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Antehomerica & The Iliad


The Iliad






The Returns


[1] When the arrival of Antenor and Talthybius was known at Troy, all the Trojans and their allies rushed to meet them, desiring to learn what had happened among the Greeks. But Antenor postponed his report until the next day, and so they dispersed and went home.

Then, at a banquet, in the presence of Talthybius, Antenor advised his sons to consider nothing so important in life as their long-standing friendship with Greece and recalled, with evident admiration, the honor, good faith, and guilelessness of individual Greeks.

After the meal, they parted company. But at daybreak Antenor and Talthybius went to the meeting of the council. (The elders were already there, eager to find some end to their dreadful afflictions.) Aeneas was the next to arrive, and then Priam and the rest of the princes. At last Antenor, having been ordered to tell what he had heard from the Greeks, spoke as follows:

[2]“It is a sad thing, Trojan princes and Trojan allies, it is a sad thing for us to be at war with the Greeks, but it is an even sadder and more painful thing that for the sake of a woman we have made enemies of the closest friends, of those who, being descendants of Pelops, are joined to us even by ties of marriage.

“If I may briefly touch on the past evils we have suffered, when has our city ever found rest, once it was lost in this quagmire of sorrows? When have we ever been without tears? When have you allies ever seen your misfortunes decrease? When have our friends, parents, relatives, and sons not been dying in battle? And, to sum up the rest of our sorrows with a personal allusion, what suffering have I not endured in the case of Glaucus, my son? His death, however, was not so painful to me as the fact that he had accompanied Alexander in the abduction of Helen.

“But enough of the past. Let us, at least, look to the future with caution and wisdom. The Greeks are faithful and true; they are rich in kindness and pious in doing their duty. Priam is a witness to this, for, in the very heat of the battle, he reaped the fruit of their pity. The Greeks were not so rash as to declare war against us until we had treated their envoys – even their envoys! – with treachery and guile. It is my opinion that Priam and his sons were to blame in this matter, and also Antimachus, who has recently paid for his guilt with the loss of his sons. But the real blame for everything that has happened rests upon Helen, that woman whom not even the Greeks really want to recover. Why should we keep this woman on whose account no nation, no people, has ever been friendly or even non-hostile to us? Shall we not, rather, eagerly beg the Greeks to take her again? And shall we not offer complete compensation for all the ways we have harmed them? Shall we not be reconciled with such men at least in the future?

“For my own part, I am leaving; I am going away. I refuse to share in these crimes any longer. There was a time when it was pleasing to live in this city; until now we had allies and friends; our relatives were safe, our country unharmed. But now we have partially or totally lost all of these things. Who can deny it? I can no longer endure to remain with those whose work is all destined to ruin along with the fall of their country.

“Until now, it is true, we have found some way to bury our dead; the enemy granted this favor. But now the altars and shrines of the gods have been criminally desecrated with human blood. And thus, being unable to hold our dear ones’ funerals, we will suffer even more than when they died.

“At least prevent this from happening now. Our native land must be redeemed with gold and other ransom of this sort. There are many in our city who are rich; each must give whatever he can. We must offer the Greeks, in return for our lives, what they will have soon enough if they kill us. Let us give even the ornaments of our temples, if otherwise we cannot save our city.

“As for Priam, let only him keep all his wealth, let only him consider riches more important than his people, let him, the brooding miser, have even the things they carried off with Helen and see how best to use his country’s sorrows. Now our sins have found us out, and we are conquered.”

[3] He was weeping as he spoke these and other things, and everyone was mourning. Stretching their hands toward heaven, they showed their agreement, praying, individually and together, that Priam, in view of their many adversities, should bring an end to their miseries. And finally, with one voice, they shouted that their native land must be redeemed.

Then Priam, tearing his hair and weeping in a pitiable way, addressed them. Now, he said, he was not only hated by the gods but was even considered a public enemy by his own people. Formerly he had friends, relatives, and fellow citizens to comfort him in his misfortunes, but now none was to be found. He had wanted to begin negotiations when Alexander and Hector were living and not wait until now. No one, however, was able to remedy the past; they must plan for the present and put their hopes in the future. He offered all that he had for the redemption of Troy, and instructed Antenor to see to the matter. But now, since they hated him so, he was leaving their presence. Whatever they decided to do was agreeable to him.

