The Stealing of Helen
An Extract From: Tales of Troy,
Ulysses the Sacker of Cities
This happy time did not last long, and Telemachus was still a baby,
when war arose, so great and mighty and marvellous as had never been
known in the world. Far across the sea that lies on the east of
Greece, there dwelt the rich King Priam. His town was called Troy,
or Ilios, and it stood on a hill near the seashore, where are the straits
of Hellespont, between Europe and Asia; it was a great city surrounded
by strong walls, and its ruins are still standing. The kings could
make merchants who passed through the straits pay toll to them, and
they had allies in Thrace, a part of Europe opposite Troy, and Priam
was chief of all princes on his side of the sea, as Agamemnon was chief
king in Greece. Priam had many beautiful things; he had a vine
made of gold, with golden leaves and clusters, and he had the swiftest
horses, and many strong and brave sons; the strongest and bravest was
named Hector, and the youngest and most beautiful was named Paris.
There was a prophecy that Priam’s wife would give birth to
a burning torch, so, when Paris was born, Priam sent a servant to carry
the baby into a wild wood on Mount Ida, and leave him to die or be eaten
by wolves and wild cats. The servant left the child, but a shepherd
found him, and brought him up as his own son. The boy became as
beautiful, for a boy, as Helen was for a girl, and was the best runner,
and hunter, and archer among the country people. He was loved
by the beautiful Œnone, a nymph—that is, a kind of fairy—who
dwelt in a cave among the woods of Ida. The Greeks and Trojans
believed in these days that such fair nymphs haunted all beautiful woodland
places, and the mountains, and wells, and had crystal palaces, like
mermaids, beneath the waves of the sea. These fairies were not
mischievous, but gentle and kind. Sometimes they married mortal
men, and Œnone was the bride of Paris, and hoped to keep him for
her own all the days of his life.
It was believed that she had the magical power of healing wounded
men, however sorely they were hurt. Paris and Œnone lived
most happily together in the forest; but one day, when the servants
of Priam had driven off a beautiful bull that was in the herd of Paris,
he left the hills to seek it, and came into the town of Troy.
His mother, Hecuba, saw him, and looking at him closely, perceived that
he wore a ring which she had tied round her baby’s neck when he
was taken away from her soon after his birth. Then Hecuba, beholding
him so beautiful, and knowing him to be her son, wept for joy, and they
all forgot the prophecy that he would be a burning torch of fire, and
Priam gave him a house like those of his brothers, the Trojan princes.
The fame of beautiful Helen reached Troy, and Paris quite forgot
unhappy Œnone, and must needs go to see Helen for himself.
Perhaps he meant to try to win her for his wife, before her marriage.
But sailing was little understood in these times, and the water was
wide, and men were often driven for years out of their course, to Egypt,
and Africa, and far away into the unknown seas, where fairies lived
in enchanted islands, and cannibals dwelt in caves of the hills.
Paris came much too late to have a chance of marrying Helen; however,
he was determined to see her, and he made his way to her palace beneath
the mountain Taygetus, beside the clear swift river Eurotas. The
servants came out of the hall when they heard the sound of wheels and
horses’ feet, and some of them took the horses to the stables,
and tilted the chariots against the gateway, while others led Paris
into the hall, which shone like the sun with gold and silver.
Then Paris and his companions were led to the baths, where they were
bathed, and clad in new clothes, mantles of white, and robes of purple,
and next they were brought before King Menelaus, and he welcomed them
kindly, and meat was set before them, and wine in cups of gold.
While they were talking, Helen came forth from her fragrant chamber,
like a Goddess, her maidens following her, and carrying for her an ivory
distaff with violet-coloured wool, which she span as she sat, and heard
Paris tell how far he had travelled to see her who was so famous for
her beauty even in countries far away.
