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Title: A Story of the Golden Age
Author: Baldwin, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Story of the Golden Age" ***

[Illustration: Cover art]


                       _HEROES OF THE OLDEN TIME_

                               *A STORY*


                            *THE GOLDEN AGE*


                             JAMES BALDWIN

                      _Illustrated by Howard Pyle_

                                NEW YORK
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

                       COPYRIGHT, 1887, 1888, BY
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

                          COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY
                             JAMES BALDWIN

                Printed in the United States of America

                                TO MAY.

                            *THE FORE WORD.*

You have heard of Homer, and of the two wonderful poems, the Iliad and
the Odyssey, which bear his name.  No one knows whether these poems were
composed by Homer, or whether they are the work of many different poets.
And, in fact, it matters very little about their authorship.  Everybody
agrees that they are the grandest poems ever sung or written or read in
this world; and yet, how few persons, comparatively, have read them, or
know any thing about them except at second-hand!  Homer commences his
story, not at the beginning, but "in the midst of things;" hence, when
one starts out to read the Iliad without having made some special
preparation beforehand, he finds it hard to understand, and is tempted,
in despair, to stop at the end of the first book.  Many people are,
therefore, content to admire the great masterpiece of poetry and
story-telling simply because others admire it, and not because they have
any personal acquaintance with it.

Now, it is not my purpose to give you a "simplified version" of the
Iliad or the Odyssey.  There are already many such versions; but the
best way for you, or any one else, to read Homer, is _to read Homer_.
If you do not understand Greek, you can read him in one of the many
English translations.  You will find much of the spirit of the original
in the translations by Bryant, by Lord Derby, and by old George Chapman,
as well as in the admirable prose rendering by Butcher and Lang; but you
can get none of it in any so-called simplified version.

My object in writing this "Story of the Golden Age" has been to pave the
way, if I dare say it, to an enjoyable reading of Homer, either in
translations or in the original.  I have taken the various legends
relating to the causes of the Trojan war, and, by assuming certain
privileges never yet denied to story-tellers, have woven all into one
continuous narrative, ending where Homer’s story begins.  The hero of
the Odyssey--a character not always to be admired or commended--is my
hero.  And, in telling the story of his boyhood and youth, I have taken
the opportunity to repeat, for your enjoyment, some of the most
beautiful of the old Greek myths.  If I have, now and then, given them a
coloring slightly different from the original, you will remember that
such is the right of the story-teller, the poet, and the artist.  The
essential features of the stories remain unchanged.  I have, all along,
drawn freely from the old tragedians, and now and then from Homer
himself; nor have I thought it necessary in every instance to mention
authorities, or to apologize for an occasional close imitation of some
of the best translations.  The pictures of old Greek life have, in the
main, been derived from the Iliad and the Odyssey, and will, I hope,
help you to a better understanding of those poems when you come to make
acquaintance directly with them.

Should you become interested in the "Story of the Golden Age," as it is
here related, do not be disappointed by its somewhat abrupt ending; for
you will find it continued by the master-poet of all ages, in a manner
both inimitable and unapproachable.  If you are pleased with the
discourse of the porter at the gate, how much greater shall be your
delight when you stand in the palace of the king, and hearken to the
song of the royal minstrel!




      I. A Glimpse of the World
     II. A Voyage on the Sea
    III. The Centre of the Earth
     IV. The Silver-Bowed Apollo
      V. The King of Cattle Thieves
     VI. Two Famous Boar Hunts
    VII. At Old Cheiron’s School
   VIII. The Golden Apple
     IX. The Swineherd
      X. The Sea Robbers of Messene
     XI. The Bow of Eurytus
    XII. The Most Beautiful Woman in the World
   XIII. A Race for a Wife
    XIV. How a Great Hero met His Master
     XV. Long Live the King
    XVI. The Children of Prometheus
   XVII. A Cause of War
  XVIII. An Unwilling Hero
    XIX. Heroes in Strange Garb
     XX. Becalmed at Aulis
    XXI. The Long Siege




                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.*

Pyrrhus Finds Philoctetes in a Cave . . . Frontispiece

Odysseus and His Mother

Apollo Slaying the Python

Meleager Refuses to Help in the Defence of the City

The Silver-Footed Thetis Rising from the Waves

The Swineherd Telling His Story to Odysseus

Alpheus and Arethusa

Odysseus Advises King Tyndareus Concerning Helen’s Suitors

Deianeira and the Dying Centaur Nessus


Palamedes Tests the Madness of Odysseus

Odysseus and Menelaus Persuading Agamemnon to Sacrifice Iphigenia


A Glimpse of the World. (The Map which Phemius Drew in the Sand)

General Map of Greece

                      *A STORY OF THE GOLDEN AGE.*

                            _*ADVENTURE I.*_

                       *A GLIMPSE OF THE WORLD.*

To the simple-hearted folk who dwelt in that island three thousand years
ago, there was never a sweeter spot than sea-girt Ithaca.  Rocky and
rugged though it may have seemed, yet it was indeed a smiling land
embosomed in the laughing sea.  There the air was always mild and pure,
and balmy with the breath of blossoms; the sun looked kindly down from a
cloudless sky, and storms seldom broke the quiet ripple of the waters
which bathed the shores of that island home. On every side but one, the
land rose straight up out of the deep sea to meet the feet of craggy
hills and mountains crowned with woods.  Between the heights were many
narrow dells green with orchards; while the gentler slopes were covered
with vineyards, and the steeps above them gave pasturage to flocks of
long-wooled sheep and mountain-climbing goats.

On that side of the island which lay nearest the rising sun, there was a
fine, deep harbor; for there the shore bent inward, and only a narrow
neck of land lay between the eastern waters and the western sea.  Close
on either side of this harbor arose two mountains, Neritus and Nereius,
which stood like giant watchmen overlooking land and sea and warding
harm away; and on the neck, midway between these mountains, was the
king’s white palace, roomy and large, with blossoming orchards to the
right and the left, and broad lawns in front, sloping down to the
water’s edge.

Here, many hundreds of years ago, lived Laertes--a man of simple habits,
who thought his little island home a kingdom large enough, and never
sighed for a greater.  Not many men had seen so much of the world as he;
for he had been to Colchis with Jason and the Argonauts, and his feet
had trod the streets of every city in Hellas.  Yet in all his wanderings
he had seen no fairer land than rocky Ithaca.  His eyes had been dazzled
by the brightness of the Golden Fleece, and the kings of Argos and of
Ilios had shown him the gold and gems of their treasure-houses.  Yet
what cared he for wealth other than that which his flocks and vineyards
yielded him?  There was hardly a day but that he might be seen in the
fields guiding his plough, or training his vines, or in his orchards
pruning his trees, or gathering the mellow fruit.  He had all the good
gifts of life that any man needs; and for them he never failed to thank
the great Giver, nor to render praises to the powers above.  His queen,
fair Anticleia, daughter of the aged chief Autolycus, was a true
housewife, overseeing the maidens at their tasks, busying herself with
the distaff and the spindle, or plying the shuttle at the loom; and many
were the garments, rich with finest needlework, which her own fair
fingers had fashioned.

To Laertes and Anticleia one child had been born,--a son, who, they
hoped, would live to bring renown to Ithaca.  This boy, as he grew,
became strong in body and mind far beyond his playfellows; and those who
knew him wondered at the shrewdness of his speech no less than at the
strength and suppleness of his limbs. And yet he was small of stature,
and neither in face nor in figure was he adorned with any of Apollo’s
grace. On the day that he was twelve years old, he stood with his tutor,
the bard Phemius, on the top of Mount Neritus; below him, spread out
like a great map, lay what was to him the whole world.  Northward, as
far as his eyes could see, there were islands great and small; and among
them Phemius pointed out Taphos, the home of a sea-faring race, where
Anchialus, chief of warriors, ruled.  Eastward were other isles, and the
low-lying shores of Acarnania, so far away that they seemed mere lines
of hazy green between the purple waters and the azure sky.  Southward
beyond Samos were the wooded heights of Zacynthus, and the sea-paths
which led to Pylos and distant Crete.  Westward was the great sea,
stretching away and away to the region of the setting sun; the watery
kingdom of Poseidon, full of strange beings and unknown dangers,--a sea
upon which none but the bravest mariners dared launch their ships.

The boy had often looked upon these scenes of beauty and mystery, but
to-day his heart was stirred with an unwonted feeling of awe and of
wonder at the greatness and grandeur of the world as it thus lay around
him.  Tears filled his eyes as he turned to his tutor. "How kind it was
of the Being who made this pleasant earth, to set our own sunny Ithaca
right in the centre of it, and to cover it all over with a blue dome
like a tent!  But tell me, do people live in all those lands that we
see?  I know that there are men dwelling in Zacynthus and in the little
islands of the eastern sea; for their fishermen often come to Ithaca,
and I have talked with them.  And I have heard my father tell of his
wonderful voyage to Colchis, which is in the region of the rising sun;
and my mother often speaks of her old home in Parnassus, which also is
far away towards the dawn.  Is it true that there are men, women, and
children, living in lands which we cannot see? and do the great powers
above us care for them as for the good people of Ithaca?  And is there
anywhere another king so great as my father Laertes, or another kingdom
so rich and happy as his?"

Then Phemius told the lad all about the land of the Hellenes beyond the
narrow sea; and, in the sand at their feet, he drew with a stick a map
of all the countries known to him.

[Illustration: A GLIMPSE OF THE WORLD.
The Map which Phemius drew in the Sand.]

"We cannot see half of the world from this spot," said the bard,
"neither is Ithaca the centre of it, as it seems to you.  I will draw a
picture of it here in the sand, and show you where lies every land and
every sea.  Right here in the very centre," said he, heaping up a pile
of sand into the shape of a mountain,--"right here in the very centre of
the world is Mount Parnassus, the home of the Muses; and in its shadow
is sacred Delphi, where stands Apollo’s temple.  South of Parnassus is
the Bay of Crissa, sometimes called the Corinthian Gulf.  The traveller
who sails westwardly through those waters will have on his right hand
the pleasant hills and dales of Ætolia and the wooded lands of Calydon;
while on his left will rise the rugged mountains of Achaia, and the
gentler slopes of Elis. Here to the south of Elis are Messene, and sandy
Pylos where godlike Nestor and his aged father Neleus reign. Here, to
the east, is Arcadia, a land of green pastures and sweet contentment,
unwashed by any sea; and next to it is Argolis,--rich in horses, but
richest of all in noble men,--and Lacedæmon in Laconia, famous for its
warriors and its beautiful women.  Far to the north of Parnassus is
Mount Olympus, the heaven-towering home of Zeus, and the place where the
gods and goddesses hold their councils."

Then Phemius, as he was often wont to do, began to put his words into
the form of music; and he sang a song of the world as he supposed it to
be.  He sang of Helios the Sun, and of his flaming chariot and his four
white steeds, and of the wonderful journey which he makes every day
above the earth; and he sang of the snowy mountains of Caucasus in the
distant east; and of the gardens of the Hesperides even farther to the
westward; and of the land of the Hyperboreans, which lies beyond the
northern mountains; and of the sunny climes where live the Ethiopians,
the farthest distant of all earth’s dwellers.  Then he sang of the
flowing stream of Ocean which encircles all lands in its embrace; and,
lastly, of the Islands of the Blest, where fair-haired Rhadamanthus
rules, and where there is neither snow nor beating rains, but
everlasting spring, and breezes balmy with the breath of life.

"O Phemius!" cried the boy, as the bard laid aside his harp, "I never
knew that the world was so large. Can it be that there are so many
countries and so many strange people beneath the same sky?"

"Yes," answered Phemius, "the world is very broad, and our Ithaca is but
one of the smallest of a thousand lands upon which Helios smiles, as he
makes his daily journey through the skies.  It is not given to one man
to know all these lands; and happiest is he whose only care is for his
home, deeming it the centre around which the world is built."

"If only the half of what you have told me be true," said the boy, "I
cannot rest until I have seen some of those strange lands, and learned
more about the wonderful beings which live in them.  I cannot bear to
think of being always shut up within the narrow bounds of little

"My dear boy," said Phemius, laughing, "your mind has been greatly
changed within the past few moments, When we came here, a little while
ago, you thought that Neritus was the grandest mountain in the world,
and that Ithaca was the centre round which the earth was built.  Then
you were cheerful and contented; but now you are restless and unhappy,
because you have learned of possibilities such as, hitherto, you had not
dreamed about.  Your eyes have been opened to see and to know the world
as it is, and you are no longer satisfied with that which Ithaca can
give you."

"But why did you not tell me these things before?" asked the boy.

"It was your mother’s wish," answered the bard, "that you should not
know them until to-day.  Do you remember what day this is?"

"It is my twelfth birthday.  And I remember, too, that there was a
promise made to my grandfather, that when I was twelve years old I
should visit him in his strong halls on Mount Parnassus.  I mean to ask
my mother about it at once."

And without waiting for another word from Phemius, the lad ran hurriedly
down the steep pathway, and was soon at the foot of the mountain.
Across the fields he hastened, and through the vineyards where the
vines, trained by his father’s own hand, were already hanging heavy with
grapes.  He found his mother in the inner hall, sitting before the
hearth, and twisting from her distaff threads of bright sea-purple,
while her maidens plied their tasks around her.  He knelt upon the
marble floor, and gently clasped his mother’s knees.

"Mother," he said, "I come to ask a long-promised boon of you."

"What is it, my son?" asked the queen, laying aside her distaff.  "If
there be any thing in Ithaca that I can give you, you shall surely have

"I want nothing in Ithaca," answered the boy; "I want to see more of
this great world than I ever yet have known.  And now that I am twelve
years old, you surely will not forget the promise, long since made, that
I should spend the summer with my grandfather at Parnassus.  Let me go
very soon, I pray; for I tire of this narrow Ithaca."


The queen’s eyes filled with tears as she answered, "You shall have your
wish, my son.  The promise given both to you and to my father must be
fulfilled.  For, when you were but a little babe, Autolycus came to
Ithaca.  And one evening, as he feasted at your father’s table, your
nurse, Dame Eurycleia, brought you into the hall, and put you into his
arms.  ’Give this dear babe, O king, a name,’ said she.  ’He is thy
daughter’s son, the heir to Ithaca’s rich realm; and we hope that he
will live to make his name and thine remembered.’

"Then Autolycus smiled, and gently dandled you upon his knees.  ’My
daughter, and my daughter’s lord,’ said he, ’let this child’s name be
Odysseus; for he shall visit many lands and climes, and wander long upon
the tossing sea.  Yet wheresoever the Fates may drive him, his heart
will ever turn to Ithaca his home.  Call him by the name which I have
given; and when his twelfth birthday shall have passed, send him to my
strong halls in the shadow of Parnassus, where his mother in her
girlhood dwelt.  Then I will share my riches with him, and send him back
to Ithaca rejoicing!’  So spake my father, great Autolycus; and before
we arose from that feast, we pledged our word that it should be with you
even as he wished.  And your name, Odysseus, has every day recalled to
mind that feast and our binding words."

"Oh that I could go at once, dear mother!" said Odysseus, kissing her
tears away.  "I would come home again very soon.  I would stay long
enough to have the blessing of my kingly grandfather; I would climb
Parnassus, and listen to the sweet music of the Muses; I would drink one
draught from the Castalian spring of which you have so often told me; I
would ramble one day among the groves and glens, that perchance I might
catch a glimpse of Apollo or of his huntress sister Artemis; and then I
would hasten back to Ithaca, and would never leave you again."

"My son," then said Laertes, who had come unheard into the hall, and had
listened to the boy’s earnest words,--"my son, you shall have your wish,
for I know that the Fates have ordered it so.  We have long looked
forward to this day, and for weeks past we have been planning for your
journey.  My stanchest ship is ready to carry you over the sea, and
needs only to be launched into the bay.  Twelve strong oarsmen are
sitting now upon the beach, waiting for orders to embark. To-morrow,
with the bard Phemius as your friend and guide, you may set forth on
your voyage to Parnassus. Let us go down to the shore at once, and offer
prayers to Poseidon, ruler of the sea, that he may grant you favoring
winds and a happy voyage."

Odysseus kissed his mother again, and, turning, followed his father from
the hall.

Then Anticleia rose, and bade the maidens hasten to make ready the
evening meal; but she herself went weeping to her own chamber, there to
choose the garments which her son should take with him upon his journey.
Warm robes of wool, and a broidered tunic which she with her own hands
had spun and woven, she folded and laid with care in a little wooden
chest; and with them she placed many a little comfort, fruit and
sweetmeats, such as she rightly deemed would please the lad.  Then when
she had closed the lid, she threw a strong cord around the chest, and
tied it firmly down. This done, she raised her eyes towards heaven, and
lifting up her hands, she prayed to Pallas Athené:--

"O queen of the air and sky, hearken to my prayer, and help me lay aside
the doubting fears which creep into my mind, and cause these tears to
flow.  For now my boy, unused to hardships, and knowing nothing of the
world, is to be sent forth on a long and dangerous voyage.  I tremble
lest evil overtake him; but more I fear, that, with the lawless men of
my father’s household, he shall forget his mother’s teachings, and stray
from the path of duty.  Do thou, O queen, go with him as his guide and
guard, keep him from harm, and bring him safe again to Ithaca and his
loving mother’s arms."

Meanwhile Laertes and the men of Ithaca stood upon the beach, and
offered up two choice oxen to Poseidon, ruler of the sea; and they
prayed him that he would vouchsafe favoring winds and quiet waters and a
safe journey to the bold voyagers who to-morrow would launch their ship
upon the deep.  And when the sun began to sink low down in the west,
some sought their homes, and others went up to the king’s white palace
to tarry until after the evening meal.

Cheerful was the feast; and as the merry jest went round, no one seemed
more free from care than King Laertes.  And when all had eaten of the
food, and had tasted of the red wine made from the king’s own vintage,
the bard Phemius arose, and tuned his harp, and sang many sweet and
wonderful songs.  He sang of the beginning of things; of the
broad-breasted Earth, the mother of created beings; of the sky, and the
sea, and the mountains; of the mighty race of Titans,--giants who once
ruled the earth; of great Atlas, who holds the sky-dome upon his
shoulders; of Cronos and old Oceanus; of the war which for ten years
raged on Mount Olympus, until Zeus hurled his unfeeling father Cronos
from the throne, and seized the sceptre for himself.

When Phemius ended his singing, the guests withdrew from the hall, and
each went silently to his own home; and Odysseus, having kissed his dear
father and mother, went thoughtfully to his sleeping-room high up above
the great hall.  With him went his nurse, Dame Eurycleia, carrying the
torches.  She had been a princess once; but hard fate and cruel war had
overthrown her father’s kingdom, and had sent her forth a captive and a
slave.  Laertes had bought her of her captors for a hundred oxen, and
had given her a place of honor in his household next to Anticleia.  She
loved Odysseus as she would love her own dear child; for, since his
birth, she had nursed and cared for him. She now, as was her wont,
lighted him to his chamber; she laid back the soft coverings of his bed;
she smoothed the fleeces, and hung his tunic within easy reach.  Then
with kind words of farewell for the night, she quietly withdrew, and
closed the door, and pulled the thong outside which turned the fastening
latch. Odysseus wrapped himself among the fleeces of his bed, and soon
was lost in slumber.[1]

[1] See Note 1 at the end of this volume.

                           _*ADVENTURE II.*_

                         *A VOYAGE ON THE SEA.*

Early the next morning, while yet the dawn was waiting for the sun,
Odysseus arose and hastened to make ready for his journey.  The little
galley which was to carry him across the sea had been already launched,
and was floating close to the shore; and the oarsmen stood upon the
beach impatient to begin the voyage.  The sea-stores, and the little
chest in which the lad’s wardrobe lay, were brought on board and placed
beneath the rowers’ benches.  The old men of Ithaca, and the boys and
the maidens, hurried down to the shore, that they might bid the voyagers
God-speed. Odysseus, when all was ready, spoke a few last kind words to
his mother and sage Laertes, and then with a swelling heart went up the
vessel’s side, and sat down in the stern.  And Phemius the bard, holding
his sweet-toned harp, followed him, and took his place in the prow.
Then the sailors loosed the moorings, and went on board, and, sitting on
the rowers’ benches, wielded the long oars; and the little vessel,
driven by their well-timed strokes, turned slowly about, and then glided
smoothly across the bay; and the eyes of all on shore were wet with
tears as they prayed the rulers of the air and the sea that the voyagers
might reach their wished-for port in safety, and in due time come back
unharmed to Ithaca.

No sooner had the vessel reached the open sea, than Pallas Athené sent
after it a gentle west wind to urge it on its way.  As the soft breeze,
laden with the perfumes of blossoming orchards, stirred the water into
rippling waves, Phemius bade the rowers lay aside their oars, and hoist
the sail.  They heeded his behest, and lifting high the slender mast,
they bound it in its place; then they stretched aloft the broad white
sail, and the west wind caught and filled it, and drove the little bark
cheerily over the waves.  And the grateful crew sat down upon the
benches, and with Odysseus and Phemius the bard, they joined in offering
heartfelt thanks to Pallas Athené, who had so kindly prospered them. And
by and by Phemius played soft melodies on his harp, such as the
sea-nymphs liked to hear.  And all that summer day the breezes whispered
in the rigging, and the white waves danced in the vessel’s wake, and the
voyagers sped happily on their way.

In the afternoon, when they had begun somewhat to tire of the voyage,
Phemius asked Odysseus what they should do to lighten the passing hours.

"Tell us some story of the olden time," said Odysseus. And the bard, who
was never better pleased than when recounting some wonderful tale, sat
down in the midships, where the oarsmen could readily hear him, and told
the strange story of Phaethon, the rash son of Helios Hyperion.

"Among the immortals who give good gifts to men, there is no one more
kind than Helios, the bestower of light and heat.  Every morning when
the Dawn with her rosy fingers illumes the eastern sky, good Helios
rises from his golden couch, and from their pasture calls his milk-white
steeds.  By name he calls them,--

"’Eos, Æthon, Bronté, Astrape!’

"Each hears his master’s voice, and comes obedient. Then about their
bright manes and his own yellow locks he twines wreaths of
sweet-smelling flowers,--amaranths and daffodils and asphodels from the
heavenly gardens.  And the Hours come and harness the steeds to the
burning sun-car, and put the reins into Helios Hyperion’s hands.  He
mounts to his place, he speaks,--and the winged team soars upward into
the morning air; and all earth’s children awake, and give thanks to the
ruler of the Sun for the new day which smiles down upon them.

"Hour after hour, with steady hand, Helios guides his steeds; and the
flaming car is borne along the sun-road through the sky.  And when the
day’s work is done, and sable night comes creeping over the earth, the
steeds, the car, and the driver sink softly down to the western Ocean’s
stream, where a golden vessel waits to bear them back again, swiftly and
unseen, to the dwelling of the Sun in the east.  There, under the
home-roof, Helios greets his mother and his wife and his dear children;
and there he rests until the Dawn again leaves old Ocean’s bed, and
blushing comes to bid him journey forth anew.

"One son had Helios, Phaethon the Gleaming, and among the children of
men there was no one more fair. And the great heart of Helios beat with
love for his earth-child, and he gave him rich gifts, and kept nothing
from him.

"And Phaethon, as he grew up, became as proud as he was fair, and
wherever he went he boasted of his kinship to the Sun; and men when they
looked upon his matchless form and his radiant features believed his
words, and honored him as the heir of Helios Hyperion. But one Epaphos,
a son of Zeus, sneered.

"’Thou a child of Helios!’ he said; ’what folly! Thou canst show nothing
wherewith to prove thy kinship, save thy fair face and thy yellow hair;
and there are many maidens in Hellas who have those, and are as
beautiful as thou.  Manly grace and handsome features are indeed the
gifts of the gods; but it is by godlike deeds alone that one can prove
his kinship to the immortals.  While Helios Hyperion--thy father, as
thou wouldst have it--guides his chariot above the clouds, and showers
blessings upon the earth, what dost thou do?  What, indeed, but dally
with thy yellow locks, and gaze upon thy costly clothing, while all the
time thy feet are in the dust, and the mire of the earth holds them
fast?  If thou hast kinship with the gods, prove it by doing the deeds
of the gods!  If thou art Helios Hyperion’s son, guide for one day his
chariot through the skies.’

"Thus spoke Epaphos.  And the mind of Phaethon was filled with lofty
dreams; and, turning away from the taunting tempter, he hastened to his
father’s house.

"Never-tiring Helios, with his steeds and car, had just finished the
course of another day; and with words of warmest love he greeted his
earth-born son.

"’Dear Phaethon,’ he said, ’what errand brings thee hither at this hour,
when the sons of men find rest in slumber?  Is there any good gift that
thou wouldst have?  Say what it is, and it shall be thine.’

"And Phaethon wept.  And he said, ’Father, there are those who say that
I am not thy son.  Give me, I pray thee, a token whereby I can prove my
kinship to thee.’

"And Helios answered, ’Mine it is to labor every day, and short is the
rest I have, that so earth’s children may have light and life.  Yet tell
me what token thou cravest, and I swear that I will give it thee.’

"’Father Helios,’ said the youth, ’this is the token that I ask: Let me
sit in thy place to-morrow, and drive thy steeds along the pathway of
the skies.’

"Then was the heart of Helios full sad, and he said to Phaethon, ’My
child, thou knowest not what thou askest.  Thou art not like the gods;
and there lives no man who can drive my steeds, or guide the sun-car
through the skies.  I pray thee ask some other boon.’

"But Phaethon would not.

"’I will have this boon or none.  I will drive thy steeds to-morrow, and
thereby make proof of my birthright.’

"Then Helios pleaded long with his son that he would not aspire to deeds
too great for weak man to undertake.  But wayward Phaethon would not
hear. And when the Dawn peeped forth, and the Hours harnessed the steeds
to the car, his father sadly gave the reins into his hands.

"’My love for thee cries out, "Refrain, refrain!" Yet for my oath’s
sake, I grant thy wish.’

"And he hid his face, and wept.

"And Phaethon leaped into the car, and lashed the steeds with his whip.
Up they sprang, and swift as a storm cloud they sped high into the blue
vault of heaven.  For well did they know that an unskilled hand held the
reins, and proudly they scorned his control.

"The haughty heart of Phaethon sank within him, and all his courage
failed; and the long reins dropped from his nerveless grasp.

"’Glorious father,’ he cried in agony, ’thy words were true.  Would that
I had hearkened to thy warning, and obeyed!’

"And the sun-steeds, mad with their new-gained freedom, wildly careered
in mid-heaven, and then plunged downward towards the earth.  Close to
the peopled plains they dashed and soared, dragging the car behind them.
The parched earth smoked; the rivers turned to vaporous clouds; the
trees shook off their scorched leaves and died; and men and beasts hid
in the caves and rocky clefts, and there perished with thirst and the
unbearable heat.

"’O Father Zeus!’ prayed Mother Earth, ’send help to thy children, or
they perish through this man’s presumptuous folly!’

"Then the Thunderer from his high seat hurled his dread bolts, and
unhappy Phaethon fell headlong from the car; and the fire-breathing
steeds, affrighted but obedient, hastened back to the pastures of Helios
on the shores of old Ocean’s stream.

"Phaethon fell into the river which men call Eridanos, and his
broken-hearted sisters wept for him; and as they stood upon the banks
and bewailed his unhappy fate, Father Zeus in pity changed them into
tall green poplars; and their tears, falling into the river, were
hardened into precious yellow amber.  But the daughters of Hesperus,
through whose country this river flows, built for the fair hero a marble
tomb, close by the sounding sea.  And they sang a song about Phaethon,
and said that although he had been hurled to the earth by the
thunderbolts of angry Zeus, yet he died not without honor, for he had
his heart set on the doing of great deeds."

As Phemius ended his story, Odysseus, who had been too intent upon
listening to look around him, raised his eyes and uttered a cry of joy;
for he saw that they had left the open sea behind them, and were
entering the long and narrow gulf between Achaia and the Ætolian land.
The oarsmen, who, too, had been earnest listeners, sprang quickly to
their places, and hastened to ply their long oars; for now the breeze
had begun to slacken, and the sail hung limp and useless upon the ship’s
mast.  Keeping close to the northern shore they rounded capes and
headlands, and skirted the mouths of deep inlets, where Phemius said
strange monsters often lurked in wait for unwary or belated seafarers.
But they passed all these places safely, and saw no living creature,
save some flocks of sea-birds flying among the cliffs, and one lone,
frightened fisherman, who left his net upon the sands, and ran to hide
himself in the thickets of underbrush which skirted the beach.

Late in the day they came to the mouth of a little harbor which, like
one in Ithaca, was a favored haunt of old Phorcys the elder of the sea.
Here the captain of the oarsmen said they must tarry for the night, for
the sun was already sinking in the west, and after nightfall no ship
could be guided with safety along these shores.  A narrow strait between
high cliffs led into the little haven, which was so sheltered from the
winds that vessels could ride there without their hawsers, even though
fierce storms might rage upon the sea outside.  Through this strait the
ship was guided, urged by the strong arms of the rowers; and so swiftly
did it glide across the harbor that it was driven upon the shelving
beach at the farther side, and stopped not until it lay full half its
length high upon the warm, dry sand.

Then the crew lifted out their store of food, and their vessels for
cooking; and while some took their bows and went in search of game,
others kindled a fire, and hastened to make ready the evening meal.
Odysseus and his tutor, when they had climbed out of the ship, sauntered
along the beach, intent to know what kind of place it was to which
fortune had thus brought them.  They found that it was in all things a
pattern and counterpart of the little bay of Phorcys in their own

[1] See the description of this bay, in the Odyssey, Book xiii. l. 102.

Near the head of the harbor grew an olive tree, beneath whose spreading
branches there was a cave, in which, men said, the Naiads sometimes
dwelt.  In this cave were great bowls and jars and two-eared pitchers,
all of stone; and in the clefts of the rock the wild bees had built
their comb, and filled it with yellow honey. In this cave, too, were
long looms on which, from their spindles wrought of stone, the Naiads
were thought to weave their purple robes.  Close by the looms, a torrent
of sweet water gushed from the rock, and flowed in crystal streams down
into the bay.  Two doorways opened into the cave: one from the north,
through which mortal man might enter, and one from the south, kept as
the pathway of Phorcys and the Naiads.  But Odysseus and his tutor saw
no signs of any of these beings: it seemed as if the place had not been
visited for many a month.

After the voyagers had partaken of their meal, they sat for a long time
around the blazing fire upon the beach, and each told some marvellous
story of the sea. For their thoughts were all upon the wonders of the

"We should not speak of Poseidon, the king of waters," said the captain,
"save with fear upon our lips, and reverence in our hearts.  For he it
is who rules the sea, as his brother Zeus controls the land; and no one
dares to dispute his right.  Once, when sailing on the Ægæan Sea, I
looked down into the depths, and saw his lordly palace,--a glittering,
golden mansion, built on the rocks at the bottom of the mere.  Quickly
did we spread our sails aloft, and the friendly breezes and our own
strong arms hurried us safely away from that wonderful but dangerous
station.  In that palace of the deep, Poseidon eats and drinks and makes
merry with his friends, the dwellers in the sea; and there he feeds and
trains his swift horses,--horses with hoofs of bronze and flowing golden
manes.  And when he harnesses these steeds to his chariot, and wields
above them his well-wrought lash of gold, you should see, as I have
seen, how he rides in terrible majesty above the waves.  And the
creatures of the sea pilot him on his way, and gambol on either side of
the car, and follow dancing in his wake.  But when he smites the waters
with the trident which he always carries in his hand, the waves roll
mountain high, the lightnings flash, and the thunders peal, and the
earth is shaken to its very core.  Then it is that man bewails his own
weakness, and prays to the powers above for help and succor."

"I have never seen the palace of Poseidon," said the helmsman, speaking
slowly; "but once, when sailing to far-off Crete, our ship was overtaken
by a storm, and for ten days we were buffeted by winds and waves, and
driven into unknown seas.  After this, we vainly tried to find again our
reckonings, but we knew not which way to turn our vessel’s prow.  Then,
when the storm had ended, we saw upon a sandy islet great troops of
seals and sea-calves couched upon the beach, and basking in the warm
rays of the sun.

"’Let us cast anchor, and wait here,’ said our captain; ’for surely
Proteus, the old man of the sea who keeps Poseidon’s herds, will come
erewhile to look after these sea-beasts.’

"And he was right; for at noonday the herdsman of the sea came up out of
the brine, and went among his sea-calves, and counted them, and called
each one by name.  When he was sure that not even one was missing, he
lay down among them upon the sand.  Then we landed quickly from our
vessel, and rushed silently upon him, and seized him with our hands.
The old master of magic tried hard to escape from our clutches, and did
not forget his cunning.  First he took the form of a long-maned lion,
fierce and terrible; but when this did not affright us, he turned into a
scaly serpent; then into a leopard, spotted and beautiful; then into a
wild boar, with gnashing tusks and foaming mouth.  Seeing that by none
of these forms he could make us loosen our grasp upon him, he took the
shape of running water, as if to glide through our fingers; then he
became a tall tree full of leaves and blossoms; and, lastly, he became
himself again.  And he pleaded with us for his freedom, and promised to
tell us any thing that we desired, if we would only let him go.

"’Tell us which way we shall sail, and how far we shall go, that we may
surely reach the fair harbor of Crete,’ said our captain.

"’Sail with the wind two days,’ said the elder of the sea, ’and on the
third morning ye shall behold the hills of Crete, and the pleasant port
which you seek.’

"Then we loosened our hold upon him, and old Proteus plunged into the
briny deep; and we betook ourselves to our ship, and sailed away before
the wind. And on the third day, as he had told us, we sighted the fair
harbor of Crete."

As the helmsman ended his story, his listeners smiled; for he had told
them nothing but an old tale, which every seaman had learned in his
youth,--the story of Proteus, symbol of the ever-changing forms of
matter.  Just then Odysseus heard a low, plaintive murmur, seeming as if
uttered by some lost wanderer away out upon the sea.

"What is that?" he asked, turning towards Phemius.

"It is Glaucus, the soothsayer of the sea, lamenting that he is mortal,"
answered the bard.  "Long time ago, Glaucus was a poor fisherman who
cast his nets into these very waters, and built his hut upon the Ætolian
shore, not very far from the place where we now sit.  Before his hut
there was a green, grassy spot, where he often sat to dress the fish
which he caught. One day he carried a basketful of half-dead fish to
that spot, and turned them out upon the ground.  Wonderful to behold!
Each fish took a blade of grass in its mouth, and forthwith jumped into
the sea.  The next day he found a hare in the woods, and gave chase to
it. The frightened creature ran straight to the grassy plat before his
hut, seized a green spear of grass between its lips, and dashed into the

"’Strange what kind of grass that is!’ cried Glaucus. Then he pulled up
a blade, and tasted it.  Quick as thought, he also jumped into the sea;
and there he wanders evermore among the seaweeds and the sand and the
pebbles and the sunken rocks; and, although he has the gift of
soothsaying, and can tell what things are in store for mortal men, he
mourns and laments because he cannot die."

Then Phemius, seeing that Odysseus grew tired of his story, took up his
harp, and touched its strings, and sang a song about old Phorcys,--the
son of the Sea and Mother Earth,--and about his strange daughters who
dwell in regions far remote from the homes of men.

He touched his harp lightly, and sang a sweet lullaby,--a song about the
Sirens, the fairest of all the daughters of old Phorcys.  These have
their home in an enchanted island in the midst of the western sea; and
they sit in a green meadow by the shore, and they sing evermore of empty
pleasures and of phantoms of delight and of vain expectations.  And woe
is the wayfaring man who hearkens to them! for by their bewitching tones
they lure him to his death, and never again shall he see his dear wife
or his babes, who wait long and vainly for his home-coming. Stop thine
ears, O voyager on the sea, and listen not to the songs of the Sirens,
sing they ever so sweetly; for the white flowers which dot the meadow
around them are not daisies, but the bleached bones of their victims.

Then Phemius smote the chords of his harp, and played a melody so weird
and wild that Odysseus sprang to his feet, and glanced quickly around
him, as if he thought to see some grim and horrid shape threatening him
from among the gathering shadows.  And this time the bard sang a
strange, tumultuous song, concerning other daughters of old
Phorcys,--the three Gray Sisters, with shape of swan, who have but one
tooth for all, and one common eye, and who sit forever on a barren rock
near the farthest shore of Ocean’s stream.  Upon them the sun doth never
cast a beam, and the moon doth never look; but, horrible and alone, they
sit clothed in their yellow robes, and chatter threats and meaningless
complaints to the waves which dash against their rock.

Not far away from these monsters once sat the three Gorgons, daughters
also of old Phorcys.  These were clothed with bat-like wings, and horror
sat upon their faces.  They had ringlets of snakes for hair, and their
teeth were like the tusks of swine, and their hands were talons of
brass; and no mortal could ever gaze upon them and breathe again.  But
there came, one time, a young hero to those regions,--Perseus the
godlike; and he snatched the eye of the three Gray Sisters, and flung it
far into the depths of Lake Tritonis; and he slew Medusa, the most
fearful of the Gorgons, and carried the head of the terror back to
Hellas with him as a trophy.

The bard chose next a gentler theme: and, as he touched his harp, the
listeners fancied that they heard the soft sighing of the south wind,
stirring lazily the leaves and blossoms; they heard the plashing of
fountains, and the rippling of water-brooks, and the songs of little
birds; and their minds were carried away in memory to pleasant gardens
in a summer land.  And Phemius sang of the Hesperides, or the maidens of
the West, who also, men say, are the daughters of Phorcys the ancient.
The Hesperian land in which they dwell is a country of delight, where
the trees are laden with golden fruit, and every day is a sweet dream of
joy and peace.  And the clear-voiced Hesperides sing and dance in the
sunlight always; and their only task is to guard the golden apples which
grow there, and which Mother Earth gave to Here the queen upon her
wedding day.

Here Phemius paused.  Odysseus, lulled by the soft music, and overcome
by weariness, had lain down upon the sand and fallen asleep.  At a sign
from the bard, the seamen lifted him gently into the ship, and, covering
him with warm skins, they left him to slumber through the night.

                           _*ADVENTURE III.*_

                       *THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH.*

The next morning, before the sun had risen, the voyagers launched their
ship again, and sailed out of the little harbor into the long bay of
Crissa.  And Pallas Athené sent the west wind early, to help them
forward on their way; and they spread their sail, and instead of longer
hugging the shore, they ventured boldly out into the middle of the bay.
All day long the ship held on its course, skimming swiftly through the
waves like a great white-winged bird; and those on board beguiled the
hours with song and story as on the day before.  But when the evening
came, they were far from land; and the captain said that as the water
was deep, and he knew the sea quite well, they would not put into port,
but would sail straight on all night.  And so, when the sun had gone
down, and the moon had risen, flooding earth and sea with her pure, soft
light, Odysseus wrapped his warm cloak about him, and lay down again to
rest upon his bed of skins between the rowers’ benches.  But the
helmsman stood at his place, and guided the vessel over the shadowy
waves; and through the watches of the night the west wind filled the
sails, and the dark keel of the little bark ploughed the waters, and
Pallas Athené blessed the voyage.

When, at length, the third morning came, and Helios arose at summons of
the Dawn, Odysseus awoke.  To his great surprise, he heard no longer the
rippling of the waves upon the vessel’s sides, nor the flapping of the
sail in the wind, nor yet the rhythmic dipping of the oars into the sea.
He listened, and the sound of merry laughter came to his ears, and he
heard the twittering of many birds, and the far-away bleating of little
lambs.  He rubbed his eyes, and sat up, and looked about him.  The ship
was no longer floating on the water, but had been drawn high up on a
sandy beach; and the crew were sitting beneath an olive tree, at no
great distance from the shore, listening to the melodies with which a
strangely-garbed shepherd welcomed on his flute the coming of another

Odysseus arose quickly and leaped out upon the beach.  Then it was that
a scene of beauty and quiet grandeur met his gaze,--a scene, the like of
which had never entered his thoughts nor visited his dreams.  He saw, a
few miles to the northward, a group of high mountains whose summits
towered above the clouds; and highest among them all were twin peaks
whose snow-crowned tops seemed but little lower than the skies
themselves.  And as the light of the newly risen sun gilded the gray
crags, and painted the rocky slopes, and shone bright among the wooded
uplands, the whole scene appeared like a living picture, glorious with
purple and gold and azure, and brilliant with sparkling gems.

"Is it not truly a fitting place for the home of beauty and music, the
dwelling of Apollo, and the favored haunt of the Muses?" asked Phemius,
drawing near, and observing the boy’s wondering delight.

"Indeed it is," said Odysseus, afraid to turn his eyes away, lest the
enchanting vision should vanish like a dream.  "But is that mountain
really Parnassus, and is our journey so nearly at an end?"

"Yes," answered the bard, "that peak which towers highest toward the sky
is great Parnassus, the centre of the earth; and in the rocky cleft
which you can barely see between the twin mountains, stands sacred
Delphi and the favored temple of Apollo.  Lower down, and on the other
side of the mountain, is the white-halled dwelling of old Autolycus,
your mother’s father. Although the mountain seems so near, it is yet a
long and toilsome journey thither,--a journey which we must make on
foot, and by pathways none the safest. Come, let us join the sailors
under the olive tree; and when we have breakfasted, we will begin our
journey to Parnassus."

The strange shepherd had killed the fattest sheep of his flock, and had
roasted the choicest parts upon a bed of burning coals; and when
Odysseus and his tutor came to the olive tree, they found a breakfast
fit indeed for kings, set out ready before them.

"Welcome, noble strangers," said the shepherd; "welcome to the land most
loved of the Muses.  I give you of the best of all that I have, and I am
ready to serve you and do your bidding."

Phemius thanked the shepherd for his kindness; and while they sat upon
the grass, and ate of the pleasant food which had been provided, he
asked the simple swain many questions about Parnassus.

"I have heard that Parnassus is the hub around which the great
earth-wheel is built.  Is it really true?"

"A long, long time ago," answered the man, "there were neither any
shepherds nor sheep in Hellas, and not even the gods knew where the
centre of the earth had been put.  Some said that it was at Mount
Olympus, where Zeus sits in his great house with all the deathless ones
around him.  Others said that it was in Achaia; and others still, in
Arcadia, now the land of shepherds; and some, who, it seems to me, had
lost their wits, said that it was not in Hellas at all, but in a strange
land beyond the western sea.  In order that he might know the truth,
great Zeus one day took two eagles, both of the same strength and
swiftness, and said, ’These birds shall tell us what even the gods do
not know.’  Then he carried one of the eagles to the far east, where the
Dawn rises out of Ocean’s bed; and he carried the other to the far west
where Helios and his sun-car sink into the waves; and he clapped his
hands together, and the thunder rolled, and the swift birds flew at the
same moment to meet each other; and right above the spot where Delphi
stands, they came together, beak to beak, and both fell dead to the
ground.  ’Behold! there is the centre of the earth,’ said Zeus.  And all
the gods agreed that he was right."

"Do you know the best and shortest road to Delphi?" asked Phemius.

