Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's All Greek to Me

Last night I picked up Arthur Cotterell’s “The Encyclopedia of Mythology.”

Now there’s a guarantee you won’t read any further.

On the chance you’re still with me, the very first entry in the book proved that what I learned about Greek mythology in school was not the whole story.

Achilles, considered the greatest Greek warrior, was also a moody fellow.  Rather than join the other Greeks fighting the Trojans, he hung out in his tent.  “But Achilles was roused to action,” writes Cotterell, “by the death of Patroclus, his squire and lover.”

News to me, by Zeus!

Hector, the Trojan who killed Achilles’ boyfriend, knew he was in trouble.  He asked Achilles to treat his body with respect should he be killed.  Achilles uttered the Greek equivalent of “No way Jose,” slew Hector with a spear and dragged his body around the tomb of Patroclus for twelve days.

Only Achilles’ mother, Thetis the sea nymph, could persuade him to stop mutilating the corpse.  Heeding a sea nymph seems like a wise policy to me.