Then Paris knew that he had never seen, and never could see, a lady
so lovely and gracious as Helen as she sat and span, while the red drops
fell and vanished from the ruby called the Star; and Helen knew that
among all the princes in the world there was none so beautiful as Paris.
Now some say that Paris, by art magic, put on the appearance of Menelaus,
and asked Helen to come sailing with him, and that she, thinking he
was her husband, followed him, and he carried her across the wide waters
of Troy, away from her lord and her one beautiful little daughter, the
child Hermione. And others say that the Gods carried Helen herself
off to Egypt, and that they made in her likeness a beautiful ghost,
out of flowers and sunset clouds, whom Paris bore to Troy, and this
they did to cause war between Greeks and Trojans. Another story
is that Helen and her bower maiden and her jewels were seized by force,
when Menelaus was out hunting. It is only certain that Paris and
Helen did cross the seas together, and that Menelaus and little Hermione
were left alone in the melancholy palace beside the Eurotas. Penelope,
we know for certain, made no excuses for her beautiful cousin, but hated
her as the cause of her own sorrows and of the deaths of thousands of
men in war, for all the Greek princes were bound by their oath to fight
for Menelaus against any one who injured him and stole his wife away.
But Helen was very unhappy in Troy, and blamed herself as bitterly as
all the other women blamed her, and most of all Œnone, who had
been the love of Paris. The men were much more kind to Helen,
and were determined to fight to the death rather than lose the sight
of her beauty among them.
The news of the dishonour done to Menelaus and to all the princes
of Greece ran through the country like fire through a forest.
East and west and south and north went the news: to kings in their castles
on the hills, and beside the rivers and on cliffs above the sea.
The cry came to ancient Nestor of the white beard at Pylos, Nestor who
had reigned over two generations of men, who had fought against the
wild folk of the hills, and remembered the strong Heracles, and Eurytus
of the black bow that sang before the day of battle.
The cry came to black-bearded Agamemnon, in his strong town called
“golden Mycenae,” because it was so rich; it came to the
people in Thisbe, where the wild doves haunt; and it came to rocky Pytho,
where is the sacred temple of Apollo and the maid who prophesies.
It came to Aias, the tallest and strongest of men, in his little isle
of Salamis; and to Diomede of the loud war-cry, the bravest of warriors,
who held Argos and Tiryns of the black walls of huge, stones, that are
still standing. The summons came to the western islands and to
Ulysses in Ithaca, and even far south to the great island of Crete of
the hundred cities, where Idomeneus ruled in Cnossos; Idomeneus, whose
ruined palace may still be seen with the throne of the king, and pictures
painted on the walls, and the King’s own draught-board of gold
and silver, and hundreds of tablets of clay, on which are written the
lists of royal treasures. Far north went the news to Pelasgian
Argos, and Hellas, where the people of Peleus dwelt, the Myrmidons;
but Peleus was too old to fight, and his boy, Achilles, dwelt far away,
in the island of Scyros, dressed as a girl, among the daughters of King
Lycomedes. To many another town and to a hundred islands went
the bitter news of approaching war, for all princes knew that their
honour and their oaths compelled them to gather their spearmen, and
bowmen, and slingers from the fields and the fishing, and to make ready
their ships, and meet King Agamemnon in the harbour of Aulis, and cross
the wide sea to besiege Troy town.
Now the story is told that Ulysses was very unwilling to leave his
island and his wife Penelope, and little Telemachus; while Penelope
had no wish that he should pass into danger, and into the sight of Helen
of the fair hands. So it is said that when two of the princes
came to summon Ulysses, he pretended to be mad, and went ploughing the
sea sand with oxen, and sowing the sand with salt. Then the prince
Palamedes took the baby Telemachus from the arms of his nurse, Eurycleia,
and laid him in the line of the furrow, where the ploughshare would
strike him and kill him. But Ulysses turned the plough aside,
and they cried that he was not mad, but sane, and he must keep his oath,
and join the fleet at Aulis, a long voyage for him to sail, round the
stormy southern Cape of Maleia.
