Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 17. The Fall of Troy

And so, the hero Diomedes came to replace Achilles as our lead warrior. While Diomedes was not as great a hero as Achilles, his knowledge of strategy was second only to Odysseus himself, and he basked in the glory of being the conqueror of Thraaki and vanquisher of the Seven Against Thebes. Some say that Diomedes defeated Ares, the god of War, himself and wounded the hand of Aphrodite, and there were many who believed this. And so, it was with this greatness that the son of Tydeus arrived on Trojan soil.

Odysseus, our grand strategist, first approached him, “Greetings, son of Tydeus, it is with great honor that we receive you. The soothsayer Calchus says we can only defeat Paris with your help, and that it is Aphrodite who protects Paris and Troy. We know Calchus’ word to be true, and having seen the conquest of Thraaki, I trust in your ability on its own merit.”

“Have no fear, son of Laertes, I will bring Priam’s crown jewels to the shores of Mycannae,” replied Diomedes, and with that, the Greeks rejoiced. Such was their fate in Diomedes. We hath fought ten long years and still the walls of Troy continued to evade us.

And so, Diomedes called upon Paris at the battlements of Troy and called him by names, denouncing him as the son of a swine and a man whose honor was beneath that of a dog, but Paris saw through this and merely laughed at him without coming out to face him.

Then, Diomedes called Helen a slut and prostitute and claimed that he hath slept with her before. I was angered beyond reason, for I loved Helen much, but Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, held me back and his arms were strong. But Diomedes’ taunt did the trick, for I was not the only one whose love for Helen was unlimited.

Paris came forth to the battlement, and the walls of Troy seemed like it would reach the mountain. What we Greeks saw then, Diomedes could have achieved only with the help of a god. He shot the arrow up, and it struck Paris between his eyes. The deceitful prince was dead at an instant.

After the death of Paris, the Trojans lost hope, for Priam was now heirless. Aenas, great hero though he may be, was king of the Dardinians and not truly Trojan. Surely, he could not inherit Priam’s throne. Priam, once a great leader, only sulked in his palace. Not long after Paris’s death, Hecuba, Priam’s wife of twenty years and mother to Paris and Hector, died. It seemed Priam was now gone mad, and the defense of the city was left solely in the hands of General Banokles, the Trojan general who once served my brother but later betrayed him.

Yet, the walls of Troy continued to elude us. We knew well that we could win if we could get inside, but there was no way to do then. One day, the goddess of wisdom, Athena, appeared before Odysseus and inspired him with an idea. We went with his plan.  Agamemnon, myself, Neoptolemus, Diomedes, and Ajax the Younger hid in the belly of a wooden horse, later known to historians as the Trojan Horse, and took the risk. Nestor and Ideomenus drove some of the ships far enough away from shore to trick the Trojans into believing that we had retreated and sent the Horse as a sign of peace and goodwill.

There were many risks in this plan. How would we know that Ideomenus would not betray us? What would happen if the Trojans simply burned the Horse down? Nevertheless, the audacity of Odysseus’ plan was the reason it worked. When Ideomenus rebelled, Nestor’s men slew him and we gained firmer control of the Cretan navy.

Priam could have burned down the Horse, but he saw it as a challenge rather than trickery, so instead of burning it down, he ordered it bought into Troy. The Horse was too large to get into the gates, so Priam ordered part of the walls breached to get it in.

At night, we scurried out from the Horse, opened the gates for Nestor and reinforcement, and sacked Troy. Priam was still asleep, when my brother Agamemnon found him. He woke shocked. Agamemnon then said to him, “Priam, your arrogance knows no bounds. You think your wealth would always protect you, but it will not save you from my sword.” With these words, Agamemnon slew Priam.

Neoptolemus slew Astynax, the young son of Hector and potential heir, when he came of age and took Andromache as his mistress. Ajax the Younger raped the prophetess princess Cassandra before presenting her to Agamemnon as a gift. The High King found much favor in Cassandra, not knowing that she now carried Ajax’s child, and took her for his own mistress.

For seven days and seven nights, we burned and looted Troy. The treasures of Troy would sate any man’s greed, but then again, the gods of Olympus know that man’s greed truly knows no limits. The wealth and women of Troy were numerous, but I hath come to see what we stooped to.

Noble Diomedes only sought the life of his archenemy Aenas, but alas, that would elude him. It was said that Aenas fled to the Hesperia*.

*Hesperia = Italy. According to legends, Aenas later founded Alba Longa and was ancestor of the Romans.

The wealth of Troy had no appeal to me. I sought only my heart back. Helen, where was she?

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