Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 12. Diomedes Subdues the Thraaki

While our main army was camped outside the great walls of Troy, Diomedes lay sick in Argos, but perhaps, this was heavenly intervention, for his presence proved more useful to our cause. The Thraaki* was large nation to the northern borders of Greece. It was a barbaric nation, but they were also good horsemen.

*Thrace or modern-day Bulgaria

The Thraaki were split between two tribes: the Kokoni and Sosoni. Through the financing of the Trojans, the Kokoni hath conquered the Sosoni, and their king Restum became allies of Troy. They were now intent on destroying Greece, and Restum led the invasion of our homeland in hope that he could rescue Troy in this manner.

Had it not been for the heroism of Diomedes, we may have been forced to abandon our attack of Asia to defend our homeland, but this is the story of Diomedes’ extraordinary feats.

The valiant Diomedes, only recently recovered, led an army of 7,000. Most of them were Argives, but others came from allied cities such as my own. These were the ones who were left behind at the homeland for we did not have enough ships to bring everyone to Troy.

Diomedes quickly formed an alliance with the nobles of the Sosoni who were in rebellion against Restum and promised them their homelands in return for the alliance. Together with this, he mustered a force of 9,000 men and marched upon the Thraaki, not waiting for Restum to come to him. He believed that the best defense was offense.

But Restum was not a man who would be easily defeated. After all, he hath united Thraaki with Trojan gold and now had more than 15,000 men with him. At first, it was only seen as an obligation to his Trojan allies. Now that Diomedes and the Sosoni were allies, Restum was forced to defend himself.

Diomedes first led the attack on Restum’s camp with a few shock troops. Easily outnumbered, he retreated. Restum, seeing that he hath defeated the great hero, ordered his entire Thraaki army in pursuit. Suddenly, they were caught in a narrow pass. Before them were wooden pikes. The Thraaki horses were unable to get through and had little room for maneuver.

At this point, Diomedes ordered his men to shoot arrows at the Thraaki without abandon. Many thousands perished before the pike. By the time, they broke through the barrier, there were not many of them left. Diomedes ordered the best Argive horsemen into full attack and easily defeated the Thraaki.

As they retreated through the narrow pass, more of them fell to Diomedes’ archers who hid along the mountainsides, and many hundreds were said to have fallen upon Diomedes’ sword. Now, they could see that the king of Argos was not only a great swordsman but also a master general.

Desperate to redeem his name, Restum charged for Diomedes himself, but was slain with a single blow. “What foolishness!”, thought Diomedes, “I have single-handedly defeated the Seven Against Thebes, and this barbarian thinks he can challenge me.”

The remaining Thraaki united under the leadership of the Trojan Prince Aenas. He was a cousin of Hector and Paris, and his father was the Trojan prince Anchises, half-brother to Priam. Aenas was the greatest of the Trojan warriors, second only to Hector himself. It was said that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Anchises had an affair, and the result was Aenas*.

*According to later legend, Aenas was the ancestor of the Romans.

And so it was that the two heroes Aenas and Diomedes fought, and men would later report to me that it was like seeing two Titans fight amongst themselves. Such was the powerful blow of Aenas and the masterly parry by Diomedes. In the end, it was Diomedes who prevailed. Aphrodite laid out her hand to defend her son, but Diomedes son of Tydeus struck at the hand of the goddess and wound her son. At this point, Aphrodite grew angry with Diomedes and vowed to avenge him at a later time.

The Thraaki army was in full retreat, and Aenas prayed for Ares, the god of war, to intervene. Ares sided with Aphrodite, for they were lovers, but Athena, the god of wisdom who hated Aphrodite, sided with Diomedes.

Diomedes: Oh great Athena, do not think me meek. On this earth, I fear no man, and even if Achilles and Hector were before me, I would not retreat but one step. But how can man challenge a god? Surely, I am no match for Ares, who invented war himself.

Athena: Fear not, loyal Diomedes. For I, who am by your side today, am goddess of wisdom, and with me, none shall lose. Aphrodite (Love) is blind, and Ares (War) without direction is meaningless.

So Diomedes followed the lead of Athena and wounded the side of Ares in combat, after which Ares fled back to Olympus.

Upon seeing the defeat of Ares, Aenas exclaimed, “Who is this man, the son of Tydeus? Is he a demi-god like Hercules? For surely, no mortal could vanquish Ares, the god of War, himself.” Then, Aenas and the Trojans fled back to Troy, and left the Thraaki in the mercy of Diomedes’ victorious army.
And so in this manner, man defied the will of the gods, and Diomedes subdued the Thraaki for his allies, the Sosoni tribe. They remained eternally grateful and loyal to him. Now, Diomedes was ready to join us in the Battle of Troy.

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