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Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

Page: 148

And now success at length crowned the efforts of the long-suffering descendants of the great hero. They obtained possession of the Peloponnesus, which was divided among them by lot. Argos fell to Temenus, Lacedæmon to Aristodemus, and Messene to Cresphontes. In gratitude for the services of their able leader, Oxylus, the kingdom of Elis, was conferred upon him by the Heraclidæ.

THE SIEGE OF TROY.

Troy or Ilion was the capital of a kingdom in Asia Minor, situated near the Hellespont, and founded by Ilus, son of Tros. At the time of the famous Trojan war this city was under the government of Priam, a direct descendant of Ilus. Priam was married to Hecuba, daughter of Dymas, king of Thrace; and among the most celebrated of their children were the renowned and [284]valiant Hector, the prophetess Cassandra, and Paris, the cause of the Trojan war.

Before the birth of her second son Paris, Hecuba dreamt that she had given birth to a flaming brand, which was interpreted by Æsacus the seer (a son of Priam by a former marriage) to signify that she would bear a son who would cause the destruction of the city of Troy. Anxious to prevent the fulfilment of the prophecy, Hecuba caused her new-born babe to be exposed on Mount Ida to perish; but being found by some kind-hearted shepherds, the child was reared by them, and grew up unconscious of his noble birth.

As the boy approached manhood he became remarkable, not only for his wonderful beauty of form and feature, but also for his strength and courage, which he exercised in defending the flocks from the attacks of robbers and wild beasts; hence he was called Alexander, or helper of men. It was about this time that he settled the famous dispute concerning the golden apple, thrown by the goddess of Discord into the assembly of the gods. As we have already seen, he gave his decision in favour of Aphrodite; thus creating for himself two implacable enemies, for Hera and Athene never forgave the slight.

Paris became united to a beautiful nymph named Œnone, with whom he lived happily in the seclusion and tranquillity of a pastoral life; but to her deep grief this peaceful existence was not fated to be of long duration.

Hearing that some funereal games were about to be held in Troy in honour of a departed relative of the king, Paris resolved to visit the capital and take part in them himself. There he so greatly distinguished himself in a contest with his unknown brothers, Hector and Deiphobus, that the proud young princes, enraged that an obscure shepherd should snatch from them the prize of victory, were about to create a disturbance, when Cassandra, who had been a spectator of the proceedings, stepped forward, and announced to them that the humble peasant who had so signally defeated them was their own [285]brother Paris. He was then conducted to the presence of his parents, who joyfully acknowledged him as their child; and amidst the festivities and rejoicings in honour of their new-found son the ominous prediction of the past was forgotten.


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