[4] When the king had left, they decided that Antenor should return to the Greeks and learn what terms they wanted exactly; and that Aeneas, as he desired, should go along too. Thus the council broke up.

About midnight, Helen came to Antenor secretly. She suspected that they were about to return her to Menelaus and feared that she would be punished for having abandoned her home. Accordingly, she begged him to mention her, when he spoke among the Greeks, and plead in her behalf. Now that Alexander was dead, she hated all Troy, as they knew, and wanted to return to her people.

At daybreak, Antenor and Aeneas came to the ships and told us all about their city’s descision. Then they withdrew with those they had talked to before, to plan what action to take. It was during these discussions about Troy and their nation that they also told about Helen’s desires and asked forgiveness for her; and finally they agreed on how best to betray their city.

When they were ready, they returned to Troy, accompanied by Ulysses and Diomedes. Ajax also wanted to go, but Aeneas made him remain, arguing, no doubt, that the Trojans were afraid of him no less than they had been afraid of Achilles and, therefore, might take him by treachery.

The hopes of all Trojans were raised when they saw that our leaders had come. They thought this meant that war and conflict were going to end. A meeting of the council was quickly called and there, in the presence of our men, they decided, first of all, to exile Antimachus from all of Phrygia, for he, to be sure, was the cause of their terrible troubles. Then they began to discuss the terms of peace.

[5] During their discussions, a huge crash and much shouting suddenly arose from Pergamum, where Priam’s palace was located. Those in the council, being thrown into confusion, ran outside and, thinking that the princes, as usual, had done some treacherous deed, they rushed to the temple of Minerva. Soon afterwards, however, they learned, from those who came from the citadel, that the sons of Alexander, his children by Helen, had perished, crushed when the roof of their home had collapsed. The names of these sons were Bunomus,1 Corythus, and Idaeus.

The business of the council was thus deferred, and our leaders went off to Antenor’s, there to dine and spend the night. Moreover, they learned from Antenor about an oracle which once had informed the Trojans that Troy would fall in ruins, if the Palladium was carried outside the walls of the city. (The Palladium was an ancient statue in the temple of Minerva; it was made of wood, and had fallen from heaven and taken its place when Ilus was building the temple, and all but the roof was complete.)

Antenor agreed to help our men, just as they urged, in very way; he would do whatever they wanted. Nevertheless, he warned them that, at the meeting of the Trojan council, he would speak out boldly and openly oppose the demands the Greeks were making; in order, no doubt, to give the barbarians no grounds to suspect him.

Their plans being thus completed, at daybreak Antenor went, along with the Trojan nobles, to Priam; and our leaders returned to the ships.

[6] The sons of Alexander were buried with due ceremony. Three days later Idaeus came and summoned our leaders (those mentioned above). Panthus2 and the other Trojans who were known for their wisdom made long speeches in which they explained that their previous actions had been rash and ill-advised. They had been constrained, they said, to act according to the will of the princes, by whom they were hated and counted as naught. They had not taken up arms against Greece willingly, for those who must follow another’s command must look to his nod and try to obey it. Therefore, the Greeks should grant forgiveness and be willing to confer with those who had always been hoping for peace. Moreover, the Trojans had already suffered enough for their ill-advised acts.

After a long discussion of this point and that, finally the question of tribute was raised. Diomedes asked for five thousand talents of gold, and a like number of silver, besides one hundred thousand measures of wheat, for a period of ten years.

Then all the Trojans were silent, except for Antenor. He said that the Greeks were not acting like Greeks but barbarians. Since they demanded what was impossible, it was evident that they were planning for war under a pretext of peace. Moreover, Troy had never had as much gold and silver as Greece was demanding, not even before she had gone to the expense of hiring auxiliaries. If the Greeks persisted in these unscrupulous demands, the Trojans must shut their gates and burn the temples of their gods, and offer themselves and their country to one and the same destruction.

