

"Fly, Rebecca, and save thine own life," said Ivanhoe, "for no human
aid can avail me."

"I had not found thee, Wilfred," said the Black Knight, who at that
instant entered the apartment, "but for thy shouts."

And seizing upon Ivanhoe, he bore him with him to the postern, and
having there delivered his burden to the care of two yeomen, again
entered the castle to assist in the rescue of the other prisoners.

One turret was now in bright flames, which flashed out furiously from
window and shot-hole. But in other parts the great thickness of the
walls and the vaulted roofs of the apartments resisted the progress of
the flames, and there the rage of man still triumphed, as the scarce
more dreadful element held mastery elsewhere; for the besiegers pursued
the defenders of the castle from chamber to chamber, and satiated in
their blood the vengeance which had long animated them against the
soldiers of the tyrant Front-de-Boeuf. Most of the garrison resisted to
the uttermost; few of them asked quarter; none received it. The air was
filled with groans and clashing of arms; the floors were slippery with
the blood of despairing and expiring wretches.

Through this scene of confusion, Cedric rushed, in quest of Rowena,
while the faithful Gurth, following him closely through the _mle_,
neglected his own safety while he strove to avert the blows that were
aimed at his master. The noble Saxon was so fortunate as to reach his
ward's apartment just as she had abandoned all hope of safety, and, with
a crucifix clasped in agony to her bosom, sat in expectation of instant
death. He committed her to the charge of Gurth, to be conducted in
safety to the barbican, the road to which was now cleared of the enemy,
and not yet interrupted by the flames. This accomplished, the loyal
Cedric hastened in quest of his friend Athelstane, determined, at every
risk to himself, to save that last scion of Saxon royalty. But ere
Cedric penetrated as far as the old hall In which he had himself been a
prisoner, the inventive genius of Wamba the Jester had procured
liberation for himself and his companion in adversity.

When the noise of the conflict announced that it was at the hottest,
the Jester began to shout, with the utmost power of his lungs, "Saint
George and the dragon! Bonny Saint George for merry England! The castle
is won!" And these sounds he rendered yet more fearful by banging
against each other two or three pieces of rusty armor which lay
scattered around the hall.

A guard, which had been stationed in the outer or ante-room, and whose
spirits were already in a state of alarm, took fright at Wamba's
clamor, and, leaving the door open behind them, ran to tell the Templar
that foemen had entered the old hall. Meantime the prisoners found no
difficulty in making their escape into the ante-room, and from thence
into the court of the castle, which was now the last scene of contest.
Here sat the fierce Templar, mounted on horseback, surrounded by
several of the garrison both on horse and foot, who had united their
strength to that of this renowned leader, in order to secure the last
chance of safety and retreat which remained to them. The drawbridge had
been lowered by his orders, but the passage was beset; for the archers,
who had hitherto only annoyed the castle on that side by their
missiles, no sooner saw the flames breaking out, and the bridge
lowered, than they thronged to the entrance, as well to prevent the
escape of the garrison as to secure their own share of booty ere the
castle should be burned down. On the other hand, a party of the
besiegers, who had entered by the postern, were now issuing out into
the courtyard, and attacking with fury the remnant of the defenders,
who were thus assaulted on both sides at once. Animated, however, by
despair, and supported by the example of their indomitable leader, the
remaining soldiers of the castle fought with the utmost valor; and,
being well armed, succeeded more than once in driving back the
assailants, though much inferior in numbers.

Athelstane, who was slothful, but not cowardly, beheld the Templar.

"By the soul of Saint Edward," he said, "yonder over-proud knight shall
die by my hand!"

"Think what you do!" cried Wamba; "hasty hand catches frog for fish. Ye
may be leader, but I will be no follower; no bones of mine shall be
broken. And you without armor too! Bethink you, silk bonnet never kept
out steel blade. Nay, then, if wilful will to water, wilful must
drench. _Deus vobiscum_ [Footnote: _Deus vobiscum_ means _God be with
you_] most doughty Athelstane!" he concluded, loosening the hold which
he had hitherto kept upon the Saxon's tunic.

To snatch a mace from the pavement, on which it lay beside one whose
dying gasp had just relinquished it, to rush on the Templar's band, and
to strike in quick succession to the right and left, levelling a
warrior at each blow, was, for Athelstane's great strength, now
animated with unusual fury, but the work of a single moment; he was
soon within two yards of Bois-Guilbert, whom he defied in his loudest

"Turn, false-hearted Templar! turn, limb of a band of murdering and
hypocritical robbers!"

"Dog!" said the Templar, grinding his teeth, "I will teach thee to
blaspheme the holy order of the Temple of Zion;" and with these words,
half-wheeling his steed, he made a demi-courbette toward the Saxon, and
rising in the stirrups, so as to take full advantage of the descent of
the horse, he discharged a fearful blow upon the head of Athelstane.

"Well," said Wamba, "that silken bonnet keeps out no steel blade!" So
trenchant was the Templar's weapon, that it shore asunder, as it had
been a willow-twig, the tough and plaited handle of the mace, which the
ill-fated Saxon reared to parry the blow, and, descending on his head,
levelled him with the earth.

"_Ha! Beau-seant!_" exclaimed Bois-Guilbert, "thus be it to the
maligners of the Temple knights!" Taking advantage of the dismay which
was spread by the fall of Athelstane, and calling aloud, "Those who
would save themselves, follow me!" he pushed across the drawbridge,
dispersing the archers who would have intercepted them. He was followed
by his Saracens, and some five or six men-at-arms, who had mounted
their horses. The Templar's retreat was rendered perilous by the
numbers of arrows shot off at him and his party; but this did not
prevent him from galloping round to the barbican, of which, according
to his previous plan, he supposed it possible De Bracy might have been
in possession.

"De Bracy! De Bracy!" he shouted, "art thou there?"

"I am here," replied De Bracy, "but I am a prisoner."

"Can I rescue thee?" cried Bois-Guilbert.

"No," replied De Bracy; "I have rendered me, rescue or no rescue. I
will be true prisoner. Save thyself; there are hawks abroad. Put the
seas betwixt you and England; I dare not say more."

"Well," answered the Templar, "an thou wilt tarry there, remember I
have redeemed word and glove. Be the hawks where they will, methinks
the walls of the preceptory of Templestowe will be cover sufficient,
and thither will I, like heron to her haunt."

Having thus spoken, he galloped off with his followers.

Those of the castle who had not gotten to horse, still continued to
fight desperately with the besiegers, after the departure of the
Templar, but rather in despair of quarter than that they entertained
any hope of escape. The fire was spreading rapidly through all parts of
the castle, when Ulrica, who had first kindled it, appeared on a
turret, in the guise of one of the ancient furies, yelling forth a war-
song, such as was of yore raised on the field of battle by the scalds
of the yet heathen Saxons. Her long dishevelled gray hair flew back
from her uncovered head; the inebriating delight of gratified vengeance
contended in her eyes with the fire of insanity; and she brandished the
distaff which she held in her hand, as if she had been one of the Fatal
Sisters who spin and abridge the thread of human life.

The towering flames had now surmounted every obstruction, and rose to
the evening skies one huge and burning beacon, seen far and wide
through the adjacent country. Tower after tower crashed down, with
blazing roof and rafter; and the combatants were driven from the
courtyard. The vanquished, of whom very few remained, scattered and
escaped into the neighboring wood. The victors, assembling in large
bands, gazed with wonder, not unmixed with fear, upon the flames, in
which their own ranks and arms glanced dusky red. The maniac figure of
the Saxon Ulrica was for a long time visible on the lofty stand she had
chosen, tossing her arms abroad with wild exultation, as if she reigned
empress of the conflagration which she had raised. At length, with a
terrific crash, the whole turret gave way, and she perished in the
flames which had consumed her tyrant. An awful pause of horror silenced
each murmur of the armed spectators, who, for the space of several
minutes, stirred not a finger, save to sign the cross. The voice of
Locksley was then heard--"Shout, yeomen! the den of tyrants is no more!
Let each bring his spoil to our chosen place of rendezvous at the
trysting-trees in the Harthill Walk; for there at break of day will we
make just partition among our own bands, together with our worthy
allies in this great deed of vengeance."


[Footnote: One of the greatest poems that has ever been written is the
_Iliad,_ an epic of great length dealing with the siege of Troy. The
author is generally considered to be the old Greek poet and singer
Homer. although some authorities believe that the poem was not all
written by any one man.

The selection from the _Iliad_ which is given here is from the
translation by Alexander Pope. The passage has been abridged somewhat.]

NOTE.--Of all the mythical or half-mythical events which the ancient
Greeks believed formed a part of their early history, there is none
about which more stories have grown up than the Trojan War. According
to the Greek belief, this struggle took place somewhere in the twelfth
century B. C., but it now seems entirely likely that there was really
no such contest, and that the stories told about it were but myths.

