|Of the Death of Patroclus
Author: HaloFin17 PM
Title pretty much says it all. Based on how the event was portrayed in the movie Troy plus a little extra.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Drama - Patroclus & Achilles - Words: 2,719 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 10 - Published: 07-15-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3047527
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: Title says it all. Based on how the event was portrayed in the movie "Troy." Rated T for violence, just in case. Enjoy, and feel free to review!
Disclaimer: I do not own the plot or characters for "Troy" or the Iliad.
The Death of Patroclus
Prince Hector of Troy stared solemnly down at the smoking Greek encampments along the sandy beach below him. He then looked back over his shoulder at the lines of armored men who marched behind him, ready for battle. He had not favored this strategy of attacking the Achaean ships. Despite the fair omens presented by Apollo's priests, Hector believed that attacking the Greeks now would only unite them, even in the midst of dissension, against a common enemy.
And united Greek forces would mean the reappearance of the man who had so skillfully murdered Tecton and blatantly desecrated Apollo's statue. Hector shuddered. Though their only meeting had been brief, he had successfully memorized every visible feature of this gifted warrior. Memorized them and hated them. Hated them with an insatiable passion. He wanted desperately to confront the killer and test his own skills against those of the other man.
But now, the battle before him was commencing. The Greeks had emerged to defend their ships and were moving steadily forward to meet the Trojan army. Feeling the heat of battle mount within him, Hector turned back to his troops and, uttering a mighty cry of war, led them stampeding down toward the Achaeans.
The awesome crash that followed shook the two armies as a great peal of thunder rocks the stormy sky. And so the bloodshed began. Hector lost no time in employing his own sword, soon spilling the blood of many fine men. As he scanned the battlefield, he recognized Odysseus, King of Ithaca, but nowhere did he see the imposing figure of the man who was by far the greatest of Greek warriors. His confidence now at a height, Hector plunged on farther into the titanic struggle, slaughtering as he went.
Odysseus recognized Prince Hector, as well, and felt a shudder of grim foreboding run through his frame. The Greeks needed Achilles. Without him, Hector might very well decimate their entire army! Odysseus himself was a skilled fighter, true, but by no means did he consider himself to be the equal of Hector. Oh, if only Achilles would renounce his overbearing pride and return to battle!
At that very moment, a loud cry arose from behind the Greek lines, and the masses turned to joyfully behold the sprinting figure of Achilles himself, the morning sun finally breaking over the horizon behind him! Following after him rushed the formidable Myrmidons, all of whom were clad in black armor and eager to engage in the combat.
Odysseus grinned in disbelieving relief as the dark swarm of men hurried along the sands to reach the battlefield. Achilles had returned, come at last to do what he did best! And from the Greek forces, the one-word cry of "Achilles" could be heard echoing across the beachhead.
Prince Hector heard it, too, their cry. He stood watching in uncertainty for a moment, repeating the newly-learned name softly to himself in antipathy. "Achilles…" At last, he turned once again to his troops and gave a cry to urge them onward against their newest foes.
The Myrmidons finally reached the thick of battle, and another terrific clash of armies followed. Achilles hit the Trojan ranks and immediately began to slaughter, swinging his sword back and forth in the graceful yet efficient manner for which he was so well known. The entire Greek army had benefited from his return as well, experiencing a tremendous revival of their spirits.
Odysseus was no exception, fighting with a renewed intensity. But he, as did every other Greek and Trojan alike, ceased his own endeavors when he saw that Achilles and Hector, the greatest of the great, had at last come face to face. The soldiers had involuntarily made a ring of themselves, leaving an open area in which the two renowned champions could compete. Many other notable captains lined the ring of soldiers at its front, among them Odysseus, Achilles' comrade Eudorus, and the veteran Trojan general, Glaucus.
The fateful combat began with a heavy blow delivered by Achilles. Hector blocked the swing with his shield and countered with one of his own, equally strong and aggressive, but the swift son of Peleus eluded his enemy's blade. So it went on for some time, the two contestants both fighting valiantly but never quite attaining an advantage over the other.
At last, Achilles struck out toward Hector with an exceptionally powerful stroke. But Hector ducked to avoid the blow, and Achilles' momentum carried him farther than he had anticipated, leaving himself temporarily unprotected. The brief opening that followed gave the Trojan prince just long enough to stretch out his own sword and slash his opponent viciously across the throat, not quite so deep as to kill instantly but just deep enough to bring about a slow and painful demise.
