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.
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
"Why should the great Achilles shed tears
over corpse-crumbs in a golden urn?
You won't see bold Thersites crying for the past.
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,
your deeds and victories,
though already numerous,
are now in the past,
and the past,
as Thersites has said,
is a rotted fish.
make for yourself a plan
as bold as your boldest companion!"
Achilles considers Thersites.
A long moment passes.
"So if I don't misunderstand,
what you think
is that I,
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,
if I were more like you,
with the armor,
with the arms,
with the bloodline of gods and heroes,
with that girl,
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 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.
Maybe his kinsman is looking to be rid of Thersites.
This is what Thersites wonders.
"No man touches her!"
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.