Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 6: Achilles, son of Peleus

Amongst the Greeks, there could be no greater warrior than Achilles. His father, Peleus, was king of the Myrmidons in Thessaly, and was the first to support Agamemnon’s bid for the position of High King. It was prophesize that any man who married the nymph Thethis would have a son greater than him, and for that reason, the god Zeus did not take her for a wife. It was also said that she dipped Achilles in the River Styx or the River of the Dead. Because of this, Achilles was invulnerable to all attacks except at his heels where Thetis held him.

I do not know if Achilles was truly invulnerable, but what I do know is that his strength was incredible. He could throw the discuss across the field and wrestle down ten champions in a day. Achilles could shoot an arrow further than the eye could see, and the Myrmidons did not simply follow him because he was a prince. He was truly the best of them and of all the Hellenes.

When he appeared at the Olympics, his golden locks would shine in the sun like the god that he was. Surely, Mars and Apollo must have looked like this. I could sometime even see my niece Iphigenia eye him with admirationand at times, I wondered if the young girl was not in love with this hero.

But it was in war, that he truly excelled. As an ally of Agamemnon, the Myrmidons had no shortage of war, and the warriors much preferred to be led by Achilles than his father Peleus. As an asset of the Greek army, there was none who could surpass Achilles, and in particular, I recall the campaign against Thessalonika, a city that would not send tribute to Mycannae.

The champion of that city stood eight feet tall, a giant he was! And even his shoulder towered over mighty Achilles, but Achilles could not be touched by fear. He was once asked if he preferred a long and peaceful life or a short one with memorable campaigns that would immortalize his name, and Achilles was to chose the latter. Fear had no part in his essence. Achilles did not care for the time he stood amongst men. It was not as important as the moment when he would stand with the gods.

He had just awoken late that day and was chided by my brother, High King Agamemnon, but the lad looked at the fearsome Thessalonikan champion and felt nothing but disdain for him. A young squire said to him, “I would not want to fight him if I were you.”

To which, Achilles simply replied, “That is why you will not be remembered.”

The giant ran to him with a long javelin in hand, while Achilles sped up with his famous shield and a short sword. The giant tried to kill Achilles with his ungodly spear, but Achilles seemed to move at the speed of thought, and the spear missed him. He leaped up and plunged the sword through the giant’s shoulder through his back. The impact was crushing, and he did not bother to look back as the monster fell lifeless.

The king of Thessalonika bowed before him, and Agamemnon had gained another vassal. It was true, as they said Achilles, son of Peleus, was worth a thousand men, and he was one of the heroes that I, Menelaus, would stand beside at Troy one day.

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