The Last Window of Apollo
Gazing One Last Time at Troy
The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room...
She glanced down at the papyrus on her lap. The hot flames bit at her nostrils as she struggled to finish her inscription before the fires finished their consumption of Troy.
She put her stylus to the paper once again and wrote:
What god drove them to fight with such a fury?
Apollo the son of Zeus and Leto. Incensed at the king
he swept a fatal plague through the army – men were dying
and all because Agamemnon spurned Apollo’s priest.
Homer. The name of her spiritual father. The Priest of the god Apollo. She would write the words of their destruction and bury them inside the floors of the Temple. She will put these words in the voice of her father, the one who died for Apollo.
Perhaps, one day in the distant future, the voices of Troy will be remembered.
That's one of the horrible facts of history. It's written by the winners. No one will hear the voices of Troy unless Troy preserved them.
She wiped her eyes and coughed as the fires grew closer to the sanctuary of the Sun God. Her frail hands quivered as she heard the cries of the butchered just outside the Temple's sealed door.
Why have you forsaken us, Apollo?
"No!" she scolded herself out loud. "You mustn't forsake the gods. This is the wrath brought upon us by our own doing. As father stated, when the ships of the Greeks were first seen on the horizon, the gods have forsaken us because we have forsaken them."
It was the greed of Paris that caused our suffering. Paris is the reason we languish now on Earth. Helen of Troy is nothing but a witch. The Greeks planted a spy to tempt the young prince with no loyalty or self-control.
Because of him, Hector died. Because of him, Andromache has no one to keep her warm at night. She and their son, Astyanax, are preyed upon by the lustful eyes of the Greeks.
The young woman could hear the growling calls of the Greeks as they broke through the outer doors of the Temple. She swallowed hard as she pressed the stylus to papyrus again and wrote quickly of the downfall of her people.
Troy was the apple of the eye of Apollo. The Light Bringer. The Enlightened. The Enemy of Barbarians. The Civilizer of the Soul. The Poet. The Muse. The Most High.
The white marble walls of the city were said to be built by the gods. Who else could lift such large stones and place them together without mortar?
Surely only one as smart, mighty, and powerful as the god Apollo. He taught the people of Troy to write poetry. To sing the praises of Gaia and serve her faithfully. He taught them to commemorate the deeds of mankind in stone so that no one will ever forget.
Yet, one mistake is our downfall.
"No," she answered herself. "The mistake was not singular. Our mistake was trusting Greece. Rather than accept peace on their terms, we should have defended the City of Light with our blood."
Her mind returned to the night's events when Andromache spoke honestly with her. This was over ten years ago when she first officially entered the Temple of Apollo as a Priestess. The ships of Greece were spotted on the horizon that same morning, and Andromache foresaw terror and destruction.
"I know Hector shall die in this war," Andromache confided to the priestess of Apollo. "I've seen his pale face in my dreams. But what can I do? Would that I could throw that whore of Sparta into the depths of the Sea!"
"We are very mighty, dearest sister," the Priestess comforted her. "Our walls were built by Apollo. He will not forsake his children."
"No, he will not," she answered the young woman, with terror stricken across her face. "But what if we have forsaken him? What if he has reached out to us, only to have his mighty hands struck away? I tell you, dearest holy one, Hector shall die, and I shall be bereft."
The Priestess recalled how Andromache's words echoed in her mind the whole night. She gazed up at her bedroom's arched marble ceiling. Who could destroy a land so rich and beautiful?
Homer, her Spiritual Father in the Temple of Apollo, spoke with her the following morning.
"Cassandra," Homer addressed the young priestess by her earthly name. "You know your voice is that of an Anoitos. You are the chosen voice of chaos for the city. Civilization needs your voice, the voice of the youthful, chaotic fool. Yet, you can't expect the elders to hear you."
Casandra, the young priestess, watched the old man as he lit the lights in Apollo's Temple. Those lights symbolized the mind of Apollo, the one who brightens their world. She wanted to make the elders see this light, but how could she if she was designated as the Anoitos? The Fool.
