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Geoffrey of Monmouth History of the Kings of Britain

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Geoffrey of Monmouth
History of the Kings of Britain
page 2

knowledge of it, commanded his magicians to consult of what sex the child should be. When they had satisfied themselves in the matter, they told him she would give birth to a boy, who would kill his father and mother, and after travelling over many countries in banishment, would at last arrive at the highest pitch of glory. Nor were they mistaken in their prediction; for at the proper time the woman brought forth a son, and died of his birth; but the child was delivered to a nurse and called Brutus. At length, after fifteen years were expired, the youth accompanied his father in hunting, and killed him undesignedly by the shot of an arrow. For, as the servants were driving up the deer towards them, Brutus, in shooting at them, smote his father under the breast. Upon his death, he was expelled from Italy, his kinsmen being enraged at him for so heinous a deed. Thus banished he went into Greece, where he found the posterity of Helenus, son of Priamus, kept in slavery by Pandrasus, king of the Greeks. For, after the destruction of Troy, Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, had brought hither in chains Helenus and many others; and to revenge on them the death of his father, had given command that they should be held in captivity. Brutus, finding they were by descent his old countrymen, took up his abode among them, and began to distinguish himself by his conduct and bravery in war, so as to gain the affection of kings and commanders, and above all the young men of the country. For he was esteemed a person of great capacity both in council and war, and signalized his generosity to his soldiers, by bestowing among them all the money and spoil he got. His fame, therefore, spreading over all countries, the Trojans from all parts began to flock to him, desiring under his command to be freed from subjection to the Greeks; which they assured him might easily be done, considering how much their number was now increased in the country, being seven thousand strong, besides women and children. There was likewise then in Greece a noble youth named Assaracus, a favourer of their cause. For he was descended on his mother’s side from the Trojans, and placed great confidence in them, that he might be able by their assistance to oppose the designs of the Greeks. For his brother had a quarrel with him for attempting to deprive him of three castles which his father had given him at his death, on account of his being only the son of a concubine; but as the brother was a Greek, both by his father’s and mother’s side, he had prevailed with the king and the rest of the Greeks to espouse his cause. Brutus, having taken a view of the number of his men, and seen how Assaracus’s castles lay open to him, complied with their request.

Chapter 4. Brutus’s letter to Pandrasus.

Being, therefore, chosen their commander, he assembled the Trojans from all parts, and fortified the towns belonging to Assaracus. But he himself, with Assaracus and the whole body of men and women that adhered to him, retired to the woods and hills, and then sent a letter to the king in these words:— “Brutus, general of the remainder of the Trojans, to Pandrasus, king of the Greeks, sends greeting. As it was beneath the dignity of a nation descended from the illustrious race of Dardanus, to be treated in your kingdom otherwise than the nobility of their birth required, they have betaken themselves to the protection of the woods. For they have preferred living after the manner of wild beasts, upon flesh and herbs, with the enjoyment of liberty, to continuing longer in the greatest luxury under the yoke of slavery. If this gives your majesty any offence, impute it not to them, but pardon it; since it is the common sentiment of every captive, to be desirous of regaining his former dignity. Let pity therefore move you to bestow on them freely their lost liberty, and permit them to inhabit the thickest of the woods, to which they have retired to avoid slavery. But if you deny them this favour, then by your permission and assistance let them depart into some foreign country.”

Chapter 5. Brutus falling upon the forces of Pandrasus by surprise routs them, and takes Antigonus, the brother of Pandrasus, with Anacletus, prisoner.

Pandrasus, perceiving the purport of the letter, was beyond measure surprised at the boldness of such a message from those whom he had kept in slavery; and having called a council of his nobles, he determined to raise an army in order to pursue them. But while he was upon his march to the deserts, where he thought they were, and to the town of Sparatinum, Brutus made a sally with three thousand men, and fell upon him unawares. For having intelligence of his coming, he had got into the town the night before, with a design to break forth upon them unexpectedly, while unarmed and marching without order. The sally being made, the Trojans briskly attack them, and endeavour to make a great slaughter. The Greeks, astonished, immediately give way on all sides, and with the king at their head, hasten to pass the river Akalon, which runs near the place; but in passing are in great danger from the rapidity of the stream. Brutus galls them in

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