DICTYS CRETENSIS 1
 

DICTYS OF CRETE'S Journal of the Trojan War is a prose work in six books, which purports to be a first hand account of the Trojan War by Dictys, a functionary of the Cretan King Idomeneus.

The Trojan War. The Chronicles of Dictys of Crete and Dares the Phrygian. Translated by R. M. Frazer (Jr.). Indiana University Press. 1966.

The Frazer volume is no longer available in print. It is currently the only English translation available of Dictys.


DICTYS CRETENSIS INDEX

LETTER

PREFACE

BOOK 1 Antehomerica

BOOK 2 Antehomerica & "Iliad"

BOOK 3 "The Iliad"

BOOK 4 Posthomerica

BOOK 5 Posthomerica

BOOK 6 The Returns

DICTYS CRETENSIS TRANSLATED BY R. M. FRAZER

Translated from Greek into Latin by Lucius Spetimius

LETTER

Lucius Septimius sends greetings to Quintus Aradius Rufinus.

Dictys of Crete originally wrote his Journal of the Trojan War in the Phoenician alphabet, which Cadmus and Agenor1 had spread throughout Greece. Dictys had served in the War with Idomeneus.

After many centuries the tomb of Dictys at Cnossos (formerly the seat of the Cretan king) collapsed with age.2 Then shepherds, wandering near the ruins, stumbled upon a little box skilfully enclosed in tin. Thinking it was treasure, they soon broke it open, but brought to light, instead of gold or some other kind of wealth, books written on linden tablets. Their hopes thus frustrated, they took their find to Praxis,3 the owner of that place. Praxis had the books transliterated into the Attic alphabet (the language was Greek)4 and presented them to the Roman Emperor Nero.5 Nero rewarded him richly.

When these little books had by chance come into my hands, I, as a student of true history, was seized with the desire of making a free translation into Latin; I felt I had no special talent but wanted only to occupy my leisure time. I have preserved without abridgment the first five volumes which deal with the happenings of the War, but have reduced into one volume the others6 which are concerned with the Return of the Greeks. Thus, my Rufinus, I have sent them to you. Favor my work as it deserves, and in reading Dictys . . .

1. The Preface names only Cadmus. Dictys 5.17 names Cadmus and Danaus; here we must suppose that the author of the Letter has forgotten his own translation.
2. In the Preface an earthquake lays open the tomb.
3. Praxis is the Eupraxides of the Preface.
4. In the Preface the language is Phoenician instead of Greek.
5. In the Preface Eupraxides gives the books to Rutilius Rufus, the governor of Crete, and Rufus sees that they get to Nero.
6. The manuscripts, all of which give the number of abridged books as five, have been corrected to agree with the reports of Eudokia and Suidas that the total number of books was nine. See Preface, note 3.


PREFACE

Dictys, a native of Crete from the city of Cnossos and a contemporary of the Atridae,1 knew the Phoenician language and alphabet, which Cadmus brought to Achaea.2 He accompanied the leaders Idomeneus and Meriones with the army that went against Troy. (Idomeneus and Meriones were the sons of Deucalion and Molus respectively.) They chose him to write down a history of this campaign. Accordingly, writing on linden tablets and using the Phoenician alphabet, he composed nine volumes3 about the whole war.

Time passed. In the thirteenth year of Nero’s reign an earthquake struck at Cnossos and, in the course of its devastation, laid open the tomb of Dictys in such a way that people, as they passed, could see the little box. And so shepherds who had seen it as they passed stole it from the tomb, thinking it was treasure. But when they opened it and found the linden tablets inscribed with characters unknown to them, they took this find to their master. Their master, whose name was Eupraxides, recognized the characters, and presented the books to Rutilius Rufus, who was at that time governor of the island. Since Rufus, when the books had been presented to him, thought they contained certain mysteries, he, along with Eupraxides himself, carried them to Nero.4

Nero, having received the tablets and having noticed that they were written in the Phoenician alphabet, ordered his Phoenician philologists to come and decipher whatever was written. When this had been done, since he realized that these were the records of an ancient man who had been at Troy, he had them translated into Greek; thus a more accurate text of the Trojan War was made known to all. Then he bestowed gifts and Roman citizenship upon Eupraxides, and sent him home.