"No one knows it better than I," was the answer. "When I was a boy I fed
my sheep at the foot of Parnassus; and my father and grandfather lived
there, long before the town of Delphi was built, or there was any temple
there for Apollo.  Shall I tell you how men came to build a temple at
that spot?"

"Yes, tell us," said Odysseus.  "I am anxious to know all about it."

"You must not repeat my story to the priests at Delphi," said the
shepherd, speaking now in a lower tone.  "For they have quite a
different way of telling it, and they would say that I have spoken
lightly of sacred things.  There was a time when only shepherds lived on
the mountain slopes, and there were neither priests nor warriors nor
robbers in all this land.  My grandfather was one of those happy
shepherds; and he often pastured his flocks on the broad terrace where
the town of Delphi now stands, and where the two eagles, which I have
told you about, fell to the ground.  One day, a strange thing happened
to him.  A goat which was nibbling the grass from the sides of a little
crevice in the rock, fell into a fit, and lay bleating and helpless upon
the ground.  My grandfather ran to help the beast; but as he stooped
down, he too fell into a fit, and he saw strange visions, and spoke
prophetic words. Some other shepherds who were passing by saw his
plight, and lifted him up; and as soon as he breathed the fresh air, he
was himself again.

"Often after this, the same thing happened to my grandfather’s goats;
and when he had looked carefully into the matter, he found that a warm,
stifling vapor issued at times from the crevice, and that it was the
breathing of this vapor which had caused his goats and even himself to
lose their senses.  Then other men came; and they learned that by
sitting close to the crevice, and inhaling its vapor, they gained the
power to foresee things, and the gift of prophecy came to them.  And so
they set a tripod over the crevice for a seat, and they built a
temple--small at first--over the tripod; and they sent for the wisest
maidens in the land to come and sit upon the tripod and breathe the
strange vapor, so that they could tell what was otherwise hidden from
human knowledge.  Some say that the vapor is the breath of a python, or
great serpent; and they call the priestess who sits upon the tripod
Pythia.  But I know nothing about that."

"Are you sure," asked Phemius, "that it was your grandfather who first
found that crevice in the rock?"

"I am not quite sure," said the shepherd.  "But I heard the story when I
was a little child, and I know that it was either my grandfather or my
grandfather’s grandfather.  At any rate, it all happened many, many
years ago."

By this time they had finished their meal; and after they had given
thanks to the powers who had thus far kindly prospered them, they
hastened to renew their journey.  Two of the oarsmen, who were landsmen
as well as seamen, were to go with them to carry their luggage and the
little presents which Laertes had sent to the priests at Delphi.  The
shepherd was to be their guide; and a second shepherd was to keep them
company, so as to help them in case of need.

The sun was high over their heads when they were ready to begin their
long and toilsome walk.  The road at first was smooth and easy, winding
through meadows and orchards and shady pastures.  But very soon the way
became steep and uneven, and the olive trees gave place to pines, and
the meadows to barren rocks.  The little company toiled bravely onward,
however, the two shepherds leading the way and cheering them with
pleasant melodies on their flutes, while the two sailors with their
heavy loads followed in the rear.

It was quite late in the day when they reached the sacred town of
Delphi, nestling in the very bosom of Parnassus.  The mighty mountain
wall now rose straight up before them, seeming to reach even to the
clouds. The priests who kept the temple met them on the outskirts of the
town, and kindly welcomed them for the sake of King Laertes, whom they
knew and had seen; and they besought the wayfarers to abide for some
time in Delphi.  Nor, indeed, would Phemius have thought of going
farther until he had prayed to bright Apollo, and offered rich gifts at
his shrine, and questioned the Pythian priestess about the unknown

And so Odysseus and his tutor became the honored guests of the Delphian
folk; and they felt that surely they were now at the very centre of the
world.  Their hosts dealt so kindly with them, that a whole month
passed, and still they were in Delphi.  And as they talked with the
priests in the temple, or listened to the music of the mountain nymphs,
or drank sweet draughts of wisdom from the Castalian spring, they every
day found it harder and harder to tear themselves away from the
delightful place.

                           _*ADVENTURE IV.*_

                       *THE SILVER-BOWED APOLLO.*

One morning Odysseus sat in the shadow of Parnassus with one of the
priests of Apollo, and they talked of many wonderful things; and the boy
began to think to himself that there was more wisdom in the words of his
companion than in all the waters of the Castalian spring.  He could see,
from where he sat, the stream of that far-famed fountain, flowing out of
the rocks between two cliffs, and falling in sparkling cascades down the
steep slopes.

"Men think that they gain wisdom by drinking from that spring," said he
to the priest; "but I think that they gain it in quite another way.
They drink of its waters every day; but while they drink, they listen to
the wonderful words which fall from your lips, and they become wise by
hearing, and not by drinking."

The old priest smiled at the shrewdness of the boy. "Let them think as
they please," said he.  "In any case, their wisdom would come hard, and
be of little use, if it were not for the silver-bowed Apollo."

"Tell me about Apollo," said Odysseus.

The priest could not have been better pleased.  He moved his seat, so
that he could look the boy full in the face, and at the same time have
the temple before him, and then he began:--

"A very long time ago, Apollo was born in distant Delos.  And when the
glad news of his birth was told, Earth smiled, and decked herself with
flowers; the nymphs of Delos sang songs of joy that were heard to the
utmost bounds of Hellas; and choirs of white swans flew seven times
around the island, piping notes of praise to the pure being who had come
to dwell among men.  Then Zeus looked down from high Olympus, and
crowned the babe with a golden head-band, and put into his hands a
silver bow and a sweet-toned lyre such as no man had ever seen; and he
gave him a team of white swans to drive, and bade him go forth to teach
men the things which are right and good, and to make light that which is
hidden and in darkness.

"And so Apollo arose, beautiful as the morning sun, and journeyed
through many lands, seeking a dwelling-place. He stopped for a time at
the foot of Mount Olympus, and played so sweetly upon his lyre that Zeus
and all his court were entranced.  Then he went into Pieria and Iolcos,
and he wandered up and down through the whole length of the Thessalian
land; but nowhere could he find a spot in which he was willing to dwell.
Then he climbed into his car, and bade his swan-team fly with him to the
country of the Hyperboreans beyond the far-off northern mountains.
Forthwith they obeyed; and through the pure regions of the upper air
they bore him, winging their way ever northward.  They carried him over
the desert flats where the shepherd folk of Scythia dwell in houses of
wicker-work perched on well-wheeled wagons, and daily drive their flocks
and herds to fresher pastures.  They carried him over that unknown land
where the Arimaspian host of one-eyed horsemen dwell beside a river
running bright with gold; and on the seventh day they came to the great
Rhipæan Mountains where the griffins, with lion bodies and eagle wings,
guard the golden treasures of the North. In these mountains, the North
Wind has his home; and from his deep caves he now and then comes forth,
chilling with his cold and angry breath the orchards and the fair fields
of Hellas, and bringing death and dire disasters in his train.  But
northward this blustering Boreas cannot blow, for the heaven-towering
mountains stand like a wall against him, and drive him back; and hence
it is that beyond these mountains the storms of winter never come, but
one happy springtime runs through all the year.  There the flowers
bloom, and the grain ripens, and the fruits drop mellowing to the earth,
and the red wine is pressed from the luscious grape, every day the same.
And the Hyperboreans who dwell in that favored land know neither pain
nor sickness, nor wearying labor nor eating care; but their youth is as
unfading as the springtime, and old age with its wrinkles and its
sorrows is evermore a stranger to them. For the spirit of evil, which
leads all men to err, has never found entrance among them, and they are
free from vile passions and unworthy thoughts; and among them there is
neither war, nor wicked deeds, nor fear of the avenging Furies, for
their hearts are pure and clean, and never burdened with the love of

"When the swan-team of silver-bowed Apollo had carried him over the
Rhipæan Mountains, they alighted in the Hyperborean land.  And the
people welcomed Apollo with shouts of joy and songs of triumph, as one
for whom they had long been waiting.  And he took up his abode there,
and dwelt with them one whole year, delighting them with his presence,
and ruling over them as their king.  But when twelve moons had passed,
he bethought him that the toiling, suffering men of Hellas needed most
his aid and care.  Therefore he bade the Hyperboreans farewell, and
again went up into his sun-bright car; and his winged team carried him
back to the land of his birth.

"Long time Apollo sought a place where he might build a temple to which
men might come to learn of him and to seek his help in time of need.  At
length he came to the plain of fair Tilphussa, by the shore of Lake
Copais; and there he began to build a house, for the land was a pleasant
one, well-watered, and rich in grain and fruit.  But the nymph Tilphussa
liked not to have Apollo dwell so near her, lest men seeing and loving
him should forget to honor her; and one day garmented with mosses and
crowned with lilies, she came and stood before him in the sunlight.

"’Apollo of the silver bow,’ said she, ’have you not made a mistake in
choosing this place for a dwelling? These rich plains around us will not
always be as peaceful as now; for their very richness will tempt the
spoiler, and the song of the cicada will then give place to the din of
battle.  Even in times of peace, you would hardly have a quiet hour
here: for great herds of cattle come crowding down every day to my lake
for water; and the noisy ploughman, driving his team afield, disturbs
the morning hour with his boorish shouts; and boys and dogs keep up a
constant din, and make life in this place a burden.’

"’Fair Tilphussa,’ said Apollo, ’I had hoped to dwell here in thy happy
vale, a neighbor and friend to thee.  Yet, since this place is not what
it seems to be, whither shall I go, and where shall I build my house?"

"’Go to the cleft in Parnassus where the swift eagles of Zeus met above
the earth’s centre,’ answered the nymph.  ’There thou canst dwell in
peace, and men will come from all parts of the world to do thee honor.’

"And so Apollo came down towards Crissa, and here in the cleft of the
mountain he laid the foundations of his shrine.  Then he called the
master-architects of the world, Trophonius and Agamedes, and gave to
them the building of the high walls and the massive roof. And when they
had finished their work, he said, ’Say now what reward you most desire
for your labor, and I will give it you.’

"’Give us,’ said the brothers, ’that which is the best for men.’

"’It is well,’ answered Apollo.  ’When the full moon is seen above the
mountain-tops, you shall have your wish."

"But when the moon rose full and clear above the heights, the two
brothers were dead.


"And Apollo was pleased with the place which he had chosen for a home;
for here were peace and quiet, and neither the hum of labor nor the din
of battle would be likely ever to enter.  Yet there was one thing to be
done before he could have perfect rest.  There lived near the foot of
the mountain a huge serpent called Python, which was the terror of all
the land.  Oftentimes, coming out of his den, this monster attacked the
flocks and herds, and sometimes even their keepers; and he had been
known to carry little children and helpless women to his den, and there
devour them.

"The men of Delphi came one day to Apollo, and prayed him to drive out
or destroy their terrible enemy. So, taking in hand his silver bow, he
sallied out at break of day to meet the monster when he should issue
from his slimy cave.  The vile creature shrank back when he saw the
radiant god before him, and would fain have hidden himself in the deep
gorges of the mountain.  But Apollo quickly launched a swift arrow at
him, crying, ’Thou bane of man, lie thou upon the earth, and enrich it
with thy dead body!’  And the never-erring arrow sped to the mark; and
the great beast died, wallowing in his gore.  And the people in their
joy came out to meet the archer, singing pæans in his praise; and they
crowned him with wild flowers and wreaths of olives, and hailed him as
the Pythian king; and the nightingales sang to him in the groves, and
the swallows and cicadas twittered and tuned their melodies in harmony
with his lyre.[1]

[1] See Note 2 at the end of this volume.

"But as yet there were no priests in Apollo’s temple; and he pondered,
long doubting, as to whom he should choose.  One day he stood upon the
mountain’s top-most peak, whence he could see all Hellas and the seas
around it.  Far away in the south, he spied a little ship sailing from
Crete to sandy Pylos; and the men who were on board were Cretan

"’These men shall serve in my temple!’ he cried.

"Upward he sprang, and high he soared above the sea; then swiftly
descending like a fiery star, he plunged into the waves.  There he
changed himself into the form of a dolphin, and swam with speed to
overtake the vessel.  Long before the ship had reached Pylos, the mighty
fish came up with it, and struck its stern.  The crew were dumb with
terror, and sat still in their places; their oars were motionless; the
sail hung limp and useless from the mast.  Yet the vessel sped through
the waves with the speed of the wind, for the dolphin was driving it
forward by the force of his fins.  Past many a headland, past Pylos and
many pleasant harbors, they hastened.  Vainly did the pilot try to land
at Cyparissa and at Cyllene: the ship would not obey her helm.  They
rounded the headland of Araxus, and came into the long bay of Crissa;
and there the dolphin left off guiding the vessel, and swam playfully
around it, while a brisk west wind filled the sail, and bore the
voyagers safely into port.

"Then the dolphin changed into the form of a glowing star, which,
shooting high into the heavens, lit up the whole world with its glory;
and as the awe-stricken crew stood gazing at the wonder, it fell with
the quickness of light upon Parnassus.  Into his temple Apollo hastened,
and there he kindled an undying fire.  Then, in the form of a handsome
youth, with golden hair falling in waves upon his shoulders, he hastened
to the beach to welcome the Cretan strangers.

"’Hail, seamen!’ he cried.  ’Who are you, and from whence do you come?
Shall I greet you as friends and guests, or shall I know you as robbers
bringing death and distress to many a fair home?’

"Then answered the Cretan captain, ’Fair stranger, the gods have brought
us hither; for by no wish of our own have we come.  We are Cretan
merchants, and we were on our way to sandy Pylos with stores of
merchandise, to barter with the tradesmen of that city. But some unknown
being, whose might is greater than the might of men, has carried us far
beyond our wished-for port, even to this unknown shore.  Tell us now, we
pray thee, what land is this?  And who art thou who lookest so like a

"’Friends and guests, for such indeed you must be,’ answered the radiant
youth, ’think never again of sailing upon the wine-faced sea, but draw
now your vessel high up on the beach.  And when you have brought out all
your goods, and built an altar upon the shore, take of your white barley
which you have with you, and offer it reverently to Phœbus Apollo.  For
I am he; and it was I who brought you hither, so that you might keep my
temple, and make known my wishes unto men. And since it was in the form
of a dolphin that you first saw me, let the town which stands around my
temple be known as Delphi, and let men worship me there as Apollo

"Then the Cretans did as he had bidden them: they drew their vessel high
up on the white beach, and when they had unladen it of their goods, they
built an altar on the shore, and offered white barley to Phœbus Apollo,
and gave thanks to the ever-living powers who had saved them from the
terrors of the deep.  And after they had feasted, and rested from their
long voyage, they turned their faces toward Parnassus; and Apollo,
playing sweeter music than men had ever heard, led the way; and the folk
of Delphi, with choirs of boys and maidens, came to meet them, and they
sang a pæan and songs of victory as they helped the Cretans up the steep
pathway to the cleft of Parnassus.

"’I leave you now to have sole care of my temple,’ said Apollo.  ’I
charge you to keep it well; deal righteously with all men; let no
unclean thing pass your lips; forget self; guard well your thoughts, and
keep your hearts free from guile.  If you do these things, you shall be
blessed with length of days and all that makes life glad.  But if you
forget my words, and deal treacherously with men, and cause any to
wander from the path of right, then shall you be driven forth homeless
and accursed, and others shall take your places in the service of my

"And then the bright youth left them and hastened away into Thessaly and
to Mount Olympus.  But every year he comes again, and looks into his
house, and speaks words of warning and of hope to his servants; and
often men have seen him on Parnassus, playing his lyre to the listening
Muses, or with his sister, arrow-loving Artemis, chasing the mountain

Such was the story which the old priest related to Odysseus, sitting in
the shadow of the mountain; and the boy listened with eyes wide open and
full of wonder, half expecting to see the golden-haired Apollo standing
by his side.

                            _*ADVENTURE V.*_

                     *THE KING OF CATTLE THIEVES.*

Odysseus and his tutor tarried, as I have told you, a whole month at
Delphi; for Phemius would not venture farther on their journey until the
Pythian oracle should tell him how it would end.  In the mean while many
strangers were daily coming from all parts of Hellas, bringing rich
gifts for Apollo’s temple, and seeking advice from the Pythia.  From
these strangers Odysseus learned many things concerning lands and places
of which he never before had heard; and nothing pleased him better than
to listen to the marvellous tales which each man told about his own home
and people.

One day as he was walking towards the spring of Castalia, an old man,
who had come from Corinth to ask questions of the Pythia, met him, and
stopped to talk with him.

"Young prince," said the old man, "what business can bring one so young
as you to this place sacred to Apollo?"

"I am on my way to visit my grandfather," said Odysseus, "and I have
stopped here for a few days while my tutor consults the oracle."

"Your grandfather!  And who is your grandfather?" asked the old man.

"The great chief Autolycus, whose halls are on the other side of
Parnassus," answered Odysseus.

The old man drew a long breath, and after a moment’s silence said,
"Perhaps, then, you are going to help your grandfather take care of his
neighbors’ cattle."

"I do not know what you mean," answered Odysseus, startled by the tone
in which the stranger spoke these words.

"I mean that your grandfather, who is the most cunning of men, will
expect to teach you his trade," said the man, with a strange twinkle in
his eye.

"My grandfather is a chieftain and a hero," said the boy.  "What trade
has he?"

"You pretend not to know that he is a cattle-dealer," answered the old
man, shrugging his shoulders. "Why, all Hellas has known him these
hundred years as the King of Cattle Thieves!  But he is very old now,
and the herdsmen and shepherds have little to fear from him any more.
Yet, mind my words, young prince: it does not require the wisdom of the
Pythian oracle to foretell that you, his grandson, will become the
craftiest of men.  With Autolycus for your grandfather and Hermes for
your great-grandfather, it would be hard indeed for you to be

At this moment the bard Phemius came up, and the old man walked quickly

"What does he mean?" asked Odysseus, turning to his tutor.  "What does
he mean by saying that my grandfather is the king of cattle thieves, and
by speaking of Hermes as my great-grandfather?"

"They tell strange tales about Autolycus, the mountain chief," Phemius
answered; "but whether their stories be true or false, I cannot say.
The old man who was talking to you is from Corinth, where once reigned
Sisyphus, a most cruel and crafty king.  From Corinth, Sisyphus sent
ships and traders to all the world; and the wealth of Hellas might have
been his, had he but loved the truth and dealt justly with his
fellow-men.  But there was no honor in his soul; he betrayed his dearest
friends for gold; and he crushed under a huge block of stone the
strangers who came to Corinth to barter their merchandise.  It is said,
that, once upon a time, Autolycus went down to Corinth in the night, and
carried away all the cattle of Sisyphus, driving them to his great
pastures beyond Parnassus. Not long afterward, Sisyphus went boldly to
your grandfather’s halls, and said,--

"’I have come, Autolycus, to get again my cattle which you have been so
kindly pasturing.’

"’It is well,’ said Autolycus.  ’Go now among my herds, and if you find
any cattle bearing your mark upon them, they are yours: drive them back
to your own pastures.  This is the offer which I make to every man who
comes claiming that I have stolen his cattle.’

"Then Sisyphus, to your grandfather’s great surprise, went among the
herds, and chose his own without making a single error.

"’See you not my initial, [sigma symbol], under the hoof of each of
these beasts?’ asked Sisyphus.

"Autolycus saw at once that he had been outwitted, and he fain would
have made friends with one who was more crafty than himself.  But
Sisyphus dealt treacherously with him, as he did with every one who
trusted him.  Yet men say, that, now he is dead, he has his reward in
Hades; for there he is doomed to the never-ending toil of heaving a
heavy stone to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back again to the
plain.[1]  It was from him that men learned to call your grandfather the
King of Cattle Thieves; with how much justice, you may judge for

[1] See Note 3 at the end of this volume.

"You have explained a part of what I asked you," said Odysseus
thoughtfully, "but you have not answered my question about Hermes."

"I will answer that at another time," said Phemius; "for to-morrow we
must renew our journey, and I must go now and put every thing in

[2] See Note 4 at the end of this volume.

"But has the oracle spoken?" asked Odysseus in surprise.

"The Pythia has answered my question," said the bard.  "I asked what
fortune should attend you on this journey, and the oracle made this

    ’To home and kindred he shall safe return e’er long,
    With scars well-won, and greeted with triumphal song.’"

"What does it mean?" asked Odysseus.

"Just what it says," answered the bard.  "All that is now needed is that
we should do our part, and fortune will surely smile upon us."

And so, on the morrow, they bade their kind hosts farewell, and began to
climb the steep pathway, which, they were told, led up and around to the
rock-built halls of Autolycus.  At the top of the first slope they came
upon a broad table-land from the centre of which rose the peak of
Parnassus towering to the skies. Around the base of this peak, huge
rocks were piled, one above the other, just as they had been thrown in
the days of old from the mighty hands of the Titans. On every side were
clefts and chasms and deep gorges, through which flowed roaring torrents
fed from the melting snows above.  And in the sides of the cliffs were
dark caves and narrow grottos, hollowed from the solid rock, wherein
strange creatures were said to dwell.

Now and then Odysseus fancied that he saw a mountain nymph flitting
among the trees, or a satyr with shaggy beard hastily hiding himself
among the clefts and crags above them.  They passed by the great
Corycian cavern, whose huge vaulted chambers would shelter a thousand
men; but they looked in vain for the nymph Corycia, who, they were told,
sometimes sat within, and smiled upon passing travellers.  A little
farther beyond, they heard the mellow notes of a lyre, and the sound of
laughter and merry-making, in a grove of evergreens, lower down the
mountain-side; and Odysseus wondered if Apollo and the Muses were not

The path which the little company followed did not lead to the summit of
the peak, but wound around its base, and then, by many a zigzag, led
downward to a wooded glen through the middle of which a mountain torrent
rushed.  By and by the glen widened into a pleasant valley, broad and
green, bounded on three sides by steep mountain walls.  Here were rich
pasture-lands, and a meadow, in which Odysseus saw thousands of cattle
grazing.  The guide told them that those were the pastures and the
cattle of great Autolycus. Close to the bank of the mountain
torrent,--just where it leaped from a precipice, and, forgetting its
wild hurry, was changed to a quiet meadow brook,--stood the dwelling of
the chief.  It was large and low, and had been hewn out of the solid
rock; it looked more like the entrance to a mountain cave than like the
palace of a king.

Odysseus and his tutor walked boldly into the great hall; for the low
doorway was open and unguarded, and the following words were roughly
carved in the rock above: "Here lives Autolycus.  If your heart is
brave, enter."  They passed through the entrance-hall, and came to a
smaller inner chamber.  There they saw Autolycus seated in a chair of
ivory and gold, thick-cushioned with furs; and near him sat fair
Amphithea his wife, busy with her spindle and distaff. The chief was
very old; his white hair fell in waves upon his great shoulders, and his
broad brow was wrinkled with age: yet his frame was that of a giant, and
his eyes glowed and sparkled with the fire of youth.

"Strangers," said he kindly, "you are welcome to my halls.  It is not
often that men visit me in my mountain home, and old age has bound me
here in my chair so that I can no longer walk abroad among my fellows.
Besides this, there are those who of late speak many unkind words of me;
and good men care not to be the guests of him who is called the King of
Cattle Thieves."  Then seeing that his visitors still lingered at the
door, he added, "I pray you, whoever you may be, fear not, but enter,
and be assured of a kind welcome."

Then Odysseus went fearlessly forward, and stood before the chief, and
made himself known, and showed them the presents which his mother
Anticleia had sent.  Glad indeed was the heart of old Autolycus as he
grasped the hand of his grandson; and Amphithea took the lad in her
arms, and kissed his brow and both his eyes, and wept for very fulness
of joy.  Then, at a call from the old chief, an inner door was opened,
and his six sons came in.  Stalwart men were they, with limbs strong as
iron, and eyes like those of the mountain eagle; and they warmly
welcomed the young prince, and asked him a thousand questions about his
home in Ithaca, and his queen-mother, their sister Anticleia.

"Waste not the hours in talk!" cried old Autolycus at last.  "There is
yet another day for words.  Make ready at once a fitting feast for this
my grandson and his friend the bard; and let our halls ring loud with
joyful merriment."

The sons at once obeyed.  From the herd which was pasturing in the
meadows, they chose the fattest calf; this they slew and quickly
dressed; and then, cutting off the choicest parts, they roasted them on
spits before the blazing fire.  And when the meal was ready, great
Autolycus, his wife, and his sons sat down with their guests at the
heavy-laden table; and they feasted merrily until the sun went down, and
darkness covered the earth.  Then the young men brought arm-loads of dry
branches, and logs of pine, and threw them upon the fire, and the blaze
leaped up and lighted the hall with a rich ruddy glow; and Odysseus sat
upon a couch of bearskins, at his grandfather’s feet, and listened to
many a wonderful story of times long past, but ever present in the old
man’s memory.

"Truly there are two things against which it is useless for any man to
fight," said Autolycus, "and these are old age and death.  The first has
already made me his slave, and the second will soon have me in his
clutches.  When I was young, there was not a man who could outstrip me
in the foot race.  I even thought myself a match for the fleet-footed
maiden Atalanta. There were very few men, even among the great heroes,
who could hurl a spear with more force than I; and there was hardly one
who could bend my great bow. But now both spear and bow are useless.
You see them standing in the corner there, where my eyes can rest upon
them.  To-morrow you shall help me polish them."

Then after a moment’s pause he added, "But, oh the wrestling and the
leaping!  There was never but one mortal who could excel me in either."

"I have heard," said Odysseus, "that even great Heracles was your

"And such indeed he was," answered the old man. "The first time I saw
the matchless hero, he was but a child, tall and beautiful, with the
eyes of a wild deer, and with flaxen hair falling over his shoulders.
But he was stronger even then than any common mortal.  His stepfather
Amphitryon called me to Thebes to be the boy’s teacher, for he saw in
him rich promises of future greatness.  With me he called many of the
noblest men of Hellas.  First there was Eurytus, the master of archers,
who taught the hero how to bend the bow and send the swift arrow
straight to the mark.  But in an evil day Eurytus met his fate, and all
through his own folly.  For, being proud of his skill, which no mortal
could excel, he challenged great Apollo to a shooting match; and the
angry archer-god pierced him through and through with his arrows.

"Second among the teachers of Heracles was Castor, the brother of
Polydeuces and of Helen, the most beautiful of women.  He taught the
hero how to wield the spear and the sword.  Then, there was Linus, the
brother of Orpheus, sweetest of musicians, who came to teach him how to
touch the lyre and bring forth bewitching melody; but the boy, whose
mind was set on great deeds, cared naught for music, and the lessons
which Linus gave him were profitless.  ’Thou art but a dull and witless
youth!’ cried the minstrel one day, striking his pupil upon the cheek.
Then Heracles in wrath smote Linus with his own lyre, and killed him.
’Even a dull pupil has his rights,’ said he, ’and one of these is the
right not to be called a blockhead.’  The Theban rulers brought the
young hero to trial for his crime; but he stood up before them, and
reminded them of a half-forgotten law which Rhadamanthus, the ruler of
the Elysian land, had given them: ’_Whoso defends himself against an
unjust attack is guiltless, and shall go free_.’  And the judges,
pleased with his wisdom, gave him his liberty."

"Did Heracles have any other teachers?" asked Odysseus, anxious to hear

"Yes; Amphytrion himself taught the lad how to drive a chariot
skilfully, and how to manage horses. And, as I have said, he called me
to teach him the manly arts of leaping and running and wrestling.  He
was an apt pupil, and soon excelled his master; and Amphitryon, fearing
that in a thoughtless moment he might serve me as he had served unlucky
Linus, sent him away to Mount Cithaeron to watch his herds which were
pasturing there."

"Surely," said Odysseus, looking at the giant arms of his grandfather,
ridged with iron muscles,--"surely there was no danger of the young hero
harming you."

"A son of Hermes, such as I," said the old chief, "might dare to stand
against Heracles in craft and cunning, but never in feats of strength.
While the lad fed Amphytrion’s flocks in the mountain meadows, he grew
to be a giant, four cubits in height, and terrible to look upon.  His
voice was like the roar of a desert lion; his step was like the march of
an earthquake; and fire flashed from his eyes like the glare of
thunderbolts when they are hurled from the storm clouds down to the
fruitful plains below.  He could tear up trees by their roots, and hurl
mountain crags from their places. It was then that he slew the Cithæron
lion with his bare hands, and took its skin for a helmet and a mantle
which, I am told, he wears to this very day.  Only a little while after
this, he led the Thebans into a battle with their enemies, the Minyans,
and gained for them a glorious victory.  Then Pallas Athené, well
pleased with the hero, gave him a purple robe; Hephaestus made for him a
breastplate of solid gold; and Hermes gave him a sword, Apollo a bow,
and Poseidon a team of the most wonderful horses ever known.  Then, that
he might be fully armed, he went into the Nemæan wood, and cut for
himself that stout club which he always carries, and which is more
terrible in his hands than spear, or sword, or bow and arrows."

"I have heard," said Odysseus, "that Cheiron, the centaur, was one of
the teachers of Heracles."

"He was not only his teacher," said Autolycus, "but he was his friend.
He taught what was just and true; he showed him that there is one thing
greater than strength, and that is gentleness; and he led him to change
his rude, savage nature into one full of kindness and love: so that in
all the world there is no one so full of pity for the poor and weak, so
full of sympathy for the down-trodden, as is Heracles the strong. Had it
not been for wise Cheiron, I fear that Heracles would not have made the
happy decision which he once did, when the choice of two roads was
offered him."

"What was that?" asked Odysseus.  "I have never heard about it."

"When Heracles was a fair-faced youth, and life was all before him, he
went out one morning to do an errand for his stepfather Amphitryon.  But
as he walked, his heart was full of bitter thoughts; and he murmured
because others no better than himself were living in ease and pleasure,
while for him there was naught but a life of labor and pain.  And as he
thought upon these things, he came to a place where two roads met; and
he stopped, not certain which one to take.  The road on his right was
hilly and rough; there was no beauty in it or about it: but he saw that
it led straight towards the blue mountains in the far distance.  The
road on his left was broad and smooth, with shade trees on either side,
where sang an innumerable choir of birds; and it went winding among
green meadows, where bloomed countless flowers: but it ended in fog and
mist long before it ever reached the wonderful blue mountains in the

"While the lad stood in doubt as to these roads, he saw two fair women
coming towards him, each on a different road.  The one who came by the
flowery way reached him first, and Heracles saw that she was beautiful
as a summer day.  Her cheeks were red, her eyes sparkled; she spoke
warm, persuasive words.  ’O noble youth,’ she said, ’be no longer bowed
down with labor and sore trials, but come and follow me.  I will lead
you into pleasant paths, where there are no storms to disturb and no
troubles to annoy.  You shall live in ease, with one unending round of
music and mirth; and you shall not want for any thing that makes life
joyous,--sparkling wine, or soft couches, or rich robes, or the loving
eyes of beautiful maidens.  Come with me, and life shall be to you a
day-dream of gladness.’

"By this time the other fair woman had drawn near, and she now spoke to
the lad.  ’I have nothing to promise you,’ said she, ’save that which
you shall win with your own strength.  The road upon which I would lead
you is uneven and hard, and climbs many a hill, and descends into many a
valley and quagmire.  The views which you will sometimes get from the
hilltops are grand and glorious, but the deep valleys are dark, and the
ascent from them is toilsome; but the road leads to the blue mountains
of endless fame, which you see far away on the horizon.  They cannot be
reached without labor; in fact, there is nothing worth having that must
not be won by toil.  If you would have fruits and flowers, you must
plant them and care for them; if you would gain the love of your
fellow-men, you must love them and suffer for them; if you would enjoy
the favor of Heaven, you must make yourself worthy of that favor; if you
would have eternal fame, you must not scorn the hard road that leads to

"Then Heracles saw that this lady, although she was as beautiful as the
other, had a countenance pure and gentle, like the sky on a balmy
morning in May.

"’What is your name?’ he asked.

"’Some call me Labor,’ she answered, ’but others know me as Virtue.’

"Then he turned to the first lady.  ’And what is your name?’ he asked.

"’Some call me Pleasure,’ she said, with a bewitching smile, ’but I
choose to be known as the Joyous and Happy One.’

"’Virtue,’ said Heracles, ’I will take thee as my guide!  The road of
labor and honest effort shall be mine, and my heart shall no longer
cherish bitterness or discontent.’

"And he put his hand into that of Virtue, and entered with her upon the
straight and forbidding road which leads to the fair blue mountains on
the pale and distant horizon.[1]

[1] See Note 5 at the end of this volume.

"My dear grandson, make thou the same wise choice.

"But now the fire has burned low, and it is time that both old and young
should seek repose.  Go now to your chamber and your couch; and pleasant
dreams be yours until the new day dawns, bringing its labors and its

                           _*ADVENTURE VI.*_

                        *TWO FAMOUS BOAR HUNTS.*

Hardly had the morning tinged the eastern sky with her yellow light,
when Odysseus arose from his couch, and quickly clothed himself; for he
had been awakened by the sound of hurrying feet, and many voices, and
the barking of dogs, beneath his chamber window. When he went down into
the great hall, he was greeted by his six stalwart uncles, all of whom
were dressed for the chase, and armed with spears and knives.

"To-day we hunt the wild boar on the wooded slopes of Parnassus," said
Echion, the eldest.  "How glad we should be if you were old enough and
strong enough to join us in the sport!"

The heart of Odysseus was stirred at once, like that of a warrior when
he hears the battle-call.  "I am certainly strong enough!" he cried.  "I
will ask my grandfather if I may go."

Autolycus smiled when the boy made known his wish. Indeed, he was
expecting such a request, and would have been disappointed and
displeased if it had not been made.

"Yes, go, my child," he said; "and while I sit here, bound with the
fetters of old age, my blessing shall go with you."

Odysseus thanked his grandfather, and lost no time in making himself
ready for the hunt.  A hasty meal was eaten; and then the huntsmen, with
a great number of dogs and serving-men, sallied forth, and began to
climb the mountain slopes.  The master of the hunt was an old,
gray-bearded man, one of the last of the ancient race of heroes, whose
whole life had been spent in the household of Autolycus.  Old as he was,
he outstrode all the other huntsmen; but Odysseus, young and supple,
kept close behind him,--a dwarf following in the wake of a giant.
Upward and still upward they toiled, while their comrades, with the
hounds, followed slowly far below them.  They passed through the belt of
pine trees, and left the wooded slopes behind.  There was now nothing
but bare rocks before and above them. The cold winds whistled about
their heads; the mountain eagles soared and screamed in the sharp
morning air.

"Surely, my father," said Odysseus, "the lair of the wild boar cannot be
on these bleak heights.  Would it not be better to seek him among the
woods of the lower slopes?"

"You are right," said the old man, stopping at last upon one of the
highest crags.  "I have brought you to this spot, not in search of game,
but to show you what is a truly great and beautiful sight.  Your tutor
has told me that you once had a glimpse of the world from Mount Neritus;
now look around you, and see the world itself!"

Then the lad looked; and far away on the blue horizon he saw the silvery
heights of Olympus, the throne of mighty Zeus, glittering in the
sunlight, and canopied with clouds.  On his right he beheld Mount
Helicon and the fruitful plains of Bœotia, and the blue sea of Ægæa
stretching away and away towards the sunrise halls of Helios.  Southward
lay the Bay of Crissa, and beyond it the land of mighty Pelops, and busy
Corinth, and the rich pasture-lands of Arcadia.  Then turning to the
west, he saw, like a mere speck on the horizon, his own loved Ithaca;
while nearer were the woods of Calydon and the green headlands of
Achaia.  At that moment the clouds which had been hanging about the
mountain-top suddenly melted away, and the sun shone out bright and
clear, bathing the woods and crags in purple and gold; while at the same
time the music of ten thousand voices of birds and beasts and nymphs and
waterfalls was borne up from below to their delighted ears.

"Is not this a beautiful world?" asked the aged hero, baring his gray
head to the cold winds.  "What would you not give to have it all for
your own?"

The lad answered not a word; but his eyes filled with tears as he
thought of his home and of those whom he loved, far away by the green
slopes of little Neritus.

"My son," then said the hero, "remember the choice of Heracles.
Happiness is to be gotten from within us.  It is not to be bought with
silver and gold, nor yet is it to be seized upon with violence.  Better
have a clean conscience than to own all Hellas; better--  But hark!  I
hear the dogs in the dells far below us!  Let us hasten down, for they
have started the game."

Within a thorny thicket where grew the vines and leaves so closely that
the sun’s rays never struggled through them, the huge wild boar had made
his lair. Hither the hounds had tracked him; and their deep baying, and
the trampling of many feet among the dead leaves upon the ground, had
roused the beast, and stirred him into fury.  Suddenly he sprang from
his lair, and gnashing his huge tusks, and foaming with fury, he charged
upon his foes.  The dogs fell back, afraid to come too close to an enemy
so fierce and strong; and with their many-toned bays they made the
echoes of Parnassus ring.

Just at this moment, the boy Odysseus rushed down into the glen, his
long spear poised and ready to strike. But the great beast waited not
for the stroke: he dashed furiously at the boy, who quickly leaped
aside, although too late.  The boar’s sharp tusk struck Odysseus just
above the knee, cutting a fearful gash, tearing the flesh, and even
grazing the bone.  But the lad, undaunted, struck manfully with his
weapon.  The bright spear was driven straight to the heart of the beast;
with one great cry he fell, and gnashing his huge jaws helplessly he
died among the withered leaves.  The boy, faint with pain and the joy of
victory, staggered into the arms of his stalwart uncles, who had
hastened to succor him.  Gently they bound up the ghastly wound, and
with charms and witchery stanched the flowing blood. Then, upon a litter
woven of vines and pliant twigs, they bore him down the deep glen to the
broad halls of old Autolycus; and the men and boys, having flayed the
grisly beast, brought afterward its head and bristly hide, and set them
up as trophies in the gateway.

For many weary days, Odysseus lay helpless on a couch of pain.  But his
kind kinsmen, and Phemius his tutor, waited on him tenderly, and his
fair grandmother Amphithea nursed him.  And when the pain left him, and
he began to grow strong again, he loved to lie on the bearskins at his
grandfather’s feet, and listen to tales of the earlier days, when the
older race of heroes walked the earth.

"When I was younger than I am to-day," said the old chief, as they sat
one evening in the light of the blazing brands,--"when I was much
younger than now, it was my fortune to take part in the most famous boar
hunt the world has ever known.

"There lived at that time, in Calydon, a mighty chief named
Oineus,--and, indeed, I know not but that he still lives.  Oineus was
rich in vineyards and in orchards, and no other man in all Ætolia was
happier or more blessed than he.  He had married, early in life, the
princess Althea, fairest of the Acarnanian maidens, and to them a son
had been born, golden-haired and beautiful, whom they called Meleager.

"When Meleager was yet but one day old, his father held him in his arms,
and prayed to Zeus and the ever-living powers above: ’Grant, Father
Zeus, and all ye deathless ones, that this my son may be the foremost
among the men of Hellas.  And let it come to pass, that when they see
his valiant deeds, his countrymen shall say, "Behold, this youth is
greater than his father," and all of one accord shall hail him as their
guardian king.’

"Then his mother Althea, weeping tears of joy, prayed to Pallas Athené,
that the boy might grow up to be pure-minded and gentle, the hope and
pride of his parents, and the delight and staff of their declining
years.  Scarcely had the words of prayer died from her lips, when there
came into her chamber the three unerring Fates who spin the destinies of
men.  White-robed and garlanded, they stood beside the babe, and with
unwearied fingers drew out the lines of his untried life.  Sad Clotho
held the golden distaff in her hand, and twirled and twisted the
delicate thread. Lachesis, now sad, now hopeful, with her long white
fingers held the hourglass, and framed her lips to say, ’It is enough.’
And Atropos, blind and unpitying as the future always is, stood ready,
with cruel shears, to clip the twist in twain.  Busily and silently sad
Clotho spun; and the golden thread, thin as a spider’s web, yet
beautiful as a sunbeam, grew longer and more golden between her skilful
fingers.  Then Lachesis cried out, ’It is finished!’  But Atropos hid
her shears beneath her mantle, and said, ’Not so.  Behold, there is a
brand burning upon the hearth.  Wait until it is all burned into ashes
and smoke, and then I will cut the thread of the child’s life.  Spin on,
sweet Clotho!’

"Quick as thought, Althea sprang forward, snatched the blazing brand
from the hearth, and quenched its flame in a jar of water; and when she
knew that not a single spark was left glowing upon it, she locked it
safely in a chest where none but she could find it.  As she did this,
the pitiless sisters vanished from her sight, saying as they flitted
through the air, ’We bide our time.’[1]

[1] See Note 6 at the end of this volume.

"Meleager grew up to be a tall and fair and gentle youth; and when at
last he became a man, he sailed on the ship Argo, with Jason, and
Laertes your father, and the great heroes of that day, to far-off
Colchis, in search of the Golden Fleece.  Many brave deeds were his in
foreign lands; and when he came home again to Calydon, he brought with
him a fair young wife, gentle Cleopatra, daughter of Idas the boaster.

"Oineus had gathered in his harvest; and he was glad and thankful in his
heart, because his fields had yielded plenteously; his vines had been
loaded with purple grapes, and his orchards filled with abundance of
pleasant fruit.  Grateful, as men should always be, to the givers of
peace and plenty, he held within his halls a harvest festival, to which
the brave and beautiful of all Ætolia came.  Happy was this feast, and
the hours were bright with smiles and sunshine; and men forgot sorrow
and labor, and thought only of the gladness of life.

"Then Oineus took of the first-fruits of his fields and his vineyards
and his orchards, and offered them in thankful offerings to the givers
of good.  But he forgot to deck the shrine of Artemis with gifts, little
thinking that the arrow-darting queen cared for any thing which mortal
men might offer her.  Ah, woful mistake was that!  For, in her anger at
the slight, Artemis sent a savage boar, with ivory tusks and foaming
mouth, to overrun the lands of Calydon.  Many a field did the monster
ravage, many a tree uproot; and all the growing vines, which late had
borne so rich a vintage, were trampled to the ground.  Sadly troubled
was Oineus, and the chieftains of Ætolia knew not what to do.  For the
fierce beast could not be slain, but with his terrible tusks he had sent
many a rash hunter to an untimely death.  Then the young man Meleager
said, ’I will call together the heroes of Hellas, and we will hunt the
boar in the woods of Calydon.’

"And so at the call of Meleager, the warriors flocked from every land,
to join in the hunt of the fierce wild boar.  Among them came Castor and
Polydeuces, the twin brothers from Lacedæmon; and Idas the boaster, the
father-in-law of Meleager, from Messene; and mighty Jason, captain of
the Argo; and Atalanta, the swift-footed daughter of Iasus of Arcadia;
and many Acarnanian huntsmen led by the sons of Thestios, Althea’s
brothers.  Thither also did I, Autolycus, hasten, although men
spitefully said that I was far more skilful in taking tame beasts than
in slaying wild ones.

