Saturday, May 23, 2015
Hegemon Book 19. Odysseys: Real and Imagined
After the great victory, reality descended upon us again. Wealthy as he was, Priam was but a vassal to the Hittite empire. The Hittite army under Emperor Hattusilis moved against us, and Agamemnon realized he was no much for the vast force. Hector had been of great service to the Hittites in the past, and the Emperor demanded that the Hellenes evacuate Troy lest we use it as a site to attack him from Troy in the future. And so our adventure in the East hath ended. Most of the kings returned to homeland without much event, but it is of note to mention the voyages of Odysseus, Diomedes, and my own. Odysseus’s voyage seemed to have been the most exciting according to accounts by Nestor and the Poet Homer, but it is almost impossible to separate the fact from fiction. In fact, future generations coined the word Odyssey for him. I will try to separate the sentimental from the fact as I best can, though believe me when I say my own abilities are quite limited. Odysseus claims that a bag of wind from the nymph goddess Calypso was wrongly opened and blew him back to Nestor in Pylos, but my guess was that his piratical enterprises failed and he was simply seeking supply with Nestor. No, he would say…the damage and loss of men came from him trying to pass Charybdis and Scylla. Charybdis was a whirlpool fair enough, but Scylla was a devious monster woman with many heads preying on his men. It was said that when Eros, the son of Aphrodite, fell in love with Scylla, his wife Circe cursed her and turned her into this monster. From what I heard, Scylla was no more than a dangerous cliff. Odysseus wisely chose to hit Scylla than have his whole ship drowned by the Charybdis, but his embellishments made him famous beyond our time. Some of his tales simply seemed to be pure lies. For example, he said that he bound himself and had all his men ear-plugged so he could hear the sweet songs of the sirens. The music was so sweet that if men heard it, they would sail to the cliff on which the sirens stood and crash the ship to smithereens. Basically, Odysseus claimed that he heard the most beautiful song of the sirens. In truth, I think he probably just had dinner with the bard Orpheus on the way back from Pylos. What happened after Odysseus reached Ithaca was probably more dramatic. The suitors of his wife Penelope had gained an upper hand and were ready to seize the city for themselves but had a problem deciding who would reign. Penelope delayed them by saying that she would knit a sweater for her new father-in-law, but instead, she unknit them at night. The suitors were led by Eurymachus, Antinuous, and Amphinomus. Odysseus realized he was outnumbered and so he disguised as a beggar and stayed with the swinehard of the royal palace. Only Amphinomus treated him well, whereas Antinuous was most contemptuous of him. Odysseus asked that Amphinomus to leave, but unlike the other suitors, Amphinomus was truly in love with Penelope, not simply after the throne of Ithaca. Odysseus finally revealed himself and with the help of the loyalists, he slew all the suitors. After that, he became king of Ithaca again. The story of Diomedes was no less inspiring. When he returned to Argos, a group of queens led by his own Agelia turned upon them in a planned usurpation of the kings. When Diomedes knew of this, he couldst have destroyed her, but Agelia was beautiful and Diomedes was still in love with her. So he opted to give her the city and himself with the Argives sailed to the coast of Hisperia. Here, he fought against men with iron swords that were better than our bronze ones, but Diomedes was swift, and who couldst have defeated such a hero? In due time, he would find the wealthy Aenas in Hisperia as well. They fought, but the gods had left Diomedes though Aphrodite would never betray her own son. And so, Aenas survived and founded the city of Alba Longa near the Seven Hills*, and Diomedes made great cities along the coast of Hisperia. *In later history, the Seven Hills became Rome, and a cult of Diomedes survived amongst the Latin cities that were enemies of Rome. And then, I return to my own journey with Helen and Hermione to our beloved Sparta. I joined with several Hittite and Phoenician pirates to plunder Egypt, the wealthiest land in the world. It was no less wealthy than Troy perhaps, and the Pharoah’s name t’was Ramses, the second by such a name. Pirating was not a bad thing in our days, for it showed that we Hellenes possessed greater maritime abilities than all the rest of the world, but Ramses was a great archer, and Egypt hath the greatest army in the known world. So he shot many of us, and as far as the eye could see, Greeks, Hittite, and Phoenicians were falling into the River Nile where green monsters eyed us. These monsters were worshipped by the Egyptians as gods, but there were as ugly as lizards. On land, they were slow, but their green tail couldst swipe a man like a strong whip, and their jaws were daunting. And so my ragged army against the world’s finest was much destroyed, and in this manner, did I return to my home city, albeit with the greatest wealth the world could offer. She was the most beautiful woman on Earth, and I couldst see why Alexandros gave up the rule of Asia and command of wars to behold her in his arms. …But then, my brother Agamemnon, High King though he was, greatest amongst us all…he would not be so fortunate, as I shall tell you soon.