Volume 1 - A Thousand Ships
In the Late Bronze Age -- about the thirteenth century BCE -- on Mount Ida in Anatolia, the young cowherd Paris lives with his parents. Four servants of the King from the city of Troy take Paris's champion bull for a prize in the upcoming festival games. Paris protests, but to no avail. He decides to go to Troy and enter the games to win back his bull despite his parents' misgivings. They know something about Paris's past that they have kept hidden from their son.
The night before leaving, Paris says good-bye to Oenone, a mountain priestess, and they make love.
Several days later when Paris and his father, Agelaus, arrive in Troy, Paris is astounded by his first sight of the powerful city.
Meanwhile, in a temple on the Trojan citadel, a priestess has forebodings of a great storm.
Paris enters the Trojan festival games, despite the protests of the Trojan princes -- Deiphobus in particular -- and Paris wins. Deiphobus tries to kill him, but Agelaus, in order to save Paris, reveals to King Priam and Queen Hekuba that Paris is actually their son. Years ago, Priam and Hekuba had left their newborn child to die to thwart a prophecy that Paris would destroy Troy. Agelaus rescued the baby to raise as his son. Now Kassandra, the priestess-daughter of Priam and Hekuba, confirms that the prophecy will be fulfilled unless Paris is killed at once. Priam ignores Kassandra and welcomes Paris as a prince of Troy.
Hektor, eldest prince of Troy, brings news from Achaea: Hesione, a sister of Priam long held captive by Telamon of Salamis, no longer wishes to return to Troy. Paris volunteers to abduct Hesione. Despite the divided opinion of his council, Priam accepts. Paris and his cousin Aeneas sail for Sparta. There Menelaus, who has recently concluded a treaty with Priam, rules with his wife who is said to be the world's most beautiful woman.
At Sparta Helen, the queen, entertains Paris and Aeneas while her husband, Menelaus, is away. Paris decides that Helen is a better prize than Hesione, so he seduces Helen into leaving her home and husband. They sail for Troy at dawn, hurrying to get away before Helen's brothers come home.
In a vision, the priestess Thetis foresees the result of Paris's actions: a great war in which her son Achilles will die. Thetis takes Achilles from his teacher Cheiron and disguises him as a girl so that, hidden among the king's daughters on the island of Skyros, he will escape the coming war.
During a women's ritual, Achilles -- now called Pyrrha -- rapes Deidamia, the eldest daughter of Skyros's king.
Agamemnon, High King of the Achaeans and brother of Menelaus, sends envoys to Troy to recover Helen, but Paris hasn't returned home, so Priam knows nothing of her. Priam dispatches the priest Kalchas to learn the Achaeans' intentions.
Agamemnon intends to attack Troy with an army of men from all the Achaean kingdoms, the greatest army ever known.
Deidamia bears a son. She wants to name him Pyrrhus, but Achilles, growing ever more frustrated at the disguise imposed by his mother, insists on calling the baby Neoptolemus.
Most of the Achaean kings once swore an oath to protect Helen, so Menelaus's brother Agamemnon, High King of the Achaeans, summons these kings and their armies in order to attack Troy and recover Helen. Some of the kings are reluctant to join the great army -- such as Odysseus of Ithaka, who feigns madness until Palamedes of Nauplia exposes him. Other kings not bound by the oath -- such as Nestor of Pylos -- also join the army.
The Trojan priest Kalchas, dispatched by King Priam of Troy, leaves his daughter Cressida in the care of her uncle Pandarus, who encourages the Trojan prince Troilus's interest in his niece.
The oracle at Delphi tells Kalchas that the Achaeans will win victory over Troy. Kalchas joins the Achaeans and prophesies that Achilles must join their army.
On Skyros, Odysseus and Diomedes penetrate Achilles's disguise. Achilles agrees to join the attack on Troy, despite Deidamia's protests.
Achilles, escorted by Odysseus, arrives at Aulis where the Achaean army is gathering, leading two Skyrian ships. The army is overjoyed at his arrival. Now, they can begin the journey to Troy.
Kinyras of Cyprus sends one ship and forty-nine ship models to Aulis instead of the fifty ships he promised. The Cyprian captain brings news that Paris and Helen are in Sidon. Agamemnon persuades Menelaus from sailing to Sidon in search of Helen.
