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4. "Be Like Thersites"

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Thersites:

Thersites senses the others
     restraining strangle-minded fingers
          that wish to wring Thersites's neck.
This is what Thersites senses.

The others believe in an oblivious Thersites
          who fails to see their scorn and contempt,
     but Thersites knows better.
Thersites knows
          that scorn is spice,
          that contempt is a flavoring
     for all that Thersites says and does.
This is what Thersites knows.

"Any embassy that includes Odysseus
     should be balanced by a blunt truth-teller,"
          Diomedes had suggested.

          And Agamemnon had agreed!

And so, here at last is Thersites,
          taking his spices and flavorings
     as part of a vial mission.
This is where Thersites is.

"Why should the great Achilles mope about
     in lamentations?"
          Thersites asks.
"Why should the great Achilles shed tears
     over corpse-crumbs in a golden urn?
You won't see bold Thersites crying for the past.
     Not ever.
     The past is dead!
     The past stinks like rotted fish!
'Leave the past behind,'
     is what Thersites says.
Accomplish new deeds of renown!
Seek new enemies to defeat!
     You, my friend,
          are a truly great warrior,
               but
     your deeds and victories,
          though already numerous,
     are now in the past,
          and the past,
               as Thersites has said, 
          is a rotted fish.
     No,
     dear Achilles,
starting now,
dear Achilles,
     looking forward,
     dear Achilles,
          make for yourself a plan
          as bold as your boldest companion!"

Achilles considers Thersites.
     A long moment passes.
"So if I don't misunderstand,
     Thersites,
          what you think
          is that I,
     Achilles,
          should be more like you?"

Oh, how Thersites sighs
     at the subtle flavoring of those words!

"Consider how quickly this war would end
     if Achilles were more like Thersites
     and if Thersites were more like Achilles,
and oh,
     if I were more like you,
          with the armor,
          with the arms,
          with the bloodline of gods and heroes,
     and oh,
          with that girl,
               Briseis,
          who sits her nightly vigil
               in your tent,
     the end of the war could not come soon enough."

Achilles snaps to attention.
     The terrible fire in his eyes!
     The famous rage that carved a track around Ilion!
Perhaps Thersites has gone a bit too far,
     this is what Thersites thinks.
And as Thersites looks around
          for the protection of Diomedes,
     Thersites remembers then that Diomedes has not joined them.
               Why not?
     Maybe his kinsman is looking to be rid of Thersites.
This is what Thersites wonders.

"No man touches her!"
     Achilles roars,
          as Thersites fades into the background
     and hides behind the others.
This is where Thersites goes
     when his meal becomes too spicy to choke down.

THE EPIC CYCLE:

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BE A DEMIGOD!

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