The Greek Library, according to Nero’s command, acquired this history that Dictys had written, the contents of which the following text sets forth in order.

1. The Atridae are Agamemnon and Menelaus, who, however in Dictys, are not the real sons of Atreus, but of Plisthenes. See Dictys 1.1.
2. Achaea is the Roman province of Greece.
3. The manuscripts, all of which give the total number of books as six, have been corrected to agree with the reports of Eudokia and Suidas. See Letter, note 6.
4. This sentence might also be translated: “Rufus . . . sent them to Nero along with Eupraxides himself.”


BOOK ONE

[1] All the kings who were great-grandsons of Minos, the son of Jupiter, and who ruled over Greece, came to Crete to divide the wealth of Atreus. Atreus, the son of Minos,1 when making his last will and testament, had left all his gold and silver, and even his herds, to them; for they were his grandsons, the sons of his daughters. Everything was to be equally divided among them, excepting only the rule of his cities and lands. This he bequeathed to Idomeneus, the son of Deucalion, and Meriones, the son of Molus.

Among those who came to Crete were Palamedes and Oeax, the sons of Clymene and Nauplius.

Also Menelaus and his older brother Agamemnon, the sons of Aerope and Plisthenes,2 came to get their share. (They had a sister, Anaxibia, who at that time was married to Nestor.) People often thought that their father was Atreus, because when their real father, Plisthenes, died young without having made a name for himself, Atreus, pitying their plight, had taken them in and brought them up like princes.

In the division of Atreus’ property everyone, as befitted his rank, acquired a handsome inheritance.

[2] All the descendants of Europa (she was worshiped on Crete with the most elaborate ritual), on learning that the heirs of Atreus had landed, hastened to give them a friendly welcome. Escorting them to the temple, they entertained them lavishly with elegant banquets, offering, in accordance with their ancient customs, many sacrificial victims. Thus, day after day, the kings of Greece delighted in this entertainment. They were, however, even more impressed by the temple of Europa itself, so magnificent was the beauty of this structure, so rich its embellishments. Examining all its marvellous features, they called to mind how Europa’s father, Phoenix, and the noble matrons, had brought across form Sidon this thing and that.

[3] During the same time the home of Menelaus at Sparta welcomed Alexander the Phrygian,3 the son of Priam, who had come with Aeneas and other of his relatives. Alexander, taking advantage of Menelaus’ absence, committed a very foul crime. Falling desperately in love with Helen, the most beautiful woman in Greece, he carried her off, along with much wealth, and also Aethra and Clymene, being Menelaus’ relatives, attended on Helen.

A report of this crime came to Crete;4 but rumor, as commonly happens, spread over the island, making what Alexander had done seem worse than it was. People were even saying that King Menelaus’ home had been taken by storm and that his kingdom was conquered.

[4] On hearing this news, Menelaus was deeply upset by the abduction of his wife, but he was even more disturbed by the fact that the relatives we mentioned above had wronged him.5

Palamedes noticed that the king, being distraught with wrath and righteous indignation, had lost all power of reason. Accordingly, he rigged the ships and brought them to shore equipped with all their gear. Loading as much of Menelaus’ inheritance as time under the circumstances allowed, and briefly but appropriately offering his sympathy, he made the king go abroad. And thus, the winds blowing as they desired, they came to Sparta within a few days.

Agamemnon, Nestor, and all the rulers of Greece who were descendants of Pelops,6 having heard the news, had already gathered together at Sparta. On learning of Menelaus’ arrival, they all assembled together. First, through the barbarity of the deed demanded immediate vengeance, they decided to send envoys to Troy. Palamedes, Ulysses, and Menelaus were chosen to go, and instructed to complain of the crime and demand the return of Helen and the things that had been carried off.7

[5] These, on coming to Troy within a few days, did not find Alexander at home; for when he had sailed from Sparta, hastily and taking no thought of the weather, the winds had forced him to Cyprus. After obtaining some ships, he had then gone on to Phoenicia, where the king of the Sidonians received him kindly. But he treacherously slaughtered the king at night and, venting again that criminal lust he had shown at Sparta, pillaged the palace. He shamelessly ordered his men to seize everything the purpose of which was to show the royal magnificence, and carry it off to the ships. The Sidonians, however, who escaped the general destruction, raised a huge tumult, bewailing the fate of their ruler. All of their people rushed to the palace, and then, arming themselves as best they were able, rushed to the ships; for Alexander had already seized whatever he wanted and now as hastening to sail. A raging battle arose, and very many men fell on both sides. While the Sidonians fought fiercely in the cause of their murdered king, the Trojans strove with all their might to keep the booty they had gained. Two of their ships were fired; but finally, after a terrible struggle, they freed the others. And thus, having broken the strength of their foe, they escaped.

