The Story of the Iliad/Chapter 1


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Leda, the wife of Tyndareus, King of Sparta, bare a daughter, Helen by name, that grew to be the fairest of all women upon earth. She married Menelaüs, son of Atreus, and for a while dwelt in peace with her husband, bearing him a daughter, Hermioné by name. But there came to the court of Menelaüs, who was by this time King of Sparta, a certain Paris, second in birth among the sons of Priam, King of Troy. Him did Menelaüs hospitably entertain, but Paris repaid his kindness with evil, for he carried off his wife, the fair Helen, and took with her many of the King's possessions.

Then Menelaüs, with his elder brother Agamemnon, who was over-lord of all the Greeks, went to all the chiefs, and prayed that they would help them to avenge this wrong. Thus was a great host gathered together, even a hundred thousand men, and eleven hundred fourscore and six ships. At Aulis in Eubœa was their gathering; and from Aulis they crossed over to Troy.

The great chiefs of the host were these:—

First the two brothers, the sons of Atreus.

Next Diomed, the son of Tydeus, and with him Sthenelus.

Nestor, son of Neleus, who had outlived three generations of mortal men.

Ulysses, son of Laertes, from Ithaca.

Thoas the Ætolian.

Idomeneus, King of Crete, and Meriones with him.

Tlepolemus, son of Hercules, from Rhodes.

Eumelus, son of Admetus and Alcestis, from Thessaly.

And, bravest and strongest of all, Achilles, and with him Patroclus.

For nine years did the Greeks besiege the city of Troy. They prevailed, indeed, in the field, but could not break through the walls.

Now because they had been away from their homes for many years, they were in want of things needful. Therefore it was their custom to leave part of the army to watch the city, and with part to spoil the cities in the country round about. And in this way the great quarrel that caused such trouble to the host came about.