Myths of most peoples are myths primarily about gods. Myths of Ancient Greece – an exception: in the greater and better part of them is told not about the gods, but about the heroes. Heroes are the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the gods from mortal women; they performed feats, cleared the land of monsters, punished villains and harnessed their strength in internecine wars. When the Earth became hard for them, the gods did it so that they themselves killed each other in the greatest war – the Trojan: “… and near the walls of Ilium / the Tribe of Heroes perished – Zeus’s will was accomplished.”
“Ilion”, “Troy” – two names of the same mighty city in Asia Minor, near the shore of the Dardanelles. According to the first of these names, the great Greek poem about the Trojan War is called the Iliad. Before it, only short oral songs existed about the exploits of heroes like epic or ballad. A great poem of
them was laid down by the legendary blind singer Homer, and folded very skilfully: he chose only one episode from a long war and unfolded it so that it reflected the whole heroic age. This episode is “the wrath of Achilles,” the greatest of the last generation of Greek heroes.
The Trojan War lasted ten years. A campaign against Troy brought together dozens of Greek kings and leaders on hundreds of ships with thousands of soldiers: a list of their names occupies several pages in the poem. The chief leader was the strongest of the kings, the ruler of Argos, Agamemnon; with him were his brother Menelaus, the mighty Ajax, the ardent Diomedes, the clever Odysseus, the old wise Nestor and others; but the bravest, strong and dexterous was the young Achilles, the son of the sea goddess Thetis, accompanied by his friend Patroclus. The Troyanites were ruled by the gray-haired Tsar Priam, at the head of their troops was the valiant son of Priam Hector, with his brother Paris and many allies from all over Asia. The gods themselves participated in the war: the Trojans were helped by the silver-bearded Apollo, and
the Greeks – by the heavenly queen Hera and the wise warrior Athena. The supreme god, the thunderer Zeus, watched the battles from the high Olympus and made his will.
The war began like this. The wedding of the hero Peleus and the sea goddess Thetis was the last marriage between gods and mortals. At the feast, the goddess of discord threw a golden apple, designed “beautiful.” Because of the apple, three of them competed: Hera, Athena and the goddess of love Aphrodite. Zeus ordered to judge their dispute with the Trojan prince Paris. Each of the goddesses promised him her gifts: Hera promised to make him king over the whole world, Athena – a hero and a wise man, Aphrodite – the husband of the most beautiful of women. Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite. After that, Hera and Athena became the eternal enemies of Troy. Aphrodite also helped Paris seduce and take to Troy the most beautiful of women – Elena, the daughter of Zeus, the wife of King Menelaus. Once the best warriors from all over Greece were wooing her, and in order not to quarrel, they conspired so: let she choose whom she wants, and if anyone tries to beat her off at the elect, all the others will go to war with him. Then Elena chose Menelaus; Now she was beaten off by Menelaus Paris, and all her former suitors went to war with him. Only one, the youngest, did not covet Elena, did not participate in a general agreement, and went to war only to flaunt valor, to show power and gain glory. It was Achilles. So that still none of the gods interfere in the battle. The Trojans continue their onslaught, headed by Hector and Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, the last of Zeus’ sons on earth. Achilles from his tent watches coldly as the Greeks flee, as the Trojans approach the very camp: they are about to set fire to Greek ships. Hera from the height also sees the flight of the Greeks and in desperation decides to cheat in order to divert the stern attention of Zeus. She appears before him in the magical belt of Aphrodite, arousing love, Zeus flares up with passion and connects with her on the top of Ida; A golden cloud envelops them, and the earth around it blossoms with saffron and hyacinths. For love comes a dream, and while Zeus is asleep, the Greeks gather with the spirit and suspend the Trojans. But sleep is not long; Zeus wakes up, Hera trembles before his anger, and he says to her: “Be able to endure: everything will be your way and the Greeks will defeat the Trojans, but not before Achilles pacifies anger and goes into battle: so I promised the goddess Thetis.”
But Achilles is not yet ready to “fold his anger,” and Patroclus comes out to help the Greeks in his stead: it pains him to look at his comrades in distress. Achilles gives him his warriors, his armor, which the Trojans are accustomed to fear, their chariot drawn by prophetic horses, able to speak and prophesy. “Shroud the Trojans from the camp, save the ships,” says Achilles, “but do not be preoccupied with persecution, do not put yourself at risk!” Oh, let all the Greeks and Trojans perish, “we would all alone have Troy together!” Indeed, seeing the armor of Achilles, the Trojans flinched and turned back; and then Patroclus could not resist and rushed to pursue them. Towards him comes Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, and Zeus, looking from above, hesitates: “Can I save my son?” – and the bad-tempered Hera reminds:
“No, let fate happen!” Sarpedon collapses like a mountain pine, around the body boils the battle, and Patrokl rushes further to the gates of Troy. “Off!” Apollo shouted to him, “You can not take Troy to either of you, not even Achilles.” He does not hear; and then Apollo, enveloped in a cloud, strikes him on the shoulders, Patroclus loses his strength, drops the shield, helmet and spear, Hector strikes him the last blow, and Patroclus, dying, says: “But you yourself will fall from Achilles!”