[6] Meanwhile, at Troy, one of the envoys, Palamedes (he was known as a skilful adviser and diplomat), prevailed upon Priam to let him speak at a meeting of the council. First, he made his complaint, describing the criminal way Alexander had broken the ties of mutual friendship. Next, he warned of the horrible conflict that Greece and Troy might have because of this act, citing, among other examples, the feud between Ilus and Pelops,8 who for similar reasons had come to the point of committing their countries to war. And then, comparing the hazards of war with the blessings of peace, he said that he knew that most of the Trojans hated this barbarous crime; all would abandon those who were guilty, and the guilty would have to pay for their impious acts.

Palamedes wanted to finish his speech, but Priam interrupted and said: “I beseech you, Palamedes, to go more slowly. It seems unfair to attack a man who is absent, who, if he were present, might refute the criminal charges you are bringing against him.” Thus Priam ordered Palamedes to defer his complaint until Alexander arrived. He had noticed everyone who was present in the council being moved by Palamedes’ speech; though they were silent, nevertheless they showed by their faces that they were condemning the things Alexander had done. Palamedes was making his points with marvellous eloquence, and there was a certain indescribable force in the moving tone of his speech.

Then the council broke up for that day. The envoys went home with Antenor, happy to be his guests. He was a gracious host and a man who, more than anyone else, loved the good and the true.

[7] Several days having passed, Alexander came with the companions we mentioned above, and also with Helen. Upon his arrival, all the people showed their disgust at what he had done: some cursed the evil precedent he had set; others bewailed the injustice Menelaus had suffered. And finally, disgusted and angry, they raised a revolt.

Priam, alarmed by this turn of events, called together his sons and asked what course they advised. They answered unanimously that, no matter what happened, Helen should not be returned. They saw, no doubt, that if this were done, they would lose all the great wealth with which she had come. Furthermore, they had fallen in love with the beautiful women who had come with Helen and had already set their hearts on marrying this or that one. Being barbarians in language and morals, and impatient of weighing their actions or asking advice, they were driven astray by greed for booty and lust.

[8] Leaving his sons, Priam called together the elders. After reporting what his sons had decided, he asked each member to give his advice. This was the custom. But before anyone could state his opinion, the princes suddenly broke into the council and – never before had this happened – threatened all of the members: they had better not find anyone opposing their will.

Meanwhile all of the people were cursing and crying out against the crime Alexander had committed and against many other similar acts. This caused Alexander, who was reckless because of his lust, to surround himself with his brothers in arms and make an attack on the crowd; for he feared that something might happen to him at the hands of the people. Many were killed, but finally the slaughter was stopped by those who had been in the council, the nobles led by Antenor. Thus the people returned to their homes, their numbers not undiminished, frustrated as to their goals and held in contempt.

[9] On the following day King Priam, at the insistence of Hecuba, went to Helen. Greeting her kindly, he urged her to feel well disposed and asked who she was and what was her family.

She answered that she was Alexander’s relative and more closely akin to Priam and Hecuba than to the son of Plisthenes. She went through the whole list of her ancestors. Danaus and Agenor were her progenitors, respectively, of Priam’s line and of hers.9 The daughter of Danaus was Hesione,10 who had given birth to Electra by Atlas; Electra had given birth to Dardanus by Jupiter; and from Dardanus was descended Tros and, in order of succession, the other kings of Troy. As for Agenor, he had begotten Taygete; and she had given birth to Lacedaemon by Jupiter; Lacedaemon had begotten Amyclas, and he had begotten Argalus, the father of Oebalus; it was well known that Oebalus was the father of Tyndareus, and he, it seemed, was her father. She also recited the relation of her mother’s family with Hecuba, for the son of Agenor, Phoenix, was the ancestor both of Leda and of Hecuba’s father, Dymas.