"Nine days we feasted in the halls of Oineus; and every day we tried our
skill with bows and arrows, and tested the strength of our well-seasoned
spears.  On the tenth, the bugles sounded, and hounds and huntsmen
gathered in the courtyard of the chief, chafing for the hunt.  But a
proud fellow named Cepheus, of Arcadia, when he saw fair Atalanta
equipped for the chase, drew back disdainfully, and said,--

"’In my country, it is not the custom for heroes to go to battle or to
hunt side by side with women. Woman’s place is at home: her weapons are
the distaff and the needle; her duty is to practise well the household
virtues.  If you allow this young girl to join in this hunt, then I will
turn my face homeward, and seek in the Arcadian land adventures worthy
of men.’

"Then Meleager angrily answered, ’In the Arcadian land, if report speaks
truly, the deeds deemed worthiest of men are the watching of flocks and
the tuning of the shepherd’s pipe.  It is fear, not bravery, that makes
you seek an excuse to leave the chase of the wild boar before it is
begun.  You are afraid of the beast; and you are still more afraid of
the maiden Atalanta, lest she should prove to be more skilled than you.
Have you heard how, when an infant, she was left to perish on the
Parthenian hill, and would have died, had not a she-bear cared for her
until some hunters rescued her?  Have you heard how, as she grew up, her
beauty was greater than that of any other maiden, and how no one but
Artemis, the archer-queen, could shoot the swift arrow so fair and
straight?  Have you heard what she did on the ship Argo, when, with
Jason as our captain, we sailed to the utmost bounds of the earth, and
brought home with us the fleece of gold?  Have you heard how, with her
own arrows, she slew the beastly centaurs, Rhoecus and Hylaeus, because
they dared to make love to one so pure and beautiful? Doubtless you have
heard all these things, and you are afraid to go to the field of danger
with one so much nobler than yourself.  Go back, then, to your
sheep-tending Arcadia!  No one will miss you in the chase.’

"Then Cepheus blushed, but more from shame than anger.  ’I will ride
with you into the wood," said he, ’and never again shall any man accuse
me of having a timid heart.’

"Soon we sallied forth from the town, a hundred huntsmen, with dogs
innumerable.  Through the fields and orchards, laid waste by the savage
beast, we passed; and Atalanta, keen of sight and swift of foot, her
long hair floating in the wind behind her, led all the rest.  It was not
long until, in a narrow dell once green with vines and trees, but now
strewn thick with withered branches, we roused the fierce creature from
his lair.  At first he fled, followed closely by the baying hounds.
Then suddenly he faced his foes; with gnashing teeth and bloodshot eyes,
he charged furiously upon them.  A score of hounds were slain outright;
and Cepheus, rushing blindly onward, was caught by the beast, and torn
in pieces by his sharp tusks.  Brave Peleus of Phthia with unsteady aim
let fly an arrow from his bow, which, falling short of the mark, smote
his friend Eurytion full in the breast, and stretched him lifeless upon
the ground.  Then swift-footed Atalanta, bounding forward, struck the
beast a deadly blow with her spear.  He stopped short his furious
onslaught; and Amphiaraus, the hero and prophet of Argos, launching a
swift arrow, put out one of his eyes.  Terrible were the cries of the
wounded creature, as, blinded and bleeding, he made a last charge upon
the huntsmen.  But Meleager with a skilful sword-thrust pierced his
heart, and the beast fell weltering in his gore.  Great joy filled the
hearts of the Calydonians, when they saw the scourge of their land laid
low and helpless.  They quickly flayed the beast, and the heroes who had
shared in the hunt divided the flesh among them; but the head and the
bristly hide they gave to Meleager.

"’Not to me does the prize belong,’ he cried, ’but to Atalanta, the
swift-footed huntress.  For the first wound--the true death stroke,
indeed--was given by her; and to her, woman though she be, all honor and
the prize must be awarded.’

"With these words, he bore the grinning head and the bristly hide to the
fair young huntress, and laid them at her feet.  Then his uncles, the
sons of Acarnanian Thestios, rushed angrily forward, saying that no
woman should ever bear a prize away from them; and they seized the hide,
and would have taken it away, had not Meleager forbidden them.  Yet they
would not loose their hold upon the prize, but drew their swords, and
wrathfully threatened Meleager’s life.  The hero’s heart grew hot within
him, and he shrunk not from the affray. Long and fearful was the
struggle,--uncles against nephew; but in the end the sons of Thestios
lay bleeding upon the ground, while the victor brought again the boar’s
hide, and laid it the second time at Atalanta’s feet.  The fair huntress
took the prize, and carried it away with her to deck her father’s hall
in the pleasant Arcadian land.  And the heroes, when they had feasted
nine other days with King Oineus, betook themselves to their own homes.

"But the hearts of the Acarnanians were bitter towards Meleager, because
of the death of the sons of Thestios, and because no part of the wild
boar was awarded to them.  They called their chiefs around them, and all
their brave men, and made war upon King Oineus and Meleager.  Many
battles did they fight round Calydon, and among the Ætolian hills; yet
while Meleager led his warriors to the fray, the Acarnanians fared but

"Then Queen Althea, filled with grief for her brothers’ untimely death,
forgot her love for her son, and prayed that her Acarnanian kinsmen
might prevail against him.  Upon the hard earth she knelt: she beat the
ground with her hands, and heaped the dust about her; and, weeping
bitter tears, she called upon Hades and heartless Persephone to avenge
her of Meleager. And even as she prayed, the pitiless Furies, wandering
amid the darkness, heard her cries, and came, obedient to her wishes.

"When Meleager heard that his mother had turned against him, he withdrew
in sorrow to his own house, and sought comfort and peace with his wife,
fair Cleopatra; and he would not lead his warriors any more to battle
against the Acarnanians.  Then the enemy besieged the city: a fearful
tumult rose about the gates; the high towers were assaulted, and
everywhere the Calydonians were driven back dismayed and beaten. With
uplifted hands and tearful eyes, King Oineus and the elders of the city
came to Meleager, and besought him to take the field again.  Rich gifts
they offered him.  They bade him choose for his own the most fertile
farm in Calydon,--at the least fifty acres, half for tillage and half
for vines; but he would not listen to them.  The din of battle thickened
outside the gates; the towers shook with the thundering blows of the
besiegers.  Old Oineus with trembling limbs climbed up the stairway to
his son’s secluded chamber, and, weeping, prayed him to come down and
save the city from fire and pillage.  Still he kept silent, and went
not. His sisters came, and his most trusted friends.  ’Come, Meleager,’
they prayed, ’forget thy grief, and think only of our great need.  Aid
thy people, or we shall all perish!’


"None of these prayers moved him.  The gates were beaten down; the enemy
was within the walls; the tide of battle shook the very tower where
Meleager sat; the doom of Calydon seemed to be sealed.  Then came the
fair Cleopatra, and knelt before her husband, and besought him to
withhold no longer the aid which he alone could give.  ’O Meleager,’ she
sobbed, ’none but thou can save us.  Wilt thou sit still, and see the
city laid in ashes, thy dearest friends slaughtered, and thy wife and
sweet babes dragged from their homes and sold into cruel slavery?’

"Then Meleager rose and girded on his armor.  To the streets he
hastened, shouting his well-known battle-cry.  Eagerly and hopefully did
the Calydonian warriors rally around him.  Fiercely did they meet the
foe. Terrible was the bloodshed.  Back from the battered gates and the
crumbling wall, the Acarnanian hosts were driven.  A panic seized upon
them.  They turned and fled, and not many of them escaped the swords of
Meleager’s men.

"Again there was peace in Calydon, and the orchards of King Oineus
blossomed and bore fruit as of old; but the gifts and large rewards
which the elders had promised to Meleager were forgotten.  He had saved
his country, but his countrymen were ungrateful.

"Then Meleager again laid aside his war-gear, and sought the quiet of
his own home, and the cheering presence of fair Cleopatra.  For the
remembrance of his mother’s curse and his country’s ingratitude weighed
heavily on his mind, and he cared no longer to mingle with his

"Then it was that Althea’s hatred of her son waxed stronger, and she
thought of the half-burnt brand which she had hidden, and of the words
which the fatal sisters had spoken so many years before.

"’He is no longer my son,’ said she, ’and why should I withhold the
burning of the brand?  He can never again bring comfort to my heart; for
the blood of my brothers, whom I loved, is upon his head.’

"And she took the charred billet from the place where she had hidden it,
and cast it again into the flames. And as it slowly burned away, so did
the life of Meleager wane.  Lovingly he bade his wife farewell; softly
he whispered a prayer to the unseen powers above; and as the flickering
flames of the fatal brand died into darkness, he gently breathed his

"Then sharp-toothed remorse seized upon Althea, and the mother-love
which had slept in her bosom was reawakened.  Too late, also, the folk
of Calydon remembered who it was that had saved them from slavery and
death.  Down into the comfortless halls of Hades, Althea hastened to
seek her son’s forgiveness.  The loving heart of Cleopatra, surcharged
with grief, was broken; and her gentle spirit fled to the world of
shades to meet that of her hero-husband.  And Meleager’s sisters would
not be consoled, so great was the sorrow which had come upon them; and
they wept and lamented day and night, until kind Artemis in pity for
their youth changed them into the birds which we call Meleagrides."

Lying on the bearskins at his grandfather’s feet, and listening to
stories like this, Odysseus did not feel that time was burdensome.  The
wound upon his knee healed slowly; and when at last he could walk again,
a white scar, as long and as broad as a finger, told the story of his
combat with the fierce wild boar.  By this time the summer was far
spent, and the bard Phemius was impatient to return to Ithaca.

"The grapes in your father’s vineyard are growing purple, and his
orchards are laden with ripening fruit," said he to Odysseus; "and the
days are near at hand when your anxious mother will gaze with longing
over the sea, expecting your return."

But there was no vessel at the port on the bay to carry them home by the
nearest way; and days’ and months might pass ere any ship, sent thither
by Laertes, would arrive.  How, then, were they to return to Ithaca?

"Here is your uncle, bold Echion, who goes to-morrow to Iolcos by the
sea, carrying gifts and a message from Autolycus to old King Peleus.  We
will go with him."

"But Iolcos is farther still from Ithaca," said Odysseus.

"True," answered Phemius.  "But from Iolcos, at this season of the year,
there are many vessels sailing to Corinth and the islands of the sea.
Once at Corinth, and we shall find no lack of ships to carry us across
the bay of Crissa to our own loved Ithaca."

And thus the journey home was planned.  It was a long and devious route
by way of Iolcos and the Eubœan Sea; and no one could say how many
dangers they might meet, or how many delays they should encounter. Yet
nothing better could be done, if they would return before the summer

The great Autolycus blessed Odysseus on departing, and gave him rich
gifts of gold and priceless gems, and many words of sage advice.  "I
shall see thee no more," he said; "but thy name shall be spoken
countless ages hence, and men shall say, ’How shrewd and far-seeing,
brave in war, and wise in counsel, was Odysseus!’"

                           _*ADVENTURE VII.*_

                       *AT OLD CHEIRON’S SCHOOL.*

After a long, hard journey by land and sea, Odysseus and his tutor, with
bold Echion, came to Iolcos.  Aged Peleus, king of Phthia and the
fertile plains of Iolcos, greeted them with show of heartiest welcome;
for he remembered that Laertes had been his friend and comrade long
years before, when together on the Argo they sailed the briny deep, and
he was glad to see the son of that old comrade; and he took Odysseus by
the hand, and led him into his palace, and gave him of the best of all
that he had.

"Tarry with me for a month," he said.  "My ships are now at sea, but
they will return; and when the moon rises again full and round, as it
did last night, I will send you safe to Corinth on the shores of the Bay
of Crissa."

And so Odysseus and the bard staid a whole month at Iolcos, in the house
of Peleus the king.  There were feasting and merriment in the halls
every day; and yet the time hung heavily, for the boy longed to
re-behold his own loved Ithaca, and could hardly wait to see the moon
grow full and round again.

"What mountain is that which looms up so grandly on our left, and whose
sides seem covered with dark forests?" asked Odysseus one day, as he
walked with his tutor beside the sea.

"It is famous Mount Pelion," said the bard; "and that other mountain
with the steeper sides, which stands out faintly against the far
horizon, is the scarcely less famed Ossa."

"I have heard my father speak of piling Pelion upon Ossa," said
Odysseus, "but I cannot understand how that can be done."

"There were once two brothers, the tallest that the grain-giving earth
has ever reared," said Phemius. "Their names were Otus and Ephialtes;
and they threatened to make war even against the deathless ones who
dwell on Mount Olympus.  They boasted that they would pile Ossa on
Olympus, and Pelion, with all its woods, upon the top of Ossa, that so
they might make a pathway to the sky.  And, had they lived to manhood’s
years, no one can say what deeds they would have done.  But silver-bowed
Apollo, with his swift arrows, slew the twain ere yet the down had
bloomed upon their cheeks or darkened their chins with the promise of
manhood.  And so Pelion still stands beside the sea, and Ossa, in its
own place, guards the lovely vale of Tempe."[1]

[1] See Odyssey, Book xi. l. 306,

"Oh, now I remember something else about Mount Pelion," cried Odysseus.
"It was from the trees which grew upon its sides, that the ship Argo was
built. And I have heard my father tell how Cheiron the Centaur once
lived in a cave on Pelion, and taught the young heroes who came to learn
of him; and how young Jason came down the mountain one day, and boldly
stood before King Pelias, who had robbed old Æson, his father, of the
kingdom which was rightfully his.  Would that I had been one of
Cheiron’s pupils, and had shared the instruction which he gave to those
youthful heroes!"

"The old Centaur still lives in his cave on Mount Pelion," said Phemius.
"To-morrow, if King Peleus is willing, we will go and see him."

And so, the next day, the two went out of Iolcos, through vineyards and
fields and olive orchards, towards Pelion, the snow-crowned warder of
the shore. They followed a winding pathway, and came ere long to the
foot of the mighty mountain.  Above them were frowning rocks, and dark
forests of pine, which seemed ready to fall upon and crush them.  But
among the trees, and in the crannies of the rocks, there grew thousands
of sweetest flowers, and every kind of health giving herb, and tender
grass for the mountain-climbing deer.  Up and up they climbed, until the
dark forests gave place to stunted shrubs, and the shrubs to barren
rocks.  Then the pathway led downward again to the head of a narrow
glen, where roared a foaming waterfall.  There they came to the mouth of
a cave opening out upon a sunny ledge, and almost hidden behind a broad
curtain of blossoming vines.  From within the cave there came the sound
of music,--the sweet tones of a harp, mingled with the voices of
singers. Of what did they sing?

They sang of things pure and good and beautiful,--of the mighty sea, and
the grain-bearing earth, and the blue vault of heaven; of faith, strong
and holy; of hope, bright and trustful; of love, pure and mighty. Then
the singing ceased, and the harp was laid aside.

Odysseus and the bard went quickly forward, and stood waiting beside the
wide-open door.  They could see, by looking in, that the low walls of
the cave were adorned with shields of leather or bronze, with the
antlers of deer, and with many other relics of battle or of the chase.
Upon the smooth white floor were soft couches of bearskins; and upon the
hearthstone in the centre blazed a bright fire of twigs, casting a
ruddy, flickering light into the farthest nook and cranny of that
strange room.

They had not long to wait at the door.  An old man with white hair, and
beard reaching to his waist, with eyes as clear and bright as those of a
falcon, and with a step as firm as that of youth, came quickly forward
to greet them.  Odysseus thought that he had never seen a man with so
noble and yet so sad a mien.

"Hail, strangers!" said the aged hero, taking their hands.  "Hail, son
of Laertes--for I know thee!--welcome to the home of Cheiron, the last
of his race! Come in, and you shall be kindly entertained; and after you
have rested your weary limbs, you shall tell me why you have come to
Pelion, and what favor you have to ask of me."

Therewith he turned again into the broad cave-hall, and Odysseus and his
tutor followed him.  And he led his guests, and seated them on pleasant
couches not far from the glowing fire upon the hearth.  Then a comely
youth brought water in a stone pitcher, and poured it in a basin, that
they might wash their hands.  And another lad brought wheaten bread, and
set it by them on a polished table; and another brought golden honey in
the honeycomb, and many other dainties, and laid them on the board.  And
when they were ready, a fourth lad lifted and placed before them a
platter of venison, and cups full of ice-cold water from the mountain
cataract.  While they sat, partaking of these bounties, not a word was
spoken in the cave; for old Cheiron never forgot the courtesy due to
guests and strangers.  When they had finished, he bade them stay a while
upon the couches where they sat; and he took a golden lyre in his hands,
and deftly touched the chords, bringing forth the most restful music
that Odysseus had ever heard.  He played a soft, low melody which seemed
to carry their minds far away into a summer land of peace, where they
wandered at will by the side of still waters, and through sunlit fields
and groves, and reposed under the shelter of calm blue skies, shielded
by the boundless love of the unknown Creator.  When he had finished,
Odysseus thought no more of the toilsome journey from Iolcos, or of the
wearisome climbing of the mountain: he thought only of the wise and
wonderful old man who sat before him.

"Now tell me," said Cheiron, laying his lyre aside,--"tell me what
errand brings you hither, and what I can do to aid you."

"We have no errand," answered Phemius, "save to see one of the
immortals, and to listen to the words of wisdom and beauty which fall
from his lips.  We know that you have been the friend and teacher of
heroes such as have not had their peers on earth; and this lad Odysseus,
who is himself the son of a hero, would fain learn something from you."

Cheiron smiled, and looked full into the young lad’s face.

"I have trained many such youths as you for the battle of life," he
said.  "And your father, as were all the Argonauts, was well known to
me.  You are welcome to Mount Pelion, and to old Cheiron’s school. But
why do you look at my feet?"

Odysseus blushed, but could make no answer.

"I understand it," said Cheiron, speaking in a tone of sadness.  "You
expected to find me half man, half horse, and you were looking for the
hoofs; for thus have many men thought concerning me and my race. Long
time ago my people dwelt in the valleys and upon the plains of Thessaly;
and they were the first who tamed the wild horses of the desert flats,
and taught them to obey the hand of their riders.  For untold years my
fathers held this land, and they were as free as the winds that play
upon the top of Pelion.  Their warriors, galloping on their swift horses
with their long lances ready in their hands, knew no fear, nor met any
foe that could stand against them; and hence men called them
Centaurs,[2] the piercers of the air.  But by and by there came a strong
people from beyond the sea, who built houses of stone, and lived in
towns; and these made cruel war upon the swift-riding Centaurs. They
were the Lapiths,[3] the stone-persuaders, and they had never seen or
heard of horses; and for a long time they fancied that our warriors were
monsters, half-steed, half-man, living wild among the mountains and upon
the plain.  And so the story has gone abroad throughout the world, that
all the Centaurs, and even I, the last of the race, are hardly human,
but have hoofs and manes, and live as horses live.

[2] From [Greek: kentein ten auran].

[3] From [Greek: laas peithein].

"Long and sad was the war between the Centaurs and the Lapiths; but the
stone-persuaders were stronger than the piercers of the air.  In time,
my people were driven into the mountains, where they lived as wild men
in the caves, and in the sunless gorges and ravines; and our enemies,
the Lapiths, abode in the rich valleys, and held the broad pasture-lands
which had once been ours.  Then it chanced that Peirithous, king of the
Lapiths, saw Hippodameia, fairest of our mountain maidens, and wished to
wed her.  Whether her father consented to the marriage, or whether the
Lapiths carried her away by force, I cannot tell; but Peirithous made a
great wedding feast, and to it he invited the chiefs of the Centaurs,
and great Theseus of Athens, and Nestor of sandy Pylos, and many others
of the noblest heroes of Hellas. Many wild and dark stories have been
told of what happened at that wedding feast; but you must remember that
all these stories have come from the mouths of our enemies, the
stone-persuading Lapiths, and that their truth may well be doubted.  Let
me tell you about it, as I understand the facts to be:--

"In the midst of the feast, when the Lapiths were drunken with wine,
Eurytion, the boldest of the Centaurs, rose quickly to his feet, and
beckoned to his fellows.  Without a word they seized upon the bride;
they carried her, not unwilling, from the hall; they seated her upon a
swift steed which stood ready at the door; then in hot haste they
mounted, aiming to ride with their prize back to their mountain homes.
But the Lapiths were aroused, and rushed from the hall ere our horsemen
were outside of the gates.  Fearful was the struggle which followed.
Our men were armed with pine clubs only, which they had hidden beneath
their cloaks, for they dared not bring weapons to the wedding feast.
The Lapiths fought with spears; and with pitiless hate they slew one
after another of the Centaurs, until hardly a single man escaped to the
mountains.  But the war ended not with that; for Peirithous, burning
with anger, drove the remnant of my people out of their mountain homes,
and forced them to flee far away to the lonely land of Pindus; and I,
alone of all my race, was left in my cavern-dwelling on the wooded
slopes of Pelion."

When Cheiron had ended his story, Odysseus saw that his eyes were filled
with tears, and that his hand trembled as he reached again for his lyre,
and played a short, sad melody, as mournful as a funeral song.

"Why did you not go with your kindred to the land of Pindus?" asked

"This is my home," answered Cheiron.  "The fair valley which you see
yonder was once my father’s pasture land.  All the country that lies
before us, even to the meeting of the earth and the sky, is the country
of my forefathers.  I have neither parents, nor brothers, nor wife, nor
children.  Why should I wish to go away from all that is dear to me?
This is a pleasant place, and the young boys who have been my pupils
have made my life very happy."

"Please tell us about your pupils," said Odysseus, moving nearer to the
wise old man.

"So many boys have been under my care," said Cheiron, "that I could not
tell you about them all. Some have come and been taught, and gone back
to their homes; and the world has never heard of them, because their
lots have been cast in pleasant places, and their lives have been spent
in peace. There have been others who have made their names famous upon
the earth; for their paths were beset with difficulties, and before them
loomed great mountains which they must needs remove or be crushed by
them. Among these latter were Heracles, doomed to a life of labor,
because another had usurped the place which he should have had; young
Jason, hiding from the cruel hatred of his uncle Pelias; and gentle
Asclepius, bereft of a mother’s love, and cast friendless upon the
world’s cold mercies.  And there were also Peleus my grandson, who is
now your host at Iolcos; and Actæon, the famous hunter; and many of the
heroes who afterward sailed on the Argo, to the golden strand of
Colchis. Each of these lads had a mind of his own, and tastes which it
was for me to foster and to train.  Heracles was headstrong, selfish,
impulsive,--terrible when he did not bridle his passions; and yet his
great heart was full of love for the poor, the weak, and the
down-trodden, and he studied to make plans for lightening their burdens.
Jason loved the water; and wrapped in his cloak, he would sit for hours
on Pelion’s top, and gaze with longing eyes upon the purple sea.
Asclepius delighted to wander among the crags and in the ravines it
Pelion, gathering herbs and flowers, and studying the habits of birds
and beasts.  And Actæon had a passion for the woods and the fields, and
had ever a pack of swift hounds at his heels, ready for the chase of
wild boar or mountain deer.

"When these lads came to me, I saw that I must give to each the food
which was best fitted for his needs, and which his mind most craved.
Had I dealt with all alike, and taught all the same lessons, I doubt if
any would have grown to manhood’s full estate.  But, while I curbed the
headstrong will of Heracles, I did what I could to foster his love of
virtue and his inventive genius; I taught young Jason all that I knew
about this wonderful earth, and the seas and islands which lie around
it; I led Asclepius farther along the pathway which he had chosen, and
showed him the virtues that were hidden in plants and flowers; I went
with Actæon upon the chase, and taught him that there is no sport in
cruelty, and that the life of the weakest creature should not be taken
without good cause.  Thus I moulded the mind of each of the lads
according to its bent; and each one grew in stature and in strength and
in beauty, before my eyes.  And then there were general lessons which I
gave to them all, leading them to the knowledge of those things which
are necessary to the well-equipped and perfect man of our day.  I taught
them how to wield the weapons of warfare and of the chase; how to ride
and to swim; and how to bear fatigue without murmuring, and face danger
without fear.  And I showed them how to take care of their own bodies,
so that they might be strong and graceful, and full of health and vigor;
and I taught them how to heal diseases, and how to treat wounds, and how
to nurse the sick.  And, more than all else, I taught them to reverence
and love that great Power, so little understood by us, but whom mankind
will some day learn to know.

"It was not long till Heracles went out in his might to rid the world of
monsters, to defend the innocent and the helpless, and to set right that
which is wrong; and, for aught I know, he is toiling still along the
straight road of Virtue, towards the blue mountains of Fame.  And Jason,
as you know, left me, and went down to Iolcos, to claim his birthright
of old Pelias; and being bidden to bring the Golden Fleece to Hellas, he
built the Argo, and sailed with the heroes to far-away Colchis.  It was
a proud day for me, his old teacher, when he came back to Iolcos with
the glittering treasure; and I trusted that a life of happiness and
glory was before him.  But, alas! he had forgotten my teaching, and had
joined himself to evil; and Medea the witch, whom he loved, brought
untold misery upon his head, and drove him ere long to an untimely

"Then Asclepius went out upon his mission; and everywhere that he went,
he healed and purified and raised and blessed.  He was the greatest
conqueror among all my pupils; but he won, not by strength like
Heracles, nor by guile like Jason, but through gentleness and sympathy
and brotherly love, and by knowledge and skill and patient
self-sacrifice; and to him men gave the highest honor, because he cured
while others killed.  But the powers of darkness are ever hateful
towards the good; and Hades, when he saw that Asclepius snatched back to
life even those who were at death’s door, complained that the great
healer was robbing his kingdom.  And men say that Zeus hearkened to this
complaint, and that he smote Asclepius with his thunderbolts.  Then the
face of the sun was veiled in sorrow, and men and beasts and all
creatures upon the earth wept for great grief, and the trees dropped
their leaves to the ground, and the flowers closed their petals and
withered upon their stalks, because the gentle physician, who had cured
all pains and sickness, was no longer in the land of the living.  And
the wrath of silver-bowed Apollo was stirred within him, and he went
down to the great smithy of Hephaestus, and, with his swift arrows, slew
the Cyclopes who had forged the thunderbolts for Zeus, and spared not
one. Then Zeus in his turn was filled with anger; and he sent the
golden-haired Apollo to Pherae, in Thessaly, to serve for a whole year
as bondsman to King Admetus."[4]

[4] See Note 7 at the end of this volume.

At this moment, a tall and very handsome lad, whom Odysseus had not yet
seen, came into the room.  He was not more than six years old; his long
amber hair fell in waves upon his shoulders; his eyes twinkled and
flashed like the sunlight on the blue sea waves; he held his head erect,
and he walked with a noble grace which betokened the proud soul within
his breast. The eyes of Odysseus were fixed upon him, and he wondered
who this noble human being could be. Cheiron saw his questioning look,
and called the young lad to him.

"Odysseus," said he, "this is my great-grandchild, young Achilles, the
son of King Peleus your host. Something tells me that your life and his
will in after-times be strangely mingled; whether as friends or as foes,
I cannot tell.  You shall be friends to-day, at least, and after a while
you shall go out together, and try your skill at archery.  But,
Achilles, you may go now and play with your fellows: I have something
more to say to young Odysseus."

The lad turned, and left the room as gracefully as he had entered.  Then
Cheiron turned again to Odysseus and the bard.

"I was telling you about my pupils," he said; "and I will speak of but
one other, for there are reasons why you should know his history.
Peleus, the son of Æacus and my loved daughter Endeis, was brought to me
by his mother from Ægina.  There was something in the boy’s face which
showed that a strange, sad life was to be his; and, although he was not
a promising lad, yet when he left me to go with Jason to Colchis, I felt
great grief at losing him.  But by and by, after the heroes had
returned, I heard that Peleus had done many wicked things in Ægina, and
that he had been driven into exile for his crimes.  He went first to
Ceyx in Thessaly, a lonely wanderer, cast off and forsaken by all his
friends.  And a story is told, that in his loneliness and his sorrow, he
one day prayed to Zeus that he would give him companions.  And Zeus
heard his prayer, and great armies of ants were changed at once into
men; and they did homage to Peleus, and became his subjects, and hence
he is still called the King of the Myrmidons.  Then he went to Phthia
where Eurytion reigned.  And Eurytion purified him from his crimes, and
gave him his daughter Antigone in wedlock, and with her the third of his
kingdom.  But in an evil day they hunted the wild boar together in the
woods of Calydon, and Peleus unwittingly slew his friend with an
ill-aimed arrow.  Then he fled from the people of Phthia, and came to
Iolcos, where Acastus, the son of old Pelias, ruled.  And Acastus
welcomed him kindly, and purified him from the stain of Eurytion’s
death, and gave him of the best of all that he had, and entertained him
for a long time as his guest.  But Astydamia, the wife of King Acastus,
falsely accused Peleus of another crime, and besought her husband to
slay him.  Then the heart of Acastus was sad, for he would not shed the
blood of one who was his guest.  But he persuaded Peleus to join him in
hunting wild beasts in the woods of Pelion; for he hoped that then some
way might open for him to rid himself of the unfortunate man.  All day
long they toiled up and down the slopes; they climbed the steep cliffs;
they forced their way through brakes and briery thickets; and at last
Peleus was so overwearied that he sank down on a bed of moss, and fell
asleep.  Then Acastus slyly took his weapons from him, and left him
there alone and unarmed, hoping that the wild beasts would find and slay
him.  When Peleus awoke, he saw himself surrounded by mountain robbers;
he felt for his sword, but it was gone; even his shield was nowhere to
be found.  He called aloud to Acastus, but the king was dining at that
moment in Iolcos.  I heard his cry, however; I knew his voice, and I
hastened to his aid.  The robbers fled when they saw me coming; and I
led my dear but erring grandson back to my cavern, where the days of his
boyhood and innocence had been spent.

"But I see that the sun is sinking in the west.  I will say no more
until after we have partaken of food."

With these words Cheiron arose, and left the room. Odysseus, anxious to
become acquainted with the lads, arose also, and walked out into the
open air.  Achilles was waiting for him just outside the door, and the
two boys were soon talking with each other as if they had long been

                          _*ADVENTURE VIII.*_

                          *THE GOLDEN APPLE.*

After the evening meal had been eaten and the cave-hall set in order,
the lads brought armloads of dry sticks and twigs, and threw them upon
the fire.  And the flame leaped up, and shone upon all around with a
ruddy glow; and the great cavern was emptied of gloom, and was so filled
with light and warmth that it seemed a fit place for joy and pleasure.
Old Cheiron sat upon his high couch like a king upon his throne; and the
five comely lads, with Odysseus, sat before him, while Phemius the bard
stood leaning against the wall.  After Cheiron had played a brief melody
upon his harp, and the boys had sung a pleasant song, the wise old
master thus began:--

"There is a cavern somewhere on Mount Pelion larger by far and a
thousand times more beautiful than this; but its doorway is hidden to
mortals, and but few men have ever stood beneath its vaulted roof.  In
that cavern the ever-living ones who oversee the affairs of men, once
held high carnival; for they had met there at the marriage feast of King
Peleus, and the woods and rocks of mighty Pelion echoed with the sound
of their merry making.  But wherefore should the marriage feast of a
mortal be held in such a place and with guests so noble and so great?  I
will tell you.

"After Peleus had escaped from the plot which King Acastus had laid for
him, he dwelt long time with me; for he feared to go down upon the plain
lest the men of Iolcos should seize him by order of Acastus, or the folk
of Phthia should kill him in revenge for old Eurytion’s death.  But the
days seemed long to him, thus shut out from fellowship with men, and the
sun seemed to move slowly in the heavens; and often he would walk around
to the other side of the mountain, and sitting upon a great rock, he
would gaze for long hours upon the purple waters of the sea.  One
morning as thus he sat, he saw the sea nymph Thetis come up out of the
waves and walk upon the shore beneath him. Fairer than a dream was
she,--more beautiful than any picture of nymph or goddess.  She was clad
in a robe of sea-green silk, woven by the Naiads in their watery
grottos; and there was a chaplet of pearls upon her head, and sandals of
sparkling silver were upon her feet.

"As Peleus gazed upon this lovely creature, he heard a voice whispering
in his ear.  It was the voice of Pallas Athené.


"’Most luckless of mortal men,’ she said, ’there is recompense in store
for those who repent of their wrong-doing, and who, leaving the paths of
error, turn again to the road of virtue.  The immortals have seen thy
sorrow for the evil deeds of thy youth, and they have looked with pity
upon thee in thy misfortunes. And now thy days of exile and of sore
punishment are drawing to an end.  Behold the silver-footed Thetis, most
beautiful of the nymphs of the sea, whom even the immortals have wooed
in vain!  She has been sent to this shore, to be won and wedded by

"Peleus looked up to see the speaker of these words, but he beheld only
a blue cloud resting above the mountain-top; he turned his eyes downward
again, and, to his grief, the silver-footed Thetis had vanished in the
waves.  All day he sat and waited for her return, but she came not.
When darkness began to fall he sought me in my cave-hall, and told me
what he had seen and heard; and I taught him how to win the sea nymph
for his bride.

"So when the sun again gilded the crags of Pelion, brave Peleus hid
himself among the rocks close by the sea-washed shore, and waited for
the coming of the silver-footed lady of the sea.  In a little time she
rose, beautiful as the star of morning, from the waves.  She sat down
upon the beach, and dallied with her golden tresses, and sang sweet
songs of a happy land in the depths of the sounding sea.  Peleus,
bearing in mind what I had taught him, arose from his hiding-place, and
caught the beauteous creature in his arms.  In vain did she struggle to
leap into the waves.  Seven times she changed her form as he held her:
by turns she changed into a fountain of water, into a cloud of mist,
into a burning flame, and into a senseless rock.  But Peleus held her
fast; and she changed then into a tawny lion, and then into a tall tree,
and lastly she took her own matchless form again.

"And Peleus held the lovely Thetis by the hand, and they walked long
time together upon the beach, while the birds sang among the leafy trees
on Pelion’s slopes, and the dolphins sported in the sparkling waters at
their feet; and Peleus wooed the silver-footed lady, and won her love,
and she promised to be his bride.  Then the immortals were glad; and
they fitted up the great cavern on Mount Pelion for a banquet hall, and
made therein a wedding feast, such as was never seen before.  The
vaulted roof of the cavern was decked with gems which shone like the
stars of heaven; a thousand torches, held by lovely mountain nymphs,
flamed from the niches in the high walls; and upon the floor of polished
marble, tables for ten thousand guests were ranged.

"When the wedding feast was ready, all those who live on high Olympus,
and all the immortals who dwell upon the earth, came to rejoice with
King Peleus and his matchless bride; and they brought rich presents for
the bridegroom, such as were never given to another man.  They gave him
a suit of armor, rich and fair, a wonder to behold, which lame
Hephaestus with rare skill had wrought and fashioned.  Poseidon bestowed
on him the deathless horses, Balios and Xanthos, and a deftly-wrought
chariot with trimmings of gold.  And I, one of the least of the guests,
gave him an ashen spear which I had cut on Pelion’s top, and fashioned
with my own hands.

"At the table sat Zeus, the father of gods and men; and his wife, the
white-armed Here; and smile-loving Aphrodite; and gray-eyed Pallas
Athené; and all the wisest and the fairest of the immortals.  The
Nereides, nymphs of the sea, danced in honor of Thetis their sister; and
the Muses sang their sweetest songs; and silver-bowed Apollo played upon
the lyre.  The Fates, too, were there: sad Clotho, twirling her spindle;
unloving Lachesis, with wrinkled lips ready to speak the fatal word; and
pitiless Atropos, holding in her hand the unsparing shears.  And around
the table passed the youthful and joy-giving Hebe, pouring out rich
draughts of nectar for the guests.

"Yet there was one among all the immortals who had not been invited to
the wedding; it was Eris, the daughter of War and Hate.  Her scowling
features, and her hot and hasty manners, were ill-suited to grace a
feast where all should be mirth and gladness; yet in her evil heart she
planned to be avenged for the slight which had been put upon her.  While
the merry-making was at its height, and the company were listening to
the music from Apollo’s lyre, she came unseen into the hall, and threw a
golden apple upon the table.  No one knew whence the apple came; but on
it were written these words, ’FOR THE FAIREST.’

"’To whom does it belong?’ asked Zeus, stroking his brows in sad

"The music ceased, and mirth and jollity fled at once from the banquet.
The torches, which lit up the scene, flickered and smoked; the lustre of
the gems in the vaulted roof was dimmed; dark clouds canopied the great
hall: for Discord had taken her place at the table, uninvited and
unwelcome though she was.

"’The apple belongs to me,’ said Here, trying to snatch it; ’for I am
the queen, and gods and men honor me as having no peer on earth.’

"’Not so!’ cried white-armed Aphrodite.  ’With me dwell Love and Joy;
and not only do gods and men sing my praises, but all nature rejoices in
my presence. The apple is mine, and I will have it!’

"Then Athené joined in the quarrel.  ’What is it to be a queen,’ said
she, ’if at the same time one lacks that good temper which sweetens
life?  What is it to have a handsome form and face, while the mind is
uncouth and ill-looking?  Beauty of mind is better than beauty of face;
for the former is immortal, while the latter fades and dies.  Hence no
one has a better right than I to be called the fairest.’

"Then the strife spread among the guests in the hall, each taking sides
with the goddess that he loved best; and, where peace and merriment had
reigned, now hot words and bitter wrangling were heard.  And had not
Zeus bidden them keep silence, thus putting an end to the quarrel, all
Pelion would have been rent, and the earth shaken to its centre in the
mêlée that would have followed.

"’Let us waste no words over this matter,’ he said. ’It is not for the
immortals to say who of their number is most beautiful.  But on the
slopes of Mount Ida, far across the sea, the fairest of the sons of
men--Paris, the son of Trojan Priam--keeps his flocks; let him judge who
is fairest, and let the apple be hers to whom he gives it.’

"Then Hermes, the swift-footed messenger, arose, and led the three
goddesses over sea and land to distant Ida, where Paris, with no thought
of the wonderful life which lay before him, piped on his shepherd’s
reeds, and tended his flock of sheep."

Here Cheiron paused in his story; and the five lads, who had heard it
oftentimes before, bade him a kind good-night, and withdrew into an
inner chamber to pass the hours in sleep.  When more wood had been
thrown upon the fire, and the flames leaped up high and bright towards
the roof of the cave, Odysseus and Phemius sat down again before the
wise old master, and asked him to finish the tale which he had begun.

"But first tell us," said Odysseus, "about that Paris, who was to award
the golden apple to the one whom he should deem the fairest."

Then Cheiron smiled, and went on thus with his story:--

"On the other side of the sea there stands a city, rich and mighty, the
like of which there is none in Hellas.  There an old man, named Priam,
rules over a happy and peace-loving people.  He dwells in a great palace
of polished marble, on a hill overlooking the plain; and his granaries
are stored with corn, and his flocks and herds are pastured on the hills
and mountain slopes behind the city.  Many sons has King Priam; and they
are brave and noble youths, well worthy of such a father.  The eldest of
these sons is Hector, who, the Trojans hope, will live to bring great
honor to his native land.  Just before the second son was born, a
strange thing troubled the family of old Priam.  The queen had dreamed
that her babe had turned into a firebrand, which burned up the walls and
the high towers of Troy, and left but smouldering ashes where once the
proud city stood.  She told the king her dream; and when the child was
born, they called a soothsayer, who could foresee the mysteries of the
future, and they asked him what the vision meant.

"’It means,’ said he, ’that this babe, if he lives, shall be a firebrand
in Troy, and shall turn its walls and its high towers into heaps of
smouldering ashes."

"’But what shall be done with the child, that he may not do this
terrible thing?" asked Priam, greatly sorrowing, for the babe was very

"’Do not suffer that he shall live,’ answered the soothsayer.

"But Priam, the gentlest and most kind-hearted of men, could not bear to
harm the babe.  So he called Archelaus, his master shepherd, and bade
him take the helpless child into the thick woods, which grow high up on
the slopes of Ida, and there to leave him alone.  The wild beasts that
roam among those woods, he thought, would doubtless find him, or, in any
case, he could not live long without care and nourishment; and thus the
dangerous brand would be quenched while yet it was scarcely a spark.

"The shepherd did as he was bidden, although it cost his heart many a
sharp pang thus to deal barbarously with the innocent.  He laid the
smiling infant, wrapped in its broidered tunic, close by the foot of an
oak, and then hurried away that he might not hear its cries.  But the
Dryads, who haunt the woods and groves, saw the babe, and pitied its
helplessness, and cared for it so that it did not die.  Some brought it
yellow honey from the stores of the wild bees; some fed it with milk
from the white goats that pastured on the mountainside; and others stood
as sentinels around it, guarding it from the wolves and bears.  Thus
five days passed, and Archelaus the shepherd, who could not forget the
babe, came cautiously to the spot to see if, mayhap, even its broidered
cloak had been spared by the beasts.  Sorrowful and shuddering he
glanced toward the foot of the tree.  To his surprise, the babe was
still there; it looked up and smiled, and stretched its fat hands toward
him.  The shepherd’s heart would not let him turn away the second time.
He took the child in his arms, and carried it to his own humble home in
the valley, where he cared for it and brought it up as his own son.

"The boy grew to be very tall and very handsome; and he was so brave,
and so helpful to the shepherds around Mount Ida, that they called him
Alexandras, or the helper of men; but his foster-father named him Paris.
And as he tended his sheep in the mountain dells, he met OEnone, the
fairest of the river-maidens, guileless and pure as the waters of the
stream by whose banks she loved to wander.  Day after day he sat with
her in the shadow of her woodland home, and talked of innocence and
beauty, and of a life of sweet contentment, and of love; and the maiden
listened to him with wide-open eyes and a heart full of trustfulness and
faith. Then, by and by, Paris and OEnone were wedded; and their little
cottage in the mountain glen was the fairest and happiest spot in Ilios.
The days sped swiftly by, and neither of them dreamed that any sorrow
was in store for them; and to OEnone her shepherd-husband was all the
world, because he was so noble and brave and handsome and gentle.

"One warm summer afternoon, Paris sat in the shade of a tree at the foot
of Mount Ida, while his flocks were pasturing upon the hillside before
him.  The bees were humming lazily among the flowers; the cicadas were
chirping among the leaves above his head; and now and then a bird
twittered softly among the bushes behind him.  All else was still, as if
enjoying to the full the delicious calm of that pleasant day.  Paris was
fashioning a slender reed into a shepherd’s flute; while OEnone, sitting
in the deeper shadows of some clustering vines, was busy with some
simple piece of needle-work. A sound as of sweet music caused the young
shepherd to raise his eyes.  Before him stood the four immortals, Here,
Athené, Aphrodite, and Hermes the messenger; their faces shone with a
dazzling radiance, and they were fairer than any tongue can describe.
At their feet rare flowers sprang up, crocuses and asphodels and white
lilies; and the air was filled with the odor of orange blossoms.  Paris,
scarce knowing what he did, arose to greet them.  No handsomer youth
ever stood in the presence of beauty.  Straight as a mountain pine was
he; a leopard skin hung carelessly upon his shoulders; his head was
bare, but his locks clustered round his temples in sunny curls, and
formed fit framework for his fair brows.

