All posts tagged Helen

The Parallel Tale of Neaera

Published January 15, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

So, I’ve read the portion in which I was interested of the other library book from last semester now.  The book is Hellenistic Collection, edited and translated by J.L. Lightfoot, part of the Loeb Classical Library.  Most of the book is just fragments from the work of Hellenistic authors.  The one portion I wanted to read, however, was a complete work by Parthenius of Nicaea, called (in this translation) Sufferings in Love.

Parthenius barely qualifies as Hellenistic:  he was taken to late Republican Rome (as a prisoner?) following the Mithridatic Wars, and allegedly is the man who taught the Greek language to Vergil.  (I say “allegedly” because our source for that claim was writing several centuries later, and therefore not really in a position to be a good authority.)  The work, Sufferings in Love, is a prose collection of tales of unhappy romances, which — according to the preface he wrote — he sent to a Roman poet so that he might use some or all of the tales as the basis for some of his poems.  (If the poet did write any of these tales in verse, they didn’t survive.)  Having seen the source mentioned somewhere, I looked into it last semester to see if it mentioned Dido and thus established her as having a pre-Vergilian origin, but of course it didn’t.  (It did tell a tale somewhat similar to hers, though, with Odysseus as the man involved.)  It sounded interesting, though, so I thought I’d check it out and read it over the break, just in case it had any tales useful to me.  (And sure enough, it did turn out to be the source of some of the obscure side-stories of the Trojan War that I’d been wondering where they came from.)

But once of them particularly struck me, and immediately made me wonder how old the story was, and if it was purely mythological, or (allegedly) based on real people.  (Some of the stories were expressly written about historical people, while others were obviously mythological.  And then there’s stories like this one, that make up a gray area that could go either way.)  So I want to quote this whole story to you now.


This story is told in the first book of Theophrastus’ Responses to Political Crises

(1) Hypsicreon of Miletus and Promedon of Naxos were the greatest of friends.  When once Promedon came to Miletus it is said that the other man’s wife fell in love with him.  While Hypsicreon was around, she dared not speak to the guest; but after a time, when Hypsicreon happened to have gone abroad and the other was again staying with her, Neaera sallied forth against him by night when he was in bed. (2) First she tried to persuade him; but when he would not give in, through reverence for Zeus in his capacity as patron of friendship and hospitality, she had the maidservants bar the door.  And in this way, what with Neaera employing many forms of seduction, he was forced to have intercourse with her. (3) On the next day, however, thinking that he had done a dreadful thing, he went sailing back to Naxos.  Neaera sailed to Naxos too, in fear of Hypsicreon; and when Hypsicreon asked for her back, she stationed herself as suppliant on the hearth in the prytaneum. (4) Though Hypsicreon was insistent, the Naxians refused to surrender her, yet urged that he might take her if he could persuade her.  Hypsicreon thought this treatment outrageous, and persuaded the Milesians to declare war on the Naxians.

Sounds a bit familiar, eh?  And yet, the differences are also striking:  the adultery is purely the wife’s idea, she leaves of her own will (and possibly not even together with her “lover”), and the people of the other man’s home would return her if they could but religious duty to respect the sanctity of taking shelter with the gods prevents them.

I keep wondering if this is supposed to be true, to explain a real war, or if this is just a myth.  If it is pure myth, is there any chance it pre-dates the version of the Trojan War we know?  Could there have been a version without the adulterous wife angle?  (Admittedly, it’s hard to conceive of one, because the familiar version is stuck in our heads so well, but if the myth is in any way based on real warfare between Wilusa and the Mycenaean Greeks, it was just as likely to be financial and/or part of the larger struggle between the Mycenaeans and the Hittites as to be anything else.)

However, as cool as that would be, it’s probably the other way around:  this story was more likely to have been inspired by the Trojan War than vice-versa.  An earlier tale in Parthenius’ collection also comes from the same Theophrastus source, and tells of the end of this war, in which one of the besieged Naxian maidens falls in love with one of the Milesian warriors.  This happened a lot in the Trojan War…and it wasn’t always Achilles they fell in love with…though it usually was.  In a twist on the usual Trojan version (at least two towns were sacked by Achilles because the princess of the town fell in love with him and let him and his men into the city…resulting in him having her put to death for her treachery), the Naxian maiden convinces…wait, no, it was the Milesian who fell in love with her, not vice-versa.  But that also happens in the Trojan War, for example in late versions where Achilles falls in love with Polyxena.  Anyway, the Naxian maiden convinces her Milesian suitor to turn traitor and let the Naxian men into the Milesian fortress (though Parthenius’ version doesn’t previously mention a fortress, so his story may have been a bit garbled) so that they can defeat the enemy and lift the siege.  Naturally, both maiden and warrior end up dead, but they’re given the burial of heroes.