Whether this tale be true or not, Ulysses did go, leading twelve
black ships, with high beaks painted red at prow and stern. The
ships had oars, and the warriors manned the oars, to row when there
was no wind. There was a small raised deck at each end of the
ships; on these decks men stood to fight with sword and spear when there
was a battle at sea. Each ship had but one mast, with a broad
lugger sail, and for anchors they had only heavy stones attached to
cables. They generally landed at night, and slept on the shore
of one of the many islands, when they could, for they greatly feared
to sail out of sight of land.
The fleet consisted of more than a thousand ships, each with fifty
warriors, so the army was of more than fifty thousand men. Agamemnon
had a hundred ships, Diomede had eighty, Nestor had ninety, the Cretans
with Idomeneus, had eighty, Menelaus had sixty; but Aias and Ulysses,
who lived in small islands, had only twelve ships apiece. Yet
Aias was so brave and strong, and Ulysses so brave and wise, that they
were ranked among the greatest chiefs and advisers of Agamemnon, with
Menelaus, Diomede, Idomeneus, Nestor, Menestheus of Athens, and two
or three others. These chiefs were called the Council, and gave
advice to Agamemnon, who was commander-in-chief. He was a brave
fighter, but so anxious and fearful of losing the lives of his soldiers
that Ulysses and Diomede were often obliged to speak to him very severely.
Agamemnon was also very insolent and greedy, though, when anybody stood
up to him, he was ready to apologise, for fear the injured chief should
renounce his service and take away his soldiers.
Nestor was much respected because he remained brave, though he was
too old to be very useful in battle. He generally tried to make
peace when the princes quarrelled with Agamemnon. He loved to
tell long stories about his great deeds when he was young, and he wished
the chiefs to fight in old-fashioned ways.
For instance, in his time the Greeks had fought in clan regiments,
and the princely men had never dismounted in battle, but had fought
in squadrons of chariots, but now the owners of chariots fought on foot,
each man for himself, while his squire kept the chariot near him to
escape on if he had to retreat. Nestor wished to go back to the
good old way of chariot charges against the crowds of foot soldiers
of the enemy. In short, he was a fine example of the old-fashioned
Aias, though so very tall, strong, and brave, was rather stupid.
He seldom spoke, but he was always ready to fight, and the last to retreat.
Menelaus was weak of body, but as brave as the best, or more brave,
for he had a keen sense of honour, and would attempt what he had not
the strength to do. Diomede and Ulysses were great friends, and
always fought side by side, when they could, and helped each other in
the most dangerous adventures.
These were the chiefs who led the great Greek armada from the harbour
of Aulis. A long time had passed, after the flight of Helen, before
the large fleet could be collected, and more time went by in the attempt
to cross the sea to Troy. There were tempests that scattered the
ships, so they were driven back to Aulis to refit; and they fought,
as they went out again, with the peoples of unfriendly islands, and
besieged their towns. What they wanted most of all was to have
Achilles with them, for he was the leader of fifty ships and 2,500 men,
and he had magical armour made, men said, for his father, by Hephaestus,
the God of armour-making and smithy work.
At last the fleet came to the Isle of Scyros, where they suspected
that Achilles was concealed. King Lycomedes received the chiefs
kindly, and they saw all his beautiful daughters dancing and playing
at ball, but Achilles was still so young and slim and so beautiful that
they did not know him among the others. There was a prophecy that
they could not take Troy without him, and yet they could not find him
out. Then Ulysses had a plan. He blackened his eyebrows
and beard and put on the dress of a Phoenician merchant. The Phoenicians
were a people who lived near the Jews, and were of the same race, and
spoke much the same language, but, unlike the Jews, who, at that time
were farmers in Palestine, tilling the ground, and keeping flocks and
herds, the Phoenicians were the greatest of traders and sailors, and
stealers of slaves. They carried cargoes of beautiful cloths,
and embroideries, and jewels of gold, and necklaces of amber, and sold
these everywhere about the shores of Greece and the islands.