To the marriage of Peleus with the sea-nymph Thetis, all the gods were
invited except Eris, or Discord, who, angered at the slight, determined
to have vengeance. She took, therefore, a most beautiful golden apple
on which were inscribed the words _For The Fairest,_ and tossed it
into the midst of the merry wedding party. Instantly a dispute arose,
Juno, queen of the gods, Minerva, goddess of wisdom, and Venus, goddess
of love and beauty, each claiming the fruit. Finally it was decided to
leave the choice to an impartial judge, and Paris, son of Priam, the
old king of Troy, was chosen.

Paris was utterly ignorant of the fact that he was the son of the king,
having been banished from his home in his infancy because a prophecy
had foretold that he should bring about the destruction of his native
city. Rescued and brought up by a shepherd, he lived a simple
shepherd's life on Mount Ida.

When the three radiant goddesses stood before him he was overcome with
the difficulty of his task, and each of the three attempted to help him
out by offering a bribe. Juno offered prosperity through life, Minerva
wisdom and influence, but Venus, smiling slyly, promised him the love
of the most beautiful woman in the world. Moved not by this bribe, but
by the unsurpassable beauty of Venus, Paris awarded her the apple, and
thus gained for himself and for his people the hatred of Juno and

Later Paris was received back into his father's palace, and was sent on
an embassy to the home of Menelaus, king of Sparta, in Greece. While at
the home of Menelaus, Paris fell in love with Helen, the wife of his
host, the most beautiful woman in the world, and persuaded her to
return to Troy with him. Thoroughly roused, Menelaus sought the aid of
the other Grecian kings in his attempt to get back his wife and punish
the Trojans for the treachery of their prince, and a huge expedition
under the command of Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus, set out for Troy.
The Grecian army could make no immediate head against the Trojans, and
for nine years it encamped outside the city of Troy, attempting to
bring about its downfall. Battles and contests between single champions
were frequent, but neither side seemed able to win any permanent

Achilles was the bravest and strongest of the Grecian heroes, and all
looked to him as the man through whom success must come. However, he
became angered at Agamemnon and withdrew from the contest, and victory
seemed about to fall to the Trojans. One day Patroclus, the friend and
kinsman of Achilles, distressed at the Greek fortunes, removed of
Achilles his armor, and at the head of Achilles's own men, went forth
to do battle with the Trojans. He was slain by Hector, the son of
Priam, the bravest of the Trojan defenders, and in anger at his
friend's death, Achilles returned to the conflict. The battle was waged
outside the city, and owing to the prowess of Achilles, matters looked
bad for the Trojans.

Apollo, god of light, who favored the Trojans, took upon himself the
form of a Trojan warrior, and while appearing to flee, drew Achilles
after him, and thus allowed the Trojans to gain the shelter of the city
walls. The selection from the _Iliad_ given here begins just as
Apollo throws off his disguise and reveals his identity to Achilles.

Thus to their bulwarks, smit with panic fear,
The herded Ilians* rush like driven deer:
There safe they wipe the briny drops away,
And drown in bowls the labors of the day.
Close to the walls, advancing o'er the fields
Beneath one roof of well-compacted shields,
March, bending on, the Greeks' embodied powers,
Far stretching in the shade of Trojan towers.
Great Hector singly stay'd: chain'd down by fate
There fix'd he stood before the Scaean gate;
Still his bold arms determined to employ,
The guardian still of long-defended Troy.

*[Footnote: _Ilium_, or _Ilion_, was another name for Troy,
and the Ilians were Trojans.]

Apollo now to tired Achilles turns
(The power confess'd in all his glory burns):
"And what," he cries, "has Peleus'* son in view,
With mortal speed a godhead to pursue?
For not to thee to know the gods' is given,
Unskill'd to trace the latent marks of heaven.
What boots thee now, that Troy forsook the plain?
Vain thy past labor, and thy present vain:
Safe in their walls are now her troops bestow'd,
While here thy frantic rage attacks a god."

*[Footnote: Achilles was the son of Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis.]

The chief incensed--"Too partial god of day!
To check my conquests in the middle way:
How few in Ilion else had refuge found!
What gasping numbers now had bit the ground!
Thou robb'st me of a glory justly mine,
Powerful of godhead, and of fraud divine:
Mean fame, alas! for one of heavenly strain,
To cheat a mortal who repines in vain."

Then to the city, terrible and strong,
With high and haughty steps he tower'd along,
So the proud courser, victor of the prize,
To the near goal with double ardor flies.
Him, as he blazing shot across the field,
The careful eyes of Priam* first beheld
Not half so dreadful rises to the sight
Through the thick gloom of some tempestuous night,
Orion's dog* (the year when autumn weighs),
And o'er the feebler stars exerts his rays;
Terrific glory! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death,
So flamed his fiery mail. Then wept the sage:
He strikes his reverend head, now white with age;
He lifts his wither'd arms; obtests* the skies;
He calls his much-loved son with feeble cries:
The son, resolved Achilles' force to dare,
Full at the Scaean gates expects* the war;
While the sad father on the rampart stands,
And thus adjures him with extended hands:

*[Footnote: Priam was the old king of Troy, father of Hector.]
*[Footnote: _Orion's dog_ means Sirius, the dog star, which was
believed by the ancients to be a star of very bad omen.]
*[Footnote: _Obtests_ means _entreats_.]
*[Footnote: _Expects_ here means _awaits_.]

"Ah stay not, stay not! guardless and alone;
Hector! my loved, my dearest, bravest son!
Mehinks already I behold thee slain,
And stretch'd beneath that fury of the plain,
Implacable Achilles! might'st thou be
To all the gods no dearer than to me!
Thee, vultures wild should scatter round the shore,
And bloody dogs grow fiercer from thy gore.
How many valiant sons I late enjoy'd,
Valiant in vain! by thy cursed arm destroy'd,
Or, worse than slaughter'd, sold in distant isles
To shameful bondage, and unworthy toils,
What sorrows then must their sad mother know,
What anguish I? unutterable woe!
Yet less that anguish, less to her, to me,
Less to all Troy, if not deprived of thee.
Yet shun Achilles! enter yet the wall;
And spare thyself, thy father, spare us all!
Save thy dear life; or, if a soul so brave
Neglect that thought, thy dearer glory save.
Pity, while yet I live, these silver hairs;
While yet thy father feels the woes he bears,
Yet cursed with sense! a wretch, whom in his rage
(All trembling on the verge of helpless age)
Great Jove has placed, sad spectacle of pain!
The bitter dregs of fortune's cup to drain:
To fill the scenes of death his closing eyes,
And number all his days by miseries!
Who dies in youth and vigor, dies the best,
Struck through with wounds, all honest on the breast.
But when the Fates* in fulness of their rage
Spurn the hoar head of unresisting age,
In dust the reverend lineaments deform,
And pour to dogs the life-blood scarcely warm:
This, this is misery! the last, the worst,
That man can feel! man, fated to be cursed!"

*[Footnote: The Fates were thought of by the ancient peoples as
three old women, who spun the thread of human life, twisted it,
and cut it off whenever they thought it was long enough.]

He said, and acting what no words could say,
Rent from his head the silver locks away.
With him the mournful mother bears a part;
Yet all her sorrow turn not Hector's heart.
The zone unbraced, her bosom she display'd;
And thus, fast-falling the salt tears, she said:

"Have mercy on me, O my son! revere
The words of age; attend a parent's prayer!
If ever thee in these fond arms I press'd,
Or still'd thy infant clamors at this breast;
Ah, do not thus our helpless years forego,
But, by our walls secured, repel the foe."

So they,* while down their cheeks the torrents roll;
But fix'd remains the purpose of his soul;
Resolved he stands, and with a fiery glance
Expects the hero's terrible advance.
So, roll'd up in his den, the swelling snake
Beholds the traveller approach the brake;
When fed with noxious herbs his turgid veins
Have gather'd half the poisons of the plains;
He burns, he stiffens with collected ire,
And his red eyeballs glare with living fire.*
Beneath a turret, on his shield reclined,
He stood, and question'd thus his mighty mind:

*[Footnote: The word _spoke_ is omitted here.]
*[Footnote: Homer is famous for such comparisons as these. If you
ever come across the term "Homeric simile," you may know that it
means such a long, carefully worked out comparison as this.]

"Where lies my way? to enter in the wall?
Honor and shame the ungenerous thought recall:
Shall proud Polydamas* before the gate
Proclaim, his counsels are obeyed too late,
Which timely follow'd but the former night
What numbers had been saved by Hector's flight?
That wise advice rejected with disdain,
I feel my folly in my people slain.
Methinks my suffering country's voice I hear,
But most her worthless sons insult my ear,
On my rash courage charge the chance of war,
And blame those virtues which they cannot share.
No--if I e'er return, return I must
Glorious, my country's terror laid in dust:
Or if I perish, let her see me fall
In field at least, and fighting for her wall."

*[Footnote: Polydamas, a Trojan hero and a friend of Hector's,
had previously advised prudence and retreat within the wall.]