The similarity — in opposite — of the Naxian maiden’s behavior and that of the princesses of Methymna and Pedasos, as well as the similarity of what the Naxian maiden convinces her lover to do with the what the Trojans attempt to convince Achilles to do for Polyxena…both do seem to indicate that Theophrastus was purposefully subverting the Trojan War tale.  (As do the two warring cities.  Miletus was on the Anatolian coast, and the Mycenaean Greeks gained control of it at least once in the Late Bronze Age (not the Hellenistic writers likely knew that detail) and the Hittites were trying to keep control of it.  Naxos is a Greek island, unlike land-locked Sparta, but the significant part is that it’s purely Hellenic, while Miletus by dint of its location is more “barbaric,” no matter how many of its residents are Hellenes.)  And yet I don’t know how much of the Achilles/Polyxena story existed prior to the Roman Imperial period.  All the surviving versions I know of were written during the rule of the Roman Empire.  That doesn’t mean the story didn’t exist previously, of course, but without an earlier source, we can’t be sure if it did or didn’t.  Was the story first invented to explain why Polyxena was sacrificed at Achilles’ tomb, or was the story of her sacrifice invented because he was already said to have been infatuated with her?

It’s kind of a chicken-and-the-egg debate, you know?  Even if an ancient text is discovered that’s much older than our existing texts, and it tells one of those stories, unless the author expressly states that they’re the first ever to tell the tale (as Stesichoros did with his tale of Helen never even going to Troy) we can’t know if the author invented the story, or if it was circulating for hundreds of years first.  (Usually, anyway.  We can be pretty sure that Euripides invented the tale of Medea murdering her children because of the scholiast who said that rumor had it the Corinthians bribed Euripides to shift the blame from their ancestors to Medea.  That sort of rumor wouldn’t have spread if versions in which Medea killed her children already existed.)

Sometime, I should try and learn whatever I can about Theophrastus and his Responses to Political Crises, and see what we know about it.  From the way the footnotes in this book talked, I get the feeling that Theophrastus’ work is no longer extant, so I can’t just consult it directly, but there may be references to it that make it clear if it’s a history with that theme, or more of a philosophical/ethical discussion of how people might respond to such crises.

No idea when I’ll get around to doing that kind of research, but at least this post will be here to remind me I wanted to look into it.

Pyrrha: A Play, scenes 10 and 11

Published August 15, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, see this page.  Scene 11 is one of my favorites; Aias and Pyrrha discuss the causes of the war.


Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Day)

Lycomedes sits on his throne, looking glum. Diphilos enters, and bows before him.

Diphilos: Good morning, sire.

Lycomedes: Forget the good mornings. Did you give her my ring?

Diphilos: She would not take it from me, sire. From the look upon her face, I’m sure she hoped to hear from you directly, not through an intermediary.

Lycomedes: Says the man who insisted on acting as an intermediary.

Diphilos: In the normal scheme of things, that is the way this would proceed.

Lycomedes: (to himself) Scheme is right. (to Diphilos) What did she say in refusing the ring?

Diphilos: Nothing meaningful, your majesty. I’m sure she feared a trick.

Lycomedes sighs.

Lycomedes: Precisely what do you think her mother instructed her before leaving the girl here?

Diphilos: I cannot say precisely, sire. I’m quite certain she was trained to incite you to love her, though. Her glances at you cannot be understood in any other way. The question is what you intend from her.

Lycomedes: You know what I intend.

Diphilos: Yes, but she does not. Perhaps her fear is that you will simply discard her after you have had your fill of her.

Lycomedes: I see how that could worry her. But so long as she can give me a son, she will have nothing to fear; what her virtue will lose, her honor will regain. Read the rest of this entry →

Pyrrha: A Play, Scenes 5 and 6

Published August 9, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

For the earlier scenes, consult the links on this page.  Scene 5 is where the play really picks up, because it’s when Patroclos and Aias arrive.  Yay!  (Yes, I’m biased.  So what’s your point?)

