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Dante Alighieri

Inferno opens on the evening of Good Friday in the year 1300. Traveling through a dark wood, Dante Alighieri has lost his path and now
wanders fearfully through the forest. The sun shines down on a mountain above him, and he attempts to climb up to it but finds his way
blocked by three beastsa leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. Frightened and helpless, Dante returns to the dark wood. Here he encounters the
ghost of Virgil, the great Roman poet, who has come to guide Dante back to his path, to the top of the mountain. Virgil says that their path will
take them through Hell and that they will eventually reach Heaven, where Dantes beloved Beatrice awaits. He adds that it was Beatrice, along
with two other holy women, who, seeing Dante lost in the wood, sent Virgil to guide him.

Virgil leads Dante through the gates of Hell, marked by the haunting inscription ABANDON ALL HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE (III.7). They
enter the outlying region of Hell, the Ante-Inferno, where the souls who in life could not commit to either good or evil now must run in a futile
chase after a blank banner, day after day, while hornets bite them and worms lap their blood. Dante witnesses their suffering with repugnance
and pity. The ferryman Charon then takes him and his guide across the river Acheron, the real border of Hell. The First Circle of Hell, Limbo,
houses pagans, including Virgil and many of the other great writers and poets of antiquity, who died without knowing of Christ. After meeting
Horace, Ovid, and Lucan, Dante continues into the Second Circle of Hell, reserved for the sin of Lust. At the border of the Second Circle, the
monster Minos lurks, assigning condemned souls to their punishments. He curls his tail around himself a certain number of times, indicating the
number of the circle to which the soul must go. Inside the Second Circle, Dante watches as the souls of the Lustful swirl about in a terrible
storm; Dante meets Francesca, who tells him the story of her doomed love affair with Paolo da Rimini, her husbands brother; the relationship
has landed both in Hell.

In the Third Circle of Hell, the Gluttonous must lie in mud and endure a rain of filth and excrement. In the Fourth Circle, the Avaricious and the
Prodigal are made to charge at one another with giant boulders. The Fifth Circle of Hell contains the river Styx, a swampy, fetid cesspool in
which the Wrathful spend eternity struggling with one another; the Sullen lie bound beneath the Styxs waters, choking on the mud. Dante
glimpses Filippo Argenti, a former political enemy of his, and watches in delight as other souls tear the man to pieces.

Virgil and Dante next proceed to the walls of the city of Dis, a city contained within the larger region of Hell. The demons who guard the gates
refuse to open them for Virgil, and an angelic messenger arrives from Heaven to force the gates open before Dante. The Sixth Circle of Hell
houses the Heretics, and there Dante encounters a rival political leader named Farinata. A deep valley leads into the First Ring of the Seventh
Circle of Hell, where those who were violent toward others spend eternity in a river of boiling blood. Virgil and Dante meet a group of Centaurs,
creatures who are half man, half horse. One of them, Nessus, takes them into the Second Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, where they
encounter those who were violent toward themselves (the Suicides). These souls must endure eternity in the form of trees. Dante there speaks
with Pier della Vigna. Going deeper into the Seventh Circle of Hell, the travelers find those who were violent toward God (the Blasphemers);
Dante meets his old patron, Brunetto Latini, walking among the souls of those who were violent toward Nature (the Sodomites) on a desert of
burning sand. They also encounter the Usurers, those who were violent toward Art.

The monster Geryon transports Virgil and Dante across a great abyss to the Eighth Circle of Hell, known as Malebolge, or evil pockets (or
pouches); the term refers to the circles division into various pockets separated by great folds of earth. In the First Pouch, the Panderers and
the Seducers receive lashings from whips; in the second, the Flatterers must lie in a river of human feces. The Simoniacs in the Third Pouch
hang upside down in baptismal fonts while their feet burn with fire. In the Fourth Pouch are the Astrologists or Diviners, forced to walk with
their heads on backward, a sight that moves Dante to great pity. In the Fifth Pouch, the Barrators (those who accepted bribes) steep in pitch
while demons tear them apart. The Hypocrites in the Sixth Pouch must forever walk in circles, wearing heavy robes made of lead. Caiphas, the
priest who confirmed Jesus death sentence, lies crucified on the ground; the other sinners tread on him as they walk. In the horrifying Seventh
Pouch, the Thieves sit trapped in a pit of vipers, becoming vipers themselves when bitten; to regain their form, they must bite another thief in

In the Eighth Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell, Dante speaks to Ulysses, the great hero of Homers epics, now doomed to an eternity among
those guilty of Spiritual Theft (the False Counselors) for his role in executing the ruse of the Trojan Horse. In the Ninth Pouch, the souls of
Sowers of Scandal and Schism walk in a circle, constantly afflicted by wounds that open and close repeatedly. In the Tenth Pouch, the Falsifiers
suffer from horrible plagues and diseases.

Virgil and Dante proceed to the Ninth Circle of Hell through the Giants Well, which leads to a massive drop to Cocytus, a great frozen lake. The
giant Antaeus picks Virgil and Dante up and sets them down at the bottom of the well, in the lowest region of Hell. In Caina, the First Ring of the
Ninth Circle of Hell, those who betrayed their kin stand frozen up to their necks in the lakes ice. In Antenora, the Second Ring, those who
betrayed their country and party stand frozen up to their heads; here Dante meets Count Ugolino, who spends eternity gnawing on the head of
the man who imprisoned him in life. In Ptolomea, the Third Ring, those who betrayed their guests spend eternity lying on their backs in the
frozen lake, their tears making blocks of ice over their eyes. Dante next follows Virgil into Judecca, the Fourth Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell
and the lowest depth. Here, those who betrayed their benefactors spend eternity in complete icy submersion.

A huge, mist-shrouded form lurks ahead, and Dante approaches it. It is the three-headed giant Lucifer, plunged waist-deep into the ice. His
body pierces the center of the Earth, where he fell when God hurled him down from Heaven. Each of Lucifers mouths chews one of historys
three greatest sinners: Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, the betrayers of Julius Caesar. Virgil leads Dante on a climb down
Lucifers massive form, holding on to his frozen tufts of hair. Eventually, the poets reach the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, and travel from
there out of Hell and back onto Earth. They emerge from Hell on Easter morning, just before sunrise.


Purgatorio picks up right where Inferno left offDante and Virgil have just emerged from their tour through Hell. (Not going to lie: Dante's
trilogy of wacky afterworld adventures is a bit like the Hangover trilogy... the first one is definitely the most surprising and shocking. But don't
worry, the second and third are pretty fascinating as well.)
The two travelers find themselves on the island of Mount Purgatory at the dawn of a new day. On the shores of the island, Dante and Virgil
watch a boat arrive. Guided by an angel, the boat shuttles a new batch of penitent souls to Purgatory. Like these souls, Dante is about to climb
Mount Purgatory, learning lessons, and cleansing himself of sin in preparation for ascending to Heaven. Fun times!

Before beginning to scale the mountain, Dante and Virgil must first pass through ante-Purgatory. They meet a variety of souls, most of whom
are shocked to see that Dante casts a shadow, showing that he's alive. Along their travels they pass though the First Spur of the Indolent and
the Second Spur of the Late-Repentants. They travel to the Valley of the Rulers and meet a bunch of deceased kings. In the valley, a serpent
appears at dusk, only to be driven away by two angels.

The penitent souls are unable to travel in Purgatory at night, so, although Virgil is in a hurry, he and Dante rest until morning. Dante sleeps and
dreams about an eagle abducting him. When he wakes up, he finds himself at the entrance to Purgatory proper. Virgil informs him that St.
Lucia came while he slept and carried him to the gate to Purgatory. They climb the three steps to the gate, and the angel guarding the entrance
carves seven Ps into Dantes forehead.

Now in Purgatory proper, Dante and Virgil have seven terraces to pass through, each of which corresponds to one of the seven deadly sins. On
the first terrace of the Prideful, Dante and Virgil observe in the wall of the cliff sculptures representing humility. They come across the Prideful
penitents, who are being punished for their sin of pride by carrying massive weights on their backs. The penitents are permanently hunched
over, and Dante takes on their bent position in order to speak with them.

Dante remains in this position through the entire first terrace, identifying with the Prideful, until they reach the exit, where an angel erases one
P from Dantes forehead. Dante and Virgil climb to the second terrace of the Envious. Voices there call out examples of fraternal love. They
witness the Envious penitents being punished by having their eyelids sewn shut with iron wire. Voices call out examples of punished envy.
Dante and Virgil exit the second terrace, and another angel removes a P from Dante's forehead.

Now in the third terrace of the Wrathful, Dante has a vision containing examples of gentleness. Black smoke, the punishment of the Wrathful,
envelops them, rendering them blind. In the smoke, they meet a man named Marco Lombardo, who discourses on free will and political
corruption. Dante and Virgil meet the angel who removes the third P from Dantes forehead.

As they travel to the fourth terrace of the Slothful, Virgil explains how love determines the structure of Purgatory. He continues to lecture on
love and free will. The Slothful penitents, meanwhile, shout examples of zeal and show that their punishment is to run without rest. Dante has a
nightmare about a Siren, but the next morning, they exit the terrace and an angel removes Dantes fourth P.

Dante and Virgil ascend to the fifth terrace of the Avaricious and Prodigal, where they witness the penitents' punishment: lying stretched face
down on the ground and bound by hand and foot. The penitents shout examples of poverty and generosity.

Suddenly, Mount Purgatory trembles. We learn that this happens every time a penitent soul becomes completely purged and ready to ascend
to Heaven. An epic poet named Statius joins Dante and Virgil. He turns out to be a big fan of Virgil; and he is also the purged soul for whom the
mountain trembled. The trio meets an angel who erases Dantes fifth P.