Thus pondering, like a god the Greek drew nigh;
His dreadful plumage nodded from on high;
The Pelian* javelin, in his better hand,
Shot trembling rays that glitter'd o'er the land;
And on his breast the beamy splendor shone,
Like Jove's own lightning, o'er the rising sun.
As Hector sees, unusual terrors rise;
Struck by some god, he fears, recedes, and flies.
He leaves the gates, he leaves the wall behind:
Achilles follows like the winged wind.
Thus at the panting dove a falcon flies
(The swiftest racer of the liquid skies),
Just when he holds, or thinks he holds his prey,
Obliquely wheeling through the aerial way,
With open beak and shrilling cries he springs,
And aims his claws, and shoots upon his wings:
No less fore-right* the rapid chase they held,
One urged by fury, one by fear impell'd:
Now circling round the walls their course maintain,
Where the high watch-tower overlooks the plain;
Now where the fig-trees spread their umbrage broad,
(A wider compass), smoke along the road.
Next by Scamander's* double source they bound,
Where two famed fountains burst the parted ground;
This hot through scorching clefts is seen to rise,
With exhalations streaming to the skies;
That the green banks in summer's heat o'erflows,
Like crystal clear, and cold as winter snows:
Each gushing fount a marble cistern fills,
Whose polished bed receives the falling rills;
Where Trojan dames (ere yet alarm'd by Greece)
Wash'd their fair garments in the days of peace.*
By these they pass'd, one chasing, one in flight
The mighty fled, pursued by stronger might:
Swift was the course; no vulgar prize they play,
No vulgar victim must reward the day:
Such as in races crown the speedy strife:
The prize contended was great Hector's life.

*[Footnote: _Pelian_ is an adjective formed from _Peleus_,
the name of the father of Achilles.]
*[Footnote: _Fore-right_ means _straight forward_.]
*[Footnote: The Scamander was a famous river that flowed near the
city of Troy. According to the _Iliad_, its source was two springs,
one a cold and one a hot spring.]
*[Footnote: It was not, in these very ancient times, thought beneath
the dignity of even a princess to wash her linen in some clear river
or spring.]

As when some hero's funerals are decreed
In grateful honor of the mighty dead;*
Where high rewards the vigorous youth inflame
(Some golden tripod, or some lovely dame)
The panting coursers swiftly turn the goal,
And with them turns the raised spectator's soul:
Thus three times round the Trojan wall they fly.
The gazing gods lean forward from the sky.*

*[Footnote: The favorite way, among the ancients, of doing honor to
a man after his death was to hold a sort of a funeral festival,
where contests in running, wrestling, boxing, and other feats of
strength and skill were held.]
*[Footnote: The gods play a very important part in the _Iliad_.
Sometimes, as here, they simply watch the struggle from their home
above Olympus; sometimes, as in the first lines of this selection,
they actually descend to the battlefield and take part in the

As through the forest, o'er the vale and lawn,
The well-breath'd beagle drives the flying fawn,
In vain he tries the covert of the brakes,
Or deep beneath the trembling thicket shakes;
Sure of the vapor* in the tainted dews,
The certain hound his various maze pursues.
Thus step by step, where'er the Trojan wheel'd,
There swift Achilles compass'd round the field.
Oft as to reach the Dardan* gates he bends,
And hopes the assistance of his pitying friends,
(Whose showering arrows, as he coursed below,
From the high turrets might oppress the foe),
So oft Achilles turns him to the plain:
He eyes the city, but he eyes in vain.
As men in slumbers seem with speedy pace,
One to pursue, and one to lead the chase,
Their sinking limbs the fancied course forsake,
Nor this can fly, nor that can overtake;
No less the laboring heroes pant and strain:
While that but flies, and this pursues in vain.

*[Footnote: _Vapor_ here means _scent_.]
*[Footnote: _Dardan_ is an old word for _Trojan_.]

What god, O Muse,* assisted Hector's force
With fate itself so long to hold the course?
Phoebus* it was; who, in his latest hour,
Endued his knees with strength, his nerves with power.
And great Achilles, lest some Greek's advance
Should snatch the glory from his lifted lance,
Sign'd to the troops to yield his foe the way,
And leave untouch'd the honors of the day.

*[Footnote: The Muses were nine sister goddesses who inspired poetry
and music. No ancient Greek poet ever undertook to write without
first seeking the aid of the Muse who presided over the particular
kind of poetry that he was writing. Homer here addresses Calliope,
the Muse of epic poetry.]
*[Footnote: Phoebus is Apollo, whom at the opening of this selection
we found aiding Hector by misleading Achilles.]

Jove* lifts the golden balances, that show
The fates of mortal men, and things below:
Here each contending hero's lot he tries,
And weighs, with equal hand, their destinies.
Low sinks the scale surcharged with Hector's fate;
Heavy with death it sinks, and hell receives the weight.

*[Footnote: Jove, or Jupiter, was the king of gods and men.]

Then Phoebus left him. Fierce Minerva* flies
To stern Pelides,* and triumphing, cries:
"O loved of Jove! this day our labors cease,
And conquest blazes with full beams on Greece.
Great Hector falls; that Hector famed so far,
Drunk with renown, insatiable of war,
Falls by thy hand, and mine! nor force, nor flight,
Shall more avail him, nor his god of light.*
See, where in vain he supplicates above,
Roll'd at the feet of unrelenting Jove;
Rest here: myself will lead the Trojan on,
And urge to meet the fate he cannot shun."

*[Footnote: Minerva, goddess of wisdom, was the special protector of
the Greeks. Throughout the struggle she was anxious to take part
against the Trojans, but much of the time Jupiter would not let her
fight; he allowed her merely to advise.]
*[Footnote: The ending--_ides_ means _son of_. Thus Pelides means
_son of Peleus._]
*[Footnote: The _god of light_ was Apollo.]

Her voice divine the chief with joyful mind
Obey'd; and rested, on his lance reclined,
While like Dephobus* the martial dame
(Her face, her gesture, and her arms the same),
In show and aid, by hapless Hector's side
Approach'd, and greets him thus with voice belied:

*[Footnote: Dephobus was one of the brothers of Hector. Minerva
assumes his form, and deceives Hector into thinking that his
brother has come to aid him.]

"Too long, O Hector! have I borne the sight
Of this distress, and sorrow'd in thy flight:
It fits us now a noble stand to make,
And here, as brothers, equal fates partake."

Then he: "O prince! allied in blood and fame,
Dearer than all that own a brother's name;
Of all that Hecuba* to Priam bore,
Long tried, long loved: much loved, but honor'd more!
Since you, of all our numerous race alone
Defend my life, regardless of your own."

*[Footnote: _Hecuba_ was the name of Hector's mother.]

Again the goddess:* "Much my father's prayer,
And much my mother's, press'd me to forbear:
My friends embraced my knees, adjured my stay,
But stronger love impell'd, and I obey.
Come then, the glorious conflict let us try,
Let the steel sparkle, and the javelin fly;
Or let us stretch Achilles on the field,
Or to his arm our bloody trophies yield."

*[Footnote: _Spoke_, or _said_, is understood here.]

Fraudful she said; then swiftly march'd before:
The Dardan hero shuns his foe no more.
Sternly they met. The silence Hector broke:
His dreadful plumage nodded as he spoke;

"Enough, O son of Peleus! Troy has view'd
Her walls thrice circled, and her chief pursued
But now some god within me bids me try
Thine, or my fate: I kill thee, or I die.
Yet on the verge of battle let us stay,
And for a moment's space suspend the day;
Let Heaven's high powers be call'd to arbitrate
The just conditions of this stern debate
(Eternal witnesses of all below,
And faithful guardians of the treasured vow)!
To them I swear; if, victor in the strife,
Jove by these hands shall shed thy noble life,
No vile dishonor shall thy corse pursue;
Stripp'd of its arms alone (the conqueror's due)
The rest to Greece uninjured I'll restore:
Now plight thy mutual oath, I ask no more."*

*[Footnote: It meant more to an ancient Greek to have his body
given up to his family, that it might be buried with proper rite's,
than it does to a modern soldier, for the Greeks believed that the
soul could not find rest until the body was properly buried.
This makes the refusal of Achilles to agree to Hector's request
seem all the more cruel.]

"Talk not of oaths" (the dreadful chief replies,
While anger flash'd from his disdainful eyes),
"Detested as thou art, and ought to be,
Nor oath nor pact Achilles plights with thee:
Such pacts as lambs and rabid wolves combine,
Such leagues as men and furious lions join,
To such I call the gods! one constant state
Of lasting rancor and eternal hate:

No thought but rage, and never-ceasing strife
Till death extinguish rage, and thought, and life.
Rouse then my forces this important hour,
Collect thy soul, and call forth all thy power.
No further subterfuge, no further chance;
Tis Pallas,* Pallas gives thee to my lance.
Each Grecian ghost, by thee deprived of breath,
Now hovers round, and calls thee to thy death."

*[Footnote: _Pallas_ was another name for Minerva.]