Scene: Megaron of Lycomedes (Day)

The throne is empty. Aias and Patroclos enter.  Aias is an enormous man, but Patroclos is of a more normal size.  Both wear armor and carry a sword, but only Patroclos has a shield.  {Shields, as I forgot to mention in discussing Bronze Age armor, tended to be gigantic in the Bronze Age, and warriors literally had to have guards on the backs of their ankles to protect them from chafing from their shields.  (Seriously, there’s mention of those guards in the Iliad, in talking about Hector’s shield.)  Aias does not have his shield with him because his was larger than most, and carrying it outside of battle is impractical.}

Aias: Hoh? No one at home?

Patroclos: Is it just me, or does this feel like a trap?

Aias laughs.

Aias: It’s just you.

Patroclos: “They will be welcomed as royally as they deserve.” That didn’t sound suspicious to you?

Aias: It’s just flowery court talk.

Patroclos grimaces.

Patroclos: I don’t know why they sent me on this mission, anyway. What do I know about courts and kings?

Aias: Ask Odysseus.

Patroclos: I’d rather not.

Aias laughs.

Aias: How long are we going to be made to wait?

He looks around.

Aias: (shouting) Is the palace deserted?

Patroclos: Don’t shout like that!

Lycomedes, Polyphonos and others enter.

Lycomedes: My pardon, guests! I was preparing for your arrival.

Aias: And yet you missed it.

Patroclos: (sotto) A-Aias! That’s rude!

Lycomedes turns to his servants.

Lycomedes: Fetch some wine immediately! Have the feast made ready at once!

Several servants bow, and run from the room.

Aias: We can talk business while we wait.

Lycomedes: I should not like to be so rude as to ask my guests’ business before they’ve supped.

Aias: You’re not asking. I’m offering.

Lycomedes coughs uncomfortably. Patroclos is stifling laughter.

Polyphonos: I’m sure it won’t offend the gods, sire.

Lycomedes sighs, and takes a seat on his throne.

Lycomedes: Very well, then. The herald said he worked for Aias, son of Telamon. No other man could have such godlike proportions, so you must be he.

Aias: (laughing) Godlike?

Patroclos: Yes, he is Aias, sire.
Read the rest of this entry →

Q is for Queens

Published April 20, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Not the “men dressed as women” kind of queens.  Though Greek myths do have their share of those, too.

There are a number of queens in Greek myths, starting with the jealous and oft-betrayed Queen of the Gods, Hera, who is a type unto herself.

Most other Queens fall into certain types.  You have the “perfect” queens, the ones who are so faithful to their husbands that they’ll do anything–even die–for them.  Penelope, wife of Odysseus, and Alcestis, wife of Admetos, are prime examples of this type.  And let us never forget the regal Hecabe, Queen of Troy!

Then you have the scheming, would-be adulteresses.  Anteia/Stheneboa, who tried to seduce Bellerophon, and Phaidra, who tried to seduce her own step-son Hippolytos, are both good examples, though there are many others.  (Peleus, father of Achilles, was also beset by one such woman, who was the wife of Acastos, son of Pelias.)

And, of course, you have a great number of queens who fall into the “wife of so-and-so” or “mother of so-and-so” department, and don’t actually play any kind of role in any story.  They’re faithful, but not remarkably so:  they’re never given any opportunity to show any great loyalty to their husbands and/or children.  Many of these types don’t even have names:  for example, we know that Telamon, King of Salamis, had a wife, because she gave him a son, Aias, and allowed her husband’s bastard, Teukros, to be raised up in the palace like a proper son, but there are numerous names on record for her, and none are considered “the right” name, per se.  (It doesn’t help that the Iliad doesn’t mention the name of Aias’ mother, and any of the plays that might have mentioned her are lost.)

Read the rest of this entry →

I is for Iphis

Published April 10, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I’ve mentioned her before–and I’ll likely mention her again–but Iphis is one of the least known figures in Greek myths.  Seriously, she’s only mentioned like twice in all the surviving literature.  I have a general reference book called “Who’s Who in Classical Mythology” that has three entries under the name Iphis, and none of them are about the woman I’m talking about.  But most well-educated ancient Greeks probably knew about her, because one of those two surviving mentions was in one of the two texts that every boy learned from his pedagogue.  (Most girls, sadly, did not.)  Would you like to hear that mention?

Let me rephrase that, as I’m not about to record myself speaking it and put it up as an .mp3 or something.