On the sixth terrace of the Gluttonous, they encounter a strange tree. A disembodied voice cites examples of temperance. They encounter a
man named Forese Donati, who explains the punishment of the Gluttonous as agonizing thirst and hunger. He points out the poet Bonagiunta
da Lucca, who chats with Dante about poetry. At the exit of the sixth terrace, an angel removes Dantes sixth P.

Dante, Virgil, and Statius climb to the seventh terrace of the Lustful. Reflecting on the thin penitents he encountered in the terrace of the
Gluttonous, Dante asks how souls can grow lean if they dont need food. Virgil cedes the floor to Statius, who explains the generation of the
soul and their aerial bodies. Here among the Lustful, however, they witness the punishment of the penitents, who walk in flames. The Lustful
shout examples of chastity.

Dante meets the poet Guido Guinizzelli, whom he reveres, and also the poetArnaut Daniel. At sunset, the travelers reach the exit to the seventh
terrace, and an angel removes Dantes final P. However, to leave the terrace, Dante must first walk through a wall of flames. He hesitates with
fear, but Virgil lures him through with the promise that he will see Beatrice on the other side. Past the fire, Dante sleeps. In the morning, Virgil
announces Dantes readiness for the Earthly Paradise.

In the Earthly Paradise, Dante meets a woman named Matilda, who explains the origins of wind and water in the forest of the Earthy Paradise.
At the banks of the river Lethe, an extraordinary procession passes by, halting before Dante. Virgil disappears, to Dantes distress, but Beatrice

Beatrice, however, rebukes Dante for crying over Virgils disappearance. She continues accusing him of his sins and faults. Dante confesses to
his sins, then passes out from the sight of Beatrices beauty. Matilda immerses the unconscious Dante in the waters of the Lethe and he wakes
up. The procession proceeds to the Tree of Knowledge, where Dante falls asleep.

When he wakes, Beatrice charges him with a mission: to observe and write down everything he sees here for use in his poetry when he goes
back to earth. Dante witnesses the procession's chariot attacked by an eagle, a fox, the eagle again, and a dragon. Then the chariot turns into a
whore, courted by a giant. Beatrice prophesies Gods vengeance on the dragon, whore, and giant.

At the closing of Purgatorio, Matilda leads Dante to the river Eunoe, and immerses him in the water. He is now ready to ascend to Heaven, with
Statius and Beatrice as his guides.

Paradiso opens with Dante's invocation to Apollo and the Muses, asking for his divine task. He and Beatrice ascend from the Earthly Paradise.
Beatrice outlines the structure of the universe. Dante warns the readers not to follow him now into Heaven for fear of getting lost in the
turbulent waters.

Dante and Beatrice arrive in the First Heaven, sphere of the Moon. Beatrice vigorously quizzes Dante and then corrects his views on the cause
of the moon spots. Dante first sees the blessed souls as points of light. He meets Piccarda Donati, who explains the souls' happiness with their
places in Heaven. She explains that the Moon houses souls who broke their vows. Beatrice explains why Dante sees the souls in these heavens,
when they are all located in the Empyrean, (the Tenth Heaven). Then she explains vows in terms of absolute and contingent will.

They ascend to the Second Heaven, sphere of Mercury. Justinian explains the history and destiny of Rome. He tells Dante that the souls in
Mercury were all just, but motivated by fame. Beatrice explains God's just vengeance on Jerusalem.

They ascend to the Third Heaven, sphere of Venus. Dante meets Charles Martel, an early French emperor, and he explains why sons can end up
so different from their fathers. Dante meets Cunizza da Romano and Folco of Marseille, who points out Rahab to Dante.

Beatrice and Dante ascend to the Fourth Heaven, sphere of the Sun. St. Thomas and eleven other souls form a crown around our heroes. Dante
denounces the senseless cares of mortals. St. Thomas discusses the life of St. Francis and the Franciscans. A second crown forms around the
first. St Bonaventure talks about the life of St. Dominic and the Dominicans. The crowns dance. St. Thomas explains the wisdom of King
Solomon and warns Dante not to judge hastily. Solomon explains the source of the blessed souls' light.

They ascend to the Fifth Heaven, sphere of Mars. The souls form an image of the Cross. Dante meets Cacciaguida, who expounds on the virtue
of ancient Florence. Dante indulges in a rare proud moment over the nobility of his birth. Cacciaguida talks about the noble Florentine families.
Then, he tells Dante about his destiny of exile, but tempers it with encouragement to Dante to fulfill his poetic mission.

Dante and Beatrice move on to the Sixth Heaven, sphere of Jupiter. The souls spell out the message Diligite iustitiam, qui iudicatis terram ("Love
justice, you who judge the earth"), and then form the Eagle. The Eagle explains Divine Justice and the inscrutability of God's Mind. It introduces
the six spirits that form its eye and explains why the Emperor Trajan and Ripheus are there.

They continue to the Seventh Heaven, sphere of Saturn. Dante sees the golden ladder. Dante meets St. Peter Damian, who denounces
degenerate prelates. The spirits cry out in encouragement and Dante faints from the force. Dante meets St. Benedict.
Beatrice and Dante ascend to the Eighth Heaven, sphere of the Fixed Stars. Dante gazes down on Earth and realizes how small and petty it is.
They witness the coronation and re-ascension of Mary and Christ into the Empyrean. St. Peter examines Dante on faith. Dante conveys his hope
of returning to Florence one day to be crowned as a poet. St. James examines Dante on hope. Dante goes blind. St. John examines Dante on
charity. Adam answers Dante's four questions. St. Peter denounces corrupt popes.

Beatrice and Dante then move on to the Ninth Heaven, Primum Mobile. Beatrice prophesies the coming redemption of the world. Dante
observes the model of the nine Angelic Intelligences orbiting a shining Point. Beatrice explains the discrepancy between it and the material
universe. Beatrice tells Dante the Creation story, explains the order of the universe, and clears up the question about the number of extant

They ascend into the Tenth Heaven, the Empyrean. Dante sees the illusion and then real Celestial Rose. Beatrice points out the seat reserved
for Henry VIII. Beatrice disappears and is replaced by St. Bernard. Dante prays his thanks to Beatrice.

Next, Dante gazes upon Mary. St. Bernard explains the placement of the blessed in the Celestial Rose, including that of the innocent infants. St.
Bernard prays to Mary to intercede to God on Dante's behalf so that the poet may look upon God. Mary approves. Dante looks into the Eternal
Light, and sees within it the image of the Holy Trinity. He ponders the mystery of the Incarnation. God bestows the answer upon him in a flash
of light and Dante's soul is, finally, at one with God's


HE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS was a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympos--Aphrodite, Hera and Athena--for the prize of
a golden apple addressed to "the fairest"

The story begins at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis to which all of the gods were invited, all except Eris, the goddess of discord. When she
appeared at the festivities, she was turned away, and in her anger cast a golden apple amongst the assembled goddesses addressed "To the
Fairest." Three goddesses laid claim to the apple--Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Zeus was asked to mediate and he commanded Hermes to lead
the three goddesses to Paris of Troy to decide the issue. The three goddesses appearing before the shepherd prince, each offering him gifts for
favour. He chose Aphrodite, swayed by her promise to bestow upon him Helene, the most beautiful woman, for wife. The subsequent
abduction of Helene led directly to the Trojan War and the fall of the city.

Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 1 (as summarized in Proclus, Chrestomathia) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th
or 6th B.C.) :
"The [Homeric] epic called The Cypria which is current is eleven books. Its contents are as follows. Zeus plans with Themis to bring about the
Trojan war. Eris (Strife) arrives while the gods are feasting at the marriage of Peleus and starts a dispute between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite
as to which of them is fairest. The three are led by Hermes at the command of Zeus to Alexandros [Paris] on Mount Ida for his decision, and
Alexandros, lured by his promised marriage with Helene, decides in favour of Aphrodite."

Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 6 (from Athenaeus 15. 682) :
"The author of the Cypria, whether Hegesias or Stasinos, mentions flowers used for garlands. The poet, whoever he was, writes as follows in his
first book [describing the Judgement of Paris]: She [Aphrodite] clothed herself with garments which the Kharites (Graces) and Horai (Seasons)
had made for her and dyed in flowers of spring--such flowers as the Horai wear--in crocus and hyacinth and flourishing violet and the rose's
lovely bloom, so sweet and delicious, and heavenly buds, the flowers of the narcissus and lily. In such perfumed garments is Aphrodite clothed
at all seasons. Then laughter-loving Aphrodite and her handmaidens wove sweet-smelling crowns of flowers of the earth and put them upon
their heads--the bright-coiffed goddesses, the Nymphai and Kharites (Graces), and golden Aphrodite too, while they sang sweetly on the mount
of many-fountained Ida."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E3. 2 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

"[At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis:] Eris tossed an apple to Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, in recognition of their beauty, and Zeus bade
Hermes escort them to Alexandros [Paris] on Ide, to be judged by him. They offered Alexandros gifts: Hera said if she were chosen fairest of all
women, she would make him king of all men; Athena promised him victory in war; and Aphrodite promised him Helene in marriage. So he
chose Aphrodite."

Strabo, Geography 13. 1. 51 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The Adramyttene Gulf [in the Troad] . . . Inside is Antandros, above which lies a mountain called Alexandreia, where the Judgment of Paris is
said to have taken place."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 15. 9. 5 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[Amongst the scenes depicted on the chest of Kypselos dedicated at Olympia:] There is also Hermes bringing to Alexandros [Paris] the son of
Priamos the goddesses of whose beauty he is to judge, the inscription on them being : Here is Hermes, who is showing to Alexandros, that he
may arbitrate concerning their beauty, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite."

