Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Midnight on the course from Iolcus

Whispered Argus the shipbuilder to Atalanta the huntress one starry night, standing at the helm of the Argo, as the languid waves of the Aegean lifted them away, away from the port of Iolcus: Yes, my dear, he may be an arrogant man, and reckless, but a useful captain nevertheless.

The plan is madness, surely, but strategy is for chess players… Straightforward invasions are often the most effective. Shiny columns of spearmen embark the galley, they cross the ford, they disembark. What else is there? War comes down to making the ships sail on time. This expedition is no different.

Whispered Atalanta the huntress in reply: Did you know that I was a princess by birth? As a child I was abandoned by my father, the king. That man left me to die deep in the Boeotian woods, simply for being born a girl, and I should rightly hate him for it. And yet it is my mother I hate. What do you say to that?

Answered Argus the shipbuilder: The hatred between mother and daughter is older than warfare, and older than shipbuilding.

They stood in silence, and the beams and boards of the Argo creaked under their feet: All except one plank, for it had been cut from the sacred grove at Dodona, and it knew how to be silent. The constellations turned silently above their heads, some with names like Perseus and Orion, and others nameless yet.

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