Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Canadian Legion Story of Achilles
Thetis was the most beautiful of all river Nymphs. Before the waters were polluted, the mystical nature of Earth and the purity of the waters would often spawn living elementals, Thetis was one of these water spirits. Hundreds of travelers who came across her river near the Euphrates would stay and worship her; the river provided for all their needs and was considered the most beautiful river to have ever existed. Eventually two men would come to love and covet Thetis; one was King Peleus who had recently lost his wife Antigone and was deep in despair. The second was Zeus, the most arrogant of the pantheon Gods. It was forbidden for Gods to mate, this law was agreed upon and enforced by all the Gods who existed from the time of Creation until Ragnarok, the end of their existence. Zeus was one of many Gods who would imitate animals or pretend to be another being in order to seduce the women he coveted. Thetis could not be tricked however. Instead, she lured both men to her bed at once and, when Zeus grew bored, allowed King Peleus to stay with her. It is believed that Zeus had heard a rumour from Poseidon that the child of Thetis would one day eclipse his father in power and fame. This is one reason why Poseidon never claimed her and why Zeus stopped pursuing her. King Peleus built a temple on the river bank for the worshippers of Thetis, this would also be the place where they would be married.
Enid, the Goddess of Strife, sought to ruin their wedding by spreading the rumour that Thetis was pregnant with Zeus’s child. Chiron, a centaur and close ally of King Peleus, threw her down the stairs of the temple they had erected for their wedding. She cursed both Chiron and Thetis, leaving them with a golden apple to remind them of what they had done to her. For Achilles this curse manifested itself as the Trojan War but for Chiron it meant the eventual extinction of his entire species. Peleus did not care who the father of the child was, the boy was his to raise and care for. Zeus was not seen again by either King Peleus or his Queen.
Poseidon was the first of the Gods to begin sending gifts to Achilles. The greatest warriors from the sea, the race of people who would one day be known as Porposi, came out of the waters to teach the child to swim, fish and fight. Realizing the possibilities that were opening to her son, Thetis decided to take him to the river Styx. By drowning him in the waters that flowed into the afterlife, Thetis could have made him immortal. Peleus was horrified that his wife would exchange his son’s life for a cursed existence as an undying creature. It is believed that Thetis simply could not accept the mortality of her child when her life as a Nymph would carry on for centuries. As a favour to Peleus Chiron agreed to become Achilles protector.
Submersion in the River Styx did have an effect on Achilles, from that moment he no longer had any fear of death. He had seen something in the waters so horrible, so terrifying, that nothing afterwards could shake his resolve. The anger issues the boy would develop later in life might have been attributed to this experience, but it is more likely that he was simply impulsive and somewhat irrational at times,much like his mother.
In Mycia, on their way to the Trojan War, Achilles found a magical spear. Achilles did not believe it was dangerous and accidentally wounded his friend Telephus. It took many months and numerous adventures before Achilles came to respect the power of that spear; it was only when he used it to heal Telephus’s wounds that he came to respect the Spear of Destiny.
Achilles was a passionate lover of both men and women. On first arriving on the shores of Troy’s neighbour, the first people Achilles encountered was the beautiful Troilus and his sister Polyxena. Achilles was instantly enamoured with both of them, spending the next two weeks seducing and eventually sleeping with both of them in drug fuelled nights of lust. Eventually the ambrosia began to make Achilles hostile and paranoid and he believed Polyxena was seducing her own brother, trying to keep him from Achilles. Troilus defended his sisters’ honour and wound up dead, his head resting on the altar of Apollo. Achilles returned to his men and Polyxena told only her father and brothers of what had happened to their beautiful brother. In exchange for not destroying the temple and scared of what the future might hold, the priests of Apollo turned over Princess Breseis to Achilles. Breseis was chosen specifically because of her submissive personality and her masochist pleasures.
Apollo was angered at the desecration of his temple and arrogance of Agamemnon’s men and demanded a sacrifice. Apollo had planned for Troilus to one day all the lands of Asia Minor, including Troy. Although he knew Achilles was responsible he believed it was beneath him to address a soldier like Achilles directly. Agamamemnon had taken the daughter of a priestess for himself, a woman named Chryseis. If he returned her to her father, Apollo would forgive the looting of his temple. Agamemnon agreed but decided since it was Achilles who was responsible, he would take Princess Breseis for himself. As Apollo expected, Achilles flew into a rage and immediately left the war that had begun against Troy, leaving Agamemnon on his own. As the Trojans became to push the Greeks back, Agamemnon offered Breseis back to Achilles. He also offered his two main generals Ajax and Phoenix, to serve under Achilles directly. Achilles refused and informed Agamemnon that he would sail home in the morning.
