Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

"Dining with Homer"

195 2 0

Amalgamated Homer

"Invite any author,
     living or dead,
          to meet you for dinner,"
     the genie said.

But when I picked Homer,
     she wrinkled her brow,
     and bit her lip,
     and stated,
"Now,
     with Homer you must really be sure
     you understand what you're asking for."

     So I said again slower,
"I'd . . . like . . . to . . . meet . . . Homer.
          The sometime beachcomber?
          The town-to-town roamer?
     They say in poverty,
               he begged
          for bread or cheese or maybe an egg
     in exchange for a story,
          the Iliad, Odyssey, or Cave of Allegory?
          That last example might be a misnomer,
     but either way,
     I pick Homer,
               okay?
          The blind bard,
               who worked hard
               to master his oration,
     and by our luck,
     his words have stuck
               to nurture all 
          of Western Civilization!"

Once I'd so presented,
     the genie relented.
"Said author will participate
   in a meal with you at half-past eight.
Homer's partial to chub
        but wouldn't snub
   nearly anything put on a plate."

So I went home to ruminate,

     and to consult with Wikipedia,
          which cited Homer as an early source 
     of Hellenic epic media,
          and so of course,
               I was ready at 8:28
     when a hand came knocking loud.

I just wasn't expecting such a crowd!

     "I am Homer," he said,
  "I am Homer," he said,
       "I am Homer," she said,
     "I am Homer," they said,

as the Homers pushed through the door
     to make room for more and more,
          and more.

     Homers thin
               and Homers stout.
          Homers with rickets
               and Homers with gout.
     Homers who had known each other
               as teacher Homers,
                  as preacher Homers,
             as listener-in-the-bleachers Homers.
     Also Homers who had never met, 
        separated by lifetimes,
             by sightlines,
          by regional dialects.

"Summon wine!"
     they chorused,
     as I called for us
some fast-food delivery
using my wizardry
     (or so they referred to my phone).

And while dinner was comin'
     there were odes by the dozen
               to this god,
          and that god,
     and more gods than I had ever known.

The Homers laughed and high-fived,
     talked of being alive,
          and they fought,
               oh, how they fought,
          and not just about plot.

     Who should have killed whom?

          What was Zeus's great plan?

     And can warfare and rage 
          really showcase a man?

But as the night passed,
       and the meal was picked over,
   there came to be fewer voices of Homer,
     and fewer still,
          until
     there remained just that one final guest
          who fails to divine
          the razor-thin line
               when a partygoer becomes a pest.

"I am an amalgamation,"
     the last Homer spake,
          over a third coffee
          and second slice of cake.
"That wild ecosystem
     of Homeric tradition
          got corralled onto pages,
          redacted by sages,
          filtered by history,
          and by some process of mystery,
             lost
     in manuscripts
               burned,
               worm-eaten,
               or stained,
     until I was all that remained."

"An Amalgamated Homer,"
     I mused.
"That makes more sense,
     as stories refine
     over time
          with repeated performance."

          "But actually,"
     the bard confided,
"the truth is somewhat less glorious.
     The first Homer in line, 
          in the Dark Ages time,
was probably more of an Orpheus
     who stitched his story,
          in a process laborious,
     from sources even more ancient
          and more notorious."

I consoled the last Homer
     to put his mind at rest.
"Even if you stole your epic,
     you still told it best.
In modern times,
as we all learn in college,
     when artists steal from artists,
     it's called an homage."

Amalgamated Homer
     sighed in defeat.
"I am but a shadow,
     my work incomplete.
     In my portion of the Epic course,
     there's no wooden horse, 
          just barely a mention.
          The death of Achilles gets
          only posthumous attention.
     The whole fall of Troy? 
     A mere off-screen suggestion!
Because, you see,
     for all my successes,
         those scenes were once left
     to Arctinus and Lesches,
         my erstwhile partners,
         now forgotten,
              the poor wretches."

Then this sad Amalgamated Homer
     yawned and stretched,
     dropped onto the sofa,
and snored softly
          while I cleaned up the mess.

          Broken plates,

               chicken buckets,

                    and jars of watercress.

               An old wooden staff,

          a wastebasket in flames,

     a manuscript page,

"And then, an Amazon came,"
     said a voice at the edge of the scene,
          from Homer's face on the wall,
               part of a leg in the hall,
          and a horror of parchment
                    stretched in between.
     I'd thought I was alone
          with Homer's amalgamation
               but also,
          it seemed,
     there was this abomination!

          And I thought,
"Man, that genie owes me
     one hell of an explanation."

"I'm a margin note,"
     the twisted face explained,
"incomplete,
inconsistent,
easy to ignore,
     suggesting a transition
     to something more
          that once existed:
               a path from the Iliad,
                    to the Epic singer's next ballad,
                    called, by some, the Penthesileiad.
          like a script
          in search of a player,
     like a word
     in search of a sayer,
          like an oral tradition
          in search of
               performance,
             interpretation,
                  and flair,
               I am here."

The Penthesileiad
          formed alongside
     the Odyssey and Iliad.
If you wish to really know Homer,
          come along for the ride
               or if you don't,
               at least you'll know,
                    I tried.

BE A DEMIGOD!

Follow Mythoversal Tales from a free World Anvil account to leave comments and receive notifications of new content.

Support gfishbone's efforts!

Please Login in order to comment!