After revealing her whole genealogy, she burst into tears and begged him not to return her. Now that the Trojans had made her welcome, and she had put her trust in them, they must not prove faithless. Everything Alexander had taken from Menelaus’ home belonged to her; nothing else had been taken.

It was by no means clear whey she preferred to look after her interests in this way. Was it because of her immodest love for Alexander, or because of her fear of the punishment her husband would exact for desertion?

[10] When Hecuba was informed of Helen’s attitude and of the relation between their families, she embraced her and did everything she could to prevent her being returned. But by this time Priam and most of the princes were saying that they could no longer put off the envoys or resist the will of the people. (Deiphobus was the only one who sided with Hecuba, for his judgment, like Alexander’s, had been corrupted by his lust for Helen.) Hecuba, however, persisted to intercede on Helen’s behalf and accosted Priam and all of her sons who were present. They found it impossible to pull her from Helen’s embrace and, therefore, finally decided to do as she wished. Thus by her influence as mother and wife she compromised the good of her country.

On the next day Menelaus, accompanied by the other envoys, came into the assembly. He demanded the return of his wife and the things Alexander had taken.

Then Priam, standing in the midst of the princes and calling for silence, said that Helen (who had come into public view for this purpose) should have the right to decide. When he asked her, “Do you want to go home?” her answer, so they reported, was “No.” She had not sailed, she said, unwillingly, for her marriage to Menelaus did not suit her. And so the princes left the assembly, exulting, with Helen.

[11] When they had gone, Ulysses, though he knew that nothing he said would make any difference, argued for argument’s sake. He reviewed everything Alexander had done and swore that the Greeks would soon be avenging these crimes. Next, Menelaus, full of wrath and scowling blackly, broke up the meeting with threats of destruction.

When Priam’s sons were told what had happened, they secretly swore to kidnap the envoys. They believed, quite rightly, that the envoys, having failed to accomplish their mission, would return to Greece and demand a full-scale war against Troy. Antenor, however, whose pious character we mentioned above, thwarted this plot. Going to Priam, he complained about the conspiracy: Priam’s sons were not plotting against the envoys but against himself, and this he would not endure. Soon afterwards he informed the envoys. Thus every precaution was taken; he gave them a guard and, at the first opportunity, sent them home unharmed.

[12] While this was happening at Troy, news of the abduction spread throughout Greece. All the descendants of Pelops foregathered and bound themselves with mutual oaths. If Helen was not returned along with the things Alexander had taken, they swore to make war against Priam.

The envoys, having returned to Sparta, told about Helen’s decision and described the hostile words and deeds of Priam and his sons against them. But they praised Antenor in the highest terms for the good faith he had shown. The members of the Greek council, having heard this report, decided to make preparations for war in their different regions and kingdoms. They chose Argos which was the realm of Diomedes, as a good place to meet and make plans for the war.

[13] When the time seemed best, Ajax the son of Telamon, who was known for his bravery no less than his hugeness, was the first to arrive, accompanied by Teucer, his brother. Soon afterwards Idomeneus and Meriones came, who were the closest of friends.

(I followed along with these. As to what happened earlier at Troy, I have tried to make my report as accurate as possible, Ulysses being my source. The account that follows, based as it is on my own observations, will meet, I hope, the highest critical standards.)

Also Nestor came to Argos, accompanied by Antilochus and Thrasymedes, his sons by Anaxibia. Then Peneleus came with his cousins Clonius and Arcesilaus; and these were followed by two other leaders of the Boeotians, Prothoenor and Leitus. Schdius and Epistrophus came from Phocis; Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, from Orchomenus. Then Diores and Meges, the sons of Phyleus, came; then Thoas, the son of Andraemon; Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, from Ormenion; and then Leonteus.

[14] Next Achilles arrived, the son of Peleus and Thetis. (Thetis, so they say, was the daughter of Chiron.) Achilles was in the first years of his manhood, a noble youth and handsome. So great was his zeal for war that he was already known as the bravest champion alive. Nevertheless, it must be admitted, his character showed a certain ill-advised forcefulness, a certain savage impatience. He was accompanied by Patroclus, his close friend, and Phoenix, his guardian and teacher.

