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The Trojan Horse.

From Myths and Legends of all nations
by Logan Marshall
Age Rating 8 Plus.

Start of Story

Then Calchas told us that we must cross the seas again and seek at home fresh omens for our war. And this, indeed, they are doing even now, and will return anon. Also the soothsayer said, 'Meanwhile ye must make the likeness of a horse, to be a peace-offering to Minerva. And take heed that ye make it huge of bulk, so that the men of Troy may not receive it into their gates, nor bring it within their walls and get safety for themselves thereby. For if,' he said, 'the men of Troy harm this image at all, they shall surely perish; but if they bring it into their city, then shall Asia lay siege hereafter to the city of Pelops, and our children shall suffer the doom which we would fain have brought on Troy.'" These words wrought much on the men of Troy, and as they pondered on them, lo! the gods sent another marvel to deceive them. For while Laoco÷n, the priest of Neptune, was slaying a bull at the altar of his god, there came two serpents across the sea from Tenedos, whose heads and necks, whereon were thick manes of hair, were high above the waves, and many scaly coils trailed behind in the waters. And when they reached the land they still sped forward. Their eyes were red as blood and blazed with fire and their forked tongues hissed loud for rage. Then all the men of Troy grew pale with fear and fled away, but these turned not aside this way or that, seeking Laoco÷n where he stood. And first they wrapped themselves about his little sons, one serpent about each, and began to devour them.

And when the father would have given help to his children, having a sword in his hand, they seized upon himself and bound him fast with their folds. Twice they compassed him about his body, and twice about his neck, lifting their heads far above him. And all the while he strove to tear them away with his hands, his priest's garlands dripping with blood. Nor did he cease to cry horribly aloud, even as a bull bellows when after an ill stroke of the axe it flees from the altar. But when their work was done, the two glided to the citadel of Minerva and hid themselves beneath the feet and the shield of the goddess. And men said one to another, "Lo! the priest Laoco÷n has been judged according to his deeds; for he cast his spear against this holy thing, and now the gods have slain him." Then all cried out together that the horse of wood must be drawn to the citadel. Whereupon they opened the ScŠan Gate and pulled down the wall that was thereby, and put rollers under the feet of the horse and joined ropes thereto. So in much joy they drew it into the city, youths and maidens singing about it the while and laying their hands to the ropes with great gladness. And yet there wanted no signs and tokens of evil to come. Four times it halted on the threshold of the gate, and men might have heard a clashing of arms within. Cassandra also opened her mouth, prophesying evil; but no man heeded her, for that was ever the doom upon her, not to be believed, though speaking truth. So the men of Troy drew the horse into the city. And that night they kept a feast to all the gods with great joy not knowing that the last day of the great city had come.

But when night was now fully come and the men of Troy lay asleep, lo! from the ship of King Agamemnon there rose up a flame for a signal to the Greeks; and these straightway manned their ships and made across the sea from Tenedos, there being a great calm and the moon also giving them light. Sinon likewise opened a secret door that was in the great horse and the chiefs issued forth therefrom and opened the gates of the city, slaying those that kept watch. Meanwhile there came a vision to Ăneas, who now, Hector being dead, was the chief hope and stay of the men of Troy. It was Hector's self that he seemed to see, but not such as he had seen him coming back rejoicing with the arms of Achilles or setting fire to the ships, but even as he lay after that Achilles dragged him at his chariot wheels, covered with dust, and blood, his feet swollen and pierced through with thongs. To him said Ăneas, not knowing what he said, "Why hast thou tarried so long? Much have we suffered waiting for thee! And what grief hath marked thy face, and whence these wounds?" But to this the spirit answered nothing, but said, groaning the while, "Fly, son of Venus, fly and save thee from these flames. The enemy is in the walls and Troy hath utterly perished. If any hand could have saved our city, this hand had done so. Thou art now the hope of Troy. Take then her gods and flee with them for company, seeking the city that thou shalt one day build across the sea."

And now the alarm of battle came nearer and nearer, and Ăneas, waking from sleep, climbed upon the roof and looked on the city. As a shepherd stands and sees a fierce flame sweeping before the south wind over the corn-fields or a flood rushing down from the mountains, so he stood. And as he looked, the great palace of De´phobus sank down in the fire and the house of Ucalegon that was hard by, blazed forth, till the sea by SigeŘm shone with the light. Then, scarce knowing what he sought, he girded on his armor, thinking perchance that he might yet win some place of vantage or at the least might avenge himself on the enemy or find honor in his death. But as he passed from out of his house there met him Panthus, the priest of Apollo that was on the citadel, who cried to him, "O Ăneas, the glory is departed from Troy and the Greeks have the mastery in the city; for armed men are coming forth from the great horse of wood and thousands also swarm in at the gates, which Sinon hath treacherously opened." And as he spake others came up under the light of the moon, as Hypanis and Dymas and young Corťbus, who had but newly come to Troy, seeking Cassandra to be his wife. To whom Ăneas spake: "If ye are minded, my brethren, to follow me to the death, come on. For how things fare this night ye see. The gods who were the stay of this city have departed from it; nor is aught remaining to which we may bring succor. Yet can we die as brave men in battle. And haply he that counts his life to be lost may yet save it." Then, even as ravening wolves hasten through the mist seeking for prey, so they went through the city, doing dreadful deeds. And for a while the men of Greece fled before them.


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