"Then Hermes spoke first: ’Paris, we have come to seek thy help; there
is strife among the folk who dwell on Mount Olympus.  Here are Here,
Athené, and Aphrodite, each claiming to be the fairest, and each
clamoring for this prize, this golden apple.  Now we pray that you will
judge this matter, and give the apple to the one whom you may deem most

"Then Here began her plea at once: ’I know that I am the fairest,’ she
said, ’for I am queen, and mine it is to rule among gods and men.  Give
me the prize, and you shall have wealth, and a kingdom, and great glory;
and men in after-times shall sing your praises.’

"And Paris was half tempted to give the apple, without further ado, to
Here the proud queen.  But gray-eyed Athené spoke: ’There is that, fair
youth, which is better than riches or honor or great glory.  Listen to
me, and I will give thee wisdom and a pure heart; and thy life shall be
crowned with peace, and sweetened with love, and made strong by
knowledge.  And though men may not sing of thee in after-times, thou
shalt find lasting happiness in the answer of a good conscience towards
all things.’

"Then OEnone whispered from her place among the leaves, ’Give the prize
to Athené; she is the fairest.’  And Paris would have placed the golden
apple in her hand, had not Aphrodite stepped quickly forward, and in the
sweetest, merriest tones, addressed him.

"’You may look at my face, and judge for yourself as to whether I am
fair,’ said she, laughing, and tossing her curls.  ’All I shall say is
this: Give me the prize, and you shall have for your wife the most
beautiful woman in the world.’

"The heart of OEnone stood still as Paris placed the apple in
Aphrodite’s hand; and a nameless dread came over her, as if the earth
were sinking beneath her feet. But the next moment the blood came back
to her cheeks, and she breathed free and strong again; for she heard
Paris say, ’I have a wife, OEnone, who to me is the loveliest of
mortals, and I care not for your offer; yet I give to you the apple, for
I know that you are the fairest among the deathless ones who live on
high Olympus.’

"On the very next day it happened that King Priam sat thoughtfully in
his palace, and all his boys and girls--nearly fifty in number--were
about him.  His mind turned sadly to the little babe whom he had sent
away, many years ago, to die alone on wooded Ida. And he said to
himself, ’The child has been long dead, and yet no feast has been given
to the gods that they may make his little spirit glad in the shadowy
land of Hades.  This must not be neglected longer.  Within three days a
feast must be made, and we will hold games in his honor.’

"Then he called his servants, and bade them go to the pastures on Mount
Ida, and choose from the herds that were there the fattest and
handsomest bull, to be given as a prize to the winner in the games. And
he proclaimed through all Ilios, that on the third day there would be a
great feast in Troy, and games would be held in honor of the little babe
who had died twenty years before.  Now, when the servants came to Mount
Ida, they chose a bull for which Paris had long cared, and which he
loved more than any other. And he would not let the beast be driven from
the pasture until it was agreed that he might go to the city with it and
contend in the games for the prize.  But OEnone, the river nymph, wept
and prayed him not to go.

"’Leave not the pleasant pasture lands of Ida, even for a day,’ said
she; ’for my heart tells me that you will not return.’

"’Think not so, my fair one,’ said Paris.  ’Did not Aphrodite promise
that the most beautiful woman in the world shall be my wife?  And who is
more beautiful than my own OEnone?  Dry now your tears; for when I have
won the prizes in the games I will come back to you, and never leave you

"Then the grief of OEnone waxed still greater.  ’If you will go,’ she
cried, ’then hear my warning! Long years shall pass ere you shall come
again to wooded Ida, and the hearts which now are young shall grow old
and feeble by reason of much sorrow.  Cruel war and many dire disasters
shall overtake you, and death shall be nigh unto you; and then OEnone,
although long forgotten by you, will hasten to your side, to help and to
heal and to forgive, that so the old love may live again.  Farewell!’

"But Paris kissed his wife, and hastened, light of heart, to Troy.  How
could it be otherwise but that, in the games which followed, the
handsome young shepherd should carry off all the prizes?

"’Who are you?’ asked the king.

"’My name is Paris,’ answered the shepherd, ’and I feed the flocks and
herds on wooded Ida.’

"Then Hector, full of wrath because of his own failure to win a prize,
came forward to dispute with Paris.

"’Stand there, Hector,’ cried old Priam; ’stand close to the young
shepherd, and let us look at you!’  Then turning to the queen, he asked,
’Did you ever see two so nearly alike?  The shepherd is fairer and of
slighter build, it is true; but they have the same eye, the same frown,
the same smile, the same motion of the shoulders, the same walk.  Ah,
what if the young babe did not die after all?’

"Then Priam’s daughter Cassandra, who has the gift of prophecy, cried
out, ’Oh, blind of eye and heart, that you cannot see in this young
shepherd the child whom you sent to sleep the sleep of death on Ida’s
wooded slopes!’

"And so it came about, that Paris was taken into his father’s house, and
given the place of honor which was his by right.  And he forgot OEnone
his fair young wife, and left her to pine in loneliness among the woods
and in the narrow dells of sunny Ida."[1]

[1] See Note 8 at the end of this volume.

By this time the fire had burned low upon the hearth, and Cheiron the
master would fain have ended his talk.  But Odysseus was anxious to hear

"To-morrow," said he, "we must go back to Iolcos, for perchance the
ships of Peleus may then be ready to sail.  So tell us, I pray you, yet
more about that strange wedding feast in the cavern halls of Pelion."

"There is little more to tell," said the master. "After the feast, King
Peleus went down with his bride into Phthia; and there his Myrmidons,
who had waited so long for his coming, rallied around him, ready to help
him in any undertaking.  And they marched upon Iolcos, and entered the
gates, carrying all before them; and they slew King Acastus, and set
Peleus on his throne.  Thus ended this hero’s days of exile; and now for
seven years he has ruled Iolcos and Phthia both wisely and well; yet,
though you have found him at this season of the year in Iolcos, he loves
best his old home of Phthia, where dwell his Myrmidons."

"Please tell me about his son, fair young Achilles, who is here in your
hall," said Odysseus.

Cheiron answered briefly by telling him how the young lad’s mother, the
sea nymph Thetis, had longed to make her son immortal; and how it was
said that she each night threw him into the fire to purge away whatever
mortal stains might cling to him; and how each day she anointed him with
ambrosia, and sang him to sleep with sweet lullabies of the sea.

"But one night," added Cheiron, "King Peleus happened to see the babe
lying in the fire; and in his fright he cried out, and snatched him from
the coals. Then Thetis sorrowfully gave up her plan; and the boy was
sent to me, that I might train him in all that goes to the making of a
man.  There are those who say that I feed the lad on the hearts of
lions, and the marrow of bears and wild boars; and those may believe the
story who wish to do so.  But I have lived long enough to know that
there are other and better ways of training up heroes and fitting them
for the strife of battle."

And thus the long talk with Cheiron, the wise master, ended; and
Odysseus retired to his couch, and was soon dreaming of far-away Ithaca
and of his anxious mother, who was even then hoping for his return.

The next morning the lad and his tutor went down the mountain; and,
following the pathway which Jason had taken when he went to claim his
birthright of Pelias, they came, in good time, back to Iolcos by the
sea.  There they found that a ship was just making ready to sail for
Corinth; and bidding a hasty farewell to King Peleus, and to bold
Echion, who still tarried there, they embarked, and were soon well on
their way.  The voyage was a long and hard one; but kind Athené favored
them, and Poseidon gave them smooth waters and many pleasant days upon
the sea.  Nor were they delayed at Corinth; for they found waiting there
a ship, which Laertes had sent out on purpose to meet them and bring
them home.  And so, before the autumn had closed, Odysseus, much wiser
and stronger than he was when he departed, gazed with glad eyes once
more upon the shores of sea-girt Ithaca.

                           _*ADVENTURE IX.*_

                            *THE SWINEHERD.*

When Odysseus stepped ashore upon the sandy beach of Ithaca, the good
people of the town, both young and old, had gathered there to welcome
him; and they sang a song of greeting like that with which they were
wont to meet their returning heroes.  He staid only a moment to speak
with them.  With winged feet he hastened to the hall where his queenly
mother waited for his coming.  She threw her arms about him, and in the
fulness of her joy wept aloud; and she kissed his head and his eyes and
both his hands, and welcomed him as one saved from death.

"Thou hast come at last, Odysseus," she said. "The light is not more
sweet to me.  I feared that I should never see thee more, when I heard
that thou hadst gone from Parnassus to distant Pelion.  Come now, and
sit before me as of yore, and let me look into those eyes which have
been so long time away."

And Laertes, too, folded the boy in his arms, and kissed him, and plied
him with a thousand questions which he could not answer.  Then, in the
halls of the king, a feast was made ready, and the day was given over to
music and merry-making; and all the people joined in offering thanks to
Pallas Athené, who had brought the wanderer safe home to his friends and
his kindred.

When the evening had come, and the guests had gone to their own homes,
Odysseus sat upon a low stool at his mother’s feet, while she asked him
many questions about her aged sire Autolycus, and about the dear home of
her girlhood on the farther side of Mount Parnassus.  And he told her of
all that she asked him, and of the wonderful things that he had seen and
heard in far-away lands and seas.

"But were you not afraid that evil would befall you, and that your eyes
would never more behold fair Ithaca?" asked his mother, tenderly
stroking his yellow hair.

"Nightly I prayed to Pallas Athené," answered the lad, "and she watched
kindly over me every hour. Who would be afraid when shielded and led by
so great a friend?  Then, too, good Phemius questioned the Pythian
oracle about me; and the answer was such as to make me sure of safety.
It was this:--

    ’To home and kindred he shall safe return ere long,
    With scars well-won, and greeted with triumphal song.’"

"Well," said Laertes, "the oracle doubtless spoke the truth.  We know
that you have returned to your home, and that you have been greeted with
songs, but I fear you have yet to gain the scars."

"Not so, father," answered Odysseus.  And then he showed them the great
white scar which the tusk of the wild boar had made upon his knee; and
he told them of the famous hunt in the woods of Parnassus, and of the
days of pain and enforced quiet which he had afterward spent on an
invalid’s couch.  And all those who listened to his story were struck
with the wisdom of his thoughts; and they wondered at the choice beauty
of the words which fell from his lips, soft and persuasive like the
flakes of snow on a quiet day in winter.

After this, many pleasant days came and passed. The simple-hearted folk
of Ithaca went about their tasks as of yore,--some tending their flocks
in the mountain pastures, some gathering the autumn fruits from the
overladen trees, and some twirling the spindle or plying the loom in
their humble homes.  King Laertes himself worked early and late in his
vineyards or in his well-tilled orchard grounds; and Odysseus was often
with him, as busy as he, tending his own trees and vines.  For, long
time before, when he was but a little child, the boy had walked through
these grounds with his father, and had asked the names of the trees. And
Laertes had not only answered the prattler, but had given him a whole
small orchard for his own: of pear trees, thirteen; of apple trees, ten;
of fig trees, forty; and he promised to give him fifty rows of vines,
each of which ripened at a different time, with all manner of clusters
on their boughs.

Sometimes Odysseus went out with other boys of his age, to ramble among
the hills and on the wooded mountain slopes.  Sometimes they played at
ball in the open field, or loitered around the flowing spring whence the
people of the town drew water.  This well had been digged and walled by
Ithacus and Neritus, the first settlers of the island; and close by it
was a thicket of reeds and alders, growing green and rank from the boggy
soil; while, on the rock from beneath which the ice-cold water gushed,
an altar had been built, where all wayfarers laid some offering for the
nymphs.  This was a lovely spot; and in the heat of the day, the boys
would often sit in the cool shade of the trees, and play a quiet game
with pebbles, or talk about the noble deeds of the heroes.

Once they wandered far over the hills to the sheltered woodland where
the swine of Laertes were kept.  There, near the rock called Corax, was
the spring of Arethusa, around which grew many great oak trees, yielding
abundance of acorns.  There the slave Eumæus lived in a humble lodge of
his own building, and fed and tended his master’s swine, far from the
homes of other men.

When the swineherd saw Odysseus, and knew that he was the master’s son,
he ran to welcome him and his comrades to his lowly home.  He led them
to the lodge, and took them in, and strewed fragrant leaves upon the
floor, and stirred the blazing fire upon the hearth. Then he hastened to
the sties where the fattest young pigs were penned.  Two of these he
killed and dressed; and when he had cut them in pieces, he roasted the
choicest parts on spits before the fire.  Then he set the smoking food
upon a table before Odysseus and his comrades, and sprinkled it all over
with white barley-meal.  After this, he mixed honey-sweet wine with
water in a wooden bowl, and sat down to the feast with them.  Right
heartily did they eat and drink, and many were the pleasant jests that
were passed among them. When they had finished, Odysseus said,--

"Swineherd Eumæus, you have fed us right nobly, and there is nothing
more welcome to tired and hungry boys than plenty of well-seasoned food.
Surely one who can serve so royally as you have done was not born a

"Nor indeed was I," answered Eumæus.  "In my childhood I was a prince,
noble as yourself.  But the Fates bring strange fortunes to some men,
and strangely have I been tossed about in the world."

"Do tell us," said Odysseus, "how this great change was made in your
life.  Was the goodly town in which your father and your lady mother
dwelt, laid waste by an enemy?  Or did unfriendly men find you in the
fields alone, and sell you to him who would pay the goodliest price?"


"Since you ask me for my story, young master," said Eumæus, "I will tell
it you.  But sit you here upon this couch of goat skins while you
listen, for I know that your long walk has wearied you.

"Far out in the sea there is an island called Syria, above which the sun
turns in its course.  It is not very thickly peopled, but it is rich in
vineyards and wheatfields, and in pastures where thousands of cattle
graze. There no one ever goes hungry for lack of food, and sickness
never comes; but when men grow old, then silver-bowed Apollo, and
Artemis his huntress sister, strike them with their noiseless arrows,
and they cease to live.  In that island stand two cities, fair and rich;
and over them both my father is sole lord and king. There, in his white
halls where care never enters, my infancy was passed; and never did I
dream of the hard lot which the pitiless Fates had decreed for me.

"One day there came to our island some Phoenician merchants, shrewd
seafaring men, intent on trade and profit.  In their ship they brought
countless trinkets to barter with our folk for corn and wine; and they
moored their vessel in the harbor close to the shore. In my father’s
house there dwelt a Phoenician slave-woman, tall and fair, and skilled
in needlework.  And when the merchants knew that she spoke their
language, they asked her who she was and from whence she came.

"’In Sidon I was born,’ she answered, ’and Arybas my father was one of
the wealthiest of Sidonian merchants.  Once as I was walking on the
shore, a band of Taphian sea-robbers seized me unawares, and carried me
in their dark-hulled ship across the sea.  They brought me to this
far-distant island, and sold me, for much gold, to the man who lives in
yonder palace.’  And she pointed to my father’s lofty dwelling.

"Then the merchants asked her if she would return with them to Sidon,
where she might again behold her father and mother, and the sweet home
of her girlhood. And she consented, only asking that they pledge
themselves to take her safely home.

"’Now say no more,’ she said; ’and should any of you meet me on the road
or by the well, hold your tongues, and let no word be spoken between us.
But when you have sold your goods, and have filled your ship with corn
and wine, send some one to the house who shall tell me secretly.  Then I
will hie me to your swift-sailing vessel, bringing gold wherewith to pay
my fare, and, if fortune favor, even more than gold.  For I am nurse to
the little son of my master, a cunning prattler whom I often take with
me in my walks.  I will bring him on board your ship, and when you have
reached some rich foreign land you can sell him for a goodly price.’

"And thus having settled upon a plan, the Phoenician woman went back to
my father’s halls; and the merchants staid a whole year in our harbor,
and filled their ship with grain.  But when at last they were ready to
sail, they sent a messenger to tell the woman. He came to our house with
many trinkets, bracelets, and golden necklaces, which pleased the eyes
of my lady mother and her maidens.  And while they were looking, and
asking the price, he signed to my Phoenician nurse, and straightway
gathered up his goods, and hastened back to his fellows.  When the sun
went down, the woman took my hand, and led me from the house as she had
often done before.  Thoughtlessly I followed her to the shore where the
fast-sailing ship was moored. The Phoenicians took us both on board;
they hoisted the broad sail, and a brisk wind quickly carried us far
away from my home and friends.  On the seventh day, Artemis the archer
queen smote the woman with her silent arrows, and her eyes saw no more
the sweet light of heaven.  Then the crew cast her forth into the sea,
to be food for fishes and the sea calves; and I was left alone and
stricken with grief and fear.  But the swift ship brought us ere long to
Ithaca, and there those who had stolen me bartered me to Laertes for a
goodly price.  And that is why I am your father’s thrall, and dwell here
lonely underneath these sheltering oaks."[1]

[1] See Note 9 at the end of this volume.

Such was the tale which the swineherd told Odysseus and his young
companions as they sat together in the lodge.

"I pity thee, Eumæus," said the lad.  "Thy story is indeed a sad one;
and, could I do so, I would gladly send thee back to far-off Syria where
thy mother sorrows even yet for thee."

"Alas!" answered the swineherd.  "There is no hope.  No ship will ever
sail through the unknown sea-ways which lead to my boyhood’s home.  My
life must be spent in this spot; yet I am happy in knowing that my
master is the kindest of men, and that I shall be well provided for.
Even a slave may find enjoyment if his heart be right; for it is the
mind, and not the force of outward things, that makes us rich and free."

                            _*ADVENTURE X.*_

                     *THE SEA ROBBERS OF MESSENE.*

Five years passed quietly by, and brought few changes to Ithaca.  The
flocks still grazed in their mountain pastures; the orchard trees still
bent under their loads of ripening fruit; the vines still yielded their
treasures of purple and red.  The simple-hearted islanders arose each
day with the coming of the dawn; they went about their tasks with
cheerfulness; they sang, and danced, and ate their accustomed meals, and
then with the coming of night they lay down to sleep: to them, all days
were alike, and life was but one pleasant round of duties.  But King
Laertes, as he grew older, sought more and more the quiet of his farm
and garden; and, for the most part, he allowed his little kingdom to
take care of itself, and his subjects to do as they pleased.

And in these five years young Odysseus had become a man.  He had grown
not so much in stature as in wisdom, nor yet so much in size of limb and
body as in strength of bone and muscle.  There was nothing in his face
or figure that could be called handsome, and yet he was the pride of
Ithaca.  For, in all the deeds and feats most worthy of men, he was
without a peer. In wrestling and leaping, in rowing and swimming, in
shooting with the bow, and in handling the heavy spear, there was no one
that could equal him.  He was a very master of words; and when his
speech warmed into earnestness, the dullest hearer was spell-bound by
his eloquence.  Even to the Achaian mainland and among the islands of
the sea, he was famed for his far-reaching shrewdness.  Indeed, his
craftiness oftentimes outweighed his sense of honor; for, in that early
day, to outwit one’s fellows even by fraud was thought to be

One evening in summer, four strange ships, with long black hulls, sailed
into the harbor at Ithaca, and were moored in the deep water close to
the shore.  They were found to be manned by crews of seafarers from the
low-lying shores of Messene; and their captain brought greetings from
Orsilochus their king, and offered to barter silver and merchandise for
Ithacan wool and long-horned sheep.  Laertes welcomed the strangers
warmly; and as the night was near, he advised that early on the morrow
they should bring their wares ashore, and allow his people to bargain
for what they needed most.  And soon darkness covered all the ways, and
Ithaca was wrapped in slumber.

When the gray dawn peeped into his chamber, and awakened him, the king
arose, and looked out towards the harbor.  Not one of the black-hulled
ships could he see.  They had silently cast their moorings, and had
stolen away through the darkness.  While the king looked and wondered,
an old shepherd with frightened face and gestures of alarm came running
in breathless haste to the palace.  In a few words he told what strange
things had happened.  By the light of the waning moon, the sea rovers
from Messene had sailed around to a little cove where the pastures slope
down to the water’s edge.  There they had landed, and without much ado
had driven a whole flock of sheep aboard their ships,--three hundred
long-wooled ewes and bleating lambs, the choicest of the fields.  And
they had carried away not only these, but the six sleepy shepherds whose
duty it had been to guard them.

An alarm was quickly sounded, and the news was passed from mouth to
mouth until it was known to all. The bravest men of Ithaca hastened to
the shore, where stood Odysseus and his father, ready to direct them.
Their fleetest vessels, lying high upon the beach, were cleared ready to
be launched.  Five ships with vermilion prows were pushed into the
waves; and each was manned by a score of lusty rowers, and headed
towards the open sea.  The long oars dipped into the water, as if all
were moved by a single hand; and the vessels sped out upon their errand,
like dogs of the chase intent upon a fleeing victim.

The sky was clear.  The waves danced merrily in the sunlight.  The wind
blew gently from the shore. The crews of the Ithacan ships bent to the
oars like practised seamen; but when they rounded the headlands at the
foot of the bay, and came out upon the open sea, they saw no trace of
the pirate fleet, nor even a single sail upon the laughing face of the
deep. Whether the men of Messene had pushed straight homeward with their
plunder, or whether they had put into some other cove or inlet farther
down the coast, no one could guess.  All that their pursuers could do
was to sail close along the shore, southward towards Cephallenia,
peering behind every jutting headland, and into every sheltered nook, in
hopes of coming upon them.

Five days afterward, the red-prowed ships returned to Ithaca.  Nothing
had been seen of the sea robbers: nothing had been heard of the stolen

What was to be done?  The robbers were known to be men of Messene, the
subjects of Orsilochus.  It was no secret, that much of the wealth of
Messene had been gotten by the plunder and pillage of foreign coasts;
but were the pirates of that country to be allowed thus to rob their
near neighbors and kinsfolk? Laertes called together a council of the
chiefs and elders, and asked them what it was best to do.

"We are a peaceful, home-loving people," said some of the older men,
"and it would neither be wise nor pleasant to entangle ourselves in a
war with a strong king like Orsilochus.  The loss of three hundred sheep
is not much where there are so many, and it is not likely that the sea
robbers will ever trouble us again. Let us go quietly back to our fields
and homes, and leave well enough alone."

But the young men would not listen to a plan so tame and spiritless.
They were eager, if they could not recover what was their own, to take
at least what was of equal value from the Messenians.  It would be easy,
they said, for a few stanch ships with well-chosen crews to cross the
sea-ways, and land by night upon the rich coast of Messene; there they
could fill the roomy holds of their vessels with fruit and grain; and
before any one could hinder, they would sail safely back to Ithaca laden
with wealth far greater than three hundred sheep.

Then Odysseus, though a mere youth among bearded men, stood up before
them, and said,--

"My good friends, I like neither the one plan nor the other.  It is but
the part of a slave to suffer wrong without striking back.  It is but
the part of a coward to strike in the dark, as if fearing the enemy’s
face. Why not send boldly to Messene, and demand either the stolen
sheep, or a fair price for them?  I myself will undertake the business,
and I promise you that I will bring back to Ithaca gifts and goods worth
twice as much as the flock that has been taken."

The elders listened with favor to the young man’s words; and, after
further talk, it was settled that he should go forthwith across the sea
to claim the debt which was due from the people of Messene.

The goodliest ship of all the Ithacan galleys was made ready for
Odysseus.  The needed stores of food and drink were brought on board,
and placed in the vessel’s hold.  The young hero, with his friend and
tutor Phemius, climbed over the vessel’s side, and sat down in the prow.
The long-haired seamen cast loose the moorings; they plied their oars,
and the swift ship was soon far out upon the waters.  A steady north
wind filled the sail, and the vessel sped swiftly on her way, cleaving
the white foam with her keel.  By and by the sun went down, and night
wrapped the world in her sober mantle; but the ship still held its
course, being guided by the moon’s pale light, and the steadfast star of
the north.

The next day they sailed within sight of the low-lying coast of Elis,
which stretched northward and southward farther than their eyes could
reach.  Yet they turned not to the shore, but sailed straight on; for
Odysseus, advised by Pallas Athené, wished first to visit Pylos, where
wise old Nestor ruled with his father, the ancient Neleus.  This Neleus
was the uncle of Jason, chief of the Argonauts, and had been driven from
Iolcos by Pelias the usurper.  Long time had he wandered, an exile in
strange lands, until Aphareus of Arene gave him leave to build a city on
the sandy plain close by the sea.  There he had reared a noble palace;
and there he still dwelt, having outlived three generations of men.  But
he had given up his kingdom, many years before, to his son Nestor,
himself a sage old man.

It was not until late on the third day that the voyagers turned their
ship’s prow into the harbor of Pylos. It touched the shore, and Odysseus
with his tutor sprang out upon the sands.  They found the people of the
city offering sacrifices there to Poseidon, ruler of the deep.  Upon
nine long seats they were sitting, five hundred or more on each seat;
and the priest stood up before them, pouring out libations and offering
sacrifices. Nine coal-black heifers he offered to Poseidon.

King Nestor sat upon a lofty seat while the elders of the city stood
around him, or plied their several duties at the feast.  Some of them
were busy cutting choice bits of flesh from the slaughtered beeves;
others fixed these bits upon spits, and roasted them over heaps of
glowing coals; and still others handed the smoking food to the waiting
people who sat hungry in their places.  When Nestor saw Odysseus and the
bard, two strangers, standing upon the shore, he arose and went down to
meet them.  He gave to each a hand, and leading them to the feast he
seated them upon soft skins spread on piles of yielding sand.  Then he
brought to them, in his own hands, choicest pieces of well-cooked and
well-flavored food; and when they had eaten as much as they liked, he
poured rich wine into a golden goblet, and as he offered it first to the
noble bard, he said, "Right welcome are you, stranger, whoever you may
be, to this our midsummer festival.  I give this golden goblet to you
first, you being the older man, that you may pray as beseemeth you to
great Poseidon.  When you have made your prayer, hand then the cup to
the young man who is with you, that he too may pour out a libation; for
all men have need to pray."

Then the bard took the goblet, and pouring out a rich libation, lifted
up his eyes and prayed, "Great Poseidon, thou who dost hold the earth in
thy strong arms, hear now the prayer of thy suppliant.  Prolong still
the life of our aged host, and add to Nestor with each circling year new
honors and greater wealth.  To the folk of Pylos give rich contentment
and that peace which is the befitting prize of those who are mindful of
life’s varied duties.  And lastly, grant that this young man may find
that which he seeks, and then return rejoicing to his home and friends."

When he had thus spoken, he gave the goblet to Odysseus, and he in like
manner poured out libations, and prayed to great Poseidon.

Then said Nestor as he took again the goblet, "Strangers, you do wisely
thus to offer prayers to the gods; for they are far above us in virtue,
strength, and honor.  When men have failed to do aright, and have broken
Heaven’s just laws, they may still, by humble vows and supplications,
turn aside from evil-doing, and soften the wrath of the ever-living

"Yes, truly," answered Phemius, "by prayers we do honor both ourselves
and those to whom we pray. There is an ancient saying, which no doubt
you oft have heard, that prayers are the feeble-sighted daughters of
Father Zeus, and wrinkled and lame they follow in misfortune’s track.
But misfortune, strong and swift, out-runs them often, and brings
distress upon the sons of men; then these blessed prayers, following
after, kindly heal the hurts and bind up the aching wounds which have
been made.  And for this reason the man who is wont to pray feels less
the strokes of fortune than does he who lives forgetful of the gods."[1]

[1] See Note 10 at the end of this volume.

The feast being soon ended, Nestor turned again to the strangers, and
said, "Behold now, the day is well-nigh gone, and all have paid their
vows to the ever-living gods.  The time has come when we may ask our
stranger-guests their names and errand.  Who are you who come thus
unheralded to the sandy shores of Pylos?  Is your visit one of peace,
and shall we welcome you as friends?  Or do you come as spies, to find
out what there may be of wealth or of weakness in our city?"

Odysseus answered: "O noble Nestor, we will speak the truth, and hide
nothing from you.  I am Odysseus of Ithaca; my father is King Laertes,
who was once your comrade when you sailed on the Argo to golden Colchis.
Ten days ago, there came to our island seafaring men from Messene, whom
we welcomed as friends and neighbors.  But under cover of the night they
landed on our shores; they seized three hundred of our long-wooled
sheep, together with the shepherds, and bore them across the sea to some
one of the pirate harbors of Messene.  I now am on my way to King
Orsilochus, to bid him send back the stolen flock; and if he will not
hearken to my words, then I shall either gain by guile or take by force
double the value of the sheep.  But I have come first to Pylos, that
you, my father’s old-time friend, might know my errand, and, if need be,
lend me your aid."

"You have spoken well," answered Nestor; "and for your father’s sake you
are thrice welcome to the lofty halls of Pylos.  Abide with me for one
night, and in the morning I will give you a car and steeds, and a
trustworthy guide, to take you by the straightest road to Pherae, where
the king of Messene dwells.  Orsilochus must learn from me, that, though
his pirate-crews may plunder foreign shores, they must not molest the
flocks and goods of our home-staying neighbors."

Having thus spoken, he led the way to the fair palace, which his father
Neleus erstwhile had built.  There they found that aged chieftain
sitting in the great hall, upon a soft couch spread with purple
coverings.  His hair and his long beard were white as the driven snow,
and his hands trembled from very feebleness, for he was exceeding old.
He spoke kindly to Odysseus, and asked many questions about his father
Laertes, and his home in Ithaca; but he seemed most pleased when the
young man told him of his visit, when a boy, to Iolcos and Mount Pelion.
For Iolcos had been the home of Neleus in his youth; and he it was who
had helped Pelias drive Æson from the kingdom which was his by right.
But Nemesis had followed him, and punished him for the deed.

Soon the shades of night began to darken the fair hall, and the chiefs
and elders went each one to his own house.  But Nestor led Odysseus and
the bard to an upper chamber, where a fair, soft couch was spread upon a
jointed bedstead.  There he left them for the night, and there they soon
found rest in soothing slumber.

As soon as the light of day began to streak the eastern sky, the aged
Neleus, as was his wont, arose from his couch, and, leaning on the arm
of Nestor, went feebly out, and took his seat upon a smooth white stone
before the palace gate.  Then every one who had aught of grievance, or
had suffered any wrong, came and told his story, and made his plea; and
the old hero weighed the matter with an even hand, and gave judgment for
the right.

"What shall be done to aid the son of Laertes, that so his journey into
Messene shall prosper?" asked Nestor.  "Thou knowest that King
Orsilochus has ever been our friend and ally; yet shall we allow his
lawless men thus to despoil our neighbors and old-time comrades?"

"Send to Pherae, with the young man, a trusty messenger who shall speak
for him," answered old Neleus. "Send them both in thy own chariot, and
ask Orsilochus, in the name of a friend, to deal justly with the son of

By this time Odysseus and the bard had awakened from their slumber.
They arose; and when they had bathed, and had been anointed with soft
oil, they clothed themselves in robes of noble texture, and went down
into the banquet hall.  There they found King Nestor waiting; and they
sat down with him at the table, and willing servants waited on them,
bringing choice food and pouring sweet wine into golden goblets.

When the meal was finished, the bard bade his host farewell; and,
praying that the gods would speed Odysseus on his errand, he went down
to the red-prowed ship which was waiting by the shore.  And as soon as
he stepped on board, the sailors loosed the moorings, and set the sail;
and a brisk wind bore them swiftly back towards Ithaca.

But Nestor spoke to the young men about him, "Bring out my finest
horses, and yoke them forthwith to my lightest car.  They shall carry
Odysseus on his journey across the plain to Pherae; and my son
Antilochus shall bear him company, and be my messenger to the Messenian

Soon the car was ready.  The young men took their places; and Antilochus
touching the restive horses with his whip, they sped across the dusty
plain.  It was a rough and tiresome journey, along unbroken ways, and
roads scarcely marked with tracks of wheels or horses’ hoofs; and night
had begun to fall ere they came to the river Nedon and the high walls of
Pherae where dwelt Orsilochus, the king of Messene.


                           _*ADVENTURE XI.*_

                         *THE BOW OF EURYTUS.*

In Arcadia there is a little mountain stream called Alpheus.  It flows
through woods and meadows and among the hills for many miles, and then
it sinks beneath the rocks.  Farther down the valley it rises again, and
dancing and sparkling, as if in happy chase of something, it hurries
onward towards the plain; but soon it hides itself a second time in
underground caverns, making its way through rocky tunnels where the
light of day has never been.  Then at last it gushes once more from its
prison chambers; and, flowing thence with many windings through the
fields of Elis, it empties its waters into the sea.

Of this strange river a strange tale is told, and this is what
Antilochus related to Odysseus as they rode across the plain towards

"Years ago there was no river Alpheus; the channel through which it
flows had not then been hollowed out, and rank grass and tall bending
reeds grew thick where now its waters sparkle brightest.  It was then
that a huntsman, bearing the name of Alpheus, ranged through the woods,
and chased the wild deer among the glades and glens of sweet Arcadia.
Far away by the lonely sea dwelt Telegona, his fair young wife, and his
lovely babe Orsilochus; but dearer than home or wife or babe to Alpheus,
was the free life of the huntsman among the mountain solitudes.  For he
loved the woods and the blue sky and the singing birds, and the frail
flowers upon the hillside; and he longed to live among them always,
where his ears could listen to their music, and his eyes look upon their

"’O Artemis, huntress-queen!’ he cried, ’I ask but one boon of thee.
Let me ramble forever among these happy scenes!’

"And Artemis heard him, and answered his prayer. For, as he spoke, a
bright vision passed before him.  A sweet-faced maiden went tripping
down the valley, culling the choicest flowers, and singing of hope and
joy and the blessedness of a life pure and true.  It was Arethusa, the
Arcadian nymph, by some supposed to be a daughter of old Nereus, the
elder of the sea.  Then Alpheus heard no more the songs of the birds, or
the music of the breeze; he saw no longer the blue sky above him, or the
nodding flowers at his feet: he was blind and deaf to all the world,
save only the beautiful nymph.  Arethusa was the world to him.  He
reached out his arms to catch her; but, swifter than a frightened deer,
she fled down the valley, through deep ravines and grassy glades and
rocky caverns underneath the hills, and out into the grassy meadows, and
across the plains of Elis, to the sounding sea.  And Alpheus followed,
forgetful of every thing but the fleeing vision. When, at length, he
reached the sea, he looked back; and, lo! he was no longer a huntsman,
but a river doomed to meander forever among the scenes, for love of
which he had forgotten his wife and his babe and the duties of life.  It
was thus that Artemis answered his prayer.

"And men say that Arethusa the nymph was afterwards changed into a
fountain; and that to this day, in the far-off island of Ortygia, that
fountain gushes from the rocks in an unfailing, crystal stream.  But
Orsilochus, the babe forgotten by his father, grew to manhood, and in
course of time became the king of Pherae and the seafaring people of

When Odysseus and his companion reached Pherae, the sun had set and the
gates of the palace were closed. But the porter sent a messenger into
the hall where King Orsilochus was sitting at the evening meal, who
said, "O king, the car of Nestor, our worthy neighbor, stands outside
the gate; and in the car are two young men, richly clothed like princes,
and bearing themselves in a most princely manner."

Forthwith the king arose, and went out to the gate, and welcomed the
young men to his city and his high-built halls.  And he took them by the
hand, and led them into the feast-chamber where the chiefs of Pherae and
Messene already sat at meat.  He put the spears which they bore, in a
spear-stand, where were other goodly weapons leaning against the wall.
Then he seated them on chairs of cunning workmanship, beneath which were
linen rugs of many colors; and he gave to each an oaken footstool for
his feet.  Then a maid poured water into a basin of silver, that they
might wash their hands; and she drew a polished table near them, on
which another maid placed white loaves of bread, and many dainties
well-pleasing to the taste of tired travellers.  And the carver brought
divers tempting dishes of roasted meats; and a herald poured red wine
into golden bowls, and set them within easy reach.

When they had eaten, and had forgotten their hunger and thirst and
weariness, an old blind bard came into the hall; and as he sat in a high
seat leaning against a pillar, he took his harp in his hand, and,
touching it with his deft fingers, sang sweet songs of the gods and the
heroes and famous men.  Not until he had finished his music and laid
aside his harp, did Orsilochus venture to speak of any thing that might
disturb the pleasure of his guests.  Then with well-chosen words, he
asked them their names and their errand.

"Our fathers," answered Odysseus, "are Nestor and Laertes, well known
among the heroes who sailed with Jason to the golden strand of Colchis;
and the errand upon which we come is one of right and justice."

And then he told the king how the crews of the Messenian ships had
landed in Ithaca and carried away his father’s choicest flock.
Orsilochus listened kindly; and when Odysseus had ended, he said, "Think
no more of this troublesome matter, for I will see that it is righted at
once.  The men who dared thus to wrong your father shall restore
fourfold the value of the stolen flocks, and shall humbly beg the pardon
of Laertes, as well as of myself.  I have spoken, and it shall be done;
but you must tarry a while with me in Pherae, and be my honored guest."

Thus Odysseus brought to a happy end the quest upon which he had come to
Messene and the high-walled town of Pherae.  And he tarried many days in
the pleasant halls of the king, and was held in higher honor than all
the other guests.  But Antilochus, on the second morning, mounted again
his father’s chariot, and journeyed onward into Laconia: why he went
thither, and did not return to Pylos, Odysseus was soon to learn.

One evening there came to Pherae a lordly stranger, bringing with him a
train of well-armed men and bearing a handsome present for Orsilochus.
He was very tall and handsome; he stood erect as a mountain pine, and
his eyes flashed keen and sharp as those of an eagle; but his long white
hair and frosted beard betokened a man of many years, and his furrowed
brow showed plainly that he had not lived free from care.

"I am Iphitus of Œchalia," he said, "and I am journeying to Lacedæmon
where great Tyndareus rules."

When Odysseus heard the name of Iphitus, he remembered it as that of a
dear friend of whom his father had often spoken; and he asked,--

"Are you that Iphitus who sailed with Jason to golden Colchis?  And do
you remember among your comrades, one Laertes of Ithaca?"

"There is but one Iphitus," was the answer, "and I am he.  Never can I
forget the noble-hearted Laertes of Ithaca; for, on board the Argo, he
was my messmate, my bedfellow, my friend, my sworn brother. There is no
man whom I love more dearly.  Would that I could see him, or even know
that he still lives!"

When he learned that Odysseus was the son of his old-time friend, he was
overjoyed; and he took him by the hand, and wept for very gladness.
Then he asked the young man a thousand questions about his father and
his mother, and his father’s little kingdom of Ithaca.  And Odysseus
answered him truly; for his heart was filled with love for the noble old
hero, and he felt justly proud of his friendship.  And after this, so
long as they staid at Pherae, the young man and the old were constantly

One day, as they were walking alone outside of the city walls, Iphitus
said, "Do you see this noble bow which I carry, and which I always keep
within easy reach?"

"It would be hard not to see it," answered Odysseus, smiling; "for where
you are, there also is the bow.  I have often wondered why you guard it
with so great care."

"It is the bow of my father Eurytus," answered the hero, "and, next to
Apollo’s silver weapon, it is the most wonderful ever made.  My father
dwelt in Œchalia, and was skilled in archery above all other men; and
the sons of the heroes came to him to learn how to shoot the silent
arrow with most deadly aim.  Even Heracles, the mightiest of
earth-dwellers, was taught by him; but Heracles requited him unkindly.

"In my father’s halls, close by the shore of the eastern sea, there were
many bright treasures and precious gems and rarest works of art.  But
more beautiful than any of these, and more precious to my father’s heart
than any glittering jewel, was our only sister, the lovely Iole.  And
when Heracles went out from the land of his birth to toil and do the
bidding of false Eurystheus, he tarried for a day in my father’s halls.
There he saw Iole, the blue-eyed maiden, and his great strong heart was
taken captive by her gentle will; but the stern words of Eurystheus fell
upon his ears, and bade him go forth at once to the labors which had
been allotted him.  He went; for he had vowed, long time before, always
to obey the calls of duty.  And Iole grieved for him in secret; yet
every day she grew wiser and more beautiful, and every day the tendrils
of her love were twined more and more closely about my father’s heart.

"Heracles went out to do the thankless tasks which his master Eurystheus
had bidden him do.  In the swamps of Lerna, he slew the nine-headed
Hydra, and dipped his arrows in its poisonous blood.  In the forests of
Arcadia, he caught the brazen-footed stag sacred to Artemis.  In the
snowy glens of Erymanthus, he hunted the fierce wild boar which had long
been the terror of men; and, having caught him in a net, he carried him
to Mycenæ.  In Elis he cleansed the stables of Augeas, turning the
waters of the river Alpheus into the stalls of his oxen.  In the marshes
of Stymphalus, he put to flight the loathsome Harpies, and rested not
from following them until they were outside the borders of Hellas.  In
the sunset land of the Hesperides, he plucked the golden apples which
hung ripe in the gardens of Here; and he slew the fiery dragon that kept
watch and ward around them.  And, lastly, he went down into the dark
kingdom of Hades, and brought thence the mighty hound Cerberus, carrying
him in his strong arms into the very presence of Eurystheus.  All these
deeds, and many more, did Heracles, because they were tasks set for him
by his master; but other things, even mightier than they, did he do
because of his love for suffering men.[1]  At length, when the days of
his servitude to Eurystheus were ended, he came again to Hellas, and
dwelt a long time in Calydon with his old-time friend Oineus."

[1] See Note 11 at the end of this volume.

When Iphitus had thus spoken, he was silent for a time; and Odysseus,
seeing that he was busy with his own thoughts, asked him no questions.
Then, as if talking in a dream, he said,--

"Do you see this bow,--the bow of my father Eurytus? Much grief has it
brought upon our house; and yet it was not the bow, but my father’s
overweening pride, that wrought the mischief, and caused me to go
sorrowing through life.  Shall I finish my story by telling you how it
all ended?"

"Tell me all," answered Odysseus.

"My father Eurytus, as I have said, was the king of archers; for no man
could draw an arrow with so unerring aim as he, and no man could send it
straight to the mark with a more deadly force.  Every thought of his
waking hours was upon his bow, and he aspired to excel even the archery
of Artemis and Apollo.  At length he sent a challenge into every city of
Hellas: ’_Whosoever will excel Eurytus in shooting with the bow and
arrows, let him come to Œchalia, and try his skill. The prize to be
given to him who succeeds is Iole, the fair daughter of Eurytus._’

"Then there came to the contest, great numbers of young men, the pride
of Hellas.  But when they saw this wonderful bow of Eurytus, and tried
its strength, their hearts sank within them; and when they aimed their
shafts at the target, they shot far wide of the mark, and my father sent
them home ashamed and without the prize.

"’My dearest Iole,’ he would often say, ’I am not afraid of losing you,
for there lives no man who knows the bow as well as I.’

"But by and by great Heracles heard of my father’s boasts, and of the
prize which he had offered.

"’I will go down to Œchalia,’ said he, ’and I will win the fair Iole for
my bride.’

"And when he came, my father remembered how he had taught him archery in
his youth; and he felt that in his old pupil he had at last found a
peer.  Yet he would not cease his boasting.  ’If the silver-bowed Apollo
should come to try his skill, I would not fear to contend even with

"Then the target was set up, so far away that it seemed as if one might
as well shoot at the sun.

"’Now, my good bow,’ said my father, ’thou hast never failed me: do thou
serve me better to-day than ever before!’