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 6 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"The river Skamandros had a son, Melos (Apple), who was beautiful; it is said that Hera, Athena and Aphrodite quarrelled on his account; who
would have him as a priest; Alexandros [Paris] judged that Aphrodite carried it; it is for this reason the fable of the apple circulates." [N.B. This is
a late Greek rationalisation of the story.]

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 7 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
"She [Aphrodite] won and accepted as prize a zither [from Apollon at the first Pythian Games] which she gave as a gift to Alexandros [Paris]. It is
of her that Homer says: But what help could your zither bring you." [N.B. Paris is usually shown playing this instrument in Greek vase paintings
of the Judgement.]

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 92 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

"Jove [Zeus] is said to have invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis all the gods except Eris, or Discordia. When she came later and was not
admitted to the banquet, she threw an apple through the door, saying that the fairest should take it. Juno [Hera], Venus [Aphrodite], and
Minerva [Athene] claimed the beauty prize for themselves. A huge argument broke out among them. Jupiter [Zeus] ordered Mercurius
[Hermes] to take them to Mt Ida to Paris Alexander and order him to judge. Juno [Hera] promised him, if he ruled in her favour, that he would
rule all the lands and dominate the rest in wealth; Minverva [Athena], if she left the winner, that he would be the strongest among mortals and
know every skill; Venus [Aphrodite], however, promised that he would marry Helen, daughter of Tyndareus, the most beautiful woman in the
world. Paris preferred this last gift to the previous ones and ruled Venus was the prettiest. Because of this, Juno [Hera] and Minerva [Athena]
were angry with the Trojans. Alexander, at the prompting of Venus [Aphrodite], took Helen from his host Menelaus from Lacedaemon to Troy,
and married her."

Ovid, Heroides 5. 33 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Venus [Aphrodite] and Juno [Hera], and unadorned Minerva [Athena], more comely had she borne her arms, appeared before you [Paris] to be
judged. My [Oinone's] bosom leaped with amaze as you told me of it."

Ovid, Heroides 16. 51 ff :

"[Paris describes the Judgement:] My beauty and my vigour of mind, though I seemed from the common folk, were the sign of hidden nobility.
There is a place in the woody vales of midmost Ida, far from trodden paths and covered over with pine and ilex, where never grazes the placid
sheep, nor the she-goat that loves the cliff, nor the wide-mouthed, slowly-moving kine. From there, reclining against a tree, I was looking forth
upon the walls and lofty roofs of the Dardanian city, and upon the sea, when lo! it seemed to me that the earth trembled beneath the tread of
feet--I shall speak true words, though they will scarce have credit for truth--and there appeared and stood before my eyes, propelled on pinions
swift, [Hermes] the grandchild of mighty Atlas and Pleione--it was allowed me to see, and may it be allowed to speak of what I saw!--and in the
fingers of the god was a golden wand. And at the self-same time, three goddesses--Venus [Aphrodite], and Pallas [Athena], and with her Juno
[Hera]--set tender feet upon the sward. I was mute, and chill tremors had raised my hair on end, when Lay aside thy fear! the winged herald
said to me; thou art the arbiter of beauty; put an end to the strivings of the goddesses; pronounce which one deserves for her beauty to
vanquish the other two! And, lest I should refuse, he laid command on me in the name of Jove, and forthwith through the paths of ether
betook him toward the stars.
My heart was reassured, and on a sudden I was bold, nor feared to turn my face and observe them each. Of winning all were worthy, and I who
was to judge lamented that not all could win. But, none the less, already then one of them pleased me more, and you might know it was she by
whom love is inspired. Great is their desire to win; they burn to sway my verdict with wondrous gifts. Jove's [Zeus'] consort loudly offers
thrones, his daughter, might in war; I myself waver, and can make no choice between power and the valorous heart. Sweetly Venus smiled :
Paris, let not these gifts move thee, both of them full of anxious fear! she says; my gift shall be of love, and beautiful Leda's daughter
[Helene], more beautiful than her mother, shall come to thy embrace. She said, and with her gift and beauty equally approved, retraced her
way victorious to the skies."

Ovid, Heroides 16. 139 ff :

"[Paris admires the beauty of Helene:] Features like those, as near as I recall, were Cytherea's [Aphrodite's] own when she came to be judged
by me. If you had come to that contest together with her, the palm of Venus would have come in doubt!"

Ovid, Heroides 16. 163 ff :

"[Paris woos Helene:] Only give yourself to me, and you shall know of Paris' constancy; the flame of the pyre alone will end the flames of my
love. I have placed you before the kingdoms which greatest Juno [Hera], bride and sister of Jove [Zeus], once promised me; so I could only clasp
my arms about your neck, I have held but cheap the prowess that Pallas [Athena] would bestow. And I have no regret, nor shall I ever seem in
my own eyes to have made a foolish choice; my mind is fixed and persists in its desire."

Ovid, Heroides 17. 115 & 131 ff :

"[Helene replies to Paris:] You say Venus [Aphrodite] gave her word for this; and that in the vales of Ida three goddesses presented themselves
unclad before you; and that when one of them would give you a throne, and the second glory in war, the third said : The daughter of
Tyndareus shall be your bride! I can scarce believe that heavenly beings submitted their beauty to you as arbiter: and, grant that this is true,
surely the other part of your tale is fiction, in which I am said to have been given you as reward for your verdict. I am not so assured of my
charms as to think myself the greatest gift in the divine esteem. My beauty is content to be approved in the eyes of men; the praise of Venus
would bring envy on me. Yet I attempt no denial; I am even pleased with the praises of your report--for why should my words deny what I much
desire? Nor be offended that I am over slow to believe in you; faith is wont to be slow in matters of great moment. My first pleasure, then, is to
have found favour in the eyes of Venus; the next, that I seemed the greatest prize to you, and that you placed first he honours neither of Pallas
[Athena] nor of Juno [Hera] when you had heard of Helen's parts. So, then, I mean valour to you, I mean a far-famed throne!"

Statius, Achilleid 2. 55 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :

"Verily that quarrel [between the goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite] arose in thy [Akhilleus'] own glades, at a gathering of the gods, when
pleasant Pelion made marriage feast for Peleus [and Thetis], and thou [Akhilleus] even then wert promised to our [the Greeks] armament."

Apuleius, The Golden Ass 10. 30 ff (trans. Walsh) (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) :
"[Description of a religious play depicting the Judgement of Paris held in Korinthos, Greece:] The day appointed for the show was now at hand .
. . The curtain was raised, the backcloths were folded away, and the stage was set. A mountain of wood had been constructed with
consummate workmanship to represent the famous mountain which the poet Homer in his song called Mount Ida. It was planted with thickets
and live trees, and from its summit it disgorged river-water from a flowing fountain installed by the craftmans hands. One or two she-goats
were cropping blades of grass, and a youth was acting out control of the flock. He was handsomely dressed to represent the Phrygian shepherd
handsomely dressed to represent the Phrygian shepherd Paris, with exotic garments flowing from his shoulders, and his head crowned with a
tiara of gold.
Standing by him [Paris] appeared a radiant boy, naked except for a youth's cloak draped over his left shoulder; his blonde hair made him the
cynosure of all eyes. Tiny wings of gold were projecting from his locks, in which they had been fastened symmetrically on both sides. The
herald's staff and the wand which he carried identified him as Mercurius [Hermes]. He danced briskly forward, holding in his right hand an
apple gilded with gold leaf, which he handed to the boy playing the part of Paris. After conveying Jupiter's [Zeus'] command with a motion of
the head, he at once gracefully withdrew and disappeared from the scene.
Next appeared a worthy-looking girl, similar in appearance to the goddess Juno [Hera], for her hair was ordered with a white diadem, and she
carried a sceptre.
A second girl then burst in, whom you would have recognized as Minerva [Athene]. Her head was covered with a gleaming helmet which was
itself crowned with an olive-wreath; she bore a shield and brandished a spear, simulating the goddess' fighting role.
After them a third girl entered, her beauty visibly unsurpassed. Her charming, ambrosia-like complexion intimated that she represented the
earlier Venus [Aphrodite] when that goddess was still a maiden. She vaunted her unblemished beauty by appearing naked and unclothed
except for a thin silken garment veiling her entrancing lower parts. An inquisitive gust of air would at one moment with quite lubricous
affection blow this garment aside, so that when wafted away it revealed her virgin bloom; at another moment it would wantonly breathe
directly upon it, clinging tightly and vividly outlining the pleasurable prospect of her lower limbs. The goddess's appearance offered contrasting
colours to the eye, for her body was dazzling white, intimating her descent from heaven and her robe was dark blue, denoting her emergence
from the sea.
Each maiden representing a goddess was accompanied by her own escort. Juno [Hera] was attended by Castor and Pollux [the Dioskouroi],
their heads covered by egg-shaped helmets prominently topped with stars; these Castors were represented by boys on stage. The maiden
playing this role advanced with restrained and unpretentious movements to the music of an Ionian flute playing a range of tunes; with dignified
motions she promised the shepherd to bestow on him the kingship of all Asia if he awarded her the prize for beauty.
The girl whose appearance in arms had revealed her as Minerva [Athene] was protected by two boys who were the comrades in arms of the
battle-goddess, Terror [Deimos, terror] and Metus [Phobos, fear]; they pranced about with swords unsheathed, and behind her back a flutist
played a battle-tune in the Dorian mode. He mingled shrill whistling notes with deep droning chords like a trumpet-blast, stirring the
performers to lively and supple dancing. Minerva with motions of the head, menacing gaze, and writhing movements incisively informed Paris
that if he awarded her the victory for beauty, her aid would make him a doughty fighter, famed for the trophies gained in war.
But now Venus becomingly took the centre of the stage to the great acclamation of the theatre, and smiled sweetly. She was surrounded by a
throng of the happiest children; you would have sworn that those little boys whose skins were smooth and milk-white were genuine Cupides
[Erotes] who had just flown in from sky or sea. They looked just he part with their tiny wings, miniature arrows, and the rest of their get-up, as
with gleaming torches they lit the way for their mistress as though she were en route to a wedding-banquet. Next floated in charming children,
unmarried girls, representing on one side the Gratiae [Kharites] at their most graceful, and on the other the Horae [Horai] in all their beauty.
They were appeasing the goddess by strewing wreaths and single blossoms before her, and they formed a most elegant chorus-line as they
sought to please the Mistress of pleasures with the foliage of spring. The flutes with their many stops were now rendering in sweet harmony
melodies in the Lydian mode. As they affectingly softened the hearts of onlookers, Venus [Aphrodite] still more affectingly began to gently stir
herself; with gradual, lingering steps, restrained swaying of the hips, and slow inclination of the head she began to advance, her refined
movements matching the soft wounds of the flutes. Occasionally her eyes alone would dance, as at one moment she gently lowered her lids,
and at another imperiously signalled with threatening glances.
At the moment when she met the gaze of the judge, the beckoning of her arms seemed to hold the promise that if he preferred her over the
other goddesses, she would present Paris with a bride of unmatched beauty, one like herself. There and then the Phrygian youth spontaneously
awarded the girl the golden apple in his hand, which signalled the vote for victory . . . Once Paris had completed that judgement of his, Juno
[Hera] and Minerva [Athene] retired from the stage, downcast and apparently resentful, indicating by gestures their anger at being rejected.
Venus [Aphrodite] on the other hand was elated and smiling, and registered her joy by dancing in company with the entire chorus."

