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brought it yellow honey from the stores of the wild bees; some fed it
with milk from the white goats that pastured on the mountain side; and
others stood as sentinels around it, guarding it from the wolves and

"Thus five days passed, and then 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
Alexandros, or the helper of men; but his foster-father named him
Paris. 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.

"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

"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 needlework.

"A sound as of sweet music caused the young shepherd to raise his eyes.
Before him stood the four immortals, Hera, Athena, 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.

"Hermes spoke first: 'Paris, we have come to seek thy help; there is
strife among the folk who dwell on Mount Olympus. Here are Hera,
Athena, 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 Hera began her plea at once: 'I know that I am 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 aftertimes shall sing your praises.'

"And Paris was half tempted to give the apple, without further ado, to
Hera, the proud queen. But gray-eyed Athena 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 shall 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 Athena; 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 his palace, 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. He
protested and 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 again.'

"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!'

"Then 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 had 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."



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

"Tell again the story of your visit to Troy," said Nestor. "Our guest,
good Palamedes, would fain hear it; and I doubt not that he may be of
service in your cause. Tell us the whole story, for we would all know
more about the famous city and its kingly rulers."

Then Menelaus began once more at the beginning.


There is no need that I should speak of my long voyage to Troy, or of
the causes which persuaded me to undertake it. When I drew near the
lofty walls of the city, and through the gate, which is called Scaean,
could see the rows of stately dwellings and the busy market-place and
the crowds of people, I stopped there in wonder, hesitating to venture

Then I sent a herald to the gate, 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; on my right hand flowed the sparkling waters of the river
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 gate to welcome
me. With words of greeting from the king, they bade me enter within
the walls. They led me through the Scaean gate and along the
well-paved streets, until we came, at last, to King Priam's 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 Greece 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 Greece. 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.

"A grandson of Dardanus was Ilus, famous in song and story, and to him
was born 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 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 wishes.

"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 on the wooded slopes
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 two 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 they 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 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 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 Athena. In much 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
replied, 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 dismay 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
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 and the priests 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. 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 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 monster that was robbing us of
our 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 Hercules, 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 North Wind given to my grandfather by
the powers above. These steeds, my father promised to give to Hercules
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 Hercules
stood near her, fearless in his strength. Soon the waves began to
rise; the waters were disturbed, and the beast, with hoarse bellowings,
lifted his head above the breakers, and rushed forward to seize his
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 Hercules, leading her gently back to the
city, 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 Hercules; 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 city of Troy, and men
forgot the perils from which they had been delivered. But ere long,
great Hercules returned, as he had promised; and with him came a 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 Hercules, 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 fleet-footed.

"After this Hercules 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 father 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 have never ventured far from home, and they know nothing of the
dangers of the deep, nor do they feel sure they can find their way to
Greece. 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."

Here Menelaus paused as if in deep thought, and not until his listeners
begged him to go on, did he resume his story.

[1]Menelaus, king of Lacedaemon, was the husband of Helen, the most
beautiful woman in the world. At the time of his marriage to Helen all
the princes of Greece had vowed to support him against any enemy who
should attempt to defraud him of his rights. This and the following
story tell of his visit to Troy and its results.



"I was glad when King Priam made this request," continued Menelaus,
"for, in truth, I was loath to part with Paris; and I arranged at once
that he should bear me company in my own ship while his vessel with its
crew followed not far behind.

"And so, being blessed with favoring winds, we made a quick voyage back
to my own country. 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
Lacedaemon 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 woods 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
Lacedasmon; 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 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 Lacedaemon,' 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
Lacedaemon 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 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 be 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,

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Online LibraryJames BaldwinHero Tales → online text (page 3 of 9)