Ulysses then dressed himself like a Phoenician pedlar, with his pack
on his back: he only took a stick in his hand, his long hair was turned
up, and hidden under a red sailor’s cap, and in this figure he
came, stooping beneath his pack, into the courtyard of King Lycomedes.
The girls heard that a pedlar had come, and out they all ran, Achilles
with the rest to watch the pedlar undo his pack. Each chose what
she liked best: one took a wreath of gold; another a necklace of gold
and amber; another earrings; a fourth a set of brooches, another a dress
of embroidered scarlet cloth; another a veil; another a pair of bracelets;
but at the bottom of the pack lay a great sword of bronze, the hilt
studded with golden nails. Achilles seized the sword. “This
is for me!” he said, and drew the sword from the gilded sheath,
and made it whistle round his head.
“You are Achilles, Peleus’ son!” said Ulysses;
“and you are to be the chief warrior of the Achaeans,” for
the Greeks then called themselves Achaeans. Achilles was only
too glad to hear these words, for he was quite tired of living among
maidens. Ulysses led him into the hall where the chiefs were sitting
at their wine, and Achilles was blushing like any girl.
“Here is the Queen of the Amazons,” said Ulysses—for
the Amazons were a race of warlike maidens—“or rather here
is Achilles, Peleus’ son, with sword in hand.” Then
they all took his hand, and welcomed him, and he was clothed in man’s
dress, with the sword by his side, and presently they sent him back
with ten ships to his home. There his mother, Thetis, of the silver
feet, the goddess of the sea, wept over him, saying, “My child,
thou hast the choice of a long and happy and peaceful life here with
me, or of a brief time of war and undying renown. Never shall
I see thee again in Argos if thy choice is for war.” But
Achilles chose to die young, and to be famous as long as the world stands.
So his father gave him fifty ships, with Patroclus, who was older than
he, to be his friend, and with an old man, Phoenix, to advise him; and
his mother gave him the glorious armour that the God had made for his
father, and the heavy ashen spear that none but he could wield, and
he sailed to join the host of the Achaeans, who all praised and thanked
Ulysses that had found for them such a prince. For Achilles was
the fiercest fighter of them all, and the swiftest-footed man, and the
most courteous prince, and the gentlest with women and children, but
he was proud and high of heart, and when he was angered his anger was
The Trojans would have had no chance against the Greeks if only the
men of the city of Troy had fought to keep Helen of the fair hands.
But they had allies, who spoke different languages, and came to fight
for them both from Europe and from Asia. On the Trojan as well
as on the Greek side were people called Pelasgians, who seem to have
lived on both shores of the sea. There were Thracians, too, who
dwelt much further north than Achilles, in Europe and beside the strait
of Hellespont, where the narrow sea runs like a river. There were
warriors of Lycia, led by Sarpedon and Glaucus; there were Carians,
who spoke in a strange tongue; there were Mysians and men from Alybe,
which was called “the birthplace of silver,” and many other
peoples sent their armies, so that the war was between Eastern Europe,
on one side, and Western Asia Minor on the other. The people of
Egypt took no part in the war: the Greeks and Islesmen used to come
down in their ships and attack the Egyptians as the Danes used to invade
England. You may see the warriors from the islands, with their
horned helmets, in old Egyptian pictures.
The commander-in-chief, as we say now, of the Trojans was Hector,
the son of Priam. He was thought a match for any one of the Greeks,
and was brave and good. His brothers also were leaders, but Paris
preferred to fight from a distance with bow and arrows. He and
Pandarus, who dwelt on the slopes of Mount Ida, were the best archers
in the Trojan army. The princes usually fought with heavy spears,
which they threw at each other, and with swords, leaving archery to
the common soldiers who had no armour of bronze. But Teucer, Meriones,
and Ulysses were the best archers of the Achaeans. People called
Dardanians were led by Aeneas, who was said to be the son of the most
beautiful of the goddesses. These, with Sarpedon and Glaucus,
were the most famous of the men who fought for Troy.