He spoke, and launch'd his javelin at the foe;
But Hector shunn'd the meditated blow:
He stoop'd, while o'er his head the flying spear,
Sang innocent, and spent its force in air.
Minerva watch'd it falling on the land,
Then drew, and gave to great Achilles' hand,
Unseen of Hector, who, elate with joy,
Now shakes his lance, and braves the dread of Troy.

"The life you boasted to that javelin given,
Prince! you have miss'd. My fate depends on Heaven.
To thee, presumptuous as thou art, unknown,
Or* what must prove my fortune, or thy own.
Boasting is but an art, our fears to blind,
And with false terrors sink another's mind.
But know, whatever fate I am to try,
By no dishonest wound shall Hector die.
I shall not fall a fugitive at least,
My soul shall bravely issue from my breast.
But first, try thou my arm; and may this dart
End all my country's woes, deep buried in thy heart."

*[Footnote: _Or_ is here used instead of _either_.]

The weapon flew, its course unerring held,
Unerring, but the heavenly* shield repell'd
The mortal dart; resulting with a bound
From off the ringing orb it struck the ground.
Hector beheld his javelin fall in vain,
Nor other lance, nor other hope remain;
He calls Dephobus, demands a spear--
In vain, for no Dephobus was there.
All comfortless he stands: then, with a sigh:
"'Tis so--Heaven wills it, and my hour is nigh!
I deem'd Dephobus had heard my call,
But he secure lies guarded in the wall.
A god deceived me: Pallas, 'twas thy deed,
Death and black fate approach; 'tis I must bleed.
No refuge now, no succor from above.
Great Jove deserts me, and the son of Jove,*
Propitious once, and kind! Then welcome fate!
'Tis true I perish, yet I perish great:
Yet in a mighty deed I shall expire,
Let future ages hear it, and admire!"

*[Footnote: The armor of Achilles had been made for him by Vulcan,
god of fire.]
*[Footnote: This reference is to Apollo.]


Fierce, at the word, his weighty sword he drew,
And, all collected, on Achilles flew.
So Jove's bold bird,* high balanced in the air,
Stoops from the clouds to truss the quivering hare.
Nor less Achilles his fierce soul prepares:
Before his breast the flaming shield he bears
Refulgent orb! above his fourfold cone
The gilded horse-hair sparkled in the sun,
Nodding at every step (Vulcanian frame!):
And as he moved, his figure seem'd on flame.
As radiant Hesper* shines with keener light,
Far-beaming o'er the silver host of night,
When all the starry train emblaze the sphere:
So shone the point of great Achilles' spear.
In his right hand he waves the weapon round,
Eyes the whole man, and meditates the wound;
But the rich mail Patroclus* lately wore
Securely cased the warrior's body o'er.
One space at length he spies, to let in fate,
Where 'twixt the neck and throat the jointed plate
Gave entrance: through that penetrable part
Furious he drove the well-directed dart:
Nor pierced the windpipe yet, nor took the power
Of speech, unhappy! from thy dying hour.
Prone on the field the bleeding warrior lies,
While, thus triumphing, stern Achilles cries:

*[Footnote: The eagle was sacred to Jove.]
*[Footnote: _Hesper_ was the old name for Venus, the evening star,
the brightest of the planets.]
*[Footnote: Patroclus was the friend of Achilles, whom Hector had
killed. Hector had, after the usual custom, taken possession of
the armor of Patroclus, which had originally belonged to Achilles.]

"At last is Hector stretch'd upon the plain,
Who fear'd no vengeance for Patroclus slain:
Then, prince! you should have fear'd what now you feel;
Achilles absent was Achilles still:
Yet a short space the great avenger stayed,
Then low in dust thy strength and glory laid.
Peaceful he sleeps, with all our rites adorn'd,
Forever honor'd, and forever mourn'd:
While cast to all the rage of hostile power,
Thee birds shall mangle, and the dogs' devour."

Then Hector, fainting at the approach of death:
By thy own soul! by those who gave thee breath!
By all the sacred prevalence of prayer;
Oh, leave me not for Grecian dogs to tear!
The common rites of sepulture bestow,
To soothe a father's and a mother's woe:
Yet their large gifts procure an urn at least,
And Hector's ashes in his county rest."

"No, wretch accursed!" relentless he replies
(Flames, as he spoke, shot flashing from his eyes);
"Not those who gave me breath should bid me spare,
For all the sacred prevalence of prayer,
Would I myself the bloody banquet join!
So--to the dogs that carcase I resign.
Should Troy, to bribe me, bring forth all her store,
And giving thousands, offer thousands more;
Should Dardan Priam, and his weeping dame,
Drain their whole realm to buy one funeral flame:
Their Hector on the pile they should not see.
Nor rob the vultures of one limb of thee."

Then thus the chief his dying accents drew:
"Thy rage, implacable! too well I knew:
The Furies* that relentless breast have steel'd,
And cursed thee with a heart that cannot yield.
Yet think, a day will come, when fate's decree
And angry gods shall wreak this wrong on thee;
Phoebus and Paris shall avenge my fate,
And stretch thee here before the Scaean gate."

*[Footnote: The Furies were three hideous sisters who sometimes
drove people mad with rage and remorse.]

He ceased. The Fates suppress'd his laboring breath,
And his eyes stiffen'd at the hand of death;
To the dark realm the spirit wings its way
(The manly body left a load of clay),
And plaintive glides along the dreary coast,
A naked, wandering, melancholy ghost!

Achilles, musing as he roll'd his eyes
O'er the dead hero, thus unheard, replies.
"Die thou the first! When Jove and heaven ordain,
I follow thee."--He said, and stripp'd the slain.
Then forcing backward from the gaping wound
The reeking javelin, cast it on the ground.
The thronging Greeks behold with wondering eyes
His manly beauty and superior size;
While some, ignobler, the great dead deface
With wounds ungenerous, or with taunts disgrace.

"How changed that Hector, who like Jove of late
Sent lightning on our fleets, and scatter'd fate!"

High o'er the slain the great Achilles stands,
Begirt with heroes and surrounding bands;
And thus aloud, while all the host attends:
"Princes and leaders! countrymen and friends!
Since now at length the powerful will of heaven
The dire destroyer to our arm has given,
Is not Troy fallen already? Haste, ye powers!
See, if already their deserted towers
Are left unmann'd; or if they yet retain
The souls of heroes, their great Hector slain.
But what is Troy, or glory what to me?
Or why reflects my mind on aught but thee,
Divine Patroclus! Death hath seal'd his eyes;
Unwept, unhonor'd, uninterr'd he lies!
Can his dear image from my soul depart,
Long as the vital spirit moves my heart?
If in the melancholy shades below,
The flames of friends and lovers cease to glow,
Yet mine shall sacred last; mine, undecay'd,
Burn on through death, and animate my shade.
Meanwhile, ye sons of Greece, in triumph bring
The corpse of Hector, and your paeans sing.
Be this the song, slow-moving toward the shore,
Hector is dead, and Ilion is no more."

Then his fell soul a thought of vengeance bred
(Unworthy of himself, and of the dead);
The nervous* ancles bored, his feet he bound
With thongs inserted through the double wound;
These fix'd up high behind the rolling wain,
His graceful head was trail'd along the plain.
Proud on his car the insulting victor stood,
And bore aloft his arms, distilling blood.
He smites the steeds; the rapid chariot flies;
The sudden clouds of circling dust arise.
Now lost is all that formidable air;
The face divine, and long-descending hair,
Purple the ground, and streak the sable sand;
Deform'd, dishonor'd, in his native land,
Given to the rage of an insulting throng,
And, in his parents' sight, now dragg'd along!

*[Footnote: _Nervous_ here means _strong, sinewy_.]

The mother first beheld with sad survey;
She rent her tresses, venerable gray,
And cast, far off, the regal veils away.
With piercing shrieks his bitter fate she moans,
While the sad father answers groans with groans.
Tears after tears his mournful cheeks o'erflow,
And the whole city wears one face of woe:
No less than if the rage of hostile fires,
From her foundations curling to her spires,
O'er the proud citadel at length should rise,
And the last blaze send Ilion to the skies.



NOTE.--As the _Iliad_ is the greatest of Greek poems, so the _Aeneid_ is
the greatest of Latin poems. It was written by Vergil, who lived in the
first century B. C., and is one of the classics which every one who
studies Latin takes up. References to it are almost as frequent in
literature as are references to the _Iliad_, to which it is closely
related. The translation from which this selection of the _Wooden Horse_
is taken is by John Conington.

The _Iliad_ deals with the Trojan War (see introductory note to _Death
of Hector_), while the _Aeneid_ deals with the wanderings of a Trojan
hero after the fall of his city. Aeneas, from whom the _Aeneid_ takes
its name, was the son of Anchises and Venus, goddess of love, and was
one of the bravest of the Trojan heroes; indeed, he was second only to

When Troy was taken by the stratagem which Aeneas describes in this
selection, he set sail with numerous followers for Italy, where fate
had ordained that he should found a great nation. Juno, however, who
hated the Trojans, drove the hero from his course, and brought upon him
many sufferings. At last in his wanderings he came to the northern
shore of Africa, where he found a great city, Carthage. Dido, queen of
the Carthaginians, received Aeneas hospitably, and had prepared for him
a great feast, at the conclusion of which she besought him to relate to
her the story of the fall of Troy. Aeneas objected at first, as he
feared he could not endure the pain which the recital would give him,
but in the end he complied with her request.