Would you like to read the quote?  Because I’m going to quote it regardless:

Achilles slept in the hut, and beside him the rosy-cheeked Diomede, a daughter of Phorbas whom he had brought from Lesbos.  Patroclos lay opposite, and he also had his companion, Iphis, whom Achilles gave him after the capture of Scyros.  (W.H.D. Rouse translation, end of Book IX)

Okay, yes, I didn’t need to quote the first sentence, but it fits nicely with the only other surviving mention that I’m aware of.  (It’s not like I’ve read even a quarter of the surviving texts, after all.  But a search on the Perseus Project only turned up that line from the Iliad.  Which is odd, since the other mention is also on their site.)  The other mention is in Pausanias’ Description of Greece, in the book on Phocis and Ozolian Locri.  Chapter 25, section 4 is part of the description of a painting by Polygnotus depicting Troy just after it fell to the Greeks:

Briseis is standing with Diomeda above her and Iphis in front of both; they appear to be examining the form of Helen.  (Translation by W.H.S. Jones.)

Sadly, Pausanias doesn’t tell us anything about their facial expressions, nor does he voice any speculations regarding why they’re looking at Helen.  But presumably they’re wondering how this one woman has so managed to destroy their lives and is just sitting there calmly, having–essentially–gotten away with it.

Read the rest of this entry →

Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 11, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Once more, it’s Words Crush Wednesday, and I’m still in the process of trying to quote one of my favorite parts of the Iliad, the duel between Menelaos and Paris.  (How long have I been building to this now?  Four or five weeks?  Maybe my quotes are too short.)  Last week, Paris, having been brow-beaten by Hector, finally agreed to fight Menelaos, but only if it was a one-on-one, formal duel, with Helen, her wealth (a very important point!) and the war itself at stake.  There are speeches about it as Hector proposes the duel to the Greeks, and as Menelaos gladly accepts, but (as promised) I’m skipping over those, as they don’t really add anything new to the proceedings, per se, apart from the need to have Priam come down and swear his oath that the duel will end the war.  I was going to skip straight to the duel now, but…I had to quote this part, because I really like it.  Still in Book III, still the W.H.D. Rouse translation.  As some set-up, Iris (messenger of the gods) has taken on the guise of one of Priam’s daughters.

Iris found Helen in her room.  She was weaving a great web of purple stuff, double size; and embroidering in it pictures of the battles of that war which two armies were waging for her sake.  Iris came up to Helen and said:

“Come along, my love, and see a wonderful sight!  They were all fighting in the plain like fury, and now all of a sudden they are sitting down, not a sound to be heard, no more battle, all leaning upon their shields, and their spears stuck in the ground!  But Alexandros and Menelaos are going to fight for you! and you are to be the wife of the winner!”

These words pierced Helen to the heart.  She longed for her husband of the old days, for home and family.  At once she threw a white veil over her, and left the house quickly with tears running down her cheeks.

This leads into the famous “Helen on the Wall” sequence, in which she identifies various of the Greek leaders for Priam and the Trojan elders.  I like some of that a lot, and may quote it later, but next week I really will move on to the duel itself, I promise.  I just had to quote this part in passing, because I love the fact that Helen regrets what’s happening, and at this point wants nothing more than to go home to her daughter and her true husband.  (Possibly also to her father; he may still be a live at this point.  Or rather, in some stories he definitely is, and in others it doesn’t come up.  I don’t think it comes up in the Iliad or the Odyssey, so I don’t know if Tyndareos was considered to be still alive in Homeric times.)

I’ve seen people talk about Helen weaving that tapestry and describe it as an act of vanity on her part, but that’s not how I see it.  I see it as her way of mourning all the good lives being cut short because of something she no longer has any power to stop.  In fact, she never really had any power to stop it, not in the Homeric version; the war was the will of the gods.  (In some of the Athenian tragedies, especially Euripides’ Trojan Women, that’s no longer the case.)


You know, I think when I finally finish with this duel, I’m going to move on to passages that highlight the greatness of my two favorite Achaian champions:  Patroclos and Aias.  Particularly Patroclos.  He doesn’t get enough love (except from Achilles) and that needs to change!

Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 4, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Yep, it’s Words Crush Wednesday, and we’re still in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  Last week, Hector had just finished chewing Paris out for turning tail and running at the first sight of Menelaos.

Alexandros replied:

“That is true enough, Hector, that is true enough.  Your heart is always hard as steel.  Like a shipwright’s axe, when he slices off a spar from a tree with all the strength of a man!  A hard heart indeed!  Don’t taunt me with Aphrodite’s adorable gifts.  You can’t throw away a god’s gifts, offered unasked, which none could win by wishing.