Diomedes answered: “We did not come from Argos to give special terms to Troy, but to fight you to the death. Therefore, if you are still desirous of war, the Greeks are ready, or if, as you say, you wish to burn your city, we will not prevent you. The Greeks, when treated unjustly, take vengeance. That is their way.”

Then Panthus asked for a day’s reprieve during which to ponder the Greek proposal. Thus our men went home with Antenor, and from there to the temple of Minerva.

[7] Meanwhile news of a remarkable portent was brought. It had occurred during the offering of sacrifices. Victims had been placed on the altars as usual. But he fire, having been lit, had not caught or burned in the usual way but had left the offering untouched.

This news startled the people, and they rushed to the temple of Apollo to prove for themselves whether or not it was true. When they had placed parts of entrails on the altar and lit the fire, suddenly everything was thrown into confusion; the entrails fell to the ground. Then, while everyone was struck with astonishment, an eagle, swift and screeching, dove down and caught up a piece of the entrails and, soaring off, carried it away to the sips and there let it fall.

The Trojans received this omen as a great and very clear sign portending their doom. Diomedes and Ulysses, however, pretended not to know what had happened and walked around in the public square, like sightseers, marveling at the wonderful buildings of Troy.

We at the ships, were also pondering the portent’s meaning. And Calchas told us to be of good cheer, for we would be masters of Troy in short order.

[8] When Hecuba learned of the portent, she went to placate the gods, especially Minerva and Apollo, with many gifts and rich sacrifices. But just as before, the fire refused to burn the victims and died out quickly.

Then Cassandra became divinely inspired and ordered the victims to be carried to Hector’s tomb. She said that the gods were angry and were rejecting their sacrifices because of the crime they had recently committed against the religion of Apollo. Thus, following her orders, they slew the bulls and took them to Hector’s pyre, where, when the fire was lit, the sacrifice was completely consumed. With the coming of evening, they returned to their homes.

During that night Antenor secretly went to the temple of Minerva and, threatening the priestess Theano3 with force and promising that she would be richly rewarded, begged her to give the Palladium to him. This she did; and thus he, being true to our men, carried it off to them. And they, having wrapped it up so that no one could tell what it was, sent it away in a cart to the hut of Ulysses through close and faithful friends.

With the coming of dawn, the Trojan council met. When our envoys had entered, Antenor, as though fearing the wrath of the Greeks, begged their forgiveness for having previously spoken so boldly against them in behalf of his native land.

Ulysses replied that he was not disturbed by this so much as by the fact that negotiations were being prolonged, especially when the favourable time for sailing was quickly passing.

After a long discussion, they finally agreed on a sum of two thousand talents of gold and two thousand of silver.

Then our envoys returned to the ships to make their report to our men. When our leaders had been assembled, they told them all that had been said and done, and how Antenor had carried the Palladium off. Thereupon, since all our leaders thought best, the rest of the soldiers were given the news.

[9] In view of these developments we decided unanimously to show our gratitude to Minerva by making a splendid offering to her. Helenus was summoned to tell us how to proceed. Using his prophetic powers (he had not been informed), he was able to give a detailed account of everything that had happened so far. And he also said that Troy was doomed now that the Palladium, the safeguard of Troy, had been carried away. We must, he said, offer a wooden horse to Minerva; this gift would prove fatal to Troy. The horse must be so large that the Trojans would have to breach their walls; Antenor would urge and advise them to do this. As Helenus was speaking, the thought of his father, Priam, and of his brothers who were still living caused him to burst into tears; his grief was so strong that he lost all control of himself and collapsed.

When he had come to his senses and was able to rise, Neoptolemus took him in charge. He had him guarded for fear he might somehow inform the enemy about what had happened. But Helenus, seeing himself under guard, told Neoptolemus there was nothing to worry about, for he would prove faithful and, after Troy’s fall, would live with Neoptolemus in Greece many years.

And so, following Helenus’ advice, we brought in a great deal of wood for building the horse. Epeus and Ajax the son of Oileus were in charge of this work.

[10] Meanwhile ten leaders were chosen to go to Troy and ratify the terms of the peace: Diomedes, Ulysses, Idomeneus, Ajax the son of Telamon, Nestor, Meriones, Thoas, Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and Eumelus.