"I believe Apollo has a message he needs them to hear," Casandra insisted respectfully. "We must not engage with them in war. We must return the Woman of Sparta and send them away."
"You speak the truth, child," Homer nodded, but there was sadness in his eyes. "The Elders, Priam, and Paris will not agree. They'll see you as mad. They'll look about them at the glories of the city and ask you how the simple Greeks could ever defeat us?"
"Because it is not the will of Apollo that we fight for our greed," Casandra asserted confidently. Homer smiled slightly and nodded for her to continue her defense.
"Apollo defends us because we are virtuous and shine his light into a dark world," Casandra continued her defense. "We do not own Helen. She is not our queen. She is the wife of Menelaus, the king of Sparta. To him, she should return. We have no right, virtue, or power to fight for her."
"This is truth, child," Homer nodded, taking a seat on the edge of the fountain inside the Temple. "You believe the god of light and virtue defends us in wars that are fought for these same reasons. But if we fight for our own greed and lustful selfishness, he will not stand beside us in battle?"
"Indeed," she asserted powerfully. "I believe we will also incur the wrath of Zeus, Apollo's father. Zeus wants peace on Earth above all else. He will despise Paris for starting this war over his lust."
"I agree, my child," Homer lamented, brushing her hair with his hand lovingly. "But the elders will see you as nothing but a young girl. Speak of the chaos, for this is the will of Apollo. But do not expect them to hear you."
The Priestess nodded and left with the blessing of her mentor. However, the elders did far worse than simply mocking and dismissing her. In fact, they spat on her in the assembly and had their guards carry her away to the prisons.
"Priam," one of the elders announced to the king of Troy, Casandra's earthly father, "she is dangerous. Surely the god Apollo has forsaken her. She will spread illusions in the city and cause your people to forsake you."
Before Casandra could protest her innocence, the guards carried her away. For ten years, she languished in jail. The people of Troy spoke of her as the cursed one of Apollo. Only Homer believed she was inspired and blessed by god.
Just a week prior to the events unfolding before her today, Priam finally returned to the prison and released his earthly daughter. He pleaded with her to pray for the city.
Casandra was therefore locked away in the deepest cell of the Temple, where the spirit of Apollo was said to reside. She was not allowed out and could only see the world through the god's window.
A world that was ablaze with fire and hatred. Malice and viciousness governed the world now. As Troy fell, the Earth succumbed deeper and deeper into the chaotic cycle of Fate.
Casandra wrote one final epitaph for Andromache, the Mother of Troy, as she heard the Greek's footfalls just outside the doors of the sanctuary:
my Hector – your own fiery courage will destroy you!
Have you no pity for him, our helpless son? Or me,
and the destiny that weighs me down, your widow,
now so soon? Yes, soon they will kill you off,
all the Achaean forces massed for assault, and then,
bereft of you, better for me to sink beneath the earth.
What other warmth, what comfort’s left for me,
once you have met your doom?
"There's still one inside the Temple!" A Greek soldier cried out once the doors were thrust open. Casandra glanced up at him, her eyes were red from the heat of the flames as well as from weeping. She clutched the papyrus to her breasts.
The soldier grabbed at his sword hilt but did not draw it. He approached her slowly, eyeing her suspiciously. Casandra saw a glint of kindness in his eyes but recognized it as the trickery of the Greeks.
"Stay away from me!" she screamed, backing up against the walls of the Temple. The rock of the Temple was hot now from the flames, which were quickly engulfing everything.
"Come with me," the soldier insisted, his eyes panicked. Casandra could tell that he feared the flames. But she did not. They reminded her of the god Apollo. Yet, there was something in the man's eyes that made her wonder about his true intentions.
"Who are you?" he asked her. "I am Odysseus of Ithiaca. All I want is to get back to my wife, Penelope. Please come with me, and you will be cared for."
"Odysseus!" Casandra screamed, her mind now hot with the fury of the death and rot of her kingdom. "It was you who sent the horse! You are the great deceiver!"
Without waiting for him to say anything else, Casandra pushed passed him. She climbed up to the window, the only opening she had to the outside world. The only way she had to witness the fall of her great city.
