18. "The View from a Distance"

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Centering Patroclus,
Charioteer to Achilles:

Is he out of his mind?

     I can't make out the eloquent speeches of our best men,
               but
          from my distant vantage among the common soldiers,
               it seemed for a moment
     as if Achilles might draw his sword
          and cut our overlord down like a Trojan dog!

What is he even doing there?

          He rarely attends these assemblies.
     "Pointless,"
          he always says.
     "No matter how many speak up,
          Agamemnon only hears his favored voices,
               and mine is not among them."

He frequently skips these meetings
     and is not missed.
"They would notice
     if I ever missed a battle,
     if I ever missed a raid,
     if I missed an enemy's head with my thrusted spear,
          but not a council assembly."

               Except,
          on this day,
     Achilles had called the meeting himself.
          On this day, he has swiped the rod of authority.
     On this day,
          he has made Agamemnon take notice.

What could he have been thinking?

The assembly breaks.
     Officers and soldiers scatter to their rally points
          to receive their orders.
Achilles commands the Phthian half of the Myrmidon corps,
               nominally,
     but allows Big Ajax to set the battle order
          while I attend to Achilles.
The Myrmidons operate under a single command,
          usually,
     but today the followers of Achilles swarm the camp like bees
          They have been withdrawn from the field,
               they shout.
          They may even be going home,
                    they shout,
               which must mean that I will be going home as well,
                    with him
                    and with Iphis
                    and with Briseis,
               as we had often talked about.

But without first sacking Ilion?

What has he done?

And to what consequence?

          Men pass,
     discussing oarsman duties on a sudden expedition to Chryse.
"Ludicrous!" says one.
     "The first daughter of Chryse
          already resides within Agamemnon's tent,
     with all of that island's wealth
          previously offered,
                    freely,
               in exchange for her return.
     Why embark in haste on a mission of conquest?
             Why fight now when so many are ill?
     And why herd our finest cattle onto the outbound ships?"

     For an ordinary man,
     with an ordinary fate,
decyphering the plan of Agamemnon
is like deciphering the plan of Zeus.
     I can only shake my head
          at each new piece of the puzzle.
Some momentous shift has occurred,
     but I won't get the whole of it from any man or god
          other than Achilles, son of Peleus.
               And so,
     I return to our hut
          and wait for my world to resume making sense.

EPIC CYCLE ROADMAP:

* 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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