Then there were Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules; and after him, Phidippus and Antiphus, the grandsons of Hercules, wearing beautiful armor. After them came Protesilaus, the son of Iphiclus, with his brother Podarces. And Eumelus of Pherae was there. (Eumelus’ father, Admetus, had once prolonged his life by having his wife die for him.)11 Podalirius and Machaon came from Tricca; they, being sons of Aesculapius, had been summoned to serve as physicians. Then Philoctetes came, the son of Poeas, carrying the marvellous bow and arrows of Hercules, whom he had formerly served. (As reward for his service, Hercules, when departing to be with the gods, had given these weapons to him.)12 Then the handsome Nireus came. Menestheus came from Athens; Ajax, the son of Oileus, from Locris; Amphilochus, the son of Amphiaraus, and Sthenelus, the son of Capaneus, from Argos, and with them was Euryalus, the son of Mecisteus; Thersander, the son of Polynices, came from Aetolia; and, last of all, Demophoon and Acamas. These were all the descendants of Pelops. They were followed by a great number of others, coming from various regions, some being retainers of kings, and others rulers themselves. It seems quite useless, however, to give a list of their names.

[15] When all had assembled at Argos, Diomedes supplied their needs and made them at home. Agamemnon distributed a great amount of gold he had brought from Mycenae, and thus increased their yearning for war. Then they decided unanimously to seal their alliance as follows:

Calchas the prophet, the son of Thestor, having ordered a hog brought into their midst, cut it in half and set the parts towards east and west. Then he commanded them all to draw their swords and pass through the victim. Thus, smearing their blades with the blood of the hog, and completing the other rites as required, they bound themselves to war against Priam. They swore to fight on until Troy and Priam’s whole kingdom was utterly destroyed. After taking this oath and purifying themselves with ablutions, they sacrificed many victims to Mars and Concord, seeking the aid of these gods.

[16] Then they decided to appoint a commander-in-chief. Accordingly, in the temple of the Argive Juno, everyone, having received a ballot, wrote (in Phoenician letters) the name of the man he thought would make the best leader. Agamemnon was chosen and thus, with the hearty approval of each and every one, he took upon himself the command of the forces. He deserved this position for two reasons: first, he was the brother of the man for whose sake they were fighting; and second, he was considered the wealthiest and most powerful king in Greece. Then they appointed Achilles, Ajax, and Phoenix to be the leaders in charge of the fleet; and gave Palamedes, Diomedes, and Ulysses joint command of the army-in-camp, that is, the routine duties of the day and the watches of the night. Having made these arrangements, the Greeks departed to their different kingdoms to get ready their forces and equipment for war.

Zeal for war inflamed all Greece during the following period. Within two years everything was ready; weapons for defense and offense, and horses and ships. The men had accelerated their work, some acting with natural zest, others to rival the glory their comrades were gaining. They felt, understandably enough, that their most important task was the construction of a great naval force; the many thousands of soldiers, when once they had been gathered from everywhere, must not be delayed for want of a fleet.

[17] Thus at the end of two years all the kings had equipped ships varying in number with the wealth and power of their kingdoms,13 and had sent them on to Aulis in Boeotia; this was the place they had chosen. Agamemnon assembled a fleet of 100 ships from Mycenae, in addition to 60 others from the various cities under his power; he put Agapenor in charge. Nestor equipped a fleet of 90 ships. Menelaus had 60 ships from all Lacedaemon; Menestheus 40 from Athens; Elephenor 40 from Euboea; Ajax, the son of Telamon, 12 from Salamis; Diomedes 80 from Argos; Ascalaphus and Ialmenus 30 from Orchomenus; Ajax, the son of Oileus, 40; Arcesilaus, Prothoenor, Peneleus, Leitus, and Clonius 50 from all of Boeotia; Schedius and Epistrophus 50 from Phocis; Thalpius and Diores, along with Amphimachus and Polyxenus, 40 from Elis and the other cities of this region; Thoas 40 from Aetolia; Meges 40 from Dulichium and the islands of the Echidnades; Idomeneus and Meriones 80 from all Crete; Ulysses 12 from Ithaca; Prothous 40 from Magnesia; Tlepolemus 9 from Rhodes and the other islands about; Eumelus 11 from Pherae; Achilles 50 from Pelasgian Argos; Nireus 3 from Syme; Podarces and Protesilaus 40 from Phylaca and the other places they controlled; Podalirus and Machaon 30; Philoctetes 7 from Methona and other cities; Eurypylus 40 from Ormenion; Guneus 22 from Perrhaebia; Leonteus and Polypoetes 40 from their regions; Phidippus and Antiphus 30 from the islands of Cos and Crapathus; Thersander (the son of Polynices, as we mentioned above) 50 from Thebes; Calchas 20 from Acarnania; Mopsus 20 from Colophon; and Epeus 30 from the islands of the Cyclades.

