Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 11. The Eagle’s Hall

And so we sailed to the shores of Illium (Troy), five hundred ships strong from the shores of the Aegean under the sacrifice of Iphigenia and the consent of Poseidon. We Hellenes were a civilized lot, and though Achilles, the greatest warrior amongst us, wanted immediate war with the Trojans, Odysseus counseled caution.

Odysseus: Illium is not without its heroes, son of Peleus. Do you not remember how Prince Hector helped the Hittite emperor against the Egyptians at Kadesh?

Achilles: I fear not for this son of Priam (Hector). I would savor the chance to crush him in battle myself. Odysseus, do you think me not one of his better?

Odysseus: This, I do not know, Achilles. Amongst the Hellenes, there is none who can beat you, and Diomedes is not here with us today, too sick from fever, but he were here, he too would counsel for caution as I do now.

Agamemnon: Go then, son of Laertes. Since it is my brother Menelaus whose cause it is, you and Menalaus would meet Priam and demand the return of Helen. But failing that, war will follow, and the haughty king of Troy will know that the sword of Agamemnon does not know mercy, and neither does the wrath of my comrade Achilles here.

And so it was, that I and Odysseus went forth to negotiate the return of my wife from Priam, the king of Troy in the Eagle’s Hall, where we had audience with Priam. It was said that Priam was a wise man, and it is not his legendary wealth alone that makes him so respected. But beside me was Odysseus, the most cunning of men, and I hath no fear.

Priam: Odysseus, king of Ithaca and Lord Admiral of the Hellenes. Menelaus, king of Sparta and brother to High King Agamemnon. Greetings! What brings you here with five hundred ships to the shores of Illium as though we are enemies? Hath not Troy shown hospitality to all Greek ships?

Odysseus: That hospitality was well bought with gold coins that have made you, Great Priam, wealthier than all under Olympus, but I am afraid you have something which does not belong to you, Great King.

I glanced at Helen sitting beside Paris, and my heart burned with envy. It was difficult to restrain but finally I spoke, “I have come to reclaim for Sparta that which belongs to Sparta!”

Priam: For what purpose? To what ends, Menalaus, do you reclaim that which belongs to Sparta?

I was enraged beyond speech, but before I flew into tirade against the King of Troy and forfeit my own life, Odysseus spoke on my behalf:
“For what cause? To what ends you ask, my Lord? For Love, my Lord! For how can a man eat, sleep, or drink knowing that his wife is with another man. What good is all the gold and honor and trophies to my friend Menalaus if he can not have Helen by his side for one more day. What good will all the glory in this world do him if he can not sit by Helen again and call her his? You ask for cause, My Lord, and it is Love I say. The mixture of honey and poison that Aphrodite has intoxicated all mankind with, but that which we can not live without.”

The words touched both me and Priam. I could not have spoken my own feelings more clearly than Odysseus hath done for me himself. Priam gave a considerate look, eyeing back to the two lovers, Helen and his son Paris before replying, “Well said, son of Laertes. I will give you an answer before the sun hits noon.”

And so we left the Eagle’s Hall and waited in our camp. It was the longest wait in my entire life. Anger swelled in me, but somehow I hoped that the Trojans would see reason in the glint of Hellene swords and the wrath of Achilles.

So we waited…and waited…until noon, but no heralds came forth from the Eagle’s Hall, and it was then that I knew we are at war….with Troy.

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