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The Story of the Greeks

Page: 18

The king and queen paid no heed to these words, but gladly welcomed Paris home, and lavished all kinds of gifts upon him to make up for their cruelty and long neglect.

Paris was so fond of change and adventure, that he soon grew tired of court life, and asked Priam for a ship, so that he might sail off to Greece.

This request was readily granted, and Paris went away. The young prince sailed from island to island, and came at last to the southern part of the Peloponnesus, where the descendants of Hercules had founded the city of Sparta. Here he was warmly welcomed by King Men-e-la´us; but this king was obliged to leave home shortly after the arrival of Paris, and he bade[Pg 43] Helen, his wife, the most beautiful woman in the world, do all she could to entertain the noble stranger.

Helen was so kind to Paris that he soon fell in love with her. His greatest wish was to have her as his wife: so he began to tell her that Ve´nus, the goddess of love, had promised him that he should marry the most beautiful woman in the world.

Talking thus day after day, the handsome young Paris finally persuaded Helen to leave her husband and home. She got on board of his vessel, and went with him to Troy as his wife. Of course, this wrongdoing could not bring happiness; and not only were they duly punished, but, as you will soon see, the crime of Paris brought suffering and death to his friends as well.

When Menelaus came home and found that his guest had run away with his wife, he was very angry, and vowed that he would not rest until he had punished Paris and won back the beautiful Helen.

He therefore made ready for war, and sent word to his friends and relatives to come and help him, telling them to meet him at Au´lis, a seaport, where they would find swift-sailing vessels to carry them across the sea to Troy.[Pg 44]


XIV. THE MUSTER OF THE TROOPS.

When the neighboring kings and chiefs received Menelaus' message, they were delighted; for fighting was their only occupation, and they enjoyed the din of battle more than anything else. They began to collect their soldiers, polish their arms, and man their vessels. Then, inviting all who wished to join them, they started out for Aulis, where they formed a huge army.

Each of the parties was led by its own king or chief. Some of these chiefs were very brave, and their names are still well known. The leading ones among them were Nes´tor, the wisest man of his day, to whom every one came for good advice; and U-lys´ses, the crafty or sly king, who was so clever that he could easily outwit all men.

There were also A´jax, the strongest man of his time; Thersander, the new king of Thebes, who came with the Epigoni; and Ag-a-mem´non, King of Mycenæ, Menelaus' brother, who was chosen chief of the whole army.


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