Friday, 12 August 2011

#7Virtues Blog Challenge: Kindness

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.


Emilia Quill said...

I didn't remember that Helen was Leda and Zeus' daughter, though I've read both stories. You theory on the speck divinity sounds good.

Poor Andromache and Helen, I feel so sorry for both.

Meg McNulty said...

If I remember rightly after Zeus seduced Leda disguised as a swan she had various children - Helen and Clytemnestra from one egg and Castor and Pollux from the other. The jury is out on which children were Zeus and which were Leda's husbands and also which were divine and which mortal. For my purposes, due to Clytemnestra's sticky end I decided Helen was the one who had a touch of divinity. Lots of variant myths to play with though!

Lissa said...

Poor Helen gets stuck with a lot of blame about the wars, but I think you're right about the flow of god blood in her. Although it clearly hasn't made her a demi-goddess it did bring her the notice of Aphrodite and Paris. Although it's hard to feel sorry for a woman so beautiful she started a war. I mean, I know there were other issues as well, but that's what legends try to boil it down to.

Meg McNulty said...

Unless she was colluding with the Greeks to run away with Paris so they had a reason to attack Troy and steal its riches? Oh the possibilities are endless... I love the Iliad!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there are many myths and historical references that are not kind or fair. Like Tamora in Titus... hands and tongue cut off after she's raped by powerful(polically) men. Its a sad sad fate, I really enjoyed your story. well all of them really for the 7virtues challenge

David A Ludwig said...

I can get behind the spark of divinity for the reason Helen gets away better than Andromache. I do find Kindness one of the more endearing Virtues myself and you handle it well here.
Excited about the letters from Helen though, I'll have a lot to read in the near future.

Unknown said...

This story has a haunting quality to it, from the foreshadowing of the future.

Very nice!

Also, I checked out your sister's blog - love it! I added it to my google reader.

So you were disappointed by Captain America? I agree, there were a couple of things about it that were disappointing, but overall, I think it's worth seeing - especially if you're into those sort of movies (like my husband and I...).

Meg McNulty said...

@Katherine. Thank you! I sent a link to your blog to my sister too. I was disappointed by Captain America, and after Thor I really wasn't expecting to be. I thought the romantic tension and ending were good, and I thought that Chris Evans was really well cast and well acted. Also it looked great and the script was good. It was the storyline that let it down. Such a missed opportunity!

Meg McNulty said...

@David nice to see you back! I need to do more on Helen - I've been distracted by working on historical romance this week, because I need to polish a manuscript for the final round of a contest (yeay!).