Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hegemon Book 7: Diomedes and the Seven Against Thebes

In the city of Argos ruled the House of Tydeus. Tydeus himself was a raged warrior. It was said that the goddess Athena once supported his clan, but in one battle, he broke the skull of his enemy and ate his brain. After that, Athena left him, and he was slain in battle. His son, the more valiant and cultured Diomedes, succeeded Tydeus to the throne of Argos.

The Argives were the same people who sent Jason and the Argonauts to seek out the Golden Fleece. They were brilliant allies of Thebes, the city said to be founded by Cadmus from the seven teeth of the dragons. While it is impossible to prove such legends, there were truly seven noble families in Thebes said to be descended from the seven teeth of the dragons.

At the same time, there were seven vengeful nobles who sought to destroy Thebes. They claimed to be sons of rival nobles who had been crushed by the incumbent nobles of Thebes. Andronicus was their leader, and Telamon and Philemon were amongst their best fighters. The Seven Against Thebes led forces and surrounded the city. During the siege, the Theban nobles requested help from Argos.

Diomedes had just married his bride Ageliea, but he was not a king who would desert his allies. So he went forth to combat. Andronicus challenged him, “Why are you intervening in the affairs of Thebes, Diomedes? It is a personal fued between us nobles, sons of Cadmus.”

But Diomedes retorted, “Is it truly, Andronicus? How does the displaced sons of Cadmus find so large an army to challenge the mighty city of Thebes? Or is it the money of the Trojans that fuels your expedition and the cavalry of the Thraaki that supports you?”

And he hath a point, for many days earlier, the Argive spy had found Trojan coins amongst the market that the Seven Against Thebes passed before challenging the city, and the cavalry did look more Thracian than Hellene.

But Philemon was not afraid and decided to challenge Diomedes to personal combat, “Then, there is nothing to speak of. Let us see if the son of Tydeus is half as good as his father who fell in battle.”

The mockery was meant to enrage Diomedes, but he remained calm and marched forward for combat. Philemon struck with his battle axe, but Diomedes swerved away before the moment of contact and beheaded Philemon before he could recover his strength.

Telamon charged forward to avenge his brother followed by fifteen horsemen. The Argives quickly marched forward to attack Telamon’s men, while Diomedes engaged Telamon in personal combat. After three strokes, the great Telamon fell lifeless upon Diomedes’ sword, and the great battle hath began. The Thebans charged out of the city walls to help Diomedes.
In their turn, the Seven Against Thebes would fall to Diomedes’ blade….Amphitryon, Callixtus, Memnon, and Alexandros. Soon, Andronicus himself was captured and handed over to the Thebans.

“What fate shall befall the man who leads enemy forces against his own city?”, Diomedes asked of the Thebans who were assembled to decide the fate of Andronicus.

The council leader Demosthenes spoke on behalf of Thebes, “Let it be decided by you, Diomedes, for it is you who has saved our city today.”

Diomedes did not say anything in reply but slew Andronicus with a backhand slash of his famed sword, and the Theban Demonsthenes nodded in reply, “Rightly so.”

From that time onwards, the Thebans pledged their allegiance to him. They knew that the Seven Against Thebes hath been commissioned against them by Prince Aenas of Troy, and Diomedes vowed to protect Thebes. From then on, he became enemy of Troy. Diomedes knew that Troy was trying to spread its influence amongst the Hellenes, but he also knew that Agamemnon and himself were the leaders of the Hellenes and they would not let the Trojans have their way, no matter how wealthy and powerful they may be.

One day, Diomedes too was stand with me before the walls of Illium, but could a man as great as him be the Hegemon himself or was my brother Agamemnon to stand under his command?

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