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Sing, O Muse, Of Tragedy

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SARPEDON

He longs to go home, take horse or wing back to the grassy plains of Lycia, to grow old with a wife and child by his side, to see his land and people prosper, and to talk over times of abundance with his dear friend Glaucus.

But Sarpedon knows that he fights on behalf of other friends, as well as for the retaining of trade routes in Asia Minor, so he cannot stop fighting so easily. Ah, Father Zeus! If only things could have been peacefully resolved; if only Paris had not betrayed the honours given to a guest-friend by running off with his host's wife . . . even if she IS the loveliest mortal woman in the world.

A pretty face isn't worth thousands of men's lives.

Does Lord Menelaos even truly love her, the Lycian leader has to wonder, or does he simply love his House's honour too much to allow for it to be besmirched by a stripling ex-shepherd boy befriended by a goddess with severe vanity issues? He cannot speak of this to anyone other than his closest friend. No one else cares to understand the smallest reasons behind the war; his men are here simply to aid their Trojan allies. Thus, he must work it through alone or with Glaucus.

"Why do they give us honors, Glaucus? Why give us great halls and feasts and servants? I will tell you: so that it is our lot and our duty to lead men to war and do our Lycian blood to doom and death!" His friend listens, somber, and Sarpedon grows so as well: "I would wish that you had never come to Troy, Glaucus, but built a farm on the land of our fathers instead and raised a family there. Ah, if we could escape this war and live forever, I would never ask you to fight for me again. But simply as friends we would live on, like the gods of the age."

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GLAUCUS

He looks up to the captain of Lycia's shield- and spearmen with near religious devotion, so it is forever astounding that this great man would deign to converse with him, let alone consider him a friend! But Sarpedon does both, to the young soldier's incredulous gratitude.

Commanding a contingent of soldiers can be a a daunting task, particularly for a young sergeant with little battlefield experience before this Trojan war. The only person to whom he feels comfortable asking questions and divulging his fears to is Sarpedon.

They sit in the allied camp at night, toasting bread and boars' meat over the fire, along with the last shriveled apples from the Lycian orchards back home. And though Glaucus is young and not often given to nostalgic introspection, he feels a pang of sadness to see that the last of the apples are gone; and with them somehow flees his surety that they both shall make it home after this war. He articulates this fear:

"Sarpedon, great soldier, I hardly dare to ask this of you, but do you ever think that we may not see the voyage of safety home? That the gods have conscripted a time for us on the bloody fields of battle here to fall? Ending our lives bleeding out into the darkness as they watch or turn away as they will?" Glaucus shudders in response to his own words, and Sarpedon builds up the fire before responding low.

"Yes, Glaucus, I have indeed wondered if we can escape the shears of Atropos and if my father will decree that I shall arrive safely home in victory."

Glaucus is shocked. "Are you not certain he shall spare your life? He is the Lord of the Sky, after all!"

Sarpedon sighs and smiles, patting his younger friend's arm. "Of course he can spare me, but the real question is, would I WANT Zeus to spare my life if he could not save the lives of my men, my friends?"

Glaucus is silent and even more awed by the decency of this Lycian captain, who is so noble that he thinks not of his own death as the most horrifying thing, but that his life would be lessened by the loss of his friends. He finds himself inadequate by comparison. "How good you are, Sarpedon," he says wretchedly. "While I, a dull and muddy-mettled rascal, can only fear and hate the thought of my own demise. I am shamed." Glaucus drops his face in his palms, despairing, until gentle hands pull them apart and his captain kneels before him.

"Dear Glaucus," Sarpedon says tenderly. "I beg you not to be ashamed of the natural wish to avoid your own untimely death. I only think of others because I am a captain, and therefore have a duty to you and all my men. If you were to die, any of you, twould mean that I had not done my duty. I fail my spearmen if I am not a shield and buckler for their use." He has placed his hands on the younger man's shoulders, and they begin to shake with the extent of his emotions. Can this stalwart soldier fear, or is he simply feeling preemptive sorrow on behalf of his comrades? Whatever his feelings, Glaucus wishes he could provide some peace.

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SARPEDON

He tries to keep Glaucus' spirits up, but in the process brings down his own. Nevertheless he swears upon the River Styx that he will walk through Punishment for his Lycians if need be.

