Geraneia 1/3 [english]

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“If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again” — Philipe II of Macedon

“If …” — Spartan answer

Hello stranger, welcome to my memories. Today I will tell you how I got my beautiful golden armor. My adventure started on a mild afternoon in Megaris, a polis to the west of Athens and to the north of Corinth.

It was the time of the eightieth Olympics (460 a.C.)
Small but splendid, I always considered Megaris a city model.
Despite not being so rich, there wasn’t as much inequality as in Thebes or Athens and the aesthetically the city was always neat.

Two days earlier I had finished an easy job, to exterminate a pack of wolves that threatened the herd of a local aristocrat and was walking through the city.
I went to the temple of Apollo to do an offering as thanks for the successful work.
It is not always someone can get twenty drachmas for such job.

These were festive days and sacrifices were made by all corners of the city.
The poorest ones offered branches of herbs and cereals, the richest sacrifice sheeps, pigs and poured libations with fine wines.

The city’s southern gate is marked by the agora, where local merchants present their products.
Impossible task to not be impressed with the ceramic merchant.
All sorts of craters, amphorae, lamps, alabaster and kylix, all in the style of red figures.
Beside it, a merchant with the most beautiful fabrics from all over the world.
For me the Persian fabrics are the most beautiful ones, always the most colorful and full of details, but I always thought it was a waste of money to buy one, once I would never have a proper opportunity to use it. Besides it would be an heresy to stain blood over it during my work.

Walking along the east side of the city walls, full of olive and pine trees, we can see the food market, full of pigs, sheep and birds.
Nearby lies the fur market and I was glad that the wolves I had killed were not simply discarded.
I recognized one of the animals by the hole I had made in the back with my spear.
Even in this dirtiest region of the city, people were concerned with keeping the appearance of their houses in good condition, painted in ocher and white.

Further I went to the blacksmith by the east gate to buy some arrows and sharpen my weapons.
Sarpedon was already known to me, he had helped him once and that was why he gave me a discount on his services.

– Good afternoon, Kassandra. What’s new, my favorite misthios?

– Favorite? Why?

-Any misthios that does not threaten me I already consider as my favorite. How was your last job?

– It’s over there, look. I had to kill some wolves for a farmer, I think Neandros is his name

– By the gods, those are big. Was it a hard job?

– No when you use strategy. I lured them into a trap with a piece of pork and killed them one by one with my spear. That’s why I’m here. I need to change its head, the last wolf managed to escape and I broke it when the beast dodged and I hit a rock. I had to kill him with some arrows and I ended up with an empty quiver.

– Eight drachmas.

– Eight drachmas? Have you been drinking during the work? It is almost half of what I received as payment. Doesn’t our friendship mean anything?

– It’s just business misthios.

– Five drachmas.

– Seven, otherwise I won’t make any profit.

– Six and I give you those fangs, they are from those wolves. They were not easy to remove and will serve you for a beautiful ornament.

– You don’t give up, do you? I can’t exchange wolf teeth for a bag of wheat. But it’s alright. At least they’re very clean. What is the deadline?

– When can you finish it?

– Tomorrow afternoon.

– Okay, and one more drachma to polish my bracelets and graves.

– Three!

– Two!

– Deal. Bronze bracelets and greaves? Did you fight Odysseus in Troy? You need to change them, leather or iron.

– I don’t have all that money.

– Okay, if you change your mind, talk to me. Where are you going now?

– I’m going to the temple of Apollo, I need to make offerings. I don’t want problems with the gods.

– If you want, come to dinner at my house. My son Lykos likes you and your stories.

– It’s all right. I’ll see if I can.


I headed for the temple after leaving my equipment with Sarpedon. Several gift merchants surrounded the region, making the task easier to be done. As I knew how hard it was to earn each drachma I went to look for the best cost-benefit offering. At the στοά (Stoa – Covered portico for public use) in front of the temple, I was able to buy a set with a bunch of flowers, a handful of wheat and some wine. As soon as I went up the stairs and I came across a line of devotees also waiting to have their meeting alone with the god. The floor surrounding the temple was colored with petals of roses and daisies, abundant in the region. When it was my turn, I saw a lot of smoke coming out of the ναός(Naos – Inside the temple, where the god statue resides) due to frankincense.

