Abbildungen der Seite

out of Phænicia into Creta, and afterward Medea, whom they fetched from Colchos, denying to restore her to her father, till such time as they might be satisfied for the rape of Io. By these deeds of the Greeks, Paris (as the same Herodotus affirms) was emboldened to do the like, not fearing such revenge as ensued. But all this narration seems frivolous, For what had the king of Colchos to do with the injury of the Phænicians ? or how could the Greeks, as in revenge of Io, plead any quarrel against him, that never had heard the name of Phænicians ? Thucydides, a writer of unquestionable sincerity, maketh it plain, that the name of barbarians was not used at all in Homer's time, which was long after the war of Troy; and that the Greeks themselves were not then called all by one name Hellenes, as afterwards. So that it were unreasonable to think, that they should have sought revenge upon all nations as barbarous, for the injury received by one; or that all people else should have esteemed of the Greeks, as of a people opposed to all the world, and that even then, when as the Greeks had not yet one common name among themselves. Others with more probability say, that the rape of Helen was to procure the redelivery of Hesione, king Priamus's sister, taken formerly by Hercules, and given to Telamon. This may have been true. For Telamon, as it seems, was a cruel man, seeing his own son Teucer durst not come in his sight, after the war of Troy, but fled into Cypris, only because his brother Ajax (which Teucer could not remedy) had slain himself. Yet, were it so that Hesione was ill entreated by Telamon, it was not therefore likely that Priamus her brother would seek to take her from her husband, with whom she had lived about thirty years, and to whom she had borne children, which were to succeed in his dominion. Whereupon I think that Paris had no regard either to the rape of Europa, Medea, or Hesione; but was merely incited by Venus, that is, by his lust, to do that which in those days was very common. For not only Greeks from barbarians, and barbarians from Greeks, as Herodotus discourseth, but all people were accustomed to steal women and


cattle, if they could by strong hand or power get them ; and having stolen them, either to sell them away in some far country, or keep them to their own use. So did Theseus and Pirithous attempt Proserpina ; and so did Theseus (long before Paris) ravish Helen. And these practices, as it appears in Thucydides, were so common, that none durst inhabit near unto the sea for fear of piracy, which was accounted a trade of life no less lawful than merchandise : wherefore Tyndareus, the father of Helen, considering the beauty of his daughter, and the rape which Theseus had made, caused all her wooers, who were most of the principal men in Greece, to bind themselves by solemn oath, that if she were taken from her husband, they should with all their might help to recover her. This done, he gave free choice of a husband to his daughter, who chose Menelaus, brother to Agamemnon: so the cause which drew the Greeks unto Troy, in revenge of Helen's rape, was partly the oath which so many princes had made unto her father Tyndareus. Hereunto the great power of Agamemnon was not a little helping; for Agamemnon, besides his great dominions in Peloponnesus, was lord of many islands; he was also rich in. money, and therefore the Arcadians were well contented to follow his pay, whom he embarked for Troy in his own ships, which were more than any other of the Greek princes brought to that expedition.

Thus did all Greece, either as bound by oath, or led by the reputation and power of the two brethren Agamemnon and Menelaus, or desirous to partake of the profit and honour in that great enterprise, take arms against the Trojans. The Greeks' fleet was (by Homer's account) 1200 sail, or thereabouts; but the vessels were not great; for it was not then the manner to build ships with decks; only they used (as Thucydides saith) small ships, meet for robbing on the sea; the least of which carried fifty men, the greatest 120, every man (except the captains) being both a mariner and a soldier. By this proportion it appears that the Grecian army consisted of 100,000 men, or thereabouts. This was the greatest army that ever was raised out of

Greece: and the greatness of this army doth well declare the strength and power of Troy, which ten whole years did stand out against such forces: yet were the Trojans which inhabited the city not the tenth part of this number, as Agamemnon said 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 Rhesus 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 ambassadors 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 Helena, being driven by foul weather unto the coast of Egypt, was accused for the rape of Helen by some bondmen 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 with 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 their retaining of a fair lady, than that they endured all by force, because it lay not in their power to redeliver her. Yet in the fourth of his Odysses, 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 likely 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 befall 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 seem 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 ambassadors returned ill contented, and not very well entreated; 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, which awaits for all opportunities, is never more importunate than where men's 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 Phenix; Ajax and Teucer, the sons of Telamon; Idomeneus, and his companion Meriones; Nestor, and his sons Antilochus and Thrasymedes; Ulysses; Mnestheus, the son of Petreus, captain of the Athenians; Diomedes, the son of Tydeus, a man of singular courage; the wise and learned Palamedes ; Ascalaphus 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, Eurypylus, Athamas, Sthenelus, Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules; Podalirius 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 other of less note, arriving at Troy, found such sharp entertainment, as might easily persuade

« ZurückWeiter »