Colluthus, Rape of Helen 15 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poetry C5th to 6th A.D.) :
"Among the high-peaked hills of the Haimonians, the marriage song of Peleus was being sung while, at the bidding of Zeus, Ganymede poured
the wine. And all the race of gods hasted to do honour to the white-armed bride [Thetis] . . . And after him [Apollon] followed Hera, sister of
Zeus; nor did the queen of harmony herself, even Aphrodite, loiter in coming to the groves of the Kentauros [Kheiron]. Came also Peitho
(Persuasion), having fashioned a bridal wreath, carrying the quiver of archer Eros . . . And Athene put off her mighty helmet from her brow and
followed to the marriage, albeit of marriage she was untaught . . .
But Eris (Strife) did Kheiron leave unhonoured: Kheiron did not regard her and Peleus heeded her not. And as some heifer wanders from the
pasture in the glen and roams in the lonely brush, smitten by the bloody gadfly, the goad of kine: so Eris (Strife) overcome by the pangs of angry
jealousy, wandered in search of a way to disturb the banquet of the gods. And often would she leap up from her chair, set with precious stones,
and anon sit down again. She smote with her hand the bosom of the earth and heeded not the rock. Fain would she unbar the bolts of the
darksome hollows and rouse the Titanes from the nether pit and destroy the heaven, the seat of Zeus, who rules on high. Fain would she
brandish the roaring thunderbolt of fire, yet gave way, for all her age, to Hephaistos, keeper of quenchless fire and of iron. And she thought to
rouse the heavy-clashing din of shields, if haply they might leap up in terror at the noise. But from her later crafty counsel, too, she withdrew in
fear of iron Ares, the shielded warrior.
And now she bethought her of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Thence Eris took the fruit that should be the harbinger of war, even the
apple, and devised the scheme of signal woes. Whirling her arm she hurled into the banquet the primal seed of turmoil and disturbed the choir
of goddesses. Hera, glorying to be the spouse and to share the bed of Zeus, rose up amazed, and would fain have seized it. And Kypris
[Aphrodite], as being more excellent than all, desired to have the apple, for that it is the treasure of the Erotes (Loves). But Hera would not give
it up and Athena would not yield. And Zeus, seeing the quarrel of the goddesses, and calling his son Hermaon [Hermes], who sat below his
throne, addressed him thus: If haply, my son, thou hast heard of a son of Priamos, one Paris, the splendid youth, who tends his herds on this
hills of Troy, give to him the apple; and bid him judge the goddesses meeting brows and orbed eyes. And let her that is preferred have the
famous fruit to carry away as the prize of the fairer and ornament of the Loves.
So the father, the son of Kronos, commanded Hermaon. And he hearkened to the bidding of his father and led the goddesses upon the way and
failed not to heed. And every goddess sought to make her beauty more desirable and fair. Kypris [Aphrodite] of crafty counsels unfolded her
snood and undid the fragrant clasp of her hair and wreathed with gold her locks, with gold her flowing tresses. And she saw her children the
Erotes and called to them.
The contest is at hand, dear children! Embrace your mother that nursed you. Today it is beauty of face that judges me. I fear to whom the
herdsman will award the apple. Hera they call the holy nurse of the Kharites (Graces), and they say that she wields sovereignty and holds the
sceptre. And Athena they ever call the queen of battles. I only, Kypris, am an unwarlike goddess. I have no queenship of the gods, wield no
warlike spear, nor draw the bow. But wherefore am I so sore afraid, when for spear I have, as it were, a swift lance, the honeyed girdle of the
Erotes (Loves)! I have my girdle, I ply my goad, I raise my bow: even that girdle, whence women catch the sting of my desire, and travail often-
times, but not unto death.
So spake Kypris of the rosy fingers and followed. And the wandering Erotes heard the dear bidding of their mother and hasted after their nurse.
Now they had just passed over the summit of the hill of Ida, where under a rock-crowned cliffs height young Paris herded his fathers flocks. On
either side the streams of the mountain torrent he tended his herds, numbering apart he herd of thronging bulls, apart measuring the droves of
feeding flocks. And behind him hung floating the hide of a mountain goat, that reached right to his thighs. But his herdsman's crook, driver of
kine, was laid aside: for so, walking mincingly in his accustomed ways, he pursued the shrill minstrelsy of his pipe's rustic reeds . . .
As he made shrill music under the high-roofed canopy of trees, he beheld from afar the messenger Hermaon. And in fear he leapt up and
sought to shun the eye of the gods. He leaned against an oak his choir of musical reeds and checked his lay that had not yet laboured much.
And to him in his fear wondrous Hermes spake thus: Fling away thy milking-pail and leave thy fair flocks and come hither and give decision as
judge of the goddesses of heaven. Come hither and decide which is the more excellent beauty of face, and to the fairer give this apples lovely
So he cried. And Paris bent a gently eye and quietly essayed to judge the beauty of each. He looked at the light of their grey eyes, he looked on
the neck arrayed with gold, he marked the bravery of each; the shape of the heel behind, yea and the soles of their feet. But, before he gave
judgement, Athene took him smiling, by the hand and spake to Alexandros thus: Come hither, son of Priamos! Leave the spouse of Zeus and
heed not Aphrodite, queen of the bridal bower, but praise thou Athene who aids the prowess of men. They say that thou art a king and keepest
the city of Troy. Come hither, and I will make thee the saviour of their city to men hard pressed: lest ever Enyo of grievous wrath weigh heavily
upon thee. Hearken to me and I will teach thee war and prowess.
So cried Athene of many counsels, and white-armed Hera thus took up the tale : If thou wilt elect me and bestow on me the fruit of the fairer, I
will make thee lord of all mine Asia. Scorn thou the works of battle. What has a king to do with war? A prince gives command both to the
valiant and the unwarlike. Not always are the squires of Athene foremost. Swift is the doom and death of the servants of Enyo!
Such lordship did Hera, who hath the foremost throne, offer to bestow. But Kypris lifted up her deep-bosomed robe and bared her breast to the
air and had no shame. And lifting with her hands the honeyed girdle of the Erotes (Loves) she bared all her bosom and heeded not her breasts.
And smilingly she thus spake to the herdsman: Accept me and forget wars : take my beauty and leave the sceptre and the land of Asia. I know
not the works of battle. What has Aphrodite to do with shields? By beauty much more do women excel. In place of manly prowess I will give
thee a lovely bride, and, instead of kingship, enter thou the bed of Helene. Lakedaimon, after Troy, shall see thee a bridegroom.
Not yet had she ceased speaking and he gave her the splendid apple, beauty's offering, the great treasure of Aphrogeneia, a plant of war, of
war an evil seed. And she, holding the apple in her hand, uttered her voice and spake in mockery of Hera and manly Athene: Yield to me,
accustomed as ye be to war, yield me the victory. Beauty have I loved and beauty follows me. They say that thou, mother of Ares, dist with
travail bear the holy choir of fair-tressed Kharites (Graces). But today they have all denied thee and not one hast thou found to help thee.
Queen but not of shields and nurse but not of fire, Ares hath not holpen thee, though Ares rages with the spear: the flames of Hephaistos have
not holpen thee, though he brings to birth the breath of fire. And how vain is they vaunting, Atrytone! Whom marriage sowed not nor mother
bare, but cleaving of iron and root of iron made thee spring without bed of birth from the head of thy sire. And how, covering thy body in
brazen robes, thou dost flee from love and pursuest the works of Ares, untaught of harmony and wotting not of concord. Knowest thou not
that such Athenas as thou are the more unvaliant--exulting in glorious wars, with limbs at feud, neither men nor women?
Thus spake Kypris and mocked Athena. So she got the prize of beauty that should work the ruin of a city, repelling Hera and indignant Athene."

