The essence of government is power, and power, lodged as it is in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. — James Madison

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Childhood of Paris

In those days, Priam and Hecuba were King and Queen of Troy (or Ilium),—a beautiful city near the coast of Asia Minor, almost opposite Athens. They were the parents of a large family of sons and daughters; and among the sons were Hector and Paris, young men of remarkable strength and beauty.

Paris had had a very adventurous life. When he was but a little babe, his mother dreamed that she saw a flaming brand in the cradle, in the place where the child lay. This brand seemed to set fire to the cradle and all the palace; and the queen, awaking with a start, was overjoyed to find that it was nothing but a dream.

Men in those days believed that dreams were sent by the gods to warn them of coming events, and so Hecuba was very anxious to know what the burning brand meant. She told her husband all about it, and they finally decided to ask an oracle to explain the dream.

A few days later the messenger they had sent to the oracle came home, and Hecuba shed many tears when he brought word that the child Paris was destined to bring destruction upon his native city.

To escape this calamity, Priam ordered that Paris should be carried out of the city, and that he should be left in a forest, where the wild beasts would eat him up, or where he would be sure to die from hunger and cold.

Poor little Paris was therefore lifted out of his comfortable cradle, and left alone in the woods, where he cried so hard that a passing hunter heard him. This man was so sorry for the poor child, that he carried him home to his wife, who brought the little stranger up with her own children.

As he lived with hunters, Paris soon learned their ways; and he became so active that when he was quite grown up he went to Troy to take part in the athletic games, which were often held there in honor of the gods. He was so strong that he easily won all the prizes, although Hector and the other young princes were also striving for them.

When Paris went up to receive the crown of wild olive leaves which was the victor's prize, every one noticed his likeness to the royal family; and his sister Cassandra, who was able to foretell future events, said that he was the son of Priam and Hecuba, and that he would bring great misfortunes upon Troy.

The king and queen paid no heed to these words, but gladly welcomed Paris home, and lavished all kinds of gifts upon him to make up for their cruelty and long neglect.

Paris was so fond of change and adventure, that he soon grew tired of court life, and asked Priam for a ship, so that he might sail off to Greece.

This request was readily granted, and Paris went away. The young prince sailed from island to island, and came at last to the southern part of the Peloponnesus, where the descendants of Hercules had founded the city of Sparta. Here he was warmly welcomed by King Menelaus; but this king was obliged to leave home shortly after the arrival of Paris, and he bade Helen, his wife, the most beautiful woman in the world, do all she could to entertain the noble stranger.

Helen was so kind to Paris that he soon fell in love with her. His greatest wish was to have her as his wife: so he began to tell her that Venus, the goddess of love, had promised him that he should marry the most beautiful woman in the world.

Talking thus day after day, the handsome young Paris finally persuaded Helen to leave her husband and home. She got on board of his vessel, and went with him to Troy as his wife. Of course, this wrongdoing could not bring happiness; and not only were they duly punished, but, as you will soon see, the crime of Paris brought suffering and death to his friends as well.

When Menelaus came home and found that his guest had run away with his wife, he was very angry, and vowed that he would not rest until he had punished Paris and won back the beautiful Helen.

menelaus
Menelaus.


He therefore made ready for war, and sent word to his friends and relatives to come and help him, telling them to meet him at Aulis, a seaport, where they would find swift-sailing vessels to carry them across the sea to Troy.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province