"He drew the strong cord back, bending the bow to its utmost tension;
and then the swift arrow leaped from its place, and sped like a beam of
light straight towards the mark.  But, before it reached its goal, the
strength which my father’s arm had imparted to it began to fail; it
wavered in the air, its point turned downward, and it struck the ground
at the foot of the target.

"Then Heracles took up his bow, and carelessly aimed a shaft at the
distant mark.  Like the lightning which Zeus hurls from the high clouds
straight down upon the head of some lordly oak, so flashed the unfailing
arrow through the intervening space, piercing the very centre of the

"’Lo, now, Eurytus, my old-time friend,’ said Heracles, ’thou seest that
I have won the victory over thee. Where now is the prize, even the
lovely Iole, that was promised to him who could shoot better than thou?’

"But my father’s heart sank within him, and shame and grief took mighty
hold of him.  And he sent Iole away in a swift-sailing ship, to the
farther shores of the sea, and would not give her to Heracles as he had
promised.  Then the great hero turned him about in anger, and went back
to his home in Calydon, threatening vengeance upon the house of Eurytus.
I besought my father that he would remember his word, and would call
Iole home again, and would send her to Heracles to be his bride.  But he
would not hearken, for the great sorrow which weighed upon him.  He
placed his matchless bow in my hands, and bade me keep it until I should
find a young hero worthy to bear it.

"’It has served me well,’ he said, ’but I shall never need it more.’
Then he bowed his head upon his hands, and when I looked again the life
had gone from him.  Some men say that Apollo, to punish him for his
boasting, slew him with one of his silent arrows; others say that
Heracles smote him because he refused to give to the victor the promised
prize, even fair Iole, the idol of his heart.  But I know that it was
grief and shame, and neither Apollo nor Heracles, that brought death
upon him.

"As to Heracles, he dwelt a long time in Calydon, where he wooed and won
the princess Deianeira, the daughter of old Oineus; but the memory of
Iole, as she had been to him in the bright days of his youth, was never
blotted from his mind.  And the people of Calydon loved him, because,
with all his greatness and his strength, he was the friend and helper of
the weak and needy.  But one day, at a feast, he killed by accident a
little boy in the palace of Oineus, named Eunomos; and his heart was
filled with grief, and he took his wife Deianeira, and, leaving Calydon,
he journeyed aimlessly about until he came to Trachis in Thessaly.
There he built him a home, but his restless spirit would give him no
peace; and so, leaving Deianeira in Trachis, he came back towards
Argolis by way of the sea.  Three moons ago, I met him in Tiryns. He
greeted me as a dear old friend, and kindly offered to help me in the
undertaking which I had then on foot; for robbers had driven from my
pastures twelve brood mares, the finest in all Hellas, and I was
searching for them.

"’Go you with your men into Messene,’ said he, ’for doubtless you will
find that which you seek among the lawless men who own Orsilochus as
king.  If you find them not, come again to Tiryns, and I will aid you in
further search, and will have them restored to you, even though Hermes,
or great Autolycus, be the thief.’

"So I left him, and came hither to Messene, and to the high-walled
towers of Pherae; and thus you know my errand which I have kept hidden
from Orsilochus. I have found no traces of the stolen mares; and so
to-morrow I shall return to Argolis and Tiryns where the great hero
waits for me."

Much more would godlike Iphitus have spoken; but now the sun had set,
and the two friends hastened back to the palace of Orsilochus.

"Never have I met a man whose friendship I prized more highly than
thine," said Odysseus, as they crossed the courtyard, and each was about
to retire to his chamber.  "I pray that thou wilt take this sharp sword,
which was my father’s, and this mighty spear, as tokens of the
beginnings of a loving friendship."  And the young man put the noble
weapons into the old hero’s hands.

"And do thou take in return an equal present," said Iphitus.  "Here is
the matchless bow of Eurytus my father; it shall be thine, and shall be
to thee a worthy token of the love which I bear towards thee."

Odysseus took the bow.  It was a bow of marvellous beauty, and its
strength was so great that no man, save its proud new owner, could
string it.  It was indeed a matchless gift, and a treasure to be prized.

                           _*ADVENTURE XII.*_


Very early on the following day, Iphitus bade Orsilochus farewell, and
started on his journey back towards Tiryns; and Odysseus, to the
surprise of all, went with him, riding in the same chariot.

"I know that you want to go into Laconia," Iphitus had said.  "Why not
go now?  For I and my brave men will convoy you safely as far as
Lacedæmon; and when there, I will commend you to my old comrades, Castor
and Polydeuces, who dwell in the palace of their father, King

And Odysseus had gladly consented; for, although his host had pressed
him hard to stay longer, he was very anxious for many reasons to visit

For two days the company travelled slowly eastward. They crossed the
mountain land which lies between Messene and Laconia, and came to the
plain, rich with wheat-fields, which lay beyond.  And now the way was
easier, and the road led straight towards Lacedæmon.

At noon on the second day, they rested upon the banks of a little
stream; and, as the sun was hot, they sat a long time in the pleasant
shade of some trees which grew not far from the roadside.  Some distance
down the valley they caught glimpses of the high towers of the city; and
now and then they heard the sound of busy workers within the walls, or
the shouts of the toilers in the neighboring fields.  A ride of only a
few minutes would bring them to the gates of Lacedæmon. While they were
thus waiting and resting, an old minstrel, who had come out of the city,
joined them by the roadside, and began to entertain them.  At first he
played sweetly upon his lyre, and sang songs, new and old, which he
thought would be pleasing to his listeners.  Then he told them stories
of the times, now long past, when yet men lived in peaceful innocence,
unbeset with eating cares.

"And now," he said, "since you are about to enter Lacedæmon, and will
spend the night within the kingly halls of great Tyndareus, you must
needs hear of the beauty and the courage and the wealth for which this
city is far famed among all the states of Hellas.  The riches of which
we boast cannot be measured like gold and precious stones; our wealth
lies in the courage and true-heartedness of our men, and in the beauty
and devotedness of our women."

And then he told them of the four wonderful children whom King Tyndareus
and his wife Leda had reared in the pleasant halls of Lacedæmon,--Castor
and Polydeuces, the devoted brothers; and the sisters, proud
Clytemnestra, and Helen the beautiful.  He told how Castor and
Polydeuces were famed among all the heroes of Greece; how they had
sailed with Jason on the Argo; how they had hunted the wild boar in the
woods of Calydon; and how they had fought under the banner of Peleus
when he stormed the town of Iolcos, and drove the false Acastus from his
kingdom.  He told how Helen, while yet a mere child, had been stolen
from her home and her parents, and carried by Theseus of Athens to
far-distant Attica; and how her brothers Castor and Polydeuces had
rescued her, and brought her back to her loving friends in Lacedæmon.
He told how the two brothers excelled in all the arts of war, and in
feats of courage and skill; how Castor was renowned at home and abroad
as a tamer of horses, and how Polydeuces was without a peer as a boxer
and as a skilful wielder of the sword.  And he told how the beauty of
Helen had brought hosts of suitors from every quarter of the world; and
how her father, old Tyndareus, was all the time beset with courtiers,
princes, and heroes, the noblest of the earth,--all beseeching him for
the hand of the matchless fair one.

No one knows how long the old man would have kept on talking, had not
Iphitus bade him cease.  "We have heard already, a thousand times, the
tales that you tell us," he said.  "Waste no more time with vain words
which are on the tongue of every news-monger in Argolis; but make haste
back to the city, and say to Castor and Polydeuces that Iphitus, who
erstwhile was their comrade on the Argo, waits outside the gates of

The minstrel bowed, and said, "It is not for me to act the part of a
herald for a stranger.  But do you send one of your young men into the
city, and I will gladly go with him into the broad palace of the king,
where he may announce your coming."

Then Iphitus called to one of the young men in his company, and bade him
go before them to the palace, to herald their coming; and the old
minstrel went with him.

Now when the sun was beginning to sink behind the heights of lofty
Taygetes, the company arose from their resting-place by the roadside,
and began to move slowly towards the city.  At the same time, two
horsemen came out through the gate, and rode rapidly up the valley to
meet them.  Iphitus waved his long-plumed helmet in the air, and shouted
aloud.  "There they come," he cried,--"the twin heroes! as noble and as
handsome, and seemingly as young, as when we sailed together on the

It seemed but a moment until the horsemen approached and drew rein
before them.  They were tall and comely youths, exceedingly fair, and so
alike that no man could tell which one was Castor or which Polydeuces.
Their armor was of gold, and glowed in the light of the setting sun like
watch-fires on the mountain-tops.  Their steeds were white as snow, with
long manes that glimmered and shone like the silvery beams of the moon
on a still summer’s evening.

"All hail, our old-time comrade!" they cried.  "Welcome to the halls of
Lacedæmon!  We bid you welcome in the name of our aged father, King

Then they turned, and led the way to the lofty palace gates.

As Odysseus and his aged friend dismounted from their car, a score of
ready squires came out to serve them.  Some loosed the horses from the
yoke, and led them to the stables, and fed them plentifully with oats
and white-barley grains; others tilted the car against the wall of the
outer court, so that no careless passer-by would run against or injure
it; and still others carried the arms of the heroes into the spacious
hall, and leaned them with care against the grooved columns.

Then Castor and Polydeuces, the glorious twins, led the heroes into the
broad hall of King Tyndareus. Odysseus gazed about him with wondering
eyes, for he had never seen so great magnificence.  Walls of polished
marble ran this way and that from the brazen threshold; the doors were
of carved oak inlaid with gold, and the door-posts were of shining
silver. Within were seats and sumptuous couches ranged against the wall,
from the entrance even to the inner chambers; and upon them were spread
light coverings, woven and embroidered by the deft hands of women. And
so great was the sheen of brass, of gold and silver, and of precious
gems, within this hall, that the light gleamed from floor to ceiling,
like the beams of the sun or the round full moon.[1]

[1] See Note 12 at the end of this volume.

The aged king was pleased to see the heroes; for Iphitus and he had been
lifelong friends, firm and true, through every turn of fortune.  And
when he learned the name and parentage of young Odysseus, he took him by
the hand, and bade him welcome for the sake of his father, good Laertes.

The first words of greeting having been spoken, Odysseus, still
wondering, went down into the polished baths.  There, when he had
bathed, he clothed himself in princely garments; and he threw a soft,
rich cloak about his shoulders, and made himself ready to stand in the
presence of beauty, nobility, and courage.  Then Polydeuces led him back
into the great hall.

But a change had taken place while he was gone. The king was no longer
alone.  There stood around him, or sat upon couches, all the noblest
young heroes of Hellas.  The king’s son-in-law, tall Agamemnon of
Mycenæ, stood behind the throne; and near him was his handsome brother
Menelaus.  Among all the princes then at Lacedæmon, these two sons of
Atreus were accounted worthiest; for not only did they excel in strength
and wisdom, but they were heirs to the kingdom of Argolis, and the
lordship over men.  Next to them stood Ajax the son of Telamon; he was
nephew to old King Peleus, who had wedded the sea-nymph in the
cave-halls of Mount Pelion; and among the younger heroes there was none
who equalled him in bravery.

Reclining on a couch at the king’s left hand was another prince of the
same name,--Ajax, the son of Oileus.  He had come from distant Locris,
where he was noted as the swiftest runner and the most skilful spearsman
in all Hellas.  He was neither so tall nor so handsome as the son of
Telamon; but the very glance of his eye and the curl of his lip, made
men admire and love him.

Below him stood Diomede of Tiryns, who, though still a mere youth, was a
very lion in war.  His father, brave Tydeus, had met his death while
fighting with the Thebans; but he had long ago avenged him.

Idomeneus, a prince of Crete, known far and wide for his skill in
wielding the spear, was next, a man already past the prime of life.  And
beyond him in order were other princes: Philoctetes of Melibœa, famous
for his archery; Machaon, son of Asclepius, from Œchalia, the home of
Iphitus; Antilochus of Pylos, late the companion of Odysseus; Nireus of
Syma, famed only for his comeliness; and Menestheus of Athens, who, in
the management of men and horses and the ordering of battle, had not a
peer on earth.

All these were in the hall of King Tyndareus; and they received Odysseus
with words of seeming kindness, although a shade of jealousy was plainly
seen upon their faces.  While they were speaking, a minstrel entered,
and began to play deftly upon his lyre; and, as he played and sung, two
dancers sprang upon the floor, and whirled in giddy mazes about the
hall. Then from their high-roofed chamber, where the air was full of
sweet perfumes, came three women to listen to the music.  Helen, like in
form to Artemis the huntress-queen, led the rest; and when Odysseus saw
her, he remembered no more the golden splendor which had dazzled his
eyes when first he stood upon the threshold of the palace, for every
thing else paled in the light of Helen’s unspeakable beauty.  Next to
her came Clytemnestra, who, a few years before, had been wedded to
Agamemnon of Mycenæ.  She was fair, but not beautiful; and the glance
which fell from her eye sent a thrill of pain to the heart of the young
hero. The two sisters were followed by their cousin, sweet Penelope,
who, blushing like the morning, kept her eyes modestly upon the ground,
and looked not once towards the company of princely strangers.  And, as
she stood leaning against a lofty column, Odysseus wondered within
himself whether he admired more the glorious beauty of Helen, or the
retiring sweetness of Penelope.

                          _*ADVENTURE XIII.*_

                          *A RACE FOR A WIFE.*

Days and weeks passed by, and still Odysseus tarried as a guest at the
court of King Tyndareus.  His friend Iphitus had gone on to Tiryns to
meet the hero Heracles, and had left with him his blessing and the bow
of Eurytus.  But the young princes who had come to Lacedæmon to woo the
beautiful Helen remained in the palace, and each had vowed in the secret
of his heart that he would not depart until he had won the matchless
lady for his bride.  Each had offered to the king gifts of countless
value,--gold and jewels, fine horses, and well-wrought armor; and each
had prayed him that he would himself set the bride-price for his
daughter, and bestow her on whom he would, even on the man who pleased
him best.  But the king, for reasons of his own, would give them no

All this time, Odysseus held himself aloof from the crowd of wooers, and
kept his own counsel; and, though all believed that he too was smitten
with love for the peerless Helen, yet in his heart the blue-eyed
Penelope reigned queen.  One day as he sat alone with Tyndareus in his
chamber, he saw that the king was sorely troubled; and he began in his
own way to find out the cause of his distress.


"Surely, O king!" he said, "you are the happiest of men.  For here you
have, in Lacedæmon, every thing that can delight the eye, or please the
heart. Wherever you may turn, there you see wealth and beauty; and it is
all yours, to do with as you like. Your sons are the bravest in the
world; your daughters are the fairest; your palace is the most
beautiful; your kingdom is the strongest.  There is certainly nothing to
be wished for that is not already yours."

"And yet," answered Tyndareus, with a sigh, "I am the most miserable of
mortals.  I would rather be a witless swineherd in the oak forests,
living in a hut, and feeding upon roots and wild fruits, than dwell in
this palace, beset with cares like those which daily weigh me down."

"I cannot understand you," said Odysseus.  "You are at peace with all
the world; your children are all with you; you have no lack of comfort.
There is nothing more for you to desire.  How, indeed, can care come in
through these golden doors, and sit upon your brow, and weigh you down
with heaviness?"

"I will tell you," answered the king, "for I know that I can trust your
good judgment.  Here in my palace are all the noblest princes of Hellas
suing for the hand of Helen, whom the gods have cursed with more than
mortal beauty.  Each has offered me a price, and each expects to win
her.  I dare not withhold her long; for then all will become angered,
and my kingdom as well as my daughter will be the prey of him who is the
strongest.  I dare not give her to one of them, for then the other nine
and twenty will make cause against me and bring ruin to Lacedæmon. On
this side grin the heads of Scylla, all black with death; on that side
dread Charybdis roars; and there is no middle way.  Why, oh, why did not
the immortals bless my daughter by giving her a homely face?"

Then Odysseus drew nearer to the king, and spoke in lower tones.  "I
pray you, do not despair," he said. "There is a safe way out of all this
trouble.  If you will only trust me, I will lead the whole matter to a
happy issue."

"How, how?" eagerly asked the king.

"I will tell you," said Odysseus.  "But you must first listen to a plea
that I have to make.  To you alone it is known that I am not a suitor
for the hand of Helen, but that my hopes are all for coy Penelope. Speak
to her father, your brother Icarius, and help me win her for my own, and
I will settle this matter between you and the princely lovers of fair
Helen in a manner pleasing to every one."

"It shall be as you wish!" cried the king, taking heart.  "I will trust
the management of this business to you, and may the wise Pallas Athené
prosper you!"

The next morning shrewd Odysseus arose, and clothed himself in princely
fashion; and, after the morning meal had been eaten, he bade the heralds
call the suitors into the council chamber.  And the heralds called the
gathering; and the young heroes quickly came, one after another, until
nine and twenty sat within the chamber where the elders of Lacedæmon
were wont to meet.  Then Odysseus stood on the raised platform, close to
the door; and Pallas Athené, unseen by the dull eyes of mortals, stood
beside him, and whispered words of wisdom in his ear.

"Noble men of Hellas," said Odysseus, "I pray that you will hearken to
the words which I shall speak, and that you will duly weigh them in your
minds.  We have all come to Lacedæmon with one wish and one intent,--and
that is, to win the most beautiful woman in the world.  We have offered,
each one for himself, a bride-price worthy of the bride; yet the king,
for reasons which you ought to understand, is slow in bestowing her upon
any of us.  And so weeks and even months have passed, and we are still
here, devouring the substance of our kind host, and yet as far as ever
from the prize which we desire.  Now, it behooves us to bring this
matter to an end; for otherwise we all shall suffer loss by being too
long absent from our homes."

The princely suitors listened kindly to his words and all nodded their
assent.  Then he went on:--

"Upon how many of you, now, has the peerless Helen smiled as if in

Every man among them raised his hand in answer.

"Who, among you all, believes that fair Helen would prefer him, above
every other, for a husband?"

Every man arose, and, glancing proudly around him, answered "I!"

"I have, then, a plan to offer," said Odysseus. "Let us leave the choice
to Helen.  And, in order that each may the better show whether there be
aught of nobility in him, let us go forth straightway, and make trial of
all the games in which any one of us excels. And when the games are
ended, let glorious Helen come and choose him whom she will wed."

At this all the suitors shouted assent; for each felt sure that he would
be the chosen one.

"But hearken to one word more!" cried Odysseus. "The most beautiful
woman in the world is a prize of priceless value; and he who wins that
prize will hardly keep it through the might of his unaided arm.  Let us
bind ourselves by an oath that he whom Helen chooses shall be her wedded
husband, and that the rest will depart at once from Lacedæmon; and that
if any man, from near or far, shall carry peerless Helen from her
husband or her husband’s home, then we will join our forces, and never
falter in the fight until we have restored her to him."

"And further still," added Ajax Telamon, "let us swear that should any
one of us forget the agreement made this day, then the remaining nine
and twenty will cause swift punishment, and terrible, to fall upon him."

Much more did shrewd Odysseus and the assembled princes say; and in the
end they made a solemn sacrifice to Father Zeus, and lifting up their
hands they swore that they would hold to all that had been spoken. Then,
at an hour which had been set, they went out to make trial of their
skill in all kinds of manly games, so that each might show wherein he
excelled all other men, and thus stand higher in the regards of
matchless Helen.  And the heralds made announcement, and a great company
followed them to the broad market-place between the palace and the city
walls.  King Tyndareus, happy that his perplexities were soon to end,
sat upon a high throne overlooking the place; and at his side stood the
glorious twins, Castor and Polydeuces, clad in their snow-white armor.
But Helen, dowered with beauty by the gods, stood with her maidens at
the window of her high-built chamber, and watched the contest from afar.

Then all the suitors, arrayed in princely garments, as became the
mightiest men of Hellas, stood up in the lists, each for himself to take
his part in the games. And each fondly believed that he, among them all,
was the favored suitor of fair Helen.  But shrewd Odysseus kept his own
counsels, and wisely planned to reach the ends which he so much desired.

Then the games began.  And they made trial, first, in throwing the heavy
spear; and gray-bearded Idomeneus led all the rest.  Then in shooting
with the bow; and Odysseus was far the best, for no one else could
string or handle the matchless bow of Eurytus.  Then in throwing heavy
weights; and Ajax, son of Telamon, sent a huge stone hurtling from his
strong arms far beyond all other marks.  Then in wrestling; and there
was not one that could withstand the stout-limbed son of Oileus.  Then
in boxing; and Philoctetes, the armor-bearer of Heracles, carried off
the palm.  Then in fencing with the broad-sword; and Diomede held the
championship, and found no peer.  Then in leaping; and Thoas of Ætolia,
one of the later comers, excelled all others.  Then in the foot-race;
and here again the lesser Ajax left all the rest behind.

And now the car of Helios was sloping towards the western sea, and King
Tyndareus by a signal ordered that the games should cease.

"Come, my friends," said he, "the day is spent, and nothing can be
gained by further trials of strength and skill.  Let us go forthwith to
my banquet hall, where the tables groan already with the weight of the
good cheer which has been provided for you.  And when you have rested
yourselves, and put away from you the thought of hunger, fair Helen will
descend from her high chamber, and choose from among you him who shall
be her husband."

And all obeyed, and went straightway to the great banquet hall of the
king.  Now the court, and the hall, and even the passage-ways of the
palace, were thronged with people old and young, noble and base-born;
for all had heard of what was to follow.  And the steward of the king
had slain a score of long-wooled sheep, and many swine, and two
slow-footed oxen; and these he had flayed and dressed for the goodly
banquet.  Then all sat down at the tables, and stretching forth their
hands, they partook of the pleasant food so bounteously spread before
them.  And though some of the princely suitors had been beaten in the
games, yet all were merry and hopeful, and many a pleasant jest was
bandied back and forth among them.

"The son of Oileus should remember," said Nireus, "that the race is not
always to the swift."

"And Nireus should remember," said Thoas, "that beauty does not consort
with comeliness.  Aphrodite did not choose Apollo for her husband, but
rather the limping smith, Hephaestus."

Then some one asked Nireus what was the price of hair-oils in Syma; and
this led to much merriment and many jokes about his smooth curls, his
well-shaven face, and his tight-fitting doublet.

"If his father were living," said one, "he would be setting a
bride-price upon him."

In the midst of the merriment, a herald passed through the hall, crying
out, "Remember your oaths, O princes of the Hellenes!  Remember your
promises to the immortal gods!"

A silence fell upon that multitude, like the stillness which takes hold
upon all nature when waiting for the thunder-cloud to vent its fury upon
the plains.  And the minstrel, who sat upon a raised seat at the farther
side of the hall, touched his harp with his deft fingers, and brought
forth sounds so sweet and low and musical that the ears of all the
hearers were entranced. Then the door of the inner chamber opened, and
the glorious Helen, leaning on the arm of old Tyndareus, came forth to
make her choice.  The hearts of all the suitors stood still; they could
not bear to look toward her, although her heavenly beauty was modestly
hidden beneath her thick veil.  She came into the hall: she passed
Idomeneus, who sat nearest the inner chamber; she passed the mighty
Ajax, him of the noble form and the eagle eye; she passed the doughty
Diomede, wielder of the sword; she passed Philoctetes, and Odysseus, and
the stout-limbed son of Oileus.  The hearts of the younger suitors on
the hither side of the hall began to beat with high hopes.

"She surely has her eyes on me!" said the coxcomb Nireus, speaking to

She came to the table where Menelaus, the brother of Agamemnon, sat.
She paused a moment, and then she held out her lily-white hand, in token
that he was the husband of her choice.  The great silence was at once
broken, and a mighty shout went up to the high roof of the palace.
Every one of the slighted suitors felt for an instant the keen pang of
disappointment; then, remembering their oaths, all joined in wishing joy
to Menelaus and his bride.  Some, however, chagrined and crestfallen,
soon withdrew from the palace; and calling their servitors about them,
they secretly and in haste departed from Lacedæmon.  When the morning
dawned, only ten of the young princes still staid in the halls of old

It was easy to understand why these remained. Sweet-faced Penelope had
won other hearts beside that of young Odysseus.  "Since the glorious
Helen is to be the bride of Menelaus," said each of those who tarried,
"why shall not her fair cousin--who is worthier if not so beautiful--be
mine to wed?"

And straightway they beset Icarius with offers of rich gifts, begging
him to set a bride-price on his daughter, and bestow her upon him who
should agree most willingly to pay it.  The old man was sorely troubled,
for he loved his daughter dearly; and he could not bear the thought that
a strange prince should lead her into distant lands where, perchance,
his eyes should never more behold her.

While he pondered sadly, sitting alone and bewildered in his chamber, he
heard a minstrel singing in the hall. He listened.  It was a song about
Atalanta the fair huntress of Arcadia, beginning with the time when
Meleager of the golden hair awarded her the prize in the far-off wood of

Then the minstrel sang of the maiden’s return to Arcadia: How she had
stopped at Delphi on her way, and had asked the Pythia in Apollo’s
temple to reveal the secrets of her future life.  How the oracle could
tell her nothing of the things that would befall her, but only gave her
this advice: "Keep thyself from wedlock’s chains!"  How, when she came
again to her father’s palace, she found him beset by suitors asking for
the hand of his fleet-footed daughter.  Then the maiden, calling to mind
the Pythia’s warning, besought her father to send the suitors home, and
let her, like Artemis, live unwedded; for she would be as free as the
winds which play in the lovely vales of Mantinea, or beat the bleak tops
of Mount Enispe.  But old Iasus was a crafty man--an unfeeling father,
loving gold more than his daughter.  "Behold," said he, "the bride-price
that is offered.  Shall I refuse so great gain, simply to please thy
silly whims?"  Then Atalanta was sorely troubled, and she prayed
Artemis, the huntress-queen, to send her help in the time of her great
need.  And Artemis hearkened, and spoke words of comfort to her heart;
and kind Pallas Athené gave her wisdom.

"My father," said she to old Iasus, "take thou the bride-price that any
suitor may offer for me--but on these conditions: that he shall make
trial with me in the foot-race, and if he outrun me, then I will go with
him as his bride; but if I outstrip him in the race, then he is to lose
the bride-price offered, and his life is to be at your mercy."

Crafty Iasus was highly pleased, and he rubbed his palms together with
delight; and he caused the heralds to proclaim the terms on which the
matchless Atalanta might be won.  Some of the suitors departed in
despair, for they knew that no mortal man was so fleet of foot as the
lovely huntress of Arcadia.  But many others, less wise, put themselves
in training for the trial.  Then one by one, like silly moths plunging
into the candle’s flame, they went down to the race-course of old Iasus,
and tried their speed with that of the wing-footed damsel; but all
failed miserably, and none of them ever returned to their homes or their
loving friends.  And Iasus grew rich upon the spoils--the jewels, and
the bride-gifts, and the arms--which he thus gained from the luckless

One day Milanion, a youth from distant Scandia, came to try his fortune.
"Knowest thou the terms?" asked Iasus.

"I know them," was the answer, "and though they were thrice as hard, yet
would I win Atalanta."

And Atalanta, when she saw his manly, handsome face, and heard his
pleasant voice, was sad to think that one so noble and so brave should
meet so hard a fate. But Milanion went down to the race-course with a
firm step and a heart full of hope.  For he had prayed to Aphrodite that
she would kindly aid his suit, and lend him wings to reach the goal in
advance of Atalanta; and Aphrodite had listened to his plea, and had
given him three golden apples, and had whispered a secret in his ear.

The signal was given, and youth and maiden bounded from the lists like
arrows shot from a bow.  But the maiden was much the fleeter of the two,
and was soon far in advance.

"Another fool will soon come to grief!" said Iasus, laughing loudly.

By this time Atalanta was near the turning-post, while Milanion,
straining every nerve, was many yards behind.  Then he remembered the
secret which Aphrodite had whispered, and he threw one of the golden
apples far beyond the post.  It fell upon the green lawn, a
stone’s-throw outside of the course.  The quick eyes of Atalanta marked
its beauty, and she ran to pick it up.  And while she was seeking it
among the grass, Milanion passed the turning-post, and was speeding
swiftly back towards the goal.  It was only a moment, however, until
Atalanta swift as the wind overtook him, and was again far in the lead.
Then the young man threw a second apple, this time some distance to the
right of the course.  The maiden followed, catching it almost before it
fell; but Milanion had gained a hundred paces on her.  Ere she could
again overtake him, he threw his third apple over his shoulder and to
the left of the course.  Atalanta, forgetting in her eagerness that the
goal was so near, stopped to secure this prize also; and lo! as she
lifted her eyes, Milanion had reached the end of the course.  Old Iasus
stormed with rage, and threatened many fearful things.  But Milanion,
smiling, came boldly forward and claimed his bride; and she, blushing
and happy, covered her face with her veil, and followed him willingly to
the home of his fathers, in distant Cythera.

Such was the song which the minstrel sang, and to which Icarius listened
while sitting in his chamber. Suddenly a new thought seemed to strike
him, and he bade a herald call before him all the suitors of sweet

"My young friends," he said, "you have asked me for my daughter’s hand,
and promised me a liberal bride-price.  I need none of your gold, nor do
I wish to give my daughter to a stranger with whom she would be loath to
go.  Hence I shall do after this manner: He who shall win in a foot-race
to-day, on the long course beyond the market-place, shall be husband of
Penelope, but on this condition: that, if she choose to go with him,
then he is to have her without the payment of a price; but if she choose
to stay with me, then he shall pay me a rich dower, and straightway
depart forever from the gates of Lacedæmon."

The suitors heard the words of old Icarius, and all assented.  Then soon
the people were gathered again in the broad market-place; the long
race-course was cleared and put in order, and every thing was made ready
for the trial.  The trumpet sounded, and the young princes came forward
lightly clad for the race. Palamedes, the cousin of Menelaus, fair and
tall; and Ajax Oileus, who had won the race on the preceding day; and
Megas, brave as Mars, from far Dulichium; and Thoas, the Ætolian prince;
and Phidippus, the grandson of great Heracles; and Protesilaus, from
distant Thessaly; and Eumelus, son of Admetus and the divine Alcestis;
and Polypoetes, descended from the Lapith king Peirithous and
Hippodameia the daughter of the Centaurs; and Elphenor, the son of
large-souled Chalcodon, ruler of Eubœa and the valorous Abantes; and
lastly, Odysseus, who had shrewdly planned all matters to this end.
Rarely have ten men so noble stood up together to contend for honors or
the winner’s prize.

The word was given, and they darted forth, at once and swiftly, raising
a cloud of dust along the course. From the very start, they strained at
utmost speed; they reached the turning-post, and hurried onward to the
goal.  But now stout Ajax no longer took the lead; for Odysseus ran
before the rest, and passed the goal, and came to the crowd by the
lists, while yet the others with laboring breath were speeding down the

Old Icarius was pleased with the issue of the race. For he hoped that
Penelope would not consent to wed Odysseus and follow him to distant
Ithaca; and, if so, he would be happily rid of all the troublesome

"Come here, my sweet daughter," he said.  "This young man, a stranger
from a far-off land, has won thee in the games; yet the choice is thine.
Wilt thou leave thy old father, lonely and alone in Lacedæmon,
preferring to share the fortunes of this stranger?  Or wilt thou stay
with me, and bid him seek a wife among the daughters of his own people?"

And sweet Penelope covered her face with her veil to hide her blushes,
and said, "He is my husband; I will go with him."

Icarius said no more.  But on that spot he after wards raised a marble
statue--a statue of Penelope veiling her blushes--and he dedicated it to

Soon afterward Odysseus returned with his young wife to his own home and
friends in sea-girt Ithaca. And, next to Penelope, the richest treasure
that he carried thither was the bow of Eurytus.

                           _*ADVENTURE XIV.*_

                   *HOW A GREAT HERO MET HIS MASTER.*

Now, after two years and more had passed in peace, there came one day to
Ithaca an aged wanderer who had many things of great import to tell.
For he had been in every land and in every clime, and had trod the
streets of every city, even from Pylos to Iolcos by the sea; and he knew
what deeds had been done by all the heroes, and what fortunes or
misfortunes had befallen mankind in every part of Hellas.  And Odysseus
and the elders of Ithaca loved to sit around him in the banquet chamber
of Laertes, and listen to his stories, of which there was no end.  For
in that wonderful Golden Age, these strollers--blind bards and
story-tellers--were the people’s newspapers, and oftentimes the only
means by which those of one country could learn aught of what was
passing in another.

"Alas! the world is no longer as it was in the days of my youth," said
the old newsmonger, one morning, with a sigh.  "The heroes are all
passing away. Indeed, of the older race, I can now remember only three
who are still living,--Peleus, the king of the Myrmidons; Nestor, of
lordly Pylos; and Laertes, in whose halls we are sitting."

"You forget Cheiron, the wise master," said Odysseus.

"By no means," was the answer.  "It is now seven years since Zeus took
him from earth, and set him among the stars.  Some say that Heracles,
while fighting with unfriendly Centaurs, unwittingly struck the great
master with one of his poisoned arrows.  Others say that the master,
while looking at an arrow, carelessly dropped it upon his own foot, thus
wounding himself unto death.  But who is right, I cannot tell. I only
know that Cheiron lives no longer in his cave-hall on rugged Pelion, and
that the old heroes are all fast following him to the land of the

"But what of Neleus, the old father of Nestor? And what of my dear
friend Iphitus of Œchalia?  And what of great Heracles?  Surely the race
of heroes still lives in them."

"Can it be that you have not heard the sad story?" asked the old man.
"Can it be that no one has yet brought to you the strange news, over
which all Hellas has been weeping?  Two harvests now have passed since
the noble spirit of Iphitus fled down the dark ways,--it may be to the
gloomy halls of Hades, it may be to the dwelling-place of fair-haired
Rhadamanthus in the Islands of the Blest.  And old Neleus followed
swiftly in his footsteps, his feeble life snuffed out by the mad hand of
Heracles.  Nor did great Heracles himself long survive the evil deed and
the wrath of the eternal powers.  But now he sits enthroned on high
Olympus, and walks the earth no more."

"Pray tell us how it all came about," said King Laertes anxiously.

Then the old news-monger, prefacing his story with a sad, wild song,
told how the greatest hero of the Golden Age met at last his master,
even Death, the master of all earth’s creatures.  And this was the story
that he told:--

"When Heracles fled from Calydon, as you already know, he went to
Trachis in Thessaly, close by the springs of Œta; and there he abode a
long time.  Yet his mind was ill at rest, and dire forebodings filled
his soul; for cruel Here was threatening him with madness, such as had
once before darkened his life and driven him to deeds too terrible to
think upon.  And so, at length, he kissed his dear wife and his lovely
babes, and went forth to wander once more in loneliness from land to
land.  He knew that he would not return; and, unknown to Deianeira, he
left in his dwelling a letter, such as men write when they feel that the
end is drawing nigh.  In it he told how the doves in the old oaks of
Dodona had shown him that within the space of a year and three months he
should depart from this earth; and then he gave directions how his goods
should be given to his children and his friends, and what they should do
to hold his memory in honor.

"After this he took ship, and came by sea to his old home at Tiryns,
where erstwhile he had served his brother and task-master, Eurystheus.
There he sojourned many days; and there he met Iphitus of Œchalia, his
friend in early youth, seeking twelve horses of great worth and beauty,
which had been stolen from him.

"’Go you to Pherae in Messene,’ said Heracles, his mind even then
verging towards madness.  ’It may be that the beasts have been taken by
the lawless men of that country, for they live by robbery.  But if you
fail to find your horses there, come again to Tiryns, and report to me;
and then I will aid you, even though we should have to seek them in the
pasture lands of old Autolycus beneath the shadow of Parnassus.’

"So Iphitus, with a score of his bravest followers, went down into
Messene and Laconia, and even to the gates of Lacedæmon, looking for his
horses.  But he found no traces of the beasts; and in time he came again
to Tiryns, as the great hero had directed him.

"Sad, however, was the day of his return, for the mind of Heracles was
shrouded in deep darkness. While Iphitus sat as a guest at his table,
the mighty son of Zeus arose in his madness, and slew him; and Heracles
cared not for the vengeance of the gods, nor for the honor of his own
board.  Moreover, the goodly horses of Iphitus were even then feeding in
his stables at Tiryns, for Heracles himself had found them.

"But after this the light began to struggle feebly in his mind, and the
thought of his crime bore heavily upon him.  Then he remembered old
Neleus, the most ancient of men, and knew that he sat in the
market-place at Pylos dealing out justice to all who came to him.  And
straightway he went by the nearest road to Pylos, and besought Neleus
the venerable to purify him for the evil deed that he had done.  But
Iphitus and his father, old Eurytus, had been very dear to
Neleus,--comrades and friends, indeed, in the stirring days of their

"’The blood of good Iphitus be upon you,’ said the old man to Heracles;
and he would not purify him, neither would he comfort him with words of

"Then madness again overpowered the great hero, and in his wrath he
marched through Pylos breathing slaughter.  And he slew old Neleus in
the market-place, and put his sons and the elders of Pylos to the sword,
sparing only the knightly Nestor, most discreet of men.  But the fury of
the great hero was not to run unchecked.  The ever-living powers can
never look with favor upon that man who slays his guest in his halls or
who deals harshly with old age.  And so they caused Heracles to be sold
to Omphalé, queen of Lydia, to serve her as a bond-slave for a year and
a day. And in that far-distant land he toiled at many a thankless task
until the days of his bondage were ended. Yet the great cloud was only a
little way lifted from his mind, and he thought to himself that all the
misery that had ever been his had come upon him through the house of
Eurytus.  So he swore with a great oath, that, when he had gotten his
freedom, he would utterly destroy Œchalia, and would sell all its people
into bondage.  For, in a dazed, unreasoning way, he remembered fair
Iole, and the slight which Eurytus had put upon him when he made trial
of his skill in archery.

"Now, when he was set free, he remembered all too well the vow which he
had made; and when he had overthrown Œchalia, and had taken captive all
the fair women and children, he bethought him that he would go again to
Trachis where his wife and children still dwelt.  But on his way thither
he stopped for a time in Eubœa to offer sacrifice to Zeus; and he sent
his herald Lichas on before him, with certain of the captives.  When
Lichas came to Trachis, and made himself known to Deianeira, she asked
him what word he had brought from Heracles his master.

"’He is alive and well,’ said the herald, ’and he tarries for a while in
Eubœa to build an altar to Zeus.

"’Why does he do that?’ asked Deianeira.

"’He does it to fulfil a vow,’ answered the herald,--’a vow which he
made ere yet he had overthrown Œchalia and had led captive these fair
women whom thou seest.’

"Then Deianeira drew nearer, and looked with pity upon the captives as
they stood in sad array on the shore of the desolate sea.  And she
lifted her hands toward heaven, and prayed that the great powers would
keep her from such a fate and would shield her children that so sad an
evil should never overtake them.  Then she saw that one among the
captives was much more beautiful than the others, tall and very fair,
with long golden tresses, and eyes as round as the moon and as blue as
the deep sea.  And Deianeira, wondering whether she were not some great
man’s daughter, asked her who she was; but the sad captive answered not
a word.  The tender heart of the queen was filled with pity; and she
bade that the beautiful lady should be taken into the great hall of
Heracles, and treated with the utmost kindness, that so she should not
have sorrow heaped upon sorrow.  Then she asked Lichas to tell her who
the lady was; but he said that he knew not, save that she seemed to be
well born.

"But now when Lichas had gone to the tents by the shore, there came to
Deianeira in the palace a mischief-maker who told her that Lichas had
not answered truly in this matter.

"’He knows, as well as I, who this fair stranger is,’ said the
mischief-maker.  ’She is the daughter of King Eurytus of Œchalia, and
the sister of Iphitus. Her name is Iole; and it was for the sake of her
beauty that Heracles destroyed her father’s city.’


"Then Deianeira was sadly troubled lest the heart of the great hero
should be turned away from her, and his affections set upon this lovely
captive.  So she sent again for Lichas, and questioned him still
further.  At first he denied that he knew any thing about the fair lady;
but afterwards, when hard pressed, he said, ’She is indeed Iole, the
fair damsel whom Heracles loved in the springtime of youth.  But why he
has brought this great grief upon her, and upon her father’s house, I
cannot tell.’

"Sorely troubled now was Deianeira, and all day long she sat in her
chamber, and pondered what she should do.  And when the evening was
come, she called her friends together, the women and maidens who dwelt
in Trachis, and talked with them.

"’I have been thinking of what I can do to keep my husband’s love,’ she
said.  ’I had almost forgotten that I have a charm which will help me,
or I might not have been so sadly troubled.  Years and years ago, when
we were fleeing from my dear old home at Calydon, we came to the river
Evenus.  The water was very deep, and the current very swift; but there
lived on the banks of the stream an old Centaur, named Nessus, whose
business it was to ferry travellers across to the other shore.  He first
took my husband safely over, and then myself and our little son Hyllus.
But he was so rude, and withal so savage in his manners, that Heracles
was greatly angered at him; and he drew his bow, and shot the brutish
fellow with one of his poisoned arrows.  Then my woman’s heart was
filled with pity for the dying Centaur, wicked though he was; and I felt
loath to leave him suffering alone upon the banks of Evenus.  And he,
seeing me look back, beckoned me to him.  "Woman," he said, "I am dying;
but first I would give thee a precious gift. Fill a vial with the blood
that flows from this wound, and it shall come to pass that if ever thy
husband’s affections grow cold, it will serve as a charm to make him
love thee as before.  It needs only that thou shouldst smear the blood
upon a garment, and then cause him to wear the garment so that the heat
of the sun or of a fire shall strike upon it."  I quickly filled the
vial, as he directed, and hastened to follow my husband.’

"Then Deianeira called the herald Lichas, and said, ’Behold, here is a
fair white garment which I have woven with my own hands; and I vowed
many days ago, that, if my husband should again come home, I would give
him this garment to wear while offering sacrifice.  Now he tarries, as
you say, to do homage to the gods in Eubœa.  Go back, therefore, to meet
him, and give him this white robe as a gift from his wife. Say to him
that on no account shall he let another wear it; and that he shall keep
it carefully folded up, away from the light and the heat, until he shall
be ready to clothe himself in it.’

"The herald promised to do as he was bidden; and in that same hour he
hastened back to meet his master in Eubœa, taking with him his master’s
young son Hyllus.

"Not many days after this, a great cry and sad bewailings were heard in
the house of Heracles; and Deianeira rushed forth from her chamber
crying aloud that she had done some terrible deed.  ’For I anointed the
fair robe which I sent to my husband with the blood of Nessus the
Centaur; and now, behold, the bit of woollen cloth which I dipped into
the charm, and used as a brush in spreading it upon the robe, is turned
to dust, as if a fire had burned it up.  I have not forgotten any thing
that the Centaur told me: how I was to keep the charm where neither the
light of the sun nor the heat of the fire could touch it.  And this I
have done until now; only the bit of woollen cloth was left lying in the
sunshine. Oh, fearful am I that I have slain my husband!  For why should
the Centaur wish to do well by the man who brought death upon him?’

"Hardly had she spoken these words when her son Hyllus came in great
haste to the palace, even into the woman’s hall where she stood.

"’O my mother!’ he cried.  ’Would that you were not my mother!  For do
you know that you have this day brought death and destruction upon my

"’Oh, say not so, my son,’ wailed Deianeira.  ’It cannot be!’

