Two Acts of Troy
The Tales of Aquarius, Aquila and Gemini

Chapter 2: Brothers and Sisters

Zeus was amused; for awhile. It could have been days or years, seconds or centuries, as the passing of time was unknown in Olympus, but the king of heaven grew restless and took to the sky. The eagle spread his wings and once again glided toward earth.

As Nemesis lounged beneath the volcano Tagetus listening to its hiss, a shadow with outstretched arms was cast over her. Zeus was watching her as he had many times before. Always before, she refused his advances, but this time he had a plan and she would be his.

The eagle called to Aphrodite and she too became an eagle, flying beside him. As she chased him through the clouds Zeus transformed himself from an eagle to a swan and dived straight into the waiting lap of Nemesis. "Poor swan," Nemesis said. "I will protect you from that eagle," and Zeus curled up comfortably cradled in her lap.

As though she were a bird herself, Nemesis bore an egg. One tiny egg, though it was fragile, would change the wings of time, for on the winds Hermes carried it away to Sparta and blew it into Leda's womb. Leda was married to Tyndareus and she gave birth to four children. From the egg of Nemesis and Zeus, Helen and Pollux were born, and to her mortal husband Tyndareus she gave birth to Castor and Clytemnestra.

The gods relaxed with cups of wine as the curtain of Earth's stage raised, presenting a drama of brothers and sisters.

Zeus gave a gift of beauty to mortals and her name was Helen. But Helen's sister, Clytemnestra, knew that a gift might not be what it seems.

From birth, Helen's beauty drew constant attention. "She must be immortal," the people of Sparta said, "how else could such a beauty exist unless she came from the gods?" But they had no words of praise for Clytemnestra, nor had they any words at all. So eclipsed was she by Helen's radiance, she may as well have been invisible.

All of this did not fail to leave it's mark on Helen, for she grew up a pleasure seeking, spoiled child giving no thought to anyone's inconvenience, and having no awareness of anyone's pain. To Helen, the world was at her command and all those around her simply waited to fulfill her every wish. Clytemnestra felt alone and withdrew into her own world, leaving the rest of the universe to revolve around her sister.

Their brothers, however, were a sharp contrast, for unlike their sisters, they were inseparable and though all four were born together, the boys were called "the twins". Although Castor was full of mischief and Pollux was called a leader, the boys were devoted to each other.

When his children were twelve years old, there was an incident that caused Tyndareus to make a fateful decision. For a year men had been coming to Sparta to see the beautiful Helen, bringing her extravagant gifts and asking to marry her. Taken by all their gifts, Helen changed her mind about the men as often as she changed her jewelry. But when she was twelve, Theseus, the king of Athens came to Sparta. He was so rich that the spectacular jewelry he gave her convinced her to go away with him. Tyndarus sent her brothers after her, so Castor, the horseman, and Pollux, the boxer, went with an army of Arcadians and Lacedaemonians to steal their sister back. When they arrived in Athens, Theseus was away, for he had gone to Hades to help his friend Peirithous kidnap Persephone. They easily took their sister home and kidnapped Theseus' mother Aethra as their hostage.

When they returned home to Sparta, Tyndareus said, "Helen will be easy to win and hard to keep. Any man who wishes to be considered as her husband must take an oath. If he does not win her, he must defend her husband's honor and help him retrieve her if she is carried away by someone else." And so the king of Sparta set the stage for tragedy on a monumental scale.

Chapter 1: Ganymede | Myth Index | Chapter 3: The House of Atreus

Tales of the Immortal Night ©2003, J.J. Kuhl


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