The Trojan War

Until about a 100 years ago, we were quite sure that the Trojan War was purely legend, and that asking when it happened would be like asking
when Atlantis sank. But at the close of the 19th century archaeologists led by Heinrich Schliemann found the remains of a great citadel that
existed on the Western shore of Asia Minor, the traditional location of Troy, and which appeared to be overrun in a great war around the year
1250 B.C.E., a time which is compatible with the traditional story of the Trojan War. In the ancient world, the legend underwent many changes
and amplifications. The kernel of the story is contained in Homer's two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The incidents he relates, whether
narrated in depth or only touched upon, were elaborated or developed by the post-Homeric poets, partly by connecting them with other
popular traditions, and partly by the addition of further details of their own. The account that follows highlights the important incidents of the
war in Homer's version, and in other versions where they are relevant for our class.

In Homer it is simply the rape of Helen which is the occasion of the war. A later legend traced its origin to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis,
when Eris threw down among the assembled gods a golden apple inscribed, "For the fairest." The quarrel that ensued between Hera, Athena,
and Aphrodite for the prize of beauty was decided by the Trojan prince Paris in favor of Aphrodite, who in return secured for him the
possession of Helen, while Hera and Athena became, from that time onward, the implacable enemies of the whole Trojan race. According to
Homer, after Paris carried off Helen, her husband Menelaus was understandably upset. He happened to be brother to Agamemnon, the
greatest king among the Greeks, and the two of them visited all the Greek chieftains and convinced them to take part in a great expedition
which they were preparing to avenge the wrong. Agamemnon was chosen commander-in-chief; next to him the most prominent Greek heroes
are hi brother Menelaus, Achilles and Patroclus, two unrelated men named Ajax, Teucer, Nestor and his son Antilochus, Odysseus, Diomedes,
Idomeneus, and Philoctetes, who, however, at the very outset of the expedition had to be left behind, and does not appear on the scene of
action until just before the fall of Troy. The entire host of 100,000 men and 1,186 ships assembled in the harbor of Aulis. Here, while they made
sacrifices to secure the good will of the gods for the expedition, a snake darted out from under the altar, ascended a tree, devoured a brood of
eight young sparrows and the mother-bird, and finally was turned into stone. This omen Calchas, the seer of the host, interpreted to mean that
the war would last nine years, and terminate in the tenth with the destruction of Troy [Iliad ii 299-332]. Agamemnon had already received an
oracle from Delphi that Troy would fall when the best of the Greeks quarreled.

In Homer the crossing to Troy follows immediately; but in the later story the Greeks at first land by mistake in Mysia, in the country of Telephus.
They are dispersed by a storm and driven back to Greece, and then assemble afresh at Aulis. Once there, they learn that divine disfavor is
preventing them from the crossing to Troy until Agamemnon agrees to sacrifice his own daughter Iphigenia to appease the angry gods (an
incident entirely unknown to Homer). After landing, skirmishing, and pitching their camp, Odysseus and Menelaus proceed as ambassadors to
Troy, to demand the surrender of Helen. But this proposal, in spite of the inclination of Helen herself and the admonition of the Trojan Antenor,
never takes hold, owing to the opposition of Paris. War is declared. The number of the Trojans is scarcely one tenth that of the besiegers; and
although they possess many brave heroes, such as Aeneas, Sarpedon, Glaucus, and especially Hector, in their fear of Achilles they dare not risk
a general engagement, and remain holed up behind their walls. On the other hand, the Achaeans can do nothing against the well-fortified and
defended town, and see themselves confined to laying ambuscades and devastating the surrounding country, and compelled by lack of
provisions to have resource to foraging expeditions in the neighborhood, undertaken by sea and by land under the generalship of Achilles.

At last the decisive tenth year arrives. The Iliad narrates the events of this year, confining itself to the space of fifty-one days. Over the course of
the war, the Greeks have taken many war prizes from the surrounding countryside. One of these prizes happens to be Chryseis, the daughter of
Chryses, a priest of Apollo. He comes in priestly garb into the camp of the Greeks to ransom his daughter from Agamemnon. He is rudely
repulsed, and Apollo consequently visits the Greeks with a plague. In an assembly of the Greeks summoned by Achilles, the seer Calchas
declares the only means of appeasing the god to be the surrender of the girl without ransom. Agamemnon assents to the general wish; but, by
way of compensation, takes from Achilles, whom he considers to be the instigator of the whole plot, his favorite slave Briseis. Achilles
withdraws in a rage to his tent, and implores his mother Thetis to obtain from Zeus a promise that the Greeks should meet with disaster in
fighting the Trojans until Agamemnon returns the girl and restores Achilles' honor. The Trojans immediately take the open field, and
Agamemnon is induced by a promise of victory, conveyed in a lying dream from Zeus, to start the fight.

The armies are standing opposed to one another, prepared for fight, when they agree to a treaty that the whole conflict will be decided by a
duel between Paris and Menelaus. Paris is overcome in the duel, and is only rescued from death by the intervention of Aphrodite. When
Agamemnon presses for the fulfillment of the treaty, the Trojan Pandarus breaks the peace by shooting an arrow at Menelaus, and the
agreement falls apart. The first open engagement in the war begins, in which, under the protection of Athena, Diomedes performs miracles of
bravery and wounds even Aphrodite and Ares. Diomedes and the Lycian Glaucus are on the verge of fighting, when they recognize one another
as hereditary guest-friends and stop their duel, a marker of how important is the concept of hospitality (XENIA, in Greek). The day ends with an
indecisive duel between Hector and Ajax son of Telamon. They call a truce to bury their dead, and the Greeks, acting on the advice of Nestor,
surround their camp with a wall and trench. When the fighting begins again, Zeus forbids the gods to take part in it, and ordains that the battle
shall end with the defeat of the Greeks. On the following night Agamemnon already begins to think about fleeing, but Nestor advises
reconciliation with Achilles. Agamemnon sends an embassy, including Odysseus, to make amends with Achilles. The efforts of ambassadors are,
however, fruitless. Then Odysseus and Diomedes go out on a night-time reconnaissance mission, kill many Trojans, and capture a Trojan spy.
On the succeeding day Agamemnon's bravery drives the Trojans back to the walls of the town; but he himself, Diomedes, Odysseus, and other
heroes leave the battle wounded, and the Greeks retire behind the camp walls. The Trojans advance and attack the Greek walls. The opposition
of the Greeks is brave; but Hector breaks the rough gate with a rock, and the stream of enemies pours itself unimpeded into the camp. Once
more the Greek heroes who are still capable of taking part in the fight, especially the two Ajaxes and Idomeneus, succeed with the help of
Poseidon in repelling the Trojans, while Telamonian Ajax dashes Hector to the ground with a stone; but the latter soon reappears on the
battlefield with fresh strength granted to him by Apollo at the command of Zeus. Poseidon is obliged to leave the Greeks to their fate; they
retire again to the ships, which Ajax in vain defends. The Trojans advance still further to where they are able to begin torching the Greek
ships. At this point, Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to borrow his armour and enter the battle with their contingent of soldiers to help the
distressed Greeks. Supposing it to be Achilles himself, the Trojans in terror flee from the camp before Patroclus, who pursues them to the town,
and lays low vast numbers of the enemy, including the brave Sarpedon, whose corpse is only rescued from the Greeks after a severe fight. At
last Patroclus himself is slain by Hector with the help of Apollo; Achilles' arms are lost, and even the corpse is with difficulty saved. And now
Achilles repents of his anger, reconciles himself to Agamemnon, and on the following day, furnished with new and splendid armour by
Hephaestus at the request of Thetis, avenges the death of his friend on countless Trojans and finally on Hector himself.

The Iliad concludes with the burial of Patroclus and the funeral games established in his honor, the restoration of Hector's corpse to Priam, and
the burial of Hector, for which Achilles allows an armistice of eleven days. Immediately after the death of Hector the later legends bring the
Amazons to the help of the Trojans, and their queen Penthesilea is slain by Achilles. Thenappears Memnon at the head of an Ethiopian
contingent. He slays Antilochus son of Nestor, but is himself slain by Achilles. And now comes the fulfillment of the oracle given to Agamemnon
at Delphi; for at a sacrificial banquet a violent quarrel arises between Achilles and Odysseus, the latter declaring craft and not valour to be the
only means of capturing Troy. Soon after, in an attempt to force a way into the hostile town through the Scaean gate, Achilles falls, slain by the
arrow of Paris, directed by the god. After his burial, Thetis offers the arms of her son as a prize for the bravest of the Greek heroes, which
provokes a fight among the Greeks for the title and the arms. Odysseus wins, and his main competition, the Telamonian Ajax, kills himself.

Odysseus captures Helenus, son of Priam, who advises the Greeks that Troy could not be conquered without the arrows of Heracles and the
presence of someone related to Achilles. They fetch Philoctetes, the heir of Heracles, whom the Greeks had abandoned and left for dead on the
island of Lemnos, and Neoptolemus, the young son of Achilles, who had been brought up on Seyros. The latter, a worthy son of his father, slays
the last ally of the Trojans, Eurypylus, the brave son of Telephus; and Philoctetes, with one of the arrows of Heracles, kills Paris. Even when the
last condition of the capture of Troy, the removal of a small statue of Athena, called the Palladium, from the temple of Athena on the citadel,
has been successfully fulfilled by Diomedes and Odysseus, the town can only be taken by treachery. On the advice of Athena, Epeius, son of
Panopeus, builds a gigantic wooden horse, in the belly of which the bravest Greek warriors conceal themselves under the direction of Odysseus.
The rest of the Greeks pretend to abandon the fight. They burn their camp and embark on ship, only, however, to hide in waiting behind a
nearby island. The Trojans, streaming out of the town, find the horse, and are in doubt as to what to do with it. According to the later legend,
they are deceived by the treacherous Sinon, a kinsman of Odysseus, who has of his own free will remained behind. He pretends that he has
escaped from an evil plan of Odysseus to use him as a human sacrifice, and that the horse has been erected to expiate the robbery of the
Palladium. To destroy it would be fatal to Troy, he claims, but should it be brought into the city, the Trojans would conquer Europe. The Trojan
Laocoon warns against the Greek gift and is killed by sea monsters. The Trojans take it as a sign and decide to bring the statue into the city.