There was a moment of shocked disbelief on both sides as the godlike Achilles slowly released hold of his sword and fell backward, as a lofty tree is uprooted and thrown down by a mighty wind. Finally, as the great warrior hit the ground, coughing up a dark cloud of blood, a loud shout of ecstasy erupted among the Trojans, for they knew that their prince was the victor.
But the Greeks stood rooted to the ground in stunned silence. The eyes of Odysseus and Eudorus were fixed upon the prostrate body of their friend and captain, refusing to believe that the mighty Achilles had fallen by Hector's sword!
Hector himself stood in silence beside the fallen form of his victim, a faint smile playing on his lips as he quietly thanked the gods for the victory that had no doubt saved Troy from utter ruin. Yet, as he stood there, looking down at his enemy, a terrible feeling of dread began to form in the bottom of his stomach and slowly crept outward until it had infected his entire frame. Prince Hector knew well the physical features of Achilles, and he now felt a sudden, burning desire to look fully into the face of the warrior he had just lain low.
Oblivious to all else around him but still feeling that horrible dread, Hector slowly knelt down beside his fallen foe. After lifting up a brief, silent prayer to Apollo, he reached over and, with a surprising amount of gentle care, removed Achilles' helmet from his head. But, as Hector had feared, it was not Achilles' face that looked back at him. The person returning his gaze was just a boy, not possibly more than seventeen or eighteen years old. Prince Hector's spirits, along with all of his hopes for Troy's survival, were brutally dashed to shatter on the ground at this revelation. He had not killed the great Achilles.
The Greek forces, upon seeing Patroclus' young face beneath Achilles' helmet, were awakened from their own daze, but the shock was soon replaced by sheer grief. Achilles' beloved cousin, the one man he cared for most on earth and the congenial comrade of all the Greeks, had received his death wound at Hector's hand.
At the moment, however, Patroclus still lived. Torrents of red blood engulfed his lacerated throat and flowed freely from his nose and mouth. He was gasping loudly, having to fight for every breath of air he now took. But between gasps, he managed to moan and cry out helplessly in his pain; yet even this was interrupted by the coughing up of his own blood which slowly choked him, drowning him in its relentless crimson flood. After desperately scanning the crowd around him for familiar faces, he at last turned his weakening gaze to Hector, his killer, and looked up at him in anguish with deep blue eyes that were half-frightened, half-pleading.
Hector just stared back at him, still unmoving in disbelief. "Why?" he pleaded wordlessly, raising his eyes heavenward. "Why this? What must I do to defend my country?"
But the agonizing groans of the slowly dying boy soon brought him back to reality.
Filled with pity, remorse, and quiet disgust, Hector at last picked up his sword and, with a desperate cry, plunged it deep into the youth's heaving chest. It was, at the very least, the only act of mercy that Hector could have shown; for Patroclus was dead, relieved of his torment, almost immediately after the bronze weapon had been wrenched from his tender heart.
The Trojan prince then rose and walked slowly back to where the vast lines of men stood still and silent. Odysseus came over toward Hector as well, still struggling to recover from the shock and sorrow that gnawed away ruthlessly at his own spirit.
"Enough for today." Hector's words were the first spoken in what, to the soldiers, seemed like ages.
"Yes," Odysseus said quietly, nodding in agreement. It was still early in the day, but this day had already seen more than enough bloodshed.
"Back to the ships!" the Ithacan king called loudly, shattering the silence with his command. The mass of warriors began to break up as the Greeks returned to their ships and the Trojans to their city. After a moment, Odysseus looked back at Hector's face and saw the prince staring down once again at the young man he had slain.
"That was his cousin," he murmured just loud enough to reach Hector's ears alone. Upon hearing this, Hector broke out of his daze, feeling the formation of a new and even more terrible dread within his heart. Achilles' cousin. The dread had a firm hold now, and Hector knew that it would never let go. He had just killed Achilles' cousin, and the mighty warrior surely would not rest until he felt the death had been justly avenged. Prince Hector at last turned back toward Troy, his beloved city, knowing full well that this night would be his last among the living.
Faithful Eudorus had been the first to reach the body of Patroclus. He now knelt beside his young friend in sorrow, reaching over to gently close the boy's eyes which had remained open and unblinking in death. He then turned toward Odysseus who had come to kneel down next to him.
"We were going to sail home today," Eudorus quietly informed his companion after a brief silence.
Odysseus' simple reply was laced with grim foreboding. "I don't think anyone's sailing home now."