As the Trojans pushed the Greeks back to the shore, Achilles male lover Patroclus decided he would take up the Spear of Destiny and lead the Myrmidons into battle. He was angry that Achilles would sacrifice fame and glory in battle for the sake of a Princess. Little did he know that Achilles only swore not to fight for Agamemnon, every night Achilles had prayed to Zeus to lead the Greeks into victory. Patroclus, wearing Achilles armor and carrying the Spear of Destiny, pushed the Trojans back and held the beach but he was slain in battle by Hector. Achilles heard his lovers’ death cry from his ship which had just set out to sea. Achilles rushed into battle naked and slew a thousand men in minutes.
Achilles was so enraged that his onslaught continued for days. At one point the river of Troy was filled with the bodies of the dead. Scamander, a child of a river Nymph and Poseidon, made his home in this river and was tried to drown Achilles to stop his rampage. Scamander was defeated by Achilles and taken into custody by Hephaestus and Hera who had come to watch the war. Eventually Achilles gained the attention of Zeus himself who knew the eventual fate of Troy. The realm of the Gods crossed over with Earth at certain points, creating places that would sometimes exhibit magical properties. Troy was one of those places and Zeus knew it could not be destroyed until the gate between worlds had closed. But Achilles attacked with such fury, driving his men to such outstanding feats of bravery and daring that Zeus wondered if Achilles would challenge fate itself and somehow change what was to come.
Three times the Gods watched as Achilles chased Hector around the walls of Troy. In order to keep Achilles out of Troy, Zeus brought other Gods to defend the walls, including Heimdall, Hermes and Hercules. Athena located one of the Masks of Sin and used it to change her form into that of Troilus. She reminded Hector of how Achilles had decapitated him in the temple of Apollo. Athena then changed into his brother Deiphobus and called him a coward. Hector realized he was being tricked by the Gods and accepted that he could not flee Achilles forever. The Gods transported the two men to the Elysium Fields to battle, while the men of Greece and Troy could watch from Earth. The Elysium Fields was the land that connected the realm of the Gods with the world of men and on occasion it would exist in both worlds. This allowed the Gods to change the outcome of certain battles or perform certain feats of powerful magic. Hector begged Achilles not to defile his body when the battle was over. Achilles merely spit at him, saying that he would tear every strip of flesh from his bones and consume his heart for the pain he had caused and for running from him for so long. Hector responded by saying the arrows of Paris would find Achilles heart for refusing this last request.
Their battle lasted for seven hours. Achilles was wounded first at the elbow but inevitably he ended Hector’s life with a single thrust through his enemies’ neck. A two week truce was called shortly afterward so that the people of Troy could honor their fallen hero. But Achilles refused to return his body and for nine days he dragged it behind his chariot. Eventually King Priam approached Achilles alone in his tent at night with Hermes as his bodyguard and pleaded with Achilles to return his sons corpse. Achilles was drunk and deeply depressed; all the joy of war had gone out of him. There was nothing Priam could offer him that he could not take, now that the end of the war was in sight. Hermes did have something to offer Achilles and the two men spoke privately. Achilles immediately turned over Hector’s body to Priam and the last five days of the peace treaty were used to mourn and bury the corpse.
When the truce ended Achilles was still depressed. Penthesilea the Queen of the Amazons had heard about the man who could not be defeated, in fact by this time the stories of Achilles invulnerability had spread throughout the land. Penthesilea and the Amazons met the Myrmidons as the rose for battle that morning and challenged them to a fight to the death. Penthesilea was one of the most beautiful warrior women that had ever lived and in his depression Achilles could not bring himself to destroy such a beautiful, gifted warrior. It was only when his men began to fall at the hands of the Amazons that Achilles regrouped and killed the Amazonian Queen. As he left the battlefield a notorious Greek warrior Thersites mocked the dead women. Achilles walked past him and struck him with only a single blow to the face, killing him instantly. Antilochus, a close friend to Achilles, took a young Amazonian woman under his wing and began training her as a Myrmidon.