The following selection gives the account of the stratagem by which the
Greeks, after thirteen years' siege, finally took Troy.

Torn down by wars,
Long beating 'gainst Fate's dungeon-bars,
As year kept chasing year,*
The Danaan* chiefs, with cunning given.
By Pallas,* mountain-high to heaven
A giant horse uprear,
And with compacted beams of pine
The texture of its ribs entwine,
A vow for their return they feign:
So runs the tale, and spreads amain.
There in the monster's cavernous side
Huge frames of chosen chiefs they hide,
And steel-clad soldiery finds room
Within that death-producing womb.

*[Footnote: The Greeks besieged Troy, or Ilium, for nine years
without making much head against it, and in the tenth year
succeeded in taking the city only by fraud, which Aeneas here
*[Footnote: _Danaans_ is a poetical name for the Greeks.]
*[Footnote: Pallas was Minerva, daughter of Jupiter, and one of the
most powerful of the goddesses. She favored the Greeks, and longed
to take their part against the Trojans, but was forbidden by Jupiter
to aid them in any way except by advising them.]

An isle there lies in Ilium's sight,
And Tenedos its name,
While Priam's fortune yet was bright,
Known for its wealth to fame:
Now all has dwindled to a bay,
Where ships in treacherous shelter stay.

[Illustration: THE WOODEN HORSE]

Thither they sail, and hide their host
Along its desolated coast.
We thought them to Mycenae* flown
And rescued Troy forgets to groan.
Wide stand the gates: what joy to go
The Dorian camp to see,
The land disburthened of the foe,
The shore from vessels free!
There pitched Thessalia's squadron, there
Achilles' tent was set:
There, drawn on land, their navies were,
And there the battle met.
Some on Minerva's offering gaze,
And view its bulk with strange amaze:
And first Thymoetes loudly calls
To drag the steed within our walls,
Or by suggestion from the foe,
Or Troy's ill fate had willed it so.
But Capys and the wiser kind
Surmised the snare that lurked behind:
To drown it in the whelming tide,
Or set the fire-brand to its side,
Their sentence is: or else to bore
Its caverns, and their depths explore.
In wild confusion sways the crowd:
Each takes his side and all are loud.

*[Footnote: Mycenae was the capital city of Agamemnon, the leader
of the Greeks in the Trojan War.]

Girt with a throng of Ilium's sons,
Down from the tower Laocon runs,
And, "Wretched countrymen," he cries,
"What monstrous madness blinds your eyes?
Think you your enemies removed?
Come presents without wrong
From Danaans? have you thus approved
Ulysses,* known so long?
Perchance--who knows?--the bulk we see
Conceals a Grecian enemy,
Or 'tis a pile to o'erlook the town,
And pour from high invaders down,
Or fraud lurks somewhere to destroy:
Mistrust, mistrust it, men of Troy!
Whate'er it be, a Greek I fear,
Though presents in his hand he bear."
He spoke, and with his arm's full force
Straight at the belly of the horse
His mighty spear he cast:
Quivering it stood: the sharp rebound
Shook the huge monster; and a sound
Through all its caverns passed.
And then, had fate our weal designed
Nor given us a perverted mind,
Then had he moved us to deface
The Greeks' accursed lurking-place,
And Troy had been abiding still,
And Priam's tower yet crowned the hill.

*[Footnote: Ulysses was the craftiest of the Greeks, the man to
whom they appealed when in need of wise advice.]

Now Dardan* swains before the king
With clamorous demonstration bring,
His hands fast bound, a youth unknown,
Across their casual pathway thrown
By cunning purpose of his own,
If so his simulated speech
For Greece the walls of Troy might breach,
Nerved by strong courage to defy
The worst, and gain his end or die.
The curious Trojans round him flock,
With rival zeal a foe to mock.
Now listen while my tongue declares
The tale you ask of Danaan snares,
And gather from a single charge
Their catalogue of crimes at large.
There as he stands, confused, unarmed,
Like helpless innocence alarmed,
His wistful eyes on all sides throws,
And sees that all around are foes,
"What land," he cries, "what sea is left,
To hold a wretch of country reft,
Driven out from Greece while savage Troy
Demands my blood with clamorous joy?"
That anguish put our rage to flight,
And stayed each hand in act to smite:
We bid him name and race declare,
And say why Troy her prize should spare.
Then by degrees he laid aside
His fear, and presently replied:

*[Footnote: The Trojans were called _Dardans_, from Dardanus, the
founder of Troy.]

"Truth, gracious king, is all I speak,
And first I own my nation Greek:
No; Sinon may be Fortune's slave;
She shall not make him liar or knave,
If haply to your ears e'er came
Belidan Palamedes'* name,
Borne by the tearful voice of Fame,
Whom erst, by false impeachment sped,
Maligned because for peace he pled,
Greece gave to death, now mourns him dead,--
His kinsman I, while yet a boy,
Sent by a needy sire to Troy.
While he yet stood in kingly state,
'Mid brother kings in council great,
I too had power: but when he died,
By false Ulysses' spite belied
(The tale is known), from that proud height
I sank to wretchedness and night,
And brooded in my dolorous gloom
On that my guiltless kinsman's doom.
Not all in silence; no, I swore,
Should Fortune bring me home once more,
My vengeance should redress his fate,
And speech engendered cankerous hate.
Thence dates my fall: Ulysses thence
Still scared me with some fresh pretence,
With chance-dropt words the people fired,
Sought means of hurt, intrigued, conspired.
Nor did the glow of hatred cool,
Till, wielding Calchas* as his tool--
But why a tedious tale repeat,
To stay you from your morsel sweet?
If all are equal, Greek and Greek,
Enough: your tardy vengeance wreak.
My death will Ithacus* delights,
And Atreus'* sons the boon requite."

*[Footnote: It was Palamedes who induced Ulysses to join in the
expedition against Troy. Preferring to remain at home with his
wife Penelope and his infant son Telemachus, Ulysses pretended
madness, and Palamedes, when he came to beg for his aid, found
him plowing up the seashore and sowing it with salt. Palamedes
was quite certain that the madness was feigned, and to test it,
set Telemachus in front of the plow. By turning aside his plow,
Ulysses showed that he was really sane. Later Palamedes lost
favor with Grecian leaders because he urged them to give up the
struggle and return home.]
*[Footnote: Calchas was the most famous of the Grecian sooth-sayers
or prophets. They never began any important operations until
Calchas had first been consulted and had told them what the gods
*[Footnote: _Ithacus_ is a name given to Ulysses, who was from
*[Footnote: The sons of Atreus were Agamemnon, leader of the
Grecians, and Menelaus, King of Sparta, the theft of whose wife,
Helen, was cause of the Trojan War.]

We press, we yearn the truth to know,
Nor dream how doubly base our foe:
He, faltering still and overawed,
Takes up the unfinished web of fraud.
"Oft had we planned to leave your shore,
Nor tempt the weary conflict more.
O, had we done it! sea and sky
Scared us as oft, in act to fly:
But chiefly when completed stood
This horse, compact of maple wood,
Fierce thunders, pealing in our ears,
Proclaimed the turmoil of the spheres.
Perplexed, Eurypylus we send
To question what the fates portend,
And he from Phoebus'* awful shrine
Brings back the words of doom divine:
'With blood ye pacified the gales,
E'en with a virgin slain,*
When first ye Danaans spread your sails,
The shores of Troy to gain:
With blood ye your return must buy:
A Greek must at the altar die.'
That sentence reached the public ear,
And bred the dull amaze of fear:
Through every heart a shudder ran,
'Apollo's victim--who the man?'
Ulysses, turbulent and loud,
Drags Calchas forth before the crowd.
And questions what the immortals mean,
Which way these dubious beckonings lean:
E'en then were some discerned my foe,
And silent watch the coming blow.
Ten days the seer, with bated breath,
Restrained the utterance big with death:
O'erborne at last, the word agreed
He speaks, and destines me to bleed.
All gave a sigh, as men set free,
And hailed the doom, content to see
The bolt that threatened each alike
One solitary victim strike.
The death-day came: the priests prepare
Salt cakes, and fillets for my hair;
I fled, I own it, from the knife,
I broke my bands and ran for life,
And in a marish lay that night,
While they should sail, if sail they might.
No longer have I hope, ah me!
My ancient fatherland to see,
Or look on those my eyes desire,
My darling sons, my gray-haired sire:
Perhaps my butchers may requite
On their dear heads my traitorous flight,
And make their wretched lives atone
For this, the single crime I own.
O, by the gods, who all things view,
And know the false man from the true,
By sacred Faith, if Faith remain
With mortal men preserved from stain,
Show grace to innocence forlorn,
Show grace to woes unduly borne!"