The Trojans, seeing our men in their public square, rejoiced, believing that now their afflictions would end. Individually and in groups, whenever they met them, they greeted them warmly and embraced them like loved ones.

Priam implored our leaders on behalf of Helenus and commended him to them with many prayers. Helenus, he said, was his dearest son, dearer because of his wisdom than all of the others.

When dinnertime came, the Trojans held a public banquet in honor of the Greeks and in celebration of the peace they were making. Antenor was host and graciously served every need of our men.

At daybreak all the elders convened in the temple of Minerva, and Antenor officially announced that ten envoys had been sent by the Greeks to ratify the terms of the peace. Thereupon the envoys were escorted into the council, and they and the elders shook hands. It was decided to ratify the peace on the following day. Sacred oaths must be sworn, for the purpose of which altars must be raised in the center of the plain where all could see.

When preparations had been made, Diomedes and Ulysses were first to sear. Calling on Highest Jupiter, Mother Earth, Sun, Moon, and Ocean to be their witnesses, they promised to abide by the agreements which they had made with Antenor. Then they walked through the center of the portions of the sacrificial victims. (Two victims had been brought, the portions of which had been laid out, half in an easterly direction and half in the direction of our ships.) Diomedes and Ulysses were followed by Antenor, who took the same oath. After ratifying the terms of the peace in this way, both sides returned to their people.

The barbarians heaped highest praises upon Antenor, reverencing him like a god whenever he approached. They believed that he alone was responsible for the treaty and peace with the Greeks.

Now everywhere, as both sides wished, war had ceased. Greeks felt free to go to Troy. Trojans came among the ships. And the Trojan allies – who were still alive – went home, taking advantage of the treaty and feeling thankful for peace, not even waiting to be paid for their hardships and troubles, fearing, no doubt, that the barbarians would somehow break the agreements.

[11] During this time, at the ships, Epeus, following Helenus’ advice, was directing the building of the wooden horse. It towered to an immense height. Wheels were put beneath its feet to make it easier to draw along. It was the greatest offering ever to be given to Minerva. Everyone said so.

At Troy, Antenor and Aeneas were making sure that the exact amount of gold and silver, in accordance with the terms of the peace, was carried to the temple of Minerva.

And we, having learned that the allies of the Trojans had left, were careful to keep the terms of the peace. There was no more killing and no more wounding, lest the barbarians suspect that we were breaking agreements.

When the wooden horse had been built, complete in all points, we drew it out to the walls. The Trojans were told to receive it religiously as a sacred offering to Minerva. They poured from their gates and joyously welcomed the horse. A sacrifice was made, and they drew it nearer the city. When, however, they saw that the horse was too large to pass through their gates, they decided, their enthusiasm blinding them to any objections, to tear down their walls. Thus they all joined in, and tore down their walls, those walls which had stood for centuries unharmed, and which, as tradition told, were the masterwork of Neptune and Apollo.4

When the work of demolition was almost complete, the Greeks purposely caused a delay. We said that the Trojans must pay the gold and silver they had promised before they could draw the horse into Troy. Thus there was an interval of time during which, the walls being half demolished, Ulysses hired all of the Trojan carpenters to help repair the ships.

When our fleet had thus been put in order, along with all of our sailing gear, and when the gold and silver had been paid, we ordered the Trojans to continue their work of destruction. As soon as a part of the walls was down, a crowd of joking men and women merrily hastened to draw the horse within their city.

[12] Meanwhile we, having stowed everything on the ships and having set fire to our huts, sailed off to Sigeum and there awaited the night.

When the Trojans, being worn out with carousing and feeling happy and secure because of the peace, had fallen asleep, we returned to the city, sailing through the dead silence, following the beacon that Sinon raised from his hidden position. Soon we had entered the walls and divided the city among us. At a given signal, we slaughtered whomever we found – in homes, on streets, in places sacred and profane. Some of the Trojans awoke, but these were cut down before they could reach for their arms or think of a way to escape. There was, in short, no end to death and slaughter. Parents and children were killed, while loved ones watched and lamented, and then the latter were killed – a pitiable sight. With equal dispatch, the buildings of the city were set on fire and destroyed; the only homes to be saved were those of Aeneas and Antenor, where guards had been posted. Priam, seeing what was happening, fled to the altar of Jupiter that stood in front of the palace. And many members of the royal family fled to other shrines of the gods; Cassandra, for instance, went to the temple of Minerva. All who fell into the hands of the enemy died cruelly, without anyone to avenge them.

