Imágenes de páginas

© of Iphigentained in essage to th

jans which inhabited the city not the tenth part of this number, as Agamemnon saith in the second of Homer's Iliads; but their followers and aids were very many and strong. For all Phrygia, Lycia, Mysia, and the greatest part of Asia the Less, took part with the Trojans : the Amazons also brought them succour: and Rhes us out of Thrace, and Memnon out of Assyria, (though some think out of Ethiopia,) came to their defence.

. Sect. III. Of the Grecians' journey, and embassage to Troy ;

and of Helena's being detained in Egypt; and of the sacrificing of Iphigenia. WHEREFORE the Greeks, unwilling to come to trial of arms, if things might be compounded by treaty, sent Menelaus and Ulysses embassadors to Troy; who demanded Helen, and the goods that were taken with her out of Menelaus's house. What answer the Trojans made hereunto it is uncertain. Herodotus, from the report of the Egyptian priests, makes it very probable that Helen was taken from Paris before his return to Troy. The sum of his discourse is this.

Paris, in his return with Helen, being driven by foul weather upon the coast of Egypt, was accused for the rape of Helen by some bondsmen of his, that had taken sanctuary. Proteus, then king of Egypt, finding the accusation true by examination, detained Helen, and the goods taken with her, till her husband should require them ; dismissing Paris without further punishment, because he was a stranger. When, therefore, the Greeks demanding Helen, had answer that she was in Egypt, they thought themselves deluded; and thereupon made the war, which ended in the ruin of Troy. But when after the city taken, they perceived indeed she had not been there, they returned home, sending Menelaus to ask his wife of Proteus. Homer, and the whole nation of poets, (except Euripides,) vary from this history, thinking it a matter more magnificent and more graceful to their poems, for the retaining of a fair lady, than that they endured all by force, because it lay not in their power to deliver her. Yet, in the fourth of his Odysseys, Homer speaks of Menelaus's being in Egypt, before he returned home to Sparta ; which voyage it were not easily believed, that he made for pleasure ; and if he were driven thither by contrary winds, much more may we think that Paris was like. ly to have been driven thither by foul weather. For Paris, immediately upon the rape committed, was enforced to fly, taking such winds as he could get, and rather enduring any storm, than to commit himself to any haven in the Greek seas; whereas, Menelaus might have put into any port in Greece, and there have remained, with good entertainment, until such time as the wind had come about, and served for his navigation.

One great argument Herodotus brings to confirm the saying of the Egyptian priests, which is, that if Helen had been at Troy, it had been utter madness for Priamus to see so many miseries befal him during the war, and so many of his sons slain for the pleasure of one, who neither was heir to the kingdom, (for Hector was elder,) nor equal in virtue to many of the rest. Besides, it may be seen that Lucian spake not more pleasantly than truly, when he said that Helen, at the war of Troy, was almost as old as queen Hecuba, considering that she had been ravished by Theseus the companion of Hercules, who took Troy when Priamus was very young; and considering further, that she was sister to Castor and Pollux, (she and Pollux being said by some to have been twins,) who sailed with the Argonauts, having Telamon the father of Ajax in their company, before the time that Hesione was taken; on whom Telamon begat Ajax, that was a principal commander in the Trojan war.

