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send a favoring gale to the Grecian fleet when it was detained by contrary winds in the port of Aulis ; but as the earliest writers respecting the Trojan war make no mention of this unnatural act, it is to be hoped that it never was performed.
The Grecian armament consisted of almost twelve hundred vessels, with from fifty to one hundred and twenty men in each, and the army which warred against Troy is supposed to have amounted altogether to about one hundred thousand men. The Trojans, although reinforced by auxiliary bands from Assyria, Thrace, and Asia Minor, were unable to withstand the Greeks in the open country, and they therefore soon retired within the walls of their city.
In those early times men were unskilled in the art of reducing fortified places, and the Greeks knew of no speedier way of taking Troy than blockading it till the inhabitants should be compelled by famine to surrender. But here a new difficulty arose. No arrangements had been made for supplying the invaders with provisions during a lengthened siege ; and after they had plundered and laid waste the surrounding country, they began to be in as great danger of starvation as the besieged. The supplies which arrived from Greece were scanty and irregular, and it became necessary to detach a part of the forces to cultivate the plains of the Chersonesus of Thrace, in order to raise crops
for the support of themselves and their brethren in arms.
The Grecian army being thus weakened, the Tro. jans were encouraged to make frequent sallies, in which they were led generally by the valiant Hector, Priam's eldest and noblest son. Many skirmishes took place, and innumerable deeds of individual heroism were performed, none of which led to any important result, for the opposing armies were so equally matched, that neither could obtain
decisive advantage over the other. At length, after a siege of no less than ten years, in the course of which some of the most distinguished leaders on both sides were slain, Troy was taken, its inhabitants slaughtered, and its edifices burnt to the ground, 1184, B. C.
According to the poets, it was by a stratagem that this famous city was at last overcome. They tell us that the Greeks constructed a wooden horse of prodigious size, in the body of which they concealed a number of armed men, and then retired towards the sea-shore to induce the enemy to believe that the besiegers had given up the enterprise, and were about to return home. Deceived by this manœuvre, the Trojans brought the gigantic horse into the city, and the men who had been concealed within it, stealing out in the night time, unbarred the gates and admitted the Grecian army within the walls. The siege of Troy forms the subject of Homer's sublime poem, the Iliad, in which the real events of the siege are intermingled with many fictions and supernatural incidents.
The Greek princes discovered that their triumph over Troy was dearly paid for by their subsequent sufferings, and the disorganization of their kingdoms at home. Ulysses, if we may believe the poets, spent ten years in wandering over seas and lands before arriving in the island of Ithaca. Others of the leaders died, or were shipwrecked on their way home, and several of those who succeeded in reaching their own dominions found their thrones occupied by usurpers, and were compelled to return to their vessels, and seek in distant lands a place of rest and security for their declining years. But the fate of Agamemnon, the renowned general of the Greeks, was the most deplorable of all. On his return to Argos, he was assassinated by his wife, Clytemnestra, who had formed an attachment, during his absence, to another person. Agamemnon's son, Orestes, was driven into exile, but afterwards returned to Argos, and, putting his mother and her accomplices to death, established himself upon the throne.
At Delphi, in Phocis, there was a temple of Apollo, to the priest of which the Greeks were wont to apply for information regarding future events, in the same manner as the people of comparatively recent times were accustomed to consult astrologers, soothsayers, and other artful impostors, on similar questions. Now, Codrus, king of Athens, had learned that the Peloponnesians had received at Delphi a prophetical response or oracle, to the effect that they should be victorious in the war, if they did not kill the Athenian king. Determined to save his country at the expense of his own life, Codrus disguised himself in a peasant's dress, entered the Peloponnesian camp, and provoked a quarrel with a soldier, by whom he was killed.
It is not our purpose to trace the events of Grecian history in detail. We have space only to state that
several of the states rose to a great pitch of power and civilization, and continued for centuries to excel all other nations in arts and arms. Athens took the lead in refinement, and became renowned for her architects, sculptors, painters, orators, poets, and philosophers. The works of these, some of which are preserved, still excite the admiration of mankind. The golden age of Athenian history is that of Pericles, who flourished 445 years B. C. The city of Athens at that period was adorned with a multitude of the most splendid public edifices, and these were ornamented with the finest statues the world has ever seen. The fine arts had now reached their greatest degree of perfection, and Athenian civilization its highest point.
Sparta was famous for the martial character of its people, and for a stern patriotism which sacrificed every thing to the good of the state. Here the fine arts were spurned, literature contemned, and the social affections repressed; affording a complete contrast to the condition of affairs in Athens.
There are two things in Grecian history which cannot fail to excite our admiration; the splendid achievements of the Greeks in war, and the host of great men they produced. About the year 480, B. C., Xerxes, an Asiatic king, assailed the country with an army of several millions. He was met by the fearless Greeks with indomitable valor ; his squadrons were cut to pieces, &nd the baffled monarch was driven back in disgrace to his own dominions. This was but one of the mighty acts of this remarkable people.
Among the great names that glitter along the pages of Grecian history, we may mention Homer, the most