At daybreak our forces came to the house where Helen was living with Deiphobus. He (as already described) had taken her to wife when Alexander had died. Now Menelaus tortured him to death, brutally cutting him to pieces, lopping off ears and arms and nose and so forth.

And Neoptolemus, with no respect for old age or the office of king, slaughtered Priam, both of whose hands were clutching the altar.

And Ajax the son of Oileus dragged off Cassandra from the temple of Minerva to be his captive.

[13] Thus we destroyed Troy and the Trojans. But still there were those who were seeking protection at the altars of gods. We decided unanimously to pull them away and kill them; so great was our lust for vengeance and our will to destroy the power o the Trojans. Accordingly, those who had escaped the slaughter of the previous night, those trembling sheep, were slaughtered. And, as is usual in war, we pillaged the temples and half-burned houses, and for many a day hunted down any of the enemy who might have escaped. Places were designated where objects of gold and of silver and costly garments were brought.

When we were sated with Trojan blood, and the city was burned to the ground, we divided the booty, in payment of our military service, beginning with the captive women and children. First of all, Helen was freely given to Menelaus; then Polyxena, at the request of Ulysses, was given to Neoptolemus, to sacrifice to Achilles; Cassandra was given to Agamemnon (he had been so moved by her beauty that, in spite of himself, he had openly said that he loved her); and Aethra and Clymene were given to Demophoon and Acamas. The other women were apportioned by lot, and thus Andromache fell to Neoptolemus (to honor whose greatness, we further allowed Andromache’s sons to accompany her); and Hecuba fell to Ulysses. After enslaving the women of royal birth, we allotted booty and captives to the rest of our men in proportion as they deserved.

[14] Heated contention arose at this time as to which of our leaders should have the Pallantium.5 Ajax the son of Telamon demanded it in payment for the booty his courage and zeal had brought to us all. There was almost no one who was willing to offend a man of such greatness, for we vividly remembered his deeds on offense and defense. Only Diomedes and Ulysses stood in his way; they based their claims to the Palladium on the fact that they had carried it off. But Ajax swore that Antenor, who had hoped thereby to win their friendship, had carried the Palladium off; and this, he said, had caused them no trouble and made no demands on their courage. Thereupon Diomedes modestly yielded to Ajax. But not so Ulysses, who contended, with all of his force, that he should have the Palladium.

Menelaus and Agamemnon favored the cause of Ulysses, for they remembered how Helen had been saved, just a little before, by his aid. When Troy had been taken, Ajax had been the first to propose that she should be killed because of the troubles and sufferings she had caused for so long a time. Many good men had assented. But Menelaus, still loving his wife, had gone the rounds, and plead for her life, and finally, through the intercession of Ulysses, had won her back unharmed.

And so we decided between Ajax and Ulysses, judging only their merits in this particular case. It made no difference which was the bravest. Yes, Ajax had performed many valorous deeds, and brought back grain from Thrace, but these were matters not pertinent here. Thus, in spite of the fact that we were surrounded by enemies and still threatened with war, the Palladium went to Ulysses.

[15] This decision caused our men to split into two factions: those who, remembering the brave deeds of Ajax, thought that no one was better than he; and those who favored Ulysses. Ajax was so angry that he lost control of himself and openly swore to kill those who had thwarted his claim. Accordingly, Ulysses, Agamemnon, and Menelaus increased their guard and kept careful watch for their personal safety. With the coming of night, as we departed, we all cursed and reviled the two kings, blaming them for letting the lust for a women endanger the army.

At daybreak we found Ajax, out in the open, dead; upon closer investigation, we discovered that he had been killed with a sword. A great tumult arose among our leaders and men, and soon a full-grown rebellion was under way. We felt that just as Palamedes, our wisest counsellor in war and peace, had been treacherously slain, so now Ajax, our most distinguished commander, had met a similar end.

