Out of the depth

He covered his eyes with his hand.  Light, he thought with bewilderment, how can there be light in this place?  It had been long since he last saw any light, for he had long dwelt in the land of shadows.

He opened his eyes again as he heard footsteps.  To his even greater bewilderment, he saw a man – if man that radiant being could be called – standing before him.  This man is not a mere shadow, he thought, but how can that be, in this land of the dead? And the light, he wondered, why, not even Phoebus Apollo ever appeared to me with such terrible radiance.


He startled.  He remembered his name, but he had not heard anyone spoke it for long, not even he himself.  For what needs have the dead of speech?

He did not know what to answer.  “Who are you, lord?” he finally said.

“Follow me,” the man said, “and you will see.”

 “Follow you?” Hector asked, “whither can we go?”

 The man looked straight at him.  “Home,” he said gently but firmly.

 Hector felt a pang in his heart.  “My home was burnt to ashes long ago.”

“Troy was burnt.  But I am taking you to your real home, which can never be destroyed.  And know that one day, even Troy will no longer be ashes.  For through me all things shall be made new.”  The man held out his hand.  “Come.”

Hector was not sure he understood these words, but another thing drew his attention.  He saw something like a terrible wound in the proffered hand.  There was an ugly hole in the man’s wrist, as if a sharp-edged thing had been driven through the flesh and somehow the spirit retained the appearance.

The man seemed to notice that Hector was staring at his hand, for he spoke softly, “Yes, I too have wounds, son of Troy.”

Hector raised his head to face the man.  “Did you die defending your city too?” he asked.  Hector was killed, oh, dreadfully killed, as he tried in vain to defend his city from the Achaeans.

The man seemed amused by this question.  “You died to defend your city.  I died to save my world.  My death was not in vain.  Not even yours was,” he said solemnly.  “Now we shall go to the land of the living.  Come.”

Suddenly there was in Hector’s heart a great desire to follow this strange man (or was he a god?) who claimed to know a way out of the depth of Hades.

 “I will follow you, lord,” he said, and took the proffered hand.  It was warm.


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