"’But truly it is so,’ said Hyllus.  ’For when Lichas and myself came to
Eubœa bearing the white robe which you sent, we found my father ready to
begin his offering of sacrifices.  And he was glad to see me and to hear
from you; and he took the beautiful robe and put it upon him.  Then he
slew twelve fair oxen, and joyfully worshipped the ever-living powers.
But when the fire grew hot, the deadly robe began to cling to him, and
pangs, as if caused by the stings of serpents, shot through him, and the
pains of death seized on him.  He asked Lichas why he had brought that
robe; and when the herald told him that it was your gift, he seized the
wretch, and cast him over the cliff upon the sharp rocks beneath. And
great fear filled the hearts of all who saw the sufferings of the mighty
hero; and none of them dared come near him, so terrible were his
struggles. Then he called to me, and said, "Come here, my son. Do not
flee from your father in his great distress; but carry me from this
land, and set me where the eyes of no man shall see me."  And so we put
him in the hold of our good ship, and brought him home with us to
Trachis.  And soon you shall see what you have done; for you have slain
your husband,--a hero the like of whom the world shall never see again.’

"When Deianeira heard these words she made no answer, but, with one
despairing cry, she hasted to her high-built chamber; and when, soon
afterward, her maidens sought her there, she was dead.  Then Hyllus
came, also seeking her; for the women of the household had told him how
she had been deceived by the dying Centaur.  And when he saw her
lifeless form, he wept bitterly, and cried out that now indeed the Fates
had bereft him of both father and mother on the same day.

"Then they brought Heracles into his own broad hall, bearing him upon a
litter.  He was asleep; for the pain had left him a little while, and
tired Nature was taking her dues.  But the sad wailings of his son awoke
him; and again he cried aloud in his agony, and besought those who stood
around him that they would give him a sword wherewith to end his pain.
Then Hyllus came into the hall, and told his father all about the
terrible mistake which his mother had made, and how the Centaur had
deceived her, and how she was at that moment lying dead, with a broken
heart, in the chamber overhead.

"’Then, indeed, is my doom come,’ cried Heracles. ’For long ago the
oracles spake of me, that I should die, not by the hands of any living
being, but by the guile of one dwelling in the regions of the dead.  So
now Nessus, whom I slew so long ago, is avenged; for he has slain me.
Now, my son, carry me to the wooded summit of the hill of Œta, and build
there a great pile of olive beams and of oak; and, when it is finished,
lay me upon it, and set fire unto it.  And shed no tear, neither utter
any cry, but work in silence; for thus thou shalt prove thyself a son of

"The boy promised to do all this as his father wished, only he would not
set fire to the pile.  So when he had built the pile, and had put
between the beams great stores of spices and sweet-smelling herbs, they
laid Heracles upon it; and Philoctetes, the hero’s armor-bearer, set
fire to the pile.  And Heracles, for this kindness, gave to Philoctetes
his famous bow,--a weapon more marvellous even than the bow of Eurytus.
Then the red flames shot high towards heaven, shedding brightness over
land and sea; and the mighty hero was at rest.  He had met his master."

Such was the story that the old news-monger told in the hall of King

                           _*ADVENTURE XV.*_

                         *LONG LIVE THE KING!*

"Surely," sighed Laertes, "the old heroes pass away; but the younger
heroes press hard in their footsteps, and will fill their places well.
The gods have written it in every tree, and upon every blade of grass,
that the aged, however worthy, cannot endure forever. The ripened fruit
falls to the ground, but there will be other and better fruit on the
branches by and by. Ancient Cronos gave place, not willingly, to Zeus;
and Zeus is by far the greater of the two.  And there be certain oracles
which have foretold the doom of Zeus; even that he shall be hurled from
his throne by a king of peace, who shall reign everlastingly."

Then on a day, he called the elders of Ithaca together, and spoke to
them in this wise: "My son Odysseus is now a grown-up man, wise and
shrewd beyond any other among you.  He is skilled in all kinds of
knowledge and of handicraft; in matters of judgment he is without a
peer, and in matters requiring courage he is foremost among men.
Moreover, he is married to a wife, sweet Penelope, unexcelled in wifely
virtues; and he has a son and heir, Telemachus,--a smiling babe who has
not yet seen the round of one full moon.  Now, why should the old branch
stand longer in the way of the new and vigorous shoot?  This day I will
give up my kingdom to my son, and he shall henceforth rule this island
in his own name."

And all the people rejoiced when they heard his words; and straightway
they hailed Odysseus king of Ithaca, and offered thanksgiving and
sacrifice to Pallas Athené, who had blessed him with wisdom above that
of other men.  And good Laertes retired to his mountain farm, where no
vexing questions of government would take him away from his vines and
fruit-trees. "Here," said he, "I hope to end my days in peace."

When the men of Cephallenia and the dwellers in the rugged island of
Zacynthus heard that young Odysseus ruled by his own right in Ithaca,
they came and offered him their friendship and allegiance; for they were
kinsmen of the Ithacans.  They brought rich presents of corn and wine
and of long-wooled sheep, and promised to bear him aid in time of need,
if ever that time should come.

At about this time, old Icarius, the father of Penelope, came to Ithaca
for a brief visit to his daughter. For his eyes had long yearned to see
her, and he could find no rest until he knew that she was happy and well
cared for in the new home which she had chosen. And Penelope asked him a
thousand questions about her friends and her kinsfolk in dear old
Lacedæmon, and to all these questions he made answer as he best knew.

"We have now a new king at Lacedæmon," said Icarius, "even brave
Menelaus, the husband of your cousin Helen."

"But where is King Tyndareus, my good uncle?" asked Penelope.  "And
where are my noble twin cousins, Castor and Polydeuces?  Do they share
the kingdom with Menelaus?"

"I will tell you all about it," answered her father. And then he told
her how it had come about that Menelaus was called to the kingship of

"As the feebleness of age began to take hold upon him, King Tyndareus
bethought him that he would resign his kingdom to his sons, the twin
heroes Castor and Polydeuces.  But the restless youths cared not to take
upon them duties which would keep them within the narrow bounds of
Lacedæmon; for they were not home-stayers, but they wandered hither and
thither over many seas and through strange lands, doing brave and noble
deeds innumerable.  The story of their labors in times of peace and of
their prowess in times of war was upon every tongue, and was sung by
minstrels in every city of Hellas.  Wherever public games were held,
there the twins were the masters of the course and the field, and the
awarders of the prizes.  Wherever battles raged and where the fight was
thickest, there the glorious heroes, on their snow-white steeds, were
seen striking fearlessly for the cause of right. And men told how it was
they who first taught the bards to sing songs of battle and pæans of
victory; and how it was they who first showed the glad feet of the
victors how to tread the wild mazes of the war-dance; and how it was
they who, in their friendship for seafarers, had guided many a vessel
over the roughest seas, safe into the wished-for haven.  They belonged
not more to their native Lacedæmon than to the whole wide world.

"There came a time, however, when the men of Laconia quarrelled with
their neighbors of Arcadia, and there was war upon the borders.  Then
Castor and Polydeuces hastened to take sides with their kinsmen.
Mounted on their swift steeds, Phlogios and Harpagos, the gifts of
Hermes, they made raid after raid across the mountains; and they brought
back many a choice herd of cattle, or flock of sheep, from the pasture
lands of Arcadia.

"It happened on a day, that their cousins Idas and Lynceus, two lawless
men from Messene, joined them, and the four drove many cattle across the
borders, and hid them in a glen at the foot of Mount Taygetus. Then they
agreed that Idas should divide the booty into four parts, and give to
each a part.  But Idas was a crafty man, more famed for his guile than
for his courage; and he planned how he might take all the herd for his
own.  So he killed a fat ox, and having flayed and dressed it, he cut it
into four parts.  Then he called the other men about him.

"’It would be a great pity to divide so fine a herd as this of ours
among four owners,’ he said.  ’Therefore I have a plan by which one, or
at most two of us, may fairly gain the whole.  Behold, here are the four
quarters of the ox which I have slain.  This quarter belongs to Castor,
this to Polydeuces, this to Lynceus, and this to myself.  He who first
eats the share allotted to him shall have half of the cattle for his
own; he who next finishes shall have the other half.’

"Then, without another word, he began to eat the quarter which he had
allotted to himself; nor was he long devouring it, but with greedy haste
consumed it before his comrades had tasted even a morsel.  Next he
seized upon the part assigned to Lynceus, and ate it as quickly as his

"’The cattle are all mine!’ he cried.  And calling upon his brother to
help him, they drove the whole herd into Messene.

"Then anger filled the souls of the twin heroes, and they vowed to take
vengeance upon their crafty kinsmen.  One night when the moon lighted up
both plain and mountain with her silvery beams, they made a rapid ride
into Messene, and brought back not only the herd which Idas had taken
from them by fraud, but as many cattle as were feeding in the Messenian
meadows. Then, knowing that their cousins would follow them in hot
haste, they hid themselves in the hollow of a tree in the mountain pass,
and waited for the morning.

"At break of day, the two Messenians, having missed their cattle,
hastened to follow their trail to Mount Taygetus.  Then Lynceus, whose
sharp eyes could see through rocks and the trunks of trees, climbed to
the top of a crag to look about them; for they feared lest they should
fall into an ambush.  And as he peered into every nook and glen and
gorge of the wild mountain, he saw the twins close-hidden in the hollow
trunk of an oak.  Then quickly he descended, and with stealthy tread he
and Idas drew near their hiding-place. Castor saw them first; but before
he could speak, a spear from the hand of Idas laid him low in death.
Then mighty Polydeuces leaped forth in his wrath, and rushed upon the
slayers of his brother.  Fear seized upon them, and they fled with
winged feet into Messene, and paused not until they stood by the marble
tomb of their father, great Aphareus.  But Polydeuces, following on,
overtook them there, and with his spear he smote Lynceus a deadly blow.
At the same time, a peal of thunder shook the mountain and rolled over
the plain; and Zeus hurled his fiery bolts at the bosom of crafty Idas,
and laid him dead upon his father’s tomb.

"The grief of Polydeuces for the death of Castor was terrible to see;
and there was no one in all the world who could comfort him, or in any
way make him forget his loss.  Then he prayed the gods that they would
take him, too, to Hades, that he might be in the dear company of his
brother.  And Zeus heard his prayer; and he asked Polydeuces to choose
whether he would sit in the courts of Olympus, and be the peer of Ares
and Pallas Athené, or whether he would share all things with Castor.
And the glorious hero cried, ’Let me be forever with my brother!’  His
wish was granted to him; and the twin heroes still live, although the
quickening earth lies over them.  One day they wander in the fields of
asphodel, and enjoy the bliss of immortality; the next, they flit among
the unquiet shades in the sunless regions of the dead.  And thus they
share together whatever of joy or woe the grave can bring.

"When King Tyndareus learned that he was bereft of his sons, he fell
prone to the earth; and no one in Lacedæmon could console him.  ’Send
for Helen, my peerless daughter!’ he cried.  ’Send for Menelaus. He is
my only son.  He shall dwell in my palace, and rule in my stead!’

"And that is the way in which it came about, that Menelaus was called to
the kingship of Lacedæmon."

Old Icarius remained but a short time at Ithaca.  A ship was waiting in
the harbor, ready to sail to Pylos and the ports beyond; and he knew
that a like opportunity to return to Lacedæmon might not soon be
offered.  And so, leaving his blessing with his children Odysseus and
Penelope and the babe Telemachus, he departed.

                           _*ADVENTURE XVI.*_

                     *THE CHILDREN OF PROMETHEUS.*

There was sore distress in Lacedæmon.  Famine and a deadly pestilence
grieved the land, and in every household the notes of wailing and
despair were heard. For Apollo, vexed because the men of Laconia were so
slow to understand his wishes, was shooting his fateful arrows broadcast
among them.  Like a night-cloud he brooded over the land, and strong men
and fair women and helpless babes all fell alike beneath the sharp blows
of his deadly shafts.  And the heart of Menelaus the king was burdened
with grief because of the people’s sore affliction.  Then, when he found
that sacrifice of lambs and goats availed him nothing, he sent in haste
to ask the oracles the cause of Apollo’s wrath, and to learn what could
be done to stay the plague.  The answer came as quickly:--

"When the bones of the children of Prometheus are brought from Ilios,
and entombed in Lacedæmon, then the wrath of silver-bowed Apollo shall
be turned aside, and the smiles of his favor shall bless the land."

Then Menelaus made ready to depart at once to Troy to do that which
Apollo demanded.  A short journey by land brought him to the
strong-built town of Helos on the shore of the eastern sea.  There a
swift-sailing ship lay at its moorings, while a score of long-haired
seamen paced the beach, anxious to embark upon any errand across
Poseidon’s watery kingdom.  The captain hailed the king with joy, and
the ship was soon made ready for the long voyage to Ilios.  A plenteous
stock of food was stored away in the broad hold; arms, for defence
against sea robbers and savage men, were put in order, and hung in their
places; and rich presents for Priam, king of Troy, were taken on board.

The next day a favoring wind sprang up; the sails were set; the seamen
took their places; and the ship with King Menelaus on board sped on its
way to distant Ilios.  Poseidon, looking out from his golden palace
beneath the sea, saw the vessel as it hastened on its errand; and he
bade the waves be still and in no wise hinder its speed, for Apollo’s
business must not be delayed; and he called upon the breezes to blow
steadily towards Ilios, that so the embassy of Menelaus might be happily

"Surely the gods are all in league with us," said the captain of the
ship one day, pleased with the delightful voyage.  "To-morrow we shall
doubtless sight the Lesbian coast, and from thence it is but a short
sail to Ilios and Troy.  And now, as we sit together in the prow of our
good vessel, I pray you to tell us the story, once more, of great
Prometheus, the bones of whose children seem so precious to Apollo."

And Menelaus willingly consented, and told the story as he himself had
oft-times heard it from the bards:--

"When Zeus waged pitiless war upon the Titans, and hurled them headlong
from the heights of Mount Olympus, he spared from the general ruin those
who fought not with their own kindred, but espoused his cause. Among
these and foremost of all was great Prometheus, whose name is
Forethought, and whose chiefest glory lies in this, that he was the
friend and lover of mankind.  It was the hope of bettering man’s
condition that led him to fight against his kindred, and to aid in
placing Zeus upon the throne of ancient Cronos.  Yet Zeus cared naught
for the feeble children of earth, but sought rather to make their
burdens heavier and their lives more sad, that so the race might perish
utterly. And the great mind of Prometheus set to work to learn how to
make their lot less sad and their lives less miserable.

"He saw that as yet they dwelt without forethought upon the earth, their
life’s whole length being aimless, and their minds as void of reason as
is the beast’s. They lived in sunless caverns, or in holes scooped in
the ground; and no provision did they make for heat or cold or times of
scarcity, or the varying needs of youth and age.  And Prometheus wasted
no vain words in pity, but took at once upon him the Titanic task of
lifting the race up to a level with the gods.  First, he taught them the
use of fire, which, some say, he stole from Helios’ car, and brought to
the earth, hidden in a fennel-stalk.  Then he showed them how the stars
rise and set, and how the seasons change in never-varying order.  He
showed them how to yoke and make submissive to their will the wild
steeds of the desert plain; how to turn the sod beneath the soil by
means of the furrowing plough; and how to build fair houses and cities
with strong walls and frowning towers.  He taught them how to make
ships, the storm-winged chariots of the sea, and how to navigate the
briny deep. He showed them the treasures which lie hidden underneath the
ground,--gold, silver, iron,--and taught them how to turn them into
forms of beauty, strength, and use.  In short, all arts now known to men
came to them from the hands and mind of pitying Prometheus.

"Now, when Zeus looked down from high Olympus, and saw the puny tribes
of men no longer grovelling in the earth like senseless beasts, but
standing upright, and claiming kinship with the gods, he shook with
pent-up anger.  And he called two of his mightiest servants, Strength
and Force, whom none can resist, and bade them seize the friend of man,
and bind him upon a peak of the snow-crowned Caucasus, there to linger
through the ages in loneliness and pain.

"Then the ruthless slaves of Zeus went forth to do his bidding.  They
seized the mighty Titan, and dragged him to the bleak and barren regions
of the Caucasus, beyond the utmost limit of the habitable earth.  And
with them went the mighty smith Hephaestus, all unwillingly, to bind the
great victim with bonds of brass, which none could loose, to the lonely
mountain crags.

"’This thing I do loathing,’ said Hephaestus.  ’Here I must perforce
leave thee, chained and bolted to the immovable rocks.  Thou shalt never
behold the face of man, nor hear the accents of his voice; but the blaze
of the unpitying sun shall scorch thy fair skin, and thou shalt long for
the night with its shimmering stars to cast a veil of coolness over
thee.  Year after year, thou shalt keep thy lonely watch in this joyless
place, unblest with sleep, and uttering many a cry and unavailing moan.
For Zeus is pitiless.  This is what thou gainest for befriending man.’

"There, then, they left him fettered; but not until rude Strength had
taunted him: ’Lo, thou lover of mankind!  Call now the puny race of
mortals round thee, and crown them with honors!  Could all of them
together lessen thy punishment in the least?  Surely the gods did jest
when they gave thee the name of "Forethought," for thou hast need of
forethought to free thee from these bonds.’

"Then, when the solitary sufferer knew that there was no one to hear
him, save only the sun, and the earth and the winds, and the winding
river and the distant sea, he broke forth in grievous cries and

"’O pitying sky, and swift-winged winds, and river-springs, and the
many-twinkling smile of ocean, I cry to you!  O mother Earth, and thou
all-seeing Sun! behold what I endure because I gave honor to mortals!
Behold what torture is in store for me, while for ten thousand years I
writhe in these unseemly chains! Yet the things that come are all
foreknown to me, and nothing happens unexpected; and I must bear as best
I may the ills that will perforce be mine, knowing that the end of all
these things shall come to me at last.’

"Then the Ocean nymphs, with the fragrance of flowers and a rustling
sound like the whirr of birds, came floating through the air, and
hovered about the crag where Prometheus was bound.  They had heard the
clank of the iron and the heavy blow of the sledge resounding to the
very cavern-depths of Ocean; and they had hastened to come, and offer
him their sympathy.

"Following them, came old Oceanus himself, riding in his winged chariot;
for no firmer friend had Prometheus than this hoary-headed ancient of
the encircling sea.  He came to condole with the suffering Titan, and to
counsel patience and submission.  But he staid not long.

"’I will drink the cup of bitterness to its very dregs,’ said
Prometheus, ’and will bide the time when Zeus shall have quenched his

"And Oceanus, feeling that he had come in vain, turned about, and gladly
hastened homeward to his halls beneath the ocean billows.

"After this many others came, weeping tears of sorrow for the
sufferer,--tears of anger at the tyranny of Zeus.  And wails of mourning
were borne thither on the wings of the wind from all the tribes that
dwelt in Asia,--from the warrior maidens on the Colchian coasts, from
the savage horsemen of the Scythian plains, and from the dwellers on the
farther shores of Araby.  But the Titan, chained to the desolate crags,
suffered on.  Above him the vultures hovered, and the wild eagles
shrieked; and sun and storm beat mercilessly upon his head, as the weary
days and the lengthening years passed by.  And yet no deliverance came.

"One day, as he writhed helplessly in his chains, Prometheus saw in the
valley below him what at so great distance seemed to be a beautiful
heifer, having a fair face like that of a woman.  ’Surely,’ said he
aloud, ’it is the child of Inachus, she who warmed the heart of Zeus,
and is now through Here’s hate changed into an unseemly shape, and
driven to weary wanderings.’

"Then the maiden gazed at him in wonder, and asked, ’Who are you whom
the gods have doomed to suffer in this solitary place?  And how came you
to know my father’s name, and the sorrows that have come upon me?  And
tell me, I pray, if such knowledge be yours, whether there shall ever be
any help for me, and when my sufferings shall have an end.’

"The Titan answered, ’I who speak to thee am Prometheus, who brought
down fire to men, and gave them knowledge, and taught them how to do
godlike things. And I know that thou art Io, once the lovely daughter of
Inachus, king of Argos; but what thou art now, let thy own lips speak
and answer.’

"’I cannot choose but tell you all,’ the maiden answered, ’though my
speech shall with sobs be broken when I recall the memory of happy days
forever gone. There was a time when in my father’s halls I dwelt in
maidenly freedom, a spoiled and petted child.  But as I grew to
womanhood, dreams came to me which told me that I was beloved by Zeus.
Such trouble did these visions bring to me, that I was fain to tell my
father of them.  He knew not what to do.  But he sent swift messengers
to Delphi and Dodona to ask the oracles what the dreams portended, and
how he could best give pleasure to the gods.  The answer came, that he
should drive me from his doors into the wide and cruel world, or
otherwise the fiery bolts of Zeus would burn up all his household and
destroy him utterly.  Reluctantly and weeping bitter tears, he shut me
out; and lo! straightway my body was changed into the loathed form which
stands before you, and a gad-fly stung me with its fangs, and I rushed
away in madness, vainly hoping to find relief at Lerne’s fountain water.
But there the herdsman Argus, with his hundred eyes, did track me out;
and with his scourge and the goading fly, I was driven along unending
ways.  Then Hermes, seeing my distress, took pity on me, and sought to
free me from my cruel keeper.  But Argus never slept; and with his
hundred eyes he saw every danger, and shunned it while it was yet afar.
At last Hermes bethought him of the power of music.  Playing a soft
melody on his lute, he stole gently towards the herdsman; the sweet
sounds charmed the savage ear, and sleep overpowered the hundred eyes.
Then Hermes drew his sword quickly, and smote off the head of Argus,
thus gaining for himself the name of the Argus-queller.  But the shade
of the terrible herdsman still follows me, and I find no rest; and
aimlessly I have come, thus goaded onward, to this wild mountain

[Illustration: PROMETHEUS.]

"Then Prometheus in pitying accents said, ’Listen now to me, and I will
tell thee, Io, what other sorrows thou must bear from Here; for it is
she who brought this woe upon thee and who hounds thee thus from land to
land.  Thou shalt journey onward from these mountain regions through the
Scythian land, and the region of the uncouth Chalybes who work in iron.
Thence thou shalt cross the mountains to the dwelling-place of the
Amazons, who shall lead thee to the place where the ocean-gates are
narrowest.  There thou shalt plunge into the waves, and swim with
fearlessness of heart to Asia’s shore.  And that strait shall by its
name, Bosphorus, tell to latest ages the story of thy wandering.  But
what I have told thee is only the beginning of thy doom.’

"Then Io wept.

"’Were it not better to die,’ she asked, ’than to endure this hopeless

"’Not so, O maiden,’ answered the Titan; ’for if thou livest, then a son
of thine shall loose me from my fetters, and perchance shall shake the
throne of Zeus himself.  When thou hast crossed the sea-ways which part
the continent, thou shalt wander on until thou hast reached the outmost
islands where the Gorgons dwell; then returning thou shalt pass through
the country of the griffins and the region of Ethiopia, and shalt come
at last to the three-cornered ground where flows the Nile.  There thou
shalt rest, and thy maiden form with all its comeliness shall be thine
again.  In Canobus, a fair city by the sea, shall a home be made for
thee; and there shall Epaphos thy son be born, from whom in after-times
shall spring great Heracles, who shall break my bonds and set me free
from these hated fetters.’

"Then Io, with a sigh of mingled hope and despair, went on her weary
way, and left Prometheus alone again in the everlasting solitudes.  And
the wild eagles swooped down from their high-built nests, and circled
with threatening screams about him; a grim vulture flapped its wings in
his face, and buried its talons in his bosom; a mighty storm came
hurtling down through the mountain passes; the earth shook to and fro,
and the peaks of Caucasus seemed as if toppling to their base; a
hurricane of snow and hail and rattling ice smote the Titan about the
head, and wrapped his body in eddying gusts; the lightnings leaped with
lurid glare athwart the sky, and the thunders crashed with deafening
roar among the crags; and earth and air and sea seemed blent together in
a mighty turmoil, and whirling into utter chaos.  Yet, in the midst of
all, the old Titan quailed not; but with voice serene and strong he sang
of the day when right shall triumph over might, when truth shall trample
error in the dust, and the reign of Zeus give place to that of a nobler
monarch just and perfect in all his ways.

"Thus years upon years passed, and ages circled by, until thirteen
generations of men had lived and died upon the earth.  Then came
Heracles, the descendant of Io, to purge the world of vile monsters, and
to give freedom to those who were in bonds.  And as he wandered from
land to land, to do the bidding of his master Eurystheus, he passed
through Ethiopia, and came to the region of the Caucasus, close by the
eastern Ocean’s stream.  There, as he gazed upward at the everlasting
peaks, he saw the great Titan fettered to the naked rock, while the
eagles circled about him, and the grim vulture digged its talons into
his flesh; and Heracles knew that this was Prometheus the ancient, the
friend of the human race and the foe of tyrants.  He drew his bow, and
with his unerring arrows slew the eagles and the vulture; and then, with
mighty blows of his club, he broke the chains which Hephaestus of old
had wrought, and with his strong hands he loosed the long-suffering
prisoner from his fetters.  And the earth rejoiced; and men everywhere
sang pæans of triumph, because freedom had been given to him who raised
them from the dust, and endowed them with the light of reason and the
fire of god-like intelligence."

This was the tale which Menelaus told to a company of eager listeners
seated about him, in the prow of the swift-sailing vessel.

"Now you should know," he added, "that every lover of freedom in Hellas
is in truth a child of Prometheus.  And so when Apollo, through his
oracle, bade me fetch from Ilios the bones of the old Titan’s children,
I understood that I was to gather the dust of all the Hellenes who have
died in the Trojan land, and carry it to Lacedæmon for honored burial.
And such is the errand upon which we are sailing to-day."

"But why is it said that every Hellene is a child of Prometheus?" asked
the captain.  "Is it simply because he is a lover of freedom and a hater
of tyrants, as the old Titan was?  Or is there a real line of kinship
reaching from us up to him?"

"I will tell you," answered the king.  "While Prometheus hung fettered
to the bleak crag of Caucasus, and in grim patience bided the day of
deliverance, his son Deucalion tilled the plains of Phthia, and gathered
the ripe fruits on its sunny hills.  And he dwelt in peace with all men,
cherishing in his heart the words which his father had spoken to him in
former times.  But the world was full of wickedness, and there was
violence and bloodshed everywhere; and men no longer had respect for the
gods, or love for one another.  ’We are a law unto ourselves,’ they
cried.  ’Why then should any one obey the behests of a master whom he
has not seen?’  And they went on eating and drinking and making merry,
and gave no thanks to the giver of every good.

"At length, when their wickedness waxed so great that it was past all
bearing, Zeus spoke the word, and a mighty flood burst upon the land.
The west wind came sweeping in from the great sea, bringing in its arms
dark clouds laden with rain.  And when Deucalion saw the veil of
darkness covering the sky, and heard the roar of the hurricane in the
valley below him, he called to Pyrrha, his golden-haired wife, and said,
’Surely, now, the day has come of which my father told me often,--the
day when floods of water shall come upon the earth to punish the
wickedness of men. Hasten into the ark which I have built, that, if so
be, we may save ourselves from the merciless waves.’

"And they made the ark ready, and put a great store of food in its broad
hold, and waited for the rising of the waters.  Nor was it long; for the
torrents gushed down from the hillsides and filled the valleys, and the
plains were covered over, and the forests sank from sight beneath the
waves.  But Deucalion and Pyrrha sat in the ark, and floated safely on
the bosom of the heaving waters.  Day after day they drifted hither and
thither, until at last the ark rested on the lofty peak of Parnassus.
Then Deucalion and Pyrrha stepped out upon the dry ground; the rain
ceased to fall, the clouds were scattered, and the waters fled down the
valleys and hastened to the sea; but all the people of Hellas, save only
Deucalion and Pyrrha, had perished in the flood.  And feeling their
loneliness in the midst of the ruin and death which had come upon the
land, these two built an altar to the gods, and offered thanks for their
deliverance.  Then Zeus sent Hermes, the bright messenger, to speak
words of comfort to them.

"’Among all the folk of this land,’ he said, ’you alone have lived
blameless lives, and with your clean hands and pure hearts have pleased
the immortals.  Ask now what you most desire, and it shall be given to

"Then Deucalion wept as he bowed before the messenger.  ’Grant that we
may see the earth teeming again with busy men,’ he said.

"’It shall be as you wish,’answered Hermes.  ’As you go down the
mountain into the plain, cover your faces with your mantles, and throw
the bones of your mother behind you.’

"Then the messenger left them, and they wondered between themselves what
was the meaning of his words.

"’Who is our mother?’ asked Pyrrha.

"’Is not the earth the mother of us all?’ then answered Deucalion.  ’His
meaning is plain enough now.’

"So, as they went down Parnassus, they took up stones, and threw them
behind them.  And the stones which Deucalion threw sprang up and were
mighty armed men; and those which Pyrrha threw became fair women.  Thus
the hills and the valleys were peopled anew; and the earth smiled and
was glad that a new and happier day had dawned.

"But Deucalion went with Pyrrha into Locris; and there he built the city
of Opus, where he reigned king for many years; and there sons and
daughters, noble and beautiful, were born; but the noblest was Hellen,
from whom the Hellenes are descended, and our country of Hellas takes
its name.

"Do you understand now how every one of us can claim to be a son of
great Prometheus?"

                          _*ADVENTURE XVII.*_

                           *A CAUSE OF WAR.*

Time passed.

Menelaus had returned from Ilios, bringing with him the bones of his
countrymen who had died in that distant land.  The great plague had been
stayed, for the anger of Apollo had been assuaged.  And it had seemed
for a time that the old days of peace and plenty had come again to
Lacedæmon, never to depart.

Yet within a few weeks all was changed once more. There was silence in
the golden halls of Menelaus, and guests sat no longer as of yore around
the banquet tables.  Anger and grief and uneasiness were plainly seen in
every face.  Men gathered in the streets, and talked in wild, excited
tones about the strange things which had lately happened in Lacedæmon;
and the words "Helen," and "Paris," and "Troy," and "Ilios" seemed to be
on every tongue, and repeated with every sign of love and hatred, of
admiration and anxiety.

"Our good king, by his visit to Ilios, lifted the scourge of pestilence
and famine from our land," said one of the elders of the city; "but he
brought to our shores a greater evil,--even Paris, the handsome prince
of Troy.  And now the glory of our country, the sun which delighted all
hearts, the peerless Helen, has been stolen by the perfidious one, and
carried to his home beyond the sea."

"And do you think there will be war?" asked a long-haired soldier,
toying with the short dagger in his belt.

"How can it be otherwise?" answered the elder. "When Menelaus won
peerless Helen for his wife, the noblest princes of Hellas promised with
solemn oaths that they would aid him against any one who should try
either by guile or by force to take her from him.  Let the word be
carried from city to city, and all Hellas will soon be in arms.  The
king, with his brother Agamemnon, has even now crossed over to Pylos to
take counsel with old Nestor, the wisest of men.  When he comes back to
Lacedæmon, you may expect to see the watch-fires blazing on the

"No sight would be more welcome," answered the soldier.

"None, indeed, save only the towers and palaces of Troy in flames!"
returned the other earnestly.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Meanwhile, with troubled brow and anxious heart, Menelaus sat in
Nestor’s halls, and told the story of his wrongs.  Before him, seated on
a fair embroidered couch, was the aged king, listening with eager ears.
Behind him stood his brother Agamemnon, tall and strong, and with eye
and forehead like mighty Zeus. Close by his feet two heroes sat: on this
side, Antilochus, the valiant son of Nestor; and on that, sage
Palamedes, prince of Eubœa’s distant shores.  The last had just arrived
at Pylos, and had not learned the errand which had brought the king of
Lacedæmon thither.

"Tell again the story of your visit to Troy," said Nestor.  "Our guest,
good Palamedes, would fain understand it all; and I doubt not that he
may be of service to your cause."

Then Menelaus began once more at the beginning,--

"There is no need that I should speak of the long voyage to Ilios, or of
the causes which persuaded me to undertake it.  When I drew near the
lofty citadels of Troy, and through the Scæan gates could see the rows
of stately dwellings and Athené’s marble temple, and the busy
market-place of that great city, I stopped there in wonder, fearing to
venture farther.  Then I sent a herald to the gates, who should make
known my name and lineage, and the errand upon which I had come; but I
waited without in the shade of a spreading beech, not far from the
towering wall.  Before me stood the mighty city; behind me the fertile
plain sloped gently to the sea; in the distance I could see the tomb of
Ilus and the sparkling waters of Scamander; while much farther, and on
the other side, the wooded peak of Ida lifted itself toward the clouds.
But I had not long to view this scene; for a noble company of men led by
Paris himself, handsome as Apollo, came out of the gates to welcome me.
With words of kind greeting from the king, they bade me enter within the
walls.  They led me through the Scæan gates and along the well-paved
streets, until we came, at last, to Priam’s noble hall.  It was a
splendid house, with broad doorways and polished porticos, and marble
columns richly carved.  Within were fifty chambers, joining one another,
all walled with polished stone; in these abode the fifty sons of Priam
with their wedded wives.  On the other side, and opening into the court,
were twelve chambers, built for his daughters; while over all were the
sleeping-rooms for that noble household, and around were galleries and
stairways leading to the king’s great hall below.

"King Priam received me kindly, and, when he understood my errand, left
naught undone to help me forward with my wishes.  Ten days I abode as a
guest in his halls, and when I would return to Lacedæmon he pressed me
to tarry yet a month in Troy.  But the winds were fair, and the oracles
promised a pleasant voyage, and I begged that on the twelfth day he
would let me depart.  So he and his sons brought many gifts, rich and
beautiful, and laid them at my feet,--a fair mantle, and a doublet, and
a talent of fine gold, and a sword with a silver-studded hilt, and a
drinking-cup richly engraved that I might remember them when I pour
libations to the gods.

"’Take these gifts,’ said Priam, ’as tokens of our friendship for you,
and not only for you, but for all who dwell in distant Hellas.  For we
too are the children of the immortals.  Our mighty ancestor, Dardanus,
was the son of Zeus.  He it was who built Dardania on the slopes of Ida,
where the waters gush in many silvery streams from underneath the rocky
earth.  To Dardanus a son was born named Erichthonius, who, in his time,
was the richest of mortal men.  And Erichthonius was the father of Tros,
to whom were born three noble sons, Ilus, Assaracus, and Ganymedes. The
last was the handsomest of men, and for his beauty’s sake the gods
carried him to Ida’s sacred summit to be the cup-bearer of Father Zeus
and the companion of the immortals.  Then Ilus had a son, famous in song
and story, named Laomedon, who in his old age became my father.  He,
though my sire, did many unwise things, and brought sore distress upon
the people of this land.

"’One day Apollo and Poseidon came to sacred Troy, disguised as humble
wayfarers seeking some employment. This they did because so ordered by
mighty Zeus.

"’"What can you do?" asked my father, when the two had told their

"’Poseidon answered, "I am a builder of walls."

"’And Apollo answered, "I am a shepherd, and a tender of herds."

"’"It is well," answered Laomedon.  "The wall-builder shall build a wall
around this Troy so high and strong that no enemy can pass it.  The
shepherd shall tend my herds of crook-horned kine in the wooded glens of
Ida.  If at the end of a twelvemonth, the wall be built, and if the
cattle thrive without loss of one, then I will pay you your hire: a
talent of gold, two tripods of silver, rich robes, and armor such as
heroes wear."

"’So the shining archer, and the shaker of the earth, served my father
through the year for the hire which he had promised.  Poseidon built a
wall, high and fair, around the city; and Apollo tended the shambling
kine, and lost not one.  But when they claimed their hire, Laomedon
drove them away with threats, telling them that he would bind their feet
and hands together, and sell them as slaves into some distant land,
having first sheared off their ears with his sharp sword.  And the twain
went away with angry hearts, planning in their minds how they might
avenge themselves.

"’Back to his watery kingdom, and his golden palace beneath the sea,
went great Poseidon.  He harnessed his steeds to his chariot, and rode
forth upon the waves. He loosed the mighty winds from their
prison-house, and sent them raging over the sea.  The angry waters
rushed in upon the land; they covered the pastures and the rich plain of
Troy, and threatened even to beat down the mighty walls which their king
had built. Then, little by little, the flood shrank back again; and the
people went out of the city to see the waste of slime and black mud
which covered their meadows.  While they were gazing upon the scene, a
fearful monster, sent by angry Poseidon, came up out of the sea, and
fell upon them, and drove them with hideous slaughter back to the city
gates; neither would he allow any one to come outside of the walls.

"’Then my father, in his great distress, clad himself in mourning, and
went in deep humility to the temple of Athené, where stands the
heaven-sent statue which we call Palladion.  In sore distress, he called
unto the goddess, and besought to know the means whereby the anger of
Poseidon might be assuaged.  And in solemn tones a voice came from the
moveless lips of the Palladion, saying,--

"’"Every day one of the maidens of Troy must be fed to the monster
outside of the walls.  The shaker of the earth has spoken.  Disobey him
not, lest more cruel punishments befall thee."

"’Then in every house of Troy there was sore distress and lamentation,
for no one knew upon whom the doom would soonest fall.  And every day a
hapless maiden, young and fair, was chained to the great rock by the
shore, and left there to be the food of the pitiless monster.  And the
people cried aloud in their distress, and cursed the mighty walls and
the high towers which had been reared by the unpaid labors of Poseidon;
and my father sat upon his high seat, and trembled because of the dire
calamities which his own deeds had brought upon his people.

"’At last, after many humbler victims had perished, the lot fell upon
the fairest of my sisters, Hesione, my father’s best-loved daughter.  In
sorrow we arrayed her in garments befitting one doomed to an untimely
death; and when we had bidden her a last farewell, we gave her to the
heralds to lead forth to the place of sacrifice. Just then, however, a
noble stranger, taller and more stately than any man in Troy, came down
the street from the Scæan gate.  Fair-haired and blue-eyed, handsome and
strong, he seemed a very god to all who looked upon him.  Over his
shoulder he wore the tawny skin of a mighty lion, while in his hand he
carried a club most wonderful to behold.  And the people, as he passed,
prayed him that he would free our city from the dread monster who was
robbing us of our fair loved ones.

"’"I know that thou art a god!" cried my father, when he saw the
stranger.  "I pray thee, save my daughter, who even now is being led
forth to a cruel death!"

"’"You make mistake," answered the fair stranger. "I am not one of the
gods.  My name is Heracles, and like you I am mortal.  Yet I may help
you in this your time of need."

"’Now, in my father’s stables there were twelve fair steeds, the best
that the earth ever knew.  So light of foot were they, that when they
bounded over the land, they might run upon the topmost ears of ripened
corn, and break them not; and when they bounded over the sea, not even
Poseidon’s steeds could glide so lightly upon the crests of the waves.
Some say they were the steeds of Boreas given to my grandfather Tros, by
his sire Erichthonius; others, that they were the price which Zeus paid
for godlike Ganymedes, most beautiful of men.  These steeds, my father
promised to give to Heracles if he would save Hesione.

"’Then the heralds led my fair sister to the shore, and chained her to
the rock, there to wait for the coming of the monster.  But Heracles
stood near her, fearless in his strength.  Soon the waves began to rise;
the waters were disturbed, and the great beast, with hoarse bellowings,
lifted his head above the breakers, and rushed forward to seize his fair
prey. Then the hero sprang to meet him.  With blow upon blow from his
mighty club, he felled the monster; the waters of the sea were reddened
with blood; Hesione was saved, and Troy was freed from the dreadful

"’"Behold thy daughter!" said Heracles, leading her gently back to the
Scæan gate, and giving her to her father.  "I have saved her from the
jaws of death, and delivered your country from the dread scourge.  Give
me now my hire.’

"’Shame fills my heart as I tell this story, for thanklessness was the
bane of my father’s life.  Ungrateful to the hero who had risked so much
and done so much that our homes and our country might be saved from
ruin, he turned coldly away from Heracles; then he shut the great gates
in his face, and barred him out of the city, and taunted him from the
walls, saying, "I owe thee no hire!  Begone from our coasts, ere I
scourge thee hence!"

"’Full of wrath, the hero turned away.  "I go, but I will come again,"
he said.

"’Then peace and plenty blessed once more the land of Ilios, and men
forgot the perils from which they had been delivered.  But ere long,
great Heracles returned, as he had promised; and with him came a mighty
fleet of white-sailed ships and many warriors. Neither gates nor strong
walls could stand against him. Into the city he marched, and straight to
my father’s palace.  All fled before him, and the strongest warriors
quailed beneath his glance.  Here, in this very court, he slew my father
and my brothers with his terrible arrows.  I myself would have fallen
before his wrath, had not my sister, fair Hesione, pleaded for my life.

"’"I spare his life," said Heracles, in answer to her prayers, "for he
is but a lad.  Yet he must be my slave until you have paid a price for
him, and thus redeemed him."

"’Then Hesione took the golden veil from her head, and gave it to the
hero as my purchase price.  And thenceforward I was called Priam, or the
purchased; for the name which my mother gave me was Podarkes, or the

"After this, Heracles and his heroes went on board their ships and
sailed back across the sea, leaving me alone in my father’s halls.  For
they took fair Hesione with them, and carried her to Salamis, to be the
wife of Telamon, the sire of mighty Ajax.  There, through these long
years she has lived in sorrow, far removed from home and friends and the
scenes of her happy childhood.  And now that the hero Telamon, to whom
she was wedded, lives no longer, I ween that her life is indeed a
cheerless one.’

"When Priam had finished his tale, he drew his seat still nearer mine,
and looked into my face with anxious, beseeching eyes.  Then he said, ’I
have long wished to send a ship across the sea to bring my sister back
to Troy.  A dark-prowed vessel, built for speed and safety, lies now at
anchor in the harbor, and a picked crew is ready to embark at any
moment.  And here is my son Paris, handsome and brave, who is anxious to
make voyage to Salamis, to seek unhappy Hesione.  Yet our seamen, having
never ventured far from home, know nothing of the dangers of the deep,
nor do they feel sure that they can find their way to Hellas.  And so we
have a favor to ask of you; and that is, that when your ship sails
to-morrow, ours may follow in its wake across the sea.’

"I was glad when Priam spoke these words, for, in truth, I was loath to
part with Paris; and I arranged at once that he should bear me company
in my own swift ship, while his vessel with its crew followed not far

"And so with favoring winds being blessed, we made a quick voyage back
to Lacedæmon, bringing with us the bones of my beloved countrymen.  What
followed is too sad for lengthy mention, and is in part already known to
you.  Need I tell you how I opened my halls to Paris, and left no act of
courtesy undone that I might make him happy?  Need I tell you how he was
welcomed by fair Helen, and how the summer days fled by on golden wings;
and how in the delights of Lacedæmon he forgot his errand to Salamis,
and cared only to remain with me, my honored guest and trusted friend?
One day a message came to me from my old friend Idomeneus.  He had
planned a hunt among the mountains and wooded vales of Crete, and he
invited me to join him in the sport.  I had not seen Idomeneus since the
time that we together, in friendly contention, sought the hand of Helen.
I could not do otherwise than accept his invitation, for he had sent his
own ship to carry me over to Crete.  So I bade farewell to Helen,
saying, ’Let not our noble guest lack entertainment while I am gone; and
may the golden hours glide happily until I come again.’  And to Paris I
said, ’Tarry another moon in Lacedæmon; and when I return from Crete, I
will go with you to Salamis, and aid you in your search for Hesione.’
Then I went on board the waiting ship, and prospering breezes carried us
without delays to Crete.

