This essay was an assignment given to me by an English teacher when we read the Iliad. As long as it pertained to a character, we were free to write anything. I chose to write Hector's death and what happens after from his perspective.
Arriving home with Helen of Sparta, I knew there were going to be many long years ahead of us. Menelaus would go to his brother Agamemnon for his army to destroy Troy and kill Helen. Yes, many long years of fighting and dying. I had cleaned up after Paris before, but I never thought that I would fight a war over one of his conquests.
Helen still blames herself for the war. At times it seemed as if I was the only thing keeping her here. She loved Paris and I knew he loved her. Many widows and mothers of Troy blamed her for the husbands and sons burned of the pyres late into the night. I stood for her. I told the people that they could say what they like about Helen, but they would tell it to me.
The morning the Greeks arrived was one of the most frightening of my life. Poseidon’s waves carried, what seemed to be, an endless sea of ships and warriors. I rallied my men and all the warriors of Troy to protect the city. That’s when I first saw him. My greatest enemy and my ultimate fear. Achilles. The greatest of the Greeks. He was said to have been half mortal and half God. I had heard stories of the fierce fighter from traders who had traveled across the oceans of the Mighty warrior who ended wars with a stroke of his sword. Stories of the man without fear. Stories of a man who killed without mercy.
It has been a long time since I first saw that man. Ten years our Sun God Apollo has pulled his chariot over the bloodied sand and fresh corpses. My son grew bigger everyday and Andromache grows more worried with every battle that I would not come home. She feared for me and the future of my son. What will become of him when I die? I knew the answer to that question, but I ran and fought to hide from the thoughts that I might never see him grow tall.
In my father’s war chambers the priests prayed to the gods for yet another victory, but shouldn’t they have prayed and offered sacrifices to end the war. I knew not what went on in the head of my father in those days. He loved all of his children but I could not see how he loved one child when they caused so much death and destruction. I saw him once, gazing over the city streets at his loyal subjects with thoughtful eyes. Some days I wished I could have been privy to his thoughts, and others I wished I could have been left in the dark.
As much as I hate to say it, my father had become cocky that our great walls would protect us no matter what. He said that the gods were on our side. If they were, why didn’t they stop the unending war? He trusted the men of his council, whom I considered to be foolish generals. Men who promised a victory to a war where there was no certainty at all.
When I returned home from a battle, one day I couldn’t find Andromache. Where had she gone? I thought I looked everywhere and ended up asking a servant where she could be found. They sent me to Athena’s shrine to help the other women win over the great grim Goddess. She ran to my arms weeping and crying out that my recklessness would be my doom. She reminded me that Agamemnon had brought Achilles with him and that that great fighter had killed her father and would probably kill me to.
As I laid there next to my wife I thought of the gods and the pointless war I fought in. I realize now that we were only the gods pawns in a giant game of mortal lives. The gods rolled their gambling dice and I had to live with whatever I was given. They played with us and to see what would happen. There was no point in praying (even though I still did continue to do so for my soul) since my life had been set in stone in the halls of Zeus.
Apollo only watched over the city enough to ensure it did not fall to the Greeks, but someday soon he will look the other way and when he did I would die. And I knew when that unfaithful day came, the day I died, would signal the downfall of Troy.
These past years I had not seen the horror and destruction of Achilles. Nor had I seen the man of my doom. I knew not, then, if I was the greater warrior. All I knew was that he is a beast who lived for death.
The next time I thought I saw Achilles was during a battle my wish was granted. Or so I thought. The man I fought had neither the fluid motions of a seasoned killer nor the smooth steps that one acquires with much practice. I slit the lesser man’s throat only to find it was not Achilles, but rather his dear friend Patroclus. As soon as I finished him I felt a cold chill run down my spine at the mere thought that my impending death would soon be at the hand of merciless Achilles.
It was days later before I saw a lone trail of dust arising from a single chariot on its way to Troy. I knew it was Achilles coming for my life. I slowly kissed my loved ones goodbye for the last time and made my way to meat him outside the massive gates of my beloved city. I knew I was to die so I made great ceremony of the fight. He was my better. I, seemingly, just a student to his master. He chased me all around the city striking we as a hawk does a dove. I flew for my life striking back when I could. He taunted me, but eventually he got the flesh just above my collarbone with his mighty spiked spear. I fell to the sandy earth struggling to breath as I bled out and into my lungs.
With my dying breaths, I begged of him to return my body to my family who loved me so much. I saw him as he thought of his choices for a quick moment before refusing to comply with my only last wish. He gave his reasons and threats, but they fell upon my ears that had already been taken by the cold mistress of death. I could see the river Stixs before me and the ferryman waiting to carry the lost souls to the underworld of eternal peace.
I approached the ferryman but then realized that I had not the money to pay for my crossing. I turned back to the banks and chose a shady tree to sit quietly under. I realized I would probably be there for a very, very long time. I tried to sleep, but the unwelcome dead may not sleep. There was nothing to eat or drink, yet I felt starving and parched. After what seems like days and days, a lone figure approaches me with his hand outstretched. It was as if I were looking into a polished shield for the figure was a slightly transparent version of myself. Smiling softly he pressed two old coins into my palm and then disappeared into the hazy fog around me.
It was then, I once again, approached the ferryman and placed the coins into his sac. He poled me across the river very slowly with hardly a ripple created in the surrounding water. I watched the glassy waters running along side the boat. I was amazed to see my son growing up by the banks of a river unknown to me and to see my wife and people living harmoniously far away from Troy.
These visions were interrupted by the scraping of the ferry on the other bank of the river. I politely thanked the ferryman and made my way to the open gates of light. I saw Hades standing there with open arms, gladly welcoming me to my final resting place. I ran to those arms with tears streaming down my dirtied cheeks, as a small boy runs to the arms of his long gone father, embracing the god who had finally given me peace.