Troy was a strong town on a hill. Mount Ida lay behind it,
and in front was a plain sloping to the sea shore. Through this
plain ran two beautiful clear rivers, and there were scattered here
and there what you would have taken for steep knolls, but they were
really mounds piled up over the ashes of warriors who had died long
ago. On these mounds sentinels used to stand and look across the
water to give warning if the Greek fleet drew near, for the Trojans
had heard that it was on its way. At last the fleet came in view,
and the sea was black with ships, the oarsmen pulling with all their
might for the honour of being the first to land. The race was
won by the ship of the prince Protesilaus, who was first of all to leap
on shore, but as he leaped he was struck to the heart by an arrow from
the bow of Paris. This must have seemed a good omen to the Trojans,
and to the Greeks evil, but we do not hear that the landing was resisted
in great force, any more than that of Norman William was, when he invaded
The Greeks drew up all their ships on shore, and the men camped in
huts built in front of the ships. There was thus a long row of
huts with the ships behind them, and in these huts the Greeks lived
all through the ten years that the siege of Troy lasted. In these
days they do not seem to have understood how to conduct a siege.
You would have expected the Greeks to build towers and dig trenches
all round Troy, and from the towers watch the roads, so that provisions
might not be brought in from the country. This is called “investing”
a town, but the Greeks never invested Troy. Perhaps they had not
men enough; at all events the place remained open, and cattle could
always be driven in to feed the warriors and the women and children.
Moreover, the Greeks for long never seem to have tried to break down
one of the gates, nor to scale the walls, which were very high, with
ladders. On the other hand, the Trojans and allies never ventured
to drive the Greeks into the sea; they commonly remained within the
walls or skirmished just beneath them. The older men insisted
on this way of fighting, in spite of Hector, who always wished to attack
and storm the camp of the Greeks. Neither side had machines for
throwing heavy stones, such as the Romans used later, and the most that
the Greeks did was to follow Achilles and capture small neighbouring
cities, and take the women for slaves, and drive the cattle. They
got provisions and wine from the Phoenicians, who came in ships, and
made much profit out of the war.
It was not till the tenth year that the war began in real earnest,
and scarcely any of the chief leaders had fallen. Fever came upon
the Greeks, and all day the camp was black with smoke, and all night
shone with fire from the great piles of burning wood, on which the Greeks
burned their dead, whose bones they then buried under hillocks of earth.
Many of these hillocks are still standing on the plain of Troy.
When the plague had raged for ten days, Achilles called an assembly
of the whole army, to try to find out why the Gods were angry.
They thought that the beautiful God Apollo (who took the Trojan side)
was shooting invisible arrows at them from his silver bow, though fevers
in armies are usually caused by dirt and drinking bad water. The
great heat of the sun, too, may have helped to cause the disease; but
we must tell the story as the Greeks told it themselves. So Achilles
spoke in the assembly, and proposed to ask some prophet why Apollo was
angry. The chief prophet was Calchas. He rose and said that
he would declare the truth if Achilles would promise to protect him
from the anger of any prince whom the truth might offend.
Achilles knew well whom Calchas meant. Ten days before, a priest
of Apollo had come to the camp and offered ransom for his daughter Chryseis,
a beautiful girl, whom Achilles had taken prisoner, with many others,
when he captured a small town. Chryseis had been given as a slave
to Agamemnon, who always got the best of the plunder because he was
chief king, whether he had taken part in the fighting or not.
