Gateway to the Classics: A Story of the Golden Age of Greek Heroes by James Baldwin
 
A Story of the Golden Age of Greek Heroes by  James Baldwin

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The After Word

And now, if you would learn more concerning the great heroes of the Golden Age, you must read the noble poems in which the story of their deeds is told. In the Iliad of Homer, oldest and grandest of all poems written by men, you will read of what befell the Greeks before the walls of Troy,—of the daring of Diomede; of the wisdom of Nestor; of the shrewdness of Odysseus; of the foolish pride of Agamemnon; of the nobility of Hector; of the grief of old King Priam; of the courage of Achilles. In the Æneid of Virgil, you will read of the last day of the long siege, and the fatal folly of the Trojans; of crafty Sinon; of the sad end of Laocoön, who dared suspect the object of the wooden horse; of the destruction of the mighty city; and of the wanderings of Æneas and the remnant of the Trojans until they had founded a new city on the far Lavinian shore. In the tragedies of Æschylus, you will read of the return of the heroes of Greece; of the sad death of Agamemnon in his own great banquet-hall; of the wicked career of Clytemnestra; of the terrible vengeance of Orestes; of what befell Iphigenia in Tauris, and how she returned to her native land. And in the Odyssey of Homer, second only to the Iliad in grandeur, you will read of the strange adventures of Odysseus; how he, storm-tossed and wind-driven, strove for ten weary years to return to Ithaca; how, after the fall of Troy,—

"He overcame the people of Ciconia; how he passed thence to the rich fields of the race who feed upon the lotus; what the Cyclops did, and how upon the Cyclops he avenged the death of his brave comrades, whom the wretch had piteously slaughtered and devoured; and how he came to Æolus, and found a friendly welcome, and was sent by him upon his voyage; yet 'twas not his fate to reach his native land; a tempest caught his fleet, and far across the fishy deep bore him away, lamenting bitterly. And how he landed at Telepylus, among the Læstrigonians, who destroyed his ships and warlike comrades, he alone in his black ship escaping." . . .

You will read, too, of how he was driven to land upon the coast where Circe the sorceress dwelt, and how he shrewdly dealt with her deceit and many arts:—

"And how he went to Hades' dismal realm in his good galley, to consult the soul of him of Thebes, Tiresias, and beheld all his lost comrades and his mother,—her who brought him forth, and trained him when a child; and how he heard the Sirens afterward, and how he came upon the wandering rocks, the terrible Charybdis, and the crags of Scylla,—which no man had ever passed in safety; how his comrades slew for food the oxen of the Sun; how mighty Zeus, the Thunderer, with a bolt of fire from heaven smote his swift bark; and how, his gallant crew all perished, he alone escaped with life. And how he reached Ogygia's isle, and met the nymph Calypso, who long time detained and fed him in her vaulted grot, and promised that he ne'er should die, nor know decay of age, through all the days to come; yet moved she not the purpose of his heart. And how he next through many hardships came to the Phæacians, and they welcomed him and honored him as if he were a god, and to his native country in a bark sent him with ample gifts of brass and gold and raiment."

How he made himself known to old Eumæus the swineherd, and to his son Telemachus, and how his old nurse, Eurycleia, knew him by the scar which he had received when a boy from the wild boar on Mount Parnassus. How he found his palace full of rude suitors seeking the hand of faithful Penelope; and how, with the great bow of Eurytus, he slew them all, and spared not one.

. . ."Never shall the fame

Of his great valor perish; and the gods

Themselves shall frame, for those who dwell on earth,

Sweet strains in praise of sage Penelope."



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