The curse of the seer
is to believe other men to be fools.
They must know things,
even without Apollo's gifts of vision,
what cause has this plague?"
who could have so upset the Lord of Disease?"
who among us needs to repent to Apollo?"
I wander the camp.
I pretend to watch the birds.
Those who follow me at a distance
must surely see
priestly footprints in the mud,
the anger-shreds of ribbon,
the rock where an enslaved daughter
sits and bemoans her fate.
Surely they see all this,
Or perhaps they do see
all too clearly.
They mean for Calchas to be the one
to say what all men know,
to confront the one responsible,
to bear his wrath,
for asking Agamemnon to accept the dishonor of blame.
what do you see?"
Now this is a question I can answer,
if I look into the sea-storm eyes
of the man who asks,
and if I couch my words with the skill of a seer:
"I see a man
who stands up for truth-tellers,
and protects them
who may dislike bad news.
I see a man
by the unvalorous deaths
of pale husks of men
on their death-pallets.
I see a man
who is willing to accept the consequences
of standing up to power.
I see Achilles,
who can stop this plague,
at a great cost to himself
and those he loves."
This is what I tell him
for nine days of sickness and death.
And on the tenth day,
Achilles makes a choice.
Continuing from the end of The Iliad, an Amazon comes to Troy.