Serendipity: A Tale in Four Reconstructions
Why, given its sad ending, did my not-quite-ancestor choose this particular story? I wonder whether he had noticed the same tendency as I have: how young men – specifically pairs of young men – from Greek myth go missing in modern accounts. There was a time when every hero was provided with a boyfriend as a matter of course, as all these respectable Englishmen with their classical educations knew full well. And yes, they usually died, for pathos was an integral part of this cult of the beautiful youth. And ‘cult’ is not too strong a word: there was a Roman emperor who turned his lost boy into a god, and you can go see his face in any half-decent museum of antiquities.
Hippasus is one of the lost boys of Greek myth, unknown even to most classicists. Inspired by the fortuitous discovery of an earlier attempt at reconstruction, the narrator embarks on a new examination of the evidence in the hope of rescuing from obscurity an appealing story of broken vows, mistaken identity, confusing oracles, young love— and a dragon.
Four Stories: Trojan - God's Boys - Parnassus - White Island
Apollo thumped the steering wheel in frustration. They were such a sorry excuse for a family. Playing at being human. Like Hermes, when they’d said goodbye: ‘Come and see me’. They always said things like that. ‘Come and visit’, ‘Let’s have lunch’, ‘We’ll keep in touch’. They never did. He had never seen Hermes’ Manhattan apartment, and Hermes had never been to San Francisco. They would see each other only at funerals, if gods had funerals.
These four stories transpose classical myth to an early twentieth-century setting, dealing with different kinds of brothers and different kinds of love: Apollo and Hermes, Castor and Pollux, Orestes and Pylades, Alexander and Hephaistion all encounter difficulties their old archetypes never had to worry about…
The Fall of Achilles
I waited in the dark portico of the temple, watching the chariot come to a halt in the forecourt. It carried a youth and a young woman, clearly brother and sister. I was certain now I had my prey. They were a handsome lot, Priam’s children, and these were no exception. I knew all the king’s older sons by sight, so this one, the youngest and the prettiest of all, must be the boy I was destined to kill.
Among the many prophecies about the war at Troy it was foretold that the city would not be conquered if King Priam's youngest son Troilus grew to manhood. And so it falls to the greatest of the Greek warriors to make sure that that does not come to pass...
This alternative history short story is available on Sweek