But a further impediment to the war remains -- food is running low. On behalf of the army, Palamedes approaches Agamemnon to request provisions, but the ill-natured Thersites rants at the High King, producing only disgust on all sides.
While Palamedes brings provisions from the island of Delos for the starving army, the Achaean leaders pledge allegiance to Agamemnon with a ceremony of bull sacrifice. An omen of a snake devouring nine birds prompts Kalchas to foretell an Achaean victory over Troy following nine years of war.
Peleus visits Aulis, bringing ships and men for his son, Achilles. Among the men are Achilles's old tutor, Phoenix, and Achilles's childhood companion, Patroklus.
At last the army is gathered and provisioned, and all the oracular prerequisites have been met. Although the Delphic oracle's prophecy -- of victory contingent upon conflict among Achaeans -- troubles Agamemnon, the Achaean army at last sets sail to attack Troy.
Volume 2 - Sacrifice
Meanwhile, Paris with a large fleet of his own finally reaches the bay south of Troy. A force of Trojans, alarmed by the size of the fleet, meets the beaching ships, but the tension is dispelled when the Trojans recognize Paris. As Helen readies herself to meet the Trojan royal family, Aeneas borrows a chariot from Hektor to announce the fleet's arrival to Priam.
In the Trojan palace, Cressida asks Priam whether the arriving fleet brings any news of Kalchas, her father. Priam doesn't know yet and urges Cressida to be patient. Pandarus, seeing that Troilus is desperate to comfort Cressida, urges patience as well -- Cressida still sees Troilus as a mere boy.
Aeneas enters the palace to announce Paris's return and to request his reward for bringing Paris back, Priam's daughter Kreusa. Priam brushes aside Aeneas's request and rushes off to prevent Paris and Helen from entering the city.
Followed by the royal family, the nobles, and much of the Trojan populace, Priam confronts Paris and Helen just outside the Skaean gate and demands Hesione. Paris presents Helen as a substitute and offers the riches he has gathered from Achaea, Cyprus, Sidon, and Egypt. Priam isn't impressed.
Helen pleads with Priam, but he steadfastly refuses to let her remain in Troy, while deciding to keep Aganus, the son of Paris and Helen. When Paris reveals that Helen is pregnant with their second child, Priam has no other choice but to welcome Helen to Troy.
Priam leads Helen and Paris to the temple of the Sun God on the top of the citadel where they are confronted by Paris's sister, the seer Kassandra. No one takes seriously Kassandra's protests of Helen's presence in Troy, not even Helenus, Kassandra's twin brother.
Then begin eight days of feasting in honor of the union of Paris and Helen. In Priam's hall the royal family and their associates gather the first evening to eat, drink, and discuss the situation.
The old men are concerned about threat of war with the Achaeans, the young men are fascinated by Helen's attractiveness, and the women wonder how Helen will fit into their daily lives.
Cressida, feeling oppressed by the atmosphere, leaves the hall. Troilus follows and stammers out his love for her. But she's had a little too much to drink and laughs at him.
Aeneas once more asks Priam for Kreusa's hand. Priam flatly refuses to release his daughter. Aeneas, angry, walks out. Kreusa disappears shortly after. She and Aeneas secretly leave Troy.
Paris and Helen climb to the palace tower and look out over the city, bright with celebration. They make love.
Having slept all night on the tower, they wake in the morning sun to find themselves surrounded by a layer of fog as far as the eye can see. A swan rises in flight from the fog, reminding Helen of stories her mother has told of Helen's birth.
Within the fog bank, the Achaean fleet drifts. Achilles stands on the deck of his ship, peering into the fog. At length, the fog begins to clear, revealing a coastline. Confused shouts of the Achaeans within the dissipating fog seem to identify the coast as Troy.
On shore, the watchers assemble before the unidentified fleet. Achilles, first to land, assumes the watchers are Trojans. When one of them casts the first spear, Achilles casts his own spear and the battle is joined.
Unfortunately the Achaeans haven't landed at Troy--they've reached Mysia. Telephus, king of Mysia, assembles an army and marches against the Achaeans. During the ensuing battle, many warriors fall on both sides, including Thersander of Thebes, Teuthranius the half brother of Telephus, and Hiera, one of Telephus's wives. The battle rages through the day.
