Disclaimer: The Iliad belongs to Homer, I'm just writing this for fun.
Note from the authoress: I thought of this story idea after reading Margaret George's Helen of Troy. I know we see both the human and divine perspectives in Homer's Iliad, but I thought it would be a challenge to write a short story concerning the choices Zeus makes knowing the fate of Troy.
Feedback is always welcome.
Immortality. It was the one thing mortals desired above wealth, prosperity or glory. And yet they did not realize the price it demanded of all who shared in its joys. Only some among the race of men would be able to grasp the difficult and complex choices and burdens he carried as a ruler. For although they ruled cities and nations, no mortal king could comprehend the slow relentless march of forever, or carry the weight of the destiny of all beings.
Since his ascension to the throne of Olympus, few things had drawn his attention to the mortal world. Kingdoms and nations had risen and fallen according to the will of fate, yet none had captured his interest as thoroughly as the city of Troy.
He had watched over Ilium's destiny from the day of its construction, favored its rulers and given it a place of honor in the eyes of all men. Never did he lack for sacrifices from the people of Troy, nor was he forgotten by any of her kings. Perhaps his favor rested upon the Trojan people because the city had been founded by his offspring, or because the rulers of Troy sought to honor all the gods.
But these were not the only reasons he favored this mortal city. For at the core of Trojan thought resided a deep sense of honor seldom seen amongst humanity. Though many amongst the Greeks exhibited such qualities, their lives were not marked by the sheer daring and tenacity with which the sons of Troy lived their lives. Or perhaps he favored Ilium because he knew the terrible end that awaited all of Priam's subjects, and sought to give Troy a glorious history in recompense for all the suffering it was destined by the fates to endure.
Whatever the reason, all the gods were aware of his interest in Ilium, some like Apollo shared his interest and sought to protect the house of Troy from what lay ahead.
Yet as countless mortals had learned over the centuries, destiny could not be thwarted, by the efforts of mortal or god. And although he had the power to alter the destiny of Ilium, he refrained from intervening, knowing that the fates had already decided its course. He could do nothing but watch, and hope to delay the end for as long as possible by what means lay within his power.
He had tried to warn them. Using all of the signs mortals looked for from the heavens. Prophecies had been carefully constructed, giving warnings of the fate of that great city.
Ilium's queen had been given visions and omens of the fate of her people if she allowed her son to live. And it had all been in vain. For fate had long ago decided that Troy's ruin would be brought about by the actions of this son of Priam, regardless of the will of Zeus.
Troy's king and queen had heeded the prophecy, exposing their son on Mount Ida in the hopes that he would die. But as with all things, fate had determined that this child would play a part in the city's destruction.
And so the child had lived and grown to manhood on the slopes of Mount Ida. He had taken his place as a prince of Troy, and at the appointed time brought back from Sparta the daughter of a mortal queen and the Thunderer.
Throughout the war, he had continued to remain impartial, only intervening when a mortal who interested him lay close to death, or sought strength and glory from his hand.
It had been Hector, son of Priam and Hecuba, who had interested him out of all the hosts of Troy. For although Trojans and immortal deities had conceived children over the centuries, Hector was borne of two mortal parents. And yet he possessed a courage and strength which Zeus had not expected to see in the race of men.
And so he had sought to strengthen Ilium's greatest warrior during the bloody 10 year conflict, granted him success and glory that would be remembered long after his life thread had been severed by the hand of Atropos.
He had watched, as the seeds for Troy's destruction took root in the mind of cunning Odysseus. Knowing of Athena's hatred for Troy due to Paris's decision during the incident of Eris's golden apple, he had from the first suspected her influence in the crafting of the wooden horse.
Like the warriors concealed within, he had awaited the moment when the signal was given to emerge, knowing that he, like every Trojan that night, was helpless against the will of destiny.
It had been hard, to reject the countless petitions for mercy and deliverance poured out at his temples throughout the city. His anger had been kindled as he had watched the murder of Priam close to his sacred altar, and the other atrocities the Greeks had committed in the name of war. They had been drunk with the wine of victory and power, confident that any violent or brutal acts committed during the sacking of Troy would be overlooked by the immortal gods. Many a Greek warrior reasoned that as the city had fallen to their army, through the trickery of cunning Odysseus, then the gods had granted them success and would forgive their despicable behavior.
They could not know that he had remembered the names of each transgressor, seen their part in the sacking of Troy, and taken steps to ensure their punishment would be equal to the sorrow and carnage each had caused.
He had looked on as the infants of Troy were cast down from the city walls, watched the severing of each delicate thread which could never be woven into the tapestry of the universe. He knew each one's path, the place they were to have taken, the joys, sorrows and triumphs that these mortal children were now cheated of by the hand of war and bloodlust. And in that moment he had questioned why? For what purpose were these destinies formed, only to be cut off before their fulfillment?
Perhaps he reflected, the answer he sought lay within a mortal's need to safeguard his offspring and country. Were these mortal children permitted to live, that they might strengthen Ilium's warriors purpose to defend their homeland and loved ones? Then when destruction was sure, each thread was casually severed, their brief existence having served its purpose.
This was the explanation the fates had given, when he questioned them concerning the fate of the children of Ilium. Indeed, their attitude of regretful yet stoic indifference towards the fate of humankind reflected his approach when dealing with mortals. It was a viewpoint shared by his divine brethren over countless centuries. One he had never questioned until Ilium's destruction.
Yet he had been unable to prevent it, though he possessed the power, he was bound by the knowledge of Troy's destiny. Many would call him callous, cruel, or indifferent, claiming that all Olympians were unmoved by the struggles of humanity. They did not know of how he had wept at the death of his son Sarpedon, or sorrowfully looked on at the fiery end of Ilium, unable to intervene.
For in the end, mortal and god alike were merely the servants of destiny. And though he had sought to thwart it by aiding the Trojans, the will of fate was relentless in its proclamation that Ilium must fall. And neither the favor of the father of gods and men, nor the choices he had made seeking to preserve a city he respected and honored had stayed the hand of destiny.