Where Lays Heaven

Telemakhe gazed about her at the resplendent lavishness of Helen and Menelaus' home. The arched ceilings rose so high that the stars painted on a cerulian background on the ceiling could be mistaken for real. Lamplight and sunlight were reflected a million times in the sparkling fabrics of the curtains and the golden fixtures. Intricately carved statuary and delicate ceramics lined the walls. Even the dishes, cutlery and goblets were of gold. In addition to these were the special decorations for the weddings. Sprays of roses, lilies and orchids in amber and ivory vases turned the hall into a veritable Elysian field. Lithe tumblers brightly dressed in pinks, yellows and oranges leapt and flowed like sunbeams playing upon a fountain. They were accompanied by the dulcet tones of a skilled harpist.

Telemakhe turned to Peisistratos before her gaze could degenerate into a gawk. "This must be what Zeus' court in Olympos looks like. Menelaus' court is truly awesome," said Telemakhe.

"Come now friends," said Menelaus who overheard Telemakhe's remark, "Nothing mortal can ever compare to divine treasures. What I have is merely temporary, but the deities have bright riches that last forever.

"Helen and I travelled seven years on our way home from the wars. In that time we gathered many of the prizes you see before you. Greater treasures still we acquired in gazing at the stars in Egypt, holding one another on the sands of Arabia and laughing together while helping with the lambing in Lybia. I know I am being something of a soppy romantic when I say this, but these are the things I hold dearest in my heart. Sadly, in that time my brother was killed by a deceitful usurper to the throne. I am sure you must have heard from your parents, whoever they may be, of how Aigisthos seduced Helen's half sister, then in a welcoming dinner had Agamemnon assasinated.

"I would give all of my wealth away if I could bring my brother back and all the dear comrades who died on our behalf at the wars far from their own loved ones. Sometimes I find tears in my eyes when I think of them. One in particular I miss. Cunning and kind Odysseus, she took on more than her fair share when she came to Troy with us. It was she that originally brought Helen and I together, she who negotiated our peaceful alliance, she who managed to keep the generals working cooperatively for the most part during the war, and she who came up with the plans to finally end it. It hardly seems fair that she should be the one general to completely disappear. I deeply feel her absence even now. I cannot even imagine the grief felt by her parents and her husband, Penelopos. And, of course, what of the toddler she left behind?"

Telemakhe, unable to hold back the tears, drew the hem of her purple cloak up to her eyes with both hands and wept. Menelaus was uncertain as to what he should do to comfort his young guest, but in that moment he recognised Odysseus' own daughter.

That Old Blank Magic.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps