On the Shores of the Great Sea - M. B. Synge

The Siege of Troy

"Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy."


Here is another story of these old heroic days before the dawn of history in Greece. And yet there is some truth in it, as there is in all these old stories. The city of Troy stood in the north-west corner of the land we now know as Asia Minor. It was therefore quite close to Greece.

This siege of Troy is supposed to have taken place, about the time that the children of Israel were settling down, under their first king, Saul.

Long, long ago, then, so the story runs, there was a King of Troy, called Priam. He had nineteen children, of whom Paris was the second. When Paris was old enough, he built a ship, and sailed away to visit the Greek kings. He made great friends with the King of Sparta, but he repaid his kindness, by stealing away his wife, the beautiful Helen.

As soon as the King of Sparta found how his hospitality had been misused, he called upon all the Greek heroes to help him to recover his wife and to revenge himself on Paris. Every one replied to the call, and for many years, the Greeks collected their forces together. At last they were ready, and the King of Sparta's brother, Agamemnon, took command of them all.

With over a thousand ships and a hundred thousand men, the Greeks landed on the Trojan coast. They hauled their ships on shore, fastened them with ropes to large stones, which served as anchors, and surrounded the fleet with fortifications to protect it against the enemy. They fought the Trojans, with swords and spears. The chiefs generally, went to battle in a chariot, which was an open car drawn by two horses and driven by some trusty friend, who held the horses, while the chief stood up, and sent spear after spear, among the enemy.

The Greeks soon showed themselves to be superior to the Trojans, who shut themselves up within the huge walls of their city, leaving an opening on one side only, from which they might receive corn, cattle, and other supplies.

Nine summers and nine winters went by, and still the siege of Troy went on. The Greek heroes lost many of their finest men, but neither side would give in. The great hero among the Greeks was Achilles, among the men of Troy, Hector, the eldest son of old Priam. Both these were killed at last, and not very long after Paris himself was slain.

Still the King of Sparta could not get Helen back. Priam used to make her come and sit beside him on the battlements, over the gateway at Troy, to tell him the names of all the Greek chiefs.

But the King of Sparta grew desperate at last, and a means was devised for getting into Troy. Together with a number of Greek heroes, he hid himself in a monstrous wooden horse which was found on the sea-shore. Some one told the Trojans, if they would drag this wooden horse into Troy, their luck would turn, and it would bring them good fortune. So the Trojans harnessed themselves to the horse, and began to drag it into Troy, little thinking it was full of the enemy. Night came on, and suddenly at a given signal, the wooden horse was opened, and out tumbled the King of Sparta and his men, while outside, the other Greeks had seen the signal and rushed in.

Troy was set on fire, the King of Sparta rescued his beautiful wife and carried her down to his ship. Old Priam tried to put on his armour and defend his wife and daughters, but he was killed in the court of his palace. And all the rest of the men of Troy were either killed, or made slaves.

Only one great man of Troy escaped. That was Æneas, who, seeing that all was lost, took his old father on his back, and leading his little son by the hand, while his wife followed, escaped from the burning city. He found a ship on the coast and sailed away in safety.

After long years and marvellous adventures, he arrived on the shores of Italy, landing near the spot, where Rome now stands. It is said, that on the side of one of the mountains, he built a city, known as the Long White city; and here for three hundred years the descendants of Troy reigned.

So ended the great siege of Troy. It was first sung of, by the great poet Homer, in his wonderful poem called the 'Iliad'; but the acts of the heroes, have inspired many and many a poet since that time, until it has become one of the best known scenes, of the world's great history.