Disclaimer: I do not own Troy or any of the characters/events/places associated with it.
The nine Muses sing in voices sweeter than nightingales. They sing to kindle joy and happiness in the hearts of mortals and gods alike. They sing to invoke sadness and grief upon listeners. The Muses sing to spread the beauty of music and song. But mostly they sing so that the glories of the past will never be forgotten. They sing so that great achievements and acts will be remembered for years to come. Calliope - leader of the Muses - sings in her low and beguiling voice of epic poetry. Urania - more beautiful than the stars - sings of the msysteries yet unsolved in the world. Graceful Polyhymnia sings and mimes of the great bards of the past. Spirited Terpischore accompanies her music with dance as she illustrates beauty and joy. Melpomene sings in her soft and gentle voice of broken promises and failed endeavors and tragedies. Euterpe sings softly the glory and magnificence of the gods. Radiant Clio sings of wars and fame of the past. Sweet and lovely Erato - the most exquisite of the nine beautiful goddesses - sings songs that stir the hearts of men; she makes sure that tales of love and devotion are never forgotten through the course of time.
There is one song of love more powerful, beautiful, and heart-wrenching than all the others. It is not a story of how a beautiful princess and an overwhelmingly handsome god fall in love despite the objections of a powerful goddess. It is not a story of how a nymph loved one man so much that even he left her for another, she followed him to death and beyond. It is not even a tale of how a princess's love for her husband changed her, broke her, and strengthened her into a great heroine of history. This is a song about a man and a woman as different from each other as it is possible to be; a tale of how they met in the worst of circumstances; a ballad of how they overcame all obstacles and shared a love that lasted through wars, grief, deaths, and eternity itself.
She was a beautiful priestess of Apollo who swore to forsake all men for eternity. She grew up in the splendid gold-and-silver palace of Troy with a loving aunt and uncle and many caring cousins. She was taught to detest war and to love peace and harmony. She grew up sweet and content in the palace, obedient to her elders, and deferential to the gods. She was spirited and fun, yet respectful and intelligent. She looked down on most men, scoring them as beasts who cared for naught but war, thinking them as barbarians in comparison to the calm god Apollo. She was loved from the cradle, was taught that love and respect for the gods came above everything. She grew up with two favorite cousins who loved her - one was wise and gentle and the other impetuous and stubborn - yet she loved both of them equally. She was the last girl to experience Aphrodite's magic.
He was a handsome prince of Phtia who swore that he would gain immortality through glory and greatness. He grew up in a kingdom that was beautiful but wild, with a mother who was an immortal goddess and a father who was a hero warrior. He was taught all of the arts of fighting and war, and excelled at strategic fighting as well as pure combat. He grew up strong-willed and rebellious, serving no king but his father and challenging the gods themselves. He was not just a mindless warrior, but intelligent and thoughtful as well. But he was cold and near heartless, seeing the many women who fell in love with him as only playthings for his amusement, to be tossed aside whenever his fancy waned. He walked with the gods and walked with their confidence. He was taught that glory - the glory that one earns that elevates him above all others for eternity - is the prize to always strive for. He was taught from birth that emotions are for the weak; the strong have no need of them. He grew up caring for only three people: his mother, father, and his young, kindhearted cousin. He was the last man to love - and to admit to himself that he loved.
The two were as different as night and day. They lived in two kingdoms separated by the Aegean Sea. They lived completely different lives, had completely different goals, and were two completely different people. They had practically no chance of ever meeting each other face to face. They had no wish to travel to the kingdom where the other lived. The two probably should never have met.
Fate often has different ideas. Fate brought the unlikely people together in one -
But this is getting ahead of the story. A good and talented bard never sings a tale from the middle – it always has to start at the beginning. So let us go to the beginning of this tale, to the wedding banquet of Thetis the beautiful sea goddess and King Peleus of Phtia, a wedding attended by all the main gods and goddesses but one.
Goddess of strife Eris was not included in the invitations. Angered and greatly annoyed, she flew down to the banquet invisibly anyway, casting upon the table seating the gods a most beauteous golden apple. Inscribed upon it were the words: To the fairest. Three words that spelled destruction.
Instantly three beautiful goddesses claimed the apple, and it just so happens that these three goddesses are not minor ones. Oh no. These three are probably the most powerful of goddesses barring Themis herself: noble Hera who is Queen of the Heavens; striking Athena who is Goddess of Wisdom; and seductive Aphrodite who rules supreme over the most powerful force of nature of all – love.
The goddesses each claimed that the apple was obviously meant for her, and each was so stubborn that none would relent and withdraw her claim. Their argument lasted for years and years, and while they argued there was no peace on Earth or Mt Olympus. Finally, thunder-striking Zeus who rules over all wearied of the entire quarrel and decided to intervene.
"Someone must be declared the winner," he told his son Hermes, stroking his beard. "This cannot go on."
"But no god can judge," protested Hermes of the swift feet, messenger of the gods. "It would cause chaos."
And Hermes's words rang true. If a god or goddess judged it surely would cause chaos, perhaps another war among the gods. So it was settled by thunder-striking Zeus that the judge would be a mortal shepherd, one who would be fair and unbiased, and hopefully unimportant enough that nothing too disastrous would come of the whole affair. So he intended, and so Hermes intended to carry it out. Alas, Fate often has different plans for us.
Fate willed that the shepherd-judge be Paris, secret son of King Priam of Troy, abandoned because of his destiny that he would bring doom to Troy, and raised by a kindly shepherd. Fate willed it that weak-hearted Paris chose Aphrodite's seductive beauty and her shallow prize. Fate willed it that Aphrodite should pick Helen of Sparta as the most beautiful of all women, that Eros should shoot Helen with such skill that Helen forgot her love for her husband, forgot everything but lust for Paris, and gave up everything to run away with Paris back to Troy. Fate willed it that the Trojan War would be a war to be remembered for centuries to come.
A handsome young man and and a beautiful young woman, as different as night and day, who resided in two kingdoms separated by the Aegean Sea. Two people who never would have met had not Fate dictated otherwise. A young man and woman who would share the most powerful and spellbinding love of all, whose faith and love endured despite so many obstacles, whose love will be sung about for eons to come.
His name is Achilles. Her name is Briseis