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The Tenth Muse 19

“Chryseis!” Sam blurted. The men at the table shot upright in their seats, and Ashtinamas jumped back. Suddenly the pieces had fallen into place. “Oh, God. Astynome was the alternate name for Chryseis. I don’t think that’s even mentioned in the Iliad, but I know I’ve read it somewhere. Of course, that was always just a patronymic derived from Chryses, so ‘Pihas’ must mean something like golden or shining or some such in Luwian…”

Siga!” Agamemnon thundered. “Silence!”


The Great King rose from his chair and stomped toward Sam, barking threats the whole time. Sam’s heart was racing. At least now he knew Ashtinamas would be reunited with her father, but there would be some difficult days until then. He searched his memory for the correct Luwian vocabulary—why did they have to take his tablets?—and then grasped Ashtinamas by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes.

“Ashtinamas,” he began, softly but urgently, “You go back, house of Pihas.”

“Take your hands off my woman!” Agamemnon slapped Sam to the ground. “She is not going back! She stays with me!”

Sam sat on the floor in a daze.

My woman! Do you understand, barbarian?” He grabbed the girl with one arm and held her close despite her struggle.

“I understand, my lord.” But I’m also right. I’m in Book 1 of the Iliad. That woman is Chryseis, daughter of Chryses, priest of Apollo, and she will be returned to her father, you bastard!

Sam bit his lip and tried to dredge up everything he knew about the first book of the Iliad. It was always where he started when he taught upper-level electives in Homeric Greek. Depending on how long it took for Pihas to get there, Ashtinamas would be Agamennon’s captive for maybe another two weeks.

It’s hopeless, Sam sighed. The first chance he gets he’s going to—

Agamemnon glanced toward the tent flap and announced, “We’re finished here.” The soldier who had escorted Sam entered the tent. “Take him back to Wiphitos,” the Great King ordered. “I’ll call for him later.”

All he could do was try to give her a little bit of courage. He cursed his luck he hadn’t had time to learn more of her language. As the soldier yanked him up from the floor, he managed to make eye contact with Ashtinamas once more and say, “Your father, he come.”

Agamemnon laughed, and in that moment Sam hatched the slightest glimmer of a plan.

I’ll make him believe me, he thought. I’ll make him pay attention to me—not her.

Sam tried to shake free from the soldier who was dragging him out the door of Agamemnon’s tent. He gritted his teeth when he found he wasn’t strong enough, and pointed his finger at the broad-shouldered warrior in the conical hat.

“Listen to me, O resourceful Odysseus!” He barked. Everyone stopped what they were doing. Sam grinned. Agamemnon had the same puzzled look he had when Sam had inadvertently called him by name. No one had yet bothered to tell him the identity of the other men in the tent.

He next pointed to the old man who rambled when he spoke. “Listen to me, O high-hearted Nestôr!”

“Listen to me, O Agamemnôn, ruler of men!”

He glanced over his shoulder at the Great King’s attendant.

Okay, think, Dr. Barbour. Whom would Agamemnon have sent to collect me from Wiphitos and then take me back? Any guesses? I can’t afford to make a mistake now.

Sam hesitated. Agamemnon’s steely eyes met his. Seconds passed, then he decided to take a risk. He looked over his shoulder at the warrior who had him by the arm.

“Listen to me, … O Talthybios—or is it Eurybatês?” The soldier’s hold on Sam’s arm went limp

Now he had their attention.



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