*[Footnote: Phoebus Apollo, god of the sun and of prophecy.]
*[Footnote: When the Greeks set out for Troy, their ships were
becalmed at Aulis, in Boeotia. Calchas consulted the signs and
declared that the delay was caused by the huntress-goddess Diana,
who was angry at Agamemnon for killing one of her sacred stags.
Only by the death of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, could the
wrathful goddess be placated. The maiden was sent for, but on her
arrival at Aulis she was slain by the priest at Diana's altar.
According to another version of the story, Iphigenia was not put
to death, but was conveyed by Diana to Tauris, where she served as
priestess in Diana's temple.]

Moved by his tears, we let him live,
And pity crowns the boon we give:
King Priam bids unloose his cords,
And soothes the wretch with kindly words.
"Whoe'er you are, henceforth resign
All thought of Greece: be Troy's and mine:
Now tell me truth, for what intent
This fabric of the horse was meant;
An offering to your heavenly liege?
An engine for assault or siege?"
Then, schooled in all Pelasgian* shifts,
His unbound hands to heaven he lifts:
"Ye slumberless, inviolate fires,
And the dread awe your name inspires!
Ye murderous altars, which I fled!
Ye fillets that adorned my head!
Bear witness, and behold me free
To break my Grecian fealty;
To hate the Greeks, and bring to light
The counsels they would hide in night,
Unchecked by all that once could bind,
All claims of country or of kind.
Thou, Troy, remember ne'er to swerve,
Preserved thyself, thy faith preserve,
If true the story I relate,
If these, my prompt returns, be great.

*[Footnote: _Pelasgian_ means _Grecian_. The name is derived from
that of Pelasgus, an early Greek hero. By their neighbors the
Greeks were regarded as a deceitful, double-dealing nation.]

"The warlike hopes of Greece were stayed,
E'en from the first, on Pallas' aid:
But since Tydides,* impious man,
And foul Ulysses, born to plan,
Dragged with red hands, the sentry slain,
Her fateful image* from your fane,
Her chaste locks touched, and stained with gore
The virgin coronal she wore,
Thenceforth the tide of fortune changed,
And Greece grew weak, her queen* estranged
Nor dubious were the sig'ns of ill
That showed the goddess' altered will.
The image scarce in camp was set,
Out burst big drops of saltest sweat
O'er all her limbs: her eyes upraised
With minatory lightnings blazed;
And thrice untouched from earth she sprang
With quivering spear and buckler's clang.
'Back o'er the ocean!' Calchas cries:
'We shall not make Troy's town our prize,
Unless at Argos' sacred seat
Our former omens we repeat,
And bring once more the grace we brought
When first these shores our navy sought.'
So now for Greece they cross the wave,
Fresh blessings on their arms to crave,
Thence to return, so Calchas rules,
Unlocked for, ere your wonder cools.
Premonished first, this frame they planned
In your Palladium's stead to stand,
An image for an image given
To pacify offended Heaven.
But Calchas bade them rear it high
With timbers mounting to the sky,
That none might drag within the gate
This new Palladium of your state.
For, said he, if your hands profaned
The gift for Pallas' self ordained,
Dire havoc--grant, ye powers, that first
That fate be his!--on Troy should burst:
But if, in glad procession haled
By those your hands, your walls it scaled,
Then Asia should our homes invade,
And unborn captives mourn the raid."

*[Footnote: Tydides was Diomedes, son of Tydeus. The termination
_-ides_ means _son of_; thus _Pelides_ is Achilles, son of Peleus.]
*[Footnote: There was in a temple of Troy an image of Minerva, or
Pallas, called the _palladium_, which was supposed to have fallen
from the sky. The Greeks learned of a prophecy which declared that
Troy could never be taken while the palladium remained within its
walls, and Ulysses and Diomedes were entrusted with the task of
stealing it. In disguise they entered the city one night, procured
the sacred image and bore it off to the Grecian camp.]
*[Footnote: Minerva, supposedly angered at the desecration of her

Such tale of pity, aptly feigned,
Our credence for the perjurer gained,
And tears, wrung out from fraudful eyes,
Made us, e'en us, a villain's prize,
'Gainst whom not valiant Diomede,
Nor Peleus' Larissaean* seed,
Nor ten years' fighting could prevail,
Nor navies of a thousand sail.

*[Footnote: Achilles. Larissa was a town in Thessaly, of which
Peleus, the father of Achilles, was king.]

[Illustration: LAOCON
_Statuary Group in The Vatican, Rome_]

But ghastlier portents lay behind,
Our unprophetic souls to bind.
Laocon, named as Neptune's priest,
Was offering up the victim beast,
When lo! from Tenedos--I quail,
E'en now, at telling of the tale--
Two monstrous serpents stem the tide,
And shoreward through the stillness glide.
Amid the waves they rear their breasts,
And toss on high their sanguine crests:
The hind part coils along the deep,
And undulates with sinuous sweep.
The lashed spray echoes: now they reach
The inland belted by the beach,
And rolling bloodshot eyes of fire,
Dart their forked tongues, and hiss for ire.
We fly distraught: unswerving they
Toward Laocon hold their way;
First round his two young sons they wreathe,
And grind their limbs with savage teeth:
Then, as with arms he comes to aid,
The wretched father they invade
And twine in giant folds: twice round
His stalwart waist their spires are wound,
Twice round his neck, while over all
Their heads and crests tower high and tall.
He strains his strength their knots to tear,*
While gore and slime his fillets smear,
And to the unregardful skies
Sends up his agonizing cries:
A wounded bull such moaning makes,
When from his neck the axe he shakes,
Ill-aimed, and from the altar breaks.
The twin destroyers take their flight
To Pallas' temple on the height;
There by the goddess' feet concealed
They lie, and nestle 'neath her shield.
At once through Ilium's hapless sons
A shock of feverous horror runs:
All in Laocon's death-pangs read
The just requital of his deed,
Who dared to harm with impious stroke
Those ribs of consecrated oak.
"The image to its fane!" they cry:
"So soothe the offended deity."
Each in the labour claims his share:
The walls are breached, the town laid bare:
Wheels 'neath its feet are fixed to glide,
And round its neck stout ropes are tied:
So climbs our wall that shape of doom,
With battle quickening in its womb,
While youths and maidens sing glad songs,
And joy to touch the harness-thongs.
It comes, and, glancing terror down,
Sweeps through the bosom of the town.
O Ilium, city of my love!
O warlike home of powers above!
Four times 'twas on the threshold stayed:
Four times the armour clashed and brayed.
Yet on we press with passion blind,
All forethought blotted from our mind,
Till the dread monster we install
Within the temple's tower-built wall.
E'en then Cassandra's* prescient voice
Forewarned us of our fatal choice--
That prescient voice, which Heaven decreed
No son of Troy should hear and heed.
We, careless souls, the city through,
With festal boughs the fanes bestrew,
And in such revelry employ
The last, last day should shine on Troy.

*[Footnote: The death of Laocon and his sons has always been a
favorite subject in art and in poetry. (See illustration.)]
*[Footnote: Cassandra was a daughter of Priam, king of Troy. She had
been loved by Apollo, who bestowed on her the gift of prophecy; but
she had angered him by failing to return his love, and he, unable
to take back the gift, decreed that her prophecies should never be
believed. All through the siege she had uttered her predictions and
always they proved true; but no one ever paid heed to her warnings.]

Meantime Heaven shifts from light to gloom,
And night ascends from Ocean's womb,
Involving in her shadow broad
Earth, sky, and Myrmidonian* fraud:
And through the city, stretched at will,
Sleep the tired Trojans, and are still.

*[Footnote: Here Myrmidonian means simply Grecian.]

And now from Tenedos set free
The Greeks are sailing on the sea,
Bound for the shore where erst they lay,
Beneath the still moon's friendly ray:
When in a moment leaps to sight
On the king's ship the signal light,
And Sinon, screened by partial fate,
Unlocks the pine-wood prison's gate.
The horse its charge to air restores,
And forth the armed invasion pours.
Thessander,* Sthenelus, the first,
Slide down the rope: Ulysses curst,
Thoas and Acamas are there,
And great Pelides' youthful heir,
Machaon, Menelaus, last
Epeus, who the plot forecast.
They seize the city, buried deep
In floods of revelry and sleep,
Cut down the warders of the gates,
And introduce their banded mates.*

*[Footnote: These are all Grecian heroes.]
*[Footnote: After the Greeks entered the gates the chief Trojan
citizens were put to death, and the city was set on fire, Aeneas,
with his little son and his aged father, escaped and took ship
for Italy, accompanied by a band of followers.]


_Adapted From_ THE ODYSSEY

NOTE.--The _Odyssey_ is one of the most famous of the old Greek
poems, one that is still read and enjoyed by students of the Greek
language, and one that in its translations has given pleasure to many
English and American readers. Its influence on the works of our best
writers has been remarkable, and everybody wishes to know something
about it.