The Trojans are overjoyed and celebrate their victory and the departure of the Greeks. Sinon in the night opens the door of the horse. The
heroes descend, and light the flames that give to the Greek fleet the agreed-upon signal for its return. Thus Troy is captured; all the inhabitants
are either slain or carried into slavery, and the city is destroyed. The only survivors of the royal house are Helenus, Aeneas, Hector's wife
Andromache, and Cassandra, who is taken as a war prize by Agamemnon. The Greeks run riot in the conquered city and their offenses set off
divine outrage. For many of the Greeks, their sufferings are far from over. Their voyages home, in Greek NOSTOI, are fraught with troubles.
Only Nestor, Diomedes, Neoptolemus, Philoctetes, and Idomeneus reach home in safety; while Menelaus and Odysseus first have to undergo
wanderings for years. The Locrian Ajax is killed at sea, and Agamemnon immediately after his arrival home.

Summary: Chapter I The Trojan War

A fathers hands
Stained with dark streams flowing
From blood of a girl. . . .

In her portrayal of the Trojan War, Hamilton borrows from HomersIliad, Apollodorus, Greek tragedies, and Virgil's Aeneid. The war has its roots
in the wedding of King Peleus and the sea- nymph Thetis. When the gods decide not to invite Eris, she is angered and introduces Discord to the
banquet hall in the form of a golden apple inscribed with the words For the Fairest. The vain goddesses argue over who deserves the apple,
and the field is narrowed down to Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy, is selected to judge. All three try to bribe
Paris: Hera offers power, Athena offers success in battle, and Aphrodite offers the most beautiful woman in the worldParis chooses

Unfortunately, the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, is already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. Visiting Menelaus, Paris, with
Aphrodites help, betrays his hosts hospitality and kidnaps Helen back to Troy. All the Greek kings have at one time courted Helen, so her
mother has made them all swear to always support whomever she might choose. When Helen is abducted, the only men who resist
conscription are Odysseus, who does not want to leave his home and family, and Achilles, whose mother knows he is fated to die at Troy and
holds him back. In the end, however, they join the rest of the Greeks and sail united against Troy. En route, the fleet angers Artemis, who stops
the winds from blowing. To appease her, the chief of the Greeks, Agamemnon, is forced to sacrifice his own daughter, Iphigenia.

The battle goes back and forth for nine years. The Trojans, led by Priams son, Hector, finally gain an advantage when Agamemnon kidnaps the
daughter of the Trojan priest of Apollo. Achilles has warned against this, and he is justified when Apollos fiery arrows nearly destroy the Greek
army. Calchas, a Greek prophet, convinces Agamemnon to free the girl, but Agamemnon demands a replacement in the form of Achilles prize
female captive, Briseis. Furious, Achilles withdraws his troops from battle. Without Achilles, the Greeks seem doomed. The gods have been
evenly split thus far: Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo and Artemis on the side of the Trojans; Hera, Athena, and Poseidon take the Greek side. But Thetis
persuades the hitherto neutral Zeus to help the Trojans. Menelaus defeats Paris in combat, however. Aphrodite saves Pariss life, and the
armies agree to a truce. But Hera is bent on war, so she makes a Trojan named Pandarus break the truce. When the battle starts again, the
great Greek warrior Diomedes nearly kills the Trojan Aeneas, whom Apollo saves. Diomedes even wounds Ares himself.

The Greeks hold their own until Zeus remembers his promise to Thetis and comes down to the battlefield. The Trojans drive the Greeks back
toward their ships. That night, Agamemnon agrees to return Briseis, but when Odysseus goes to ask Achilles to accept the apology, he receives
a flat refusal. The next day the Greeks lose again without Achilles and are driven even closer to their ships. But then Hera decides to seduce
Zeus and give the Greeks an advantage. While the two divinities are indisposed, the great Greek warrior Ajax nearly kills Hector. Discovering the
deception, Zeus angrily commands Poseidon to abandon the Greeks, and the Trojans press forward. As the Greeks near defeat, Achilless best
friend, Patroclus, can restrain himself no longer. He convinces Achilles to lend him his armor, thinking that even if Achilles refuses to fight, he
himself can help the Greeks by pretending to be Achilles and thus frightening the Trojans. Leading Achilles men, the Myrmidons, into battle,
Patroclus fights valiantly but is killed by Hectors spear. Achilles grieves terribly and decides to return to battle to avenge this death. Thetis,
seeing she can no longer hold her son back, gives him armor made by Hephaestus himself.

The Trojans soon retreat inside their impenetrable walls through the huge Scaean gates. Only Hector remains outside, clad in Achilles own
armor taken from Patrocluss corpse. Hector and Achilles, the two greatest warriors of the Trojan War, finally face one another. When Hector
sees that Athena stands by Achilles side while Apollo has left his own, he runs away from Achilles. They circle around and around the city of
Troy until Athena disguises herself as Hectors brother and makes him stop. Achilles catches up with Hector, who realizes the deception. They
fight, and Achilles, aided by Athena, kills Hector with his spear. Achilles is still so filled with rage over Patrocluss death that he drags Hectors
body over the ground, mutilating it. He takes it back to the Greek camp and leaves it beside Patrocluss funeral pyre for dogs to devour. Such
disrespect for a great warrior greatly displeases the gods, who convince Priam to visit Achilles and retrieve Hectors body. Priam speaks to
Achilles, who sees the error of his ways. The Iliad ends with Hectors funeral.

Summary: Chapter II The Fall of Troy

We stand at the same point of pain.

We too are slaves.
Our children are crying, calling to us with tears,
Mother, I am all alone. . . ."

We stand at the same point of pain.

We too are slaves.
Our children are crying, calling to us with tears,
Mother, I am all alone. . . ."
The war itself does not end with Hectors funeral, and Virgil continues the account. Hector is replaced by Prince Memnon of Ethiopia, a great
warrior, and the Trojans have the upper hand for a time. But Achilles soon kills Memnon as well, driving the Trojans back to the Scaean gates.
There, however, Paris kills Achilles with Apollos help: Paris shoots an arrow and the god guides it to Achilles heel, his one vulnerable spot.
(Thetis tried to make the infant Achilles invulnerable by dunking his body in the mystical River Styx but forgot to submerge the heel by which
she held him.) The Greeks decide Achilles divine armor should be given to either Odysseus or Ajax, the two greatest Greek warriors remaining.
When Odysseus is chosen, Ajax plots revenge, but Athena makes him go crazy. Ajax massacres some cattle, then comes to his senses and,
mortified, kills himself.

The prophet Calchas then tells the Greeks that they must capture the Trojan prophet Helenus in order to win. They do so, and Helenus tells
them that Troy can only be defeated by the bow and arrows of Hercules. Hercules gave these weapons to Philoctetes, who set out for Troy with
the Greeks, who abandoned him along the way. Odysseus and a few others set out to apologize and get him back. Philoctetes returns and
promptly kills Paris. The Greeks learn that the Trojans have a sacred image of Athena, the Palladium, that protects them. Odysseus and
Diomedes sneak behind enemy lines and steal it. Yet Troy still has the protection of its gigantic walls, which prevent the Greeks from entering.
Finally, Odysseus comes up with a plan to build a giant wooden horse and roll it up to the gates, pretending they have surrendered and gone
home. One man, Sinon, stays behind, acting as if he is a traitor to the Greeks. He says that although the Greeks retreated, they left the horse as
an offering to Athena. He says the Greeks assumed the Trojans would not take it inside the city because of its size, which would thus offend
Athena and bring misfortune on the city. Trojans, feeling like they are getting the last laugh, triumphantly bring the horse into the city.

The horse is hollow, however, and Greek chieftains are hiding inside. At night, they creep out and open the city gates. The Greek army, hiding
nearby, sweeps into the city and massacres the Trojans. Achilles son kills Priam. Of the major Trojans, only Aeneas escapes, his father on his
shoulders and his son holding his hand. All the men are killed, the women and children separated and enslaved. In the wars final act, the
Greeks take Hectors infant son, Astyanax, from his mother, Andromache, and throw him off the high Trojan walls. With this death, the legacy
of Hector and Troy itself are finished.

The Trojan War is the most famous of all Greek conflicts, and the Iliadperhaps the most famous literary work from ancient Greece. As we might
expect, this story touches on all the major themes of the myths: hospitality, love, obedience to the gods and to the moral code, and the
immutability of fate. The importance of hospitality is evident in Pariss weakness and wickedness in abusing Menelauss hospitality. The
importance of the patriotic moral code is stressed by the catastrophic rift between Agamemnon and Achilles. Likewise, the power of love is
shown in its ability to heal Achilles grief over Patroclus. Morality and obedience to the gods are present throughout, from Agamemnons
sacrifice of Iphigenia to Achilles return of Hectors body. As in the other myths, the gods reward obedience and goodness and punish
disobedience and wickedness. In the war, even the gods bow before fate, as Thetis accepts Achilles inevitable death and Zeus accepts the
inevitable Greek victory.

