Rage! (Iliad I) by cryptoversal | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

10. "Agamemnon Himself"

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Centering Overlord Agamemnon,
King of Mycenae:

"Not even if you name Agamemnon himself . . ."

     The intolerable gall!

          The ingratitude!

The Olympian peaks of disrespect!

When my agents found Achilles,
     he was wearing a dress,
     aspiring to be a princess of Lycomedes,
          and I made him into a warrior.

All that this man is
     is only what I molded him to be.
All that he has
     is only what I allow him to keep.

And now Achilles calls this farce of an assembly
     to exchange practiced lines with Calchas
          like two actors in a play.
     Their performance needs work.
          The seer's trembling voice,
          the warrior's too-reassuring arm,
          unsubtle glances in my direction,
     all calculated for maximum effect,
               so practiced,
                    so fake!

"Not for a broken vow
          does Apollo blame us,"
     says Calchas now, 
"nor for a missed sacrifice,
          but for the sake of that priest,
     whom Agamemnon offended
          by refusing the ransom,
          by refusing to free his daughter."

I tremble with rage.
     So this is how Calchas and Achilles,
          working together,
     would attempt to lay at my feet
          the weakness and disease
               of other men.

"This is the reason,"
     Calchas continues.
"This is why the far-striker inflicts such suffering,
          and will continue to do so,
          and will not lift this loathsome plague,
     until Agamemnon returns the bright-eyed girl
               to her father
          without his recompense,
          without ransom,
     adding a sacred offering to Apollo
          at his temple on the Island of Chryse.
Only thus might we receive the god's forgiveness."

They wait for my response,
     and so I stand,
     and in my hand
          the gold-studded scepter of authority
          swings to punctuate my words.
This I say quietly,
          while the veins in my temples pulse
     like distant drumming before a storm:
"The men are suffering
          and so
     there must be blame,
               and so
     there must be payment,
          and so
     there must be sacrifice.
All this we can agree upon.
               But then you say,
     Agamemnon alone must bear the blame,
          and then you say,
     Agamemnon alone must pay the price,
               and then you say,
     Agamemnon alone must make a sacrifice.
          But of course you do.
I would expect nothing else from Calchas,
          this bane of a prophet.
     In nine years,
          I've not received one word of good news
                    through you
               from the gods.
Agamemnon alone can appease the lord Apollo,
     you say,
          and suggest the return of Chryses's daughter,
     though I prefer her body,
               her mind,
          her skills,
     even above those of my own wife.
Can this truly be the will of the gods?"

Calchas bobs his head meekly,
     eyes bulging,
          no doubt,
     at a vision of my intended retribution.
But no special powers are required this time.
     All men in the assembly,
          seers and warriors and kings alike,
     can see the death of Calchas in my eyes.

Achilles grips his sword,
     tension concentrated in his hand,
          and in the set of his jaw,
     and in his coiled leg muscles,
          as if he might find enough manhood
                    at any moment now
               to test his bronze against mine.

Diomedes and Big Ajax position themselves
     to intercept Achilles
          if he dares to make a move.

Odysseus whispers into my ear.
     "Hear me out, my lord.
Calchas has blamed you for offending the gods
     you've blamed Calchas for offending his commander.
          Which is the greater offense?
               It matters not,
          since both are offensive to Zeus's order.
     If you must direct a sacrifice to Apollo,
some protector of the seer
     must make an equal sacrifice to you."

This pleases me greatly,
     as the words of Odysseus often do.
If only Apollo had made a seer of Laertes's son
          instead of that rascal, Calchas!

I roar aloud to the assembly
     like the lion that I am:
"If I'm to give up my prize
          to benefit the Achaeans,
     then some Achaean must prepare a new prize
          as my just compensation,
          to acknowledge the honors and privileges 
               to which I am entitled."

Achilles pretends to be ignorant,
     unable to understand my request.
"The plunder has long been distributed
          from our raid on Cilician Thebe.
     There are no unclaimed girls."

     I stand straight,
             fist raised,
        tall as Zeus,
          and make clear my plan
     to put Achilles in his proper place.

"Then I would have yours!"

Author Commentary:

An author commentary for this installment is available to subscribers of the free Mythoversal Newsletter.


* The Kypria
* The Iliad
* The Posthomerica
* Tales of Nostos
* The Odyssey
* The Telegony
* The Aeneid
  Rage is the first book of the Iliad. Amazons is the first book of the Posthomerica.
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