STORIES FROM VIRGILby Alfred J. Church
The favour with which the public received “Stories from Homer” has encouraged me to deal in the same way with the Æneid. I have found it a difficult task, and I must ask the indulgence of my readers, who will certainly miss, not only the freshness and simplicity of the great Greek epic, but those chief characteristics of Virgil,
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The favour with which the public received “Stories from Homer” has encouraged me to deal in the same way with the Æneid. I have found it a difficult task, and I must ask the indulgence of my readers, who will certainly miss, not only the freshness and simplicity of the great Greek epic, but those chief characteristics of Virgil, his supreme mastery of expression and the splendour of his style. I beg them to remember that I do not attempt to translate my original, that while I add nothing (except, in a very few instances, an explanatory phrase), I am constrained to leave out much; and that what I leave out, or, at the most, very inadequately render, will often be found to be that which they have been accustomed most to admire in the poet,—his brilliant rhetoric, his philosophy, his imagination, and his pathos. My chief aim has been to represent to English readers the narrative, the interest of which is, perhaps, scarcely appreciated.
The illustrations (with the exception of the second, which is taken from a photograph of the antique) have been adapted from a series of designs, published early in this century, by Pinelli, a Roman artist (1781-1835), who acquired a considerable reputation among his countrymen, especially for the power of representing energetic action. I may be allowed to express my great obligations to the pains and skill (to which indeed this volume is otherwise much indebted) which have been used in making these designs available for the present purpose.
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THE HORSE OF WOOD.
For ten years King Agamemnon and the men of Greece laid siege to Troy. But though sentence had gone forth against the city, yet the day of its fall tarried, because certain of the gods loved it well and defended it, as Apollo, and Mars, the God of war, and Father Jupiter himself. Wherefore Minerva put it into the heart of Epeius, Lord of the Isles, that he should make a cunning device wherewith to take the city. Now the device was this: he made a great Horse of wood, feigning it to be a peace offering to Minerva, that the Greeks might have a safe return to their homes. In the belly of this there hid themselves certain of the bravest of the chiefs, as Menelaüs, and Ulysses, and Thoas the Ætolian, and Machaon, the great physician, and Pyrrhus, son of Achilles (but Achilles himself was dead, slain by Paris, Apollo helping, even as he was about to take the city), and others also, and with them Epeius himself. But the rest of the people made as if they had departed to their homes; only they went not further than Tenedos, which was an island near to the coast.
Great joy was there in Troy when it was noised abroad that the men of Greece had departed. The gates were opened, and the people went forth to see the plain and the camp. And one said to another, as they went, “Here they set the battle in array, and there were the tents of the fierce Achilles, and there lay the ships.” And some stood and marvelled at the great peace-offering to Minerva, even the Horse of wood. And Thymœtes, who was one of the elders of the city, was the first who advised that it should be brought within the walls and set in the citadel. But whether he gave this counsel out of a false heart, or because the Gods would have it so, no man knows. And Capys, and others with him, said that it should be drowned in water, or burned with fire, or that men should pierce it and see whether there were aught within. And the people were divided, some crying one thing and some another. Then came forward the priest Laocoön, and a great company with him, crying, “What madness is this? Think ye that the men of Greece are indeed departed, or that there is any profit in their gifts? Surely, there are armed men in this mighty Horse; or haply they have made it that they may look down upon our walls. Touch it not, for as for these men of Greece, I fear them, even though they bring gifts in their hands.”
And as he spake he cast his great spear at the Horse, so that it sounded again. But the Gods would not that Troy should be saved.
Meanwhile there came certain shepherds, dragging with them one whose hands were bound behind his back. He had come forth to them, they said, of his own accord, when they were in the field. And first the young men gathered about him mocking him, but when he cried aloud, “What place is left for me, for the Greeks suffer me not to live, and the men of Troy cry for vengeance upon me?” they rather pitied him, and bade him speak, and say whence he came and what he had to tell.
Then the man spake, turning to King Priam: “I will speak the truth, whatever befall me. My name is Sinon, and I deny not that I am a Greek. Haply thou hast heard the name of Palamedes...
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