Toward evening, Achilles confronts Telephus in a vineyard. Telephus casts his spear at Achilles, but Patroklus throws himself in front of Achilles and knocks aside the spear. Achilles pursues Telephus through the vineyard. Telephus trips over a vine, falls, and Achilles drives his spear into Telephus's left thigh.
As several chariots of Mysians approach to save Telephus, Patroklus draws Achilles back into the cover of the vineyard. A Mysian arrow strikes Patroklus. Achilles draws the arrow out, and as he binds Patroklus's wounds, they pledge to always stand by each other in battle.
With the coming of night, the fighting ceases. In the dying light of sunset, Achilles and Patroklus walk wearily back toward the shore where the Achaean fleet has beached.
The Achaeans quickly discover the embarrassing fact that they've attacked Mysia by mistake. Fortunately, Tlepolemus, king of Rhodes, is among the Achaean kings. He is a son of Herakles, and so is Telephus, king of the Mysians. Tlepolemus and Telephus make peace. Hostilities cease and both sides bury their dead. The Achaeans ask Telephus to join them against Troy, but Telephus refuses because one of his wives is Astyoche, a sister of Priam.
Telephus invites to a feast all the Achaean leaders related to Herakles or who knew the great warrior well. Achilles examines the wound he gave Telephus and is shocked to see that it isn't healing properly. He insists that Telephus allow himself to be tended by the Achaean healers, Machaon and Podalirius, sons of Asklepius. Telephus agrees, but only if Agamemnon and Menelaus also attend the feast.
With provisions and directions provided by Telephus, the Achaean fleet sets out again for Troy. Although Telephus is disturbed by the burial mound of Thersander when he learns that Thersander is a descendant of Oedipus, Telephus bids Achilles farewell with a gift of fine horses.
Upon departing Mysia, a massive storm batters and scatters the Achaean fleet.
News of the Achaean attack on Mysia reaches Troy. Priam realizes it's only a matter of time before the Achaeans attack Troy. Despite urging from some of the Trojan councilors to send Helen back to Menelaus, Priam begins reinforcing Troy's fortifications and sends messengers to alert Troy's allies.
The Achaeans return to their various homes. Odysseus accompanies Agamemnon to Mycenae to plot against Palamedes. Agamemnon greets his family, including his daughters, Iphigenia, Elektra, and Chrysothemis. His wife, Klytemnestra, who's pregnant, argues with Agamemnon.
On the island of Skyros, Lykomedes and Deidamia welcome Achilles and his Myrmidons. One hot night Achilles spurns Deidamia and declares his love for his companion, Patroklus. Despite Deidamia's protests, Achilles leaves Skyros and goes to his father's house in Phthia. Lykomedes refuses to let Achilles take Neoptolemus.
In Sparta, Menelaus sulks. In Mycenae, Odysseus desires to return home to Ithaka, but Agamemnon convinces him to remain in Mycenae.
When Diomedes brings news that the Trojans are gathering their own allies in preparation for battle, Agamemnon resummons the Achaeans to Aulis. Some of the Achaean kings respond willingly, some have mixed reactions, and others are greatly reluctant. Odysseus and Agamemnon discuss plans for propaganda to build support for the war.
Kalchas asks Agamemnon to save Cressida from the war, but Agamemnon is insulted by Kalchas's use of Iphigenia, Elektra, and Chrysothemis to get Agamemnon's attention.
Telephus suddenly appears in Mycenae. He is dirty, ragged, and apparently mad. The wound that Achilles gave him has become much worse. Telephus threatens to kill Agamemnon's newborn son Orestes unless Achilles is brought to him. As Agamemnon threatens to kill Telephus, Kalchas reveals that Telephus must aid the Achaeans in order for them to triumph at Troy. Agamemnon agrees to produce Achilles in exchange for Telephus guiding the Achaeans to Troy and he sends Odysseus and Nestor to Phthia for Achilles.
In Phthia, Achilles is summoned by Odysseus and Nestor to join the war against the Trojans once more. Achilles dedicates his hair to the Spercheus River and his father, Peleus, bids him good-bye with gifts, immortal armor, and horses. His mother, Thetis, isn't so supportive. She can only see that her son is rushing to his death. Thetis is determined never to let him out from under her thumb again. She can't turn him from his purpose, so she decides to follow him to Aulis.