Agamemnon and Menelaus stayed in their huts, guarded by trusted companions, and avoided any possible violence.

Meanwhile Neoptolemus brought wood and cremated the body of Ajax; then he gathered the remains in a golden urn and had them buried in Rhoeteum.6 He also dedicated a monument in honor of Ajax, and this was quickly constructed.

If Ajax had died before Troy had been taken, certainly the cause of the enemy would have been greatly promoted. Who knows how the war might have ended?

Ulysses, knowing that he was hated by the army, feared personal violence, and fled across to Ismaros. He left the Palladium behind for Diomedes to have.

[16] After the departure of Ulysses, Hecuba, preferring death to enslavement, called down many curses and evil omens upon us, and we, being terribly provoked, stoned her to death. Her tomb which was raised at Abydos, was called Cynossema (The Tomb of the Bitch) because of her mad and shameless barking.

At the same time Cassandra, inspired by the god, predicted that Agamemnon would die, treacherously slaughtered by members of his household. Furthermore, she said, death and disaster awaited he rest of the Greeks, as they tried to return to their homelands.

Antenor begged us, in behalf of his people, to forget about vengeance and think of ourselves, for the time for sailing was passing. Having invited our leaders to dinner, he loaded them down with marvelous gifts.

Our leaders were urging Aeneas to sail along with us to Greece and promised to give him a kingdom as powerful as any they ruled.

Helenus was rewarded with the sons of Hector, whom Neoptolemus gave him, and with all the gold and silver which the rest of our leaders felt they should give him.

Then a meeting of the council was called, and we decided to hold a public funeral, to last for three days, in honor of Ajax. When the third day came to an end, all of our kings cut off their hair, which then they placed on the tomb.

From this time on, we began to revile Agamemnon and Menelaus, saying that they were not the sons of Atreus but of Plisthenes, and therefore ignoble. They, hoping that if they were gone our hatred would vanish, begged us to let them depart without harm. This we permitted; and so, like outcasts or exiles, they were the first to set sail.

We gave the sons of Ajax to Teucer. They were Aeantides and Eurysaces, whose mothers were Glauce and Tecmessa respectively.

[17] Winter was coming on fast and threatened to prevent us from sailing. Accordingly, we drew our ships down to the sea and fitted them out with oars and other equipment. Then we departed, each with the booty he had gained for all those years of fighting.

After our departure, Aeneas, who had been left behind at Troy, tried to drive Antenor out of the kingdom. Leaving the city, he approached all those who were inhabitants of Dardanum and the peninsula nearby, and begged them to help him. He was unsuccessful, however; and when he tried to return to Troy, Antenor, who had learned what was happening, refused him admittance. And so Aeneas was forced to set sail. Taking all of his patrimony, he departed from Troy and eventually arrived in the Adriatic Sea, after passing many barbarous peoples. Here he and those who were with him founded a city, which they called Corcyra Melaena (Black Corcyra).

When it was known at Troy that Antenor had gained control of the kingdom, all the survivors of the war, those who had escaped the slaughter of that fearful night, supported his rule. In practically no time his following had increased to immense proportions. Everyone loved him and trusted his wisdom. His closest friend was Oenideus, the king of the Cebrenians.

I, Dictys of Cnossos, the companion of Idomeneus, have written this account in the language (how many there are!) I best understand, using the Phoenician alphabet bequeathed to us by Cadmus and Danaus. No one should marvel that many different languages are spoken on this one island of mine, for such is the case all over Greece. Everything I have written about he war between the Greeks and the barbarians, in which I took a very active part, is based on first-hand knowledge. What I have told about Antenor and his kingdom was learned on inquiry from others.

Now it is time to relate the returns of our men.

1. The spelling of this name is doubtful.
2. Compare Panthus’ conciliatory remarks in Dictys 2.23 and 2.25.
3. Theano is mentioned in Iliad 5.70 as the wife of Antenor and in Iliad 6.302 as the priestess of Minerva.
4. See Iliad 7.452-453.
5. In other accounts the armor of Achilles is the object of contention.
6. Rhoeteum is north of Sigeum. Strabo tells of a tomb and temple of Ajax on the shore nearby. See his Geography 13.1.30.