Thanks to some lovely kind people over in Canada (I love Canadian people!) I'm in absolutely the right from of mind for 6th Heavenly Virtue in the bountiful Lady Antimony's#7Virtues blog challenge. Today it is the turn of:
Blood and dust. It’s all I have smelt for days. Flames from the funeral pyres lick the dusky sky and a mourning lament rolls out across Ilium’s wine dark sea. I press my veil against my lips, cold with horror. I brought this, white-armed Helen, Paris’ goddess-given prize. I brought the war-like Achaeans.
They hate me, these Trojans. I see their sidelong glances, hear whispered curses in my wake.
“Helen.” A gentle touch on my arm, a cup pressed into my hand. Andromache’s eyes are warm with understanding. She smiles and I shudder. Tomorrow Hektor dies. Will she smile then?
I think along with Temperance, Kindness is one of the Virtues I have enjoyed the most. For one thing it shows someone genuinely being kind and for another, it's exploring a character who really interests me.
Helen of Troy occupies an odd position in the mythic universe. She is universally known, but suffers from the fate of many beautiful women: she is judged solely by her looks. She interests me because, despite having caused a ten year war, at the end of Homer's epic cycle she escapes without any reprisal.
Other, more blameless women suffer far more. Andromache (picture above), who features in my story, is Hektor's wife and a Princess of Troy. She loses her husband in combat with Achilles, has her infant son murdered and is enslaved by Achilles' son. Helen goes off to enjoy a second honeymoon with her husband Menelaus.
So why is that? Just because she's pretty? Or because she's a wonderful diplomat? I like to think there is another reason. Helen is Zeus' daughter, by Leda and thus has some god-blood running in her royal veins. I like to think that this little speck of divinity renders women like her untouchable. They enjoy the same privileged amorality as the gods themselves. I don't imagine it would all be plain sailing for Helen though. You can read why in this flash fiction here.
Helen is a character I plan to explore more in Sisyphus, a fantasy novel currently in the planning stages. You can read her thoughts on the matter in her letters to Hermione, just starting over at Letters from Helen on Tumblr.
Take the Tour
I've loved reading the stories themed around the Heavenly Virtues that the other super talented participants in the Blog Challenge have posted. Please do read them - there are some amazing stories out there and you can find them by following the links on Lady Antimony's blog.