The story of the Trojan War in doggerel

For those with strong stomachs, here's some unintentionally humorous verse I wrote back in the sixth grade (about 1957-58), inspired by the heroic couplets of Pope's translation of the Iliad, supplmented with some stories from The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge.  Richard Seltzer, seltzer@samizdat.com www.samizdat.com


The Trojan War


Theme:

Valiantly they died, and nobly they fought,
Immortal fame forever they sought.
The Greeks went forth in a terrible flood,
To fight the warriors who were of Trojan blood.

Part 1: The Building of the Trojan Walls

Laomedon the noble king,
To the earth many sons did bring.
The eldest, Bucolion by name,
Though a bastard by an unknown dame.
Next came Tithonus the handsome and shy,
Whom Eos did spot from o'er the sky.
She snatched him up to be his bride,
O'er the sky they did glide.
Podarces the handsome, swift, and young,
To Laodmedon's wife was next sprung.
The next she bore to the earth renown'd,
Was Clytius, the handsomest around.
Next came the noble Lampus, brave and sly.
And Hicetaon the meek and shy.

Laomedon dreamed every night,
Of having a valiant fight,
and having a citadel strong,
Tall and wide and very long.
By night he dreamed, by day he prayed,
In the temple e'er he stayed.
Apollo the noble heard his prayer,
And answered it with much care.
Poseidon also heard his call,
And helped him build the sturdy wall.
Aecus helped the noble pair,
To build the wall with much care.
Pergamus they named the citadel great,
And in it there were many a gate.
Dardan and Toien and Scaian the great,
Tymbria and Helias and Chetas sedate.
Antenorides joined the band,
And e'er it viewed the Trojan sand.
Around adjoining Dardan, Pergamus went,
Capys awed [???]  the walls the gods sent.
Capys son Anchises, handsome like a dove,
Married Aphrodite, goddess of love.
The whole town was over joyed,
But they were annoyed,
By a serpent (Poseidon sent0.
For while their gaiety was spent,
They forgot a promise to Poseidon the kind,
(Though he had an evil mind.)
Hesione the serpent did demand,
(The serpent who hovered o'er ;the land.)
Laomedon the worried, Laomedon the wise,
Tears did pour o'er his eyes.
Heracles the noble, Heracles the brave,
Heracles the valiant, did the maden save.
Now Laomedon the kind
Did of glories sing.
But Laomedon did forget another thing,
Which started a seige against the king.
Heracles at the head
Put many a Trojan to bed.
Telamon also was there.
They made a most vicious pair.
After a while Troy did fall.
And Laomedon answered death's call.
Astyoche, Telephus did take,
A handsome pair they did make.
Telamon, Hesione did assing
For they are of the same kind.
Podarces by Heracles was taken.
For many a day he thought he was forsaken,
Then Hesione came to aid the handsome.
Podarces did she ransom
And she changed his name to Priam,
Which name he kept the rest of time.

How the War Started

O'er the seas a ship does ride,
Carrying a most beautiful bride.
Oh what a fair and beautiful dame,
Helen of Sparta was her name.
Her husband is Pais by name,
Prince of Troy, with farflung fame.
Menelaus, her lawful spouse,
Is searching all over his house,
For the bride Paris stole away,
On that dreadfully awful day.
To Agamemnon he rushes,
After his hair he brushes.

While Paris sails o'er the seas,
With a most favorable breeze,
Sorrow does Agamemnon take,
and war preparations does he make.
But Odysseus advises against it.
He says first in counsel must they sit.
Menelaus and Odysseus, an honorable pair,
Sail for Troy with a favorable air.
O'er the sea the good ship rides,
O'er the sea on the gentle tides.
They sail and sail o'er the sea,
Till the Phrygian shore they can see.
In counsel they met,
But an answer they could not get.
The impatient sons said, "Go to war!"
Priam their father felt very sore.
The two returned home once more,
Not to bury the hatchet but prepare for war.
The ships gathered at Aulus, 1186 in number
To start the war which would make many slumber.