But whether it were so, that the Trojans could not, or would not, restore Helen, so it was that the embassadors returned ill contented, and not very well intreated; for there wanted not some that advised to have them slain. The Greeks, hereupon incensed, made all haste towards Troy; at which time Calchas, (whom some say to have been a runagate Trojan, though no such thing be found in Homer,) filled the captains and all the host with many troublesome answers and divinations. For he would have Agamemnon's daughter sacrificed, to appease Diana, whose anger, he said, withstood their passage. Whether the young lady was sacrificed, or whether, (as some write,) the goddess was contented with a hind, it is not needful here to be disputed of. Sure it is, that the malice of the devil, who awaits for all opportunities, is never more importunate than where mens ignorance is most. Calchas also told the Greeks, that the taking of Troy was impossible till some fatal impediments were removed ; and that till ten years were passed, the town should hold out against them. All which notwithstanding, the Greeks proceeded in their enterprise, under the command of Agamemnon, who was accompanied with his brother Menelaus, Achilles the most valiant of all the Greeks, his friend Patroclus, and his tutor Phæ. nix; Ajax and Teucer, the sons of Telamon ; Ido, meneus, and his companion Meriones; Nestor, and his sons, Antilochus and Thrasymedes ; Ulysses ; Mnestheus, the son of Pereus, captain of the Athenians; Diomedes the son of Tydeus, a man of sin, gular courage; the wise and learned Palamedes ; Ascalaphas, and Ialmenus, the sons of Mars, who had sailed with the Argonauts ; Philoctetes also, the son of Pæan, who had the arrows of Hercules, without which Calchas said that the city could not be taken ; Ajax the son of Oileus; Peneleus, Thoas, Eumelus, Tisandrus, Eurypilus, Athamas, Sthenelus; Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules ; Podalyrius, and

Machaon, the sons of Æsculapius ; Epeus, who is said to have made the wooden horse, by which the town was taken ; and Protesilaus, who first leaped on shore, neglecting the oracle that threatened death to him that landed first.

SECT. IV. Of the acts of the Grecians at the siege. THESE, and many others of less note, arriving at Troy, found, such sharp entertainment, as might easily persuade them to think that the war would be more than one year's work. For, in the first encounter, they lost Protesilaus, whom Hector slew, and many others, without any great harm done to the Trojans; save only that, by their numbers of men, they won ground enough to encamp themselves in, as appeareth in Thucydides. The principal impediment which the Greeks found, was want of victuals, which grew upon them by reason of their multitude, and the smallness of their vessels, wherein they could not carry necessaries for such an army. Hereupon they were compelled to send some part of their men, to labour the ground in Chersonesus; others, to rob upon the sea for the relief of the camp. Thus was the war protracted nine whole years, and either nothing done, or, if any skirmishes were, yet could the town receive little loss by them, having equal numbers to maintain the field against such Greeks as continued the siege, and a more safe retreat, if the enemy got the better. · Wherefore Ovid saith, that, from the first year till the tenth, there was no fighting at all, and Heraclides commends, as very credible, the report of Herodotus, that the Greeks did not lie before Troy the first nine years; but only did beat up and down the seas, exercising their men, and enriching themselves; and so by wasting the enemy's country, did block up the town, unto which they returned not, until

the fatal time drew near, when it should be subverled.

This is confirmed by the enquiry which Priamus made, when the Greek princes came into the field, the tenth year, for he knew none of them; and there's fore sitting upon an high tower, (as Homer, Iliad. 3. tells,) he learned their names of Helen; which though it is like to be a fiction, yet could it not at all have been supposed that he should be ignorant of them, if they had shewed themselves before the town so many years together. Between these relations of

Thucydides and Herodotus, the difference is not much, the one saying, that a few of the Greeks remained in the camp before Troy, whilst the rest made purveyance by land and sea; the other, that the whole army did spend the time in wasting the sea-coasts. Neither do the poets greatly disagree from these authors; for they make report of many towns and islands wasted, and the people carried into captivity; in which actions Achilles was employed, whom the army could not well, nor would have spared, if any service of importance had been to be performed before the city. Howsoever it was, this is agreed by general consent, that in the beginning of that summer, in which Troy was taken, great booties were brought into the camp, and a great pestilence arose among the Greeks; which Homer saith, that Apollo sent in revenge of his priest's daughter, whom Agamemnon had refused to let go for any ransom ; but Heraclides, interpreting the place, saith, that by Apollo was meant the sun, who raise ed pestilent fogs, by which the army was infected, being lodged in a moorish piece of ground. And it might well be, that the camp was over-pestered with those who had been abroad, and now were lodged all, close together; having also grounded their ships with in the fortifications.

About the same time much contention arose between Agamemnon and Achilles about the booty; Vol. III.


« AnteriorContinuar »