At Aulis, Telephus is suffering from his wound. Achilles demands that Odysseus bring the Achaean healers Machaon and Podalirius, even though Telephus refuses to let them near. Odysseus guesses that "the wounder" which Telephus insists will heal him is not Achilles, but Achilles's spear. Machaon and Podalirius confirm that Achilles must use the spear to scrape out Telephus's wound in order to heal it.
Telephus recovers, yet still he's troubled. He reveals to Achilles that he once nearly committed incest with his mother. That close call continues to haunt him.
A steady wind springs up, preventing the fleet from sailing, though the army is finally at full strength. Kalchas reveals to Agamemnon, Odysseus, Menelaus, and Talthybius that Artemis requires Agamemnon to sacrifice his first-born daughter in order to calm the wind.
Agamemnon balks at the thought of sacrificing his first-born daughter Iphigenia. But he is torn between that and his desire to attack Troy. Odysseus and Menelaus persuade him that he must submit to the goddess's demand for the sacrifice.
At Odysseus's prompting, Agamemnon dictates a letter to Klytemnestra, summoning Iphigenia to Aulis. He gives her marriage to Achilles as a reason for the summons, but this is false. Odysseus and Talthybius deliver the message to Mycenae.
Agamemnon secretly sends his servant Arkas with a second letter that says to ignore the first, that Achilles refuses to marry till Troy falls. Menelaus intercepts the second message and confronts Agamemnon. As they argue, Talthybius announces the arrival of Iphigenia, Klytemnestra, and Orestes in camp.
Agamemnon tries to send Klytemnestra home to Mycenae, but she refuses to go.
Kalchas reveals to the restless army that the goddess demands a sacrifice from Agamemnon, the most beautiful thing Mycenae produced fourteen years before. Achilles goes to Agamemnon's hut to offer his services and finds Klytemnestra there. She is confused because she has found the second letter, the one contravening Iphigenia's summons to Aulis.
When Achilles sees Iphigenia, he realizes that she is meant to be the sacrifice to Artemis. Klytemnestra realizes he's right and begs for his help. Achilles goes to rally the army to save the girl, telling Klytemnestra to beg Agamemnon to spare Iphigenia.
Klytemnestra pleads with Agamemnon, but he insists that things have progressed too far to turn back. As he storms away, Klytemnestra reassures Iphigenia that Achilles will save them.
But Achilles is met with a hail of stones when he appeals to the army for help.
Agamemnon, still torn, seeks Nestor for advice. Nestor tells how he sacrifices to Herakles despite the atrocities Herakles once forced on him. Agamemnon confirms that he's willing to lose anything in order to take Troy.
As the army approaches Agamemnon's hut in search of Iphigenia, Achilles insists that she and Klytemnestra fly from Aulis immediately. But Iphigenia realizes that this is at best only temporary escape, so she decides to accept death with grace. Achilles resists at first, but her appeal to honor wins his support — although he agrees to fight for her if she changes her mind even at the altar. As Iphigenia goes out to face the army, the wind stops blowing.
Achilles and his companions arm themselves in case Iphigenia calls on them to save her at the last moment. Thetis knows that the sun god will kill Achilles in retaliation for Achilles killing a son of the sun god. She sends Mnemon with Achilles to steer him away from all sons of the god.
The army gathers around Iphigenia at the altar where Kalchas waits with the sacrificial knife. Achilles and his friends arrive, but Iphigenia accepts the knife without flinching. The wind begins to blow in a favorable direction. Rain falls.
When the army returns to the beach, Klytemnestra rages at them. Odysseus tells her that Artemis substituted a doe for Iphigenia at the last moment and that the girl is safe with the gods. Klytemnestra can't accept this. Devastated, she walks away into the night and rain.
Faced with another imminent departure for Troy, Odysseus realizes that he could have gone home to Ithaka at any time. He chose not to because he finds he likes directing the actions of those around him. He also fears that the prophecy that he'll return to Ithaka unrecognized has a good chance of coming true.