Antilochus was later killed when the armies of Ethiopia came to assist Troy under the command of Memnon. Memnon was the grandson of Gaia, the Earth Goddess and it was said that when Achilles heard Antilochus had fallen, that the very trees themselves reached out to keep him from Memnon. Achilles was once again victorious, severing Memnon’s head and tossing it to his people to bury in their pyramid tombs.
Achilles had lost all lust for battle. There was no one who could harm him, no one was left to even challenge him. Dionysus threw a party for Achilles in Olympus and the Gods themselves praised him. His mother gifted him with his tattoo, made by Dionysus himself, while Zeus brought him a great shield. While in Olympus Achilles met other Gods from other pantheons and discovered the war known as Ragnarok, the War of the Gods against the forces of evil and darkness. Achilles realized he was but a small fish in a small pond and that there was another life waiting for him beyond Troy, one that would be hidden from the eyes of men. Before returning to the world of man Achilles is intrigued by a very strange individual, Ganesh, sitting on a giant lotus plant meditating. Achilles asked him “What are you?” to which Ganesh replied, very calmly, “What are YOU?”.
Achilles removed his sword and told Ganesh that he was a great warrior, as strong and deadly as the blade but with no one left to cut. Ganesh snickered and told Achilles that a sword was but a tool and though Achilles had been a tool for Agammemnon, he was more than that.
“A man is his nature, be it fire, water, air or earth. What is your nature?” Ganesh asked. Achilles pondered this for a while before answering that he believed he was fire. Ganesh nodded and said “Although you seem to burn with ambition, I believe you are not fire, but water. Water can take many shapes, such as this cup, or a river, or the ocean itself. But the water can also rage, in a wave that cannot be stopped, in a river that cannot be diverted. Water requires nothing, nor does it think of what must be done, it simply is. Calm and powerful, that is the water. “ Achilles pondered this for only a moment before Ganesh shrugged and said “But we have just met, what does Ganesh know?”
Achilles thought of these words when he returned to the Trojan War and after only two nights he asked Hermes to take him to King Priam. Kneeling before the King, Achilles offered a peace treaty. Achilles offers to marry Polyxena to replace the loss of Troilus, also replacing Hector as Priam’s son. King Priam agrees and begins to privately plan their wedding, which would put Achilles and his Myrmidons in charge of Troy and stop the war. Paris, a coward and obsessive lover, believed Helen would be sent back to Agamemnon’s General, Menelaus. He also sought revenge for his brother Hector. When Achilles went to meet Polyxena in the garden, Paris hid behind a giant potted plant and waited for his moment. With a poison arrow he had been given by Apollo and with the help of six other assassins Paris shot Achilles. The poison arrow struck Achilles in the heel while his back was turned. The other arrows shot by the assassins struck him in the chest.
Hermes was still present in Troy when Achilles went down, but not without slaying the six assassins. Hermes caught Achilles as he fell, the poison making its way quickly through his system. Hermes was faster and he had previously agreed to take Achilles if he was wounded within the walls of Troy, so with great speed he took the dying Achilles away to the dimension of the Gods. The Greek forces had sent a massive horse to Troy as a wedding gift and Agamemnon’s men hidden inside overtook the city. Dionysus and Thetis were able to heal Achilles wounds but they were frightened Zeus would find out, believing Zeus had become afraid of the warrior. Thetis placed the Shield of Achilles and the Spear of Destiny alongside Patroclus and buried him as if he were her son. No one except Dionysus, Thetis and Hermes knew the truth, the Greeks were too busy sacking Troy. When Achilles was strong enough to walk again he found Ganesh and began to study that which he had ignored while fighting for Greece; philosophy, science, astronomy and medicine. The Spear and Shield of Achilles were separated and over the centuries fell into the hands of different warriors. Eventually both ended up buried in Hitler’s bunker and haven’t been seen since World War 2. Achilles even began to teach, when he discovered the Centaurs had retired to the realm of Ganesh.
During The Great Binding, Achilles was one of the heroes who stood with Thor and blocked the gate between Earth and the God Realm. Abraxas Ro, an Earth Mage, sealed the last remaining passage in the year 1900. This was the first time any of the Gods had seen Achilles since his ‘death’ and their shock, as well as his new found fighting skills, held most of the Greek Pantheon in Olympus.