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03 September 2013 @ 09:20 pm
The Eternal Project  
Back when I was eighteen, I started writing a story based on Greek mythology for the fun of it. It was the story of Achilles and Patroclus--primarily Patroclus--without the magical parts. It fell by the wayside.

Every once in a while, though, I try writing starting it again, and each time it seems to get a little better. I'm posting the beginning of the latest attempt, from a little over a year ago; I had changed  it so that it was told primarily from Achilles' POV, although my big problem seems to be how anal I am about accuracy. (I think I need to visit Greece...)

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The house of my father sits atop a cliff in Alope, Phthia's sole city, if it could be called that. To the north are the Othrys Mountains, and beyond that the Pegasaean Gulf and the hooked peninsula, the base of which is made up by Mount Pelion. To the south is the bay, beyond which the western-most tip of Euboea and, on a clear day, the mountains of Locris on the opposite shore are visible.

On a whole, Phthia is sparsely populated, and then mostly by goat-herders and cattle-raiders. For while we call ourselves warriors, until now we hadn't known much more than short skirmishes or generations-long blood-feuds, which nevertheless run cold as often as hot. Still, the mountains are full of bandits and outlaws, and even the most peaceful of Myrmidons has had to fight them off.

Alope itself is a small harbor-village, made up primarily of the walled palace, in which the entire town can fit in times of war. A third of the village lives within these walls, as slaves or lesser lords, or as guests of my father, King Peleus. Nearly everyone else lives either near the shore as fisherman and merchants, or further toward the palace, growing olives, grapes, and sheep.

It was there that I was born, and where I spent much of my childhood. My father was not born king of Phthia, but rather became so when he married the Phthian princess Polymele, by whom he sired my half-sister of the same name.

My mother, Thetis, was rumored to be a Nereid, a goddess of the sea. I was not a day old when she placed me on the fire to burn away my mortality. My father, who was coming to see me for the first time, rushed in and snatched me away; it was then that my name was uttered for the first time.

“Akhilleus!” she spat. “He is Akhilleus, for he will embody the grief of his people.”

My mother would never live in the palace again, and many said that she went to reside with her father under the waves. She came and went with some regularity, though she spoke to almost no one besides me, and even then only met me on a secluded part of the shore. I was raised by neither my mother nor my father. Rather, my primary caretaker was Phoinix, a resident guest of my father's, who was old and had been cursed by the gods never to have children of his own. It was Phoinix that first introduced me to the lyre, who taught me basic arithmetic and put a wooden sword in my hand for the first time.

And then there was Patroklos.

When I was a child, I never questioned where Patroklos came from. He had always been there; my first memory is of taking a fistful of his hair, long and so dark brown that it was almost black. He was born when I was, and he remained by my side, and I by his, until I forgot that we were two different people. As soon as I was old enough to sneak out of bed at night, I would leave my nursery and creep down the hall, past where old Phoinix stayed and into Patroklos' bedroom. Sometimes he would protest, telling me that I was old enough to sleep on my own. Most the time he didn't.

“Tell me a story,” I would say.

“What do you want to hear?” he asked.

There were only a few stories that I had heard, and I suppose if I tried I could think of something new for him to tell me. But I liked the ones he told me, those of our families. He told them as if he had known everyone personally, had seen the things that happened. And most of all, I liked the link which connected our families.

So I said, “Tell me about Aegina, and about my grandfather and father.”

“I will tell you about Aegina,” he said. “And about her children. But the rest is too much to tell tonight.”

So I settled down, and he began to speak.

~ ~ ~

A long time ago, before the birth of Herakles or Iason, Aegina lived near Trachis. Her father was the river god Asopus, and her mother the nymph Metope. Aegina was particularly beautiful, with her long brown hair and green eyes, and as often happens, this attracted the attention of Zeus Olympios, king of gods. Few women who resist his advances, as she did, are truly given a choice.

So the god transformed himself into an eagle, and swooped upon her. Clutching her in his sharp talons, he carried her away, high over the mountains. He dropped her onto the island of Oenone, and there he ravished her. Afterward, though, he left her. For he had taken many women before her, and would take many after. Still, she bore him a son, Aeacus, your grandfather.

Hera Basileia saw these things, and felt she had been scorned by her husband. But no one can go against the Thunder-bearer, so she turned her rage against Aegina and the inhabitants of Oenone. She had a terrible plague set upon the island, and all except Aegina and her son were killed. Aeacus prayed to his father, Zeus, who told him that there would be as many men as those ants on his sacred oak. And so, the ants on the oak tree were transformed into men, and the Myrmidon people were born. When your father came to Phthia, in their loyalty they followed him.

Many years passed, and with them Zeus' passion and Hera's hatred. Aegina left the island to where she had been abducted, and went north on the mainland. There, she met the mortal man Actor, and fell in love with him. She married him, and bore him a son, my father Menoitius. She remained with him until her son was grown, but a mortal and a god, even as minor as a nymph, can not remain together forever. So one day she left, and returned to her island of Oenone, and remains there till this day.



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