"Idomeneus received me joyfully, and entertained me most royally in his
palace; and for nine days we feasted in his halls, and made all things
ready for the hunt. But, lo! on the evening of the last day, a vision
came to me.  Gold-winged Iris, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods,
stood before me.  ’Hasten back to Lacedæmon,’ she cried, ’for thou art
robbed of thy dearest treasure!’  And even while she spoke, one of my
own ships came sailing into the harbor, bringing trusted heralds whom
the elders of Lacedæmon had sent to me.  They told me the fatal news.
’No sooner were you well on your way,’ they said, ’than Paris began to
put his ship in readiness to depart.  Helen prayed him to tarry until
your return, but he would not hearken. "I will stay no longer," he said.
"My seamen rest upon their oars; the sails of my ship are spread; the
breeze will soon spring up that will carry me to my own fair home across
the sea.  But you, beauteous Helen, shall go with me; for the deathless
gods have spoken it.  Aphrodite, long ago, promised that the most
beautiful woman in the world should be my wife.  And who is that most
beautiful woman if it is not yourself? Come! fly over the sea, and be my
queen.  It is the will of the gods."’

"It was thus that the perfidious Trojan wrought the ruin of all that was
dear to me.  At first, Helen refused. But Paris is a handsome prince,
and day after day he renewed his suit.  Then on the sixth day she
yielded. In the darkness of the night they went on board his waiting
vessel, carrying with them the gold and jewels of my treasure-house; and
in the morning, when the sun arose on Lacedæmon, they were far out at

"You know the rest: how in wrath and great sorrow I hurried home from
Crete; how I first counselled with my own elders, and then with my
brother Agamemnon of Mycenæ.  And now, O noble Nestor, we have come to
Pylos, seeking thy advice.  On these two things my mind is set: Helen
must be mine again, and Paris must suffer the punishment due to

When Menelaus had ended, sage Nestor answered with many words of
counsel.  "Keep the thought of vengeance ever before you," he said.
"Yet act not rashly.  The power of Troy is very great; and, in case of
war, all the tribes of Asia will make common cause with Ilios.  But an
insult to Lacedæmon is an insult to all Hellas, and every loyal Hellene
will hasten to avenge it.  More than this, the chiefs of almost every
state have already sworn to aid you.  We have but to call upon them, and
remind them of their oaths, and all the mightiest warriors of our land
will take up arms against the power of Troy."

Then Palamedes spoke in like manner, and his words had great weight with
Menelaus; for among all the heroes there were few who equalled him in
wisdom. He it was who first built beacon fires on the headlands, and
lighthouses to warn venturous seamen of the hidden dangers in their way;
he it was who first invented scales for weighing, and who taught men how
to measure grain and wine by certain standards; he it was who first made
dice, and who showed what beauty and mystery lie hidden in the letters
which Cadmus brought from Phoenicia to Hellas.  And he was wise in
statecraft and the knowledge of human nature.

"Nestor has spoken well," he said, addressing Menelaus, "and it behooves
us to follow his advice.  Now do you and Agamemnon return at once to
Argos and Lacedæmon, and call upon the fighting men along the eastern
coast to join you in the war.  In the mean while, Nestor and myself will
do the same, here on the western coast and among the islands of the

"By the way," said Nestor, "there is Odysseus, king of Ithaca,--the
rarest and bravest of men.  Did he but know of this affair, he would be
a host within himself, to lead us to sure victory."

"That is true," said Palamedes, "and we must seek his aid first.  My
ship lies now at anchor, just off the beach; and if noble Nestor will be
my comrade, we will sail to-morrow to Ithaca, and make sure of his
valued aid."

"Most surely I will go with you," said old Nestor. "And I will never
rest nor give up the fight, until Helen is returned to Menelaus, and
Paris has received his due reward."

                          _*ADVENTURE XVIII.*_

                          *AN UNWILLING HERO.*

In the shade of the orchard trees, at the foot of Mount Neritus, there
was gathered, one afternoon, a happy family party.  The chief figure in
the group was white-haired Laertes, in his gardener’s garb, picking some
ripe fruit from the overloaded branches.  At his right stood Anticleia,
as queenly beautiful as when her hero-husband had won her in the halls
of old Autolycus.  At his left was Penelope, her sweet face beaming with
smiles; while on the ground beside her sat Odysseus, gently dandling in
his arms the babe Telemachus, and laughing at the budding wisdom of the

"Some men wander the wide world over, seeking for empty glory," said he,
turning towards Penelope.  "But I would rather have my pleasant home,
and live amid its never-failing delights, than share the honors even of
great Heracles."

At this moment, Phemius the bard was seen coming in haste from the
palace.  "What news, Phemius?" asked Odysseus.  "Hast thou finished that
new song of thine?  And dost thou hasten thus to sing it to us before
some part of it shall go out of thy mind?"

"Nay, master," answered the bard, speaking in anxious tones.  "I have
come to tell you that there are guests waiting in the hall.  Famous men
they are,--even Nestor, king of Pylos, and shrewd Palamedes of Eubœa.
And they bring wonderful news,--news of that which will, perchance, fill
our land with sadness."

"Tell me what it is," said Odysseus.

Then the bard told the story of Paris and Helen, as he had learned it
briefly from Palamedes; and he explained the errand of the hero-guests
which they had thoughtlessly imparted to him.  Odysseus looked at his
smiling babe, and at his fair wife, and his loved mother, and his
honored father; and his brow darkened as he shook his head, and said,
"Why should I risk so much, and, joining in this war, leave all that is
dear to me on earth, simply for the sake of Menelaus and his misguided

Then, after a moment’s thought, he added, "I will not go.  Tell Nestor
and Palamedes that I am mad, and cannot go."

All at once a great change seemed to come over him. He put the babe into
its nurse’s arms; and then with long strides, and in the aimless manner
of a maniac, he made his way across the orchard, and along the footpath
by the beach to the white palace near the shore. When his old friends,
Nestor and Palamedes, saw him, they hastened towards him, expecting to
receive his greeting; but with unmeaning words, and a vacant stare, he
passed by them without a word of recognition. "He is mad," said the
frightened servants, as they fled before him.

"Yes, he is mad, and knows not where he is nor what he does," said
Phemius, hastily rejoining the guests.  "When I went out to find him
just now, he was wandering among the fruit trees, picking the green
fruit, and roaring like a wild beast.  The gods have taken his reason
from him."

"How sad that so great a mind should be thus clouded!" answered Nestor,
with a sigh.  "And at this time it is doubly sad for us and for all who
love him, for we had counted on great things from shrewd Odysseus.
Surely some unfriendly god has done this thing with intent to harm all

"Do not judge hastily," whispered Palamedes.  "We shall find out from
whence this madness comes."


Soon Odysseus rushed from his chamber, looking wildly about him, as if
the very Furies were at his heels.  He was dressed in his richest
garments, and on his shoulder he carried a bag of salt.  Without
speaking to any one, he made his way to the stables, where, with his own
hands, he harnessed a mule and a cow, and yoked them side by side to a
plough.  Then he drove his strange team down to the beach, and began to
plough long, deep furrows in the sand.  By and by he opened the bag of
salt, and strewed the white grains here and there, as though he were
sowing seed.  This strange work he continued until the daylight faded
into darkness, and all the people were fain to seek rest under their
home-roofs.  Then he drove his team back to the stables, unyoked the
beasts and fed them, and hurried silently to his chamber.

The next morning, as soon as the dawn appeared, he was seen ploughing
the sandy beach as before.

"I will see whether there be any reason in his madness," said Palamedes
to Nestor.

It chanced at that moment, that Eurycleia the nurse was passing by with
little Telemachus in her arms. Without another word, Palamedes lifted
the babe, and laid it smiling in the last furrow that Odysseus had made,
so that on his next round the team would trample upon it.  As Odysseus
drew near, urging forward the mule and the cow, with many cries and
maniacal gestures, he saw the helpless babe.  The sight of its danger
made him forget himself and his assumed madness; he turned his team
aside, and running forward seized Telemachus, and, kissing his laughing
lips, handed him, with every show of gentleness, to the good nurse.

"Ha, Odysseus!" cried Palamedes.  "Thou canst not deceive us.  Thou art
no more mad than I am. Cease now that boyish play, and come and talk
with us as becometh a hero."

Then Odysseus, seeing that he had been fairly outwitted by one as shrewd
as himself, knew that further pretence of madness would avail him
nothing.  For a single moment his brow was clouded with anger, and he
whispered hoarsely to Palamedes, "You shall have your reward for
this!"[1]  Then, leaving his plough and his ill-matched team upon the
beach, he took his two guests kindly by the hand, and led them into his
palace.  A great feast was spread upon the tables, and the morning was
spent in eating and merry-making, and not a word was said concerning the
great business which had brought the kings to Ithaca.

[1] See Note 13 at the end of this volume.

Later in the day, however, Nestor told Odysseus the story of the perfidy
of Paris.  Then Palamedes followed with a speech so clear, so forcible,
that the hearts of all who heard it were stirred to their very depths;
and Odysseus, rising from his seat, renewed the vow which he had made
when Menelaus won fair Helen for his bride.  And from that time to the
very end, there was not a man among all the Hellenes, who threw himself
more earnestly into the work than did Odysseus.

For seven days Nestor and Palamedes tarried at Ithaca, talking with
Odysseus, and making plans for the war against Troy.  On the eighth day,
the three heroes embarked for the mainland; and for months they
journeyed from country to country, and from city to city, reminding the
princes of their vows, and stirring all Hellas into a flame.  Soon the
watch-fires were kindled on every mountain-top; and every warrior in the
land made haste to see that his arms were in order, and every seaman to
put his ship to rights.  And Ares, the mighty god of battle, brandished
his sword above the sea; dread comets blazed red in mid-heaven;
glittering stars fell to the earth, or shot gleaming athwart the sky.
Sounds of warlike preparation were heard, not only in the dwellings of
men, but even in the halls of Zeus, upon the airy summit of Olympus.

                           _*ADVENTURE XIX.*_

                       *HEROES IN STRANGE GARB.*

There dwelt at Mycenæ a wise soothsayer, named Calchas,--a man versed in
all the lore of earth and sky, and holding some sort of communion with
the immortals.  He could lift the veil of the future, and see what to
other men lay hidden in the darkness; and next to the Pythian oracle at
Delphi, or the talking oak of Dodona, he was held in high repute as
knowing the counsels of the gods.  When all the great chiefs sat one day
in Agamemnon’s hall, and talked of their warriors and their ships and
their arms, and boasted of their readiness to sail at once for Ilios,
the old soothsayer came and stood before them.  His white locks streamed
in flowing waves about his shoulders; his gray eyes gleamed with a
strange, wild light; he moved his long arms to and fro above his head,
and pointed with his thin fingers first towards the sky, and then
towards the sea.

"Hearken ye to the seer," said Menelaus; "he has had a vision, and
perchance he can tell us how we shall fare in this great business which
we have undertaken."

Then Calchas spoke and said, "Verily I know not any thing of this
matter, save by the gift of soothsaying which the far-darting Apollo has
bestowed upon me.  Yet when I inquired of him, this answer did he give:
’Let the long-haired Hellenes make war upon Troy.  They shall not
prevail against that city unless Achilles, the dear son of Thetis, lead
them.’  Send now for him, and enlist him in your cause; for otherwise
you shall fail, and the Trojans shall boast of your ruin!"

Having said these words, the seer strode from the hall, leaving the hero
chiefs alone.  For a time they sat in silence, each pondering the matter
in his own mind. Then Agamemnon spoke, and his words were full of anger
and unbelief.  "Never yet," said he, "did Calchas prophesy any thing but
ill.  He sees naught but evil; and when we feel most sure of success,
then it is the joy of his heart to foretell failure.  Now, after the
gods have thus far favored us, and when all things are in readiness for
the gathering together of our forces, this woful soothsayer comes to
tell us that without Achilles we shall fail.  For my part, I care little
for his words, and am willing to run all risks."

"Say not so," quickly answered Odysseus.  "The old man speaks as Apollo
gives him utterance; and no man shall dare put his judgment in the
scales against the foreknowledge of the gods.  Let us seek Achilles at
once, and persuade him to join us in our league against Ilios."

"But who shall find him?" asked Menelaus.  "Two months ago, I was in
Iolcos by the sea, whither I had gone to see old Peleus.  I found that
that aged king dwelt no longer in the ancient city, but had removed into
his own country of Phthia, and there abode among his Myrmidons.  Into
Phthia, therefore, I went, hoping to find Achilles also there.  But old
Peleus wept when I asked about his son.  ’In truth, I know not where the
young man is,’ he said, in answer to my questions.  ’For when the news
was noised about, that the chiefs of Hellas were planning war upon Troy,
then silver-footed Thetis carried her son into some distant, unknown
land, and hid him there.  For the Fates have declared the doom of
Achilles, that his days on earth shall be few but glorious; and his
mother feared, that, should he join in the great war, he would meet an
untimely death.  Thus, then, it is that I am bereft already of my only
son; for I know not whether I shall ever again behold him.’  In this
manner Peleus, the lord of horses, bewailed the absence of his son.  And
though in every city I sought news concerning the whereabouts of the
young hero, I could learn nothing whatever.  Even Patroclus, his bosom
friend and comrade, wept for him as for one dead.  I do not believe that
he can be found in Hellas."

Then Nestor the wise arose and spoke.  "It does not become us," he said,
"to doubt or dispute the words of Calchas the seer.  Therefore we must
find Achilles, and win him to our cause; or, laying aside all thought of
war, we must humbly surrender to Paris the noblest treasure of our
country, even beauteous Helen."

"Achilles can be found," said Odysseus.  "I myself will seek him, and
the moon shall not wane thrice ere I shall have found him.  Let the best
ship in Argos be put in readiness at once; and let a crew of the most
skilful oarsmen be chosen, and a good store of food be put into the
hold.  I will embark to-morrow, and you shall see me no more until I
bring good news of Thetis’s godlike son."

So then Odysseus set sail on a long, uncertain voyage to the islands of
the sea, in search of the hidden hero.  Vainly did he visit Cythera, the
lofty isle where Aphrodite first rose in all her beauty from the salt
sea-foam; he touched at Melos, rich in corn and wine; he skirted Paros,
known to all the world for its figs and its spotless marble; he stopped
for a month at sacred Delos, the birthplace of Apollo; he explored
well-watered Ophiussa, where serpents curse the ground, and grapes grow
purple on the climbing vines; he sought long time in Andros among the
groves and in the temple sacred to ruddy-faced Dionysus: yet in none of
these lands heard he any news of the godlike son of Peleus.  Weary of
their long and fruitless voyage, the comrades of Odysseus murmured
sorely, and besought him to return to Mycenæ, and give up the search.
But he turned a deaf ear to their pleadings, and sailed away to Scyros,
where old Lycomedes reigned.  For the bright-eyed goddess Athené had
whispered to him in a dream, and told him that in the court of Lycomedes
he would find the hero for whom he sought.

In a narrow inlet, hidden by trees and tall reeds, the ship was moored,
while shrewd Odysseus went alone and unheralded to the palace of the
king.  He had laid aside his warrior’s gear, and was now attired in the
guise of a wandering peddler, and loaded with a heavy pack of precious
wares.  And lo! as he neared the high-built halls of Lycomedes, he came
to a spacious garden just outside of the courtyard, and hard by the
lofty gate. A green hedge ran round it on four sides, while within grew
many tall trees laden with fruits and blossoms,--pear trees,
pomegranates, apple trees, and olives.  So well cared for were these
trees, that they yielded fruit in every season of the year, nor ever
failed, even in winter time.  Beyond these, all manner of garden beds
were planted, where flowers bloomed in never-ending freshness,--the dewy
lotus, the crocus flower, the pale hyacinth, violets, asphodels, and
fair lilies.  And in their midst, two springs of never-failing water
gushed: one of them watered the garden and the fields beyond; the other
ran close by the threshold of the palace, and bubbled up in the
market-square, where all the people came to fill their vessels.[1]

[1] See Note 14 at the end of this volume.

As Odysseus stood and gazed in rapt delight upon this scene of beauty, a
party of happy maidens came through the courtyard, and stopped in the
garden to pluck the fruits and flowers.  Then on the open lawn, they
fell to playing ball; and one among them sang a lightsome song as they
tossed the missile to and fro, or danced with happy feet upon the
smooth-mown sward. When they saw Odysseus standing in the path, they
stopped their game, and stood silent in their places, scarce knowing
whether to advance and greet the stranger kindly, or in girlish
timidness to flee into the palace.  The hero opened then his peddler’s
pack, and held up to their delighted gaze a golden necklace set with
amber beads.  No further thought of flight had the maidens now.  With
eager yet hesitating feet, they came crowding around him, anxious to see
what other thing of beauty he had brought with him.  One by one, he
showed them all his treasures,--ear-rings, bracelets of finest
workmanship, clasps, buckles, headbands, and golden hair-pins.  These
they took in their hands, and, passing them from one to another, eagerly
debated the price.  One only of the company, taller and nobler than the
others, stood aloof, and seemed to care nothing for the rich and
handsome ornaments.  Odysseus noticed this, but shrewdly kept his
counsels to himself.

"A merchant like myself," said he, "must needs have goods for all,--for
the young as well as for the old, for the grave as well as for the gay,
for the hero as well as for the lady.  It is his duty no less than his
delight to please."

With these words he laid before the maidens a sword with hilt most
deftly carved, a dagger with long keen blade, and a helmet thickly
inlaid with precious gems.  The one who had not cared to look at the
trinkets now started quickly as if a trumpet had blown; she took up the
sword, and handled it like a warrior long used to weapons; she tested
the edge of the dagger, and sounded the strength of the helmet.
Odysseus had learned all that he wished to know.  He thought no more of
the ornaments,--the bracelets, the clasps, and the hair-pins,--but gave
them to the maidens for any price that they chose to offer.  When all
were pleased and satisfied, he turned to that one still toying with the
sword, and said sharply,--


Had an earthquake shaken the isle of Scyros at that moment, Achilles
would not have been more startled. For the tall, fair body, clad in a
maiden’s robes, was none other than that long-sought hero.

"Achilles," again said Odysseus, "I know thee, and it is useless to
struggle longer against thy destiny.  Put off that unbecoming garb, and
come with me.  Thy countrymen need thee to aid them in waging bitter war
against Troy."

Then he told to the listening hero the story of the great wrong which
Paris had done,--the unbearable insult which he had put upon the folk of
Hellas.  No man ever used words more persuasive.  When he had ended,
Achilles took him by the hand, and said, "Odysseus, truly do I know the
destiny which is mine, and it behooves no man to struggle long against
the doom which has been allotted to him.  For the gods ordain that man
should live in pain, while they themselves are sorrowless.  You have
heard it said, how on the threshold of Zeus there stand two caskets full
of gifts to men.  One casket holds the evil, and one the good; and to
whomsoever is dealt a mingled lot, upon him misfortunes sometimes fall,
and sometimes blessings. So it is with me and with my father’s house.
For upon Peleus were bestowed rich gifts, even from his birth, and he
excelled all other men in good fortune and in wealth; and he was king
over the Myrmidons; and to him was given a sea-nymph for a wife, even
Thetis, my goddess-mother.  Yet, with all the good, sorrow has come upon
him in his old age; for in his halls there are no kingly sons to gladden
his heart and hold up his hands.[2]  I am his only son, and of me it has
been written that I am doomed to an untimely death; and it was for this
that silver-footed Thetis brought me hither across the sea, and,
clothing me in maidenly attire, left me to serve in Lycomedes’ pleasant
halls. But I tire of life like this.  I would rather die to-morrow, a
hero in some grand struggle, than live a hundred years among these soft
delights.  I will sail with you at once for Phthia, where my father
sits, already bereaved, in his spacious halls.  There I will summon my
Myrmidons, and my best-loved friend Patroclus; and then with eager
hearts we will hasten to join our countrymen in war against the Trojan

[2] See Note 15 at the end of this volume.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Thus, then, did Odysseus perform his quest, and thus the last and
greatest ally was won to the Hellenic cause.  And yet the war was long
delayed.  Many times did the moon wax and wane; and seed-time and
harvest, and fruit-gathering, and the storms of winter, came again and
again in their turn,--and still the heroes were unready to join their
forces and enter upon the mighty struggle.

At length, however, after nearly ten years had passed, all the princes
and warriors of Hellas gathered their ships and men together at Aulis,
and along the shores of the Euripus.  A thousand dark-hulled vessels
were moored in the strait; and a hundred thousand brave men were on
board, ready to follow their leaders whithersoever they should order.

Chief of all that host was mighty Agamemnon, king of men, bearing the
sceptre of Mycenæ, which Hephaestus, long before, had wrought most
wondrously. He was clad in flashing armor, and his mind was filled with
overweening pride when he thought how high he stood among the warriors,
and that his men were the goodliest and bravest of all that host.

Next to him was Menelaus, silent and discreet, by no means skilled above
his fellows, and yet, by reason of his noble heart, beloved and honored
by all the Greeks; and it was to avenge his wrongs that this mighty
array of men and ships had been gathered together.

Odysseus came next, shrewd in counsels, and no longer an unwilling hero;
but, earnest and active, he moved among the men and ships, inspiring all
with zeal and courage.  He wore upon his shoulders a thick purple
mantle, clasped with a golden brooch of curious workmanship, which
Penelope had given to him as a parting gift.  Around his waist was a
shining tunic, soft and smooth, and bright as the sunshine.  With him,
wherever he went, was his herald and armor-bearer, Eurybates,--a
hunchbacked, brown-skinned, curly-haired man, whom Odysseus held in high
esteem because of his rare good sense.

There, also, was young Achilles, tall and handsome, and swift of foot.
His long hair fell about his shoulders like a shower of gold, and his
gray eyes gleamed like those of the mountain eagle.  By the shore lay
his trim ships--fifty in all--with thousands of gallant Myrmidons on
board.  And ever at his side was his bosom friend and comrade,
Patroclus, the son of Menoitios. He it was to whom old Peleus had said
when they were about embarking for Aulis, "Thou art older than my child
Achilles, but he is nobler born and mightier far in warlike deeds.  But
thou art wise and prudent; therefore, do thou speak gentle words of
warning to him, and show him what is best to do: he will hearken to thy
words spoken for his good."

There also was Ajax, the valiant son of Telamon, huge in body and slow
in speech, but, next to Achilles, the bravest of all the host.  And the
other Ajax, clad in his linen corslet, and master of forty ships from
Locris, moved also among the mightiest of the heroes. There, too, was
Nestor, the aged king of Pylos, rich in wisdom and experience, and
skilled in persuasive speech.  With him was his son Antilochus, the
quondam suitor of fair Helen, a warrior worthy of such a sire.

And there was Idomeneus, the stalwart chief who ruled the hundred cities
of Crete, and was the sworn friend of Menelaus.  And there was
Philoctetes, the cunning archer, carrying the great bow which had been
given him for his last sad act of friendship to his master, Heracles.
And there was Diomede, of the loud war-cry, wearing the skin of a great
fiery lion round his shoulders, and marshalling the warriors who had
come with him from Argos, and Tiryns of the mighty walls.  And there,
too, among so many others of far greater worth, was Nireus of Syma, his
well-oiled locks as neatly curled, and his linen as spotlessly white, as
when in youth he had sued for Helen’s hand in the court of old

Now when the day had come for the fleet to sail, the chiefs stood upon
the shore, and offered solemn sacrifices to Poseidon, and prayed the
gods to prosper them in their undertaking and bring them safe again to
their loved homes in Hellas.  While they were burning the choicest bits
of fat and flesh, behold, a strange thing happened!  From a crevice in
the rocks a shining serpent, with glittering cold eyes and forked
tongue, came creeping silently into the sunlight.  The heroes gazed upon
it with wonder in their faces, for they knew that it was sent as a sign
to them.  Not far away stood a plane-tree, green with foliage, in which
a bird had built her nest; and in the nest were nine tiny fledglings,
tenderly cared for by the mother bird.  Straight to this tree the
serpent crept; it twined around the trunk, and stealthily climbed to the
nest; it seized the helpless little ones in its fangs and devoured them;
then it darted upon the distressed mother bird, and destroyed her most
pitilessly.  But now a gleam of lightning flashed across the sky, and a
peal of thunder shook the earth and sea.  When the astonished chiefs
looked up again, behold, the serpent had been turned into stone.

"Call Calchas the seer, and let him tell us what this portends!" they

Then Calchas, his long hair streaming in the wind, his wild eyes rolling
in awe, his gaunt arms waving to and fro above his head, came and looked
upon the wonder.

"Ye men of Hellas!" he cried, "I will tell you what this portends.  As
there were nine birds in the nest, ye shall war nine years against Troy,
and shall not prevail; but, even as the serpent destroyed the mother
bird, so in the tenth year shall the city and its god-built walls fall
into your hands."

                           _*ADVENTURE XX.*_

                          *BECALMED AT AULIS.*

A pleasant wind from the west sprang up, and drove the great fleet out
into the sea.  Not a single one of the thousand ships was lost or left
behind; and after a quick and happy voyage, they came in sight of a
fruitful land and a great city with high towers and pleasant dwellings.

"The gods have favored us, even beyond what we asked!" cried the

Achilles and his Myrmidons landed first, and without waiting for the
other ships to come up, they rushed across the plain, and began an
assault upon the town. Like a swarm of locusts lighting down upon a
field of grain, and consuming every thing before them, so came the
destroying Hellenes.  The gates were broken down; the astonished people
fled in dismay, and sought safety among the hills and in the forest on
the other side of the town.  Not until many houses had been burned, and
many people slain, did Odysseus and Menelaus, whose ships had been
delayed, reach the place.

"Men of Hellas!" they cried, hastening into the midst of the carnage.
"What is this you are doing? This is not Troy.  It is the peaceful city
of Teuthrania in Mysia.  Cease your slaughter, and return at once to
your vessels, lest the wrath of the gods fall upon you."

The word was carried from mouth to mouth; and the hasty heroes,
crestfallen and ashamed, stopped their bloody work, and turned their
faces back towards the shore where their ships lay beached.  None too
soon did they retreat; for the king of Mysia, one Telephus a son of
Heracles, having quickly called his warriors together, fell upon their
rear, and slew great numbers of them, following them even to the sloping
beach.  As the last ship was pushing out, an arrow from the bow of King
Telephus struck Patroclus, wounding him sorely.  Then Achilles, poising
his long spear, threw it with deadly aim among the Mysians; it struck
King Telephus, and laid him senseless though not slain upon the sandy

No sooner had the fleet set sail again upon the sea, than Poseidon
stirred up the waves in anger, and loosed the winds upon them.  Great
was the terror, and great indeed was the destruction.  Some of the ships
were sunk in mid-sea, and some were driven upon the rocks and wrecked.
But the greater number of them, after days and weeks of buffeting with
the waves, made their way back to Aulis.

When the heroes stood again on the shores of the Euripus, they began to
think that doubtless there was some truth in the omen of the snake and
the birds; and the most hopeful among them ceased to dream of taking
Troy in a day.  While waiting for stragglers to come in, and for the
shattered vessels to be repaired, they found enough to do to keep the
time from dragging heavily; and when not engaged in some kind of labor
they amused themselves with various games, and great sport had they with
quoits and javelins, with bows and arrows, and in wrestling and running.
And now and then they went out into the woods of Eubœa, and hunted the
wild deer which roamed there in abundance.

One day it chanced that Agamemnon, while hunting, started a fine stag,
and gave it a long chase among the hills and through the wooded dells,
until it sought safety in a grove sacred to Artemis the huntress queen.
The proud king knew that this was a holy place where beasts and birds
might rest secure from harm; yet he cared naught for what Artemis had
ordained, and with his swift arrows he slew the panting deer.  Then was
the huntress queen moved with anger, and she declared that the ships of
the Hellenes should not sail from Aulis until the king had atoned for
his crime. And a great calm rested upon the sea, and not a breath of air
stirred the sails at the mast-heads of the ships.  Day after day and
week after week went by, and not a speck of cloud was seen in the sky
above, and not a ripple on the glassy face of the deep.  All the ships
had been put in order, new vessels had been built, the warriors had
burnished their armor and overhauled their arms a thousand times; and
yet no breeze arose to waft them across the sea.  And they began to
murmur, and to talk bitterly against Agamemnon and the chiefs.

In the mean while, a small vessel driven by rowers came up the Euripus,
and stopped among the ships at Aulis.  On board of it was King Telephus
of Mysia, sorely suffering from the wound which Achilles had given him
on the Teuthranian beach.  He had come to seek the hero who had wounded
him, for an oracle had told him that he only could heal the grievous
hurt. Achilles carried the sufferer to his tent, and skilfully dressed
the wound, and bound it up with healing herbs; for in his boyhood he had
learned from wise old Cheiron how to treat such ailments, and now that
knowledge was of great use to him.  And soon the king was whole and
strong again; and he vowed that he would not leave Achilles, but would
stay with the Hellenes, and pilot them across the sea to Troy.  Yet the
wrath of Artemis continued, and not the slightest breeze arose to cool
the air, or fill the waiting sails of the ships.

At last Agamemnon sent for Calchas the soothsayer, and asked him in
secret how the anger of the huntress queen might be assuaged.  And the
soothsayer with tears and lamentations answered that in no wise could it
be done save by the sacrifice to Artemis of his maiden daughter
Iphigenia.  Then the king cried aloud in his grief, and declared that
though Troy might stand forever, he would not do that thing; and he bade
a herald go through the camp, and among the ships, and bid every man
depart as he chose to his own country.  But before the herald had gone
from his tent, behold his brother Menelaus, the wronged husband of fair
Helen, stood before him with downcast eyes and saddest of hearts.

"After ten years of labor and hope," said he to Agamemnon, "wouldst thou
give up this enterprise, and lose all?"

Then Odysseus came also into the tent, and added his persuasions to
those of Menelaus.  And the king hearkened to him, for no man was more
crafty in counsel; and the three recalled the herald, and formed a plan
whereby they might please Artemis by doing as she desired.  And
Agamemnon, in his weakness, wrote a letter to Clytemnestra his queen,
telling her to bring the maiden Iphigenia to Aulis, there to be wedded
to King Achilles.  "_Fail not in this_," added he, "_for the godlike
hero will not sail with us unless my daughter be given to him in
marriage_."  And when he had written the letter, he sealed it, and sent
it by a swift messenger to Clytemnestra at Mycenæ.


Nevertheless the king’s heart was full of sorrow, and when he was alone
he planned how he might yet save his daughter.  Night came, but he could
not sleep; he walked the floor of his tent; he wept and lamented like
one bereft of reason.  At length he sat down, and wrote another letter:
"_Daughter of Leda, send not thy child to Aulis, for I will give her in
marriage at another time_."  Then he called another messenger, an old
and trusted servant of the household, and put this letter into his

"Take this with all haste to my queen, who, perchance, is even now on
her way to Aulis.  Stop not by any cool spring in the groves, and let
not thine eyes close for sleep.  And see that the chariot bearing the
queen and Iphigenia pass thee not unnoticed."

The messenger took the letter, and hasted away. But hardly had he passed
the line of the tents when Menelaus saw him, and took the letter from
him.  And when he had read it, he went before his brother, and
reproached him with bitter words.

"Before you were chosen captain of the host," said he, "you were kind
and gentle, and the friend of every man.  There was nothing that you
would not do to aid your fellows.  Now you are puffed up with pride and
vain conceit, and care nothing even for those who are your equals in
power.  Yet, for all, you are not rid of your well-known cowardice; and
when you saw that your leadership was likely to be taken away from you
unless you obeyed the commands of Artemis, you agreed to do this thing.
Now you are trying to break your word, sending secretly to your wife,
and bidding her not to bring her daughter to Aulis."

Then Agamemnon answered, "Why should I destroy my daughter in order to
win back thy wife?  Let the suitors who swore an oath to King Tyndareus
go with thee.  In what way am I bound to serve thee?"

"Do as you will," said Menelaus, going away in wrath.

Soon after this, there came a herald to the king, saying, "Behold, your
daughter Iphigenia has come as you directed, and with her mother and her
little brother Orestes she rests by the spring close to the outer line
of tents.  And the warriors have gathered around them, and are praising
her loveliness, and asking many questions; and some say, ’The king is
sick to see his daughter whom he loves so deeply, and he has made up
some excuse to bring her to the camp.’  But I know why you have brought
her here; for I have been told about the wedding, and the noble groom
who is to lead her in marriage; and we will rejoice and be glad, because
this is a happy day for the maiden."

Then the king was sorely distressed, and knew not what to do.  "Sad, sad
indeed," said he, "is the wedding to which the maiden cometh.  For the
name of the bridegroom is Death."

At the same time Menelaus came back, sorrowful and repentant.  "You were
right, my brother," said he.  "What, indeed, has Iphigenia to do with
Helen, and why should the maiden die for me?  Send the Hellenes to their
homes, and let not this great wrong be done."

"But how can I do that now?" asked Agamemnon. "The warriors, urged on by
Odysseus and Calchas, will force me to do the deed.  Or, if I flee to
Mycenæ, they will follow me, and slay me, and destroy my city. Oh, woe
am I, that such a day should ever dawn upon my sight!"

Even while they spoke together, the queen’s chariot drove up to the tent
door, and the queen and Iphigenia and the little Orestes alighted
quickly, and merrily greeted the king.

"It is well that you have sent for me, my father," said Iphigenia,
caressing him.

"It may be well, and yet it may not," said Agamemnon. "I am exceeding
glad to see thee alive and happy."

"If you are glad, why then do you weep?"

"I am sad because thou wilt be so long time away from me."

"Are you going on a very long voyage, father?"

"A long voyage and a sad one, my child.  And thou, also, hast a journey
to make."

"Must I make it alone, or will my mother go with me?"

"Thou must make it alone.  Neither father nor mother nor any friend can
go with thee, my child."

"But when shall it be?  I pray that you will hasten this matter with
Troy, and return home ere then."

"It may be so.  But I must offer a sacrifice to the gods, before we sail
from Aulis."

"That is well.  And may I be present?"

"Yes, and thou shalt be very close to the altar."

"Shall I lead in the dances, father?"

Then the king could say no more, for reason of the great sorrow within
him; and he kissed the maiden, and sent her into the tent.  A little
while afterward, the queen came and spoke to him, and asked him about
the man to whom their daughter was to be wedded; and Agamemnon, still
dissembling, told her that the hero’s name was Achilles, and that he was
the son of old Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis.

"And when and where is the marriage to be?" asked the queen.

"On the first lucky day in the present moon, and here in our camp at
Aulis," answered Agamemnon.

"Shall I stay here with thee until then?"

"Nay, thou must go back to Mycenæ without delay."

"But may I not come again?  If I am not here, who will hold up the torch
for the bride?"

"I will attend to all such matters," answered Agamemnon.

But Clytemnestra was not well pleased, neither could the king persuade
her at all that she should return to Mycenæ.  While yet they were
talking, Achilles himself came to the tent door, and said aloud to the
servant who kept it, "Tell thy master that Achilles, the son of Peleus,
would be pleased to see him."

When Clytemnestra overheard these words, she hastened to the door, and
offered the hero her hand. But he was ashamed and drew back, for it was
deemed an unseemly thing for men to speak thus with women. Then
Clytemnestra said, "Why, indeed, should you, who are about to marry my
daughter, be ashamed to give me your hand?"

Achilles was struck with wonder, and asked her what she meant; and when
she had explained the matter, he said,--

"Truly I have never been a suitor for thy daughter, neither has
Agamemnon or Menelaus spoken a word to me regarding her."

And now the queen was astonished in her turn, and cried out with shame
that she had been so cruelly deceived.  Then the keeper of the door, who
was the same that had been sent with the letter, came forward and told
the truth regarding the whole matter.  And Clytemnestra cried to
Achilles, "O son of the silver-footed Thetis!  Help me and help my
daughter Iphigenia, in this time of sorest need!  For we have no friend
in all this host, and none in whom we can confide but thee."

Achilles answered, "Long time ago I was a pupil of old Cheiron the most
righteous of men, and from him I learned to be honest and true.  If
Agamemnon rule according to right, then I will obey him; but not
otherwise.  And now since thy daughter was brought to this place under
pretence of giving her to me as my bride, I will see that she shall not
be slain, neither shall any one dare take her from me."

On the following day, while Agamemnon sat grief-stricken in his tent,
the maiden came before him carrying the babe Orestes in her arms; and
she cast herself upon her knees at his feet, and caressing his hands,
she thus besought him: "Would, dear father, that I had the voice of
Orpheus, to whom even the rocks did listen! then I would persuade thee.
O father!  I am thy child.  I was the first to call thee ’Father,’ and
the first to whom thou saidst ’My child.’"

The father turned his face away, and wept; he could not speak for
sadness.  Then the maiden went on: "O, father, hear me! thou to whom my
voice was once so sweet that thou wouldst waken me to hear my prattle
amid the songs of birds when it was meaningless as theirs.  And when I
was older grown, then thou wouldst say to me, ’Some day, my birdling,
thou shalt have a nest of thy own, a home of which thou shalt be the
mistress.’  And I did answer, ’Yes, dear father, and when thou art old I
will care for thee, and pay thee with all my heart for the kindness thou
dost show me.’  But now thou hast forgotten it all, and art ready to
slay my young life."

A deep groan burst from the lips of the mighty king, but he spoke not a
word.  Then after a death-like silence broken only by the deep
breathings of father and child, Iphigenia spoke again: "My father, can
there be any prayer more pure and more persuasive than that of a maiden
for her father’s welfare? and when the cruel knife shall strike me down,
thou wilt have one daughter less to pray for thee."  A shudder shook the
frame of Agamemnon, but he answered not a word.

At that moment Achilles entered.  He had come in haste from the tents
beside the shore, and he spoke in hurried, anxious accents.

"Behold," said he, "a great tumult has arisen in the camp; for Calchas
has given out among the men that you refuse to do what Artemis has
bidden, and that hence these delays and troubles have arisen. And the
rude soldiers are crying out against you, and declaring that the maiden
must die.  When I would have stayed their anger, they took up stones to
stone me,--my own Myrmidons among the rest.  And now they are making
ready to move upon your tent, threatening to sacrifice you also with
your daughter.  But I will fight for you to the utmost, and the maiden
shall not die."

As he was speaking, Calchas entered, and, grasping the wrist of the
pleading maiden, lifted her to her feet.  She looked up, and saw his
stony face and hard cold eyes; and turning again to Agamemnon, she said,
"O father, the ships shall sail, for I will die for thee."

Then Achilles said to her, "Fair maiden, thou art by far the noblest and
most lovely of thy sex.  Fain would I save thee from this fate, even
though every man in Hellas be against me.  Fly with me quickly to my
long-oared galley, and I will carry thee safely away from this accursed

"Not so," answered Iphigenia: "I will give up my life for my father and
this land of the Hellenes, and no man shall suffer for me."

And the pitiless priest led her through the throng of rude soldiers, to
the grove of Artemis, wherein an altar had been built.  But Achilles and
Agamemnon covered their faces with their mantles, and staid inside the
tent.  Then Talthybius the herald stood up, and bade the warriors keep
silence; and Calchas put a garland of sweet-smelling flowers about the
victim’s head.

"Let no man touch me," said the maiden, "for I offer my neck to the
sword with right good will, that so my father may live and prosper."

In silence and great awe, the warriors stood around, while Calchas drew
a sharp knife from its scabbard. But, lo! as he struck, the maiden was
not there; and in her stead, a noble deer lay dying on the altar.  Then
the old soothsayer cried out in triumphant tones, "See now, ye men of
Hellas, how the gods have provided for you a sacrifice, and saved the
innocent daughter of the king!"  And all the people shouted with joy;
and in that self-same hour, a strong breeze came down the Euripus, and
filled the idle sails of the waiting ships.

"To Troy! to Troy!" cried the Hellenes; and every man hastened aboard
his vessel.

How it was that fair Iphigenia escaped the knife; by whom she was saved,
or whither she went,--no one knew.  Some say that Artemis carried her
away to the land of the Taurians, where she had a temple and an altar;
and that, long years afterward, her brother Orestes found her there, and
bore her back to her girlhood’s home, even to Mycenæ.  But whether this
be true or not, I know that there have been maidens as noble, as loving,
as innocent as she, who have given up their lives in order to make this
world a purer and happier place in which to live; and these are not
dead, but live in the grateful memories of those whom they loved and

                          _*ADVENTURE XXI*_*.*

                           *THE LONG SIEGE.*

The great fleet sailed once more across the sea, piloted now by
Telephus, the king of Mysia; and the ships of Achilles and those of
Philoctetes of Melibœa led all the rest.  When they had put a little
more than half the distance behind them, they came to the isle of
Chryse, where were a fair temple and altars built in honor of Athené.
Here many of the heroes landed; and while some were busied in refilling
the water-casks from the springs of fresh water near the shore, others
went up to the temple and offered gifts and heartfelt thanks to Pallas
Athené.  But as Philoctetes, the cunning archer, stood near one of the
altars, a water-snake came out of the rocks and bit him on the foot.
Terrible, indeed, was the wound, and great were the hero’s sufferings;
day and night he groaned and cried aloud by reason of the bitter pain;
and there was no physician that could heal him of the grievous hurt. In
a few days, a noisome stench began to issue from the wound, and the
hero’s complainings waxed so loud and piteous that the warriors stopped
their ears, so that they might not hear them.  Then the chiefs took
counsel as to what it were best to do with him; and, although some
advised that he be cast into the sea, it was thought best to follow a
milder course, and leave him alone on the isle of Lemnos.  Hence, while
the hero slept, Odysseus and his men carried him on shore; and they laid
his great bow, even the bow of Heracles, by his side upon the sand, and
put a cask of water and a basket of food within easy reach of his hand.
Then they sailed away, and left him alone in his great distress and

At length the shores of Ilios were reached, and the high towers of Troy
were seen.  Then the sails of the vessels were furled and laid away in
the roomy holds, the masts were lowered with speed, and the oarsmen
seated themselves upon the benches and rowed the ships forward until
they stood in one line, stretching more than a league along the shore.
But as they drew nearer the sea-beach, the heroes saw all the plain
before them covered with armed men and horses and chariots drawn up to
hinder their landing.  And they paused, uncertain what to do; for
Calchas the soothsayer had declared that he who should first step foot
upon the shores of Ilios should meet a sudden death.