Volume 3 - Betrayal
BETRAYAL PART ONE
News reaches Troy that the approaching Achaean army has sacked Sarabana and Odysseus has defeated King Philomeleides of Lesbos in wrestling. Despite the Trojan councillors' disagreements, Priam decides it's time to summon allies to defend Troy. Hektor convinces his father to reconcile with Aeneas and Kreusa, then leaves for Thebes to marry Andromache.
The Achaean fleet, guided by Telephus, approaches the island of Tenedos, just off the Trojan coast. Tennes, king of Tenedos, slings rocks from the island's cliffs, intending to drive the ships away. But Achilles interprets this as an attack. He leads the Achaeans into a battle with the Tenedans. Mnemon, knowing that he must warn Achilles not to kill any sons of the sun god, tries to follow, but gets lost in the chaos of battle.
Achilles chases Tennes's sister, Hemithea, into a gully where she falls to her death. The father of Tennes and Hemithea rages at Achilles for this, but Achilles is distracted by Tennes's renewed attack.
Mnemon warns Achilles that Tennes is actually a son of the sun god, but it's too late. Achilles has thrust his sword through Tennes's chest. Achilles realizes that he's performed the act that the sun god will take his life for. He kills the man who represented himself as Tennes's father, then inflicts Thetis's punishment on Mnemon by killing him, too.
Patroklus arrives on the scene with the news that the Achaeans have routed the Tenedans, but Achilles is inconsolable.
From surviving Tenedans who have fled to Troy, the Trojans learn that the Achaeans have arrived virtually on their doorstep. Deiphobus taunts Paris with the idea that Paris shouldn't have left Menelaus alive when leaving Sparta. Helen doesn't like the way things are going, but Paris declares that he'll kill all the Achaeans if they try to take her back.
On Tenedos, the Achaeans have set up camp and are dealing with the bodies slain in the recent battle. There is some debate among the leaders whether to allow the captive Tenedans to cremate their dead rather than bury them.
Achilles buries Mnemon and the Tenedan royal family. Kalchas tells Agamemnon that Palamedes must lead a sacrifice at an altar built long ago by Herakles. Philoktetes sets out to locate the altar. He trips over it and spills his quiver of arrows, one of which hits his foot.
During the sacrifice a snake from the altar bites Philoktetes on the same foot. His cries of pain disturb the rest of the sacrifice and continue through the following feast. Agamemnon finally orders Philoktetes carried to the ships.
Great Ajax and Little Ajax, having momentarily left the feast, hear someone hidden among the trees.
Great Ajax and Little Ajax stumble over Thersites and a woman and chase them away. Returning toward the feast, the Ajaxes see men hidden among the trees. It's Paris and a group of Trojans. Discovered, they flee to their ship and escape.
Achilles arrives at the feast, insulted because he wasn't invited. His mother Thetis manages to smooth things over.
The next day in Troy Priam listens to a servant report Kassandra's latest prophecies, but her words mean nothing to anyone. Priam scolds Paris for attempting a raid on the Achaeans, then sends spies to the Achaean camp on Tenedos.
On Tenedos, Agamemnon sends spies to Troy. Palamedes proposes an embassy to Priam as one final attempt to regain Helen and stop the war. Odysseus agrees that an embassy is a good idea, but he doesn't believe it can succeed.
At council, Agamemnon announces the embassy, which will consist of Menelaus, Odysseus, and Palamedes. Akamas, son of Theseus, joins them.
Philoktetes has continued to shout insults at the gods because of his injured foot. His cries and the odor of his wound disturb the camp and injure the army's morale, so Odysseus maroons Philoktetes on a tiny deserted island.
In Troy, Priam leads the royal family in a chariot procession through the city, past war preparations, into the countryside for a picnic. As the procession passes a group of Trojan princes and young nobles practicing archery, Troilus renounces love.
While the royal family picnics, Priam tends his small vineyard. Hekuba tells him of her worries for Priam's children if war comes and discloses that she's pregnant again. Priam relates the story of his great-uncle Ganymedes's abduction by the storm god and confirms his refusal to return Helen to the Achaeans, but he relents before Hekuba's request to send his younger children to safety.
Idaeus interrupts the picnic with the news that Hektor has returned to Troy from Thebes with his new wife Andromache. The royal family hurries back to the city to greet Hektor while the princes and young nobles race to escort Hektor into Troy.
