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"He fights with fury and fills men's souls with panic. I hold him mightiest of them all; we did not fear even their great champion Achilles, son of an immortal though he be, as we do this man: his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none can vie with him in prowess."
Iliad, Book VI
In the The Last Trojan Novel:
Diomedes was born in Argos, where, against all odds, trees, crops and villages spring out of the hostile grey rock. His father was the fearsome Tydeus, who had fought against Thebes, when his only son was still in his swaddling clothes. The war was unsuccessful, and Tydeus, the slated favourite of Athena, was killed. Stories of his brutality escalated after his death, and even in later years, Diomedes could not escape the persistent rumour that his father had eaten the brains of his enemies. A cannibal in the family was never a good portent for easy succession – for Diomedes was the would-be heir to his grandfather’s kingdom, Argos.
The sons of the Seven Against Thebes had vowed as children to avenge the deaths of their fathers; and so it was that, at fifteen, Diomedes joined the Epigoni War, and succeeded in conquering Thebes. He had led that expedition to victory at his young age – it was then that the plainsmen of Argos first named him Favourite of Athena, while their brains were addled with bacchanal wine. But the title stuck, and old soothsayers bowed to kiss his sandals, and told him that he was fated to become a God. The boy’s ears turned deaf at their adulation – he did not even wish to be King, much less a divinity.
But he was not left a great deal of choice in the matter. Adrastus, his grandfather, died of grief when his son, Aigileus, was slain by the Thebans. Diomedes married Aigileia, his uncle’s daughter, and became King of Argos. It had not been so many years since he had first vanquished the Thebans, and Diomedes was unprepared. Governing a kingdom was nothing at all like leading men to battle; taxes and his coffers eluded him. War was the only thing in his world that made sense to Diomedes, the only thing his limited experience could grasp. And, luckily for him, nothing was more frequent in the squabbling Achaean kingdoms than war; war against neighbours, war against brothers; war against long-vanquished enemies.
It is true, no people loved war so much as these Achaeans.
"Aphrodite, be off from this battle and leave war alone. Is it not enough for you to set your traps for feeble women?"
Diomedes, Iliad, Book V
Aigileia, wife of Diomedes
The Last Trojan
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Excellent Post! Great visual of the Greeks calling Trojans cowards in that circumstance, it fits exactly with how they would be seen there!
Jan 24, 2010 08:27 am