By: Camille Molas
The Iliad is full of action, drama, and stories that all revolve around a few select characters. While the characters highlighted by the Iliad were quite important in the “grand scheme of things”, the background setting in which the Iliad takes place should force us to look beyond these handful of characters. The Trojan War, a long and fatal fight is the center stage for the Iliad. Hundreds to thousands of soldiers and warriors participate and in some cases sacrifice themselves for this war. However, we rarely ever get to hear from these warriors who weren’t as “god-like” as Achilles or Agamemnon or Patroclus. Yet, these warriors were the foundation of the armies and the war claimed their lives quickly and effortlessly. In this piece I aim to bring out the voice of a nameless warrior who had no special talents, who had no parental gods, nor did he join looking for honor. This nameless warrior is just one of the devastating casualties in a game played by the elite and powerful.
My dearest beloved,
We are here outside of the gates of Troy. It has been many years since my eyes have laid upon your face. How are you? How is our son? For me, the days are long but the nights are longer. Lord Agamemnon continues to lead us but to no avail. When will this war end? He could never say. For it was a crime that Helen was stolen away from her love. But where is my war? For I have been stolen away from you. Lord Agamemnon fills himself with prizes but Criseis’s father came begging for her with the ransom in hand, still, Lord Agamemnon refused to give her up. Maybe if I refused so strongly to join this neverending battle, then I might find myself next to you in my arms with a life full of joy. Yet, I sit here writing to you from a faraway land.
Our troops have befallen a dangerous plague. My dear friend had just died from it this morning. If nothing stops it then our entire army might just not make it. For the gods have fated this. I fear that this might be my last letter to you, my love. For it is not guaranteed that I might survive this inevitable death. Please know that even though we have been separated by physical distance, your heart has never left mine.
The plague is gone and while I lost several acquaintances, I am happy to say I get to live another day. Lord Agamemnon has returned Criseis to her father under the orders of Apollo. We feared that he might not do so as he favors his prizes. Nevertheless, Lord Agamemnon chose to save his men. Not without cost. Achilles, god-like Achilles, was forced to give up his own prize. Having this wrong done to him, Achilles vanished and refuses to fight along our side. Why can these powerful men get to choose so easily and willingly what they will and will not do? For Achilles’s love to be with Agamemnon was too much of heartbreak for him that he willingly abandons his people. What then can they say to me? A man who was taken and ripped away from his soulmate and family to join a cause that we are now not even sure if it’s still worth fighting. They scream honor and responsibility but they run as soon as their way is not favored. Do I get a choice? Can I run since this situation is unfavorable to my whole being?
Lord Agamemnon tested us for our willingness to fight, but unbeknownst to him, no men wanted to fight anymore. We cheered for joy when we were asked to go to our ships and sail home. For a second I could see your face in my mind.l I pictured our embrace and our family reunited once again. But this of course was not the plan of the gods. Athena intervened, persuading the mass to continue on this wretched fight. I understand the glory and the honor that comes with winning this war. For it attracted me too at first. But when does it end? When is it enough? It has been nine long years that I sacrificed myself for a cause that I find no interest in. When will Agamemnon and Priam be satisfied? When will Zeus?
Again, my love, I fear every day that this will be my last letter to you. For tomorrow is no guarantee in the life that I live. No matter what I do I am still a mere pawn in the game of the gods.
I love you.
Our battle within the gates of Troy has begun. Menelaus has won his fight against Paris but this was not enough to please the gods. More blood should be spilled in their game to justify the transgressions committed. Tomorrow, I will be put in the front lines to try to fight off these Trojans. I really do fear that this is the end. The blood that has been sacrificed is far greater than the honor our leaders preach about. The sight of my brothers being massacred and destroyed is pitiful and I pray to Zeus you never experience it. Tomorrow I fight, but not for the abduction of Helen nor for Agamemnon and Achilles. I fight for you and our untimely marriage and our devastating separation. I fight for the love that helped to continue my breath and to keep going. I fight against this treacherous war that took me away from you. The gods and the powerful might control my being but you, my dearest, control my heart. Don’t forget about me and the tales of my battle. Let our son know that his father fought for his mother’s love till his dying breath.