As the Trojans turn out in joy to welcome Hektor and Andromache, Cressida stops the chariots to beg Troilus for safety. The news of her father Kalchas's defection to the Achaeans has spread through Troy, and a group of Trojans is harrassing Cressida. Troilus is too overcome by a return of his love for Cressida to react accordingly, but Hektor promises Cressida that she may remain in Troy in peace.
Priam welcomes Hektor and Andromache, directing their marriage feast to take place before the coming embassy from the Achaeans. Hektor, full of happiness, begs to have the feast after the embassy, certain that peace with the Achaeans can be reached. Paris objects to Hektor's attitude, but Priam acquiesces to Hektor's request.
That night Troilus pines for Cressida.
Troilus reveals to Pandarus his love for Cressida. Pandarus, hoping to strengthen his position in Troy made shaky by Kalchas's defection, encourages Cressida to treat Troilus with favor. Cressida recoils at her uncle's insinuations, but agrees to let Pandarus give her veil to Troilus as a token of friendship.
On Tenedos, army drills are interrupted when Great Ajax and Menestheus, King of Athens, argue. As the Achaean peace embassy to Priam gets ready to depart, Kalchas asks Odysseus to bring news of Cressida from Troy. Odysseus agrees, but with the implied stipulation of receiving Kalchas's aid at some unspecified future point.
In Troy, Helen is preoccupied as Aithra helps her get ready for the Achaean embassy's arrival in Priam's hall. Paris and their sons stop in for a moment until Paris is called away to meet with the Trojan councilor Antimachus.
Philomela and Andromache each in her own way asks Helen to stop the coming war. Only Hektor believes the war can actually be prevented, and when he seeks out Helen to announce the arrival of the Achaean embassy, he tries to dispell her misgivings.
The Trojan elder Antenor and his sons escort the embassy first to the temple of the goddess where Odysseus observes the Palladium and Helikaon informs his mother Theano that Priam has agreed to let him marry Laodike. Then the embassy proceeds to Priam's hall.
One by one the Achaean's present their cases before all the high-born Trojans. First Palamedes speaks, even before being given permission.
Menelaus makes an emotional plea for his wife, son, and belongings. Helen is reluctantly brought before Menelaus while he and Paris debate. When Paris's sons are paraded in, Menelaus recognizes his own son, Pleisthenes, among them. But Pleisthenes shrinks away from Menelaus into Paris's arms.
Helen tells Menelaus that the goddess of love has led her to Troy. She leaves Priam's hall with her children.
Odysseus makes a forceful speech of blame and warns of the Achaeans' wrath. Hektor chooses this moment to offer a compromise. Odysseus recognizes Hektor's worth, but advises the Trojan prince to give in to events that have proceeded too far for peaceful resolution.
Laodike takes special note of Akamas's looks while he asks Priam to have his grandmother Aithra released along with Phisadie, the aunt of Polypoetes.
Priam answers that he'll consider all their requests and promises them safe haven in Antenor's house while he considers his answer.
The men of the Achaean embassy eat and drink with Antenor and his sons. Akamas is invited to visit the house where Trojan ally Perseus of Dardanus is lodged with his wife Philobia. Akamas expects a meeting there with Aithra, his grandmother, but instead Priam's daughter Laodike arrives to meet Akamas in secret. They end up in bed. Back in Antenor's house, Menelaus drunkenly recalls his past with Helen.
Philobia wakes Akamas before dawn with the news that the Achaean embassy is in grave danger. Akamas slips away to warn his comrades. But already men from the palace are approaching. Antenor and his sons form a cordon around the Achaeans to escort them from Troy. Antimachus, counselor of Priam, confronts them, but Antenor argues him out of killing Menelaus and his companions. Antenor and his sons see the Achaeans safely--more or less--out of Troy.
That evening on Tenedos Agamemnon holds a council of the Achaean leaders. They debate whether to attack Troy by day or night.
BETRAYAL PART TWO
The next morning the contingent commanded by Iolaus, king of Phylake, leads the Achaean army's attack on Troy. The foremost ships crash into the ships of some Levantine merchants on the beach of the bay south of Troy. Despite the resulting confusion, the Achaeans stream ashore, killing all those they find.