Laomedia and Protesilaus

For Troyland now the ship depart
The siege of Troy now to start.
The son of Iphiclus, or of Jason,
To the Phyrgian shore now does hasten.
His wife, Protesilaus must leave,
In a fit, I do perceive.
He says good-bye to his wife and the soil.
Oh, if he only knew his future toil!
Leaving Laomedeia, his new-found wife,
And heading right into the thick of the strife.
Podarces, his brother, also is there.
It seems he has not a single care.
Protesilaus turns and looks ahead.
He knew not he soon would be dead.
At Aulus now the ships do gather.
The foamy tide makes a nice white lather.
At home, Laomedeia worries.
Her clean white horse she now curries.
At her husband's statue she gazes.
Sometimes it looks alive, in hazes.
Meanwhile the race for Troy ahs begun
And at home, tales of glory are being sung.
The Trojans on the shore, the Greeks in the sea,
What horrors can Protesilaus foresee!
Thinks he, "The foremost man shall die,
If only that valiant man could be I."
No captain has courage to land on the shore,
For fear that his homeland he'll see no more.
So Protesilaus goes forward and alnds.
The Trojan Army around him it bands.
Then the same words do they cry,
"Death to the foremost man, says I."
Hector jumps forward, with a leap,
And lays Protesilaus in a heap.
In Greece, you could hear Laomedeia say,
"I will see you soon, dear spouse, if I man."
The gods do answer her pitiful prayer.
But, after she sees him, she is in despair.
She will not eat; she will not drink,
And soon to Hades she does sink.
There they are together again,
Far from Troy, where he had lain.

The Beginning of the War

After gaining Trojan soil,
Then begins the ten year toil.
Two sons of Priam in the beginning fall:
One is short, and the other is tall.
The war wages on and on and on,
Till almost half the armies are gone.
Ennomus, the Mysian, by Achilles is fell
Amphimachus by Achilles is sent to hell.
Troilus, the noble son of Priam,
Is killed by Achilles for no know crime.
Cycnus, by Achilles is sent to his grave.
Poseidon, his father, him cannot save.
The Greeks the war soon does bore.
They're bored with the Trojans and the war.
Aeneas the noble Achilles does chase,
Nor does Aneneas turn his face.
To Lyrnessus he goes for his own sake.
But the city of Lyrnessus Achilles does take.
Aeneas does just runa nd run
Toward the land of the setting sun.
NExt, to Thebe Achilles flies.
And by him Eetion, the king, soon dies.
Tenedos and Lesbos, the great,
Scyros and Pedasus sedate,
These islands and cities do Achilles capture,
and, with them, the Lelegae he fells with rapture.
Lycaon, the son of the honorable Priam,
Achilles captures beside a vine.
The war wages on for year after year.
It seems that Troy has ne'er a fear.

Pollux and Castor

Oh, I have a horrible story to tell,
Of how Castor and Pollux, the noble twins fell.
After Achilles (who had much fame),
Had captured Isos and Antiphus, the tame,
Not many ore Trojans to battle came,
Unless the fools wanted the same.
Castor, the horseman, was an honorable man.
He was tall and handsome, with a slight tan.
Pollux, the boxer, in Troy was well-known.
He could throw a spear as far as one could be thrown.
These two made an inseparable pair.
They were merry and gay, and hadn't a care.
These twins, to Helen made noble brothers.
Just those, that's all, there were no others.
In peace the two were very gallant.
In war, the two were very valiant.
When Menelaus asked for a hand,
Pollux and Castor joined his band.
They fought and fought with all their might,
E'en when the war was very tight.
Oh, waht fate, what horrible fate,
Oh, what fate the twins did hate?
Oh, what yearning, what terrible yearning,
Inside their hearts forever was burning?
Soldiers theyw atned to be fromt he start,
Even when they were pushed inside a cart.
The Trojans came forth, in a tremendous flood
To kill the men of Helen's boold.
After a while Cast'rs heart did stop,
And to the cold ground he did drop.
Pollux, still witht he Trojans did cope,
While for his brother he did mope.
Pollux was caught off his guard, they say,
And, if it is so, for it he did pay.
For the two in Hades met,
While Helen on earth about them did fret.
Their bodies got hte burial they needed;
Their life on earth forever completed.

The End of Achilles

The Trojans, in danger, losing their prowess
Ask Amazon help to gain success.
Penthesilea is their queen.
To the Trojans she seems like a dream.
Proudly they march into the war.
Valiantly they head right for the core.
Menippus, Clonie does kill.
Great in war is his skill.
Clonie now does Podarces fell.
Penthesilea is mad, it is easy to tell.
Podarces by Penthesilea falls.
Quickly he goes to Hades stalls.
Penthesilea by Achilles is next slain.
The Amazons a Greek victory do not detain.
Achilles, his tears he cannot keep.
Her death into his heart does seep.
Thersides mocks him,a dn talks once too much,
For Achillles' sword his heart does touch.
Now the Trojans for home do run
Because of Peleus' most valiant son.
Next does Memnon come to their aid
While Trojan hopes do slowly fade.
Antilochus, the noble, in his path does stand,
Gallnatly and valiantly on Trojan land.
But his actions are in vain,
For by Memnon he is slain.
Memnon now by Achilles is fell,
Of glories never more to tell.
Achilles marches, a Greek victory to make,
Or even maybe Troy to take.
He marches forward to the Scaen gate,
Forever he is tempting fate.
Paris, the coward, now draws his bow,
The grapes of wrath now to sow.
In his heal the arrow does land.
Achilles wavers, then hits the sand.
The Trojans, now their glories great,
All because of his awful fate.
The Greeks they run in utter defeat.
The Greeks they run in disorderly retreat.