Now Glaucus leans gently into Sarpedon's side, providing his grateful captain some much-needed comfort. Sarpedon is not alone in having doubts and fears, and prays the two of them can deal with those fears and doubts together. Glaucus seems to hear the other's silent prayer, because he puts one arm around the elder soldier's shoulders bracingly. Sarpedon pats his young friend's knee in thanks.

They sit silent beside the fire until Glaucus nods off and Sarpedon covers him gently in an ox-hide before banking the flickering flames. He then lies down and gazes up at the stars, hoping that all of his men shall survive to see the rolling hills of Lycia after the conclusion of this brutal conflict.

***

Such hopes are dashed when the Greek army makes a brutal assault on Troy's gate the following morning. Glaucus was shot through the shoulder by Teucer, great Grecian warrior, as the Lycians rushed to halt the Argives' movement. The wound is wrapped now, making his captain slightly less frantic about the state of the shoulder, but still grief-stricken for Glaucus' incredible pain.

Sarpedon grows angry as the leader of the Greek onslaught now is Patroklos, therapon to Akhilles. He is wearing the horseman's armor, putting the Lycians into a panic and they turn to flee as he piles up the dead.

Sarpedon roars out, "Lycians, hold your ground! What, have you no pride? No wish to protect our allies still in Troy? And all because the great Akhilles' BOY has stolen his master's armor to mask his own unbearded face?! Well, then I shall take him on myself to save our allies and our honor!!!" Turning to Glaucus he smiles. "I must go now, my friend, to break Patroklos' spear upon his head. Be sure to hold the gate for my return."

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GLAUCUS

A lump fills Glaucus' throat with dread as he sees his friend flag down Thrasymelos -Thras- the driver of the captain's chariot, and grab his three choicest spears to hurl through the trunk of Patroklos. Heart in his mouth, he prays for his captain to score a mortal hit; just one will end the current bloodbath and bring him safely back behind Troy's wall.

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SARPEDON

He hefts his first spear as Thras takes him in close. Too close, as it turns out -suddenly a spearpoint opens the driver's guts and he topples, still clutching the reins.

Sarpedon's heart falls with his driver's innards and he wails in grief at the loss of a good man before driving his spear at the Grecian warrior, but it pierced the left shoulder of Patroklos' steed Bold Dancer instead. The animal fell and died with the worst scream in the world. Patroklos re-rights his chariot after cutting Bold Dancer's slack reins loose.

Sorrow for the horse's fate does not make Sarpedon's fury abate. He yanks free his own horses' reins from the dear driver's dead hands and steadies the beasts before hurling his second shaft at Patroklos's throat.

The shot went wide, arcing over his right shoulder instead -and Sarpedon, having leaped to the ground in order to increase the spear's force as he threw, has no way to reach the third spear in time to halt Patroklos' throw.

THUNK! Its hit strikes home as Sarpedon's eyes meet the rider's.

With a jolt his chest is pierced through. As he falls, he wrenches his head around to scream across the bloody dust to Glaucus still by the door. Sarpedon's eyes are blind with tears of rage and pain, but still he bellows: "Glaucus! Oh, dear friend, dear fighter, soldier's soldier! Now is the time to prove yourself a spearman, a daring man of war out here beyond the wall -range the ranks of Lycians- I give you my command! -range them and fight to take my body home to the fields and apple orchards! Hold on, dear boy, full forcefully . . . protect yourself and fight for me!" His heart's blood pouring, soaking the sand, runs his life out upon this last word and the great shieldsman Sarpedon falls with nary a noise.

His death makes no wrinkle in the immense span of the Trojan War, save in the hearts of those who knew and loved him well.

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GLAUCUS

He hears his dear friend's final cry as the captain falls, and his sight and hearing for long minutes fall away.

He sobs, his heart shattering, because the pain in his wounded arm will not allow him to raise or even grip a spear and fight to save Sarpedon's corpse.

He calls out to Apollo for strength to save the body of his friend, and the distant deadly Archer hears and answers his prayer. Glaucus runs, eyes streaming but head high, roaring at the Lycian host to preserve their captain's body. He leaps to their head to cradle Sarpedon whilst fighting off the Greeks; swearing to his dead comrade that he shall keep every man of Lycia alive and see them safely home.