Palamedes of Nauplia takes his contingent of ships to cut off an unidentified fleet sailing up the coast toward Troy.
In the presence of the Trojan royal family and religious leaders, Hektor and Andromache celebrate their wedding in the courtyard of the Trojan palace. The wedding is interrupted by Kassandra's cries of doom. No sooner is Kassandra subdued than the wedding is interrupted again by a watchman with news of the Achaean attack. All the men of fighting age rush off to arm.
Streaming from the city in chariots, the Trojans and their allies clash with the Achaeans. Hektor kills Iolaus.
The albino Kyknos, king of Kolonae, arrives with his army to fight the Achaeans, though the Trojans did not ask for his help. Achilles attacks Kyknos, who seems impervious to harm. But Achilles is persistent and at last succeeds in strangling Kyknos with his helmet straps.
The men of Kolonae, seeing their king, Kyknos, slain, panic and run from the battle. This leads to a general rout of the Trojans and their allies. Hektor enlists Sarpedon of Lykia to rally their side, but the attempt fails.
Achilles and Great Ajax with their men sweep the Trojans and their allies back to Troy, where the women, children, and old men are watching from the walls. Many Trojans are slain, including Trojan princes.
Pandarus directs Cressida's attention to Troilus as he nears the Skaean Gate of Troy. She notices that he's wearing tied to his helmet a piece of the veil she gave him as a sign of friendship.
As the last of the Trojans straggle into the city, Hektor faces Achilles. They toss spears at each other, but neither scores an injury. Hektor's actions have allowed all the Trojans and allies to reach safety, so he darts into the city and the gates are slammed shut.
That evening on the beach south of Troy, the Achaeans draw all their ships up onto the beach in four rows. Achilles seized a heifer in the afternoon's looting and now sacrifices it in propitiation for his slaying of Kyknos. The Achaeans celebrate their victory in the day's battle. Nestor tells a story as they wait for Achilles to sing.
Achilles sings a song of Sky coupling with Earth and Earth giving birth to many offspring, including the gods.
In Troy, Cressida's cousin Antigone sings of love to the gathered family. Cressida's aunt Theonoe recalls the romances of her youth. That night Cressida dreams that a great white eagle rips out her heart and replaces it with its own.
Hekuba worries about the children of the royal family, while Priam prays all night in the temple of the god.
The Achaeans bury Iolaus on the northern shore of the Hellespont, giving him the name Protesilaus, which means the first to rush into battle. His brother, Podarkes, hopes that the trees around the burial will wither when they grow tall enough to be seen over the ridge from Troy.
The war continues. Many are wounded. Many die. The Achaeans build a wall to shield their beach camp on the landward side. Hekuba sends some of the royal children to Aeneas. Food in the Achaean camp grows scarce. In battle the Achaeans take Trojan prisoners to exchange for food and supplies, first ransoming them back to Troy, then selling them as slaves to the islands. Laodike seems somehow afflicted. Palamedes gives advice to Agamemnon and the Achaean leaders, including the idea to set up signal fires to carry news of victory home. Agamemnon duly resents Palamedes; Palamedes begins to fear something may happen to him. Both sides dispose of their dead and sacrifice to their gods. The Achaeans attack settlements around Troy to stop a secret Trojan supply line and to obtain food. Helen and Hekuba plan to leave Troy to bear their children in safety. Helikaon and Laodike marry, but Laodike plans to accompany Helen and Hekuba. Captured Egyptian merchants insist to the Achaeans that Helen is in Egypt. Achilles tells his mother Thetis that he must see Helen, the reason for the war. Agamemnon sends Achilles and Patroklus to return Telephus to Mysia in return for Mysian grain; Achilles will set up a signal fire on Mount Ida on his way back to Troy. Troilus remains obssessed with Cressida. Pandarus is certain that Cressida returns his love. Pandarus persuades Deiphobus to hold a feast in order to let Cressida impress the Trojan nobility in her favor to protect her against renewed accusations of treachery. And still the battles rage day after day.