As a rule he did not. To Achilles had been given another girl,
Briseis, of whom he was very fond. Now when Achilles had promised
to protect Calchas, the prophet spoke out, and boldly said, what all
men knew already, that Apollo caused the plague because Agamemnon would
not return Chryseis, and had insulted her father, the priest of the
On hearing this, Agamemnon was very angry. He said that he
would send Chryseis home, but that he would take Briseis away from Achilles.
Then Achilles was drawing his great sword from the sheath to kill Agamemnon,
but even in his anger he knew that this was wrong, so he merely called
Agamemnon a greedy coward, “with face of dog and heart of deer,”
and he swore that he and his men would fight no more against the Trojans.
Old Nestor tried to make peace, and swords were not drawn, but Briseis
was taken away from Achilles, and Ulysses put Chryseis on board of his
ship and sailed away with her to her father’s town, and gave her
up to her father. Then her father prayed to Apollo that the plague
might cease, and it did cease—when the Greeks had cleansed their
camp, and purified themselves and cast their filth into the sea.
We know how fierce and brave Achilles was, and we may wonder that
he did not challenge Agamemnon to fight a duel. But the Greeks
never fought duels, and Agamemnon was believed to be chief king by right
divine. Achilles went alone to the sea shore when his dear Briseis
was led away, and he wept, and called to his mother, the silver-footed
lady of the waters. Then she arose from the grey sea, like a mist,
and sat down beside her son, and stroked his hair with her hand, and
he told her all his sorrows. So she said that she would go up
to the dwelling of the Gods, and pray Zeus, the chief of them all, to
make the Trojans win a great battle, so that Agamemnon should feel his
need of Achilles, and make amends for his insolence, and do him honour.
Thetis kept her promise, and Zeus gave his word that the Trojans
should defeat the Greeks. That night Zeus sent a deceitful dream
to Agamemnon. The dream took the shape of old Nestor, and said
that Zeus would give him victory that day. While he was still
asleep, Agamemnon was fun of hope that he would instantly take Troy,
but, when he woke, he seems not to have been nearly so confident, for
in place of putting on his armour, and bidding the Greeks arm themselves,
he merely dressed in his robe and mantle, took his sceptre, and went
and told the chiefs about his dream. They did not feel much encouraged,
so he said that he would try the temper of the army. He would
call them together, and propose to return to Greece; but, if the soldiers
took him at his word, the other chiefs were to stop them. This
was a foolish plan, for the soldiers were wearying for beautiful Greece,
and their homes, and wives and children. Therefore, when Agamemnon
did as he had said, the whole army rose, like the sea under the west
wind, and, with a shout, they rushed to the ships, while the dust blew
in clouds from under their feet. Then they began to launch their
ships, and it seems that the princes were carried away in the rush,
and were as eager as the rest to go home.
But Ulysses only stood in sorrow and anger beside his ship, and never
put hand to it, for he felt how disgraceful it was to run away.
At last he threw down his mantle, which his herald Eurybates of Ithaca,
a round-shouldered, brown, curly-haired man, picked up, and he ran to
find Agamemnon, and took his sceptre, a gold-studded staff, like a marshal’s
baton, and he gently told the chiefs whom he met that they were doing
a shameful thing; but he drove the common soldiers back to the place
of meeting with the sceptre. They all returned, puzzled and chattering,
but one lame, bandy-legged, bald, round-shouldered, impudent fellow,
named Thersites, jumped up and made an insolent speech, insulting the
princes, and advising the army to run away. Then Ulysses took
him and beat him till the blood came, and he sat down, wiping away his
tears, and looking so foolish that the whole army laughed at him, and
cheered Ulysses when he and Nestor bade them arm and fight. Agamemnon
still believed a good deal in his dream, and prayed that he might take
Troy that very day, and kill Hector. Thus Ulysses alone saved
the army from a cowardly retreat; but for him the ships would have been
launched in an hour. But the Greeks armed and advanced in full
force, all except Achilles and his friend Patroclus with their two or
three thousand men. The Trojans also took heart, knowing that
Achilles would not fight, and the armies approached each other.