I never failed to pay tribute to the gods in thanks for a well done job and even used to these occasions my heart always beat faster. Upon entering the temple the omnipotent image of the god made my throat lump. Such a beauty! Even with a veil it is possible to see the smallest details of the great statue of Apollo fighting the great python. With the size of three men, the half-naked god holds the serpent in his left hand while putting his bow in the quiver.

After my prayers I went back to the agora to buy something to take to the dinner on Sarpedon’s house. Οξύγαλα (Oxygala – Yogurt) with honey and nuts, a divine dessert.
Approaching my host’s house, Lykos welcomed me very happy:

– Lady Kassandra! Lady Kassandra!

– Hello Lykos. How are you? You are so tall. Come on, give me a hug. How old are you already?

– Nine.

– If you keep growing like this you will be taller than your father. Here, take this to your mater.

If I am a beloved student of fighting, Melissa is the same for cooking. Wheat and pea soup with goat cheese and γάρον (Garon – Fermented fish sauce with spices).

– Be thankful for having Melissa as your wife, Sarpedon. I wish I could enjoy such a delicious meal every day.

– Thank you Kassandra, but what I do is simple, there is nothing so special.

Phobos, Melissa. When you live constantly without knowing if you are going to see the next dawn, you learn to enjoy each moment more carefully. Fear is a efficient teacher.

– You need to put down roots somewhere. Can’t get enough of this life?

– You get used to it. I like to travel and meet people.

– But one day your body will not respond to the mind and what will be of your occupation?

– I will think about it when this day comes.

– So much strategy to solve the problems of others but so little to solve yours.

– Mine? Ha ha ha. I don’t have many problems. I don’t keep so much money in my pockets. If I had a fortune I would have to carry it in a safe strapped to me back, like Chelone carrying her house. You do not need to worry about me. What you have is doubt.

– Doubt?

– About how you would be in my place. I know it is difficult to put yourself in the other’s perspective, but trust me, I live pretty well on my own.

– Lady Kassandra, is it true that you are a brave warrior?

– Me? You should listen to Homer. There are the real warriors.

– Why don’t you value your work?

– Sarpedon, do people come to you for the work you do or the work you say you do? Self-promotion has an opposite effect to the desired, mainly in my work. Virtue is silent and must be attributed by others.

The moment we were eating dessert someone knocks on the door.

– Good night Sarpedon. I heard that there is a misthios in your house.

– Who are you?

– Is she here? I need to talk to her.

At that moment I turned to Melissa and with a wink I ordered her to take the child to the bedroom. Without my equipment, I came to hide a knife inside the sleeve of my dress.

– It’s me. What do you want?

– Do you really think that knife scares me? No need to worry, I come on behalf of Heliodoros. Are you looking for service?

– We’re having dinner. We can talk after finishing it.

– It’s all right. I wait outside.

So then I went to meet the stranger. Notoriously he was a hoplite, he had his panoply \footnote{Full armor – helmet, shield, greaves and armor} well polished.

– Who are you?

– I work for Heliodoros, master of many lands in this region.

– What does he want?

– Here. – And he threw me a bag with coins.

– What? Ten drachmas. Why?

– Part of the payment.

– Payment for what? I don’t remember accepting any service.

– You will. There are more drachmas waiting for you. Take the north gate and go through twenty stadiums \footnote{3,700m. 1 stadium = 185m} towards the farm with yellow flags. It’s his house. He’ll be waiting for you tomorrow morning.

– And if I didn’t …

– Bye.

Rude, isn’t it? But I confess that it was a smart move. Giving money forcibly is a good way to hire someone, don’t you think? If I ran away with it, they would surely find me. I had no choice then.

– Sarpedon, I need my stuff.

– But I still haven’t finished the job.

– What is missing?

– Polish and straighten the head of your spear.

– Give me a spear if you have one. Now polishing is important, come on, I’ll help you, I need well polished armor and greaves.


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