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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 40

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o much of the story of Achilles did Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, hear from the lips of King Menelaus as he sat with his comrade Peisistratus in the King's feasting-hall. And more would Menelaus have told them then if Helen, his wife, had not been seen to weep. 'Why weepst thou, Helen?' said Menelaus. 'Ah, surely I know. It is because the words that tell of the death of Hector are sorrowful to thee.'

And Helen, the lovely lady, said 'Never did Prince Hector speak a hard or a harsh word to me in all the years I was in his father's house. And if anyone upbraided me he would come and speak gentle words to me. Ah, greatly did I lament for the death of noble Hector! After his wife and his mother I wept the most for him. And when one speaks of his slaying I cannot help but weep.'

Said Menelaus, 'Relieve your heart of its sorrow, Helen, by praising Hector to this youth and by telling your memories of him.'

'To-morrow I shall do so,' said the lady Helen. She went with her maids from the hall and the servants took Telemachus and Peisistratus to their sleeping places.

The next day they sat in the banqueting hall; King Menelaus and Telemachus and Peisistratus, and the lady Helen came amongst them. Her handmaidens brought into the hall her silver work-basket that had wheels beneath it with rims of gold, and her golden distaff that, with the basket, had been presents from the wife of the King of Egypt. And Helen sat in her chair and took the distaff in her hands and worked on the violet-coloured wool that was in her basket. And as she worked she told Telemachus of Troy and of its guardian, Hector.

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aid Helen, 'The old men were at the gate of the City talking over many things, and King Priam was amongst them. It was in the days when Achilles first quarrelled with King Agamemnon. "Come hither, my daughter," said King Priam to me, "and sit by me and tell me who the warriors are who now come out upon the plain. You have seen them all before, and I would have you tell me who such and such a one is. Who is yon hero who seems so mighty? I have seen men who were more tall than he by a head, but I have never seen a man who looked more royal."'

'I said to King Priam. "The hero whom you look upon is the leader of the host of the Greeks. He is the renowned King Agamemnon."'

'"He looks indeed a King," said Priam. "Tell me now who the other warrior is who is shorter by a head than King Agamemnon, but who is broader of chest and shoulder."'

'"He is Odysseus," I said, "who was reared in rugged Ithaka, but who is wise above all the Kings."'


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