Paris himself, with two spears and a bow, and without armour, walked
into the space between the hosts, and challenged any Greek prince to
single combat. Menelaus, whose wife Paris had carried away, was
as glad as a hungry lion when he finds a stag or a goat, and leaped
in armour from his chariot, but Paris turned and slunk away, like a
man when he meets a great serpent on a narrow path in the hills.
Then Hector rebuked Paris for his cowardice, and Paris was ashamed and
offered to end the war by fighting Menelaus. If he himself fell,
the Trojans must give up Helen and all her jewels; if Menelaus fell,
the Greeks were to return without fair Helen. The Greeks accepted
this plan, and both sides disarmed themselves to look on at the fight
in comfort, and they meant to take the most solemn oaths to keep peace
till the combat was lost and won, and the quarrel settled. Hector
sent into Troy for two lambs, which were to be sacrificed when the oaths
In the meantime Helen of the fair hands was at home working at a
great purple tapestry on which she embroidered the battles of the Greeks
and Trojans. It was just like the tapestry at Bayeux on which
Norman ladies embroidered the battles in the Norman Conquest of England.
Helen was very fond of embroidering, like poor Mary, Queen of Scots,
when a prisoner in Loch Leven Castle. Probably the work kept both
Helen and Mary from thinking of their past lives and their sorrows.
When Helen heard that her husband was to fight Paris, she wept, and
threw a shining veil over her head, and with her two bower maidens went
to the roof of the gate tower, where king Priam was sitting with the
old Trojan chiefs. They saw her and said that it was small blame
to fight for so beautiful a lady, and Priam called her “dear child,”
and said, “I do not blame you, I blame the Gods who brought about
this war.” But Helen said that she wished she had died before
she left her little daughter and her husband, and her home: “Alas!
shameless me!” Then she told Priam the names of the chief
Greek warriors, and of Ulysses, who was shorter by a head than Agamemnon,
but broader in chest and shoulders. She wondered that she could
not see her own two brothers, Castor and Polydeuces, and thought that
they kept aloof in shame for her sin; but the green grass covered their
graves, for they had both died in battle, far away in Lacedaemon, their
Then the lambs were sacrificed, and the oaths were taken, and Paris
put on his brother’s armour, helmet, breastplate, shield, and
leg-armour. Lots were drawn to decide whether Paris or Menelaus
should throw his spear first, and, as Paris won, he threw his spear,
but the point was blunted against the shield of Menelaus. But
when Menelaus threw his spear it went clean through the shield of Paris,
and through the side of his breastplate, but only grazed his robe.
Menelaus drew his sword, and rushed in, and smote at the crest of the
helmet of Paris, but his bronze blade broke into four pieces.
Menelaus caught Paris by the horsehair crest of his helmet, and dragged
him towards the Greeks, but the chin-strap broke, and Menelaus turning
round threw the helmet into the ranks of the Greeks. But when
Menelaus looked again for Paris, with a spear in his hand, he could
see him nowhere! The Greeks believed that the beautiful goddess
Aphrodite, whom the Romans called Venus, hid him in a thick cloud of
darkness and carried him to his own house, where Helen of the fair hands
found him and said to him, “Would that thou hadst perished, conquered
by that great warrior who was my lord! Go forth again and challenge
him to fight thee face to face.” But Paris had no more desire
to fight, and the Goddess threatened Helen, and compelled her to remain
with him in Troy, coward as he had proved himself. Yet on other
days Paris fought well; it seems that he was afraid of Menelaus because,
in his heart, he was ashamed of himself.
Meanwhile Menelaus was seeking for Paris everywhere, and the Trojans,
who hated him, would have shown his hiding place. But they knew
not where he was, and the Greeks claimed the victory, and thought that,
as Paris had the worst of the fight, Helen would be restored to them,
and they would all sail home.