Eteoneus stood at the gate of Menelaus' palace. Match cupped in hand, he lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, then slowly exhaled a long stream of smoke. Eteoneus was a polite smoker and didn't subject others to his foul air. Mind you, Helen liked the smell of clove cigarettes, so he knew he could get away with smoking inside on a rainy day if he brought a pack. Not today, though. Today was the big double wedding for Menelaus' children. Eteoneus was smoking as much for a quiet moment, as to feed his addiction.

Menelaus' daughter by Helen, Hermione, was marrying Achilles' son, Neoptolemos. "Bloody stupid match," thought Eteoneus, "Sure Neo's a hero, he was crucial in ending the Trojan war, but he's also a cold-hearted brute. We don't need more Pyrrhic victories." The other marriage seemed more promising to Eteoneus. Iphis, the daughter of King Alector of Argos and a former Argonaut, was marrying Megapenthes, Menelaus' son by a previous marriage. An old cynic, Eteoneus still shook his head at the thought of them.

On the road leading to Menelaus' palace, a chariot with two young men pounded its way to where Eteoneus stood. Upon closer examination Eteoneus noted that one of the young men was actually a fit young woman. After halting the horses the fellow leapt out of the car and approached Eteoneus.

"Hail," said Peisistratos, "We seek to be guests of this illustrious household."

Eteoneus raised a finger. He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth, threw it to the ground where he tamped it out with the ball of his foot. He then kicked it into the rubbish heap next to the door. "I'll be back in a moment," he said.

Eteoneus sauntered into the Palace grounds and through to the hall where Menelaus was entertaining. He adjusted the belt to his dress sword before approaching the king. Menelaus may have been an old friend and commrade-at-arms, but it was still important to remember decorum upon occasion. "Mens, I have a couple of young people at the door," spoke Eteoneus, "Should I send them along to some other household free to entertain them or invite them in as guests?"

"Eteoneus, you great idiot. What do you think? Where would Helen and I be if Akhaians didn't freely accept one another as guests? Our home journey would have been a sorry trip indeed should we not have been treated as missing friends along the way. You bring them in as honoured additions to our celebrations. Now go!" Menelaus replied.

Eteoneus immediately saw to it that Telemakhe and Peisistratos' horses were unhitched from the chariot, rubbed down, and sent to stables where they were fed fresh hay. Telemakhe and Peisistratos themselves were brought in and given baths scented with the oils of neroli and ylang ylang. They were then dressed in fine satin and velvet garb and given seats of honour at the marital banquet.

Where Lays Heaven.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps