This is a chapter of The Trojan War, by C. Witt & F. Younghusband.
The Greeks returned again to the fight, but without the Myrmidons (as the brave followers of Achilles were called). These remained behind in their tents; and their horses, instead of dashing over the battlefield with the war chariots, were allowed to feed at their leisure, for the chariots were standing unused in the tents, wrapped in coverings. The Myrmidons tried to beguile the time by amusing themselves with all sorts of games, and vied with one another in hurling heavy plates to see who was strongest of arm, and in throwing spears and shooting with arrows to see who was keenest of eye; but they would far rather have taken their part in the battle, as of old.
When the Trojans saw that the enemy was preparing for the fight, they also made ready and hastened from the gates to meet them. On both sides the foot soldiers marched in front, and behind them came the chiefs and princes, mostly in chariots of war. Among the foremost of the Trojan princes was Paris, who in a loud voice demanded that one of the noblest of the Greek heroes should come forward and fight with him.
Menelaus heard the challenge with joy, and he sprang down from his chariot and hastened to meet Paris, eager to slay the man who had robbed him of his wife. But, as when a wayfarer in a wooded glade comes unawares upon a huge snake and flees from it, so was Paris seized with sudden fear and rushed back to shelter himself among his countrymen.
His brother Hector followed him and reproached him for his cowardice. “How will the Greeks scorn thee!” said he. “Thou hast had courage to rob a stranger of his wife, but further than this thy valor does not go, for in the battle thy lute-playing is of no avail, nor yet thy beautiful countenance, neither thy long fair hair.”
Paris was put to shame by his words, and he answered, “Hector, thy reproach is just. Yea, let the Trojans and the Greeks cease from the battle; I alone will fight with Menelaus for Helen and her treasures.”
Then went Hector forward and stood in front of the Trojan ranks, making a sign that he wished to speak; and when Agamemnon had proclaimed peace, Hector declared the purpose of his brother. To this, Menelaus made answer, “So let it be; let the quarrel of the Greeks and the men of Troy be thus decided. But first, let both sides bind themselves by a sacred treaty that the party of him who is conquered will abide by the result of the fight. Bring King Priam from the city that he may swear to us; we will trust in the oath of the old man.”
Hector sent two heralds to the city, and soon Priam arrived on the battlefield, and with him the aged Antenor. Three lambs, one of which was a black one, were placed in the midst of the open plain, and Agamemnon cut off their forelocks and prayed to Zeus and to Helios and to the goddess of the earth, arid to the gods of the neighboring streams, to witness the oath. Then he cut the throats of the lambs and let their blood sink into the ground, and after this, the heralds brought cups of wine which were poured out as a libation to the gods, and Greeks and Trojans prayed alike that Zeus would punish him who should break the oath, and would scatter his brains upon the earth as the wine which was now flowing over it.
When the treaty was concluded, Priam returned to the city, for he did not wish to remain, lest haply he should see his son fall in the fight. Hector and Odysseus measured out the ground and directed the combatants where to take their stand. Then they placed two pebbles in a helmet, marked with the names of the two heroes, and Hector shook it without looking.
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The lot of Paris leaped out first, and he had, therefore, the first throw; he took aim and struck the shield of Menelaus with his spear, but did not pierce through it. It was now the turn of Menelaus; but first he prayed aloud to Zeus to grant him the victory so that in the time to come men might fear to deal treacherously by those who should show them hospitality; then he threw his spear, and his arm was so much stronger than the arm of Paris that the spear pierced through the shield and the clothes of his enemy even to his body; yet did it not injure him, for he turned aside, so that the weapon did but graze his skin.
Then Menelaus sprang upon Paris with his raised sword, and dealt a mighty blow on his helmet, meaning to cleave through it and wound him in the head; but the blade broke in three pieces. Quickly then he seized hold of the crest of his helmet and tore at it, meaning to drag Paris along the ground and thus end his days. But there drew near, unseen of men, Aphrodite, the goddess to whom Paris was dear; and she loosed the strap that fastened his helmet, so that Menelaus soon found himself holding an empty helmet in his hand. He threw it towards the Greeks and seized a spear, but when he looked around again, Paris was nowhere to be seen. He sought him diligently amongst the Trojans, and they, indeed, would not have helped him to escape, for they now all hated him, looking upon him as the cause of the miserable war, but nowhere could Menelaus find any trace of him, for Aphrodite had covered him with a cloud and carried him through the air to his own house, where he was now lying at his ease, stretched out on soft cushions.
Helen had been watching the fight from the city walls, wishing with all her heart that victory might fall to the lot of her first husband, for the enchantment by which Aphrodite had made her willing to leave him had now lost its power, and she bitterly regretted the day when she had consented to forsake her home and sail away with Paris.
Then Agamemnon cried aloud, “Ye men of Troy, Menelaus has conquered; prepare to deliver over to us Helen and all her treasures.”
And to this no man made reply. But the goddesses Hera and Athene, who hated the Trojans and had sworn that the city should be overthrown, had no mind to let the war come to an end so easily; and Athene took the form of one of the Trojan heroes and went to Pandarus, a hero who had come with his people from a neighboring country to help King Priam. To him she said, “This is now the moment for thee to win the favor of Paris by killing his bitterest enemy, Menelaus, who stands there among the Greeks, suspecting nothing. Pray to Apollo to direct thine arrow that thou mayest not loose it from thy bow in vain.”
Pandarus was easily influenced; he took his bow and arrows and, calling to some of his companions to come and hold their shields before him that he might not be seen by the Greeks, he first prayed to Apollo and then took aim through a space between the shields, and shot. He was a skilled archer, and the arrow would have gone through the heart of Menelaus if Athene had not come to his help, but she turned the arrow aside so that it hit a place which was protected by a double thickness of belt, and, though it pierced through the belt and the garments beneath it, it went but a little way into the flesh.
Thus was the treaty broken and the war was rekindled. Greeks and Trojans rose from the ground on which they had stretched themselves, and soon the battle was again surging tumultuously over the plain, now in one direction, and now in another.