They filled their ships with large amounts of grain and other necessary goods. Agamemnon had of course ordered them to do this, that so huge a military force might not be harassed with lack of supplies.

[18] In addition to this huge armada, there were many horses and war chariots, their number being large, considering the lack of good pasture in Greece. The infantry, however, far outnumbered the cavalry. Also there were the many technical experts who were necessary to maintain and operate the ships.

During this time we were unable, either by bribery or by the influence of Phalis,14 the king of the Sidonians, to entice the Lycian Sarpedon to follow our alliance. Priam, by offering larger gifts (which afterwards were doubled), had already won his support for the Trojans.

It took five years for all the ships (which, as we have described above, were brought together from the various regions of Greece) to be equipped and readied. When, however, nothing except the soldier’s absence prevented us from sailing, all of our leaders, at the same time, as if at a given signal, came together at Aulis.

[19] While we were hastening to sail, Agamemnon (who, as we have said above, had been unanimously chosen commander-in-chief), having gone some way from the camp, noticed a she-goat grazing near a grove of Diana and, feeling no awe because of the place, struck it through with his spear. Soon afterwards, either because of heavenly wrath or atmospheric contamination, a plague began to attack us. Day after day it raged with greater and greater violence, destroying many thousands as it passed indiscriminately through herds and army, laying waste everything that stood in its way, there being no abatement, no end to death.

While our leaders were seeking some remedy, a certain woman,15 divinely inspired, revealed the reason for our affliction: the wrath of Diana; the goddess was exacting punishment from the army for the sacrilege of slaying the she-goat in which she especially delighted, nor would she relent until the perpetrator of this awful crime had made full atonement by sacrificing his oldest daughter. When this solution was brought to the army, all of our leaders approached Agamemnon. Begging and then threatening, they tried to make him offer the remedy quickly, but he obstinately and absolutely refused. And so they reviled him and finally stripped him of his command.

But in order that their huge army, being leaderless, might not become an undisciplined mob, they chose four men to share the command: Palamedes, Diomedes, Ajax the son of Telamon, and Idomeneus. And they divided their forces, according to the number of leaders, into four equal parts.

[20] Meanwhile the plague continued to rage until Ulysses unexpectedly provided the necessary remedy. No one knew of his plan. He pretended to return to his kingdom because of his anger at Agamemnon’s refusal, but went instead to Mycenae and took Clytemnestra a letter he had forged in the name of her husband. The gist of this letter was as follows: Achilles refused to sail for Troy until he had married their oldest daughter, Iphigenia, whom they had promised to him; therefore, she should send Iphigenia to Aulis, along with the dowry, as quickly as possible. In addition to bringing this letter, Ulysses said many things to strengthen Clytemnestra’s belief in its contents. Thus she, desiring both to recover her sister Helen and, even more, to marry her daughter to so famous a man, gladly entrusted Iphigenia to Ulysses. Within a few days he returned to the camp and appeared unexpectedly with the girl in the grove of Diana.

When Agamemnon knew what had happened, he wanted to flee, either because of his love for his daughter or because he wanted no part in so criminal a sacrifice. Nestor, however, learned of his plans and, in a long speech, by means of that art of persuasion in which he was more pleasing and effective than anyone else in Greece, prevailed upon him to stay.

[21] Ulysses, Menelaus, and Calchas were put in charge of the sacrifice; everyone else was kept at a distance. When they had begun to adorn the girl, suddenly, lo and behold, the day began to darken. Thunder roared and lightning flashed, earth and sea were shaken. Finally a whirlwind of dust made the darkness complete. Soon afterwards rain and hail poured down. This ghastly disturbance which showed no signs of abatement threw Menelaus and the other officiants into confusion; they were caught between their fear and perplexity. At first they were frightened by the sudden change in the weather and believed that this was the sign of some god, but then they were worried that the army might suffer some harm if they discontinued the sacrifice. While they were trying to solve their dilemma, they heard a voice from the grove saying that divinity spurned such an offering; the goddess had mercy upon the girl, and they must not touch her; as for Agamemnon, after his victory at Troy, his wife would see to his adequate punishment; they must sacrifice what they would see had been sent in the place of the girl. Then the winds and the lightning and all the storm’s fierceness began to diminish.