Deiphobus holds a celebration to bid Helen farewell. She leaves for Dardanus that night to bear her next child away from the war. With Helen travel Hekuba, also pregnant, Laodike, Philobia, Aithra, and other attendants. Pandarus reminds Deiphobus that the celebration is also supposed to rally the Trojan nobility to Cressida's defense in the face of the defection of her father, Kalchas, to the Achaeans.
Cressida asks Troilus, who's feigning injury, to defend her with the rest. He confesses his love for her, and this time she returns it. Pandarus promises to find a place for them to meet secretly. That place turns out to be the old home of Kalchas and Cressida under the guise of making the building ready to receive either refugees or Trojan allies. Troilus and Cressida pledge their everlasting love to one another.
Troilus and Cressida continue to meet as lovers. Battles between the Achaeans and the Trojans continue, too. Trojan allies arrive, including the Halizonians with an archer who rides on horseback, sowing death through the Achaean lines--until Diomedes kills him.
Hektor cuts off Thoas of Aetolia's nose and captures him. The Trojan princes debate with Priam what to do with Thoas--kill him immediately as an example or hold him for ransom. Antenor advises Priam to hold Thoas in future exchange for an important Trojan or ally.
When news arrives that one of Antenor's sons has been slain on the battlefield, Antenor dons armor, enters battle, but is quickly captured by the Achaeans. Agamemnon agrees with the Achaean leaders to offer Antenor in exchange for Thoas. Odysseus convinces Agamemnon to ask that Kalchas's daughter Cressida be included in the exchange.
Priam agrees to the exchange. Hektor arrives at Pandarus's house to take Cressida to the prisoner exchange. Troilus is in bed with Cressida and refuses to give her up. He threatens suicide if he has to let her go. Cressida convinces Troilus that she must go through with the exchange and that her love will provide her the means to return to him within ten days. Troilus reluctantly acquiesces.
Outside the walls of Troy a delegation of Achaeans meets a delegation of Trojans for a prisoner exchange. Antenor is returned to the Trojans while Thoas of Aetolia, sans nose, is returned to the Achaeans. Cressida is also given to the Achaens, despite the efforts of Troilus to stop her from getting into Diomedes's chariot. Hektor, fearing to upset the delicate truce, takes control of Troilus's chariot.
In the Achaean camp, the leaders of the army are struck by Cressida's beauty and take turns kissing her. When her fear causes her to strike Odysseus, Diomedes steps in and takes her to the hut of her father, Kalchas. Cressida reveals to Kalchas that she wants to return to Troy because she loves Troilus. But Kalchas is only alarmed by this since he believes Troy is doomed. He urges Cressida to become Diomedes's lover.
Back in the city Troilus is equally in despair. He mopes near Pandarus's house by night. In an attempt to help Troilus forget his sorrow, Pandarus next day accompanies Troilus to a feast given by Sarpedon of Lykia. But it doesn't help.
Returning to battle, Troilus recognizes Diomedes as the Achaean who drove away with Cressida. Troilus kills one of Diomedes's chariot horses and hacks at Diomedes's sword arm, but loses his own chariot to Diomedes.
Diomedes offers Troilus's chariot horse as a gift to Cressida and renews his offer to care for her, but all she can bring herself to give him is a remnant of the veil she once offered to Troilus as a token of friendship.
For ten days Troilus fights the Achaeans on the battlefield and for ten nights he waits on the walls of Troy for Cressida's return. Meanwhile, Kalchas continually presses Cressida to forget Troilus and accept the protection of Diomedes.
On the tenth night Kalchas is away from his hut, informing the Achaean council that the sun god had told him that Troy will never fall if Troilus reaches twenty years of age. Cressida slips away from the hut in an attempt to reach Troy. Trying to find her way through camp, she runs into Diomedes, who renews his suit. Cressida gives in.
The tenth night passes. Troilus continues to fight by day and lament his loss by night. He dreams of Cressida kissing a great boar and consults his sister Kassandra, who used to interpret his dreams when they were young. Kassandra indicates that Cressida has yielded her sexual favors to an Achaean, but Troilus refuses to accept this.
In battle Troilus knocks off Diomedes's helmet and the remnant of Cressida's veil flutters out. Troilus recognizes it and realizes that Cressida hasn't been true to him.
Bitter, Troilus refuses any further help from Pandarus, who grudges the time spent trying to unite Troilus and Cressida.