Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 14. Hector of Troy

The war with Troy dragged on for three years, and the Hellenes had grown tired. I foremost amongst them. It was felt that the struggle was really a personal one between me and Paris, and so it should be determined by the two men alone. Paris was prince of a great city, and I was king of a small one but linked to High King Agamemnon. Many considered us equals.

So I threw the gauntlet and demanded that the coward Paris meet me in personal combat, of the rights over Helen and that whosever win shall take her back without more shedding of blood.

Paris met me in the fields outside Illium. His blows were quick, but I parried him one for one. Soon, my sword knocked off his shield and wounded him on the side, but instead of meeting death like a man, he fled!! What coward!! I could not believe Helen could fall for a dog like this and chose the coward over me. He hath forsaken his own honor by fleeing from combat.

And so the war raged on, but there were grave problems on our side. Achilles was so found of the captive princess Bresias that he did not pay as much attention to the command of war as he did before. Angered by this, my brother Agamemnon took the girl for himself, but instead of putting his heart fully into the war again, Achilles refused to give combat and merely sulked in his tent. I was much appalled. What tricks the gods do play upon us!! Is this the hero that we Greeks have come to praise and honor?!? Can the great Achilles truly be sulking over a mere girl?!?

And so when Achilles stepped down from command, other heroes stood up, for Greece did not have just one hero. Oddysseus and Agamemnon took command of the front armies, and war with Troy dragged on. Brave Ajax demanded combat with the bravest of the Trojans, and it was none other than Paris’s eldest brother, Crown Prince Hector, who responded to his call.

Now, mind you. Ajax was no ordinary warrior. Like Achilles, he could slay a hundred men in a single day of combat, and he was a giant of a man but swifter than an eagle. I had seen him throw a javelin further than any amongst the Hellenes save for Achilles and Diomedes. But he would meet his match in the Trojan prince.

Hector met him outside the courtyard outside the walls of Troy, and I daresay his brother Paris was not half the man he is. Ajax wielded his club like it was part of his body, and against a hundred men, he would have been victorious. But Hector was no ordinary man. He may have been older and smaller than the giant Ajax, but the Trojan hero parried some blows with his great shield and swiftly hid from others.

Suddenly, Hector knocked Ajax with the boss of his shield and the strength of Apollo, and Ajax fell back. Before the day was over, Hector hath slain Ajax. The Trojans were emboldened, and the Greeks lost hope. Hector’s great army, known as the Eagles, drove the Greeks back to the shores. Luckily, our admiral Oddysseus was an able commander, and the Trojan fleet hath already been destroyed. So we Hellenes were forced to stay on our ships.

Only the camp of Achille’s Myrmidons stayed on land. They would not give battle, and they were certainly greatly outnumbered by the Trojans. But the name of Achilles could strike fear in the ears of a god, much as Diomedes had struck a wound in the side of Ares himself. And so the Trojans were content to drive the Hellenes from their shores but allow quarter to Achilles’ men.

I looked in anger from my Spartan ship. “Why hath Achilles put his own desires before the fate of his fellow countrymen? Was Bresias now more precious than the honor he so well guarded?!?” I looked at my own brother Agamemnon in anger, but it was difficult for me to utter a word against either of them. Had this war itself not been wrought by my jealousy of Paris over my love Helen. But like a blind man, I said to myself, “Helen is different. She is a goddess. There is no woman to compare with her, and all the Greeks had sworn to protect her, hence the reason we were all called Hellenes.”

No, our ships left the shores of Troy, but not too far away. Little did I know that outside the walls of Illium, the young warrior Patroclus looked in anger at the Trojan victory from the Myrmidon camp, and he vowed to avenge the defeat of Ajax at Hector’s hand. But could he really do it? Hector stood there in front of the Eagles, and to me, he looked like the god of war Ares himself. Perhaps, if it hath been him rather than his weakly brother Paris who hath battled me, I would have been slain by now. Hector was the tamer of horses, skilled in both combat and strategy. By now, his deputy Banokles hath recaptured the Temple of Apollo, and capturing Troy seemed harder than ever. Could even Achilles be the match of this hero? So I wondered…

And so as I watched Hector with awe, so Patroclus watched him with hate and vengeance.

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