It is in twenty-four books or parts, and tells of the wanderings and
adventures of the Greek hero, Ulysses, king of Ithaca, after the Trojan
War. His wanderings lasted for ten years, but most of the _Odyssey_ is
taken up with the events that happened in the last few weeks of this
time, during which period, at intervals, Ulysses himself tells the story
of his wanderings, winning everywhere the sympathy and admiration of
those to whom he tells it.

It is customary to speak of the _Odyssey_ as one of Homer's poems, but
the probability is that it was written at different times by different
people, and at a date later than that at which the _Iliad_ was written.
One of the standard translations of the _Odyssey_ is that of Alexander
Pope, which is followed in this story. The tale has of necessity been
very much abridged; the details of the journeyings of Ulysses are
omitted entirely, and the emphasis is placed on his return home.

* * * * *

When Ulysses departed to join in the Trojan War, he left his wife
Penelope and his young son Telemachus at home. He was one of the
foremost of the Greek chieftains in the Trojan War, and his deeds are a
prominent part of the story in the _Iliad_.

After Ulysses had been many years absent, he was thought by most of his
friends to be dead, and many disorders grew up in his kingdom. Most
disturbing of all was the fact that many wicked and treacherous men
came about Penelope as suitors for her hand, claiming that there was no
reason why she should not marry, as her husband had not been heard of
since the Trojan War, and had undoubtedly long since died. Both
Penelope and Telemachus still clung to the thought that Ulysses might
be living, and the mother would by no means consent to taking another

At this time the gods in council decided that Ulysses should be brought
back home, and accordingly Telemachus was inspired to travel in search
of his father. Hoping that his journey might be successful, Telemachus,
guided by Minerva in the shape of the wise old Mentor, set out on his
long and trying journey. In time he learned that his father was still
living, and had been held for many years in the Island of Calypso.
During the absence of Telemachus, the suitors of Penelope planned to
destroy him on his voyage home, but failed to accomplish their purpose.

After much persuasion by the gods, Calypso was induced to release
Ulysses, and he, building a boat with his own hands, set out on his
homeward journey, but in a terrible tempest was shipwrecked and barely
escaped with his life, being rescued by a princess to whom he tells the
story of his journeyings.

He told how at one time he was in a ship driven by a tempest far from
shore, and finally landed upon the flowery coast of the land of Lotus,
where he found a hospitable race who lived a lazy, happy life, eating
and drinking the things which nature provided them. So divinely sweet
were the lotus leaves that whosoever ate them were willing to quit his
house, his country and his friends, and wish for no other home than the
enchanting land where the lotus plant flourished.

Denying themselves the pleasure of tasting the lotus leaves, Ulysses
and his men sailed from the coast to the land of Cyclops, where they
were appalled by the sight of a shepherd, enormous in size, unlike any
human being, for he had but one eye, and that a huge one in the center
of his forehead. Ulysses with a few of his men landed upon the shore
and visited the giant's cavern home. While they were inspecting this
strange place, the monster returned, bearing on his back half a forest
which he cast down at the door, where it thundered as it fell. After
building a huge fire, the giant entered the cavern, and in a voice of
thunder asked Ulysses who he was, and why he came to this shore.
Ulysses explained, and for an answer the huge Cyclops seized two of the
followers of Ulysses, dashed them against the stony floor, and like a
mountain beast devoured them utterly, draining the blood from their
bodies and sucking the marrow from their bones.


After satisfying his hunger, the monster slept upon the ground, and all
night long Ulysses and his followers lay in deadly terror. The next day
Ulysses gave the giant wine, and when he was sleeping in a drunken
stupor, the Greek hero took a green stick, and heating it until it
burnt and sparkled a fiery red, thrust its flaming point into the only
eye the Cyclops had.

Raging with pain, the monster stumbled about the cave trying without
success to find Ulysses and his followers, though he did discover the
door, and stationed himself there to prevent their escape. In the cave
were the great sheep that made the herd of the Cyclops, and throwing
themselves beneath the animals and clinging to their wool, Ulysses and
his followers escaped through the door, while the blind giant was
touching his sheep one by one to see that nothing but sheep passed out.
Soon the hero and his men were safe on board the ship, though they
narrowly escaped destruction from a big boulder that the giant threw
into the sea when he discovered that his victims had made their escape.

Aeolus, ruler of the winds, anxious to aid Ulysses, gave him prosperous
winds and tied the treacherous winds up in a bag, but some of the
curious mariners untied the bag, and the conflicting winds escaping,
destroyed several of the ships and threw Ulysses and the survivors upon
the island of Circe.

This famed enchantress, following her usual custom, turned the
followers of Ulysses into swine, but he, aided by Mercury, released
them from their enchantment.

After a year's stay on this island, he was urged by Circe to make a
descent into the Infernal Regions, where he saw the tortures inflicted
upon the wicked who had died before him. On his return he was sent upon
another voyage, where he met the Sirens, who lured some of his men to
destruction by their charming songs; but Ulysses himself escaped by
having himself chained to the mast. He sailed between Scylla and
Charybdis safely, though he lost some of his men in the terrible

After Ulysses told in full his story, the kindly princess put him on
board a magic ship and sent him to Ithaca, where he was placed on shore
with all his treasures, though he did not at first know where he was.

However, he finally learned that he was home again, and visited the
house of a favorite servant, who gave him a full account of what had
happened during his absence.

In the meantime Telemachus returned home, having learned that his
father was still living; and, directed by the gods, he went to the
house of the same old servant with whom Ulysses had taken refuge. That
night the father and son recognized each other, and after a joyful
reunion they lay down to rest, having decided that in the morning
Telemachus should repair to the palace and tell Penelope that her
husband was still alive, but leave her in ignorance of the fact that he
was near at hand.

In the rosy light of the morning the young prince hastened across the
dewy lawn on his way to his mother. When he reached the palace he
propped his spear against the wall, leaped like a lion over the
threshold, hastened with running steps across the hall, and threw
himself into the arms of his loving mother. The passionate joy of their
meeting was shadowed only by the story that Telemachus had to tell, yet
the story was lightened somewhat by the knowledge that Ulysses still
lived, though under enchantment, and might in time be able to return to
his kingdom.

Penelope, knowing that her husband was still living, became more than
ever incensed at the outrageous conduct of the suitors, who had
quartered themselves in her palace and were living in luxury and vice.
However, even with Telemachus at her side, it was impossible to drive
out the powerful men, so that she felt compelled still to endure their
unwelcome presence.

According to the plans made by Ulysses and his son, the former about
this time started for the palace, clothed like a beggar, with a scrip
flung over his shoulders around his patched and ragged gown. Leaning
upon a rude staff which his old servant had given him, Ulysses and his
servant passed along the road and descended into the town.

On the way they met a most wicked and treacherous former servant of
Ulysses, who, now risen to power, insulted the beggared chief by word
and blow. It was with difficulty that Ulysses restrained himself, for
all his mighty rage was roused, and he swung his staff as though to
strike his insulter dead. However, remembering what was at stake, he
conquered himself and endured the insults.

As they drew near the gates of the city, they saw lying in the filth of
the gutter an old, decrepit dog, who had been the pet and joy of
Ulysses before he left for war. Argus was now grown old and feeble, and
had been kicked from the palace by the cruel servants and left to
starve in the street. No sooner, however, had the chieftain approached
than Argus knew his master, and dragged himself, panting, to kiss the
feet of the returned hero.

Ulysses, recognizing the dog, exclaimed, "See this noble beast lying
abandoned in the gutter! Once he was vigorous, bold and young; swift as
a stag, and strong as a lion. Now he lies dying from hunger. Surely his
age deserves some care. Was he merely a worthless beauty, and is he
despised for that reason?"

"No," replied the servant, "he once belonged to Ulysses, but since the
chieftain left his home, nothing restrains the servants; and where riot
reigns there can be no humanity.

"Whenever man makes himself a slave, half his worth is taken away."

While they were speaking, Argus raised his head, took one last look at
his master, and closed his eyes forever.

A moment later, Ulysses, a despicable figure, old and poor, in ragged
clothing, trembling and leaning on his staff, rested against the pillar
of his own gate. Telemachus was the first to see his father, and
ordered that food should be given the poor beggar, and that he should
be invited to enter the hall and share the comforts of the palace. The
experiences of the poor old mendicant in the palace were more trying
than any that he had had, for he met with nothing but insults and abuse
from the assembled suitors, in spite of the fact that Telemachus more
than once urged them to be generous, and himself set the example

Once only did Ulysses give way to his rage, and that was when another
beggar insulted him and challenged him to fight. Then Ulysses spread
his broad shoulders, braced his limbs, expanded his ample chest, and
struck but once with his powerful right arm. Although he expended but
half his strength, the blow crushed the jaw-bone of the beggar, and
felled him, stunned and quivering, to the ground, while from his mouth
and nostrils poured a stream of purple blood.

