Part 9: City Walls Collapsed

"Triumphant Achilles," by Franz Matsch, panoramic fresco at the Achilleion, Corfu, Greece, 1892.
“Triumphant Achilles,” by Franz Matsch, panoramic fresco at the Achilleion, Corfu, Greece, 1892.

Upon golden chariot, archers at his side,
Stamitos, general of Megarian armies, rode
Forth, red-caped, sun-reflecting helmet of
Burnished bronze. On one knee, he bowed
At temple steps, homage to sun god, Apollo.
As Dolius advised, five paces from seated
Ilithya he knelt in silence until oracle’s nod
To speak. “Sacred oracle, your holy guidance
I seek for siege of Teos,” the General stated.
Amongst envisioned fumes, Ilithya contorted,
“Your siege will cause collapse of city walls,
Leader of islands you will become,” stated
Ilithya, voice strained from Apollo’s adverse
Sight, his thoughts strident-close.

Gratified, armored Stamitos bowed on hearing
Ilithya’s declaration, golden sheathed xiphos
He placed at her sandaled feet. Bellicose might
Arising, salute to oracle so given, such acts
Profane, Stamitos strove from temple doors,
Messengers to Megara dispatched, ascending
Wave of men, preparing sailing ships of war
For inglorious siege of distant Teos. To his
Captains, the general announced, “City walls
Will collapse, leader of new kingdom I will
Become.” On slave-cleared roads, his chariot
And archers disappeared, sword and shield,
Ranks marching seaward to god-foreseen
Havoc on foreign battlefields.

"Allegory of Peace and War," Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.
“Allegory of Peace and War,” Pompeo Batoni, 1776, Wikimedia photo.

In silent disbelief, Dolius and Ilithya sought
Vison of reflecting pools, water-rippling images
Foretelling beginning of the end. War ensued
Between Greek Magarians and rivaling armies
Of distant Teos, advancing waves of sailing
Ships and arrows loosed, Stamitos’ men were
Ambushed on sea and land. City walls of Teos
Stood strong, ship of no imperil. As temple
Pools foretold, fiercer fires swept across Attic
Farmlands, legions attacking Magara, no two
Stones left intact. Alas, for Stamitos and his
Men, forced they were to remote Ægean isles,
Weeks they held out until slain, his monarchy
Of nameless keys and cays.

As with some statements made by the Delphic oracle,
Ilithya’s had dual meaning: “Your siege will cause
collapse of city walls.” For Stamitos, this meant walls
of Teos as opposed to those of Megara. Warring forces
will move into mountains of Apollo’s 
Oracular Temple.
References to General Stamitos, Megara, and Teos are
fictional. This poem ends with Part 10. 

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