“Very well now, if you want me to fight, make both armies sit down on the ground, and put me between them with Menelaos to fight for Helen and all her wealth.  Whichever proves the better man, let him take both wealth and woman home with him.  Then let both sides swear friendship and peace:  you to stay in Troy, they to go back to Argos, where there are plenty of fine women!”

Normally, I’d Anglicize Alexandros into Alexander, but I wanted to stick to Rouse’s transliterations.  I need to check some other translations, and see what they say where this one says “hard as steel” on account of steel is just an eensy weensy anachronism.  (Unlike an eensy weensy arachnid.  No, wait, that should be “itsy bitsy,” shouldn’t it?)  Anyway, when Alexander says “Argos” he really means “Greece”:  the Homeric texts use “Achaians”, “Danaans” and “Argives” interchangeably to refer to the Greek forces at Troy.  (Technically, they’re not so much “interchangeable” as they are required to fit the insanely demanding metric form.)  So in this case, he used Argos rather than Achaia or…actually, there isn’t a place name to fit “Danaan” and I don’t think Hellas is ever used to refer to Greece as a whole in the Homeric texts.  (Certainly its ethnic descriptor, Hellene, is only applied to a few groups in the Catalog of Ships, so it seems unlikely that Hellas would be used any more widely.)

Anyway, next week I’ll skip over the formalities and the oaths, and Helen on the wall (though I might come back to that later), and finally get to the meat of the duel…if it can really be called that.  LOL!

Ugh.  It’s already Wednesday, but I’ve only barely written the first draft of the paper due tomorrow…and I’m not sure I can bring myself to care enough to revise it tonight.  Plus I haven’t even started on tomorrow’s myth.  (Admittedly, that’s not actually important.  But it’s something I actually want to do, unlike that paper.  Besides, I’ve kind of been looking forward to trying to tackle Ixion.)  For that matter, I haven’t even gone back to my books to check if I screwed up last week’s myth.



Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published February 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Last week on Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version, Hector was berating his handsome brother Paris for his cowardly ways.  Return with us now, to the wide plains before the gates of Troy, as we continue quoting from the Iliad, Book III, W.H.D. Rouse translation:

“Were you like this when you got your fine company and set sail over the sea, and travelled in foreign lands, and brought home a handsome woman?  She was to marry into a warlike nation, she was to be the ruin of your father and all his people, a joy to your enemies, a disgrace to yourself!  So you would not stand up to Menelaos?  You ought to find out what sort of fellow he is whose wife you are keeping.  There would be little use then for your harp and the gifts of Aphrodite, your fine hair and good looks, when you lie in the dust.  Well, the Trojans are all cowards, or you would have had a coat of stone long ago for the evil you have done!”

Hector doesn’t mince his words, eh?  (The translators usually add a footnote to point out that the “coat of stone” bit is Hector saying that if the Trojans had a little more courage, they would have stoned Paris (and possibly Helen?) to death.)

The bit about “She was to marry into a warlike nation” is intriguing to me:  when the poem was originally written, the Trojans were apparently considered more warlike than the Spartans, or so it would seem.

(No, I don’t know why I felt like prefacing the quote as if it was a TV show.)


Words Crush Wednesday – Homeric Version

Published January 28, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I wasn’t originally planning to do the “blogging events” assignment for Blogging101, but I couldn’t think of anything to write today, so I decided I’d do the “Words Crush Wednesday” thing.  (Whether I keep at it will probably depend on if I have anything I actually want to say on future Wednesdays…)

For the moment, I’m going to focus on some of my favorite passages from the Iliad.  Because that’s how I roll.  This is from the end of Book 3, Robert Fagles translation; Helen speaking to Aphrodite, following the duel between Menelaos and Alexander.  (I’m sticking with Fagles’ name transliterations for the quote, naturally.)

“Menelaus has beaten your handsome Paris
and hateful as I am, he longs to take me home[.]
Is that why you beckon here beside me now
with all the immortal cunning in your heart?
Well, go to him yourself–you hover beside him!
Abandon the gods’ high road and be a mortal!
Never set foot again on Mt. Olympus, never!–
suffer for Paris, protect Paris, for eternity…
until he makes you his wedded wife–that or his slave.
Not I, I’ll never go back again.  It would be wrong,
disgraceful to share that coward’s bed once more.”

Unfortunately, then Aphrodite put a scare into her, and she went back anyway…


Still have writer’s block

Published January 16, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I just can’t figure out how to continue book 2 of the trilogy I started with this year’s NaNo novel.  I mean, I know what needs to happen in the scene, and the following scenes, and I’m looking forward to much of what’s to come later on, particularly the scenes between Sondra and Eddie (aka Cassandra and Odysseus), but somehow I just can’t find the way to get that one scene moving.