This happened in the street before the palace, and Ulysses, taking no
notice of his fallen foe, flung his tattered scrip across his shoulder,
knotted the thong around his waist, and returned to the palace, where
the nobles joined in sarcastic compliments on his strength.

While Ulysses hung about the palace in beggar's garb, only one person
recognized him, and that was his old nurse Euryclea, who saw upon his
knee a scar, that came from a wound which he had received when a youth
in hunting a wild boar. Then the old nurse had tended the wound, and
now she knew at once her fallen master. With difficulty Ulysses
restrained her joy, and urged her to keep his secret till the time came
to disclose it.

While these things were happening, the suitors grew more and more
insistent, and at a great banquet in the palace they became so riotous
that both Penelope and Telemachus knew that something must be done.

Ulysses was subjected to continual insult, and the suitors, quarreling
among themselves, insisted that Penelope should give them some definite

Finally the queen and her son perfected a plan and announced to the
suitors that at a certain time after the feast the queen would decide
which she would accept. Penelope then went to the inmost room of the
palace and unlocked the door where the royal treasures lay, and taking
from among them the great bow which Ulysses had carried, and the quiver
that contained his arrows, she brought them down to the hall. This bow
was a gift to Ulysses in his youth, and the warrior had used it in many
a fierce combat, but so powerful was it that none but himself could
bend it.

Taking the bow before the assembled suitors, the majestic queen spoke
as follows: "You make vain pretense that you love me; you speak of me
as a prize, and you say you seek me as a wife. Now hear the conditions
under which I will decide, and commence the trial. Whichever one of you
shall first bend the bow of Ulysses, and send a fleet arrow through the
eyes of twelve axes truly arranged, him will I follow, leaving this
home which has been my delight and which now has come to be but a
torture to me."

She spoke carefully, and at the same time showed the rings and the bow.
But as she touched the powerful weapon, thoughts of her lost king
filled her eyes with tears.

The suitors did not like the plan Penelope proposed, but saw no other
way to gratify their hopes. Although they objected, Telemachus insisted
that Ulysses should be present at the trial, and that he himself should
be the first to make the attempt, for he said, "If I win, then will my
mother go with me."

Three times Telemachus twanged the bow, and three times his arrows sped
along the hall, each time missing by a narrower margin the difficult
mark. As he was about to make the fourth attempt, Ulysses signaled him
to stop, feeling sure that on this trial the young man would succeed.

Disappointed and grieving, Telemachus obeyed, saying, "I have failed,
but it is because of my youth and not my weakness. So let the suitors

The first to make the attempt was Leiodes, a blameless priest, the best
of all the suitors, the only one in the throng who was a decent man,
and who detested the conduct of the wretches who hung about the queen.
However strong his heart, his feeble fingers were not able to bend the
bow, and in despair he passed it on to the next. One after another the
suitors tried and failed, till only two remained; but they were the
mightiest and the best.

At this point Ulysses, still in disguise, summoned two of his old
servants, the masters of his herds and flocks, and with them passed out
of the banquet hall. Once by themselves, the king made himself known,
and in a moment both the men were at his feet, embracing his knees and
shedding tears of joy and gratitude.

Without delay, Ulysses spoke, "We have no time now to indulge in
unseemly joy. Our foes are too numerous and too fierce, and almost
before we know it some one may betray us. Let us return to the banquet
separately; I first, and you following me a few moments later. Tell no
one who I am, but when the remaining suitors refuse to allow me to make
the attempt with the bow, you, Eumaeus, bring the instrument at once.
In the meantime lock every gate of the palace, and set some woman to
lock each door within and leave it locked, no matter what sound of
arms, or shouts, or dying groans they hear. You, Philaetius, guard the
main gate to the palace; guard it faithfully with your life!"

When Ulysses was within, he spoke to the two powerful suitors as
follows: "Take my advice, noble lords, let the bow rest in peace this
day, and tomorrow dispute for the prize. But as you delay the contest,
let me take the bow for one moment and prove to you that I whom you
despise may yet have in my feeble arm some of its ancient force."

Antinous, with lightning flashing from his eyes, yet with some terror
at the bold carriage of the beggar, cried, "Is it not enough, O
miserable guest, that you should sit in our presence, should be
admitted among princes? Remember how the Centaur was treated; dragged
from the hall, his nose shortened and his ears slit. Such a fate may be

But the queen interfered, saying, "It is impious to shame this stranger
guest who comes at the request of our son Telemachus. Who knows but
that he may have strength to draw the bow? Virtue is the path to
praise; wrong and oppression can bring no renown. From his bearing, and
from his face and his stature, we know our guest can have descended
from no vulgar race. Let him try the bow, and if he wins he shall have
a new sword, a spear, a rich cloak, fine embroidered sandals, and a
safe conveyance to his home."

"O royal mother," interrupted Telemachus, "grant me a son's just right!
No one but a Grecian prince has power to grant or deny the use of this
bow. My father's arms have descended to me alone. I beg you, O queen,
return to your household tasks and leave us here together. The bow and
the arms of chivalry belong to man alone, and most of all these belong
to me."

With admiration for her manly son, Penelope left the banquet hall and
returned to her chamber, where she sat revolving in her mind her son's
words, while thoughts of his noble father brought abundant tears to her

In the hall was riot, noise, and wild uproar as Euinaeus started to
place the bow in the hand of Ulysses.

"Go back to thy den, far away from the society of men, or we will throw
you to your dogs!" cried the crowd of disappointed suitors to the
trembling servant.

"Slight their empty words, listen not to them," shouted Telemachus.
"Are you so foolish as to think you can please so many lords? If you
give not the bow to the suppliant, my hands shall drive you from the
land, and if I were strong enough I would expel this whole shoal of
lawless men." Thus encouraged, Euinaeus handed the great bow to the

In the meantime the gates had been closed, and Philaetius secured them
with strong cables, after which he returned silent to the banquet room,
and took his seat with his eyes upon his lord.

In his hands Ulysses turned the bow on all sides, and viewed it over
and over, wondering if time had weakened it, or other injury had come
to it during his long absence. Snarling in anger, the suitors spoke
derisively, but the chieftain disdained reply, and continued with exact
eye to study every inch of his weapon. Then with ease he held the bow
aloft in one hand, and with the other tried its strength. It twanged
short and sharp like the shrill cry of a swallow. Every face paled, and
a general horror ran through all present, for from the skies the
lightning burst, and Jove thundered loudly on high.

Then sitting as he was, Ulysses fitted an arrow to the string and drew
back, leveling his eye to every ring. Then with a mighty pull, he drew
back the bow and gave the arrow wing. Straight it left the string, and
straight it passed through every ring and struck the gate behind,
piercing even the solid wood through and through.


"I have brought no shame to you," said Ulysses, turning to Telemachus,
"nor has my hand proved unfaithful to my aim. I have not lost my
ancient vigor, and ill did I deserve the disdain of these haughty
peers. Let them go and find comfort among themselves, if they can, in
music and banqueting."

Even as Ulysses spoke, Telemachus girded on his shining sword, seized a
javelin, and took his stand at his father's side.

From that moment Ulysses ceased to be the beggar, and stripped of his
rags he stood forth like a god, full before the faces of the astonished
suitors. He lifted his bow, and threw before his feet a rattling shower
of darts.

"We have another game to play this day, O coward princes!" he
exclaimed. "Another mark we must reach with our arrows. May Phoebus
assist us, and our labor not be in vain!"

With the last word, the great chieftain loosed his arrow, and on its
wing death rode to Antinous, who at that moment had raised a golden
bowl from which to drink. The fateful arrow passed through his neck,
and he fell upon the floor, and the wine from the tumbling goblet
mingled with his blood.

The rest of the suitors were confounded at what they saw, and thronged
the hall tumultously, half in fear and half in anger.

"Do you aim at princes?" they cried. "This is the last of the unhappy
games you shall play. Death now awaits you, and vultures shall tear
your body."

"Dogs, you have had your day," the Greek warrior spoke. "You thought
there was no further fear of Ulysses, and here you have squandered his
wealth, made his house your home, and preyed upon his servants. Worse
than all, fired by frenzy, you have claimed even the wife of your
chieftain. You have known neither shame nor dread of the gods, and now
is come the hour of vengeance. Behold your King!"

The confused suitors stood around with pale cheeks and guilty heads
before the dreadful words of Ulysses.

Eurymachus alone was bold enough to speak. "If you are indeed Ulysses,
great are your wrongs, for your property has been, squandered, and riot
and debauchery have filled your palace. But at your feet now lies
Antinous, whose wild ambition meant to slay your son and divide your
kingdom. Since he is dead, spare the rest of your people. Our gold and
treasures shall defray the expense, and the waste of years shall be
refunded to you within the day. Until then, your wrath is just."

With high disdain the king thus sternly spoke, "All the treasures that
we had before you began your pillage, joined with all your own, would
not bring you mercy. I demand your blood and your lives as prizes, and
shall not cease till every one of you lies as pale as yonder wretch
upon the floor. You have but one choice--to fight or to fly."

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