Eudorus did not respond right away but only sat in contemplative silence, gently stroking Patroclus' blonde hair. Tears of deep sorrow welled up in his eyes and streamed unheeded down his cheeks.
"How could I have been so foolish, so ignorant, to not see plainly that it was not Achilles?" he asked despairingly, shaking his head in bitter frustration. "How? I who have known Achilles himself for so long; how could I not tell? This is my fault. I should have known. I should have been there to stop him, or at least to protect him from Hector's wrath, even if it meant giving up my own life. It's my fault."
Odysseus shook his head. "No," he said, attempting to comfort his comrade. "No. It's no more your fault than it is mine. We were all blind to the truth until it was too late. But we cannot be held fully responsible for what happened. Patroclus looked and acted very much like Achilles. Although, I must confess that, in the end, I was not surprised. It was almost as though I had been suspecting it all along."
"Yes. Suspecting that something was wrong, but not acting on the feeling. And you're right. We were deceived. No one here could have imitated Achilles better than Patroclus. Achilles taught him everything he knew about fighting, and he had seen Achilles himself fight many times. It would not have been difficult for him to deceive us all."
"As we well found out."
Eudorus sighed. "But I suppose now we had best take his body back to the ships." He paused. "Back to Achilles."
Odysseus nodded. "I'll go with you, Eudorus. I won't make you tell Achilles alone."
"Thank you, my friend. But, with all due respect, I would inform him on my own. With just the two of us. It's only fair, I think."
"All right. If you're certain."
"I am. But will you assist the Myrmidons and me in bearing him back?"
So, with the aid of four other Myrmidons, they slowly bore the body of Patroclus back to the Argive ships, laying him on his bed in the protecting shelter of his tent.
Odysseus now gone, Eudorus and the Myrmidons reluctantly returned along the beach, halting when they came to Achilles' tent. Eudorus then stepped forward, away from the others. He hesitated just briefly before taking a deep breath and calling out the name of his commander.
There was a short yet agonizing pause before the great warrior finally emerged from his shelter, clad only in a loose-fitting rope. He had been smiling, but the warm grin was erased as soon as he beheld his troops, bloody and dirty, newly returned from a battle he had certainly not led them into.
"You violated my command," he said flatly after a moment's silence.
Eudorus dropped to his knees on the coarse sand as a gesture of obeisance to Peleus' mighty son and humbly shook his head.
"No, my lord. There was a mistake."
"I ordered the Myrmidons to stand down," Achilles continued with mounting anger, "and you led them into combat."
"I did not lead them, my lord," Eudorus again pleaded. He paused before continuing. "We thought you did."
Foreboding suddenly washed over Achilles' mind like a great wave, showing plainly on his face. He tried to conceal the weakness he now felt, but was not successful. His eyes frantically searched the cluster of armored men before him, yet he did not find the one he sought.
"Where is Patroclus?" Hearing no reply, he proceeded to call out his cousin's name in vain hope of receiving an answer. "Patroclus!"
Eudorus again spoke. "We thought he was you, my lord," he explained ruefully. "He wore your armor, your shield, your greaves, your helmet. He even moved like you!"
But Achilles would hear no more. "Where is he?" he shouted, striking Eudorus to the ground in the heat of his rage.
The girl Briseis then came running from Achilles' tent and stopped a short distance behind her captor, looking on in apprehension.
"Where?" Though still choked with anger and already stifled with grief, Achilles' voice this time was more of a plea than a demand.
Eudorus finally had no choice but to speak plainly of the boy's fate. He looked up at his captain from his place on the ground with tear-filled eyes.
"He's dead, my lord. Hector cut his throat."
Achilles' grief came over him like a black cloud. His breath came in short gasps as he struggled to fully absorb what he had just been told. At last, his rage overcame all other emotions.
Blinded by fury, Achilles took out his aggression on Eudorus, the only one there to receive it. He placed his foot hard upon his comrade's neck, pushing him mercilessly back down onto the abrasive sand.
"No! Stop!" It was Briseis who now came running toward Achilles, hoping to bring him to his senses and end the destructiveness of his wrath. But even her presence had no effect on the indomitable warrior. He only turned on her as well, grabbing her by the throat and throwing her roughly to the earth.
At last, Achilles left her and Eudorus lying there, both gasping for air and trembling in fear. He then walked wordlessly over toward the sea, oblivious to the men around him who rose respectfully at his approach, leaving Achilles alone to drown in the torrential waters of his own rage and grief.