I think there are two reasons I can’t get it to move:

1) I don’t really know the characters very well.  Their mythological counterparts (Agamemnon and Iphigenia) haven’t really played much of a role in any of my directly myth-based fiction.  (Well, technically they have, but indirectly in Agamemnon’s case, and in Iphigenia’s case…she was a very different character then.)

2) The type of scene–behind the scenes power play as a minor battle is taking place on the front lines–is one that I’m particularly alien to, not only in my writing, but even in reading and watching.

There’s not much I can do about reason two, but I think maybe if I work on reason one, I can jump-start the process.

Tomorrow, or maybe later tonight, I’ll try writing a short story about these two characters, not the original myth versions, but these new versions.  Something before the book started, to delve into their relationship with each other, and with the other characters in the book.  Maybe once I know them better, I’ll have less trouble with the scene.

Hmm, not much of a post, is it?

Well, I’ll go ahead and say a little about the book I’m working on, since I’m not sure how much I’ve said in previous posts that touch on the subject.  Originally, the book was going to be called “Helen of Space,” but that was before I realized it was merely part one of three.  That title is probably going to be the title of the third book, but I’m not sure what to call the first two now.  The series title is something like “The Ganymede War,” since it takes place on the moon of Ganymede.   Well, with some of the first book being on space stations in orbit around Jupiter, and probably at least half of the third book being in space around Ganymede and/or Jupiter in one way or another.

It’s very anime-inspired, particularly by shows like Gundam and Macross, so it involves–among other things–giant robots, though they’ve played a surprisingly small role so far, and will be all but absent from book two entirely, due to the structure of the story.  But most importantly, it’s not actually a re-telling of the Trojan War in space, though the original title might make you think so.  The characters are in fact the reincarnations of the various figures from the Trojan War, and over the five thousand years since the original war, they’ve been reincarnated repeatedly, and each time the war has played out essentially the same way over and over again.  Minor variations due to events outside the characters’ control (like the eruption of Vesuvius) and of course massive changes due to different historical circumstances, weapons technology, cultural conventions, et ceterea.  But always it’s started because Alexander/Paris seduces/abducts Helen, and the same people always die at the hands of the same foes.  (With a few variations.)  This time, however, Alexander/Paris is killed before he can meet Helen, so it looks like the war is off, until it’s stirred up for other reasons.

Naturally, no one remembers their past lives.  Except Cassandra.  But she’s still treated as insane, in part because she sometimes slips into other languages when she’s talking.

At first, I had hoped to make it unclear as to whether Sondra was really insane or not, to make it a point of mystery about whether or not the whole reincarnation thing was really going on, but as I started writing, I realized that there was no way of making Sondra seem insane to the reader.  One of the ways she sounds crazy to other people in her world is that she’s always referencing their past lives, things that are long forgotten two thousand(ish) years from now, but well known to us.  (For example, Sarpedon and Glaucos are named Sullivan and Gilbert this time around…so when Sondra meets up with both of them together, she starts cracking jokes about The Pirates of Penzance.  Modern people get that, but those around her don’t…and that makes it clear to the reader that she’s not actually insane.)

I’m not sure if I want to go ahead and ever get inside her head, though.  Well, okay, technically I’ve done that already; I wrote a short story that started out with the 20th century go-round of the war (where it was much smaller, needless to say, just a blood feud) and then had her waking up later in book 2 than I’ve gotten.  I could work it into the book itself, but…I dunno.  Doesn’t feel right.  It’s more about the relationship of that version of Patroclos and Achilles anyway.  (I’d come up with their story–more tragic than the usual Achilles-gets-his-friend/lover-killed-via-his-own-selfish-actions version–and wanted an excuse to write down at least part of it.)

The real question that I don’t have an answer for is whether or not Helen remembers.  Her name is always Helen, even when they’ve lived in places where that’s an impossibly weird name (Japan, China, Inca Peru), and Cassandra is so convinced that Helen remembers that for centuries she was sure that Helen was actually immortal, and kept re-starting the war intentionally.  She probably doesn’t fully remember, but has glimmers and glimpses of her previous lives.  Probably.

That’s something I can worry about later.

Right now I gotta find a way to get the story moving again.  This time last year I was writing up a storm.  It’s annoying that I’ve been spending far more time gaming and customizing dolls lately than I have spent writing.

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