Achilles and Hector

Peter Paul Rubens “Achilles slays Hector” 1630–1635

And Achilles, greatest of the Greeks, mounted his chariot. Spurring his steeds, whipping them into a frenzy, he drove them forward — unto the walls of Troy where his prey Hector awaited him.

His eyes, his azure eyes sparkling the firmament, blazed furiously. And all the Greeks who saw him, bowed their heads and averted his gaze. These men knew the terrible fate that awaited his victim.

A golden eagle hovered above him wherever he went, a sign of Zeus’s favour. He drove onwards, each whip bearing more and more blood from his horses.

O narrator, and teller of stories, stop now before the massacre, stop now before that son of Peleus erupts and brings down to Hades the beloved of all Troy. Stop, I implore and beg, before the carnage and chaos.

On top Mount Olympos, the council of the divine learn of Achilles’ bloodlust.

“Zeus, father, and god of all, this is madness,” cried Apollo, “stop Achilles before he unleashes his rage on my favored hero Hector.”

“No, Father, it is Hector’s time. Achilles deserves his revenge for the slaughter of Patroclus” interrupted Athena. “Think about how the gods will see you. A coward and a fickle king. Olympos cannot stand in the way of every hero’s demise. The fates have spun and foretold of Hector’s death. You would be a fool to stop what has been put into motion.”

And Zeus his brow heavy with contemplation and pain, rejoined: My children, Apollo and Athena — as much as I love Hector, brave and noble Hector, scion of a mighty Trojan bloodline, dear to you Apollo in all things, I must concede to Athena. It is not my place, not even the God of all, to interfere with the fates. And besides, I would not rob Achilles of the glory he seeks, the glory which drips from his bloodthirsty lips.”

And Achilles drove forth — arriving now at the mighty gates of Troy. “Hector! Coward and cur, face me!” And Hector, shaking and shivering, passed beyond the gates to face Achilles. “Achilles, tyrant of the field, I am here.” He tried screaming these words, but his lungs failed him. A whimper of those words resounded across the bloodswept sands of the Trojan battlefront.

And Achilles dismounted from the chariot, his golden armor glistening under the unforgiving torched sun. He drew his spear, and with a mighty arm hurled it skywards, letting out a bloodthirsty scream: “I’m going to kill you with my blade, so I can see the life-force drain out of your pathetic body.”

“Achilles let me live, I implore you! I have done you no wrong; I only fulfilled the measure of my duty to my homeland. As a man of honor you can understand this.”

“Done me no wrong! O Trojan bastard I’m going to butcher you and defile your corpse. They will sing of this slaughter for aeons. Brace for death Hector; gird yourself with what little manliness you have left.”

To be continued…