"Who among all the heroes will dare be the first to die for Hellas?" was
the anxious question heard on every vessel.  Not a man was there who was
not willing and ready to be the second one to step on shore; but who
would be the first?  The Trojan host now began to shoot their arrows
toward the ships, and to taunt the Hellenes with cowardice.  Yet even
Achilles and Ajax Telamon, the mightiest of the heroes, fell back and
would not take the fearful risk of beginning the fight.  Then
Protesilaus, who had led forty black ships from Phylace and the shore of
Antrona, seeing that some one must die for the cause, leaped boldly out
of the ship upon the shelving beach. At once a hundred arrows whistled
through the air, and glanced from his sevenfold shield of ox-hide; and a
heavy spear, thrown by Hector, the mightiest of the Trojans, pierced his
fair armor, and laid him bleeding and dead upon the sand.  Quickly the
warriors leaped ashore; face to face and hand to hand they fought with
the Trojan host; and, led by Achilles and by Diomede of the loud
war-cry, they drove their foes across the plain and even through the
city gates.

But Protesilaus lay dead upon the beach; and few of the heroes
remembered that to him they owed their victory.  And when his
newly-wedded wife, fair Laodamia, heard in far Phylace that he had
fallen first in the fight, she dight herself in mourning and went to
pray at the shrine of mighty Zeus.  And the prayer which she offered was
that she might see her husband once again, and holding his hand, might
talk with him if it were only for the space of three hours.  Then Hermes
led the war-loving hero back to the upper world; and he sat in his
bridal chamber, and spoke sweet words of comfort to Laodamia.  But when
the short hours were past, and the messenger came to lead Protesilaus
back to the land of shades, his wife prayed that she might return with
him.  And men say that this prayer, also, was heard, and that arm in arm
the two went forth together to their shadowy home in Hades.

Time would fail me to tell you how the Greeks encamped upon the plain of
Troy, and how for more than nine long years they laid siege to that
great city. Neither can I speak of the ruinous wrath of Achilles which
brought so much woe upon the Hellenes; for of that you will read in the
oldest and grandest poem that the world has ever known,--the Iliad of
Homer.  And there, also, you will read of the death of Patroclus; and of
the vengeance which Achilles wrought, even by the slaying of godlike
Hector; and of the mighty deeds of Diomede and of Ajax and of Agamemnon
on the plains of Troy; and of the shrewd counsels and crafty schemes of
Odysseus, who, though in strength surpassing other men, learned to trust
rather to his skill in words than to his mastery of arms.

The time at length drew near when that which had been spoken concerning
the doom of Achilles was to be fulfilled.  For, when he saw that he,
more than all the Hellenes, was held in dread by the Trojans, his heart
was puffed up with unseemly pride, and he boasted of his deeds, and
spoke of himself as greater even than Phœbus Apollo.  Then the
archer-god was greatly angered, and no longer covered him with his great
shield of protection, but left him to his doom.  Hence, on a day, when
he stood before the Scæan gate, and taunted the Trojans on the walls, a
mighty spear smote him, and pierced his heart.  Some say that the weapon
was thrown by Paris, the perfidious one who had caused this bloody war;
and others say that far-darting Apollo in his wrath launched the fatal
bolt.  The body of Achilles incased in his glorious armor lay all day
long in the dust, while Hellenes and Trojans fought around it, and
neither could gain the mastery, or carry away the ghastly prize.  At
length a great storm burst upon the combatants: the thunder rolled, the
lightning flashed, the rain and hail fell in blinding torrents; and the
Trojans withdrew behind their walls.  Then the Hellenes lifted the body
of Achilles, and carried it to their ships; and, stripping it of his
matchless armor, they laid it on a couch, and standing around it, they
bewailed his untimely death.  And his mother, silver-footed Thetis, came
across the waves with all the sea-nymphs in her train; and, while she
wept over the body of her child, the nymphs arrayed it in shining robes
which they themselves had woven in their coral caves.  Then, after many
days and nights of bitter lamentation, the Hellenes built a great
funeral pile upon the beach; and they laid the hero thereon, and set
fire to it, and the flames leaped high over the sea, and Achilles was no
more.  Then Thetis took the hero’s glorious armor, and set it up as a
prize to that one who should excel in feats of strength and skill in a
grand trial to be made beside the ships.  Only two of all the host stood
up for the trial,--Ajax Telamon and Odysseus; for no other man dared
contend with either of these.  Mighty indeed was the contest; but in the
end Odysseus prevailed, and the matchless armor was awarded him.  Then,
when Ajax knew that he had been beaten in the suit,--and beaten not more
by honest strength and skill than by crafty guile,--he fell prone upon
the earth, and his great mind lost its balance.  And when he arose to
his feet, he knew no longer his friends and comrades, nor did he
remember any thing.  But like a roaring wild beast, he rushed from the
tents into the fields and pasture lands; and, seeing a flock of sheep
browsing among the herbage, he fell upon them with his sword, and
slaughtered great numbers of them, fancying that they were foemen
seeking his life.  Nor did any man dare say any thing to him, or try in
any way to check him, or turn him aside from his mad freaks.  When he
grew tired, at length, of slaughtering the helpless beasts, he went down
into a green dell, and fell upon his own sword.  A great stream of blood
gushed from the wound, and dyed the earth, and from it sprang a purple
flower bearing upon its edges both the initials of his name and a sign
of woe, the letters [Greek: ai].

Then Odysseus bewailed his comrade’s unhappy death.  "Would that I had
never prevailed, and won that prize!" he cried.  "So goodly a head hath
the earth closed over for the sake of these arms, even that of Ajax, who
in beauty and in feats of war was of a mould far above all other men,
save only peerless Achilles.  What a tower of strength wert thou!  Long
indeed shall it be ere Hellas shall see another like thee!"[1]

[1] See Note 16 at the end of this volume.

After this the Hellenes began to despair; for many of their noblest
heroes had perished.  Who now should lead them on to victory?  Surely
not Patroclus, nor Achilles, nor Ajax.  Bitter murmurings were heard
among the ships, and the men declared that ere another moon should pass,
they would embark and sail back to their loved homes, nor ask the leave
of Agamemnon.

At the foot of Mount Ida there stood a temple of Apollo, built by the
Trojans while yet sweet Peace was smiling on the land.  To that temple
Helenus the wise soothsayer, one of Priam’s sons, was wont to go,
stealing out from the city in the darkness of midnight, and returning
ere the gray dawn of morning appeared.  He went there that he might
learn from Apollo the secrets of the future, and he fondly hoped that
his going was unknown to the foes of Troy.  But shrewd Odysseus found
him out; and one night, with a band of men, he lay in wait for the
prophet-prince, and took him captive.

"This is a rich treasure that we have taken," said Odysseus, "and it
shall repay us for all our losses."

Helenus was straightway taken to the camp.  Around him gathered the
heroes,--Agamemnon, Nestor, Menelaus, and all the rest,--demanding that
he should uncover the secrets of the future.

"When and how shall the Hellenes overcome your city of Troy?" said
Odysseus.  "Tell us this, and tell us truly, or death in its fearfullest
form shall come upon thee swiftly."

Then the trembling seer revealed to his enemies that which he had
learned at Apollo’s shrine.  He told them that within the present year
the Hellenes would certainly prevail if only they did three things,
without which Troy could never be taken.  First, the Palladion, the
monster image of Athené, must be removed from the temple in the city,
and set up in the camp by the seashore.  Second, young Pyrrhus the son
of Achilles must be brought from his island-home of Scyros to take the
place of his father at the head of the Myrmidon host.  And third,
Philoctetes, who had been so deeply wronged by the chiefs, and left to
perish on the desert shores of Lemnos, must be found and brought to
Troy, and healed of his grievous wound.

"These are great tasks and heavy," said Odysseus. "Nevertheless I will
undertake to see them performed."

Then he ordered a swift ship to be made ready; and with old Phoinix as
companion, and a score of trusted fighting-men, he went on board, and
sailed at once for Scyros the quondam home of great Achilles.  Ten days
afterward he returned, bringing with him the lad Pyrrhus, so like his
glorious father in face and figure that the Myrmidons hailed him at once
as their chief and king.

"Thus have I done one of the three tasks," said Odysseus.  "I shall
perform the other two, mayhap as easily, and then the high walls of Troy
shall fall before us."

Three days later the swift ship of Odysseus again put to sea; and young
Pyrrhus was the hero’s comrade. It was but a short voyage to Lemnos;
and, when they reached that island, they moored their vessel in the
sheltering cove close by the spot where, nine years before, the
suffering Philoctetes had been left. Odysseus concealed himself, and
sent the young prince on shore with some of the warriors who had come
with them; for he rightly guessed that Philoctetes had not forgotten the
wrong which he had suffered at his hands.

Pyrrhus found the hero living alone in a wretched cave with no friend
but the mighty bow of Heracles, and suffering still great torments from
the horrid wound in his foot.  Yet the prince could not prevail upon him
to sail to Troy; for he said that he would rather endure the distress,
the hunger, and the loneliness which were his in Lemnos, than meet again
those false friends who had left him there to die.  Then Odysseus came
forth from his hiding-place, with a company of men, to seize the hero
and carry him by force on board the vessel.  But this the young prince
would not permit; and Philoctetes, when he saw them, fled into the
innermost parts of his cave, and would not come forth.  When Odysseus
found that neither threats nor entreaties would prevail upon the hero,
he went back to his ship, and made ready to return to Troy.  Then it was
that a vision appeared to Philoctetes,--a vision of nighty Heracles
clothed in bright raiment, and a great glory shining in his face.

"Go thou to the land of Ilios," said the vision. "There thou shalt first
be healed of thy grievous sickness; and afterwards thou shalt do great
deeds, and shalt aid in taking the city; and the first prize of valor
shall be awarded to thee among all the heroes.  For it is the will of
the immortals that Troy shall be taken, and that my bow shall mightily
aid in its overthrow."

Then Philoctetes went forth from his hiding-place, and was taken on
board the vessel.  And as the sails were spread, and the breezes wafted
them towards the Trojan shore, he bade a tearful farewell to Lemnos,
where he had spent so many years of loneliness and sorrow:--

"Farewell to thee, O home that didst befriend me when others failed!
Farewell, ye nymphs that haunt the meadows and the shore, or dwell
beside the gushing mountain springs.  Farewell, O cave that oft hast
been my shelter from the winter’s frosty winds and the sweltering rays
of the summer’s sun.  I leave you now; and thou, O sea-girt Lemnos, I
may never more behold!  And grant, ye gods, that favoring winds may
blow, and carry me safely wheresoe’er the Fates would have me go!"

As soon as the heroes reached the Trojan shore, and the ship was drawn
to its place high on the beach, Philoctetes was carried to the tents,
and given in charge of Machaon, Asclepius’ noble son.  And as he lay
upon a cot in the tent of the kind physician, a sweet odor, like that of
blossoming orchards and the bloom of clover, filled the air around him,
and he slept; and men said that the spirit of Asclepius had fanned him
into slumber.  Then Machaon, with matchless skill, cut out the poisoned
flesh from his foot, and cleansed it, and bound it up with soft linen.
And when the hero awoke, the pain had left him; and the wound from which
he had suffered such untold torments began at once to heal.

It chanced one day as Philoctetes was sitting outside of his tent, that
a party of Trojans led by Paris made a sally from the city gates, and
came scouring across the plain, intent on doing mischief to the
Hellenes.  As the daring warriors drew near the tents, Philoctetes
fitted an arrow to the great bow of Heracles, and took aim at their
fair-faced leader.  The deadly dart pierced the shoulder of Paris, and
he fell headlong from his chariot; and there he would have met his
death, had not his comrades quickly rallied, and carried him, faint with
pain, back to the city and his father’s halls.  Terrible were the
tortures which the hero suffered, for the arrow was one of those which
Heracles had poisoned by dipping in the blood of the hydra.  The venom
sped through his burning veins; his strength failed him; the torments of
a thousand deaths seemed to be upon him.  Then he forgot fair Helen, for
whose sake was all this war and bloodshed; and he bethought him of
gentle Œnone, whom, in the innocent days of youth, he had wooed and won
in the pleasant dales of Ida. And he cried aloud, "Bring to me Œnone,
her whom I have so grievously wronged!  She alone can heal me of my

Then swift messengers were sent to the woody slopes of Ida, to find, if
it might be, the long-deserted, long-forgotten wife.  "Come quickly and
save thy erring but repentant husband,"--such was the message,--"behold,
he suffers from a grievous wound!  But thou art skilled in the healing
art above all who dwell in Ilios; and he prays that, forgiving all
wrong, thou wilt hasten to help him."

When Œnone heard the message, she remembered the cruel wrongs which she
had endured so long at the hands of faithless Paris; and without a word
in answer, she turned away and went about her daily tasks in her humble
cottage home.  Then the messengers returned to Troy, and told the prince
that Œnone would not come to help him.  And Paris, with a groan of pain
and a sigh of despair, turned his face to the wall, and died.

Then Œnone, too late, repented that she had turned a deaf ear to her
husband’s last request.  And in haste she clad herself in her wedding
robes, and came to the sad halls of the prince, not knowing that death
had taken him.  Fair and beautiful as in the days of her youth, she
stood before his lifeless form.  She took his cold hands in her warm
palm, and said, "I have come, O Paris!  Waken, and speak to me!  Dost
thou not remember me,--Œnone, whom thou didst woo in the flowery dells
of Ida?  I am still the same, and never have I wronged thee.  Speak to
me, O Paris!"  Then she knelt beside him, and saw the gaping wound which
the arrow of Philoctetes had made; and she knew that life had fled, and
that the hero never more would waken or speak to her.  And the gentle
heart of Œnone was broken with the anguish which came upon her; and when
the men of Troy laid Paris upon the funeral pile, and the smoke and
flame arose towards heaven, the fair, perfidious prince was not alone,
for Œnone shared his blazing couch.

While Troy was in mourning for the unhappy death of Paris, Odysseus and
Diomede were planning the means by which to obtain the sacred image of
Athené--the Palladion of Troy.  In the guise of a ragged beggar,
Odysseus found his way into the city, and to the door of the temple
where the great image stood.

"Ah, Odysseus!  I know thee despite thy rags!" was whispered into his
ear, as a fair hand offered him a pittance.  He looked up, and saw the
peerless Helen before him, as beautiful as when, a score of years
before, the princes of Hellas had sued for her hand at the court of old

"Be not afraid," she said, "I will not betray you."

And then she told him how unhappy she had been in Troy, and how she
longed to return to her countrymen and to her much-wronged husband
Menelaus.  And she promised to aid him in whatever way she could, to
carry off the treasured Palladion, and to open the way for the overthrow
of Troy.  Odysseus, shrewdest of men, talked not long with the princess,
but soon returned to the camp.  Three nights later, he and Diomede made
their way by stealth into the city, and carried away the priceless

And now the three tasks which Helenus had spoken of, had been performed.
What more remained ere the doomed city should be overthrown?  The chiefs
must needs again consult with shrewd Odysseus; and the plan which he
proposed was carried out.  A wooden horse, of wondrous size, was made;
and in it the doughtiest heroes of the host, with young Pyrrhus as their
leader, hid themselves.  Then the rest of the Hellenes embarked, with
all their goods, aboard their ships, and sailed away beyond the wooded
shores of Tenedos. But the monster horse, with its hidden load of
heroes, stood alone upon the beach.

When the Trojans, looking from their high towers, beheld their enemies
depart, they were filled with joy; and, opening wide their gates, they
poured out of the city, and crowded across the plain, anxious to see the
wonderful horse,--the only relic which their foes had left upon their
shores.  While they were gazing upon it, and hazarding many a guess at
its purpose and use, a prisoner was brought before the chiefs.  It was
Sinon, a young Hellene, who had been found lurking among the rocks by
the shore.  Trembling with pretended fear, he told the Trojans a sad,
false story, of wrongs which he said he had suffered at the hands of

"But what meaneth this monster image of a horse? Tell us that," said the
Trojan chiefs.

Then Sinon told them how the Hellenes had suffered great punishment at
the hands of Athené, because they had stolen the sacred Palladion of
Troy, and how it was on this account that they had at last given up the
siege of Troy, and had sailed away for their homes in distant Hellas.
And he told them, too, of the words of Calchas the soothsayer; that they
should leave on the shores of Ilios an image which should serve the same
purpose to those who honored it, as the sacred Palladion had served
within the walls of Troy; and that if the Trojans should revere this
figure, and set it up within their walls, it would prove a tower of
strength to them, insuring eternal greatness to Troy, and utter
destruction to Hellas.

Need I tell you how this artful story deceived the Trojans, and how with
shouts of triumph they dragged the great image into the city?  Need I
tell you how, in the darkness of the night, the fleet returned from
Tenedos, and the mighty host again landed upon the Trojan shore; or how
the heroes, concealed within the wooden horse, came out of their
hiding-place, and opened the gates to their friends outside; or how the
Hellenes fell upon the astonished Trojans, awakened so suddenly from a
false dream of peace; or how, with sword and torch, they slew and
burned, and meted out the doom of the fated city?  It was thus that the
princes of Hellas performed the oath which they had sworn, years and
years before, in the halls of King Tyndareus; and it was thus that the
wrongs of Menelaus were avenged, fair Helen was given back to her
husband, and the honor of Hellas was freed from blemish.

                           *THE AFTER WORD.*

And now, if you would learn more concerning the great heroes of the
Golden Age, you must read the noble poems in which the story of their
deeds is told. In the Iliad of Homer, truly the grandest of all poems
written by men, you will read of what befell the Greeks before the walls
of Troy,--of the daring of Diomede; of the wisdom of Nestor; of the
shrewdness of Odysseus; of the foolish pride of Agamemnon; of the
nobility of Hector; of the grief of old King Priam; of the courage of
Achilles.  In the Æneid of Virgil, you will read of the last day of the
long siege, and the fatal folly of the Trojans; of crafty Sinon; of the
sad end of Laocoon, who dared suspect the object of the wooden horse; of
the destruction of the mighty city; and of the wanderings of Æneas and
the remnant of the Trojans until they had founded a new city on the far
Lavinian shore.  In the tragedies of Æschylus, you will read of the
return of the heroes to Greece; of the sad death of Agamemnon in his own
great banquet-hall; of the wicked career of Clytemnestra; of the
terrible vengeance of Orestes; of what befell Iphigenia in Tauris, and
how she returned to her native land.  And in the Odyssey of Homer,
second only to the Iliad in grandeur, you will read of the strange
adventures of Odysseus; how he, storm-tossed and wind-driven, strove for
ten weary years to return to Ithaca; how, after the fall of Troy,--

"He overcame the people of Ciconia; how he passed thence to the rich
fields of the race who feed upon the lotus; what the Cyclops did, and
how upon the Cyclops he avenged the death of his brave comrades, whom
the wretch had piteously slaughtered and devoured; and how he came to
Æolus, and found a friendly welcome, and was sent by him upon his
voyage; yet ’twas not his fate to reach his native land; a tempest
caught his fleet, and far across the fishy deep bore him away, lamenting
bitterly.  And how he landed at Telepylus, among the Læstrigonians, who
destroyed his ships and warlike comrades, he alone in his black ship
escaping." ...

You will read, too, of how he was driven to land upon the coast where
Circe the sorceress dwelt, and how he shrewdly dealt with her deceit and
many arts:--

"And how he went to Hades’ dismal realm in his good galley, to consult
the soul of him of Thebes, Tiresias, and beheld all his lost comrades
and his mother,--her who brought him forth, and trained him when a
child; and how he heard the Sirens afterward, and how he came upon the
wandering rocks, the terrible Charybdis, and the crags of Scylla,--which
no man had ever passed in safety; how his comrades slew for food the
oxen of the Sun; how mighty Zeus, the Thunderer, with a bolt of fire
from heaven smote his swift bark; and how, his gallant crew all
perished, he alone escaped with life.  And how he reached Ogygia’s isle,
and met the nymph Calypso, who long time detained and fed him in her
vaulted grot, and promised that he ne’er should die, nor know decay of
age, through all the days to come; yet moved she not the purpose of his
heart. And how he next through many hardships came to the Phæacians, and
they welcomed him and honored him as if he were a god, and to his native
country in a bark sent him with ample gifts of brass and gold and

How he made himself known to old Eumæus the swineherd, and to his son
Telemachus, and how his old nurse, Eurycleia, knew him by the scar which
he had received when a boy from the wild boar on Mount Parnassus.  How
he found his palace full of rude suitors seeking the hand of faithful
Penelope; and how, with the great bow of Eurytus, he slew them all, and
spared not one.

      ... "Never shall the fame
    Of his great valor perish; and the gods
    Themselves shall frame, for those who dwell on earth,
    Sweet strains in praise of sage Penelope."


              NOTE 1.--ODYSSEUS AND HIS NURSE.  _Page_ 12.

In the Odyssey, Book I., lines 425-444, a similar incident is related
concerning Telemachus and Eurycleia.  Many of the illustrations of life
and manners given in this volume have been taken, with slight changes,
from Homer.  It has not been thought necessary to make distinct mention
of such passages.  The student of Homer will readily recognize them.

              NOTE 2.--APOLLO AND THE PYTHON.  _Page_ 43.

Readers of the "Story of Siegfried" cannot fail to notice the
resemblance of the legends relating to that hero, to some of the myths
of Apollo.  Siegfried, like Apollo, was the bright being whose presence
dispelled the mists and the gloom of darkness. He dwelt for a time in a
mysterious but blessed region far to the north.  He was beneficent and
kind to his friends, terrible to his foes.  Apollo’s favorite weapons
were his silver bow and silent arrows; Siegfried’s main dependence was
in his sun-bright armor and his wonderful sword Balmung.  Apollo slew
the Python, and left it lying to enrich the earth; Siegfried slew Fafnir
the dragon, and seized its treasures for his own.--See _The Story of

                     NOTE 3.--SISYPHUS.  _Page_ 50.

"Yea, and I beheld Sisyphus in strong torment, grasping a monstrous
stone with both his hands.  He was pressing thereat with hands and feet,
and trying to roll the stone upward toward the brow of the hill.  But
oft as he was about to hurl it over the top, the weight would drive him
back: so once again to the plain rolled the stone, the shameless thing.
And he once more kept heaving and straining; and the sweat the while was
pouring down his limbs, and the dust rose upwards from his
head."--_Homer’s Odyssey_, XI. 595.

                 NOTE 4.--A SON OF HERMES.  _Page_ 50.

Autolycus was said to have been a son of Hermes, doubtless on account of
his shrewdness and his reputation for thievery.  Hermes is sometimes
spoken of as the god of thieves.

              NOTE 5.--THE CHOICE OF HERACLES.  _Page_ 61.

This moral lesson is, of course, of much later date than that of our
story.  It is the invention of the Greek sophist Prodicus, who was a
contemporary of Socrates.

                     NOTE 6.--MELEAGER.  _Page_ 68.

Readers of the "Story of Roland" will readily recognize several points
of resemblance between the legend of Meleager’s childhood and the story
of Ogier the Dane.  It is, indeed, probable that very much of the latter
is simply a medieval adaptation of the former.--See also the account of
the three Norns in _The Story of Siegfried_.

              NOTE 7.--THE DEATH OF ASCLEPIUS.  _Page_ 91.

The story of Balder, as related in the Norse mythology, has many points
of resemblance to that of Asclepius.  Balder, although a being of a
higher grade than Asclepius, was the friend and benefactor of mankind.
He was slain through the jealousy of the evil one: his death was
bewailed by all living beings, birds, beasts, trees, and plants.--See
_The Story of Siegfried_.

                 NOTE 8.--PARIS AND ŒNONE.  _Page_ 109.

A very beautiful version of this story is to be found in Tennyson’s poem
entitled "Œnone."  It will well repay reading.

              NOTE 9.--THE SWINEHERD’S STORY.  _Page_ 119.

This story was afterwards related to Odysseus under very different
circumstances.  The curious reader is referred to the Odyssey, Book XV.,

                    NOTE 10.--PRAYERS.  _Page_ 129.

    "The gods themselves are placable, though far
    Above us all in honor and in power
    And virtue.  We propitiate them with vows,
    Incense, libations, and burnt-offerings,
    And prayers for those who have offended.  Prayers
    Are daughters of almighty Jupiter,--
    Lame, wrinkled, and squint-eyed,--that painfully
    Follow Misfortune’s steps; but strong of limb
    And swift of foot Misfortune is, and, far
    Outstripping all, comes first to every land,
    And there wreaks evil on mankind, which Prayers
    Do afterwards redress.  Whoe’er receives
    Jove’s daughters reverently when they approach,
    Him willingly they aid, and to his suit
    They listen.  Whosoever puts them by
    With obstinate denial, they appeal
    To Jove, the son of Saturn, and entreat
    That he will cause Misfortune to attend
    The offender’s way in life, that he in turn
    May suffer evil, and be punished thus."
      _The Iliad_ (BRYANT’S Translation), IX. 618-636.

A sacrifice to Poseidon similar to that described here is spoken of in
the Odyssey, III. 30-60.

             NOTE 11.--THE LABORS OF HERACLES.  _Page_ 140.

It seems to have been one of the unexplainable decrees of fate that
Heracles should serve Eurystheus twelve years, and that at his bidding
he should perform the most difficult undertakings. The account of the
twelve labors of Heracles, undertaken by command of his master, belongs
to a later age than that of Homer, The twelve labors were as follows:--

    1. The fight with the Nemean lion.
    2. The fight with the Lernæan hydra.
    3. Capture of the Arcadian stag.
    4. Destruction of the Erymanthian boar.
    5. Cleansing the stables of Augeas.
    6. Putting to flight the Harpies, or Stymphalian birds.
    7. Capture of the Cretan bull.
    8. Capture of the mares of Thracian Diomede.
    9. Seizure of the girdle of the queen of the Amazons.
    10. Capture of the oxen of Geryones.
    11. Fetching the golden apples of the Hesperides.
    12. Bringing Cerberus from the lower world.

                         NOTE 12.  _Page_ 151.

The description of the palace of Tyndareus given here has many points of
resemblance to the description of the palace of Alcinous.--See
_Odyssey_, VII. 85.

           NOTE 13.  THE VENGEANCE OF ODYSSEUS.  _Page_ 224.

Palamedes, according to the ancient story, went to Troy with the heroes,
where he distinguished himself by his wisdom and courage.  But Odysseus,
who could never forgive him, caused a captive Phrygian to write to
Palamedes a letter in the name of Priam, and bribed a servant of
Palamedes to conceal the letter under his master’s bed.  He then accused
Palamedes of treachery. Upon searching the tent, the letter was found,
and Palamedes was stoned to death.  When Palamedes was led to death, he
exclaimed, "Truth, I lament thee, for thou hast died even before me!"
There are other stories as to the manner of the death of Palamedes.
Some say that Odysseus and Diomede induced him to descend into a well,
where they pretended they had discovered a treasure; and when he was
below, they cast stones upon him, and killed him. Others state that he
was drowned by them while fishing; and others that he was killed by
Paris with an arrow.--See _Smith’s Classical Dictionary_.

            NOTE 14.--THE GARDEN OF LYCOMEDES.  _Page_ 230.

The curious reader may find in the description of the garden of Alcinous
(Odyssey, VII. 85, _et seq._) some resemblance to the description here
given of the garden of Lycomedes.

              NOTE 15.--THE CASKETS OF ZEUS.  _Page_ 233.

      "Beside Jove’s threshold stand
    Two casks of gifts for man.  One cask contains
    The evil, one the good; and he to whom
    The Thunderer gives them mingled sometimes falls
    Into misfortune, and is sometimes crowned
    With blessings.  But the man to whom he gives
    The evil only stands a mark exposed
    To wring, and, chased by grim calamity,
    Wanders the teeming earth, alike unloved
    By gods and men."--_The Iliad_, XXIV. 663-672,

                 NOTE 16.--DEATH OF AJAX.  _Page_ 258.

"The soul of Ajax, son of Telawon, alone stood apart, being still angry
for the victory wherein I prevailed against him, in the suit by the
ships concerning the arms of Achilles that his lady mother had set for a
prize; and the sons of the Trojans made award and Pallas Athené.  Would
that I had never prevailed and won such a prize!"--_Odyssey_, XI.


                        *INDEX TO PROPER NAMES.*

[_The figures in parentheses indicate the page or pages on which the
name receives fullest mention._]

Acarnānĭa (3, 72), the most western province of Hellas.

Acastus (92), son of Pelias, king of Iolcos; he was slain by Peleus.

Achaia (5), the northern coast of Peloponnesus.

Achilles (91, 109, 225-236, 246, 255), son of Peleus and the sea-nymph
Thetis.  The chief hero among the Hellenes.

Actæon (87), a celebrated huntsman.  He was changed by Artemis into a
stag, and torn to pieces by his own dogs.

Admetus (90, 166), king of Pherze in Thessaly.

Æson (80), son of Cretheus, and father of Jason.  He was excluded from
the kingship of Iolcos by his half-brother Pelias.

Ætolia (5), a country north of the Corinthian Gulf (Bay of Crissa), and
east of Acarnania.

Agamemnon (150, 233, 238, 251), king of Mycenæ, and commander-in-chief
of the Hellenic forces in the war against Troy.

Ajax Telamon, sometimes called the greater Ajax (150, 234, 257), son of
Telamon, king of Salamis.  He was a nephew of Peleus, and hence a cousin
of Achilles.

Ajax Oileus, sometimes called the lesser Ajax (151, 234), son of Oileus,
king of the Locrians.

Alcestis (166), daughter of Pelias, and wife of Admetus.

Alpheus (132), a river which flows through Arcadia and Elis.

Althea (65), the mother of Meleager.

Amphithea (53), grandmother of Odysseus.

Amphitryon (55), the stepfather of Heracles.

Anticleia (2, 219), daughter of Autolycus, and mother of Odysseus.

Antilochus (131, 151), son of Nestor.

Aphareus (125, 187), founder of the town of Arene in Messene, and father
of Idas and Lynceus.

Aphrodīte (99-110, 160), goddess of love and beauty.

Apollo (37-46, 189, 208), son of Zeus and Leto.  He was the god of
prophecy and of music and song, the punisher of evil, and the helper of

Arcadia (5, 132), a country in the middle of the Peloponnesus.

Ares (223), the god of war.  _Mars_.

Arethusa (133), a sea-nymph.

Argo (2, 89), the ship upon which Jason and his companions sailed to

Argolis, see Argos.

Argonauts (2, 67), "the sailors of the Argo."

Argos (2, 5), a name frequently applied by Homer to the whole of the
Peloponnesus.  A district north of Laconia, often called Argolis.

Argus (196), a monster having a hundred eyes, appointed by Here to be
the guardian of Io.

Artĕmis (134, 239), daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin-sister of
Apollo.  She was the goddess of the chase, and the protectress of the
young and helpless.  _Diana_.

Asclepius (87-90), son of Apollo, and god of the healing art.

Atalanta (68, 162), daughter of Iasus and Clymene; the fleet-footed wife
of Milanion.

Athēné (10, 14,99-105) goddess of wisdom, and "queen of the air;" often
called Pallas Athené.  _Minerva_.

Atropos (66, 98), one of the Fates.

Aulis (233, 239-251), a harbor in Bœotia, on the Euripus.

Autolycus (48), the grandfather of Odysseus.

Balios and Xanthos (97), the horses of Peleus.

Bœotia, a district north of the Corinthian Gulf, bounded on the east by
the Euripus, and on the west by Phocis.

Bosphōrus (197), the "ox ford," the strait connecting the Sea of Marmora
with the Black (Euxine) Sea.

Cadmus (217), a Phœnician who settled in Hellas, and founded the city of
Thebes.  He is said to have brought the alphabet from Phœnicia.

Calchas (225, 241-252), the wisest soothsayer among the Hellenes.  He
died of grief because the soothsayer Mopsus predicted things which he
had not foreseen.

Calўdōn (66-76), an ancient town and district of Ætolia, on the Evenus

Castor (56, 68, 146, 185), twin-brother of Polydeuces.

Centaurs (84-86), an ancient race inhabiting Mount Pelion and the
neighboring districts of Thessaly.

Cephallenia (183), a large island near Ithaca.

Charybdis (155), a dreadful whirlpool on the side of a narrow strait
opposite Scylla.

Cheiron (58, 78, 170), a Centaur, "the wisest of men," and the teacher
of the heroes.

Chryse (252), an island in the Ægæan Sea; also a city on the coast of
Asia Minor, south of Troy.

Circe (270), daughter of Helios, a sorceress who lived in the island of

Cleopatra (67-76), wife of Meleager.

Clotho (66, 98), one of the Fates.

Clytemnestra (152, 242-252), daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, and sister
of Castor and Polydeuces and Helen.  She was married to Agamemnon, and
became the mother of Iphigenia and Orestes.

Colchis (2, 87-89), a country of Asia, at the eastern extremity of the
Black Sea.

Copāis (40), a lake in Bœotia.

Corinth (5, 49, no), a city on the isthmus between the Corinthian Gulf
and the Ægæan Sea.

Corycia (51), a nymph who lived on Mount Parnassus.

Crissa (5, 29), the ancient name of the Gulf of Corinth; also, the name
of a town in Phocis.

Cronus (11,182), the youngest of the Titans, and the father of Zeus.

Cythēra (165), an island off the south-western point of Laconia.

Deianeira (142, 171-181), wife of Heracles.

Delos (38), the smallest of the Cyclades islands in the Ægæan Sea.

Delphi (5, 30-45), a town on the southern slope of Mount Parnassus.

Deucălion (200), son of Prometheus, and father of Hellen.

Diomēde (151, 235), son of Tydeus, and king of Argos.

Dodona (171, 225), an ancient oracle of Hellas, situated in Epirus in a
grove of oaks and beeches.

Echion (61, 76), son of Autolycus.

Elis (125), a country on the western coast of the Peloponnesus, south of

Epaphos (16, 198), son of Zeus and Io.

Eris (98), the goddess of discord.

Erymanthus (139), a mountain in Arcadia.

Eubœa, the largest island of the Ægæan Sea, separated from Bœotia by the

Eumæus (114-119), the swineherd of Ithaca.

Euripus (233), the narrow strait between Eubœa and Bœotia.

Eurycleia (12), the nurse of Odysseus and of Telemachus.

Eurystheus (138), the master of Heracles, king of Argolis.

Eurytion (71, 92), king of Phthia.

Eurytion (85), a Centaur.

Eurytus (55, 136-144), king of Œchalia.

Evēnus (176), a river in Ætolia.

Ganўmēdes (208), the most beautiful of mortals, son of Tros.

Glaucus (25), a fisherman who became immortal by eating of the divine
herb which Cronus had sown.

Gorgons (27), three daughters of Phorcys and Ceto.

Gray Sisters (26), daughters of Phorcys.

Hades (89, 170), the god of the lower regions.  _Pluto_.

Hēbē (98), the goddess of youth.

Hector (101, 255), son of Priam; the chief hero of the Trojans.

Helen (145-162, 216, 267), daughter of Tyndareus and Leda of Lacedæmon,
represented in mythology as the daughter of Zeus and Leda. "The most
beautiful woman in the world."

Hĕlĕnus (258), son of Priam, soothsayer of the Trojans.

Hēlios (5, 15-19), the god of the sun.  _Sol_.

Hellas, the name which the Greeks applied to their country.  _Greece_.

Hellen (203), son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, and ancestor of all the

Hephæstus (90, 160, 193), the god of fire.  _Vulcan_.

Hērē (99-105), the wife of Zeus.  _Juno_.

Heracles (55, 87-90, 138-144, 169-181, 211-214), the most celebrated of
all the old heroes.  _Hercules_.

Hermes (100-104, 196), the herald of the gods, son of Zeus and Maia.

Hēsĭŏne (210-213), the sister of Priam

Hesperia (19), "the western land."

Hesperides (5, 27, 139), guardians of the golden apples which Earth gave
to Here on her marriage day--said by some to be the daugters of Phorcys
and Ceto.

Hippódàmeia (84, 167) wife of Peirithous.

Hyllus (176), son of Heracles.

Hyperboreans (6, 39), a people living in the far North.

Iasus (163), an Arcadian, father of Atalanta.

Icarius (155, 162), brother of Tyndareus, and father of Penelope.

Ida (102-109, 208), a mountain-range of Mysia in Asia Minor, east of

Idas (67, 185), "the boaster," son of Aphareus, and father of Cleopatra.

Idŏmĕneus (151, 215, 235), king of Crete.

Ilios (206-214, 253), a name applied to the district in which Troy was
situated.  _Ilium_.

Ilus (208), son of Dardanus.

Inachus (196), the first king of Argos.

Io (196-199), daughter of Inachus, and mother of Epaphos from whom was
descended Heracles.

Iolcos (77-110), an ancient town of Thessaly at the head of the Pegasæan

Iŏle (138-144, 173-181), daughter of Eurytus of Œchalia, beloved by

Iphigenīa (242-252), daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra.

Iphitus (136-153, 172), son of Eurytus, one of the Argonauts.

Ithaca (1, 113), a small island in the Ionian Sea, the birthplace of

Jason (2, 68, 87), leader of the Argonauts.

Lacedæmon (5, 145-169, 189-204), a district of Laconia in which was
situated Sparta.  The name is also applied to the town of Sparta.

Lachĕsis (66), one of the Fates.

Laconia (5, 145), a country in the south-east of Peloponnesus.

Laertes (2, 182), king of Ithaca, father of Odysseus.

Laodamĭa (254), daughter of Acastus, and wife of Protesilaus.

Laŏmĕdon (208-314), king of Troy, father of Priam.

Lăpiths (84), a people inhabiting the country adjoining Mount Pelion in

Leda (146), wife of Tyndareus of Lacedæmon.

Lemnos (253, 260), an island in the Ægæan Sea.

Lichas (174-179), the herald of Heracles.

Linus (56), a musician, brother of Orpheus.

Lycomēdes (228), king of Scyros.

Lydia (173), a district of Asia Minor.

Lynceus (185), son of Aphareus, brother of Idas.

Machāon (151, 262), son of Asclepius, the surgeon of the Greeks in the
Trojan war.

Medēa (89), daughter of Æetes, king of Colchis, celebrated for her skill
in magic.

Medusa (27), one of the Gorgons.

Meleāger (66-76), son of Oineus and Althea, husband of Cleopatra.

Menelāus (150, 234), brother of Agamemnon, and husband of Helen.

Messēne (120), a country in the south-western part of the Peloponnesus.

Milanion (163), the husband of Atalanta.

Mycēnæ (150), an ancient town in Argolis.

Mysia (239), a country in Asia Minor.

Nedon (131), a river of Messene.

Nēleus (125, 173), son of Poseidon and Tyro, brother of Pelias, and
father of Nestor.

Nessus (176), a Centaur, ferryman at the River Evenus.

Nestor (125, 235), king of Pylos, son of Neleus.

Nireus (151, 160, 235), one of the heroes of the Trojan war.

Ocĕănus (194), god of the Ocean.

Odysseus, the hero of this story, son of Laertes, husband of Penelope.

Œchalia (138, 174), a town supposed to be somewhere in Eubœa.

Œnone (103, 263), daughter of the river-god Cebren, and wife of Paris.

Œta (171, 180), a rugged pile of mountains in the south of Thessaly.

Oineus (65), king of Pleuron and Calydon.

Olympus (5, 79), a mountain in Thessaly, on the summit of which Zeus
held his court.

Omphalé (173), a queen of Lydia.

Orestes (244), son of Agamemnon.

Orpheus (248), the greatest of the old musicians.

Orsilochus (129, 134), son of Alpheus, king of Messene.

Ortygia (134), an island near the coast of Sicily.

Palamēdes (166, 217-224), son of Nauplius, king of Eubœa.

Pallas Athené, see Athené.

Paris (101-110, 204-216), son of Priam of Troy.

Parnassus (5, 30-36, 201), a mountain, or group of mountains, a few
miles north of the Corinthian Gulf.

Patrŏclus (227, 234), the friend of Achilles.

Peirĭthŏus (84, 167), king of the Lapiths, son of Ixion and Dia.

Pēleus (71, 91-100, 227), son of Æcus and Endeis the daughter of

Pĕlĭas (80, 125), son of Poseidon and Tyro, and brother of Neleus.  He
made himself king of Iolcos, by excluding his half-brother Æson from the

Pēlĭon (79-110), a lofty mountain in Thessaly not far from Iolcos.

Peloponnesus, all that part of Hellas south of the Corinthian Gulf (Bay
of Crissa).

Pĕnĕlŏpē (152, 162-168), daughter of Icarius, cousin of Helen, and wife
of Odysseus.

Perseus (27), one of the older heroes, son of Zeus and Danaë.

Phăĕethon (15-19), son of Helios and Clymene.

Phēmius (3, 14), a celebrated minstrel.

Pherae, or Pharæ (130-144), an ancient town in Messene on the river
Nedon.  Also (90), a town in Thessaly of which Admetus was king.

Philoctētes (159, 180, 252, 260-263), a friend of Heracles, and the most
celebrated archer in the Trojan war.

Phorcys (20-27), "the old man of the sea."

Phthia (92), a district in the south-east of Thessaly.

Polydeuces (146, 185), brother of Castor and Helen.  _Pollux_.

Poseidon (22-27, 208), the god of the sea.  _Neptune_.

Priam (101, 207-214), the last king of Troy, son of Laomedon, and father
of Hector and Paris.

Promētheus (191-203), a Titan, son of Iapetus, the friend of man.

Protesilāus (254), a hero from Phylace in Thessaly.

Proteus (23), the prophetic shepherd of the sea.

Pylos (125-131), a town on the south-west coast of Messene.

Pyrrha (201), the wife of Deucalion.

Pyrrhus (259-262), the son of Achilles, also called Neoptolemus.

Pythia (34), a name applied to the priestess of Apollo at Delphi.

Rhadamanthus (6, 56), son of Zeus and Europa, and judge and ruler in the
Islands of the Blest.

Scandia (164), a harbor in Cythera.

Scylla (155), a monster with six heads, which guarded one side of a
narrow strait.

Scyros (228, 259), a small island east of Eubœa.

Sinon (265), a grandson of Autolycus, and cousin of Odysseus.

Sisyphus (49), son of Ælus.  He is said to have built the town of
Ephyra, afterward Corinth.

Sparta, see Lacedæmon.

Stymphālus (139), a town in the north-east of Arcadia.

Syma (151), a small island off the south-western coast of Caria in Asia

Syria, or Syra (115), one of the Cyclades islands.

Talthybius (250), the herald of Agamemnon.

Tāygĕtes (149, 185), a lofty range of mountains between Laconia and

Tĕlămŏn (214), son of Æacus and Endeis, and brother of Peleus, king of
Salamis.  He was the father of Ajax by Peribœa, his second wife; after
the death of Peribœa, he married Hesione, the sister of Priam.

Tĕlĕmăchus (219), the son of Odysseus and Penelope.

Telephus (239, 241, 252), son of Heracles and Auge, and king of Mysia.

Theseus (147), the great hero of Attica, and king of Athens

Thessaly, the largest division of Hellas.

Thetis (95), a sea-nymph, wife of Peleus, and mother of Achilles.

Tilphussa (40), a nymph dwelling at Lake Copais.

Tiryns (143), a city in Argolis, not far from Mycenæ.

Trāchis (143, 171), a town of Thessaly.

Trophonius (41), one of the architects of the temple at Delphi.

Tyndărĕus (146-169, 184-188), king of Lacedæmon.

Zacynthus (183), an island west of Messene.

Zeus (182, 191), son of Cronus, "the ruler of gods and men."  _Jupiter_.

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