[22] While these things were happening, Achilles received a personal letter from Clytemnestra, and also a great deal of gold; she commended her daughter and all of her house to him. When he had read the letter, he realized the scheme of Ulysses and, dropping all other concerns, rushed to the grove, shouting for Menelaus and the other officiants to keep their hands off Iphigenia, or else he would kill them. He found them still in a state of shock; and when the weather had cleared, he freed the girl. But what was the thing, where was the thing that they had been ordered to sacrifice? This was perplexing them all when a marvellously beautiful deer appeared untrembling before the very altar. Accepting this deer as the victim which had been predicted and which was now divinely offered, they seized upon it and soon slew it. With the performance of this sacrifice, the force of the plague subsided, and the sky became bright as in summer. Then Achilles and the three officiants, acting in complete secrecy, entrusted the girl to the king of the Scythians, who was there at this time.16

[23] Our leaders were all delighted, for they saw that the force of the plague had abated and that the winds were good for sailing, the sea being calm as in summer. Going to Agamemnon and consoling him over his daughter’s death, they made him commander-in-chief once again. This greatly pleased the whole army, for all the soldiers loved Agamemnon, thinking that he would look after their interests no less than a father. Agamemnon showed no signs of knowing what had really happened to Iphigenia. Perhaps he knew. Or had he, having pondered the turns of human fortune, steeled himself to adversity? In either case, resuming his office, he invited the leaders to dinner that day.

Several days later, the weather being good for sailing, our leaders set the army in order; and thus we boarded the ships. We had stowed all sorts of costly supplies which the people who lived near Aulis had given us. Grain, wine, and other necessary foods were furnished by Anius and his daughters; the latter were known as Oenotropae (wine-growers) and priestesses of a holy religion.17 Thus we sailed from Aulis.

1. Atreus is apparently identified with Catreus, who was the son of Minos (Apollodorus 3.1.2).
2. Agamemnon and Menelaus are the sons of Plisthenes in Hesiod The Catalogues of Women (fragment 69, p. 203, ed. Evelyn-White).
3. Dictys always uses “Alexander” instead of “Paris.” “Phrygian” is a synonym for “Trojan.”
4. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 491, ed. Evelyn-White), Iris is the one who brings this news.
5. According to Malalas (Chronographia 5.118-119), Aethra persuaded Helen to yield to Alexander. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 491), Venus brings Helen and Alexander together.
6. Apparently Pelops was the great hero of the past from whom aristocratic families liked to claim descent, and often did so falsely.
7. This embassy appears before the Trojan council in Dictys 1.6 and before the Trojan assembly in Dictys 1.10 (middle)-11. It should be compared with the later, similar embassy in Dictys 2.20-26.
8. Ilus had led an army against Pelops and chased him out of Lydia. See Pausanias Description of Greece 2.2.24.
9. Danaus and Agenor were related as follows: Neptune was the father of Belus and Agenor by Libya, and Belus was the father of Danaus. See Apollod. 2.1.4.
10. The text, which reads “Plesione” here, has been corrected to “Hesione,” to agree with Dictys 4.22, where the same genealogy is given.

11. Admetus’ wife was Alcestis. See Euripides Alcestis.
12. See Sophocles Trachiniae.
13. Section 17, with a few exceptions, is based on Homer’s catalogue of ships in Iliad 2.494-795.
14. The text is corrupt here. This Phalis is probably to be equated with the Phalas of Dictys 4.4.
15. Perhaps Agamemnon had consulted the oracle of Apollo, and this woman is Apollo’s priestess, the Pythia.
16. In the Cypria (fragment 1, p. 495), Diana snatches Iphigenia away and carries her off to the land of the Taurians.
17. Anius was a king of Delos. For him and his daughters, see Ovid Metamorphoses 13.631-673.

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