Above all, the epic of the Trojan War depicts the dark complexity of Greek mythology. The strength of so many of the myths is their depth of
character and complex morality. They are not simple fairy tales of good battling evil; they show conflicted characters, ambiguity, and the
harshness of the world. Clear villains are conspicuously absent in the Iliad: there is no wicked king to provide a foil for a good, shining one.
Achilles and Hector, the two main adversaries in the war, are both shown to be heroic. Thus, rather than having a standard protagonist-
antagonist conflict, the Iliad dwells on the brutality and senseless death of war, the cruelty that abounds in the world, and the struggles the
heroes have with themselves. Hector is heroic because he remorsefully refuses to stay with his family and instead chooses to face the battle he
knows is his destiny.

Worse, the divine sphere provides no relief from the hopelessly bloody and cruel universe depicted in the Iliad. Though the gods do uphold a
standard of morality, they are not omnipotent, beneficent, or kind. They fight among each other, trick and deceive each other, and reveal
themselves as cowardly; even the normally irreproachable Artemis demands a horrific human sacrifice. Thus, the gods represent a higher
standard of justice and honor, as when they refuse to allow Hectors body to remain unburied, yet show the same bloodthirstiness and blind
bias as the warriors on the battlefield.

As the pain and suffering in the world of the Iliad does not follow a clear dichotomy between good and evil, the source of conflict is complex
and personal. The heroes struggle with hardships they find all around them, as well asin Ajaxs casethe evil they find within themselves. In
this regard, it is interesting that the key turning point of the story is Achilles return to battle. This is a moment of profound introspection for
Achilles, who suffers the death of a best friend he could have saved. Achilles sees that Patroclus has died because he rushed to help his
countrymensomething that Achilles, out of wounded pride, would not do. The main struggle Achilles faces, then, is not against a villainous
foe but against his own shortcomings and their consequences. Unlike fairy tales that inevitably end with the death of the antagonist and the
triumph of the hero, the Iliad ends with death of the Trojan hero Hector, a celebration of Hectors courage, and a sober final statement on the
tragedy and conflict at the heart of human existence.

Story 0of Odysseus

Ten years have passed since the fall of Troy, and the Greek hero Odysseus still has not returned to his kingdom in Ithaca. A large and rowdy
mob of suitors who have overrun Odysseuss palace and pillaged his land continue to court his wife, Penelope. She has remained faithful to
Odysseus. Prince Telemachus, Odysseuss son, wants desperately to throw them out but does not have the confidence or experience to fight
them. One of the suitors, Antinous, plans to assassinate the young prince, eliminating the only opposition to their dominion over the palace.

Unknown to the suitors, Odysseus is still alive. The beautiful nymph Calypso, possessed by love for him, has imprisoned him on her island,
Ogygia. He longs to return to his wife and son, but he has no ship or crew to help him escape. While the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus
debate Odysseuss future, Athena, Odysseuss strongest supporter among the gods, resolves to help Telemachus. Disguised as a friend of the
princes grandfather, Laertes, she convinces the prince to call a meeting of the assembly at which he reproaches the suitors. Athena also
prepares him for a great journey to Pylos and Sparta, where the kings Nestor and Menelaus, Odysseuss companions during the war, inform him
that Odysseus is alive and trapped on Calypsos island. Telemachus makes plans to return home, while, back in Ithaca, Antinous and the other
suitors prepare an ambush to kill him when he reaches port.

On Mount Olympus, Zeus sends Hermes to rescue Odysseus from Calypso. Hermes persuades Calypso to let Odysseus build a ship and leave.
The homesick hero sets sail, but when Poseidon, god of the sea, finds him sailing home, he sends a storm to wreck Odysseuss ship. Poseidon
has harbored a bitter grudge against Odysseus since the hero blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, earlier in his travels. Athena intervenes
to save Odysseus from Poseidons wrath, and the beleaguered king lands at Scheria, home of the Phaeacians. Nausicaa, the Phaeacian princess,
shows him to the royal palace, and Odysseus receives a warm welcome from the king and queen. When he identifies himself as Odysseus, his
hosts, who have heard of his exploits at Troy, are stunned. They promise to give him safe passage to Ithaca, but first they beg to hear the story
of his adventures.

Odysseus spends the night describing the fantastic chain of events leading up to his arrival on Calypsos island. He recounts his trip to the Land
of the Lotus Eaters, his battle with Polyphemus the Cyclops, his love affair with the witch-goddess Circe, his temptation by the deadly Sirens, his
journey into Hades to consult the prophet Tiresias, and his fight with the sea monster Scylla. When he finishes his story, the Phaeacians return
Odysseus to Ithaca, where he seeks out the hut of his faithful swineherd, Eumaeus. Though Athena has disguised Odysseus as a beggar,
Eumaeus warmly receives and nourishes him in the hut. He soon encounters Telemachus, who has returned from Pylos and Sparta despite the
suitors ambush, and reveals to him his true identity. Odysseus and Telemachus devise a plan to massacre the suitors and regain control of

When Odysseus arrives at the palace the next day, still disguised as a beggar, he endures abuse and insults from the suitors. The only person
who recognizes him is his old nurse, Eurycleia, but she swears not to disclose his secret. Penelope takes an interest in this strange beggar,
suspecting that he might be her long-lost husband. Quite crafty herself, Penelope organizes an archery contest the following day and promises
to marry any man who can string Odysseuss great bow and fire an arrow through a row of twelve axesa feat that only Odysseus has ever
been able to accomplish. At the contest, each suitor tries to string the bow and fails. Odysseus steps up to the bow and, with little effort, fires
an arrow through all twelve axes. He then turns the bow on the suitors. He and Telemachus, assisted by a few faithful servants, kill every last

Odysseus reveals himself to the entire palace and reunites with his loving Penelope. He travels to the outskirts of Ithaca to see his aging father,
Laertes. They come under attack from the vengeful family members of the dead suitors, but Laertes, reinvigorated by his sons return,
successfully kills Antinouss father and puts a stop to the attack. Zeus dispatches Athena to restore peace. With his power secure and his family
reunited, Odysseuss long ordeal comes to an end.


Heracles' hometown of Thebes has had to pay a tribute every year to Erginus, the King of the Minyans.

This ticks Heracles off, so when he meets some Minyans on the road he cuts off their ears, noses, and hands.

As you might guess, this makes King Erginus pretty darned mad, and he charges toward Thebes with his whole army behind him.

Heracles isn't scared at all and raises an army of his own.

Our hero leads the charge, obliterating the Minyans and killing the King Erginus himself.

King Creon of Thebes is more than a little grateful to Heracles, so he gives Heracles his daughter, Megara, as a bride.

Every thing is happy for a while, and Heracles and Megara have a bunch of kids.
Eventually though, Heracles' archenemy Hera, Queen of the Gods, steps in to ruin his life. (Hera hates Heracles because he's the illegitimate son
of her husband, Zeus.)

The Queen of the Gods gets seriously nasty and causes Heracles to go crazy and kill all of his children (Whoa.)

Needless to say, Heracles feels more than a little guilty about killing his kids and all.

Our hero goes to the Oracle of Delphi to figure out how to atone for the damage he's done.

The Oracle tells him that he has to submit himself to be the servant of King Eurystheus of Argos. (If it wasn't for a trick of Hera's, Heracles
would've sat on Eurystheus' throne. Click here for more.)

Eurystheus tells Heracles that he has to perform ten labors for him.

"Okey doke," says Heracles, "What do you want me to do?"

The First Labor: The Nemean Lion

So, there was this place called Nemea, which was being troubled by a giant lion that couldn't be pierced by sword or spear.

Eurystheus orders Heracles to go and kill this monster.

Heracles goes to Nemea, finds the lion, and strangles it to death. (You don't need a sword when you're Heracles.)

After he kills the lion, Heracles skins it and wears its hide as a cape. (This turns out to be Heracles' signature look; he wears his trusty lion skin
cape for the rest of his life.)

The Second Labor: The Lernean Hydra

Eurystheus orders Heracles to go kill the Hydra.

This monster was a huge venomous snake with a hundred heads (some say less, some say more).

The Hydra was particularly hard to kill because when you cut off one head, two more sprouted in its place.

Heracles defeats this nasty creature with the help of his nephew Iolaus (who was also Heracles' eromenos, or boy lover).

When Heracles slices off one of the Hydra's heads, Iolaus cauterizesthe stub with a flaming torch, which keeps the head from growing back.

After the Hydra was dead and totally headless, Heracles dipped his arrows in its venom, making them deadly poisonous. (Many years later, the
venom on these poisonous arrows actually ends up killing Heracles.

The Third Labor: Erymanthian Boar

Next, Eurystheus orders Heracles to capture a giant boar and bring it back alive.

This is actually a lot harder than killing it, because after Heracles captures the vicious thing he's got to carry it all the way back to Argos.

Of course, Heracles totally pulls it off and shows up carrying the boar over his shoulders.

It's said that Eurystheus was so scared when he saw the boar that he ran and hid in a big jar. (Hehe.)

The Fourth Labor: Cerynian Hind

Now the wimpy king orders Heracles to capture an incredibly fast deer with golden horns.

Some say that Heracles snared the deer with nets, others say he pounced on it while it was asleep, and still others say that he just ran behind it
until it got too tired to run anymore.

No matter who you talk to, though, everybody agrees that Heracles caught the hind and brought it back to Eurystheus.

The Fifth Labor: Augean Stables

Okay, so this Labor is totally gross.

Heracles has to go to the stables of a dude named Augeas, who apparently had more oxen than anybody else in the world, but had also never
bothered to clean up after them.