She pulled herself up onto its ledge and saw that everything was engulfed in fire. The City of Light was now nothing more than a burning torch, soon to burn out forever. A tear slid down her cheek as she watched.
"Come down!" Odysseus shouted frantically. He jumped and grabbed her wrist as she pushed off the ledge. However, he could not stop her from leaping, he managed to grab hold of the document in her hands.
Casandra watched as the flames and earth grew closer and closer. Just before her body struck the Earth and was engulfed in flames, she prayed one last time to the mighty god, Apollo:
"I beg of you, Mighty God of the Sun's Light,
Do not allow those words I've written to be forgotten.
Please, speak to this man,
Tell Odysseus that he must preserve our voice.
It is the last time Troy will ever speak again..."
κλῦτε μευ εὐχομένου λαῶν ὕπερ εὔφρονι θυμῷ
Hear me with gracious soul as I pray on behalf of mankind!
*According to legend, the Moon vanished the night Troy burned. Some believe this was Artemis, sister of Apollo, weeping with her brother over the loss of the City of Light*
When I first saw the prompt for the Last Window challenge, my mind immediately went to the fall of Troy. We often think that Dystopia is a thing of science fiction. We believe that if a nation such as America were to collapse, it would be the first global Apocalypse the Earth has ever seen.
However, the truth is the era known as the Bronze Age Collapse might have been the first! During this era, nations such as the Phoenicians, Thracians, and Hittites were all but obliterated by a mysterious fleet called the Sea People.
Many scholars now believe Troy was one of the many empires to crumble during this period. Egypt stood alone as one of the only civilizing forces to hold these chaotic Sea People at bay. If they collapsed like Troy and Hattusa, we might not be as advanced as we are today.
Therefore, rather than thinking a head of a possible dystopia, I thought back to an era of true Dystopia.
The legend of the fall of Troy has always fascinated me! I remember reading the children's edition. But I wasn't satisfied with this version, so I picked up the full poem when I was 13 years old and read it.
I still have the notes I took from when I was a child. I remember one of the stories which really struck me was the tale of Hector and Andromache. Despite Paris and Helen always gaining this title, I saw their tale as a legend of True Love.
Hector was a true patriot and selfless human being, as was his wife. Too often, their voices are lost amidst the lustful eyes of Helen and Paris. This is true even in the film with Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt (although I love that movie).
I also wanted to give voice to Casandra, which is why she's the main character of this tale. She is often remembered as the crazy woman forsaken by Apollo. But I often felt that she was something different in reality. She might have served a very important function as the court jester, so to say.
I tried my best to find the closest equivalent to this Medieval tradition, and Anoitos was the closest thing I could find. Oddly enough, this word is very similar to our modern word "Anointed" because Fools played an important part in the ancient world.
You can learn more with the following links:
Prayer in Ancient Greece: https://www.hellenicgods.org/prayer-in-hellenismos
The Bronze Age Collapse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B965f8AcNbw
Excerpts from Homer's Illiad: https://www.allgreatquotes.com/authors/the-iliad-andromache/
As always, thank you for reading :) :) :) :)
About the Creator
Emily Marie Concannon
I am a world nomad with a passion for vegan food, history, coffee, and equality.
You can find my first novel on Kindle Vella here: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09V4S7T4N :) I appreciate all your support and engagement! :)
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
I loved the thoroughness of the research that went into your story - it felt so realistic as I was reading. Really enjoyed it!
So pleased to see your entry on the winners' list. Very well done!
Fantastic fusion of myth, legend and history. history... written by the winners. Ain't that the truth and the first lesson any historian must learn. Well done for an excellent piece of writing and good luck in the challenge!
This is outstanding. Very, very well done.
This was SO beautifully done and I LOVE how much I learned from this story - as always! I was pulled in immediately; I really enjoyed your take on this challenge! Excellent job, Emily!
Great story and thanks for the dip into classical literature. Good luck with the challange.
Superb mythological take on the challenge, and love the images you use as well
Excellent take! Love the setting in the past -- something we can (hopefully) learn from for our future.
Emily, this is a stellar concept! Great storytelling, from unexpected yet familiar characters. Good work!