The End of the War

Thetis now does come up from the sea,
The body of her dead son, AChilles, to see.
His things she gathers here and there,
And stacks them in one pile, with care.
Says she, "To the strongest his armor shall I give,
Made byt he gods who forever shall live."
Ajax reches forth his hand,
As he views the sandy land.
But objection comes from Odysseus, the wise.
He says that Ajax, the Greater, lies.
Agamemnon calls on a Trojan captive.
Says he, "Odysseus is more acative."
Ajax, in fury, does retreat.
It's the first imte he's ever met defeat.
Brother Teucer is not there, but fighting the war.
Ajax sits down, feeling very sore.
Suicide does he commit
For he goes into a fit.

The war raded on and on and on.
Every day it started at dawn.
Eurypylus, the Trojans do call.
By him many a greet did fall.
Machaon, of the victiomns is one,
A man who never had a son.
The Greeks retreat in due despair;
For the Trojans, the war is going fair.
The Greeks call upon Odysseus for aid,
But at this request Odysseus does fade.
To the son of Achilles Odysseus does go,
To ask him to fight the Trojan foe.
Pyrrhus does come; Eurypylus does he kill.
And many other Trojans do their graves fill.
next Philoctetes to fight Troy is brought.
Glory and victory were what he sought.
Paris falls by his hand,
And is buried in the sand.
Helenus by Odysseus is taken,
For by the Trojans he was forsaken.
Deiphobus next does Helen marry
After Paris' death, she did not tarry.

Then one gloomy night, Odysseus and Diomed
To capture the Palladium they try to succeed.
First Odysseus into Troy does creep
To find information while Trojans all sleep.
To Helen, the beautiful he goes
And from her lips informaiton flows.
And not long after this secret deal
The famous Palladium do they steal.
Gallantly and valiantly the Greeks did fight
But still their victory was not in sight.
BAttle after battle was won or lost.
Forever the coin of death was tossed.
The Greeks could neither win nor lose.
'Twas up to the fates the outcome to choose.

The Fall of Troy

There lies Troy, still as a tomb,
The fortress of an awful doom.
And there, too, lies the Trojan pain
Where many a Greek and Trojan have lain.
Tory, in sadness, there she lies.
Why was it that so many must die?
Is it that they can't finish their task?
But what is this the Greeks do leave?
A wooden horse, I do perceive.
Now the Trojans from their slumber do wake,
And look at the leaving Greeks do take.
They runa nd run to tell the king.
What joyous news to him they bring.
"The Greeks are gone, the war will cease.
Now again we are at peace!"
Priam through the crowd does leap,
Though his honor he does keep.
The priests don't think the Greeks are gone,
But even their doubts don't last for long.
Some farmers a Grecian, Sinon, do bring.
They take him to their aging king.
He told the king many a lie.
Then he finished with a sigh.
Thinking him the real McCoy
They drag the horse into Troy.
But that for them was a fatal mistake,
For as a result the Greeks Troy do take.

The Return

From Troy the Grecian ships repair.
Their homesick pasesngers they bear.
Weak and sick from the toil of war,
Many warriors go to the sea's cool floor.
Athena doth averge her pride
By sending forth a terrible tide.
And Ajax almost does get drowned,
But Poseidon hears his crying sound.
Posideon does him save
From a wet and dreary grave.
But Poseidon does Ajax mock
So Ajax joins the drowning flock.

Idomeneus to Crete does sail,
Escaping the storm's fierce blowing gale.
Odysseus in the storm is caught.
How bravely by him his home is sought.
Vainly he tries his men to save,
But home to Ithaca goes Odysseus, the brave.
Then the storm Menelaus seizes,
But toward his home he finally breezes.
Agamemnon fights the storm through the night
Unitl his homeland is in sight.
Though from the wicked storm he did steal,
His wife, Clytemnestra's knife he does feel.
To home Philoctetes does return.
He was noble, brave, and stern.

And, tuhs, after ten hard years of toil
The Grecians returned ot their native soil.



Review of Robert Fagles's translation of The Iliad
Other book reviews by Richard Seltzer
Making sense of the myths behind Greek tragedy, in particular the mythos of Pelops/Atreus/Agamemnon, article by Richard Seltzer
Play, "Without a Myth or Amythos" by Richard Seltzer
The Readers' Corner and Writers Showcase
B&R Samizdat Express


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