Before Achilles the news comes: Patroclus died, Hector lives in his, Achilles, armor, friends with difficulty took the hero’s dead body from the battle, triumphant Trojans pursue them on their heels. Achilles wants to rush into battle, but he is unarmed; he comes out of the tent and screams, and this cry is so terrible that the Trojans, shuddering, retreat. Night falls, and all night Achilles mourns for a friend and threatens the Trojans with a terrible revenge; and meanwhile, at the request of his mother, Thetis, the lame godsmith Hephaestus in his copper smith forges a new wondrous weapon for Achilles. This is a shell, a helmet, a leggings and a shield, and on the shield there is a whole world depicted: the sun and the stars, the earth and the sea, the peaceful city and the warring city, in a peaceful city the court and the wedding, before the warring city of ambush and battle, and around – , harvest, pasture, vineyard, village festival and dancing dance,
The morning comes, Achilles dresses in divine armor and summons the Greek army to a gathering. His anger was not extinguished, but now he is not turned to Agamemnon, but to those who ruined his friend – the Trojans and Hector. Agamemnon, he offers reconciliation, and he accepts with dignity: “Zeus and Destiny blinded me, and I myself am innocent.” Briseid returned to Achilles, rich gifts brought to his tent, but Achilles almost does not look at them: he is eager to fight, he wants revenge.
There comes the fourth battle. Zeus lifts the prohibitions: let the gods themselves fight, for whom they want! Athena’s battle-line converges in battle with the furious Ares, the mighty Hera with the archer Artemis, the sea Poseidon must come together with Apollo, but he stops him with sad words: “Do we fight with you because of the mortal human race? / Leaves short in the grove are like sons human: / Now they are in bloom, and tomorrow they lie lifeless. / I do not want to quarrel with you: let them be enmity themselves! .. “
Achilles is terrible. He seized Aeneas, but the gods snatched Aeneas from his hands: Aeneas is not destined to fall from Achilles, he must survive both Achilles and Troy. Enraged by failure, Achilles kills Trojans without count, corpses clutter up the river, the river god Scamander attacks him, sweeping over the ramparts, but the fiery god Hephaestus pacifies the river.
The surviving Trojans flee in droves to the city; Hector alone, in yesterday’s Achilles armor, covers the retreat. Achilles attacks him, and Hector takes flight, free and involuntary: he is afraid for himself, but he wants to distract Achilles from others. Three times they run around the city, and the gods look at them from the heights. Again Zeus hesitates: “Can not save the hero?” – but Athena reminds him:
“Let fate come to pass.” Again Zeus raises the scale on which lie two lots – this time Hector and Achilles. The bowl of Achilles flew up, the bowl of Hector sank to the underworld. And Zeus gives a sign: Apollo – leave Hector, Athena – come to the aid of Achilles. Athena holds Hector, and he converges with Achilles face to face. “I promise, Achilles,” says Hector, “if I kill you, I’ll take off your armor, and I will not touch the bodies, promise me the same and you.” “There is no place for promises: for Patroclus, I myself will tear you to pieces and get drunk of your blood!” shouted Achilles. The Hector spear strikes the shield at Hephaestus, but in vain; The spear Achilles strikes Hector’s throat, and the hero falls with the words: “Be afraid of the vengeance of the gods: and you will fall after me, after all.” “I know, but before – you!” Achilles answers.
Patroclus is avenged. Achill arranges a lavish burial for a friend, kills twelve Trojan captives over his body, celebrates a wake. It would seem that his anger should subside, but he does not abate. Three times a day, Achilles chases his chariot with Hector’s tied body around Patrocles’ mound; The corpse would have been broken for a long time about stones, but Apollo protected it invisibly. Finally Zeus interferes – through the sea Thetis he declares to Achilles: “Do not rage in your heart, for you too do not live long enough.” Be human: take a ransom and give Hector for burial. ” And Achilles says: “I obey.”
At night, to the tent of Achilles comes the decrepit king Priam; with him – a cart full of redemption gifts. The gods themselves let him pass through the Greek camp unnoticed. He crouches at Achilles’ knees: “Remember Achilles, about your father, about Peleus, he’s as old, maybe his enemies are crowding him, but he’s easier because he knows you’re alive and hopes that you’ll come back I’m alone: Of all my sons, only Hector was hopeful to me, and now he is no more. For father’s sake pity me, Achilles: here I kiss your hand, from which my children fell. ” “So saying, he sorrow for his father aroused in him and tears – / Both cried aloud in their hearts about their remembering: / The elder, stretched out at the feet of Achilles, – about Hektor brave, / Achilles himself – something about the beloved father, then about friend Patrocles “.
Equal grief brings enemies together: only now the long anger in Achilles heart is calmed down. He accepts gifts, gives Priam the body of Hector and promises not to trouble Trojans until they betray their hero to the earth. Early in the morning Priam returns with his son’s body to Troy, and begins mourning: an old mother cries over Hector, Andromache’s widow cries, Elena cries, because of which the war began once. The funeral pyre is lit, the remains are collected in an urn, the urn is lowered into the grave, the mound is poured over the grave, the funeral feast is celebrated by the hero. “So the warrior of Hector Troy, the sons were buried” – this line ends with the “Iliad”.
Until the end of the Trojan War, there were still many events. The Trojans, having lost Hector, no longer dared to go beyond the city walls. But to help them came and fought with Hector, other, more and more distant peoples: from Asia Minor, from the fantastic land of the Amazons, from distant Ethiopia. The most terrible was the leader of the Ethiopians, the black giant Memnon, also the son of the goddess; He fought with Achilles, and Achilles overthrew him. Then Achillus rushed to the attack of Troy – then he perished from the arrow of Paris, which was sent by Apollo. The Greeks, having lost Achilles, no longer hoped to take Troy by force – they took it by cunning, forcing the Trojans to bring into the city a wooden horse in which the Greek knights were sitting. This will later be described in his “Aeneid” by the Roman poet Virgil. Troy was wiped off the face of the earth, and the surviving Greek heroes set off on the return journey.