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know more about science and geography. The Greeks were always seeking to penetrate and understand what was unknown. So their ships sailed bravely on untracked seas; their philosophers reasoned about the 5 beginning and end of things; and they loved stories of heroism and adventure. Their heroes are always searching for something or accomplishing something. Living in a world of barbarians, conscious that their

knowledge was only a small mite of what might be 10 learned, these Greeks were fired by the desire to learn, discover, and advance.

Perhaps the noblest virtue of civilization is the desire for perfection. Whatever we are, we desire to

improve. The Greeks were the first nation to feel 15 this desire intensely and to follow it bravely.

Among the earliest and the greatest of Greek poems are the Iliad and the Odyssey which were supposed to

have been written by Homer. In the height of Greek 20 civilization, every schoolboy knew most of these

poems by memory, and they have been re-read and re-told to every civilized nation.

The Iliad tells of the siege of Troy by the Greek heroes under the leadership of Agamemnon. The 25 bravest of the Trojans is Hector, but in the end he is

slain by Achilles, the most powerful warrior of the Greeks.

The Odyssey tells of the wanderings of one of the Greek heroes, Ulysses, after the fall of the city until, after many adventures, he returned to his faithful wife Penelope.

Many centuries after these poems were written, 5 Virgil, a Roman poet, wrote the Æneid, which tells of a Trojan hero, Æneas, who escaped from Troy and finally founded the city of Rome.

The selections which follow in the Reader tell some of the most famous incidents in the siege of Troy and 10 the adventures of the Greek and Trojan heroes.


1. What is civilization ? 2. How can it be measured ? 3. What can you tell about Greek civilization ? 4. What stories have you read about the Greeks? 5. What do you know about the Greek gods? 6. Of what use is the desire for perfection? 7. What is the subject of the Iliad ? 8. Of the Odyssey ? 9. Of the Æneid?

For a list of the Greek gods, see page 46.

Iliad (11'1-ěd), Odyssey (od'is-sý), Homer (ho'mer), Virgil (vēr'jil), Æneid (ē-nē'ăd), Agamemnon (ăg-o-měm'nòn), Hector (hěk'tor), Trojan (tro'jan), Achilles (a-killēz), Ulysses (ū-lis'sēz), Penelope (pěn-ěl'o-pē), Æneas (ē-nē'as).


Troy, in Asia Minor near the Dardanelles, was the city of King Priam and his many sons and daughters. One of these sons, Paris, ran away with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world and the wife of the Greek king, Menelaus. The other Greek kings raised a large fleet and sailed to Troy to retake the beautiful Helen and punish the Trojans. Agamemnon was chief of the Greeks, but the bravest and most powerful was Achilles. At the time of which this selection tells, Achilles had quarreled with Agamemnon and sulked in his tent. Diomed, Ajax, and the wily Ulysses were the chief Greeks left to oppose Hector, the bravest of Priam's sons. Aphrodite (or Venus) aided the Trojans, but most of the gods and goddesses helped the Greeks, especially the goddess Athene (Pallas).

Hector came into the city by the Scæan gates, and as he went wives and mothers crowded about him, asking how it had fared with their husbands and sons. But he said naught, save to bid them pray; and indeed there 5 was sore news for many, if he had told that which he knew. Then he came to the palace of King Priam, and there he saw Hecuba, his mother, and with her Laodice, fairest of her daughters. She caught him by the hand and said :

“Why hast thou come from the battle, my son? Do the Greeks press thee hard, and art thou minded to pray to Father Zeus from the citadel? Let me bring


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thee honey-sweet wine, that thou mayest pour out before him, aye, and that thou mayest drink thyself, and gladden thy heart."

But Hector said: “Give me not wine, my mother, á lest thou weaken my knees and make me forget my courage. Nor must I pour out an offering to Zeus thus, with unwashed hands. But do thou gather the mothers of Troy together, and go to the temple of

Athene and take a robe, the one that is the most precious 10 and beautiful in thy stores, and lay it on the knees of the

goddess, and pray her to keep this dreadful Diomed from the walls of Troy; and forget not to vow therewith twelve heifers as a sacrifice. As for me, I will go and seek Paris, if perchance he will come with me to the

Would that the earth might open and swallow him up, for of a truth he is a curse to King Priam and to Troy.”

Then went Queen Hecuba into her house, and gave command to her maids that they should assemble the 20 aged women of the city. Afterwards she went to her

store-chamber, where lay the well-wrought robes, work of Sidonian women, which Paris himself brought from Sidon, when he sailed upon the broad sea, bringing

home with him high-born Helen. The fairest robe of 25 all did the Queen take. Bright as a star it was, and it lay the undermost of all.

And when she and the aged women that were with

15 war.

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