Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of the subversion of Troy

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Ovid, speaking of the Trojan war, relates, that when Helen was carried off by Paris, it was predicted that the city of Troy could not be captured without the death of Achilles. His mother, hearing this, placed him in the dress of a female, amongst the ladies of the court of a certain king. Ulixes[1], suspecting the stratagem, loaded a ship with a variety of wares; and beside the trinkets of women, took with him a splendid suit of armour. Arriving at the castle in which Achilles dwelt, among the girls, he exposed his goods for sale. The disguised hero, delighted with the warlike implements upon which he gazed, seized a lance, and gallantly brandished it. The secret was thus manifested[2], and Ulixes conducted him to Troy. The Greeks prevailed; and after his decease, and the capture of the city, the hostages of the adverse side were set at liberty. (87)


My beloved, Paris represents the devil; Helen, the human soul, or all mankind. Troy is hell. Ulixes is Christ; and Achilles, the Holy Ghost. The arms signify the cross, keys, lance, crown, &c.


  1. Meaning thereby Ulysses.
  2. How far this stratagem would be successful is very doubtful: and probability is opposed to it. Habit is too mighty to be conquered in an instant; and man, who is the creature of habit, may as soon discard his nature, as the con- firmed prejudices of youth. In fact, they become his nature; and Achilles, like Lucio, in "Love's Cure," delineated by Beaumont and Fletcher, under similar circumstances, would much more reasonably be expected to say:

    "Go, fetch my work. This ruff was not well starched,
    So tell the maid; 't has too much blue in it:
    And look you, that the partridge and the pullen

    Have clean meat and fresh water, or my mother
    Is like to hear on't,"—

    than suddenly to assume sword and spear, and change his petticoat for a coat of mail.



Note 87.Page 310.

"Gower has this history more at large in the Confessio Amantis; but he refers to a Cronike which seems to be the Boke of Troie, mentioned at the end of the chapter[1]."—Warton.


  1. Lib. v. fol. 99. See fol. 101.