Yep, that's right. The Augean stables are filled with massive amounts of dung, and guess who has to clean it up?

Heracles manages to pull this off by diverting the course of the Alpheius River, which washes through the stables and takes away all the poo.

The Sixth Labor: Stymphalian Birds

Heracles is ordered to go to the Stymphalian Lake and rid it of a flock of man-eating birds.

Some say that he does this by making a bronze rattle, which he shakes and shakes until they're scared away.

Others say that just shoots them all with his Hydra-poisoned arrows.

The Seventh Labor: The Cretan Bull

Next, Heracles has to travel to the island of Crete and captures the divine bull, who is said to be the father of the Minotaur, the monster that
the hero Theseus later defeats.

He manages this with the help of King Minos of Crete, and travels back to Greece on the back of the bull as it swims across the Mediterranean.

The Eighth Labor: Horses of Diomedes

Next, Heracles is sent to capture the horses of King Diomedes.

"Capturing Horses," you say, "That doesn't seem too hard."

Oh yeah, what if those horses just happen to be man-eaters? That's right... King Diomedes is in the habit of feeding his horses the flesh of
people that get on his nerves.

When Heracles shows up, though, he turns the tables and feeds Diomedes to his own horses. After that, the vicious horses chill out a bit, and
Heracles takes them away.

The Ninth Labor: The Belt of Hippolyte

Ninth on the agenda is obtaining the belt of Hippolyte (a.k.a. Hippolyta), the queen of the Amazons.

The Amazons were a tribe of warrior women, who only dealt with men when they felt like having babies. They either killed or got rid of any
male children that came along and only raised the females.

Heracles goes to their queen and asks her nicely for her belt. Amazingly, she agrees.

However, Hera decides that this one was way too easy for Heracles, and she appears in the form of an Amazon and rallies the warrior women
against Heracles.

Heracles thinks Hippolyte has betrayed him and, after kicking a lot of Amazon butt, he kills her before sailing away with her belt.

The Tenth Labor: Cattle of Geryon

The tenth labor is a pretty intense one. Heracles has to sail all the way to an island called Erytheia, which is way out in what we now call the
Atlantic Ocean.

(To the ancient Greeks, this was the end of the world. They called the Atlantic "Oceanus" and thought of it as a giant river that encircled the

On the island of Erytheia there is a giant named Geryon, who has three bodies and three sets of legs all connected at the waist. It's Heracles' job
to fetch Geryon's beautiful herd of cattle, which are colored red by the sunset.

To get the job done, Heracles borrows a giant golden cup from the sun god Helios and sails across the Mediterranean to the island of Erytheia.

Before he can take the cattle, Heracles has to kill the giant Erytion and his two-headed dog who guards them.

After that, Geryon himself comes to fight him, but Heracles takes out the three-bodied giant with some massive whacks of his trusty club.

Then Heracles herds the cattle into his golden cup-boat and sails back to Greece.

The Eleventh Labor: The Golden Apples of the Hesperides

Whoa, wait a minute. Didn't Eurystheus say there's only supposed to be ten labors?

When Heracles gets back with the red cattle of Geryon, Eurystheus pulls a fast one on him. The wimpy king tells Heracles that he's not going to
count the killing of the Hydra because Iolaus helped Heracles. He also won't count Heracles' cleaning of the Augean stables because he used a
river to do it, instead of his own manpower.

"Whatever," says Heracles "I can do anything."

Eurystheus tells Heracles to go fetch some golden apples from the nymphs known as the Hesperides, who were said to represent the sunset.
Incidentally, these golden apples were Hera's wedding gift when she married Zeus.

To get the apples, Heracles enlists the help of the Titan Atlas, who is doomed by Zeus to hold the sky up on his back. Heracles tells Atlas that
he'll hold the sky up for a little while if the Titan wouldn't mind fetching some of those lovely golden apples.
Atlas, who is seriously sick of holding up the sky, agrees.

When he comes back with the apples, however, he suggests that Heracles keep the sky on his shoulders while Atlas delivers the apples to

Heracles thinks this sounds suspiciously like a trick. Our hero "agrees" with Atlas, but tells the Titan to take back the sky for a second while
Heracles puts a pad on his shoulders to ease his burden. When Atlas takes the sky back, Heracles says, "See ya!" and heads off with the apples.

(In some versions, Atlas isn't even part of it, and Heracles has to slay a dragon with a hundred heads named Ladon to get the golden apples.)

After Heracles takes the apples to Eurystheus, Athena returns the golden fruit to the Hesperides.

The Twelfth Labor: Cerberus

For the twelfth and final labor, Eurystheus thinks up pretty much the worst thing he can imagine: Heracles has to bring back the three-headed
hellhound, Cerberus, Hades' vicious beast that guards the gates of the underworld.

Heracles makes his way down under and pops in on Hades, god of the dead.

While in the palace, Heracles comes across his fellow Greek hero, Theseus, and another dude name Pirithous with their butts stuck to a bench.
The story goes that Theseus had pretty stupidly agreed to help his buddy, Pirithous, try to woo Persephone, Hades' wife. As punishment, Hades
magically glued them to a bench.

Heracles pulls with all his might and yanks Theseus from the bench, leaving only a thin layer of his bottom on bench. (Ouch.)

When Heracles tries to pull Pirithous up, however, the underworld starts shaking Hades is not happy.

Heracles and Theseus ditch Pirithous and head on their way.

Heracles goes before Hades and asks to borrow Cerberus for a bit, so that the hero can complete his final labor.

Hades is cool with it as long as Heracles can wrestle the three-headed dog into submission without using any weapons. "No worries," says

Our hero finds Cerberus and squeezes the animal with his muscle bound arms. Cerberus bites, scratches, and puts up quite a fight, but Heracles
refuses to let go.

Eventually, Cerberus realizes he's been beaten and chills out.

Heracles takes Cerberus back for Eurystheus to see and then returns the hellhound to Hades.

With that Heracles' Twelve Labors are complete. He has finallyatoned for killing his children.

When he gets back to Thebes he gives his wife Megara to his friend Iolaus (hmm) and goes on his merry way.

Some say that he was made immortal as a reward for completing all of the ridiculously hard tasks that Eurystheus assigned him.

But wait! Heracles had a ton of other adventures after this.


Hercules was a strong and brave man. He lived in Greece. The King was jealous of Hercules. People might make Hercules the King. Therefore he
wanted to get rid of Hercules. He set difficult tasks for Hercules to keep him away from the country so that he would not be a possible threat to
him (the King).

Once he asked Hercules to get three golden apples. Some trees were said to bear golden apples. These trees were said to be in a place called
Hesperides. But no one knew the way to Hesperides. So the King thought of Hesperides. Hercules would be away for a longer period.

Hercules set out on the journey. At first he met three maidens during the journey. Hercules asked them the way to Hesperides. They told him to
ask the old man of the sea. But they also warned him, Hold the old man of the sea tightly. Otherwise he will escape. No one else knows the

Hercules saw the old man. He was sleeping on the shore. He was looking strange. He had long hair and a beard. Hercules walked to him without
making any noise. Then he seized him very firmly.

The old man of the sea opened his eyes. He was surprised. He changed himself into a stag. He tried to free himself from the grip of Hercules.
But Hercules held him tight. Then the old man changed himself into a sea-bird and then to other animal forms. But he could not free himself
from the clutches of Hercules, because Hercules was making his clutches tighter and tighter. Finally the old man said to Hercules, Who are
you? What do you want from me?"

Hercules replied, I am Hercules. Tell me the way to Hesperides."

The old man said, It is an island. Go along the sea-shore. You will meet a giant. He will show you the way to Hesperides."

Hercules continued his journey. He met the giant. The giant was very huge and strong. He was sleeping on the shore. Hercules woke him up.
The giant was angry. He struck Hercules with a club. Hercules charged at the giant. He lifted the giant and threw him down. But the giant got up
immediately. He had become ten times stronger. Hercules threw him down again and again. But each time the giant rose up much stronger.
Then Hercules lifted the giant high up in the air. But he did not throw him down. The giant slowly lost all his strength. He now pleaded with
Hercules to put him down on the earth. Hercules asked him to tell the way to Hesperides. The giant asked Hercules to meet Atlas. He told him
the way to the place where Atlas was.

Hercules continued his journey. He, at last, met Atlas.

Why do you want the golden apples?" asked Atlas.

My King has ordered me to get him these three golden apples," said Hercules.

It is a long way from here to that place. Only I can go there. Hold this sky for me. I shall get them for you," said Atlas.

Hercules agreed. He held the sky on his shoulders. Atlas walked away. He was back in a short time. He put down the three golden apples at the
foot of Hercules. Hercules thanked Atlas. He requested Atlas to take back the sky from him.

Take back the sky!" said Atlas cunningly. I have held it for a thousand years. I shall come back after another thousand years!"

Hercules was astonished at what Atlas told him. But he did not express his astonishment. He recovered his senses and replied, Oh! In that
case, will you please hold the sky for a little while? I shall make a pad for my shoulders to support the sky. Then I shall take back the sky from
you." Thus Hercules talked very quietly.

Atlas agreed. Atlas took back the sky from Hercules. Hercules immediately collected the three golden apples. He bid Atlas goodbye with a
mischievous smile on his face. The he walked away towards Greece leaving Atlas speechless and surprised.

Hercules reached his homeland Greece after many days of travel. He gave the three golden apples to the King. The King was surprised to have
got the golden apples from Hercules. He was happy. But he pretended not to have been satisfied. But he secretly, he was planning to send away
Hercules away on another perilous adventure.