Not to be a liberal at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head. — Francois Guizot

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




The Wrath of Achilles

In all their battles, the booty won by the Greeks from the enemy had been divided among the chiefs and soldiers, and on one occasion female slaves were given to Agamemnon and Achilles. These girls were not born slaves, but were captives of war reduced to slavery, as was then the custom; for, while the men and boys were always killed, the women and girls were forced to be the servants of the victors.

Now, it happened that the slave given to Agamemnon was the daughter of a priest of Apollo. He was very sorry when he heard she had fallen into the hands of the Greeks, and sent a message to Agamemnon, offering to give him a large sum of money if he would only set her free.

Agamemnon would not accept the money, and sent a rude message to the priest, who, in anger, asked Apollo to avenge this insult by sending a plague upon the Greeks. The god heard and granted this prayer, and soon all the soldiers in the Greek camp were suffering from a terrible disease, of which many of them died.

As no remedy could relieve the sufferers, the Greek leaders consulted an oracle, to find out how the plague might be stopped. Then they learned that Apollo was angry with Agamemnon because he had refused to give up his slave, and that the Greeks would continue to suffer until he made up his mind to give her back to her father.

Thus forced to give her up to save his men from further suffering and even from death, Agamemnon angrily said he would take Achilles' slave instead, and he had her brought to wait upon him in his tent.

Achilles, who wanted to save the Greeks from the plague, allowed the maiden to depart, warning Agamemnon, however, that he would no longer fight for a chief who could be so selfish and unjust. As soon as the girl had gone, therefore, he laid aside his fine armor; and although he heard the call for battle, and the din of fighting, he staid quietly within his tent.

While Achilles sat thus sulking day after day, his companions were bravely fighting. In spite of their bravery, however, the Trojans were gaining the advantage; for, now that Achilles was no longer there to fill their hearts with terror, they fought with new courage.

The Greeks, missing the bright young leader who always led them into the midst of the fray, were gradually driven back by the Trojans, who pressed eagerly forward, and even began to set fire to some of the Greek ships.

Achilles' friend, Patroclus, who was fighting at the head of the Greeks, now saw that the Trojans, unless they were checked, would soon destroy the whole army, and he rushed into Achilles' tent to beg him to come and help them once more.

His entreaties were vain. Achilles refused to move a step; but he consented at last to let Patroclus wear his armor, and, thus disguised, make a last attempt to rally the Greeks and drive back the Trojans.

Patroclus started out, and, when the Trojans saw the well-known armor, they shrank back in terror, for they greatly feared Achilles. They soon saw their mistake, however; and Hector, rushing forward, killed Patroclus, tore the armor off his body, and retired to put it on in honor of his victory.

Then a terrible struggle took place between the Trojans and the Greeks for the possession of Patroclus' body. The news of his friend's death had quickly been carried to Achilles, and had roused him from his indifferent state. Springing upon the wall that stretched before the camp, he gave a mighty shout, at the sound of which the Trojans fled, while Ajax and Ulysses brought back the body of Patroclus.



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